About the 2017-2018 Artists

 The Amenda Quartet (September 24) 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.

William Amsel
(September 24) joined the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as second and e-flat clarinet in the fall of 2012. Previously, he held the position of principal clarinet of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and the Sarasota Opera Orchestra, and has also performed as guest principal with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Oregon Symphony. In addition to his position in Rochester, he was recently appointed to the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, where he plays in the summer. He is also serving as acting principal clarinet of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2017-2018 season.
    As a chamber musician, Amsel has performed at the Marlboro Music Festival, Society for Chamber Music in Rochester, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Sarasota Music Festival, and with the Borromeo String Quartet. He spent two summers as a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, where he was awarded the Gino B. Cioffi Memorial Prize, and also participated in the Pacific Music Festival (Japan), Aspen Music Festival, and the New York String Orchestra Seminar.
    A native of Austin, Texas, Amsel is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Thomas Martin. He also completed a master’s degree at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he studied with Ricardo Morales.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, David Breustle (September 24) joined the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in May, 2017 as Principal Trombone, after serving as Acting Principal Trombone since October, 2016.
David received a Bachelor of Music with High Distinction at Eastman, and was awarded the Performer’s Certificate. At Eastman, David had the privilege of studying with Dr. John Marcellus, international recording artist and former principal trombone of the National Symphony Orchestra. He then received his Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where he studied with Dr. Per Brevig, a 26-year member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

     David returned to Eastman to pursue the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts, studying with Mark Kellogg, his predecessor as principal trombone of the RPO, completing his course of study in May 2015. Before joining the RPO, David held the position of second trombone with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and principal trombone with the Erie Philharmonic. He has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphoria (Syracuse). David is honored to have participated in multiple recordings with the Eastman Wind Ensemble and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

     David resides in the Browncroft neighborhood with his wife Katie, an Eastman graduate in horn performance, who is currently pursuing an MD/PhD degree at the University of Rochester. In addition to playing the trombone, David enjoys cooking, birding, and cycling.

David Brickman
(May 6)
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. 

Kurt Galvan (November 19) is active as a performer in his New York and his native New England, where he has premiered many new chamber works. He attended the University of Connecticut, where he earned his MM in Piano. He earned his MM in Piano Accompaniment at the Eastman School of Music, where he is currently pursuing his DMA under the direction of Dr. Jean Barr.

Rebecca Gilbert
(September 24) joined the RPO as principal flute (The Charlotte Whitney Allen Chair) in the 1996-97 season. As a regularly featured soloist, her expressive and versatile playing has illuminated the RPO’s Philharmonics and Pops Series performances. She has performed as acting principal flute of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and guest assistant principal flute with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood. Previous appointments include principal flute of the Charleston Symphony and second flute of the Dayton Philharmonic
    As an active soloist/recitalist, she has performed solo and chamber music concerts with the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester, First Muse (Rochester), Live from Hochstein, Skaneateles Festival, Charleston’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Charles Ives Center for the Arts Contemporary Music Festival, and the Chautauqua Chamber Players. She has performed concerti with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Philharmonia Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and the Penfield Symphony Orchestra.
    From 2000-01, Gilbert served as visiting artist in residence at the Juilliard School (Jeanne Baxtresser International Flute Masterclass), and has given masterclasses in orchestral flute playing across the U.S. Her interest in the similarities between orchestral playing and chamber music playing was the subject of a program entitled “The Chamber Music of Orchestral Teamwork” that she presented with the RPO flute section for the National Flute Association. 
    She has served as lecturer in flute performance at Ithaca College, and adjunct faculty flutist at the College of Mount St. Joseph (Ohio), as well as the College of Charleston. She has served as vice president and program coordinator of the Rochester Flute Association and maintains an active teaching schedule with her private flute studio and as coach/mentor with the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
    A Wisconsin native, Gilbert began playing the flute at age nine. She earned a master’s degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and attended the Centre International De Formation Musicale in Nice, France. Her principal flute teachers include Jeanne Baxtresser, Randolph Bowman, Kyril Magg, and Gwen Powell.  She lives in the Highland Park neighborhood with her husband Gavin Rigg, their two boys Julian and Malcolm, and their Rhodesian Ridgeback Nala.

American tenor Anthony Dean Griffey (November 19) has captured critical and popular acclaim on opera, concert and recital stages around the world. The combination of his beautiful and powerful lyric tenor voice, gift of dramatic interpretation and superb musicianship have earned him the highest praise from critics and audiences alike. In a career spanning 20 years, Griffey has performed leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Bastille, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, San Diego Opera, Canadian Opera Company and Opera Australia; as well as made operatic appearances at the Glyndebourne, Bregenz, Glimmerglass, Mostly Mozart, Saito Kinen and Aspen festivals.

    With an operatic repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Britten, Griffey is best known for his interpretation of the title role in Peter Grimes, which he has sung all over the world. Of his first performance of the role at the Tanglewood Festival in 1996, Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe observed that “Griffey…boasts a lyric tenor voice of uncommon beauty of timbre, resourceful technique, genuine musical and dramatic imagination and superb English diction.” The New York Times proclaimed that in his most recent performance of the role at Carnegie Hall with the St. Louis Symphony under David Robertson, Griffey “again proved himself one of the most courageous actors in opera today.” His 2008 performance at the Met was broadcast in HD and has been released on DVD (a recording from his performance at Glyndebourne in 2001 has also been released on CD).
    Since the start of his career Mr. Griffey has taken an active role in many charitable efforts, advocating for arts programs in the Guilford County Public Schools, raising money for the Mental Health Association as well as giving benefit concerts for the “Open Door Shelter” for which Griffey has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the homeless in his hometown. He is also actively involved with the High Point Area Arts Council. Mr. Griffey holds degrees from Wingate University, the Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School and was a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artists Program. He was awarded the Doctorate of Humane Letters from Wingate University in May 2012 and was also inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2011. He currently holds the position of Professor of Voice at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.

Mimi Hwang (September 24) 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.

David Liptak's (September 24) music has been described as “luminous and arresting,” “richly atmospheric,” and having “transparent textures, incisive rhythms, shimmering lightness.” His compositions have been performed throughout the United States and abroad by the San Francisco Symphony, the Montreal Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Group for Contemporary Music, EARPLAY, the Ying, Cassatt, and JACK String Quartets, the Dinosaur Annex Ensemble, the New York New Music Ensemble, the 20th-Century Consort, baritone William Sharp, soprano Tony Arnold, and by many other soloists and ensembles.
    In 1995 David Liptak was awarded the Elise L. Stoeger Prize, given by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in recognition of distinguished achievement in the field of chamber music composition. He has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, both in 2002; he has also received the 2006 Lillian Fairchild Award; and commissions for new music have included those supported by the Fromm Foundation, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Meet the Composer, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the California Music Center, and the Hanson Institute for American Music.  Recordings of David Liptak’s music can be found on Bridge, Innova, Albany, Centaur, and other recording labels.
    He is President of the American Composers Alliance, and his music is published by several publishers, including Keiser Classical, Alfred Music - Donald Hunsberger Wind Ensemble Library, and the American Composers Edition. Much of his music written very recently has explored the poetry and magical quality of stars and starlight, imagined and real.  A dedicated teacher of composition students for the past three decades, David Liptak is Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music, where he has taught since 1986. http://www.dliptak.com/

Melissa Matson
(November 19)
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).

Classical guitarist Lynn McGrath (November 19) is being heralded as a phenom. Blending expressive musicianship with her passion for Spanish Language, literature, and theater, she has shared the poetry and music of “Platero y Yo” with audiences on 4 continents in the role of both guitarist and theatrical narrator. She has brought the poetry of Nobel laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez to life for diverse audiences that have included children in a Peruvian orphanage to classical guitar connoisseurs.A touring soloist, chamber artist, and respected pedagogue, Lynn McGrath has appeared in North America, South America, Europe, and New Zealand as performer, lecturer, conductor, and an adjudicator for a number of international and national festivals. While living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lynn established a guitar program at Sandia Preparatory School, taught at Central New Mexico Community College and for The University of New Mexico's Music Prep School, and ran a thriving private studio. She is the Director of Regional Symposia for the Guitar Foundation of America and the Artistic Director of the organization's annual International Youth Competition. Her students have been accepted, and many have received full scholarships to some of the best undergraduate and graduate schools in the nation, have placed in international competitions, and have been featured on NPR’s “From the Top”. In 2016, Lynn taught as an adjunct instructor at Oklahoma City University and in 2017 joined the faculty at the Eastman Community Music School, University of Rochester, NY. https://www.lynnmcgrath.com/

Cary Ratcliff
(September 24)
left California for Rochester in 1971 to attend the Eastman School of Music. In 1973 he began playing keyboards with the Rochester Philharmonic, which continues to this day, and in ’75 became Composer-In-Residence at Strasenburgh Planetarium, where he created electronic soundtracks with an analog Moog synthesizer. He subsequently created a decade of orchestral soundtracks for the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, and the St. Paul and Indianapolis Planetariums. 
     He has written 3 operas. His Eleni was selected for NY City Opera’s 2008 VOX concert showcase of new American operas. He self-produced a 2 CD recording of Eleni with opera singers, RPO, and adult and children’s choruses. Albums include Harmonia Mundi’s recording of his oratorio “Ode To Common Things”, on poems of Pablo Neruda, nominated for Best Choral Performance for the 2016 Grammys, and ‘Kathryn Lewek sings Cary Ratcliff ‘ on Albany Records. His Viola Concerto won the ASCAP Nissim Prize for best new American Orchestral work.
    He served for two seasons conducting Eastman’s Musica Nova program, and Graduate Chamber Orchestra, and 35 years as church music director, most recently at Bethany Presbyterian Church. He was recently honored by Mu Phi Epsilon as Rochester Musician of the Year, 2017.
     Ratcliff is Artistic Director of the chamber chorus Madrigalia, which has recorded his Four E. E. Cummings Madrigals.  His compositions can be explored at Ratcliffmusic.com and Elenitheopera.com. Choral works for children and adults are published by G. Schirmer, Boosey & Hawkes, and Hal Leonard. 
     He and his wife Marjorie Relin enjoy biking, gardening, travel, and 7 (no, 8!) grandchildren.

Stefan Reuss
(May 6) studied with Antonio Janigro in his native Germany at the Robert Schumann Konservatorium in Düsseldorf and later with Harvey Shapiro at The Juilliard School, where he received his master’s degree. He taught at the University of Northern Iowa and the California Music Center before joining the San Francisco Symphony. He was the principal cellist of the RPO from 1988 to 2015. Mr. Reuss also enjoys chamber music and was a Co-Artistic Director of Chamber Music Rochester, directs a series of Salon concerts at the Academy of Medicine, and is a founding member of the Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble.

Diane Walsh (May 6), whose many awards include the top prizes at the Munich International Piano Competition and the Salzburg International Mozart Competition, has performed solo recitals, chamber music and concertos worldwide. She appeared with the radio symphonies of Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Berlin, the American Symphony and the symphonies of San Francisco, Indianapolis, Austin, Delaware and Syracuse. Her recitals include engagements in major venues in the United States, Canada, Europe and South America, and her many summer festival appearances include Marlboro, Santa Fe, Bard, Chesapeake and Skaneateles, where she was the artistic director from 1999 to 2004.  She  has performed Beethoven’s Variations on a Waltz of Diabelli well over 200 times, in the Broadway production of 33 Variations, a play by Moisés Kaufman starring Jane Fonda, and in three other productions in Washington, La Jolla and Los Angeles. Ms. Walsh has made sixteen discs for labels which include Bridge, Newport, Sony, Nonesuch, Koch, Stereophile and CRI; her latest releases are Schubert’s Sonatas Vol. I and II on Jonathan Digital and Paul Moravec’s Useful Knowledge on Naxos. She is an associate professor at Mannes College, and is a Steinway Artist. http://www.dianewalsh.com/

Born in Lyon, Massachusetts, in 1939, James Willey (September 24) began composing and the study of piano at an early age. He later attended the Eastman School of Music where he studied composition with Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson. He also studied at The Tanglewood Music Center with Gunther Schuller. The recipient of three National Endowment for the Arts Composer Fellowships and a semi-finalist for the Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards, his works have ben performed by such ensembles as the Baltimore Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, the Audubon Quartet, the Esterhazy Quartet, the Tremont Quartet, the Dorian quintet, Collage, The Society for New Music, and the Twentieth Century Consort.    

    James Willey was for many years Distinguished Teaching Professor of Music at the State University of New York at Geneseo from which he retired in December 2000. He has also taught part-time at the Eastman School of Music and was in 1979-80 Visiting Professor of Music at Williams College in Williamstown,