Biographies of musicians participating in the 2021-2022 concert season
Praised by critics for his passionate expression and dazzling technique, Andrew Armstrong (piano) has delighted audiences across Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada, and the United States, including performances at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and Warsaw’s National Philharmonic. Andrew’s orchestral engagements across the globe have seen him perform a sprawling repertoire of more than 50 concertos with orchestras, and has additionally appeared in solo recitals in chamber music concerts with violinist James Ehnes; cellist Robert deMaine; the Elias, Alexander, American and Manhattan String Quartets; as a member of the Caramoor Virtuosi and the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players. Mr. Armstrong has released several award-winning recordings with his longtime recital partner James Ehnes. Mr. Armstrong lives happily in Massachusetts, with his wife Esty, their four children, two dogs, two guinea pigs, and two fish.
Philip Bush (piano) has established a performing career over the past three decades that is noted for its remarkable versatility and eclecticism, with a repertoire extending from the 16th century to the 21st. Since the launch of his career upon winning the American Pianists Association Fellowship Award and subsequent New York recital debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1984, Mr. Bush has appeared as recitalist throughout North America as well as in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. His Carnegie Hall concerto debut with Oliver Knussen and the London Sinfonietta was hailed by the New York Times for its “impressive last-minute heroics,” as he substituted for an ailing Peter Serkin on short notice in concerti by Stravinsky and Alexander Goehr. Mr. Bush has also appeared as soloist with the Osaka Century Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Houston Symphony and a number of other orchestras, in repertoire ranging from the Beethoven concerti to the American premiere of Michael Nyman’s Concerto for Harpsichord.
Mr. Bush is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Leon Fleisher. From 2000 to 2004, Mr. Bush taught piano and chamber music at the University of Michigan, and he has also served as Visiting Faculty at the University of North Carolina. Since 2012 Phillip Bush has been a member of the piano and chamber music faculty at the University of South Carolina School of Music.
Lydia Chernicoff (violin) has performed as a recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral player throughout the US, Europe, Asia, and South America. She is a founding member of Trio Appassionata, which released its debut CD of all American piano trios, “Gone Into Night Are All the Eyes”, in 2014 on the Odradek Records label. Lydia received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory, and is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Maryland. Lydia has served on the chamber music faculty of Peabody Conservatory’s Preparatory Division, and as the director of the Homewood Chamber Music Program at Johns Hopkins University. She recently moved to Charleston where she plays regularly with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and teaches.
Daniel Ching (violin) Daniel Ching, a founding member of the Miró Quartet, began his violin studies at the age of 3 under tutelage of his father. At age 5, he entered the San Francisco Conservatory Preparatory Division on a full twelve‐year scholarship, where he studied violin with Serban Rusu and Zaven Melikian, and chamber music with Susan Bates. At the age of 10, Daniel was first introduced to string quartets.A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Daniel studied violin with Kathleen Winkler, Roland and Almita Vamos, and conducting with Robert Spano and Peter Jaffe. He completed his Masters degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with former Cleveland Quartet violinist Donald Weilerstein. He also studied recording engineering and production with Thomas Knab of Telarc, and subsequently engineered the Miró Quartet’s first promotional disc. Daniel is on faculty at the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches private violin students and coaches chamber music. He concurrently maintains an active international touring schedule as a member of the Miró Quartet.
Daniel is a discerning connoisseur of all things cinematic and electronic. Before he became a busy parent, Daniel was an avid skier and a dedicated reader of science fiction—he looks forward to returning to those passions, some day. In his free time, Daniel enjoys hosting happy hours with friends and lounging at home with his wife Sandy, their two sons, and two cats.
Xavir Foley (bass) Xavier Foley is known for communicating his virtuosity and passion for music on the double bass, which is rarely presented as a solo instrument. Winner of a prestigious 2018 Avery Fisher Career Grant, he was recently recognized on New York WQXR’s “19 for 19” Artists to Watch list, and featured on PBS Thirteen’s NYC-ARTs.
Also a composer, Mr. Foley was co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and the Sphinx Organization for a new work entitled “For Justice and Peace” for Violin, Bass, and String Orchestra, which was recently performed at venues including Carnegie Hall as part of a program designed to promote social justice. As concerto soloist with orchestra, he has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Nashville Symphony, Brevard Concert Orchestra, Victoria Symphony, Sphinx Symphony and Sphinx Virtuosi at Carnegie Hall.
Mr. Foley won the 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions along with four Performance Prizes and a Paiko Foundation Fellowship, and First Prizes at Astral’s 2014 National Auditions, Sphinx’s 2014 Competition, and the 2011 International Society of Bassists Competition. In 2018, he made his acclaimed New York recital debut at Merkin Concert Hall and his Washington, DC debut at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater on the Young Concert Artists Series. The program included two of his own compositions. He has also performed at Carnegie Hall as a Laureate of the Sphinx Competition, at the Young Concert Artists Series at Alice Tully Hall and the Morgan Library, and for Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Paramount Theatre in Vermont, Harriman-Jewell Series in Missouri, and Buffalo Chamber Music Society. This season, invitations for Mr. Foley to perform include Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, Alys Stevens Performing Arts Center, Shriver Hall Discovery Series, Virtuosi Concert Series of Winnipeg, as well as the Zenith and Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festivals.
An active chamber musician, Mr. Foley has appeared at the Marlboro Music Festival, Tippet Rise Music Festival in Fishtail, MT, Bridgehampton and Skaneateles (NY) Festivals, New Asia Chamber Music Society in Philadelphia, South Mountain Concerts, Wolf Trap, and with New York’s Jupiter Chamber Players. A native of Marietta, GA, Xavier Foley is an alumnus of the Perlman Music Program, and earned his Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music working with Edgar Meyer and Hal Robinson. His double bass was crafted by Rumano Solano.
Francisco Fullana (violin) Spanish violinist Francisco Fullana is acclaimed for his performances in both Europe and the U.S. Principal Violin of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra since 2016, Fullana is praised as an “amazing talent” (Gustavo Dudamel) and “a paragon of delicacy” (San Francisco’s Classical Voice). Starting in 2018, Fullana has been invited to join the prestigious Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Two.
Orchid Classics will release Fullana’s new recording in March 2018, which includes Max Richter’s “Four Seasons Recomposed” with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Carlos Izcaray, curated in conjunction with a series of contemporary solo works examining the tradition of baroque music. His ongoing collaboration with Argentinian bandoneonist J.P. Jofre will culminate with the 2018 premiere of Jofre’s Double Concerto for bandoneon and violin, a work commissioned by the Balearic Islands Symphony, San Antonio Chamber Orchestra and New York City’s Metropolis Ensemble to honor Leonard Bernstein’s Centennial.
An advocate of music education for young people, Fullana co-founded San Antonio’s Classical Music Institute, now in its third season. He also created the Fortissimo Youth Initiative, a series of baroque and classical music seminars with youth orchestras. Fullana currently performs on the 1735 “Mary Portman” ex-Kreisler Guarneri del Gesu violin, kindly on loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
Zachary Hammond (oboe) is currently the principal oboist of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Before coming to Charleston, he was the principal oboist of “Symphoria” in Syracuse, New York. Zac has performed with many other orchestras throughout the country including the Rochester Philharmonic, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony and the Lake Placid Sinfonietta. Zac is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music.
Raised in Chapel Hill, NC, Frances Hsieh (violin) began studying violin at age five with Dorothy Kitchen of the Duke University String School. As an A.J. Fletcher scholar at Duke University, she continued her studies with Eric Pritchard while earning dual degrees in Music and Biology. In 2005, Frances received her Masters for Violin Performance at the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of Charles Castleman. She performed with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra through a competitive internship with the Eastman Orchestral Studies Program. As a member of the Eastman Chamber Music Society, Frances received instruction from Mikail Kopelman, Zvi Zeitlin, George Taylor, and the Ying Quartet.
During the summers, Frances has attended numerous prestigious summer music festivals such as Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute, Eastern Music Festival, Quartet Program, National Repertory Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute, and AIMS music festival in Graz, Austria. In 2000 and 2001, she received the Benenson Award to attend the Aspen Music Festival and Musicorda. She has also toured Austria and Italy with the Eastman Quartet in 2003.
In her professional career, Frances has performed with the North Carolina and Phoenix Symphonies and has won positions with the Colorado Music Festival, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, and Assistant Concertmaster of the Asheville Symphony. She is currently Principal 2nd of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and plays with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra..
An avid teacher, Frances enjoys running a private studio as well as teaching at Ashley Hall’s Carolina Strings Academy and the Cooper School. During the summer, Frances has spent her time teaching at Joyful Noise in Asheville, NC, giving masterclasses at Charleston International Music School, and serving as faculty at the Luzerne Music Center in NY.
Today, Frances continues her love of chamber music as a core member of Chamber Music Charleston, with which she has had the pleasure of performing for the second time at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall in May 2017.
Tomas Jakubek (violin) started his violin studies at the age of seven in his native country of Slovakia. He holds his Masters Degree in Violin Performance from the Janacek Academy of Music in Brno (Czech Republic). He also studied at the Lithuanian Academy of Music in Vilnius and has participated in master classes in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. Mr. Jakubek regularly performs with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, and Chamber Music Charleston. He has performed with Chamber Music Fest and was the concertmaster of the Summerville Symphony, the Saint James Orchestra and the CofC Orchestra.
Charles Messersmith (clarinet) began playing the clarinet in California at the age of 8. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and his Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. After graduation, he became the principal clarinet of the Augusta symphony currently holds the principal clarinet position with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra as co-principal clarinet since 2006. Along with regular performances with the Charleston Symphony and Chamber Music Charleston, he performs all around the Lowcountry with local, national, and internationally renowned chamber musicians as well as for Piccolo Spoleto programs in the spring. In the summers he performs in Virginia at the Wintergreen Music Festival in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Recognized as a deeply expressive artist and known for her musical career of broad versatility, Amy Schwartz Moretti (violin) is Director of the McDuffie Center for Strings at the Mercer University Townsend School of Music and former Concertmaster of the Oregon Symphony and Florida Orchestra. She is a member of the internationally acclaimed Ehnes String Quartet and maintains an active performing schedule of solo, chamber, and concertmaster appearances. Recent projects include the CD release of Schubert and Sibelius quartets (Onyx Classics); performing Beethoven’s complete cycle of string quartets in Korea; and performing the international premiere in Japan, of “Three Shades of Blue,” GRAMMY® winner Matt Catingub’s concerto written for her. In addition to her recordings and international performances, she curates the Fabian Concert Series in Macon, Georgia, and holds the Caroline Paul King Chair in Strings. Through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society of Chicago, she plays the 1744 G.B. Guadagnini violin and gratefully acknowledges its extended loan. Born in Wisconsin, raised in North Carolina and California, Amy lives in Georgia with her husband and two young sons enjoying all aspects of motherhood, especially Saturday morning soccer matches.
Born and raised in central Massachusetts, Sandra Nikolajevs (bassoon) began her formal musical education at the Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Juilliard School in New York City. She furthered her education at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, as the first American in the German Bassoon Studio of acclaimed solo bassoonist Pascal Gallois. An avid chamber musician, Ms. Nikolajevs has performed chamber music in Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Ms. Nikolajevs is currently Principal Bassoonist of the Savannah Philharmonic and has held the same position with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, South Carolina Philharmonic and Augusta Symphony. She is Founder, President and Artistic Director of Chamber Music Charleston.
Timothy O’Malley (cello) was first introduced to the cello at the age of nine when he participated in a strings program in Tucson, Arizona. Since then, his studies have brought him across the United States and to Europe. While in high school he studied under Angelika May at the Academy for Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna and he received his Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Norman Fischer and Catherina Meints and his Master’s degree in Orchestral Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. He is formerly co-principal cellist of the Hilton Head Orchestra, was a full time core cellist of the Charleston Symphony, and is a member of Chamber Music Charleston. His Chamber Music Charleston performances have brought him overseas to the US Virgin Islands as well as Carnegie Hall. In May 2021 he will be featured with Chamber Music Charleston for the Musica En Segura Festival in Spain.
Dr. Irina Pevzner (piano) was born in Ukraine and raised in Latvia. She moved to the United States after graduating from the Riga Jazep Medins Music College. Dr. Pevzner holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of South Carolina, a Master of Music degree in piano performance from Carnegie Mellon University, Artist Certificate from the College of Charleston, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. Irina has performed in Latvia, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Brazil, and throughout the U. S. Locally, she has performed at the International Piano Series, Monday Night Concert Series, and in numerous programs with Chamber Music Charleston. Passionate about the power of music education, Dr. Pevzner worked as a professor of music at the College of Charleston for 11 years and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Charleston Academy of Music where she continues to develop programs that inspire individuals through music-making. Her dissertation Forgotten Russian Piano Music has been published by Scholar’s Press and her recently developed program Power Keys© has been helping musicians all over the world to better understand and practice the music craft. More information about Dr. Pevzner’s journey is found at www.irinapevzner.com.
A leading interpreter of the great classical masterworks, violinist Rachel Barton Pine thrills audiences with her dazzling technique, lustrous tone, and emotional honesty. With an infectious joy in music-making and a passion for connecting historical research to performance, Pine transforms audiences’ experiences of classical music.
Pine’s 2019-20 season includes a residency with the Singapore Symphony, as well as performances with the Royal Scottish National and Seattle Baroque Orchestras, the Seattle Symphony, and the Tel Aviv Soloists. In recital she will appear at Lincoln Center with Matthew Hagle, and Pine and harpsichordist Jory Vinikour will perform in concerts presented by the National Gallery in Washington D.C. and the San Francisco Early Music Society.
Her November 2019 Avie recording of the Dvořák and Khachaturian Violin Concertos with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conductor Teddy Abrams highlights the influence of each composer’s local ethnic music.
Pine’s past chart-topping albums include Mozart: Complete Violin Concerto, Sinfonia Concertante with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Sir Neville Marriner conducting; Bel Canto Paganini, and Elgar & Bruch Violin Concertos with the BBC Symphony, Andrew Litton conducting.
Pine has appeared as soloist with many of the world’s most prestigious ensembles, including the Chicago and Vienna Symphonies, Philadelphia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, and Camerata Salzburg.
Galvanized by the fact that young people learning classical music seldom have the opportunity to study and perform music written by Black composers, in 2018 Pine’s RBP Foundation released Music by Black Composers (MBC) Violin Volume I, the first in a series of pedagogical books of music exclusively by global Black classical composers, as well the MBC Coloring Book of Black Composers.
She performs on the “ex-Bazzini ex-Soldat” Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu (Cremona 1742). rachelbartonpine.com
Bassist Mary Reed is a native of Charleston, South Carolina, where she was brought up in a musical family. She earned her baccalaureate in performance at the Peabody Conservatory, followed by a Master’s diploma at the University of Southern California, with summer studies at Brevard Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival. Since completing her education, Reed has performed as a guest with some of the finest orchestras in the country including the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the National Symphony, Colorado Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and Kansas City Symphonies and was a 3 year fellowship recipient with the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida. Mary returned to South Carolina in the fall of 2020 to serve as Acting Principal Bass with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. In the recent absence of live performances, she has explored her voice as a songwriter, composer, and multiinstrumentalist.
Chee Hang See (piano) is a prize-winning pianist who has been called “a cool and confident performer” by the Charleston City Paper. He has soloed with the Toa Payoh West Chinese Orchestra in Singapore, Bela Bartok Orchestra in Perugia, Cleveland Institute of Music Chamber Orchestra, and has performed with Chamber Music Charleston, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, and broadcast on South Carolina Public Radio. He remains in high demand as soloist, chamber pianist, and composer in his native Singapore and all over the U.S. Chee-Hang is faculty at the Charleston Academy of Music. His debut album “Violin Transcriptions”, featuring works by Rachmaninoff and Muczynski, was released in 2014.
Jory Vinikour, harpsichord, is recognized as one of the outstanding harpsichordists of his generation. A highly diversified career brings him to the world’s most important festivals and concert halls as recital and concerto soloist, partner to several of today’s finest singers, and as one of the most visible continuo performers. Born in Chicago, Jory Vinikour came to Paris on a scholarship from the Fulbright Foundation to study with Huguette Dreyfus and Kenneth Gilbert. First Prizes in the International Harpsichord Competitions of Warsaw (1993) and the Prague Spring Festival (1994) brought him to the public’s attention, and he has since appeared in festivals and concert series such as Besançon Festival, Deauville, Monaco (Semaine de la Musique Baroque), Cleveland Museum of Art, Miami Bach Festival, Indianapolis Early Music Festival, as well as in South America, Taiwan and Iceland.
A concerto soloist with a repertoire ranging from Bach to Nyman, he has performed as soloist with leading orchestras including Rotterdam Philharmonic, Flanders Opera Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonic of Radio France, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Cape Town Symphony Orchestra, and Moscow Chamber Orchestra with conductors such as Marek Janowski, Armin Jordan, Fabio Luisi, Marc Minkowski, John Nelson, Gordan Nikolic, Constantine Orbelian, and Victor Yampolsky. He participated in a recording of Frank Martin’s Petite Symphonie Concertante with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Armin Jordan (Suisse Romande, 2005), and also performed the Harpsichord Concerto by the same composer with the Symphony Orchestra of the MDR in Leipzig’s Gewandhaus under the direction of Martin Haselböck in January of 2003.
Recent appearances include a recital of Bach and Handel for Music before 1800 (New York), concerts (director and harpsichordist) with Musica Angelica in Los Angeles, and he appeared as soloist with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Marek Janowski) and Cape Town Philharmonic. He also made appearances in Reykjavik (Salurinn concert series), participated in a recording of Handel arias with Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon and the Gabrieli Consort, directed by Paul McCreesh; performances at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, the Oslo Chamber Music Festival. Upcoming performances include concerto performances with the Thüringer Symphoniker (Oliver Weder) and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Stéphane Denève), as well as a recording of the sonatas for flute and harpsichord of J. S. Bach with virtuoso Joshua Smith (Telarc 2009). Mr Vinikour was guest artistic director of the Austrian Baroque Academy in Gmunden, Austria for the summer session of 2008.
Ben Weiss (viola) earned degrees in violin and viola performance from Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music. While in Bloomington, he was a member of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and the Carmel, Terre Haute and Richmond symphony orchestras. In addition to Chamber Music Charleston, he performs regularly with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and teaches at the College of Charleston.
Jenny Blickensderfer Weiss (violin) completed her Bachelor’s degree and Performance Diploma at Indiana University. While living in Bloomington, she was a member of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and the Carmel, Terre Haute and Richmond symphony orchestras. She enjoys performing with her husband, Ben, and performs regularly with Chamber Music Charleston and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.
Regina Helcher Yost (flute)plays Second flute/piccolo with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Principal flute/piccolo in the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, core flutist with Chamber Music Charleston, and is an Adjunct Professor of Flute at Charleston Southern University. Previously, she was Associate Principal Flute/piccolo with the Honolulu Symphony, Second Flute/piccolo with the Knoxville Symphony, and Second Flute in the St. Louis Symphony. While in St. Louis, she soloed with the St. Louis Symphony in Brandenburg’s Concerto #4 in Powell Symphony Hall which received a standing ovation and rave reviews. Regina has played with the Minnesota Orchestra on their NYC/European tour, playing in Carnegie Hall and the finest halls in Europe, including the Musikverein and the Philharmonie. Regina performed with the Atlanta Chamber Players on their 20th Anniversary European tour, performing in Burgundy and Paris France, Lausaune, Switzerland and Rome, Italy. In 2010, Regina was one of two flutists selected to perform in the International Pacific Music Festival 20th Anniversary Alumni Orchestra in Sapporo, Japan conducted by Maestro Christoph Eschenbach. In 2013-2014, Regina was selected to perform piccolo in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on several occasions, which included several live DSO broadcasts, a CD recording and performing on the DSO 2014 Florida tour. Regina was chosen as the feature article and cover photo of Flute Talk Magazine for the October 2015 issue. Regina has performed in many music festivals including Tanglewood, Pacific Music Festival (Japan), GRAZ (Austria), Sarasota Music Festival, Chautauqua, among many others. Regina received her B.M. in Flute Performance from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, was an Associate Instructor of Flute while pursuing a M.M. in flute performance at Indiana University, has an MME from the University of Florida, and is currently finishing a Doctor of Music Education degree.