Our 2019 Artists’ Biographies
MICHAEL BEGAY. composer, guitarist, radio producer, writer. A graduate of Grey Hills Academy in Tuba City on the Navajo Nation, Mr. Begay was one of the first graduates of the Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP), Mr. Begay studied recording arts at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe and has worked at Native American radio station KGHR, a National Public Radio affiliate, as a producer and music writer for six years, and has worked in the studio with Grammy award winner Verdell Primeaux, all the while continuing to compose. He joined NACAP as a volunteer assistant composer-in-residence in 2006, working closely with Raven Chacon. He continues studying composition with Mr. Chacon, and officially joined NACAP as assistant composer-in-residence in 2007.
STEPHEN BENSON, guitar. Stephen Benson is very active on the New York City freelance scene. He is comfortable in a variety of musical settings from jazz and classical music to rock, blues, rhythm and blues, Broadway, bluegrass and klezmer music. He has performed and or recorded with people as diverse as Phoebe Snow, John Sebastian, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Natalie Cole, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, Harry Connick Jr., Take 6, Fontella Bass, Jane Krakowski, Sutton Foster, Garrison Keillor, The Big Apple Circus, The New York Philharmonic, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Lukes, NYC Ballet Orchestra and the American Symphony Orchestra. He has been a regular performer at the Grand Canyon Music Festival with Robert Bonfiglio and has performed with Evelyn Blakey at the Carnival of Venice. He toured Europe for two years as a member of the Giora Feidman Trio and did a world tour of A Chorus Line. Most recently, he has performed on Broadway in the orchestra pits of Aladdin, Chicago and The Lion King. He also composed and performed an original movie soundtrack for “ P.T. Barnum: The Lost Legend “. He was the first jazz guitar teacher at The Hartt School of Music under the direction of Jackie McLean and is currently on the jazz faculty at Montclair State University. He presently lives in New York City with his wife and twins.
ROBERT BONFIGLIO, harmonica, is founding director of the Grand Canyon Music Festival. Called “the Paganini of the Harmonica” by the Los Angeles Times, he has shown the world what power there is in this little instrument, what possibilities there are for an almost infinite range of expressivity from only about four octaves. Robert holds a masters degree in composition from the Manhattan School of Music, (because there wasn’t a harmonica faculty!). He studied harmonica with noted harmonica virtuoso Cham-ber Huang, and honed his technique through coaching with flutist Andy Lolya. Traveling the world with harmonica in hand, Robert is among a small group of musicians who have raised its status as a serious concert instrument. He has soloed with over 200 Orchestras including the Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Leipzig MDR-Radio Symphony at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Boston Pops, with John Williams on PBS, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., New York Pops, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the Buenos Aires Philharmonic at Teatro Colon, to name only a few. Having studied composition with Charles Wuorinen and, as the first recipient of the Mihaud Scholarship at the Aspen Music School, Aaron Copeland, it comes as no surprise that he is an avid supporter and promoter of contemporary music, starting with the World Premiere of the Henry Cowell Harmonica Concerto with Lucas Foss conducting. This season he premiered the Radamés Gnattali Harmonica Concerto in Brazil with Miguel Campos Neto conducting and “Concerto Armonico” with Atlanta Ballet and Tara Simoncic conducting. Outside of the concert hall, he has raised the consciousness of the harmonica among the general public through appearances on many shows such as the CBS Morning Show, CBS Sunday Morning, Larry King and Garrison Keillor. He has recorded on such labels as RCA, Arista, CBS, Sine Qua Non, High Harmony, QVC and Naxos. Robert, along with his wife, flutist Clare Hoffman, founded the Grand Canyon Music Festival. Now in its 35th season, it not only brings top performers to Grand Canyon National Park but also engages in outreach programs to schools in rural areas with the Native America Composer Apprentice Project which has won the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.
RAVEN CHACON, is a composer, performer and installation artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. As a solo artist, collaborator, or with Postcommodity, Chacon has exhibited or performed at Whitney Biennial, documenta 14, REDCAT, Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal, San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Chaco Canyon, Ende Tymes Festival, 18th Biennale of Sydney, and The Kennedy Center. Every year, he teaches 20 students to write string quartets for the Native American Composer Apprenticeship Project (NACAP). He is the recipient of the United States Artists fellowship in Music, The Creative Capital award in Visual Arts, The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation artist fellowship, and the American Academy’s Berlin Prize for Music Composition. He lives in Albuquerque, NM.
OWEN DAVIS, percussion. Owen Davis is a composer, percussionist, improvisor, noise artist, educator, and curator based in Flagstaff, AZ. He is currently the general music teacher at Sturgeon Cromer Elementary School in Flagstaff Unified School District. He also maintains a growing private percussion studio teaching the percussive arts weekly to students of all ages. His artistic work is animated by noise – searching out ways to find and make it in composition, improvisation, and other artistic endeavors. He is an active recording artist, improvisor, and new music performer nationally and internationally frequently collaborating or composing for projects and performances. He holds degrees in Music Education (Northern Arizona University studying with percussion professor Steven Hemphill) and a master’s degree in Music Composition (DePaul University). As a composer, Owen’s music has been heard in new music venues across the United States and Europe including Chicago, NYC, Atlanta, and Berlin. He has received commissions from and received performances by soloists, various new music chamber ensembles, and university and high school programs including the Chamber Cartel, the College of Southern Idaho, Ensemble 20+, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). In 2018, Owen was an invited composer and performer in the Labo de musique contemporaine de Montréal (Montréal Contemporary Music Lab) which is a two week immersive and collaborative festival for creative performers, improvisors, and composers. In 2016, Owen was an Artist in Residence supported by the NAU School of Music for which he gave a series of lectures, workshops, and composed two new works for faculty and student performers. He was a performer and composer for the SOUNDS New Music Concert Series from 2009-2015, and has both performed extensively with and have compositions performed by Flageolet, an NAU faculty new music ensemble, directed by NAU Composition professor Bruce Reiprich. In 2013, Owen created a six-week long composition project with the 5th grade class at Sechrist Elementary in Flagstaff to develop the expressive form of creativity and high-level critical thinking in the students through the means of group composition and improvisation. Owen also created and directed a summer composition workshop in 2013/14 as part of the Chaparral MusicFest in Prescott, AZ as well as teaching Percussion and Composition at the Curry Summer Music Camp at NAU since 2013. In 2014, Owen was one of the founding members of the Chicago-based performance collective, Mocrep, with which he currently performs as well as serves as a co-artistic director. With Mocrep, Owen has performed as an invited ensemble at the 2016 Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music at which they also led a collaborative workshop called “Just Beyond our Instruments is the World” alongside Harvard Professor Dr.Steven Takasugi. Mocrep has also been a resident ensemble at Stanford University, Mills College, Pro Forma Arts in Copenhagen, and two residencies Munich,Germany. He was also a member of the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra percussion section from 2009-2012 and still occasionally performs with the orchestra. Owen founded and currently curates the Interference Series, a improvised/avant/experimental performance series and fiscally sponsored non-profit organization in Flagstaff, AZ now in its fourth season. Owen, alongside two other curators, has produced over 130 distinct performances featuring local artist as well as national and international artists from Austria, Boliva, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, and more than 15 U.S. states. Venues include Firecreek Coffee, Flagstaff Brewing Company, Dark Sky Brewing, Kickstand Kafe, Flagstaff Modern and Contemporary Gallery, Downtown Flagstaff, and the Coconino Center for the Arts. The Interference Series aims to present the work of performing artists that is experimental, avant garde, or radical in nature. By providing a consistent home for this innovative and exciting art, they serve as a platform for musicians, poets, performance artists, visual artists, dancers, and other yet to be defined styles of performers as well as building a vibrant local community that supports it. The series believes that the Flagstaff community deserves to have access to expansive and diverse voices in contemporary performance usually reserved for large cosmopolitan centers. Owen’s work in this series helped him become a finalist for a 2019 Viola Award for Community Impact: Individual.
JOE DENINZON, violin. Joe Deninzon has been hailed by critics as “The Jimi Hendrix of the Violin,” because of his innovative style on seven-string electric violin. Joe has worked with Bruce Springsteen, The Who, 50 Cent, Sheryl Crow, Phoebe Snow, Ritchie Blackmore, Smokey Robinson, Les Paul, Peter Criss from KISS, Kurt Elling, the New York City Ballet, and numerous Broadway shows. Joe is the lead singer and violinist for the progressive rock band, Stratospheerius (www.stratospheerius.com), who have Release 6 critically acclaimed albums. He can be heard on over a hundred CDs and jingles as a violinist and string arranger. In 2015, Joe premiered his Electric Violin Concerto with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra. Joe is also a member of the Sweet Plantain String Quartet (www.sweetplantain.com), which combines Latin Jazz with hip-hop. A passionate educator and clinician, Joe has taught at Mark O’Connor’s String Camp and Mark Wood’s Rock Orchestra Camp. Mel Bay Published Joe’s book, “Plugging In.” Joe holds a Bachelors degree from Indiana University and a Masters from Manhattan Schiool of Music.
“As at home in the world of Grappeli and O”Conner as he is in the world of Steve Vai and Jimi Hendrix, Joe Deninzon may very well be our next national violin treasure!!”-Jedd Beaudoin
CLARE HOFFMAN, flute. Co-founder and artistic director of the Grand Canyon Music Festival, Clare Hoffman has toured the United States, Europe and Asia, performing in a variety of settings from major concert halls to an ancient ampitheatre on the Greek island of Rhodes. Recent engagements include the Berkshire Bach Society (Tanglewood), Bang on a Can Festival (Lincoln Center), Cutting Edge (New York City, Victoria Bond, director), Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra (Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series), Scandia Symphony, and Bronx Arts Ensemble. She has premiered works by John Corigliano, Seymour Barab, Brent Michael Davids, Arnold Black and Richard Einhorn and recorded for television, film, and RCA and High Harmony Records. Ms. Hoffman’s 2001-2002 season included working with Music Givers, an organization founded by musicians after September 11, 2001, to offer their talents to the relief efforts in the New York City area. Under her guidance, the Grand Canyon Music Festival has been presenting critically acclaimed musicians and outreach education programs to schools in northern Arizona’s rural areas, primarily schools and communities on the Hopi and Navajo Nations, for 28 years, and received funding and recognition from diverse organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, WESTAF, and The Nina Mason Pulliam, Flinn, Compton, ASCAP, and APS Foundations. She is a dedicated advocate for the arts and has worked throughout the United States with students from diverse backgrounds, from inner-city schools in places like Los Angeles and New York City to farming communities in Iowa and Native American communities in Arizona. Her education projects for the Grand Canyon Music Festival include an arts curriculum for fifth graders that integrates music and visual arts with core subjects, developed with Arts Vision and Bank Street College of Education, and the Native American Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP) with composers-in-residence Raven Chacon and Trevor Reed, which was recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. She taught at the Turtle Bay Music School in New York City where she developed curriculum for the Flute Certificate Program, and is currently on the faculty of Concordia College Conservatory in Westchester, New York. She studied at the Mannes College of Music with Andrew Lolya, at L’École d’Été in France with legendary French flutists Jean-Pierre Rampal and Alain Marion, and with Samuel Baron and Julius Baker.
CONNIE KUPKA, violin/viola, a native of Southern California, grew up in a music-loving family along with two siblings, both of whom are also performers. She attended UCLA, and after graduation won a scholarship to study chamber music with the Guarneri String Quartet at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in Connecticut. The experience created a lifelong passion for chamber music, and inspired her and her future husband, cellist David Speltz, to form their own ensemble, the Arriaga Quartet. The group went on to win Grand Prize at the prestigious Coleman Competition and begin a touring career presenting the broad range of offerings from the magnificent string quartet repertoire.
Summers have found Ms. Kupka participating in many of the wonderful festivals throughout the U.S. She has performed at the Santa Fe and Grand Canyon Chamber Music Festivals, the Mostly Mozart and Oregon Bach Festivals, and the Ojai, the Colorado, and the Sedona Festivals. She also participates regularly at home in many of the chamber music series offered in Los Angeles and throughout the states. Connie and David have three sons, two of which are now busy touring with their own chamber ensembles.
VINCE REDHOUSE (Diné), flute. Vince has played woodwinds seriously most of his life. He attended the Academy of Arts & Humanities under the direction of German professor Axel Duwe (Monterey, CA) and later performed as a Jazz tenor saxophone soloist with the Air Force Band. He would pick up the Native American flute, creating a fully chromatic fingering system that covers almost 3 octaves on the Traditional six-holed instrument, which took 20 yrs. He has taught Native youth at Reservation schools this method for the last 10 yrs (over 1,000 students) enabling them to read, play and perform – classical, jazz, their traditional and original music on the Native flute. Vince is a Two-time Grammy Nominee, winner of the Native American Music Award and recent recipient of the national Jazz Hero Award 2017. His extensive background in jazz and classical music creates a true musical voice embellished with his roots in the Navajo culture. Vince Redhouse is a Pandora radio artist (Jazz).
DAVID SPELTZ, cello, began his formal studies with Eleanor Schoenfeld after being introduced to the cello by his father. Later he joined the Gregory Piatigorsky Master Class at USC. He earned a Masters Degree in Mathematics from UCLA, but soon realized that the cello was the path to follow. During this period, he co-founded the Arriaga Quartet, which went on to win Grand Prize at the Coleman Competition.
As a member of the ensemble Musical Offering, Mr. Speltz performed at the Library of Congress, Lincoln Center and the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, and recorded for the Nonesuch label. He has been active for many years on many Los Angeles chamber music series, and has participated in summer festivals throughout the United States. David was a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner, and served as Principal Cellist of the California Chamber Orchestra under Henry Temianka. In 1989, he served as Principal Cellist for the German conductor Helmuth Rilling at the Bach Collegium Stuttgart.
Mr. Speltz has been active in the motion picture industry in Los Angeles for over 44 years, playing in the studio orchestras for over a thousand movies—from the Godfather series to Star Wars!
BRYAN STONE, drums, graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1993 with a degree in Percussion. He’s had an active career since then, playing with various groups including Exit 64 since 2012.
JOHN VAIL, bass, studied music at New Mexico Military Institute and attended University of Colorado Boulder under the music education program. He has stayed active, playing bass locally with the group EXIT 64 since 2001.
THE CATALYST QUARTET. Hailed by The New York Times at their Carnegie Hall debut as “invariably energetic and finely burnished…playing with earthy vigor,” Catalyst Quartet is comprised of top Laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition. Known for “rhythmic energy, polyphonic clarity and tight ensemble-playing,” the ensemble has toured throughout the United States and abroad, including sold-out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, at Chicago’s Harris Theater, Miami’s New World Center and Stern Auditorium at Carnegie hall. The quartet has also appeared as concerto soloists with the Bogata Filharmonica, the Sphinx Virtuosi, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Catalyst Quartet has held concert residencies at the University of Michigan, University of Washington, Rice University, Houston’s Society for the Performing Arts, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the Virginia Arts Festival, and Pennsylvania State University. International residencies where they perform and teach master classes have included the In Harmony Project in England, the University of South Africa, and the Teatro de Bellas Arts in Cali, Colombia.
Their recordings span the scope of their interests and artistry. Their debut album The Bach/Gould Project – features the members’ own arrangement of J.S. Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations paired with Glenn Gould’s seminal String Quartet Op. 1, on the Azica label. The Catalyst Quartet can also be heard on Strum, CQ violinist and composer Jessie Montgomery’s debut album, Bandaneon y cuerdas, tango inspired music for string quartet and bandaneon by JP Jofre, and Dreams and Daggers, Cecile McLorin Salvants tremendous 2 disk Grammy-winning album, featuring the Catalyst Quartet in a unique musical role. CQ has performed on numerous television and radio broadcasts for Detroit Public Television, American Public Media’s Performance Today, and Chicago, Houston, Seattle and Vermont local stations. The ensemble was also featured in The Strad and Strings Magazine.
The Catalyst Quartet has been invited as guest artists at important music festivals, Mainly Mozart in San Diego, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Sitka Music Festival, Juneau Jazz and Classics, Strings Music FestivaL, the Grand Canyon Music Festival, and the Vail International Dance Festival. In 2014 they opened the Festival del Sole in Napa with Joshua Bell and also participated in England’s Aldeburgh Music Foundation’s String Quartet Residency with two performances in Jubilee Hall. Recent seasons have brought international touring in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Puerto Rico, and expanded U.S. tours in Virginia, Minnesota, Hawaii and California. Catalyst’s New York City presence has included concerts on the Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series, the Café Series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at New York’s City Center, at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, for Schneider Concerts at the The New School, and six concerts at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant.
Founded by the Sphinx Organization, the Catalyst Quartet combines a serious commitment to diversity and education with a passion for contemporary works. In October 2016 the Quartet completed their sixth national tour as principal players and featured ensemble with the Sphinx Virtuosi. Catalyst Quartet members serve as principal faculty at the Sphinx Performance Academy at The Cleveland Institute of Music and Curtis Institute of Music.
The Catalyst Quartet proudly endorses Pirastro strings: www.pirastro.com. Additional information with links to audio and video performances can be found on their homepage: www.catalystquartet.com.
MANHATTAN CHAMBER PLAYERS. The Manhattan Chamber Players are a chamber music collective of New York-based musicians who share the common aim of performing the greatest works in the chamber repertoire at the highest level. Formed in 2015 by Artistic Director Luke Fleming, MCP is comprised of an impressive roster of musicians who all come from the tradition of great music making at the Marlboro Music Festival, Steans Institute at Ravinia, Music@Menlo, Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival and Perlman Music Program, and are former students of the Curtis Institute, Juilliard School, Colburn School, New England Conservatory, and Yale School of Music.
MCP was recently praised in Strings Magazine for “A fascinating program concept…It felt refreshingly like an auditory version of a vertical wine tasting.” The article went on to applaud MCP for “an intensely wrought and burnished performance…Overall, I wished I could put them on repeat.” At the core of MCP’s inspiration is its members’ joy in playing this richly varied repertoire with longtime friends and colleagues, with whom they have been performing since they were students. Building upon that foundation, new works commissioned from its composer members keep the ensemble firmly grounded in the music of both the past and present. Its roster allows for the programming of virtually all the core string, wind, and piano chamber music repertoire—from piano duos to clarinet quintets to string octets. While all its members have independent careers as soloists and chamber musicians, they strive for every opportunity to come together and again share in this special collaboration, creating “a mellifluous blend of vigorous intensity and dramatic import, performed with enthusiasm, technical facility and impressive balance, relishing distinctions…a winning performance.” (Classical Source)
Members of MCP are current and former members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, and the Amphion, Attacca, Dover, Escher, Vega, and Ying Quartets, and the Lysander and Aletheia Piano Trios. They are top prizewinners in the Banff, Concert Artists Guild, Fischoff, Melbourne, Naumburg, Osaka, Primrose, Queen Elisabeth, Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, Tertis, and Young Concert Artists Competitions, and are some of the most sought after solo and chamber performers of their generation. The Manhattan Chamber Players has been featured multiple times on NPR’s Performance Today, and is the Ensemble-in-Residence at both the Northern Lights Music Festival in Mexico and the Crescent City Chamber Music Festival in New Orleans. In addition to its numerous concerts across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, MCP regularly tours in Asia and the Middle East, and has led chamber music residency programs at institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad. manhattanchamberplayers.com
MEMBERS OF MANHATTAN CHAMBER PLAYERS:
LUKE FLEMING, viola. Praised by The Philadelphia Inquirer for his “glowing refinement,” violist Luke Fleming’s performances have been described by The Strad as “confident and expressive…playing with uncanny precision,” and lauded by Gramophone for their “superlative technical and artistic execution.” Festival appearances include the Marlboro Music School and Festival, the Steans Institute at Ravinia, Perlman Music Program, the Norfolk and Great Lakes Chamber Music Festivals, the Melbourne Festival, Bravo!Vail, and Festival Mozaic. Formerly the violist of the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet, he has served as Artist-in-Residence for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and received the National Federation of Music Clubs Centennial Chamber Music Award. He was awarded First Prize at the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and top prizes at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition.
In 2015, Mr. Fleming became the Founding Artistic Director of both the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based chamber music collective, and the Crescent City Chamber Music Festival. He has performed as a guest artist with the Pacifica, Solera, Serafin, and Canterbury Quartets, the Eroica and Gryphon Trios, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Sejong Soloists, Ensemble Connect, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the New York Classical Players, and has given masterclasses at UCLA, Louisiana State University, Ithaca College, Columbus State University, Syracuse University, Melbourne University, and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, among others. He has served on the faculties of the Innsbrook Institute, Renova Music Festival, Festival del Lago, and Houston ChamberFest, and Fei Tian College and is Lecturer-in-Residence for the concert series Project: Music Heals Us.
Mr. Fleming holds the degrees of Doctor of Musical Arts, Artist Diploma, and Master of Music from the Juilliard School, a Postgraduate Diploma with Distinction from the Royal Academy of Music in London, and a Bachelor of Music summa cum laude from Louisiana State University. He is represented by Arts Global, Inc.
BRENDAN SPELTZ, violin. NYC-based violinist Brendan Speltz, second violinist of the world renowned Escher String Quartet, has toured the globe with groundbreaking ensembles such as Shuffle Concert, the Manhattan Chamber Players, A Far Cry, and the Harlem Quartet. As founder of FeltInFour Productions, Mr. Speltz has produced innovative concert events across the New York City area that have been described by The New Yorker as “Thrilling, poignant, unexpected, and utterly DIY.” Most recently, Mr. Speltz co-created a cross-disciplinary presentation of Steve Reich’s Different Trains with aerial dance troupe ABCirque which was sponsored by Meyer Sound Labs. In NYC he has performed as guest with the New York New Music Ensemble, Mark Morris Dance Group, American Ballet Theatre, the American Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and as a founding member of the conductorless string orchestra Shattered Glass. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and his Master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Mr. Speltz plays a 1925 Carl Becker violin.
ANDREA CASARRUBIOS, cello. Praised by The New York Times for having “traversed the palette of emotions” with “gorgeous tone and an edge of-seat intensity” and described by Diario de Menorca as an “ideal performer” that offers “elegance, virtuosity, and great expressive power,” Spanish cellist Andrea Casarrubios has played extensively as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and America. She has collaborated in festivals such as the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, Ravinia’s Steans Institute, the Pablo Casals Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, and the Verbier Festival. First Prize winner of numerous competitions and awards, Ms. Casarrubios is also a pianist and composer. Her recent album, Caminante, was released in 2019 on Odradek Records. Ms. Casarrubios began to play the piano at the age of two, and at the age of five she began cello lessons, becoming a student of Maria de Macedo in Madrid and Lluis Claret in Barcelona. After finishing her undergraduate degree at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University with Amit Peled, she then completed her Masters at USC in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Ralph Kirshbaum. As part of her Doctorate degree, she also studied composition with John Corigliano. Ms. Casarrubios currently lives in New York City, where she works as an advisor for Ensemble Connect in residence at Carnegie Hall. A passionate mentor, Ms. Casarrubios has taught at The Juilliard School, Lake Champlain Music Festival, and Skidmore College, as well as in masterclasses on tour. Ms. Casarrubios’ latest engagements include tours of South Africa, China and Brazil, and solo and chamber music concerts in Spain, Mexico, Germany, New York, Illinois, South Carolina, Maryland and Washington D.C.
NEWMAN & OLTMAN GUITAR DUO. Hailed as a “revelation to hear” by The Washington Post and now celebrating their 40th anniversary season, the Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo have been Ensemble-in-Residence at Mannes School of Music since 1987, their concert tours have taken them to world cultural capitals and premier venues across five continents and to 49 of the United States, and their 12 CDs have been received with critical acclaimed. The Duo has demonstrated extraordinary stylistic and cultural breadth in their collaborations with such diverse artists as Pulitzer Prize-winner author Frank McCourt, composer/conductor Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, fiddler Eileen Ivers, pianist Clarice Assad, violinist Tim Fain, and the ETHEL, Calder, and Turtle Island string quartets.
Champions of new music, Newman & Oltman have built a unique repertoire of works composed for the duo by leading and emerging composers, such as Leo Brouwer, Paul Moravec, Augusta Read Thomas, Daniel Binelli, Lowell Liebermann, João Luiz, Dušan Bogdanović, Arthur Kampela, Michael Chapdelaine, and Roberto Sierra. Their collections of music arranged for two guitars are published by Theodore Presser and Mel Bay Publications.
One of their recent commissions, Concierto Buenos Aires, composed for them by Nuevo Tango Master Daniel Binelli, received acclaimed performances by Newman & Oltman in with l’Orchestre de l’Opéra de Reims in France and with the Virginia Symphony. To celebrate the 80th birthday of Cuban composer Leo Brouwer in 2019, Newman & Oltman will perform the world premiere of Brouwer’s new guitar duet, The Book of Imaginary Beings, a major new ensemble work composed for the duo.
Laura Oltman teaches guitar at Princeton University and Lafayette College. Michael Newman serves on the guitar and chamber music faculties of Mannes School of Music and The College of New Jersey.
Their recordings uniformly garner critical praise: “A reference standard” (Billboard); “Their duet recordings reveal a finely blended sound and true unity of timbre and style” (The New York Times); “beautifully realized performances” (Guitar Player Magazine).
As founders and music directors of New Jersey’s Raritan River Music, the Duo was awarded the National ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming (www.RaritanRiverMusic.org). Laura and Michael are co-founders and artistic directors of the New York Guitar Seminar at Mannes (www.mannesguitar.com) and the Lanciano International Guitar Seminar (www.lancianoguitar.com).
Laura and Michael are the recipients of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the 2017 City of Fiuggi (Italy) Career Prize, presented to the duo at the XI Fiuggi International Guitar Festival.
Drawing upon their artistic and creative experiences, Newman & Oltman have designed an entrepreneurial program offering marketing advice and practical tools on ways to compete and succeed in an ever-changing marketplace, presenting their vision which engages the participants in the discussion for arts and business departments of colleges and universities throughout the country.
Newman & Oltman play 1978 and 1981 Thomas Humphrey Pre-Millennium guitars with D’Addario EXP Composite High Tension strings.
For more info: www.guitarduo.com
Recordings for MusicMasters/BMG, Musical Heritage Society, Sheffield Lab Audiophile, MSR Classics/Albany Records
Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo is represented by GENEVIEVE SPIELBERG INC.
ED MELL, visual artist. Born in Phoenix, Mr. Mell graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in illustration. He began his career in New York as an art director for a prominent advertising agency. He also ran his own illustration studio in New York in the early seventies. After spending two summers working with children’s arts programs on the Hopi Indian Reservation, he developed his interest in Southwest landscape. Mr. Mell returned to Phoenix in 1973. He devotes his full time to working in oils, his main emphasis on Western landscapes and subject matter. In addition, he paints southwestern florals and sculpts western figures in bronze. His pieces are found in many corporate and private collections nationally and internationally.