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violin & artistic director
Hailed in the New York Times for "impassioned" playing and "clear articulation and unity of purpose," violinist Kate Ransom is a distinguished chamber musician, recitalist and teacher who has presented hundreds of concerts in major chamber music concert halls in North America and Europe. Ms. Ransom is artistic director of Serafin Ensemble and Serafin Summer Music, an outgrowth of Serafin String Quartet which has been lauded by Gramophone and Fanfare Magazine for the 2013 Naxos release of early works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon and by The Strad Magazine and American Record Guide for their 2010 Centaur debut release. As founding and six-year member of the Alexander String Quartet, she received first prize and audience prize at the London String Quartet Competition and toured internationally. She is a frequent collaborator with other artists and ensembles and has concertized with David Coucheron, Charles Abramovic, Steven Tenenbom, Sadao Harada, Eliot Fisk, and members of the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, Atlanta Symphony, Eroica Trio, Empire Brass Quintet and Orion, Attacca, and Vega String Quartets. Ms. Ransom’s recital and solo performances include the Bach Concerto for Two Violins; complete Brahms violin sonatas in PA, TX and DE; complete violin Beethoven sonatas in DE, FL, PA and VT; and the Mozart Symphonie Concertante in DE. She has recorded for Gallo, CRI, Centaur, Klavier and Naxos. Ms. Ransom has been an adjunct violin instructor at University of Delaware and she has held visiting artist positions at Brevard College and Lehigh University. She has also held Ensemble in Residence positions at University of Delaware, St. Lawrence University, SUNY-Potsdam, Lehigh University and Brevard College. Ms. Ransom pursued post-graduate chamber music study at The Juilliard School with Robert Mann and holds master's and bachelor's degrees in violin performance from Yale University and University of Michigan, respectively. Her major teachers were Paul Makanovitzky, Szymon Goldberg and Ivan Galamian, and she was a chamber music protégé of Tokyo Quartet. Devoted to organizational advancement in the arts, she has held executive positions at music schools since 1990 and is currently president of The Music School of Delaware. Ms. Ransom plays a violin made in 1728 by the Venetian master, Sanctus Serafin.
Hailed as a “wizard” and “genius,” Amos Fayette makes music come alive whenever he picks up his violin. Born into a family of musicians, Mr. Fayette started playing the violin at age two. He made his professional debut at the age of eight and has since enjoyed a diverse career as a performer, educator, and administrator. In demand as a recitalist and solo performer, his appearances range from Barge Music, to the Festival Le Vigan in France, and to the New World Symphony in South Beach. Recent engagements include appearances at La Chaillol, The Biggs Museum of American Art, and several appearances for The Music School of Delaware. Mr. Fayette’s orchestral career spans four continents and includes appearances with many of the world’s leading conductors. He has performed as concertmaster with Michael Tilson Thomas, Alasdair Neale, Michael Frances and Timothy Hankewich in venues ranging from The Tanglewood Music Center to Orchestra Iowa. Recent appointments include concertmaster of the Mid-Atlantic Symphony and as the founding concertmaster of the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra. He currently holds a bachelor’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory of the John Hopkins University and a master’s degree from the famed Juilliard School of Music.
Enthusiastically acclaimed by critics and audiences alike for his “vibrant tone” and “superb technique,” Hal Grossman is Grand Award Winner of the Lima Young Artist Competition and Silver Medalist of the International Stulberg String Competition. He also received First Prize Awards at the prestigious International Cleveland Quartet Competition and the National Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. His New York Debut at Carnegie Hall received exceptional reviews from The New York Times. He was invited to perform for their Royal Highnesses, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, in a CBC television and radio broadcast. Recital appearances have taken him throughout North America and Europe. In the United States he has also been heard on National Public Radio, WQXI-New York, and WFMT-Chicago. Mr. Grossman served as the Concertmaster of the Echternach Festival Orchestra in Luxembourg, a position he has also held with the Illinois Philharmonic, the Boise Philharmonic, the Lansing Symphony and the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra. He has been featured at the Casals (Puerto Rico), Evian (France), Orfeo (Italy), InterHarmony (Germany) music festivals and, in the continental U.S., the Aspen, Lancaster, Breckenridge, Fontana, Great Lakes, Marrowstone, Manitou, and Garth Newel music festivals. Mr. Grossman holds music performance degrees from the University of Michigan and the Eastman School of Music. He is professor of violin at the University of Oregon and on the violin faculty at the Aria International Music Academy, Marrowstone Music Festival the Northwest Music Retreat. Mr. Grossman's students can be found in the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Louisville Orchestra and in every major music conservatory in the nation. He is the founder and creator of The Grossman Method®, an internationally acclaimed course of study addressing musician’s health issues, which was awarded the Louisville Award in Music and has been nominated for Outstanding Achievement in String Research Award by the American String Teachers Association.
Amadi Azikiwe, violist, violinist, and conductor, has been heard in recital in major cities throughout the United States, including an appearance at the U.S. Supreme Court. He has also been a guest of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at the Alice Tully Hall and the Kennedy Center. Abroad, he has performed throughout Israel, Canada, South America, Central America, Nigeria, India, Japan, and Hong Kong. As a soloist, Mr. Azikiwe has appeared with the Prince George’s Philharmonic, Delaware Symphony, Virginia Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Fort Collins Symphony, Virginia Beach Symphony, Roanoke Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, Western Piedmont Symphony, Salisbury Symphony, the Gateways Music Festival Orchestra, the City Island Baroque Ensemble of New York, the National Symphony of Ecuador, and at the Costa Rica International Music Festival. Currently, he is Music Director of the Harlem Symphony Orchestra as well as Community Engagement Director of the Harlem Chamber Players and a member of the Pressenda Chamber Players. As an orchestral musician, he appeared with the New York Philharmonic and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and as guest principal violist of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. A New York City native, he first studied music with his mother, then began training at the North Carolina School of the Arts as a student of Sally Peck. His studies continued at the New England Conservatory with Marcus Thompson and at Indiana University as a student of Atar Arad.
Praised by The Philadelphia Inquirer for his “glowing refinement,” Luke Fleming’s festival appearances include the Marlboro Music School and Festival, the Steans Institute at Ravinia, Perlman Music Program, the Norfolk and Great Lakes Chamber Music Festivals, the Melbourne Festival, Bravo!Vail, and Festival Mozaic. Formerly the violist of the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet, he has served as Artist-in-Residence for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and received the National Federation of Music Clubs Centennial Chamber Music Award. He was awarded First Prize at the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and top prizes at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. In 2015, Mr. Fleming became the Founding Artistic Director of both the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based chamber music collective, and the Crescent City Chamber Music Festival. He has performed as a guest artist with the Pacifica, Solera, Serafin, and Canterbury Quartets, the Eroica and Gryphon Trios, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Sejong Soloists, Ensemble Connect, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the New York Classical Players. He has served on the faculties of the Innsbrook Institute, Renova Music Festival, Festival del Lago, and Houston ChamberFest, and Fei Tian College and is Lecturer-in-Residence for the concert series Project: Music Heals Us. Mr. Fleming holds the degrees of Doctor of Musical Arts, Artist Diploma, and Master of Music from the Juilliard School, a Postgraduate Diploma with Distinction from the Royal Academy of Music in London, and a Bachelor of Music summa cum laude from Louisiana State University.
Ms. Krueger also enjoys recording studio work and has played on albums of Bruce Springsteen, Faith Hill and Natalie Cole. Recent concerts include chamber music performances at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Grand Teton Music Festival with violinist Julian Rachlin, Charleston’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival, concerts with ChoLiang Lin and Concertmasters William Preucil, Andres Cardenes and David Coucheron at the Highland-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival, chamber music performances with the Atlanta Chamber Players and the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta. Ms. Krueger has been featured in solo recitals at the Blue Ridge Chamber Music Festival and All-Saints Church concert series in Atlanta, concerto performances with DeKalb Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Community Orchestra. She has twice performed the entire Beethoven cycle of Cello Sonatas with pianist Robert Henry and has done a recital tour and accompanying live CD of the Southeastern US with pianist Stanley Yerlow.
Ms. Krueger received her early cello training in Canada at the Regina Conservatory of Music. She went on to study at Brandon University and received her Bachelor of Music Performance degree from New England Conservatory in Boston. She also holds an Artist Diploma from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge MA. She continued her training during the summers at the Banff Centre in Canada and did quartet training with the Juilliard Quartet at the summer program at the Juilliard School. Ms. Krueger was also a participant in the New York String Orchestra Seminar under the direction of Alexander Schneider with concerts at Carnegie Hall. She was a founding member of the award-winning Arden String Quartet, with national and international appearances at Merkin Hall in NYC, Brown and Hofstra Universities as well as radio programs throughout the US East Coast.
South African Jacques-Pierre Malan is a soloist, orchestral musician, teacher, chamber musician
and music entrepreneur. He received his first cello at the age of six and has pursued an intense
musical life and career. Malan holds diplomas, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in musicology, jazz
piano and cello performance from the University of South Africa, University of Pretoria and Peabody
Conservatory of the John Hopkins University. Malan is a co-founder of the Creative Concert Group
project which aims at altering traditional masterpieces in a way that is more accessible to the
audiences that are handicapped to attend big concert halls.
Chinese-born cellist Guang Wang began his cello studies in Shenyang, China at the age of eight. In 1994, he joined the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra as the youngest Assistant Principal Cellist. He worked with Michael Tilson Thomas, Christoph Eschenbach and other world leading conductors and played over 200 concerts throughout Asia before he moved to United States. Mr. Wang toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He has performed at the world's major concert halls in Berlin, Brussels, London, Mexico City, New York, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, Vancouver, Vienna and many others. His performances have been heard on many of the nation's prominent classical radio broadcasts, including NPR’s Performance Today, the National Radio of China, Shanghai TV, Radio France, and France Musiques. Mr. Wang is a founding member of the Vega String Quartet. His festival appearances include Aspen Music Festival, New York's Mostly Mozart, Brevard, Highlands-Cashiers, SummerFest La Jolla, Amelia Island, Rockport, Juneau Jazz and Classics, San Miguel de Allende (Mexico) and other numerous festivals and concert series. Mr. Wang’s world-class collaborators have included Lynn Harrell, Zuill Bailey, Sarah Chang, Richard Stoltzman, Robert McDuffie, Charles Wadsworth, William Preucil, Christopher O'Reily, the Eroica Trio, the American, St. Petersburg and Ying Quartets. He holds degrees from Shanghai Conservatory of Music, China; Harid Conservatory, Florida and Manhattan School of Music, New York City. Currently, Mr. Wang and Vega String Quartet are the Artist-in-Residence at Emory University in Atlanta.
Bassist, composer, performer and teacher, Miles Brown comes from a musical family and began playing the bass at an early age. Dr. Brown is the bassist for the new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, and has had his compositions performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. He has performed with Regina Carter, Dave Ballou, Sean Jones, Bill Dobbins, Walt Weiskopf, Gary Smulyan, Sam Rivers and Steve Wilson. In 2008, Mr. Brown was the Interim Gussman Director of Jazz at Cornell University. From 2009– 2018, he was the jazz program coordinator at Oakland University, where he taught jazz classes and applied lessons. For the 2017–2018 academic year, Dr. Brown taught jazz classes at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. In Fall 2018, he joined the University of Delaware's full-time faculty as assistant professor of string bass and jazz where he teaches applied string bass lessons, jazz history, string methods and contemporary literature. He attended the Eastman School of Music for his undergraduate degree, earning a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Jazz and Contemporary Media. In 2003, he received a Master of Music in String Bass Performance from Mannes College of Music, and earned a Doctorate in Jazz Performance from Eastman in 2012.
Gus is a frequent soloist with the American Spiritual Ensemble, with which he has toured Ireland, Spain, France and the United States, including his debut in New York’s Lincoln Center and made his debut with Opera Philadelphia last season. He works regularly with instrument maker and composer Aaron Grad and premiered Grad’s Old-Fashioned Love Songs for countertenor and electric theorbo, a performance praised by the Washington Post for "full-bodied sweetness, exemplary pitch, and a reliably musical imagination.” As a Vocal Fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center, his performance in the American premiere of George Benjamin's Written on Skin was described by the Wall Street Journal as "riveting" with a voice that "soared above the texture, lining the text with the haloed elegance of gold-leaf inscription". He is also a fellow of the Delaware Division of the Arts, most recently being awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship.
Augustine Mercante completed his Artist Diploma in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar studying with soprano Edith Wiens and performing at the Prinzregententheater in Munich and for the International Gluck Festival for the Nurnberg Opera. He holds degrees from the University of North Texas and the University of Delaware, where he was honored to be the inaugural recipient of the Robert King Memorial Scholarship.
He can be heard on the Albany label with clarinetist Christopher Nichols and pianist Julie Nishimura in a performance of Joseph Eidson’s Birds of Passage for which Gramophone praised his “lyrical intensity and the way he polishes each word with lapidarian ecstasy." Gus and his husband, Justin, live in Wilmington, Delaware where Gus maintains a private teaching studio and is on the voice faculty Delaware State University and The Music School of Delaware. Learn more at augustinemercante.com.
Eileen Grycky, associate professor of flute at the University of Delaware (UD), is a recipient of the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award. She is a member of the orchestra of Opera Philadelphia, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and the Brandywine Baroque, and she performs with two resident ensembles at UD: Christiana Winds and the Taggart-Grycky Flute and Guitar Duo. She is the artistic director of a UD concert series, Tiger Lily Music: Celebrating the Works of Women, African American, and Latino Composers. Ms. Grycky appears frequently as a performer at the National Flute Convention, and she is a member of the NFA’s Cultural Outreach Committee. Ms. Grycky has appeared as a soloist on several occasions with the Mozart Orchestra of Philadelphia, Ensemble American (N.J.), and the Newark Symphony (D.E.). She has also been a frequent substitute in the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 2009 she was awarded an Established Artist Fellowship by the Delaware State Arts Council. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the Oberlin Conservatory and master’s degree from the New England Conservatory.
John David Smith
John David Smith maintains a busy career as professional musician and university professor. He divides his time between his duties as Professor of Music at the University of Delaware (UD) and on the professional music scene as Principal Horn of Opera Philadelphia, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Philly Pops, in addition to frequent appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Recent career highlights have included a solo appearance with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia at the Kimmel Center, European and domestic tours with Orpheus, and appearances as a regular substitute with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Dr. Smith joined the UD Wind Ensemble as soloist during recent festival appearances in Taipei, Taiwan, and performed with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in a recent production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Dr. Smith has made previous appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera orchestra, Orpheus, Orchestra of St. Luke's, New York City Opera as well as frequent performances of Broadway shows. He has performed on a number of tours of Europe and Asia with Orpheus and New York City Opera, performed as soloist with the Juilliard Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall, and can be heard on numerous commercial recordings, including the original cast recording of Parade. From 2000-2003 Dr. Smith served as Principal Horn of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, and was a member of the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. He previously held teaching positions at Lynn University and the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Dr. Smith holds doctoral and master's degrees from the Juilliard School, the Certificate of Advanced Studies and Brass Teaching Licentiate (LRAM) from the Royal Academy of Music London, the associate's diploma from the Royal College of Music London (ARCM), and bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. His teachers have included Julie Landsman, Philip Farkas, Robert Elworthy, Richard Watkins and Michael Hatfield. At UD, Dr. Smith teaches private study horn, horn methods, and the Artistic Innovations graduate seminar which examines issues confronting the emerging music professional and offers practical guidance for navigating the perilous professional arts landscape.
Hailed by The Washington Post for his “poised and imaginative playing,” Filipino-American pianist Victor Santiago Asuncion has appeared in Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, Turkey and the U.S., as a recitalist and concerto soloist. He played his orchestral debut at the age of 18 with the Manila Chamber Orchestra, and his New York recital debut in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in 1999. He has worked with conductors including Sergio Esmilla, Enrique Batiz, Mei Ann Chen, Zeev Dorman, Arthur Weisberg, Corrick Brown, David Loebel, Leon Fleisher, Michael Stern, Jordan Tang, and Bobby McFerrin. He has performed with Lynn Harrell, Zuill Bailey, Andres Diaz, James Dunham, Antonio Meneses, Joshua Roman, Cho-Liang Lin, Giora Schmidt, the Dover, Emerson, Serafin, Sao Paulo, and Vega String Quartets. He was on the chamber music faculty of the Aspen Music Festival, and the Garth Newel Summer Music Festival. For three seasons, he was the pianist for the Garth Newel Piano Quartet. Recordings include the complete Sonatas of L. van Beethoven with Tobias Werner; Sonatas by Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff with Joseph Johnson; the Rachmaninoff Sonata with Evan Drachman; and the Chopin and Grieg Sonatas, also with Evan Drachman. He is featured in the award-winning recording “Songs My Father Taught Me” with Lynn Harrell, produced by Louise Frank and WFMT-Chicago. His most recent recording with John Henry Crawford, entitled Dialogo, made the Top 7 of The Billboard Classical Music Chart. Mr. Asuncion is the Founder, and Artistic and Board Director of FilAm Music Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting Filipino classical musicians through scholarship and performance. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in 2007 from the University of Maryland under the tutelage of Rita Sloan. Victor Santiago Asuncion is a Steinway artist.
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