Liza Sobel, composer

Liza Sobel is a composer and singer who combines the lyricism of vocal music with the timbral exploration in instrumental music. Her work has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, Symphony Space, Aldeburgh Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, Brevard Music Institute, and Bowdoin’s International Music Festival. Performers that have played her music include Spektral String Quartet; Cygnus Ensemble; Third Coast Percussion; Nouveau Classical Project; Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble; New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra; Cuatro Puntos; Helix; and Joseph Lin, first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet. Her “Requiem” won the American Prize and was a finalist in the BMI Young Composers Award. Her orchestra piece “Tocsin” was a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers’ Award. Other awards include a Fulbright scholarship, and Cornell’s endorsed candidate and/or finalist for the Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, and Keasbey scholarships. As a singer, Liza regularly performs both new and standard repertoire, as well as her own music. Liza frequently performs music by living emerging composers. Many composers have written pieces specifically for her. In addition, she regularly collaborates with Dr. Walter Hilse, composer, organist, and professor at Manhattan School of Music. Hilse has composed eight pieces for Liza, several of which she has premiered over the last two years.

Liza is in her DMA for composition at Northwestern University where she also teaches Aural Skills. She previously studied at Rutgers University’ Mason Gross Conservatory (MA); Cornell University (BA), and Manhattan School of Music (exchange student). She currently studies composition with Hans Thomalla. Past composition teachers include Steven Stucky, Richard Danielpour, Tarik O’Regan, Derek Bermel, Robert Aldridge, David Dzubay, Gerald Chenoweth, and Jay Yim. She studies voice with Theresa Brancaccio at Northwestern. Past voice teachers include: Judith Nicosia and Judith Kellock.

Amy Petrongelli, soprano

Lauded by The New York Times for her “admirable fluidity,” soprano Amy Petrogelli revels in singing music of all different periods and styles. Her diverse solo performance career encompasses music from  Haydn’s Creation in Carnegie Hall to Berio’s Sequenza III at the Radio Nacional Córdoba in Argentina. Amy finds joy in connecting traditional and non-traditional vocal repertoire.

Amy’s commitment to musical collaboration has led her to fellowships at summer programs such as the Tanglewood Music Center, Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar, and New Music on the Point. This dedication has also driven her to work closely with living composers, helping to bring new solo and chamber works for the voice to life. Most recently, Amy joined Houston Grand Opera to premiere the role of Margie in “Some Light Emerges”, the newest opera by the award-winning creative trio of composer Laura Kaminsky and librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed.

In 2014, Amy helped to found the Khemia Ensemble, a chamber ensemble that seeks to promote cultural exchange through contemporary music. Now in its third season, the Khemia Ensemble has led several residencies and been featured on new music festivals in North and South America, working to foster a common musical language across cultures. Also an avid recitalist, Amy has appeared in recital across the Midwest and East Coast for organizations such as the Casement Fund Recital Series in Brooklyn, NY, The Block in Muskegon, MI, and the Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project in Princeton, NJ.

A passionate educator, Amy has taught voice at the University of Michigan, the University of Akron, Eastern Michigan University, and Saginaw Valley State University. She is currently a member of the voice faculty at Penn State University in State College, PA, where she can be found running, reading, and searching for the next great microbrew.

Evangeline Werger, piano

Hailing from Minneapolis, MN, Evangeline Werger is an effervescent, multidisciplinary, and socially active pianist and sound artist who focuses on chamber music by living composers, particularly those who are lesser-known and underrepresented. She has performed on piano, organ, harpsichord, synthesizer, toy piano, and melodica throughout North America and Europe and has had the opportunity to perform alongside ensembles such as Yarn/Wire, Fifth House, JACK Quartet, and members of the DeCoda, Wet Ink, Alarm Will Sound, and NOW ensembles. Evangeline recently received full funding to travel to Vienna, Austria to study with composer-pianist Nancy Van De Vate and recently presented a lecture-recital for her senior thesis which proposed a plan to diversify her conservatory’s approach to musicology and performance practices. Additionally, Evangeline just released her first album of solo piano works written by composer Isaac Meyhew titled Why Can’t the World Be Poetic. Currently completing her undergraduate with a degree in both Piano Performance and German Studies from Lawrence University and Conservatory in Appleton, Wisconsin, Evangeline studies with Dr. Michael Mizrahi and Katherine Handford. In the past three years alone, she has commissioned and performed the world premieres of 14 solo and chamber pieces across the United States. Her recent performance highlights include Philip Glass’s opera Hydrogen Jukebox, Andrew Cole’s Song Birds in Winter: A Young Person’s Guide to the Impending Mass Extinction Event, Julius Eastman’s Stay On It, and Kate Soper’s Voices from the Killing Jar. As a long-term goal, she is planning a country-wide chamber initiative focused on pairing up under-represented or under-funded young performers with representative composers in order to bring together at-odd communities. In her spare time, Evangeline loves teaching herself about electronic music, practicing sound art and Fluxus, cooking spicy food, and jamming with her friends in her melodica band, the Melodikids.

Karen Yu, percussion

Karen Yu is a Hong Kong-based percussionist focusing on the possibilities of combining sonic and performing arts. Through the unique blend of sight and sound inherent in percussion performance, Karen seeks to create music that is beyond pleasure for our ears. Dedicated to the performance of contemporary music, Karen has collaborated with a number of composers and premiered over fifty new compositions, including solo and chamber works. Apart from performing, Karen enjoys curating concerts and recitals in private galleries, studio spaces and leading institutions promoting contemporary music.

A founding member of the female theatrical percussion trio, Dressage, and the percussion-saxophone duo, Sounding Pulse, Karen was most recently an artist-in-residence of the Banff Centre of Arts and Creativity, working with renowned percussionist Steven Schick and composer Michael Pisaro. As an active performer, she has appeared in Percussive Arts Society Day of Percussion (Canada, Hong Kong), Transplanted Roots Percussion Research Symposiums (Australia, Canada), Biennale Montreal, IRCAM ManiFeste Academy (France), USF McCormick Marimba Festival (USA), Montreal New Music Festival (Canada), SoundSCAPE New Music Festival (Italy), Hong Kong New Music Ensemble Modern Academy (Hong Kong), Sonic Anchor (Hong Kong) and Hong Kong Street Music (Hong Kong). Her chamber ensemble performances can be heard on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Naxos Records.

Karen obtained her Master of Music and Bachelor of Music from McGill University under the guidance of Professor Aiyun Huang and Fabrice Marandola. Her studies at McGill University were fully supported by the Schulich Graduate Scholarship, and the Centre of Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology funded her interdisciplinary research-creation project, “The Breathing Canvas,”.

Kevin Rank, percussion

Kevin Rank is a percussionist, beardsman, and contemporary music advocate who is fascinated by the connection between music and identity. He’s fond of sharing new music with initiate listeners and revealing to them that, in fact, they themselves have been fans all along. Kevin appears as a guest-artist and clinician in Dallas-Fort Worth and is also passionate about education and outreach.

In October of 2017, Kevin established Sun Sneeze New Music in Dallas-Fort Worth. Sun Sneeze employs targeted programming to forge earnest connections between initiate listeners and new music. In April 2017, he created Communitas 161 which produces concerts in retirement/memory-care facilities performed by student volunteers aged eleven to eighteen. Other projects include performing “Inuksuit” at the Artosphere Festival with Third Coast Percussion and chamber performances at the Enfield Shaker Museum, Constellation Chicago, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the University of Wisconsin – Parkside. Kevin was the resident percussionist with the [Untitled] Festival in Dallas and featured in the premiere performance of the SYZYGY ensemble. Kevin performed beside Drew Lang on the premiere of G. Bradley Bodine’s work, “Namaste: Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble”. He has performed with the Crescent Concert Series, the New Philharmonic Orchestra of Irving, the Allen Philharmonic and the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra. Collaborators have included performers Matt Albert, She-e Wu, Chris Deviney, Rolando Morales-Matos, Jamal Mohamed and also composers Ivan Trevino, Daniel Morel, Tim Feeney, Alex Cooke.

Kevin has taught percussion through individual lessons, chamber ensembles, and Winter Guard International. He maintains a large private studio.

Nicole Patrick, percussion

Nicole Patrick, drummer and percussionist, grew up in Miami among a diverse culture of people and customs. She is a member of NY based contemporary quartet, Mobius Percussion, and is co-founder/co-director of Threads All Arts Festival, an annual festival that showcases 150+ local artists in Southeast Michigan. Primarily living in Detroit, Nicole plays drums and percussion for folk, Americana, punk, improvised, electronic and interdisciplinary groups. She also works with regional theatres, Theatre Aspen (Colorado), Zoetic Stage (Miami) and most recently, Slow Burn Theatre Company (South Florida). Since 2014, she has composed music for Berlin-based dance company, Tangente Company.

Nicole is a proud alumna of Interlochen Arts Academy and graduated from the University of Michigan in 2016 with degrees in Percussion Performance (BM) and Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation (BFA). She returned to Interlochen Arts Camp this summer as a percussion teaching assistant for Keith Aleo and Jeffrey Irving. During her studies, she was a grant recipient from UofM’s International Institute (2014), to study innovative pedagogical techniques under composer/percussionist, Julie Spencer, and Tanz Tangente director, Nadja Raszewski. Their commitment to revealing their hearts through art and to social activism, mixed with the Tao of Pooh, has heavily influenced Nicole’s trajectory. She has performed at the Scotia Festival of Music (2017), National Sawdust (2017) and Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival (2015). Upon graduation from U of M, she was awarded the highest honor in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance; the Albert A. Stanley Medal. She is the winner of the 2015 Black Swamp Multi-Percussion Solo Contest, and Sabian Larrie Londin Memorial Scholarship Fund on drumset. She was named an Artist in Residence with Ann Arbor’s performing arts organization, University Musical Society during their 2016-2017 season.

Maiani da Silva, violin

Violinist Maiani da Silva feels equally at home playing in concert halls, recording studios, breweries, and parked cars. She explores contemporary works as much as classical masterpieces, and occasionally interpretive dances during measures of rest. Always in pursuit of new collaborations, Maiani is co-founder of Merge Collaborative, a new salon-style interdisciplinary series in Los Angeles, Summa Piano Trio (with forthcoming recordings through the Parma label), and a feminist duo partnership debuting at the OME festival.

Maiani relishes working with cutting-edge contemporary ensembles like wildUp, with whom she is an auxiliary violinist and performed in Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Noon to Midnight marathons in 2016 and 2017, as well as Aperture Duo, Ludovico, and Juventas Ensembles. As a Bang On a Can fellow, Maiani worked with George Lewis and Louis Andriessen, and the All-Stars. She has played across the country from Juneau to New York, and internationally from Western Europe to Eastern Asia. Maiani also has orchestral experience with L’Orchestre Lamoureux, St. Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra, Monterey Symphony, and Philharmonie Leipzig, among others.

Aside from her classical and experimental work, Maiani is active in the session scene, and as a live-pop performer. With performance artist Taylor Mac she premiered “The 24-Decade History of Popular Music” in Brooklyn in 2016 and rejoined the band for the 2017–2018 tour. Maiani has also collaborated with Peter Gabriel, Kanye West, Childish Gambino, and Rod Stewart. She is also a devoted Teaching Artist with the Harmony Project, and is passionate about making music available to everyone in the community.

Maiani holds a B.M. and a Graduate Performance Diploma from The Boston Conservatory, where she studied with Irina Muresanu as a scholarship recipient. In 2015, Maiani received an Artist Diploma with Honors from The San Francisco Academy Orchestra. Maiani also enjoys karaoke, interpretive dancing, and a good hang.

Elly Toyoda, violin

Elly Toyoda  began her violin studies at age eleven in Osaka, Japan. Three years later, she was nominated as an “Uprising Young Musician” by Asahi Shimbun Newspaper and gave a solo performance at Osaka Symphony Hall. She holds Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory, where she was elected membership to Pi Kappa Lambda of the National Music Honor Society, and did an exchange program in Vienna, Austria upon receiving the Thomastik-Infeld City of Music and Fine Arts Scholarship. She earned her Master’s degree from the Yale School of Music where she received the school’s Alumni Prize. An avid supporter of contemporary music, she was appointed concertmistress for the New Music for Orchestra project at Yale and was a finalist of the Woolsey Hall Competition performing Benjamin Britten’s  Violin Concerto. She appeared on programs at National Sawdust, and has premiered works at the Norfolk, Lucerne, and Talis Festivals.

In Fall 2017 Toyoda started her Doctorate degree at Rutgers University, studying with Yura Lee.

Jake Saunders, cello

A native of Boise, Idaho, Jake Saunders holds a MM in music performance from Boise State University and a BM in cello performance from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance, where he studied with Richard Aaron. In September 2016, Saunders was appointed principal cellist of Symphony Tacoma. Additionally, he regularly serves as principal cellist with the Opera Idaho. Until May 2014, Saunders performed with the Boise Philharmonic and as an inaugural member of the Boise State Graduate String Quartet Fellowship (Ezra Quartet). In 2014, Saunders created 208 ensemble with composer David Biedenbender. 208 ensemble is the first professional ensemble in Boise dedicated to the advocacy and performance of music written by living composers. Saunders currently serves as the ensemble’s cellist, manager, and concert curator. 208 ensemble’s 2016-17 concert season was generously supported by the Boise City Department of Arts and History. In 2012 Saunders created Boise Cello Collective, a collaborative project among some of Idaho’s preeminent cellists that specializes in the performance of classical, contemporary, and popular music in nontraditional venues. Saunders serves as the group’s manager, arranger, and principal cellist. Boise Cello Collective has presented two world premieres, including a quintet for piano and four cellos by Idahoan composer Dave Earnest in January 2014 and “eMerging” by Evan Ware in November 2014.

Saunders has attended music festivals in the United States and abroad, including the Music Academy of the West, the Castleman Quartet Programs, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the Astona International Festival (CH), and the International Music Academy at Pilsen (CZ). Former chamber music mentors include members of the Cleveland, Takacs, Cavani, Zemlinksy, Fry Street, and Ying Quartets, as well as Charles Castleman, Laura Bossert, and Terry King.

Luke Ellard, clarinet

Born and raised in North Louisiana, classical music wasn’t the most prominent art form Luke experienced growing up. From the moment he began playing clarinet, he was hooked.  This passion for (mostly) organized sound has carried him through degrees from Louisiana Tech University (BM Performance), the University of Texas at Austin (MM Music Composition), and Indiana University (MM Performance and Performer Diploma). As a clarinetist and composer, Luke has traveled across the country and world attending festivals such as Atlantic Music Festival (Contemporary Ensemble Fellow 2017) and made use of years studying French as a composer attending the 2012 European American Musical Alliance Summer Festival in Paris, France.  His compositions have been performed by ensembles such as the New Trombone Collective, Mother Falcon, Michigan State University bands, the University of Texas bands, Barkada Quartet and the North Texas Wind Symphony, and have won several awards for his works (String Quartet Smackdown III Champion, 2013 Slide Factory Composition Contest, Southeastern Composers League Finalist). He is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Performance at the University of North Texas with related fields in Contemporary Music and Music Entrepreneurship, studying with Dr. Kimberly Cole Luevano.