Violinist Charles Dimmick enjoys a varied and distinguished career as concertmaster, soloist, and chamber musician. Praised by the Boston Globe for his “cool clarity of expression,” Charles is one of New England’s most sought-after orchestral musicians. In addition to his role with the New Hampshire Music Festival, he is co-concertmaster of the Boston Pops Esplanade, and concertmaster of both the Portland Symphony and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. Charles has appeared as guest concertmaster for the Arizona Music Fest and the Winston-Salem Symphony. A frequent soloist, Charles has garnered praise, packed houses, and received standing ovations for what the Portland Press Herald has called his “luxurious and stellar performances” and his “technical and artistic virtuosity.” Recent concerto engagements have included performances with the Portland Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Arizona Musicfest, Chamber Orchestra of Boston, Boston Civic Symphony, and NHMF. As a chamber musician, Charles can be heard collaborating with the Sebago Long Lake Chamber Festival, the Chameleon Arts Ensemble, Radius Ensemble, and Monadnock Music. He is featured as concertmaster on many recordings with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Odyssey Opera, including the Grammy-Award winning opera The Fantastic Mr. Fox, by Tobias Picker. His debut recording as concerto soloist in Elliot Schwartz’s Chamber Concertoand his debut solo violin recording of Lisa Bielawa’s Synopsis #7 can be found at bmop.org. Charles lives with his wife, NHMF flutist Rachel Braude, and their daughter Chloe. He performs on a 1784 Joseph Gagliano violin.
Ella Marie Gray-Assistant Concertmaster-Violin
Violetta Tordova-Principal Second Violin
An emerging voice of her generation, Violetta Todorova has performed throughout the USA, Russia, Europe and Asia. Among the many concert halls she appeared in are Carnegie Hall in New York, the Symphony Center in Chicago, St-Petersburg State Capella Concert Hall in Russia, and Xuzhou Concert Hall in China. She also had the honor of playing at the inaugural concert at the Ulanhot Grand Theater in Ulanhot, Inner Mongolia. Currently, Todorova is the Concertmaster of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the Artist Violin Professor at Taylor University. She holds top prizes from several violin competitions, including the International Competition for Young Violinists in Estonia and the All-Russian Competition for Young Violinists in Nizhny-Novgorod. In February 2019, she won the prestigious “Emerging Artist” Award from Arts United in the USA. She holds BM and MM degrees from DePaul University, having studied with Ilya Kaler.
Australian-American violinist Irene Fitzgerald-Cherry (she/her) is a member of the New Hampshire Music Festival and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and a substitute in the California Symphony. During the year, she teaches violin and piano lessons throughout New York City for Music To Your Home. Irene is also the Principal Librarian at the New Hampshire Music Festival, and her favourite activity is cataloguing music. When she is not practising, counting, or erasing parts, you will probably find her researching cake recipes.
Kristina Handler has been a member of the New Hampshire Music Festival’s violin section since 1995. Her most influential teachers were Marylou Speaker-Churchill, Ruggerio Ricci, and Camilla Wicks. Kristina has a performance degree from Rice University and a masters in performance from Kent State University. She also attended the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, the Tanglewood Young Artist Program, the Grand Teton Music Festival, and the National Orchestra Institute. She lives with her husband and son in Birmingham, Alabama where she has performed with the Alabama and Tuscaloosa Symphonies. She also enjoys illustration and writing children’s stories.
David Handler began his study of music at age 6 on piano, and picked up violin in his public school music program at age 12, for the fun of it. A summer at the Brevard Music Center cemented his desire to be an orchestral musician. He attended the Indiana University School of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and spent summers at Meadowmount. Principal teachers were Thomas Weaver, Eduard Melkus, William Steck and David Cerone. After college, Mr. Handler became the youngest member of the Alabama Symphony, from which he recently retired, forty-something years later, from the position of Assistant Principal 2nd violin. Prior to joining the New Hampshire Music Festival in 1995, he was Principal 2nd violin in the Missouri Symphony Society Chamber Orchestra for 6 years. Past summers include 3 years with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. In his spare time, he enjoys nature photography and modifying his motorcycle.
Violinist Sasha Callahan has established a vibrant and diverse career as a recitalist, chamber and orchestral musician. She has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia, and is a founding member of Sheffield Chamber Players and the Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival. Chamber music has been one of Sasha’s great loves since she played her first string quartets with her sister Eve and their grandparents. She’s particularly interested in projects that challenge preconceived notions about classical music and bring audiences and performers closer together to forge connection and community. The Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival, Sheffield Chamber Players, and the educational string trio All Ears were each formed with this in mind. Sasha is passionate about exploring new music alongside masterpieces of the past, and has worked closely with many composers such as Joan Tower, Gabriela Lena Frank, Evan Ziporyn, Osvaldo Golijov, Nathaniel Stookey, Andrew Waggoner, Jessie Montgomery, Kenji Bunch, Lukas Foss, and Gunther Schuller. She can be heard as a member of the Portland (Maine) Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, and New Hampshire Music Festival, as well as with the Boston Pops, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Lyric Opera, Odyssey Opera, and the Boston Ballet Orchestra. She recently served as a faculty mentor to emerging composers at the innovative Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music in California. A native of Portland, Oregon, Sasha received her BM degree in violin performance from Rice University and MM from Boston University. Principal teachers include Lucia Lin, Sergiu Luca, Denes Zsigmondy, and Carol Sindell. She currently resides in Boston with her husband Leo Eguchi, daughter Freya, and a rather sedentary cats named Max.
Violinist David Langr has been a member of the Utah Symphony Orchestra since 2002. He has also been Concertmaster of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Denver Chamber Orchestra, the West Virginia Symphony and the Ohio Valley Symphony. It has also been a great joy for David to explore the chamber music repertoire as a member of the Montclaire, Freimann, and Ravel String Quartets. David is very happy to return to performing at the NHMF and climbing all the 4,000 footers for the third time.
Born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Viktoria Tchertchian began playing violin at the age of five. She received her Bachelor’s’ Degree in Violin Performance from Louisiana State University in 2001 and her Performance Diploma and Masters Degree at the Longy School of Music in 2006. Her principal teachers include Laura Bossert, Kevork Mardirossian, James Alexander and Dora Ivanova. Ms. Tchertchian has participated in festivals including the Round Top International Music Festival, the Lyrica International Chamber Music Festival, and the Heber Springs Chamber Music Festival. She was a featured soloist with the Longy School of Music Chamber Orchestra, the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra and the Plovdiv National Catholic Choir in performances in France, Belgium, Germany, Norway, and the Czech Republic. Ms. Tchertchian’s orchestral experience includes positions in the Baton Rouge Symphony, Acadiana Symphony, Simon Sinfonietta and Cape Cod Symphony and she currently performs with the BSO Pops, Portland Symphony, the Rhode Island Philharmonic and the Springfield Symphony. Ms. Tchertchian is a dedicated violin teacher at the Melrose Middle School in Melrose, MA and Dana Hall School of Music. She holds a Private Studio in North Andover, MA.
Lidija Peno-Kelly, violinist, was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and received her first violin lesson at age five. As a young violinist Lidija won five first prizes at national level competitions. She studied simultaneously at the Academy of Music in Novi Sad (BM, MM) and at the Academia Internazionale di Musica a Portogruaro – Venice, Italy (Performance Diploma). Further studies were completed at the Richard-Strauss-Konservatorium, Munich, Germany (Post Diploma) and the Boston Conservatory of Music (Perfomance Diploma). Lidija’s teachers include Pavel Vernikov, Ilya Grubert, Martin Albrecht Rohde, G. Jislin, Lynn Cheng,Tamara Smirnova. Lidija has worked with the trio Tchaikovsky and has performed as soloist with the Belgrade Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Dubrovnik Philharmonic and La Picolla Symfonia di Venezia. She was also a member of the Gaertnerplatz Theater Orchestra in Munich. Solo performances include various large and chamber ensembles in Belgrade, Dubrovnik, Moscow, Venice, Milan, Munich, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Chicago, San Francisco, Bordeaux, Madrid, Bilbao and others. Mrs. Peno-Kelly has also recorded for the Yugoslavian National Radio, Rai Uno, Italy, ARD and ZDF – Germany, Paris – CD recording. Currently she is playing with Portland Symphony Orchestra, PORTopera, New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Bernard Di Gregorio-Principal Viola
BERNARD DI GREGORIO is the violist of the Montclaire String Quartet, which is in residence at West Virginia State University. Among his many responsibilities he is the Principal Viola of the West Virginia Symphony and Artist-in-Residence in the West Virginia Symphony/ Kanawha County Schools String Program, and a member of the Ohio Valley Symphony. During the summer months he is the Principal Viola with the New Hampshire Music Festival where he also participates in chamber music programs. He has been Principal Viola with the Roanoke (VA) Symphony for over 20 seasons before resigning, and has been a member of the Alabama Symphony. Mr. Di Gregorio also performs occasionally in the viola section of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He has studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and holds a diploma in Viola Performance from the Longy School of Music where his principal instructor was George Neikrug. Although very busy as an orchestral/chamber musician and teacher he also is the founding member of DUO VIANNO, and viola and piano duet which has given performances throughout the Ohio Valley and West Virginia areas. As a composer he has had his Symphony for String Orchestra performed by the Seneca Chamber Orchestra and Scenes From the Old Country- Four Pictures for Cello and Piano composed for and performed by his wife and cellist, Andrea, at the New Hampshire Music Festival. At the behest of the Montclaire String Quartet has also arranged his Love Letters, Seven Miniatures for Piano for string quartet and was performed by Montclaire in 2014.
Mary E. M. Harris is Professor Emerita of Viola, Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), and former member of the Oxford String Quartet. An avid performer, she is also principal violist of ProMusica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio and violist of the Nexus String Quartet. In addition, she is a founding member of Cosmos, a flute, viola and harp ensemble dedicated to commissioning and performing new works for this combination. Cosmos’ recording, American Premieres on MSR Classics, features works written for and premiered by the trio to critical acclaim. A former member of the Dakota String Quartet and I Musici de Montreal, Ms Harris has served as principal violist of the New American Chamber Orchestra, touring Europe extensively and performing at the Korsholm, Casals, and other international festivals. She also served as principal of the Echternach Festival Orchestra in Luxembourg and has performed with the Garth Newel Festival in Virginia. For many years, Ms Harris has spent her summers performing at the New Hampshire Music Festival and the Peter Britt Festival in Jacksonville, Oregon. She also performs with the Serafin Summer Music chamber music series in Wilmington, Deleware. Ms. Harris is an enthusiastic dog-lover, hiker and backpacker!
Joan Ellersick, viola, studied at Indiana University with Georges Janzer and received her Bachelor in Viola Performance from Boston University where she worked with Bernard Kadinoff. After graduating from BU, Ms Ellersick served as assistant principal viola and personnel manager of the Grand Rapids, MI Symphony, also playing frequently with the Detroit Symphony and teaching viola at Calvin College. Since returning to her native Boston, she has appeared with many local ensembles, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Lyric Opera, Cantata Singers, Chamber Orchestra of Boston, Emmanuel Music, Opera Boston and Odyssey Opera. In addition to playing viola with Emmanuel Music, Ms Ellersick serves as their orchestra personnel manager, ensuring the proper combination of players and instruments appears to perform the weekly Bach cantata. An avid chamber musician, Ms Ellersick was a founding member of the Somerset Quartet and Mackinac Trio, as well as violist of the Van Swieten Quartet and a regular guest with Music at Eden’s Edge. Ms. Ellersick coaches the viola sections and teaches lessons for Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras; she taught for many years at St Mark’s and Fay Schools in Southboro, MA.
Walter Gray-Co-Principal Cello
Walter Gray has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Far East. He was a founding member of the Kronos Quartet and for over five years presented hundreds of concerts including numerous world premieres. Mr. Gray’s expanded contemporary music adventures have included working with Pearl Jam, Dave Mathews Band, Queensrÿche, Heart, and David Lanz. He has recorded works of John Cage, Paul Schoenfield, Jake Heggie, and Chinary Ung and produced recordings for the London Symphony, Seattle Symphony, New Hampshire Music Festival and numerous solo and chamber musicians.
A member of the Seattle Symphony since 1979, Mr. Gray has performed as soloist with the orchestra several times. “Gray played with his usual intensity and flair…the cello’s lyrical possibilities are realized.” (The Seattle Times) He has taught at SUNY Geneseo, Mills College, Western Washington University, and the University of North Texas. In the summer he makes regular appearances at the Olympic, Marrowstone, New Hampshire, and Grand Teton Music Festivals.
David Goldblatt-Co-Principal Cello
David Goldblatt is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Orlando Cole, Felix Galimir, Mischa Schneider, and Isadore Cohen. A versatile musician, Goldblatt has performed in symphonic, baroque, and rock ‘n’ roll ensembles. He has been a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Skywalker Orchestra, and the Philly Sound, which won a 1973 Grammy for best instrumental rock ‘n’ roll recording. Presently he is a member of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and appears regularly throughout the Bay Area in concert, including the San Francisco Symphony chamber music series. He is the director of Chamber Music Sundaes.
Leo Eguchi has been described as “copiously skilled and confident” (New York Times) with performances that were “ravishing” (New Bedford Standard-Times) and “played with passion and vitality” (Boston Music Intellegencer). A native of Michigan, Leo has performed extensively across North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. He enjoys an active and multi-faceted performance schedule – Leo can be heard in myriad chamber music settings, including the Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival and Sheffield Chamber Players; in larger ensembles as principal cellist of the New Bedford Symphony, a member of the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, the New Hampshire Music Festival and the Portland Symphony; and frequent appearances with the Boston Pops. A strong advocate of new music, Leo has worked closely with, and premiered dozens of solo and chamber works by many notable composers such as William Bolcom, Bright Sheng, George Crumb, Lukas Foss, Joan Tower, Ken Ueno, Yehudi Wyner, Jessie Montgomery, Gabriela Lena Frank, Osvaldo Golijov, and Daniel Bernard Roumain. Recent performing highlights include being a prize winner at the 2021 ProCello International Cello Competition, having several GRAMMY nominated recording releases from Parma recordings, multiple concerto appearances, an artist residency and solo performances in Kabul, Afghanistan, and opportunities to share the non-classical stage with the likes of Pete Townshend, Queen Latifah, Melissa Etheridge, Demi Lovato, Brian Wilson, Kelly Clarkson, Peter Gabriel, Billy Idol, Jennifer Hudson, Nick Jonas, Josh Groban, and Audra McDonald, to name a few. Leo is on the music faculty of Boston College, and was formerly the Assistant Conductor of the MIT Symphony Orchestra. His degrees include a BM (Cello Performance) and BS (Physics) cum laude from the University of Michigan, and MM (cello performance) from Boston University, where he received the String Department Award for Excellence. Leo, along with violinist wife Sasha Callahan and cat-obsessed daughter Freya, live in Boston and spend their non-musical time time appreciating the outdoors, food, and wine.
Cellist Tido Janssen has served on the faculty at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley since 2010 and is director of the annual UTRGV Cello Festival, hosting ca. 150 cellists every year. Before joining the music faculty at UTRGV, Dr. Janssen was on the faculty of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, and Assistant Professor of Cello at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. As a charter member of the University of Lethbridge faculty ensemble Trio Amaranth, he has performed extensively throughout western Canada. In Abilene, TX, he was Principal Cellist of the Abilene Philharmonic and Abilene Opera Orchestras, founder and director of the Abilene Summer Music Festival, and founding member of the Abilene Chamber Players. Dr. Janssen has performed repeatedly in Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Austria, Canada, and throughout the US. He has recorded for Deutsche Welle, Public Radio, and Centaur Records and has performed at the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra since 2000.
Andrea Di Gregorio-Cello
A founding member of the Montclaire String Quartet, dedicated teacher and author of over seven musical plays for children, cellist ANDREA DI GREGORIO has shared her passion for chamber music through both her instrument and her innovative educational programs. Ms. Di Gregorio has held principal cellist positions in the Cedar Falls, Seneca, River Cities, New Hampshire Music Festival and currently, the West Virginia Symphony. A strong proponent of music education, she has served on the faculties of the University of Northern Iowa and currently West Virginia State University.
Valerie Watts- Principal Flute
Dr. Valerie Watts is professor of flute at the University of Oklahoma School of Music and principal flute of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra and New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra. Her guest residencies as soloist and chamber musician include the Bach Camerata in Santa Barbara, California; Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada; “Made in the USA” Festival in Geneva, Switzerland; artist-in-residence at Xu Beihong, School of the Arts, Remni University in Beijing, China; Festival Interacional, Natal, Brazil; and the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria.
Grammy-award winning flutist and piccoloist, Rachel Braude, has been a prominent member of the Boston music scene for many years. She is on the faculties of Dartmouth College and the New England Conservatory of Music (Preparatory Division). Rachel is the former piccoloist of the St. Louis Symphony and currently holds positions with the Portland Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Boston Philharmonic, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and Odyssey Opera. She is also a frequent performer with the Boston Ballet Orchestra, the Boston Pops Esplanade, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony. She regularly performs in every role in the flute section, from principal to piccolo. Rachel is a long-time member of the prestigious Arizona Music Fest and in the summers can be found performing at the New Hampshire Music Festival and teaching at the Greenwood Music Camp (Junior Division). Rachel won a Grammy in 2019 for her participation in Tobias Pinker’s Opera The Fantastic Mr. Fox with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. She is the former instructor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Rhode Island College, School of Music; and was interim lecturer in flute at the University of Rhode Island, School of Music. A frequent guest lecturer, Rachel has visited the flute studios of the Longy School of Music, Tufts University, University of Colorado, Amherst College, Williams College, University of Oklahoma, and Wichita State University. Rachel is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School. She can be heard on the Chandos, Naxos, New World, and BMOP Sound labels. Rachel is married to the violinist and Concertmaster, Charles Dimmick. Their daughter Chloe, aged 10, is an aspiring violinist and author. Visit RachelBraude.com for more information.
Mary Kay Robinson-Flute
Flutist Mary Kay Robinson has risen to national prominence as a versatile musician who has performed, recorded, toured with the Symphony orchestras of Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Boston, Portland, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pittsburgh and premiere chamber musicians throughout the United States. She balances a career of performance, teaching and arts leadership and has been featured soloist on flute and piccolo with the Southern Tier Symphony (NY), Cleveland Pops at Severance Hall, The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra. “Dazzling virtuosity…a hugely talented soloist”, critics heralded of her New York solo debut where she performed two concerti on different instruments. She is the founder of the international award winning mixed chamber ensemble, Panorámicos, the Greater Cleveland Flute Society, and former Chair of the National Flute Association’s Piccolo Committee. Chamber Music collaborations include musicians from Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Music from Angel Fire, Monadnock Chamber Music, ChamberFest Cleveland and the New Hampshire Music Festival. Previous posts include the Akron Symphony, Lyric Opera Cleveland, and the Playhouse Square Orchestra. She has championed the commissioning of new solo and chamber works for Flute, Piccolo and Alto Flute, and can be heard on recordings by Polyhymnia, Hyperion, Azica, TelArc, and Albany Records. As Artistic Director of Panorámicos, she produced three CD’s to international acclaim including “Editor’s Choice”,“ Top Pick”of North America” – Gramophone. Faculty appointments include Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Institute of Music, Ithaca College, Franklin Pierce University and is a frequent clinician, adjudicator and guest artist working with aspiring musicians. She has given masterclasses and worked with orchestras and chamber musicians at Bowdoin College, Oberlin Conservatory, University of New Hampshire, University of Texas-El Paso, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory, and The University of Akron. She serves as Director of the Bascom Little Fund, a philanthropic trust created to promote the work of NE Ohio composers, and previously Music from Angel Fire and ChamberFest Cleveland.
Shawn Welk-Principal Oboe
A native of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Shawn Welk joined the Richmond Symphony as Assistant Principal Oboe and Principal English Horn in 2008, following a seven year tenure as Co-Principal Oboe of the “President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band and Marine Chamber Orchestra in Washington, D.C. During his years with the “President’s Own,” Shawn performed concerts at the White House, Washington D.C. Metro area, overseas, and across the United States as soloist, chamber player, and principal musician. His solo appearances included performances of John Harbison’s Concerto for Oboe, Clarinet and Strings, Frank Martin’s Trois Danses for Oboe, Harp and Strings, and Samuel Barber’s Capricorn Concerto, all with the Marine Chamber Orchestra. In addition, he performed at the White House as soloist in J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin, entertaining former President George W. Bush and other heads of state. With the Richmond Symphony, Shawn has served as Acting Principal Oboe, soloist, chamber musician, and as educational program leader, designing innovative music education shows for elementary and middle school students, commissioning new chamber works, and arranging music for the Richmond Symphony Woodwind Quartet. In the summers of 2008-2014, Shawn served as Principal Oboist of the New York Symphonic Ensemble, performing annual summer concert tours across Japan, and in 2017 was appointed Principal Oboe of the New Hampshire Music Festival. For the 2013–14 season, he served as Acting Principal Oboe of The Florida Orchestra in Tampa, FL. He has also performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Kennedy Center Opera, Washington Concert Artists, Tulsa Philharmonic, Aspen Festival Orchestra, and the Staunton Music Festival. An active chamber musician, Shawn is a core member of D.C.’s acclaimed Fessenden Ensemble and the Executive Director of Richmond’s innovative Atlantic Chamber Ensemble. Shawn holds performance degrees from the University of Oklahoma and the Eastman School of Music, and he is currently pursuing a Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University. He is currently on the faculty of the University of Richmond, having previously served on the faculties of the Virginia Commonwealth University and the Catholic University of America.
Elizandro Garcia Montoya-Co-Principal Clarinet
Elizandro Garcia Montoya has been co-principal clarinet of the New Hampshire Music Festival since 2006. Elizandro is a member of the Fifth House Ensemble in Chicago, principal clarinetist with the Elmhurst Symphony and a member of the Chicago Philharmonic. He is former principal clarinet of the Sarasota Opera, Mexico State Orchestra and Mineria Symphony in Mexico City. Elizandro has performed with the Jacksonville Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and was the silver-prize winner of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 1999. Elizandro holds a Master’s degree from Rice University, a Professional Studies diploma from Cleveland Institute of Music and a Bachelor’s degree from Baylor University. His major teachers include Larry Combs, Richard Shanley, Michael Webster and Franklin Cohen. Elizandro lives in Chicago and teaches clarinet at DePaul University’s Community Music Division, the Musical Offering in Evanston and Loyola University-Chicago.
Bill Kalinkos-Co-Principal Clarinet
Bill Kalinkos, clarinetist, enjoys a varied career as a member of critically acclaimed groups such as Alarm Will Sound and Splinter Reeds. Recognized by the Washington Post as a “notable contemporary music specialist,” he has been fortunate enough to work with and premiere pieces by many renowned composers. As an orchestral player, Bill is the principal clarinetist of the Oakland Symphony, a member of both IRIS Orchestra and the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra, and he has performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the Kansas City Symphony. He attended the Eastman School of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music prior to earning his doctorate degree at Stony Brook University. Bill has served on the faculties of the University of Missouri and the University of California at Santa Cruz and Berkeley. As a recording artist, he can be heard on the Cantaloupe, Nonesuch, Euroarts, Naxos, Mode, Orange Mountain, Albany Records, Deutsche Gramophon, and Harmonia Mundi labels.
Velvet Brown-Principal Tuba
Velvet Brown is profoundly passionate about her career as a performer and educator. She is the David P. Stone Endowed Professor for the School of Music at Penn State and the Associate Director of the School of Music for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Brown is also Visiting Artist Faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. Velvet enjoys a career as professor, international soloist, composer/arranger, chamber ensemble performer, recording artist, conductor, and orchestral player. She has performed and taught in Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Finland, France, England, Hungary, Slovenia, Russia, Japan, Cuba, Canada and the United States. Ms. Brown is currently the principal tubist of the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra. Brown was honored to be principal tuba with the Hope and Harmony Ensemble which recorded a video of fanfares for the 2021 Presidential Inauguration conducted by Marin Alsop. She has served as principal tuba with the River City Brass band, guest principal with the Lahti Philharmonic in Finland, the Detroit Symphony, San Francisco Women’s Philharmonic Orchestra, and as substitute or additional tubist with the Saint Louis Symphony and Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Having performed and worked closely with jazz, commercial and classical artists regarded as some of the most influential musicians of all time, including Howard Johnson, Marie Speziale, Bob Stewart, Susan Slaughter and Doc Severinsen, she felt inspired to explore new territories in her music career. As a consequence, influenced also by some personal experiences, she decided to explore in music how life events shape one’s creativity and thus started a veritable music renaissance, which involves soul-searching musical patterns and a more profound relationship with the audience. She is the co- founder of MOJATUBA: Tuba and Dance Fusion Project, and is in her 16th year as lead tuba with Howard Johnson’s “Gravity” Tuba Jazz Ensemble. Velvet Brown has been an invited solo artist or tuba solo artist adjudicator at the International Tuba and Euphonium Conferences since1998. She has also served as guest conductor for festivals in the United States in Maine, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania as well as abroad in Austria, Finland, Italy, Slovenia, Japan, and Canada. Prior to her tenure at Penn State, she also taught at Bowling Green State University (Ohio), Ball State University (Indiana), and served as an associate director of University Bands at Boston University. Brown has garnered high praise as a founding and current member of Stiletto Brass Quintet, Monarch Brass Quintet and Brass Ensemble, the Quintet of Americas and the Pennsylvania Brassworks. Moreover, she is also a founding board member of the International Women’s Brass Conference. Velvet also serves as the Artistic Director of the Chromatic Brass Collective. She has released five solo CDs, and has collaborated on several other recordings as a soloist and ensemble member, such as Stiletto Brass Quintet featuring Doc Severinsen, trumpet, on one of her original compositions, Testimony (Howard Johnson and Gravity) as lead tuba, and a solo tuba jazz recording with the Cleveland Jazz Ensemble. Many of her arrangements are published by Potenza Music. Velvet Brown is a Buffet/Crampon Performing Artist, performing on the MW 2250 and 2182 F tubas, and the MW 2000 and MW 3450 CC tubas. She is also a performing artist for Denis Wick mouthpieces, mutes, and accessories.
Andrea Gross Hixon-Oboe
Andrea Gross Hixon has played with the New Hampshire Music Festival since 2015. She is a member of the Madison (Wisconsin) Symphony Orchestra, and was principal oboe of the Green Bay Symphony for its final ten years. She teaches oboe at UW-Oshkosh and St. Norbert College, and has also taught at Lawrence University, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Green Bay, and the University of Memphis (Tennessee). She has played with the Woodstock/Midwest Mozart Festival Orchestra in Illinois since 2005. Andrea received her Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, and her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed additional studies at the Conservatoire de Paris. She resides in Appleton, Wisconsin with her husband, son, daughter, and chihuahua mix, Rosie.
Nicolasa Kuster-Principal Bassoon
Bassoonist Nicolasa Kuster joined the faculty of University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music in Stockton, CA, in the fall of 2008 and became it’s Associate Dean of Academic Affairs ten years later. She balances her full-time teaching and administrative position with a rich orchestral, chamber, and solo performing life around northern California and beyond. She also launched and continues to lead the Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition, a biennial competition for young women bassoonists from the Americas. This competition awards $20,500 in prizes at the exciting three day MQVC Bassoon Symposium open to all. Kuster is Principal Bassoon of the Stockton Symphony and the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra, Second Bassoon (Acting Principal since 2019) of the Monterey Symphony, and performs on occasion with the San Francisco and San Diego Symphonies. Previous positions include the Wichita Symphony (also serving on the faculty of Wichita State University), the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and the Virginia Symphony. She spent six summer seasons performing and recording with the Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Italy. She is a double degree graduate from Oberlin College and Conservatory with a BM in Bassoon Performance and a BA in Religion. Her solo album, Metamorphosis, can be found where cd’s are sold online.
Molly Norcross-Principal Horn
Hailed by Alan Kozinn in the New York Times as giving “a magnificent performance: precise, passionate, and supple,” horn player Molly Norcross is equally at home in the back of the orchestra as she is taking center stage in chamber music and solo performances. She currently holds the position of Assistant Principal and Utility Horn with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops and has been playing the role of Acting Associate Principal Horn since joining the orchestra in 2019. She can be seen in the CSO’s Music Hall performances, live-streamed online content, and many chamber music concerts throughout the Cincinnati area. Additionally, Ms. Norcross serves as the Principal Horn of the New Hampshire Music Festival, which she joined in 2018. Previously, she was the Principal Horn of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and Third/Associate Principal Horn of the San Antonio Symphony. A sought-after performer and teacher, Ms. Norcross maintains a busy schedule, making appearances with several other symphonies and chamber music series, and working with students in Ohio and Kentucky. She often plays with the Philadelphia Orchestra, loves getting back to Texas to play with her old colleagues, and is active in working with the members of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. In the upcoming season, Ms. Norcross is slated to play several woodwind quintet and brass quintet shows, and is teaching at the University of Kentucky for the fall semester. She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at The Juilliard School and pursued additional professional studies at the New England Conservatory, studying with William Purvis, Jennifer Montone and Richard Sebring, respectively. She spends time in the great outdoors whenever she can, especially enjoying cycling and backpacking, while contemplating which White Mountain peak will be crossed off her list next!
Nina Allen Miller has been a member of the Portland Symphony Orchestra since 1976. She freelances and performs with several orchestras in New England including the New Hampshire Music Festival, where she has been a member of the horn section since 1981. Her eclectic performances include concerts with Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Three Irish Tenors, Beach Boys, and special performance of the Brahms Requiem with the Dartmouth Glee Club Alumni at Carnegie Hall. Nina has taught horn at Bates College and in the Wellesley, MA public schools. A native New Yorker, she earned her degree in Horn Performance from Northwestern University. Her horn teachers include Dale Clevenger, Arthur Berv and Phillip Farkas. In addition to her work as a hornist, Nina is also an accomplished ukulele player and is the Music Director/Conductor of Maine’s popular 30-member ukulele ensemble, “The FLUKES”, whose goal is to bring ukulele music and song to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, memory care and rehabilitation centers throughout New England.
Richard Kelly-Principal Percussion
Upon completion of a BMA from Boston University in percussion, Richard toured Europe with a Broadway show playing drum set. After a year on the road, he began performing more as a substitute player for many European orchestras and left the tour to pursue this. At this time, he also started a Masters of Percussion Program in Frankfurt, Germany with Siegfried Fink. 2 years later he returned to the US to begin his studies with Vic Firth, timpanist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Richard remained in Boston after completing his Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory. Richard has performed with the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, Boston Opera, Boston Ballet, Rhode Island Philharmonic, and numerous New England orchestras throughout the years. Since 1993 he has been a fulltime member of the Portland, ME Symphony Orchestra. In addition to music, mathematics is another passion of his and he has Master’s degrees in Elementary Education and Mathematics. When not on stage, Richard can be found teaching Middle School Math, in Massachusetts, for the past 27 years. Performing each summer with the NHMF since the late 1990’s is something he looks forward to every year.
Bill Shaltis is the Assistant Professor of Percussion at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, University of Memphis and Principal Timpanist of the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra and Boise Baroque Orchestras. Formerly, Shaltis was the Principal Timpanist for the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Percussion of the Evansville Philharmonic and Owensboro Symphony, and on faculty at Missouri Southern State University and the University of Evansville. He is a sought-after clinician and performer throughout North America, Europe, and China and has performed and presented at several PASICs, the NAfME and Midwest Conferences, and at state conferences, Day of Percussion events, and universities throughout the country. Shaltis created the video podcast series Good Beats (tips for music educators) and The Solo Timpanist. His debut album, “Essence/Descent,” features premiere recordings of 21st century solo and chamber timpani repertoire and is available on major streaming platforms. Shaltis is also a co-founder of the annual Two Rivers Timpani Summit. Shaltis is a proud performing artist/clinician for Grover Pro Percussion, JGpercussion, Remo, Yamaha, and Zildjian.
Steinway Artist Frances Renzi has appeared as soloist with many orchestras including those of Dallas, Houston, Toledo, and the New Hampshire Music Festival. She has performed throughout North America, Taiwan, and China, giving recitals in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York, on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago, at the Phillips Collecton in Washington, D.C., at the National Concert Hall in Taipei, and at the China Conservatory in Beijing. She appears regularly as a featured guest artist on the Toledo Symphony Chamber Series, performs each summer as a soloist and chamber musician at the New Hampshire Music Festival, and has performed as a solo pianist for the New York City Ballet. She was a founding member of the Toledo Trio at the University of Toledo and performed with them for 27 years. Ms. Renzi has recorded both solo and chamber music for Educo, Centaur, Koch International, the Musical Heritage Society, Azica, Audite, and Decca-Argo. Her numerous recordings have won critical acclaim and many awards in Europe and the United States, including a Grammy nomination for the recording of the chamber music of Paul Schoenfield for Decca-Argo.
An experienced teacher as well as performer, she is Professor Emerita at the University of Toledo. In 2000, she received a commendation from the Ohio Senate honoring her outstanding university career.
Leslie Amper began her national career with a critically acclaimed New York debut in Carnegie Recital Hall. She went on to delight audiences in Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco as well as at Monadnock Musicʼs Virtuoso Piano Series. A member of New Hampshire Music Festival, she is a frequent participant in Boston’s Emmanuel Music solo and chamber music celebrations. An acknowledged scholar and practitioner of contemporary music, Amper has recorded Andrew Imbrieʼs Short Story for Neuma Records which was chosen for the international radio broadcast, Art of the States. Equally adept at accompanying silent film, she has compiled piano accompaniments at the Harvard Film Archives for the short films of Georges Méliès and King Vidor’s The Crowd. As a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts solo recitalist grant, she presented Messiaenʼs monumental Vingt Regards sur lʼenfant Jésus in Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC. Her unique multi media performances related to the visual arts have been presented at the invitation of the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Pittsburgh Frick, New York State Museum, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Phoenix Art Museum, Carnegie Mellon University and California State University East Bay. Leslie Amper studied at Oberlin College and with Russell Sherman at New England Conservatory. Currently teaching at New England Conservatory Preparatory and Wheaton (MA) College, Leslie Amper has lectured at Boston University, Currier House of Harvard University, and the University of Pittsburgh.