Elizabeth Forsyth, Organ Symphony, April 22, 2017
A native of San Francisco, Elizabeth Forsyth first studied organ with Esther Johnson of Berkeley, CA. She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in organ performance from Brigham Young University where she studied with Robert Cundick and J.J. Keeler. She is a past winner of the American Guild of Organists, San Francisco Chapter, student competition. Currently serving as Sub-Dean of the San Francisco Chapter of the AGO, she has served on the Executive Committees of both the San Francisco and the Philadelphia chapters and has chaired committees on Long Range Planning and The Young Organist. Serving in church music for over 40 years, she is currently the organist at First Congregational Church of Berkeley. A past guest organist at the Salt Lake Tabernacle, she has given recitals throughout the Bay Area and the greater Philadelphia area. Elizabeth teaches both piano and organ students and delights in getting her teenage piano students over to the organ bench. Each August she can be found presenting classes and workshops at the BYU Organ Workshop. She is the proud mother of four sons and grandmother of eight.
Jessica Linnebach, Russian Romance, February 18, 2017
Violinist Jessica Linnebach has distinguished herself among the next generation of Canadian classical artists being lauded on concert stages nationally and around the world. Since her soloist debut at the age of seven, Jessica has appeared with major orchestras throughout North America, Europe and Asia. A highlight of her career to date was a tour of the Middle East and Europe as guest soloist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra under Pinchas Zukerman. Jessica has been a member of the first violin section of the National Arts Centre Orchestra since 2003 and was named their Associate Concertmaster in April 2010.
Acknowledging the importance of versatility in today’s world, Jessica is fast developing a reputation as one of those rare artists who is successfully building a multi-faceted career that encompasses solo, chamber and orchestral performances. A passionate chamber musician, Jessica is a founding member of the Zukerman Chamber Players, a string quintet led by Pinchas Zukerman. Since the ensemble’s inception in 2003, it has toured extensively to international acclaim appearing throughout North America, South America the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Its recording of the Mozart Viola Quintet in G minor was nominated for a Juno Award in 2004 and its fifth and latest release, quintets by Mozart and Dvorak, was released in early 2008 on the Altara Label.
Jessica has also collaborated with some of the most illustrious artists of our day, including Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Leon Fleisher, Joseph Kalichstein, Gary Graffman, Gary Hoffman, Lynn Harrell, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, and Michael Tree.
Accepted to the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at the age of ten, Jessica remains one of the youngest ever Bachelor of Music graduates in the history of the school. While there, Jessica’s primary teachers were Aaron Rosand, Jaime Laredo and Ida Kavafian. At eighteen, she received her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City where she studied with Pinchas Zukerman and Patinka Kopec.
Jessica Linnebach plays a circa 1840 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume (Guarnerius del Gésu 1737) violin.
Alexandra Schenck, Holiday Cheer – December 3 and 4, 2016
Mezzo soprano Alexandra Schenck is from Southern California and is a recent graduate of the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. Recent engagements include her debut with the Macau Music Festival as Siebel in Gounod’s Faust, Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with the Aspen Music Festival, Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte with Oberlin in Italy, and the Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors for Intimate Opera of Pasadena.
This season she made her role debuts as Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther and Ciesca in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi for AVA. Additional roles at AVA have included Siebel in Gounod’s Faust, Zulma in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, Lorina in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Dulcinée in Massenet’s Don Quichotte, and Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte.
This summer Alexandra will reprise the role of Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte at the world renowned Merola Opera Program in San Fransisco.
Prior to entering AVA, she attended California State University, Long Beach where she sang Le Prince Charmant in Massenet’s Cendrillon, Komponist in Ariadne aud Naxos, Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito, Giuletta in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann,Prosperina in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro.
Concert performances include Mozart’s Requiem with the Bucks County Symphony Orchestra and Hänsel in Humperkinck’s Hänsel und Gretel with the Philadelphia Sinfonia.
Alexandra has received grants from the Gerda Lissner Foundation, the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, was a semi-finalist in the Loren Zachary Competition, and the Grand Prize Winner in the Pasadena Opera Guild’s Young Artist Award.
Natsuki Fukasawa, Rhythmic Heat – October 22, 2016
Steinway Artist Natsuki Fukasawa’s music career has taken her throughout U.S. cities as well as to Europe, Scandinavia, Israel, Australia, Brazil, Japan and China, performing at such venues as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and Copenhagen’s Tivoli Concert Hall. Fukasawa has won many accolades and international prizes, including rave reviews in Strad and Fanfare magazines and the Best Chamber Music Recording of the Year from the Danish Music Awards. In 2012, Ms. Fukasawa was added to the distinguished roster of International Steinway Artists.
Ms. Fukasawa’s performance highlights include a tour of Italy performing Gershwin’s Concerto in F as well as performances of Beethoven’s Third and Fourth Piano Concerti, Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto, Dohnanyi’s Variations on a Nursery Song, Mozart’s A Major Concerto, K. 488, and Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with orchestras in California. She is the pianist for the soundtrack of the recently released film We Had To Go – Remembering Internment, and three compact discs released in 2013: a live solo CD, Year in Prague; Voices from Eastern Europe with violinist Igor Veligan; and Vocalise with bassoonist Scott Pool. During this current season, she will be appearing in concerts and master classes in Switzerland, the U.S., Japan and Hong Kong and in performances of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in Northern California.
Ms. Fukasawa serves on the artist faculty of the Talis Festival & Academy in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and the Orfeo Music Festival in the Italian Alps. She is currently on the faculty at American River College and has taught at California State University Sacramento, Saint Mary’s College of Moraga and the University of the Pacific. She also enjoys nurturing young talent in her own private studio. Her students are winners of state, national and international competitions, including the invitation to appear in the NPR show From the Top, and they pursue their music education at such places as the Manhattan School of Music and the Brigham Young University.
Ms. Fukasawa began studying piano early with her mother Takako Fukasawa. Her main teachers were Fumiko Ishikawa, Mark Richman, Martin Canin, Jan Panenka, Anne Koscielny. She studied chamber music intensively as the member of Jalina Trio with Ferenc Rados in Budapest and with violist Tim Frederiksen in Copenhangen. As a Fulbright Scholar, she studied at the Czech Republic’s Prague Academy of Music and received a performer’s certificate degree. She also earned bachelor and master’s degrees from New York’s Juilliard School and a doctorate from the University of Maryland.
Ms. Fukasawa has recorded for the Classico and Da Capo labels and her career is noted in the World of Women in Classical Music and Who’s Who in America. For more information, visit Natsuki Fukasawa’s website.
Ralph Cato, Hollywood Hits – June 4 and 5, 2016
Baritone Ralph Cato, esteemed for his warm, rich voice, travels the world telling stories in song. Whether performing oratorio masterpieces, opera characters or show tunes, his appearances are consistently reviewed as compelling and memorable.
Early in his career, Cato traveled extensively as a featured soloist with Albert McNeil’s Jubilee Singers. In Cologne, Germany, he sang his first Mozart C minor Mass and recently performed the avant-garde Aye in Philip Glass’ Aknaten for the Long Beach Opera. He has sung Carmina Burana numerous times to critical acclaim.
He also has performed roles in Gianni Schicchi, Madama Butterfly, La Boheme, Fanciulla del West, LaTraviata, Carmen, Porgy and Bess and I Pagliacci, among others. He has sung with symphonies throughout California, including Long Beach, San Bernardino, Stockton and Silicon Valley, and has appeared with the LA Opera, LA Master Chorale, the Pacific Chorale and the Santa Barbara Choral Society. As an oratorio singer, his performances have included bass solo in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and works by Bruckner, Handel, Vaughan Williams and Michael Tippett.
Cato holds a bachelor’s degree from Northridge State University, a master’s in music from the University of Southern California and a doctorate in musical arts from UCLA. He teaches vocal arts and diction at the University of California, Riverside, and Los Angeles Valley College.
His performance in the Hollywood Hits concert is his Folsom Lake Symphony debut. For more information, visit Ralph Cato’s website.
Kerson Leong, The Spirit of Freedom – April 2, 2016
Nineteen-year-old Canadian violinist Kerson Leong, acclaimed for his stunning musical virtuosity, makes his professional debut in the United States with his performance with the Folsom Lake Symphony on April 2. Though still in his teens, Kerson has already achieved international recognition for his artistry. At 13, he won junior first prize at the prestigious Menuhin Competition in Oslo, often called the “Olympics of the violin.” His awards since have included the grand prize for five straight years at the Canadian Music Competition as well as the top prizes at the 2014 Canadian Stepping Stone Competition, the 2015 Radios Francophones Publiques and the Canadian National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary Competition.
He performs all over the world, with recent appearances in Vienna, Beijing, Rome, Oslo, London and Paris. A native of Ottawa, he also performs locally with his cellist brother, Stanley, and pianist mother, Tu Mach. With his physicist father, he has studied and perfected the concept of resonance, which helped him to optimize his own string tone and intonation. Reviews have characterized Kerson’s musicianship as “thrilling” with “an astonishing range of sounds” and “refined tones which directly touched our core.”
Kerson is a strong advocate of mentoring young musicians. He volunteers with the OrKidstra program in Ottawa and recently received the mentorship award from the Lin Yao Ji Music Foundation of China. With his mother and brother, he shares his gift of music with the elderly and through meaningful fundraising events. Kerson performs on a 1691 “Auer” Stradivarius violin. For more information, visit Kerson Leong’s website.
Livia Sohn, Romance & Destiny – February 13, 2016
Hailed by Opus Magazine as “a stunning musician”, violinist Livia Sohn performs widely on the international stage as concerto soloist, recitalist, and festival guest artist in North America, Europe, and Asia. The Strad Magazine says, “Livia Sohn possesses a remarkably lithe and transparent tone of exceptional purity. [Her] virtually blemishless accounts are nothing short of remarkable. Even when under the most fearsome technical pressure at high velocity, every note rings true with pinpoint accuracy.”
Following an active summer that started with a performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto at the Mendocino Music Festival in CA, Livia went on to perform at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC; Maverick Concerts in Woodstock, NY; Chamberfest in Ottawa, ON; and Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine. The 2015-16 season includes performances of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in Veracruz, Mexico, with conductor Jorge Mester, followed by appearances with the Quad City Symphony in IA, and the Folsom Lake Symphony in CA, as well as recitals in South Windsor, CT, and Deerfield, MA. Highlights of this season include a performance of the Beethoven Triple Concerto in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall with pianist Stephen Prutsman and cellist Suren Bagratuni, and the CD release of “Opera Fantasies, Volume 2” on the Naxos label, a compilation of opera transcriptions for violin and piano (including three world premieres), set for release in January 2016. For more information, visit Livia Sohn’s website.
Pasquale Esposito, Bianco Natalie – December 5 & 6, 2015
For the first time, our December holiday concert will feature nearly a full night of song – and we promise you have never heard the season’s music performed with such magnificence. Italian tenor Pasquale Esposito, who recently performed the music of Enrico Caruso in a PBS special, will sing most of the repertoire’s popular and classical pieces for both “Bianco Natale” performances.
Pasquale, born in Naples, began singing as a child in the same church choir that discovered Caruso, and his clear, operatic voice has been compared to that of the man considered the 20th century’s greatest tenor.
Now a U.S. citizen who lives and teaches in San Jose, Pasquale thrills audiences worldwide with his rich, resonant voice and the versatility to perform in both classical and contemporary styles. With his unique ability to connect with audiences, his mission is to make music part of everyone’s life.
Critics have praised him as a “charismatic and dulcet-toned singer” with “draw-the-eye” quality. He has toured both abroad and in the U.S. in several musical productions and concerts, including the Italian Musical revue “Naples … That’s Amore!” from 2005 to 2007, for which he collaborated to write, direct and produce. In his 2007 concert tour “Simply Pasquale!” he introduced his own compositions. This year, he performed Caruso’s music in the PBS special, “Pasquale Esposito Celebrates Enrico Caruso.”
As a strong proponent of peace, humanity, respect and good will, Pasquale supports nonprofits through his annual December “Pasquale in Canto” concert. The 2015 concert, his seventh, will be in Menlo Park and benefit Hope Services.
Pasquale holds a bachelor’s degree in music from San Jose State and owns Notable.inc, which offers music lessons, productions and CDs. His seven CDs encompass a broad range of Italian and world music and some of his own works. www.pasqualeesposito.com
Alon Goldstein, Masterpieces – October 24, 2015
Alon Goldstein is one of the most original and sensitive pianists of his generation, admired for his musical intelligence, dynamic personality, artistic vision and innovative programming. He has played with the Israel, London, Radio France, and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras as well as the Philadelphia, San Francisco, Baltimore, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, and Vancouver symphonies under such conductors as Zubin Mehta, Herbert Blomstedt, Vladimir Jurowski, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Leon Fleisher, Peter Oundjian, Yoel Levi and others.
His 2015-2016 season begins with performances at the Ravinia Festival and New York’s International Keyboard Festival, followed by a tour of China with the Amber String Quartet. He will be performing with the Alabama, Knoxville, Fairfax, Spokane and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestras among others. He will also be heard in solo recitals and with the Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio and the Tempest Trio in chamber music concerts throughout the world including appearances in Israel, Romania, England, Germany, Ecuador, China and across the United States. In the fall of 2015, Naxos will release his recording of Mozart Piano Concertos No. 20 and No. 21 with the Fine Arts Quartet. A passionate advocate for music education, his recent teaching engagements have included posts at The Steans Institute of the Ravinia Festival and The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, in addition to extended educational residencies across the country.