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Ken Johnston


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Ken Johnston


Ken Johnston

October 15

 

Glazunov Violin Concerto

 

Ken Johnston is active both as a performer and a teacher of the violin. In addition to his performing as Concertmaster of the Erie Philharmonic, he holds the same chair with the Blue Water Chamber Orchestra of Cleveland, and has also sat as Acting Concertmaster with the Ohio Valley Symphony. As soloist, he has performed the violin concerti of Barber, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Mozart. He has been featured alongside Cleveland Orchestra principal cellist Mark Kosower, and also appeared in duo with Berlin Philharmonic Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley in a premier of David Stock’s Double Violin Concerto, Taking Sides. Donald Rosenberg of The Plain Dealer remarked that Johnston “triumphed whenever he touched bow to strings”, and Zachary Lewis of The Plain Dealer wrote that “Johnston treated the audience to a suave and magisterial reading….” of the Beethoven Concerto. Johnston has played as an ensemble member of the Akron, Canton, Youngstown, and Cleveland Pops Orchestras of Ohio, as well as the Virginia Symphony and the Wheeling Symphony of West Virginia. Outside of the orchestral world, he has performed with the Oblivion Project, a small ensemble which solely performs the tango music of Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla. He has also been a regular guest on WQLN radio in Erie, where he has performed, been interviewed, and co-hosted radio programs.                                                    

In addition to teaching at Cleveland State University, he has taught violin students at the Ohio State University, and has served on the faculty of Mercyhurst University, where he taught both violin and viola to undergraduate music students and conducted ensemble performances such as Mozart’s Opera, The Magic Flute. He has also been a faculty member of the Luzerne Chamber Music Festival, where he performed as a member of the Luzerne Chamber Players.

His violin students have performed both within the ensemble and as professional soloist with the Erie Philharmonic. Several have been competition winners and as a   result have performed as soloist with the Ohio State University Orchestra, the Young Artist’s Debut Orchestra of Erie, the Erie Junior Philharmonic, and the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory Orchestra. They have been accepted as violin students at the Berklee College of Music, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Baldwin Wallace    Conservatory, Nazareth College, Mercyhurst University, and Cleveland State University. They have also attended prestigious summer festivals such as the International Music   Academy Pilsen, the Interlochen Summer Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival, and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he received both a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree in Violin Performance, Johnston studied with Professor David Updegraff and served as Mr. Updegraff's Teaching Assistant. 

 

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Demarre McGill


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Demarre McGill


Demarre McGill

November 12

 

Mozart Flute Concerto No. 1

 

Winner of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, flutist Demarre McGill is acclaimed for his “richly saturated tone, spirited technique and expressive warmth” and has quickly become one of the most sought-after flutists of his generation. He enjoys an active career as a leading soloist, recitalist, artistic director and chamber musician.McGill has appeared as soloist with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, and Buffalo Philharmonic, among others. An active chamber musician, McGill appears regularly throughout the United States and abroad. He is a founding member of The Myriad Trio and has participated in many national and international chamber music festivals, including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Marlboro Music, La Jolla Music Festival, and Music from Angel Fire, to name a few. International festivals include the Stellenbosch Chamber Music Festival in South Africa, St. Bart’s Music Festival in the Caribbean, and the Jeju International Wind Ensemble Festival in South Korea. He has been a member of the Ritz Chamber Players and Chamber Music Society Two, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s program for emerging young artists. In addition to his performance schedule, McGill is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Art of Élan, a chamber music organization in San Diego that aims to expose new audiences to classical music.

His discography includes Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 on the album Play Bach with pianist Awadagin Pratt and the St. Lawrence String Quartet (Angel Records), as well as a flute, viola & harp album entitled The Eye of Night with The Myriad Trio.

McGill’s media credits include appearances on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center with the Chamber Music Society playing Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, A&E Network’s The Gifted Ones, NBC’s Today show and Nightly News, and as a teenager, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Appointed Principal Flute of the Dallas Symphony in June 2013, he previously served as Principal Flute of the Seattle Symphony for two seasons and held the same position with the San Diego Symphony, Florida Orchestra and Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. He also served as Acting Principal Flutist of the Pittsburgh Symphony during the 2005-06 season.

A native of Chicago, McGill began playing the flute at age seven and his family is steeped in the performing arts. In May of 2012 McGill and his brother, Anthony McGill, Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, performed the world premiere of Joel Puckett’s Concerto Duo for Flute and Clarinet with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra where they began their careers. His mother is a theater actress in the Chicago area.

McGill received his Bachelor’s Degree in Flute Performance from The Curtis Institute of Music where he studied with Julius Baker and Jeffrey Khaner. He continued his studies with Mr. Baker at the Juilliard School, where he received a Masters of Music degree.

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Kate Neubert Lechner


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Kate Neubert Lechner


Kate Neubert Lechner

December 3

Kate Neubert-Lechner is the Youtheatre/Education Director and a long-time Erie Playhouse performer/director/teacher, beginning her stage career in1985. Prior to relocating to Erie in 2013, she was a freelance actor/director/instructor at various venues in Pittsburgh including the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, South Park Theatre and Little Lake Theatre. Before settling in Pittsburgh, Kate worked for Tony Bennett & his son/manager Danny at RPM Productions in New York City, where she also performed a solo show in various cabaret theatres. Kate has her BA in Theatre/Communication Arts from Gannon University and has also received training as a Musical Theatre Major at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music & Interlochen Arts Camps. She has appeared on many local and regional stages, as well as a soloist with the Cincinnati Pops under the baton of the late Erich Kunzel and with the Erie Philharmonic   As a performer, favorite roles include Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” (Erie Phil/Erie Playhouse), Sheila in "A Chorus Line" (CCM), Barbie/Sofia/Gretchen/Rosalinda/Kitty in "Five Course Love" & Sylvia in "Sylvia" (both at Little Lake), & Mary Poppins, Velma Kelly in "Chicago," & Christine Colgate in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" all the at Erie Playhouse.

 

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Soyeon Kate Lee


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Soyeon Kate Lee


Soyeon Kate Lee

January 21

 

Bartók Piano Concerto No. 3

 

First prize winner of the 2010 Naumburg International Piano Competition and the 2004 Concert Artist Guild International Competition, Korean-American pianist Soyeon Kate Lee has been lauded by the New York Times as a pianist with "a huge, richly varied sound, a lively imagination and a firm sense of style," and by the Washington Post for her "stunning command of the keyboard.” She has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras, including The Cleveland Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional in the Dominican Republic, Orquesta de Valencia, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and Naples Philharmonic.

In recent seasons, she has given recitals at New York’s Zankel, Alice Tully, and Merkin halls, Kennedy Center, Ravinia Festival, Madrid's National Auditorium, and San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre. A Naxos recording artist, she records a double CD of Scriabin piano works this season following the Scarlatti and Liszt albums released earlier. A second prize and Mozart Prize winner of the Cleveland International Piano Competition and a laureate of the Santander International Piano Competition in Spain, she has worked extensively with Richard Goode, Robert McDonald, Ursula Oppens, and Jerome Lowenthal. Ms. Lee is the co-founder and artistic director of Music by the Glass, a concert series dedicated to bringing together young professionals in New York City. A Yamaha Artist, Ms. Lee is an Assistant Professor of Piano at the Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, and lives in Cincinnati with her husband, pianist Ran Dank, and their one year old son, Noah.

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Emanuel Ax


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Emanuel Ax


Emanuel Ax

March 11

 

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5

 

Born in Lvov, Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. His studies at the Juilliard School were supported by the sponsorship of the Epstein Scholarship Program of the Boys Clubs of America, and he subsequently won the Young Concert Artists Award. Additionally, he attended Columbia University where he majored in French. Mr. Ax captured public attention in 1974 when he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975 he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists followed four years later by the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.

Two major projects are planned for the second half of the upcoming 2014-15 season, the first being a two week “Celebrate the Piano” festival with the Toronto Symphony curated by Mr. Ax that will present performances by multiple pianists, including Mr. Ax, exploring the many facets of the piano. The second will be a Europeantour with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin beginning with a joint appearance in Carnegie Hall. Throughout the season he will return to the orchestras of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, St. Louis, Montreal and Ottawa. Recitals will take him to Vancouver, San Francisco and the mid-west ending in Lincoln Center’s Tully Hall where he will also appear in duo with baritone Simon Keenlyside. In Europe he will return to the Berlin Philharmonic followed by a tour to Vienna, Salzburg, Graz and London performing Winterreise with Simon Keenlyside as well as presenting both Brahms Concerti in Amsterdam and Paris with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Bernard Haitink. Other European orchestras this season feature the London Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Tonhalle Zurich and the National Orchestras of Toulouse and Lyon.


The 2013/14 season began with appearances at the Barbican Centre followed by Lincoln Center with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink as well as collaborations with the Concertgebouworkester and Mariss Jansons in Amsterdam, Bucharest, China and Japan during their world-wide centenary celebrations. The second half of the season saw the realization of a project inspired by Brahms which included new pieces from composers Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly, and Brett Dean all producing works linked to Brahms commissioned jointly between the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cal Performances Berkeley, Chicago Symphony and Carnegie Hall with the participation of collaborators Anne-Sophie von Otter and Yo-Yo Ma. To conclude the season, he traveledto Hong Kong and Australia for a complete cycle of Beethoven concerti with Chief Conductor David Robertson in Sydney and with Sir Andrew Davis in Melbourne.


A Sony Classical exclusive recording artist since 1987, recent releases include Mendelssohn Trios with Yo-Yo- Ma and Itzhak Perlman, Strauss’s Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart, and discs of two-piano music by Brahms and Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman. Mr. Ax has received GRAMMY® Awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn’s piano sonatas. He has also made a series of Grammy-winning recordings with cellist Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. His other recordings include the concertos of Liszt and Schoenberg, three solo Brahms albums, an album of tangos by Astor Piazzolla, and the premiere recording of John Adams’s Century Rolls with the Cleveland Orchestra for Nonesuch. In the 2004/05 season Mr. Ax also contributed to an International EMMY® Award-Winning BBC documentary commemorating the Holocaust that aired on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In 2013, Mr. Ax’s recording Variations received the Echo Klassik Award for Solo Recording of the Year (19th century music)Piano.


In recent years, Mr. Ax has turned his attention toward the music of 20th-century composers, premiering works by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, and Melinda Wagner. Mr. Ax is also devoted to chamber music, and has worked regularly with such artists as Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Mr. Ma, Edgar Meyer, Peter Serkin, Jaime Laredo, and the late Isaac Stern.
Mr. Ax resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki. They have two children together, Joseph and Sarah. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Yale and Columbia Universities.

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Sari Gruber


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Sari Gruber


Sari Gruber

March 11

 

Mahler Symphony No. 4

 

Hailed as "nothing short of sensational" by Opera magazine and "a real creature of the stage" by Opera News, soprano Sari Gruber's voice has been described as "luminous" and "show-stopping great," while her vibrant and passionate portrayals have "lit up the stage" in repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary works. A prized artist on the international stage, she has garnered praise for her "shining soprano and vibrant presence" (Opera News), her "direct musicality" (New York Times), as well as her "detailed, charming, resourceful and sympathetic" characterizations (Boston Herald).

In the 2011-12 season Sari Gruber is engaged to perform as Leila in The Pearl Fishers with Hawaii Opera Theater; with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra as soloist in Messiah; as soloist with the North Carolina Symphony in a concert entitled "New Year's in Vienna", Grant Llewellyn conducting; and in three separate concerts at the Skaneateles Festival, as soloist in Schubert's Shepherd on the Rock, Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras #5, and songs by Andre Previn. She also returns to Oklahoma City Philharmonic for Mahler's Symphony #4, and sings in recital at St. Vincent College. Her 2010-11 season included Musetta in La bohème with Opera Colorado; Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Lyric Opera of Kansas City; in Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at "Tanglewood on Parade"; a return to New York Festival of Song for a concert entitled "Night and Day/USA: Americans Working and Dreaming"; as soloist with Oklahoma City Philharmonic in Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915; in Messiah with Winston-Salem Symphony; as soloist in "The Best of Italian Opera" with Buffalo Philharmonic; and several recitals, including at Queens College's Kupferburg Center in New York City, on the Rodef Shalom Series as well as with the Pittsburgh Song Collaborative at Carnegie Music Hall, both in Pittsburgh. In addition, she performed excerpts from Lori Laitman's new opera The Scarlet Letter, as well as selected songs through Opera America's Salon Series.

Recent highlights include her return to Austin Lyric Opera as Musetta; Messiahs with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Handel & Haydn Society and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra; Vixen in Janácek's The Cunning Little Vixen at the Chautauqua Institution; several programs with New York Festival of Song, including "Where We Came From" and "A Bernstein and Bolcom Celebration"; Susanna with Pittsburgh Opera; her debut with Arizona opera as Zerlina in Don Giovanni; her return to Boston Baroque for Haydn's The Creation; soloist in Handel's Israel in Egypt with New York's Collegiate Chorale and with New York City Ballet in Stravinsky's Les Noces; Susanna with North Carolina Symphony; Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Skaneateles Chamber Orchestra; Bach cantatas with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and an appearance with the Grand Tour Orchestra in a scene from Telemann's dramatic cantata, Ino; and the North American premiere of two works for soprano and strings by Baldassarre Galuppi.

Sari Gruber's operatic highlights include Alexandra in Regina for her debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago; Lisette in La Rondine and Miss Hedgehog in the world premiere of Tobias Picker's The Fantastic Mr. Fox with Los Angeles Opera; and Carolina in Il matrimonio segreto, Aricie in Hippolyte et Aricie, and Varvara in Kát'a Kabanová with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She has performed the role of Susanna with New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Pacific, Kentucky Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, and the Ongaku-Juku Opera Project under the baton of Seiji Ozawa; Nannetta in Falstaff at New York City Opera; Despina in Così fan tutte with Pittsburgh Opera, Berkshire Opera and Anchorage Opera; Norina with opera Company of Philadelphia and Boston Lyric Opera; Gilda in Rigoletto with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Connecticut Opera and Toledo Opera; Anne Trulove in Rake’s Progress and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Lyric Opera of Kansas City; Musetta with Opera Company of Philadelphia and Opera East Texas; Juliette with Opera Carolina and Chautauqua Opera; and Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel with New York City Opera, Opera Columbus, Omaha Symphony, and for PBS Great Performances telecast from the Juilliard Opera Center. She performed in Handel's Samson staged for De Nederlandse Opera, and as First Niece in Peter Grimes at both the Saito Kinen Festival (Japan) and Maggio Musicale di Firenze.

Ms. Gruber is equally in demand on the concert stage and has sung performances of Messiah with both the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Jane Glover and with Boston Baroque. She has also performed Mahler's Symphony No. 4 with the Columbus Symphony, Bach's Mass in B Minor at Columbia University, and Handel’s Silete Venti and other cantatas with Portland Baroque. Additional concert credits include performances with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, San Jose Symphony, and Jacksonville Symphony.

Winner of the 2005 Naumburg Competition, Ms. Gruber has appeared in recital at New York's Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie, the 92nd Street Y, Miller Theater, Caramoor Festival, San Francisco Performances, Skaneateles Festival, New York Festival of Song, as well in recital Palm Springs, Carmel, Pensacola, Pittsburgh and Kansas. She has given recitals across the country under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation. Other credits include a pre-concert recital of Copland's Poems of Emily Dickinson with the New York Philharmonic, solo recitals in Salt Lake City and Daytona Beach, at Skidmore College, and on San Francisco Opera's Schwabacher Debut Recital Series.

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Jenny Oaks Baker


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Jenny Oaks Baker


Jenny Oaks Baker

April 1

 

Disney Favorites with Jenny Oaks Baker

 

America's Violinist, Jenny Oaks Baker, is a Grammy Nominated, Billboard No. 1 recording artist, and performer.  Whether her music is experienced live or through one of her many recordings, it is impossible to escape the magic of her artistry.

Jenny began playing the violin at age four, and made her solo orchestral debut in 1983 when she was only eight years old. She received her Master of Music degree from the renowned Juilliard School in New York City and her Bachelor’s degree in violin performance from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Jenny Oaks Baker has released fifteen albums as a Shadow Mountain Artist, having sold over halfa million copies since 1998. Her album "Wish Upon a Star: A Tribute to the Music of Walt Disney" earned a nomination at the 54th GRAMMY Awards for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Jenny’s albums consistently chart on Billboard, with her 2010 album "Then Sings My Soul" hitting the #1 spot on the Top Classical Albums chart two weeks in a row.  Her next project, "Noël: Carols of Christmas Past" was produced and arranged by Emmy award winning composer Kurt Bestor and features former “Celtic Woman” star Alex Sharpe.  Her latest CD, "Classic: The Rock Album" has also been met by critical acclaim and is yet another Billboard chart-topping album.  In April 2016, Jenny's album, "Awakening", an album of soul-filling inspirational hymns and classics will be released.

Jenny Oaks Baker’s performance career is equally impressive.  She has performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Strathmore Hall, the Library of Congress and as a guest soloist with the National Symphony, Jerusalem Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Utah Symphony, and the internationally acclaimed Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She has also been featured in television and radio broadcasts nationwide.  Her “In Performance” BYUTV Special Silver Screen Serenade, features Jenny performing music from her album of the same name.  Over the years Jenny has collaborated with such luminaries as Gladys Knight, Kurt Bestor, Alex Boye, Marvin Hamlisch, and the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Jenny's emotionally stirring music has been featured on the soundtracks of many films, including Helen Whitney's 2007 PBS Documentary, "The Mormons", TC Christensen's films, "17 Miracles"and "The Cokeville Miracle" , and alongside music by "The Killers" in Mitch Davis' new film, "Christmas Eve".  Additionally, Jenny made her acting debut as the violinist character, Mandy in "Christmas Eve", a film starring James Roday, Jon Heder and Patrick Stewart.  

Recently, Jenny teamed up with Director Danny Drysdale to launch The Jenny Oaks Baker YouTube Channel.  The Channel features Jenny's inspiring and entertaining music videos and enables more people throughout the world to experience the thrill of her music and performance.  These videos have been enjoyed by over 5 million viewers and are partially made possible through Jenny's Patreon.

With her extensive performing and recording careers in addition to her superlative education, Jenny is an esteemed expert and served as a judge for the 2007 Stradivarius International Violin Competition. In April 2008 Governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr. of Utah awarded her the Governor’s Mansion Artist Award for excellence in artistic expression.

For seven years, Jenny Oaks Baker performed as a first violinist in the National Symphony Orchestra before resigning in 2007 to devote more time to her young family.  Jenny, her husband, and their four children reside in SLC, UT.