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Virginia Symphony Orchestra

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Strings

Violin

Vahn Armstrong, Concertmaster Emeritus

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 twenty-sxith 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 ZhangYun 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.

Fanny Pointet, Assistant Concertmaster

Born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, Fanny Pointet began playing the violin at the age of 5. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the Geneva University of Music (Switzerland), and a Master’s degree from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna (Austria) in the class of Rainer Küchl. 

Fanny finished her studies in June of 2023 and joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as assistant concertmaster in September of the same year.

Fanny has performed in Europe and the USA with world-renowned conductors and soloists such as Kirill Petrenko, Lang Lang, Steven Isserlis, Krystof Urbanski, Andres Orozco-Estrada, Christoph Eschenbach, Philippe Jordan and others. Fanny has also appeared as soloist many times, won numerous prizes, and competitions; notably the Henryk Szering Prize in 2017 and 2019. She regularly takes part in summer festivals such as the Schleswig Holstein Music Festival.

Alongside her career as a violinist, Fanny has always had a keen interest in the piano. Concurrently with her Master’s degree in violin, Fanny pursued a Bachelor of Pedagogy at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna in Sibylla Joedicke’s class. She put her studies on hold when she took up the position with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, but enjoys passing on her knowledge and love of the instrument through teaching.

Elizabeth Coulter Vonderheide, Principal Second

Lee A. & Helen G. Gifford Principal Second Violin Chair

Elizabeth Coulter Vonderheide, originally from Lynchburg, VA, began violin studies at age 5. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, studying with the late Franco Gulli, Distinguished Professor of Violin. She received the Master of Music degree from the prestigious Orchestral Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Glenn Dicterow, then Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic. While in New York she served as Concertmaster of the MSM orchestras, and had the opportunity to play under renowned conductors Kurt Masur, David Robertson, Pierre Boulez, and Julius Rudel. She also appeared as soloist both with the Claremont Ensemble, and in a live broadcast on Soundcheck with John Schaeffer on 93.9 WNYC FM.

Elizabeth joined the Virginia Symphony as Assistant Principal Second Violin in 2003, and was appointed Principal Second Violin in 2022. Since 2008 she has been a substitute with the Saint Louis Symphony, joining them frequently, including their 7-week Opera Season, Carnegie Hall tours, and a domestic tour with American Ballet Theater. Beginning in the 2022-23 season, Elizabeth has been a regular substitute with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Additionally, she is often called on as a substitute musician by the Atlanta, Baltimore, and North Carolina Symphonies, and the Florida and Sarasota Orchestras.

Elizabeth has soloed four times with the Virginia Symphony, as well as with the Lynchburg Symphony, the National Repertory Orchestra, and the Wintergreen Music Festival orchestra. She has performed as a guest member of the National Symphony of the Dominican Republic, and with 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. Since 2015 she has held a summer position with Wintergreen Music. Elizabeth has also twice toured Japan with the Hollywood Concert Orchestra.

An enthusiastic chamber musician, Elizabeth is a founding member of both the Hampton Roads-based New Commonwealth Quartet, and the Surf and Sounds Chamber Music Festival in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. With NCQ, she has performed with Feldman Chamber Music, on the Virginia Wesleyan recital series, for Christ and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church “Sacred Music in a Sacred Space”, for the Graif Foundation, and in a chamber music series the quartet created in East Beach, Norfolk. They also recorded a recital for WHRO public media that was live-streamed during the pandemic. The quartet has twice been a featured ensemble at Bruce Hornsby’s Funhouse Fest, and can also be heard on Mr. Hornsby’s album Absolute Zero, on the track “White Noise”. As a solo recitalist, Elizabeth has appeared as a guest artist at Old Dominion University, Randolph College, and Madison (Indiana) Performing Arts.

Elizabeth is on the Instrumental Faculty at the Governor’s School for the Arts and The Academy of Music, and is a regular coach with the Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia, and the Heart Strings Program. She maintains a private teaching studio in Portsmouth, where she lives with her husband, VSO Principal Trumpet David Vonderheide, and their Border Collie Indy.

Jonathan Richards, Assistant Principal Second Violin

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.

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.

Anna Bishop

Anna Bishop is a native of Virginia Beach who grew up behind the scenes of the VSO as the daughter of two musician parents in the orchestra. Prior to her time with VSO, she was a member of the Richmond Symphony from 2015-2018, Civic Orchestra of Chicago,  and Opera on the James. She continues to be a member of various groups in the area such as the Williamsburg Symphony and Williamsburg Opera.

Anna was an emerging artists at festivals such as the Garth Newel Music Institute, Brevard Music Center, Colorado Quartet Institute and the Nova Scotia International Young Artist Program. During her summer festival studies she was fortunate to study with leading concertmasters such as William Preucil, David Coucheron and Jonathan Carney.

Mrs. Bishop holds a B.M. from Virginia Commonwealth University as well as attended the graduate program at Chicago College of Performing Arts on scholarship. Her principal teachers have been Susanna Klein and MingHuan Xu.

Anna is also a studio violinist and teacher. Her playing is featured on the podcast, S-Town, created by Serial and This American Life. She resides in Richmond with her husband, two cats, and retired greyhound.

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.

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 and Masao Kawasaki 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 joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in 2003. She is also 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, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and the New City Ballet.

Mayu has been a member of the Ambrosia Quartet since 2005. In 2016, the quartet recorded the String Quartets of Adolphus Hailstork for Albany Records.  They have been also featured performers for the Virginia Arts Festival, the Feldman Chamber Music Society Series, and the Salon Series with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Mayu has also performed numerous solo recitals in New York City and Japan with her sister Ai, also a Juilliard graduate in piano. The Sisters Duo have performed at the Cremona Exhibition at the Christoph Landon Gallery, Columbia University, the Russian Tea Room, Oji Hall in Tokyo, and were featured on Radio City 84.0 MHz Tokyo and the Japanese Television show Zoom In Asa live from New York. Mayu is married to James Cipriano, who is a tuba player with the United States Army Music program and resides in Norfolk, VA with their beloved cats Eddie and Velvet.

Eugenia Cho

Coming Soon.

Jeanne DeDominick
Coming Soon.
Linda Dennis
Coming Soon.
Brendon Elliott

Virginia Native Brendon Elliott received his BM studying with Pamela Frank and Joseph Silverstein at The Curtis Institute of Music, and attained his master’s at The Juilliard School under Sylvia Rosenberg and Ronald Copes, then completed a fellowship with the New World Symphony. He began his violin studies under his mother’s tutelage at the age of three and made his solo debut when he was 10 years old.

As a three-time concerto competition winner, Brendon was invited as a guest soloist with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra at age 17 on their Masterworks Series. He toured with the Virginia Symphony performing the Hailstork Violin Concerto as an opener for Natalie Cole and his performance of William Grant Still’s Mother and Child was broadcast on WMRA radio. Brendon has soloed with The Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Harlem Chamber Players, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, and has performed in orchestras such as the Sphinx Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and Chineke! Orchestra. The Charleston Post and Courier described his solo performance with the Colour of Music Virtuosi as; “Playing with grace and poise, displaying a fine technique and sweet tone.”

Brendon is currently touring as Joseph Bologne’s musical half in Bill Barclay’s play The Chevalier and is a member of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Amanda Gates

Amanda GatesViolinist 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.

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.

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.
Camille Jones+

A passionate collaborator and advocate for diversity in the arts, Camille has worked with various festival orchestras and chamber groups, including the National Orchestral Institute and Festival (NOI + F), Bowdoin International Music Festival, and Next Festival of Emerging Artists.

As a 2019 Sphinx Orchestral Futurist Fellow, she has helped commission works and curate a professional development workshop for K-12 students in Prince George’s County, Maryland.This project piloted what is now the K12 New Music Initiative, a commissioning project to expand the repertoire of K12 orchestras with music by BIPOC composers. In the Fall of 2018, she curated Voices Unheard, a concert series at UMD that celebrated works by women composers and composers of color. In addition, she had the opportunity to collaborate with esteemed cello professor Anthony Elliott for a concert series at the Kerrytown Concerthouse titled Passing the Torch in 2021 and 2022. Camille is establishing herself as a freelance artist in the Michigan area as well, having performed for singer Michael Bublé, rapper Big Sean and Darren Criss. She has also served as a teaching artist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Youth Ensembles as well as the Sphinx Overture program in Detroit.

Camille received her B.M. in Violin Performance at the University of Maryland, College Park and a M.M. in Violin Performance from the University of Michigan, having studied under Danielle Belen.

Christine Allison Kilbride

Bio Coming Soon

Allison Kim

Allison Kim began playing the violin after receiving a quarter size violin as a gift from her grandfather for her eighth birthday. She grew up in Asunción, Paraguay and Busan, South Korea before moving to Colorado, where she began her formal training under the tutelage of Jesse Ceci, former concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. She received her Bachelor of Music at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Master of Music at Indiana University, and Advanced Music Studies certificate at Carnegie Mellon University. During the summers, she attended numerous festivals including Aspen Music Festival as an Orchestral String fellow, National Repertory Orchestra, Brevard Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival, Garth Newel Music Center, Encore School for Strings, and Madeline Island Music Camp. She is a substitute of the Colorado Symphony and New World Symphony and has been a member of various regional orchestras in Indiana and Colorado. In addition to Jesse, her teachers have included Lina Bahn, Ik-Hwan Bae, Yumi Hwang-Williams, and Andrés Cárdenes. During her free time Allison loves playing with dogs and cheering on Denver sports teams.

Simon Lapointe

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.

Hsiang-Yu Sean Meng

Violinist Hsiang-Yu (Sean) Meng, currently studying under Prof. Keng-Yuen Tseng at the Peabody Institute, has been recognized for his musical achievements with awards such as the Silverman Pollack Conservatory Scholarship and the Artistic Excellence Award. Sean is an active chamber music musician and advocate; he co-founded the Changhua Chamber Music Society (CCMS) in Taiwan with violinist Pei-Wu Chen, who aims to connect classical music more closely with local communities.

In the United States, Sean established the Nosremé Quartet, which has been invited to perform at notable venues, including the recently inaugurated JHU SAIS Bloomberg Center in Washington D.C., and served as Quartet in Residence at the Texas Chamber Music Institute (2023). His early musical prowess was evident with the Qingshui Trio, securing national first-place awards in the Taiwan National Student Music Competition in 2016 and 2017.

Sean serves as the artistic director of the Changhua Chamber Music Society, which strives to make classical music accessible across Taiwan, especially in regions with limited exposure to the arts. Sean and his colleagues aim to demystify classical music by organizing concerts and educational events, fostering a more profound appreciation among people of all backgrounds.

A highlight of CCMS’s efforts was the 2023 “Melodies Across Taiwan” tour, which reached over 5,000 attendees of various ages. This initiative brought classical music to unconventional venues across the island, such as temples and museums, demonstrating a creative approach to cultural engagement and the society’s dedication to broadening the audience for classical music.

Madalyn Navis

Bio coming soon!

Seiko Syvertsen

SeikoSeiko (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”.

Viola

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Celia Daggy, Principal

Marshall Family Principal Viola Chair

Hailed as “glittering, beautiful and memorable”, Celia Daggy joined the VSO as Principal Viola in 2022 at the age of 24, making her one of the youngest principal violists in an American orchestra.

Raised in a musical family in sunny Santa Monica, California, she studied piano and violin, eventually picking up the viola as a teenager. In high school, Ms. Daggy performed for John Williams with conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the American Youth Symphony, competed in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and toured China with the National Youth Orchestra of the USA.

She completed her undergraduate in 2020 summa cum laude from Boston University, where she studied with Boston Symphony principal Steven Ansell. She was a Tanglewood Music Center fellow for three years, during which she won their annual mock-audition, and was a guest of the Boston Symphony in the Leonard Bernstein Centennial Gala Concert. She also attended the New York String Orchestra Seminar and Spoleto Festival USA. Throughout her college years, she was a guest of numerous New England chamber music societies, performing from Rhode Island up to Maine. In 2018, she gave the world premiere of Stephen Baillargeon’s viola concerto, written for her, as a benefit for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Frequently traveling up and down the eastern United States, Ms. Daggy has performed with the Boston Symphony and toured New England with the Boston Pops. She can be heard in the internationally-renowned Candlelight quartet series, and in the summers participates in the Wintergreen Music Festival in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Prior to joining the Virginia Symphony, she was an acting member of the North Carolina Symphony during the ‘21-’22 season. She was also a principal fellow of The Orchestra Now at Bard College, where she can be heard on an album released by Bridge Records playing extensive solos in George Bristow’s Symphony No. 4 “Arcadian”.

She plays on a 2016 viola made by Andranik Gaybaryan in Northampton, Massachusetts. Outside of the musical world, she enjoys traveling, baseball, and exploring the local craft beer scene.

Alexander Antonio

Alexander Antonio is a Violist who graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance summa cum laude for Viola 2023 studying with Jeffery Irvine and Lynne Ramsey. Before coming to Cleveland Institute of Music, he had years of experience playing in string ensembles dating back to his youth in middle through high school orchestras, chamber ensembles, and solo work. He has been in principal positions in the Bay Youth Symphony Orchestra, Hampton Roads Chamber Players, Governor’s School for the Arts Orchestra, Senior Regional Orchestra of Virginia, All-State Orchestra of Virginia along with being the Concerto Competition winner for Bay Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2018 and Honorable Mention for Governor’s School Orchestra. At Cleveland Institute of Music, he has played in chamber and community recitals with multiple groups in a string quintet, piano quintet, and string quartet around the Cleveland area on top of holding assistant principal and principal chair for the orchestra. He has also collaborated and played in concert with conductors such as Andrew Grams, JoAnn Falletta, Marin Alsop, and Michael Tilson Thomas. He was also a National Orchestral Institute Fellow for the year 2022. He has had the opportunity to tour Japan, record for Windborn Music of Queen, and record for Naxos Recording Label in collaboration with JoAnn Falletta. He is currently a section Violist for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra for the 2023-2024 season.

Adrian Jackson+

Hailing from Austin Texas, Violist Adrian Jackson began studying viola at the McCallum Fine Arts Academy in Austin Texas at the age of 14. After graduating from the Interlochen Arts Academy, Adrian went onto earn his bachelor’s degree studying with professor George Taylor at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY. Adrian has also earned a Professional Studies Certificate at the San Francisco Conservatory studying with Professor Johnathan Vinocour. Adrian is the winner of the 2018 Texas Strings festival Rising Stars Competition, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra Fellowship and the Denis De Coteau Fellowship.

Adrian has served as Section Violist of the Southern Tier Symphony, Principal violist of the New York State Ballet Orchestra, Substitute in the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, San Francisco Ballet and the recipient of the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra Fellowship.

Adrian has attended esteemed festivals such as the Castleman Quartet Program, Credo Quartet Fellowship program, the Heifetz International Music Institute and the Chautauqua institute.

Jane Lenz

Jane Lenz is a classical and baroque violist who earned her Master of Music degree in Viola Performance from The Juilliard School and her Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Jane has performed around the country including multiple summers with the Adirondacks Performing Arts Fellowship’s orchestra and string quartet and Chicagoland’s 6:26 Concert Series. She is the violist of The Kenaniah Project, a Rochester, New York-based cross-genre collaborative ensemble combining faith and artistic excellence. After moving to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, she began teaching at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA, and appearing with the Virginia Symphony, Richmond Symphony, and Williamsburg Symphony. As a baroque violist, she has enjoyed performing with Juilliard415, the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble, and studying with Cynthia Roberts through secondary lessons during her time at Juilliard.

Jane was a 2019 Concerto Competition winner at Oberlin and a second-prize winner in the 2019 Ohio Viola Society competition. During her time at Oberlin, she was part of the Performing Artists In Residence program at the Oberlin Center for the Arts and formed string quartets that have performed in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Nebraska for various opportunities.

While at Juilliard, Jane received a Morse Teaching Artist Fellowship allowing her to develop her teaching skills and work with local students through community engagement collaborations in New York City. She has worked as a coach with the Williamsburg Youth Symphony, and Northern Ohio Youth Orchestras and as a teacher for Chicagoland’s Ping! program, providing young students equitable access to private lessons and instruments. Jane maintains a private lesson studio in Hampton Roads and has Suzuki Certification in Violin Books 1-3 from the School for Strings.

Jane enjoys skiing, cooking, and playing board games in her free time with her husband Patrick, the Composer/Arranger of the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band.

 

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

SatokoSatoko Rickenbacker, a violist with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra since 2003, began studying violin and piano and vocal 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 the 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 the 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 sub. In addition, She had performed as a chamber musician in many countries as Japan, France, England, Czech, Hungary, Austria and Swaziland.

As a passionate Chamber Musician, Satoko has performed chamber music throughout the 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 very passionate about teaching. Satoko has taught masterclasses and coaching sessions for many schools in the Hampton Roads Area including the College of William & Mary. Satoko is a former professor of viola at Christopher Newport University. She has also been very successful with her own private studio to training her students to get into the top music schools as a viola performance major. In addition to this, she is a member of The Chesapeake String Quartet and also actively serving as a viola principal of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and Opera Roanoke.

Alexandra Takasugi

 

 

 

Originally from Pasadena, California, violist Alexandra Takasugi began her career participating in The Colburn School orchestras, Pasadena Summer Youth Chamber Orchestra, and attended the Suzuki summer camps at Occidental College. Recently, Takasugi has completed her Graduate Performance Diploma at The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University with Victoria Chiang, and additional studies with Choon-Jin Chang, Karen Ritscher, and Dr. Amber Archibald. Not only has she been awarded first-place in the inaugural Seattle University Concerto Competition in 2010 and 2012, but has also solo debuted with Orchestra Seattle in October 2010. Takasugi has also participated in master classes with Daniel Ching, Emma McGrath, Ilya Kaler, Paul Silverthrone, James Dunham, Atar Arad, Hariolf Schlichtig, Miro and Pacifica Quartets. She has attended several prestigious festivals, including The Meadowmount School of Music, Le Domaine Forget, and Aspen Music Festival and School, where she was a mentor for two summers. Takasugi joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra at the beginning of the 2017-2018 season.

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.

rebeccagilmore.com | ambrosiaquartet.com

Yoga With Cello

Lui Berz

Lui BerzLui Berz received her Master of Cello Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy from the Cleveland Institute of Music.  A member of the Virginia Symphony since 2000, Lui performs cello, erhu and horsehead fiddle for events and concerts.  In addition to teaching cello privately, she is the creator of successful “Notes From the Far East” Chinese presentation and “Notes From The Silk Road” multi-cultural presentation reaching over 4500 kids and adults each year in the Hampton Roads area.  Lui enjoys story telling with traditional Chinese shadow puppets and plays Chinese instruments when she is away from her cello. 

Lucas Button

Based in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, Lucas Button is a cellist active throughout the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. He is a member of the Cape Symphony and plays regularly with the Albany Symphony, Allentown Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, and Symphoria. While a member of The Orchestra Now, a graduate orchestra in residence at Bard College, Lucas performed as soloist in Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He is featured performing cello solos on The Orchestra Now’s recordings of works by Dmitri Mitropoulus and Arthur Bliss on the Bridge and Hyperion labels, respectively.

Lucas recently joined the Bard College music program as an adjunct faculty member and he has also taught at the Eastman Community Music School in Rochester, NY and Stringwood Chamber Music Festival in Lanesboro, Minnesota. In 2021 Lucas coached the cellists of the National Association for Music Education’s All-Eastern orchestra.

Lucas studied cello with Norman Fischer at Rice University and with Steven Doane and Rosemary Elliott at the Eastman School of Music. He is a recipient of the Samuel Mayes Memorial Cello Award from the Tanglewood Music Center and the John Celentano Award for Excellence in Chamber Music from the Eastman School of Music.

In addition to his professional life, Lucas is an experienced home coffee roaster and aspiring amateur ornithologist. He is very excited to join the cello section of the Virginia Symphony in the fall of 2023!

Isabel Dimoff

Isabel Dimoff, cellist, was born into a musical family and raised in Cleveland, OH. She has been a member of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra since 2023. She is also pursuing an Artist
Diploma, studying with Julian Schwarz at the Shenandoah Conservatory, where she performed the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the Conservatory Orchestra in February 2023. Dimoff was a
member of the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra while she earned her Bachelor of Music at the University of Cincinnati and studied with Ilya Finkelshteyn, Principal Cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In 2020, Dimoff earned her Master of Music from the University of Michigan, where she studied with Anthony Elliott and founded the Belkorim Piano Trio, winner of
the school’s 2020 Binkow Grant. After graduating, she was a member of a long-distance chamber music group, [sunflower], which commissioned new music and performed exclusively online during quarantine. She has been a fellow at the Eastern Music Festival, playing with the festival orchestra, as well as the National Repertory Orchestra where she sat Principal Cello and performed the Brahms Double Concerto. While growing up in Cleveland, Dimoff studied with Mark Kosower, Principal Cellist of The Cleveland Orchestra, after beginning her cello studies with Pamela Kelly. Dimoff plays on an English cello made by John Betts in 1790.

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.
Eva Roebuck

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.
William McPeters

Bassist Will McPeters was born and raised in New Jersey. He began playing bass in the sixth grade, studying with Nate Lienhard and Dennis Masuzzo. In 2008 he was accepted into the Juilliard Pre-College to study with Albert Laszlo. He continued studying with Mr. Laszlo and attended The Juilliard School from 2010-2016 for both his Bachelors and Masters of Music. During this time he was Principal bass of the Juilliard Orchestra as well as Principal bass at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen and the Atlantic Music Festival. Following his time at Juilliard, Will attended The Orchestra Now for two years. In his free time he enjoys playing electric bass and guitar as well as painting and fishing. 

 

 

Brandon Smith

A native of Rhode Island, Brandon Smith earned his Bachelors and Masters from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore where he studied with Paul Johnson, Ira Gold and Jefferey Weisner. Outside of school, Brandon has been fortunate to study with teachers such as Paul DeNola, Ali Yazdanfar, Matthew McDonald, Franco Petracchi and Susan Hagen. Festivals that Brandon has attended include the American Institute for Musical Studies in Graz, Eastern Music Festival and Orford Music. Brandon is an active freelancer in the DMV area, performing with groups such as the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, the Mount Vernon Virtuosi, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Maryland Chamber Winds. In addition to his regular performances, Brandon is also a substitute musician with the Colorado Symphony. 

In addition to performing classical music, Brandon enjoys ultra-running, climbing, cycling, photography and baking pastries.

Samuel Zagnit

A versatile bassist, composer, and educator, Sam Zagnit is a New-York-based musician who enjoys a multifaceted career. Performing and composing contemporary music make up a large part of Sam’s career, and he is dedicated to performing works by living composers and creating a more inclusive environment in every musical context. As a composer, his work focuses on self-reflection as a way to deepen connections and build intimacy with his audience and fellow musicians on stage. Sam has worked and studied with exemplary musicians from many generations, including John Adams, Marin Alsop, Orin O’Brien, Mattias Pintcher, Lucy Shelton, Jessie Montgomery, and Seth Parker Woods. Sam is part of the duo confluss, with soprano Amber Evans, an up-and-coming chamber ensemble committed to the exploration of their unique timbre and sound through performing original compositions for their ensemble, some by Sam himself. Since 2019, Sam has served as Acting Associate Principal Bass with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, where he plays alongside his former teacher, David Grossman, and this fall, Sam joins the Virginia Symphony Orchestra bass section. As an educator, Sam is a teaching artist for the Harmony Program in NYC, and leads workshops and residencies with the arts education program, LEAP. Sam is a graduate of the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Don Palma, and a recent graduate of the Performer/Composer MM at the New School.

Woodwinds

Flute

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Min Ha Kim, Principal

H. Lee Kanter, Principal Flute Chair

Coming soon.

Joanne Meyer White

Joanne White

Joanne Meyer White plays Second Flute with the Virginia Symphony, a position she has held since 1996. A native of Massachusetts, Joanne began her career in the New England area most notably as principal flute of the Vermont Symphony. She has performed with many orchestras including the Atlanta Symphony, Grant Park Orchestra, Richmond Symphony, Albany Symphony, Williamsburg Symphonia and Opera in Williamsburg. She completed her musical training at Boston University and McGill University in Montreal, earning her bachelors and masters degrees, respectively. She teaches at The College of William & Mary, The Governor’s School for the Arts and in her private studio. Joanne served as Coordinator of The Hampton Roads Flute Faire for six years and continues to serve on its Advisory Board.

Rachel Ordaz, Flute III/Piccolo

Rachel Ordaz

Rachel Ordaz is a world-class flutist with expertise in piccolo performance, and has held the position of Third Flute/Piccolo with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra since 2012. In 2011, she earned her Bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University under the instruction of Jeanne Baxtresser and Alberto Almarza. Ordaz completed her Master’s degree in Piccolo Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University in 2013, where she studied with Piccoloist Laurie Sokoloff. In 2016, Ordaz took 2nd place in the National Flute Association’s Piccolo Artist Competition, and was recognized for having the best performance of the newly commissioned work with the Carl Hall Prize. An avid soloist, she was featured by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto in C Major, RV 443. Ordaz is widely traveled, having performed with numerous orchestras including the Richmond Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, and can be heard on the Oregon Symphony’s CD release, Aspects of America: Pulitzer Edition (2020). Ordaz can also be heard on the 2022 Naxos release of William Walton’s Complete Façades, performed by the Virginia Arts Festival Chamber Orchestra. Committed to Hampton Roads music education, she maintains a private studio and is adjunct faculty at Old Dominion University as well as Virginia Wesleyan University.

Piccolo

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Rachel Ordaz, Flute III/Piccolo

Rachel Ordaz

Rachel Ordaz is a world-class flutist with expertise in piccolo performance, and has held the position of Third Flute/Piccolo with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra since 2012. In 2011, she earned her Bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University under the instruction of Jeanne Baxtresser and Alberto Almarza. Ordaz completed her Master’s degree in Piccolo Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University in 2013, where she studied with Piccoloist Laurie Sokoloff. In 2016, Ordaz took 2nd place in the National Flute Association’s Piccolo Artist Competition, and was recognized for having the best performance of the newly commissioned work with the Carl Hall Prize. An avid soloist, she was featured by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto in C Major, RV 443. Ordaz is widely traveled, having performed with numerous orchestras including the Richmond Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, and can be heard on the Oregon Symphony’s CD release, Aspects of America: Pulitzer Edition (2020). Ordaz can also be heard on the 2022 Naxos release of William Walton’s Complete Façades, performed by the Virginia Arts Festival Chamber Orchestra. Committed to Hampton Roads music education, she maintains a private studio and is adjunct faculty at Old Dominion University as well as Virginia Wesleyan University.

Oboe

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Alexander Mayer, Principal

Virginia Symphony League Principal Oboe Chair

Oboist Alexander Mayer has appeared in concert halls around the world and joins the Virginia Symphony as Principal Oboe in January 2024. A passionate orchestral player, he served as an acting member of the Minnesota Orchestra in Fall 2023, and has freelanced with orchestras such as The Metropolitan Opera, Richmond Symphony, and The Florida Orchestra. In 2023, Mayer was a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra as well as Spoleto Festival USA, and was previously a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. In recent years he has also been a part of the New York String Orchestra Seminar, National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Sarasota Music Festival, and le Domaine Forget International Music Festival. In 2018 he participated as a member of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, touring across Asia under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas. 

Mayer received his Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School studying with Nathan Hughes, and is currently working towards a Master’s degree, also at Juilliard. A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Mayer previously studied with Martin Schuring and Nikolaus Flickinger, and has been supported over the years by the Arizona Musicfest Scholarship. Outside of music, he can be found hiking and exploring outdoors or enjoying strategy/puzzle games.

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

Michael ByerlyAnn Lee Van Buren Principal Clarinet Chair

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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Margaret Albrecht

Bass Clarinetist Margaret Albrecht is looking forward to joining the Virginia Symphony for the 2022-23 season. Newly transplanted from Michigan, she studied with Bradley Wong, Stephanie Hovanian, Chad Burrow and Daniel Gilbert, earning degrees from Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan. Margaret’s orchestral experience includes the previously held position of 3rd/ Bass Clarinet with the Lima Symphony and a robust freelancing career featuring performances with the Richmond Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, Charleston Symphony, Mississippi Symphony, Southwest Michigan Symphony, Saginaw Bay Symphony, Ann Arbor Symphony, Midland Symphony, Michigan Philharmonic, Dayton Philharmonic and Toledo Ballet Theater among others.As a chamber musician, Margaret has collaborated on projects with Aepex Contemporary Ensemble (keep an ear out for a CD release featuring two Symphonies by Evan Ware), ArcaSonica and OperaMODO. As a teacher, Margaret maintains active studios in both Virginia and Michigan, offering a mix of online and in person lessons. She currently holds a faculty position with Greater Richmond School of Music and is former faculty of the Community Music School of Ann Arbor and Expressions Music Academy. Margaret has taught in a wide variety of settings including Masterclasses at the collegiate level as well as private lessons K-12.

When Margaret isn’t performing, she enjoys knitting and hiking with her dog, Maizy.

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 SavigeDavid Savige, Second Bassoon

David Savige the second bassoonist of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, 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 is an Artist in Residence at Christopher Newport University, and holds degrees in Performance from Temple University and the Eastman School of Music, where he also earned the Performer’s Certificate.

Contrabassoon

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Elizabeth Roberts

Elizabeth Roberts joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as their Contrabassoonist in 2017.  She has served as Principal Bassoon and Director of Youth Education for the Charlottesville Symphony since 2001, and joined the music faculty at the University of Virginia the same year.  She has played Second Bassoon with the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra since 2015, and has substituted on bassoon and contrabassoon with the Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony, Washington National Opera, and Baltimore Symphony.  Ms. Roberts was the Visiting Assistant Professor of Bassoon at the University of Missouri for the 2013-2014 academic year.  She joined the faculty of the New England Music Camp (Sidney, Maine) in 2017, and was a 2008 Virginia Governor’s Award for the Arts nominee.

Brass

Horn

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Jacob Wilder, Principal

Kriner Family Principal Horn Chair

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.

Helen Wargelin

Horn Player Helen Wargelin is the newly appointed Second Horn of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. She has previously appeared with groups including the Seattle Symphony, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and the New World Symphony, and spent a year as an associate member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. She was a Horn Fellow at Tanglewood Music Center in the summer of 2022 and, over previous summers, attended the Aspen and Brevard Music Festivals. In 2021, she won the Aspen Horn Concerto Competition.

A native of Concord, MA, she holds a Master of Music from New England Conservatory and a Bachelor of Music, magna cum laude, in Horn Performance from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, along with a minor in Musicology. While at NEC, she was an Edward Hyde Cox Presidential Scholar. Her principal teachers include Gus Sebring, Gail Williams, and Jonathan Boen.

L. Avery Staples, Associate Principal

Dr. L. Avery Staples (Pettigrew) joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in 2023, initially on a one-year position as Assistant Principal/Utility Horn and is now Third/Associate Principal Horn. Prior to joining VSO, she was a freelance musician and music educator engaged throughout the Washington, DC metro area. She performed regularly with the Baltimore Symphony, the Maryland Symphony, and the Mid-Atlantic Symphony. She has been the featured soloist with several community ensembles including the Washington Sinfonietta, the Manassas Symphony, and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Greater Washington.

In addition to operating a large and successful private studio based in Chantilly, VA, Dr. Staples was the Adjunct Professor of Horn at Frostburg State University for five years. Her students regularly placed into their state’s honors ensembles and have earned scholarships to top music schools in the country.

As a student with Samantha La Pointe-Woolf at Tulane University in New Orleans, she earned both a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Music Performance and a Bachelors of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Dr. Staples earned both her Doctorate of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees at the University of Maryland-College Park, where she held a performance-based graduate assistantship as a student of Gregory Miller and Phil Munds. Her additional teachers include Denise Tryon, Michael Thornton, and Shawn Hagen.

 
Hirofumi Tanaka

Horn Player Hirofumi Tanaka, originally from Tokyo, Japan, joined the Virginia Symphony as 4th horn at the beginning of 2022-23 season. Prior to this, he has performed as one-year 4th horn with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra during 2021-22 season. As a freelancer, he has performed with ensembles including the Arizona Opera, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Columbus Symphony, Houston Symphony, New Mexico Philharmonic, and San Antonio Symphony.

He holds Bachelor of Music degree from University of Cincinnati, and Master of Music degree from the Rice University.

Stephen Slater

French horn player Stephen A. Slater is currently Assistant Principal/Utility Horn with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Horn Instructor of the New England Music Camp, and Adjunct Professor of Horn at Christopher Newport University. Mr. Slater was most recently Second Horn (one-year) with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Principal/Utility Horn (one-year) with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, and kept solo engagements with the Blue Bell Symphony in Pennsylvania and Manhattan Virtuosi in NYC, where he has performed concerti from Mozart, Britten, Gliere, and Glazunov. Stephen was
Assistant/Utility horn of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Guest Principal horn with the Israel Chamber Orchestra of Tel Aviv, and Substitute horn of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also performed as Principal horn of the Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra, Third horn of the Macau Symphony Orchestra, and Second horn of the Boulder Philharmonic. Mr. Slater was Solo horn of the ensemble Tales & Scales, spinning music, story, theatre, and dance into over 200 ‘musictelling’ performances.

He received a Graduate Performance Diploma at the Peabody Institute, a master’s degree at the University of Colorado, and undergraduate degree at the Manhattan School of Music. Instructors have included Denise Tryon, Michael Thornton, David Jolley, Richard Deane, Jerome Ashby, John Cerminaro, and John Zirbel. He was guest artist at the 31st Annual International Horn Symposium and grand prizewinner of the Sixth Annual Sister Mary Faustina Memorial Concert Competition in Marylhurst, Oregon.

More information can be found at www.stephenaslater.com

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.

Jeremy Garnett

A native of West Texas, Jeremy Garnett has been playing the trumpet for 28 years. He has been a musician with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra since 2013. In addition to his credits with the VSO, he has performed with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Fort Worth Symphony, Dallas Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, New World Symphony, Victoria Symphony, Des Moines Metro Opera, Richmond Symphony, Charlottesville Symphony, Wintergreen Music Festival, and Williamsburg Symphony. As a soloist, he has been featured with the Boston Civic Orchestra, Texas Christian University Symphony, Houston String Quartet, Williamsburg Symphony, 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 at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, and to 3.4 million viewers online. He attended Interlochen Arts camp as an Emerson Scholar, and later the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. Jeremy attended the Boston Conservatory and also attended Texas Christian University. His primary teachers were Stanley Friedman, Steve Emery, Tom Booth and Jon Burgess. 

As a working musician in Hampton Roads, Jeremy stays busy performing recitals, teaching in area public schools, and performing regularly at churches and events scattered across the region. When he isn’t practicing or performing, he enjoys saltwater fishing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jeremy started a fishing guide service, operating in the many waterways along eastern Virginia and North Carolina. He can be seen on a variety of fishing shows; most notably, one of the area’s most prominent fishing YouTube channels, 1Fish2Fish. He resides in the East Oceanview area of Norfolk, Virginia with his wife, dog, and two cats.

Jeremy proudly plays Yamaha instruments.

Jafet Díaz Martin+

Jafet Martin - 24/25 VSO FellowBorn in Panama, Jafet Díaz Martin is a versatile trumpet player, teacher, and arranger. A former member of the Panama Municipal Symphonic Band. Jafet has also performed as a guest musician with the National Symphony Orchestra of Panama, the Palm Beach Symphony, Boca Symphonia, Seraphic Fire, Camerata Panama, and the Panama Jazz Festival Big Band. In 2020, Jafet was a finalist in the Next Generation Trumpet Competition, and in 2023, he won first prize in the National Society of Arts and Letters Collaborative Piano and Brass Duo Competition. Jafet has attended the Colorado College Summer Music Festival and has previously participated in the International Trumpet Festival in Costa Rica, the Integrated Symphonic Band of the Americas in Colombia, and the Alfredo Saint Malo Festival in Panama. Jafet attended the University of Panama for his Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance, and the Lynn University Conservatory of Music for his Master of Music in the studio of Marc Reese. When he is not practicing, Jafet enjoys running, playing soccer, going to the beach, and reading.

John Vitale

Coming soon.

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.

Tanner Antonetti

Tanner AntonettiTrombonist Tanner Antonetti grew up in central Arkansas and began his musical studies at age 7 with piano, continuing with trombone and double bass at age 10. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University, studying music performance with a minor in Recording Industry Management. While in Tennessee, Tanner cultivated a diverse freelance career performing with classical, jazz, and commercial ensembles in and around the Nashville area. Performing with artists including Jesus Santandreu, Duffy Jackson, Rodd McGaha, Bob Mintzer, Steve Davis, and Scott Wendholt, Tanner developed a passion for jazz that he continually pursues through education and performance. Tanner attended Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, earning a Master of Music degree. While a student, he was featured on a program of the music of Luciano Berio given by the school’s contemporary ensemble, Hear & Now, performing the composer’s Sequenza V for solo trombone. Before joining the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Tanner performed with the Arkansas, Chattanooga, Huntsville, Alabama, Albany, San Antonio, and Houston Symphony Orchestras on both tenor trombone and bass trumpet. He also spent summers studying at Eastern Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria. Past mentors include Michael Underwood, Joshua Bynum, David Loucky, Per Brevig, and Allen Barnhill. Away from music, Tanner enjoys pursuing his other passions: cooking, practicing yoga, and espresso.

David Kidd

Coming soon.

Bass Trombone

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Rodney Martell

Rodney MartellOlga & Henry Bensel, Bass Trombone Chair

Rodney Martell was the first person in the VSO to be hired by former 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 currently as Artistic Administrator. As an educator, he was previously on the faculty of the College of William and Mary and Christopher Newport University and currently teaches at the Governor’s School for the Arts in addition to maintaining a private studio.

Prior to joining the VSO he gained his Bachelor’s Degree (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 (Virginia Symphony Director of Education/Staff conductor and Music Director of the Bay Youth Orchestras). 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/Piano

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.
J. 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.

William McVay

A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Will McVay is a percussionist and educator in the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area. Will spent the last three years in Boston, MA, where he earned a Master of Music with Honors from New England Conservatory under the tutelage of Boston Symphony Orchestra Section Percussionist, Will Hudgins, and spent one year at Boston University under the guidance of Boston Symphony Orchestra Principal Timpanist Timothy Genis and Boston Symphony Orchestra Section Percussionist Kyle Brightwell. Before Will’s time in Boston, he spent four years in Los Angeles where he received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California studying with Los Angeles Philharmonic Section Percussionist, Jim Babor, and Principal Timpanist, Joe Pereira.  While primarily a symphonic percussionist, Will is equally at home in jazz and Latin settings.

Throughout his tenure in Boston, Will performed with many orchestras and ensembles in the greater Boston area. An avid performer of new music, Will attended Tanglewood Music Center twice as a fellow where he premiered pieces for orchestra, including operas, brass ensemble, percussion ensemble, and mixed chamber ensembles.  During his time in Los Angeles, Will also attended Music Academy of the West as a fellow where he performed L’Histoire du soldat with the long-tenured concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra, Jorja Fleezanis.  While in Los Angeles, Will also participated in the Modern Snare Drum Compeitition and won finalist honors.

 

 

 

Harp

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Alexis Colner, Principal
The Benton Family, Principal Harp Chair

Recently appointed principal harpist of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Alexis begins her first season with the VSO in the fall of 2023. In demand as an orchestral player across the country, Alexis has been invited to appear as guest principal harpist with world class orchestras including the Minnesota Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and Omaha Symphony. Additional performance credits include concerts with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Opera and Sarasota Orchestra.

Alexis served as the principal harpist of the Aspen Music Festival’s Chamber Symphony for both the 2017 and 2018 festival seasons in addition to receiving the sought after Aspen Harp Fellowship. Her festival and summer engagements have gone on to include seasons at the Britt Music Festival, Spoleto Music Festival, Artosphere, Music Academy of the West, and The Orchestra of the Americas, where she has worked with pioneering music directors such as Teddy Abrams, Michael Stern, Osmo Vanska and Robert Spano, among others.

At the age of five, Alexis began her harp instruction while her family lived abroad in the Netherlands. Upon returning to the US, she studied with Seattle Symphony principal harpist Valerie Muzzolini before going on to receive her Master’s in Harp Performance at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of New York Philharmonic principal harpist Nancy Allen. Alongside her harp studies, Alexis earned her Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from USC, where she graduated at the top of her class with summa cum laude and Renaissance Scholar honors. Dedicated to spreading her love of the harp to the next generation, Alexis maintains a private studio in Norfolk and also serves on faculty at the Governor’s School for the Arts.

Alexis is a native of Portland, Oregon, where she honed an appreciation for the Pacific Northwest’s natural wonders into a love of hiking and scenic photography. When not performing, Alexis can be found anywhere from backcountry mountain trails to a local coffee shop, curled up with a good book.

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

* denotes Leave of Absence
+ denotes African American Fellowship