The ACP is proud to present the talented musicians who will perform during our 40th Anniversary Season.
LAURA ARDAN (clarinet) is the Principal Clarinet for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), where she holds the endowed Robert Shaw Chair, and has been performing there since 1982.
She has been a featured soloist with the Orchestra in works by Mozart, Weber, Debussy, Copland, Bernstein, Finzi, Rossini, Shaw, and Michael Gandolfi, and has also performed with the Cleveland Quartet.
Ms. Ardan has performed in the Tanglewood, Marlboro, Mostly Mozart, and Bellingham Music Festivals, and as a guest artist in "Emanuel Ax Invites..." on the Great Performers series at Lincoln Center. A frequent guest of the Atlanta Chamber Players, Georgian Chamber Players, and Emory Chamber Music Society, she plays regularly at the Highlands Chamber Music Festival in North Carolina and the Grand Teton Chamber Music Festival in Wyoming.
A student of Roger Hiller and Stanley Drucker, Ms. Ardan attended The Juilliard School of Music on scholarships from both Juilliard and the Naumburg Foundation. Before joining the ASO, she was a resident clarinetist and teaching artist at the Lincoln Center Institute for four years. She also played in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for two seasons.
Photo by J.D. Scott for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
DAVID COUCHERON (violin) joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as Concertmaster in September 2010. At the time, he was the youngest concertmaster among any major U.S. orchestra.
Throughout his career, David has worked with conductors including ASO Music Director Robert Spano, Michael Tilson Thomas, Simon Rattle, Mstislav Rostropovich, David Zinman, Roger Norrington, Simone Young, and Charles Dutoit. He has performed as a soloist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Maxim Vengerov conducting), Sendai Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Trondheim Symphony Orchestra. He has played solo recitals at the Oslo Chamber Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall (London), the Kennedy Center, the Olympic Winter Games (Salt Lake City), as well as in Beograd, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Serbia, Singapore, and Shanghai. David’s chamber music performances have included appearances at Suntory Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Oslo Chamber Music Festival, and Alice Tully Hall. His recordings with his sister, pianist Julie Coucheron, include “David and Julie” (Naxos/Mudi) and “Debut” (Naxos). Some of his awards and recognitions include first prize at the Concorso Internazionale di Musica “Citta di Pinerolo” competition (Turin, Italy), first prize at the Princess Astrid Competition (Trondheim, Norway), and third prize at the Manchester International Violin Competition (Manchester, U.K.). David also serves as the Artistic Director for the Kon Tiki Chamber Music Festival in Oslo, Norway.
Originally from Oslo, Norway, David began playing violin at the age of three. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music, his Master of Music from The Juilliard School, and his Master of Musical Performance from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with teachers including Igor Ozim, Aaron Rosand, Lewis Kaplan, and David Takeno. David plays a 1725 Stradivarius.
JULIE COUCHERON (piano) has established an international career, winning first prize in all the national competitions she has attended, in addition to winning prizes in Italy, Germany and in the United States. Ms. Coucheron has worked with musicians such as Lazar Berman, Claude Frank, Emanuel Ax, Vladimir Feltsman, John O’ Connor, Elton John and Chistopher O’Riley and has toured Europe, America, South America and Asia, playing in great halls like Verizon Hall, Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. She earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees with honors from the Royal Academy of Music in London studying with Christopher Elton and Michael Dussek in addition to getting her teaching Diploma at the same institution. Ms. Coucheron is Artistic Director at the Fjord Cadenza Music Festival in Norway and is also a frequent guest artist at festivals such as the Oslo Chamber Music Festival, Bergen International Music Festival, the Kon Tiki Classical Music Fest, Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival and at La Jolla Summerfest. Since graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in 2009 she regularly tours Europe and America as a freelance soloist and chamber musician.
TED GURCH (clarinet) is Associate Principal/E-flat Clarinetist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since 1989. Prior to coming to Atlanta, he served for three seasons as Principal Clarinetist with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. He attended the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Stanley Hasty and Charles Neidich, earning a Bachelor's Degree and the Performer's Certificate. While at Eastman he performed with the Rochester Philharmonic and the Rochester Chamber Orchestra and was also active as a saxophonist in the school's jazz program, as a member of the award-winning Eastman Jazz Ensemble. An active presenter of new music, he has performed and recorded with the contemporary music group Luna Nova, and with the Atlanta-based ensembles Thamyris and Bent Frequency, and is a founding member of the Georgia Tech-based new music group Sonic Generator, which specializes in the intersection of music and technology. He has also been a performer with the Atlanta, Riverside, and Georgian Chamber players, as well as the Atlanta Winds and the Grand Teton Music Festival. In addition to concerto appearances with the ASO on both clarinet and saxophone, he has appeared locally as a soloist with the Atlanta Wind Symphony, the Dekalb Symphony Orchestra, the Kennesaw State University Wind Ensemble, and the Emory University Wind Ensemble.
HELEN HWAYA KIM (violin), made her orchestral debut with the Calgary Philharmonic at the age of six, and has gone on to become a respected and sought-after artist. She has appeared as a soloist with the Boston Pops at Boston's Symphony Hall, as well as with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Symphony Orchestras.
Ms. Kim earned her Bachelor and Master's Degree from the Juilliard School, where her teachers included Cho-Liang Lin and Dorothy DeLay. While attending Juilliard, she was a winner of the Juilliard Concerto Competition and served as concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra. She is the recipient of more than one hundred national and international awards. In 1992, she won the prestigious Artists International Competition in New York and, as a result, gave debut recitals at Carnegie Weill Hall and the Aspen Summer Music Festival.
A native of Canada, Ms. Kim has been engaged by many of Canada's leading orchestras, including the National Arts Center Orchestra, Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, McGill Chamber Orchestra, and the Windsor, Regina, Victoria and Prince George Symphonies. She has also appeared with the DeKalb, New Orleans, Aspen and Banff Festival Orchestras, and with orchestras in the United Kingdom, Germany and Poland.
Ms. Kim has toured extensively throughout Canada and the United States, including performances at Alice Tully Hall and the Sante Fe and La Jolla International Music Festivals, where she performed with Cho-Liang Lin, Gary Hoffman, Andre Previn, and the Orion String Quartet. She performed Bach’s Double violin concerto with Hilary Hahn at the 2002 Amelia Island Chamber music festival.
An avid performer of new music, she can be heard on the recent CD release of the works of Alvin Singleton on Albany records. Helen performed the world premiere of the “Concertino” by Chen Yi, scored for solo violin and orchestra that was commissioned especially for her and the KSU Orchestra and was recorded for future CD release in 2015.
Ms. Kim currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where she served as assistant and associate concertmaster for the Atlanta Symphony for three seasons. She is currently the assistant concertmaster of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra and associate professor of violin at Kennesaw State University.
CATHERINE LYNN (viola) is Assistant Principal Violist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; she joined the ASO and the Atlanta Chamber Players in 2002. Ms. Lynn is on the faculty of Kennesaw State University and a viola coach for the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. In 2014, she will perform the Bartok viola concerto with the KSU Symphony Orchestra. Prior to coming to Atlanta, Ms. Lynn performed with the Rosseels String Quartet and was a frequent guest with the Michigan Chamber Players. She was Principal Viola of the Flint Symphony Orchestra in MI and taught at the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts. Ms. Lynn received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Alabama and her Master of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Michigan.
Photo by J.D. Scott for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
ANN-MARIE MCPHAIL (soprano) is Atlanta-born and is one of the region’s most seasoned performers and is quickly establishing herself as a versatile lyric soprano in the United States. She attended Clark Atlanta University for Music Education and received a Master’s in Voice Performance from Georgia State University.
Ms. McPhail made her career debut with the Houston Ebony Opera as the Countess in Mozart’s, The Marriage of Figaro. Her accolades include winner of the Rose-Palmai Tenser Vocal Competition, winner of The American Traditions Competition, and “Diva Goddess” in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, Closing Ceremonies.
Ms. McPhail’s credits include singer in Tyler Perry’s movie, For Colored Girls and “Strawberry Woman” in the Atlanta Opera’s 2011 production of Gershwin’s famed Porgy and Bess where she received mention in Opera News.
Recently she covered the role of Clara in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with the Royal Danish Opera Theatre in Denmark, Copenhagen. This summer she was soloist at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC with the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, sang at the Opening Ceremony of the Human and Civil Rights Museum in Atlanta, Ga. and participated in the Footsteps of Mandela Concert at Riverside Church in New York.
Ms. McPhail’s upcoming engagements include the Annual St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Christmas Concert, Human Relations Celebration at First UMC of Cumming and a concert at Spelman College.
Ms. McPhail has served as an artist affiliate at Agnes Scott College, Spelman College and Talladega College. She has sung with Paris Comique Opera, Atlanta Opera, Houston Ebony Opera, Opera Ebony, Macon Symphony Orchestra and Savannah Symphony Orchestra.
LAURA NAJARIAN (bassoon) has played second bassoon with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) since 2005. Prior to her appointment with the ASO, Ms. Najarian was Principal Bassoon of the Savannah Symphony for 15 years and spent her summers as Principal Bassoon of the Des Moines Metro Opera. She has also performed with orchestras in Jacksonville (FL), Charlotte, Charleston, Omaha, the North Carolina and Utah Symphonies and the Houston Grand Opera. Summers during college were spent at Tanglewood and the Aspen Music Festival and more recently at the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival.
Ms. Najarian graduated from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music and studied with Otto Eifert. Ms. Najarian later studied with K. David Van Hoesen at the Eastman School of Music, where she received a Master of Music in Performance and Literature degree and a Performer's Certificate while serving as a graduate teaching assistant.
ELIZABETH PRIDGEN (Artistic Director, piano) Pianist Elizabeth Pridgen has distinguished herself as a soloist and chamber musician and has appeared in concerts at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, Merkin Hall, the Tilles Center on Long Island, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, and the "Rising Stars Series" at the Ravinia Festival. Ms. Pridgen has also performed at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, and the Kosciuszko Foundation, and in recitals in London, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Washington D.C., Miami, San Francisco, and throughout the Southeast and Caribbean.
Recently appointed Artistic Director of the Atlanta Chamber Players, she will lead the ensemble as it enters its 39th season. Ms. Pridgen performs regularly at festivals including the Rome Chamber Music Festival in Rome, Italy, the Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, the River To River Festival, the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival, the Water Island Music Festival, and the Madison Chamber Music Festival. An avid chamber performer, she has collaborated with artists such as Elmar Oliveira, Robert McDuffie, Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, Hilary Hahn, Sarah Chang, Anne Akiko Meyers, Jennifer Koh, Nadja Salerno- Sonnenberg, the Diaz String Trio, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, and the American String Quartet. She performs regularly with violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti and cellist Julie Albers as a member of the Cortona Trio and with the Georgian Chamber Players.
Ms. Pridgen is currently a Distinguished Artist and Piano Chair at the McDuffie Center for Strings and holds the G. Leslie Fabian Piano Chair at the Townsend School of Music at Mercer University. She received her Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School where she studied with Joseph Kalichstein and earned her bachelor's degree at the Peabody Conservatory of Music as a student of Ann Schein.
BRAD RITCHIE (cello) Originally from Portland, Oregon, Brad Ritchie is currently in his 17th season as cellist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Chamber Players. He earned his Bachelor of Music at Indiana University where he studied with Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi and Janos Starker. In his senior year, his string quartet won the school's Kuttner Quartet Competition, which provided them with a year of recitals and trips to a number of chamber music competitions from Osaka, Japan to Evian, France. Following a summer of quartet concerts in Europe, Mr. Ritchie enrolled in the Musikhochschule in Freiburg, Germany and earned his graduate degree studying with Adriana Contino. After completing his studies in Germany, Mr. Ritchie played for two years in the New World Symphony in Miami under Michael Tilson Thomas. In 1997 he became a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, at which time he also joined the Atlanta Chamber Players. During his 17 years with the ACP, he has made recordings on the CRI, ACA Digital, and MSR labels, and toured extensively, including performances at Carnegie Hall, Boston's Jordan Hall, the American Cathedral in Paris, France, and in the International Chamber Music Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. In addition to his commitments to the ASO and ACP, Brad has played with many other chamber music and new music ensembles in and around Atlanta including Riverside Chamber Players, Thamyris, Emory Chamber Players, Franklin Pond Quartet, GLO-ATL, and Bent Frequency, as well as annual concerts with faculty at Kennesaw State University and recitals with Robert Henry in Highlands, NC. He is a founding member of the contemporary music ensemble Sonic Generator, currently in its 8th season in residence at Georgia Tech University. A highlight of his past summer was to play for a wedding reception at which Clark Howard was in attendance. In his spare time, Brad likes traveling to distant lands, running through the woods, and finding new places to eat.
Photo by J.D. Scott for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
ALCIDES RODRIGUEZ (clarinet), a native of Venezuela, was appointed bass clarinetist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in September of 2005. Before joining the ASO, Mr. Rodriguez was the second and bass clarinetist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. He received his Masters Degree in Music Performance from Northwestern University. He studied clarinet with Russell Dagon, bass clarinet with J. Lawrie Bloom and chamber music with Larry Combs. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Music from Baylor University, where he studied with Richard Shanley.
Mr. Rodriguez began his musical training in 1987 in the Youth Symphony Orchestra of his hometown of Guanare, Venezuela. He continued his clarinet studies at the National Conservatory of Music of Venezuela with Professors Valdemar Rodriguez and Luis Rossi. While in Venezuela, he also studied with distinguished clarinetists Jorge Montilla, Daniel Granados, and Carlos Mujica, and participated in master classes with Walter Boeykens, Paul Meyer, and Eddy Vanoosthuyse. As a soloist, he has been featured on many occasions with the Portuguesa State Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela, the Northwestern and Baylor University Orchestras, performing works of Mozart, Rossini, Weber, Nielsen, Francaix and Copland. His festival engagements have included the New Hampshire Music Festival, the National Repertory Orchestra, the National Orchestral Institute, and the Pacific Music Festival in Japan. Mr. Rodriguez also has an avid interest in the folk music and instruments of Venezuela. In 2005, he was featured with the Jacksonville Symphony performing the Concerto for Maracas and Orchestra by Ricardo Lorenz. Mr. Rodriguez is an Artist Clinician for Rico and Buffet Crampon and plays Buffet clarinets exclusively.
Photo by J.D. Scott for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
TODD SKITCH (flute). Hailing from Canada, flutist Todd Skitch joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) in September 2013. He is also a member of the Atlanta Chamber Players and is the Artist-in-Residence at Kennesaw State University. Mr. Skitch started his orchestral career with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in 1997 after completing degrees at the University of Toronto and McGill University in Montreal, where his principal teachers were Timothy Hutchins and Nora Shulman. Mr. Skitch’s distinguished career as a teacher and symphony musician includes many credits: an original member of the IRIS Orchestra with Michael Stern; Bellingham Festival of Music; Memphis Chamber Music Society; Tanglewood Music Center; Blossom Music Festival at Kent University, where he received the Maurice Sharp Award for outstanding flute applicant; Spoleto Festival USA; and the National Repertory Orchestra.While in Memphis, Mr. Skitch served as the Chair of the Board of Directors and the Orchestra Manager for the Memphis Youth Symphony. He also specialized in preparing young flutists for All-State competitions and college auditions. Mr. Skitch has been heard on CBC Radio-Canada, WKNO-Memphis, and as a soloist with the Memphis Symphony and IRIS Orchestra. In 2003 Todd joined the Canadian group Ensemble Noir on a historic, three-nation African tour to Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.
ELIZABETH KOCH TISCIONE (oboe), a native of Hamburg NY, began her position as Principal Oboe of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 2007 and made her chamber music debut a few weeks later with the ACP at Spivey Hall. Mrs. Tiscione has been playing the oboe since the age of nine. She studied at the Interlochen Arts Academy under Daniel Stolper and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia under Richard Woodhams. In addition to her position in the ASO, Mrs. Tiscione has performed as soloist with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, the Colorado College Summer Music Festival, the World Youth Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Atlanta Symphony. She has also performed with the orchestras of Buffalo, Rochester, St. Paul, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. An avid chamber musician, Mrs. Tiscione has performed with many groups, including the Atlanta, Ritz, and Georgian Chamber Players. She has participated in the Cape Cod, Amelia Island, Twickenham, and Tannery Pond Chamber Music Festivals, and has been a guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In the summers she is a member of the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra. Mrs. Tiscione is on the faculty of Kennesaw State University and has presented masterclasses all over the country. Her love for teaching has taken her as far as Colombia where she is a faculty member with Festicamara, in Medellin. Recently married, Elizabeth and Michael Tiscione live in Smyrna/Vinings with their dog and two cats and they share a love of California wine.
Photo by J.D. Scott for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
KENN WAGNER (violin) has been a first violinist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 1994, and has also served as acting assistant concertmaster of the ASO for one season. Outside of the ASO he has also appeared abroad as guest soloist with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra in China, and Christ Church Symphony string section, in New Zealand. Nationally he has soloed with the New Orleans Symphony, Arlington symphony and the Wintergreen Music Festival Orchestra. Locally, Kenn has also appeared as soloist with the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra, the Dekalb Symphony, Clark/Spellman Symphony, Atlanta Philharmonic, and the Atlanta Musicians' Orchestra.In addition to his solo work and position with the ASO, Mr. Wagner enjoys playing chamber music and performs with groups such as the Riverside Chamber Players, Leaptrott Trio(Trio in residence at Brenau University), Atlanta Chamber Players, Awadagin Pratt’s Next Generation Festival, and National Chamber Players with special guest Kenneth Slowik of the Smithsonian Chamber Players.This season he also made his debut at Piccolo Spoleto with the Orlando Chamber Soloists and also performed with members of the Grammy Award winning Cuerteto Latino Americano. Mr Wagner also performed chamber music this summer with former IU faculty member Csaba Erdelyi.
Kenn is a graduate of Indiana University where he trained with Joseph Gingold, former Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra. Before completing his undergraduate degree at Indiana University, Mr. Wagner won a position with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, with coaching from Vernon Summers of the National Symphony and former Concertmaster of both Atlanta and National Symphonies, William Steck.
Kenn is very pleased and honored to be on faculty at both Kennesaw State University and Morehouse College.
SUSAN WELTY (French Horn), became Associate Principal Horn with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 1988. A native of Illinois, she graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Music degree in music performance in 1983.
While studying there, Susan was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Her teachers include Dale Clevenger, Norman Schweikert and Richard Oldberg. Along with being a featured artist at the 1999 International Horn Workshop, she served as a guest artist at the 2011 and 2012 National Brass Symposiums. Ms. Welty has been a member of the Bellingham Music Festival Orchestra since 2009, and she has performed at the Grand Tetons, Highland Cashiers and Amelia Island Music Festivals.
Susan also has a passion for houses, interior design and furniture. She was chosen as a winner of the 2013 “Kitchen of the Year” award in “Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles.” Susan lives with her husband, Brice Andrus, and two longhaired dachshunds.
Featured Guest Artists for the 40th Anniversary Season
ROBERT McDUFFIE (violin), is a Grammy-nominated violinist who enjoys a dynamic and multi-faceted career. While appearing as soloist with the world's foremost orchestras, he can also be found sharing the stage with Gregg Allman and Chuck Leavell in "Midnight Rider," with actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith in Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," or playing Bach for Memphis Jook dancer Li'l Buck. Philip Glass dedicated his Second Violin Concerto, "The American Four Seasons," to Mr. McDuffie. Mike Mills of the iconic band R.E.M. is currently composing a concerto for violin and rock band for him. Robert McDuffie is the founder of both the Rome Chamber Music Festival in Italy and the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in his native city of Macon, Georgia.
Robert McDuffie has appeared as soloist with most of the major orchestras of the world, including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics; the Chicago, San Francisco, National, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, Montreal, and Toronto Symphonies; the Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Minnesota Orchestras; the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the North German Radio Orchestra, the Düsseldorf Symphony, the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Hamburg Symphony, Bruckner Orchestra Linz, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome, Venice Baroque Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Mexico, Orquesta Sinfónica de Mineria; and all of the major orchestras of Australia. His recent appearances abroad have been at the Royal Festival Hall in London with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Philharmonie in Cologne, the Seoul and Daejeon Arts Centers in Korea, the National Concert Hall in Taipei, the Tonhalle Düsseldorf, the Brucknerhaus in Linz, the Musikhalle and the Staatsoper in Hamburg, and at the National Theater in Santo Domingo.
Mr. McDuffie gave the world premiere of Philip Glass' Violin Concerto No. 2, The American Four Seasons with the Toronto Symphony. He completed a thirty-city U.S. tour with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, pairing the GlassFour Seasons with the Vivaldi Four Seasons. He has also played the Glass with the National Symphony of Mexico, the Düsseldorf Symphony, the Hamburg Ballet; the Nashville, Louisiana, San Diego, Dallas, San Antonio, and Colorado Symphonies; the Poznan Philharmonic of Poland, the Prague Philharmonia at the Prague Spring Festival, the Scottish Ensemble in Glasgow, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta in Holland and Belgium, at the Belgrade Music Festival, at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado; and, paired with the Vivaldi Four Seasons, with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra at the Zurich Tonhalle, at the St. Christopher Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania, and with the Israel Chamber Orchestra in Tel Aviv. Robert McDuffie recorded The American Four Seasons with the London Philharmonic and Marin Alsop on Philip Glass' Orange Mountain Music label. His acclaimed Telarc and EMI recordings include the violin concertos of Mendelssohn, Bruch, Adams, Glass, Barber, Rózsa, Bernstein, William Schuman, and Viennese violin favorites. He has been profiled on NBC's Today, CBS Sunday Morning, PBS's Charlie Rose, A&E'sBreakfast with the Arts, and in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
He has recently performed The American Four Seasons with the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings Ensemble in New York City at (Le) Poisson Rouge and returned to Hamburg for additional performances with the Hamburg Ballet. Future plans include additional appearances with actor/playwright Anna Deavere Smith, a return to Korea and his annual visit to the Aspen Music Festival. He will perform with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Louisiana Philharmonic. On June 19, 2016 he will perform the world premiere of Mills Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and Orchestra with the Toronto Symphony. In 2017, he will tour the U.S. with the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, alternating the Barber Violin Concerto with the Glass American Four Seasons. The tour will begin at Carnegie Hall on Philip Glass' 80th birthday, January 31, with a performance of the American Four Seasons.
As founder of the Rome Chamber Music Festival, Robert McDuffie has been awarded the prestigious Premio Simpatia by the Mayor of Rome in recognition of his contribution to the city's cultural life. He served for ten years on the board of directors of the Harlem School of the Arts in New York City where he was chairman of the artistic and education committee. Mr. McDuffie holds the Mansfield and Genelle Jennings Distinguished University Professor Chair at Mercer University in his native city of Macon, Georgia. He plays a 1735 Guarneri del Gesù violin, known as the "Ladenburg", This instrument is owned by a limited partnership formed by Mr. McDuffie. Robert McDuffie lives in New York City with his wife, Camille. They are proud parents of Eliza and Will.
MORRIS ROBINSON (bass). Morris Robinson is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the most interesting and sought after basses performing today.
A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Mr. Robinson made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in their production of Fidelio. He has since appeared there as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte (both in the original production and in the children’s English version), Ferrando in Il Trovatore, the King in Aida, and in roles in Nabucco, Tannhäuser, and the new productions of Les Troyens and Salome. He has also appeared at the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Seattle Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Vancouver Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Australia, and the Aix-en-Provence Festival. His many roles include Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Ramfis in Aida, Zaccaria in Nabucco, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlos, Timur in Turandot, the Bonze in Madama Butterfly, Padre Guardiano in La Forza del Destino, Ferrando in Il Trovatore, and Fasolt in Das Rheingold.
Also a prolific concert singer, Mr. Robinson has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, L’Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Met Chamber Orchestra, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, New England String Ensemble, and at the Ravinia, Mostly Mozart, Tanglewood, Cincinnati May, Verbier, and Aspen Music Festivals. He also appeared in Carnegie Hall as part of Jessye Norman’s HONOR! Festival. In recital he has been presented by Spivey Hall in Atlanta, the Savannah Music Festival, the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Mr. Robinson’s first album, Going Home, was released on the Decca label. He also appears as Joe in the newly released DVD of the San Francisco Opera production of Show Boat.
This season, Mr. Robinson returns to the Los Angeles Opera as Oroveso in Norma and the Dallas Opera as Joe in Show Boat. He also appears in concert with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Milwaukee Symphony, and Baltimore Symphony, and as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's 2015-2016 Artist in Residence, he appears in several concerts and recitals throughout the season. And in the fall of 2016, he makes his debut at the Teatro alla Scala in the title role of Porgy and Bess conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
An Atlanta native, Mr. Robinson is a graduate of The Citadel and received his musical training from the Boston University Opera Institute.
LUCY SHELTON (soprano). Winner of two Walter W. Naumburg Awards - as chamber musician and solo recitalist - soprano Lucy Shelton continues to enjoy an international career bringing her dramatic vocalism and brilliant interpretive skills to repertoire of all periods. An esteemed exponent of 20th- and 21st- Century repertory, she has worked closely with today’s composers and premiered over 100 works. Notable among these are song cycles by Elliott Carter, Oliver Knussen, Louis Karchin and James Yannatos; chamber works by Carter, Joseph Schwantner, Mario Davidovsky, Stephen Albert, Lewis Spratlan, Charles Wuorinen, Gabriella Lena Frank, Bruce Adolphe, Alexander Goehr, Poul Ruders, Anne Le Baron and Thomas Flaherty; orchestral works by Knussen, Albert, Schwantner, David Del Tredici, Gerard Grisey, Ezra Laderman, Sally Beamish, Virko Baley and Ned Rorem; and an opera by Robert Zuidam. In recent seasons, Shelton has premiered works written for her by Shulamit Ran, Dan Visconti, Frank Stemper, Kathleen Ginther, Tamar Muskal and Fang Man.
An avid chamber musician, she has been a guest artist with ensembles such as the Emerson, Brentano, Enso, Mendelssohn, Chiara and Guarnieri string quartets, the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, 21st Century Consort, Speculum Musicae, Da Capo Chamber Players, Sospeso, New York New Music Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva, Da Camera of Houston, eighth blackbird, Dolce Suono Ensemble, the Ensemble Moderne, Nash Ensemble, Klangform Wien, Schoenberg-Asko, and Ensemble Intercontemporain. Shelton has participated in numerous festivals including those of Aspen, Santa Fe, Ojai, Tanglewood, Chamber Music Northwest, BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, Caen, Kuhmo, Togo and Salzburg. In the fall of 2013, she is honored to begin a three-year term as a Board Member of Chamber Music America.
Shelton has appeared with major orchestras worldwide including Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Cologne, Denver, Edinburgh, Helsinki, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Minnesota, Munich, New York, Paris, St. Louis, Stockholm, Sydney and Tokyo under leading conductors such as Marin Alsop, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Reinbert De Leeuw, Charles Dutoit, Alan Gilbert, Oliver Knussen, Kent Nagano, Simon Rattle, Helmuth Rilling, Mstislav Rostropovich, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin and Robert Spano.
Highlights of recent seasons include Shelton’s 2010 Grammy Nomination (with the Enso Quartet) for the Naxos release of Ginastera’s string quartets, her Zankel Hall debut with the Met Chamber Orchestra and Maestro James Levine in Carter’s A Mirror On Which To Dwell, multiple performances of a staged Pierrot Lunaire in collaboration with eighth blackbird (most recently at the Ojai Festival, and in Austin Texas) and, in celebration of the work’s centenary, concert versions with 10 different ensembles worldwide. Shelton also coordinated two intense 8-day residencies at the University of Oregon (Eugene) and Southern Illinois University (Carbondale), where she coached composers and singers in “The Art of Unaccompanied Song”.
Over the years Shelton has participated in various composers’ birthday and memorial celebrations as follows: Elliott Carter’s 100th in Turin, Italy and New York; Oliver Knussen's 50th in London; Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' 70th in Turin, Italy; James Primosch's 50th in Philadelphia; both George Perle's and Milton Babbitt's 90th in Princeton and New York, followed in a few years by their memorials. In May 2013 Shelton sang Elliott Carter’s “What Are Years” for his memorial tribute concert held at Juilliard.
Shelton’s extensive discography is on the Deutsche Grammophon, Koch International, Nonesuch, NMC, Bridge, Albany and Innova labels and includes works by Carter, Knussen, Stravinsky, Messiaen, Wuorinen, Del Tredici, Adolphe, Rands, Ginastera, Kim, Le Baron, Baley, Ung and Schwantner.
A native of California, Shelton’s primary mentor was mezzo-soprano Jan De Gaetani. Ms. Shelton taught at the Third Street Settlement School in Manhattan, Eastman School, New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute and the Britten-Pears School. She joined the resident artist faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center in 1996 and in the fall of 2007 she was appointed to the Manhattan School of Music’s Contemporary Performance Faculty. Shelton teaches privately in her New York City studio.
In recognition of her contribution to the field of contemporary music, Shelton has received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from both Pomona College (2003) and the Boston Conservatory (2013).
ROBERT SPANO (piano/composer/conductor). Conductor, pianist, composer and pedagogue Robert Spano is known for his unique communicative abilities. In 13 seasons as Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, this imaginative conductor has quietly been responsible for nurturing the careers of numerous classically-trained composers and conductors. As Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, he oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programs for 630 students, including Aspen’s American Academy of Conducting.
The Atlanta School of Composers reflects Spano’s commitment to American contemporary music. He has led ASO performances at Carnegie Hall (2014-2015 marks Spano’s ninth consecutive season as a guest of that prestigious venue), Lincoln Center, and the Ravinia, Ojai and Savannah Music Festivals. Guest engagements include the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, San Francisco, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago and Philadelphia symphony orchestras, as well as Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Symphony and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He has conducted for Covent Garden, Welsh National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera and the 2005 and 2009 Seattle Opera productions of Wagner’s Ring cycles.
Following Britten’s War Requiem in Carnegie Hall and Verdi’s Aida in Atlanta, Spano conducted the world premiere of Steven Stucky’s The Classical Style in Ojai and will reprise the opera at Carnegie Hall in December. A particular highlight in Aspen was the August premiere of his Hölderlin Songs with soprano Susanna Phillips and, in September, Spano joins Atlanta based dance company glo for four performances of his new solo piano work Tanz III.
Maestro Spano conducts three world premieres with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and joins both the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Symphony. Guest conducting in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is woven with Spano’s passion for education with the Curtis Institute of Music’s Orchestra on tour, and the New England Conservatory Philharmonic.
Recordings for Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon and ASO Media, have received six Grammy™ Awards with an all-Vaughan Williams disc slated for September. Spano is on faculty at Oberlin Conservatory and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University and Oberlin. Maestro Spano was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2012 and is proud to live in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Chamber Players remember with fondness the late Douglas Sommer, double bass player for the ACP, ASO, and numerous other fine ensembles. His musicianship and his friendship cannot be replaced.