Sally O’Reilly, violin
Sally O’Reilly is known throughout the music world as a soloist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. Professor of Violin at the University of Minnesota School of Music in Minneapolis, she studied with Ivan Galamian at Curtis Institute and with Josef Gingold at Indiana University, where she was his assistant. Later she studied with Andre Gertler and Carlo Van Neste in Brussels, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. Her chamber music coaches included Janos Starker, Gyorgy Sebok, Artur Balsam, William Primrose, and Felix Galimir.
Professor O’Reilly’s former students are members of the world’s major symphony orchestras and hold prominent teaching positions throughout the United States, Asia, and Australia. They have been first prize winners in numerous competitions including the Vittorio Gui in Florence, Italy, the Tokyo International, Irving Klein International, Music Teachers National Association student competitions, and the Banff String Quartet Competition.
She has held Fulbright Senior Lectureships to teach in South America and has been visiting professor of violin in China, Austria, Ireland, Germany, Israel, Central America, Canada, Korea, and the Czech Republic.
Professor O’Reilly has been a frequent member of adjudication panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright Commission, Chamber Music America, ASTA, and MTNA. Her many pedagogical publications for Kjos Music Company are distributed internationally.
John Haspel Gilbert, violin
Violinist John Haspel Gilbert is a Professor of Violin at the Texas Tech University School of Music in Lubbock, TX. He is the recipient of the 2015 TexASTA Phyllis Young Outstanding Studio Teacher Award and the TTU President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Praised by legendary performers such as the late Josef Gingold (“I have great admiration for this superb violinist”), Glenn Dicterow (“Obviously we are dealing with a very high level of artistry”), Camilla Wicks, Arnold Steinhardt, and the late Joseph Fuchs, he is an active soloist, recitalist and chamber music collaborator, regularly performing throughout the United States, having appeared from coast to coast in prestigious venues from Weill Recital Hall in New York City, to Abravanel Hall in Santa Barbara (CA). Recent international engagements have included performances in Brazil, France, Iceland, Italy, and the United Kingdom. A sought-after clinician and adjudicator, he has been heard in concert in every major city in Texas. His former students perform in major orchestras, hold university positions, and are public school educators, throughout the US, Brazil, and Russia.
Gilbert served as concertmaster of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra for 13 seasons. With the LSO he appeared as a soloist in the concerti of Beethoven, Brahms, Corigliano, and Sibelius. He previously held this position with the Baton Rouge Symphony and Knoxville Symphony and has been a member of the faculty at the SMU Meadows School of Music, University of Memphis, and Hope College. Gilbert was the teaching assistant to Sally O’Reilly at both the University of Minnesota and Louisiana State University. A former member of the artist-faculty member of the Green Mountain (Vermont) Chamber Music Festival, his other summer festival appearances have been at the Madeline Island (WI) Chamber Festival, Schlern (Italy) International Festival, Sewanee Summer Music Festival, BRAVO! Summer String Institute, Eastern Music Festival, Heidelberg Castle Festival, Killington Music Festival, and the Spoleto Festival.
Gilbert’s principal studies were under the tutelage of Sally O’Reilly and Charles Castleman. He holds degrees from the University of Minnesota, the Yale University School of Music, and the Eastman School of Music, and has held fellowships at the Aspen Music School in both chamber music and orchestral performance. His chamber music studies were with current or former members of the Julliard, Tokyo, Cleveland, Fine Arts, and Yale string quartets, and the Eastman and Rafael trios.
Mr. Gilbert may be heard on the Centaur, Naxos, and Innova labels. His most recent recording, of the Sonatas of Samuel Barber and Richard Strauss, will be released on the Fleur de Son label in 2016. His recording of the Kurt Weill Concerto and the Alban Berg Kammerkonzert with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra was released on the Sono Luminus labelin September of 2012 (Sono Luminus 92161).
George Work, cello
George Work, professor of cello at Iowa State University, holds his bachelor’s and master’s degrees of music and a performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music, where he also served as a teaching assistant to Robert Sylvester. His principal teachers include Robert Sylvester, Paul Katz, Ronald Leonard, Gabor Rejto, and Carol Work.
In 1981, he joined the Ames Piano Quartet, in residence at Iowa State University. In the course of its career, the Quartet released fourteen critically acclaimed CD recordings, one on the Musical Heritage label, five on Albany Records, and the others on Dorian/Sono Luminus Recordings. The Ames Quartet appeared regularly in concert throughout the United States and Canada. International appearances included Salzburg, Austria, Paris and Marseilles, France, Taipei, Tainan, Kashiong and Taichung, Taiwan, Merida, Mexico, Havana, Cuba, and Kaliningrad, Russia. The group was also featured on NPR’s “Performance Today,” WQXR’s “The Listening Room,” and appeared on a special edition of “St. Paul Sunday” commemorating the 50th anniversary of WOI radio. This latter led to an invitation to tape a second “St. Paul Sunday,” which aired nationally for the first time in November 1999. In 2012, following the retirement of two long-time members, the Quartet was renamed the Amara Piano Quartet. It continues to concertize throughout the US under the new name and has recently released its first commercial CD on the Fleur de Son label.
George Work has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras in the Midwest, as well as in Taiwan, R.O.C., and Kaliningrad, Russia. His recording of the Ibert Concerto for Cello and Winds was released in 2012 to critical acclaim. A faculty member at the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina from 1998-2002, George Work was also chosen to be an artist-faculty member at the first-ever Schlern International Music Festival, held in Voels am Schlern, Italy, in the summer of 2003. In addition to concertizing with the Ames Piano Quartet, George Work is also a member of the Belin String Quartet and the Des Moines Symphony. In 2016, he became the first-ever recipient of the Jean Bacon Louis Faculty Fellowship.
Tanya Remenikova, cello
Cellist Tanya Remenikova has inspired critical acclaim during her 40-year international performing career. Reviews from around the world describe her “impassioned approach” to cello playing as having an “elegant, singing tone,” “expressive radiancy,” “sonority,” and “lustre.”
Performances have brought her to the major halls in music capitals around the world: London, Moscow, Jerusalem, Brussels, Bonn, Frankfurt, Florence, Taipei, Shanghai. Remenikova has been a soloist with the Israel Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and Orchestre Nationale de Belgique, among others. In the United States, recital performances have taken her to New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, Kansas City, Houston, San Francisco, and the Aspen Music Festival.
Remenikova’s recordings of Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Britten are on the DDF and Sound Star Tone labels. Her concert performances have been broadcast in several countries on networks such as the BBC in London, BRT-RTB in Brussels, WFMT in Chicago, WQXR in New York City, National Public Radio, and American Public Radio on such nationally broadcast programs as Saint Paul Sunday Morning.
Professor and chamber music coach on the faculty at the University of Minnesota School of Music since 1976, Remenikova has attracted students from all over the world. As a teacher, she relies on her own thorough training in music, both as a cellist and pianist. Before she became a student of the world-renowned Mstislav Rostropovich at the Moscow Conservatory in Russia, Remenikova studied with Valentin Berlinsky, a member of the renowned Borodin Quartet.
An avid chamber music player, she performs regularly with the Saint Paul-based Hill House Chamber Players. She also appeared in the Barge Chamber Music Series in New York and with the Karlsruhe Trio in Germany. She has given masterclasses in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. and premiered a number of new compositions, including a work dedicated to her by Judith Zaimont, “Tanya” Poems for Cello Solo.
She is a recipient of 2007 Master Teacher Studio Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American String Teachers Association.
Alexander Braginsky, piano
Alexander Braginsky was born and educated in Moscow. He received his first piano lessons from his mother, a well-known concert pianist. At the age of six, he began to study with Alexander Goldenweiser, a close friend of Leo Tolstoy and a classmate of Rachmaninov and Scriabin. It was through Goldenweiser, with whom he spent 12 years as his youngest student, that Braginsky came into contact with the great 19th-century romantic tradition. After Goldenweiser death, he continued to study with Theodore Gutman, another illustrious representative of the “Golden Age” of Russian piano school.
Braginsky’s repertoire extends from Baroque to avant-garde. He performed over twenty world premieres, most of which were works commissioned and written for him, including music by Stephen Paulus, Libby Larsen, and Paul Fetler’s Piano Concerto, commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Braginsky performed extensively in the former USSR, Israel, England, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China, Spain, France, and the United States. The London Times characterized Braginsky’s playing as “splendid” and the Chicago Sun-Times called him “… a pianist with a fine, commanding sound that he can also use with great delicacy and expression.”
Braginsky has recorded for DDF, Sound StarTone, and d’Note labels. He has appeared repeatedly on BBC, National Public Radio, RTB-BRT, and other radio stations throughout the world.
Braginsky was an artist-in-residence in Churchill College, England in 1981 and 1986. He is a Professor on the faculty of the International Music Summer Course in Vienna, Austria, and has given numerous masterclasses in Europe, Asia, and North America. Many of his students have won national and international competitions. In the summer of 2006, Braginsky will serve on the faculty of the International Keyboard Institute & Festival in New York City.
Braginsky frequently judges International and National Piano Competitions. He is the Artistic Director of the Musicians in Debut International (MIDI) as well as the Founding President and the Artistic Director of the International Piano-e-Competition.
Soojung Hong, piano
A prize winner of many national and international competitions, Dr. Soojung Hong actively performs internationally and at regional concert venues in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Her solo recital at Dame Myra Hess Concert Series at Chicago Public Library has been broadcast live to on WFMT, Chicago’s classical music station and on the internet. She is a recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Artist Initiative Grant and is currently working on the album of Fanny Mendelssohn’s cycle “Das Jahr” (“The Year”), as well as a number of live performances of the work, accompanied by a display of contemporaneous paintings and reading of live poetry.
Dr. Hong is passionate about education and has been teaching for over 15 years. She teaches students of all ages and levels, who, under her expert guidance, successfully prepare recitals, contests, and auditions. She is a frequent master class presenter and competition adjudicator, and serves as a piano instructor at MacPhail Center for Music and The International School of Minnesota. Soojung Hong holds a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance from Ewha Woman’s University, South Korea, as well as a Master’s of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Minnesota on full scholarship.
Benjamin Downs, piano, director
Dr. Benjamin Downs enjoys a multi-faceted career as an educator, scholar, and performer. As an educator, he has served on the faculty of Macalester College, and as an instructor at Stony Brook University, University of Cincinnati, and the University of Illinois. He also has 20 years of experience teaching pre-college piano and music theory. He was teacher and director of the MacPhail Center for Music’s pre-conservatory program and is now the Director of the Pre-Conservatory Center of Excellence at Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
As a scholar, Benjamin completed his Ph.D. in Theory and History of Music from Stony Brook in 2018 specializing in philosophies of listening and avant-garde music since 1968. As a scholar, his work has received many awards including a Fulbright Research Grant (Germany), the Paul Sacher Stiftung Stipendium (Switzerland), and a Graduate Council Fellowship. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals including Music Theory Spectrum, the Music Research Forum, and Mosaic: Journal of Music Research. Benjamin has also written program notes for many ensembles and institutions including the Great Lakes Music Festival, Cincinnati Chamber Music Society, the JACK Quartet, and the Emerson Quartet.
Benjamin also holds a doctorate in Piano Performance from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. As a student, he studied primarily with James Tocco and Ian Hobson, with additional studies with Elisabeth Pridonoff and Michael Chertock. He has performed throughout North America, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland as a soloist and with his wife, cellist Rebeccah Parker Downs He has also collaborated with cellist Yehuda Hanani, and members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Windsor Symphony, and Minnesota Symphony. Benjamin has won prizes in many national and international piano competitions including the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition, the Chautauqua International Piano Competition, the Northwestern Piano Competition, and the Cincinnati Chamber Music Competition. Benjamin is especially committed to performing new music. Recent performances include the first book of etudes by György Ligeti, the Ligeti horn trio, Allegro sostenuto, and Guero by Helmut Lachenmann; as well as midwest premieres of works by Missy Mazzoli and Molly Joyce. In 2018, he was awarded a McKnight Foundation Artist Development Grant to perform Unremembered by Sarah Kirkland Snider.