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Current Roster Artist Biographies

Claire Bryant (cello) Claire Bryant, Cello

A native of South Carolina, cellist Claire Bryant enjoys an active and diverse career in New York City as a performer of chamber music, contemporary music, and the solo cello repertoire. She is equally passionate about and committed to her work as an educator and advocate for the inclusion of the arts in communities and society.

In 2006, Claire was the first cellist selected by The Academy—a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and The Weill Music Institute—that encompasses performance, teaching, and community engagement. In the upcoming 2009–2010 season, Claire is launching a new chamber music series and residency in her hometown of Camden, South Carolina, in addition to a new ensemble called Enescu Chamber Players. Claire performs regularly with a variety of ensembles, including Ensemble ACJW, Continuum Ensemble, Second Instrumental Unit, and Vision Into Art.

Sam Hillmer Sam Hillmer

"An invaluable unifying force in the local avant-garde" (Time Out New York), Sam Hillmer's work as a musician, composer, educator, and curator spans the disparate worlds of art rock, contemporary classical, underground hip-hop, and free improvisation. Co-founder of the band / chamber ensemble Zs, Sam has had the privilege of performing with The Locust, Gang Gang Dance, Animal Collective, Battles, Dirty Projectors, Orthrelm, The Flying Luttenbachers, Behold ... The Arctopus, Yellow Swans, Dan Deacon, Extra Life, and many others.

As a member of Zs, Sam has toured the US extensively. He has also appeared at the Ostrava Center for New Music (Ostrava, Czech Republic), the Open Ears Festival (Kitchener, Ontario), and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Sam also produces the youth hip-hop recording series Representing NYC.

David T. Little David T. Little

Hailed as a "grand-scale thinker" by New Jersey's Star-Ledger, composer David T. Little writes music that "completely gripped" New Yorker critic Alex Ross: "Every bad-ass new music ensemble in the city will want to play him." David has performed in such cities as Dresden, Edinburgh, Boston, Los Angeles, and Montreal, and at the Tanglewood, Aspen, MATA, and Cabrillo festivals. His work fuses classical and popular idioms to dramatic effect. Recent works have been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the New World Symphony, and the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming projects include the opera Dog Days with librettist Royce Vavrek; new works for violist Nadia Sirota, pianist Kathleen Supové, cellist Brian Snow, and Third Coast Percussion; and performances by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop. David is the founder, artistic director, and drummer for the rock band and new music ensemble Newspeak.

Bridget Kibbey (harp) and Joseph Brent (mandolin) Bridget Kibbey, Harp
Joseph Brent, Mandolin

With instruments present in both classical and folk traditions, harpist Bridget Kibbey and mandolinist Joseph Brent share their love of plucked strings in works by classical composers, as well as bluegrass, tango, jazz, contemporary classical, and even rock. Bridget trained at The Juilliard School and maintains a classical recital and chamber music career. Joseph trained at the Berklee College of Music and has performed as a jazz mandolinist with artists who include Ravi Coltrane and Stephane Grappelli. Working together, they draw each other into new musical territory.

The Kibbey-Brent duo has shared its unique blending of folk and classical styles with audiences in many diverse venues, including New York City's Le Poisson Rouge and Brooklyn's Barbes.

Jeremy Thal and Chris Marianetti Jeremy Thal and Chris Marianetti

Jeremy Thal is a horn player, composer, and educator. He studied horn, ethnomusicology, and Chinese at Northwestern University, and has since played in orchestras, chamber ensembles, and jazz groups in China, Mexico, and the US. He recently recorded and toured with indie-rock band The National. As a composer and producer, Christopher Marianetti has worked in theater, radio, film, and the concert hall. His recent collaboration, A Novel in the Form of a Car Bomb (an experimental radio play with a vehicular orchestra of eight cars and a live chorus), premiered in May 2009 at Industry City. Chris studied composition at the Accademia in Milan and received his master's from Brooklyn College.

In 2007, Chris and Jeremy co-founded Young Producers Project (YPP), a mobile production team focused on education with a hands-on, experiential, listening-centered approach. The following year, YPP received sponsorship from Bang on a Can and German software company Ableton.

Camille Zamora (soprano) and Cem Duruöz (guitar) Camille Zamora, Soprano
Cem Duruöz, Guitar

"A singer blessed with intense communicative ability who blazes with passion" (Opera Magazine), soprano Camille Zamora balances a vibrant career of opera, recital, and concert performances. Turkish-born guitarist Cem Duruöz is celebrated as an "extraordinarily gifted player" (Classical Guitar), and is a multifaceted musician whose flawless technique, depth of color, and long flowing lines have attracted the praise of critics and audiences alike. Camille's recent highlights include Despina (Così fan tutte) at Glimmerglass Opera, and Rosita to Plácido Domingo's Vidal in the grand Luisa Fernanda at Los Angeles Opera. Her performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio, BBC, and Deutsche Radio Berlin. Camille is the Founding Director of Sing for Hope, a charitable organization that has raised over $4 million for HIV/AIDS charities over the last decade. Camille and Cem have performed throughout the Americas and Europe, and are graduates of The Juilliard School.

Don Wallace Trio Doc Wallace Trio
Texas Fiddle and Guitars

Texas-style contest fiddling is best described as a fusion between traditional old-time fiddling and early jazz. The style emerged during the 1920s and '30s when Texas fiddlers took it upon themselves to "improve" the tunes they heard at dance halls, on the radio, and on records. Towns would frequently hold contests where fiddlers came from miles away to flaunt their talents, compete for prizes, and jam until sunrise. Once the festivities were over, fiddlers would return home to practice on front porches and in kitchens until the next contest came around.

David "Doc" Wallace (fiddle), Daniel Levy (guitar), and Dana Scofidio (electric guitar) bring this rollicking, virtuosic music out of the tin-roofed pavilions and rodeo grandstands of Texas, giving a New York City spin.

Lascivious Biddies Lascivious Biddies

"Manhattan's hippest girl group."—Washington Post

The Lascivious Biddies' irrepressible, genre-defying sound has earned them an avid following-not just in their native New York, but throughout the United States and beyond. Blending jazz, pop, and cabaret with soaring harmonies, this all female "cocktail pop" trio has earned a reputation for expert musicianship and sharp wit mixed with a dash of sentimentality. They have performed their energetic and tightly woven show in some of the nation's hottest venues, from the Kennedy Center to Birdland. They have appeared on the Food Network, the Discovery Channel, and Fuse TV, and their music has been featured on NPR, the BBC, and numerous other stations across the US.

The Biddies are Deidre Rodman Struck, Lee Ann Westover, and Saskia Lane.

Falu Falu Shah
Classical and Traditional Indian Music

Embracing her roots and musical culture, Falu Shah's performances feature classical and traditional Indian music. She has performed solo concerts at classical music venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as concerts with her band at venues that include the Highline and Bowery ballrooms. Falu's live performances have been featured nationally on FOX Television and internationally on the National Geographic Channel, while her voice has been captured in multiple films, including Angelina Jolie's directorial debut A Place in Time.

One of Falu's recent performances was at the Time 100 Gala, where she was invited to perform a duet with Slumdog Millionaire composer A. R. Rahman in front of Time magazine's selection of the 100 most influential people of 2008, which included First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

Emeline Michel Emeline Michel
Haitian Song

Hailed as the "Joni Mitchell of Haiti," Emeline Michel has emerged as the reigning queen of Haitian song. Her songs merge native Haitian compas and rara with jazz, pop, bossa nova, and samba. A captivating performer, versatile vocalist, accomplished dancer, songwriter, and producer, Emeline sings in French and Haitian Creole, and her worldwide concerts and seven CDs have catapulted her to international acclaim.

Charlie Porter Charlie Porter Quartet

Since trumpeter Charlie Porter formed his quartet in 2005, the group has been steadily forging a strong reputation on the international jazz circuit and in NYC venues, including Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club. Charlie received his training at The Juilliard School and the Conservatoire de Paris, and was the first to win the National Trumpet Competition in both the jazz and classical divisions. As a composer, he has been commissioned by Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and has worked with noted musicians such as Paquito D'Rivera and Joe Zawinul.

In 2007, the Charlie Porter Quartet was one of six groups chosen by Jazz at Lincoln Center to act as international Jazz Ambassadors, touring Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, and Cameroon.

The other highly acclaimed members of the quartet are Adam Birnbaum, piano; Joseph Lepore, bass; and Quincy Davis, drums.

Folklore Urbano Pablo Mayor—Folklore Urbano Quintet

Folklore Urbano has redefined modern Colombian music. Directed by renowned writer, pianist, and Colombian visionary Pablo Mayor—known for his "amazing way of synthesizing jazz with Colombian folkloric music, taking Latin music to an entirely new dimension" (Latin Beat Magazine), this dynamic quintet presents the entire spectrum of Colombian music from cumbia, vallenato, and joropo, to bambuco and currulao. The group harnesses the swing of traditional Colombian folkloric rhythms in an intimate format that showcases its five internationally renowned artists. Co-directed by flutist Anna Povich de Mayor, who "brings not only the expected brilliant technique and rich variety of tone colors ... but a stylish verve" (Spokesman Review), the Folklore Urbano Quintet also features Colombian folklorist Ronald Polo on gaita flute, Colombian percussion, and vocals; Andean guitar specialist Alejandro Flórez on tiple, bandola, and guitar; and Gustavo "Chacho" Schartz on bass.

Joanne Lowry Jo Lawry Quintet

"With perfect intonation and the swinging feel of an instrumental soloist, Lawry injected fresh life into every piece, using perfectly timed, expressive phrasing, and some smart scat."—Sunday Mail

Rarely does a singer come along who meets virtuosity with sensitivity. Australian vocalist Jo Lawry tests the limits of technical facility and explores the furthest reaches of musical expression. Her music, steeped in the jazz tradition without being constrained by its traditional forms and functions, demonstrates a unique combination of maturity and inventiveness. Career highlights include performances with the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Sting, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Ben Monder, and Bobby McFerrin.

Sospiro Sospiro Winds
Wind Ensemble

Hailed as a "superb ensemble" by New Music Connoisseur, Sospiro Winds is quickly establishing itself as an exciting new force on the chamber music scene. Originally formed in 2004, the ensemble began performing while at the Yale School of Music. Since then, Sospiro has continued its efforts to bring the wind quintet repertoire to diverse audiences throughout the US, winning many awards, promoting new repertoire for the wind quintet, and enjoying a busy performance calendar including a recital at Carnegie Hall.

Sospiro Winds comprises Kelli Kathman, flute; James Austin Smith, oboe; Romie de Guise-Langlois, clarinet; Adrian Morejon, bassoon; and Alana Vegter, horn.

Toomai Toomai String Quintet

The Toomai String Quintet is an ensemble devoted to performing classical and contemporary repertoire while also exploring and arranging music from around the world. Winner of the 92nd Street Y's 2007 Music Unlocked! Competition, the quintet has appeared in chamber series at Lincoln Center and Kaufmann Concert Hall, as well as in clubs, public schools, hospitals, and community centers throughout the NYC area.

Formed in 2007 at The Juilliard School, the quintet is named after Rudyard Kipling's short story "Toomai of the Elephants," about a young boy who follows his elephant into the jungle to witness the dance of the wild elephants. The Toomai String Quintet aspires to cultivate a similar sense of curiosity and discovery by searching for diverse music and sharing it with its audience.

The quintet is comprised of violinists Emilie-Anne Gendron and Amie Weiss, violist Erin Wight, cellist John Popham, and bassist Andrew Roitstein.

Fireworks Ensemble Fireworks Ensemble

"Finally labels did indeed cease to matter: This was just music, and it sounded like music to keep."—New York Times

Founded with the goal of creating an ensemble capable of representing the full scope of today's musical diversity, Fireworks Ensemble combines the talents of eight classically trained but musically omnivorous young virtuosos who pride themselves on being able to play just about anything. Their striking reinvention of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring was called "brilliant" by CD Baby and "brave, skillful, and refreshing" by the Berkshire Eagle. Other acclaimed programs include Dance Mix (featuring 700 years of dance music) and Cartoon (celebrating music inspired by and written for classic shorts from the golden age of animation), which they recorded for Koch International Classics. This season the ensemble will celebrate rock legend Lou Reed with a chamber ensemble version of his legendary album Metal Machine Music.

James Shipp and Nós Novo James Shipp and Nós Novo
Celtic/World Music

Nós Novo is a group of New York musicians who explore jigs, reels, sean-nós songs, and other styles of traditional Irish and UK folk music through improvisation. Blending this music with genres from other music cultures, they also re-imagine the works of North and South American (as well as European) composers and songwriters through the "lens" of Irish music. Simply put, this band experiments with making Björk, Bob Dylan, and Jacob Do Bandolim tunes sound Irish, and alternately making Irish music sound like it's from Brazil, Bahrain, or Brooklyn.

Slavic Soul Party Slavic Soul Party!
Balkan Funk

Fiery Balkan brass, throbbing grooves, accordion wizardry, and virtuoso jazz chops make Slavic Soul Party! New York City's official number-one brass band for Balkan soul and gypsy funk. Nine people strong, SSP! pumps a Balkan brass sound through the filter of life in New York's outer boroughs, making new music out of the unplanned results of immigration, proximity, and globalization.

Chris Washburne and the SYOTOS Band Chris Washburne and the SYOTOS Band
Latin Jazz

Chris Washburne and the SYOTOS Band pushes the genre of Latin jazz into uncharted waters with a postmodern mix that embraces dissonance, weaving contemporary up-tempo beats with a driving sound-or, as the New York Times states, "with fire with erudition." SYOTOS was founded 19 years ago and has become what Time Out New York calls a "Latin jazz institution." It has held the longest-running Latin jazz gig in the city's history, playing every week for 18 years. Several of the band's members are alumni from the Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri bands, and they continue in those leaders' footsteps, pushing the genre into the 21st century.