Oscar M. Meza, Bass
Bassist OSCAR M. MEZA, while performing regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as a substitute musician beginning in July of 1990, won the audition for the post of Assistant Principal Bass in March of 1993.
Born in Southern California, Meza began playing the bass at the age of nine under the tutelage of his father, Oscar Meza Sr., who has been his principal teacher. He studied with Nathaniel Gangursky in 1973 and graduated from Sylmar High School in 1975. Meza went on to study with Ami Egilsson at California State University, Northridge as a bass performance major.
He participated in the Congress of Strings at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1975 and 1976, and began his professional career in the fall of 1976 as a member of the San Diego Symphony as a section bass player until 1985, when he auditioned and won for the post of Associate Principal Bass, then auditioned again in 1989 and won the Principal Bass position. During those years, he also served as Principal Bass in the San Diego Opera and San Diego Chamber orchestras.
Meza has also performed chamber music at the Gindi Auditorium and participates regularly in the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Green Umbrella series. He also maintains a connection to the city of San Diego by performing in the La Jolla Chamber Music and Mainly Mozart festivals.
Meza currently teaches double bass at California State University, Northridge.
Jacob S. Braun, Cello
Jacob S. Braun serves as Lecturer of Cello at The University of California, Santa Barbara and as adjunct faculty at Chapman University's Conservatory of Music. Mr. Braun enjoys a multi-faceted career as a solo cellist, chamber musician and professor. In the fall of 2009, Mr. Braun joined the Penderecki String Quartet as Professor/Artist in Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. With the Penderecki String Quartet, he has appeared worldwide, having recently completed auspiciously recognized tours of Brazil, Canada, China, Mexico, Spain and The United States. Mr. Braun won the Naumburg Chamber Music Award and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition with the Biava Quartet. Subsequently, In 2006, Mr. Braun joined The 2006 London String Quartet Competition 1st prize winners, the Formosa Quartet. Mr. Braun has appeared live on BBC Radio 3, WFMT/ Chicago and CBC Radio Canada. Mr. Braun has performed with many leading artists including members of the Brentano, Calder, Juilliard, Shanghai, Vermeer and Tokyo String Quartet and appears frequently for numerous festivals, including the Amsterdam Bienale Cello Congress, La Jolla Summerfest, Cleveland Chamberfest, The Luzerne Music Center and The Innsbrook Institute.
The 2013 season kicks off with concerts at The Colburn School, Saddleback College, The University of California, Santa Barbara Music Affiliates, Chapman University and a concert tour with ECCO (East Coast Chamber Orchestra). Please check JacobBraunCello.com for more information.
Mr. Braun received his degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music (B.M. 02), the New England Conservatory (M.M. 04) and Yale University (A.D. 06). Mr. Braun served as a teaching assistant to the Tokyo String Quartet and was Paul Katz's teaching assistant at The New England Conservatory of Music. Mr. Braun plays on an Antonius Mariani cello made circa 1619.
Suji Kang, Cello
Born in South Korea, cellist Suji Kang began her cello studies at age ten in Los Angeles. She received her Master of Music degree at University of California, Los Angeles, studying with Antonio Lysy, and her Bachelor of Music degree at California State University, Northridge. During her time at UCLA, Suji performed as a soloist with the UCLA Philharmonia as a winner of the UCLA All-Star Concerto Competition. While attending CSUN, she was principal cellist of the University Symphony for three consecutive years, and was a member of the prestigious Goldberg Honors String Quartet. Summer festivals include the ARIA International Summer Academy as a full-scholarship recipient, and the California Summer Music Festival. She has had the privilege to play in master classes with renowned artists including the Alexander, Boromeo, Rossetti, Vilnius and Henschel string quartets and Trio di Parma. Past teachers have included Diane Roscetti, Irene Sharp, Mihai Tetel, Richard Andaya, David Aks, Ben Wyatt, and Timothy Loo. In addition to classical music, Suji has performed in many jazz festivals with big bands and combos and has won several soloist awards. Suji is passionate about teaching and maintains a private studio in Los Angeles.
Tao Ni, Cello
TAO NI was born on October 13, 1984 in Beng Bu, An Hui Province, China. He began his cello studies with his father at the age of eight and a year later he was enrolled in the Shanghai Conservatory Preparatory Division, where he studied with Professor Liu Mei Juan. Tao Ni made his first visit to North America in 1996 attending summer music workshops at Indiana University (Bloomington) and the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada. He came as a student to the first Morningside Music Bridge in 1997, and stayed at Mount Royal College Conservatory studying with John Kadz. His other teachers include Laurence Lesser, Timothy Eddy, and most recent, Ronald Leonard at the Colburn School. Tao was also a participant in various festivals including Meadowmount, Ravinia Festival (Steans Institute for Young Artists), and the New York String Seminar in Carnegie Hall.
Tao had much success in competitions, including winning the Johannsen String Competition, the Pasadena Showcase Competition, the Hudson Valley Competition, and the New England Conservatory Concerto Competition, as well as getting top prizes at the Tchaikovsky Competition for young musicians, the Kingsville Competition, the Klein String Competition, the Corpus Christi Concerto Competition, and the Hams Competition.
He has soloed with many orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Arlington Symphony, the Brockton Symphony, the Concord Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Shanghai Philharmonic, the Sendai Orchestra, the Shanghai Opera, the Colburn Orchestra, and the Calgary Youth Orchestra, among many others. As an experienced chamber musician, Tao has collaborated with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Joseph Silverstein, Ani Kavafian, Anton Kuerti, Kim Kashkashian, James Dunham, Donald Weilerstein, Frank Cohen, Miriam Fried, and Robert Chan.
Other performing highlights include: playing for Jiang Zemin, President of China in Calgary; in recital at The Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.; featured in a national CBC radio broadcast as part of the Mount Royal College 90th Anniversary Series; and a hip hop arrangement of Vivaldi's A-minor Cello Concerto with members of the Boston University Orchestra. He was featured in Canada's National Post newspaper as a "Leader of Tomorrow."
Tao was previously a member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. This past March he became Associate Principal Cello of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Zach Dellinger, Violin/Viola
Zach Dellinger, a native of Columbia South Carolina, teaches violin and viola. As a soloist, he has performed throughout the United States. He completed a bachelor's degree at the Eastman School of Music in New York, where he studied with George Taylor. As an undergraduate, he won the Eastman Concerto Competition, and performed the Walton Viola Concerto with the Eastman Philharmonia. He also studied with Donald McInnes at the Music Academy of the West for three summers. In the summer of 2008, he worked with Pinchas Zukerman at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada. Zach has also had the privilege of working with Itzhak Perlman as well as Don Weilerstein and Paul Katz of the Cleveland Quartet, at the Perlman Music Program in New York.
In recent years, Zach received an Artist Diploma at the Colburn School where he studied with Paul Coletti. He has also been awarded Honorable Mentions in the Gail Newby and Torrance Symphony Competitions. Zach was the winner of the 2009 Ladies Music Club Competition in Seattle, Washington. As the winner, he toured the western part of Washington state playing solo recitals and doing musical outreach to local children. He has served as the principal violist of the Santa Barbara Symphony. Zach performed Berio's Sequenza and Chemins II with the highly acclaimed Nimbus Ensemble in Los Angeles.
In January of 2011, Zach joined Street Symphony, (http://www.streetsymphony.org/) a charitable organization co-founded by L.A. Philharmonic violinist Robert Gupta, which brings classical music to underserved communities. Zach now serves as the charity's community programs coordinator.
Cynthia Moussas, Violin
Cynthia (Cindy) Moussas teaches violin. A native New Yorker, she graduated from The Juilliard School, and has many years of teaching experience. She has performed with the Los Angeles Opera, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Long Beach Symphony, as well as with numerous shows and concerts with artists like Cheryl Crow. She's an in-demand musician for the film and recording industry. She serves on the faculty of the Idyllwild Arts summer program.
Jeff Williams, Violin/Viola
Mr. Williams has been teaching music professionally for 15 years as a private instructor, coach, conductor, and university professor. He is currently the Associate Director of the Azusa Conservatory of Music at Azusa Pacific University where he is also on faculty teaching courses in music education, string pedagogy and literature, as well as applied violin and viola. Mr. Williams holds a masters degree in viola performance from Azusa Pacific University where he studied viola with Robert Becker and chamber music with Charles Stegeman. He has also studied violin and Suzuki pedagogy with Ruth Meints and Timothy Durbin.
Over the years, Mr. Williams has served as a coach, consultant, clinician, and string expert to numerous school programs and ensembles. As a private teacher, his students routinely hold principal chairs in school and youth orchestras around the Southland, and many have gone on to participate in music at the university level. As a performer, Mr. Williams has given concerts throughout the United States and Canada as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestra member.
Lucas Martinez, Guitar, Composer
Lucas Martinez is a guitarist, composer, and instructor at the South Pasadena Strings Program. His study of the guitar began under classical guitarist Carl Bernstein, a former student of Andres Segovia. Lucas went on to graduate from the USC Thornton School of Music with a Bachelor of Music in Studio Jazz Guitar performance. At USC, he studied under world-renowned musicians and composers including bebop/jazz guitarist Bruce Forman, flamenco guitarist Adam del Monte, and classical guitarist James Smith.
Through his years of development as musician, Lucas has learned the importance of teaching and sharing knowledge and experience, and the importance of passing on music to future generations just as his instructors have done for him. As a result, he has cultivated a patient, thorough, and exciting teaching style influenced by the instruction he has received. He works well with students of all ages and skill levels, including children discovering music for the first time.Education
- Bachelor of Music (Studio/Jazz Guitar performance), University of Southern California, 2008
- New Mexico Highlands University, Concurrent Enrollment, 2002-2003
Genres: Flamenco, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, Blues, Contemporary/Modern styles
Amy Martens, Flute, Piano
Having grown up in a musical family, Amy is no stranger to the stage. She began piano at age 4, and flute at age 8 under the tutelage of her mother. She performed in countless recitals and several church programs during her childhood. In high school, she continued her private studies in flute, had the opportunity to perform in district and country honor bands, and was a member of the Young Artists Symphony Orchestra in the Bay Area. In college, she studied with Teri Mason Christian, played principal flute in various musical ensembles, and attended master classes with renowned flutists Sir James Galway and Ransom Wilson. Her favorite experience was to solo with a small orchestra on tour in Italy in the summer of 2007.
Amy now teaches privately, performs in the Corona Symphony Orchestra, and freelances around Los Angeles.Education
- Master of Music (Flute performance), Azusa Pacific University
- Bachelor of Music (Flute performance), Azusa Pacific University
Cassandra Nickols, Piano
Cassandra Nickols, pianist, began studying music at age 3. She completed her doctorate in musical arts in piano performance at the USC Thornton School of Music, studying under Bernadene Blaha. At her commencement in May, 2010, she was named the most outstanding graduate from the Thornton School of Music. Her doctoral degree includes academic and elective fields in Music Education, Keyboard Collaborative Arts, and Electro-Acoustic Media. Which she studied with Dr. Sheila Woodward, Kevin Fitzgerald, Dr. Alan Smith, and Dennis Thurmond.
While pursuing her doctoral degree, Cassandra was a Studio Teaching Assistant of the Keyboard Studies Department. She also won first prize in the CAPMT Romantic Music Festival in May 2005 and was a finalist for the American Music Awards New Music Award in 2003 with the band Relax to Paris.
Cassandra recognizes the importance of versatility in music and utilizes her knowledge of different musical backgrounds in her teaching and performing. She enjoys playing all styles of music. She has been in high demand to accompany singers, instrumentalists, and musical theatre troupes since she was a high school student. Her performances and musical experiences range from solo piano recitals to rock concerts to pit orchestras to movie recordings. She was the keyboardist/ bassist/ vocalist in the rock band Relax to Paris for six years through her high school and undergraduate schooling and has recently taken pleasure in performing Greek music on keyboard and accordion.Education
- Doctor of Musical Arts, Piano Performance, USC
- Master of Music, Piano Performance, USC
- Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance, USC
Joanna Pascoe, Piano/Voice/Choral
Joanna Pascoe is an innovative musician and teacher who has a knack for communicating with children, and helping them bring out their best. At the Pascale Music Institute, she teaches piano, voice, and combination piano/ voice classes. As a child, Joanna played various instruments and loved to dance. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education, magna cum laude, from Azusa Pacific University. Her education emphasized voice, which she studied primarily with Dr. Melanie Galloway, Chung Uk Lee, and Kristin Korb. Joanna has also worked with Paul Salamunovich, Sydney Guillaume, and Charlene Archibeque. She learned the Kodaly Method. While attending APU, Joanna honed her skills as an educator through volunteering as a piano instructor at the Azusa Conservatory, and also as a teacher's assistant for music history classes. Because of her broad training, Joanna incorporates aspects of different disciplines and art forms to strengthen her young students in their particular field of study, and effectively helps them achieve creative self-expression. Joanna currently participates in multiple ensembles, including APU's Chamber Singers and the University Choir and Orchestra.
Crystal Rivette, Piano
Pianist Crystal Rivette grew up in Pasadena and began her piano studies with her mother at a young age. Her subsequent primary teachers include Duane Funderburk, Antoinette Perry, Roza Kostrzewska Yoder, and Eteri Andjaparidze.
Ms. Rivette has been awarded top prizes in several California competitions, including the Peninsula International Festival, the Los Angeles Liszt Competition, the Southwestern Youth Music Festival, and has performed as a competition winner with the Brentwood-Westwood and La Mirada Symphony Orchestras. She was a semifinalist in the International Russian Music Competition in San Jose, California, in 2003, and has performed in Atma, home of the Polish composer Karol Szymanowsky in Zakopane, Poland.
Currently on the Adjunct faculty of the School of Music at Azusa Pacific University, Ms. Rivette spent two semesters last year in Heidelberg, Germany, serving as the Resident Life Director and Staff Accompanist, helping develop the School of Music Heidelberg Study Abroad Program. She now teaches keyboard classes on campus in Azusa, is the concert manager of the Goldline Noon Concert Series at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, and is an active pianist and teacher in the Los Angeles area.Education
- Master of Music, Piano Performance, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
- Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance, Azusa Pacific University
Anton Smirnov, Piano
Anton Smirnov was born in 1984 in Novosibirsk, Russia. He began his piano studies at age of seven. Since then, Anton has accumulated more than 250 public performances worldwide. In 1997, he was accepted to the Special School for Gifted Children in Novosibirsk studying with Dina Shevchuk. He later entered Novosibirsk Music Conservatory, where he received his bachelor degree in music.
Anton is a prizewinner of many international piano competitions such as the Moscow International Competition for Young Musicians (2001), the Krasnoyarsk International Piano Competition (2001), the Tomsk International Contemporary Music Piano Competition (2004), the Russian Music Competition (2007), the Oberlin Concerto Competition (2008), the Corpus Christi International Concerto Competition (2009) and the Louisiana International Piano Competition (2007). He has also won seven National Piano Competitions in Russia and he has received special talent scholarships from Russian Government. In 2010, he was selected to take part in the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Belgium.
Anton has performed with various orchestras as a soloist including the Novosibirsk, Tomsk, and Omsk Philharmonic Orchestras, the Full Symphony Orchestra in San Jose and the Oberlin Orchestra.
He has been invited to many international music festivals including the "International Program New Names" in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Vladimir Spivakov Festival, the Irkurtsk International Festival and most recently, the Cassalmaggiore International Music Festival in Italy. He has played in master classes for M.Pressler, Arie Vardi, R. Meister, S.Dorensky, N.Boguslavsky, M. Delli Ponti, Baruch Meir, John Perry and many others.
Anton is currently pursuing his Artist Diploma at the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles, California, where he studies with Professor John Perry.