Claire Bryant, cello
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. A founding member Decoda, Bryant has collaborated with world-class artists including Daniel Hope, Anthony Marwood, Emanuel Ax, Sir Simon Rattle, Dawn Upshaw, the Weilerstein Trio and members of the Saint Lawrence String Quartet, and Danish String Quartet, among others. She regularly performs with acclaimed ensembles in NYC such as Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Novus NY, and Orchestra of St. Luke’s. The 2010 recipient of the Robert Sherman McGraw Hill Companies award for excellence in community outreach and music education, Bryant is the director of Decoda’s criminal justice initiative, Music for Transformation which brings songwriting workshops to correctional institutions. Decoda’s work in corrections was celebrated as part of President Obama’s White House with two invitations to perform and share their work. This past season, Bryant was a visiting professor at the University of Northern Iowa and a guest cellist in the Nightingale String Quartet in Copenhagen, Denmark. 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.
Anna Elashvili, violin and Recruitment Coordinator
Violinist, Anna Elashvili, hailed as "riveting" by the New York Times has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician and concertmaster around the world. She has collaborated with renowned artists such as Lynn Harrell, Dawn Upshaw, Daniel Hope and Maxim Vengerov. Elashvili is a core violinist of Decoda, an Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall. She also performs with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, NOVUS NY, Mark Morris Dance Orchestra, Exponential Ensemble and was the first violinist of the Bryant Park Quartet. She received her Bachelors and Masters Degrees from The Juilliard School and completed a 2-year fellowship at Carnegie’s program “Ensemble Connect”. She has been a guest artist at several universities including Princeton, Vassar, Skidmore, SUNY, DePauw, Lawrence and Cornell Universities. Her international travels have included concerts in England, Mexico, Germany, Canada, Israel, Iceland and Abu Dhabi. Elashvili has attended Yellow Barn, Perlman Music Program, Tanglewood and the Verbier Music Festival, where she served as concertmaster for several European tours. She currently teaches at the Special Music School High School, the Young Artist Program at Yellow Barn and the Decoda|Skidmore Chamber Music Institute and also writes arrangements and collaborates with dance companies and musicians of other genres.
Catherine Gregory, flute
Praised for her “rich and fully present” sound (The New York Times), New York City-based Australian flutist Catherine Gregory is in demand as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician and has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Chicago Cultural Center and the Lincoln Center festival. She has been a winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society Competition, a finalist in the Young Performer’s Awards and has worked with such composers as Steve Reich, David Lang, and George Crumb. Gregory has recently performed as soloist with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and the String Orchestra of Brooklyn and has appeared at the Mt. Desert Festival of Chamber Music, Scrag Mountain Music, Chestnut Hill Concert series, Joye in Aiken, Lyrica Chamber Music, and Summit: Music in the Mountains Chamber Series. She is a frequent collaborator with Trinity Wall St’s NOVUS NY, Ensemble LPR, the Locrian Chamber Players, NOW Ensemble, and has been a guest of the Springfield and Princeton Symphonies, Jupiter Chamber players, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In Australia, she has appeared with the Southern Cross Soloists, and has performed with the Paris Opera Ballet and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. She has played under the batons of such conductors as Harry Bicket, Robert Spano, David Robertson, Susanna Mälkki and Marin Alsop. Gregory studied with Gerhard Mallon at the Queensland Conservatorium (Australia), as well as in the US under the auspices of a Fulbright Scholarship with Alberto Almarza and Jeanne Baxtresser. She is a Core-Member of Decoda—the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall and has held the position of Artist-Lecturer of flute at Moravian College since 2015.
Alicia Lee, clarinet and Festival Director
Born into a musical family, Alicia Lee grew up in Michigan, where she began playing violin and piano at the age of 5 and eventually switched to clarinet at the age of 12. She is a founding member of Decoda, the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall and currently works as their operations manager. In recent seasons, she has performed and led residencies with Decoda in Mexico, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and throughout the United States. Lee is also a member of the indie-classical chamber group NOW Ensemble. She maintains a busy freelance career throughout New York City, performing and touring regularly with a variety of groups, including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Knights, NOVUS, and ACME. She has performed at the Lucerne, Spoleto (Italy and US), Yellow Barn, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Marlboro, and Bay Chamber music festivals. Lee has held positions in the Santa Barbara Symphony and the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway. 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. Most recently she joined the faculty as Assistant Professor of Clarinet at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Michael Mizrahi, piano
Praised as "intrepid" (Philadelphia Inquirer), "engaging" (Houston Chronicle), and "endlessly fascinating" (WQXR New York), pianist Michael Mizrahi has won acclaim for his compelling performances 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 as soloist with major orchestras (Houston Symphony, National Symphony, Haddonfield Symphony, Sioux City Symphony), at major chamber music festivals (Yellow Barn, Ravinia, Music@Menlo), and as soloist on major concert series (Phillips Collection, Dame Myra Hess Concert Series, Astral Concert Series). He appeared for many years on the active roster of Astral Artists, and was a member of Carnegie Hall’s prestigious Academy program. Mizrahi is the director of NOW Ensemble, a chamber group devoted to the commissioning and performing of new music by emerging composers. NOW Ensemble released its third album, Dreamfall, to critical acclaim in 2015. His celebrated recordings The Bright Motion and Currents, albums of newly commissioned works for solo piano, were released on the New Amsterdam Records label. His music video, The Bright Motion, was lauded by National Public Radio and New Yorker music critic Alex Ross. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, where his concentrations were in music, religion and physics. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Claude Frank. Mizrahi is currently Associate Professor of Piano at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin.
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.
Kris Saebo, bass
Kris Saebo leads a versatile musical life in New York City as a double bass soloist, chamber musician, recording artist, bass guitarist, composer, and teaching artist. He is a co-founding member of Decoda, the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall and performs regularly with A Far Cry, NOVUS NY, New York Classical Players, Ensemble Connect, and The Chris Norman Ensemble. Saebo is also a devoted teaching artist, and has worked in this capacity in the greater New York metropolitan area as well as internationally. Through his work with Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program, he has worked with all ages in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. In the summers of 2012 and 2014, through a partnership between the Juilliard School’s Global initiative and Santa Marcelina Cultura, he traveled to São Paulo, Brazil to teach, perform, and collaborate with young Brazilian musicians. He has also been a visiting teaching artist at The Colburn School and at Skidmore College as part of the Decoda|Skidmore Chamber Music Institute. A noted collaborator, Saebo has worked with artists such as Sir Simon Rattle, Dawn Upshaw, Jamey Haddad, and Nas. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School, where his teachers were Orin O’Brien and Homer Mensch. Saebo is also an alumnus of Ensemble Connect, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute, which nurtures high level musicians who engage the communities in which they live and perform.
Nathan Schram, viola
Hailed by the New York Times as an “elegant soloist” with a sound “devotional with its liquid intensity,” Nathan Schram is a Brooklyn-based composer, arranger and violist of the Attacca Quartet. Working with many of today’s great composers he has premiered music by Steve Reich, Nico Muhly, Timo Andres, David Little, Elliot Cole and others. He is a founding member of the string trio Speed Bump, an ensemble devoted to improvisation and performing their own compositions which recently released their second album, The Collected Works of Florff Goodman Vol. II. Nathan is also a violist in the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall, Decoda. Schram has collaborated with many of the great artists of today including Björk, Itzhak Perlman, Sting, Becca Stevens, Joshua Bell, Simon Rattle, and others. Apart from performing, he is the Founder and Execuitve Director of Musicambia, a New York based initiative establishing a network of music conservatories within prisons and jails in the United States. Musicambia currently runs a music conservatory in Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York. In addition to their work in the U.S., Musicambia has collaborated with projects in Venezuela and Scotland.
James Austin Smith, oboe
Praised for his “virtuosic,” “dazzling" and “brilliant” performances (The New York Times) and his “bold, keen sound” (The New Yorker), 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, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Talea Ensemble and Cygnus as well as co-Artistic Director of Decoda, the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall. He is a member of the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase and is co-Artistic Director of Tertulia, a chamber music series that takes place in restaurants in New York and San Francisco. Smith’s festival appearances include Marlboro, Lucerne, Chamber Music Northwest, Schleswig-Holstein, Stellenbosch, Bay Chamber Concerts, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, OK Mozart, Schwetzingen and Spoleto USA; he has performed with the St. Lawrence, Orion and Parker string quartets and recorded for the Nonesuch, Bridge, Mode and Kairos labels. His debut solo recording "Distance" was released in early 2015 on South Africa's TwoPianists Record Label.