Brad Balliett, bassoon
New York City-based musician Brad Balliett is in high demand as a composer and bassoonist. Balliett is Principal bassoon of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, a founding member and former Artistic Director for the chamber music collective Decoda (Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall), and has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Houston Symphony, New York City Ballet, International Contemporary Ensemble, Signal, and Metropolis Ensemble. As a composer, he has witnessed and participated in premieres of his orchestral, chamber, choral, opera, and incidental music. Recent commissions have come from Carnegie Hall, Cecelia Chorus, Metropolis Ensemble, Notre Dame University, Sign & Sing, Experiential Orchestra, Cantori New York, and the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra Wind Ensemble. Balliett is on faculty at the Peabody Institute, the Juilliard School (Evening Division), and Musicambia (at Sing Sing Correctional Facility), and regularly leads and participates in composition and song-writing workshops in prisons, schools, hospitals, and homeless shelters. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 2005, and holds an MM from Rice University.
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.
Clara Lyon, violin
Violinist Clara Lyon is an accomplished performer with a voracious musical appetite and an ever-expanding palate. She is dedicated to cultivating musical experiences that delight, enliven, embolden, and challenge, through musical conversations that illuminate the connections between the historical Classical tradition and a diverse, actively growing repertoire from today’s vibrant young composers. Lyon is a violinist with the GRAMMY-nominated Spektral Quartet, named 2017 Chicagoans of the Year by the Chicago Tribune. As Spektral's Program Manager, she relishes the opportunity to work with a nimble ensemble dedicated to changing the musical landscape, and find uniquely creative ways to take risks with like-minded presenters and forward-thinking collaborators. In this capacity she has spearheaded and managed long-range projects with some of today’s brightest stars, such as work with Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Samuel Adams, Tonia Ko, David Fulmer, and Nathalie Joachim (among others), as well as lead Spektral’s exploration of the music of the past, such as their 2017-18 Schoenberg Cycle. She enjoys managing Spektral’s educational programming, and is particularly focused on providing ways for students and music lovers of all ages to access and own their creativity. Spektral Quartet is in residence at the University of Chicago, where the members coach chamber music and teach privately. Upcoming solo projects include a recording of a new work for solo violin by Hans Thomalla for the Wergo label and a multi-disciplinary live performance and installation with visual artist Antonia Contro, poet Elizabeth Bradfield, and composer Eliza Brown. She has served as the Co-Director of Kneisel Hall-Blue Hill Together in Music, an immersive outreach and community-building program facilitated by the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, since its inception in 2014. A prize-winner of the International Irving M. Klein Competition and the Schadt International Violin Competition, Lyon is a laureate of the National Foundation for the Arts Awards for young musicians and has performed as a soloist at venues such as the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress. She is a proud alumna of Ensemble Connect and enjoys collaborating with Decoda. Lyon holds degrees from SUNY Stony Brook and the Juilliard School; her mentors include Soovin Kim, Laurie Smukler, Phil Setzer, and Glenn Dicterow.
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.
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.
Sæunn Thorsteinsdottir, cello
“Charismatic” (New York Times) cellist, Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir recently made her debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for which the LA Times praised her for her “emotional intensity”. Following the release of her debut recording of Britten’s Suites for Solo Cello, she has performed solo with the Toronto and Iceland Symphonies as well as in some of the world s greatest halls including Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall and Disney Hall. She returns to Sonoma for a second year as Weill Hall Artist in Residence at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. A versatile artist, the 2014-2015 season includes solo recitals with San Francisco Performances Salons at the Rex and the Embassy Series in Washington, DC, a return to Prussia Cove Open Chamber Music Sessions, performances of the Ligeti Concerto with Argento Ensemble, as well as concerts in the US and Europe with the Manhattan Piano Trio. An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated in performance with Itzhak Perlman, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode and members of the Emerson, Guarneri and Cavani Quartets and has participated in numerous chamber music festivals, including Prussia Cove and Marlboro, with whom she has toured. Along with the masterpieces of the 18th, 19th and 20th century, she is constantly inspired by works composed in our time and enjoys working with living composers. In addition to working closely with Daníel Bjarnason on his award-winning composition “Bow to String”, she has premiered dozens of works, including new pieces by Peter Schikele, Paul Schoenfield, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir and Kendall Briggs. She has garnered numerous top prizes in international competitions, including the 2008 Naumburg Competition in New York and the Antonio Janigro Competition in Zagreb, Croatia. She received a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master of Music from The Juilliard School as well as a Doctor of Musical Arts from SUNY Stony Brook. Her principal teachers include Richard Aaron, Tanya L. Carey, Colin Carr and Joel Krosnick.
Laura Weiner, horn
Laura Weiner is a passionate horn player and advocate for classical music based in New York City. An experienced chamber musician, orchestral performer, soloist, and teaching artist, she is an alumnus of Ensemble Connect, a program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute. A high-altitude native of Colorado, she received her Bachelor of Music degree summa cum laude from Northwestern University, and her Master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a University Fellowship. She has performed with diverse musical groups from the New York Philharmonic to Broadway pits, and is a member of chamber ensembles Decoda and Genghis Barbie. As part of these groups, she has performed a wide variety of concerts all across New York in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and community locales from clubs to correctional facilities. She was a featured soloist at Zankel Hall under the baton of Robert Spano, and has performed at the Bravo! Vail Festival, Bay Chamber Concerts, Marlboro Music Festival, and Norfolk Chamber Festival. In addition to performing, she is enthusiastically devoted to education and community work. She is a teaching artist for the New York Philharmonic in two public schools and has led songwriting workshops all across the United States. Her recent Decoda project pairing New York teenagers with police officers to create songs received national news attention. She also teaches piano at Sing Sing Correctional Facility through Musicambia. When she isn’t rehearsing or performing, she heads for the mountains to rock climb, hike, and snowboard.