Seth Baer, bassoon and Festival Director
Bassoonist Seth Baer is a passionate performer and educator of music. He is a founding member of Decoda and an alumnus of The Academy, an exciting fellowship program at Carnegie Hall focused on chamber music, education, and community engagement. He has frequently performed at Carnegie's Zankel Hall and Weill Recital Hall including collaborations with Christopher Hogwood, Andrew Manze, and John Adams.
Baer is a member of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and maintains an active freelance career. He performs with many of the finest ensembles in the New York and Philadelphia regions including The Philadelphia Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Ensemble ACJW, and the Mark Morris Dance Group Orchestra. He is a member of Amici New York, the resident orchestra at the OK Mozart festival in Bartlesville, OK. He has toured Japan as a member of the New York Symphonic Ensemble and regularly performs with The Firebird Chamber Orchestra in Miami, Florida.
As a chamber musician Baer has performed at Bargemusic, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, The Music Academy of the West, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Spoleto Festival, Italy, and at the Altenburg Music Festival in Germany. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School and graduated cum laude from Princeton University. Baer has taught at Montclair State University and CW Post University and during the summer months, teaches at The Usdan Center for Creative and Performing Arts. He was recently appointed Dean of Music at the Special Music School (NYCPS 859) in New York City.
Anna Elashvili, violin
Violinist Anna Elashvili, hailed as "riveting" by The New York Times, has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician and concertmaster in major halls around the world. She has collaborated with renowned artists such as Lynn Harrell, Dawn Upshaw, Daniel Hope and Maxim Vengerov.
In 2006 Elashvili was nominated to be a fellow at Carnegie's program, The Academy, for which she is an active alumna. As a fellow, she performed at Carnegie Hall and brought classical music to NYC public schools. As an alumna, she has traveled to Mexico, Germany, Canada and the USA performing and teaching. She is the first violinist of the Bryant Park Quartet and a member of Decoda (a group formed from the alumni of Carnegie's Academy). As a member of BPQ and Decoda, she has performed at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, for the World Food Prize Laureate Ceremony and Vassar, SUNY Stony Brook and Purchase Universities. Elashvili is from Baltimore, MD. Having studied dance for several years, she really enjoys her ongoing collaborations with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and the Mark Morris Dance Group. Since 2002, she has been on violin faculty at the Third Street Music School Settlement.
Klara Berkovich and Violaine Melançon were her primary teachers at the Peabody Preparatory and Baltimore School for the Arts, growing up in Baltimore. Elashvili received her Bachelors and Masters Degrees from The Juilliard School under the instruction of Prof. Joel Smirnoff and Masao Kawasaki. She has attended Yellow Barn, Perlman Music Program, Tanglewood and the Verbier Music Festivals.
Natham Schram, viola
Hailed by the New York Times as an "elegant soloist" with a sound "devotional with its liquid intensity," Nathan is a violist in the cutting-edge collective, Decoda as well as the violist of the Bryant Park Quartet. Nathan explores other musical interests by playing with an array of adventurous ensembles such as Alarm Will Sound, ACME, New York Baroque Incorporated, Le Train Bleu, and the Wordless Orchestra. Working with many of today's great composers he has premiered music by Steve Reich, Nico Muhly, Timo Andres, David Bruce, Brooks Frederickson, Elliot Cole and Brad Balliet. He is also a founding member of the string trio Speed Bump, an ensemble devoted to improvisation and performing their own compositions.
Apart from performing, Nathan is the Founding Director of Musicambia, a New York based initiative establishing a network of music conservatories within prisons and jails in the United States. In addition to their work in the U.S., Musicambia has collaborated with projects in Venezuela and Scotland.
Nathan is an Alumnus of Carnegie Hall and Juilliard's Ensemble ACJW. As an ACJW Fellow, Nathan participated in frequent chamber music performances throughout the city's leading chamber music venues such as Carnegie Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, Lincoln Center, and WQXR's Greene Space.
Nathan is a prizewinner of the 2007 Primrose International Viola competition, the 2006 Corpus Christi Concerto Competition and a First Prize winner of the 2008 ASTA National Solo Competition. He studied at Indiana University with Alan de Veritch and at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain with Diemut Poppen and Yuval Gotlibovich. Nathan has performed chamber music alongside Itzhak Perlman, Colin Carr, Gil Kalish, Phil Setzer, Atar Arad, Joshua Bell, Ron Leonard, and Jonathan Carney.
Nathan's arrangements and compositions have been heard in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In his spare time, Nathan is also an enthusiastic painter. As an athlete and lover of the outdoors Nathan was a cyclist on the School of Fine Arts (SoFA) Cycling team for Indiana University's Annual Little 500. He has also spent 6-weeks experiencing the USA on a self-contained bicycle journey from Bloomington, Indiana to San Francisco, California. On his 25th birthday he completed the Ottowa Marathon.
Nathan is a proud and die-hard follower of the Atlético de Madrid Club de Fútbol.
Claire Bryant, cello and Festival Coordinator
Cellist Claire Bryant enjoys an active and diverse career in New York City as a performer of chamber music, contemporary music, and the solo cello repertoire. She is equally passionate and committed to her work as an educator and advocate for the inclusion of the arts in society. In 2009, Bryant founded a community residency project through chamber music in South Carolina called Claire Bryant and Friends. This endeavor brings accomplished young artists to communities for weeklong residencies that include engaging pedagogy and performance in the public schools, advocacy forums for arts education, and community concerts in diverse and innovative venues.
A founding member of the new chamber music society Decoda, Bryant has collaborated with world-class artists such as Daniel Hope, Anthony Marwood, Emanuel Ax, Sir Simon Rattle, Dawn Upshaw, the Weilerstein Trio and members of the Peabody Trio, Saint Lawrence String Quartet, and Danish String Quartet, among others. She regularly performs with acclaimed chamber ensembles in NYC such as Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Novus NY, and Ensemble ACJW. The 2010 recipient of the Robert Sherman McGraw Hill Companies award for excellence in community outreach and music education, she is a graduate of The Juilliard School and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where her primary teachers were Bonnie Hampton and Joel Krosnick. She was in the pilot class of The Academy – A Program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School and Weill Music Institute and served as an assistant to faculty member, Bonnie Hampton, at The Juilliard School from 2007 – 2012. Bryant is from Camden, South Carolina.
Alicia Lee, clarinet
Born into a musical family, Alicia Lee grew up in Michigan where she began playing
clarinet at the age of 12. She was the associate principal and eb clarinet player
of the Santa Barbara Symphony, a position she held for seven seasons. Lee maintains
a busy freelance career throughout New York City, performing regularly with a variety
of groups, including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Knights Chamber Orchestra,
the Talea Ensemble, ICE, Alarm Will Sound, and the Argento Chamber Ensemble. She has
performed at The Lucerne Festival, the Spoleto Festivals of Italy and the US, Yellow
Barn Music Festival, and had been in residence at Marlboro Music Festival for the
past several summers. Lee is a founding member of DZ4, an innovative wind quintet
that has been actively expanding the repertoire of their genre by commissioning and
performing works by some of the most talented young composers of today.
Lee holds a B.A. in French Language and Literature from Columbia University, as well as additional degrees from the University of Southern California and the Colburn School. She is from Okemos, Michigan.
Michael Mizrahi, piano
Pianist Michael Mizrahi has won acclaim for his compelling performances of a wide-ranging repertoire and his ability to connect with audiences of all ages. He has appeared as concerto soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and teaching artist across the United States and abroad.
Mizrahi has performed in the world's leading concert halls including Carnegie Hall, Toyko's Suntory Hall, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Jordan Hall and the Gardner Museum in Boston, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the Chicago Cultural Center and Houston's Jones Hall. He has performed as soloist with major orchestras including the Houston Symphony, National Symphony, Haddonfield Symphony, Sioux City Symphony, and Prince Georges Philharmonic. He has given solo recitals at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC and has made repeated appearances on the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series in Chicago. His chamber music festival appearances include Music@Menlo, Verbier, the Yellow Barn Music Festival, and the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival. Mizrahi won First Prize and the Audience Choice Award in the Ima Hogg International Competition, as well as first prizes in the International Bartók-Kabalevsky Competition and the Iowa International Piano Competition. He won third prize in the San Antonio International Piano Competition in 2006. Mizrahi appeared for many years on the active roster of Astral Artists.
An enthusiastic promoter of music education, Mizrahi has presented lecture-recitals and master classes at The American School in Switzerland (TASIS), the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. As a member of Carnegie Hall's prestigious Academy program and Teaching Artists Collaborative, he spent several hours a week as a teaching artist in New York City public schools.
Dedicated to the music of our time, Mizrahi has commissioned and given world premieres of several new works for piano and frequently collaborates with composers and instrumentalists in the performance of 21st-century music. He is a founding member of NOW Ensemble, a chamber group devoted to the commissioning and performing of new music by emerging composers. NOW Ensemble released its second album, Awake, to critical acclaim in 2011. Mizrahi released The Bright Motion, an album of newly commissioned works for solo piano, on the New Amsterdam Records label in May 2012. His music video, also called The Bright Motion, was lauded by National Public Radio and New Yorker music critic Alex Ross.
Mizrahi was a founding member of the Moët Trio, which performed in major venues across the United States and Canada, and established itself as one of today's most exciting young piano trios. The Moët Trio recently completed a two-year residency, the only one of its kind for piano trios, at the New England Conservatory. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia, where his concentrations were in music, religion and physics. He holds both master's and doctoral degrees from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Claude Frank. After his Philadelphia debut recital, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that "...the performance had transparency, revealing a forward-moving logic and chord voices you didn't previously realize were there...textures were sumptuous." Mizrahi is currently Assistant Professor of Piano at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin. For more information, please visit michaelmizrahipiano.com.
James Austin Smith, oboe
Praised for his "dazzling", "virtuosic" and "brilliant" performances (The New York Times), oboist James Austin Smith performs equal parts new and old music across the United States and around the world. Smith is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS2), the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Talea Ensemble and Decoda, as well as a regular guest of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Cygnus. In the fall of 2012 he joined the faculty of the State University of New York at Purchase.
Smith's festival appearances include Marlboro, Lucerne, Chamber Music Northwest, Schleswig-Holstein, Stellenbosch, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, OK Mozart, Schwetzingen, Music@Menlo and Spoleto USA; he has performed with the St. Lawrence and Orion string quartets and recorded for the Nonesuch, Bridge, Mode and Kairos labels. He received his Master of Music degree in 2008 from the Yale School of Music and graduated in 2005 with Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) and Bachelor of Music degrees from Northwestern University. He spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Leipzig, Germany at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater "Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy" and is an alumnus of "The Academy", a collaboration of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, the Weill Music Institute and the New York City Department of Education. Mr. Smith's principal teachers are Stephen Taylor, Christian Wetzel, Humbert Lucarelli, Hansjörg Schellenberger and Ray Still.
The son of musician parents and eldest of four boys, Mr. Smith was born in New York and raised in Connecticut. www.jamesaustinsmith.com
Brandon Ridenour, trumpet
As a virtuoso trumpeter, composer, arranger, and educator, Brandon Ridenour is widely recognized as one of the most multi-talented and formidable artists of his generation. Through his wide-ranging activities as a soloist and chamber musician, combined with his ardent passion for composing, Brandon enjoys performing and recording a unique array of repertoire that includes many of his own arrangements and compositions.
In 2006, at the age of 20, Brandon became the youngest member to ever join the prestigious Canadian Brass. The same year, he won the International Trumpet Guild solo competition playing his own composition, Sonata for Trumpet and Piano, and made his solo orchestral debut with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center with Marvin Hamlisch conducting. Brandon is a recipient of several composition awards, including the Morton Gould ASCAP Young Composer's Award and the Reveille Collective Composition Prize.
With repertoire that spans from Monteverdi to Radiohead, Brandon has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Aspen Festival Orchestra, Brass Band of Battle Creek, Ensemble ACJW, New Juilliard Ensemble, and the San Francisco, Dallas, Detroit, Toronto, National Arts Center, Nashville, Grand Rapids and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestras. As a chamber musician, he has been invited to play with some of the world's leading ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, International Contemporary Ensemble, and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in Europe. Brandon has made numerous appearances at Carnegie Hall, and was most recently invited to perform "Penny Lane" alongside Sting and James Taylor for Carnegie Hall's 100th Anniversary Celebration, where he also had the unique opportunity to meet former President Bill Clinton.
Brandon is a graduate of the Juilliard School and an alumnus of Ensemble ACJW, The Academy-- a program of a program with Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School and the Weill Music Institute. Brandon began playing piano at the age of 5 under the tutelage of his father, Rich Ridenour. The two perform regularly now as a father-son duo and have created their own repertoire of arrangements for trumpet and piano. Brandon currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.