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📷 Students walking along Aj's Way
Recognized for his “musical sensitivity” and “energized sense of interpretation”, conductor Matthew Kraemer is quickly gaining notice for his inspired performances and versatility. The Buffalo News noted recently, “He presents a tall, dignified and stately podium presence with a quite clear beat, a good sense of shaping melodic lines, and an all business attitude that focused on the music without any histrionics.” Appointed Music Director of the Butler County Symphony and the Erie Chamber Orchestra in 2012, he has reinvigorated both ensembles with innovative programming and elevated artistic standards. His active guest conducting schedule has included appearances with many of the nation’s finest orchestras, including the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Columbus, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Nashville, North Carolina, Saint Louis, Spokane, and Virginia, as well as Canada’s Mississauga Symphony and Hamilton Philharmonic and in Europe with the Vidin Philharmonic and the Orquesta de Cadaqués. Recent and future guest conducting engagements include the Rochester Philharmonic, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Elgin Symphony, and Syracuse’s Symphoria.
In two short years as Music Director of the Erie Chamber Orchestra, the ensemble has flourished artistically. The orchestra is experiencing a rapidly expanding audience base and increased community support, all while maintaining its 36-year mission of providing exceptional classical music free of charge to northwestern Pennsylvania. The Butler County Symphony is experiencing a similar resurgence in artistic output and community support, attracting new subscribers and offering education concerts at no expense to the county’s elementary schools.
Mr. Kraemer recently completed a highly successful, five-year tenure as associate conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic, where he regularly led the orchestra on each of its concert series, including Classical, Pops, Family, education and community engagement programs. A passionate advocate for new music, he has performed the works of many living composers during his career. He has led composer readings and workshops with several orchestras in the United States, in addition to leading the BPO’s Earshot partnership with the American Composers Orchestra in Buffalo for three consecutive seasons. Increasingly recognized for his committed advocacy of music education and his devotion to young audiences, he has created numerous arts education programs and has taught at several music festivals both in the US and abroad. The Buffalo Philharmonic’s award-winning education concerts grew exponentially under his leadership, expanding to reach over 40,000 students throughout western New York. He played an integral role in the creation of the orchestra’s successful live broadcast concerts with Time Warner Cable, as well as implementing new collaborations with many organizations in the Buffalo community. Prior to his appointment in Buffalo, he served for three seasons as associate conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
Recipient of the distinguished Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship and the Bruno Walter Career Development Grant, Mr. Kraemer served a residency with the Vienna Philharmonic at the 2006 Salzburg Music Festival. Equally at home in the ballet pit, he has led fully-staged productions with Virginia Ballet Theatre, Ohio Ballet, First Coast Nutcracker, Neglia Ballet, and Todd Rosenlieb Dance. He has served as conductor for Broadway superstar Idina Menzel’s numerous engagements nationwide and has collaborated with many other leading artists, including Philippe Quint, Jennifer Koh, Elmar Oliveira, Rachel Barton Pine, David Kim, Awadagin Pratt, Richard Stolzman, Wu Man, Bela Fleck, Mark O’Connor, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Ben Folds, Chris Botti, the Indigo Girls, Wynona Judd, and Natalie Merchant, among many others. He conducted the Buffalo Philharmonic to considerable acclaim when internationally renowned superstar Lang Lang performed Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto at Kleinhans Music Hall in July, 2011.
An Indiana native, Mr. Kraemer studied conducting in Vienna, Austria with Salvador Mas Conde and was twice a fellowship conductor at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. He has additionally participated in the National Arts Center Conductor’s Program in Ottawa, Canada. His conducting teachers include David Zinman, Robert Spano, Stanley DeRusha, and Jorma Panula. Mr. Kraemer is a graduate of Butler University and the University of Nevada, where he assisted former Cincinnati Symphony concertmaster Phillip Ruder. An accomplished violinist in his own right, he was a member of the Nightingale String Quartet. Fluent in German and French, his principal violin teachers include Phillip Ruder, Herbert Greenberg, Davis Brooks, and Larry Shapiro. When he is not performing, Mr. Kraemer enjoys cooking, running, and reading. He and his wife Megan reside in Buffalo with their son Gabriel.
Born and raised in the heart of Mexico, Maureen has embraced many styles and genres from classical and tango to rock and light jazz. She is a member of the tango ensemble in Pittsburgh, PA, AquiTango. Her improvisational skills have led to recordings with Vineyard Music on their Spanish CD and with the acclaimed Latin rock band ROJO.
As a solo concert violinist, Conlon has performed to much acclaim on many stages throughout Latin America, Europe, and the U.S. Many of her performances have been aired live on radio and television including a special for the Telemundo channel in 2003. She has appeared as soloist with various orchestras and chamber ensembles through Mexico and the U.S. including the renowned Orquesta del Estado de Mexico (OSEM) under the direction of Enrique Batiz.
Due to her passion for chamber music she co-founded the Trio Nova Mundi in 2001 with whom she has performed throughout various concert venues in Latin American and the U.S. including appearances as soloists with the Atlanta Virtuos i orchestra in Atlanta, GA. While at Rice University they were awarded the Ralph A. Anderson music scholarship award.
Maureen has garnered many ﬁrst prizes and placed at many competitions nationally and internationally including a ﬁrst place at the National Violin Competition “Hermilo Novelo” in Mexico and the “Hermilo Novelo” award at the International Henryk Szeryng Violin Co mpetition. While studying at Penn State University she also won the Concerto Competition as well as ﬁrst place at the Graduate Exhibition in 2005 and 2006. In 2005 she was a semi-ﬁnalist at the pre stigious Sphinx Competition.
Conlon was also a recipient of the CONACULTA scholarship for the performing arts from 2006-2007 allowing her to pursue further studies in the U.S. As an avid orchestral musician she is member of the Erie Philharmonic and the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra in addition to having been a member of the Sphinx Symphony, Sphinx Virtuosi, Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra, Penns Woods Orchestra and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. She has also played with the Civic Orchestra in Chicago, Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, National Philharmonic, Virginia Symphony, and Pittsburgh Symphony among others.
Her keen interest and devotion to music and especially the violin began at a very early age but it was several years later that she would begin lessons with Pedro Gasca and later with Gilberto Nunez in her hometown of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato Mexico. She earned her Bachelors in Music Performance at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, TX with Kenneth Goldsmith and her Masters in Violin Performance as a graduate assistant to Jim Lyon at the Penn State University where she was concertmaster of the Penn State Orchetras and Baroque Ensemble in addition to playing ﬁrst violin of the graduate string quartet. She completed a Performance Residency at Carnegie-Mellon University studying with the former Pittsburgh Symphony concertmaster, Andres Cardenes.
Among her many mentors and coaches are David Mallory, Violaine Melancon, Norman Fischer, Paul Katz, Paul Ellis on, James Dunham, Steve Ansell, Daniel and Todd Phillips from the Orion Quartet, Ida Kavaﬁan, Rachel Barton, and members of the Ying, Lark, Emerson, and Tokyo Quartets.
Maureen loves dancing, watching movies, and eating great food when she isnʼt making music. She is currently the Violin/Viola Professor at Grove City College. Maureen continues to actively perform as soloist and with the Trio Nova Mundi. She resides in Pittsburgh, PA with husband, Michael Dorosh.
Howard Lyon, violin, holds a degree in applied music
from Michigan State University in East Lansing,
Michigan. In Michigan he played in the Lansing,
Battle Creek, and Kalamazoo symphonies and was a
charter member of the Olivet College Chamber Music
Players. He joined the Erie Philharmonic in the 1969
– 1970 season, and since 1978 has served as
concertmaster of the Erie Chamber Orchestra. He
has performed solos with both orchestras. He
coaches the Erie Junior Philharmonic String
Ensemble. He was a member of the Perry String
Quartet for twenty-seven years. He has taught violin/
viola at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania since
Maura Pelinsky, violin
Education: BS of Music Therapy, BA Applied Violin from SUNY Fredonia
Graduate Certificate in Business Management – The Behrend College, Penn State Univ
Day job: Director of Adult Day Services- Saint Mary’s East (for 22 years)
Music: Played in Junior Phil for 5 years, concertmaster for 2 years. Toured Europe with junior orchestra as chaperone.
Played several years in Fredonia Chamber Players. Also played church organ for several years.
Began playing in Erie Chamber Orchestra in 1983 as a substitute, asked to remain after that. Contracted player with Erie Philharmonic since 1985.
Currently Board Member of Erie Musician’s Local 17.
Personal: married to Carl 24 years, one son, Justin, 1 grandson. Have 2 sisters, one of whom also plays violin in the Detroit area.
Hobbies: baking, gardening / landscaping, extreme fitness, and lots of walks with my very spoiled 12-year old Dalmatian
Other: I facilitate a monthly Alzheimer’s Support Group (connected to day work) and recently served on the PA Alzheimer’s State Planning Committee
– appointed by Governor Corbett, representing the State for Adult Day Services.
Lydia Byard began Suzuki violin lessons at the age of seven, and became immersed in the world of Scottish fiddling three years later. In 2006, she won the U.S. National Junior Division Scottish Fiddling Championships held in Oberlin, O.H., and in 2008 she went on to claim the title of U.S. National Open Division Scottish Fiddling Champion. Lydia travelled to Perthshire, Scotland in 2010 where she was a finalist for the Amber Fiddle Composition Award. Also in 2010, she became the Young Artists’ Debut Orchestra Concerto Competition Winner. In 2011, she won the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory Concerto Competition. Her first solo album, a blend of traditional, contemporary, and original Scottish fiddle music entitled “A Peculiar Sense of Humor,” was released in 2012. She served for two years as the principle second violin of the Baldwin Wallace Symphony Orchestra and spent the 2013-2014 year as their principal violist. Lydia enjoys teaching, and spends much of her time running a private studio as well as teaching fiddle and violin through the Baldwin Wallace Outreach Department.
Brenda Dolwick received her Masters degree from S.U.N.Y. at Fredonia.
She also studied Opera at the Vienna Conservatory of music (at the same time as
Bruce Wright) .
In addition to playing violin with the E.C.O. since its inception, she has
also played violin with the Erie Philharmonic for 48 years (since her senior year
in high school)
A soprano soloist with the Erie Phil., Erie Chamber Orchestra and Erie concert
Band, she is founder/director of the Presque Isle Chorale, a community choir
partially funded through the Erie Community Foundation by a Clarence Beyer
Brenda is retired from 30 years with the Erie School district as a high school
choral teacher. She teaches private piano and voice.
Married to trumpet player, Bob Dolwick, she has a daughter, Leah,
CEO of FiveStarBranding, and a grandson Alexander.
In her spare time, she likes to cook. read, travel and spend time with
their puppy, Sam, and 4 rescued cats.
Dr. Joseph Kneer holds a bachelor of music in violin performance from Oberlin Conservatory, a masters of music in violin and theory pedagogy from the Peabody Institute, and a doctor of musical arts in violin performance, also from Peabody. While pursuing his masters and doctorate, he was awarded both a full-tuition assistantship in ear training and a graduate theory teaching fellowship. In 2012, Kneer was appointed Assistant Professor of violin, viola, music theory, and aural skills in the D’Angelo Music Department at Mercyhurst University. Previous teaching engagements include the Peabody Preparatory and the Janna Friedman music school, among others.
Kneer is an active recitalist and orchestral musician. He has performed on numerous concert series in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, including the Federal Hill Parlor Series (Baltimore, MD), the Mabel Tainter Theater (Menomonie, WI), the Heyde Center for the Performing Arts (Chippewa Falls, WI), a guest artist recital on the Summer Sounds series at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and both the Luther Memorial and Abiding Hope Concert Series (Erie, PA). In December of 2013, Kneer performed as the soloist in Svendsen’s Romance with the Young Artists Debut Orchestra. He was also featured live on Classics with Wally Faas (91.3 WQLN, Erie Public Radio) as part of the Lobby Performance series with pianist and recital partner Shirley Yoo. In the spring of 2015, the duo will embark on a regional concert tour, presenting Johannes Brahms’ complete works for violin and piano. Kneer also performs regularly in both the Erie Chamber Orchestra and Erie Philharmonic Orchestra.
A passionate chamber musician, Kneer founded the Aurora Piano Trio in 2008 with cellist Hannah Pressley and pianist Linda Angkasa. In 2008, the trio performed in the inaugural summer concert series of the Peabody Institute and Yong Siew Tow Conservatory in La Loingtaine, France. The Aurora trio was awarded the 2009 Peabody Chamber Music Prize. Kneer has collaborated with such artists as organist John Walker, pianists Ta-Wei Tsai and Namji Kim, and Joseph’s wife, soprano Lydia Beasley, and has premiered the works of several composers, including Roger Zare’s violin sonata, Beautiful Savior.
Dr. Kneer has studied with Mary West, Milan Vitek, Herbert Greenberg, and Violaine Melançon.
Louis Nicolia, violin, studied with Salvatore Cresce
and joined the Erie Junior Philharmonic while in high
school. He earned his bachelor’s degree is music
performance from West Virginia University, where he
studied with Stephen Hyde. Upon returning to Erie in
1981, Nicolia joined the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra
and the Erie Chamber Orchestra. He owned and
operated Pio’s Italian Restaurant in Erie from 1999 to
2005. He formed the Strada Duo with Keita
Fukushima and toured Japan in March 2006. He
played Carnegie Hall with Strada Duo on January 21,
2007, and was instrumental with Stefan Lakatos in the
Project Moondog at Mercyhurst.
Robert Rudolph, violin, taught middle school music in
the Erie public schools for 32 years, retiring in 1997.
He was Manager and Associate Conductor of the Erie
Junior Philharmonic for 19 years. Robert has been a
violinist with the Erie Philharmonic since 1967, the
Erie Chamber Orchestra since 1978, the Lake Erie
Ballet Orchestra since 1982, the Western New York
Chamber Orchestra since 1986 and a founding
member of the Perry String Quartet for 10 years. He
was a Docent performer/lecturer for the Erie
Philharmonic in the area schools and taught at
Mercyhurst College. He teaches violin and viola and
is Conductor of Orchestras at Allegheny College in
Meadville, PA. Robert also plays
Viola in the Lake Erie String Quartet.
Ted Smeltz began his violin career at age 3 1/2, when his parents gave him a choice between violin and swimming lessons. After the pool chlorine got in his eyes, he cried all the way home and started his musical journey. He has violin performance degrees from Baldwin-Wallace College and Fredonia State College. He has attended music festivals Bay View, Michigan, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he was featured on NPR's Performance Today. He also performs with the Western New York Chamber Orchestra, Clarence Summer Orchestra, and is a founding member of the Presto String Quartet. When not playing, he is an avid reader of classic science fiction, does card tricks, sells real estate, and is a black belt in several Filipino and Southeast Asian martial arts. He is also, with the possible exception of Howard Lyon, the funniest man in the orchestra.
Dianne Tate is an alumnus of the Erie Jr. Philharmonic and served as its concertmaster under the baton of John Gosling in her senior year of high school. She studied privately with Philharmonic members, Bob Leehmuis, Salvatore Cresce and concertmaster Ruthabeth Marsh. During her senior year in high school and while receiving her administrative assistant education from the Erie Business Center, she played with the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra. Prior to becoming a military dependent, she became a member of the Erie Chamber Orchestra when it was founded. While away from Erie, she had the opportunity to play with the Las Vegas community orchestra; the Wilmington, NC Symphony; and the Bedfordshire, England Theatre Orchestra. When returning to Erie, in addition to playing with the Erie Chamber Orchestra again she also played with the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Greenville Symphony.
Anna Rose Welch earned degrees in English and Creative writing from Allegheny College and Bowling Green State University. Since a young age, she has studied violin privately and performed in various orchestras and chamber groups in the Erie, PA and Toledo, OH regions, including the Erie Chamber Orchestra, Perrysburg Symphony, BGSU Philharmonia, Erie Suzuki Strings, and the Erie Jr. Philharmonic.
Jennifer Jansen, principal viola of the Erie Chamber Orchestra, started out in the ECO as a violinist. Over the years, she has happily transitioned into the viola section. She is also a member of the Erie Philharmonic (violin), subs with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the Western New York Chamber Orchestra and the Southern Tier Symphony.
Apart from her playing, Jennifer is the conductor of the Intermezzo and Prelude String Ensembles of the Erie Junior Philharmonic. She also has private teaching studios in Erie, Jamestown and Dunkirk.
The rest of her professional time is spent at the Chautauqua Institution where she works in the Program Office. In the summertime this position blossoms into House Manager for the Chautauqua Amphitheater and School of Music Librarian.
Violist Brian Walnicki holds degrees in Performance from The Eastman School of Music and from S.U.N.Y. Fredonia School of Music. His teachers have included John Graham and Valerie Heywood on viola and Donald Bohlen for secondary studies in composition. He is currently principal viola for the Western New York Chamber Orchestra and also serves as librarian for that group. As a freelance violist Brian is very active in a variety of solo, chamber, and orchestral contexts. He regularly performs with the Erie Philharmonic, the Erie Chamber Orchestra, the International Baroque Soloists and has subbed with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Chautauqua Symphony and Slee Sinfonietta. He also plays viola in the fusion rock band Ould Pound. He has participated in summer festivals including the “Schlossfestspiele” in Heidelberg, Germany and the Norfolk Contemporary Chamber Music Festival. He served as adjunct professor of viola at S.U.N.Y Fredonia from 2002-2007. Along with performing Brian runs “Walnicki Violins”, a shop rehairing and repairing bows and instruments.
Alicia received her Bachelors degree in Music Education on Viola at SUNY Fredonia. She continued her studies at SUNY Fredonia and received a Master’s Degree in Viola Performance. She studied with James Marone, Brian Walnicki and David Rose. She is currently teaching orchestra at Lake Shore Middle School.
Megan Rainbow grew up in Erie and learned to play the viola through the support of the Millcreek school system and local youth orchestras. She studied neuroscience at Barnard College of Columbia University in NYC and continued to play in the university symphony. Megan is a Project Manager with the life sciences media group at Jameson Publishing and is finishing an MBA at Penn State.
Ruth Ann Scanzillo, Principal ‘cellist, joined the Erie Chamber Orchestra under Bruce Morton Wright in 1986. As a regular member of the cello section, she also contributed to various concert programs on harpsichord and piano. Ms. Scanzillo studied ‘cello with Dimitri Erdely and Jean Verdecchia, of Erie; Dr. Louis Richardson, Professor of cello at SUNY @ Fredonia where, in 1981, she earned the Bachelor of Music in Music Education; Eugenia Rust and, most recently, Maestro Arie Lipsky, former Principal ‘cellist of the Buffalo Philharmonic and current symphonic conductor. She studied piano with Helena Hoffman of Erie, took several sessions with Lucille Richardson, former piano chair at SUNY @ Fredonia, and frequently performs as rehearsal and collaborative pianist with exceptional high school and college students for both recitals, competitions, and opera workshops throughout the region. In 1984, she received the S.A.D.I.E. (Showcase Award for Drama In Erie) for Best Direction of an Orchestra as pianist/conductor for the Erie Playhouse production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, later performing as Piano I at the Fredonia Opera House production of “The Fantastiks” under the late Harry John Brown, and in 2011 was pianist for Mercyhurst University’s production of “TinTypes”, directed by Louisa Jonason. A lifelong resident of Erie, Ms. Scanzillo credits both of her parents for the talent they bestowed and their models of self-direction, industry, and determination, and is equally-grateful to numerous colleagues along the way for their professional guidance, modeling, and continuing support.
A native of Erie, Jean attended West Virginia University where she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree. She later received a Master of Music degree from the same institution. On three occasions, Jean toured Europe with the WVU Collegium Musicum, performing in the vocal ensemble and playing the tenor and bass viola da gamba. For thirty years, she was the principal cellist of the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra.
Jean retired from the Girard School District after thirty-six years as a music educator. She taught Chorus, Concert Band, Strings, Instrument Lessons, Music Appreciation and Creating Original Opera at Rice Avenue Middle School.
In 1996, Jean was one of twelve women honored at the Mercy Center for Women’s Fourth Annual WOMEN MAKING HISTORY Event promoting women who are making the Erie community a better place and inspiring leadership among women to benefit women.
Currently, Jean is a cellist with the Erie Chamber Orchestra. She is a member of the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra, and is the principal cellist of the Lake Erie Ballet Orchestra. In addition, Jean is in her thirty-fourth year as music director of the Symphonic Singers of Erie.
Marian Byard, cello, grew up in Cleveland where she studied with Ralph Curry of the Cleveland Orchestra. She attended Fredonia State University, studying under Louis Richardson, and later received her Bachelor of Music Performance from Youngstown State University where she studied with Michael Gelfand.
Marian has performed with many area orchestras, including Chautauqua's Music School Festival Orchestra, Youngstown Symphony, Warren (Ohio) Chamber Orch, Akron Symphony, Western New York Chamber Orch, Lake Erie Ballet Orch, Erie Opera Theater, and the Erie Chamber Orch. She has also played in the pit orchestras for many summer music theater productions.
Marian is the cellist for the Lake Erie String Quartet, as well as the Wood n' Wind Trio.
When she is not playing her cello, Marian is busy homeschooling her children and homesteading on a little farm in western New York.
As a child James had a picture book of the symphony orchestra, and when his parents showed the local cello teacher the drawing of a cello he had painstakingly copied from the book, it was decided this was his choice! Eleonora Sandblade of Warren, Pennsylvania provided his first instruction, and later he studied with Dr. Louis Richardson of Fredonia, and Jeffrey Lastrapes and Ann Marie Morgan at Interlochen Arts Camp. James played in the Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony and the Warren Civic Orchestra, as well as PMEA All-State Orchestra festivals, and attended the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts. While studying the Liberal Arts at St. John’s College, Annapolis, he played for the Londontowne Symphony, as well as in a flute trio and string quartet. James and his sister Kate, an organist, have explored the repertoire for organ and cello, performing together at Heinz Chapel in Pittsburgh, and James has also appeared as a soloist with the Warren Civic Orchestra, the Chautauqua Chamber Singers, the American Guild of Organists Chautauqua chapter, and is a performing member of the Philomel Club of Warren. James performed the music of Moondog and others with Louis Nicolia’s Half Moon Consort, and experimental rock with Joseph Allen Popp’s Weirdo Theatre Orkeztra. In 2013, he was a participant in the XXXV Curso Internacional de Musica Antigua in Daroca, Spain, attending Gaetano Nasillo’s master class on Baroque Violoncello. He currently enjoys teaching some wonderful students at Mercyhurst University’s Sullivan Conservatory of Music!
Harry Jacobson studied bass at Oberlin Conservatory,
at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, France and
The Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He has a
doctorate from one of the pioneering schools in
jazz education, the University of North Texas where
he also studied composition and conducting. An
accomplished classical music performer, he is principal
bass of the Erie Chamber Orchestra, Erie
Opera Theater and a member of the Erie
Philharmonic. He has also served as principal bass in
the Norfolk Symphony and the Knoxville
Symphony. He was a winner in a performance
competition at the first symposium of
the International Society of Bassists in Aspen and tied
for first place in call for papers at a similar ISB event
at UCLA, and presented a lecture-recital at the
symposium as a result. The document, onwhich the
lecture-recital was based about the edition of a double
bass Solo Quartet by Franz Anton Hoffmeister, was
published in several installments in the ISB journal,
Bass World. As a jazz bassist, he has performed with
the Jerry Gray Orchestra, Les Elgart’s big band, with
jazz saxophonists Don Menza, Bruce Johnstone,
Jerry Coker and pianists Rick DellaRatta, Don Rebic
and Jan Laurens Hartong in Europe. He leads and
writes for his own group, Jazz Incorporated. He
recently produced and played on a CD of vocalist
Lydia Marks called Lovelight Shining, for which
cowrote the title track. He coordinates a jazz series
during the summer for VACI at Chautauqua
Institution and has taught on Chautauqua’s summer
school faculty in the past. He also has performed on
occasion with the Chautauqua Opera and Chautauqua
Symphony. He has been a member of the SUNY
Fredonia faculty for thirty-one years and teaches music
theory and jazz improvisation in addition to lessons in
bass. He is area coordinator for the string faculty at
the Fredonia school of Music.
Jim has been Principal Bass of the Erie Philharmonic and WNY Chamber Orchestras since the 1985 season, and was delighted to make his retuen to the ECO in the 2012-2013 season. Having returned from a year’s leave of absence in January of 1999, Jim has been a freelance musician in the WNY/WPA Region performing in both symphony and Jazz idioms. Being a regional musician since 1983 has given the opportunity to play with many famous groups and musicians which include Glen Miller Orchestra, Mel Torme, Marvin Hamlisch, Debbie Reynolds, and many well known Jazz musicians. Prior to 1997 Jim worked as a Quality Technical Engineer at Bausch & Lomb in Rochester NY. Jim is also a teacher of Double bass at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a consultant for CSC in Cleveland Ohio.
David M. Graham has been hailed as a “most award winning flute soloist” by the Voice of Carolina Journal and is nationally recognized as a flutist and teacher. Dr. Graham has performed solo recitals, chamber music, composition premiers, and concertos across the United States. Among other ensembles, David Graham has performed with the Pittsburgh Opera Theatre Orchestra, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Westmoreland Symphony, Tallahassee Ballet, the Alia Musica Contemporary Ensemble and is currently Principal flutist of the Erie Chamber Orchestra.
At home on the concert stage, David Graham has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in various performances associated with national competitions and awards. Mr. Graham was the 2006 North Carolina School of the Arts Concerto Competition winner, a semi-finalist in the National Frank Bowen Young Artist competition, a finalist in the Silbermann Chamber Music Competition at Carnegie Mellon University, the first prizewinner of the Atlanta Flute Club Young Artist Competition in 2011 and was a participant in the National Flute Association Young Artist Competition in Las Vegas, NV.
Active as an instructor at both the high school and collegiate levels, David has taught masterclasses and clinics in both Pennsylvania and Florida at Florida State University, The Florida Flute Association Convention, and as a guest artist at Slippery Rock University. His articles on flute pedagogy have been published by the Pittsburgh Flute Club, the Washington D.C. Flute Society, and the Flute Association at Florida State.
As an avid proponent of new compositions and chamber music, Mr. Graham has performed in concert venues across the country including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music Project, Flute and Strings Chamber Music tour to the Clarke Theatre in Lincoln Center, the Carnegie Mellon Contemporary Ensemble and is a founding member of the Arioso Trio based in Pittsburgh, PA. Recent performances include the Friday Musicale Recital Hall in Jacksonville, FL, the 2012 Florida Flute Association Festival, and the 2012 and 2013 National Flute Association Conventions.
As a native from Butler, Pennsylvania, David Graham received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under the tutelage of Dr. Tadeu Coelho. Graduate studies took Mr. Graham to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA completing a Master of Music degree with world-renowned teachers Alberto Almarza, Jennifer Conner and former Principal Flutist of the New York Philharmonic, Jeanne Baxtresser. Currently, Mr. Graham is pursuing his Doctorate of Music at the Florida State University College of Music as a graduate teaching assistant studying with Eva Amsler. Former teachers include Stacey Steele, Dr. Tadeu Coelho, Alberto Almarza, Jeanne Baxtresser and Jennifer Conner. David Graham is a member of the National Flute Association, the Atlanta Flute Club, the Florida Flute Association, and the Flute Association at Florida State. David plays on a 14K gold Brannen-Cooper flute.
Flutist Nicole J. McPherson is currently the Adjunct Professor of Flute at Canisius College and the flute methods teacher at the State University of New York at Fredonia.
As a devoted chamber and orchestral musician, Dr. McPherson currently performs with the Erie Chamber Orchestra, the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the Erie Philharmonic, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Silverwind Duo and is principal flute in the Orchard Park Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, she has played in orchestras throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Michigan. She has been a soloist with the Michigan State University Symphony Orchestra and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Dr. McPherson has performed for live solo radio performances and for public television broadcastings, as well as on many award-winning and Grammy nominated recordings. She was invited to perform at the 2011 and 2001 National Flute Association Convention and the Global Flute Workshop in New York City. Dr. McPherson has published articles in the International Alliance for Women in Music journal.
Dr. McPherson holds a holds a Doctorate of Music Arts degree and a Master of Music degree from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Music degree from Ithaca College.
Heather Storey has played the oboe for nearly two decades, starting in the sixth-grade after a brief stint with the flute. Born in Guam, but raised in Indiana, Heather and her oboe have traveled the United States and abroad bringing music to a wide spectrum of audiences including trips to Hungary and Finland for artistic festivals and a tour of China. Heather has studied under the influence of such teachers as L.A. film recording artist John Ellis, the Boston Symphony’s Keisuke Wakao and Indianapolis-area freelance artist, Timothy Clinch. Currently she holds positions in the Erie Philharmonic and Erie Chamber Orchestra but has previously played with the New England Philharmonic, Ft. Wayne Philharmonic, Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra, A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute and the Austrian Classical Philharmonic Orchestra. She also helped found and plays with the Halo Ensemble, a self-conducted international artist collaborative. She holds a B.M. from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and an M.M. from Ball State University. Her favorite part of playing music is the human element – music is made by people for people, regardless of background, socio-economic status, language or ethnicity and each person has a story of how music has influenced their life for the better.
Geoffrey Wands is Principal Clarinet with the Erie Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Matthew Kraemer. Wands is a native of Buffalo (Tonawanda), New York, and comes from a musical family. He started playing piano and singing in church choirs from age 5, directed by his mother, Lois Wands, an organist-choirmaster and private teacher. Lois studied piano, organ and voice for two years at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York, and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Music from the University of Buffalo. Geoffrey’s father, George Wands, a baritone-bass soloist, sang in church choirs for over fifty years, mostly in the Anglican (Episcopal Church) choral practice. In addition to an occasional opera or musical, George also sang for Calvin Hampton, composer of sacred music, and organist-choirmaster at Calvary/St. George’s Episcopal Church in New York City, for four seasons.
Wands started playing the clarinet at the age of 10. From age 8 to 13, he was a treble chorister and a treble soloist in the St. Paul’s (Episcopal) Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys from Buffalo, New York, under the direction of Dr. Frederick Burgomaster, and sang on two summer concert tours of England, in 1971 and 1974. Also, as a treble, Wands was directed by Michael Tilson-Thomas, Christopher Keene, Ralph Tilden, and under Harriet Simons, he was the treble soloist in Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, performed with the University of Buffalo Orchestra and Chorus at Kleinhan’s Music Hall in 1974.
When Wands was 13, he moved to Fort Myers, Florida, and starting at age 16, he played for four seasons as a second clarinetist (doubling on E-flat and Bass) with the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra in Fort Myers, under the direction of Arlo Deibler. Wands won the Concerto Competition, sponsored by SFSO in 1984, performing the first movement of the Clarinet Concerto by Eugene Bozza, and was a featured soloist in 1985, performing the first movement of the Clarinet Concerto by W. A. Mozart. In 1979, Wands attended Sewanee Summer Music Center in Tennessee where he played in the Cumberland Orchestra, conducted by Gary Parks, and studied clarinet with David Harris.
After graduating with honors from Fort Myers High School in 1980, Wands earned an Associate of Arts degree from Edison Community College in Fort Myers, Florida, on a full scholarship, and studied clarinet with Dr. Lewis Hilton and Dr. Dennis Hill. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where he was a recipient of the Shuler scholarship, named a Presser scholar, and studied clarinet with Dr. W. Steven Owens. Wands also earned a Master of Music degree in Clarinet Performance from Illinois State University in Normal, where he was a Graduate Assistant, teaching music theory, and studied clarinet with Aristides Chavez. Wands has also studied clarinet with James Pyne, David Sublette, among others, and has participated in a masterclass given by Gervase DePeyer.
Wands performs on B-flat, A, E-flat and Bass Clarinet in solo recitals, chamber music groups (i.e. Edelweiss, based in Youngstown, Ohio), and has performed with the symphony orchestras of Erie, Youngstown, Akron, Canton, Wheeling, the Bemus Bay Pops, the Western New York and Central Illinois chamber orchestras, and the Ritz-Carlton orchestra, Naples, Florida. In addition to performing under the baton of these various music directors/conductors, he has also performed under Walter Hendl, Karel Husa, Lee Schaenen, Philip Morehead, Roque Cordero, John C. Whitney, Julian Dawson and Frank Collura. Wands has participated in many world premieres, and plays jazz clarinet often in various groups. Wands also performs on saxophone (doubling on flute) in symphony, pops and pit orchestras, jazz and rock bands, sometimes as a featured soloist. He is also a singer (able to sing in different styles), and has performed with many church choirs in New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania, sometimes as a tenor soloist.
Wands teaches all ages, young people as well as adults, and has a large private studio. He teaches clarinet and saxophone at the Conservatory of Music - Mercyhurst University, and at the Ashtabula Arts Center in Ashtabula, Ohio. In 2011 and 2012, Wands’ clarinet students, Ethan Ross and Bradley Gressler, won the Concerto Competition of the Erie Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. Wands taught clarinet and saxophone for several years at the Erie Youth Symphony Summer Music Camp, under the direction of Frank Collura; and at Osiecki Bros. Music Center in Erie, where he also taught piano and voice.
Since 1993, Erie has been Geoffrey Wands’ hometown.
American saxophonist Patrick Jones has performed as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician around the world. He is an active performer, educator, clinician and Yamaha Performing Artist.
Jones has appeared with internationally celebrated artists and award-winning ensembles throughout his career. As a featured soloist he has performed with the Grammy award-winning ensemble Imani Winds, Zagreb Saxophone Quartet, Erie Philharmonic, Erie Chamber Orchestra and Edinboro Chamber Ensemble. Additionally, he has been broadcast on the nationally syndicated NPR Program “Saint Paul Sunday” and “Performance Today” playing with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Andreas Delfs.
Jones is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Other faculty appointments include University of Iowa, International Allegheny Summer Music Festival and the International Youth Music Festival.
Carolyne has been a member of the ECO since its beginning in 1978 and has performed with the Erie Philharmonic since 1981. She studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music with George Goslee and was bassoon instructor at Allegheny College for twenty years. She has played with the Boulder Symphony Orchestra, Fredonia Chamber Orchestra, Greenville Orchestra, Chautauqua Symphony and was a member of the Lyric Winds for several years. She is System Administrator in the Allegheny College Admissions Office, where she has worked since 1982. When not working, she enjoys outdoor activities with her husband Scott and three sheltie pups.
Erie native Carrie Borland graduated magna cum laude from Mercyhurst College with a BM in Music Education. She is employed by the Millcreek Township School District & teaches instrumental music at Westlake Middle School. Carrie has been performing with the Erie Chamber Orchestra & Erie Opera Theatre since 2002. In 2013, Mrs. Borland was a recipient of The Pennsylvania Music Educator’s Association’s Citation of Excellence.
CHRIS RAPIER received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and studied with Laura Klock (Springfield Symphony) and Ralph Pottle (Boston Symphony) while attending. Chris studied with Richard Solis and Alan DeMatia after being accepted at Cleveland Institue of Music to work toward a masters degree in Performance. He is principal horn for Erie Philharmonic, Erie Chamber Orchestra, Erie Ballet, Erie Opera Theater, Beamus Bay Pops Orchestra and with the Praise Team at his church on Sunday mornings. Chris has also performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, West Virginia Symphony, Wheeling Symphony, Canton Symphony, Youngstown Symphony, Mansfield Symphony, Opera Cleveland, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, Akron Symphony, the former Cleveland Ballet as well as freelancing in the greater Erie and Cleveland area. He has toured New England and performed on a live broadcast on Cleveland's classical radio station WCLV with the Metropolitan Brass Quintet (from Cleveland, OH). And with Erie’s classical radio station, WQLN, Chris has been broadcast on numerous occasions with the Erie Philharmonic, Erie Chamber Orchestra Woodwind Quintet, Erie Philharmonic Woodwind and Brass Quintets, and with the Edinburg Woodwind Quintet (along with Carolyn Wallace on basson and David Sublette on clarinet). Mr. Rapier currently teaches French Horn at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pfabes Music in Painesville, OH, the Fine Arts Association in Willoughby as well as teaching privately.
Michele Napolitan, French horn, received her bachelor of music education at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania in 1996, studying both Dalcroze Eurhythmics and the Kodaly Method of music teaching. After graduation, she obtained a job as an on-location educator for the National Tour of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. There she spent three years touring the country with the show, taking the opportunity to study horn under some of the country’s best horn players. Returning to Pennsylvania to reside in Erie in 2000, she began performing with the Erie Chamber Orchestra, Erie Opera Theater Orchestra, Lake Erie Ballet Orchestra and the Bemus Bay Pops. She soon began her teaching career teaching K-8 general music at Cathedral Center School, where she taught there for seven years. During that time, she obtained her masters of education concentrating in curriculum and instruction from Gannon University in 2005. In 2007, she started working with the at-risk population of Erie youth, as a high school music teacher for Perseus House Charter School. Here she currently resides as a digital music production teacher for students, grades 9-12. She enjoys working with a diverse and rich culture of students who come from all socio-economic backgrounds. The face of music education is ever changing and it’s important for her, as an educator, to keep her classical acoustic connection alive through this dynamic and evolving age of electronic music. She is truly grateful for the invitation from former conductor and mentor, Bruce Morton Wright, back in 2000, and for believing in her abilities and welcoming her into this rich history of classical music in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Laura Nelson holds a bachelor of music in Horn from Baldwin-Wallace University, studying with Al Schmitter. Her involvement with the ECO began at the young age of 15 when Bruce Morton Wright invited her to start playing. He always kept her in the family and supported her musical interests even when they strayed to the alphorn. Increasingly known for bringing the alphorn to the concert stage, Laura is also a composer of alphorn music. She and the ECO were the first Americans to perform Jean Daetwyler’s Concerto for Alphorn and Orchestra. Laura was awarded first place soloist at the North American Alphorn Festival 2011, second place soloist (the highest finish for an American) at Nendaz Festival International Cor des Alpes 2012. She now spends her summers teaching and composing for Alphorn at the Swiss Alphorn School located in Schönried über Gstaad, Switzerland and also at the North American Alphorn Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah. She hasn’t abandoned Horn completely and is still joyfully involved in many local orchestras, occasionally specializing in Natural and Baroque Horn.
Jennifer Ashbaugh holds a Bachelor of Music from Mercyhurst University. Following college, she joined the United States Marine Corps and played in the Quantico Marine Band. Upon her return to Erie, PA she has played with the Erie Chamber Orchestra, Erie Ballet Orchestra, Winds on the Lake, and various college ensembles. Jennifer and her husband reside in Meadville PA with their two children, where they have co-founded the SUMC Community Music Project in an attempt to provide music lessons to underprivileged children and musical experiences for the community. Together, Jen & Jason have designed the Contemporary Worship Service at Saegertown UMC. Jennifer works as an Office Manager for Cochranton Presbyterian Church and the Business Administrator for Saegertown UMC. She is currently enrolled at Liberty University working towards a Masters in Music and Worship and enjoys volunteering her time by sharing music with the local Nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Robert Dolwick is the principal trumpet with the ECO and presently plays 2nd trumpet with the Erie Philharmonic after 46 years as its principal. He has his Masters in Music Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and has played extra trumpet with the Cleveland Orchestra touring Europe, Austraila, New Zealand and Mexico.
He is personnel manager of the Erie Philharmonic and Artist Director of the Junior Philharmonic as well.
Robert was born and raised in Kentucky and enjoys gardening, fishing and traveling with his wife, Brenda (violinist with the ECO and EP). His son Jim, has his PhD from England; son Chris is librarian at the Case Medical Library; and daughter Cindy live in Lexington with his grandsons.
Brian attended Mercyhurst University where he studied trumpet with Robert Dolwick (principle trumpet of the ECO, ) and percussion with Mark Marchant. While in college, Brian began subbing with the Erie Philharmonic and the Erie Chamber Orchestra as well as performing with local jazz and rock bands. Since then he has shared the stage with The Temptations, Bobby Vinton, Mannheim Steamroller, Larry Elgart, Michael W. Smith, the four freshmen and many others as well as performing with the Chautauqua Symphony, the Bemus Pops Orchestra, the Dave Stevens Big Band and the Misery Bay Big Band. He can be heard on One World Tribe's acclaimed CD's "Unity and Diversity" and "Armed and Dangerous" as well as recordings with other local artists including The Dave Stevens Big Band, Casey Kilroy and many others. Most recently, Brian accepted a position with WQLN Radio where he will be the host of "Classics with Brian Hannah" weekdays from 9am-1pm on 91.3 FM.
Ronald Stitt, formerly Director of Bands in the Fort
LeBoeuf School District, also served as a full-time faculty
member in the D’Angelo Department of Music of
Mercyhurst College where he was director of the Wind
Ensemble, Director of Music Education and taught
music theory. He also taught full-time at Allegheny
College and currently is an adjunct faculty member there
directing the jazz band. He also is assistant director of
bands and teaches applied trombone/euphonium. He
was a member of the Erie Philharmonic for twenty-one
years and presently is principal trombone of the Erie
Chamber Orchestra and the Erie Opera Orchestra. He is
a founding member of Erie’s Tuba quartet
UnderCurrents. Dr. Stitt also plays with The Misery Bay
Big Band. He is the conductor of the Savelli Concert
Band and the Erie Concert Band and served as
secretary/treasurer of District 2 PMEA for 26 years. He
served as president of Erie Local 17 of the American
Federation of Musicians following several terms as a
member of the Local’s executive committee. He received
the Citation of Excellence from PMEA and has been
guest conductor and adjudicator for PMEA festivals as
well as conducting both the Erie Philharmonic and
Edinboro University Concert Band.
Dr. Daniel Burdick has spent most of his musical career at the back of ensembles, including the Erie Chamber Orchestra, playing his tuba. And yet, Dr. Burdick has had a parallel conducting career conducting the Leonard Falcone International Festival Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble, the Western PASSHE Low Brass Consortium Ensemble, and tuba ensembles at the University of Kentucky, the University of Missouri - Kansas City, and others. Dr. Burdick's conducting teachers include the legendary Elizabeth A. H. Green who authored one of the most popular conducting books of the 20th Century, "The Modern Conductor," and Thomas Dunn, former music director of the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston. On his tuba and euphonium, Dr. Burdick has performed with the Canadian Brass, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Keith Brion’s New Sousa Band, and numerous professional brass quintets. Featured concerts have included appearances at the British Institute Library in Florence, Italy, the Staatliche Hochschule fuer Musik in Trossingen, Germany, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, and a series of 15 concerts at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada. The concerts were described as, “...interesting... moving... deeply emotional...” as well as, “Maestro Daniel Burdick made the tuba come alive....” Dr. Burdick has two CD projects that have been recorded and are in editing – Tuba Voce: Tales from the Gay Tuba Songbook and Edinboro Radar: Works for Dan. He was the Principal Tuba of the Boise (Idaho) Philharmonic and serves as the Principal Tuba of the Erie Chamber Orchestra. He has taught at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of Kentucky at Lexington, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He received the degree Doctor of Musical Arts in tuba performance from the University of Michigan. His teachers include Fritz Kaenzig, J. Samuel Pilafian, Wes Jacobs, Chester Schmitz, Abbie Conant, Angie Hunter, and Roger Bobo. Recent solo appearances include the Erie Philharmonic, the Brass Band of Columbus (Ohio), the International Women’s Brass Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan (2012), and the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference in Linz, Austria (2012).
Bradley T. Amidon is currently director of percussion studies at Mercyhurst
University, Erie, PA and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, PA. His
teachers include Jan Williams, Lynn Harbold, Cosmo A. Barbaro, Alan Zimmerman, and
M'Baye Rama Diagne.
Mr. Amidon is currently performs in the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra, the Erie
Chamber Orchestra, and the Misery Bay Big Band, as well as a host of other small
chamber groups in the northwest PA area.
In addition to keeping an active teaching studio at Mercyhurst and EUP and directing
the percussion ensemble, Mr. Amidon also has a private teaching studio in the northwest
PA area. He has also served as assistant marching band director at McDowell High
School in the Millcreek Township School District, Erie, PA.
Mr. Amidon is currently ABD in the music theory doctoral program at the University
at Buffalo, State University of New York.
DR. KAY STONEFELT is a Professor of Music and Chair of the Percussion Studies Area at SUNY Fredonia, where she teaches private studio lessons and conducts the SUNY Fredonia Percussion Ensemble. Kay joined the Fredonia School of Music faculty in 1993 while she was concurrently the recipient of a Fulbright Senior Scholar Research Grant to Ghana, West Africa. She is a recipient of a 2006 SUNY Chancellor's Award for
Excellence in Teaching and the 2010 Poummit Faculty Recognition Award in the School of Music.
Kay has performed in Germany, France, and the former USSR with the Stuttgart (Germany) Opera Orchestra, and presented solo percussion concerts in Munich and Konstanz, Germany. Kay was a member of the Baltimore Symphony percussion section and, as a New York City free-lance musician, she performed in over 20 Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. During her time in NYC, she recorded the music for numerous commercial products and can also be heard in more recent recordings of the compositions of Cindy Cox and Eric Richards. She has conducted and performed at the Percussive Arts International Convention and performed Richards’ composition, “Times racing …,” at the International Percussive Arts Convention in Austin, Texas in November of 2008. Kay continues to tour and record in Finland and the US with Fioretto, an ensemble dedicated to the performance of medieval and renaissance music. Their current CD, “Une Vie de Femme,” was released in April, 2012.
Dr. Elizabeth Etter holds a Master of Music as a double major in Collaborative Piano and Harpsichord performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Harpsichord performance also from C.I.M., where she studied with Anne Epperson and Doris Ornstein. She graduated from Allegheny College with a B.A., where she subsequently served as an Instructor in Music while maintaining a thriving independent studio from which many students were launched with illustrious careers. She founded the Summer Music Festival and Music Outreach Program at Allegheny College and served as Executive and Artistic Director of the international festival for young chamber musicians through 2006. She has performed on many stages throughout the United States including the Chautauqua Institution, Cleveland Museum of Art, and Carnegie Music Hall. She has mentored and taught hundreds of young performers, and has served as a juror for national and international competitions, presented arts-in-education workshops for preschool through college audiences, and moderated as a panelist for national music conferences. Her performances and interviews have been aired on WQED, WCLV, and WQLN. Specializing in early keyboard performance and chamber music, her passion lies in the collaboration and communication involved in playing chamber music. Her performances include the Erie Philharmonic, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Chautauqua Chamber Orchestra, Pittsburgh Baroque Ensemble, Cleveland Camerata, Erie Chamber Orchestra, and the Holter Chamber Music Festival in Italy during summers of 2012 and 2013.
Melody fell in love with the harp at age 3 and decided she wanted to be a harpist. While attending Interlochen National Music Camp, she auditioned for and won a full scholarship to University of Michigan School of Music in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she completed her Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees in Harp Performance. Melody also studied with Alice Chalifoux at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Salzedo Summer Harp Colony in Camden, Maine. In over 30 years of playing Principal Harp for West Virginia Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, Erie Chamber Orchestra and Cleveland Opera she has enjoyed collaborating with Pavorotti, Domingo and Carreras, James Galway, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Isaac Stern, Marvin Hamlisch, Tony Bennett, Doc Severinsen, the Moody Blues and numerous other artists. She has also held orchestral harp positions with Cleveland Ballet, Cleveland Pops, Ohio Chamber Orchestra, Red, Oklahoma Symphony, Ballet Oklahoma, Ann Arbor Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony and Jackson Symphony in Michigan, Wheeling and Huntington Symphony in West Virginia, Erie Opera Theater (PA), and Akron, Youngstown, and Mansfield Symphony in Ohio. Melody has soloed with orchestras in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Michigan and is regularly broadcast on national public radio in West Virginia. Melody was the contracted harpist at Quail Hollow Resort for 20 years and has been performing at weddings, parties and receptions since she was fourteen. She also enjoys performing for these events and in church with her handsome and talented husband Chris Rapier who is principal horn for Erie Chamber Orchestra. Melody teaches harp privately in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania and at the Music School Settlement in Cleveland. Melody enjoys teaching preschoolers at Bible Study Fellowship International. She also loves to go hiking and biking with Chris and their daughter, Joy Christina, who grew up backstage at ECO and is currently a firefighter paramedic.