GUEST ARTISTS

HIRO GOTO

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I am a Japanese native who picked up violin at the age of 4. When I moved to Oregon as a foreign exchange student at 15, I found freedom in music. My choice of music was restricted to classical in Japan but in the US, I was introduced to pop, rock and soul by my American brothers.

I went to Berklee College of Music majoring in audio engineering and violin performance. I learned jazz (including improvisation) but outside of school, I was exploring genres like folk rock and Celtic music. During that time, I also started arranging strings for band projects and playing electric violin. After graduating, I attended the Henry Mancini Institute summer program at UCLA. I was one of a few violinists who could improvise so I was soloing with jazz combos and coaching other classical string players.

I’ve been in Los Angeles nearly 20 years. I’ve worked with artists ranging from classical, jazz, bluegrass, metal, and hip hop. I’ve performed on stage and in the studio with major
artists, arranged strings for over 1,500 songs, and I’m regularly in the studio recording myself and others.

I perform acoustic on standard violin and viola. I also play electric violin (5-string) and an acoustic 5-string (hybrid violin/viola).

BRYAN PEZZONE

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Bryan Pezzone maintains an active freelance performing and recording career and has been based in the Los Angeles area since 1987. He holds a degree from the Eastman School of Music, and is well known as a versatile performer who is comfortable in classical, contemporary and improvisational styles. He performs with nearly every established orchestra in Southern California such as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New West Symphony, the Pasadena Symphony, the Long Beach Symphony, Muse-Ique, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and many others.  Bryan was the principal pianist with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra from its inception in 1991 through 1999. From 1987-2000 he was the chair and founder of the multi-focused Keyboard program at the California Institute of the Arts. Recently, Bryan was invited to join the faculty of the Los Angeles College of Music in 2017 on the ground level of it’s new Piano Major which is eclectic in nature and addresses the needs of the 21’st century pianist.

 He has recorded on hundreds of television and motion picture soundtracks, and has been the pianist on virtually all of the cartoons released by Warner Brothers and Disney. As a soloist, Bryan has performed with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Pasadena Pops, California Philharmonic, Riverside Symphony, Santa Monica Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute Orchestra, United States International University Orchestra, U.C. Irvine Symphony Orchestra, Eastman Philharmonic and the Pacific Symphony.

IGOR KOGAN

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Igor Kogan is a music artist, bassist, composer, arranger and bandleader. He has performed at prestigious venues and festivals in U.S., Canada and Europe, including Jazz at Lincoln Center and Steinway Hall (New York), Bern Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Toronto Music Festival (Canada), Red Sea Jazz Festival (Israel); and appeared at renowned music clubs Herb Alpert’s Vibrato, Blue Whale, Vitellos, The Lighthouse (Los Angeles); Smalls, Zinc, Fat Cat (New York) among other venues. 

 

Born in Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia, he started to study classical music and to play violin at age seven. At the age fifteen he immigrated to Israel where he first discovered jazz and started to play bass and compose music. Later, he attended The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, from which he graduated with honors and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Jazz Performance and Composition. After spending several years in New York, working as a performing and recording musician, he became involved in Broadway productions as an assistant arranger and orchestrator, and later as a composer. This led to develop his composing skills and to work on films, TV and media projects, as well as stage productions and live shows. 

 

He relocated to Los Angeles in 2014, where he continues to work as a bassist, composer and arranger on variety of projects including jazz and orchestral concert music, as well as commercial projects and recording sessions. He also leads his own Jazz Quintet and 17 piece Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, composing and performing original music, and recently released a debut album “In A Big City”, featuring 9-time Grammy Award nominee jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton. In 2020, as a response to the global pandemic, he created and produced “World Home Jazz Orchestra” project, bringing together seventeen world class musicians representing seventeen countries around the globe, to perform his original composition “Revival”, as part of a fundraising campaign for the frontline responders at the early stages of the pandemic. Being inspired from both jazz and classical traditions, he combines these two musical worlds in his work. For more information please visit www.koganigormusic.com  

Anna Kostyuchek

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Violinist Anna Kostyuchek has appeared as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player throughout the United States, South America, and Europe.

 

She has been a member of the Philharmonie der Nationen under Justus Frantz and the Stuttgart Bach Academy under Helmuth Rilling, where she served as Associate Concertmaster and Principal Second Violin, and with whom she performed in the greatest concert halls of South America and Europe, including the Berlin Philharmonie, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern, and the Teatro del Lago in Frutillar, Chile. As an orchestral musician she has performed under the batons of such renowned conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas, John Williams, George Mester, Grant Gershon, and David Newman.

 

As a recording artist she has recorded for numerous television and motion picture soundtracks, including Star Trek, Dexter, Fear Factor, Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor, Batman Returns, American Idol, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, and had an onscreen role in the TV shows The Big Bang Theory and Shooter. Anna has also appeared in concert with Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, Tony Bennett, Burt Bacharach, Stevie Wonder, Black Eyed Peas, and Harry Connick, Jr.

 

As soloist, she has appeared with the Mozart Classical Orchestra and Santa Cecilia Orchestra. She is a member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale Orchestra, Santa Barbara Opera Orchestra, and is Associate Concertmaster of Riverside Philharmonic.

JOSÉ GARCÍA

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 Jose Garcia is a Mexican singer and guitarist who began performing professionally at the age of 15 in local rock bands in his home town of Tecate, Mexico. After moving to America in the late 80's he began performing Spanish Guitar in Los Angeles, California where he eventually recorded his first solo album in 2008, “Asi Lo Digo Yo”, a blend of Latin Classics, Flamenco and Jazz.

  Wanting to push his vocal boundaries his next CD delved into the Great American Songbook. “Songs For A Lifetime – Live” (2011) was a critically acclaimed, ambitious venture, reminiscent of the early crooners that featured Garcia on vocals both in English and Spanish.

 

  “Pasajes” (2016) brought to fruition Garcia’s own writing skills. Intricate melodies and lyrics highlight Jose’s his velvet voice and passion for Jazz and Flamenco.

  Jose also has recorded on albums by Juan Gabriel, Luis Villegas, Terry Ilous, Alvera de Leon, the soundtrack for “Beautiful Faces”.

  Today, Jose is currently promoting his latest album in various cities around the US and also participates in a number of other artists’ projects in Los Angeles. 

YUEUN KIM

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Originally from South Korea, Violinist YuEun Gemma Kim started playing piano at age 5 and violin at 7, although she enjoyed singing Korean and American pop songs from the 80’s with her father the most. She also used to play organ every Wednesday at 6am at the church services.

She moved to the US in 2013 to study at University of Southern California under the tutelage of violinist Midori Goto. She is not a big fan of competitions, however, she has been participating in quite a few of them and has won first place in USC’s Solo Bach Competition and the Strings Concerto Competition, and was a semi-finalist at the Qingdao International Violin Competition (China) and the Michael Hill International Violin Competition (New Zealand). The most memorable competition was the Boulder International Competition: Art of Duo where she won second prize in 2018 and she also recently received the Jeffrey Thomas Award from the American Bach Soloists.

YuEun started exploring more of the early music repertoire and this season, she is invited to play with various baroque ensembles including Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra (LA), American Bach Soloists (SF), Voices of Music (Berkeley), Boulder Bach Festival (CO) and Blue Hill Bach (ME).

YuEun is a core member of Delirium Musicum, self-conducted chamber orchestra based in Los Angeles. During the pandemic, Delirium Musicum created MusiKaravan that took YuEun and Artistic Director Etienne Gara to the road in a vintage Volkswagen bus to perform socially-distanced concerts for farm workers, winemakers, random passerby, and even the occasional ostrich. MusiKaravan won the Audience Choice Award of the San Francisco Classical Voice for "Best Streaming Series". The video episodes of this musical journey can be found on the "MusiKaravan" YouTube Channel. 

Her Chopin’s Nocturne video on her YouTube has over 11 million views and the funniest moment in her performing career was when she noticed Itzhak Perlman was in the audience; she couldn’t turn the pages and she ended up playing the whole Haydn string quartet by heart.

SHARON RAY

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Sharon A. Ray graduated from the Curtis Institute with a Performance Diploma for Viola. She also studied violin, viola and tympani at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She has performed with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, the New Jersey Symphony, the Delaware Symphony, toured with Stevie Wonder on his “Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants” tour.  Since moving to Los Angeles, she is currently affiliated with the Southeast Symphony, New Valley Symphony, Corona Symphony, San Bernardino Symphony, Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Santa Monica Symphony. Most recently, she performed at the Hollywood Bowl with the Recollective Symphony for their historic Juneteenth concert. She is the author of three bass guitar method books for Alfred Publishing and served on the faculty of the National Guitar Workshop for 16 years. From 2005-2015, she served on the faculty of the Renaissance Arts Academy, an LAUSD preforming arts charter school, where she taught theory, violin, viola, and the double bass.

EVGENY TONKHA

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Russian cellist Evgeny Tonkha is a First Prize Gold Medal winner at the 12th International Cello Competition in the Czech Republic and the Special Jury Prize winner at the 13th International Tchaikovsky Competition. Born in 1982 into a musical family, Evgeny began his studies at the Gnessin Music School with his father Professor Vladimir Tonkha. Graduate of the Russian Academy of Music in Moscow, he continued his studies at Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin with renowned cellist David Geringas.

He regularly performs in leading venues including the Berliner Philharmonie, Berlin Konzerthaus, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Hamburg Philhamonie, and at the Hall of Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich. Evgeny performs with orchestras include the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra, Neue Philharmonie in Hamburg, Berliner Camerata, the Symphony Orchestras of Nizhny Novgorod, Toliatti, Ryazan, and the Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra.

Evgeny currently resides in Los Angeles where he works in the film industry and appears as a recitalist in Southern California in addition to his guest international performances.

STEVE HUBER

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Steve Huber is a Juilliard graduate and former student of world-renowned violin pedagogues Dorothy DeLay and Sally Thomas. After a successful career as a full-time member of such orchestras as Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de São Paulo, and, as concertmaster, Orquestra Filarmonica de Lima, Steve relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a more diverse career.

Throughout his life Steve has performed, composed, arranged, and recorded with a diverse array of artists and composers including Kid Cudi, Keith Emerson, Quartet San Francisco, Tina Guo, Salim-Sulaiman, Giovanni, Hijos Del Sol, Fragil, and Susana Baca, among many others. Steve has also done solo and orchestral session work for TV, film, and video games. Recently he has decided to use his musical knowledge and versatility to engage audiences as a DJ/Musician as well.

Steve has acted as concertmaster for many orchestras in the Southern California area, such as Brentwood Symphony Orchestra, Culver City Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Surreal, Huntington Beach Symphony, Dream Orchestra, Golden State Pops Orchestra, Hour of Power Orchestra, South Coast Symphony, and many others.

As a composer Steve has written music for short films, webisodes, and several chamber music series. His orchestral compositions have been performed by such groups as the Juilliard Pre-College Orchestra, the Key West Symphony, and the Fort Worth Symphony. He has arranged music and contracted musicians for corporate events, music festivals, and tours internationally.

Steve performs regularly as a member of the Music at the Mission Chamber Players based in Fremont, CA where he also teaches as part of the faculty for Chamberfest, a summer chamber music festival based in Fremont. He is also a member of the Hutchins Consort, as well as the acclaimed pirate rock group “The Pirates Charles”.

CLEMENT CHOW

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Clement Chow has studied at Rice University and Cleveland Institute of Music where he received his Bachelor and Master of Music. He has been to music festivals around the world which include the Aspen Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival in Japan, as well as Schleswig Holstein Music Festival in Germany. He made his solo debut with the Houston Symphony at the age of 16. He has also studied with some of the greatest chamber music groups around the world. The groups include Tokyo, Cleveland, Alban Berg, and Amadeus String Quartets.

ROBERT THIES

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A pianist of “unerring, warm-toned refinement, revealing judicious glimmers of power,” [Los Angeles Times] Robert Thies(pronounced "Theece") is an artist renowned for his consummate musicianship and poetic temperament. He first captured worldwide attention in 1995 when he won the Gold Medal at the Second International Prokofiev Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia. With this victory, Thies became the only American pianist to win first prize in a Russian piano competition since Van Cliburn’s famed triumph in Moscow in 1958. 

This victory brought accolades from the White House, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Governor Pete Wilson, and Mayor Richard Riordan. The Los Angeles City Council declared February 16, 1996 "Robert Edward Thies Day," and Robert was featured on the July 1996 cover of Piano and Keyboard magazine. His win was announced in the International Herald Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times wrote a feature article, "Another American Pianist Invades Russia, Successfully."

Conductor Jorge Mester hails Robert "a genius", and Maestra JoAnn Falletta declared after two performances with the Louisville Orchestra, "Conducting the Brahms Second Piano Concerto with Robert Thies was one of the most beautiful and deeply satisfying musical experiences of my life."

Praised for his “thoughtful and intensely moving interpretations” Thies enjoys a diverse career as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. He has already performed forty concerti with orchestras all over the world. In one season alone he performed thirteen different concerti, garnering consistent critical acclaim. He has appeared with such orchestras as the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, Liepāja Symphony (Latvia), Mexico City Philharmonic, the National Symphony of Mexico, Auckland Philharmonia (New Zealand), Louisville Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Pasadena Symphony, Des Moines Symphony, and the Naples Philharmonic. His concerts have been broadcast throughout the United States, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Bolivia, Hungary, Mexico, and New Zealand.

As a Steinway Artist and frequent recitalist in the United States and abroad, Mr. Thies has developed a reputation as a “genuine” and “sincere” artist, creating delicately balanced programs and performing in a manner to draw focus to the composer rather than to himself. Under the sponsorship of Community Concerts, he completed a forty-city tour of the United States in 2001. In May 1999, he was honored with a special invitation to perform in the Hermitage Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, built for Empress Catherine the Great.  His South American debut occurred in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2002, and he has given recitals in Mexico, Germany, Austria, and Hungary.

Thies’s “grace and unsurpassed lyricism” are in high demand at festivals and special celebrations. In 2002, in conjunction with the Hollywood premiere of Roman Polanski’s film The Pianist, he performed Władysław Szpilman’s Concertino for Piano and Orchestra with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony. That same year Thies earned national recognition for his collaboration with noted cultural historian and author, Joseph Horowitz, in the Pacific Symphony’s Dvořák in Americafestival. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Arnold Schoenberg’s death, Thies was invited to Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes in 2001 to perform the composer’s seldom-heard Piano Concerto with the National Symphony of Mexico, a memorized performance for which he received high critical acclaim. During the fall of 1997 Mr. Thies worked alongside distinguished late Polish composer Henryk Górecki in the United States premiere of his Piano Sonata. This collaboration was later documented in a 2012 Polish documentary entitled Please Find Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. In a commemorative gesture just after Górecki's recent passing, Thies's performance was broadcast on KUSC 91.5 FM Classical Radio. Thies has performed at the music festivals of Ravinia, Aspen, Sedona, Cape May, Music Academy of the West, Mostly Mozart, the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, High Desert Chamber Music, and the Port Townsend Chamber Music Festival.

A dedicated chamber musician, Thies is highly sought after as a partner, and he has shared the stage with many esteemed musicians, including those from Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. A staple at the International Piatigorsky Cello Festival in Los Angeles, he has appeared in recital with many of the world’s leading cellists, like Thomas Demenga, Paul Watkins, and Wolfgang Schmidt.. An avid proponent of art song, Thies has also appeared with many outstanding singers in recital, most recently in Los Angeles with LA Opera baritone, Ryan McKinny in a performance of Schubert’s great opus, Winterreise. Over the past decade he founded the Thies Piano Quartet, the Pantoum Trio, and most recently, The Thies Consort. The Consort performs a wide range of works of varying instrumentation and size, thus allowing for innovative and unique programming with musical continuity based on a style, composer, or historical moment. 

Thies’s recordings can be found on the Centaur, Albany, MSR Classics, Golden Tone, and Denouement Records labels. In 2017 he recorded Brahms’ two Sonatas for Clarinet and Piano with clarinetist David Sapadin. In 2015 with violinist Linda Wang, he recorded recently discovered works by Ravel and Messiaen. In 2014, he recorded two works of composer, Bruce Babcock, and a sonata by Bruce Broughton. He has premiered and recorded works written for him, such as Stu Phillip's Variations for Piano and Orchestra, and Kevin Kaska's Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, and premiered and recorded many works by Grammy-winning composer, Danaë Vlasse, and composer, Gernot Wolfgang. He released his debut solo live recording Live in Recital in 2006. He has also made numerous classical recordings for Yamaha Disklavier, featuring the music of Prokofiev, Ravel, Brahms, Schubert, and Beethoven.

In Los Angeles, Thies has worked with film composers John Williams, James Newton Howard, the late James Horner, Danny Elfman, Mychael Danna, among others. His playing is featured in John Williams’ score to the film, The Fabelmans (2022), in James Newton Howard’s score, Concussion (2015), in Mychael Danna’s Oscar winning scores to The Life of Pi (2012) andFracture (2007). In 2017 he was a featured soloist at the Hollywood Bowl in Philip Glass’s score to Jane, a documentary about Jane Goodall. In 2010 the Grammy winning conductor, Lucas Richman, invited him to join a full symphony orchestra on a North American tour of John Williams’ Star Wars in Concert. And in 2004 he was a featured pianist on Danny Elfman’srecording: Serenada Schizophrana.

 

As an avid improviser and composer, Robert was invited in 2006 to record a crossover improvisational album, Difference, with Croatian flutist, Damjan Krajacic. This collaboration led the groundwork for the release of two critically reviewed albums for Gentle Rain Records in the Fall of 2012 and 2016: Blue Landscapes: Music from a Quieter Place, and Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries, both collections of original compositions and improvisations. The third album in January 2020: Blue Landscapes III: Frontiers was released on the Myndstream (Real Music) label.  The latter two albums won Global Music Awards.

Mr. Thies is sought after as a master class teacher, chamber music coach, lecturer, and adjudicator across the globe. As a private teacher, his students have won competitions and been accepted to major music conservatories around the country.  In 2017 he was appointed Artistic Director of the South Bay Chamber Music Society, founded in 1963, and one of the premier presenters of chamber music in Los Angeles.  In June 2015 Thies presented a program of Scandinavian music at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Sweden as a member of the College Music Society.  In 2013, he was appointed Director of Chamber Music at the European American Musical Alliance (EAMA) in Paris, France. In May 2012, he gave a webinarsimultaneously to three universities in the United States and Mexico, and spoke about developing one’s musicianship to open up various music career options. He is also a frequent guest lecturer to various branches of the Music Teachers Association of California. From 2003-07, he was a member of the faculty of the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria, and worked beside his former teacher, Harold Heiberg, an authority on German art song. There Thies coached singers and pianists on the songs of the great Germanic composers: Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, and Strauss.  His article on the art of collaboration “I am Not an Accompanist” was published in the Fall 2017 edition of the California Music Teacher’s magazine. Another article followed in Fall 2019 edition: “Is the Music Conservatory Model Obsolete?” And in 2021 he contributed an article “Might We Accompany Each Other?” for the New York Singing Teachers’ Association

Born on the East Coast, Thies makes a home in Los Angeles. His primary teachers were Robert Turner and Daniel Pollack, both protégés of the legendary Russian pedagogue, Madame Rosina Lhevinne. For more information, visit Robert Thies at: www.robertthies.org.