Lara Nie - Mezzo Soprano
Hailed as one of New York’s most “prominent German lied specialist” by New York Magazine and as “an intensely expressive artist” by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, mezzo-soprano, Lara Nie, is one of the most versatile and accomplished singers performing today. As an active orchestral soloist, chamber musician and recitalist, her performances are recognized for their passionate interpretation and sophisticated musicality.
She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2006 at Weill Recital Hall and has appeared in national and international recital, chamber and orchestral venues including the Ravinia Festival, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Munich’s Gasteig Hall, the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series, Merkin Concert Hall, the Washington Holocaust Museum Chamber Series, the Windermere Music Festival in Canada, the Edgar M. Bronfman Chamber Music Series, the Society for Ethical Culture, Sun Valley Summer Symphony and the Chicago Civic Orchestra among others.
She has worked with conductors including Christopher Eschenbach, David Gilbert, Alasdair Neale, and Michael Morgan. Ms. Nie has performed with pianists Jon Nakamatsu and Shai Wosner and has collaborated with musicians including members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony and the Washington National Orchestra among others.
Her appearances with “Trio Respiro”, of which she is the founding member, have garnered praise for their original and creative programming and for the beauty of their performances.
Equally at home on the opera stage, she has appeared with the Altenburger Musik Festival in Germany, Israel Vocal Arts, and the Kentro Musikis in Thessaloniki Greece in roles ranging from Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutti, Brecht and Weil’s “Street Scene” to the premiere of Saruya’s “The Pompeii Exhibit” at New York’s avant-garde theatre, The Kitchen.
Ms. Nie has recorded Mozart and Schubert lieder on the Silver Bay Label and has been heard live on Chicago’s WFMT, Florida Public Radio, Radio Free Europe and New York’s WQXR Artist Showcase with Robert Scherman.
Highlights of her past season include concerts at Cleveland’s Severance Hall, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s In Focus concert Series, The Kosciuszko Foundation’s Chamber Music Series in New York the Chagrin Valley Chamber Music Concert Series and Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, among others.
Hristo Popov - Violin
“Virtuoso-violinist extraordinaire” (Musical Horizons), Hristo Popov, brings tremendous experience to the concert stage. Popov made his orchestral debut at the age of nine and since then has performed throughout the United States and Europe as both recitalist and concerto soloist. His Carnegie Hall Debut was described by The Strad Magazine as “…rollicking and energetic.” Hristo Popov is a prizewinner at the Kozian International Violin Competition, Silver Medalist at the California Young Artist Competition, winner of the Grand Prize at the International Institute of Music (Germany, USA), first place at the American String Teachers' Association Chamber Music Competition.
He has performed and taught in major chamber music festivals throughout the world such as Oberlin at Casalmaggiore, Park City International Music Festival, Rondo Music Festival, Interharmony International Festival, among others. Popov has performed in major Performing Arts Centers including Carnegie hall – New York, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion - Los Angeles, Severance Hall - Cleveland, John F. Kennedy Center - Washington D.C, and Casa Verdi – Milan, Italy, Rudolfinum - Prague.
Popov performs music from the standard repertoire as well as significant works of the contemporary genre. American composer Thomas Janson has recently composed a number of works specifically for him. His performances have been documented on TV and radio stations in United States, Mexico, and Bulgaria and has recorded albums for TC Recordings and Bravante Records. He continues to receive rave reviews - as described recently by The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, “…the performance benefited from the elegant purity soloist Hristo Popov invested in every phrase. Popov traced the lyrical and vibrant lines (Mozart – Violin Concerto No. 5, Turkish) with unruffled assurance. He enabled the music to float where necessary and made easy work of the acrobatic demands.” He recently recorded Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with Sofia Sinfonietta after touring in Spain and Bulgaria, which is available at iTunes, amazon.com or your favorite online music store.
Keith Robinson - cello
Keith Robinson, a founding member of the Miami String Quartet, has been active as a chamber musician, recitalist, and soloist since his graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music. A member of the Thouvenel and Montani Quartets, he subsequently helped found the Miami Quartet in 1988, the same year they won the grand prize at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. The Quartet went on to garner prizes at the Evian, London, and, most recently, the Concert Artists Guild competition in New York, where they were the first quartet in ten years to win the first prize in that competition. Solo appearances with orchestra include the Palm Beach Symphony, The Midland-Odessa Symphony, The Miami Chamber Symphony, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. In 1989, Keith won the P.A.C.E."Classical Artist of the Year" award, which promoted him throughout South Florida as a recitalist. As a member of the Miami Quartet, he has appeared as a soloist with the American Sinfonietta, the New World Symphony and the Miami Chamber Symphony. He has recordings on the BMG, Pyramid, CRI, Klavier, Albany, Koch, Musical Heritage Society and Audiophon labels. Along with the other members of the Miami Quartet, he serves as an Artist-in-Residence at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. They are also Quartet-in-Residence at the Kent / Blossom Music Festival at Kent State University, as well as visiting guest artists at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford Connecticut.
Recent Festivals include Music@Menlo, Bravo! Vail Valley, Ravinia, Mostly Mozart, Music from Angel Fire, The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Summerfest in San Diego, Taos School of Music, Eastern Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, Strings in the Mountains, The Maui Chamber Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, and the Pensacola Chamber Music Festival. The Miami Quartet was recently appointed to the Chamber Music Two Program of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York City. Hailing from a musical family, his siblings include Sharon Robinson of the Kalichstien-Laredo-Robinson Trio, and Hal Robinson, principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Both of his parents were members of the Houston Symphony. Mr. Robinson plays a Giovanni Grancino cello dated 1690 made in Milan, Italy.
Eric Charnofsky - Piano
Eric Charnofsky is active as a collaborative pianist, composer, classroom music teacher, and lecturer. Originally from Los Angeles, he currently teaches 20th Century Music History and Keyboard Repertory at Case Western Reserve University, and formerly taught Symphonic Literature, Music Theory, and Collaborative Piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Mr. Charnofsky has performed as a collaborative pianist throughout North America, including concerts in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Cleveland, Chicago, Washington D.C., Connecticut, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Nashville, and Quebec City.
He has concertized with members of major American orchestras and has performed as an orchestral pianist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra, among others. A graduate of The Juilliard School where he majored in piano accompanying, Mr. Charnofsky also holds degrees in solo piano performance and composition from California State University, Northridge, where he received the Outstanding Bachelor’s Degree Graduate award. He has worked as a classical radio announcer, pre-concert lecturer, Associate Faculty member at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, a rehearsal pianist for Lyric Opera Cleveland, a convention accompanist for the National Flute Association, and he appears on recordings with trombonist JoDee Davis on the Albany label, and music by the Cleveland Composers Guild on the Capstone label. His compositions have been performed in several major U.S. cities, and he was recently named “Composer of the Year” for 2012 by the Ohio Music Teachers Association.
Yu Jin - Viola
Winner of many competitions, Ms. Jin won the first prize of the Washington International Competition, the Chicago Viola Society Solo Competition, the Ohio Viola Society Competition, the prize winner of the Primrose International Competition, the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, and the Corpus Christi International Competition. She has played in many venues and music festivals, including the Angel's fire, Aspen Music Festival, Bravo Vail music festival, Carniegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Marlboro Music Festival, Music@Menlo, and the 92nd street Y. Ms. Jin was invited to play on tour with musicians from Marlboro. She had her Washington debut presented by The Phillips Collection in 2006, and regularly performed recitals in China.
Ms. Jin has collaborated with James Conlon, members of Guarneri Quartet, Julliard Quartet, Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, Mendelssohn Quartet, Orion Quartet, and Cleveland Orchestra. She also was the principal viola of the Canton Symphony Orchestra, the City Music Cleveland, and the New York String Orchestra Seminar. As a teacher, she was invited to give master classes in the event of the Ohio Viola society, Toronto University, Beijing Central Conservatory of Music, and many music festivals throughout the United States and Mexico. In 2007, Ms Jin has joined the Miami String Quartet which is the resident quartet at the Kent State University and the visiting quartet at the Hartt School of Music. She studied viola with Jeffrey Irvine at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Duo Allant is a world-class flute and guitar ensemble. Kathryn Thomas Umble (flute) and Francois Fowler (guitar) are recognized for the high level of musicianship and artistry that they bring to each performance. Known for connecting with audiences, Duo Allant has received glowing accolades for their exciting programs. Duo Allant’s innovative repertoire spans over 400 years of music from Brazil, Japan, Canada, United States, Great Britain, Argentina, and France. In addition, they are enthusiastic exponents of new music and have premiered works composed for their duo.
Recent performances include the Ohio Cultural Alliance and Defiance Community Cultural Council Chamber Music Series, Cleveland Classical Guitar Society, Sunday Concert Series at Stambaugh Auditorium, Dayton Classical Guitar Society, Pittsburgh Music Academy, Faculty Artist Series at Youngstown State University, and Penn State University (Esber Hall).
In addition to concert performances, Duo Allant is committed to reaching out to the community and the next generation of young musicians through university master classes and high school presentations. Dr. Umble and Dr. Fowler are faculty members at the Dana School of Music, Youngstown State University.
Kathryn Thomas Umble has presented recitals in Europe and throughout the United States, including venues such as Alice Tully Hall and Symphony Space, New York, and the Milhaud Society at the Cleveland Institute of Music with members of the Cleveland Orchestra. She is Associate Professor of Flute at Youngstown State University. Umble was winner of the 2009 Pittsburgh Concert Society Major Auditions Competition and recently was guest artist in recital with the Aurista Ensemble in New York City. She also performed in recital at the 2009 National Flute Association Convention, was featured guest artist of the Pittsburgh Flute Club, and concerto soloist with the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, Youngstown State University Wind Ensemble at 2011 OMEA Conference, and the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra.
Dr. Umble holds degrees from the University of Michigan, Bowling Green State University, and Michigan State University and was awarded the Prix d’excellence for Outstanding Musicianship from the Fontainebleau School of Music, France, which she attended on full scholarship. Prior to teaching at Youngstown State University, she has served on the faculties of Bowling Green State University and Grove City College. In addition to performing principal flute with the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, Umble holds the piccolo position with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra and has performed principal flute with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra. She can be heard on the Naxos, Dana, GMMC, and Access Labels. Umble is a founding member of the flute and guitar duo, Duo Allant, with Francois Fowler.
Guitarist Francois Fowler has given recitals in the United States, Canada and Mexico, including concerts in Albany, Cleveland, Dayton, Denver, Grand Rapids, Hartford, Jekyll Island, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Montréal, Monterrey, Rochester, San Jose, Seattle, Spartanburg, Springfield, Syracuse, Tallahassee, Tampa, Tifton, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg. Fowler is the recipient of national and international prizes including the 2001 Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) International Guitar Competition. A faculty member at the Dana School of Music (Youngstown State University, Ohio), he maintains an active guitar studio and coaches guitar ensembles. Fowler obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Ottawa, Canada, where he studied with Ed Honeywell, and his Doctorate from Florida State University where he studied with Professor Bruce Holzman.
Francois performs on a Thomas Humphrey guitar with D’Addario Strings, his compositions and arrangements are published by Clear Note Publications, and his recordings are released by CBC records, Canadian Music Center, Clear Note, Novalis, and independently. His latest CD Sonata (ClearNote, 2010) features music by C.P.E. Bach, J.S. Bach, Agustin Barrios, Gregorio Huet, and Domenico Scarlatti. Fowler is also a founding member of the flute and guitar duo, Duo Allant, with Kathryn Thomas Umble. For more information please visit www.francoisfowler.com.
Dorota Sobieska - Soprano
Dorota Sobieska, soprano, sings a wide variety of repertoire. Among composers to whom she feels an especially close connection are Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi, as well as Mozart. In Cleveland, Sobieska has been noted for her rendition of six Bellini heroines: Amina, Elvira, Giulietta, Norma, Alaide, and Imogene. She has also appeared in the leading roles of eight Mozart operas, including Konstanze, Elisa, Zaide, Fiordiligi, Costanze, La Contessa, and the Queen of the Night—the last of which she performed in a fully-staged production on tour in Germany. In May of 2006, she sang Saïs, the leading soprano role in the world premiere of the opera Thamos, King of Egypt by Halim El-Dabh, which incorporates fragments of music by Mozart.
Sobieska is also an acclaimed recitalist, having performed in the United States, Poland, Canada, Bulgaria, and Germany. In April of 2007, she sang a joint recital at Carnegie Hall: Zankel Hall in a program that included world-renowned bass Dimitri Kavrakos, and in June 2009, she sang a solo recital of Donizetti’s arias with Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra in Bulgaria. Together with her husband Jacek Sobieski, she founded Opera Circle in Cleveland in 1995. Since its inception, the company has produced over 30 operas in Italian, German, Polish, French, and English, as well as numerous concerts. Opera Circle enjoys critical acclaim and rapport with its enthused audience. Sobieska stage directed many Opera Circle productions, and wrote very successful dialogues for Zaide, Thamos, King of Egypt, and Bastien und Bastienne. Sobieska holds a doctoral degree from Kent State University, with dissertation on poetry, music and philosophy of art.
Daniel Doty - Tenor
The Rev Mr. Daniel J. Doty serves as Senior Minister of Trinity United Church of Christ, Wadsworth, OH. Rev. Doty has served congregations in Illinois and Ohio. Dan has a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Bowling Green State University. He taught in two public school systems in Ohio before perceiving his call to ministry. Upon completing candidate studies, Dan attended Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL and earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1998. Ordained in The United Methodist Church in 1998, Dan completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Methodist Medical Center, Peoria, IL. Rev. Doty actively teaches in the areas of worship/liturgy and hymnody. He has served as the President of the Wadsworth Ministerial Association for the past four years. He has been a member of the Order of Saint Luke for 15 years and currently serves as the Prior of the East Ohio Chapter.
Daniel Doty is also a classically trained tenor who is equally at home on the opera, theatre or concert stage. He has appeared with the symphonies in Akron (OH), Mansfield (OH), Muncie (IN), Urbana (IL), Marion (OH), and community bands in Medina (OH), Mercer (PA), and Wadsworth (OH). Performances have found him in a variety of settings from church sanctuaries to concert halls, and at such locations as the Celle di Puccini (Puccini summer home) and Severance Hall. Daniel recently appeared with Opera Circle (Cleveland, OH) as Alfred in “Die Fledermaus”. Next up he will sing Bruno in “I Puritani” with Opera Circle. He will also appear with the Sounds of Sousa Band in Akron’s historic Civic theatre and as tenor soloist with the Marion Civic Orchestra in their 61st presentation of Handel’s “Messiah.” As participant of the Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca, Daniel spent six weeks in the Tuscan village of Lucca (Italy) singing operatic arias at various venues associated with Lucca's most famous son, Giacomo Puccini. Daniel has appeared in Master Classes with such Metropolitan Opera stars as Martina Arroyo and Angela Brown. A past Guest Artist with the Masterworks Festival, Daniel worked with David Geier, Assistant Conductor for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Rev. Doty lives in Wadsworth, Ohio with his wife Amy and their children Kristian, Sean, and Kaetlyn.
Brian Keith Johnson - Baritone
Brian Keith Johnson has performed many roles in opera from Figaro in il barbiere di Siviglia to Ford in Falstaff. As a member of Actors’ Equity Association, he has also performed a variety of musical theatre roles ranging from Jim in Big River and Joe in Show Boat to Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar and Father/God in Children of Eden. Operatic roles include Henry Box Brown and Frederick Douglass in Opera Columbus’ World Premiere of Leslie Burrs’ Vanqui; the Kaiser in Cleveland Public Theatre’s production of Viktor Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis; Masetto in Don Giovanni and Valentin in Faust with Cleveland Opera; Bellomy in The Fantasticks, Dewain in I Was Looking At The Ceiling and Then I Saw The Sky, Belcore in The Elixir of Love and Figaro in The Barber of Seville with Lyric Opera Cleveland; Figaro in il barbiere di Siviglia, Giovanni in Don Giovanni, Peter in Hansel und Gretel and Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with The Duke Symphony Orchestra; Crown in Porgy and Bess with The Beck Center; Crown in Porgy and Bess and Michele in Il Tabarro with Union Avenue Opera: Tonio in Pagliacci, Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Marcello in La Boheme and Sharpless in Madama Butterly with Opera Western Reserve and Germont in La Traviata with The Carolina Master Chorale.
This season, he will sing the role of Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte with The Duke Symphony Orchestra, Tonio in Pagliacci with The Bechstein Concert Series and Michele and Schicchi in Il Trittico with Dellarte’ Opera. Mr. Johnson’s concert performances include excerpts from Die Zauberflöte and La Cenerentola with The Cleveland Orchestra; Carmina Burana with both The San Jose Ballet and The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre; Porgy in Porgy and Bess, The Five Mystical Songs, The Bach Magnificat, Carmina Burana, The Messiah and The Brahms Requiem with The Akron Symphony Orchestra; The Fauré Requiem and Carmina Burana with The Youngstown Symphony Orchestra; The Bach Magnificat, Crown in Porgy and Bess, Carmina Burana, Adam in The Creation, Schlendrian in The Coffee Cantata and The Bonze, Yamadori and The Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly with The Canton Symphony Orchestra; Kirke Mechem’s Songs of the Slave from the opera John Brown with The Summit Choral Society; The Brahms Requiem, The Songs of Travel by Vaughan Williams and Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death with The Duke Symphony Orchestra; The Mozart Requiem, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Carmina Burana with The Ashland Symphony Orchestra; Carmina Burana and Elijah with The Suburban Symphony Orchestra; The Mozart C Minor Mass with The Dayton Bach Society; La Traviata and La Boheme with The New Opera Festival di Roma Orchestra in Rome, Italy; Elijah and The Verdi Requiem with The Warren Philharmonic Orchestra; La Boheme and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with The Missouri Symphony Orchestra and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with The Springfield Symphony Orchestra.
This season’s concert performances include and evening of Verdi and Puccini with The Akron Symphony Orchestra, The Porgy and Bess Suite with The Suburban Symphony, a concert of spirituals at Severance Hall, a concert dedicated to teachers with The Warren Philharmonic Orchestra and The Faure’ Requiem with The Western Reserve Chorale.
Emanuela Friscioni - Piano
Pianist Emanuela Friscioni began studying piano in Italy at age five and made her debut at the age nine. She received a diploma in piano performance from the"Giuseppe Verdi" Conservatory in Milan, with full marks, and went on to study with Annamaria Pennella. Other teachers have included Paul Badura-Skoda, Aldo Ciccolini and Bruno Canino. Ms. Friscioni has won many national and international first prizes, including those at the Tortona, Moneglia, Camaiore, Chieti, and Kawai Piano Competitions. She has performed throughout Italy, in Switzerland, France and other European countries.
She made her U.S. debut in July 2000 with Cleveland Orchestra violinist Gino Raffaelli. Since then, she has enjoyed a career that has seen her perform solo recitals, orchestral engagements and chamber music appearances. Among her collaborations, she played Schubert's Quintet Op.114"The Trout" with members of The Cleveland Orchestra and was again invited by Orchestra members in 2004 to play an all-Brahms program. Ms. Friscioni's recent performances have included Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto with the National Repertory Orchestra; Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the Canton Symphony; chamber music and solo performances at the Music in the Mountains festival; and Franck's Symphonic Variations with the Lakeside Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed recitals in California, New Mexico, New York and Ohio.
Her piano duets with her husband, pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi, have earned them many prizes and wonderful reviews. Ms. Friscioni is also an accomplished professor of piano, first in Italy, where many of her pupils have won prizes and scholarships, and now in the U.S. As a teacher and artistic director, she founded and manages the Classical Piano Performance Academy at Cuyahoga Community College. She was appointed to the CIM faculty in 2004.
Michael Gelfand - Conductor and Cellist
Michael Gelfand received his Bachelor of Music degree at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, and his Master of Music at the Cleveland Institute of Music in cello and conducting. His cello teachers have included Janos Starker, Fritz Magg, and Marion Feldman. He pursued doctoral studies in conducting at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, and at the Pierre Monteux School for Advanced Conductors. From 1980‐1990 he was Director of Orchestra, Opera and Musical Theater Productions at the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University.
Since 1975 he has been Professor of Music at Youngstown State University and Principal Cellist of the Youngstown Symphony and Warren Chamber Orchestra, and has performed concerts since 1990 as a member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra cello section. He is a former member of the Cleveland Orchestra, former principal cellist of the Syracuse Symphony, and member of the Cazenovia String Quartet. Gelfand is active as a guest soloist, conductor, adjudicator at many high schools, colleges, and music festivals throughout the United States. He was awarded the Distinguished Professor of Music Award at Youngstown State University in 1984, and was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in 1994.
Mr. Gelfand performs as a member of the Amici Trio in residence at Youngstown State University. In August 2002 Michael Gelfand was named Music Director/Conductor of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, in Greenville, PA. Gelfand was named Music Director/Conductor of the Ashtabula Area Orchestra in June 1992, and in that capacity has expanded its season which now includes subscription and pops concerts, as well as performances with the Ashtabula Arts Center Ballet, the Ashtabula County Choral Society, and the Youngstown Symphony Chorus.