Akemi Takayama,  Co-Concertmaster

Akemi Takayama,

Violinist, Akemi Takayama appears internationally as a soloist and chamber music collaborator and has recently collaborated with famed Irish pianist, John O’Conor. She is an associate professor at the Shenandoah University Conservatory of Music and concertmaster of both the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and The Williamsburg Symphonia in Virginia. In the fall of 2012 Takayama also served as a faculty member at the Oberlin Conservatory. Acclaimed by Isaac Stern as “a true musician,” she was invited to the Marlboro Music Festival and has served on the faculties of the Chautauqua Institute in New York, the Idyllwild School for the Arts in California, the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, Shenandoah Performs in Virginia and at Virginia Tech. Takayama also enjoys her recent associations with New Orchestra of Washington and Virginia’s Blue Ridge Music Festival. She has served as an adjudicator for Virginia ASTA Solo Competition, The Virginia Music Teachers’ Association and National Music Teachers’ Association and currently serves as a member of the Collegiate Advisory of Virginia String Teacher’s Association. She was also a violinist in the recently retired Audubon Quartet, of which she was a member for fourteen years.

Born to musical parents in Tokyo, Japan, Takayama began her violin studies with her mother at the age of three. Her professional violin career began in Japan at the age of 15. She has performed throughout Japan, France, and the U.S., including appearances with the Shinsei-Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Toho School of Music Orchestra, and on a “FM Recital” broadcast throughout Japan on NHK Radio. She also has performed with the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, the Yomiuri Philharmonic Orchestra, Music at Gretna, and with the New World Symphony Orchestra. Her solo performances in the U.S. have included radio and TV appearances in the greater Cleveland area and with the Cleveland Institute of Music Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Junction Orchestra, and the University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra.

Akemi Takayama’s recent solo performances with orchestras include Daugherty’s Fire and Blood and Ladder to the Moon, Mendelssohn’s Double Concerto, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Pärt’s Fratres, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, and Brahms’s Double Concerto for violin and cello, Mozart’s Violin Concerto, Bach Concerto, Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, and Roskott’s Violin Concerto.   During her graduate studies, Akemi was a teaching assistant to the renowned Donald Weilerstein at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she earned both an Artist Diploma and a Master of Music degree. Previously, she studied with Toshiya Eto and Ryosaku Kubota at the renowned Toho School of Music in Tokyo, where she earned her bachelor degree in music performance. She also studied with Brian Hanly at the University of Wyoming where she earned her professional studies degree.

Ms. Takayama plays a J.B. Ceruti violin from Cremona, Italy, made in 1805.

David Park, Co-Concert Master

David Park,

Violinist, David H. Park, ‘a soloist with extraordinary artistic gifts’ (Salt Lake Tribune), ‘that commands respect’ (Le Journal Sud Ouest), started playing the violin at the age of five in Seoul, Korea. Park has studied with two of the most distinguished pedagogues, Josef Gingold and Dorothy Delay. He received his Bachelor of Music at the University of Indiana and Master of Music at the Juilliard School. At the age of 14, he was one of the youngest students of the legendary Jascha Heifetz.

Park maintains a balance between his engagements as soloist with orchestras throughout the world and his recital and chamber music activities. Park appeared as a soloist with the Utah Symphony, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York Festival Orchestra, the Korean Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival Orchestra, the Daegu Symphony, the Inchon Symphony and the Santa Ana Symphony. Park has given recitals in many of the world’s great concert halls including Carnegie Weill Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York, Salle Pleyel in Paris, and Sejong Music Center in Seoul. Park has also performed on national television and radio broadcasts in the United States, France, Hong Kong and Korea. Recently, he has been featured on CBS 2 News and FOX 13 News, as well as Sirius XM National Radio hour-long program of live performance and interview on Bach Sonatas and Partitas. Furthermore, Park has participated as both soloist and chamber musician in music festivals of Aspen, Santa Barbara, Vienna, and Aix-en-Provence.

Some of Park’s highlights include his first return to Seoul, Korea, performing the Lalo Symphonie Espagnole with the Seoul Philharmonic. Park made his New York debut performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in Carnegie Weill Hall. Also, making his debut in Aix-en-Provence Music Festival, he performed both solo and chamber music in collaboration with Augustin Dumay which was broadcasted nationally by France Musique, the premier classical radio station in France. In a highly anticipated Cultural Exchange Gala Concert, Park soloed with the Pyongyang State Orchestra of North Korea. Recently, he performed with Roanoke Symphony, Crown City Symphony, Pan-Asia Symphony Orchestra in Hong Kong, and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra as a Guest Concertmaster. Furthermore, Park was invited to give a recital for the Musique au Coeur du Medoc concert series in Bordeaux, France. He has presented rare series of concerts pairing Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu violins with critical acclaim. In 2012, Park will make his debut at the Merkin Hall in New York soloing with the Ureuk Symphony Orchestra.

Park is a Professor of Violin at the University of Utah. In 2005, Park held a position of Distinguished Artist at the University of California Santa Barbara. He has served on the jury of the Irving M. Klein International Competition in San Francisco. As a concertmaster, he has worked with Leonard Slatkin, Myung Whun Chung, Joseph Silverstein, John Williams, Keith Lockhart, Robert Mann, and Reinhart Goeble of Antiqua Cologne.

In 2011, Park’s passion for Bordeaux wines culminated in his induction as Commandeur d’Honneur for an exclusive wine society in Bordeaux, France,  Commanderie du Bontemps de Medoc et des Graves Sauternes et Barsac. Some of its distinguished members are Prince Philip, Queen Paola of Belgium, Placido Domingo, Ben  Kingsley, and Hugh Grant.

Elise Blake, Principal 2nd Violin

Elise Blake, Principal 2nd Violin

Elise Blake, Violinist, is a versatile and experienced performer of chamber, solo, and orchestral repertoire. Her performing has taken her to many exciting venues including Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York and the Palais de la Musique et des Congrès at the Strasbourg International Music Festival. After completing her Masters of Music degree at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, Elise relocated to Virginia in late 2007. She performs regularly with the Roanoke Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Opera Roanoke, and the Wintergreen Performing Arts Festival Orchestra. Elise currently serves on the faculty of Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA, and was the recipient of a 2013 Fellowship in Violin Pedagogy from the Heifetz International Music Institute. Please visit www.eliseblakeviolin.com for more information.

Bernard Di Gregorio, Principal Viola

Bernard Di Gregorio, Principal Viola

Bernard Di Gregorio, Violist, holds the position of Principal Viola with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Violist of the Montclaire String Quartet, the resident ensemble of the West Virginia Symphony. Along with his symphonic and quartet responsibilities, he also holds the position of Artist-in-Residence with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Through this program he teaches classes of string playing pedagogue in the public schools around Charleston, WV. Not only is he a strong believer of music being part of the public school curriculum, his career is also a result of such a program during his upbringing in the Boston, Massachusetts, area.

Being active as a performer takes him to many different areas of the country. In the summer months he is a member of the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra and he has also been a member of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Di Gregorio has performed with the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony, and he has been the Assistant Principal Viola with the Wintergreen Music Festival. Other local orchestral engagements have included Principal Violist with the Seneca Chamber Orchestra and the Ohio Valley Orchestra in Gallipolis, Ohio.

Mr. Di Gregorio has appeared as a soloist with the Roanoke (VA) Symphony Orchestra, where he was Principal Viola for over 20 years. As a recitalist he has performed on Kanawha Forum Recital series in Charleston, the Hollins College Artist Series, and various other venues in his home area. He has also performed as guest artist with the Montclaire String Quartet in the past and each summer is part of the New Hampshire Music Festival Chamber Music Series.

As a composer, his Symphony for String Orchestra was premiered by the Seneca Chamber Orchestra in May 2003, and “Scenes From the Old Country” for Cello and Piano, written for and performed by his wife, Andrea Di Gregorio of the Montclaire String Quartet, was premiered in Charleston and also performed in the New Hampshire Music Festival Chamber Series in 2009.

Mr. Di Gregorio maintains his own private studio at home with students of violin and viola. Working with the West Virginia Youth Symphony as a sectional instructor and chamber music coach is also part of his schedule.

He has studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and holds a diploma in viola performance from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass. where his principal instructor was George Neikrug.

Sarah Kapps, Principal Cello

Sarah Kapps, Principal Cello

Sarah Kapps, Cellist, and native Philadelphian has an active and diverse musical background that has taken her across much of the globe as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral member. She was a founding member of the Denali String Quartet and later came to serve on the faculty at The University of Texas.

In summers, she has been a long-time member of the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra and Academy faculty. She has also taught at Oklahoma Baptist University, the Pan-American Music Festival and at St. Joseph’s University. In her various positions as a cello instructor, she has also been able to make arts advocacy an important part of her educating endeavors. Since 2004, she has successfully tricked more than one thousand young people into enjoying Mozart operas!

Current appointments include performing with and serving on the Artistic board of Bent Frequency, an avant garde performance ensemble; and cellist of the newly forming Amalgamas Quartet. Sarah Kapps holds degrees from The Manhattan School of Music and The Mannes College of Music, and has studied with Paul Tobias and Peter Wiley of the Guarneri Quartet. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, pianist Peter Marshall.

John Smith headshot

John Smith, Principal Bass

John Smith, bassist, performs regularly with numerous professional orchestras including the Roanoke Symphony, where he is Associate Principal Bass. He also performs with Opera Roanoke and the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, and serves as librarian of the RSO. A Professor of Double Bass at Roanoke College and Liberty University, Mr. Smith serves as an active clinician and instructor for the region. He has toured Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland with orchestra. He received his B.M. from George Mason University and his Artist Diploma studies at the Boston Conservatory.

Julee Hickcox, Flutist

Julee Hickcox, Principal Flute

Julee Hickcox, Flutist, was born in Singapore and spent her formative years in Hong Kong. She moved to the United States with her family at an early age and attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, where she studied flute with Philip Dunigan.  Ms. Hickcox is a member of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, and Opera Roanoke. Her mentors include contemporary piccolo masters Jeffery Zook, Clement Barone, Jan Gippo, and Laurie Sokoloff.   Ms. Hickcox currently maintains a full flute & piccolo studio in Roanoke, Virginia, and serves as orchestra contractor for the RSO.

Bill Parrish Aug 2011

Bill Parrish, Principal Oboe

William Parrish, Oboist, lives in Lynchburg, VA and is currently principal oboe with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Opera Roanoke and Opera on the James as well as a member of the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra. He is an adjunct music faculty member at Lynchburg College, Sweet Briar College and Washington and Lee University. Bill served as the Associate Director of Pre-College at the Juilliard School for ten years and has played with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Parrish received his BFA in oboe from Carnegie-Mellon University, his M.M. from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and an Artist’s Diploma in oboe performance from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He was a prize winner in the 1988 Lucarelli Oboe International Solo competition at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Bill’s principal oboe teachers include Robert Bloom, Harry Sargous, John Ferrillo and Elaine Douvas. Mr. Parrish maintains a vibrant and successful private oboe studio in Lynchburg and is co-facilitator and guest teaching artist at the Charleston Oboe Camp in Charleston, SC.

Carmen Eby, Clarinetist

Carmen Eby, Principal Clarinet

Carmen Eby, Clarinetist, is a freelance artist in the Piedmont Triad region and frequently performs with the Greensboro and Winston-Salem Symphonies.  She is currently principal clarinet with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and Opera Roanoke.

Ms. Eby is adjunct professor of clarinet at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Additionally, she maintains a private lesson studio in Greensboro and is the director of instrumental music at St. Pius X Catholic School.  Ms. Eby gives clinics and master classes throughout the Piedmont Triad Region as well as working regularly with the Roanoke Youth Symphony Orchestra in Virginia.  She has also been on the faculty at UNCG Summer Music Camp, Lutheran Summer Music Program and New England Music Camp.

Previously, Ms. Eby was on the faculty at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, and has been an active clinician and educator in the Central Ohio region.  She holds her MM in clarinet performance from Ohio State University and her BA in Music Education from Luther College.  Her principal teachers have included Dr. Michael Chesher and James Pyne.


Cynthia Cioffari, Principal Bassoon

Cynthia Cioffari, bassoonist, teaches bassoon at The University of Akron and is a member of the Solaris Wind Quintet. She is also contrabassoonist/section bassoonist of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and principal bassoonist with the Wintergreen (VA) Summer Music Festival Orchestra. She has performed with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Southwest Virginia Chamber Orchestra, Toledo Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Light Opera, Broadway Across America-Columbus and the Winds of Wintergreen.

Prior to joining the faculty at The University of Akron, Ms. Cioffari held adjunct positions at Capital University, Otterbein College and Denison University. She has also taught at the University of Alabama, Heidelberg College and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Ms. Cioffari has appeared as a soloist or ensemble member at the International Double Reed Society Convention, National Flute Association Convention, International Clarinet Association Conference, Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and at the International Horn Symposium in Cape Town, South Africa. In 1983, she was a finalist in the International Double Reed Society’s Gillet Young Artist Competition at Tallahassee, Florida.

Cynthia Cioffari can be heard on CD with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (“CSO Showcase” and “Live at Carnegie Hall”), with the Bowling Green State University New Music Festival and with the Bexley Chamber Ensemble. Recent premiere performances for her include “Petite Suite” for oboe and bassoon by James Geiger, “Breve Dúo Latino” for flute and bassoon by Richard Cioffari, “Nocturne #1, Opus 529” for Chamber Ensemble by Stan Smith and “Variations on a Theme of Grieg” for woodwind quintet by Richard Cioffari. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in woodwinds from the University of Michigan. Her teachers have included L. Hugh Cooper, Robert J. Moore and Russell Hinkle. Prof. Cioffari is listed in “Who’s Who in America.”

Judith Saxton

Judith Saxton, Principal Trumpet

Judith Saxton, Trumpeter, University of North Carolina School of the Arts Artist Faculty and Brass Coordinator, performs internationally in the orchestral, solo and chamber realms.  She is principal of the New York Women’s Ensemble, whose Carnegie Hall debut orchestra concert received critical acclaim in a NY Times Review.  Recently, she was guest principal with the St. Louis Symphony and her ITG cd Concert and Contest Pieces for Trumpet was issued free worldwide.  She is on the Eastern Music Festival Faculty and is Principal and soloist with the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival.  As a sought-after Conn-Selmer soloist/clinician she averages ten concerts and clinics each season.  She concertizes actively with  UNCSA colleagues Timothy Olsen in their trumpet/organ duo, and with Allison Gagnon, piano.

For several seasons she was principal and soloist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, and Illinois Symphony and with Wichita and Key West/South Florida Symphonies concurrently.  She performed with Chicago, Grant Park, Sydney (Australia), Harrisburg and Milwaukee Symphonies. Chamber credits include the Southeast Chamber Brass, CSO, Wichita, Sierra and UNCSA brass quintets, Chicago Chamber Musicians, Tromba Mundi, Millar and Monarch Brass ensembles. She recorded for Crystal, Koss, Proto, Novitas, MSR and Moravian Music Foundation. She was tenured Associate Professor at Wichita State University and taught at Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Illinois Wesleyan and Northeastern Illinois Universities and Lieksa Brass Week, Finland.

Saxton’s teachers include Vincent Cichowicz, Arnold Jacobs, William Scarlett, Susan Slaughter and Michael Galloway. Her degrees are from Mansfield and Northwestern Universities. Board affiliations include ITG, National Trumpet Competition and the International Women’s Brass Conference.

Wallace Easter, Principal Horn

Wallace Easter, Principal Horn

Wallace Easter, Hornist,  a western New York native, began study of the horn at age nine and received early instruction from Lowell Shaw, hornist with the Buffalo Philharmonic and noted composer of music for the horn.  While attending the Oberlin Conservatory of Music he studied under Robert Fries, who came to Oberlin from the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Mr. Easter’s graduate work at the Catholic University of America included horn study with Joseph Singer of the New York Philharmonic.  Mr. Easter began his professional performing career with the United States Marine Band, “The President’s Own” in Washington, D. C.  As a member of the Marine Band, he toured the United States and performed frequently at the White House.

In 1981, Mr. Easter joined the faculty of the Music Department at Virginia Tech and the Roanoke Symphony as principal horn.  His academic duties at Tech include teaching the horn studio, the University Horn Ensemble and music theory.  Mr. Easter has been a featured soloist with orchestras in the mid-Atlantic region and has also performed in recital and at professional conferences and music festivals in the United States, Europe and Africa.  He has served as host for regional horn workshops at Virginia Tech.  Other professional activities include residencies as artist/faculty for the Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts, Skyline Brass Music Festival, Roanoke Youth Symphony Summer Institute, and the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan.  He is frequently asked to give master class presentations at music schools and festivals. Recent master classes have covered a wide geographic area from the National Music Camp at Interlochen, MI, to the STTEP Music School in Pretoria, South Africa.    He has also been principal horn of the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival since June 2000.  He has written and has been interviewed for articles in the Horn Call, the official publication of the International Horn Society.  Mr. Easter is featured on the most recent CD releases of the Hornists’ Nest.  The album titled The Fripperies is frequently heard on National Public Radio affiliates.  The most recent release from the Hornists’ Nest titled “…ipperies” came out in June 2009, featuring more original music for horns by Lowell Shaw.  Besides Mr. Easter, this latest CD features the talents of Jeffrey Snedeker, Calvin Smith, Timothy Schwartz and Wallace Easter III.

Jay Crone

Jay Crone, Principal Trombone

Jay Crone, Trombonist, is associate professor and head of the Department of Music, joined the Virginia Tech music faculty in 1994.  Mr. Crone has performed as a trombonist and euphoniumist with many symphony orchestras and bands throughout the United States, including the Roanoke (VA) Symphony Orchestra and the Fresno (CA) Philharmonic Orchestra.  He is currently the Principal Trombone of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Opera Roanoke, and the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, the orchestra in residence at the Wintergreen Performing Arts Festival.  He also performs with the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival Orchestra in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

As a trombone and euphonium soloist Crone has appeared with bands from California, Virginia and other states, in addition to many performances as a featured soloist in concerts in the United Kingdom.  In 2011 he performed recitals in Bristol and Ipswich, England that featured the music of Philip Wilby and the world premier of a new work for trombone and organ, Chaconne Piangendo, by James Sochinski.  A frequent collaborator with his Virginia Tech composition colleagues, Crone performed Ico Bukvic’s Derelicts of Time for trombone and multimedia at the 2010 MusicAcoustica Festival in Beijing, China in addition to contemporary music festivals in New York City, New York, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Kansas City, Kansas in 2008 and 2009.  In 2006 he premiered James Sochinski’s Fantasie-Variations on a Dowland Ayre for trombone and band with the CSU Fresno Alumni Wind Ensemble during their tour of England under the direction of Dr. Lawrence Sutherland.  Crone is also a regular chamber music performer and has been featured at many conferences and festivals, including the Eastern Trombone Workshop, Southeast Regional Horn Workshop, Wintergreen Performing Arts Festival, and the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, in addition to performances with the Kandinsky Trio and the Audubon Quartet.  He has performed as a trombone and euphonium soloist and collaborative pianist in recitals in California, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, among others.

A unique aspect of Mr. Crone’s musical career has been his dual role as both a trombonist/euphoniumist and pianist. He has been a collaborative pianist in voice and instrumental recitals throughout the United States, most recently performing with Ronald Barron, former principal trombone of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tim Smith, second trombone of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Harold Van Schaik, bass trombone of the Florida Orchestra, Wallace Easter, principal horn of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Brian Kiser, principal tuba of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, John McGinnis, bass trombone of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, and Donna Parkes, principal trombone of the Louisville Orchestra.

Originally from California, Crone received degrees from the University of Southern California, Yale University, and California State University at Fresno.  As a trombonist, he has studied with Terry Cravens, John Swallow, Larry Sutherland, Byron Peebles, Ralph Sauer, and David Taylor.  His piano teachers included Kevin FitzGerald, Elizabeth Sawyer-Parisot, and the late Philip Lorenz.  Before coming to Virginia Tech Crone was a visiting assistant professor of music at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California.

Peter Marshall, Pianist

Peter Marshall, Pianist

Peter Marshall, pianist is one of the more versatile musicians in the Atlanta area. He performs on piano, harpsichord and organ in a variety of settings. He has appeared as a soloist with major orchestras in Atlanta, Washington, D. C. (National Symphony), Richmond, Norfolk (Virginia Symphony), Buffalo, and Columbus (Ohio), as well as with the chamber groups Hesperus and Folger Consort, and has given solo recitals in the United States and abroad.

Marshall holds the Hugh and Jessie Hogson Keyboard Chair at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and performs numerous concerts with the ASO throughout the year. He was featured in Manuel de Falla’s Concerto for Harpsichord with the ASO at the Ojai Festival in 2006, and was the organ soloist in Janacek’s “Glagolitic” Mass at Carnegie Hall in 2010. He has been a guest in three Wintergreen Festivals: as a pianist in 2008, accompanying Christopher Pulgram in recital, and in various chamber and solo works; as a harpsichordist in 2010, in concerto, chamber, and solo appearances; and as an organist in 2012, in solo recital, concerto, and chamber music appearances.

Active as an accompanist and coach in Atlanta since 1993, Marshall is in frequent demand as a pianist in vocal and instrumental recitals, and has appeared with Bent Frequency, Sonic Generator, and the Southeastern Festival of Song.

Dr. Marshall joined the faculty of the Georgia State University in 2001. He had chaired the organ department at the Catholic University of America from 1984 to 1993, having previously taught at Duke University and served as its Chapel Organist. He holds degrees from Oberlin College and Yale University and studied at the Musikhochschule Lübeck as a Fulbright Scholar.

 Dr. Marshall joined the faculty of the Georgia State University in 2001. He had chaired the organ department at the Catholic University of America from 1984 to 1993, having previously taught at Duke University and served as its Chapel Organist. He holds degrees from Oberlin College and Yale University and studied at the Musikhochschule Lübeck as a Fulbright Scholar.

Lynn Bernhardt, Principal Timpanist

Lynn Bernhardt, Principal Timpanist

Lynn Bernhardt, Timpanist, is an associate member of the percussion section of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He performs with other musical organizations in the New York metropolitan area, including the New York City Opera Orchestra, the Opera Orchestra of New York, and the Long Island Philharmonic. Mr. Bernhardt has also performed with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Lukes, the Bard Festival Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. He is the Principal Timpanist and Percussionist of the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra in Wintergreen, Virginia.




Al Wojtera, Principal Percussion

Al Wojtera, Principal Percussion

Al Wojtera,  percussionist, is Chair of the Music Department at Radford University. He has served as the Director of Percussion Studies, directs the RU Percussion Ensemble, teaches studio percussion, percussion methods, jazz history, and hosts the RU Percussion Symposium. Mr. Wojtera is an active percussionist in solo recitals, small chamber ensembles, the Roanoke Symphony, Opera Roanoke, Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, regional jazz ensembles and touring show productions, and has served as conductor for RU productions of the Nutcracker. He is a frequent adjudicator and clinician throughout the Tri-State area, and is the Southwest Regional Representative for the Virginia Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. He earned his BME from Central Connecticut State University and his MM from Northwestern University.



Jeff Midkiff, Mandolinist and Composer

Jeff Midkiff, Mandolin– “I feel at home in the Blue Ridge Mountains playing fiddle tunes,” Jeff Midkiff says, “but then again, I feel at home in a professional orchestra as well.”  A mandolinist and fiddler raised on Bluegrass and a professional clarinetist, Jeff Midkiff is an outstanding musician who feels comfortable in more than one setting—musically and personally.

Jeff grew up where Bluegrass and traditional string band music thrived. Given his first mandolin at the age of 7 by a neighbor (Sherman Poff, to whose memory Partners In Time is dedicated), he moved quickly into the world of fiddlers’ conventions and contests, winning his first mandolin competition before reaching his teens.

As he grew older, he added the fiddle to his instrumental arsenal and joined the New Grass Revue—yet at the same time, he took up the clarinet and began to perform with his high school’s symphonic band.   Even as he was immersing himself in the classical repertoire, he continued to gain attention as a mandolin and fiddle player.

By the time he graduated he had his sights firmly set on a musical career, and in 1981 Midkiff began studies at Virginia Tech, eventually earning a degree in music education and performance. Yet even as he was immersing himself in the classical repertoire, he continued to gain attention as a mandolin and fiddle player with the McPeak Brothers, a widely respected bluegrass group with whom he made his first serious recording in 1982 (five selections from that album are included on Rebel Records’ McPeak Brothers: Classic Bluegrass CD).

In 1983 he joined the Lonesome River Band, which would eventually become one of bluegrass’s most acclaimed groups. For the next five years, as he completed his education and started working as a music instructor, he performed with the LRB, recording two albums with the group, including its self-titled Rebel Records debut in 1987. Shortly after that, he enrolled in graduate school at Northern Illinois University, earning his Master’s degree in clarinet at the end of the decade—but though the move meant leaving the LRB, he continued to perform with an Illinois bluegrass band, Bluegrass Express.

During the early part of the 1990s, Jeff lived in Florida and performed clarinet with the Naples Philharmonic and later moved to northern Virginia area to be an orchestra director in the Fairfax County schools. “I went a good five years without opening my mandolin case,” he notes, “and as a full-time teacher in northern Virginia, I wasn’t playing much clarinet, either.” An appearance with the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall reawakened his passion for the latter, and in 1995 he moved to the Chicago area to revive his performance career — on the clarinet only, he thought, but ultimately on the mandolin and fiddle, too. Busy as a clarinetist with area ensembles and as a youth orchestra conductor and educator, he was drafted in 1998 by The Schankman Twins, a California-based bluegrass duo now signed to Rounder Records.

“All of a sudden I was getting these ideas for tunes, and as soon as I started getting creative, I thought, I need to start recording.” He was writing a lot, too. “All of a sudden I was getting these ideas for tunes, and as soon as I started getting creative, I thought, I need to start recording.” He has appeared several times with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra on mandolin, and likewise in the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra’s clarinet section since 1980. In 2006, Jeff moved back to his hometown of Roanoke, Virginia. Jeff is an orchestra director in the Roanoke City Schools.

Jeff Midkiff’s Concerto for Mandolin and Orchestra, “From the Blue Ridge,” was composed in 2011 as a commission from David Stewart Wiley and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. The first performance was immediately hailed as an exciting and necessary addition to the concerto repertoire for mandolin and orchestra, and is now being performed all over the U.S..  Jeff Midkiff’s Double Concerto for Violin and Mandolin will premiere with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra in Roanoke and Blacksburg from November 9-11, 2014.