Adam Vincent Clay
Described by the Huffington Post as “lovely,” the music of Ben Morris (b.1993) explores intersections among narratives, imagery, jazz harmony, and improvisation. His work focuses on wonder and memory, inspired by images, places, and seemingly inconsequential objects and events, from food to swimming races. Ben is known for writing a lot of music for his colleagues quickly and without compromise.
Ben graduated summa cum laude from the University of Miami Frost School of Music and is currently pursuing an MM in Composition at Rice University as a Brown Fellow. Active in concert music, jazz, production, and film scoring, he has studied and worked with Lansing McLoskey, Michael Bacon, Eric Ewazen, the members of Imani Winds, Stephen Hartke, Robert Beaser, Chet Biscardi, Missy Mazzoli, Brian Lynch, Gary Lindsay, Martin Bejerano, Tony Brandt, Douglas Cuomo, among others. His music has been performed by the American Composers’ Orchestra, Cadillac Moon, Pulse Trio, LUNAR Ensemble and Gleb Kanasevich, Fredericksburg Brass, Vice City Brass, The Living Earth Show, members of the American Modern Ensemble, members of the Cleveland Orchestra, Resound Duo, Scuffed Shoe Duo, Eliot Gattegno, Imani Winds, the Frost Symphony Orchestra, the University of Miami Concert Jazz Band, the Stamps Ensembles, and countless other student ensembles. For the 2015 Roe and Penny Stamps Annual Concert, Ben composed for and conducted two chamber music and jazz crossover ensembles – a dectet and a 19-piece combo. Ben also collaborates with visual artists and dancers, and his music has been featured as part of Rice Gallery New Art New Music Concerts and the LaTex Electronic Music Festival.
Ben received an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award in 2014, a Downbeat Award, the 2015 Frost School of Music Orchestra Composition Prize, a New Jersey Music Educators’Association Young Composers Award, and a Klezmer Company Orchestra Composer’s Prize and Commission, was featured on the Festival Miami Emerging Composers Competition four years in a row, and has scored award-winning online promotional videos for 21st Century Oncology. In the summer of 2013, Morris was an emerging composer fellow at the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival, in summer 2014 he attended the New Music on the Point Festival, in 2015 he participated in the American Composers’ Orchestra Jazz Composers’ Institute, and in 2016 he traveled to Pavia, Italy to participate in the highScore Festival.
Ben has interned with film composer Michael Bacon in New York City for the past four summers. He is an active educator, teaching theory and ear training in the Shepherd School of Music Preparatory Program, in addition to scoring student films, documentaries, and online videos. As a jazz pianist, you can find him at jam sessions and venues throughout Houston, Miami, and NY.
Hailed as “extremely moving” by New Music Box and “lovely and communal” by the Austin American Statesman, the music of Joel Love explores an eclectic mix of genres, from short video pieces to works for chamber and large ensembles.
Joel was recently commissioned to compose a new work, Lightscape, for the opening of light artist James Turrell’s The Color Inside. The Houston Chronicle commented that Lightscape “evocatively captures the emotion of The Color Inside.” Joel is the only two-time winner of the PARMA Recordings Composition Competition, which selected Lux and Synchronicity in Purple Minor for publication. Aurora Borealis was selected as a finalist in the 3rd International Franck Ticheli Composition Contest. Real Fiction received a Compositional Excellence Citation by the New York Youth Symphony in 2010. In 2009, while Joel was pursuing his M.M. in Houston, Joel was one of the first young artists with Da Camera of Houston, who presented him with an Aspiring Artist Award and the commission of Just One Person.
Joel’s works have been performed by a number of large and small ensembles, exhibited at several art galleries, and screened at theatres and festivals throughout the United States. Joel has also had his work set to dance: in 2015, his work, Lightscape, won a composition competition by Frame Dance Productions and was utilized as the foundation for a multi-generational dance that celebrated the company’s wide variety of talent and students. Recent performance highlights include a performance of his new percussion trio, In the Gloaming, in Austin, TX by line upon line, and his new saxophone quartet, In memoriam, by the Kenari Quartet during the Grand Prize Gayla Concert at the inaugural M-Prize competition. This year’s North American Saxophone Alliance National Conference featured five performances of Joel’s music throughout the 4-day conference, including the world premiere of a brand new work for saxophone octet, that was performed by the Kenari and Barkada Quartets.
His film scores include the documentary film Stitched, official selection at the 2011 Carmel Art and Film Festival, as well as a short film Kidfellas, “Best Musical Score” at Houston’s 2011 48-Hour Film Project. Last year, Joel’s score for Socks in the City won honorable mention for “Best Musical Score” at New York City’s 2015 48-Hour Film Project. Other notable collaborations with artists from other disciplines feature a city-wide public art exhibit with artist Karyn Olivier, Inboud: Houston, and a 3-month installation by Prince V. Thomas, On Joy, On Sorrow at the Houston Center for Photography, praised by the Houston Chronicle as ”a beautiful piece that feels cleansing to watch.”
Joel recently completed a DMA in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin and holds degrees from The University of Houston’s Moores School of Music (M.Music) and Lamar University’s Mary Morgan Department of Music (B.Music). He lives in Houston, TX, where he teaches full-time at Houston Community College’s Southwest location in Stafford, TX.
Will Kremer is a freelance cellist who performs with the Symphony of Southeast Texas and other regional orchestras. Album credits include The Demigs 2015 LP, Welcome To Hard Times. He also is on the faculty of the AFA Chamber Music program.
Along with teaching at AFA he maintains a full studio of private students and has been on the faculty of the Katy ISD Junior High Orchestra Camp and the Cypress Creek FACE Summer Strings camp in Klein ISD. Will completed his Master of Music in Cello Performance with Vagram Saradjian at the University of Houston, and earned a Bachelors of Music studying with Nikola Ruzevic at the University of North Texas.
Charles Halka has studied at conservatories in the United States, Russia, and Lithuania and holds degrees in both piano and composition from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied piano with Brian Ganz and composition with Michael Hersch. He is now completing coursework towards a Doctor of Musical Arts at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
Mr. Halka’s compositions have been performed in the United States and in Europe, including premieres by counter)induction, ONIX Ensamble, the Armonas Trio, and Pictures on Silence. As a 2008-09 Fulbright grantee, he spent the last year in Vilnius, Lithuania researching Lithuanian music and writing an opera in collaboration with Lithuanian director and librettist Marija Simona Šimulynaitė. The opera received its premiere on March 23, 2010 in Vilnius.
Leah Brashear graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance in 2011. While at Sam Houston, she studied with Mary Kay Lake and was an active member of the Opera Workshop, where she performed in many full scale operas and scenes programs. Some notable roles and partial roles she performed were Susanna from Le Nozze di Figaro, Serpina from La Serva Padrona and Papagena from The Magic Flute. After graduating, Leah was accepted into several summer programs such as the Redwoods Opera Workshop and the Druid City Opera Workshop.
Dan Tobin has been playing cello for the past 14 years. His musical pursuits have been confined mainly to Oklahoma and Texas but during a three month stretch he practiced in the wilds of Anchorage, Alaska. Dan began playing at the age of 10 in Norman, OK, beginning private lessons two years later under the tutelage of Valorie Tatge.
Throughout his middle and high school career Dan played with several youth orchestras culminating with being made principal in the Oklahoma Youth Orchestra; Oklahoma’s premier young artists orchestra. He was also a two year member of the Oklahoma All-state Orchestra. At the University of Oklahoma Dan chose to pursue a degree in Petroleum Engineering. A degree which has facilitated a summer internship in Alaska as well as his current residence in Houston, TX working for ConocoPhillips. During college, however, Dan continued with music and studied with Jon Ruck, the University’s cello professor, and played for three years in the OU orchestra.
Dan is currently a member of the Houston Civic symphony and has been playing with that ensemble for two years. Dan’s style of playing is punctuated by his movement to the music and the physical passion he exhibits. Though only engaging in musical endeavors on a part time basis, Dan still holds that music and performance are integral to his life.
As principal cellist and member of many orchestras and international youth festivals, Cony Ruiz has performed in stages of Mexico, USA, Europe and Australia, such as the Palau de la Música in Valencia, Bellas Artes Palace in Mexico City and the Sydney Opera House.
She studied at the Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey with internationally known Bulgarian cellist Temenouzhka Ostreva and Cuarteto Latinoamericano cellist Álvaro Bitrán. She also earned a Bachelors Degree in Marketing from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Tec de Monterrey), and a Masters Degree of International Business from Macquire University in Sydney.
Cony brings her passionate playing to the group and enthusiasm for performing in innovative settings.
Cellist, Melisa Rose began playing at age 9. She has since performed as a soloist and with various ensembles throughout the U.S. and internationally. During her intermediate and high school years in Mesa, AZ, Melisa received many honors including places in the Phoenix Symphony Guild, Metro-Pops and MTNA Competitions. In 2000, she gained her Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance from the Oberlin Conservatory, where she was a student of Andor Toth, Jr. She further gained her Master of Music degree in cello performance from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
In 2001, Melisa relocated to Texas in order to pursue doctoral studies under the tutelage of Mstislav Rostropovich protege, Vagram Saradjian at the Moore’s School of Music within the University of Houston. While at UH, Melisa focused her attention heavily on modern solo and chamber music, performing with the school’s contemporary chamber ensemble, AURA. In this connection, she performed several contemporary works in live radio broadcasts. She also engaged in collaborations with several distinguished living composers, premiering pieces written for her by Justin Henry, Josh Vinci and Henry Rose.
Melisa has received mentoring from the St. Petersburg Quartet, the Colorado Quartet, and the Eroica Trio. She has also performed in masterclasses with James Buswell, Peter Howard and Carter Brey. In 2002, Melisa performed with members of the Prague-based Martinů Quartet while studying with the group in the Czech Republic. Most recently, she made her Central American solo debut last October, performing at the Ateneo, Cuidad del Saber in Panama City, Panama.
Currently, Melisa enjoys teaching privately and performing throughout the greater Houston area.
Melanie Riordan began playing the violin at the age of ten in her hometown of New Rochelle, NY. She received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University where she studied with esteemed pedagogue Cyrus Forough. While at CMU, Melanie received the Harry G. Archer award for excellence in violin studies. She then continued her studies at McGill University where she received her Masters of Music, studying with Toronto Symphony Concertmaster Jonathan Crow. Melanie has continued her studies at various summer music festivals such as the Spoleto Festival USA, Orchestre de la Francophonie, National Repertory Orchestra, the Bowdoin International Music Festival and, most recently, Houston’s own Texas Music Festival where she served as Assistant Concertmaster.
Violinist J. Luis Ramirez holds a bachelor of music and a master of music degree from the University of Houston where he was under the tutelage of Fredell Lack. Mr. Ramirez started his violin studies at age 8 with the help of his father, a violinist from the State of Mexico Symphony orchestra, then continuing them at the “Escuela de musica Vida y Movimiento” in Mexico city under the direction of Natalia Gbdotetskaya. While in Mexico, he was a winner of the National violin competition “Hermilo Novelo” on two occasions. Mr. Ramirez has appeared as a soloist many times in the US and Mexico and Colombia.
Mr. Ramirez is a member of the Orchestra of the Americas and with them has toured the US, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Germany and China. He is also a member of several orchestras in the state of Texas and Louisiana as was recently awarded with a position in the World Orchestra. He has been a member of several festivals including the Texas Music Festival, Premier Orchestra Institute, National Music Festival, Young Euro Classics, among many others.
Mr. Ramirez is an active teacher and performer in the Houston area and its surroundings.
Cellist Patrick Moore is a musician of diverse interests who has performed as a chamber player, soloist, orchestral musician, and jazz improviser throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe. He is also a dedicated cello teacher, and teaches at the University of St.Thomas and at the American Festival of the Arts and maintains and active private studio.
As an orchestral musician, he is the assistant principal cellist with the Opera in the Heights and the Symphony of Southeast Texas. He also played with the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. An avid chamber music player, he has performed with the KUHF Chamber Ensemble, Aperio New Music Ensemble, and Musiqa New Music Ensemble. He is a founding member of the Axiom String Quartet.
Patrick has studied jazz improvisation with Paul English and Max Dyer. He has collaborated with Kristine Mills, a songwriter who was chosen “Best songwriter 2010” by the Houston Free Press. Additionally, he has performed with Jacqui Sutton and her Frontier Jazz Orchestra, and was the featured cellist on the Funky Mustard Band album, Jazza Mundo.
Patrick Moore received a Bachelors degree from Roosevelt University, and a Masters degree from Rice University. He has also participated in several prestigious festivals including the Round Top Music Festival, the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, the Manchester Music Festival, the American Institute of Musical Studies in Austria, and the Quartz Mountain Music Festival. His principal teachers were Lynn Harrell, Jeffrey Noel Lastrapes, Alex Ezerman, and Barbara Haffner. He has participated in masterclasses with Brinton Smith, Carter Enyeart, Nathaniel Rosen, Norman Fischer, Timothy Eddy, Katinka Klein, and Christopher French.
Xin Liu started her study of violin at the age of four. She graduated from National University of Singapore with bachelor’s degree, and was exchanged to Peabody Institute as an outstanding student. After that, she pursued her master’s degree at Rice University with Ms. Kathleen Winkler. As a soloist, she had held successful recitals in China, Singapore, Indonesia, and many metropolitans in the United States. She was invited to perform for the presidents of Singapore and Vietnam during the 2009 APEC summit. As a chamber musician, she had collaborated with numerous famous music masters. Xin had also appeared as concertmaster and principal in various symphony orchestras, for example China Youth Symphony Orchestra, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Symphony Orchestra, Peabody Institute Symphony Orchestra, and Texas Music Festival Orchestra.
Besides music, Xin also loves dancing and drawing. She had successfully directed Chinese students’ festival galas at Rice, and had conducted a choir.
Violist Leah Kovach has performed in both orchestra and chamber music settings across four continents. Her festival and orchestral appearances include Spoleto USA, the New York String Orchestra Seminar, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, and the New World Symphony. Most recently, Leah performed with the Houston-based Fuzion String Quartet in the Cali da Camera International Festival in Cali, Colombia.
Leah holds a Master’s Degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and, since graduating, has remained active as a performer and educator in the Houston area. At the Shepherd School, she was teaching assistant to James Dunham and held a faculty position in the Michael P. Hammond Preparatory Program. Prior to attending Rice University, Leah received her Bachelor’s degree and Performer’s Diploma from Indiana University as a student of Atar Arad.
Leah is a 2013-14 Da Camera of Houston Young Artist, and is also delighted to join the Austin Symphony Orchestra this season. Other upcoming engagements include Benjamin Britten’s centenary celebrations as part of the acclaimed Britten-Pears Young Artist Program in Aldeburgh, UK.
Leah is dedicated to music education and bringing live classical music performances to underexposed communities. Her outreach work with Da Camera of Houston includes performances at hospitals, community centers, and even bars. Leah has taught privately in several Houston area school district, as well as work with young chamber ensembles, and served as a string coach for the Kinkaid School’s 2012 tour of China.
Kostadin Dyulgerski is a versatile orchestral musician who has performed on both violin and viola with numerous orchestral ensembles throughout the United States and Europe. Mr. Dyulgerski has held positions in the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Sinfonietta, Acadiana Symphony, and the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also appeared with the Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, and performs regularly with the Mercury Baroque Orchestra.
A native of Plovdiv Bulgaria, Mr. Dyulgerski attended high school at the prestigious Dobrin Petkov National Music School, where he graduated with distinction. He first came to the United States to study at Louisiana State University with violinist Kevork Mardirossian, who has since mentored Mr. Dyulgerski’s musical development.
Mr. Dyulgerski recently completed a master’s degree at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music, where he was a student of Professor Ivo-Jan Van der Werff and held principal positions in both the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. Mr. Dyulgerski has performed in masterclasses with Hellen Callus, Hsin-Yun Huang, Paul Kantor and James Dunham, among others.
Devoted to music education, Mr. Dyulgerski has taught private students and coached small groups in several Houston area schools, and is currently involved with Mercury Orchestra’s outreach partnership program at Yes! Prep public school. He has also returned to Plovdiv to teach guest master classes at the Dobrin Petkov Music School.
Rachel McCarthy Clay, piano, made her concerto debut at age 16 in her hometown with the Bartlesville (OK) Symphony Orchestra. She went on to perform as a concerto soloist with various orchestras, including the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Rachel was awarded the Parriott Music Scholarship at the University of Tulsa, graduating with honors in Piano Performance and in Spanish. She then studied at the University of Oklahoma, earning dual Master of Music degrees in Piano Performance and Musicology, specializing in Latin American political protest music of the 20th century.
During her graduate studies, Rachel was awarded the Trumble Award for Outstanding Graduate Term Paper, the Luccock Memorial Scholarship, and the DeStwolinski Award for Outstanding Graduate of the University of Oklahoma, School of Music. She has been involved in liturgical music of various faith communities, including the Tinker Air Force Base (OK) chapel for over 8 years as a Music Director. Since relocating to Houston, Rachel assists the Houston New Arts Movement, and is excited to be making her performance debut with HNAM at the Spirit of Tango concert.
Adam, composer and pianist, has been playing piano since age 7. He has performed widely in Houston and Oklahoma for many events. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Oklahoma and was awarded as the Outstanding Undergraduate Piano Student his Senior year, in addition to other honors. Adam has studied piano with Dr. Ed Gates, Dr. Jeongwon Ham and Dr, Dean Shank, as well as composition with Dr. Lance Hulme and Dr. Marvin Lamb.
During his study with Dr. Ham, Adam was chosen as the only undergraduate to perform in concert with her and two other graduate students in the Amadeus Piano Festival in Tulsa, and the Fred Jones Jr. Art Museum in Norman, Oklahoma. Over the summers in his hometown, Houston, Adam has performed full-length solo concerts, for special events and benefits for charity.
In addition to Houston area organizations, special events such as Shell Retirees luncheons and the American Association of University Women Texas Convention, Adam has played for special occasions such as weddings and solo concerts in Houston, Dallas and various other cities. Adam was also chosen to perform in the 2005 Impulse Artist series where pianist Jade Simmons spoke of him as an “emotional virtuoso”. Adam also has a special passion for bringing classical music to the underprivileged and has performed in the past for local Houston homeless shelters as well as given volunteer lessons to residents.
Born in 1983, Laura received her violin diploma in 2004 with prof. Diego Masutti and piano diploma in 2005 with prof. Ugo Cividino, both at the J. Tomadini Conservatory of Music in Udine, Italy. She continued her studies in Klagenfurt, Austria, with Professor Helfried Fister and in March 2008 received violin diploma from that school. She graduated with a Master in Violin Performance with Professor Andrzey Grabiec at the University of Houston, Moores School of Music this May 2012.
During her career she has performed in various cities in Italy, Austria, France, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, China and United States. She has been a member of the OAO (Orchester Akademie Ossiach), and of the SFK (Slovenia, Friuli, Kaerntner) in Austria, the Piccola Accademia in Italy, Clear Lake Symphony, Houston Sinfonietta and the Moores School of Music Orchestras in the United States. She took part at the masterclasses of Gustav Mayer, Helfried Fister, Rainer Kussmaul, Igor Ozim, Andrzej Grabiec, Giovanni Guglielmo, Lorenzo Fava, Isabelle Ballot, Rainer Honeck, Joseph Silverstein, Stephen Shipps, Lucie Robert and, for chamber music, Alois Posch, Sean Y. Wang, Domenico Nordio, Alberto Vianello, Debussy Quartet, and Timothy Hester.
In 2012 took part to the Chile tour of the YOA (Youth Orchestra of Americas), and she performed concerts in Medellin (Colombia).