The Artisan Quartet is comprised of mostly Austin Symphony principal players and has been referred to as "Austin's hometown string quartet". Hometown yes, but not local. The Artisan Quartet took its music out of state in 2012, traveling to the crucible of classical music when the quartet made its New York debut performing on the Carnegie Hall Weil Recital Hall Chamber Music Series. The concert in New York was made possible with very generous gifts from the Classical Artist Development Foundation and the Amatius Foundation, and was commemorated by the Texas House of Representatives on March 13, 2013 with H.R. 703 read into the Texas Congressional Record with the Artisans present. It was also around that time that the Artisan's completed their three season long "Genius at Play" Series, featuring the complete string quartets of Beethoven and started their own "Artisan Quartet Series" in Austin originally presented by the Austin Symphony. They performed several seasons at the Victoria Bach Festival, and are presently the Quartet in Residence for the Mozart Festival Texas in San Antonio, the Mason County Chamber Music Festival, and the newly formed Texas Bach Festival.
Hailed by critics for her “radiant,” “mellifluous” soprano voice, Meredith is a musician who often participates in classical, early, baroque, and modern musical genres. Meredith is a frequent participant with Grammy-nominated Seraphic Fire, Grammy-nominated True Concord, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and Austin’s very own Texas Early Music Project. Occasionally, you may find her singing with Austin Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, Austin Opera, La Follia Austin Baroque, and Ars Lyrica. Not one to be bound by genre, Meredith is an eclectic musician and artist. She was the librettist, co-writer and stage director the 2016 and 2015 TEMP Opera Pastiches and looks forward to the upcoming 2018 opera, which she is in the process of writing. A passionate advocate for musical performance and education, Meredith is Operations Coordinator for the Texas Early Music Project, where she engages in marketing, contracting, and administration for the ensemble.
Meredith lives in the greater Austin area with her lovely and talented husband, Stephen, and their lovely and talented pets, kitties Lance, Wesley, and Sol.
Gil Zilkha, bass, has performed in a wide range of repertoire with such ensembles as the Texas Early Music Project, La Follia, Conspirare, the Oregon Bach Festival Berwick Chorus, Vox Humana, and Spire Chamber Ensemble of Kansas City. Some of Gil's favorite solo credits include Bach's St John Passion and Ich habe genug, Durufle's Requiem, Dvorak's Stabat Mater, Handel's Messiah, Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610, Mozart's Requiem and C Minor Mass, and Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs. His opera roles include Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Austin and Count Ceprano in Verdi's Rigoletto with Austin Opera. Gil received his Masters in Voice Performance from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000, studying with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Rose Taylor.
Khanh Pham is a collaborative musician through and through. She has performed from the keyboard in a variety of settings - from early music trios to new music premieres. She has worked with the Baylor University' Women's Choir and Chamber Singers as a choral accompanist, accompanied silent films at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, and hosted of 88.9 WSND-FM's piano hour. Khanh has also performed with the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra as a winner of the Notre Dame concerto competition.
Khanh is a recent graduate of Baylor University where she studied piano with Krassimira Jordan. During her graduate career, she had also spent a summer in Vienna studying with professors from the Vienna Conservatory. Currently, she teaches and serves as a keyboardist at St. Helen Catholic Church and School in Georgetown, TX.
Soprano Kirsten Watson holds a voice performance degree in music from The University of Texas at Austin. Active as a soloist and chorister, she has performed locally, regionally, and in several international tours, including appearances in Ireland, Germany, Austria, Wales, Uruguay, and Argentina. Ms. Watson loves performing classic choral masterworks and has also premiered works by renowned composers, including Grammy and Pulitzer Prize winners. Of her work on Mozart’s Regina Coeli, Michael Kellerman of the Austin Chronicle wrote "Accolades to Kirsten Watson, whose solo soprano soared through the piece with a sweet, pitch-perfect delivery that was downright angelic." Ms. Watson also loves sharing her gift with children and has worked with students from Austin High School Choir and Austin School for Performing and Visual Arts.
In 2002, Douglas Harvey became the youngest principal cellist in the almost 100 year history of the Austin Symphony Orchestra. In 2005 he became the principal cellist of the Austin Lyric Opera Orchestra, which received recent reviews from the NY and LA Times for the US Premiere of Phillip Glass's 21st opera, "Waiting for the Barbarians." He has performed as soloist with orchestras such as the San Antonio, Flint, Austin, and San Angelo Symphony Orchestras, the Bear Valley Festival Orchestra, and the Austin Chamber Music Center Festival Orchestra, as well as many other chamber and university orchestras. Live solo broadcasts and recorded live performances have been heard on KMFA, KUT and other radio stations. Douglas has performed chamber music with the Salon Concert Series, Austin Chamber Music Center and the Chamber Soloists of Austin, the Austin Quartet, and guest appearances with other chamber music series. He has also performed in concert alongside legendary virtuosos Aaron Rosand and Douglas's teacher, Paul Olefsky, at Steinway Hall in New York City 2006, and The Miro String Quartet and Friends Concert at the 2006 International Debussy Congress Live webcast. He has premiered solo and chamber works by first class composers Lowell Liebermann, Kathryn Mishell, Kevin Puts, Dan Welcher and others.
Jeffrey Jones-Ragona serves as the Artistic Director of the Capital City Men's Chorus (Austin, TX), the Director of Music at the Cathedral of Saint Mary (Austin), and as Conductor of the Makheilah at Temple Beth Israel (Austin). He has taught on the music faculties of Drake University, St. Edward's University, and Southwestern University. He has performed regularly with Texas Early Music Project.
Jeffrey received his DMA in Conducting from the University of Texas 2006. He is the 2003 recipient of the Austin Circle of Theatre's B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Musical Direction of Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera "The Pirates of Penzance."
Jeffrey Jones-Ragona, Soloist
Gil Zilkha, Soloist
Hailed for her versatility and “true rich tone,” this musician enjoys singing all styles of music even dabbling in folk genres. Her respect and love for all music runs deep. She is a sought after soloist for retreat centers and churches, performing solo and chamber recitals, and singing opera within the United States, Europe, Central America and South America. Keely performs as a soloist and collaborative artist with such noted ensembles as: Apollo Master Chorale, Blacksburg Master Chorale, Conspirare –a company of Voices, Kinnara Ensemble, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Texas Choral Symposium, True Concord Voices and Orchestra, Virginia Oratorio Society, Vox Humana, and the Washington Bach Consort.
In academia, Dr. Rhodes has served as an assistant professor of music in vocal studies, assistant professor of music in vocal studies and director of choirs. She has had the honors of working with the renowned Sra. Mirella Freni while serving as a Fulbright Scholar to Italy, winning the Austin Critic’s Table Award for Best Classical Singer (Female), and receiving a Grammy® Award with Conspirare.
Keely has recorded with ensembles on Harmonia Mundi, Clarion, Naxos, MPR, Longhorn Music, Reference Recordings, Conspirare. Having performed on multiple Grammy®-nominated albums (with Conspirare and True Concord) an Edison Award-winning album and a recent Grammy®-Award winning album, she is currently completing of her first professional solo recording. Keely is a member of the Cherokee Tribe with a Bachelor’s of Music from Oberlin Conservatory and Master’s and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Texas in Austin.
Oboist Ian Davidson has appeared as soloist and chamber musician in thirty-one countries on six continents. Dr. Davidson holds degrees from DePauw University and the University of Texas at Austin and teaches at Texas State University, where he holds the dual ranks Regents’ Professor and University Distinguished Professor. He is Solo English Horn of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Principal Oboe of the Austin Opera Orchestra. International recitals and residencies include the Moscow Conservatory of Music, Hong Kong Baptist University, the University of Silesia, Trinity College of Music in London, the Institute of Culture in St. Petersburg, the University of Piui in Brazil, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, and the State Conservatory of Music in Bratislava. In 2013 and 2014 Dr. Davidson served as a United States State Department Fulbright Senior Specialist in Tanzania where he performed solo concerts, taught music composition and advised university faculty and administrators in the areas of faculty advancement, curricular development, academic assessment, and learning outcomes. His recording credits include the films “SpyKids2,” “To The Wonder,” “Knight of Cups,” and “The Vessel,” television performances for PBS with Willie Nelson and acclaimed choral group Conspirare in addition to symphonic recordings with the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Spoleto Festival Orchestra and chamber music and solo recordings with the Wild Basin Winds and Chamber Soloists of Austin. A Grammy Nominee, Dr. Davidson is a voting member of the Academy of Recording Artists and each year participates in the selection of nominees and recipients of the prestigious award.
Richard Kilmer - concertmaster
Bruce Williams - principal
Ian Davidson - principal
Rick Rowley has given concerts with many of the world’s finest instrumentalists and singers and his solo and collaborative performances have taken him throughout the United States, to Europe and Latin America. He has recorded several solo CD’s, as well as chamber music and songs for voice and piano. His recording with flutist Marianne Gedigian, “Revolution,”was one of the first CD’s on the University of Texas Longhorn Label. In addition to his performing career, Mr. Rowley has been on the faculty of the Butler School of Music for the past twelve years. He coaches singers, works with collaborative pianists and has taught classes in a variety of subjects. He has also performed Beethoven’s “Choral” Fantasy and Bernstein’s “Age of Anxiety” with Gerhardt Zimmermann and the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra. His performance of Schumann’s C major Fantasy, Op. 17, won the Austin Critics’ Table award for Instrumentalist of the Year, and was named one of the 10 Best Performances of Music and Dance by the Austin Chronicle.
Caleb Polashek - principal
Mathew Krejci - principal
Daris Word Hale
Keely Rhodes, Soloist
Presently principal clarinetist with the Austin Symphony, Stephen Girko was appointed as principal clarinetist with the San Antonio Symphony for the 1999-2000 season. Prior to that, he was the principal clarinetist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 1975 through 1998. He made his debut appearance with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra by performing the Clarinet Concerto of Aaron Copland, with the composer conducting. Since then Mr. Girko has appeared as soloist performing the concertos of Mozart, Nielsen, & Weber, as well as the Introduction, Theme & Variations of Rossini & the Premiere Rhapsodie of Debussy.
Stephen Girko was born in New York City. He attended the State University College of New York at Potsdam, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in music education in 1965. The following year, he received his Master of Music degree in performance from The Manhattan School of Music. After a year of teaching, Mr. Girko fulfilled his military obligation by performing with the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, N.Y. While at West Point, he also played principal clarinet with both the Albany Symphony Orchestra and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra. Upon leaving the military, Stephen was appointed principal clarinetist with the Oklahoma City Symphony, a position he held for four years. He subsequently served as associate principal clarinetist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra for a year before coming to Dallas.
Mr. Girko has also enjoyed an active career as a teacher, having taught at Oklahoma University for four years as well as Southern Methodist University for 18 years. His students are represented in orchestras and colleges throughout the United States. Mr. Girko is a frequent soloist and clinician at various clarinet symposia, as well as having been a member of Music in the Mountains, a summer chamber orchestra festival held in southwestern Colorado and The Carmel Bach Festival.
Mr. Girko is presently on the faculty of Texas State University as well as teaching clarinet in the San Antonio public schools. He also a member of Wild Basin Winds, a woodwind quintet based in Austin Texas.
Mr. Girko, a skilled cook, owns and operates a small catering company called “EAT MY PIZZA!” Steve takes to his client’s home the ingredients with which to make New York style pizzas as well as an incredibly delicious salad. After the guests have observed his culinary skills and have filled themselves with the fruits of his labor, he will then entertain them by performing both classical and popular music on his clarinet.
Richard Kilmer, Violin
Caleb Hans Polashek, Violin
Bruce Williams, Viola
Douglas Harvey, Cello
The Wild Basin Winds quintet was founded in 1996 by five talented musicians who have performed together in orchestras around the globe for more than three decades. As accomplished performers, college professors and lively compatriots they are delighted to be offering polished and imaginative concerts and educational presentations to audiences everywhere. Audiences worldwide have enjoyed the perfomances of the Wild Basin Winds, including recent performances in Germany, Norway, and Italy as well as a featured performance at the Kennedy Center and the world premiere of Donald Grantham's Wild Basin Music at Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They have traveled extensively from coast to coast performing a variety of concerts and teaching masterclasses at various venues and universities. This season they can be heard at the Music from Mason Music Festival, the Texas Bach Festival, and the Bear Valley Music Festival. Among their numerous recordings (iTunes) are Christmas, Ferdinand the Bull, High Wood, Three for Three, and Wild Basin Music.
Tom Hale, French Horn
Mathew Krejci, Flute
Stephen Girko, Clarinet
Ian Davidson, Oboe
Daris Hale, Bassoon