The Biava Quartet is recognized as one of today's most exciting and accomplished young American string quartets. Winner of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award and top prizes at the Premio Borciani and London International Competitions, the Quartet has established an enthusiastic following in the United States and abroad, impressing audiences with its sensitive artistry and communicative powers. Formed in 1998 at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Quartet takes its name from Maestro Luis Biava, a mentor since its inception.
The members of the Biava Quartet have most recently held the Lisa Arnhold Quartet Residency at the Juilliard School, serving as graduate quartet in residence and teaching assistants to the Juilliard Quartet. The Quartet served in the same position with the Tokyo Quartet at Yale University and was the first ensemble to complete the Training Program in the Art of the String Quartet at the New England Conservatory under the direction of Paul Katz.
The Biava Quartet has performed to acclaim in important venues throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, including Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, and the Baroque Art Hall in Seoul. Other highlights from recent seasons include appearances at the Mostly Mozart, Rockport, Kingston and Aspen Music Festivals, Chautauqua Institution, and Pacific Music Festival in Japan.
Hyunsu Ko, Violin
Violinist Hyunsu Ko began her violin studies at the age of four in her native South Korea. While in Korea, Ms. Ko won numerous musical awards, including the grand prize at the Jeju-Korea Broadcasting System Music Competition; first prize at the Chosun Newspaper Music Competition; second prize at the Ewha Kyounghyang Music Competition; and the gold medal prize at the Hankook Newspaper Music Competition. She was also awarded the grand prize at the Ahn Ik-Tae Music Competition, named in honor of the composer of the Korean national anthem, resulting in her debut performance with the Seoul City Philharmonic Orchestra at the Sejong Music Hall. In January, 2006, Ms. Ko performed at the Seoul Arts Center as a soloist with the Korean Symphony Orchestra in the Bartok Symphonic Series performing the Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2. Ms. Ko has performed concertos with the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra, Jeju City Symphony Orchestra, the Korea Chamber Ensemble, New Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Seoul Arts High School Orchestra.
Mary Persin, Viola
Mary Persin, founding member and violist of the Biava Quartet, has distinguished herself with performances throughout the United States and abroad. A native of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Ms. Persin is a recent Artist Diploma recipient and graduate of Yale University, where she also served as a teaching assistant to the Tokyo Quartet.
Ms. Persin has received numerous awards and was featured in a live radio broadcast on the Performance Pittsburgh Series as winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society Major Auditions. She was the winner of the Duquesne University, Westmoreland Symphony, and Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Concerto Competitions, as well as the PADESTA Solo Competition and Duquesne Young Artist Competition. Ms. Persin made her solo debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Heinz Hall in 1997. In addition, she has also appeared with the Pittsburgh and Westmoreland Youth Symphonies and was recently invited to perform as soloist with the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, performing Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in collaboration with Austin Hartman. Highlights of the 2008-2009 season include masterclasses and performances in Tianjin and Beijing, China as well as a debut with the Erie Philharmonic in Strauss’s Don Quixote. Among her engagements this season is an appearance on opening night with the Asheville Symphony and cellist Zuill Bailey in Strauss’ Don Quixote.
Gwendolyn Krosnick, Cello
Cellist Gwendolyn Krosnick, of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, is the newest member of the Biava Quartet. Ms. Krosnick has given frequent solo recitals in New York and Ohio, most recently including unaccompanied cello recitals exploring the connections between the suites of J.S. Bach and contemporary American solo music for cello, such as works of Shulamit Ran, Elliott Carter, and Richard Wernick. As a baroque cellist, she participated in a residency at Juilliard with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants. Ms. Krosnick was the recipient of the Cleveland Cello Society’s Agnew Bach Prize, and has studied historical performance with David Breitman. She has appeared in European music festivals such as the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove and the Cello Masterclasses in Kronberg, Germany, where she has worked with Ralph Kirshbaum and Gary Hoffman.
Mary Boodell, Flute and Baroque Flute
As Principal flutist of the Richmond Symphony, Mary Boodell has won acclaim not only for her orchestral playing but also for her numerous chamber music performances as well. Praised for her "lovely tone, excellent technique and seamless phrasing," she is equally at home in baroque and contemporary music. Ms. Boodell has performed at festivals across the US and Europe, including at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl, the Eastern Music Festival, and the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. In Richmond, she has founded two chamber groups—the Quadrivium Players at the VA Museum of Fine Arts (in residence at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts 1999-2001) and a current ensemble in residence at Westminster Canterbury—and has performed frequently in both the Richmond Chamber Player’s August Interlude series and the Richmond Festival of Music. She has collaborated with esteemed artists such as the Shanghai Quartet, Jaime Laredo, and Yolanda Kondanassis. Born in Chicago, Ms. Boodell received her Bachelor of Music at the Oberlin Conservatory and her Master of Music at Northwestern University. A longtime passion for the baroque flute brought her back to Oberlin (summer 2006) for studies with Sandra Miller and Michael Lynn at the Baroque Performance Institute and subsequently solo engagements at the Staunton Music Festival.
Gabriel Dobner, piano
Pianist Gabriel Dobner first appeared in concert in Europe in 1991 as part of a chamber music festival with various members of the Villa Musica Chamber Music Ensemble based in Mainz, Germany. 1993 marked the beginning of his eight years in Germany, after having been awarded a German Academic Exchange Scholarship (DAAD) to study lied accompanying in Munich with Professor Helmut Deutsch. The following year he won the special accompanist prize in the International Hans Pfitzner Lieder Competition in Munich. While living in Augsburg, Mr. Dobner quickly established himself as one of Germany’s most sought after collaborative pianists, and he subsequently performed in many of the major concert venues in Europe, including Munich, Dresden, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Cologne, Vienna and Zürich. Gabriel Dobner has recorded for both the Ottavo and MDG labels.
His first recording for MDG, consisting of songs of Liszt, Dvorák and Mahler with Cornelia Kallisch, won high praise from BBC Music Magazine, Fono Forum and the West German Radio in Cologne, who referred to him as a “master among Lieder pianists”. In addition to CD recordings, he has recorded for the Bayrischer Rundfunk, Südwestfunk, Westdeutscher Rundfunk Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, Chubo-Nippon Broadcasting Company in Japan and Saint Paul Sunday.
Gabriel Dobner joined the faculty at James Madison University in the fall of 2001. Previous teaching engagements include Indiana University and the Nürnberg/Augsburg Hochschule für Musik in Germany.
Lily Francis, Violin and Viola
Lily Francis is a dynamic, diverse and compelling young artist, sought after both as a violinist and violist. As a member of Chamber Music Society Two, the residency program for distinguished young artists, she regularly performs at Lincoln Center, and other prestigious New York venues. Ms. Francis has given numerous recitals around the U.S. including New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago. She has performed as soloist with the Hartford Symphony, the Connecticut Virtuosi, and the New Britain Symphony, among others, and has collaborated with many of the great artists of our time, such as David Finckel, Ani Kavafian, Ida Kavafian, Kim Kashkashian, Anton Kuerti, Paul Neubauer, Arnold Steinhardt, and Mitsuko Uchida. Her festival appearances include OK MOZART, Caramoor Rising Stars and Virtuosi, Music From Angel Fire, as well as the Bridgehampton, Santa Fe, Seattle, and Eastern Shore Chamber Music Festivals. She has been featured on several Musicians from Marlboro tours. Ms. Francis is the violist of the Vertigo String Quartet, which has performed in the USA, Austria, and Italy. A graduate of the Curtis Institute and New England Conservatory, Ms. Francis studied with Joseph Silverstein and Miriam Fried. Other teachers have included Philip Setzer, Brian Lewis, and Teri Einfeldt, and Steve Tenenbom.
Erin Keefe, Violin and Viola
Winner of the 2006 Avery Fisher Career Grant, American violinist Erin Keefe is quickly establishing a reputation and earning praise as a compelling artist who combines exhilarating temperament and fierce integrity. A top prize winner of several International Competitions, she recently took the Grand Prizes in the 2007 Torun International Violin Competition (Poland), the 2006 Schadt Competition and the Corpus Christi International String Competition, and was the Silver Medalist in the Carl Nielsen, Sendai (Japan) and Gyeongnam (Korea) International Violin Competitions, resulting in performances and immediate re-engagements in the US, Europe and Asia.
Ms. Keefe has appeared in recent seasons with orchestras such as the New Mexico Symphony, the New York City Ballet Orchestra, the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, the Allentown Symphony, the Sendai Philharmonic, the Suwon Philharmonic, the Torun Symphony Orchestra and the Odense Symphony Orchestra and has given recitals in the United States, Austria, Germany, Korea, Poland, Japan and Denmark. During the 2008-09 season, she will make her concerto and recital debuts in cities throughout Poland, Germany and Japan.
Ms. Keefe has collaborated with many leading artists of today including the Emerson String Quartet, Roberto and Andres Diaz, Edgar Meyer, Gary Graffman, Richard Goode, David Soyer, Colin Carr, Menahem Pressler, Leon Fleisher and William Preucil. She also performed on a program with Michael Tilson Thomas premiering his own chamber music at Carnegie's Zankel Hall. Her recording credits include Schoenberg's Second String Quartet with Ida Kavafian, Paul Neubauer, Fred Sherry, and Jennifer Welch-Babidge for Robert Craft and the Naxos Label, recordings of the Dvorak Terzetto and the Dvorak Piano Quartet in E-flat with David Finckel and Wu Han for the CMS Studio Recording label as well as live performances of the Bartok Contrasts, Dvorak Piano Quintet, and Mozart E-flat Piano Quartet recorded for Deutsche Gramophone. Ms. Keefe’s festival appearances have included the Marlboro Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Music from Angel Fire, Ravinia and the Seattle, OK Mozart, Mimir, Music in the Vineyards and Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festivals.
As a member of Lincoln Center's prestigious Chamber Music Society Two program for the 2006-09 seasons, Ms. Keefe will appear in numerous programs at Lincoln Center as well as on tour throughout the US. In January of 2008 she and other artist members were featured on “Live from Lincoln Center” playing Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht. She has performed with the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society and appears regularly with the Boston Chamber Music Society.
Ms. Keefe earned a Master of Music Degree from The Juilliard School and a Bachelor of Music Degree from The Curtis Institute. Her teachers included Ronald Copes, Ida Kavafian, Arnold Steinhardt, Philip Setzer, Philipp Naegele and Teri Einfeldt.
Ulysses Kirksey, Baroque Cello and Viola da Gamba
A native of Richmond, Ulysses Kirksey Kirksey is an active soloist and ensemble player on three instruments—the modern cello, the Baroque cello, and the viola da gamba. He performs regularly with the Orchestra of the 17th Century (Washington, D. C.), the Centenary Classics Series (Richmond), the Rockefeller Memorial Concerts (Williamsburg), and the Norfolk Consort. Kirksey is a member of the Viola da Gamba Society of America. He earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees as a cello major at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. Kirksey’s early experiences as a cellist include having served as Principal Cello with the Symphony of the New World (with concerts at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and the Kennedy Center) and Assistant Principal Cello with the New York Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra. This latter position took him on concert tours of Spain, Amsterdam, Berlin, and London. During the mid-to-late 1970s, he performed for Broadway shows and with the orchestras for both the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. He was also involved in numerous recordings with popular, jazz, and classical artists in New York. He also taught string ensemble and cello classes at Ferrwood Music Camp in Drums, Pennsylvania.
Kirksey was co-founder and music director of the String Reunion Chamber Orchestra in New York, giving concerts at Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Halls. He also guest conducted the Hazelton Philharmonic (Pennsylvania), the Ferrwood Festival Chamber Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of the Falls (Tiffany Falls Music Camp in Scranton, Pennsylvania), and Wilkes College Concerto Concerts (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania).
After conducting and playing in ensembles in both the United States and Europe, Kirksey returned to Richmond in 1979 and became a member of the Richmond Chamber Players. He joined the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra in 1980 and became assistant conductor in 1986. He was appointed conductor of the Petersburg Symphony in 1989, succeeding the late Dr. F. Nathaniel Gatlin.
Anthony Manzo, Bass
As a sought-after chamber musician, Anthony Manzo wishes his double bass was eligible for its own frequent flier account. He lives in Washington, DC, where he is a regular guest with the National Symphony and the Smithsonian Chamber Players as well as on the chamber music faculty of the National Orchestral Institute, and commutes westward for his position as Solo Bassist of San Francisco’s New Century Chamber Orchestra. In addition he spends much time hopping between chamber music festivals such as Spoleto and the Garth Newel Music Center. Recent chamber music collaborators include Menahem Pressler, the St. Lawrence Quartet, and the Auryn Quartet. Mr. Manzo is also an active performer on period instruments, with groups such as Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society, Chicago’s Baroque Band, and Opera Lafayette, and occasionally still returns to play in Europe, where for many years he was Solo Bassist with the Munich Chamber Orchestra. Following his studies at Boston University, Mr. Manzo played in the New World Symphony in Miami before moving to Norway to play with the Bergen Philharmonic. A year later he joined the Munich Chamber Orchestra, with whom he spent the next 7 years performing, recording, and touring around the world.
Christina Day Martinson, Baroque Violin
Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, Christina Day Martinson has twice been a National Finalist and prize-winner in the Canadian Music Competition. She has performed solo concertos with Boston Baroque, Tempesta di Mare, the UNICAMP Symphony Orchestra in Brazil, the NEC Bach Ensemble and the Symphony Orkest Mozart in Amsterdam. She is the recipient of the Netherland-America Foundation Grant and Frank Huntington Beebe Award. Ms. Martinson serves as one of the concertmasters for Boston Baroque, is a tenured member of the Handel and Haydn Society and recently served as concertmaster under Sir Roger Norrington. She was principal second violin of Philadelphia's baroque orchestra Tempeste di Mare from 2003-06 and is also a member of the award-winning chamber ensemble Musicians of the Old Post Road. Ms. Martinson has been featured twice on WGBH radio's "Classics in the Morning" with Cathy Fuller, performing Heinrich Biber's Mystery Sonatas with harpsichordist Martin Pearlman. She has given chamber music recitals in Jordan Hall as well as a nationally televised chamber concert in Japan's Ishihara Hall in June 2006. In March 2008, Ms. Martinson performed all of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos with Joshua Rifkin's Bach Ensemble at the Turingen Bachwonen Festival in Germany. She peformed Vivaldi's Four Seasons with Boston Baroque this season and recently recorded this masterwork with Boston Baroque for Telarc Records.
Carsten Schmidt, Piano and Harpsichord
Carsten Schmidt has appeared extensively in concerts throughout Europe, Japan, and North America. The Chicago Tribune has described him as a “musician with an impressive technical ability, combined with a striking interpretive intelligence.” The Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung has praised “his virtuosity, emotionality and musical intelligence, which culminated in a performance of highest intensity.”
He has been heard in many important venues including the Ravinia Festival, the International Schubert Festival in Amsterdam, Kennedy Center, Merkin Hall in NYC, German Mozart Festival, and the Peter the Great Festival in Moscow. His performances have been broadcast on radio stations around the world, including the Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Dutch Concertsender, NPR, and All-Russian Radio. Active both as a pianist and harpsichordist, he has an unusually broad repertoire ranging from the early Baroque to new works. He has a keen interest in new music, and has premiered more than a hundred works.
Since 2004 he has also been increasingly active as a conductor. He has led several productions of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and the first staged US performance of Handel’s Hercules. In 2009 he will conduct Handel’s Theodora in a period instrument production at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virgina, and several programs of concertos at the Kuhmo Festival in Finland.
Carsten Schmidt graduated with distinction from the Folkwang Institute in Germany, and continued his piano and conducting studies at Indiana University, where he received the Artist Diploma. His doctorate is from Yale University. Among his principal piano teachers were Claude Frank and Leonard Hokanson, and he studied harpsichord with Richard Rephann. From 1992-95 he taught at Indiana University, and since 1998 he has been Professor of Music at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where he teaches piano, harpsichord, music analysis and interdisciplinary studies. He also directs the Staunton Music Festival (www.StauntonMusicFestival.com).
Molly Sharp, Viola
Molly Sharp is the Principal Violist of the Richmond Symphony and has played with the Richmond Symphony since 1993. In addition to playing in Richmond, she has played with the Nashville Symphony, Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra, and the Cascade Music Festival in Bend, Oregon. Ms. Sharp received a Bachelor’s Degree from Vanderbilt University/Blair School of Music, studying with Kathryn Plummer. She received her Master’s Degree in 1992 from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Heidi Castleman and apprenticed with the Cavanni Quartet. Chamber music studies have included summers at the Taos School of Music and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival-Yale Summer School of Music. Ms. Sharp is a member of the Oberon String Quartet, which is in residence at St. Catherine’s School in Richmond. In addition to playing the viola, she also plays fiddle with the Trevillian Ramblers.
Roger Tapping, Viola
Violist Roger Tapping was a member of the Takács Quartet for ten years from 1995, during which time their international career included Beethoven cycles in New York, Paris, London, Sydney, Cleveland and Los Angeles, and Bartok cycles in New York, London, Madrid, Tokyo (for TV), Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. Their recordings for Decca/London, including the complete quartets of Bartok and Beethoven, have won three Gramophone Awards, a Grammy and three more Grammy nominations, three Japan Record Academy Chamber Music Awards, the BBC Music Disc of the Year Award, and the Classical Brits Award for Ensemble Album of the Year. As a member of the Quartet, Tapping taught regularly at the Aspen Festival, the Taos Quartet School, and the Guildhall School of Music.
In London, Tapping played in a number of Britain's leading chamber ensembles, making several highly acclaimed CDs, and toured for the British Council in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Mexico, before joining Britain's longest established quartet, the Allegri Quartet, with whom he played from 1989 to 1995. He taught at the Royal Academy of Music in London, was principal viola of the London Mozart Players, and was a member of the English Chamber Orchestra. He was a founding member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and a frequent participant in Sandor Végh's International Musicians' Seminar in Cornwall, England.
Tapping gives classes at major schools in America, in addition to those where he is on faculty. Current summer festivals include Banff Viola Master Classes, the Yellow Barn Festival, the Perlman Chamber Music Workshop, and the Tanglewood String Quartet Seminar. He performs as a recitalist, a concerto soloist, and a chamber musician, playing regularly as a soloist on WGBH, and making frequent guest appearances with quartets from the U.S. and Europe. He is an Artist Member of the Boston Chamber Music Society, was a jury member and recitalist at the 2006 Tertis International Viola Competition, and was on the jury of the 2009 London String Quartet Competition.
Tapping is a member of the Order of the Knight Cross of the Hungarian Republic, holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Nottingham, and is a fellow of the Guildhall School of Music in London.
James Wilson, Baroque and Modern Cello
For the past fifteen years, cellist James Wilson has consistently performed to the delight of audiences throughout the world. As recitalist and chamber musician, he has performed at music festivals such as the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the City of London Festival, the Deutches Mozartfest in Bavaria, the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York and the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. At home in New York City, he performs regularly with many groups including the Music of the Spheres Society, Music from Copland House, the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, with which he has also served as principal cellist. He is a member of the Dodd string quartet, one of the few ensembles of its kind to perform on period instruments. He has also been a member of the Shanghai and Chester String Quartets, touring extensively worldwide with both groups. A devoted advocate for the arts and arts education, Mr. Wilson currently teaches cello and chamber music at Columbia University, having has also served on the faculties of the University of Richmond, and Virginia Commonwealth University. As the Artistic Director of the Richmond Festival of Music, he has co-ordinated performances and out-reach activities throughout the Central Virginia area for the past three years.