2017-2018 Orchestra Roster

Click on a name below to view the biography.

Strings

Violinists

Vahn Armstrong, Concertmaster

Dorothy Redwood Cooke Sutherland, Concertmaster Chair

In his career as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral leader, recording artist and pedagogue, Vahn Armstrong has established himself as a leading violinist of his generation. He is now in his nineteenth season as Concertmaster of the Virginia Symphony, an orchestra which has garnered national praise for its performances and recordings. Mr. Armstrong is also Concertmaster of the Virginia Opera, and during the summer he serves as Concertmaster for Chautauqua Opera and Associate Concertmaster of the Chautauqua Symphony in Chautauqua, New York.

Mr. Armstrong has appeared as soloist on many occasions with the Virginia and Chautauqua symphonies, as well as many other orchestras throughout the U.S. He is a member of Apollo, an ensemble whose premiere recording of John Luther Adams’ Clouds of forgetting, clouds of unknowing was recently released by New World Records. He is also a charter member of the Virginia Waterfront International Arts Festival Chamber Music Series, and leader of the Chautauqua String Quartet. For ten years, Mr. Armstrong performed with the award-winning New World String Quartet, concertising throughout the U.S. and Europe. The New World Quartet made several recordings; one of these, Ainsi la nuit by Henri Dutilleux, was awarded a Prix du disc.

Mr. Armstrong gave the world premiere of Larry Bell’s Book of moonlight for violin and piano in Boston in 1989. In fact, throughout his career he has been committed to performing music of this century. He includes in his repertoire not only works of Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Berg, Prokofieff, Bartok, and Barber, but also those of Ligeti, Dutilleux, Arvo Part, Elliot Carter, Richard Danielpour, Gwyneth Walker, and many others.

Mr. Armstrong has recorded for MCA Classics, New World Records, Musical Heritage Society, and others. He has been a frequent guest on NPR’s Performance Today, WGBH’s Morning Pro Musica, WNED’s Music from Chautauqua, and BBC London. He was also Artist-in-Residence at Harvard University, University of Michigan, Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California and MusicWest at Utah State University.

A native of Michigan, Mr. Armstrong holds BM and MM degrees from the Juilliard School, where he was a scholarship student of Dorothy DeLay. He now resides in Norfolk, Virginia, and enjoys sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Yun Zhang, Associate Concertmaster

Yun Zhang began his violin studies under the tutelage of his father at the age of three and gave his first public performance when he was five years old. While studying in the renowned Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Yun Zhang was awarded the Fu Cheng Xian Memorial Scholarship for excellence in performance and artistic potential. In 1998, he arrived in Bloomington to study with Henryk Kowalski and Stephen Boe, the former teaching assistants of Josef Gingold at the Indiana University. In the 2001-2002 season, Yun Zhang was a recipient of the prestigious Helen F. Whitaker Fellowship and served as the concertmaster for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago under the direction of conductors Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zukerman, David Robertson, Anne Manson, William Eddins, Cliff Colnot, Giancarlo Guerrero, and Duain Wolfe. In 2002, Yun Zhang joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as Associate Concertmaster. He has performed frequently in recitals and chamber music series throughout the United States and Asia. Recent solo appearances with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra include the “Butterfly” Violin Concerto, Brahms Violin and Cello Double Concerto, Beethoven Violin Concerto, Haydn Symphony Concertante, and Mozart Violin Concerto in D major. His performances have been broadcasted on Classical 88.7 FM of Indianapolis, WFMT Radio Network of Chicago, WSVH of Savannah, Georgia and WHRO of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Yun Zhang is active in teaching. He holds the positions of guest professor of violin at Yunnan Arts Institute in China and the artist in residence at Christopher Newport University.

Amanda Gates, Assistant Concertmaster

Violinist Amanda Gates joined the VSO in 1996, and was appointed Assistant Concertmaster in 2002.  She was awarded a first violin position with the Chautauqua Symphony in upstate New York in 2001.

A native of Reston, Virginia, she graduated summa cum laude from Catholic University in 1996, where she studied with Robert Gerle.

She has appeared as soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Catholic University Orchestra, and the Chautauqua Symphony Chamber Players. She has also performed as soloist in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending, and John Adams’ Violin Concerto, all with the Virginia Symphony.

A versatile musician, she is proficient on guitar, mandolin, viola, cello, hammered dulcimer, and well versed in many styles of music. She has performed for the VSO on electric violin on several occasions, covering Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads,” and accompanying a beatbox track, featuring her own arrangement. She has also performed solo electric violin in Windborne Music’s  “The Music of Led Zeppelin” with the Phoenix, Minnesota, and Louisiana symphonies. She was commissioned to compose, arrange, perform and direct string arrangements for Portland-based punk band emberghost’s album, “Not Long for this Earth,”  released in 2012. More recently, she arranged and performed Bill Monroe’s “Scotland” for the Virginia Stage Company’s production of Honky Tonk Angels.  In addition, she has been featured as Celtic fiddle soloist in the Virginia Arts Festival’s International Tattoo on three separate occasions.

Ms. Gates performs on a violin by Pietro Giacomo Rogeri, Brescia, 1699, and a six-string fretted electric violin, “Viper” model by Mark Wood.

Simon Lapointe, Principal Second

Lee A. & Helen G. Gifford, Principal Second Violin Chai

Simon Lapointe was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1979. He showed interest in the violin at the age of 2, and received his first violin lesson 2 years later. He obtained his Bachelor’s of Music from the Conservatoire de Trois-Rivières in 2000, studying with Helmut Lipsky and Joanne Pothier. He then went on to get his MM at the Peabody Conservatory of Music with soloist and now Tokyo String Quartet 1st violinist Martin Beaver.

Simon joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as Principal Second Violin in 2005. He previously played with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and the West Virginia Symphony, as Assistant Principal Second Violin and Concertmaster, respectively. He served as Assistant Concertmaster of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra during the 2009-2010 season, and since 2010, is also Assistant Principal Second Violin of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.  He is also a substitute violinist with the Baltimore Symphony and the Washington National Opera.  His chamber music experience includes being first violin for the Montclaire String Quartet and the Ambrosia Quartet.  He is Adjunct Professor of Violin at the Virginia Commonwealth University.

Simon was a prizewinner of many competitions in the US and Canada. He is regularly invited as a soloist and recitalist in Baltimore, Quebec and Hampton Roads, as well as at the Lanaudière Festival.  He also offers masterclasses, chamber coachings and orchestral exerpt coaching for the Bay Youth Orchestras, Richmond Youth Symphony, and the Hampton Roads Chamber Players.

Elizabeth Coulter Vonderheide, Assistant Principal

Elizabeth Coulter Vonderheide, originally from Lynchburg, VA, began violin studies at age 5. She studied with Dr. Svend Ronning at the University of Virginia while in high school, and earned the Bachelor of Music from The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in the studio of the late Franco Gulli, Distinguished Professor of Violin, where she was a Dorothy Richards Starling scholarship recipient. While in Indiana she held contracts with the Camerata Orchestra, the Owensboro Symphony in Kentucky, and the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic. Elizabeth earned the Master of Music in the prestigious Orchestral Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Glenn Dicterow, Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic.

While in New York she served as Concertmaster of both the Manhattan School of Music Philharmonia and Chamber Orchestras, where she had the opportunity to play under such renowned conductors as Kurt Masur, David Robertson, Pierre Boulez, and Julius Roudel. She also appeared as a soloist both with the Claremont Ensemble and in a live broadcast on Soundcheck with John Schaeffer on 93.9 WNYC FM, and performed regularly with Dicappo Opera and the Kalaiope Quartet. Elizabeth won the job of Assistant Principal Second Violin with the Virginia Symphony in 2003, and since then has also played a season as Acting Principal Second.

Since 2008 she has been a regular substitute with the St. Louis Symphony, and has joined them for both their Opera Season and their Carnegie Hall tour. Elizabeth has soloed with the Virginia Symphony, the Lynchburg Symphony and the National Repertory Orchestra, and performed as a member of the National Symphony of the Dominican Republic, the orchestras of the Spoleto, Italy Festival, the American Institute of Musical Study (Graz, Austria), the Crested Butte Music Festival, The Colorado Music Festival, and the Conducting Institute at Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. An avid chamber musician, she is a regular performer on the Organ Swell Recital Series in Hampton Roads and the Midday Music Recital Series in Lynchburg, and has performed with the Ambrosia Quartet on the Feldman Chamber Music Series in Norfolk, with the Virginia Symphony Quartet featured on NPR’s Performance Today, and with the Quartet-in-Residence at Quisisana Resort in Center Lovell, Maine. She has also been a Guest Artist at Randolph College in Lynchburg. Elizabeth is married to VSO Principal Trumpet David Vonderheide, and they live in Portsmouth with their dog Marty.

Christine Allison

Coming Soon

Jorge Aguirre

Jorge Aguirre was born in Lima-Peru. Following studies at the Conservatorio Nacional in Peru, Mr. Aguirre received a scholarship to study with Mr. Henryk Szeryng in Mexico and later with Mr. Szimzia Bajour. He received a scholarship to attend the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado to study with Ms. Dorothy Delay for two summers. Meanwhile he performed professionally with of orchestras in Mexico such as the Guadalajara Symphony, Guanajuato Orchestra, Estado de Mexico Symphony, and the Xalapa Symphony. He moved to Europe to play with The Sinfonietta de Roma (Italy), Royal Opera of Brussels (Belgium) Mannheim Opera (Germany) and later with Madrid Symphony, all in different title chairs. He had the privilege to play professionally under great conductors such as, Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Metha, Lorin Maazel and James Levine among them.

In the USA he began playing as Assistant Concertmaster in the Coronado Music Festival (Arizona) Colorado Music Festival (Boulder), South Florida Symphony (Fort Lauderdale), Miami Chamber Orchestra and briefly with the Florida Philharmonic. He was the Assistant Concertmaster for the New American Chamber Players based in Detroit.

After his wife Sherie Aguirre won the first oboe position in the Virginia Symphony, he came to Hampton Roads area to play with the Virginia Symphony where he has been heard as a soloist and a Concertmaster in several occasions. He plays with the Virginia Opera and serves as first violinist for the Hampton Roads String Quartet and the Four Seasons String Quartet. He is Concertmaster of the International Todi Festival in Virginia under the baton of Maestro Walter Atanassi and Associate Concertmaster of The Santo Domingo Music Festival under the baton of Maestro Philippe Entremmont.

As a teacher and conductor Mr. Aguirre has been an adjunct professor at Conservatorio Real de Madrid in Spain, Old Dominion University, Hampton University, and Christopher Newport Universities in Virginia. He has conducted orchestras such as The Bay Youth Orchestra, All City Orchestras in Norfolk and Newport News, the Governor’s School for the Arts and the College of William and Mary. He is presently the conductor of the acclaimed Hampton Roads Chamber Players.

Yeseul Ann

Awarded the Prize of Honor in Bellan International Competition, Yeseul Ann expands her career as an avid orchestral and chamber musician.  She studied at Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris in France with Regis Pasquier and Philippe Aiche.  She received her MM degree at the Yale School of Music with Ani Kavafian, and continued her professional studies with Eduard Schmieder at the Boyer College of Music.

Yeseul has appeared as soloist and chamber musician in Steinway Hall, Disney hall, Carnegie Hall and Salle Cortot, Palais Bourbon Assemblée Nationale and Salle Pléyel in Paris. She has participated in numerous Festivals in France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany, including the Ensemble Intercontemporain with Pierre Boulez. She has also participated in Academie at l’Orchestre de Paris in season 2008-2009 with Christophe Eschenbach, Paavo Jarvi, Essa Pekka Salonen; with the Asian Philharmonic Orchestra; and with the soloists of the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra with Myung-whun Chung.

Yeseul has been an associate member of Civic orchestra of Chicago and currently a member of Virginia Symphony, Allentown Symphony, Symphony in C, Ipalpiti Chamber Orchestra and 2nd Violin principal of New Jersey Capital Philharmonic.

Lesa McCoy Bishop

A native of Illinois, Lesa attended the University of Iowa pursuing a degree in music performance and the study of contemporary music. She worked as the violinist for the Center for New Music under the direction of the late William Hibbard. Upon graduation she worked as a violinist in Mexico with the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Veracruz Symphony and the Toluca State Orchestra. She also was a violinist with the Symphony Nova Scotia in Canada. She has been a member of the Virginia Symphony since 1988. She performs regularly with the Four Seasons String Quartet and the Norfolk Chamber Consort.

Recently Lesa began her professional bodybuilding career. In the 2006-2007 season she won first place overall titles in the following: NASF 2006 Old Dominion Championships, NASF 2006 American National Championships, the 2007 North Carolina Open, the 2007 Virginia Open, the NPA Masters Universe Pro Qualifier, and the NPA Fall Pro Classic. Lesa combines the discipline of music and bodybuilding by guest posing at bodybuilding shows playing her violin. She was recently honored as the NPA top female pro athlete of 2007.

Wesi Chong Boyer

Coming Soon.

Mayu Cipriano

Mayu Kuroda Cipriano was born in Tokyo, Japan and began studying the violin at the age of five. At 12, she won the Special Prize in the All Japan Mainichi Competition; and at 13, played with the NHK second symphony. At the behest of Cho-Liang Lin, she came to the United States to study with Ms. Dorothy Delay at the Juilliard Pre-College. Mayu continued her undergraduate studies at Juilliard, earning a Bachelor of Music in 1998. In addition to Juilliard, she also attended the Aspen Music Festival for six consecutive summers beginning in 1991, earning second prize in the Nakamichi concerto competition. As a result, she performed in recital at the Wheeler Opera House Aspen. Mayu has also performed numerous recitals in New York City and Japan with her sister Ai, also a Juilliard Graduate in piano, including performances at the Cremona Exhibition at the Christoph Landon Gallery, Columbia University, the Russian Tea Room, Oji Hall in Tokyo, and was featured on Radio City Tokyo and the Japanese Television show Zoom In Asa live from New York. She has been a member of the Ambrosia Quartet, which is based in the Hampton Roads Area since 2005 and was featured on the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s Salon Chamber Music Series, Old Dominion University’s recital series, the Heart and Soul Concert Series at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, and the Feldman Chamber Music Society Series.

Mayu joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in 2003. She has been a regular substitute with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, joining them for their 2010 Carnegie Hall performance. She previously held positions with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, and has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the New York City Ballet.
Mayu is married James Cipriano, who is a tuba player with the United States Army Music program and resides in Norfolk, VA with their beloved cat George.

Lillian Curry

Lillian Curry started her love affair with the violin at nine years old. At fifteen she joined the Norfolk Symphony which is now the Virginia Symphony. She is entering the 48th season with the orchestra. Her passion also led her to found Angelico Violins, Inc. Angelico Violins is a local leader in the sale of fine instruments, restoration, consignment, trade-ins and even student rentals. She cherishes her many years with the orchestra; the great artists, conductors that she has played with, and many memories of great performances.

Amy Taira Danielson

Coming Soon.

Jeanne DeDominick

Coming Soon.

Linda Dennis

Coming Soon.

Bill Fearnside

Coming Soon.

Kirsty B. Green

Born in Geneva, Switzerland, Kirsty Barnett Green has been a member of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra since 1996, where she has served as both core and Principal Second violin positions, and occasionally as concertmaster during the summer season. Ms. Green has appeared as soloist with orchestras in Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Switzerland and the United States, as well as with her own orchestra, the VSO. She has been featured on classical radio programs including the Vermont Public Radio and Radio Geneva and produced “The Violin music of Arthur Foote” recording for New World Records. Previously, Kirsty has played chamber music as a member of the Ghent Trio, and currently makes regular guest appearances with the Ambrosia Quartet as well as the Harbor Quartet. She has been a guest artist on the Virginia Arts Festival Organ Swell Series since 2003.

Kirsty began studying the violin at the age of six as a student of Judith Berenson, and graduated with honors from the Conservatoire Populaire. She then moved to the United States where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the North Carolina School of the Arts while studying with Kevin Lawrence. In addition she has had the opportunity to study with several of the great pedagogues including Josef Gingold and Arnold Steinhart during the course of various festivals and masterclasses. Ms. Green is a licentiate of the British Royal Schools of Music.

In addition to performing, Kirsty is a dedicated teacher. She began her teacher-training formation at an early age first as assistant to Judith Berenson, and then in college where she held assistantships at both the N.C. School of the Arts and the Killington Music Festival. Shortly thereafter she formed her own studio at the Tanglewood Academy of Music in Clemmons, N.C. and went on to teach at Norfolk’s Academy of Music. She has held adjunct positions at Christopher Newport University (where her position included teaching pedagogy, orchestral repertoire class and coaching the CNU orchestra), and Virginia Wesleyan College where she currently teaches. She has spent several summers performing and instructing at the Eastern Music Festival, and the Portsmouth Chamber Festival, and is a coach for Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia as well as the Hampton Roads Chamber Players. Her students have won numerous awards, and many have gone on to successful careers in music.

Joan Griffing

Violinist Joan Griffing, is the concertmaster of the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival Orchestra, first violinist with the Eastern Music Festival and violinist with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Griffing earned her BM and MM degrees in violin performance from Indiana University and her D.M.A. from The Ohio State University.  She has performed and given master classes in Taiwan, Brazil, and Australia. She is a founding member and tours regularly with the chamber music group Musica Harmonia, formed to promote peace and cultural understanding through musical collaboration. The group recorded a CD of chamber music by Gwyneth Walker to be released in 2015. The CD will include two works composed specifically for Musica Harmonia. Griffing and cellist Beth Vanderborgh gave the North American premiere of Double Concerto for Violin and Cello by New Zealand composer Anthony Ritchie in June 2012. The duo were Artists-in-Residence at the Brush Creek Arts Foundation in Wyoming in May 2012. Recent solo performances include violinist in Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending with The Dance Theater of Harlem in May 2014. Joan and Musica Harmonia colleagues will be recording a CD of 20th century music for piano and strings with pianist Naoko Takao, faculty at University of Miami Frost School of Music, in the fall of 2015. Dr Griffing holds the position of professor of music at Eastern Mennonite University.

Allegra Tortolano Havens

Allegra Tortolano Havens enjoys an array of performing opportunities across the country. She has been a member of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra for over 25 years. In 1998 she founded the Harbor String Quartet, a professionally active chamber ensemble. She often serves as concertmaster for Virginia Musical Theater productions. Allegra is also first call violinist for national touring Broadway shows including The Lion King, Chicago and Phantom of the Opera. Past work experience also includes Glimmerglass Opera, Ash Lawn Opera and the New Mexico Symphony. She is currently on national tour with Windborne Music’s production of Music of Led Zeppelin and Music of the Who where she is thrilled to have the opportunity to perform classic rock on an electric violin. Allegra studied at Boston University (undergraduate) and the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts (graduate degree). She currently lives in Virginia Beach with her husband, daughter and various rescued Golden Retrievers. She is a devoted Red Sox fan.

Yu-Chia Hsiao

Violinist Yu-Chia Hsiao has been with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra since 2014. Miss Hsiao, born in Taiwan, began studying violin at the age of seven. As a top prize winner of the Academy of Taiwan Strings Concerto Competition, she made her solo debut with the Academy of Taiwan Strings at the age of thirteen. In 2006, she performed Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy with Fu-Jian Dance Drama and Opera House Orchestra in Fu-Jian, China. She also gave well-received solo recitals in Taiwan in the summers of 2007 and 2010. Miss Hsiao’s numerous awards include the first prize in the Taiwan Music Competition, the Hsing-Tien Temple Competition, and the 5th International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians—Taiwan Pre-Audition; the finalist for the 7th Junior Arts of Toshiya Edo Violin Competition in Japan.

Miss Hsiao has participated in several festivals and master classes, including the Christian Tetzlaff Master Class in Library of Congress, the 38th Tibor Varga International Music Festival, the Taiwan Music Festival, and the Shuan-Yin International Music Festival where she studied with Victor Pikayzen, James Buswell, Christian Tetzlaff , Dmitri Berlinsky, and Tanaka Chitashi.

Miss Hsiao enjoys sharing classical music with a wide range of audience. She engages herself in various community outreach concerts. In 2010, she performed for the Elderhostel Program at the Peabody Conservatory as well as the “Wednesdays at Weinberg” at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, Kimmel Cancer Center. Through these experiences, she witnessed the magical powers of music: uplifts spirits and brings peace to mankind. In 2011, at the invitation of the Piatigorsky Foundation, Miss Hsiao toured with violinist Keng-Yuen Tseng and musicians in Montana where they brought concerts to audiences that would not have the opportunities to attend such performances otherwise. In the same year, she also participated in the Taiwanese American Charity Education Association (TACEA) annual concert at the Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center. Miss Hsiao holds Master of Music and Graduate Performance Diploma degrees from the Peabody Conservatory where she was awarded a full scholarship to study with Keng-Yuen Tseng.

Linda Hurwitz

Linda Hurwitz is a violinist who has been performing and teaching in Hampton Roads for over twenty years. Before moving to Virginia, Linda resided in the Boston area as a graduate student and free-lance musician and performed regularly with the Portland Symphony (Maine) and the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also performed with the New Orleans Symphony (now Louisiana Philharmonic), Charleston, Baltimore, Richmond, and Roanoke Symphony. Linda teaches with the Suffolk Public Schools where she instructs middle school and high school strings students in group classes. She has taught private lessons at The Academy of Music’s Suzuki violin program, The Williams School, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, Norfolk Academy, as well as the Governor’s School for the Arts. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Colby College (Waterville, Maine) and her Master of Music in Violin Performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston where she studied with Paul Kantor. Linda escapes to the mountains to perform with the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the Ash Lawn Opera Festival in Charlottesville during the summer months.

Tara-Louise Montour

Considered North America’s foremost classical Aboriginal violinist, Tara-Louise Montour distinguishes herself by commissioning works based on Native North American themes for solo violin and orchestra.  Critically acclaimed as magical, the new concerto “Trickster Coyote Lightening Elk”, written especially for Tara-Louise by composer Malcolm Forsyth had its World Premiere at the Brott Music Festival Aug. 14..2010, Boris Brott conductor. This performance was made possible with the financial assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. Miss Montour’s first commissioned work, Farewell to the Warriors, recorded on CD with the Thunder Bay Symphony, Geoffrey Moull conductor, was nominated for a 2005 Juno Award.

Known for her rich musicality and warm interpretations, Miss Montour, is founding violinist of the Clivia Trio which won the 2008 Sunburst Artist of the Year Award.  She has appeared as soloist with the Orchestre Metropolitain du Grand Montreal,(Yannick Nezet Seguin conductor), Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra,(Yannick Nezet Seguin, conductor)  McGill Chamber Orchestra, (Boris Brott, conductor)  Hamilton Philharmonic, (Michael Reason, conductor) and Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, (Geoffrey Moull, conductor).

Tara-Louise, a member of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (JoAnn Falletta, conductor), has been invited on several occasions to give solo recitals  at the Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.  Since 2004 Ms Montour has been on the faculty of the Luzerne Music Center.  As well as performing chamber music with principal chairs of the Philadelphhia Orchestra and New York City Ballet Orchestra, she has performed as a member of  the Luzerne Chamber Players , NY,

Recipient of the 2003 Fondation du Maire de Montreal Award, Tara-Louise has also been featured on Radio-Canada, CBC-TV, Tele-Quebec, APTN, Global and Bravo-TV..2001 she bilingually narrated the Loon’s Necklace with the National Arts Orchestra.   Miss Montour was laureate  of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal String Competition, Canadian Music Competition, and Vanier College Interpretation Competition.

Miss Montour  received a Licentiate of Music from McGill University and a Master of Music from Northern Illinois University.

Jonathan Richards

Hailed by the Washington Post for “…bringing real drama” to his performances, violinist Jonathan Richards has performed throughout the United States and Canada as both a chamber musician and soloist. He has won numerous competitions and has appeared as soloist with the Kishwaukee Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Vincent’s of Chicago, the Judson College Symphony, the Northern Illinois University Philharmonic, and the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra. Richards has gained recent accolades in DC’s new music scene for his performances with the esteemed VERGE ensemble, the Grammy nominated Inscape Chamber Orchestra, and the New Music Ensemble of Towson. As an orchestral musician, he has performed regularly with the Fairfax Symphony, Annapolis Symphony, Alexandria Symphony, Chesapeake Symphony, and National Philharmonic along with the Concert Artists of Baltimore, Post-Classical Orchestra, Washington Soloists, and is now performing full-time with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. An avid chamber musician, Richards was a founding member of the Adelphi String Quartet as well as a member of the critically acclaimed Excelsa Quartet. As a recording artist, Richards has recorded Walter Gieseking’s works for string quartet and string trio for the Naxos label with the Adelphi Quartet, and has recently recorded world premiers for the Sono Luminus label with the Inscape Chamber Orchestra.

Seiko Syvertsen

Seiko (Sato) Syvertsen grew up in a music-loving family who listened to not only classical music, but all different kinds of music, such as jazz, big band, and the Argentina Tango.

Ms. Syvertsen started piano lessons at age 5, violin at age 7, and music dictation/solfeggio at age 10. During her senior year at Kyoto City University of Arts & Music in Japan, she was invited to the Tanglewood Music Festival as a scholar of the Festival Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Oliver Knussen, and Leon Fleisher, and to join their European tour.

After receiving her Bachelor of Music in Kyoto, she moved to the United States to enter the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and studied violin with Yuval Yaron. She studied string quartets with Rostislav Dubinski, who was a member of Borodin Quartet.

While she was working on a Master of Music degree, Ms. Syvertsen started her career as an orchestra player, and started having more passion for larger ensembles. She auditioned for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and was chosen by the concertmaster and a principal violinist of Chicago Symphony to be its concertmaster of two seasons.

Besides performing there under the baton of Daniel Barenboim, Sir George Solti, Pierre Boulez, Placido Domingo, and Pinchas Zukerman, Ms. Syvertsen also received a full scholarship from the Music school of DePaul University of Chicago. There she received a Performer Diploma. She also served as a concertmaster for the University Orchestra, took violin lessons with Joseph Genualdi, viola lessons with Rami Solomonow, and was chosen to be their concert soloist.

After a short period of time serving as an assistant concert master for the South Bend Symphony, Ms. Syvertsen joined the Virginia Symphony and resides in Chesapeake, Virginia with her husband, two boys, and a Boston terrier, “Fenway”.

Angelina Gandolfo

Canadian violinist Angelina Gandolfo graduated from McGill University (Montreal, QC) in 2014 with a Master of Music degree, having studied with Mark Fewer and Alexander Read. Previously, Angelina attended the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY) where she studied with Lynn Blakeslee and graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance, with Distinction.

She has participated in numerous summer music festivals including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Meadowmount School of Music, The Castleman Quartet Program, Classical Music Festival in Austria, as well as summer studies at Indiana University. She has played in masterclasses for Rachel Barton Pine, Irvine Arditti, Charles Castleman, Sally Thomas, Cynthia Roberts, and members of the Chiara, Ying, and Takacs String Quartets.

As an avid orchestral musician, she has played with the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, the Strauss Symphony of Canada, Pronto Musica, Indiana University Festival Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute Festival Orchestra, McGill University Symphony Orchestra, and Eastman Philharmonia. Angelina has performed as guest soloist with the Concordia Symphony Orchestra in Edmonton, and is an Alberta Provincial Music Festival award recipient in the category of Strings, Voice, and Creative Music. Currently, Angelina maintains a private violin studio at the Virginia Beach School of the Arts. She lives in Norfolk with her husband, VSO trumpet player Adam Gandolfo.

Viola

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Beverly Kane Baker, Principal

 

Marshall Family, Principal Viola Chair

Beverly Kane Baker, viola, began violin lessons at the age of six with Margaret Davis. While under Ms. Davis’s instruction, she traveled to Baltimore to participate in the Suzuki Violin workshop and met the acclaimed Japanese teacher. After two years of study, she advanced to Elizabeth Chapman’s studio. As a member of the Chapman Youth Ensemble, Ms. Baker performed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and at the capital building in Richmond, Virginia. She traveled for two summers to England to participate in the Purbeck Music Festival with the noted Hungarian teacher Kato Havas. During this festival, Ms. Baker performed the Telemann Viola Concerto at the Royal College of Music in London. The following summer, she was voted “Most Outstanding Musicician” and won the concerto competition at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. During her senior year in highschool, she attended the Juilliard School of Music’s pre-college division studying viola with Christine Dethier. In 1979, she received a Bachelor of Music degree in performance from the University of Missouri-Columbia, having studied with Carolyn Kenneson. Ms. Baker performed in master classes with the Beaux Arts Trio, the Tokyo String Quartet and Lillian Fuchs. She also received numerous coachings with Wayne Crouse, former principal violist with the Houston Symphony.

In 1983, Ms. Baker joined the Virginia Symphony as a section player. In 1987, she was appointed assistant principal viola. She won the principal position in 1994 and currently holds that position with the symphony as well as Virginia Opera. The Virginia Symphony made its Carnegie Hall debut in 1997, and Ms. Baker performed with her colleagues on NBC’s Today Show. She has performed with the Gateways Music Festival, a festival featuring African-American artists. She performs regularly with the Virginia Chamber Players and was invited to perform Harold in Italy with the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra in North Dakota. Beverly is also a member of the Ambrosia Quartet.

Ms. Baker is a featured artist in solo and chamber music performances with the Virginia Arts Festival. Many of these performances have been broadcast on NPR’s Performance Today. She has also performed chamber music with the Miami String Quartet and members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Beverly performs regularly with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra in Detroit every year. She performed Brandenburg no.6 with Jamie Laredo and the Mozart Duo with renowned violinist Nadja-Salerno-Sonnenburg. Ms. Baker has been featured in many solo performances with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Baker is featured on Bruce Hornsby’s album “Harbor Lights” and her musical studies have been documented in the book “Black Women in American Orchestras” by D. Antoinette Handy.

Beverly and her husband Norman have raised 3 grown children and are enjoying their 4 grandchildren. She enjoys working out and playing with her worship band.

Amy Davis

Coming Soon.

Xuan Lin
Xuan Lin is a native of Shanghai, China. Prior coming to the United States, Xuan was the assistant principle viola at Shanghai Opera. He completed his undergraduate studies at Shanghai Conservatory with renowned viola professor Xi-Di Shen. While studying there, he was chosen to play master classes taught by visiting professors Milton Katims and John Graham. Xuan was also a winner of the Shanghai Young Artist Competition in 1985. Xuan received his master’s degree from Ohio University where he was the principal viola for the school orchestra and the violist for the faculty string quartet. Xuan joined the Virginia Symphony as a violist in 1990 and has taught violin and viola at the Governor School for the Arts since 1996. He enjoys cooking, nicknamed “chef Lin”, and loves to treat friends with his Shanghai cuisine. Xuan and his family live in Virginia Beach.
Anastasia Migliozzi

Anastasia, or Stacey, as her friends call her is originally from New York. She received her Bachelor’s degree from The Julliard School and her Master’s degree from Rice University, Shepherd School of Music. Stacy has played viola with the Virginia Symphony and many other area arts organizations since 1990. She also teaches violin and viola at the Governor’s School for the Arts, Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University and maintains a private lesson studio. Prior to coming to Virginia, Stacey played with the Houston Ballet Orchestra and Sinfonica D’ell Emigliz Romagne; Parma, Italy. Stacey lives in Norfolk with her daughter and her neurotic whippet. In her spare time, she is an avid knitter, and loves being a member of the Harbor Quartet.

Satoko Rickenbacker

Satoko Rickenbacker, violist with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra since 2003, began studying violin and piano at an early age while attending Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo, Japan. She earned an honor scholarship to study violin in Austria with Ruggiero Ricci at Mozarteum University of Salzburg. She later moved to New York to study with Lewis Kaplan and Rebecca Young at the Mannes College of Music while completing her master’s degrees in Violin and Viola Performance.

After graduation, she continued to study viola with Nobuko Imai and Roberto Diaz. In 1999, She served as principal violist with New World Symphony where she performed Bartok’s Viola Concerto as the winner of the NWS concerto competition. She has also participated at the Pacific Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, Verbier Festival and collaborated with numerous artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Claudio Abbado, Seiji Ozawa, Yuri Bashmet, Itzhak Perlman and Bobby Mcferrin. Satoko Rickenbacker has also appeared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra .

As a passionate Chamber Musician, Satoko has performed chamber music throughout United States, Europe and Asia. She was also featured on CNN headline News at the Rialto.  She has performed as guest principal viola with the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra with Mark O’Connor and Joel Smirnoff. In addition to performing, She is an accomplished teacher. Satoko has taught masterclasses and coaching sessions for many schools in the Hampton Roads Area including the College of William & Mary.

Currently, Satoko is a former professor of viola at Christopher Newport University. Satoko also performs as piano accompanist for Susan Hines’ cello studio and is a member of Chesapeake String Quartet along with Virginia Symphony musicians Yun Zhang, Seiko Syvertsen, and Michael Daniel.

Laura Seay

As a performer, violist Laura Seay has been characterized as “a burst of unbound energy” (The East Hampton Star), and her enthusiasm for classical music continues to attract audiences across the globe.  Dr. Seay first won national recognition in performance with Itzhak Perlman and members of the Perlman Music Program for a nationally televised broadcast of the 2003 “Live from Lincoln Center”.  Since then, she has appeared in performances across North America, Europe and Asia including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Carnegie Hall in New York City, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and Chicago Symphony Center.  As a soloist with orchestra, Dr. Seay has performed with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, University of Colorado Symphony, University of Northern Colorado Wind Ensemble, and the Denver Young Artists Orchestra.

An avid chamber musician, Dr. Seay has collaborated in performance with renowned artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Paul Katz, Donald Weilerstein, Roger Tapping, Jeremy Denk, and Nicholas Kitchen.  During the 2009-2011 seasons, Dr. Seay has performed as a member of the Vinca Quartet (The New York Times: “Stunning…musicians worth keeping an eye on.”) and was a founding member of the New York-based LK String Quartet, which is praised by The New York Times as “fiery and propulsive, with striking unanimity”, The Washington Post as “Gorgeous” and by The New York Sun as “exceptional…the future of classical music, which looked hale and hearty.”   

Dr. Seay is the 2013 winner of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition President of the Jury Prize – awarded by Yuri Bashmet – and the Stainer and Bell Prize recognizing her excellent performance of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Six Sorano Varients. In 2010-11 Dr. Seay was granted a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) grant from the German government sponsoring her exploration of the Germanic traditions of chamber music performance today.  As a result, she lived and performed extensively in Stuttgart, Germany and throughout Europe.  Dr. Seay has won multiple national awards including the William C. Byrd Young Artists Competition, National Foundation for the ARTS, and the Jeff Bradley Young Musicians Award and frequently is awarded merit scholarships to attend festivals in Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States. Dr. Seay was one of three finalists in The Juilliard School’s concerto competition and the winner of the University of Colorado’s concerto competition. 

Dr. Seay has served on the faculties of The Juilliard School Pre-College, The Perlman Music Program, Killington Music Festival, Chamber Music of the Rockies and also served as a teaching assistant at The Juilliard School College Division.  Currently Dr. Seay serves on the faculties of the Governor’s School for the Artist in Norfolk, Virginia and Hampton Roads Chamber Players. Dr. Seay holds a Bachelor and Masters Degree in Viola Performance from The Juilliard School where she studied viola performance with Heidi Castleman, Steven Tenenbom, and Hsin-Yun Huang and chamber music with Robert Mann and David Soyer.  Equally commited to excellence in performance and education, Dr. Seay continued her studies at Columbia University – Teachers College completing an advanced Masters Degree in Music Education from Columbia University – Teachers College where she published her research in the field of performance majors working as teaching artists and performance outreach. In 2015, Dr. Seay earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Colorado – Boulder, studying with Erika Eckert and Geraldine Walther.

Raised in Denver, Colorado, Dr. Seay currently lives in Norfolk, Virginia with her husband who serves as an E-2 pilot in the United States Navy, and their rambunctious weimaraner “Blue”.  When not teaching or performing as a section member of the Virginia Symphony, Dr. Seay enjoys playing outside with her husband and dog, exploring the outdoors.

Jocelyn Smith
Violist Jocelyn Smith is currently in her twelfth season as a member of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. She finds summer employment in Colorado, where she has performed with the Crested Butte Music Festival since 2001.  She is also a founding member, along with husband and cellist Peter Greydanus and violinist Tara-Louise Montour, of the Clivia String Trio, which was named Performing Artists of the Year by Young Audiences of Virginia in 2008. Ms. Smith grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and earned her Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music.  She lives in Norfolk with her husband Peter, their daughters Mirabelle and Eda, and their cat Lily.
Matthew Umlauf

 

Matthew Umlauf holds a M.M. from Ball State University where he studied with Harold Levin and a B.M. from Bob Jones University where studied with Achim Gerber. Additionally, he has studied with Charles Pikler and was mentored by Jorge Sutil, Michael Isaac Strauss, and Roland Vamos. Matthew joined the Civic Orchestra of Chicago shortly after his graduate work where he collaborated with artists such as Lorin Maazel and Gidon Kremer. After his tenure in Chicago he joined the viola section of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta. As a member of the VSO, he has continued to perform with some of the leading musicians of our time such as Midori, Van Cliburn, Gil Shaham, Joshua Bell, and Emanuel Ax among others.

Matthew’s performances in various ensembles have been broadcast on WFMT Chicago, WHRO Hampton Roads, and NPR’s Performance Today. He has also recorded for Naxos and the VSO label, including a recent performance of Mahler’s 8th symphony. In addition, Matthew has enjoyed performing abroad. He has been invited to play principal viola for Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional in Dominican Republic on repeated occasions. In Mexico, he was asked to perform the world premier of the string quartet “La Tierra es nuestra casa” by Venezuelan composer, Adina Izarra in a festival in Puebla and Mexico City. Recently, he has enjoyed being part of the 2015 Santo Domingo music festival as well as the 2013 and 2015 AIMs Festivals in Austria.

Matthew enjoys performing on a modern viola by Helmuth Keller with a ca. 1820 bow by Étienne Pajeot .  He and his family live in Virginia Beach near the Chesapeake Bay. In his free time he enjoys chamber music, fishing, and playing with his two daughters.

 

Cello

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Michael Daniels, Principal


Elise Nusbaum Hofheimer, Principal Cello Chair

Michael Daniels began studying the cello at age 12 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and continued further studies at the Brevard Music Center, in Brevard, North Carolina. He later received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. While in Cincinnati, Mr. Daniels was a member of the Dayton Philharmonic and performed with the Cincinnati Symphony, the Cincinnati Ballet Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Symphony Pops. He has been a member of the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival, a faculty member at the Brevard Music Center, and a participant in the Grand Teton Summer Music Festival. He is also a founding member of the Adagio Trio (harp, flute, and cello), which has produced five seasonal CDs: Stillpoint, Sanctuary, Evensong, Winter Gift, and Celtic Heart. Mr. Daniels has performed as soloist regularly with the Virginia Symphony. His solo appearances include the Saint-Saens Concerto in A minor, Haydn Cello Concerto in C, Beethoven Triple Concerto, Elgar Concerto, and duo performances with Bobby McFerrin of the Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto. He has also performed chamber music concerts with Robert McDuffie, Anthony Newman, Awadagin Pratt, and Nadja Salerno-Sonenberg, and the Miami String Quartet. Mr. Daniels is currently the principal cellist of the Virginia Symphony.

Rebecca Gilmore Phillips, Assistant Principal


Rebecca Gilmore Phillips, native of North Carolina, joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 1999.  Currently she is Assistant Principal Cello with the VSO.  In 2010, Ms. Gilmore Phillips was broadcast live on NPR for a performance of Schubert’s Guitar Quartet with JoAnn Falletta.  In February 2016 she is thrilled to be performing the “Beethoven Triple Concerto” with her VSO colleagues.     

Prior to being in Virginia, she performed as Principal Cellist of The Greensboro Symphony where she made her solo debut of Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo Variations”.  Much earlier in her career she soloed with the Charlotte Symphony and the Charlotte Repertory Orchestra and the latter with which she performed Haydn’s “Cello Concerto in D Major”. 

Around the Hampton Roads area, Ms. Gilmore Phillips has been a featured solo and chamber artist with the Virginia Arts Festival, The Virginia Symphony and the Norfolk Chamber Consort.  Her cello career has traveled up the east coast to perform with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as well as in countries all over the world. Within the United States she has both taught and performed with numerous music festivals including the New England Music Camp (Maine), the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra, The Brevard Music Center, Garth Newel Chamber Music Center and the North Carolina School of the Arts’ International Music Program where she performed Saint-Saens’ “Cello Concerto” with their orchestra in ten major cities throughout Europe. During a residency in Canada with pianist/composer, Gabriela Frank, a world premiere performance of “Ríos Profundos” led to a recording titled, “It Won’t Be The Same River”.  In 2006, her Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra recorded Piazzolla’s “Four Seasons”.

Ms. Gilmore Phillips’ passion for chamber music has been the impetus for a quartet journey, comprised of professionals from the VSO, notably, Ambrosia Quartet, which began in 2002.  The group has been featured twice on the Feldman Chamber Music Society Series and the Williamsburg Regional Library series.  Ambrosia Quartet is exploring future recordings and travel abroad.

Ms. Gilmore holds degrees in Cello Performance from Indiana and Rice Universities. Her teachers include Janos Starker, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Norman Fischer and Desmond Hoebig. As a teacher herself, Ms. Gilmore Phillips “carries the torch” by working with kids throughout the Hampton Roads area through the VSO’s Community Engagement Program as well as maintaining a private cello studio.

Lui Berz

Lui Chong Berz is a native of Xi’an, China.  Lui received her Master of Cello Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Presently she is a cellist with the Virginia Symphony. With many solo performances in her repertoire, Lui has also enjoyed many years of teaching strings privately and in the schools. She currently plays with The Harbor String Quartet. She is the creator of the successful “Notes From The Far East” Chinese cultural presentation reaching over 4500 kids each year through schools and libraries. Lui enjoys gardening and plays Chinese instruments when she is away from her cello.

Ismar Gomes

Award winning cellist, Ismar Gomes, performs across the US and Europe as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. Hailed for his “impressive virtuosity, energy, and a handsome tonal range” (Berkshire Review), Mr. Gomes has established himself as a captivating young artist with a commanding voice and a growing reputation for delivering exciting performances and innovative programming.

Mr. Gomes’ busy international performance schedule includes dozens of solo and duo recitals, concerto performances, chamber music, early music and new music.  Most recently, Mr. Gomes has appeared at the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, Evolution Contemporary Music Series, String Fest, Le Petit Salon, Early Music at St. Mark’s, and Old Town Hall Concerts, among others, including many appearances with his Duo partner, pianist Wan-Chi Su, with whom he has been touring for several seasons. Aside from his regular work as a recitalist, chamber musician and orchestral cellist, Mr. Gomes has given 50+ world premiere performances, and is engaged in several commissioning projects. Recent collaborators include members of the Pittsburgh and Baltimore Symphonies, as well as members of the Johannes, and Brentano String Quartets. During the 2015 – 2016 season, Mr. Gomes will serve as Fellow of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He is a member of the Virginia Symphony.

On faculty at Loyola University of Maryland and Notre Dame of Maryland University, Mr. Gomes has enjoyed teaching young musicians for well over a decade, offering guest master classes at universities and in preparatory programs around the country. Most recently, Mr. Gomes was a faculty member and guest artist for StringFest at Merkin Hall, the Performing Arts Institute at Wyoming Seminary, and the CIM Summer Chamber Music Program, as well as a Young Artist at the Three Bridges International Music Festival – he is currently a Faculty Artist at the Rushmore Music Festival. In 2014, Mr. Gomes traveled to Africa for a series of Chamber Music concerts in Cameroon.

As a recording artist, Mr. Gomes recently made the premiere recording of a chamber opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, David Lang, in collaboration with the Harlem Quartet, and looks forward to recording his Duo’s debut album in the summer of 2016. He appears on Naxos and Cantaloupe Records.

Mr. Gomes attended the Peabody Conservatory where he studied with Alison Wells and Amit Peled. Prior to his time at Peabody, Mr. Gomes was a student of Marc Johnson, long-time cellist of the Vermeer Quartet. Further studies were undertaken with Clive Greensmith and most recently with Colin Carr. Mr. Gomes has appeared in Masterclasses for eminent cellists including Steven Doane, Janos Starker and Steven Isserlis, in addition to being mentored in chamber music by members of the Vermeer, Jerusalem, Brentano, Juilliard, Tokyo and Emerson String Quartets.

Please visit www.ismargomes.com for up to date information about Mr. Gomes’ projects.

Susan Hines

A native of Houston, Texas, cellist Susan Hines earned her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of North Texas as a student of Charles Baker and Adolfo Odnoposoff.  Susan has been a member of the Virginia Symphony since 1999 and is known in the Hampton Roads area as a performing artist and dedicated educator.

Susan currently teaches elementary strings for the Williamsburg/James City County Public Schools, a position she has held since 2001.  Susan has enjoyed seeing the elementary orchestra program grow steadily each year, from an average of 65 students to the 250 students enrolled today. Prior to teaching in Williamsburg, Susan was on the faculty of the Parker Elementary Magnet School, the premiere music academy of the Houston Independent School District (TX), where she founded and directed the Suzuki cello program. She has also served as a guest clinician at Suzuki institutes and workshops throughout Texas.

Susan currently maintains an active cello studio and with her daughter, Erin, co-founded the Tidewater Suzuki Cello Ensemble in 1999. This outstanding group of young musicians have performed throughout Virginia and Washington D.C.

Nancy Keevan

Nancy Keevan has over 30 years of professional orchestra and teaching experience.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in music from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where she studied with Alan Harris.  She has studied with Nathan Stutch of the New York Philharmonic, Ron Leonard of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Robert Gardner, and Giorgio Ricci.  She is currently a cellist with the Virginia Symphony, and has performed in the Eastern Music Festival and the Rochester Philharmonic.  She was also the Assistant Principal Cello for the Des Moines Metropolitan Opera and the New Jersey Symphony, as well as serving as Principal Cello for the Maracaibo Symphony in Venezuela.

J. Carter Melin

Coming Soon.

Bass

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Christopher White, Principal

A Rhode Island native, Christopher White has been a member of the Virginia Symphony since 1998, and was appointed as the symphony’s principal bassist in 2014.  He attended the University of Rhode Island where he studied with David Cobb, and then went on to major in Orchestral performance at the Manhattan School of Music where he studied with Timothy Cobb, principal bassist of the New York Philharmonic. In 1993, he was appointed as principal bass of the New Bedford Symphony in Massachusetts, and section bass in the Vermont Symphony. In 1996, Mr. White earned a spot in the prestigious New World Symphony in Miami under Michael Tilson Thomas where he served as co-principal bass until he joined the Virginia Symphony as assistant principal bass. In 2000, Mr. White won the double bass audition for the Grant Park orchestra in Chicago where he continues to perform for 10 weeks each Summer in Millennium Park.

Mr. White also enjoys an active solo and chamber career as well,  most notably as a soloist with the Virginia Symphony, performing Bottesini’s Grand Duo Concertante with violinist Pavel Ilyashov, and more recently Stravinsky’s “A Soldiers Tale” under JoAnn Falletta. Working under the Symphony’s Community Engagement Program, he has enjoyed performing for thousands of children.   He currently teaches double bass at Old Dominion University and the Governor’s School for the Arts as well as teaching privately. He resides in Norfolk with his wife, Joanne Meyer White, second flute of the Virginia Symphony and their 2 children.

Scott Harris, Assistant Principal

Scott Harris, current Assistant Principal Bass since 2014, was Principal Bass for the previous 23 seasons with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. He joined the orchestra the year Maestro JoAnn Falletta assumed the music directors position. During his tenure with the orchestra, he has performed the Koussevitsky concerto with Maestro Falletta and the Dragonetti concerto with staff conductor Robert Shoup. He has performed chamber music with the Virginia Arts Festival. Mr. Harris performed as a section bassist with many orchestras in his freelance career prior to moving to Virginia. Including the Jacksonville Symphony in Florida and the Charlotte (N.C.) Symphony as well as the Atlanta Symphony on their outdoor concerts. While primarily an orchestral player, Scott has collaborated with Singer-songwriter’s as well. He has worked with Hampton Roads residents Charlton Phaneuf and Julie Clark. He has worked with Keller Williams on his early album, “Spun”. Mr. Harris has held teaching positions at Old Dominion University, Hampton University, and the Virginia academy of music. Mr. Harris has held principal positions with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra and the Macon (GA.) Symphony. He is active today as a teacher privately and is proud to serve the community with the Virginia Symphony’s outreach programs. His teachers include the late Ralph Jones of the Atlanta Symphony, Peter Rofe of the LA Philharmonic and Lew Norton of the New York Philharmonic, while at the Manhattan School of music. Mr. Harris studied performance at Manhattan School and Georgia State University.

Michael Ashton

A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, Michael Ashton has studied with some of the premier double bassists of the world including Max Dimoff and renowned performer and pedagogue Jeff Bradetich. He has performed as a concert soloist in England at Ely Cathedral, Great Saint Mary’s, and Saint Ives as well as a handful of locations in the United States. As an orchestral player, Michael has traveled extensively playing in orchestras from coast to coast. Aside from his position in the Virginia Symphony, he holds a position in Greensboro Symphony as assistant principal and can be seen playing in various orchestras and chamber groups up and down the eastern seaboard. Michael spends his down-time restoring an old Queen Anne style Victorian home in downtown Durham, North Carolina.

Frederick Dole

Fred Dole is currently a Section Double Bass in the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Rochester Philharmonic, Richmond Symphony,  and West Virginia Symphony Orchestras, and the Atlantic Chamber Ensemble (ACE), of which he was a founding member.  He also has been Instructor of Double Bass at Virginia Commonwealth University and the College of William and Mary.  Previously, he was a freelance musician throughout the Baltimore/Washington DC area, and has played in numerous orchestras and chamber groups in the area.  In 2003, Fred was chosen as a Peabody String Fellow, which allowed him to travel to Singapore to help open the Young Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and to perform with the Singapore Symphony.  Fred received his Masters of Music from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD, where he studied with Paul Johnson and had additional studies with John Hood and Rob Kesselman.  He received his Bachelor’s of Music from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied with Michael Cameron and had additional studies with Catalin Rotaru.

Lee Philip

Lee Philip is a double bassist performing with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Lee received his Bachelor’s degree from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and his M.M. in String Performance and Pedagogy from Northwestern University. He has also toured with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and performed with the Baltimore, Grand Rapids, and Singapore Symphonies.

Before settling into the Mid-Atlantic area, he was a double bass fellow with the New World Symphony and the Tanglewood Music Center. Lee was also a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and spent summers at the Sarasota Music Festival and the Pacific Music Festival among others. Lee is currently contributing faculty of the Dickinson College and the Performing Arts Institute.

When not playing for Virginia, he can be heard with the Maryland Symphony and the York Symphony.

Thomas P. Reel

Tom Reel has been a member of the double bass section of the Virginia Symphony since 1984, but his path to the orchestra was anything but direct. After his first bass lesson as a third-grader in Tarrytown, NY, he thought the instrument had only four notes. (He soon learned that pressing the strings down changed the pitch). After graduating from High School, Reel chose to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado. After graduating in 1970, he served five years in the Air Force including a tour in Viet Nam. Music was a hobby during these years but that was about to change.

In 1975 Tom left the Air Force to attend the University of Kansas to study bass with Charles Hoag. “Until then, I had no idea what kind of commitment was required for the pursuit of a professional life in music,” says Tom. After seven years of study at KU, he had bachelors & masters degrees in double bass performance and a job as Principal Bass with the Midland-Odessa Symphony in Texas. Two years after that, he won a position with the Virginia Symphony.

Reel’s studies have included instruction from Barry Green, Paul Ellison, Franco Pettrachi, Francois Rabbath, Murray Grodner and others. He has served as Principal Bass for the Missouri Symphony Society Chamber Orchestra, the Permian Consort, Festival Orchestras in Italy & Austria and the Ash Lawn Opera.

Tom has served on the Virginia Symphony Board of Directors and worked on the Symphony Staff selling program ads. Today he is a tireless volunteer for the Symphony and for the Musicians’ Union. Tom thinks that a sense of humor and relentless optimism are necessary ingredients for success. When prospects seem dim and some find it challenging to see the glass as half full, Tom will note, “The glass is moist!”

Is he unhappy to be working for wages that are less than a military retirement would have provided at this point in his life? “Not at all. Hampton Roads is a stimulating place to live. I embrace the consequences of the choices I’ve made and I’m very proud to be part of the Virginia Symphony. It’s not just an institution; it’s a family of dedicated and hard working people on and off the stage.”

A transplanted New Yorker, Tom now makes his home in Norfolk where he enjoys all sorts of music and maintains a passion for baseball and politics. He sees the Symphony’s musicians as vital to the quality of life in Hampton Roads, even beyond music performance and music education. “Resident artists bring a spiritual and intellectual capital to any community,” says Reel who also likes to remind people that “Supporting the Arts Means Supporting the Artists.”

Woodwinds

Flute

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Debra Wendells Cross, Principal

H. Lee Kanter, Principal Flute Chair

Debra Wendells Cross has held the position of Principal Flute in the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Opera, and made Norfolk her home since 1980.  The Seattle native graduated with honors from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she studied with Boston Symphony member James Pappoutsakis.  From there she went on to study with Michel Debost in Paris, France under the auspices of the Harriet Hale Woolly Scholarship.

Ms. Cross serves on the faculty of Old Dominion University, and for many summers was Principal Flutist of the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. She spent the 2004-2005 season as interim Principal Flutist of the Buffalo Philharmonic. She has participated in many other festivals including Tanglewood, the Colorado Philharmonic, the Music Academy of the West, the Skaneateles Festival, and the Virginia Arts Festival. She is a founding member of The Virginia Chamber Players, a chamber music group that has released several recordings of the works of American composers, and has been broadcast on NPR’s Performance Today.

With the Virginia Symphony’s Principal Harpist, Barbara Chapman, she recorded American Mosaics for Flute and Harp, a Christmas CD entitled Love’s Pure Light, and a lullaby CD called Dream Sweet Dreams.  She can also be heard with JoAnn Falletta and Robert Allemany on a two recordings of chamber music entitled Schubert’s Guitar and Borrowed Treasures, and with the Miami String Quartet on a Musical Heritage Society recording of two Mozart Quartets. Her solo appearances with the Virginia Symphony include Mozart’s Concerto in G, Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto, the Faure Fantasy, Halil by Leonard Bernstein, and the Flute Concertos of Carl Nielsen, and Lowell Lieberman.

Ms. Cross is interested in musical research and has prepared several concerts of historical significance including a program called American Flute Music of the 1920’s for the National Flute Association, and a chamber concert of American composers for the Jamestown 2007 Celebration. Debbie’s other interests include yoga, and her Labrador Retrievers, Rusty and Charlie whom she enters in dog sports trials, and takes on pet therapy visits to nursing homes and schools. She is married to Virginia Symphony Principal Percussionist and Virginia Arts Festival Director, Robert W. Cross.

Joanne Meyer White

Joanne Meyer White is second flute with the Virginia Symphony, a position she has held since 1996. She studied flute at Boston University and McGill University in Montreal earning her Bachelor and Masters degrees, respectively. Her teachers include Timothy Hutchins, Doriot Dwyer and summer studies with Peter Lloyd. Prior to moving to Virginia Joanne performed in the New England area most notably as principal flute of the Vermont Symphony. She has taught at many local institutions including William and Mary, East Carolina University, Virginia Wesleyan, Hampton University and the Academy of Music in Norfolk as well as teaching privately. Joanne serves on the advisory board for the Hampton Roads Flute Faire, an annual event that seeks to educate and nurture area flutists. She participates in the Organ Swell recital series as part of the Virginia Arts Festival. Married to Christopher White, assistant principal bass with the Symphony, together they have two children; Brayton Nathaniel and Evelyn Virginia. Joanne loves being part of the Hampton Roads music community and thoroughly enjoys teaching young flutists. You will find her pushing a double stroller around Ghent whenever possible.

Piccolo

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Rachel Ordaz, Flute III/Piccolo

Chicago native Rachel Ordaz began studying flute at the age of 10, and in 2001 enrolled at the Merit School of Music where she studied with Elizabeth Ko. Also in 2001, Rachel became a member of the Chicago Youth Orchestras, and remained there until 2007.  In 2011 she graduated with honors from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where she studied with former New York Philharmonic principal flutist, Jeanne Baxtresser. While at Carnegie Mellon, Rachel performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City as the piccolo chair of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. She also became a member of the prestigious Andrew Carnegie Society Scholars. Currently, she is pursuing a Masters of Music in Piccolo Performance at the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. where she studies with solo piccoloist of the Baltimore Symphony, Laurie Sokoloff. Rachel is incredibly excited to become a new member of the VSO family, and looking forward to starting a new chapter in Norfolk.

Oboe

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Sherie Lake Aguirre, Principal

Virginia Symphony League Principal Oboe Chair

Sherie Lake Aguirre has been the Principal oboist of the Virginia Symphony and the Virginia Opera since 1987. She graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor’s degree in Performance and continued her graduate studies with Ray Still at Northwestern University. Ms. Aguirre has held principal positions with the Singapore Symphony, La Sinfonica de Maracaibo, La Sinfonica de Tenerife, and La Sinfonica de Madrid. She appears regularly as soloist with the Virginia Symphony and performs frequently in the Chamber Music series of the Virginia Arts Festival as well as the Norfolk Chamber Consort programs.  From 1990 to 1997 she spent her summers in Boulder, Colorado performing with the Colorado Music Festival. For the past 15 summers, Ms. Aguirre has performed and recorded several CD’s with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival in Florida.  Ms. Aguirre also maintains a private teaching studio full of young, local, talented oboe students in addition to fulfilling adjunct faculty positions at William and Mary College and Old Dominion University. She resides in Norfolk with her husband, a violinist in the Virginia Symphony.

George Corbett

George Corbett traverses the eastern United States and beyond to meet the demands for his services as oboist, English hornist and clinician. As English hornist and oboist, Mr. Corbett debuted with the Virginia Symphony, under the baton of JoAnn Falletta, in the fall of 1999 and currently maintains this position. Previously, he has held positions as principal oboist with Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and Riverside Symphonia in addition to being English hornist with the Harrisburg Symphony. Mr. Corbett’s career has taken him abroad to Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Japan and most recently the Dominican Republic, where he represented the Virginia Symphony in the international ensemble in residence at the Santo Domingo Music Festival under the baton of Phillippe Entremont. Included amongst the ensembles that he has recorded with are the Virginia Symphony, Santo Domingo Music Festival and Eastman Wind Ensemble.

In addition to being a symphonic musician, Mr. Corbett is also an active soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. In concert with keyboardist Tom Marshall, the Washington Post heralds their performance as a model of elegant restraint and level headed shaping. Solo performances with Concerto Soloists include Mozart’s Symphonia Concertante for Winds, J. S. Bach’s Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin, Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Oboes in d minor, and the world premiere of Arthur Cunningham’s Adagio for Oboe and Strings. With Riverside Symphonia he was a featured soloist for Franciax’s L’horloge de flore and Marcello’s Oboe Concerto in c minor. The Virginia Symphony presented him to perform three selections: Debussy’s Rhapsodie and Donizetti’s Concertino for English Horn as well as the recent world premier of Kenneth Fuch’s Eventide for English Horn, Strings and Percussion. His playing has been highlighted by the Virginia Gazette as “marked (with) expression and feeling, superbly displaying his rich tone, musicianship, virtuoso skills and sensitivity.”

A graduate of Eastman School of Music New England Conservatory, Mr. Corbett has been on faculties of notable schools such as Lehigh University (Pennsylvania), Moravian College and Music Institute (Pennsylvania), and has appeared during the summers at Kinhaven Music School (Vermont), Summertrios (New York), Music at Gretna (Pennsylvania) and the American Institute of Musical Studies (Austria). He began playing oboe in the 8th grade under the instruction of Judith Famous, sitting next to her in the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sheldon. Amongst his instructors were James Ostryniec, Peggy Pearson, John Mack, Richard Kilmer, Al Genovese, Johathan Blumenfeld and Keith Underwood, to name a few.

Intensive studies in yoga and breathwork have led Mr. Corbett to teach workshops for professional and amateur performers alike in developing a higher level of body awareness, especially of the breathing mechanism, for performance enhancement and injury prevention. During the summers he hosts OBOE HOLIDAY, a camp for young oboists in teaching all aspects of oboe performance. He currently resides in Norfolk, Virginia.

David Garcia

Oboist David Garcia, a native of South Texas, joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2016. An active freelancer throughout the Baltimore/Washington D.C. Metro area, he has performed with many of the region’s leading orchestras including the Washington National Opera, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Concert Artists of Baltimore, the Richmond Symphony, Maryland Symphony, and the New Orchestra of Washington, among others.

From 2010-2013, Garcia performed across the United States and Canada with the 25th Anniversary Tour of Les Misérables. He has also been heard in concerts at the Library of Congress, the Phillips Collection, and during the summer at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Radio broadcasts include: WETA 90.9 Front Row Washington and NPR’s Performance Today as principal oboist of the New Orchestra of Washington (NOW) and guest principal oboe of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, respectively.

A CD released in March 2015 with the NOW features Garcia as the solo oboe/English horn in Klaus Simon’s arrangement of Mahler’s Symphony no. 4 for chamber orchestra on the Acis label. In the spring of 2016, he had the privilege of performing Wagner’s Ring Cycle with the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center under the direction of Maestro Philippe Auguin.  Garcia received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his Master of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory. His teachers include Katherine Needleman, Erin Hannigan, Robert Atherholt, and John Snow.

English Horn

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George Corbett

George Corbett traverses the eastern United States and beyond to meet the demands for his services as oboist, English hornist and clinician. As English hornist and oboist, Mr. Corbett debuted with the Virginia Symphony, under the baton of JoAnn Falletta, in the fall of 1999 and currently maintains this position. Previously, he has held positions as principal oboist with Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and Riverside Symphonia in addition to being English hornist with the Harrisburg Symphony. Mr. Corbett’s career has taken him abroad to Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Japan and most recently the Dominican Republic, where he represented the Virginia Symphony in the international ensemble in residence at the Santo Domingo Music Festival under the baton of Phillippe Entremont. Included amongst the ensembles that he has recorded with are the Virginia Symphony, Santo Domingo Music Festival and Eastman Wind Ensemble.

In addition to being a symphonic musician, Mr. Corbett is also an active soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. In concert with keyboardist Tom Marshall, the Washington Post heralds their performance as a model of elegant restraint and level headed shaping. Solo performances with Concerto Soloists include Mozart’s Symphonia Concertante for Winds, J. S. Bach’s Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin, Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Oboes in d minor, and the world premiere of Arthur Cunningham’s Adagio for Oboe and Strings. With Riverside Symphonia he was a featured soloist for Franciax’s L’horloge de flore and Marcello’s Oboe Concerto in c minor. The Virginia Symphony presented him to perform three selections: Debussy’s Rhapsodie and Donizetti’s Concertino for English Horn as well as the recent world premier of Kenneth Fuch’s Eventide for English Horn, Strings and Percussion. His playing has been highlighted by the Virginia Gazette as “marked (with) expression and feeling, superbly displaying his rich tone, musicianship, virtuoso skills and sensitivity.”

A graduate of Eastman School of Music New England Conservatory, Mr. Corbett has been on faculties of notable schools such as Lehigh University (Pennsylvania), Moravian College and Music Institute (Pennsylvania), and has appeared during the summers at Kinhaven Music School (Vermont), Summertrios (New York), Music at Gretna (Pennsylvania) and the American Institute of Musical Studies (Austria). He began playing oboe in the 8th grade under the instruction of Judith Famous, sitting next to her in the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sheldon. Amongst his instructors were James Ostryniec, Peggy Pearson, John Mack, Richard Kilmer, Al Genovese, Johathan Blumenfeld and Keith Underwood, to name a few.

Intensive studies in yoga and breathwork have led Mr. Corbett to teach workshops for professional and amateur performers alike in developing a higher level of body awareness, especially of the breathing mechanism, for performance enhancement and injury prevention. During the summers he hosts OBOE HOLIDAY, a camp for young oboists in teaching all aspects of oboe performance. He currently resides in Norfolk, Virginia.

Clarinet

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Michael Byerly, Principal

Principal clarinetist Michael Byerly joined the Virginia Symphony at the start of its 2014-2015 season. Originally from Oregon, he studied clarinet with William McColl and Yehuda Gilad, completing degrees at the University of Washington and the University of Southern California and earning an Artist Diploma at The Colburn School. While in Los Angeles, he gained formative orchestral experience as a substitute player with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. As a soloist, he won First Prize at the International Clarinet Association Young Artist Competition and the Pasadena Showcase House Competition. He spent three years in Nishinomiya, Japan, as a member of the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra, and he served for two seasons as Principal Clarinetist with the Tucson Symphony. He resides in Virginia Beach with his wife, Christina Havens, who is Director of Orchestral Activities for the Virginia Symphony.

Scott Boyer

Coming Soon.

E-Flat Clarinet

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Scott Boyer

Coming Soon.

Bass Clarinet

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William Thomas

William Thomas began playing with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra shortly after graduation from Old Dominion University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Structural Engineering. Besides serving as bass clarinetist with the VSO, he has performed with numerous other local organizations, including the Norfolk Chamber Consort, the Virginia Opera, the Virginia Arts Festival, the Virginia Wind Symphony, the Tidewater Winds, the Peninsula Symphony, the Virginia Beach Pops, the Williamsburg Symphonia, and Young Audiences of Virginia.

Mr. Thomas recently retired from the U.S. Government’s Norfolk Ship Support Activity, where he headed the Port Workload Forecasting and Scheduling Division; prior to that position he supported that organization as a professional engineer, registered in the state of Virginia.  Aside from his musical activities, he enjoys and is enthusiastic about photography.  A Norfolk native, he now resides in Virginia Beach and is the proud father of two wonderful daughters, Leah and Jennifer.

Bassoon

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Laura Leisring, Principal

Laura Leisring, Principal Bassoon of the Virginia Symphony since 2007, can be heard on more than 35 CD recordings on labels such as Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, and Auvidis Valois as Principal with the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, Canary Islands, Spain 1989-2003, and as Acting Principal of the Milwaukee Symphony 2003/2004. Highly praised for her work by critics in Spain, she has performed with more than 100 world-class artists, and has been a soloist under conductors Yoel Levi, Antoni Wit, Leopold Hager, and Anne Manson, with whom she performed the European Premiere of the Concerto for Bassoon by Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Composer, Ellen Taaffe-Zwilich. She has served as Principal with the Music in the Mountains Festival, Durango, CO. since 2002, where she was a featured soloist in 2007.

David Savige

David Savige, currently the second bassoonist of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. For two years he was the second bassoonist of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C., and performed with them on an Asian tour in 2009.  He was the Assistant Principal/Second bassoonist of the Nashville Symphony in their 2001-2002 season, and in 2014, played bassoon and contrabassoon with the St. Louis Symphony in their opera season.  Before moving to the Tidewater area of Virginia, he was the Principal bassoonist of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera and the Atlanta Opera Orchestra, and played second bassoon with Atlanta Ballet and Macon Symphony orchestras.  He has also performed extensively and recorded with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, served as the second bassoonist with the Florida Orchestra, and has performed with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony, the Charleston Symphony, the Savannah Symphony, and numerous chamber ensembles.  He and former VSO Principal bassoonist, Andy Gott, were featured soloists with the Virginia Symphony in Vanhal’s Concerto in F for two bassoons and orchestra in 2004.  He holds degrees in Performance from Temple University and the Eastman School of Music, where he also earned the Performer’s Certificate.  He is also on the music faculty of Old Dominion University.  His wife, Christine Gustafson, is the Professor of Flute at East Carolina University, and performs recitals and gives master classes around the world.

Contrabassoon

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Elizabeth Roberts

Brass

Horn

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Jacob Wilder, Principal

Jacob Wilder completed both a Bachelor’s degree and an Artist Diploma in French Horn performance at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in downtown Los Angeles. During his time in Los Angeles, Jacob played substitute french horn with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and the Santa Barbara Symphony. Jacob has also served as a full time section member in the Colburn Orchestra, American Youth Symphony, the Industry Opera Company, Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo, and Colorado College Music Festival. Beyond making music, Jacob enjoys being outdoors biking, hiking, or playing basketball.

Kimberly Gilman

Kimberly Gilman joined the Virginia Symphony as 4th horn in 2008.  At the invitation of music director JoAnn Falletta, she took on new duties as 2nd horn in 2015.  

 A native of southern New Jersey, Ms. Gilman has performed with orchestras all over the Northeast.  Before her appointment to the VSO, she was in demand as a freelance artist in Philadelphia and New York City and held tenured positions in the New Haven Symphony, the Allentown Symphony, the Reading Symphony, and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic.  Ms. Gilman continues to return to her home state every summer to serve as 2nd horn in the Ocean City Pops.  

In her musical home of Hampton Roads, Ms. Gilman is active as a solo recitalist and has twice been featured as a guest artist in the Virginia Arts Festival’s celebrated chamber music series.  She has also appeared as part of the American Guild of Organists’ Organ Swell recital series.
Ms. Gilman received her musical training at the Peabody Conservatory, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Juilliard School, where she was a student of the late Jerome Ashby.  She passes along her music education today as a frequent guest lecturer in schools throughout the Hampton Roads region and as a coach with the Bay Youth Orchestras.
Ms. Gilman lives in Norfolk with her husband, Grant Gilman, a member of the music faculty at Norfolk Academy.  They have two young daughters, Violet and Autumn.
Everett Burns

Coming Soon.

John Shawger

John Shawger joined the Virginia Symphony as 4th horn in the fall of 2015. Originally from Milwaukee, John completed his undergraduate degree in horn performance at Northwestern University in Illinois, also earning a minor in computer science. He continued his studies in the Masters program at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. John has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Milwaukee Symphony. While at Colburn, John performed in Walt Disney Concert Hall as principal horn under maestros Gustavo Dudamel (Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5), James Conlon (Britten War Requiem) and Esa-Pekka Salonen (Stravinsky Firebird) with the Colburn Orchestra. John was a member of the YMF Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles from 2012-2015, joining the orchestra as 2nd horn, and was later appointed principal horn in 2013. An avid chamber musician, John performed regularly on the Colburn Chamber Music Society series, collaborating with clarinetist Joaquin Valdepeñas and pianist Jon Kimura Parker. As a founding member of the 2nd Street Brass Quintet, John performed in venues across Los Angeles and California and in the spring of 2014 traveled to Bellingham, Washington for a week-long residency in association with the Bellingham Music Festival. John’s principal teachers include Andrew Bain, Gail Williams, and William Barnewitz.

Dennis Herring

Currently in his 41st year as a member of the Virginia Symphony, Dennis Herring has been playing with the Symphony since he was a student at Old Dominion University.   He has also been a member of many other local music ensembles, including the Norfolk Chamber Orchestra, The Peninsula Symphony, the Virginia Opera, and the Virginia Beach Pops.  In addition, Dennis has performed with the Savannah Symphony, the Barry White Love Unlimited Orchestra, and the Great American Music Ensemble big band at Kennedy Center.  Dennis recently took a year’s leave from the orchestra to play principal horn with the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra in Guangzhou, China.  He can often be found in the orchestra pit of the Broadway At Chrysler Hall series.

Dennis is a Hampton native and recently retired from the Hampton City Schools after 32 years as a band teacher.  He is an avid do-it-yourselfer who enjoys carpentry and house renovations.  Dennis also enjoys music composition and dabbles in electronic music.  His most memorable moments with the Virginia Symphony include meeting and playing under Aaron Copland (he still has his autographed score of Appalachian Spring) and the Symphony’s Carnegie Hall debut.

Trumpet

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David Vonderheide, Principal

Marc & Connie Jacobson, Principal Trumpet Chair

A native of Madison, Indiana, David Vonderheide began trumpet studies at the age of twelve. After studying with John Rommel, former Principal Trumpet with the Louisville Orchestra and current Indiana University professor of trumpet in Louisville, KY, he was admitted to Northwestern University in the prestigious studio of Vincent Chicowicz, former Second Trumpet of the Chicago Symphony. It was there that he received his Bachelor of Music in 1996.

David joined the Virginia Symphony in 1998 as Second Trumpet, a position he held until 2009 when he stepped into the role of Principal Trumpet. As principal he can be heard in the VSO’s most recent recordings, The Music of Adolphus Hailstork, and on Mahler’s Eighth Symphony on the Naxos label. With the VSO, he has been featured several times as a soloist, including a performance of Haydn Trumpet Concerto during the 2012-2013 season.

As a teacher he has been on the faculties of Christopher Newport University and The College of William and Mary. At W&M he has had occasion to appear as a faculty guest soloist with several ensembles. In 2012 he performed the world premier performance of Brian Hulse’s Margins, Afterwards, a piece for solo trumpet and chorus. This work was re-imagined as a piece for trumpet, organ and percussion which David recorded in 2013. Along with another Hulse composition to be recorded in the spring of 2014, these works will be featured on a cd for national release. He is also scheduled to be the featured soloist on the Wind Ensemble’s tour of China with a preceding performance in the Kennedy Center in the spring of 2015.

In 2012, he won the job of Interim Principal Trumpet of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for the 2012-2013 season. While in the ASO, David had a prominent role in many concerts, and received consistently favorable reviews, including their performance in Carnegie Hall, October 2012, where David was mentioned by name in a positive review for his many solos in Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast. While in Atlanta, David took part in two exciting recording projects. He performed on the ASO’s latest CD featuring the music of Sibelius, and recorded commercial music for Coca-Cola.

Recently, David has been asked to contribute to a series of books about the teaching philosophy of his teacher Vincent Chicowicz. As one of his prominent former students, David has written segments for the books and recorded material for a companion CD recording.

Proven to be an in-demand player, David has been a candidate for several Orchestral Principal chairs, He has also played as a substitute musician in some of the country’s best orchestras and has performed in festivals in the US, Asia and Europe.

He currently resides in Portsmouth, Va. with his wife, Virginia Symphony violinist Elizabeth Vonderheide.

Adam Gandolfo

Adam Gandolfo currently holds the position of Second Trumpet with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and has been with the orchestra since August of 2013. Adam, a native of Brighton, MI, received his Bachelor’s Degree from Central Michigan University, under the tutelage of Dr. Dennis Horton. He also holds a Master’s Degree from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with James Thompson, former principal trumpet of both the Montréal Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Prior to winning the Second Trumpet position with the Virginia Symphony, Adam was a freelance musician in Western New York and also parts of the Midwest, performing with the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Rochester Philharmonic in New York as well as the Canton Symphony Orchestra in Ohio. Aside from performing with the VSO here in Hampton Roads, Adam teaches trumpet lessons to young students throughout the area.

Jeremy Garnett

Jeremy Garnett joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in the 2013-2014 season as 3rd Trumpet. Originally from Dallas/Fort Worth, he graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy in 2001 and studied with Steve Emery at the Boston Conservatory of Music. After moving back to his hometown in 2006, he began studies at Texas Christian University with Jon Burgess. Jeremy has performed as Principal Trumpet with the Fort Worth Sinfonietta as well as regularly with the Fort Worth Symphony. Other notable orchestras he has played with include the Hong Kong Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Victoria Symphony and Plano Symphony.

As a soloist, he has been featured with the Boston Civic Orchestra, the Texas Christian University Symphony, the Houston String Quartet, and the Fort Worth Sinfonietta. In 2011, Jeremy won a position with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, and performed in a series of concerts to audiences in Sydney, Australia, as well as to over 32 million viewers online.

Trombone

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R. Scott McElroy, Principal

Virginia Symphony Principal Trombonist R. Scott McElroy first began playing trombone during his elementary school years in his native Ann Arbor, Michigan. He studied privately during school years and in the summers attended the Blue Lakes Fine Arts Camp and the internationally acclaimed Interlochen For The Arts. In high school he was invited to perform in Europe as principal trombonist of the Blue Lake International Orchestra. Mr. McElroy continued his studies at The University of Michigan with trombonist H. Dennis Smith, and after receiving his Bachelor of Music degree in 1985, he performed one summer as co-principal trombone of the Colorado Philharmonic. Mr. McElroy studied two summers as a Fellow at the Tanglewood Institute of Music, where he played under the batons of great conductors like Leonard Bernstein and John Williams. Before moving to Norfolk in 1988, he performed as Principal Trombonist of the Saginaw Symphony Orchestra in Michigan, and was a member of the Detroit Chamber Winds and the Detroit Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. Mr. McElroy lives on the Lafayette River in Norfolk, Virginia. He enjoys boating with his wife Ruth (an aerospace engineer at NASA) and their two children, Christopher and Patrick.

David Bruestle

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, David Bruestle starts his first season with the VSO in the fall of 2015.

David previously studied at the Eastman School of Music where he received a Bachelor of Music with High Distinction and was awarded the Performer’s Certificate.  At Eastman, David had the privilege of studying with Dr. John Marcellus, international recording artist and former principal trombone of the National Symphony Orchestra.  He then received his Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where he studied with Dr. Per Brevig, a 26-year member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

David returned to Eastman to pursue the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts, studying with Mark Kellogg, principal trombone of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, completing his course of study in May 2015. Before joining the VSO, David held the position of principal trombone with the Erie Philharmonic.  He has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphoria (Syracuse), and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.  David is honored to have participated in multiple recordings with the Eastman Wind Ensemble and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

David will become a sort of snowbird, as his wife Katie, an Eastman graduate in horn performance, is pursuing an MD/PHD degree at the University of Rochester.  In addition to playing the trombone, David enjoys cooking, birding, and cycling.

Bass Trombone

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Rodney Martell

Olga & Henry Bensel, Bass Trombone Chair

Rodney Martell was the second person in the VSO to be hired by (then new) Music Director JoAnn Falletta in the fall of 1991 as bass trombonist. Mr. Martell has also been active in orchestra administration, beginning in 1993 and serving variously as librarian, personnel manager, Artistic Operations Director and finally as Artistic Administrator. He is also on the faculty at both Christopher Newport University and the College of William and Mary.

Prior to joining the VSO he gained his Bachelor’s of Music (instrumental performance and music education) from the University of Michigan and freelanced in the Michigan area including stints with the Flint Symphony, Ann Arbor Symphony, Saginaw Symphony, Lansing Symphony and Toledo Symphony among others.  Other experience has included the American Wind Symphony and the Disneyland All-American College Band.  Principal teachers include H. Dennis Smith, Abe Torchinsky with additional studies with Randall Hawes of the Detroit Symphony.

Mr. Martell resides in Norfolk along with his wife Helen Martell (Music Director of the Bay Youth Orchestras) and children, Emily and Miles. They like to spend their summers on an island in Michigan’s Lake St. Clair.

Tuba

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Peter DuBeau, Principal

Peter DuBeau has been playing with the Virginia Symphony since 1989, and has been featured as a soloist for the orchestra’s family series. Over the summer he plays at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. Previously, he has been the principal tuba of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Mr. DuBeau holds music degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Michigan. He teaches locally at Old Dominion University, Hampton University, The College of William and Mary, and Elizabeth City State University.

Percussion/Harp/Keyboard

Timpani

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Michael Laubach, Principal

Dr. Ralph R. & Barbara Stephens, Principal Timpani Chair

Originally from Pittsburgh PA, Mike received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University studying with Timothy K. Adams, Jr., Principal Timpani with the Pittsburgh Symphony (retired) and Paul Evans, Percussionist with the River City Brass Band. Postgraduate studies included a drum set performance certificate from Los Angeles Music Academy and Cleveland State University where he studied with Tom Freer, Assistant Principal Timpani/Percussion with the Cleveland Orchestra. Mike has performed with the Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Charlotte Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Erie Philharmonic, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Toledo Symphony, and West Virginia Symphony Orchestras. Mike Currently lives in Virginia Beach with his wife Alice and son Valentine.

Percussion

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Robert W. Cross, Principal

Robert Cross joined the Virginia Symphony in 1981 and has been principal percussionist since 1987. He has also served the Symphony as Personnel Manager, Artistic Administrator, Orchestra Manager, Interim Executive Director and General Manager. In 1995, Mr. Cross became Executive Director of the Virginia Arts Festival. He has performed with the Boston Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Atlantic Symphony, American Repertory Theater, Leonard Bernstein Festival of American Music, Skaneateles Festival, Brevard and the Eastern Music Festival, and some of the world’s most prestigious ballet companies. A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, Mr. Cross has recorded for Northeastern Records, New Albion, NPR Classics, CD Review, and Albany Records.

Tim Bishop

Coming Soon.

Scott Jackson

J. Scott Jackson has a uniquely balanced background in the Arts as a performer, teacher/arts education advocate, and administrator.

As an Arts Administrator, Scott is currently the General Manager of the Virginia Arts Festival. Scott joined the Festival in 1996. He became Director of operations in 1998 and General Manger in 1999. As General Manger, Scott is involved in all aspects of the management of the Festival. The four largest areas of focus are Fundraising/Development, Education outreach, Office Management, and Production and Direction of the Virginia International Tattoo.

Scott has an extensive background as a performer. He is a magna cum laude graduate of the Eastman School of Music with a Bachelor’s degree in music performance and also holds a Masters Degree in applied music from Temple University. He has performed for such conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Andre Previn, Lorin Maazel, Seji Ozawa, Leonard Slatkin, and Simon Rattle and is currently a member of the Virginia Symphony under the direction of JoAnn Falletta. Prior to joining the VSO in 1995, Scott was a member of the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas for three years.  Former CNU composer in residence Dr. Jennifer Barker recently featured him performing marimba on a compact disk of her music.

As an educator, Scott has served on the faculty of Florida International University, Old Dominion University, Hampton University, and Christopher Newport University.  He was a founding member of the SouthBeat percussion group in Miami, Florida which was known for its innovative educational programs.

Scott was the first director of the Virginia Arts Festival’s Education and Community Outreach Department. In that role, he created the Rhythm Project program, an after school program designed to provide positive experiences for at-risk students through the arts. That program, which began with 13 students in Portsmouth, now serves 100+ students in four Hampton Roads cities.  Scott is married with three children and lives in Norfolk.

Harp

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Barbara Chapman, Principal

The Benton Family, Principal Harp Chair

Barbara Chapman has held the position of Principal Harp for the Virginia Symphony since 1988. She has performed with the Virginia Opera since 1986 and performs regularly on the Chamber Music and Organ Swell series of the Virginia Arts Festival.  An active recitalist, she has performed on the Virginia Wesleyan and Old Dominion University Recital series, the Vocal Arts and Music Festival of Virginia Tech and as guest artist with the Virginia Chorale and the Virginia Children’s Chorus.  Barbara has held the position of Principal Harp with the Glimmerglass Opera of NY, New York Grand Opera and toured the United States with the American Harp Society’s Concert Artist Program. She has performed with numerous musical theatre productions in the New York City metropolitan area and was harpist for the long-running original New York production of “The Fantasticks”.

A founding member of the Virginia Chamber Players, Ms. Chapman has performed with Catherine Cho, Paul Neubauer, Richard Stoltzman, as well as commissioned, premiered and recorded chamber music by composer, Adolphus Hailstork.  With flutist Debra Wendells Cross, she has concertized extensively, recorded 4 compact discs and has been broadcast nationally on NPR’s Performance Today.

Ms. Chapman maintains a small private teaching studio. She has served on the faculty of The College of William and Mary and has led workshops at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the Eastman School of Music, New York. A graduate of St. Olaf College in her home state of Minnesota, Ms. Chapman studied with Anne Adams in San Francisco and Kathleen Bride in New York City. Ms. Chapman lives in Norfolk with her husband Jonathan Miller.

Piano

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Fannie G. & Milton Friedman Piano/Keyboard Chair

Coming Soon.

Harpsichord

Gift of the Chrysler Museum of Art

from Newell H. Porter in honor of his wife Anetha L. Porter

Handel’s Messiah • 12/14-12/16

Thursday, December 14, 2017 | 8PM |Regent University, Virginia Beach Friday, December 15, 2017 | 8PM | First Baptist Church Newport News, Newport News Saturday, December 16, 2017 | 8PM | Harrison Opera House, Norfolk Adam Turner conducts the Virginia Symphony...

A Roman Holiday • 1/19-1/21

Friday, January 19, 2018 | 8PM | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News Saturday, January 20, 2018 | 8PM | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk Sunday, January 21, 2018 | 2:30PM | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach Share the warmth of the seven hills of Rome...

SUPER HEROES! • 1/27

Saturday, January 27, 2018| 3 PM | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts Put on your super suit for a super epic adventure! The VSO, side-by-side with the Bay Youth Symphony Orchestra, will perform music from your favorite superhero movies like Superman, Batman,...

Whole Lotta Shakin’ — Swing to Rock • 2/1 & 2/3

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | 8PM | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News Saturday, February 3, 2018 | 8PM | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk The talented multi-instrumentalist Dave Bennett joins the Virginia Symphony Orchestra to take you through the decades, from the...