Ardesco comprises three groups of people: the Creative Team, who conceive, design and produce our multimedia performances; the Ensemble Artists, who form the musical basis of Ardesco Ensemble performances; and Project Collaborators, who are the featured artists brought in to inspire, and cultivate the ideas presented in all Ardesco productions.
Benjamin Robison artistic director
Artistic Director and Ardesco founder, Benjamin Robison (Robison's home page)has spent the past 5 years formulating and producing multimedia productions. From live electronics and video to dance fuges, from astronomy animations to sumi-e animations, he is dedicated to the vision of this new immersive art form. Previously Robison performed as soloist, concertmaster and chamber musician in France, Italy, Greece, Canada and the United States. After a two-year sojourn studying physics at the beginning of his college career, he returned full time to music in 1992 and won the grand prize at the Canadian National Music Festival. Since that time, he has won numerous competitions and collaborated with musicians such as Anton Kuerti, Laurence Lesser and David Finckel. Most recently he was awarded the Prix de Fontainebleau for chamber music by Philipe Entremont, the Thomas Jefferson Award at Stony Brook University and two New York State Council for the Arts Grants. Robison is a founding member the Musicians' Alliance for Peace and conceived the ongoing Music for Peace Project - a global call for peace through music. He completed his doctorate at Stony Brook University, studying with Ani Kavafian, Pamela Frank, Philip Setzer and Ray Anderson and has degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University. His former teachers include Loran Fenyves, David Cerone, and Claude Richard.
Nicholas LaFleur project manager
Nick LaFleur's career began as a jazz sideman and arranger in Los Angeles in the early 1990's where he worked with Barry Wedgle, Flavia Demello and Junko Yagami, among others. This soon led to extensive touring, particularly in Asia, where he settled for several years, focusing on the commercial music industry as a song-writer, recording artist and producer. From 2000 to 2003, Nick directed the Jazz and Contemporary Music program at MIFA-the International Academy of Music in Bangkok, Thailand, where he promoted his department and developed opportunities for his students by producing an ongoing variety of corporate and music industry-sponsored events, including concerts, workshops, competitions and radio programs. Since returning to New York City in 2003, Nick completed a masters degree in performing arts administration at New York University and worked with JazzReach, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now-ACORN, and Jazz at Lincoln Center to produce the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition Festival. He holds a bachelors degree in jazz performance from the University of Massachusetts.
Elizabeth Silver lighting designer
Elizabeth Silver is the technical director for the Staller Center. Concurrently she is the resident lighting designer for the Seiskaya Ballet and frequent collaborator with the Sullivan Dance Project. She also designs for the Stony Brook Opera Ensemble and Stony Brook Stages. Theater credits include The Rover directed by Paul Kassel, Polaroid Stories directed by Talvin Wilks and A Macbeth directed by John Lutterbie. Dance credits include Origins and Destinations choreographed by Amy Yopp-Sullivan, The Unicorn, The Gorgan and The Manticore choreographed by the Lumiere Dance Company and This woman stands... choreographed by Amy Yopp-Sullivan. Opera credits include L'incoronazione di Poppea stage direction by Ronald Luchsinger and Thief of Love stage direction by Ned Canty and Cosi Fan Tutte stage direction by Beth Greenberg.
Chi-Yuan Chen viola
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, violist Chi-Yuan Chen is a two-time winner of the Taipei Viola Competition and a winner of National Taiwan Academy of Arts Concerto Competition. In 1999, Mr. Chen became the first violist ever to win the New England Conservatory Concerto Competition since its inception in1867. Besides his solo performances, Mr. Chen is also an active chamber music performer. His recent concert engagements include Taiwan, Japan, Germany and North America. Chen has performed as guest artist with numerous ensembles such as Boston Chamber Music Society, Metamorphosen and the Gardner Museum Chamber Ensemble in Boston. He has collaborated with artists such as George Perle, Elliot Carter, Yo-Yo Ma, Paula Robinson, Lawrence Lesser, James Buswell, and Lynn Chang among others. In 2000, his string quartet won the silver medal in the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition in South Bend, Indiana. A graduate of New England Conservatory with the highest distinction in performance in both Bachelor and Master degrees, Mr. Chen is currently pursuing his Doctoral degree at Stony Brook University, studying with Katherine Murdock. His former teacher includes Peng Pan, Ben Lin, James Dunham and Martha Katz.
Omar Guey violin
Omar Guey has performed as a soloist, concertmaster and chamber musician throughout Brazil, the United States, Taiwan, France, Italy, Israel and Norway. He has been a featured soloist with the Brazilian Symphony, Campinas Symphony, Goiania Symphony, Sao Paulo University and Sao Paulo Municipal Symphony Orchestras as well as performing with the Manhattan School of Music, Sao Paulo State and the Experimental Repertoire Symphony Orchestras as a winner of their concerto competitions. His recitals include a chamber music concert with Lynn Harrell at the Aspen Music Festival and a performance for the King Harald V of Norway. In 2001, he was a prize winner at both the Tibor Varga (Switzerland) and Rodolfo Lipizer International (Italy) Violin Competitions. Mr. Guey's performances have been broadcast on television and radio and his recording of the Bach Concerto for Two Violins with Brazilian soloist Elisa Fukuda and the Camerata Fukuda was released on the Paulinas Label. He has served as concertmaster of several orchestras including the Camerata Fukuda and the Jerusalem International Symphony Orchestra in Israel. Mr. Guey studied at Indiana University, Manhattan School of Music, where he received the Raphael Bronstein Award, and the Julliard School with teachers Sylvia Rosenberg and Robert Mann.
Nicole Hanson cello
Nicole Hanson, in the few short years since switching from competitive skating has already established an impressive list of achievements as a cellist. Ms. Hanson has appeared as concerto soloist the Minnesota Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Sinfonia, and the Masterworks Festival Orchestra. Her competition successes include winning the Young People's Symphony Concert Association auditions 1999, the National Alliance for Excellence Honored Scholars & Artists ALEX Award (twice), and the silver medal at the 26th Annual Stulberg International String Competition. Miss Hanson has appeared in recital at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, and performed as a guest artist on national public radio's, A Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Garrison Keillor. Miss Hanson is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree at Stony Brook University, where she is a student of Colin Carr. She has previously studied with Steven Doane and Peter Howard.
Laura Karney oboe
Laura Karney began her study of the oboe at age 10 in Lawrence, Kansas before moving to the Eastman School of Music to study under the tutelage of the internationally renowned oboist Richard Killmer. Following her graduation, with Honors, in 2002, Laura was invited to the Hot Springs Music Festival and in the Banff Centre Festival Orchestra as an orchestral and chamber player. In the fall of 2002, Ms. Karney was accepted to be a resident artist at the Banff Centre for the Arts, where she performed solo and chamber music concerts with musicians such as Chris Millard, Simon Wynberg, Mike Murley and Hugh Frasier. Ms. Karney then moved to the New York City area, where as a freelance oboist, she performed with the SEM ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, Cosmopolitan City Orchestra and the Peconic Chamber Orchestra as well as many smaller chamber groups. While in New York, Ms. Karney became a founding member of a multimedia chamber music ensemble, Ardesco (www.ardesco.org). Returning to the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2005-2006, Ms. Karney was invited to play alongside Alain Trudell and Nicholas Daniel as well as premiering six new compositions, both solo and ensemble, five of which were written for her. Since leaving the Banff Centre, Ms. Karney has performed with her guitar and oboe duo in Martindale and Leicester, UK, premiering three new works by English, Mexican and Norwegian composers. In addition she has performed in the Lisbon Symphony Orchestra. She is currently traveling and performing throughout Europe.
Nicholas Walker bass composition
A Fulbright Scholar and a recipient of the Annette Kade Fellowship, Nicholas Walker studied at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, and at the Nadia Boulanger Conservatoire de Paris. Walker has been honored with the Clifford Brown Memorial Young Talent Award, and with featured performances for the International Society of Bassists, the International Society of Jazz Educators, and the American String Teacher's Association. Walker has performed throughout the United States and in over a dozen other countries, including solo recitals in Italy, France, Canada, and Australia. As a composer Walker writes music for a variety of venues including pieces for jazz combo, big band, musical theatre, string quartet, film, and for various chamber music combinations. In 1998 Walker was awarded the International Grand Prize for his composition ''EADG for Solo Bass'' by the International Society of Bassists. As a freelance musician he has collaborated with a diverse and impressive array of musicians, including recordings with Blossom Dearie, Anny Gould, Paquito D'Rivera, and Juan Pablo Torres. Walker is honored to have apprenticed with two master mentors: three years with swing-era saxophone legend Illinois Jacquet, and over ten years with the pioneer of the string bass, Francois Rabbath.
The mark of a great artist has always been to go beyond technical excellence and impart a personal vision - a sense of style and self-expression that is indelibly his own. Among modern jazz musicians, no one rises to that standard more than trombonist Ray Anderson, whose sublime mastery of the tricks of his trade is equaled by the bountiful spirit he pours into his one-of-a-kind sound.
Named five straight years as best trombonist in the Down Beat Critics Poll and declared "the most exciting slide brass player of his generation" by the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, Anderson has shown remarkable range.He has led or co-led a daunting assortment of tradition-minded and experimental groups, big bands, blues and funk projects and even a trombone quartet. In the tradition of Louis Armstrong, he is a colorful and exuberant performer and a spirited vocalist who induces smiles with his unusual split tones and screech effects.
The prolific Anderson also has demonstrated his special supportive skills on a remarkably wide assortment of albums by Braxton, Murray, Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, Dr. John, the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, Luther Allison, Bennie Wallace, Henry Threadgill, Barbara Dennerlein, John Scofield, Roscoe Mitchell, the New York Composers Orchestra, Sam Rivers' Rivbea Orchestra and others. He also received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for a series of solo trombone concerts.
While pushing his sound into the future, Anderson has frequently returned to his early love of New Orleans music for inspiration. Both his party-going Alligatory Band and second-line-to-the-max Pocket Brass Band, featuring tuba great Bob Stewart, are rooted in the Crescent City. "I feel like a spiritual son of that city," he says. "Some part of me lives down there. Dr. John, Professor Longhair, the whole thing grabs me. You get caught up in those rhythms, right at the crossroads of jazz and funk, and you can't quit them."
Anderson also heads up the blues-dipped Lapis Lazuli Band, featuring singer-organist (and old Chicago friend) Amina Claudine Myers, and periodically reunites with Lewis, Gary Valente and Craig Harris in the all-star trombone quartet, Slideride.
"I do think humor is divine. When human beings laugh or smile, they are in a state of grace. I insist on having fun when I play and if the band enjoys itself, the audience does, too. But music contains every feeling and emotion; it's ultimately an expression of love. It's the healing force of the universe, as Albert Ayler said. My music is about inclusion. I always want to bring everyone along on the trip. I want to move people also. I once described the Pocket Brass Band as having one ear cocked to the thump of the second line dancers' feet and the other tuned to the music of the spheres. That describes all my music. I want to have it all."
Bob Stewart is a freelance concert artist, educator, and studio musician. Mr. Stewart has received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts and his Masters in Education at Lehman College Graduate School. He also teaches privately and has been involved with public education for over twenty years. He is now teaching at the Juilliard School and is a "Distinguished Lecturer" at Lehman College.
Bob has toured and recorded with such artists as Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, Carla Bley, David Murray, Taj Mahal, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Arthur Blythe, Freddie Hubbard, Don Cherry, Nicholas Payton, Wynton Marsalis, Charlie Haden and many others both in the United States, Europe and the Far East. "The Tuba, as you know, was phased out of most ensembles around 1923 with the introduction of the "walking" upright bass. Since then it has only been in the last 20 years that composers and arrangers have begun hearing the instrument. As a result, there are more instances in which the Tuba appears in ensemble work."
Bob Stewart is bridging the gap between 1923 and the present by bringing the Tuba back into the modern ensemble as the bass in the rhythm section and as a horn available for melodic lines and soloing.
Born in Detroit on January 27, 1955, Pheeroan akLaff grew up
listening to recordings by such talents as Thelonious Monk, the
Clifford Brown / Max Roach quintet, and the Modern Jazz Quartet. He
studied speech and drama at Eastern Michigan University, then spent
several months studying and performing with drummers and dancers in
Cote D'Ivoire West Africa. Eventually he settled in New York, where his
technical facility was finely tuned and his musical taste quickly won him
numerous admirers - particularly among the city's more adventuresome
players and composers.
Audiences around the world have marveled firsthand at Pheeroan's exciting percussion work, thanks to a number of overseas tours - with his own ensembles and those of his peers. Throughout the Eighties and Nineties, Pheeroan has performed and recorded with many of today's leading musical lights: Geri Allen, Anthony Braxton, Baikida Carroll, Anthony Davis, Andrew Hill, Oliver Lake, David Murray, Wadada Leo Smith, Cecil Taylor, Henry Threadgill, Mal Waldron, Yosuke Yamashita and a host of others.
Pheeroan has been a headliner at festivals, concerts and clubs throughout North America, as well at such major overseas events as the Sju Festival in the Netherlands, the Willisau Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the Moers Festival and the Nurnberg East-West Festival, in Germany, and the Montsalvat Festival in Australia. He has performed in Togo, Cote D'Ivoire, Liberia, Swaziland and Malawi, in 1982 with Oliver Lake's Jump Up band, and in India, Syria, Jordan, Sudan, Egypt and Morocco in 1985 with Jay Hoggard's group, both under U.S. Information Agency sponsorship. Pheeroan accompanied the Marie Rose Guiraud Dance Company at performances in four Ivorian cities in 1981, and was a member of the Henry Threadgill ensemble featured at India's Jazz Yatra festival in 1984. Since 1989 Pheeroan has performed annually in Japan and in New York with the Yosuke Yamashita New York Trio, which includes the renowned bassist Cecil McBee. This group, in its twelve years, has featured guest artists such as Joe Lovano and Ravi Coltrane and collaboarted with a variety of artists including Bhutto dancers, visual artitss and even horticulturalists!
Jennifer Choi violin
The New York Times has described her as a player with,"brilliance and command," and the Seattle Weekly applauded her performance with the words "intense, spectacularly virtuosic play." As a soloist, she has performed with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, the Oregon Symphony, the Oberlin Virtuoso Strings, among others and has been recently engaged to perform with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. As a recitalist and chamber musician, she has performed in venues worldwide such as the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Mozartsalle in Vienna, and the RAI National Radio in Rome. In 2000, she was ĺ─˛Winnerĺ─˘ of the Artist International Award, leading to a debut recital in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall.
Recent chamber music appearances have included the Ravinia Festival, the Caramoor Festival, and Barge Music. She has also performed at the Santa Fe and La Jolla Chamber Music Festivals, Banff Centre for the Arts, the Aspen Music Festival, and has collaborated with artists such as Fred Sherry, Ruth Laredo, and Stephen Drury. As a former member of the Miro String Quartet, Jennifer Choi won the 1996 Grand Prize at the Fischoff Competition and the Coleman-Barstow Award at the Coleman Chamber Music Competition.
A graduate of the Juilliard School and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, her major teachers were Roland and Almita Vamos, Gregory Fulkerson, Dorothy DeLay, and Naoko Tanaka. Also a veteran Teaching Artist under the auspices of the New York Philharmonic and the 92nd St. Y, Jennifer offers the richness of classical music to over 300 inner city school children every year. Miss Choi performs on a 1770 Lorenzo Storioni featured in "The Late Cremonese Makers,ĺ─¨ by Dimitri Sindin.
Mark Halloway viola
Mark Holloway, violist, received a diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with Michael Tree, and a B.M. Summa cum laude from Boston University's School of Music where he was a Presser Scholar and a student of Michelle LaCourse. Mark was principal violist of the Haddonfield Symphony (NJ), principal violist of both the 2000 and 2001 New York String Orchestra Seminars under Jaime Laredo, and played chamber music in the seminars of 2002 and 2003. He received first prize in the 2001 American String Teachers' Association Massachusetts Competition and was a member of the Portland Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. He has also played at Bargemusic, New Yorkĺ─˘s 92nd Street Y and on ĺ─˙The Young Artistsĺ─˘ Showcaseĺ─¨ on WQXR-FM NY, and with the Boston Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, American Symphony, Boston Musica Viva, Pennsylvania Ballet, Philly Pops, Metamorphosen, and he plays frequently as a substitute with the New York Philharmonic. He was principal violist at the Tanglewood Music Center and has played at the Marlboro Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, Prussia Cove, Taos School of Music, the Sarasota Music Festival, and studied with Karen Tuttle at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada. As a member of the Charles String Quartet, he toured Russia and gave concerts in the Hermitage and the Moscow Conservatory in the summer of 2002. He has played with Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zuckerman, Cho-Liang Lin, Jaime Laredo, and Sharon Robinson in Carnegie Hall and at the Library of Congress. This season he will return to Marlboro and tour with the Brandenburg Ensemble in Florida and Puerto Rico, and next season he will play chamber music concerts with the Boston Chamber Music Society, and at the 92nd St. Y with Jaime Laredo, Ida Kavafian, Sharon Robinson, Paul Watkins, and Daniel Hope. Mark is a native of Oceanside, New York and lives in New York City.
Anthea Jackson clarinet
Canadian-born clarinetist Anthea Jackson has performed as a soloist with Orchestra London, the Victoria Symphony and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, and played solo and chamber music recitals on CBC Radio and Radio-Canada. An active performer of new music, she recently completed a recording project with the Argento ensemble in New York City and has recorded with Brave New Works in Ann Arbor, MI. Anthea is a member of the all-female woodwind quintet, Ariel Winds. The group has given concerts and masterclasses throughout the United States and has performed a wide variety of education programs through the 92nd Street Y, Young Audiences of New York and of Connecticut, and the New York Philharmonic School Partnership Program. Anthea has taught at the Juilliard Pre-College division, acted as a consultant for the Manhattan School of Musicĺ─˘s Outreach Program and is currently on faculty at the 92nd Street Y as a teaching artist, clarinet professor and chamber music coach. She has also directed the outreach performances for the Musicorda Summer Music Festival in Massachusetts. Anthea received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook under the direction of Charles Neidich, Alan Kay and Daniel Gilbert.
Clara Lee cello
Clara Lee, cellist, is versatile as a recitalist, chamber musician, and Baroque performer. She is a founding member of the Rothko String Quartet (prizewinner of the 2004 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition), and of the Baroque ensemble XTempo. Ms. Lee is also a member of the Boston-based Arcturus Ensemble, has performed with ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), and has collaborated with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, James Dunham, Bonnie Hampton, Lucy Stoltzman, and Maria Lambros. She has appeared recently at Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, Kneisel Hall and Symphony Space. A native of New Zealand, 25 year-old Clara Lee moved to the United States at age five, setting roots in Seattle, Washington. Ms. Lee received her Bachelor of Music, cum laude, from Rice University in 2002. She then moved to New York City, where she currently resides, and earned her Master of Music from The Juilliard School in 2004. She is presently pursuing an Artist Diploma from Juilliard, where she studies with Joel Krosnick and Darrett Adkins. In her spare time, Ms. Lee, a connoisseur of fine teas, enjoys seeking out tea shops around New York City. Her current addiction is sencha steeped with rosebuds, a highly recommended pleasant surprise.
Brian Thornton cello
Brian Thornton is a musician of many interests. He has performed solo with over 30 orchestras across the United States, as well as in many chamber music collaborations with different ensembles. Having a special interest in modern music has led him to premier works of little known to well known composers such as Donald Erb and John Adams. Brian has taken part in premiering over 100 new works of music, either as a soloist or in chamber ensembles. He spends his days enjoying time with his wife Jennifer Woda, a mezzo-soprano, and his daughter, Maya. Evenings are spent performing with the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, where he has been in the cello section for thirteen years. Brian is very excited to be working with Ardesco in this new music project, and looks forward to many good musical times with them.
Matt Ward percussion
Matt Ward performs regularly with such groups as the Argento Chamber Players, Albany Symphony, Talujon Percussion Quartet and Associated Solo Artists. He is also the co-founder and one of the principal players in the percussion trio TimeTable. Both as a performer and a conductor, Mr. Ward is active in performing and commissioning new works and has been cited by the New York Times as ĺ─˙a fine soloistĺ─¨. Mr. Ward has received a bachelor of music degree from the Manhattan School of Music where he studied with Duncan Patton and Chris Lamb. He has a masterĺ─˘s degree from the State University at Stony Brook under the direction of Ray DesRoches and is currently enrolled in the schoolĺ─˘s DMA program. Mr. Ward was the recipient of the Ridley-Tree Fellowship at the Music Academy of the West in 1998, and in 1999 he participated in the Tanglewood Music Center under the direction of Seiji Ozawa and returned the following year as a member of the 60th Anniversary TMC Alumni Concert. Recent performance highlights include a concert with Emmanuel Ax on the Great Performers series at Lincoln Center and the American premiere of Phillipe Hurel's percussion concerto at Merkin Hall. Through organizations such as the Learning Arts, Westchester Philharmonic, and Marquis Studios he works with elementary school children throughout New York City. Mr. Ward is also on faculty as a teaching artist at the Bloomingdale School of Music where he directs the percussion ensemble and conducts student and faculty ensembles. He can be heard on the recording labels Argo, Newport Classics, Soundspell, and Albany Records.