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Musicians

August Denhard performs on lute, theorbo and Baroque guitar and has appeared with Baroque Northwest, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, the Concord Ensemble, Chicago Music of the Baroque, the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, the Portland (OR) Symphony Orchestra, Camarata Pacifica Baroque, and many other ensembles specializing in early music. He has performed at the Bloomington Early Music Festival and at the Ars Vocalis Mexico Music Festival in Michoacán, Mexico. He performs regularly with the udist/composer Münir Nurettin Beken in a lute song duo with tenor Eric Mentzel. Mr. Denhard has been Executive Director of the Early Music Guild of Seattle since 2000. He has taught early music at St. Xavier University in Chicago, the Interlochen Summer Music Camp, the Indiana University Summer Recorder Academy, and at Ars Vocalis Mexico. He holds degrees from Peabody Conservatory, Northwestern University, and Indiana University. His Doctoral dissertation, Lute Realizations for the English Cavalier Songs (1630-1670): A Guide for Performers, has been published on line by the Lute Society of America. His first solo lute recording, Cusp of the Baroque, can be seen and heard at http://cdbaby.com/cd/denhard/. His second CD with Münir Nurettin Beken, is titled A Meeting Place, and was released in 2010 on Sono Luminus. This disc recently inspired a new work for contemporary dance by Donald Byrd, artistic director of the Spectrum Dance Company in Seattle.

Tomoko Sugawara was born in Tokyo, Tomoko Sugawara began playing the Irish Harp at age twelve.  She added the Concert Harp at sixteen, and graduated with a BS in harp at Tokyo University of the Arts.  She studied cultural history at Seijo University in Tokyo and took up the angular harp (or kugo). The kugo is the “mother of all harps,” played 3,000 years before any European harps.  

After moving to NYC, she learned to play baroque music on the Italian Triple harp: from Figured Bass to the Art of Ornamentation. 

Ms. Sugawara has received many major awards: Japan Foundation twice (1999 and 2008), Asian Cultural Council trice (2007-2008, 2014 and 2018-2019), and the Dunhuang Foundation (2019).

She has given solo recitals on the kugo at major international venues, such as The World Music Institute (NYC), and World Harp Congresses (trice: Prague, Amsterdam, and Vancouver).  Other places include The Early Music Guild of Seattle, The British Museum, Central China Conservatory of Music (Beijing), The Symposium on Historical Harps (Berlin), and Shanghai Conservatory of Music.  She has given recitals at many US Universities: Columbia, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Illinois, Indiana, Pittsburgh, and UCBerkeley.  She has led her ensemble, Eurasia Consort, at The World Music Institute.

In September 2018 and Spring 2019 she will take up a position as Visiting Researcher at Shanghai Conservatory of Music

 

 

 

Rex Benincasa has been a freelancing drummer and world music percussion specialist in New York since 1978. Along with hundreds of television/radio soundtracks and commercial recordings, he has performed with the New Music Consort,Apollo's Fire, Ensemble Caprice, Alba Consort, Flamenco Latino, Carlota Santana Spanish Dance, Andrea Delconte Danza Espana, Zorongo Flamenco Dance, Pilar Rioja, the Grammy Orchestra, Amanecer Flamenco Progressivo, the Sacramento Ballet, Ballet Austin, the Washington Ballet and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. He has recorded CDs and/or movie soundtracks for Karen Mason, Andrea Marcovicci, Craig Rubano, Jamie deRoy, Stephanie Pope, Foday Musa Suso, Douglas Cuomo, Philip Glass, Sesame Street, NFL Films, the Sons of Sepharad, the Ivory Consort and the Gerard Edery Ensemble, to name but a few. Benincasa has played many show scores for all kinds of productions. His most recent Broadway appearances have been with Fosse, Elaine Stritch, The Full Monty, Flower Drum Song, Man Of LaMancha, Never Gonna Dance, Little Shop of Horrors, The Frogs, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, All Shook Up, Hairspray, The Drowsy Chaperone, Curtains, The Color Purple, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Shrek, In The Heights, Billy Elliot, and Peter And The Starcatcher. Rex likes all kinds of music.

 

Yimin Miao, an internationally renowned Chinese woodwind virtuoso, was born in Shanghai, China. When Miao was nine years old, he started studying dizi (bamboo flutes) with Xunfa Yu, the most celebrated bamboo flutist in China. Miao is a former soloist with the internationally acclaimed Shanghai Traditional Orchestra, with which he has performed across Asia, North America and Europe. Miao’s articles “Music of Bamboo Flutes in North America” and “In Memory of the Late Flute Master Xunfa Yu” were published in the Chinese Culture Daily. As a seasonal artist of the Santa Fe Opera in 2014, Miao played various bamboo flutes in the premiere production "Dr. Sun Yat-sen.” In 2017, he was invited to play with the China National Orchestra’s debut concert at Carnegie Hall. 

After moving to New York, Miao established the Ba Ban Chinese Music Society of New York in 1999. Since its founding, the group has performed in places such as Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, John Hancock Hall, Pickman Concert Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; conducted Chinese music workshops and gave lectures at New York University, Columbia University, Harvard University, 

Princeton University, Yale University, the Peabody Conservatory of Music, the Eastman School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, and the Longy School of Music; joined Carnegie Hall’s world music educational program. Leading the group, he has produced two sold-out productions: Silk and Bamboo Music from the Yangtze River; Golden Age of the 1930s and 40s Shanghai Jazz Music which were presented by the Queens Council on the Arts and received a commendation from the New York City Council for exemplary cultural service to the community.

 

Adem Birson, A performer of the ud and a scholar of both Western and Turkish classical music, Dr Birson completed his doctoral studies in musicology at Cornell University (2015) and became the Director of the Conservatory at Ipek University, in Ankara, Turkey. He currently serves on the music theory faculty at Hofstra University, in Long Island, New York. He is a student of ud virtuosi like Yurdal Tokcan, Necati Çelik, and Sedat Oytun, and has worked with masters from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Turkish Radio and Television. He has performed throughout the United States and Turkey and is the founder and director of two ensembles, the Classical Turkish Music Ensemble and the Turkish Music Collective, both of which offer exposure to Turkish music and culture to the local community. As a scholar, he is interested in both tonal and modal theory, as well as cultural hybridity and identity in music. He has published his research in such journals as HAYDN: Online Journal of the Haydn Society of North America and Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy Online, and he has presented at meetings of the Society for Music Theory, the Society for Ethnomusicology, the Society for Eighteenth-Century Music, and the Mozart Society of America.

 

Zhou Yi, Praised for her “breathtaking” meticulous technique and expressiveness by the Washington Post, New York-based pipa (Chinese lute) and qin (Chinese zither) soloist Zhou Yi (pronounced “Joe-E”) graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China. Her pipa and qin mentors include Yuanlong Cao, Zupei Zhang, Ya Dong, Zhongle Wei, Shuhong Dai, Xuran Ye and Youren Lin. She is a co-founder of the Ba Ban Chinese Music Society of NY.

Her select performances include: Tan Dunʼs Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig Germany; Young Peopleʼs Concert with the New York Philharmonic; Bun-Ching Lamʼs Song of the Pipa and Sudden Thunder with the Sinfonieorchester Münster; Zuqiang Wuʼs Sisters of the Grassland with the Ohio Youngstown Symphony Orchestra; Tan Dunʼs Ghost Opera with the Momenta Quartet; guest qin artist with the San Francisco Opera in Bright Shengʼs Dream of the Red Chamber; guest pipa and qin artist with the Santa Fe Opera in Huang Ruoʼs Dr. Sun Yat-sen; performing at the 2015 Met Gala; conducting music workshops in public schools for the China National Traditional Orchestraʼs 2015 U.S. tour; recording the music for David Henry Hwangʼs off-broadway production; working with Damon Albarn in Spoleto Festivalʼs premiere show; improvising the music in the visual artist Shahzia Silkanderʼs Parallax; joining Carnegie Hallʼs educational program.

Miyo Aoki is a dedicated recorder player and teacher, performing music ranging from medieval to modern and teaching students of all ages and levels. She has performed in the US, Germany, and Poland, with groups including Salish Sea Players, Utopia Early Music, and Gamut Bach Ensemble, and at the Bloomington Early Music Festival and Whidbey Island Music Festival.  She is a founding member of the Seattle-based chamber group sound|counterpoint and has premiered works by contemporary composers Natalie Williams and Agnes Dorwarth.

Miyo holds a KAZ Diplom (Artist Diploma) from the University of the Arts in Bremen, Germany, where she studied with Professor Han Tol. While living in Bremen, she also maintained a private studio and worked in the musical outreach program “Musik-im-Ohr”, based in the Bremen concert hall, Die Glocke. She holds degrees in both early music performance and mathematics from Indiana University, where she studied with Professor Eva Legêne and received the Austin B. Caswell award for her paper on Ars Subtilior music. Miyo is a strong proponent of music education and strives to make music accessible to people from varied backgrounds. She has collaborated in planning and performing several outreach programs for children, including “Shakespeare’s Ear” and “Oskar und die Blockflötendiebe”. She teaches privately and has previously taught for the Indiana University Pre-College Recorder Program, and at various workshops, including the Port Townsend Early Music Workshop, SFEMS Recorder Workshop, Next Level Recorder Retreat, and Road Scholar Early Music Workshop.

Münir Nurettin Beken, ud virtuoso and composer, began his musical life in 1975 at age 11 at the State Conservatory of Istanbul as a student of Mutlu Torun, a famous pedagogue and author of an extensive work on the ud method. Mr. Beken earned a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Maryland in 1998. He studied composition with Cemal Resit Rey, Yalçın Tura, and Stuart Smith, and participated in composition workshops with such luminaries as George Crumb, Lukas Foss, Philip Glass, Roger Reynolds, Steve Reich, and Charles Wuorinen. 

His compositions have been performed internationally with considerable recognition in some of the most significant concert halls in the world. The performance of his Triple Concerto featured the eminent violinist Shlomo Mintz. His symphonic poem Gallipoli was premiered by Istanbul Filarmonia and A Turk in Seattle featured Seattle Chamber Players at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. The world premier of his Blue Monologue for solo violin was performed at Carnegie Hall.  His composition “I Am a Corpse” for violin and orchestra was released with conductor Robert Ian Winstin and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra by ERM Media.  This year Pacific Serenades Chamber Music Ensemble performed the world premier of his most recent composition, Memories of a Shoehorn, in Los Angeles and last April Issa Sonus Chamber Music Ensemble featured several of his compositions in two concerts in New York City. 

His music is published by Amplitude Music in France and he is a member of ASCAP.  Münir Beken is currently Assistant Professor of theory and composition in Ethnomusicology Department at University of California Los Angeles. His scholarly interests include the phenomenology of music, cognitive musicology, and melodic modal systems of the Middle East and Central Asia. He has written several articles for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and other scholarly publications. Mr. Beken’s compact disc recording of solo performances, The Art of the Turkish Ud, is available on Rounder Records 1135.

Antonio Davidson-Gómez is an educator and percussionist focused on fostering musical dialogue between cultures. He has studied, performed and recorded in various genres with emphases on Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Afro-Latin music. Tony has produced arts and cultural programming, educational projects and community engagement initiatives for over two decades. A 2013-14 Jubilation Foundation Fellow for music in education, he developed curricula for the PBS series Latino Americans and Italian Americans, and the EMP Museum/Smithsonian’s American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, in addition to teaching students and educators for Seattle’s Creative Advantage and various school districts. Tony is the Education Manager at Broadway Center for Performing Arts and a speaker on music and culture for Humanities Washington, offering presentations including Saffron & Honey: Muslims, Jews and Christians in Medieval Spain and Mapping Latino Musical Migrations. Formerly a K-12 teacher, he has been a Collaborating Teacher with Cal Performances, the Silk Road Project and the Jewish Music Festival, designed a high school level course on world music and managed educational resources and wrote documentaries for KCTS 9 Public Television in Seattle, including the NW Emmy nominated My School, Our Future. Recent musical projects include work with Tango del Cielo, Gary Stroutsos, August Denhard and the Early Music Guild of Seattle. Tony holds a Masters Degree in Education from UC Berkeley and has conducted study and research trips in the Mediterranean and Latin America, most recently returning from travels in Morocco and Spain where he studied music and history.

Sr. Jo Baim, Her work is grounded in the liturgy and tradition of the Episcopal church.  She currently serves as Interim Music Director at Trinity Parish, Seattle's oldest Episcopal church, where she also oversees a lively concert series featuring many Seattle musicians.  In addition to her church music, Sr. Jo has an active interest in early music.  As the Artistic Director of the Trinity Consort, she regularly plays recorder and occasionally percussion.  She has a great interest in sharing music from many traditions, and bringing a wide variety of classical and traditional instruments into services at Trinity.  She recently created a set of psalm settings using the music of noted Navajo flutist Carlos Nakai.

Sr. Jo has worked with a variety of artists in both liturgical and concert settings, including Gus Denhard, Linda Melsted, Kris Kwapis, and Peter Maund.  She has appeared with the Trinity Consort and recorder group Clockwork (Seattle) and the Alba Consort (Glasgow, Scotland), as well as accompanist for Sine Nomine, the Seattle Bach Choir, the Byrd Ensemble, and many soloists.

She holds a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of music, where her specialty was the history of social dance.  For ten years she was Artistic Director of The Seaside Pavilion Historic Dance Troupe in Seattle, and has choreographed for theater and solo performances of dances from the Civil War through the 1920s.  Her dissertation on the early history of the tango was published by Indiana University Press.