Music on the Hill Artists' Bios
Violist Rebecca Albers, member of Accordo, has performed throughout North America, Asia and Europe. Her performances have been seen on national television in the United States and China and heard on National Public Radio and French National Radio. A native of Longmont, CO, Rebecca currently resides in Saint Paul, MN as the Assistant Principal violist of the Minnesota Orchestra. Rebecca made her concerto debut at Lincoln Center, performing the New York premiere of Samuel Adler’s Viola Concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra. She made her European recital debut at the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris. She has also toured extensively with the Albers Trio, a group formed with her two sisters. Rebecca is a Distinguished Artist faculty member at Mercer University’s Robert McDuffie Center for Strings. She previously taught at the University of Michigan, in collaboration with Heidi Castleman in the Juilliard School’s college and precollege divisions, and at such summer festivals as the Perlman Music Program and the North American Viola Institute. Rebecca received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Juilliard school where she studied with Heidi Castleman and HsinYun Huang. Past teachers include James Maurer and Ellie Albers LeRoux.
Ruggero Allifranchini, member of Accordo, is the Associate Concertmaster of the SPCO. He was born into a musical household in Milan, Italy, and raised on a diverse musical diet, ranging from Beethoven to John Coltrane. He studied at the New School in Philadelphia with Jascha Brodsky and later at the Curtis Institute of Music with Szymon Goldberg and, for chamber music, Felix Galimir. He was the recipient of the Diploma d’Onore from the Chigiana Academy in Siena, Italy. In 1989, he cofounded the Borromeo String Quartet, with which he played exclusively for eleven years. He is the violinist of the trio Nobilis, with pianist and former SPCO Artistic Partner Stephen Prutsman and cellist Suren Bagratuni. Nobilis has performed chamber music and solos with orchestras in Europe, South America, and South Africa as well as in North America. Over the past few seasons he has played as Guest Concertmaster with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, and the Minnesota Orchestra.
Violist David Auerbach will begin his fourth consecutive one-year position with the Minnesota Orchestra this coming fall. Since moving to the Twin Cities in 2007, David has cultivated a fulfilling and varied performing and teaching career. He is the principal violist of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, and has performed regularly with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, as well as many other local orchestral and chamber ensembles. He also frequently performs elsewhere in the country, including with the chamber orchestra A Far Cry, which is based in Boston. A dedicated chamber musician, David has participated in the music festivals of Ravinia, Kneisel Hall, and Norfolk, and he has performed with chamber groups several times in Carnegie's Weill and Zankel Recital Halls. David joined the faculty of the University of St. Thomas in 2012, and also maintains a private teaching studio. David earned a DMA from Stony Brook University in 2007, where he was a scholarship student of Katherine Murdock. Additionally, he received a Masters Degree from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Samuel Rhodes, and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with majors in Music Performance (studying with Sally Chisholm) and Molecular Biology.
Violinist Cecilia Belcher is Assistant Principal Second Violin of the Minnesota Orchestra and has performed regularly with the St. Louis Symphony and has also performed with the Pittsburgh and Houston Symphony Orchestras. She is currently principal second violin of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston, Texas, and the concertmaster of the Mississippi Valley Orchestra in Minnesota. Also as concertmaster, she has led the Reno Philharmonic, New World Symphony and the Aspen Music Festival Opera Orchestra. In addition, she has toured Germany and the U.S. with the New York City-based chamber orchestra the Knights. She has toured both domestically and internationally as a chamber and orchestral musician, performing at Carnegie Hall, Berlin’s Philharmonie, the Lucerne Festival, Paris’ Salle Pleyel, Christchurch and Dunedin in New Zealand and, for the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall in London. Additional music festivals in which she has participated include Aspen, Banff, Beijing International Music Festival, Tanglewood, and Verbier. A St. Louis native, Belcher began violin studies at the age of three. She earned a bachelor's degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Paul Kantor, and a master's degree from the Shepherd School of Music, working with Kathleen Winkler. She and her husband, cellist Richard Belcher of the Enso String Quartet, love living in Minneapolis.
New Zealand cellist Richard Belcher has performed as a chamber musician and soloist across the United States, and internationally. Based in New York City, he is a founding member of the Grammy-nominated Enso String Quartet, with regular tours and performances in many of the major concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Library of Congress. Richard is also principal cellist of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO), and has appeared at many festivals, including St Bart’s, Festival d’Aix en Provence, Prussia Cove, Madeline Island, Campos do Jordao International Winter Festival, SummerFest La Jolla, and the San Miguel de Allende International Chamber Music Festival. Active in both period music and contemporary repertoire, Richard has taken part in many live and prerecorded radio and internet broadcasts, in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Richard enjoys teaching, and has served as Adjunct Faculty at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute, and is currently on the faculty of the Adult Chamber Music Camp at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Richard moved to the United States in 1998 to study with Aldo Parisot at Yale University, and it was there in 1999 that he co-founded the Enso String Quartet, with violinist and fellow student Maureen Nelson. His other principal teachers include Norman Fischer, Marc Johnson, and Alexander Ivashkin.
Born and raised in Ireland, Jane Cords-O’Hara began playing the cello at the age of 9. She studied with Hannah Roberts at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK, before moving to New York to complete her studies with Timothy Eddy at Mannes College of Music. Before relocating to the Twin Cities in 2014, Jane freelanced and taught in New York City for 12 years. She made her recital debut at Weill Hall (Carnegie Hall) in 2006 as a winner in the Artist International competition. She was Artist-in-Residence at International House NYC from 2004-2005. As a member of The Knights chamber orchestra, she performs and tours frequently, and has recorded on such labels as Sony Classical. Jane is also a member of Iris Orchestra and Ladyslipper Ensemble. She has a private cello studio in Minneapolis and also teaches at the Blake School. In summer 2017 she was on faculty at the International Cello Institute in St. Olaf College.Since moving to the Twin Cities, she has performed regularly with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, as well as continuing to travel back to NYC and beyond for festivals and performances. Recent appearances have been at the Ravinia, Caramoor, Ojai and Tanglewood Music Festivals, and a US tour with Gil Shaham and the Knights. She has also performed and toured with Orchestra of St. Lukes, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Da Capo Chamber Players, String Orchestra of NYC, MN Opera and Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.
A founding member of the Mill City String Quartet, Erika Hoogeveen is also associate concertmaster of the Dakota Valley Symphony Orchestra and has performed with a variety of other groups, including South Dakota Symphony, Kantorei, Mankato Symphony, and Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra. She received her Master of Music degree in violin performance and Suzuki pedagogy at the University of Minnesota, studying with Sally O'Reilly, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in violin performance from Dordt College, studying with Rick Lohmann and Margaret Carpenter. Erika has been on the violin faculty of MacPhail Center for the Arts, St. Joseph's School of Music, and Dordt College. Currently, she teaches private lessons in her home in St. Paul where she resides with her husband and four children.
Pennsylvania native Valerie Little is an active freelance violist in the Twin Cities and a member of the Mill City Quartet. She has performed extensively with the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Opera, as well as Orchestra Iowa and Quad Cities Symphony. Notable performances include appearing as soloist with the Mankato and York Symphony Orchestra (PA), and performing Quincy Porter’s Suite for Viola Alone at the 38th International Viola Congress. She is the viola artist-in-residence and librarian of the Apollo Music Festival in Southeast Minnesota. Valerie's interest in chamber music stemmed from her studies with Miro Quartet, and has led her to collaborate with musicians from all over the world. She holds degrees from in Music and English Literature from Pennsylvania State University, an MM from the University of Texas, and a DMA from the University of Minnesota. Her principal teachers include Kathleen W. Yeater, Timothy Deighton, Roger Myers, and Korey Konkol. She has also been a mentor for area schools, GTCYS, YMF Summer Music Camp, ComMUSICation, Lancaster County Music Camp, Central Pennsylvania Youth Symphony, and the MNSOTA Middle Level Honors Orchestra. Since September 2015, Valerie is one of the newest tenured members of the Minnesota Orchestra as the Assistant Principal Librarian, where she also serves at the orchestra's ICSOM delegate.
Pianist and conductor Timothy Lovelace has performed on four continents and has been featured at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Rio de Janeiro’s Sala Cecilia Meireles, New York’s Merkin Concert Hall, Philadelphia’s Trinity Center, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts and on chamber music series sponsored by the Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minnesota and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestras. He has collaborated with internationally known artists Miriam Fried, Alban Gerhardt, Nobuko Imai, Joe Lovano, Robert Mann, Charles Neidich, Paul Neubauer, Paquito D’Rivera, Eugene Rousseau and Fred Sherry, and performed with the Bergen Woodwind Quintet and Pacifica String Quartet. He is a founding member of the trio Ascendo3. Lovelace refined his collaborative skills over more than a decade at the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute in Chicago, playing for classes given by Barbara Bonney, Christoph Eschenbach, Thomas Hampson, Christa Ludwig and Yo-Yo Ma. Other professional staff pianist engagements include two International Double Reed Society conferences, two International Viola Congresses, the ClarinetFest of The International Clarinet Association and The Wideman International Piano Competition.A dedicated proponent of new music, Lovelace has performed under the supervision of composers Elliott Carter, John Corigliano, Steve Heitzeg, Andrew Imbrie, Leon Kirchner, Lowell Liebermann, Thea Musgrave, Gunther Schuller, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, David Evan Thomas, Dan Welcher and Judith Zaimont and presented the world premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Third World. As conductor, Lovelace has led numerous operatic and symphonic ensembles, including productions of The Seven Deadly Sins, Suor Angelica, and La Voix Humaine. Timothy Lovelace holds the Ethel Alice Hitchcock Chair in Collaborative Piano and Coaching at the University of Minnesota, a post to which he was recommended by its original occupant, the acclaimed collaborative pianist and educator Margo Garrett. Past teaching positions include the University of Texas at Austin, the Universities of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and Platteville and the Madeline Island Music Camp. His principal teachers were Pat Curtis, Harold Evans, Clifford Herzer, Gilbert Kalish, Donna Loewy, and Frank Weinstock. Lovelace studied and performed at the Aspen and Eastern Music Festivals, and holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Cellist Ruth Marshall of Mill City Quartet maintains a diverse career as a performer and a pedagogue. As an orchestral musician, she is principal cello of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra (Springfield IL), a member of the Britt Festival Orchestra (Jacksonville OR), and a regular substitute with the Indianapolis Symphony in Indiana, and the Columbus Symphony in Ohio. Ruth is very active as a chamber musician. In addition to playing in MCSQ, she frequently performs as the “Artu Duo” with pianist Garret Ross across the United States, as well as in Canada and the UK. Ruth is a devoted cello teacher, and has been on the faculties of DePaul University, Butler University, and Illinois State University, and Eastern Illinois University. Ruth holds undergraduate degrees in Comparative History of Ideas and Music Theory from the University of Washington, and graduate degrees in cello performance from DePaul University in Chicago IL. She was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and was a student at the Aspen Music Festival, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Aldeburgh Music Festival, and the Festival-Institute at Round Top.
A native of Severna Park, Maryland, Lydia Miller Choorapuzha began playing violin at the early age of five. Her talent and enthusiasm for the instrument resulted in a scholarship to study at the preparatory division of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, where she learned from world-renowned musicians during her seven years there. Lydia is, however, a scholar as well as a performer. She attended Boston University on a merit scholarship where she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in the history and literature of music. There she studied with Peter Zazofsky, first violinist of the Muir String Quartet. In the spring of 2002, Lydia traveled abroad to Berlin, Germany, where she studied German language, history, and literature at the Freie Universitaet and violin at the Hochschule der Kunst, as a student of Rainer Kimstedt. In the spring of 2006 she completed her master’s degree in violin performance at the State University of New York College at Purchase, where she was a scholarship recipient and the teaching assistant for Laurie Smukler, founding member of the Mendelssohn Quartet. A decision to work more closely with her mentor Jorja Fleezanis, former Concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra, moved Lydia to the Twin Cities in 2006. She was an active member of the musical community until relocating to Pittsburgh in 2014. Lydia maintains a busy schedule as a performer and teacher. She has performed around the world, including in countries such as Canada, Iceland, Scotland, Germany, England, and South Korea, and has played with such orchestras as the Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, and the World Symphony Orchestra, working with such conductors as Osmo Vanska, Roberto Abbado, Carlos Kalmar, Hugh Wolff, and Stanisław Skrowaczewskiand has shared the stage with such artists as singing legend Art Garfunkel, Barry Manilow, and Josh Groban. Currently, she performs regularly with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In 2010, Lydia founded the highly successful chamber music series Music on the Hill, set in the pristine chapel at Good Counsel in Mankato,MN, and featuring some of the best musicians in Minnesota. She continues to work as the Artistic Director of the series and is also a regular performer. Her live performances are broadcast regularly on MPR.
Peter McGuire is Principal Second Violin of the Minnesota Orchestra. McGuire began his career as first violinist in the Pioneer String Quartet and Des Moines Symphony, and has served as Guest Principal Second Violin with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Peter McGuire has performed as Guest Concertmaster with the Orchestre de la Suisse-Romande, Zürich Opera, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Gürzenich Orchester-Cologne, and Richmond Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he has performed and recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic, SWR Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, All-Star Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. A frequent chamber musician and soloist, McGuire has been featured with the Minnesota Orchestra for the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and has performed with ensembles throughout the US, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. A frequent adjudicator, he has given masterclasses throughout the U.S. and Switzerland.
Huldah Niles is a founding member of Mill City String Quartet. Ms. Niles currently plays violin as a substitute with the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Opera Orchestra. Huldah has been Associate Concertmaster and Principal 2ndviolin for the Mankato Symphony and Principal Viola for the Minnetonka Symphony Orchestra. Huldah began her music studies on violin at the age of five at the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City, Iowa with Doris Preucil. Through the Preucil School of music, Huldah traveled to Japan with a group of peers from the Cleveland Institute of Music where they played for Dr. Suzuki at his private residence and for the Prince and Princess of Japan in Tokyo.Ms. Niles received both her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Violin Performance from the University of Minnesota under the tutelage of Sally O’Reilly. She has also studied viola with Thomas Turner, Principal Viola of the Minnesota Orchestra. Huldah has attended many wonderful summer music festivals such as Italy Summer Music Festival in Pienza, Italy (studying with Eriko Tsuchihashi, Associate Concertmaster at Teatro alla Scala), Chautauqua Music Festival in New York, Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine, and Bravo! in Minnesota.
Violist Maiya Papach is a member of Accordo and the principal viola of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, having been a member of the orchestra since 2008 and serving as acting principal since 2009. She has made solo appearances with the SPCO in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with concertmaster Steven Copes, and will appear again this season as soloist in Benjamin Britten’s Lachrymae. Papach has made frequent national and international appearances as a chamber musician, with a versatile profile in her performances of both traditional and contemporary repertoire. She is a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), with whom she has performed frequently at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, New York’s Le Poisson Rouge, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and dozens of experimental venues. Papach is a 2013 recipient of the McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians administered by the MacPhail Center for Music, and is looking forward to commissioning a new work for solo viola and ensemble with the award. She is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and the Juilliard School, and her principal teachers include Roland Vamos, Karen Tuttle, Benny Kim, and Hsin-Yun Huang. She performs on a 19th century Turinese viola by Annibale Fagnola.
Australian-born Susie Park is a passionate supporter of chamber music. Besides being first associate concertmaster with the Minnesota Orchestra, she is a founding member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra and plays with Accordo. She won top honors at the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, the Wieniawski Competition in Poland and the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition in France, and earned her bachelor of music at the Curtis Institute and an artist diploma at the New England Conservatory. Park has concertized around the world, performing solos with such European orchestras as the Vienna Symphony, Orchestre National de Lille and the London-based Royal Philharmonic and American orchestras including the Pittsburgh Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Memphis Symphony and Orchestra of St. Luke’s. She has collaborated with conductors including Simon Rattle, Hans Vonk, Alan Gilbert, Fabio Luisi and Yehudi Menuhin, performing in venues ranging from New York’s Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Symphony Hall in Boston, the Ravinia Festival and Millenium Park in Chicago, Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, the Smithsonian Institute, Vienna Musikverein Cologne Philharmonie, Düsseldorf Tonhalle and Danish Radio Concert Hall.
Principal Cello Anthony Ross joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1988 and assumed the principal cello post in 1991. He has been a soloist many times with the Minnesota Orchestra, performing concertos by Schumann, Dvořák, Victor Herbert, James MacMillan, Beethoven, Saint-Saëns, Elgar and Shostakovich, as well as many chamber works. He will next be featured as soloist in in June 2017 performing Bloch's Schelomo. In recent seasons Ross has performed Prokofiev’s Sinfonia concertante for Cello and Orchestra, the Walton Cello Concerto and the Brahms Double Concerto, the latter alongside former First Associate Concertmaster Sarah Kwak. In April 2014 he was soloist in performances of Eric Whitacre’s The River Cam, with the composer conducting. At Sommerfest 2014 he performed Prokofiev’s Sonata for Cello and Piano with Sommerfest Artistic Director Andrew Litton. Before joining the Minnesota Orchestra, Ross was principal cello of the Rochester Philharmonic. Away from Orchestra Hall, he is active as a chamber musician, festival performer and educator. He is a member of Accordo, a chamber group made up of principal string players from the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He also performs with the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota. He has appeared in the Mostly Mozart, Music in the Vineyards, Cactus Pear (San Antonio), Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society (Madison) and Orcas Island festivals, and has performed on stages from Pensacola, Florida, to Rhodes, Greece. He has taught at the Eastman School of Music, the Aspen Festival and the Grand Teton orchestra seminar.Ross’ recordings include Bernstein’s Three Meditations with the Minnesota Orchestra under Eiji Oue, the George Lloyd Cello Concerto with the Albany Symphony under David Alan Miller, and works of Rachmaninoff and Elliott Carter for Boston Records. A graduate of Indiana University, Ross earned a master’s degree at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. In 1982 he was awarded the bronze medal at the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, and he received McKnight Fellowships in 2001 and 2005. Together with his wife Beth Rapier, the Minnesota Orchestra’s assistant principal cello, Ross produces the annual “Harmony for Habitats” benefit concert at St. John’s Episcopal Church in south Minneapolis.
Former principal cellist of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Ronald Thomas sustains one of the most active and varied careers in today’s music world as performer, teacher and artistic administrator. Thomas is the co-founder and artistic director of the Boston Chamber Music Society with whom he appears regularly and has produced a number of highly acclaimed recordings. Thomas is the artistic director of Chestnut Hill Concerts and has been involved at Bargemusic in New York City. While he was a member of the Boston Musica Viva and the Aeolian Chamber Players, he premiered countless new works. Thomas has taught at M.I.T., Brown University, Boston Conservatory and Peabody Conservatory. Prior to winning the Young Artists International Auditions at the age of nineteen, he attended the New England Conservatory and the Curtis Institute. His principal teachers were Lorne Munroe, David Soyer, and for early studies, Mary Canberg.
Mezzo soprano Adriana Zabala enjoys a vibrant career that spans performance and recording of new opera, song, and concert works, as well beloved operatic roles, traditional concert and oratorio works, German Lieder, French Mélodie, and American and Spanish song. As the title character in the American Premiere of Dove's The Adventures of Pinocchio at the Minnesota Opera, Adriana Zabala was praised by The Wall Street Journal as showing "tremendous stamina and boy-like flair." The New York Times hailed her as "a vivid, fearless presence," and the L.A. Times as "extraordinary" for her portrayal of the Barbarian Girl in the American premiere of Philip Glass' Waiting for the Barbarians with the Austin Lyric Opera. Professor Zabala is a proud member of the voice faculty at the University of Minnesota, where in addition to her thriving studio, she teaches graduate vocal literature, administrates a program of collaboration between the Minnesota Opera and the University of Minnesota, teaches a Freshman Seminar called Shakespeare in Film and Music, and a May Session Global Seminar, Vive les Arts!, in Paris.
|Violist Gareth Zehngut is a member of the Minnesota Orchestra. He previously played with the San Diego Symphony. While in San Diego he also performed frequently with the California Chamber Orchestra, serving as principal viola, and with Orchestra Nova. Zehngut has participated in festivals including Mainly Mozart, Festival Mozaic, La Jolla SummerFest and the Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival. He appeared regularly on the San Diego Symphony Chamber Music Series, as well as with Art of Elan and San Diego New Music. In summer 2013 he was a faculty member at the Luzerne Music Center, teaching viola and coaching chamber music. A Pennsylvania native, Zehngut earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Heidi Castleman, Hsin-Yun Huang, Misha Amory and Steven Tenenbom.|