Brown is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where she received master’s and doctoral degrees in flute performance and won the esteemed Performer’s Certificate. She earned a bachelor of music degree from Northwestern University and graduated from high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy. She has participated in summer programs at Aspen, the Music Academy of the West and Norfolk, and has performed in master classes with William Bennett, Maxence Larrieu, Aurele Nicolet and Michel Debost.
A featured performer at the National Flute Association’s annual convention in 2005, Brown adjudicated the Young Artists’ Competition at the association’s 2010 convention and will perform at the 2012 convention in Las Vegas. She has served as chair, president and vice president of the Chicago Flute Club and is a member of the Musicians Club of Women and the National Flute Association.
Susan Dennis is a member of the vocal faculty at Elmhurst College as well as Harper College. A soprano, she is an active soloist equally at home with classical as well as the Broadway repertoire.
Dennis is the music/artistic director of Elgin OPERA and performed in Love and Fairy Tales, A Taste of Italy, and L’Elisir d’Amore with the Elgin company. Dennis was the music director and soprano soloist in Elgin OPERA Summer Music Festival’s 2009 Comedy Tonight, the 2010 Baroque and Beyond and Broadway/Patriotic Night, and the 2011 Ole! La Fuerza la Music! and Opera Fools.
She has been a soprano soloist with New Millennium Orchestra, Symphonic Pops Orchestra of Chicago, Navy Pier Pops Orchestra, Harper College Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Festival Orchestra and the Opening Night Broadway Review Troupe. Her operatic roles include Despina in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, Monica in Menotti’s The Medium, Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel, Adele in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and understudy for Giannetta in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore.
Lawrence Johnson, writing in the Chicago Tribune, noted that “Dennis was delightful from the get go, her high-soprano singing and charming stage presence is hard to resist.”
She holds a bachelor of music degree from Eastern Illinois University and a master of music degree in vocal performance from Northwestern University.
From the San Francisco Bay Area to the Midwest and even on Cypriot National Television, Duo Tandem performances have been lauded as “magical” and praised for their “beautiful articulations, rhythm, and timing”. Duo Tandem was formed while Mark Anderson and Necati Emirzade studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Marc Teicholz. Originally brought together by a shared passion for the music of Astor Piazzolla, their repertoire has since expanded to include music by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Gottlieb, and Ferris as well as arrangements of Gnattali, Chopin, and Le Six. Influenced greatly by the Assad Brothers Duo, they have had the pleasure of working with both Sergio and Odair Assad on some of Sergio’s own arrangements. Now, playing together for just over one year, the duo has already completed their first tour.
Classical Guitarist Mark Anderson has been described as a ”soulful and intelligent musician”. Mark has performed throughout the United States including at The Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. He has also premiered several works by up and coming Bay Area composers and recently gave the U.S. premier of “Rising Spirals” by award winning composer Chinary Ung. Mark completed his M.M. in classical guitar at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied with Marc Teicholz and also received instruction from Sergio Assad, David Tanenbaum, Richard Savino, and Larry Ferrara. Mark is currently on faculty at Illinois Wesleyan University as an adjunct instructor of guitar.
Necati Emirzade is a Cypriot classical guitarist with “nice sound projection, many colors and no fear“ as said by Sergio Assad, Latin Grammy award winner. At the age of 16, he became one of the youngest undergraduate students accepted at the UNC School of the Arts. He later went on to receive his Masters Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, under the instruction of Guitar Foundation of America first prize winner, Marc Teicholz. Additionally, he has toured in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Australia, Turkey, and Cyprus including an appearance on Cypriot national television.
Kontras String Quartet
Lauded as a “tightly crafted and beautiful instrument”, the Kontras String Quartet is rapidly becoming one of the most vibrant young string quartets on the scene. Kontras began its professional touring career in 2009 and has been garnering acclaim ever since. The quartet is all the more unique in that its members—violinists Dmitri Pogorelov and Francois Henkins, violist Ai Ishida and cellist Jean Hatmaker—hail from four different parts of the world.
The quartet is currently in the third year of its tenure as the Hickory Metro Resident Quartet with the Western Piedmont Symphony in Hickory, NC. Kontras competed with other seasoned string quartets from across the country to win the residency, which was established in conjunction with Chamber Music America in 1999. As the focal point of their residency, Kontras presents a series of chamber music concerts, sponsored by the Friends of the Quartet, throughout the season. The members also serve as principals of the orchestra while in residence.
Kontras, which means “contrasts” in violinist Francois Henkins’ native Afrikaans language, debuted in Chicago after the four musicians met while performing in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. The quartet’s members hold graduate degrees in performance from DePaul University, Indiana University, the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and the Chicago College of Performing Arts. Their mentors include the Vermeer Quartet; Dr. Cliff Colnot, the principal conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s contemporary MusicNOW series; renowned violinist Ilya Kaler; and members of the Emerson String Quartet.
Ian Maksin, Russian-born Chicago-based cellist and composer Ian Maksin is quickly gaining international recognition for his beautiful tone and distinct style as well as his uniquely charismatic way with the audience.
Born in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, Maksin began playing the cello at age six at the Special School for Gifted Children of the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. At age seventeen he came to the United States to attend the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and later became the principal cellist of the New World Symphony, America’s one-of-a-kind training orchestra under direction of maestro Michael Tilson Thomas. During that time he had an opportunity to receive personal mentorship from such artists as Lynn Harrell, Mstislav Rostropovich, Bernard Greenhouse, and many others.
In the recent years, Ian Maksin has become increasingly active as a soloist and composer and has been touring regularly throughout the United States and Europe. His live performances have been frequently broadcast on National Public Radio and its affiliate stations throughout the USA, on NBC and PBS national television as well as in national television and radio in many European countries.
Maksin has premiered and recorded numerous works by contemporary composers, including a critically acclaimed CD “Sculpting Clouds” which came out on Albany Records in 2007 and featured works by Juilliard-based award-winning American composer Eric Ewazen. In 2006, he recorded on the album “Clocks” music by Miguel de Aguila, a collaboration with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. Ian’s debut solo CD titled “Solo Flight” was released in January 2010 and is an eclectic compilation of works for cello solo ranging from Bach Cello Suites to a new piece by a Chicago-based composer Ilya Levinson, as well as a suite for solo cello by Spanish cellist and composer Gaspar Cassado.
In 2011, Maksin has founded iAN&ANi DUO – a collaboration with Bulgarian pianist Ani Gogova. Their debut CD "Tango Plus" came out in October 2012 and featured music of Piazzolla, Ginastera, Ravel, De Falla as well as a world premiere of a work commissioned by iAN&ANi from Chicago-based composer Ilya Levinson. They have co-produced an award-winning music video “Strings Detached” based on music of Rodion Shchedrin, filmed by the Russian director Sergei Kvitko and featuring one of leading young American ballerinas Abigail Simon and iAN&ANi Duo. In the spring of 2012, Maksin and Gogova have co-produced a collaborative music, film and dance project “Tango Obsession” which was sold out for many consecutive nights at the Chopin Theatre in Chicago.
Apart from being recognized as one of the leading classical musicians, Maksin has taken the cello well outside its conventional scope and plays jazz, world, blues, flamenco, rock, R&B, pop, and has collaborated with such artists as Andrea Bocelli, P. Diddy, Snoop Dogga and Gloria Estefan. Ian describes his main goal as an artist is “to close the gap between generations and societies through art, and make the beauty of cello music accessible to everyone”.
Ian Maksin is currently on the artist roster of the Swiss Global Artistic Foundation and plays on a 1780 Giacomo Fiorillo cello on a private loan.
Mariachi Real de Jalisco
Mariachi Real de Jalisco is a native Mexican mariachi band based in Chicago. The band is in great demand all over the Midwest, performing for weddings, festivals, parties, and local community events. Led by Abraham Diaz, they play classical Mexican folk music, as well as their own compositions.
Geraldo de Oliveira
Geraldo de Oliveira started playing percussion professionally at the age of fourteen in his hometown Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He moved to the United States in 1975, where he continued to develop his skills as a musician and an educator, performing, recording, and studying at the American Conservatory of Music, in Chicago, under Mr. James Dutton. Geraldo has been privileged to work with all major bandleaders in Chicago, and presently is the percussionist for the Lake Side Singers, and Andy Tecson’s musical productions “The Jazz Passion” and “Bending Towards the Light”. Geraldo performs regularly in the Chicago area with different groups including Trio Copacabana, Paulinho Garcia, and Planeta Azul.