Biographies of musicians participating in the 2020-2021 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.

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.

Julia Harlow (harpsichord) is the Director of Music and Organist at Second Presbyterian Church and keyboardist for KKBE synagogue. She teaches music privately and at the College of Charleston. She is originally from Iowa and obtained her masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Oregon, in Eugene. In 2010 she started an ensemble, La Belle Musique, which showcases music of the 17th and 18th centuries, notably that of women composers (Facebook: La Belle Musique, Charleston, SC). For forty years, she also played and taught the Scottish bagpipes.

Frances Hsieh (violin) earned bachelor degrees in Music and Biology at Duke University and a Master’s in Violin Performance at the Eastman School of Music. She is a member of Chamber Music Charleston and has won positions with the Colorado Music Festival and the Richmond, Asheville and Charleston symphony orchestras. She also performs with the North Carolina, Phoenix and Hilton Head symphonies.

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. After graduating from the Riga Jazep Medins Music College, she moved to the United States. 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 Monday Night Concert Series, International Piano Series, and in numerous programs with Chamber Music Charleston. Dr. Pevzner is the Executive Director of the Charleston Academy of Music.

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).

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 for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, assistant Principal flute/piccolo at the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, flute with Chamber Music Charleston, and is an Adjunct Professor of flute at Charleston Southern University. Previously, she was associate principal flute/piccolo for the Honolulu Symphony, second flute/piccolo for the Knoxville Symphony, and acting second flute for the St. Louis Symphony. She has also substituted with Minnesota Orchestra and the Atlanta and Detroit Symphonies.