Coloratura soprano Kimberly Ayers has appeared with the Hartford Opera Theatre, La Musica Lirica (Italy), and The Falmouth Chorus. She serves as a section leader for the Chancel Choir at the United Parish of Brookline. Ms. Ayers received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Massachusetts and a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music.
Considered “one of the iconic harpists of this new age,” Eduardo Betancourt is a Grammy-award winning Venezuelan musician, producer, arranger, composer, instructor, and multi-instrumentalist with 30 years of experience in traditional, fusion Venezuelan music and Latin Jazz.
In 2010, Betancourt won a Latin Grammy Award for his participation on the album “Tesoros de la música Venezolana” by Ilan Chester, and in 2016, he was nominated on the album “Pa’ Tío Simón” with Rafael “Pollo” Brito.
At the 2016 Pepsi Music Awards in Venezuela, Betancourt’s personal album, AD LIBITUM, was nominated three times for “Best Artist,” “Best Song,” and “Best Album.” His many accomplishments include more than 100 recordings, and performances with renowned international artists such as: Simon Diaz, Oscar D León, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Danny Rivera, Luis Salinas, and many important artists from Venezuela.
As a guest instructor at Berklee College of Music in 2018, he offered a Master Class of Harp and Venezuelan music entitled “Eduardo Betancourt: Venezuelan Harp, from Traditional to Contemporary” through the Latin Minor Studies program led by Professor Oscar Stagnaro. Currently, Betancourt collaborates with the Venezuelan Project, a Latin Jazz group who have performed at the House of Blues and on National Public Radio (NPR), and solo under the name EduardoProject, giving workshops and teaching master classes throughout the world.
Betancourt plays on Electric Llanera and Camac EC harps (their design and construction he helped guide for the French harp company, Les Harpes Camac). With his instruments, he explores and applies new sonorities to traditional Venezuelan music, giving his work a refreshing contemporary sound.
“Eduardo Betancourt is undoubtedly a leader in his field… With his acoustic harp, he brings together traditional Venezuelan musical styles. With his electric harp, he expands the horizons of his instrument, carving out new identities for it in the twenty-first century.” -Jakez François, President, Les Harpes Camac.
Praised for her “unusually intelligent and sensitive playing”, Lisa Brooke is concertmaster of Symphony by the Sea, where she has appeared as soloist. She currently teaches violin at Salem State University, and has appeared as soloist with New England Classical Singers and the Salem Philharmonic. She performed in NYC with the Orchestra of St. Lukes`, and with Leonard Bernstein and James Levine in the Music for Life concerts, in Carnegie Hall. Ms. Brooke is principal second violinist of Coro Allegro, where she also often plays concertmaster, and is concertmaster for the New England Classical Singers. She is a member of the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and has played with Barbra Streisand, Chuck Mangione, and as concertmaster for Liza Minnelli, concerts and CD recording. She has recorded with Deutsche Gramophone, Nonesuch, Telarc and Opus 1. An avid Salsa dancer, Lisa has performed on four teams, and takes classes and dances regularly. Ms. Brooke performed with the New York Collegium, Concert Royal, Rebel Baroque Orchestra, Amor Artis, the American Classical Orchestra, Handel and Haydn Society and Boston Cecilia, and as concertmaster/soloist with Tempesta Di Mare (Philadelphia), where both her solo playing and section leadership were highly praised in reviews. She ran ensemble Tre`s successfully, for 10 years, and currently performs regularly with Tre`s Maresienne, appearing regularly on the Museum Concert Series of Somerville, First Church Cambridge, and on Cambridge Society for Early Music’s series.
Yi-Li Chang, baroque violin, has been recognized by The Boston Musical Intelligencer as a baroque violinist with “confident virtuosity.” Yi-Li has performed many solo and chamber baroque violin recitals in the Boston area as well as in her native Taiwan. She performs regularly with Boston-based groups such as Grand Harmonie, Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, and the Longy Early Music Ensemble, and is a founding member of the Early music chamber ensemble Incendium Novum. She has participated in many Early music festivals, most recently at Amsterdam Early Music Summer School, Amherst Early Music Festival, and the International Baroque Institute at Longy School of Music. Most recently she was concertmaster for Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with the Longy Early Opera Project. She has also studied piano performance and composition, and her interests extend to harpsichord, continuo accompaniment, and viola da gamba. This year Yi-Li earned s an MM in Early Music from Longy, where she studied under baroque violinist Dana Maiben. Previously she received MM and PhD degrees in modern violin performance from National Taiwan Normal University, where her dissertation on Locatelli’s L’arte del violino has become a unique resource in the Chinese-language secondary literature on baroque violin performance practice.
Nathaniel Cox, cornetto, theorbo. A native of Vermont, Nathaniel Cox began his music career as a trumpet player, earning BAs in trumpet performance and Russian literature from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in 2008. After studying the baroque trumpet for a brief period (and winning the historical category at the National Trumpet Competition in 2007), Nathaniel was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study cornetto with Bruce Dickey at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland. He began playing theorbo in 2011, and since then has performed across Europe and North America, both as a cornettist and theorbist with ensembles such as the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg, Apollo’s Fire, La Rose des Vents, and Profeti della Quinta.
Soprano Cassandra Extavour began her vocal career with the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir in her native Toronto, Canada before moving to Europe in 1995. Moving between Spain, Greece, and England, she studied voice under Carlos Mena (Madrid, Spain) and Richard Levitt (Schola Cantorum Basilensis, Basel, Switzerland). Her recordings include Henry Purcell: Dido and Aeneas (Tafelmusik, dir. Jeanne Lamon; CBC SM 5000 Recordings) and Codex Huelgas: Misa de Santa María la Real (Ensemble Huelgas, dir. Luis Lozano Virumbrales; Sony). She has soloed with numerous European and American ensembles, including Alia Musica (Madrid, Spain), La Capella de Ministrers (Valencia, Spain), La Capilla Real de Madrid (Madrid, Spain), and Emmanuel Music (Boston, USA). Her oratorio repertoire includes Haendel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation and Nelson Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem, and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. Operatic roles include Belinda and Dido (Purcell’s Dido and Anaeas), Serpina (Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona), Marcellina (Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro) and The Witch (Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel). She relocated to Boston, USA in 2007, where she currently studies with Jane Olian (Juilliard School), does recital and chamber work, and sings with multiple professional ensembles, including Emmanuel Music (dir. Ryan Turner) and the Handel and Haydn Society (dir. Harry Christophers). Cassandra is also Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, at Harvard University (www.extavourlab.com).
Brad Fugate, singer, voice instructor, and musicologist, has taught for over a decade in the U.S. and Japan. Brad sings all types of music professionally, from opera and musical theater to Medieval and Renaissance to punk rock and Latin fusion. He has a doctorate in Voice from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and will soon finish a PhD in Musicology/Ethnomusicology at Boston University. Brad teaches singing, theory, and musical theater at Brown University and researches the anthropologies of the music of Japan. Dr. Fugate is Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre at East Tennessee State University.
Laury Gutiérrez, viola da gamba, guitars. Laury and her mother were serenaded by her father and other local musicians at the birth clinic in Venezuela on the day she was born. In her teens she moved from Caracas to the country’s cowboy/girl zone Los Llanos (The Plains). In their home the family often held musical soirées, criollo style, where musicians spend the evening playing folk music by ear. Laury soaked up the amazing improvisations by both singers and instrumentalists. She took up the cuatro (Venezuela’s small guitar) and also began guitar lessons. Soon she became part of the town’s Folkloric Orchestra on guitar and mandolin. Moving back to Caracas after high school, she heard the viola da gamba for the first time and fell in love with it. Laury then received the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, Venezuela’s most prestigious scholarship for study abroad, along with other top awards and recognitions, and graduated with honors in music from the College of St. Scholastica in Minnesota. She did graduate work in music at the Longy School of Music, Indiana University, and Boston University. She was a 2009 Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and was included in a 2009 exhibit honoring 100 Boston-area women for their leadership and achievements. She is a resident scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University. Praised as “a first-rate instrumentalist” (Boston Globe), Laury specializes in music by women composers and in early music from Ibero-America. She has performed under the direction of Thomas Binkley, Monica Huggett, and Wendy Gillespie, among others, and has been a featured guest artist–lecturer at Harvard University, Brandeis University, and Simmons College. She is the founding director of La Donna Musicale and RUMBARROCO. La Donna Musicale’s four groundbreaking CDs, Antonia Bembo’s The Seven Psalms of David Vols. I and II, The Pleasures of Love and Libation: Airs by Julie Pinel and other Parisian Women, and Anna Bon, La virtuosa di Venezia, have received critical acclaim at home and abroad, as well as awards.
Diane Heffner is an active freelance clarinetist and teacher on both historical and modern instruments. She performs regularly with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Boston Baroque, and Handel and Haydn Society, and she has appeared with American Classical Orchestra (Connecticut), Rebel Baroque Orchestra (New York), Musicians of the Old Post Road, Chicago Opera Theatre, Classical Arts Orchestra (Chicago), Dayton Bach Society, Portland Baroque Orchestra (Oregon), Connecticut Early Music Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, and American Bach Soloists. In 2005, she appeared as basset clarinet soloist with the Arcadia Players on the Mozart Clarinet Concerto at Dartmouth College. On modern clarinet, in her home base of Boston, she is a founding member of Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble and Alcyon Chamber Ensemble, and she appears regularly with Alea III, Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, Emmanuel Music, Prism Opera, Vermont Symphony, and various other freelance ensembles. Heffner is on the applied faculty at Tufts University, the Cambridge School of Weston, and the All-Newton Music School. She received B.M. and M.M. degrees with honors from the New England Conservatory, where she studied clarinet with Joseph Allard and chamber music with Rudolph Kolisch and Leonard Shure. She is part to The Mood Swings Orchestra, a Boston’s all-women 19-piece big band in the style of the traditional dance bands of the 1930s, 1940s and beyond.
Kirsten Lamb is a double-bassist and vocalist from New Jersey. Praised by The Huffington Post as a “brilliant young musician” and the Boston Globe for her “versatility and assurance,” she has performed folk, jazz, classical, and contemporary music throughout the United States and abroad. Kirsten graduated from Oberlin Conservatory in 2009 with a BM in music in both double bass and ethnomusicology. She has studied with bassists Thomas Sperl and Peter Dominguez, sitarist Hasu Patel, and viola da gambist Catharina Meints, and has developed a unique style of solo performance. Kirsten recently completed an MM in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory, where she studied with Cecil McBee, Dominique Eade, Hankus Netsky, and Anthony Coleman, debuted several original solo works in Jordan Hall, played for Elvis Costello, performed in John Zorn’s 35-year retrospective, and participated in NEC’s community outreach program. Upon graduation Kirsten was awarded the Gunther Schuller Medal. Kirsten maintains a private studio, is a frequent guest teacher at schools throughout the Boston area, and recently began a weekly residency with Young Audiences of Massachusetts. Kirsten is currently working on a full-length CD featuring original solo and ensemble compositions. For more information, visit www.kirstenlambmusic.com.
Julia McKenzie, violin, enjoys a varied musical life playing violin in assorted styles and settings. She specializes in period instrument performance with the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, and other period instrument groups; performs with Cantata Singers, Emmanuel Music, and other area orchestras and chamber music ensembles; arranges and performs music with Shelter Music Boston for audiences in homeless shelters; and dabbles in jazz, blues, and rock in performances and recording sessions with area bands and touring musicians. Favorite musical adventures include performing in productions with Melodic Vision and other multi-media groups, conducting period instrument demonstrations, performing in music festival tours in Europe, Mexico, and the U.S., and teaching students of all ages.
Karolina Meireles is a drummer and percussionist from Brazil, currently living in Boston. Karolina started playing the drum set at church when she was 10. In 2008 she decided to move to the USA, and at her high school here fell in love with percussion. In 2010 she received a From the Top scholarship to develop her musical skills. Karolina helped found El Sistema in the ’Ville in Somerville, MA, an after-school program that focuses on learning through music. Children from third grade upwards have music lessons there every day. Karolina has had the honor to perform at TEDxBoston, TEDxSomerville, the Blue Note in New York, Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall, the Berklee Performance Center, the United Nations, and Lincoln Center in New York.
Fabiola M. Mendez, a Puerto Rican cuatro player and singer, has taken part in a musical movement, crossing over the lines of genres such as folkloric, jazz, and Latin. She has worked with and performed for artists such as Totó La Momposina, Eddie Palmieri, the Puerto Rican Symphony Orchestra, and El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. She is a Berklee College of Music graduate (music education). She has participated in music education events and conferences, actively performs at various venues around New England and Puerto Rico, and taking part in recording sessions and other projects.
Zayra Pola Ocasio at age 12 was introduced for an assessment of her musical aptitude to the teacher Luis “Perico” Ortiz, who told her parents “This girl is a phenomenon.” Then she began to study her first instrument, drums. After several years of playing without formal study, she attended the Escuela Libre de Musica de Caguas, where she met Alexis Trinta, who instructed her in theory and solfege. At the same time, she was taught by the great percussion master Jose “Pepe” Torres, who was impressed by her talent and gave her the name “Pola” when he found out she was the granddaughter of the distinguished Puerto Rican guitarist Polo Ocasio. Following Torres’ advice, she auditioned for the prestigious Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico and was accepted. There Zayra took classes with Andrew Lazarus, who became her mentor, adviser, and friend. She also had the privilege of performing with great teachers such as Alex Acuna, the actor and singer Anahi, Raymond Arrieta, Jean Carlos Canela, Luis Enrique, Larry Harlow, Grupo Mania, Luisito Marin, Paoli Mejias, Andy Montanez, Rosel in Sanchez, Adalberto Santiago, and Charlie Sierra. Afterwards, she received a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, which enabled her to solidify her musical knowledge and share her Puerto Rican heritage among a multicultural community of musicians. In addition to timbale and drum set, Zayra plays congas and bongos.
Mezzo-soprano Roselin Osser. Praised for her comic timing, she has has excelled in opera character roles including Rosina in The Barber of Seville (Longwood Opera), Pitti-Sing in The Mikado (Opera Providence) and Satirino in La Calisto (Harvard Early Music Society). In addition to opera, Osser is an accomplished concert performer. She has appeared as a soloist with many organizations including the Assabet Valley Mastersingers, the Paul Madore Chorale, and the Greater New Bedford Choral Society, where she was praised for her “velvety,” and “sparkling” voice by the Standard-Times. In a Boston Singers Resource Recital Series presentation of art songs set to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, she was described as a “gorgeous, mellifluous mezzo…capable of a wide range of timbres” by the Boston Musical Intelligencer. With a passion for both music and environmental conservation, Osser works as a consulting engineer in the field of green building design in addition to performing. To learn more, please visit her website here.
Countertenor Gerrod Pagenkopf has been praised by the Houston Chronicle as having “an elegant bearing and a sweet, even sound,” and by the Boston Musical Intelligencer as “emit[ting] one gorgeous mellifluousness after another.” Gerrod made his professional operatic debut in 2008 with Amarillo Opera as Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus. Other opera credits include the title roles in Actéon, Orlando, and Rinaldo, Ottone (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Endimione and Satirino (La Calisto), Niso (L’Artemisia), the Sorceress, Second Witch, and Spirit (Dido and Aeneas), Tolomeo (Giulio Cesare), Arsamenes (Serse), Polinesso (Ariodante), Public Opinion (Orpheus in the Underworld), Oberon (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and the Refugee (Flight). As a concert soloist, Gerrod has performed with numerous ensembles in such masterworks as Handel’s Messiah and Israel in Egypt; Bach’s Passions, Magnificat, and Mass in B Minor; Vivaldi’s Gloria and Dixit Dominus; as well as numerous cantatas, oratorios, and other liturgical works of Alessandro Scarlatti, Caldara, and Telemann. A native of rural Wisconsin, Gerrod received his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also received his Masters of Music in Voice from the University of Houston, where he was a graduate fellow with Katherine Ciesinski. He currently resides in Boston and is a student of Dr. Rebecca Folsom.
Tal Shalom-Kobi, a native of Israel, is a bass player and a music educator who has been active in the world of music for the past 15 years. Tal holds a degree in Music Education from Berklee College of Music and a Masters in Jazz Performance from New England Conservatory. Tal has performed at jazz festivals overseas and locally in such venues as Berklee Performance Center, Ryles Jazz Club, and Jordan Hall. Tal is co-leader of the Jazz Marauders, a Latin jazz quartet, and Cruzamente, which specializes Cape Verdian music. She also plays with many other groups in the Boston jazz scene. Along with her performance career, she has stayed active in the field of music education, teaching piano and youth ensemble groups in her home studio in Newton. Her web site is www.talmusicworld.com.
Maurizio Fiore Salas, Venezuelan cuatro player, composer and arranger. He graduated in Jazz Composition and Performance at Berklee College of Music. He is an active collaborator with the non-profit organization TuCuatro. Maurizio’s music aims to combine elements from Venezuelan and Afro-Venezuelan folk rhythms with the harmonic concepts of modern Jazz, building on the influences of artists such as Leo Blanco, Cesar Orozco and Quintillo Ensamble.
Catherine Stein holds an MM in Early Music Performance from the Longy School of Music, where she studied Baroque oboe with Stephen Hammer, voice with Laurie Monahan, and Renaissance reeds with Daniel Stillman. She also received a BA in Music History from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she studied oboe with Ashley Barrett and voice with Charles Lynam. On oboe, shawm, and dulcian, and as a mezzo-soprano, she has performed with several choirs and historical performance groups, including the Parish and Chamber choirs at Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill, Zefiro, the Seven Hills Renaissance Wind Band, Newpoli, The Boston Shawm and Sackbut Ensemble, Seven Times Salt, Church of the Advent, Early Music New York, Newport Baroque, New Trinity Baroque, Bach Vespers, and Meravelha.
Mezzo-soprano Daniela Tošić, a native of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, specializes in Early, contemporary, and World music. She has appeared in concerts throughout the United States, Europe, and South America. Daniela is a founding member of the internationally renowned ensemble Tapestry, winners of tthe ECHO Klassik award and Chamber Music America’s Recording of the Year. Tapestry has premiered numerous new works and performed Steve Reich’s Tehillim with the Colorado Symphony and Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop. Daniela has recently appeared as Story Woman in Steven Jobe’s opera Melusine and Yangchen in Sheila Silver’s The White Rooster. In the Boston area she performs with Blue Heron and La Donna Musicale. Daniela has recorded for Telarc, MDG, and several independent labels.
Kera M. Washington is an ethnomusicologist and the founder of Zili Misik, formerly Zili Roots an all-female world music ensemble performing roots music of the African Diaspora, or “New World Soul.” She is on the faculty of the Music Department of Wellesley College, where she is Artistic Director of the Yanvalou Drum and Dance Ensemble. She also teaches music at the Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, MA, and is completing a dissertation on Haitian folkloric music at Tufts University. Kera found her first love, percussion, while studying ethnomusicology at Wellesley College, Wesleyan University, and Brown University, and has been performing and teaching music for over two decades. She has studied with master musicians from Haiti, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Brazil, and the US, and has traveled throughout Africa and the Americas to further her studies. Kera has taught at Wellesley College, MIT, and Northeastern University, as well as at St. Peter School in Cambridge. She also has worked as an artist/educator in the All In One Boat Program, and has presented numerous workshops and music residencies in Boston and the surrounding New England area. Zili Misik’s CDs are available at www.zilimisik.com.