The Shanghai Quartet came to Montclair State University in 2002 as ensemble-in-residence. They serve as the core faculty in the strings program, teaching individual lessons, coaching chamber ensembles, and performing for the university and surrounding communities. Cellist Nicholas Tzavaras is coordinator of the strings program.
Weigang Li began studying the violin with his parents when he was five and went on to attend the Shanghai Conservatory Middle School at age 14. In 1981 he was selected to go to study for one year at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music through the first cultural exchange program between the sister cities of Shanghai and San Francisco. After graduating from the Shanghai Conservatory in 1985, he continued his studies at Northern Illinois University and later studied and taught at the Juilliard School. His teachers have included Shmuel Ashkenasi, Tan Shu-Chen, Li Mu-Zhen and Isadore Tinkleman. Mr. Li was featured in the 1980 Oscar winning documentary film From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China. He made his solo debut at 17 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and has appeared as soloist with Shanghai Symphony, China Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony and Asian Youth Orchestra. He is a founding member and first violinist of the Shanghai Quartet. Since 1983 the Quartet has performed nearly 3000 concerts in 35 countries and recorded numerous CDs, including a highly acclaimed set of Complete Beethoven String Quartets. He also holds the title of guest concert-master of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.
Honggang Li began his musical training studying the violin with his parents at the same time as his brother, Weigang. When the Beijing Conservatory reopened in 1977 after the Cultural Revolution, Mr. Li was selected to attend from a group of over five hundred applicants. He continued his training at the Shanghai Conservatory and was appointed a faculty member there in 1984. Mr. Li has also served as a teaching assistant at the Juilliard School and has appeared as soloist with the Shanghai Philharmonic and the Shanghai Conservatory Orchestra. In 1987 he won a violin as a special prize given by Elisa Pegreffi of Quartetto Italiano at the Paolo Borciani competition in Italy.
Strings Program Coordinator
A Native of Spanish Harlem in New York City, cellist Nicholas Tzavaras is a much sought after chamber musician, soloist and educator across four continents. Recent reviews in the New York Times have called his playing “richly singing” and “beautifully nuanced.” Since 2000, Mr. Tzavaras has been the cellist of the internationally renowned Shanghai Quartet, playing more than 1500 worldwide. Mr. Tzavaras has recorded more than 22 albums, including the complete Quartets of Beethoven. Since 2009 Mr. Tzavaras has held the esteemed title of guest principal cellist of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Tzavaras is the coordinator of the string department and artist-in-residence at the Cali School of Music, a position he has held since 2002. He is also a guest professor at the Shanghai and Central Conservatories in China. Mr. Tzavaras holds degrees from the New England Conservatory and the State University of New York at Stonybrook. He can be seen in the Academy Award nominated documentary “Small Wonders,” the motion picture Music of the Heart starring Meryl Streep and with the Shanghai Quartet in Woody Allen’s Melinda Melinda. Mr. Tzavaras plays on a 1690 Antonio Stradivari cello generously loaned to him by the Beare International Violin Society.
Mary Ann Mumm
Mary Ann Mumm made her solo debut with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at age 15, the first prize recipient of the MSO Young Artists Competition. She continued studies at Indiana University with Josef Gingold and served as his graduate teaching assistant. Ms. Mumm also studied with Ivan Galamian and Tadeusz Wronski. Ms. Mumm’s past positions include Assistant Professor of Violin at Northwestern University and violinist in the MET Orchestra. Her ongoing chamber music engagements include numerous international festival performances as well as the New York Chamber Music Festival at Symphony Space. Ms. Mumm’s 2011 world premier recording of the F. Alfano Piano Quintet (Naxos) received international praise and three Grammy award nominations. Ms. Mumm serves on the international faculties of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas and Filarmonica Joven de Colombia. She coached FJC for the first international broadcast performance of “From the Top” (2012). During her tenure as President of the American String Teachers Association-NJ the state was honored with five national awards, ASTA@MSU winning Best College Chapter.
Violinist Yi-Wen Jiang was born into a musical family in Beijing where both parents were professional musicians. Beginning his violin studies with his father at age six, Jiang made his concerto debut at the age of 17 with the Central Opera House Orchestra in Beijing where he played the Prokofiev D Major Concerto Opus 19. After winning top prize at the first China Youth Violin Competition in 1981, Jiang was accepted to study with Professor Han Li at the Central Conservatory of Music. In 1985, after receiving a full scholarship from McDonnell-Douglas, Jiang came to the United States to study with Taras Gabora and Michael Tree. In 1990, with the support of the Ken Boxley Foundation, he went to Rutgers University to work with Arnold Steinhardt of the Guarneri Quartet. Other teachers included Gérard Poulet and Pinchas Zuckerman. As a prizewinner at the Montreal International Competitions he appeared as a soloist with the Victoria Symphony and Montreal Symphony. Jiang had appeared at many international music festivals by the age of 22. He has recorded for the Record Corporation of China. As a composer, Jiang has arranged over 50 pieces for string quartet and other instruments, many pieces composed with Eastern repertoire and Western influence. In addition to his extensive touring and recordings schedule, Jiang maintains a close relationships with his students. Jiang teaches at Montclair State University and the Bard College Conservatory of Music. He is also guest professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and the Shanghai Conservatory.
Violist Kathryn Lockwood has been hailed internationally for her exceptional talents. The Cleveland Plain Dealer proclaimed, “…Lockwood played the vociferous viola cadenza with mahogany beauty and vivid character.” She is the violist of the renowned Lark Quartet and the unique viola and percussion duo, duoJalal. As a member of Lark, she released two CDs: All Higdon and Composing America. With duoJalal, she released A Different World. As an original member of Pacifica Quartet, she performed internationally and was heard live on NPR’s Performance Today. She has collaborated on recordings with violist Michael Tree and composer Easley Blackwood. In 2005 Kathryn released a solo recital CD of Viola Music by Inessa Zaretsky, Fireoptics, about which Strad declared “Lockwood is absolutely inside the music’s idiom finding appropriate tonal shadings.” A native of Australia, she moved to the United States in 1991. She has taught at Rutgers University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Music Institute of Chicago and National Music Camp in Australia. She earned her master’s degree with Donald McInnes at the University of Southern California, and her Bachelor of Music Degree from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music with Elizabeth Morgan.
Tomoko Fujita – Website
Hailed as “first-rate” by the Boston Globe, cellist Tomoko Fujita enjoys an active musical life as soloist, chamber musician, and educator. She has recently performed on the Dame Myra Hess Series in Chicago and at the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City with pianist Luba Poliak, and has collaborated with esteemed artists such as Itzhak Perlman, members of the Cleveland, Emerson, and Juilliard String Quartets, dancer Wendy Whelan, and the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. As a founding member and the cellist of the Bryant Park Quartet for ten years, she has presented numerous concerts and interactive outreach presentations, nationally and internationally, and released a CD album entitled “BPQ”. Currently, she is a member of the New York Chamber Music Co-Op, a new creative performance collaborative in New York City. Dr. Fujita is a graduate of Rice University, The Juilliard School, and Stony Brook University. In addition to being the Director of the Stony Brook University Young Artist Program, she is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Cello at Hofstra University, and coaches at the New York Youth Symphony Chamber Music Program. In the summers, Tomoko is in residence at the Kinhaven Music School in Weston, VT.
Jeremy McCoy is Assistant Principal double bass with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Mr. McCoy played one season with the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada before joining the MET in 1985. He has performed as recitalist for the International Society of Bassists and CBC Radio and as concerto soloist at the National Arts Centre, with the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Atlantic Chamber Orchestra and the Lake Tahoe Summerfest Orchestra. Summer festival appearances include Marlboro, Kneisel Hall, Banff, Mostly Mozart, Bowdoin, the Grand Tetons and Ottawa Chamberfest. Mr. McCoy was a founding member of Sequitur and Ensemble Sospeso and also appeared regularly with Speculum Musicae, presenting premiere performances and recordings of chamber works by eminent contemporary composers. As a commercial session player, he has played on dozens of motion picture soundtracks and recorded with a diverse group of popular artists. He has also produced his own recordings, Dialogues with Double Bass, an eclectic program of duos, and “Baroque Legacy”, a collection of transcriptions for double bass. Mr. McCoy has given master classes throughout the United States, in Canada, Sweden and Japan and has contributed articles to Strings Magazine. He also serves on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.
André Tarantiles received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Indiana University School of Music. He has concertized throughout the United States and performed as soloist in all the major concert halls in New York City. He has appeared on national television accompanying opera stars including Aprile Millo, Benita Valente, Renée Fleming, Marcello Giordani, Ramon Vargas and Christine Goerke. Currently principal harpist for several ensembles including the Metropolitan Opera Guild, New York City Opera National Company, Glimmerglass Opera Festival, Arizona Opera Wagner Festival, New Jersey State Opera, the Center for Contemporary Opera, Teatro Grattacielo and the Casals Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He has also performed in orchestras backing up headliners as diverse as Placido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Jones, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Connie Francis, Roberta Flack, John Denver, Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole and Patti Lupone. He has performed in The Fantasticks (the world’s longest running musical), Radio City Musical Hall and on Broadway (harp and synthesizer). Mr. Tarantiles is featured on CDs for several labels and he is also the official harpist of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
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Darren O’Neill is that rare combination of scholar and performer. Mr. O’Neill earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Castleton State College in Castleton, VT and his Master of Arts degree in Music from Montclair State University. Both degrees centered about guitar performance. He earned his Master of Library Service degree from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. As a member of Trio Brioso (flute, viola, and guitar) he gave his Carnegie Hall debut in 1997 as the result of winning the Artists International New York Debut Competition that same year. As a member of the Nova Segno Duo (with Dennis Cinelli), he has performed and recorded on antique instruments from the historic collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was featured in the
2011 exhibition, Guitar Heroes! He has also spent significant time editing and proofreading the re-engraving of works by Fernando Sor (1778-1839) under the
supervision of Dr. Brian Jeffery, Tecla Publications. His career as a librarian has seen him working in the Music Research Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. He is an honorary member of both Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (music) and Alpha Psi Omega (theatre).
Guitarist Stephen Benson is a freelance performer who has remained active on the studio, jazz and Broadway scene for twenty years. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, CT, and a master’s from Manhattan School of Music. He has taught at Hartt School of Music and the Turtle Bay Music School in New York. Benson toured Europe as a member of the Giora Feidman Trio, performed at the Carnevale in Venice, Italy, for two years and at the Grand Canyon Music Festival in Arizona. He has worked extensively on Broadway in such shows as The Lion King, 42nd Street, and Wicked. He performs many styles of jazz from bebop to fusion to blues and R & B and has worked with artists including Phoebe Snow, John Sebastian and Evelyn Blakey.
David Graessle is a versatile guitarist that has been featured on WFDU-FM, was a soloist at WPU’s 50th anniversary alumni concert, and was selected to play a masterclass for Jason Vieaux. He also studied ensemble playing in Italy, performing concerts in Rome and Venice. He’s performed hundreds of engagements as a soloist, with the guitar/mandolin duo World View, and as a member of the NJ Guitar & Mandolin Society. Currently, he is recording his debut album for solo classical guitar with works by Bach, Barrios and Villa-Lobos. Graessle holds an MA in guitar performance from Montclair State University where he studied with Darren O’Neill, a BA with teaching certification from William Paterson University, and is a longtime student of GFA winner Kevin Gallagher. A teacher at the Community High School of Bergen County since 1997, Graessle also chairs the music department and is the theatre department’s musical director. Additionally, he has recorded two rock albums with his band The Other Half, continues to perform as a duo with his twin brother, and is the founding director of Rockin’ Summer Camp, a musical summer program for teens.
Sylwia Kloc, a native of Poland, is an active soloist, chamber music player and a teacher. Her repertoire ranges from the Renaissance to the 20th century’s most current compositions. Ms. Kloc received both her Bachelor and Master Degrees from Mannes College of Music. She studied with Frederic Hand and was awarded the merit scholarship for her excellence in performance. Ms. Kloc and violist Elena Rojas form the ensemble Colloquio di Corde. The duo plays a variety of music, although its main focus is commissioning works from modern-day composers. Ms. Kloc plays Renaissance lute, Baroque guitar, and studied privately with the renowned early music player Dennis Cinelli. In the Spring of 2007 Ms. Kloc premiered and recorded “Ancient Visions” a concerto for Renaissance lute and guitar ensemble by Terry Champlin. She was a scholar recipient for the 2006 “Music in Compostela Festival” in Spain where she studied with Jose Luiz Rodrigo.
Based in New York City, Dr. Jason Priset is a regular soloist and performer in the United States. Priset has appeared in concert and as a soloist for Bach Vespers, the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, Early Music New York, Voyces of Staten Island, and the Riverside Symphony to name a few, including performances in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Priset holds a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) from Stony Brook University and specializes in a variety of plucked guitar and lute related instruments. Aside from an active performance career Dr. Priset is also the Director for the Lute Society of America Summer Seminar.
James Smith, Jr.
James W. Smith Jr. holds an MA degree in Music History and Literature from Long Island University and a DMA in Early Music Performance from SUNY at Stony Brook. Mr. Smith received educational training from the Lincoln Center Institute in Aesthetic Education and has served as a Senior Teaching Artist for the Tilles Center Arts and Culture Institute and Lecturer at Dowling College. Additionally Mr. Smith is an Assistant Adjunct Professor at Suffolk County Community College. Early Music America called James Smith’s baroque guitar playing “dynamically appealing.” As an early music specialist Mr. Smith has performed on theorbo, lute and baroque guitar with New York City Opera, Early Music New York, and Polyhymnia, among other ensembles. Operas performed include: Handel’s Flavio, Almira and Agrippina; Monteverdi’s Orfeo, and L’Incoronation di Poppea; and Cavalli’s L’Ormindo. Mr. Smith’s repertoire and collection of historical replica instruments allows him to understand and demonstrate the evolution of the guitar’s technique and style from its 16th century origins through its flourishing in the 19th and 20th century literatures. His most recent project La Guitaromanie with Guitarist Sylwia Kloc is a lecture/demo showing the various types of guitars and historic notational systems, with a performance of compositions representing each era.
Ardith Collins teaches Orchestra and General Music at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in New York City and has been adjunct faculty at Montclair State University Cali School of Music since 2014. Ardith completed Orff Schulwerk and Kodály certifications as well as Beginner Level Dalcroze, and is president of the Northern New Jersey Orff Schulwerk Association. Ardith is an active writer and presenter, serving on the AOSA Reverberations Editorial Board, the communications team for the American Center for Elemental Music and Movement, and is an AOSA Level I teacher trainer. Ardith performs with the Montclair State University Balkan Ensemble, and is a folk dancing and rounds singing enthusiast.
Chamber Music Coach
Dr. Tamara Reps Freeman, Holocaust ethnomusicologist, educator and recitalist is the musicologist for the Association of Holocaust Organizations, the international alliance of Holocaust museums, state commissions, and education programs. Dr. Freeman teaches classes and faculty workshops based on her dissertation, Encouraging Racial Respect Through Holocaust Music: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum. In 2014, Dr. Freeman received an alumni award from the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, for creating one of the five most significant music education innovations in the school’s 125-year history. She performs lecture-recitals of music composed, sung, and played in the WWII concentration camps on her 1935 Joseph Bausch viola, a rescued Holocaust relic. Her many performance venues include the Chautauqua, NY Summer Institute, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and the New Jersey State House. Publications include Giving Voice to Democracy in Music Education, Diversity and Social Justice, Routledge Publishers, 2015, and the music curriculum for the 2014 Emmy nominated film, Defiant Requiem (journeysinfilm.org).
Early Music / Baroque Violin
Nate White is well known as a freelance double bassist, private teacher, and conductor in his native New Jersey. Mr. White has earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the John J. Cali School of Music at Monclair State University. There he studied double bass with Linda McKnight and conducting with Paul Hostetter. In his youth, Nate was selected to appear in the television show “A Musical Encounter” produced by Sylvia Kunin. As a soloist, Nate has performed concerti with several orchestras including the New Jersey Youth Symphony, the Philharmonic Orchestra of NJ, the Doctor’s Society Orchestra of NY and the Montclair State University Symphony. In 1999, he won the Grand Prize of the NJ ASTA State Solo Competition and in 2008 he won the Montclair State University Concerto Competition. You can often see him performing as an orchestral player with various orchestras in the area, and he is currently the Principal Bass of the Bravura Philharmonic. Nate is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Freelance Ensemble Artists of NJ, Conductor of the FEA Symphony, as well as Music Director and Conductor of the Essex County Summer Players Orchestra. He is also a member of the faculty of the New Jersey Youth Symphony.
Hyeyung Yoon has been seeking to connect deeply with audiences since starting her career as a violinist in the Chiara String Quartet in 2000. Out of this desire, she launched “Chamber Music in Any Chamber,” a project that brought her ensemble to over 50 clubs and bars across the country, and performed in settings outside of concert halls that were more comfortable for many to experience music. The quartet’s project of memorizing its concert repertoire, including the performances of the Complete String Quartets of Bela Bartok at the Ravinia Festival in 2016, also came out of the same desire. Without stands in the way, the audience could sense the music more vibrantly. Her career with the Chiara, which celebrated its last season in spring 2018, has brought her to venues around the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Library of Congress, Seoul Arts Center, and Carnegie Hall. Discography include recording of Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartets, which was nominated for Grammy Award in 2011 and Bartók by Heart, the Complete String Quartets of Béla Bartók, released in 2016. Hyeyung is the program director to Chamber Music Accord, Hartt School’s new summer chamber music program for high school students. She recently traveled to Korea in Spring 2019 to research folk performance practices. She was the Blodgett Artist-in-Residence at Harvard University (2008-2014) and a Hixson-Lied Artist-in-Residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2005-2018). She is a graduate of the Juilliard School (B.M. and Artist Diploma in String Quartet Studies).