Harpsichord & Piano
BYRON SCHENKMAN believes in the power of music to bring people together for healing and joy. By the time they went to their first music camp at the age of eleven, Byron knew that playing chamber music would be an important part of their life’s work. They have since been a founding member of several ensembles, including the Seattle Baroque Orchestra which they codirected until 2013. In addition to performing live on piano, harpsichord, and fortepiano, Byron can be heard on more than forty CDs, including recordings on historical instruments from the National Music Museum, Vermillion, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A recipient of the Erwin Bodky Award from the Cambridge Society for Early Music “for outstanding achievement in the field of early music,” Byron was voted “Best Classical Instrumentalist” by the readers of Seattle Weekly, and their piano playing has been described in The New York Times as “sparkling,” “elegant,” and “insightful.” A graduate of the New England Conservatory and Indiana University, Byron currently teaches music history at Seattle University, and has been a guest lecturer in harpsichord and fortepiano at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Joanna Blendulf is associate professor of music in baroque cello/viola da gamba at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Blendulf has performed and recorded with leading period-instrument ensembles throughout the United States and abroad. She is currently co-principal cellist and principal viola da gamba player of the Portland Baroque Orchestra. She has also performed as principal cellist of Pacific MusicWorks, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra, and the New York Collegium. She was a principal cellist of the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas and has performed with other modern orchestras, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. Blendulf is an avid chamber musician, performing regularly on major concert series and appearing on numerous recordings with her groups, including the Ensemble Electra, Ensemble Mirable, Music of the Spheres, Nota Bene Viol Consort, and Wildcat Viols. She holds performance degrees with honors from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Jacobs School of Music, where she earned a Performer’s Certificate for her accomplishments in early music performance.
Jeffrey Fair has been the Principal Horn (The Charles Simonyi Chair) of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra since February 2013 and a member of the Orchestra since 2003. His playing has been described as “evocative,” “fearless and flawless,” and having “a stunning presence.” He also performs as Principal Horn of the Seattle Opera and has served as guest Principal Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra. He is on the faculty at the University of Washington and is responsible for instruction of all horn students. Mr. Fair has served as Principal Horn and faculty member of the Eastern Music Festival and as Principal Horn of the Arizona Music Festival. Additionally, Mr. Fair appears throughout the Northwest as soloist, chamber musician, clinician, and teacher. Prior to moving to Seattle, he was Principal Horn of the San Antonio Symphony for three seasons, appearing as soloist on several occasions. Mr. Fair completed a Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School as a student of Jerome Ashby. A native of Oklahoma, he received a Bachelor of Music degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Oklahoma as a student of Eldon Matlick.
Hailed by the New York Times as a “compelling tenor”, American-Canadian Zach Finkelstein has quickly established himself as a leading soloist in North America and abroad, from Seattle’s Benaroya Hall to New York’s Lincoln Center to London’s Sadler’s Wells to Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara, Mexico to the National Arts Center in Beijing, China. He has performed as an “elegant” soloist with orchestras across North America, including the Virginia Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic, Handel and Haydn Society, Philharmonia Baroque, Pacific Music Works, and the Music of the Baroque. Most recently in March 2018, Zach stepped in on an afternoon’s notice for the tenor soloist in Carmina Burana with the Seattle Symphony. Zach’s debut album, ‘Britten and Pears: the Canticles’, featuring acclaimed recitalist Byron Schenkman, singers Vicki St. Pierre and Alexander Hajek, and Seattle Symphony principals Jeffrey Fair (horn) and Valerie Muzzolini Gordon (harp) was launched October 1st, 2017 on Scribe Records. A Tanglewood and Carmel Bach Festival alumnus, the Seattle-based tenor holds an Artist Diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Glenn Gould School in Toronto and Bachelor of Arts from McGill University in Montreal.
Violist Jason Fisher is a founding member of Boston’s Grammy-nominated chamber orchestra, A Far Cry. A Carnegie Hall Fellow and a Peabody Singapore Fellow, Jason has toured Europe, Asia, Kazakhstan, and the Kyrgyz Republic in addition to concerts at Vienna Musikverein, Singapore Esplanade, and Carnegie Hall. His performances with Pink Martini, Jake Shimabukuro, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, Kiri Te Kanawa, and with members of the Florestan Trio, and the Æolus, Brentano, Cleveland, Emerson, Mendelssohn, and St. Lawrence String Quartets. Jason is principal viola of Boston Baroque and appears with a bicoastal variety of period ensembles including Gut Reaction, Antico/Moderno, the Handel & Haydn Society, and the Seattle and Portland Baroque Orchestras.
Currently based in New York City, Toma Iliev is a well-rounded musician, focused on Historical Performance Practice. He has performed at prominent concert venues in New York including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Peter J. Sharp Theater, Merkin Hall, The Kosciuszko Foundation, as well as venues across North America and Europe. A native of Sofia, Bulgaria, Toma discovered his passion for music at an early age. He began his violin studies at the National Music School in Sofia, receiving his post-secondary music education at Indiana University and the Juilliard School. Toma’s early music career began in 2013 when he soloed with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, after winning itst Concerto Competition. Between 2014 and 2016 Toma appeared regularly with Juilliard’s period ensemble, Juilliard 415. His 2016-2017 season appearances include regular performances with the Portland Baroque Orchestra, Mercury, and New York Baroque Incorporated as well as guest appearances with Sonnambula. Toma Iliev holds a Master of Music degree from Indiana University and a Graduate Diploma from the Juilliard School. In addition to performing on baroque and classical violin, he often solos or performs in a chamber setting on the baroque and classical viola, viola d’amore as well as the tenor viol.
Violinist Jesse Irons enjoys a busy and excitingly diverse musical life in and around his home city of Boston. He appears regularly with the Handel and Haydn Society, as guest concertmaster with Boston Baroque, with the Boston Early Music Festival, and with numerous small ensembles including Gut Reaction. He has recently appeared as soloist with Newton Baroque, Sarasa, Chicago’s Baroque Band, and the City Orchestra of Hong Kong. A member and co-artistic director of the GRAMMY-nominated ensemble A Far Cry, he has appeared in concert across North America, Europe, and Central and Southeast Asia. Jesse’s playing has been described as “insinuating” by the New York Times, and he’s pretty sure they meant it in a good way. As an educator, Jesse has worked with students on entrepreneurship and chamber music at MIT, Yale, Stanford, Eastman, Peabody, and New England Conservatory.
Monica Huggett was born in London and began playing violin at age six. At age sixteen, she entered the Royal Academy of Music and at age nineteen, she was given a baroque violin and was immediately won over by the mellow quality of gut strings and became a fervent champion of all things baroque. Early in her career she was concertmaster and co-founder of Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and then artistic director of various orchestras and ensembles. In 2009, she was appointed the founding Artistic Director of the Juilliard School’s Historical Performance Program where she continues as artistic advisor.
In addition to being the Artistic Director of Portland Baroque Orchestra, Monica is a frequent guest director and soloist around the world; upcoming engagements include appearances with the Victoria Symphony and A Trupe Barocca (Vitoria, Brazil). Her recordings have won numerous prizes throughout her career including the Gramophone Award for her recording of Biber’s violin sonatas (2002) and the Diapason d’or for her recording of J.S. Bach’s “Orchestra Suites for a Young Prince” (2009). Monica lives in Portland, where she enjoys cycling and gardening.
Ingrid Matthews, Music Director Emeritus of Seattle Baroque Orchestra (1994-2013), won first prize in the Erwin Bodky International Competition for Early Music in 1989, and was a member of Toronto’s Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra before founding SBO with Byron Schenkman in 1994. She has performed around the world as a soloist, chamber musician and guest director with groups including the New York Collegium, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the Bach Sinfonia (Washington DC), Ars Lyrica (Houston), and many others, and is currently a member of the esteemed Bay Area group Musica Pacifica. She has won high critical acclaim for her extensive discography; her recording of the Sonatas and Partitas of J.S. Bach is the top recommendation for this music by both American Record Guide and Third Ear’s Classical Music Listening Companion. Matthews has taught at Indiana University, the University of Toronto, Oberlin College, the University of Southern California/Los Angeles, and the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. She also plays jazz and swing styles and is active as a visual artist.
COUNTer TenorParticularly noted for his “crystalline diction and pure, evenly produced tone” (Miami Herald), as well as an “elaborate and inventive ornamentation” (South Florida Classical Review), Countertenor Reginald Mobley is highly sought after for baroque, classical and modern repertoire. Past performances of note include the premiere of a reconstruction of Bach’s Markus-Passion at the Oregon Bach Festival, devised and led by Matthew Halls, concerts of Bach’s Easter Oratorio and Lully’s Te Deum with Bach Collegium San Diego, ‘Bach Reconstructed’ an innovative project with the Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican in London, and an extensive tour of sixteen concerts performing Bach’s Matthäus-Passion with the Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists led by Sir John Eliot Gardiner. With the latter he also made an acclaimed debut at the BBC Proms in August 2017, and released an anticipated recording of Bach’s Magnificat last autumn. This autumn he returned to the Academy of Ancient Music for Purcell’s King Arthur at the Barbican in London, ahead of Handel’s Messiah with the Royal Scotland’s National Orchestra and an extensive tour across Europe, again with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras.
Praised for her “eloquent artistry and rich, vibrant sound” (Gainesville Times), Canadian cellist and gambist Caroline Nicolas is establishing herself as one of the most sought after period musicians of her generation. Caroline made her Alice Tully Hall debut in 2014 as the winner of the Juilliard School Historical Performance Department’s concerto competition. She has also recently been selected as a fellow of The English Concert in America, an award given to young musicians “who appear likely to make significant contributions to the field of early music.” She has appeared with such eminent musicians as Jordi Savall, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Richard Egarr, Masaaki Suzuki, William Christie, Monica Huggett, Nicholas McGegan, Amandine Beyer, Andrea Marcon, Rachel Podger and Harry Bicket. Festival appearances include the Boston Early Music Festival, Bach Festival Leipzig and Styriarte Festival in Austria. She has worked with the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Ars Lyrica, Mercury Baroque, Kammerorcester Basel and Sinfonieorcester Liechtenstein. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Caroline is a graduate of the Juilliard school, where she studied with Phoebe Carrai, and of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where she studied with Christophe Coin and Paolo Pandolfo.
TheorboLutenist Kevin Payne is active as a recitalist, accompanist, and continuo player in the New York area. Kevin is a member of Juilliard 415, the Buxtehude Consort, and the Peabody Consort, with whom he recently completed a tour of Taiwan. Recent ensemble work includes performances with the Yale Schola Cantorum, Bard College Opera, Juilliard 415, and Hesperus; and he has worked with noted conductors including William Christie, Monica Huggett, Jordi Savall, and Masaaki Suzuki. Performance venues include Alice Tully Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan. Kevin was chosen to represent the Lute Society of America for their 2011 Emerging Artist Recital series at the Boston Early Music Festival. Payne holds both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland, where he studied Renaissance lute with Mark Cudek and theorbo with Richard Stone. Payne has had additional studies with Ronn McFarlane, and performed in master classes for Paul O’Dette, Stephen Stubbs, and Hopkinson Smith. He is the first lutenist to be accepted to the prestigious Juilliard School, where he is pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Historical Plucked Instruments with Pat O’Brien.
Joshua Romatowski, flutist, has been praised for his ability to “allow each note to sound with its own expressive qualities” (San Francisco Examiner). Joshua’s playing has been described as “elegantly shaped” (San Francisco Examiner) and possessing “graceful intimacy” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Joshua holds a MM in Flute Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a BM in Flute Performance from the University of Texas at Austin, as well as an Artist Diploma in Early Music from the Cornish College of the Arts. Joshua was a winner of the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle Frances Walton Competition.
As well as being a prize winner in the National Flute Association’s Baroque Artist Competition, Joshua has appeared in concert on baroque flute in every major city on the West Coast with the American Bach Soloists, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Byron Schenkman &Friends, Pacific MusicWorks, and other period ensembles.
Joshua currently holds the 3rd Flute/Piccolo chair with Symphony Tacoma and is on faculty at MusicWorks Northwest. Joshua’s primary teachers have been Timothy Day, Marianne Gedigian, Jeffery Zook, and Janet See.
Violin & ViolaLaurel Wells is known for her work on both baroque and modern viola and violin. She has enjoyed an extensive and eclectic musical life, performing in Hong Kong, Norway, Canada, and throughout the United States. For twenty years she played violin with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, between seasons earning Master’s degrees in violin and viola from Indiana University. She studied chamber music at the Banff Center in Canada, and performed extensively under the guidance of the Vermeer Quartet. Laurel was a member of the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, holding the position of principal viola. She is currently a member of the Pacific Northwest Ballet orchestra, and the 5th Avenue Theater orchestra. In the early music world, Ms. Wells plays with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Pacific MusicWorks, and performs chamber music with the Gallery Concert Series. Other past seasons have included performances with the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, Pacifica Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque, and the Oregon Bach Festival. She has also performed as a chamber musician with the Whidbey Island Concert Series and Camerata Musica. Laurel has recorded for NPR, Wild Boar and the Centaur labels.
CelloNathan Whittaker, violoncello, enjoys a unique and diverse career as a concert soloist, chamber musician, recitalist, teacher, and historical cello specialist with concert stops ranging from Seattle to New York to Dubai. He is the Artistic Director of Gallery Concerts (Seattle) and regularly plays with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and has served on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts. He can be heard on recordings by ATMA Musique and Harmonia and broadcasts by NPR, CBC, and KING FM. He completed a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Washington in 2012 and also holds degrees from Indiana University.
Rachell Ellen Wong
Performing with “unerring beauty” (The Classical Music Network), international prize-winning violinist Rachell Ellen Wong is recognized as an “emerging artist to watch and seek out” (Early Music America). Her virtuosic performances span the musical spectrum; she is known for applying historically informed practices to music of all periods.
Originally from Seattle, Wong has soloed with orchestras across the US and abroad. Recent appearances include Juilliard415, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Panamá, New Zealand String Quartet, and recitals with world renowned pianist Anton Nel.
She most recently won the 4th prize in the XXI International J.S. Bach Competition. She has also won grand prizes in the 52nd Sorantin International String Competition and International Crescendo Music Awards. Recent music festivals include Berkeley Early Music Festival, Valley of the Moon Music Festival, London Masterclasses, and the Sarasota Music Festival.
Rachell is a proud Kovner Fellow in the Juilliard School’s Historical Performance program. She received her Master’s as a Jacobs Fellow from Indiana University, where she studied with Mark Kaplan and Stanley Ritchie. Her Bachelor’s as a Starling Distinguished Violinist is from the University of Texas. She loves to explore her multi-race heritage by studying diverse styles, including the Scottish fiddle.