19-20 Guest Artists Archives - Berkeley Symphony
Conrad Tao

Conrad Tao

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Conrad Tao

Guest Artist ~ Pianist

Biography

Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer, performing to acclaim from critics and audiences alike. The former prodigy continues to emerge as a mature, thoughtful and thought-provoking artist, confidently pushing boundaries as a leading performer, composer, curator, and commissioner, championing new music while continuing to present core repertoire in a new light.

In addition to being the only classical musician selected to Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2012 (at age 17), a few of Tao’s numerous accolades and awards include being a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, an Avery Fisher Career Grant-winner, and a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist. His career as composer has garnered eight consecutive ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards before he turned 18, and he has been commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, the Dallas Symphony, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and others. 

Tao’s Warner Classics recordings have been praised by NPR, The New York Times, The New Yorker’s Alex Ross and others, and New York Magazine called him “The kind of musician who is shaping the future of classical music.”

Berkeley High Jazz

Berkeley High Jazz

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Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble

Guest Ensemble

Biography

Dr. Herb Wong brought jazz to the Berkeley elementary and middle schools. He hired professional jazz musicians to teach Berkeley students. Dick Whitington and Phil Hardymon were two of those teachers. When Phil Hardymon became the band director at Berkeley High School in 1975, he established the jazz band as the culmination for students who had gained the basics in their elementary and middle schools. Under Hardymon’s leadership, the band began winning state-wide jazz competitions and often earned a spot at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Many Berkeley High School Jazz students went on to become professional musicians— Peter Apfelbaum, Benny Green, Steven Bernstein to name a few. With Phil Hardymon, the Berkeley Jazz Program thus developed into a national model of instrumental education.

Charles Hamilton took over leadership of the Jazz Ensemble in 1981. The band continued to thrive and develop some of the best musicians in the jazz world, including Joshua Redman, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Dave Ellis. 

The Ensemble has performed in venues large and small. In 1997, they performed by invitation at the Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals. In the summer of 1999, the Ensemble toured Japan and began the 1999-2000 school year with an appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Over the many years, numerous BHSJ students have won individual and Jazz Combo awards at Jazz festivals and have been awarded music scholarships to the best music schools in the nation. In both 2012 and 2013, the top BHS Jazz Combos won first place at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey earning them a slot at the Monterey Jazz Festival. In 2012 and in 2013, two different top BHS Jazz Combos were named High School Combo of the Year by Downbeat Magazine. In 2015 the top BHS Jazz Combo was invited to participate in the Mingus Jazz Festival in New York City where they won the top combo award.

In 2011, Sarah Cline became the Director of the Berkeley High Jazz Program, beginning a new era in the history of jazz at Berkeley High School.

Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble is led by Sarah Cline who is in her ninth year as Jazz Director at Berkeley High School, a premier jazz program known nationally and internationally as an incubator of talent and a citadel of swing. Her students regularly represent at high level festivals and get into top flight college music programs. During her time at Berkeley High, she has led four tours to Cuba, collaborating with La Escuela Nacional de la Musica in Havana. Sarah is the founder of JazzGirls Day, an event that now is spreading to communities across the US that encourages young women to see a place for themselves in the world of jazz. In addition to her teaching duties, Sarah is an in-demand professional trombonist in the San Francisco Bay Area in both jazz and salsa bands. She has presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, the Jazz Education Network Conference, and the California All-State Music Education Conference.

Sean Jones

Sean Jones

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Sean Jones

Guest Artist ~ Trumpeter

Biography

Music and spirituality have always been fully intertwined in the artistic vision of trumpeter, bandleader, composer, educator and activist Sean Jones. Singing and performing as a child with the church choir in his hometown of Warren, Ohio, Sean switched from the drums to the trumpet at the age of 10. 

Sean is a musical chameleon and is comfortable in any musical setting no matter what the role or the genre. He is equally adept in being a member of an ensemble as he is at being a bandleader. Sean turned a 6-month stint with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra into an offer from Wynton Marsalis for a permanent position as lead trumpeter, a post he held from 2004 until 2010. In 2015 Jones was tapped to become a member of the SFJAZZ Collective. During this time, Sean has managed to keep a core group of talented musicians together under his leadership forming the foundation for his groups that have produced and released eight recordings on the Mack Avenue Records, the latest is his 2017 release Sean Jones: Live from the Jazz Bistro.

Sean has been prominently featured with a number of artists, recording and/or performing with many major figures in jazz, including Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Gerald Wilson and Marcus Miller. Sean was selected by Miller, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter for their Tribute to Miles tour in 2011. He has also performed with the Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Youngstown Symphony Orchestras as well as Soulful Symphony in Baltimore and in a chamber group at the Salt Bay Chamber Festival. 

Sean is also an internationally recognized educator. He was recently named the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair of Jazz at John Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute in Baltimore. Before coming to Peabody, Sean served as the Chair of the Brass Department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

https://www.sean-jones.com/bio-1-1

Mary Kouyoumdjian

Mary Kouyoumdjian

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Mary Kouyoumdjian

Composer

Biography

MARY KOUYOUMDJIAN is a composer with projects ranging from concert works to multimedia collaborations and film scores. As a first generation Armenian-American and having come from a family directly affected by the Lebanese Civil War and Armenian Genocide, she uses a sonic palette that draws on her heritage, interest in music as documentary, and background in experimental composition to progressively blend the old with the new.

Kouyoumdjian has received commissions for such organizations as the NY Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble [ICE], Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the American Composers Forum/JFund, Roomful of Teeth, WQXR, REDSHIFT, Experiments in Opera, the Nouveau Classical Project, Music of Remembrance, Friction Quartet, Ensemble Oktoplus, and the Los Angeles New Music Ensemble. Her documentary work was recently presented by the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial and has also been performed internationally at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Barbican Centre, Cabrillo Festival, Millennium Park, Big Ears Festival, 21C Music Festival, and Cal Performances. Her residencies include those with Alarm Will Sound/The Mizzou International Composers Festival, Roulette/The Jerome Foundation, Montalvo Arts Center, and Exploring the Metropolis. Her music has been described as “eloquently scripted” and “emotionally wracking” by The New York Times and as “the most harrowing moments on stage at any New York performance” by New York Music Daily.  In her work as a composer, orchestrator, and music editor for film, she has collaborated on a diverse array of motion pictures including orchestrating on the soundtracks to The Place Beyond the Pines (Focus Features) and Demonic (Dimension Films). 

Currently pursuing her Composition D.M.A. as a Teaching Fellow at Columbia University, Kouyoumdjian studies primarily with Zosha Di Castri, Georg Friedrich Haas, Fred Lerdahl, and George Lewis. She holds an M.A. in Scoring for Film & Multimedia from New York University and a B.A. in Music Composition from the University of California, San Diego, where she studied contemporary composition with Chaya Czernowin, Steven Kazuo Takasugi, and Chinary Ung; new music performance with Steven Schick; and modern jazz with Anthony Davis. Kouyoumdjian is an educator, served as the founding Executive Director of contemporary music ensemble Hotel Elefant, is a co-founder of the annual new music conference New Music Gathering, and is a co-artistic director of Alaska’s new music festival Wild Shore New Music.

San Francisco Girls Chorus

San Francisco Girls Chorus

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San Francisco Girls Chorus

Guest Ensemble

Biography

Stunning range, flexibility, drama, and power are among the hallmarks of the 40-year-old San Francisco Girls Chorus, recognized as one of the world’s premier youth vocal ensembles. Led by Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, SFGC has achieved an incomparable sound that underscores the unique clarity and force of impeccably trained treble voices.

Recent performance highlights include debuts in February 2018 at Carnegie Hall with Philip Glass in a remounting of the composer’s 1971 work, Music With Changing Parts, and in April 2017 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with The Knights for the 2017 SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras; tours to the Nordic countries and Cuba; and the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama. SFGC presents an annual Bay Area subscription series and will collaborate this season with leading arts organizations including the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, Kronos Quartet, Opera Parallèle, and the Copenhagen Girls Choir.

Praised by Gramophone Magazine as a “remarkable tapestry of teenage voices,” SFGC has been a champion of the music of our time since its founding, having commissioned more than three dozen works by leading composers including Philip Glass, Richard Danielpour, Aaron Jay Kernis, Gabriel Kahane, Augusta Read Thomas, Lisa Bielawa, and Chen Yi. In February 2018, the ensemble released its newest album Final Answer on Philip Glass’s Orange Mountain Music label, which features seven world premiere recordings and commissions for or by the chorus. SFGC’s performance and recording activities have garnered five GRAMMY Awards and four ASCAP/Chorus America Awards for Adventurous Programming.

SFGC also operates a Chorus School, which annually trains more than 250 young women, ages 4-18, in the art of choral singing and has been called “a model in the country for training girls’ voices” by the California Arts Council. For more information, visit sfgirlschorus.org.

Kelley O’Connor

Kelley O’Connor

Meet Our Artistic Team

Kelley O’Connor

Guest Artist ~ Mezzo Soprano

Biography

Possessing a voice of uncommon allure, musical sophistication far beyond her years, and intuitive and innate dramatic artistry, the Grammy® Award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor has emerged as one of the most compelling performers of her generation.

During the 2018-19season, the artist’s impressive symphonic calendar features Mahler’s Second Symphony with Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Houston Symphony, his Third Symphony with Donald Runnicles and the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, and with Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Das Lied von der Erde both with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.  Sought after by many of the most heralded composers of the modern day, Kelley O’Connor gives the world premiere of Joby Talbot’s A Sheen of Dew on Flowers with the Britten Sinfonia at the Victoria & Albert Museum to celebrate the opening of the institution’s new jewellery wing, debuts with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in the title role of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary under the baton of the composer, presents the west coast premiere of Bryce Dessner’s Voy a Dormir with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra led by Jaime Martín, and brings Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs to life in performances with Stéphane Dénéve and the St. Louis Symphony and with Brett Mitchell and the Colorado Symphony.  Bernstein’s Songfest serves the American mezzo-soprano with her Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of Bramwell Tovey and she is heard in performances of this work with Thomas Dausgaard leading the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Kelley O’Connor returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a Stravinsky Festival singing multiple works there under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen and she assays the title role of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia presented by Boston Lyric Opera in a new production by Broadway theater director Sarna Lapine conducted by David Angus.

John Adams wrote the title role of The Gospel According to the Other Mary for Kelley O’Connor and she has performed the work, both in concert and in the Peter Sellars fully staged production, under the batons of Gustavo Dudamel, Grant Gershon, Gianandrea Noseda, Sir Simon Rattle, and David Robertson.  She has sung the composer’s El Niño with Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and continues to be the eminent living interpreter of Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs having given this moving set of songs with Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra, with Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Robert Spano and the Minnesota Orchestra, and with David Zinman and the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich among many others.

Recent seasons include performances of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with Matthias Pintscher and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony, and Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich. She has sung Mahler’s Des knaben Wunderhorn with Krzysztof Urbański and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Das Lied von der Erde with Louis Langrée and the Detroit Symphony and with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.  Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has been performed with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Ravel’s Shéhérazade with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Berio’s Folk Songs with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra, and the role of Erda in Wagner’s Das Rheingold with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Alan Gilbert. Recital appearances include performances in Boston with Thomas Adès in a program of Brahms, Purcell, and Stravinsky, in Chicago offering works of Debussy, Massenet, and Chausson, in Cincinnati with pianist Louis Langrée in programs of Brahms and Ravel, and in Jackson Hole with the music of Brahms and Bernstein in a collaboration with Donald Runnicles.

Miss O’Connor has appeared numerous times with Gustavo Dudamel, including in performances of Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony on an international tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and of Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra.  She enjoys a rich musical collaboration with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra with whom she has sung Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Mass in C, Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony, staged performances of Falstaff both in Cleveland and at the Lucerne Festival, and Stravinsky’s Requiem Canticles.

Operatic highlights include Carmen with Los Angeles Opera conducted by James Conlon, Donizetti’s Anna Bolena at the Lyric Opera of Chicago conducted by Patrick Summers and directed by Kevin Newbury, Madama Butterfly in a new production by Lillian Groag at the Boston Lyric Opera and at the Cincinnati Opera under the baton of Ramón Tebar, Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict at Opera Boston, Falstaff with the Santa Fe Opera, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Canadian Opera Company.

Kelley O’Connor has received unanimous international, critical acclaim for her numerous performances as Federico García Lorca in Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar.  Miss O’Connor created the role for the world premiere at Tanglewood, under the baton of Robert Spano, and subsequently joined Miguel Harth-Bedoya for performances of Golijov’s piece with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  She reprised her “musically seductive, palpably charismatic” (Washington Post) portrayal of Lorca in the world-premiere of the revised edition of Ainadamar at the Santa Fe Opera in a new staging by Peter Sellars during the 2005 season, which was also presented at New York City’s Lincoln Center and Madrid’s Teatro Real.

For her debut with the Atlanta Symphony in Ainadamar, she joined Robert Spano for performances and a Grammy® Award-winning Deutsche Grammophon recording.  Her discography also includes Mahler’s Third Symphony with Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Lieberson’s Neruda Songs with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony, Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra.

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