Harpsichord & PianoByron Schenkman has recorded more than thirty CDs of 17th- and 18th-century repertoire, 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,” he was voted “Best Classical Instrumentalist” by the readers of Seattle Weekly, and his piano playing has been described in The New York Times as “sparkling,” “elegant,” and “insightful.” He has been a featured guest with the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston, the Daedalus Quartet, Les Enfants d’Orphée, the Northwest Sinfonietta, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Philharmonia Northwest, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra. He was also founding co-director of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra with violinist Ingrid Matthews. In 2013 he launched “Byron Schenkman & Friends,” a Baroque and Classical chamber music series at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. Schenkman is a graduate of the New England Conservatory and received his master’s degree with honors in performance from the Indiana University School of Music. He currently teaches at Seattle University and Cornish College of the Arts, and has been a guest lecturer in harpsichord and fortepiano at Indiana University.
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.
HornJeffrey 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 “compelling,” “evocative” and “full of finesse and assertiveness.” 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. Since 2004, he has appeared regularly at the Seattle Chamber Music Festival and recently presented world premieres by Gerard Schwarz and Lawrence Dillon. He is on the faculty at the University of Washington and is responsible for instruction of all horn students. Fair has served as Principal Horn and faculty member of the Eastern Music Festival and as Principal Horn of the Arizona Music Festival. Additionally, 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. 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.
TenorAmerican-Canadian Zach Finkelstein has quickly established himself as a leading tenor soloist in North America and abroad. In the concert world, Zach is known for his “refined” and “elegant” (Vancouver Observer) interpretation of the works of Bach, Mozart and Handel, among others. Recently hailed by Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times as a “compelling tenor,” he made his New York City Opera debut in April 2013 as Mambre in Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto, a production dubbed by Tommasini as one of the Top 10 classical events of 2013. This May, Zach will be premiering the Pulitzer Prize-winning piece ‘Comala’ by Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon in Guadalajara, Mexico with the Zohn Collective and again in 2019 at the University of Notre Dame. Zach will also guest in May 2018 as an artist-in-residence at UC-Davis, premiering a new piece by composer Kurt Rohde. Zach launched his first album in October 2017 on Scribe Records, ‘Britten and Pears: the Canticles’ featuring Byron Schenkman and principal players from the Seattle Symphony. Mr. Finkelstein is currently with Dean Artists Management and holds an Artist Diploma (Voice) from the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Glenn Gould School in Toronto and a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Political Science from McGill University, in Montreal.
ViolAViolist 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. Concerts at Vienna Musikverein, Singapore Esplanade, and Carnegie Hall. Performances with Pink Martini, Jake Shimabukuro, Itzakh 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. As a passionate explorer of early music, he plays period viola with a bicoastal variety of ensembles including Gut Reaction, Antico/Moderno, the Handel & Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, and the Seattle and Portland Baroque Orchestras. During the summer, Jason performs on both modern and period instruments at the Staunton Music Festival in Virginia.
ViolinCurrently 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. Beginning his violin studies at the National Music School in Sofia, he later on received 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 the Concerto Competition given by the same institution. Between 2014 and 2016 Toma appeared regularly with Juilliard’s period ensemble, Juilliard 415, at venues in North America and Europe. 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.
ViolinBorn in Berlin, Vermont, Jesse Irons has been praised by the Baltimore Sun as a “polished and sensitive” violinist, his performances “moving… with a perfect mix of passion and precision.” (Baltimore Magazine) He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory, serving as graduate assistant in chamber music. A card-carrying chamber music fanatic, Jesse (in partnership with fellow Crier Jason) founded the Rivendell String Quartet, appearing in concert across the United States, as well as in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Singapore. When the Rivendell venture came to a close, Jesse concentrated on his own violin playing. In an effort to reconnect to the fun of music-making, Jesse decided to explore music outside the classical mainstream. He participated in a workshop on the music and traditions of the Silk Road, which culminated in multiple performances with Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall. Delving further into the improvisatory side of life, he worked with an experimental jazz string quartet and with (yet another) string quartet transcribing, reinventing, and performing music from throughout Asia for a Marco Polo-themed school presentation program. He recently appeared at Carnegie Hall with the Tres Americas Ensemble. Jesse has decided that life is as good as the people you spend it with, and on that count is thrilled to be a member of A Far Cry chamber orchestra.
ViolinMonica Huggett was born in London in 1953, the fifth of seven children. She took up the violin at age six and at age sixteen entered the Royal Academy of Music as a student of Manoug Parisian. From age seventeen, beginning as a freelance violinist in London, Monica has earned her living solely as a violinist and artistic director and, in 2008, was appointed inaugural artistic director of The Juilliard School’s Historical Performance Program, where she is now artistic advisor and artist-in-residence. In the intervening four decades, she co-founded, with Ton Koopman, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra; founded her own London-based ensemble, Sonnerie; worked with Christopher Hogwood at the Academy of Ancient Music and Trevor Pinnock with the English Concert; toured the United States in concert with James Galway; and co-founded, in 2004, the Montana Baroque Festival. In addition to her position as artistic director of Portland Baroque Orchestra, she is also the artistic director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra. She is a frequent guest director and soloist around the world. Monica’s expertise in the musical and social history of the Baroque Era is unparalleled among performing musicians. This huge body of knowledge and understanding, coupled with her unforced and expressive musicality, has made her an invaluable resource to students of baroque violin and period performance practice through the 19th century. Monica lives in Portland, where she enjoys spending time in her garden and plans to buy a motorcycle.
Ingrid Matthews is well established as one of the premier baroque violinists of her generation. She 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 the Seattle Baroque Orchestra with Byron Schenkman; she served as its Music Director from 1994 to 2013. Matthews has performed extensively around the world with many of today’s leading early music ensembles, appearing as a soloist and/or guest director with groups including the New York Collegium, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the Bach Sinfonia (Washington DC), Ars Lyrica (Houston), Musica Angelica (Los Angeles), New Trinity Baroque (Atlanta), and numerous others, and is currently a member of the esteemed the esteemed Bay Area ensemble Musica Pacifica. Matthews has won high critical acclaim for a discography ranging from the earliest Italian violin music through the Sonatas and Partitas of J.S. Bach (“the finest complete set of these works,” according to Third Ear’s Classical Music Listening Companion). She has taught at Indiana University, the University of Toronto, Oberlin College, the University of Washington, 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.
CelloCanadian-born cellist and gambist Caroline Nicolas has performed in North America, Europe, and Asia with such eminent musicians as Monica Huggett, Andrea Marcon, Elizabeth Blumenstock, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Jordi Savall, Masaaki Suzuki, William Christie, Nicholas McGegan, and Robert Mealy. As winner of Juilliard’s Historical Performance concerto competition, she made her solo debut in Alice Tully Hall, New York City. Ensembles she has worked with include Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Mercury Baroque Orchestra, Ars Lyrica, Juilliard Baroque, Kammerorchester Basel and Sinfonieorchester Liechtenstein. Her performances have been broadcast on KUHF in Texas, WDIY in Pennsylvania, and CCTV in China. Nicolas grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba and was first introduced to the cello by her mother, an elementary school music teacher. At the age of fifteen she made her orchestral debut with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She studied with Phoebe Carrai at The Juilliard School and Christophe Coin and Paolo Pandolfo at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. Nicolas and her husband, lutenist Kevin Payne, currently work and study in Basel, Switzerland.
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.
FluteJoshua 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 finalist in the National Flute Association’s Orchestral Excerpt Competition and 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 and Friends, Pacific Music Works, and other period ensembles. Joshua currently holds the 3rd Flute/Piccolo chair with Symphony Tacoma and is on faculty at Music Works 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
ViolinOriginally from Lynnwood, Washington, versatile violinist/baroque violinist Rachell Ellen Wong has soloed with orchestras across the US and abroad. Recent concerts include a tour of New Zealand as a guest with the New Zealand String Quartet, a recital with world renowned pianist Anton Nel, and performances of Bottesini’s Gran Duo Concertante with the National Symphony Orchestra of Panama in Panama City. She has won numerous prizes in international and national competitions, including the Grand Prize at the 52nd Sorantin International Young Artist Competition, among others. Recent music festivals include the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig, the Tafelmusik Baroque Institutes in Toronto, the Sarasota Music Festival, the London Masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Music, and the Starling-Delay Violin Symposium at the Juilliard School. Rachell is a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship at The Juilliard School, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in baroque violin as part of their Historical Performance program. She also holds a Master of Music from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. She currently lives in New York, NY.