Charles Ives Concert Series 2018 Artist Roster

Paul Frucht, Artistic Director

Originally from Danbury, CT, Paul Frucht is an emerging American composer whose music has been hailed for its “sense of lyricism, driving pulse, and great urgency” (WQXR). His music has recently been performed by the American Composers Orchestra, Atlantic Music Festival Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Weill-Cornell Music and Medicine Orchestra, the Chelsea Symphony, American Modern Ensemble, Ensemble dal Niente, the Les Deux violin duo, the LONGLEASH Trio, violinist Hannah Ji, cellist Julian Schwarz and pianist Marika Bournaki on Bargemusic’s Here and Now Labor Day Series, at the Utah Arts Festival, at the New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute, at the Kyoto International Music Festival, at the Peabody-Essex Museum with the Asian American New Music Institute, and at the pianoSonoma Music Festival, where he was composer-in-residence from 2014-2015. Highlights of 2017 include performances of a new work for violist Caeli Smith as well as performances with the Ridgefield Symphony and the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra, of which he has just been named composer-in-residence for the 2017-18 season.

Paul is the recipient of numerous honors and awards in composition. He was recently awarded a Morton Gould Young Composer Award from ASCAP. In 2015, he was awarded a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is also the recipient of Juilliard’s Gena Raps Chamber Music Prize, the Arthur Friedman Award for outstanding orchestral composition, and the Palmer Dixon Prize for the most outstanding work by a student composer in an academic year. He has also received recognition from Periapsis Music and Dance, the American Modern Ensemble, the Nashville Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Red Note New Music Festival the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, and the American Composers Orchestra, from whom he received the Audience Choice Award for his work Dawn, which was showcased by the ACO as part of the 25th Annual Underwood New Music Readings.  He is also the recipient of several scholarships from the Juilliard School, including the C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellowship, the Arlene J. Smith Scholarship, and the Marvin Hamlisch Scholarship in Composition.


Paul holds a Master of Music Degree in Composition from the Juilliard School, where he is now a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate. In 2011, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from New York University’s Steinhardt School, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Theory and Composition. His principal teachers have been Robert Beaser and Justin Dello Joio. An enthusiastic educator himself, Paul was a teaching fellow in Juilliard’s College Division for four years and an instructor in Juilliard’s Pre-College for two years before joining the adjunct at New York University’s Steinhardt School in 2015. Hear his music at


 Jonathan Cziner, Associate Artistic Director

Jonathan Cziner (b. 1991) is an American composer based in New York City.  Jonathan’s works have been performed in the United States and Europe by artists including acclaimed pianist Steven Masi, Dallas Symphony principal harpist Emily Levin, and by ensembles including the New Juilliard Ensemble, Atlantic Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble, and violin duo Les Deux. His works have been commissioned for the Lyric Chamber Society, the American Guild of Organists, and the Dallas Harp Quartet, with performance venues including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City.

American composer David Conte has called Jonathan’s music “developed, consistent, and convincing…filled with surprises, that somehow sound natural.”

His work Transient Bodies for Sinfonietta, commissioned by the New Juilliard Ensemble, was awarded the 2017 Palmer Dixon Prize, given to the year’s most outstanding composition at the Juilliard School.  He has also received recognition from the Minnesota and Sioux City Symphony Orchestras for his orchestral work reAwaken.

Jonathan served for two years as co-artistic director of Dynamic Music Festival, an annual concert series dedicated to premiering works of student composers attending universities in the New York City area. He currently is the associate artistic director of the Charles Ives Concert Series, which focuses its programming on the music of Ives, as well as other past and present American composers. Equally dedicated to scoring for film, he was awarded best original score for up-and-coming director Nora Unkel’s 2015 film The Goblin Song, and is slated to score her first feature film, A Nightmare Wakes in summer 2018.

Jonathan began formal composition training upon his acceptance to New York University, where he received a Bachelor of Music degree studying with Justin Dello Joio. He completed his Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Robert Beaser, and began studies last year in Juilliard’s prestigious C.V. Starr doctoral program.

Current projects include an orchestral work inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Bells, as well as a solo piano work for Italian pianist Edoardo Turbil.


Guest Artists

Simon Boyar, percussion

Simon Boyar is a world renowned percussionist, composer, producer, and educator. He is widely regarded as among the top percussionists of his generation and has given performances as a soloist, chamber musician, freelance percussionist, and outreach clinician across the globe to critical acclaim. Boyar has performed as a percussion soloist and chamber musician around the world. As a soloist he has performed with dozens of orchestras including The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, The American Symphony Orchestra, The Korean Symphony Orchestra, The National Polish Radio Orchestra of Katowice, The New Mexico Symphony, The Puerto Rican Symphony, The Fort Collins Symphony, The Juilliard Orchestra, and many others. He currently serves as the director of the prestigious NYU Sandbox festival where he works and performs alongside elite chamber percussion group Sandbox Percussion and renowned composer Andy Akiho.  As a freelance percussionist Boyar has also performed with artists and groups such as Exit 9 Percussion Group, The Three Irish Tenors, Harpsichord Unlimited, Syren Modern Dance, and Tropicalia Indie musician Adron.

A champion of new music, Boyar’s playing has been sought out by some of the most esteemed composers in the world for world premieres. He was called upon to give the world premiere of the late Elliott Carter’s first and only work for solo marimba “Figment V.” He was also fortunate to be asked to perform the premiere recording of the work at Bridge Records where he worked with producer and guitar virtuoso David Starobin. He has given the world premiere of works by composers Andrew Thomas, Daniel Levitan, Javier Diaz, David Eddleman, and Davide Zannoni. Simon also commissioned a version of Frank Zappa’s “Revised Music for Guitar and Low Budget Orchestra” for Marimba and Orchestra by Tom Trapp. Simon has since arranged the same work himself for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble. Boyar also gave the world premiere of a double concerto for violin and percussion by Harold Farberman alongside violinist Guillermo Figueroa. He gave the premiere recording of the revised version of The Loving Mad Tom Marimba Concerto by Andrew Thomas with The National Polish Radio Orchestra of Katowice and recorded The Heroic Triad by the same composer for guitar, percussion and string orchestra with guitarist David Leisner. Boyar also recorded Daniel Levitan’s virtuoso work for solo marimba “Marimba Singular” (commissioned as part of the James Preiss solo marimba commissioning series). He has recorded for Bridge Records, Naxos, and Opus One Records.

Simon’s career in education began when upon graduating from The Juilliard School, he was asked to serve on the percussion faculty of the school’s Pre-College Division. The following year he was made the director of the program. Over the next 4 years he would modernize The Juilliard Pre-College Percussion Department and build it into an internationally renowned competitive institution for serious young percussion students. In 2007, Simon was asked to join the percussion faculty at NYU Steinhardt where today he teaches alongside some of the top percussionists in the world including Jonathan Haas, James Saporito, Valerie Naranjo, Sean Statser, and Josh Quillen of So Percussion. A huge proponent of educational outreach, Boyar has also given numerous appearances at high school, middle school, and elementary schools across the USA.

Simon Boyar is a Yamaha Performing artist. He performs on a YM6000 Concert Grand Marimba. Simon uses Vic Firth mallets and sticks exclusively. He is also a member of The Vic Firth Education Team. He holds a B.M from The Juilliard School. Prior to that he attended The Juilliard Pre-College Division. Growing up he participated in his High School Band Program in Hillsborough NJ as well as CJMEA, and NJMEA All State. He was also a member of The Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps. His former teachers include David Fein, Greg Giannascoli, Greg Zuber, and the legendary drummer Joe Morello.
Simon currently resides in Westchester, NY with his wife Danna and son Benjamin.



Marika Bournaki, piano

With unparalleled technical, musical and communication skills, Marika Bournaki is at once, a world class performer, outstanding pianist, vivacious young woman… and the freshest face on the classical music scene. Marika’s innovative approach to her art and performance is reflected in her recent collaboration, “Let’s Play”, with cutting-edge and world-renowned multimedia creative shop, Moment Factory. Her role as Ambassador to the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s summer event, “A Cool Classical Journey” was an exceptional opportunity to explore new and exciting ways to share her music with the public. Marika not only brings distinctive interpretations to favourite standards, she also extends her passion for music by commissioning works by younger composers and collaborating with artists from various fields.

The award-winning documentary, “I am not a rock star”,  directed by Bobbi Jo Hart and featuring Marika, has captivated audiences of all ages in festivals around the world. The feature-length film… (see it at … chronicles Marika’s evolution as an artist from the age of 12 to 20. A runaway success at multiple international film festivals, “I am not a rock star” was screened at, among others, the 30th International Festival of Films on Art in Montreal, the Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival in Greece, the Barcelona Music Documentary Film Festival, the DocsDF Festival in Mexico, the Napa Valley Film Festival in California. Marika’s unique approach and intense passion have also been heard over the airwaves on Radio-Canada, Radio-France, BBC, WQXR in New York City, and Toronto’s Classical 96.3 FM. She has been featured on television networks such as ERT, TF1, France 2, CTV, Global, Radio-Canada, CBC, and Canal+.

Recent performances include a recital at the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens, Greece, a recital at Plaza Hidalgo in Mexico, a benefit recital for the Glenn Gould Foundation at New York’s Carnegie Hall, a guest solo appearance in Montreal with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, recitals at the National Arts Center in Ottawa, at the Flanders Festival in Belgium, the Konzert Accordate Series in Aachen Germany, the EMMA Concert Association in Florida, Chamber Music Northwest in Oregon, and the Luminato Festival in Toronto. Other engagements include performances with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra in Russia, as well as recitals in South Korea, Romania, Italy,Switzerland, and England. Marika holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music, in New York. She participated in the International Academy Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, as well as the Internationale Mendelssohn Akademie in Leipzig, playing in master classes for Dmitri Bashkirov, Andras Schiff, Karl-Heinz Kammerling and Arie Vardi.



Kara Dugan, mezzo-soprano

Mezzo-Soprano Kara Dugan has been praised by the New York Times for her “vocal warmth and rich character”. Recently, Ms. Dugan has performed with Michael Tilson Thomas, premiering his work, Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind with the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony , and an upcoming performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Opera highlights include  Papagena in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and Zaida in Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia.

She has appeared with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Ravinia’s Steans Institute, Amherst Early Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, Wolf Trap Opera, Crested Butte Music Festival, Joye in Aiken, pianoSonoma, Rite of Summer Music Festival, the Mainly Mozart Music Festival, and on three international tours with Juilliard’s Historical Performance Department, Juilliard415. This summer she will join the Marlboro Music School and Festival in Vermont.







Peter Dugan, piano


Prizing versatility as the key to the future of classical music, pianist Peter Dugan is equally at home in classical, jazz, and pop idioms. He has appeared as a soloist throughout the United States, including performances at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall. He has also performed internationally in Canada, South America, the Cayman Islands, and across Europe. Last season, Mr. Dugan appeared as a soloist with the New World Symphony in its season-opening concert under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas.

A sought-after crossover artist, Mr. Dugan recently performed duos with violinists Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell in memorial concerts for Marvin Hamlisch at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater and the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Mr. Dugan’s collaboration with violinist Charles Yang has garnered critical acclaim across the country. He has also performed chamber music throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in South America and Europe, including a 2013 recital with violinist Sean Lee at the Vienna Konzerthaus. Mr. Dugan’s chamber music recitals this season include performances with the Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach, ARTS San Antonio, and St. John’s College Recital Series.

Mr. Dugan advocates for the importance of music in communities. As a founding creator and the pianist for OPERAtion Superpower, a “superhero opera” for children, he has traveled to dozens of schools in the greater New York area, performing for students and encouraging them to use their talents for good. A Philadelphia native, Mr. Dugan holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in solo piano performance from The Juilliard School, where he studied under Matti Raekallio and was awarded the John Erskine Commencement Prize for outstanding artistic and academic achievement. Mr. Dugan resides in New York, where he teaches sight reading for pianists at Juilliard and serves on the faculty at the St. Thomas Choir School. He is a Yamaha Artist.


Julian Schwarz, cello


Julian Schwarz was born to a multigenerational musical family in 1991. Heralded from a young age as a cellist destined to rank among the greatest of the 21st century, Julian’s powerful tone, effortless virtuosity, and extraordinarily large color palate are hallmarks of his style.

In 2013 Mr Schwarz won 1st prize in the professional cello division of the Schoenfeld International String Competition in Hong Kong, and in 2016 won 1st prize at the Boulder International Chamber Music Competition’s “The Art of Duo” with Canadian pianist Marika Bournaki.  

After making his concerto debut at the age of 11 with the Seattle Symphony and his father, Gerard Schwarz on the podium, he has led an active career as soloist. Recent and upcoming debuts include the Buffalo and Rochester Philharmonics, Camerata Chicago, Symphony Silicon Valley, and the Toledo, Jacksonville, Charleston, Tuscon, Amarillo, San Antonio, Des Moines, Charlotte, and West Virginia Symphonies. Return engagements include the Hartford and Springfield (MA) Symphonies, Northwest Sinfonietta, Lake Union Civic Orchestra, Symphoria (Syracuse NY), and the Boca Symphonia. Internationally, he made his Australian debut with the Queensland Symphony, his Mexican debuts with the Boca del Rio Symphony in Veracruz and the Mexico City Philharmonic with frequent collaborator Jorge Mester, and his Hong Kong debut at the Intimacy of Creativity Festival. He has also appeared at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and the Verbier festival in Switzerland.

As a recitalist, he has performed at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, the Rosenegg Castle in Steyr Austria, on the Embassy Series in Washington DC, at the National Arts Club, and in Palm Springs, CA. Mr. Schwarz will embark on an extensive 10-recital tour of China in March 2017, and will make debuts for the Musical Club of Hartford and the University Club. An avid chamber musician, he is a member of the New York based Frisson Ensemble, the New York Classical Players, the Solisti Ensemble, and the Mile-End Trio with violinist Jeff Multer and pianist Marika Bournaki. He performs frequently at Bargemusic in Brooklyn, and has been the featured young artist at both the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival and the Seattle Chamber Music Festival.

Julian Schwarz is an avid supporter of new music, and often commissions new, exciting works to enhance the cello repertoire. He has premiered concertos by Richard Danielpour, Samuel Jones (recorded with the All Star Orchestra for public television in 2012, subsequently released as a DVD on Naxos), and will give the world premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s first Cello Concerto with a consortium of five orchestras in the 17-18 season. Other premieres include the US Premiere of Dobrinka Tabakova’s Cello Concerto with the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra, and recital works by Paul Frucht, Gavin Fraser, Ren Damin, and Gerard Schwarz. On record, the Schwarz-Bournaki duo has recorded Bright Sheng’s “Northern Lights” for Naxos, the complete cello/piano works by Ernest Bloch for the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, and will release a debut recital album in summer 2017.

A devoted teacher, Mr. Schwarz serves as Asst. Professor of Cello at Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University (Winchester, VA). Other faculty appointments include the Eastern Music Festival (Greensboro, NC), Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (Nova Scotia, Canada), and faculty teaching assistant to Joel Krosnick at The Juilliard School.
Mr. Schwarz studied at the Academy of Music Northwest, the Colburn School with Ronald Leonard, and received both BM and MM degrees from The Juilliard School where he studied with mentor Joel Krosnick. Other influential teachers include David Tonkonogui, Toby Saks, Lynn Harrell, Neal Cary, and chamber music studies with Andre Roy, Arnold Steinhardt, Jonathan Feldman, Toby Appel and Paul Coletti. Julian plays on a Neapolitan cello made by Gennaro Gagliano in 1743, is an active contributor to Strings Magazine’s Artist Blog, and sits on the music committee of the National Arts Club.




Charles Yang, violin

Described by the Boston Globe as one who “plays classical violin with the charisma of a rock star”, Juilliard graduate Charles Yang began his violin studies with his mother in Austin, Texas, and has since studied with world-renowned pedagogues Kurt Sassmanshaus, Paul Kantor, Brian Lewis and Glenn Dicterow. He has performed as a soloist with orchestras and in recitals in the United States, Europe, Brazil, Russia, China, and Taiwan, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. On June 9th of 2005, the Mayor of Austin presented Mr. Yang with his own “Charles Yang Day”.  In 2016 Mr. Yang joined the crossover string-band, Time for Three.

Not only confined to classical violin, Mr. Yang’s improvisational crossover abilities as a violinist, electric violinist, and vocalist have led him to featured performances with a variety of artists in such festivals as The Aspen Music Festival, The Cayman Arts Festival, The YouTube Music Awards, The Moab Music Festival, TED, Caramoor, The EG Conference, Oncue Conference, Google Zeitgeist, YouTube Space Los Angeles, Interlochen, and onstage at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera House, David H. Koch Theater, Dizzy’s and David Rubinstein Atrium; The Long Center, The Royal Danish Theatre, Le Poisson Rouge, Highline Ballroom, Ars Nova, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Forbidden City in Beijing among many others. He has performed in the presence of two former US Presidents, the Queen of Denmark and has recently shared the stage in collaborations with artists including Peter Dugan, CDZA, Steve Miller, Jesse Colin Young, Jake Shimabukuro, Ray Benson, Michael Gordon, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Marcelo Gomes, Twyla Tharp, Misty Copeland and Jon Batiste. His career has been followed by various news media including The New York Times, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Playbill, The Boston Globe, Fortissimo, The Financial Times, The Austin-American Statesman, The Austin Chronicle, Shenzhen Daily, The Strad, Dallas Daily, Cincinnati Enquirer, and Juilliard Journal. Mr. Yang is featured in Nick Romeo’s book, Driven as well as Discovery Channel’s Curiosity.
Regarding Mr. Yang, The Texas Observer has noted, “Mr. Yang is a true crossover artist, a pioneer who can hop between classical and popular music and bring fresh ideas to fans of both genres.  Rather than maintaining an insular focus and simply assuming that an audience for classical music will always exist, he wants to actively create that audience, to persuade and seduce others into enjoying a type of music as passionately as he does.”








Emi Ferguson, flute


Hailed by critics for her “tonal bloom” and “hauntingly beautiful performances,” English-American performer and composer Emi Ferguson stretches the boundaries of what is expected of modern-day musicians. Emi can be heard live in concerts and festivals around the world as well as at home in New York City where she is a member of the New York New Music Ensemble, NYBI, Argento Ensemble, and New Vintage Baroque. She has spoken and performed at several TEDX events and has been featured on media outlets including the Discovery Channel and TouchPress apps talking about how music relates to our world today. Her debut album Amour Cruel spent 4 weeks on the Billboard Charts and was released by Arezzo Music. Emi is currently on the faculty of the Juilliard School teaching Ear Training in the Evening and Pre- College divisions. Born in Japan and raised in London and Boston, she now resides in New York City. For more information please visit






Molly Goldman, viola


Violist Molly Goldman is a recent graduate of the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Roger Tapping. Her other teachers included Jeffrey Irvine, Carol Rodland and Stephen Sims. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music she has earned Bachelor of Music in Applied Music and Music Education with certification, in addition to receiving the prestigious Performance Certificate in recognition of “students who demonstrate outstanding performing ability.” An avid chamber musician, Ms. Goldman has collaborated with violinists Juliana Athayde and David Coucheron, pianist-composer Magnus Lindberg, and cellists Steven Doane and Rosemary Elliott.  As a soloist Ms. Goldman has been heard with the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, the National Repertory Orchestra and the Eastman Philharmonia Orchestra. She has held performance fellowships at the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Colorado College Summer Music Festival and the Bowdoin International Music Festival. In 2014 Ms. Goldman was also invited to participate in the Sibelius Academy’s Creative Dialogue Symposium, a collaborative workshop between musicians and composers in the creation of new music. Ms. Goldman’s musical talents go beyond classical music as she has performed with AXIOM, Ensemble Signal, New Juilliard Ensemble, Styx, Idina Menzel, Wild Cherry, and many others. She currently holds faculty positions at Silver Music School,and the Montserrat Music Festival. Ms. Goldman strives to make music exciting, engaging and accessible for all audiences.




Isabel Hagen, viola

Isabel Hagen is a highly sought-out violist and enjoys an active performance career as a chamber musician and orchestral player. She has performed with ensembles such as Alarm Will Sound, American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), Ensemble Signal, Talea Ensemble, and the Wordless Music Orchestra. She has worked with various composers including Unsuk Chin, Michael Gordon, Hilda Paredes, Steve Reich, and Charles Wuorinen. Isabel has played in master classes given by Kim Kashkashian, Robert Mann, Robert Vernon, and Barbara Westphal, to name a few. A violist who enjoys crossing genres, Isabel has performed alongside Björk, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, and Medeski Martin and Wood. She has appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and has been in the orchestra for various productions on Broadway. She holds a Bachelor and Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School where she studied with Heidi Castleman, Hsin-Yun Huang, and Masao Kawasaki. While at Juilliard, Isabel served as co-principal of the orchestra and performed with AXIOM and the New Juilliard Ensemble; the school’s contemporary music groups. She has taken part in festivals such as Bang on a Can Summer Festival, Big Ears Festival, the Ecstatic Music Festival, June in Buffalo, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, the Lucerne Festival Academy, the Robert Mann String Quartet Institute, the Sarasota Music Festival, and the Tully Scope Festival. Isabel attended the Pre-College division of the Juilliard School from 2004 to 2009, where she studied with Kenji Bunch and from where she graduated with honors. A native New Yorker, she is also a stand-up comedian and performs around the city.





Ben Laude, piano

Originally from Austin, Texas, pianist Benjamin Laude holds both master’s and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School, as well as a bachelor’s degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He has appeared as a soloist in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York City, and has performed in both solo and ensemble settings across the country, including recent engagements in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Grand Rapids, Washington, D.C., Austin, and Miami. A frequent collaborator with dancers, his performance with Ballet Next at the Joyce Theater in 2012 was hailed by Alastair Macaulay of the New York Times as “beautiful” and “superb in pace, tone and eloquence.” Laude is the recipient of numerous distinctions and awards, and in 2008 was named the national Yamaha Young Performing Artist competition award winner in piano. A distinguished writer, Laude received the 2010 Juilliard Journal award for his contributions to the school’s official newspaper, and in 2012 founded The Yard, the first independent, student-run publication of its kind at Juilliard. His concert reviews have been published in International Piano magazine and Jacobin magazine. An avid educator, Laude is an ear-training instructor at Bard College/Conservatory and holds a faculty position in music theory at School for Strings in New York City.







Avi Nagin, violin

Violinist Avi Nagin is an active recitalist, chamber musician, orchestral player, and educator. He has performed in collaboration with members of the Ebène and Orion Quartets, as well as with Paul Coletti, Benny and Eric Kim, and Ronald Leonard. A recent graduate of The Colburn School and the Yale School of Music, Avi’s performances have brought him to stages across the country, including Carnegie Hall and Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood.  He has appeared at prestigious masterclasses and workshops around the world, including at Carnegie Hall led by pianist Leon Fleisher, where he also worked closely with Yo-Yo Ma and Pamela Frank.  Avi has also twice attended the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove in Cornwall, England, where he appeared in masterclasses for András Keller and Philippe Graffin, as well as legendary violinist Ivry Gitlis. During his time as a student, Avi held leadership positions in the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestral, Aspen Chamber Symphony, and New York Youth Symphony.  Avi has become substitute violinist with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and New Jersey Symphony, and was appointed Principal 2nd Violin of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Principal 2nd Violin of Symphony in C, Assistant Principal 2nd Violin of the Norwalk Symphony, section violin with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and Artosphere Festival Orchestral, and has appeared with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Greenwich Symphony Orchestra.  He has also attended festivals including Tanglewood, Kneisel Hall, the Lake George Music Festival, and the Heifetz Institute.  This past summer marked Avi’s first year on the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he also served in the violin section of the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra. Additionally, Avi has recently become substitute faculty at The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division and serves on the chamber music faculty of the New York Youth Symphony and was previously a “Teaching Artist” with Yale University’s Music in Schools Initiative.  Avi’s principal teachers include Ani Kavafian, Robert Lispett, Daniel Phillips, and Ann Setzer, and he has studied chamber music with Arnold Steinhardt, Sylvia Rosenberg and Paul Coletti.




Ariana Nelson, cello

Cellist Ariana Nelson recently completed her Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School, studying with Darrett Adkins. A proud member of the performing community in New York City, she is a recent member of the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra, performing at the Fort Washington Collegiate Church. Her eclectic tastes have led her to unexpected appearances at Jazz at Lincoln Center, featured performances for patients recovering in Mount Sinai Hospital’s transplant ward, to the recent Concert Across America to End Gun Violence in Danbury, Connecticut. In 2015 Ariana was invited to perform in a small chamber orchestra to accompany Yo-Yo Ma at the Kennedy Center as part of the Kennedy Center Honors event, attended by President Obama and the First Lady. Ariana has received many honors as a soloist, most recently winning third prize at the 2016 Eisemann Young Artists Competition in Dallas, Texas.

A native of Seattle, Washington, Ariana grew up with a musical family and was exposed to  chamber music at a very young age. Forming her first string quartet at age eight, Ariana has been a member of numerous groups. During her undergraduate studies she co-founded the Azure Quartet, which over two years was cultivated into a prize winning chamber ensemble, winning second prize at the Music Teachers National Association 2014 chamber music competition. Her extensive chamber music experience has included coaching with renowned musicians such as Emanuel Ax, James Dunham, David Finckel, John Harbison, Desmond Hoebig, Jon Kimura-Parker, Joseph Lin, and Roger Tapping.

In recent years Ariana has attended the Aspen Music Festival and School, Le Domaine Forget Chamber Music Festival, the Olympic Music Festival and the Zephyr International Chamber Music Festival in Italy. She spent the summers of 2015 and 2016 at the Tanglewood Music Center as the recipient of the James Taylor Fellowship. Her interest in improvisation and international music inspired her to take part in the the Silk Road Ensemble’s Global Musican Workshop at Tanglewood, which included performing in concert with the Silk Road Ensemble at the Koussevitsky Music Shed.

A fierce proponent of new music, Ariana has championed the works of many contemporary composers. She has played in a number of student composer concerts at the Juilliard School and the Shepherd School of Music. Her interest has led her to perform with the AXIOM contemporary ensemble, directed by Jeffrey Milarsky, in which she performed works by George Benjamin and Thomas Adès. During Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music she performed chamber music and orchestral music by composers including Dallapicolla, Druckman, and Messaien. Most recently she commissioned a cello and piano work entitled “Responses” by Juilliard DMA candidate Jonathan Cziner, which she premiered on her Master of Music degree recital.

Ariana received her Bachelor of Music degree at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where she graduated cum laude in May of 2015. There she had the privilege of studying cello with Norman Fischer of the Concord Quartet.




Mika Sasaki, piano

Pianist Mika Sasaki has established herself as a sought-after chamber musician, soloist, and emerging educator. Since her solo debut with the Sinfonia of Cambridge at age seven, she appeared twice with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and more recently with the 92Y Orchestra in New York City. Mika has performed frequently in the U.S., Europe and Japan, at venues including the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie, Steinway Hall, Alice Tully Hall, 92nd Street Y, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Palazzo Chigi Saracini (Italy), Minatomirai Hall (Japan), Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (Japan), Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, and live on WQXR radio. Most recently, her solo debut CD album “Obsidian” was released on Yarlung Records, highly acclaimed by the Online Merker as “illuminat[ing] the artistic inspiration and creative exchange between these three Romantic souls,” Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms.

A versatile pianist praised for her musicianship, Mika recently began a two-year fellowship with Ensemble Connect (formerly Ensemble ACJW), a program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School and the Weill Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, performing and teaching chamber music around the city, focusing on audience engagement, advocacy, and entrepreneurship. Her love for chamber music and curiosity in exploring repertoire both new and old have led her to collaborate in diverse ensembles, sometimes serving as score-reader for conductors’ classes, rehearsal pianist for choruses, vocal coach, instrumental collaborator, or as toy pianist, celesta player or harpsichordist in small ensembles and orchestras.

As an accomplished chamber musician, she was invited to Music@Menlo as an international program artist, as well as the Tanglewood Music Center as a Leonard Bernstein Fellow, where her interpretation of Schubert’s Grand Duo for four-hands was hailed as a “colorful reading of the work … [with] nuance and sensitivity to Schubert’s music.” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). Other festival appearances include the Estherwood Music Festival (U.K.), Aspen Music Festival, Yellow Barn Young Artists Program, Mannes Beethoven Institute, Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival, Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Italy), Taos School of Music, ChamberFest at Juilliard, and the Focus! Festival at Lincoln Center. In 2016, she performed and taught as Artist in Residence at the pianoSonoma at Juilliard winter workshop in New York City, as well as its summer festival in Sonoma County, California, working with adult participants of all ages.

Born in Atlanta, Mika grew up in Demarest, New Jersey, and began her studies with Olegna Fuschi at the Juilliard Pre-College division at the age of seven. Moving to Tokyo, Japan, in 2001, she returned to the U.S. to pursue her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at the Peabody Conservatory under the tutelage of Benjamin Pasternack. A recipient of several awards in piano and chamber music during her studies at Peabody, she received the Tony & Tina Guilder Scholarship Award in Piano, William H. Kaltenbach Jr. Endowed Scholarship, Clara Asherfeld Award for Accompanying, Peggy & Yale Gordon Accompanist Recognition Prize, Sidney Friedberg Prize in Chamber Music, and was invited to join the U.S. national music honor society, Pi Kappa Lambda, upon graduation.

Mika is currently completing her doctoral studies at the Juilliard School, where she studied with Joseph Kalichstein as a recipient of the Isidore Kleppel Scholarship, Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship, Celia and Joseph Ascher Fund for Piano, and the C. V. Starr Doctoral Fellowship. At Juilliard, she held several teaching fellowships and faculty assistantships in Piano Literature, Sight-Reading, Secondary Piano and Music Theory, and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Keyboard Skills and Piano Topics as a part-time faculty member. She currently teaches piano and keyboard skills in the Juilliard Evening Division, and works with middle school students at I.S. 025 in Queens as part of her fellowship with Ensemble Connect.
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Jacob Shack, viola


Appointed Fourth Chair Viola of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2016, Massachusetts native Jacob Shack earned his Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School as a student of Misha Amory and Heidi Castleman and frequently performed as co-principal of the Juilliard Orchestra. As an undergraduate at Harvard College, Jacob enjoyed playing with the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra as principal violist, including on their tours to Cuba and the Middle East. He has toured the world as a chamber and orchestral musician, performing on four continents, most recently in Hong Kong at Bright Sheng’s Intimacy of Creativity Festival and in Colombia at the Medellín International Music Festival. He has performed at several other music festivals, including the Aspen Music Festival, the Sarasota Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and the Tanglewood Music Center, where he was the recipient of the Maurice Schwarz Prize in 2013. In addition, he was selected to participate in Jaime Laredo’s New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall in both 2010 and 2012. In addition to his dedication to orchestral playing, Jacob has been recognized in solo and chamber music competitions, including the Washington International Competition for Strings and the Stulberg International String Competition. He has collaborated in performance with such world-renowned artists as James Buswell, Steven Doane, James Dunham, Joseph Kalichstein, Robert Levin, and Joseph Silverstein, and has received numerous awards and scholarships from Harvard University, as well as from his alma mater Phillips Academy. In the summer of 2015, Jacob served as the violist of the New Fromm Players, an ensemble-in-residence at the Tanglewood Music Center devoted to contemporary performance. 


Caeli Smith headshot



Caeli Smith, violin and viola

Caeli Smith made her concerto debut at age ten with the Philadelphia Classical Symphony and has since appeared as a soloist with the Bach Festival Orchestra, Ocean City Pops, Ambler Symphony, and others.

In 2015, Caeli was a top prizewinner in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Hugo Kauder Society Viola Competitions. She was the winner of the Juilliard concerto competition, and appeared as soloist with the Juilliard Orchestra.

Caeli has been featured multiple times on NPR’s From The Top, where she also served for three years as a cast member in the role of Roving Reporter. In 2004 she starred in Robert Downey Sr.’s feature documentary Rittenhouse Square. An avid writer, Caeli’s articles have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Strings, Teen Strings, and Symphony magazines.

In the summer of 2015, Caeli served as a principal viola of the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland. She is also a member of Symphony in C, a professional training orchestra based in New Jersey.

In May 2016, Caeli received a Master of Music degree at Juilliard, where she was co-principal viola of the Juilliard Orchestra. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from Juilliard. 




Chelsea Starbuck Smith, violin

Acclaimed as a violinist of “compelling presence, fearless attack, and technical aplomb and bravado” (New London’s The Day), Chelsea Starbuck Smith, 25, is a young artist becoming recognized for her infectious enthusiasm for the violin.  She has performed as solo and chamber artist in venues across the United States and abroad, including Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, Palais de Fontainebleau in France, and Centre National des Arts in Ottawa.  Ms. Smith made her solo debut in 2016 with both the Spoleto Festival USA Chamber Orchestra in Charleston, SC, and the Southern Finger Lakes Orchestra in Corning, NY.


As a chamber musician, Ms. Smith embraces contemporary as well as classical forms.  Recent collaborators include The Knights Chamber Orchestra and Debbie Harry & Blondie. She has participated in the acclaimed Music Academy of the West 2014 String Quartet Seminar led by the Takács Quartet, and the annual Juilliard ChamberFest concert series.  Ms. Smith recently appeared on the 20thCentury Fox Television series Glee, NYU Langone’s national television ad Fresh Thinking, WMNR Fine Arts Radio and Connecticut Public Radio, and is the featured violinist on The String Fingers Band’s debut bluegrass album Don’t Forget.


Ms. Smith just completed her studies at The Juilliard School, receiving a Master of Music degree under the tutelage of David Chan and Laurie Smukler, while also graduating with the Norman Benzaquen Career Advancement Grant for “talent, promise, creativity, and potential to make a significant impact in the performing arts.”  She also holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Juilliard where she studied with Sally Thomas.




Justin Dello Joio


Justin Dello Joio, born in New York City, is descended from seven generations of composers in the Dello Joio family. He began piano at age 5, studying with pianists Constance Keene and Mieczeslav Munz, began composing at age 6, winning a scholarship to the Juilliard Pre College at age 7. At age 12, he began studying with composer, Ellen Taafe Zwilich and in high school, with Hall Overton and jazz pianist Roland Hanna. He finished his formal training at the Juilliard School, receiving an annual composition award, while completing a B.M., M.M., and D.M.A. degrees in composition, studying with Vincent Persichetti, Roger Sessions, and David Diamond.


Dello Joio, currently published by Theodore Presser Co. and G. Schirmer, has composed orchestral, chamber, vocal, opera, and solo works, as well as music for chamber orchestra, and his work has been heard in the US, Europe, Taiwan and Korea. He has been the recipient of several awards: three from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, including their Award in Music, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, NY State Council on the Arts, Aaron Copland Recording Foundation, NY Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, 2 Meet the Composer grants, The American Music Center CAP award, and the Theodore Presser Foundation. On October 31, 2007, The Classical Recording Foundation awarded him their Composer of the Year Award at Weill /Carnegie Hall.

Recent activities include the world premiere of his Music for Piano Trio ‘The March of Folly’ at the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society on November 5, 2009, with performers Carter Brey, An Kavafian, and Shai Wosner. The world premiere of his one act opera, Blue Mountain, about the final days of composer Edvard Grieg, was commissioned by Det Norske Blaseensemble. It was given on October 8,9,10, 2007, at Kanonhalen in Oslo, Norway, as part of the Edvard Grieg Centennial celebrations and the 2007 Ultima Contemporary Music Festival. The work was recorded and is released on Bridge Records. (Bridge 9273)


In March 2007, Bridge Records released an acclaimed CD recording (Bridge 9220) of several of his works, with pianist Garrick Ohlsson, performing his Sonata for Piano and Two Concert Etudes; and Music for Piano Trio “The March of Folly”, performed by Ani Kavafian, violin, Carter Brey, cello, and Jeremy Denk, piano. Mr. Ohlsson included his Sonata in his spring concert tour, including New York City’s Town Hall and the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and he included his Concert Etudes on programs in several cities, including Cleveland and Santa Rosa.

His celebratory work, Blue and Gold Music, for the American Brass Quintet and Organ, commissioned for the 300th anniversary of The Trinity School in New York, premiered and was later recorded at New York’s Riverside Church with organist Colin Fowler, for inclusion on the upcoming ABQ 50 year anniversary CD, ABQ:The State of the Art on Summit Records, as well as for Bridge Record’s next volume of Dello Joio’s music. He most recently completed a work for cello and piano, Due Per Due, commissioned by the Barlow Endowment, for the NY Philharmonic Principal Cellist, Carter Brey. (Premiere date TBA by Mr. Brey and Christopher O’Riley)

The Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Myung Whun Chung Music Director, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra have co-commissioned Mr. Dello Joio to write a Piano Concerto for pianist Garrick Ohlsson, for premiere in 2018.
Mr. Dello Joio resides in New York City, with his wife Marianne Bachmann and their daughter, Chiara.

Featured Composer


Max Grafe


The music of Max Grafe has been performed by a diverse range of prominent and emerging ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, and FLUX Quartet. His work has also recently been featured at the Tanglewood Music Center, the New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute, and the Resonant Bodies festival. Mr. Grafe’s music appears on commercial recordings by the New York Philharmonic and Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble.


Mr. Grafe has received several of the most prestigious awards available to young composers, including a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a William Schuman Prize from BMI, and a Morton Gould Young Composer Award from ASCAP.


Also highly active as an educator, Mr. Grafe is a member of the faculties of the Juilliard School’s pre-college division and the Kaufman Music Center. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition at the Juilliard School, where he also received a Master of Music degree in composition in 2013. Further studies have taken place at Mannes College of Music, Indiana University, the Freie Universität Berlin, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and the Tanglewood Music Center.


2017 Charles Ives Concert Series Call for Scores Winner



Ursula Kwong-Brown


Ursula Kwong-Brown , is a composer and media artist from New York City, currently living in Berkeley, California. Described as “atmospheric and accomplished” by The New York Times, her work has been performed in diverse venues including Carnegie Hall, le Poisson Rouge and the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center in NYC, St Paul’s Chapel and Miller’s Theatre at Columbia University, and the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Awards include an ASCAP Honorable Mention, the Chicago Ensemble’s “Discover America” Composer Award , Columbia University’s prestigious Sudler Arts Prize, and the Bowdoin Festival Composition Prize. Ursula received her B.A. from Columbia University in 2010, graduating with honors in music and biology. She worked for two years as a laboratory manager for Dr. Darcy Kelley, studying the musical intervals in the vocalizations of Xenopus laevis, a species of African clawed frog. In 2012, she changed direction and started a combined M.A./Ph.D. program at the University of California in Berkeley with generous support from a Mellon-Berkeley fellowship. After earning her M.A. in Music Composition in 2014, she decided to expand her focus to include New Media studies and has been experimenting with sound spatialization at the Center for New Music & Audio Technologies, and learning about design and interface aesthetics at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation. Ursula plans to graduate in 2018 with a Ph.D. in New Media & Music.