Beginning the violin at the age of eight, Canadian violinist Patrice Calixte was later admitted into a highly competitive high school music program in Montréal, Québec, where he studied with Francine Pépin He then went on to study with Claude Richard, at Université de Montréal where he obtained his Undergraduate and Master's degree in music performance. A very experienced orchestra musician, Patrice has worked with may orchestras in Québec and Ontario, including the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra. He was then hired in the first violin section of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra where he stayed for two years. Leaving Calgary in search of more personal development, Patrice is now finishing his Artist Diploma at the University of Texas in Austin where he studied with Daniel Ching. He has also had the occasion to perform as soloist with various orchestras in Montreal and surroundings. In August 2018, Patrice was hired as an associate concertmaster of the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
Bruce Williams began his professional career at age fifteen and four years later won a position with the Fort Worth Symphony. In 1983, he traveled to Israel to become principal violist of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Haifa Clarinet Trio, performing all over Israel and Europe. Upon returning to the United States, he became a member of The Orchestra of Santa Fe as assistant principal. During that time, he was in great demand as a free-lance player as well, traveling all over Texas performing with various musical organizations. He was also a member of the Allegro Chamber Trio with Flutist Megan Meisenbach and harpist Mary Golden. This group toured the United States for years and was featured on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today”. They recorded on Centaur records as The Meisenbach / Golden Duo. In 2003, he won the Austin Critics Table award for Outstanding Instrumentalist for his performance with the Austin Symphony of “Harold in Italy” by Hector Berlioz.
Currently, Mr. Williams is a founding member and manager of the Artisan Quartet presenting the “Artisan Quartet Series” since 2012 in Austin – the Quartet performed at Carnegie Hall presented by MidAmerica Productions the same year. The AQ was recently named Quartet in Residence both with the Mozart Festival Texas in San Antonio and also the newly-formed Mason County Chamber Music Festival where Mr. Williams will serve as Artistic Director. He is a guest artist on the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio and the Fayetteville Chamber Music Festival in Fayetteville, Texas and has been invited to chamber music festivals in California and Colorado. He is the principal violist in the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Victoria Bach Festival where he often appears as chamber musician and soloist. He also has served as Director of Chamber Music and a featured performer with the Texas Bach Festival since its inaugural festival in 2017. Mr. Williams has recorded on Harmonia Mundi recordings with the Grammy Award-winning choral group Conspirare lead by Craig Hella Johnson.
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 Texas Bach Festival.
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.
Italian tenor Angelo Ferrari has been performing professionally for over 30 years, delighting audiences throughout the world. Trained in the Italian art of bel canto by his father and acclaimed tenor Lazzaro Ferrari, Mr. Ferrari has specialized, to critical acclaim, in the dramatically and vocally challenging roles written by composers such as Bellini, Donizetti, and Puccini, that few tenors have undertaken successfully. Mr. Ferrari's talent inspired Maestro Kurt Herman Wilhelm to write "Angelo will be one of the important tenors of the 21st century."
Winner of the first prize in the 2007 Mario Del Monaco Foundation competition, he has performed the leading tenor role in La Boheme, La fille du Reginment, Rigoletto, Don Pasquale, La Sonnambula, La Favorita, Il Trovatore, I Puritani, I Pescatori di Perle, La Traviata and many more in major theaters in Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and many other countries. He is also in great demand as a soloist for oratorios, both from the early music period as well as modern pieces such as the Missa Basniensi world premiere.
Mr. Ferrari's 2013 album Pasion Latina is a collection of famous romantic melodies and showcases his versatility. 2014 and 2015 included several concerts in Europe, most notably Verdi's masterpiece Messa da Requiem in Vienna. In 2016, Mr. Ferrari's talent and contributions to the Houston arts scene were recognized when the City of Houston proclaimed April 24, 2016 as "Angelo Ferrari Day". He continues to perform and is a firm believer in opportunities for young artists and exposing new audiences to the wonders of music.
Ms. Blumenthal has appeared as soloist with many ensembles including the Chicago and Houston Symphony Orchestras. She has received high acclaim for her numerous chamber music performances with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and duo recitals with her late husband Philadelphia Orchestra cellist, Bert Phillips, and other internationally renown artists. A native of Chicago, she is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Music, and the University of Houston (graduate studies); post graduate studies with Leonard Shure at the University of Texas, and Rudolph Serkin at Marboro Chamber Music Institute in Vermont. Ms. Blumenthal is a Steinway Artist.
Ms. Blumenthal is currently director of the CHAMPS (chamber music public schools) for Salon Concerts, Austin, Texas. and Artistic Director and Pianist for Classic Chamber Concerts in Georgetown and Round Rock. She has participated in the Georgetown Festival of the Arts for the past five seasons. Toby and her late husband, Bert Phillips founded the Luzerne Music Center and the Luzerne Chamber Music Festival in Lake Luzerne, NY in 1980 where they shared executive and artistic directorships, and Toby developed the Piano Studies Program where she shared her talents each summer with many aspiring young musicians. She was also Founder and Co- Artistic Director of Classic Chamber Concerts in Naples, Florida where she performed with the Luzerne Trio (Raymond Gniewek-violin, Bert Phillips-cello), and the Philadelphia Piano Quartet (Norman Carol-violin, Lamar Alsop-viola, Bert Phillips-cello) from 1995 to 2009.
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.
Patrice Calixte, violin
Helen Cooper, violin
Bruce Williams, viola
Douglas Harvey, cello
The internationally acclaimed American singer Laura Pedersen brings to opera houses and concert halls an intense lyric soprano voice, beauty of line, and a rare ability to make each role come alive. Highlights from this current season: Ms. Pedersen rejoined BlueWater Chamber Orchestra, this time with Beethoven’s concert aria “Ah, Perfido” Op. 65, appeared in Orchestra galas singing Madame Butterfly, Violetta in La Traviata, as well as cross over favorites, and performed numerous concerts, as well as masterclasses, with Harp and Heels. Laura brought back Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, sang in Opera Orchestral galas that showcased her with Puccini’s Tosca and Mimi, both of Verdi’s Leonora’s, and Beethoven’s Leonora. In the 2019-20 season Laura is the featured soloist for The Texas Bach Festival, Bluewater Chamber Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Pops, Firelands Symphony, and Opera Project Columbus, as she also continues to inspire and entertain audiences with her duo, Harp & Heels. Ms. Pedersen will reprise the Covid postponed roles of Tosca and Suor Angelica, as well as her appearances with orchestras, symphonies, bands, and Harp and Heels concerts soon.
Ms. Pedersen has sung leading roles with Indianapolis Opera, Cleveland Opera, Di Capo Opera, Opera Delaware, Florida Opera, Sacramento Opera, Panama Opera, Atlantic Opera, Opera Project Columbus, Opera Shorts Troupe.The roles include: Tosca, Donna Anna, Nedda, Santuzza, Hanna Glawari (Broadcast live for Public Radio), Mimi, Musetta, Violetta, Susannah, Juliette, Rosalinda, Donna Elvira, Musetta, Antonia, Georgetta, and Micaela.
Ms. Pedersen has sung World Premieres in Germany, Scotland, and many in New York City’s Carnegie Hall.
Megan Meisenbach, flute
Elaine Barber, harp
Bruce Williams, viola
* Soloists for Rachmaninoff All Night Vigil
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.
The Allegro Chamber Trio (ACT) with Megan Meisenbach flute, Bruce Williams viola, and Elaine Barber harp, brings to its audiences the lovely tone colors of a rarely heard combination of flute, viola, and harp. This alliance of instruments has been authenticated by the master impressionist Claude Debussy. ACT has performed extensively since 1990 especially around Texas and in Southern and Midwestern States, and can be heard in Sir Arnold Bax’s “Elegiac Trio” on a recording released on the Centaur label titled “Debussy, Ravel, Bax.” Their interpretation of Debussy’s famous Sonata was featured on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today.”
After a 10 year hiatus, ACT resumed performing in 2017 and since has concertized in Jackson, Mississippi, San Antonio, at the Mason Chamber Music Festival, and at multiple concerts in and around the Austin area. Texas Bach Festival patrons might remember ACT from their appearance at the TBF fundraiser in 2020.
First prize winner of the National Flute Association Chamber Music Competition, Megan Meisenbach has toured internationally and in 26 states as a soloist and chamber musician and has recorded works from the standard repertoire as well as given 10 premieres. The New York Times heralded her sold out Carnegie Hall debut performance as “assured, fourth right, with a clear appealing flute tone; Megan Meisenbach‘s interpretations had an air of authority and invariably commanded respect.“
Elaine Barber is principal harpist of the Austin Symphony, a regular guest with the San Antonio symphony, and former principal harpist for the Mississippi Symphony and Mississippi opera. She has been a featured soloist at the American Harp Society National Conference, and with the Austin Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Mississippi Symphony, and Chamber Soloist of Austin. She has recorded for the Nexus, Nonesuch and Matador labels, and her solo playing has been called “spellbinding,“ “electrifying,”and “simply gorgeous.“
Bruce Williams is principal viola of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, and the Victoria Bach Festival and Mozart Festival Texas where he often appears at both festivals as a chamber musician and soloist. He is a two time nominee and the 2003 winner of the Austin Critics Table award for Outstanding Instrumentalist for his performance with the Austin Symphony of Harold in Italy by Berlioz. He is a founding member of the Artisan String Quartet and is Artistic Director and founder of the Mason Chamber Music Festival. He is Vice-President of the Board of the Texas Bach Festival where he is also the Director of Chamber Music. He has been a frequent guest artist in the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio and with the Grammy award winning vocal ensemble Conspirare. He plays a Brothers Grancino viola made in Milan, Italy, circa 1680.
David Polley is an adjunct Professor of Organ at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX and currently serves as the Music Director of Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown. He earned degrees from Concordia University, Seward NE; Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE. He has served Lutheran, Catholic, and Methodist churches in Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Texas. He has performed as a featured recitalist in concerts in the Georgetown Festival of the Arts playing music of Schubert, Schumann, Saint-Saens, and Vierne as well as Scandinavian and Latin American composers. His most recent invited recitals include the Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, TX, St. Austin Catholic Church in Austin, TX, and Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Austin.