The ACP is proud to present the talented musicians who will perform during our 41st Season.
JULIE ALBERS (cello), American cellist Julie Albers is recognized for her superlative artistry, her charismatic and radiant performing style and her intense musicianship. She was born into a musical family in Longmont, CO and began violin studies at the age of two switching to cello at four. She moved to Cleveland during her junior year of high school to pursue studies through the Young Artist Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied with Richard Aaron. At the age of 17 she made her major orchestral debut with the Cleveland Orchestra and thereafter has performed in recital and as soloist with orchestras throughout North America, Europe, Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia.
Julie has received various awards including the Grand Prize in South Korea's Gyeongnam International Music Competition and Second Prize in Munich's Internationaler Musikwettbewerbes der ARD. Past seasons have included appearances with the orchestras of Colorado, Indianapolis, Nashville, Saint Paul, San Diego, Seattle, Vancouver, and Munchener Kammerorchester among others. In addition to solo performances Julie participated in a three year residency with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Two and regularly appears at chamber music festivals around the world. She is currently the Principal Cellist of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, is active with the Albers String Trio and the Cortona Piano Trio. Ms Albers is Assistant Professor and holds the Mary Jean and Charles Yates Cello Chair at the McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. October of 2005 marked the release of her solo debut recording on the Artek Label.
LAURA ARDAN (clarinet) Colin Corner was appointed Principal Bass of Atlanta Symphony in 2015, after playing in the same position with the Rochester Philharmonic for seven seasons. He previously played with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony and the Louisiana Philharmonic. He received first place in the 2003 ISB Orchestral Competition, which led to a one week internship with the Detroit Symphony, and he received third place in the same competition in 2001. Mr. Corner was also a recipient of the Interlochen Double Bass Class Studio award in 1997, which has since been renamed The Colin Corner Bass Award in his honor.
Mr. Corner is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, and he received his bachelor's degree from Indiana University, where he studied with Lawrence Hurst. While in Rochester, he served on the faculty at The Hochstein School and played with Chamber Music Rochester, The Rochester Chamber Orchestra, and The Finger Lakes Opera Festival. He has also served as Guest Principal Bass with the NAC Orchestra.
Mr. Corner also enjoys playing electric bass and many different styles of music, mainly jazz. In Rochester, he played with The Shuffling Madness, a Jethro Tull tribute band, The Debbie Kendrick Quartet, a soulful acoustic blues group, The Greener Grass Band, a funky jam band, and various other groups.
Mr. Corner is passionate about teaching and has presented masterclasses/recitals at ISB Conventions, Ithaca College, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Shenandoah Conservatory, and Palm Beach Atlantic University. In 2015, he joined the faculty at the Golden Gate Bass Camp in San Francisco, where he was a founding faculty member in the NorCal Orchestra Studies Academy. Proud of his instruments, he plays a bass made by Joseph Hill, c. 1780, and a bass made in Atlanta by Luthier Albert Jakstadt.
Photo by J.D. Scott for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
COLIN CORNER (double bass) 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.
AMY SCHWARTZ MORETTI (violin)Amy Schwartz Moretti (guest violin) performs internationally, especially chamber music, appearing at music festivals and in artist series across North America and Europe.
In recent seasons she has collaborated with James Ehnes, Richard O’Neill and Robert deMaine to form the Ehnes Quartet. They have performed to critical acclaim in the US, UK, Canada, Netherlands and France, and recorded Shostakovich and Barber quartets for Onyx Classics. They contributed to the recording Khachaturian/Shostakovich that was selected “Album of the Week” by London’s Sunday Times, June 2014. Her recording with James Ehnes of Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins was lauded as “electrifying” by The Telegraph (UK) and included in Prokofiev: Complete Works for Violin (Chandos) that won the 2014 Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year.
Additional projects include a newly commissioned String Trio by John Harbison recorded with Richard Yongjae O’Neill and Ani Aznavoorian, and a live recording of Ives’ Largo for Violin, Clarinet & Piano with Ricardo Morales and Anna Polonsky. Robert McDuffie and Elizabeth Pridgen joined her in her solo CD Kaleidoscope (Sono Luminus) released in 2011. In 2014-15, Amy will premiere Grammy Award-winner Matt Catingub’s concerto written for her: Three Shades of Blue for Violin, Jazz Trio and Orchestra.
Following eight years as concertmaster, first with The Florida Orchestra, then the Oregon Symphony, Ms. Moretti joined the Mercer University Townsend School of Music in 2007 as director of the McDuffie Center for Strings where she holds the Caroline Paul King Chair in Strings. With her colleagues Julie Albers and Elizabeth Pridgen, Cortona Trio was formed.
The Cleveland Institute of Music recognized her with an Alumni Achievement Award, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music celebrated her as their 2014 Fanfare Honoree. Through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society in Chicago, she has been awarded extended use of the 1744 G.B. Guadagnini violin known as the “Canadian.”
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.
Appointed Artistic Director of the Atlanta Chamber Players in 2014, Ms. Pridgen is leading the ensemble into its 41st 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 20th 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.
Featured Guest Artists for the 41st Concert Season
EFE BALTACIGIL (cello), Cellist Efe Baltacigil recently made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle alongside his brother Fora. He also performed Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations with the Seattle Symphony, after which the Seattle Times described his "sublimely natural, so easily virtuosic, phenomenal, effortless musicianship." Upcoming performances include R. Strauss' Don Quixote with the Seattle Symphony and a performance of the complete Bach solo suites for cello in Istanbul, Turkey. He was a 2006 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, named 2013 String Player of the Year in Turkey, and, as a member of the European Concert Hall Association's Rising Stars program, he performed at Carnegie Hall and toured Europe in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. Winner of the 2005 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, he made his recital debut under its aegis at Zankel Hall. He has appeared with Pinchas Zukerman and Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall, participated in Mr. Ma's Silk Road Project, and toured with Musicians from Marlboro. A member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, he was the associate principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra until 2011 and is currently the principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony and a member artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He received his bachelor's degree from the Mimar Sinan University Conservatory in Istanbul, and in 2002 earned his artist diploma from The Curtis Institute of Music. A former member of Chamber Music Society Two, Mr. Baltacigil plays a Francesco Rugieri cello made in Cremona in 1680 and given to him by a Turkish sponsor.
INDRA THOMAS (soprano)Considered one of the foremost Aidas in the world today, Ms. Thomas has appeared at many of the world’s great opera houses, such as the Metropolitan Opera and the Vienna State Opera; and prominent venues in France, Germany, Spain and England, including the Royal Albert Hall. Among numerous top orchestras with which she has appeared are the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony and Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra – as well as leading orchestras in Paris, Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, Japan, Finland, South Korea, Malaysia, Abu Dhabi, Boston, Cleveland and Detroit.
In the wake of her professional debut at Carnegie Hall in Messa di Requiem by Verdi, her work has been marked by rapturous public and critical acclaim. She soon blossomed into one of the world’s truly great operatic and concert sopranos, with a particular affinity for Verdi roles. In constant demand, her performances are consistently distinguished by the striking vocal beauty and deep emotional impact of her singing — as well as her smoldering intensity as a singing actress.
Ms. Thomas has graced several famous music festivals, to include the London Proms, Bregenz Festspiele, Chorégies, d’Orange and Festival International de Musique de Colmar; she has toured widely, and has been featured in many radio and television broadcasts. Her signature Verdi roles are in Aida, Il Trovatore, Un Ballo in Maschera, Don Carlo and La Forza del Destion – as well as the Requiem: her favorite Verdi work. She has also appeared to great acclaim in operas by Puccini, Wagner, Mozart and Bellini. Her favored non-operatic music encompasses Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Missa Solemnis, Britten’s War Requiem, Tippett’s A Child of Our Time, Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder, R. Strauss’s Four Last Songs, and Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand (No. 8). She has recorded for NPR, as well as the LSO Live and Naxos labels; her work has garnered both an Emmy and a Grammy nomination.
Ms. Thomas, a minister’s daughter, was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. Her mother, a gifted amateur singer, served as young her first voice teacher. While in her teens, she first came to wide- spread attention when she sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in the funeral scene of the Academy Award-winning film Driving Miss Daisy. She is a graduate of Shorter College and the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts.