Emma Steele, Violin
Emma Steele, 23, is a rising violinist renowned for her fresh musical style. A native of Chicago, she has performed nationally and internationally as a soloist and as part of chamber ensembles in venues such as Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Carnegie Hall, Rudolfinum Concert Hall in Prague and Finlandia Hall in Helsinki.
Steele has won awards in many competitions, most recently in the 2012 Irving M. Klein International String Competition (second prize), and Sibelius International Violin Competition, where she was a finalist and received the Young Talent Prize. She has also received the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Silver Award, WAMSO Elaine Louise Lagerstrom Memorial Violin Award and a study grant from the International Pablo de Sarasate Violin Competition 2009.
An avid chamber musician, Steele has performed on NPR's From the Top and multiple WFMT radio shows including Introductions and the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series. She is concertmaster of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic and was previously concertmaster of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and Encore Chamber Orchestra. She is featured in the PBS documentary Circling Around: The Violin Virtuosi.
Steele's first-place awards include the Walgreens Society of American Musicians Young Artist Division, Chinese Fine Arts Society, Musicians Club of Women and Union League Civic and Arts Foundation competitions. She has performed solo with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Youth Concert Orchestra, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Symphony Orchestra and Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. She studies at Carnegie Mellon University as a student of Cyrus Forough.
The Divisa Ensemble is recognized for its engaging performances and eclectic programming. A quintet of flute, oboe, violin, viola, and cello, the ensemble's instrumentation and "mix-and-match" approach allow for a wide variety of repertoire comprising all traditional and contemporary styles. Since its premier concert in 2009, the Divisa Ensemble has performed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including appearances in the St. Bede's Performing Arts Series, Manteca Kindred Arts Series, Old First Concerts, and Trinity Chamber Concerts. On every program the Divisa Ensemble showcases its diverse repertoire of the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary genres.
Since 2002 The Avenue Winds has delighted audiences of all ages with dynamic chamber music performances featuring new works by local San Francisco Bay Area composers as well as the classics of the woodwind quintet repertoire. Performing with artistry and virtuosity, this engaging woodwind quintet has performed in recital at numerous venues, including the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, University of San Francisco, Berkeley Chamber Performances, Trinity Chamber Concerts, the Old First Concert Series and as a four-time Ensemble-In-Residence for the San Francisco Chamber Wind Festival.
Lauren Woody, Soprano
A native of Connecticut, her talent for singing and music was evident from a young age. She played the viola for 10 years, sang in vocal competitions, and performed in several musical theater productions. But it wasn't until her musical studies at the University of Connecticut that Ms. Woody discovered a passion for opera and started training to be a classical vocalist.
Shortly after obtaining her Master of Music degree from the UConn School of Music, she made her professional debut with the Hartford Festival Orchestra's "Opera al Fresco" concert series. She also went on to graduate from the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute, where she premiered the role of Lepido in the first U.S. performance of Handel's opera, Silla.
A winner of the Career Bridges Grant Award in New York City, Lauren Woody has been described as possessing a "wonderful lyric soprano voice capable of many styles and genres." Over the years, she has been tackling leading roles in The Magic Flute (Second Lady), Haydn's La Vera Costanza (Rosina), and the title roles in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience and Iolanthe. Her performances have been characterized as "superb... engaging the audience with both her singing and acting." Currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ms. Woody studies with world-renowned soprano and San Francisco Opera Center Director, Sheri Greenawald, focusing on lyric soprano repertoire by Puccini, Mozart, Verdi, and Gounod.
Paul Cheak, Bass Baritone
He was born in Los Angeles, but has lived in Benicia for the past 24 years. In addition to earning his musical degrees at The Colorado College and at San Diego State University, Mr. Cheak studied voice with the renowned Giorgio Tozzi. Mr. Cheak has been soloist for the symphonies of San Diego, Colorado Springs, Denver, Long Beach, the Kensington Symphony, the Contra Costa Symphony, and The New Millennium Strings. He has been soloist with the Soli Deo Gloria Concert Choir, San Diego Master Chorale, Colorado Springs Master Chorale, Contra Costa Chorale, Solano Choral Society, and Vallejo Performing Arts. Mr. Cheak has also performed with the San Diego Opera, Colorado Opera Festival, Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, Berkeley Opera, North Bay Opera, Golden Gate Opera, Orange County Opera, and Pacific Lyric Theater. Some of the roles that he has performed include Mephistopheles in Faust (Gounod), Dr. Dulcamara, Dr. Bartolo, Germont, Zuniga, Grampa Moss in The Tender Land, the King of Egypt in Aida, and the title roles in Falstaff, Don Pasquale, and Gianni Schicchi. This is Mr. Cheak's debut with the Vallejo Symphony Orchestra.
Carrie Hennessey, Soprano
Known for her ability to bring great musical and theatrical depth to her performances, Carrie Hennessey is a powerful and talented artist. Ms. Hennessey has performed in opera, theater and with symphonies all around the world. Recent engagements include her European debut at the International Mahler Festival in Jihlava, Czech Republic, performances in Austria and Eastern Europe including Dvorak Hall in Prague, NYC debut in Poulenc's French melodrama La Voix Humaine. Ms. Hennessey has also performed with Grammy-Nominated Grand Rapids Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, Berkeley Symphony and the Sacramento Opera. For more information visit www.carriehennessey.com
Franklyn D'Antonio, Violin
Franklyn D'Antonio has accumulated a wealth of solo, chamber music, and orchestral experience since his studies with Jascha Heifetz at the University of Southern California at the age of 16. The following year, he was appointed to the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra by its Music Director Sir Neville Marriner before going on to hold positions in the Detroit Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras. Described as an "outstanding soloist" (San Francisco Examiner) and "technically dazzling" (Los Angeles Times), his performances over the last 35 years have taken him on tours throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. During his decade long tenure as professor of Violin at California State University, Northridge, Mr. D'Antonio released two CDs with the Vista Piano Trio. He has appeared as violin soloist with numerous orchestras, including multiple appearances with the San Francisco Ballet performing the Prokofiev and Stravinsky violin concertos and the Russian Seasons (a 12 movement work for solo violin and string orchestra). Mr. D'Antonio is currently in his ninth season as Concertmaster of the Berkeley Symphony.