About our 2018-2019 Artists

American pianist Jon Nakamatsu (November 18) continues to draw unanimous praise as a true aristocrat of the keyboard, whose playing combines elegance, clarity and electrifying power. A native of California, Mr. Nakamastu came to international attention in 1997 when he was named Gold Medalist of the Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the only American to have achieved this distinction since 1981. Mr. Nakamatsu has performed widely in North and South America, Europe, and the Far East, collaborating with such conductors as James Conlon, Marek Janowski, Raymond Leppard, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, and Hans Vonk. He has also performed at a White House concert hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton.
     Mr. Nakamatsu's extensive recital tours throughout the U.S. and Europe have featured appearances in New York's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, and in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Paris, London and Milan. He has worked with various chamber ensembles - among them the Brentano, Tokyo, Kuss, Jupiter, Cypress, Prazak, Ying and Amenda quartets. Together with clarinetist Jon Manasse, Mr. Nakamatsu tours continually as a member of the Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo. The Duo also serves as Artistic Directors of the esteemed Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival in Massachusetts.
     Since 1997, Mr. Nakamatsu has served on multiple international piano competition juries and has also been invited as a guest speaker at numerous institutions including the Van Cliburn Foundation, Stanford University and the Juilliard School. He studied privately with Marina Derryberry and has worked with Karl Ulrich Schnabel, son of the great pianist Artur Schnabel. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in German Studies and a master's degree in Education.

The Amenda Quartet (November 18) was founded in Rochester, NY in 2010 by four friends who share a consuming passion for the extraordinary body of music composed for two violins, a viola and a cello.  This perfect combination of instruments has inspired nearly every great composer since Haydn to reach their highest achievements.  And so it was with Ludwig van Beethoven, perhaps best known for his symphonies and his piano works, such as the “Moonlight Sonata” and the ever-popular “Für Elise”.  Beethoven wrote sixteen string quartets over his lifespan. Within them one finds expressed the spectrum of human experience: joy and anger, jocularity and gravity, despair and exaltation.

    Many string players dream of performing all of the Beethoven quartets; Patricia Sunwoo, David Brickman, Melissa Matson and Mimi Hwang are living the dream! Each brings to the ensemble vast experience as a performer and teacher.  Unlike an orchestra, a string quartet has no maestro on the podium controlling the parameters of the performance.  The Amenda Quartet is a true democracy.  It is through the process of rehearsing that an interpretation is honed and details of tempo, volume, articulation and musical color decided. A fine string quartet engages in a musical “conversation”, where changes in expression require split-second responsiveness and give new, subtle shades of meaning to the music.  This spontaneity infuses a performance with vitality and is immensely rewarding to the musicians and audiences alike.

David Brickman
(November 18)
took up the violin as a boy after falling in love with Nathan Milstein’s recording of the Mendelssohn Concerto.  (Little did he know that it would be a decade before he would be ready take a stab at it.)  After training at The Eastman School of Music and Indiana University, he began his orchestral career, though solo and chamber music were always dearest to his heart.  David and his wife, Patricia Sunwoo, have founded two companies: PlayMyPiece.com (which features their own recordings of pedagogical violin repertoire from “Twinkle” through Vivaldi and Handel) and Bodymind Float Center, a brick-and-mortar health spa offering sensory deprivation tanks, a salt room, and natural products for health and wellness.  David loves to cook, to improvise on the violin and piano, and to run and bike.  He lives in Rochester with his wife violinist Patricia Sunwoo and their daughters Claire and Lillian. 

Mimi Hwang (November 18) began playing the cello at age eight. Though conflicted between the practice room and playing football with her cousins, a roller-skating injury (and a stern lecture from her cello teacher) precipitated a focus on the cello and chamber music (there's no "I" in quartet). She is a founding member of the Franciscan String Quartet (winners of the 1986 Banff International String Quartet Competition) and the Cello Divas. When she's not teaching at Eastman or Nazareth College, she can still be found at the batting cages or serving on the Board of Trustees of the Hochstein School or Chamber Music America. Every June she makes Putney VT her home, as Co-Artistic Director of Yellow Barn's Young Artists Program, and lives the rest of the year in Brighton with her daughters, Emma and Celia.

Melissa Matson
(November 18)
has played chamber music as long as she can remember - starting as a child playing recorders with her family in northern California; continuing with five years as a founding member of the Chester Quartet formed at Eastman (with performances, recordings, winning competitions, and teaching); adding "big chamber music" as principal violist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; and now exploring the Beethoven quartets with the Amenda Quartet. Her experiences as a middle child prepared her well for thriving as a middle voice in chamber music - lessons in give-and-take towards inspired interpretations. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys creating artisan hand-dyed fabrics and one-of-a-kind garments (visit www.MelissaMatson.com) and is artistic director of First Muse Chamber Music (www.FirstMuse.org).

Violinist Patricia Sunwoo (November 18) hails from Vancouver, BC and started music lessons at the age of five purely for social reasons: all of her friends were doing it. This initial motivation has led naturally to a lifetime of seeking out friends to play chamber music with. While studying at Juilliard, she toured with new music group Sequitur and the Naumburg-award winning Whitman String Quartet. After leaving New York City, she participated in a lot of merry chamber music-making as a faculty member of the State University of Binghamton and member of the Bard Festival Quartet. She now lives in the beautiful Highland Park neighborhood with husband David Brickman. When not playing with her Amenda Quartet friends, she's juggling her other roles: owner of Bodymind Float Center, member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and Social Coordinator for eleven-year-old Lillian.