Victoria Aschheim graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard in May 2010, with a joint concentration in Music and History of Art and Architecture, as a member of the Harvard/New England Conservatory Joint Program, winning the Hoopes Prize for her senior thesis. She is currently completing her MM in percussion at NEC. Victoria was a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra and received the Mellinger Prize. She also has received a Harvard Artist Development Fellowship, a John Knowles Paine Fellowship, the Detur Book Prize, and was a John Harvard Scholar. From 2007 to 2010, Victoria was an NEC/From the Top Performance Outreach Fellow, teaching percussion in Boston Public Schools. She has performed at the Castleton Festival, Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme at Aldeburgh, and Festivalensemble Stuttgart. She was the featured percussionist in the World Premiere performance of Bernstein’s arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and in the Leonard Bernstein Boston to Broadway Festival under Judith Clurman.
Christopher Berg is a pianist known primarily as a song composer. Berg has had a long and productive association with The Mirror Visions Ensemble, a vocal chamber music group, and among his other credits are a musical, Back Home, produced at the New York Music Theater Festival 2007, and an opera, Cymbeline, based on Shakespeare’s play. Berg has recorded several CD’s which include his music for the Albany label. He has collaborated with Judith Clurman for Stravinsky’s Les Noces with the New York City Ballet and the Son Sonora Voices for Dance Brazil, and he works with Essential Voices USA regularly.
Soprano Harolyn Blackwell is recognized for her expressive and exuberant performances, with a career that has spanned opera, concert, and recital stages around the world. She began her career on Broadway in Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Shortly afterwards, she was selected as a finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Since then, she has performed with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Glyndebourne Festival, Teatro Colon de Buenes Aires, Seattle Opera, Opera de Nice, Miami Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Opera Orchestra of New York, and New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival. She has appeared in several productions at the Metropolitan Opera, including Un Ballo in Mascara, Le Nozze di Figaro, Manon, Die Fledermaus, Werther, and La Fille du Regiment. She starred in the Broadway revival of Candide in 1997. An accomplished recitalist, Blackwell has performed in several acclaimed concert series, including London’s Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, The San Francisco Performance Series at the Herbst Hall and the Ambassador Foundation Performing Arts Series in Los Angeles.
Andy Boroson is a pianist, music director, and composer. His work in New York includes music-directing several shows with the theater group The Civilians, including Gone Missing, (I Am) Nobody’s Lunch, and Paris Commune, all composed by Michael Friedman. In 2008 he directed the Off-Broadway production of Adding Machine: A Musical, by composer Joshua Schmidt, at the Minetta Lane Theatre. In April, he accompanied Judith Blazer in the premiere of the solo musical Whida Peru: Resurrection Tangle, also by Mr. Schmidt, at 59E59. In August he performed alongside music director Joel Fram in a duo piano version of I Do! I Do! at the Westport Country Playhouse. Boroson grew up in Needham, Massachusetts, and attended Harvard University.
Judith Clurman has conducted and collaborated with world-renowned orchestras and dance companies, and at international music festivals. She has commissioned and premiered the music of nearly fifty of America’s most prominent composers, including works by Babbitt, Bolcom, Hamlisch, Heggie, Muhly, Paulus, Shore, and Schwartz. Ms. Clurman served as founding conductor for the New York Concert Singers and Project Youth Chorus, and music director for Prism Concerts and the 92nd Street Y’s Music of the Spirit program, broadcast nationally on NBC and PBS. Her work ranges from the classics to contemporary: she has conducted the world premiere of a newly-discovered Mozart canon for the Bicentennial Celebration Lincoln Center and earned a 2009 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for season 39 of Sesame Street. Long committed to the value of music education, Judith served as Director of Choral Activities from 1989 to 2007 at the Juilliard School and led master classes and festivals at Harvard University, the Janacek Academy, Cambridge University, and Eton College in England. Currently she is the music director and conductor of Essential Voices USA, a collaborative performing ensemble. She edits a choral series for G. Schirmer Music, sits on ASCAP’s Special Classifications Committee and Awards Panel, and is a member of the faculty for an annual seminar for music critics as part of the National Endowment for the Arts Classical Music Workshop.
Victoria Drake, harpist, performs with American Symphony Orchestra, New York City Ballet, New York City Opera, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Oratorio Society of New York, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. She has four solo recordings: Harping on Bach, Scarlatti’s Harp, Spanish Gold, and From the Bach Notebook: the complete cello suites transcribed. Other recordings include Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Solti, and Mozart Concerto for Flute and Harp on period instruments with Old Fairfield Academy. Broadway shows include The Light in the Piazza at Lincoln Center Theater.
Essential Voices USA (EVUSA), formerly The Clurman Singers, is a vibrant organization with a mission to promote the love of music and further the art of ensemble singing. Led by world-renowned conductor and music director Judith Clurman, the New York based group is a flexible roster of 8-80 professional (vocal fellows), volunteer, and school-age singers performing a wide range of musical genres. EVUSA’s hallmark is musical excellence, innovative programming, and emphasis on education and inclusion. The ensemble has performed with major orchestras of the world at Lincoln Center. EVUSA begins a three-year New York Pops residency on November 19th, 2010 with Stephen Sondheim’s 80th Birthday Concert at Carnegie Hall. The group eagerly anticipates the release of its CD recording of a performance of Peace by Howard Shore, based on the words of Eleanor Roosevelt and recorded at the Washington National Cathedral. Judith writes: “I feel strongly that LB would have loved tonight’s program because EVUSA is a combination of auditioned volunteers, high school students and select young professionals - some of whom I worked with at Harvard University, where I co-directed Leonard Bernstein: Boston to Broadway festival, in 2006, with Carol J. Oja, the William Powell Mason Professor of Music. The high school students singing are from Mt. Olive School (Matt Vanzini, chorus director) and Middletown High School, Middletown, New York (Lucas Rau, chorus director).
Arielle Hansen, flutist, has appeared on stages in the US, Canada, and Europe. As the sole recipient of the 2007-2008 Fulbright-Lusk Grant to France, she studied the French School of Flute with Philippe Bernold in Paris and was a Harriet Hale Woolley Scholar and Musician-in-Residence at the Fondation des États-Unis, performing solo and chamber music concerts in the Portes Ouvertes aux Nouveaux Talents concert series. Third Prize winner of the International Mozart Competition in Italy, She has played at such leading music festivals as l’Académie Internationale d’Été de Nice, Orford Arts Centre, and the Ameropa International Chamber Music Festival in Prague. From 2004-2006 Arielle was Principal Flutist of the Brockton Symphony Orchestra in Boston. Her principal teacher was world-renowned flutist Robert Stallman. Arielle graduated from Harvard University where she performed in the Leonard Bernstein Boston to Broadway Festival.
Fred Hersch, pianist and composer, has been called “one of the small handful of brilliant musicians of his generation” by Downbeat and has earned a place among the foremost jazz artists in the world today. He is widely recognized for his ability to steadfastly create a unique body of original works while reinventing the standard jazz repertoire – investing time-tested classics with keen insight, fresh ideas and extraordinary technique. Hersch’s numerous accomplishments include a 2003 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for composition, two Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance and a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Composition. Hersch has toured with concert pianist Christopher O’Riley (“Heard Fresh: Music for Two Pianos”) and he has also collaborated with Bill Frisell, Toots Thielemans, Charlie Haden, Renée Fleming, Norma Winstone and Audra McDonald. He has received commissions from the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Doris Duke Foundation, Miller Theatre at Columbia University, Gramercy Trio, and Brooklyn Youth Chorus. His solo piano compositions and chamber music are published by Edition Peters. Naxos Records has released Fred Hersch: Concert Music 2001-2006, a disc of his through-composed “classical” works. A committed educator, Hersch has taught at The New School and Manhattan School of Music, and is currently a visiting professor at Western Michigan University and is on the Jazz Studies faculty of the New England Conservatory.
For the last two years, eleven year-old Richard Pittsinger has attended Saint Thomas Choir School, the only church related boarding choir school in the United States, and one of only a few choir schools remaining in the world. He is the son of opera singers, David Pittsinger and Patricia Schuman, and has a twin sister, Maria. In 2010, Richard made his operatic debut as El Trujamán in Manuel De Falla’s opera El Retablo de Maese Pedro at Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival in Virginia. Richard’s voice is the solo heard in John Gromada’s incidental music, Next Fall, on Broadway. Richard will also be a featured soloist on St Thomas Choir School’s newest recording, Music for Remembrance.
Jonathan Saraga, trumpeter, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance, and is a candidate for a Masters Degree in Music Performance, at SUNY Purchase. He has worked as teaching assistant for Conrad Herwig at Rutgers University, and is currently teaching assistant for Todd Coolman at SUNY Purchase. He has performed on stage with Ray Vega, Bob Mintzer, John Fedchock, Ralph Bowen, Jimmy Greene, and Randy Brecker, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, B.B. Kings, Symphony Space, the Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, the Blue Note (NYC), Spirits (Miami, FL), and the Putra World Trade Centre (Kuala Lumpur, MY). Jonathan received first place in the 2007 International Trumpet Guild Jazz Competition, and was a finalist in the 2009 Carmine Caruso Jazz Trumpet Competition.
For 23 years, Robert Sherman presided over WQXR’s The Listening Room. Since their inception, he has hosted the Avery Fisher Career Grant Award presentations at Lincoln Center, and his multiple award-winning folk series “Woody’s Children” is now heard in New York on Public Radio’s WFUV. On the faculty of the Juilliard School, Sherman has given seminars at Oberlin, Yale, the Eastman School, the University of Arizona, the Mannes College of Music, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Music. For over 25 years a music critic and columnist for The New York Times, Sherman has written two books with Victor Borge, is the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Classical Music, and with his brother, Alexander Sherman, compiled a pictorial biography of their mother, the renowned pianist Nadia Reisenberg. Increasingly active as a concert narrator, Robert Sherman has performed with such ensembles as Canadian Brass, the United States Military Academy (West Point) Band, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Philharmonia Virtuosi. Among his many performances are the world premieres of works written especially for him by Seymour Barab, William Mayer, Issachar Miron, Soong Fu Yuan, and John Corigliano.
Steve J. Sherman is one of New York City’s premier performing arts photographers, widely recognized for his close long-term associations with Carnegie Hall and The New York Times. His photos have been featured in countless books and magazines, on CD/DVD covers worldwide, in television documentaries on most major networks, and exhibited at the International Center of Photography and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His acclaimed coffee table book “Leonard Bernstein at Work; His Final Years 1984-1990” is newly published. Visit Sherman’s website at www.stevejsherman.com.
American baritone Jubilant Sykes brings a new dimension to the traditional career of the classically trained singer by drawing on gospel and jazz influences to deliver performances in differing musical genres. His unique gifts have taken him from such diverse stages as the Metropolitan Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and London’s Barbican Centre to the Apollo Theater, Hollywood Bowl, and New Orleans Jazz Festival. He has had an important artistic partnership with the legendary American classical guitarist Christopher Parkening, resulting in the acclaimed release of Jubilation for EMI. Two recordings for Sony BMG Masterworks are Jubilant, with jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard, and Wait for Me.
Jorell Williams recently sang as a guest artist with the Verein Opera in Zürich, performing in a Gala concert of Opera under the direction of tenor Francisco Araiza. He created the role of Tomás Cabral in the premiere of composer John David Earnest’s The Theory of Everything with Encompass New Opera Theater. He also performed with the Chorale Le Chateau of New York in “A Celebration of America” in the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater at the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 19, 2009. Mr. Williams has degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music. He has won awards from the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, Harlem Opera Vocal Competition, Lotte Lenya Foundation, Schuyler Career Bridges Foundation, Hermann Lissner Foundation, David Adams Art Song Competition, National Association of Negro Musicians Competition, Charles A. Lynam Vocal Competition, and Liberace Foundation.