About the 2013-2014 First Muse Chamber Music Artists

Artists for The Quest for Don Quixote (May 18, 2014)
    Tigran Vardanyan, violin
    Melissa Matson, viola
    Lars Kirvan, cello
    Andrew Brown, clarinets
    Peter Kurau, french horn
    Timothy Burns, piano
    Marc Webster, bass voice

    Clarinetist Andrew Brown (May 18, 2014) currently serves as Third/Bass Clarinetist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He also regularly performs with the Buffalo Philharmonic and New Mexico Symphony Orchestras and has appeared with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra.

         As a chamber musician, Andrew has performed around Upstate New York and in New Mexicos “Church of Beethoven.” As a member of The Eastman Broadband Ensemble (a new music ensemble based at Eastman), he has toured Europe and Mexico, participated in two recording projects, one of which was a Pulitzer-Prize Finalist, and performed in the Zankel Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.

         Andrew earned his bachelors of Music Degree from The Ohio State University and masters Degree from the Eastman School of Music. He spent four summers at the Aspen Music Festival including.  His principal teachers have been Bob Lehner, James Pyne and Kenneth Grant.

         In addition to his performing activities, Andrew also maintains an active studio as Instructor of Clarinet at the Eastman Community Music School.


    Collaborative pianist Timothy Burns ( May 18, 2014) is a versatile performer with significant instrumental, vocal, and choral accompanying experience. He holds degrees in piano performance and collaborative piano from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, studying with Carol Schanely-Cahn, David Allen Wehr, and Jean Barr.  He has worked with renowned choral conductors, master clinicians, and international performing artists.  As an avid supporter of new and current music, Timothy has premiered and performed music by current composers.  He has also been recognized for his academic presentations and research, with lectures and interviews given on a variety of theoretical and collaborative topics.  Recent residencies have included the 2010 King Award Competition, the 2012 International Viola Congress, and the 2013 International Society of Bassists Conference.        

    Currently, Timothy is completing his studies at the Eastman School of Music, working toward a DMA in Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music and an MA in Music Theory Pedagogy.  For the academic year 2013-14, he will be teaching undergraduate aural skills at the Eastman School of Music and performing with artists Matthew Valverde and John Michael Vaida.


    Cellist Lars John Kirvan (May 18, 2014) grew up in Fairfax, Virginia, where he began his cello studies with Loran Stephenson of the National Symphony Orchestra.  He later earned his Bachelor of Music degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music where he was a student of the Cleveland Orchestra’s renowned principal cellist, Stephen Geber.  Lars was a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the Verbier Chamber Orchestra where he served as a principal, and was also a member and principal of the New World Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.  Lars has traveled all over the world performing in its most prestigious concert halls.  He has collaborated in chamber music performances with artists such as Maxim Vangerov, James Buswell, Leonidas Kavakos, Dimitry Sitkovesky, Heinrich Schiff, Laurence Lesser, and Corey Cerovcek, and many more.  Lars joined the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008 and was appointed its Third Chair Cello.  Most recently, Lars is honored to have been invited to join the World Orchestra for Peace--a project founded by Sir George Solti-- under the direction of Valery Gergiev that included tours in Carnegie Hall and Chicago Symphony Hall.


    W. Peter Kurau (May 18, 2014) was appointed Principal Horn of the RPO in 2004. He had previously served as Assistant Principal Horn (1983-1995) and Acting Assistant Principal Horn (2002-2004).   He also serves as Professor of Horn at the Eastman School of Music.  A prizewinner in the Heldenleben International Horn Competition (1977) and a recipient of an I.T.T. International Fellowship for study in the United Kingdom (1974-75), he also served as an Artistic Ambassador for the United States Information Agency, presenting concerts and classes with esteemed colleague Joseph Werner in Serbia-Montenegro, Kazakstan, Syria, and Macedonia (1997). Active also as a soloist, chamber musician, and clinician, he has appeared at numerous professional symposia, as well as at leading universities in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.  His festival activities include appearances at the Chautauqua Music Festival, Bravo! Colorado, Grand Teton Festival, Skaneateles Festival, Texas Music Festival, and the International Festival Institute at Round Top (TX), among others.


 Violist Melissa Matson (February 9 and May 18, 2014), artistic director of First Muse Chamber Music, is the Principal Violist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. She also performs frequently with Chamber Music Rochester and with the Skaneateles (NY) Festival. A California native, she received her degrees and the Performer’s Certificate from Eastman, where she teaches viola orchestral repertoire. Ms. Matson was a founding member of the Chester String Quartet (prize winners at the Munich and Portsmouth international competitions) and has been a chamber music participant in the Aspen, Norfolk, and Grand Teton summer festivals. She enjoys creating artisan-dyed fabrics and garments (www.MelissaMatson.com), and lives in Honeoye Falls with her husband.


    Violinist Tigran Vardanyan (May 18, 2014) began violin studies with his father at the age of six in his native Armenia. Later he attended the Sayat Nova School of Music and the Tchaikovsky Specialized Music School, and while still very young, he performed as a soloist with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Armenian Chamber Orchestra, and the Armenian TV and Radio Orchestra.
        In 1994 Tigran immigrated to the USA to study with the renowned Ukrainian violinist, Abram Shtern, at the Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica, CA. In 1996 began studies at the Eastman School of Music with Professor Zvi Zeitlin.
        Tigran is a winner of many competitions and awards, including the 1991 and 1993 Armenian National Competitions, the 1992 Amadeus Competition for Young Artists, various sholarships, and the Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. Winner of two Eastman School Concerto Competitions, he performed the Shostakovich Violin with the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra (David Gilbert) and the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (Christopher Seaman).
        Since 1998, Tigran has been a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2007 he joined the faculty at the David Hochstein Memorial Music School, and in 2010 at Nazareth College. He continues to perform as a soloist and chamber musician at various music festivals and concert venues in the Middle East, Europe, Central America and North America.


    Bass Marc Webster (May 18, 2014) has performed recently with The Juilliard Opera Center, Wolf Trap Opera, Seattle Opera Studio, Florida Grand Opera Studio, San Francisco Opera Merola Studio, Syracuse Opera, Mercury Opera, and Eastman Opera Theater. Recital work includes The New York Festival of Song with Stephen Blier and with the Marilyn Horne Foundation The Song Continuesseries at Weill Recital Hall. Oratorio performances with Juilliard Symphony in Alice Tully Hall, Colonial Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Eastman Symphony, Buffalo and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestras. He was a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and holds First Place Awards from the Jessie Kneisel Lieder, Eastman Concerto, and The Eastman Opera Competitions. Mr. Webster will be a featured soloist this season with Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Eastman Philharmonia in Kodak Hall, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra in Ithaca, and Ensemble X at Cornell University.  Last season, he was seen regionally in Verdi Requiem and Messiah with Symphony Syracuse, Dottore Grenvile in La Traviata, The Bonze in Madama Butterfly, and Cesare Angelotti in Tosca with Syracuse Opera and Sarastro in Die Zauberflote with Muses Opera Arkansas. Mr. Webster is currently on the Voice Faculty at Ithaca College and Cornell University and is a Doctoral Candidate at Eastman School of Music. 


The Argos Piano Trio (February 9, 2014) (Liana Koteva Kirvan, violin; Lars Kirvan, cello; Chiao-Wen Cheng, piano)

Since the Argos Trio was formed in 2007, its members’ youthful passion has won audiences all over the country.  Their superb interpretations of baroque to contemporary music are charismatic, fiery, and unabashed.  The trio’s Liana Koteva Kirvan, violin, Lars John Kirvan, cello, and Chiao-Wen Cheng, piano, combine the strict yet artistic training of the Eastern European School with the refined freedom of the American conservatory tradition.

The Argos Trio won high praise in 2009 after performing Shostakovich’s Trio No. 2 on the opening night of Strathmore Hall’s Music in the Mansion series.  Stephen Neal Dennis, allartsreview4u.com, described the trio as giving, “a defining performance of what must have been one of the greatest piano trios of the twentieth century.”  Most recently, the Argos Trio was heard live on the WXXI radio station in greater Rochester, NY, where it presented, in the words of the station’s Chris Van Hof, an “exciting and passionate performance--a dynamic duo of strings.”  Argos is excited to be a part of First Muse Chamber Music’s 2013-14 concert series.

Byron Johns
  (September 29, 2013) joined the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 2012 as Assistant Principal Horn.  He serves on the faculty of the Eastman Community Music School and as a mentor to the RPYO horn section.  Byron earned degrees in Horn Performance and Choral Music Education from the Florida State University as well as a graduate degree in Horn Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music.  In addition to his post with the RPO, Mr. Johns has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rochester Chamber Orchestra and the Jacksonville Philharmonic Orchestra.  When he is not performing or teaching Byron enjoys fly-fishing, backpacking and spending time with his wife Katy and their two loyal dogs.


 Mark Kellogg (September 29, 2013) enjoys the dual appointment of Principal Trombone of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Associate Professor of Trombone, Euphonium, and Chamber Music at the Eastman School of Music. Throughout his career he has embraced a wide variety of performing roles, from jazz soloist to chamber musician to orchestral performer.

Since joining the RPO in 1989, Mr. Kellogg has appeared as soloist with the orchestra on many occasions, performing the concerti of Tomasi, Albrechtsberger, Larsson, Schilkret and Jeff Tyzik (commissioned by the RPO in celebration of the orchestra’s 80th anniversary), works by Elliott Carter and Fred Sturm and numerous jazz and euphonium solos on the orchestra’s Pops series. Prior to his appointment in the Rochester Philharmonic, he performed as a member of the San Francisco Symphony, Syracuse Symphony and National Repertory Orchestra.  Mr. Kellogg has been a frequent guest with the Eastman Wind Ensemble, appearing as soloist in the Eastman Theatre and on tours to Japan and Carnegie Hall.

Active as a jazz and chamber musician, Mr. Kellogg was a founding member of the brass and percussion ensemble Rhythm & Brass, touring the United States and Japan and recording four CDs during his two years in the group. He has also performed with Clark Terry, Chris Vadala, Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Daniels, and Mel Tormé. Recent jazz and commercial recordings include collaborations with Jeff Tyzik, Gene Bertoncini, Allen Vizzutti, Steve Gadd, and Gap Mangione. His jazz recording with Eastman School faculty colleague pianist Tony Caramia, Upstate Standards, celebrates the music of upstate New York composers Harold Arlen, Alec Wilder, and Jimmy Van Heusen. Mr. Kellogg’s most recent CD, Impressions, is a collection of French music for trombone and piano, featuring pianists Joseph Werner and Christopher Azzara.

A Conn Trombone performing artist, Mr. Kellogg has made appearances at numerous low brass symposia including the International Trombone Festival, the Eastern Trombone Workshop, the Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival, the Northeast Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference, and the New York Brass Conference. In 2006, he initiated Eastman’s annual Summer Trombone Institute, a week-long workshop for high school and college trombonists. In June 2014, Mr. Kellogg will serve as co-host of the International Trombone Festival at the Eastman School. He lives in Pittsford, NY with his wife, flutist Joanna Bassett, and their son Rob.

       Violist Melissa Matson (February 9, May 18, 2014), artistic director of First Muse Chamber Music, is the Principal Violist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. She also performs frequently with Chamber Music Rochester and with the Skaneateles (NY) Festival. A California native, she received her degrees and the Performer’s Certificate from Eastman, where she teaches viola orchestral repertoire. Ms. Matson was a founding member of the Chester String Quartet (prize winners at the Munich and Portsmouth international competitions) and has been a chamber music participant in the Aspen, Norfolk, and Grand Teton summer festivals. She enjoys creating artisan-dyed fabrics and garments (www.MelissaMatson.com), and lives in Honeoye Falls with her husband.

     Composer Wesley Nance (September 29, 2013) has had several pieces commissioned and premiered by the RPO over the last several years under the batons of Jeff Tyzik and Michael Butterman. He holds the position of Second Trumpet with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and is in his 28th season, having won a position with the orchestra in 1986 at the age of 17.  In addition to his section duties in the orchestra, he is frequently called on to play Principal Trumpet, and has been featured as a soloist with the orchestra on several occasions. Nance holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Barbara Butler and Charles Geyer. For over twenty years he has been on the faculty of the Eastman Community Music School, where his trumpet studio is highly regarded, and he directs a trumpet ensemble made up of the finest pre-college players in the area.

 An active chamber musician, Nance is a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Brass Quintet, and a frequent musical collaborator in the Rochester area. He has performed with the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester, the Skaneateles Festival, and the Canandaigua Lake Chamber Music Festival, among others.

Outside of music, Wesley Nance enjoys espresso, tennis, sailing, salsa dancing with his lovely wife (RPO Assistant Concertmaster Shannon Nance), and a good movie downstairs in the home theater, where he’s likely to be joined by Shannon and their four children.

       Craig Sutherland
(September 29, 2013)
, a native of Clarence, New York, was appointed to the position of Principal Tubist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 2004. Prior to joining the RPO, Craig served as Tubist with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, in Charleston, SC. Shortly after receiving his Bachelor's degree in Music Education from the University of Michigan, Craig was the Principal Tubist with the Hofer Symphoniker and Rekkenze Brass Quintet, in Hof, Germany. Upon returning to the States, Mr. Sutherland was awarded a full-scholarship to attend The Juilliard School where he earned his Master's degree. Craig has spent the past two summers in Santa Fe, NM as a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. He has also performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Seattle Symphony. Mr. Sutherland is an active music educator in the Rochester area, currently serving on the faculty at the Eastman Community Music School, as well as Adjunct Professor of Tuba at Roberts Wesleyan College. Craig is also the RPO low brass mentor for the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. In the summers, he has served on faculty at the New York State Summer School of the Arts in Saratoga, NY, in conjunction with performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, as a faculty member of the Music Horizons program at the Eastman School of Music, and as a performing faculty member at the Brevard Music Center, in Brevard, NC.

       Joseph Werner (September 29, 2013) enjoys a varied career as a soloist, collaborative artist, orchestral pianist, administrator, and educator. He has been the Principal Pianist for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra since 1975 and the orchestra’s Personnel Manager since 1993.  He is Co-Artistic Director of Chamber Music Rochester and has recorded for the Columbia, Vanguard, Musical Heritage Society, NEXUS, and Naxos labels.  He has toured across the United States with Mark Kellogg, Principal Trombone of the RPO, and toured Russia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East as an Artistic Ambassador for the United States Information Agency with Peter Kurau, Principal Horn of the RPO.  A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Mr. Werner is Co-Chair of the Piano Department of the Hochstein Music School, where he won that institution’s first Faculty Service Award.  Mr. Werner was the recipient of Mu Phi Epsilon’s Musician of the Year Award in 2007.