Nicolas Paul Orbovich enjoys a reputation among adventurous American violinists. His highly acclaimed career spans a wide variety of musical styles and genres, while expanding into prolific artistic entrepreneurial endeavors.
As a performer, Nic has been honored widely. In 1987, he was awarded the Bronze Medal at Her Royal Majesty’s International Festival Competition in Aberdeen, Scotland (UK). Orbovich was also a semi-finalist at the 1995 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition as a member of the Amherst String Quartet. In 2001, he was featured as a soloist on the Grammy Award nominated release, “The Hot Springs Music Festival: Louis Moreau Gottschalk” (Naxos). That same year, Nic was a prominent figure in the Emmy Award winning documentary, “The Sound of Dreams.” In 2008, Nic was concertmaster on a “Top Ten of the Year” selection of Gramophone Magazine, “Rudolf Haken; Concertos” (Naxos). He has soloed with numerous orchestras around the country, having performed concertos and brilliant works by Wieniawski, Vieuxtemps, Sarasate, J.S. Bach, Beethoven, and Vivaldi.
He enjoys a reputation as an outstanding recording artist in many genres. Besides the aforementioned Grammy nominee and Gramophone magazine award winner, Nic appears in “The Hot Springs Music Festival; Creole Romantic Composers” (2001-Naxos), “Music of Jerome Moross” (2002-Naxos), “Music of Jerome Starer” (1997-Albany), and appears on an album of jazz violinist Diane Delin.
As an orchestral performer, his work is prolific. Nic has been concertmaster of the South Bend Symphony, the Hot Springs Festival Orchestra, the Southwest Michigan Symphony, the La Porte County Symphony, the Lake Shore Symphony and many others. In this role, he has performed on stage with some of the most acclaimed names in classical music. Some of those names include; Itzhak Perlman, Gidon Kremer, Joshua Bell, Andre Watts, Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, Garrick Ohlson, Shlomo Mintz, Daniel Barenboim, Lorin Maazel, Leonard Slatkin, and Sir Georg Solti. Currently, he holds the Principal Second Violin chair with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra (SBSO), where he is also a member of the SBSO String Quartet and String Quintet, performing over 20 concerts a year with those chamber ensembles.
Nic’s favorite form of musical expression is through chamber music. His involvement with existing ensembles and musicians is prodigious. He has coached with Rostislav Dubinsky (Borodin String Quartet), Alexander Schneider (Budapest Quartet), and Alan Grishman (Mendelssohn String Quartet). Orbovich has performed chamber music with Rachel Barton Pine, Christopher O’Reilly, Nancy Ambrose King, members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. His performances of chamber music have been featured on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today.”
He is the co-founder (with wife Sunny) of the Michigan City Chamber Music Festival (MCCMF), and performs as violinist in their annual concerts. Through his leadership and dedication, the MCCMF is quickly becoming recognized as one of the country’s best chamber music festivals. In 2013, he was the guest speaker at the Indiana Suzuki Teachers Conference, where he delivered an address on the importance of teaching chamber music to young musicians. Visit Artist Website.
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Nic has garnered much attention in the “pop” genre as well. He has performed on stage with such popular artists as Rod Stewart, Amy Grant, Michael Bolton, Clay Aiken, Arturo Sandoval, Tony Bennett, the Duke Ellington Big Band, Frank Sinatra Jr., Bobby Vinton, the Moody Blues, Roger Daltry, Kansas, Melissa Manchester, Ben E. King, Tito Puente Jr., Ben Vereen, the Platters, the Ink Spots, and Barbara Mandrell, just to name a few.
Nic lives in Michigan City, Indiana with his lovely wife Sunny and beautiful daughter, Sophia. He also enjoys many altruistic and philanthropic endeavors. Orbovich serves on the Board of Directors of the Keys to Hope Drop In Resource Center (a Center for the homeless), the Recovery House of Michigan City, volunteers at the Community of Faith Men’s Shelter, the Michigan City Soup Kitchen, and has served on the Board of the Dunes Fellowship Recovery House.
Sunny enjoys a growing reputation as one of Northwest Indiana’s most respected artistic pedagogues for children. She has developed a unique general curriculum of arts education which includes cultural diversity, world and natural history, folk idioms and ideas and disciplines from the most current educational research minds.
Currently, “Mrs. G.O.” (as she is affectionately called by her students) is an Art Teacher in the Michigan City Area Schools Systems. Her artistic and musical experience, however, go far beyond the conventional limitations of public schools.
Sunny is also a respected painter, muralist and musician (viola and soprano). She graduated from Wichita University with honors in painting. Ms. Gardner-Orbovich also holds a certificate of education from Indiana University, Bloomington and a Masters of Arts Education from Indiana Wesleyan University. She has studied voice with the acclaimed Sonia Rasmussen at IU-Bloomington and acquired 6 years of Suzuki string method experience while residing there.
As a musician, she is an active violist with the LaPorte County Symphony Orchestra and is co-founder of the Michigan City Chamber Music Festival. Sunny is also co-founder of the Michigan City Ecumenical Community Children’s Choir (Michigan City, IN), established in 2005, and is founder of and facilitates the annual “Children’s Choir Institute,” held every July in Michigan City at FPC.
Robert Auler – Piano
Robert Marshall Auler is Assistant Professor of Piano at the State University of New York at Oswego, and maintains an active national and international performing career. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in June of 2005 and recently presented a series of concerts throughout Venezuela, performing modern works of American and Venezuelan composers. As a winner of the Young Keyboard Artists’ Association Piano Prize, Auler presented concerts throughout Germany, France, the Netherlands and Denmark, receiving critical acclaim for his performance of Gershwin’s Concerto in F. He has also appeared in concert in New York, Detroit, Dallas, Syracuse, Indianapolis, Louisville, Santa Barbara, Rochester, Greensboro, Austin, and other cities. Visit Artist Website.
Cellist Wesley Baldwin performs throughout the United States and Europe as soloist and chamber musician. As a soloist he has appeared with the Laredo Philharmonic, the Oregon Mozart Players, the Symphony of the Mountains, the Bryan Symphony, the Oak Ridge Symphony, New River Valley, Salisbury, and Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestras and the Wintergreen and Hot Springs Festival Orchestras, among others. Concerts this year include performances of the David Ott Double Cello Concerto in Tennessee and Missouri, solo cello concerti in South Dakota, and Minnesota, as well as solo recitals throughout the United States. In the summer of 2012 Wesley performed the complete Bach Cello Suites at the Wintergreen Festival, a cycle he will repeat several times in the 2012-13 season. In the 2013-14 season Baldwin will perform concertos with the Florence, Oak Ridge, Manchester and Chattanooga Symphonies.
An advocate for great music from all eras, Mr. Baldwin is one of the only performers of several little known and new concerti for cello, including recently those by Wagenseil, Jacob T.V., Behzad Ranjbaran, and Alan Shulman. His recording of music for cello by Alan Shulman, released by Albany records in 2010, enjoyed widespread critical acclaim. He has also recorded for the Naxos, Zyode, Centaur, and Innova labels.
Wesley was the founder of the Plymouth String Quartet, with whom he was a top prize-winner in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and a finalist in the Paolo Borciani International String Quartet Competition. Other performing honors Baldwin has received include the Prix Mercure, Homer Ulrich Awards, and a Tennessee Arts Commission Individual Performing Artist Fellowship. Visit Artist Website.
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Dr. Baldwin has performed chamber music at the Aspen, Cazenovia, Hot Springs, Ojai, Sandpoint, Mainly Mozart, May in Miami, Skaneateles, and Sub-tropics Music Festivals, and internationally in Italy, France, Monte Carlo, Spain, Austria, Brazil, Argentina, the United Kingdom and Costa Rica.
Wesley is now cellist of the James Piano Quartet, formerly in residence at Sweet Briar College and the Wintergreen Festival. In the summers he performs and teaches at the Michigan City Chamber Music Festival, the ARIA International Academy, and at the Wintergreen Festival, where he serves on the faculty of the Wintergreen Academy and holds the Leonard Rose Memorial chair as principal cellist of the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra.
Soprano Melisa Barrick Baldwin is a versatile vocal artist, equally fluent in the fields of opera, early
performances of Carmina Burana, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, the Requiems of Mozart, Fauré and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Beethoven Mass in C, as well as Stravinsky’s Les Noces, and many Bach Cantatas.
This season she gave an encore performance, under the baton of Cornelia Laemmli, in the multi-media presentation of Steven Prock’s Open Waters, and returned as soloist with the Symphony of the Mountains for the Mozart Requiem. This coming season she will appear as the soloist for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Very Young People’s Concert Series.
A prizewinner in the MacAllister Young Singer Competition, the Homer Ulrich Performance Competition, and winner of the Psi Iota Xi Award, she is an alumnus of the Peabody Conservatory, the University of Maryland, and the AIMS program (American Institute of Musical Studies) in Graz, Austria.
As an advocate of new music, she has given première performances of works by composers Joelle Wallach (her
George Chave, George Wright, and P. Kellach Waddle, who wrote his Danielewski Serenade for Ms. Barrick Baldwin and (The Magic Flute), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Blonde (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), and Amore in L’incoronazione di Poppea, which she performed with conductor Kenneth Slowik at the Smithsonian Institution.
She has also concertized under the batons of Mei-Ann Chen, Edward Polochick, Richard Rosenberg, Peter Bay, Serge Ms. Barrick Baldwin has been on the performance faculties of the Hot Springs Music Festival and the Mid-America Festival, and the Sweetbriar College Fringe Festival. Her critically acclaimed recordings include the Jerome Moross ballet Ave Maria, both of which are available on the Naxos label. Her performances have been broadcast nationally on NPR’s the Michigan City Chamber Music Festival. She grew up in Mishawaka, and now lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with her husband and three wonderful children, Jack, Ella and Poppy.
Rudolf Haken is a composer and violist internationally renowned for his creative melding of disparate musical styles and genres. He is particularly known for his work with extended-range violas, appearing in concert on four continents with his Rivinus five-string viola and Jensen six-string electric viola.
Performances of his compositions, including numerous commissioned works, have met with great success both in live performance and recordings. In September 2012, violinist Rachel Barton Pine premiered Rudolf Haken’s solo violin work Faust at Chicago’s Beethoven Festival. Pine had commissioned this work from Haken as part of an effort to bring heavy metal influence into solo acoustic violin music. In April 2011, Haken’s Violin Concerto for Stefan Milenkovich was premiered at the NOMUS Festival (Novi Sad, Serbia) and at Kolarac Hall in Belgrade. A Centaur CD of concertos composed by Rudolf Haken was chosen as a 2007 “Critics’ Choice” by American Record Guide. In 2004, WTTW-Chicago produced a video featuring Haken performing his transcriptions of Van Halen and Metallica on a Jensen five-string electric viola. This video was shown frequently in passenger areas at O’Hare and Midway airports in Chicago.
Professor Haken has performed his Concerto for Five-String Viola with several orchestras in North America, South America, and Europe. He has also composed commissioned works for Paul Merkelo (principal trumpet of the Montreal Symphony), oboist Nancy Ambrose King, flutist Jean Ferrandis, clarinetist William King, Nobel Prize laureate Paul Lauterbur, pianist Robert Auler, patrons George Brock and Harry Triandis, and numerous others. Visit Artist Website.
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A charismatic and versatile pianist, Jasmin Arakawa has performed widely in North America, Central and South America, Europe and Japan. Described by critics as a “lyrical” pianist with “impeccable technique” (The Record), she has been heard in prestigious venues worldwide including Carnegie Hall, Salle Gaveau (Paris) and Victoria Hall (Geneva). Highlights of recent seasons have included a solo performance with the Philips Symphony Orchestra (Holland), and guest artist appearances at the Toronto Summer festival, Ribadeo International Music Festival (Spain), Bicentenaire CHOPIN (Switzerland), Scotiabank Northern Lights Music Festival (Mexico), Fazioli Piano Pure Series (Chicago) and Distinguished Concerts International (New York.)
Jasmin’s special interest in Spanish repertoire grew out of a series of lessons with Alicia de Larrocha in 2004, which led to her recording of Iberia (selections) by Albeniz, sponsored by the Embassy of Spain as a prizewinner at the Tenth Annual Competition in the Performance of Music from Spain and Latin America.
An avid chamber musician, Jasmin has collaborated with such artists as cellists Colin Carr and Gary Hoffman, flutists Jean Ferrandis and Marina Piccinini, clarinetist James Campbell, and the Penderecki Quartet. A founding member of Trio Micheletti, she has toured extensively and recorded chamber works by Latin American composers. Visit Artist Website.
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A devoted teacher, Jasmin joined theUniversity of South Alabama Department of Music as Assistant Professor in Fall 2014. Prior university appointments include Associate Instructor at Indiana University and Accompanying Coordinator at Western Illinois University. Jasmin is on faculty at Piracicaba International Summer Festival (Brazil) and Silicon Valley Music Festival (San Jose, CA). She has given master classes in various venues, including The Center for Music Education in Heliopolis (Brazil), located in one of the largest favelas in Latin America.
Born in Japan, Jasmin is a graduate of Tokyo Univerisity of the Arts, where she studied with Shigeru Maruyama and Katsumi Ueda. She holds Doctor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she studied with Emile Naoumoff, the last protégé of Nadia Boulanger.
Zofia Glashauser – Violin
Zofia Glashauser is currently the concertmaster of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra and the Lira Orchestra of Chicago. With these orchestras, she has soloed on violin concertos by Tchaikovsky, Vieuxtemps, Mozart, and on brilliante works by Wieniawski and Kreisler. These performances were lauded by audience and critics alike, and has helped garner her a reputation as one of the American midwest’s most sought-after violinists. Her playing is haracterized by, and well-known to audiences, as having a sublime, yet fiery passion and a fine, crystalline technique.
Ms. Glashauser was born in the beautiful and historically rich city of Krakow, Poland. Upon her arrival in America, she was immediately accepted into the studio of renowned pedagogue, Renata Knific at Western Michigan University. While there, Zofia was both a winner of the 2001 concerto competition and a semi-finalist in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. She then continued her studies in the Chicago, IL area at Northwestern University as a master’s candidate in the acclaimed combined studio of Roland and Almita Vamos.
She is an avid performer today, having been a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Kalamazoo Symphony, and assistant concertmaster of the Northwest Indiana Symphony. With these, and other orchestras, she has worked under conductors Daniel Barenboim, Claudio Abbado, and Sir Neville Mariner.
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Zosia (as she is affectionately known to friends) lives in Elkhart, IN, where she keeps an active and thriving private teaching studio. She enjoys many activities, including cooking, reading, and especially running, having participated in numerous races. Zosia loves sharing these interests with her family; husband Jason, and her three beautiful children, Simon, Gabriela, and Susannah.
Soprano Kimberly Eileen Jones is an alum of the Ryan Opera Center with the prestigious Lyric Opera of Chicago. Her performances there include the slave girl, Margru, in the world premiere of Anthony Davis’ Amistad, which was released nationally on the New World recording label.
She also portrayed the feisty Olga in Fedora, Princess Xenia in Boris Godunov, and the spitfire Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte student matinee performances. With the Ryan Opera Center, she portrayed Laetitia in Menotti’s Old Maid and the Thief. Additionally, she made her Grant Park debut as Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Adele (Die Fledermaus) the following season. Kimberly performed in Houston Grand Opera’s colorful production of the Magic Flute (Papagena), and reprised her role of Xenia in Boris Godunov. Also with Houston, she participated in their production of Porgy and Bess, as Clara. This tour graced the international stages of La Scala in Milan, the Bastille in Paris, and the Bunkamura in Tokyo, Japan. For her portrayal of Clara, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by the NAACP Awards.
She captivated audiences in her Alice Tully Hall debut with the Little Orchestra Society, in an evening of Vivaldi arias. She received rave reviews as the Composer in Mozarts’ Jewel Box with the Chicago Opera Theater, as well as Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Madison Symphony. She has also appeared in concert with the Ravinia Festival (Bourgeois Gentilhomme), Richmond Symphony (Knoxville: Summer of 1915), and with Madison Symphony (Messiah and Christmas Pops) . Her first Carmina Burana and Haydn Creation were performed with the Rockford Symphony. The opening weekend of Millenium Park in Chicago, she was showcased in an afternoon of arias and duets. She was selected by Maestro Bruno Bartoletti, Lyric Opera’s former Artistic Director, to appear with the Orchestra della Toscana in Florence, La Spezia and Piombino. She was one of four opera center artists showcased in a series of concerts at the Chatelet in Paris, France.
She has received a George London grant, Sullivan grant, and a Licia Albanese Encouragement grant. She has been nominated for the Richard Tucker grant, received three grants from the MacAllister Awards competition, and was awarded the Richard Gold Career Grant from the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She was the sole Union League prize winner years ago. As a recommendation from Ardis Krainik, she was presented in Opera’s Now magazine’s “Who’s Hot in Opera”. She has performed the Glass Symphony #5 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany, and with the Stuttgart and Danish Radio Symphonies in Germany and Copenhagen. She was invited to perform in Opera America’s Annual Conference in Atlanta, singing music of Michael Ching and Hugo Weisgall. Visit Artist Website.
William King – Clarinet
William King has been a professional clarinetist for over 30 years. He currently holds the tenured 2nd/bass clarinet chair in the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra, Detroit’s opera company based in the beautifully restored Detroit Opera House; he won the chair in 2005. He has also held tenured chairs in the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra (Principal), the Illinois Symphony (2nd), and Sinfonia da Camera (2nd). He has been first-call substitute with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, including regional touring, the Colorado Symphony, and the Phoenix Symphony, and has subbed with the Cincinnati Symphony. He performs regularly with the River Rasin Ragtime Revue, an ensemble dedicated to recreating the original popular music of the United States, and is the Coordinator of Woodwind Chamber Music at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. Each summer he performs at the Michigan City (IN) Chamber Music Festival, and free-lances throughout southeast Michigan, western Ontario, and northern Ohio.
Nancy Ambrose King – Oboe
Nancy Ambrose King, oboe, is the first-prize winner of the Third New York International Competition for Solo Oboists, held in 1995. She has appeared as soloist throughout the United States and abroad, including performances with the St. Petersburg, Russia, Philharmonic, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic, Tokyo Chamber Orchestra, Puerto Rico Symphony, Orchestra of the Swan in Birmingham, England, Festival Internacionale de Musica in Buenos Aires, New York String Orchestra, Amarillo Symphony, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, and Sinfonia da Camera. She has performed as recitalist in Weill Recital Hall and as soloist at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
She has recorded nine CDs of works for the oboe on Boston Records, Cala Records, Equilibrium, Naxos and Centaur Records. Recent releases include “Global Reflections” recorded with the Prague Chamber Orchestra and featuring the works of Strauss, Skalkottas, Sierra, and Foss, as well as the premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Oboe Concerto with the University of Michigan Symphony Band and a Youtube video channel, “Trois Trios/Deux Duos” with colleagues Jeffrey Lyman, bassoon and Martin Katz, piano. She can also be heard in performances on the Athena, Arabesque, and CBS Masterworks labels. She was a finalist in the Fernand Gillet Oboe Competition held in Graz, Austria, and has been heard as soloist on WQXR radio in New York City and NPR’s “Performance Today”. She is on the faculty of the Sarasota Music Festival, has appeared as a recitalist throughout the world and was a member of the jury for the esteemed 2009 Barbirolli Oboe Competition. She will serve on the jury for the internationally recognized Muri, Switzerland Competition 2016.
Ms. King has written a highly successful e-book for Apple I-Tunes titled “Making Oboe Reeds from Start to Finish with Nancy Ambrose King”. Her playing has earned high praise from a variety of critics, including the American Record Guide:
“Marvelously evocative, full of character, sultry and seductive, with a soft-spoken, utterly supple tone, and as musically descriptive as any I have heard…a fine exhibition of thoroughly musical oboe playing”; “She plays not only with delicacy, but also with an intense, almost rapturous sound that is second to none in expressivity and gradation. Delightful!”. “…a lovely player with a tone that surpasses that of most other American oboe soloists. It defines delicacy, yet is strangely assertive, like a soft-spoken woman who nonetheless speaks up strongly when her mind is made up.”, Fanfare: “Nancy Ambrose King is clearly a skilled musician of great promise, with a sterling technique”, and The Double Reed: “…thoughtful, expressive, and perfectly controlled performance of consummate accuracy. It’s not that she makes it sound easy-she makes it sound perfect”, “Ms. King’s fluid technique, combined with clean and accurate articulations, makes the most complex passages flow and sounds effortless. Combine these aspects with a beautiful tone and a sensitive touch in the lyrical passages, all oboists have a new level to which to strive.”
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Jason Kramer – Bassoon
Over the past decade, bassoonist Jason Kramer has been an active artist in symphonies, chamber ensembles, and new music collaborations.
He has performed with numerous orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New Millennium Orchestra of Chicago, Northbrook Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic, Traverse Symphony Orchestra, and the Battle Creek Symphony. Jason is currently Associate Principal Bassoon of the South Bend Symphony and Assistant Principal Bassoon of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra.
As a chamber musician, Jason made his Carnegie Hall debut as a guest artist with the Western Wind Quintet, and currently performs with International Chamber Artists. He has worked with other diverse musicians including DJ Cyborg_K, Paul Hartsaw’s Socio-Cybernetic Music Machine, and Chicago’s Fifth House Ensemble.
Jennifer Muniz – Piano
Pianist Jennifer Muñiz, D.M.A., has performed in Spain, Italy, Mexico and the United States. Muñiz has garnered numerous awards and honors since her concerto debut at age eleven, including several public radio broadcast performances, a four-year performance grant for chamber music from the Liberace Foundation, her New York solo debut at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, performances at the United Nations, Steinway Hall, and the Polish Embassy in Chicago, and a solo recital at the Auditorio Principe Felipe in Oviedo, Spain.
Muñiz performs as a solo and collaborative pianist, with an emphasis in contemporary music, and has given recent recitals and masterclasses in Tennessee and North Carolina. She presents lecture-recitals, at conferences such as the Goshen College Piano Institute, and the College Music Society, with a presentation at the national conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts in fall 2013, and lecture-recitals at regional conferences in New York, North Dakota and Nebraska. Muñiz regularly performs with members of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra.
For nine years preceding college, Ms. Muñiz studied with Beatrice Laurain, then earned her Bachelor of Music, summa cum laude, as a student of Lydia Artymiw, at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Ms. Muñiz completed her Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from Manhattan School of Music as a student of Phillip Kawin.
She has taught on the keyboard skills faculty of Manhattan School of Music, and served there as a vocal accompanist, and at Barnard College. She maintained a private studio in New York City for seven years. Muñiz served as a piano instructor and accompanist at the University of Notre Dame for four years, including Opera Notre Dame, and taught as an associate faculty member at IU South Bend. From 2012-2013, she served on the faculty of the Swinney Conservatory of Music at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri as Assistant Professor of Music, Piano and Theory. Muñiz joined the faculty of IU South Bend in summer 2013 as Assistant Professor of Music. Muñiz is especially interested in examining music development in specific environments, and has created two original courses: “Music in New York,” and “Music in Chicago.” Visit Artist Website.
Martha Councell Vargas – Flute
Martha Councell-Vargas has performed in Central and South America, Europe, China and across the United States. A specialist in the music of Latin America and the Caribbean, she has appeared as a guest artist, clinician, and researcher throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean. Councell-Vargas is particularly interested in the Cuban flute “charanga” tradition; she traveled to Havana on a research grant in 2011. Councell-Vargas is a top prizewinner in several national competitions. She competed on an international level in Paris, France, where she was invited to perform at the Jean Pierre Rampal International Concours de Flûte in 2005, and in Uelzen, Germany, where she was the only North American to participate in the International Friedrich Kuhlau Flute Competition and was honored as a semi-finalist.
She has performed across the United States in recital and concerto appearances including New York’s Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Her debut CD, Gran Danzón, features works of North, Central, and South American composers, featuring the title track, Paquito D’Rivera’s flute concerto. Councell-Vargas studied with the world’s leading flutists, including Michel Debost and Leone Buyse. She holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory, Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and the University of Iowa. Currently, she is Assistant Professor of Flute at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
David Peshlakai has been Principal Cellist with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra since 2004 where he holds the Diether Haenicke Principal Cello Chair. In reviewing the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra’s opening concert of the 2010-11 season, Mr. C.J. Gianakaris of the Kalamazoo Gazette described Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 as, “perfection — Garrick Ohlsson [soloist] and the KSO appeared in perfect synch, highlighted by cellist David Peshlakai’s ravishing solo passages.”
Mr. Peshlakai was born and educated in Michigan. He received his Bachelor of Music from Michigan State University in 1990 and his Master of Music from the University of Michigan in 1993, studying with Owen Carman and Erling Blöndal Bengtsson, respectively. Other teachers who were also deeply influential include Louis Potter and Mario DiFiore.
Mr. Peshlakai is also in great demand as an extra cellist with several regional orchestras throughout Michigan, including performing as principal cellist with the Battle Creek, Flint, Jackson, and Lansing Symphonies. He has appeared as soloist with the Kalamazoo, Jackson, Battle Creek, Greater Grand Forks, Central Iowa, and Michigan State University Symphony Orchestras, the Hillsdale College/Community Orchestra, the Albion College Orchestra, and the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse Symphony Orchestra.
As cellist of the KSO’s Burdick-Thorne String Quartet, Mr. Peshlakai performs with his colleagues in their Epic Evenings Series. The Quartet participated in master classes given by both the Emerson and Muir String Quartets. He has performed in many chamber recitals and festivals throughout Michigan and in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Iowa. His coaches have included members of the Juilliard, Alban Berg, Concord, Vermeer, and Kronos String Quartets.
Mr. Peshlakai has been teaching cello at Hillsdale College since 1992. In 2010 he was invited to teach at Kalamazoo College as well. He previously taught at Albion and Alma Colleges and Grand Valley State University.
Internationally, Mr. Peshlakai has performed in thirty concerts with the Arlington String Quartet during a four-week tour of England. He is also an active recitalist; among his many appearances he was invited to give a recital in Marseilles, France.
Gabriel Schlaffer graduated from the New England Conservatory with a Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance in 2002, and recently finished his Master of Music degree at DePaul University. Currently in his fourth season as Principal Violist with the South Bend and Rockford Symphonies, he has also performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Elgin, Northwest Indiana, and New World Symphonies. His chamber music activities include performances with the Callisto & Nagaokakyo Ensembles, the Michigan City Chamber Music Festival, and recitals in Boston, Chicago, and Nagoya, Japan principally as Violist, but he doubles skillfully on the violin as well.
Rachel Brown – Violin
Rachel Brown is an active chamber musician, soloist, orchestral performer, and educator. After three years as a regular member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, she is now the Associate Principal Second Violin of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra and also performs with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, and Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Previously, she held the Associate Concertmaster chair with the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Brown is currently the Artistic Director of the Chicago-based chamber group, Ursa Ensemble, of which she is also a founding member. The group focuses on engaging unique audiences in the chamber music repertoire by working with collaborative artists and curating programs that directly involve the listener. Additionally, she is a frequent guest artist for the Chicago-based CHAI Collaborative Ensemble. With her duo partner, pianist James Barnett, Rachel appears regularly on the LOFTrecital series in Minneapolis.
Rachel is dedicated to continuing the existence of art music by performing and commissioning contemporary works. She has given countless world premieres, has performed with ensembles such as Ensemble Dal Niente, Fifth House Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, and Ensemble 20+, and has worked with world-renowned composers such as Augusta Read Thomas, Bernard Rands, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Rodolfo Acosta, and Mathias Spahlinger.
Extremely devoted to educating future generations of musicians and music-lovers, Rachel is on the faculty at both Harold Washington College and Chicago Academy for the Arts, and is a coach for the Chicago Arts Initiative’s New Music Youth Ensemble, with which she recently attended the International Music Course at Darmstadt, Germany.
Ms. Brown holds a Certificate of Performance and a Master of Music degree from DePaul University’s School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and a High School Diploma from the Interlochen Arts Academy.
Igor Cetkovic – Cello
Internationally acclaimed cellist, Igor Cetkovic, is from Belgrade, Serbia. Igor has served with orchestras across Europe and the Mid-western United States, including the Bergen Philharmonic, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Belgrade Philharmonic, and as principal cellist of the Serbian chamber orchestra, the St. George Strings. His principal teachers include his father Relja Cetkovic, Sandra Belic, Liv Opdal, and James Fiste, and he has performed in numerous masterclasses, including those with Robert DeMaine, Martin Lohr and Gary Hofman.
A winner of many national and regional performance awards, Igor finished his doctoral studies at Michigan State University, studying under the renowned Suren Bagratuni. He also holds degrees from Stavanger University, Belgrade University, and Central Michigan University. Currently, Igor is Assistant principal cellist with the West Michigan Symphony, principal cellist with the Saginaw Bay Symphony and section cellist with the Kalamazoo and Lansing Symphony Orchestras. He regularly performs with several other orchestras across Michigan and with chamber groups ION trio and the OctOpus Octet. Recently, Igor has given masterclasses at the Flint Institute of Music, and has served as guest Principal Cellist for Midland Symphony Orchestra.
Igor is a former cello professor at Albion College, and he currently manages a private cello studio and teaches as Artist Faculty at Dynamics Music School in Lansing. Igor’s students have won regional and state awards.