Studio Instructors

Rebecca Albers, viola

Rebecca Albers is among the Minnesota Orchestra’s newest members, having joined the ensemble in 2010 as assistant principal viola. In March 2012 she made her debut on the Orchestra’s Chamber Music at MacPhail series, performing Schubert’s Octet for Winds and Strings.

Albers continues to tour with the Albers Trio, a string ensemble she and two sisters formed. She previously toured with fiddler Mark O’Connor’s Appalachia Waltz Trio and was a member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra and Phoenix Quartet. As a substitute musician, she has performed with such ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. For her European recital debut in 2008, she performed a program at Paris’ Auditorium du Louvre.

Albers, a faculty member at the North American Viola Institute in Orford, Quebec, has also joined the faculty of the Perlman Music Program in New York, and serves on the executive board of the American Viola Society. She was formerly on the faculty of the University of Michigan. She has participated in festivals including the Marlboro Music Festival, Perlman Music Program and, at Prussia Cove in the United Kingdom, the International Musicians Seminar and Open Chamber Music.

As a child in Longmont, Colorado, Albers began piano and violin studies at the age of 2, picking up the viola at 9 for an ensemble her mother, a Suzuki teacher, was putting together. While a student at the Juilliard School, where she worked with Heidi Castleman and Hsin-Yun Huang, she won the school’s viola competition, resulting in her performance of Adler’s Viola Concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra at Lincoln Center.

You may reach Rebecca at 

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Ann Benjamin, harp

Ann Benjamin plays second harp with the Minnesota Orchestra and is currently a faculty member at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.  Previously, she was Associate Professor of Harp at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and principal harpist with the Shreveport Symphony and Opera Orchestra. 

She has spent several summers teaching and performing at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, Michigan and the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina.  An LSU Summer Research Grant and an LSU Council on Research Grant were awarded to Ms. Benjamin for commissioning and performing new works for the harp at the Third (Vienna), Fifth (Copenhagen) and Sixth (Seattle) World Harp Congresses, and for the production of her CD, Sky Loom: Music for Flute and Harp, with flutist Dr. Katherine Kemler. 

Ms. Benjamin chaired the 33rd American Harp Society National Conference which was held at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  She is currently fascinated with rediscovering the ancient history of the harp after a recent trip to Greece.  Ms. Benjamin holds degrees from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, and St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.  Her teachers include Susann McDonald, Nancy Allen, Alice Chalifoux and Joan Mainzer.

You may reach Ann Benjamin at

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Claudia Chen, piano

Claudia Chen enjoys an active career as performer, coach and teacher. Making her solo debut with the Denver Symphony Orchestra at age 14, Ms. Chen has gone to perform as soloist and chamber musician throughout United States, Canada, Eastern Europe and Chile. Equally at home in contemporary works as in standard repertoire, Ms. Chen has given numerous premieres of solo and chamber works by several American and Canadian composers. She has been a guest on the Chamber Music Series of The Grand Teton Music Festival, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra’s series at MacPhail. She has also performed at Bowdoin Festival in the USA; Contrasts International Contemporary Music Festival in Ukraine; as well as Agassiz Chamber Music Festival and Centara International New Music Festival in Canada. Her performances have been aired nationally in Canada on CBC Radio; Polish Radio and Television; and in the USA on National Public Radio.

Ms. Chen often collaborates with her husband, cellist Arek Tesarczyk. Together the duo has given numerous recitals in the U.S., Canada, Chile and Poland. In April, their performance was awarded a 2008 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Artists

Ms. Chen has served on the faculty of the University of Manitoba in Canada, as Assistant Professor of Piano and Chamber Music. Currently, she teaches at Macalester College in St. Paul, as well as privately in her home.

Ms. Chen received degrees from the Peabody Conservatory, under Julian Martin and University of Minnesota, under Margo Garrett’s direction. Additionally she has worked with Leon Fleisher, Yoheved Kaplinsky, Lydia Artymiw and John Perry.

You may reach Claudia Chen at

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Christine Dahl, piano

Pianist Christine Dahl is an active Twin Cities accompanist, chamber musician and teacher. A founding member of Symphony Chamber Players, she has also appeared as soloist with the Macalester Festival Chorale, the Bowling Green Chamber Symphony and the Macalester Symphony. Dahl has recorded piano music of Carleton Macy on the American Composers Forum INNOVA label and on a private label. She has appeared in recital in St. Paul and Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Former pianist and harpsichordist for the Sylmar Chamber Ensemble, Dahl has performed as an extra musician with the Minnesota Orchestra and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Her performances have been broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio's "Saint Paul Sunday" and "Live from Lanmark" programs. A Minneaplis native, Dahl holds degrees from Bowling Green State University, Oberlin Conservatory and Oberlin College. She has taught at Macalester College since 1976 and has served on the faculties of Gustavus Adolphus College, the California Music Center and Temple University in Philadelphia. She has served as editor of Prelude, program magazine of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, since 1984 and has taught at the St. Paul Jewish Community center since 1987.

You may reach Christine Dahl at

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Julie Elhard, VIOLA DA GAMBA

Julie Elhard, viola da gamba, appears regularly as a soloist and chamber musician and has made several appearances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, including the St. Matthew Passion by Bach under the direction of Nicholas McGegan. She has been a guest artist with Apollo’s Fire in Cleveland and is a founding member of Violes Egales and Glorious Revolution Baroque. Ms Elhard was awarded a 2011 Artist’s Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. She also received a Jerome Foundation grant to study vielle and early string playing with Margriet Tindemans and received a Performing Artist Certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague, Netherlands. She has taught at workshops in North America and at the Viola da Gamba Society of America’s national Conclaves. Ms. Elhard currently teaches viola da gamba at Macalester College, and also at the St. Paul Conservatory of Music where she has developed a Suzuki-style approach for children to learn the viola da gamba.

You may reach Julie Elhard at

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Lynn Erickson, trumpet

Minnesota native Lynn Erickson has been second trumpet of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra since 1991. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, having earned both Master of Fine Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. Erickson has made four recordings with the Summit Hill Brass Quintet, the most recent of which was the 2003 release, "Sugar Plums-Christmas with The Summit Hill Brass Quintet."Erickson has also premiered and recorded a work for solo trumpet by Libby Larsen entitled "Fanfare for the Women."

Erickson is the principal trumpet and a board member of the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra. She currently holds adjunct faculty status at both Augsburg and Macalester Colleges.

Lynn Erickson may be reached at

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Clea Galhano, RECORDER

Brazilian recorder player Clea Galhano is an Internationally renowned performer of early, contemporary and Brazilian music. Galhano has performed in the United States, Canada, South America and Europe as a chamber musician, collaborating with recorder player Marion Verbruggen, Jacques Ogg, Belladonna, Lanzelotte/Galhano Duo, Galhano/Montgomery Duo, Kingsbery Ensemble, and Blue Baroque Band. As a featured soloist, Galhano has worked with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra conducted by Christopher Hogwood, Nicholas McGegan and Emmanuelle Haim, World Symphony, Milwaukee Baroque and Lyra Baroque Orchestra.

Among other important music festivals, Ms. Galhano has performed at the Boston Early Music Festival, the Tage Alter Music Festival in Germany and at Wigmore Hall in London,Weill and Merkin Hall in New York and Palazzo Santa Croce in Rome, always receiving acclaimed reviews. Ms. Galhano was featured in 2006 in the Second International Recorder Congress in Leiden, Holland and in 2007 at the International Recorder Conference in Montreal and the American Recorder Festival in 2012. She gave her Weill Hall/ Carnegie Hall debut on May 2010 receiving great reviews.

Galhano studied in Brazil at Faculdade Santa Marcelina,the Royal Conservatory (The Hague), and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, earning a Fulbright scholarship and support from the Dutch government. As an advocate of recorder music and educational initiatives, she served for six years on the national board of the American Recorder Society and was featured many years as teacher and soloist at Suzuki and AOSA conferences.

A popular teacher and ensemble director, Galhano regularly conducts workshops across the United States, Europe and Brazil. Galhano is the Executive Artistic Director of the St. Paul Conservatory of Music as well as being on the faculty of Macalester College.

Ms. Galhano has recordings available on Dorian, Ten Thousand Lakes and Eldorado labels and is the Music Director of the Recorder Orchestra of the Midwest.

You may reach Clea Galhano at

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Violinist James Garlick was born in Port Angeles, WA and is equally at home as soloist, concertmaster, and chamber musician. He made his Carnegie Hall concerto debut performing Saint-Saens’ Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso to a packed house in the Isaac Stern Auditorium and has performed concerti with many orchestras, including the Northwest Sinfonietta, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Cascade Symphony, Philharmonia Northwest, Lake Union Civic Orchestra, and Octava Chamber Orchestra. This season, James returns to the the Everett Philharmonic to perform Prokofiev’s D major violin concerto and visits the Amarillo Symphony as guest concertmaster. As the violinist of Onyx Chamber Players, James recently recorded the piano trio works of David White, to be released on the Naxos label later this season. James is Concertmaster of Orchestra Prometheus Chicago under the direction of Matthias Pintscher, and has led the Juilliard Orchestra, Northwest Sinfonietta, Cascade Symphony, Bellevue Philharmonic, and Oberlin Orchestra. He also performs regularly with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians. While on tour in Cuba as concertmaster of the Northwest Sinfonietta, James also led an ensemble of Cuban and American musicians in the Mendelssohn Octet—the first time musicians of both countries have shared a stage since 1959. James earned Bachelor’s degrees in both violin performance and neuroscience from Oberlin Conservatory and College and a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School. His teachers include Gregory Fulkerson, Sylvia Rosenberg, Stephen Clapp, and Joseph Lin. James currently teaches violin at St Olaf and Macalester Colleges and performs on an 1809 Francois Pique violin, generously on loan from a private collector in New York City.

James can be reached at

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Rick Gaynor, trombone

Rick Gaynor received his degree in Music Performance from UW-River Falls where he studied with James Gauthier and David Herring. He received his Master's degree in Trombone Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music where his teachers included Cleveland Orchestra trombonists Ed Anderson and Tom Klaber. He also spent a summer participating in the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado where he studied with Per Brevig of the Metropolitan Opera and the Juliard School (New York City.)

Mr. Gaynor is an active performer in the Twin Cities area. He has performed hundreds of concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (two of this country's leading ensembles.) He has performed in top Broadway musicals, including nearly 150 performances of "Phantom of the Opera."

Mr. Gaynor has performed under some of the world's leading conductors including: Edo de Waart, Roger Norington, Mark Wigglesworth, Henry Charles Smith, Eiji Oue, David Zinman, Robert Shaw, Roberto Abbado, Helmut Rilling, Richard Bonynge, Emmanuel Plassin, Marco Quidarini, Daniel Harding, Hans Vonk, Christopher Hogwood, Andreas Delfs, Hugh Wolff, and Bobby McFerrin.

Mr. Gaynor has performed with some of the world's leading musicians and entertainers including; Luciano Pavarotti, the Three Tenors, Charlotte Church, The Temptations, Moody Blues, the Dallas Brass and The Canadian Brass. He has been a Featured Soloist with the UW-River Falls Wind Ensemble, The Phipps Center Orchestra, many area high school bands, the International Trombone Association Conference and a Clinician with the International Tuba/Euphonium Conference.

Mr. Gaynor can be heard on numerous recordings including the Intergalactic Contemporary Ensemble's (I.C.E.) "I Dig", Innova 548. He has performed at some of the world's leading venues including: London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, as a part of the London Jazz Festival; and New York's Carnegie Hall with the Minnesota Orchestra.

You can contact Rick Gaynor at

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Shelley Hanson, clarinet

Shelley Hanson, a Twin Cities composer, arranger, teacher, and professional musician, has an affinity for writing and performing folk music. Her band, Klezmer and All That Jazz, recorded traditional and original music for the audio book version of the Yiddish play The Dybbuk. Ms. Hanson received a Ph.D. in Performance, Music Theory, and Music Literature from Michigan State University. She is a member of the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra and serves on the faculty of Macalester College.

You may reach Shelley Hanson at

RACHEL HOLDER, voice (Jazz and Pop)

Rachel Holder has been singing professionally in the Twin Cities since she was 19 years old. Her unique voice has a sensitivity and expressiveness far beyond her years. In 2007, Rachel graduated from McNally Smith College of Music with a Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. Currently, she performs at several venues in the Twin Cities, including The Dakota Jazz Club, Hell’s Kitchen, Honey, The Townhouse and The Artists’ Quarter.

Rachel is an extremely versatile singer and performs many genres of music, including jazz, latin, R&B, and pop. She performs with the Wolverines, the George Maurer Group and Vital Organ, as well as fronting her own groups.

Rachel’s debut album, “Save Your Love For Me,” recorded with jazz pianist Dan Musselman, was released in February of 2009. Rachel has been a guest artist and clinician at several Minnesota and Wisconsin high schools. She’s been teaching voice privately since 2007.

You can reach Rachel Holder at 

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GAO HONG, pipa

Gao Hong began her career as a professional musician at age 12. She graduated with honors from the Central Conservatory of Music, China's premier music school, where she studied with pipa master Lin Shicheng. She has received numerous awards and honors, including First Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition in China and an Asian Pacific Award, and fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Meet the Composers Inc. in New York and the Jerome Foundation. In 2005 Gao Hong became the first traditional musician to be awarded the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship, and in 2008 she became the only musician in any genre to win three McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians. As a composer, she has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, Walker Art Center, the Jerome Foundation, Zeitgeist, Ragamala Music and Dance Theater, Theater Mu, IFTPA, and Twin Cities Public Television. She has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, China, and the United States and has participated in such events as the Lincoln Center Festival, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, and the International Festival. She has performed countless United States and world premieres of pipa concerti with organizations such as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Heidelberg Philharmonic, and the Women's Philharmonic (San Francisco). She also is a Guest Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Gao Hong's personal website can be found at

Mary Budd Horozaniecki, violin

Throughout her lifetime career, Mary Budd Horozaniecki has been in equal demand as an outstanding violinist, distinguished scholar, classical performing artist and honored pedagogue.

Ms Horozaniecki is well known as a dynamic and dedicated teacher. While developing an immensely successful teaching career, Mary’s students have gone on to lead active careers as orchestra directors, concert artists, and teachers. She was honored as the recipient of the prestigious Master Teacher Award by the Minnesota American String Teachers Association (MnASTA), in 1993. Mary has taught at the MacPhail Center for the Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota and has served as faculty for numerous summer workshops including the Upper Midwest String and Chamber Music Conference. Currently, Mary holds the title Senior Lecturer in Music at Carleton College and teaches at Augsburg and Macalester Colleges in Minnesota.

Mary is frequently invited to present master classes, recitals, and lectures throughout the United States and Canada. She has given master classes at venues that include the String Academy at Indiana University, the Crane School of Music, SUNY, Potsdam, the University of Iowa, the University of Nebraska, The Ohio State University, the University of Manitoba and the University of Central Florida. She has presented four times at the national conference for the American String Teachers Association. Her most recent presentation was entitled “Studying the Violin at the College Level: Prospectives on Progress and Process” Known for her scholarly research, her work on violin duos, with colleague Dr. Sarah Hersh of the Crane School of Music, SUNY, Potsdam, was lauded in the article, “Vertical Climb” by James Reel; Strings Magazine, February 2006.

Recognized as one of the areas favorite performing artists, Mary currently performs as the violinist for the Chiarina Piano Quartet. Her colleagues in the quartet are: David Viscoli, piano, Mark Rudoff, cello, and Nancy Nehring, viola. Also a champion of contemporary music, she has performed and recorded numerous world premieres including works by Phillip Rhodes and pianist/composer Donald Betts on Inscape and Centaur labels. She serves as concertmaster for the Masterworks Orchestra associated with the Masterworks Chorale of Minnesota conducted by Dr. Peter Hendrickson.

Ms Horozaniecki is a two-time fellowship winner at the Blossom Festival School, and has studied at the Meadowmount School of Music. She is an Honors graduate of the school of music at Indiana University where she was privileged to study with the late Josef Gingold. Mary also mentored with Margaret Pardee of the Juilliard School, Emily Austin of the Detroit Symphony and Menahem Pressler of the Beaux Arts Trio. Her violin is a Ferdinandus Gagliano, made in Naples, 1753.

You may reach Mary Horozaniecki at

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 Martha Jamsa, flute

Martha Jamsa received her B.F.A. from the University of Minnesota and her M.M. in Flute Performance from the Indiana University School of Music. During the past two decades she has been an active member of several major ensembles, including the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the Dakota Wind Quintet. She has also served as a Substitute Flute/Piccolo player for the Minnesota Orchestra. She has taught flute at South Dakota State University, the University of Sioux Falls, Carleton College and Macalester College. She has also served on the Board of Directors for several organizations, including the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the Upper Midwest Flute Association.

You may reach Martha Jamsa at

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Dave Jensen, trumpet (Jazz)

Dave Jensen is a member of Hornheads, a Billboard magazine award-winning jazz group. As a group they have released two solo albums, as a horn section, they have recorded over fifty albums for artists in the U.S., Argentina, Portugal, and the U.K. From 1991 through 2001, the Hornheads recorded nine albums with Prince and the New Power Generation. During this time, they toured and performed with Prince throughout the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia.

Dave spent three years touring with the Artie Shaw Orchestra. His trumpet and flugelhorn can be heard on the albums of Chaka Khan, Babyface, Phil Upchurch, Larry Graham, Tevin Campbell, Mavis Staples, Ben Sidran, Pete Whitman, Dave Graf, Ricky Peterson and the JazzMN Big Band. He is a pit musician for theatrical and musical productions at the Ordway Center, Guthrie Theater, Orchestra Hall and other venues. Dave also is a busy session player, working with Asche & Spencer, Absolute Music and Wow & Flutter. In the Twin Cities, Dave has played with Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra Jr. and the late Rosemary Clooney. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Berklee College of Music.

You may reach Dave Jensen at

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Winston Kaehler, organ

B.A. University of Minnesota, M.A. and Ph.D. University of Michigan studied Organ with Barrett Spach, Heinrich Fleischer, Marilyn Mason and studied Harpsichord under M. Mason, Lisa Crawford and others. Kaehler also studied in England, France and Switzerland. Special performing interests include J. S. Bach, C. Franck and French Baroque.

You may reach Winston Kaehler by phone at 651-699-4183.

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Steve Kimball, percussion

Accomplished percussionist Steve Kimball has performed with a variety of artists including vocalists Elvis Costello, Aretha Franklin, Ben Folds, Ray Charles, Idina Menzel, Bernadette Peters, comedian Don Rickles, the rock groups The Moody Blues and YES, and classical superstars Luciano Pavarotti and Yo Yo Ma.

Steve is a frequent performer with the Minnesota Orchestra most recently playing drum set for Disney’s Pixar in Concert performances (June, 2014) and for the Bravo Broadway show (July, 2014). Upcoming gigs include a performance with Aretha Franklin at the 2014 MN State Fair as well as shows with Amy Grant at the Target Center (December, 2014) and Johnny Mathis at the State Theater (December, 2014). Steve will also be performing at the Orpheum Theater for the 2014 US TOUR of the four time Tony nominated production Motown: The Musical (December, 2014).

Steve also performs with the Minnesota Opera Orchestra and the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. He is a former Principal Timpanist of the Shanghai Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra (SBSO) now the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) in Shanghai, China (2001-2002) and the former Principal Timpanist of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (DSSO) in Duluth, MN (1995-2001, 2002-2005).

Steve has recorded national TV commercials at Asche & Spencer Recording Studios as well as production soundtracks for the Children’s Theater Company (CTC), Wild Sound Recording Studios, and Creation Audio.

Steve received his Masters of Music (MM) degree in Percussion Performance from the University of Minnesota and his Bachelors of Music (BM) degree in Percussion Performance from the University of Wisconsin. His teachers include Fernando Meza, David Hagedorn, Peter Kogan, and Marv Dahlgren.

Steve has also presented clinics/master classes for the Minnesota Music Educators Association (MMEA) and the Minnesota Band Directors Association (MBDA)

Besides his teaching at Macalester, Steve is also the Director of Percussion Studies and Marching Drumline Instructor at Edina High School in Edina, MN.

Steve Kimball can be reached at

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Caroline Lemen, horn

Caroline Lemen is an active freelance horn player in the Twin Cities, working frequently with the Minnesota Orchestra as an extra and substitute musician. She has traveled with the orchestra on many of their national and international tours, as well as performed on various recordings. Ms Lemen has also been an extra musician with the SPCO. She is a member of the Musical Offering, the Twin Cities oldest chamber music ensemble, performing the Brahms Horn Trio, the Mozart Horn Quintet and the Schubert Octet in recent seasons. Caroline can also be heard in the orchestras of touring shows at the Ordway Theater, such as The Sound of Music, Spamalot and White Christmas. She is also an adjunct faculty member of the University of Minnesota School of Music, and maintains a private studio of high school students.

Before coming to the St.Paul/Minneapolis area, Ms. Lemen was a member of the New Orleans Symphony from 1984-1987 as Assistant Principal Horn. She has also performed as an extra musician with the Oregon Symphony, The Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, The Santa Fe Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Syracuse Symphony and the Vermont Symphony.

Caroline received her Bachelor of Music in Performance and Music Education at SUNY Potsdam, Crane School of Music, and a Master of Music degree in Horn Performance at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Her major teachers were Gail Williams, CSO; Richard Oldberg, CSO and Roy Schaberg, Crane School of Music.

You may reach Caroline Lemen at

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Dan newton, accordion

Dan Newton has been playing offbeat accordion music since 1987, when he won the Nebraska State Accordion Contest at the Czech Festival in Wilber, Nebraska. He has used the squeeze box for playing all kinds of music not normally associated with free-reed instruments, as well as standard accordion material.

Dan also enjoys mixing up styles and genres that don't generally seem compatible. "Music out of context", or "Ethno-clectic Bop" is the result of his gender-bending experiments with Celtic, Tex-Mex, Creole, Blues, Jazz, Scandinavian, Polka and pop music.

You may reach Dan Newton at

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Laura Nichols, voice

Mezzo-soprano Laura Nichols completed her formal musical training at the Eastman School of Music. She subsequently sang major opera and oratorio roles in Boston and New York Cit before coming to St. Paul. 

She began her musical career in the Twin Cities singing with the Minnesota Opera, where she was a principal member of the world premiere casts of Conrad Susa's Black River and Dominic Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming.  Ms. Nichols has been a featured soloist under the batons of Robert DeCormier, John Harbison, Layton James, Joel Revson, Helmut Rilling, Kathy Romey, Robert Shaw, Osma Vanska, and Pinchas Zuckerman.  Representative orchestras with which she has been a soloist include the American Symphony Orchestra, the Duluth Symphony Orchestra, the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra.  Her mentors include the famed mezzo-sopranos Jan DeGaetani and Elizabeth Mannion. 

Laura recently released a CD of never-before recorded songs by Anton Rubinstein and St. Paul resident Justin Busch.  One can find it for sale at

Ms. Nichols is currently writing her dissertation to complete her Ph.D. in music at the University of Minnesota.  Her research focuses on the vocal health practices of singers and is entitled “Exploring the Methods and Sources of Vocal Hygiene Habits in Professional Classical Singers.”

Laura Nichols can be reached at

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Joseph Reed, voice

Joseph Reed, baritone, a graduate of the University of St. Thomas, holds M.M. and D.M.A. degrees from the University of Minnesota. He also holds the Certificate of Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Reed has performed with many area arts organizations, including Opera 101 Theater Company, North Star Opera, Anoka Opera, Minnesota Opera, and Northland Opera Theater.

An active private studio voice teacher since 1987, Dr. Reed joined the Macalester College music faculty in 2006. He also teaches at The University of St Thomas, and serves as choir director at the Church of ST Francis of Assisi. Previously, he taught at Bethel University and Minneapolis Community College.

You may reach Joe Reed at

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Thomas Rosenberg, cello

Thomas Rosenberg is nationally known as a dynamic teacher, chamber music coach, and performer. A resident of Saint Paul, Minnesota, he is on the faculties of the University of Minnesota as Coordinator of the String Chamber Music Program and coaching numerous ensembles, Macalester College teaching cello and at Carleton College teaching cello, coaching chamber music and performing in the Veblen Trio. Recipient of the 2003-4 "Master Studio Teacher Award" from the Minnesota chapter of the American String Teachers Asssociation and the 2004-5 McKnight Performing Artist Fellowship Award, he also maintains a busy private studio of cellists and chamber ensembles and teaches for the MacPhail Center for Music. During the summers he teaches and coaches at music centers such as the Tanglewood Institute, The Quartet Program where he has also been Associate Director, Icicle Creek, Bravo, and the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival. Since 1981, Tom has been Artistic Director of the prestigious Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and has been named "Arts Educator of the Year" by the Michiana Arts and Sciences Council.

He has received top chamber music prizes at the Munich (Germany), Portsmouth (England) and Chicago Discovery Competitions, and is a three-time Naumburg Award finalist. He has been solo cello of the New York Chamber Ensemble performing in all of the major concert halls in NYC and appeared at many music festivals including Aspen, Newport, Banff, South Mountain, Cape May, the Grand Tetons, and the International Music Festival in San Jose, Costa Rica. As a soloist, he has been noted by the Boston Globe as displaying "beautifully inflected, noble playing with a gorgeous dark tone." Previously, he was Associate Professor of Cello at Indiana University South Bend and a founding member of the highly acclaimed Chester String Quartet with whom he made numerous recordings and for twenty years, appeared on concert stages and live radio coast to coast in the United States, Canada, Central America and Europe. Locally, he has performed numerous solo and chamber music recitals and played with such ensembles as the Minnesota Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Lyra Baroque Ensemble and the Artaria String Quartet. He performs on a rare cello by Lorenzo Storioni made in Cremona, Italy in 1794.

Tom is a graduate of Oberlin and the Eastman School of Music where he was teaching assistant to both Paul Katz and Laurence Lesser. Other teachers include Richard Kapuscinski, Alan Harris, Alta Mayer, and for chamber music, members of the Budapest, Juilliard, Tokyo, Guarneri, and Cleveland Quartets.

You may reach Thomas Rosenberg at

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Jennifer Rubin, bass (classical)

Jennifer Rubin, originally from New Jersey, obtained her Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees from the Juiliard School where she studied with Homer Mensch. Upon moving to New England she taught at Dartmouth College and and was the principal bassist of the Vermont Symphony and the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra for many years. She was a regular performer at chamber music series including the Caramour Festival, the Mohawk Trail Concerts, and the Lenox Arts Festival. As a freelance bass player in Boston, she was a member of the Boston Esplanade Pops Orchestra under Arthur Fiedler and the Handel and Haydn Society. After moving to Los Angeles, she taught at the University of California at Irvine and California Sate University at Long Beach. In addition to her position as principal bassist of the Long Beach Symphony, she worked in the Hollywood studios of MGM, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and Burbank among others. Freelancing in Los Angeles afforded her the opportunity to play regularly with groups as diverse as the contemporary Monday Evening Series, the Los Angeles Opera, New York City Opera, and the popular Hollywood Bowl. In addition to her studio instruction at Macalester College, she is also on staff at Concordia University, St. Paul.

She enjoys being the coordinator of the Twin Cities Bass Club, a contractor for orchestras and chamber groups, and especially her Minnesota out-door activities such as roller-blading (with wrist guards), kayaking, hiking, and both alpine and nordic skiing.

Jennifer Rubin can be reached at

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Laurinda Sager-Wright, piano

A native of the Northern Great Lakes, Laurinda Sager Wright spent her childhood winters indoors playing piano to distract herself from the harsh facts of weather. At the age of sixteen, she made her professional debut as the result of winning a concerto competition sponsored by the local symphony. After graduating with honors in piano performance from Lawrence University, Ms. Wright continued her studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she earned a master's degree studying under Patricia Zander. While in Boston she collaborated with a variety of musicians, including members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops, and served as music director for several area programs and theaters.

Ms. Wright maintains a busy performance schedule in Minneapolis and St. Paul. She frequently collaborates with Minnesota Orchestra members and presents a variety of programs at such venues as the Ordway Performing Arts Center, Walker Arts Center, Schubert Club, University of Minnesota and Orchestra Hall. Her extensive work with the Minnesota Orchestra has taken place both on and off stage, serving as rehearsal pianist for a variety of projects, and playing a variety of keyboards in concert. Ms. Wright is married to the Minnesota Orchestra's principal trombonist, Douglas Wright, and is now more familiar with that instrument's repertoire than she ever thought possible.

You may reach Laurie Sager-Wright at

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Dr. David Schmalenberger recently performed with nationally renowned artists such as pianist Lynne Arriale, vibraphonist Jason Marsalis, trombonist and James Brown alum Fred Wesley, vocalist Diane Schur, and comedian Bob Newhart. David was a featured artist with the Minnesota Orchestra for the July 2014 “Patriotic” concert. He also recently performed with numerous diverse Minnesota-based artists including Alma Brasileira, vocalists Judi Vinar, Debbie Duncan, and Connie Evingson, The Pete Whitman/Chris Olson Project, trumpeter Chuck Lazarus, the Sphericals, the Laura Caviani trio, the Joel Shapira quartet, the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre, and Synergy. Schmalenberger received his DMA in Percussion Performance and World Music from West Virginia University, Master of Music Degree in Orchestral Percussion from the University of Michigan, and Bachelors Degree in Jazz Studies from Capital University. David has presented scholarly papers and clinics for the Percussive Arts Society, Society for American Music, the Minnesota Music Educators Association, and the International Association of Jazz Education. Schmalenberger recently recorded drums/percussion with Chuck Lazarus, Connie Evingson, the Joel Shapira quartet, and vocalist Charmin Michelle. He also recorded production soundtracks at the Ordway Theatre, the Children’s Theatre Company, and Creation Audio. David is active as a clinician offering workshops in jazz, percussion, and world music. He has served as adjudicator/clinician for several jazz festivals including those in Eau Claire, WI; River Falls, WI; the University of Minnesota; Mankato, MN; the McNally Smith “Jazz Blast;” Lamberton, MN; Roseville, MN; and Greeley, Colorado. David also teaches drumset for the Shell Lake, WI jazz combo/improve workshop. Besides his teaching at Macalester, David is currently on the faculty at McNally Smith College of Music, and endorses Paiste cymbals and Premier drums.

David Schmalenberger may be reached at

CarolE Mason Smith, bassoon

Carole Mason Smith, bassoonist, joined The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in 1980. A frequent soloist with the SPCO, Smith has performed Vanhal’s and Deitter’s concertos for two bassoons with SPCO principal bassoonist, Chuck Ullery. During the 2001-02 season, Smith served as principal bassoon of the SPCO. She has also performed as principal bassoon with the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra for many years. Smith is a founding member of the Halama Wind Octet and teaches bassoon both privately and at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, Hamline University and Macalaster College. 

Carole Mason Smith can be reached at

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Jeffrey Thygeson, guitar

Jeffrey Thygeson has performed extensively throughout the United States, both as soloist and chamber musician. As a former member of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, he has performed across the country in numerous recitals, as well as concerto appearances with the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Austin (TX) Symphony, Columbus (GA) Symphony, Owensboro (KY) Symphony, DuPage (IL) Symphony and the Orchestra of Indian Hill (MA). Jeffrey has also been a prize-winning guitarist in several competitions. He received his BA from the University of St. Thomas and MM from the University of Southern California, where he studied with William Kanengiser and received the Pi Kappa Lambda Guitar Scholarship. Additional teachers have included Christopher Kachian, Pepe Romero, James Smith and Brian Head. Also a committed educator, Jeffrey continues to teach and develop innovative strategies for teaching music and is on the faculty at the University of St. Thomas, St. Catherine University and Macalester College.

Jeff Thygeson can be reached at

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Mike Vasich, piano (jazz)

Mike Vasich ('05), is a jazz pianist and music educator in the Twin Cities. As a musician, Mike plays with the Orange Mighty Trio (OMT), OMT's alter ego Nerd Enhanced Sound, and acts as music director of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Paul, playing piano and organ. Mike has studied classical piano with Don Betts and Mark Mazullo, jazz piano with Benny Weinbeck, and gospel piano with Rev. Carl Walker. His musical interests include music from all three of those realms, with an emphasis on improvisation and composition. Besides his teaching at Macalester, Mike works for the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, where he teaches music theory and directs the jazz band and combos.

Mike Vasich may be reached at

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Charles Wazanowski, tuba

Charles Wazanowski is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music, Hartford, Connecticut (BM ed.) and the Manhattan School of Music, New York City (MM). He has done post graduate work at the Juilliard School of Music, New York City. During his twelve years in New York as a freelance tubist, Mr. Wazanowski performed with many internationally know ensembles, most notable of which were the New York State Orchestra and the New York City Opera. Performing with bands was also a large part of the New York scene. Mr. Wazanowski was fortunate enough to play with the Goldman Band, as well as be the Eb tuba soloist the Gramercy Brass, an English style brass band, which won back to back North American championships.

Jazz plays a large part in the background of Mr. Wazanowski. Performing for many years with Lionel Hampton's All Stars Big Band, he has appeared on television in eight countries and on numerous radio broadcasts and audio recordings. Appearing in a television documentary filmed by the public Broadcast System recorded at the Newport Jazz festival is the high light of these broadcasts. Besides playing at every major jazz festival in the world with Mr. Hampton's band Mr. Wazanowski has shared the stage with Marion McPartland, Dexter Gordon, Lenny Picket, the Heath brothers, Sweets Edison, Marvin Stamm and Peter Ostroushko.

Mr. Wazanowski has performed in Europe, touring and appearing with the Puccini Festival Orchestra (Tura del Largo). Other festivals have included the Rome Festival and the International Opera Festival (Spoleto). Since arriving in the Twin Cities Mr. Wazanowski has remained active as a musician, performing in every kind of ensemble from chamber groups to symphony orchestras. He is a permanent member of the Rochester Symphony Orchestra. Chamber groups he performs with include the Minneapolis Tuba Quartet, Classic Brass Quintet and the River Falls Brass, one of the busiest professional brass quintets in the Twin Cities. Teachers: Ken Singleton, University of Northern Colorado; Toby Hanks, Manhattan School of Music, Yale School of Music; Don Harry, Eastman School of Music; Dave Fedderly, Julliard School of Music.

Chuck Wazanowski can be reached at

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David Whetstone, raga, sitar

David Whetstone is a sitarist-disciple of the renowned Ustad Vilayat Khan, having begun his studies in 1971 with Brian Silver. In 1988 he received an American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Research Fellowship, and has collaborated and toured for over 20 years with poet Robert Bly and Rumi translator Coleman Barks, resulting in numerous recordings and films. In 1992 he co-founded and was Artistic Director of Minneapolis' Ragamala Music and Dance Theater, supplying the entire repertoire from 1992-1997. In 1999 he premiered excerpts of his new opera, White Nights, with the Rochester (MN) Orchestra and Chorus, soloist Dan Dressen, and conductor Jere Lantz. He also teaches at Carleton College, Northfield, MN.

You may reach David Whetstone at

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Julie Gramolini Williams, oboe

Julie Gramolini Williams joined the Minnesota Orchestra in September 2007 after two seasons as a member of the Omaha Symphony. She is an active chamber music performer as well as teacher. Julie previously held the principal oboe post with the United States Air Force Band of the West stationed in San Antonio, Texas. She played regularly with the San Antonio Symphony and was a member of the San Antonio Lyric Opera Orchestra. Additionally, she was principal oboe in the Houston Chamber Orchestra, Victoria Symphony, Laredo Philharmonic and was second oboe/English horn in the Corpus Christi Symphony.

Originally from North Smithfield, Rhode Island, Julie received her Bachelor of Music Degree from Oberlin College where she studied with James Caldwell. She continued on to Rice University where she earned her Master of Music Degree while working with the Professor of Oboe, Robert Atherholt. After completing college, Julie honed her skills under the tutelage of Mark Ackerman. She lives in Plymouth, Minnesota with her husband, Greg. When she is not performing or teaching, she enjoys running, biking and strength training.

Please contact Rachel Hest, Music Dept Coordinator, at if you would like to contact Julie Williams.