Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio, praised as a “violinist who most often takes your breath away” by Gramophone Magazine, and described as an “expressive and passionate chamber musician” by the San Antonio Express-News, Ms. Sant’Ambrogio enjoys a varied teaching, performing and recording career as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral leader and pedagogue. Ms. Sant’Ambrogio has performed as a soloist and chamber musician on the foremost stages of the U.S., as well as in Canada, Estonia, Sweden, Ghana, Italy, Peru, Chile and Mexico. In addition to her active performing career, Stephanie is devoted to teaching serious string players, many who have won positions in America’s symphony orchestras and universities. Currently Associate Professor of Violin and Viola at the University of Nevada, Reno, she is also Artistic Director of Cactus Pear Music Festival, which she founded in 1997 while serving as Concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony. Former First Assistant Principal Second Violin of The Cleveland Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnany, she toured and recorded internationally with this ensemble for eight seasons.
Currently Concertmaster of the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra (CA), Ms. Sant’Ambrogio has a discography of over 75 orchestral and chamber music CDs, and has recently recorded her Soaring Solo: Unaccompanied Works for Violin & Viola CD that was released in June 2016. Audiophile Review praised her Johannes Brahms: The Violin Sonatas CD as, “Fine readings of great finesse, rich coloring and complete un derstanding” and Fanfare Magazine wrote, she “play[s] with immaculate technique, impeccable intonation, lustrous tone, and emotional warmth.” Ms. Sant’Ambrogio was the graduate assistant to Donald Weilerstein at The Eastman School of Music, where she received her Master’s degree. Previously she received her Bachelor degree from Indiana University as a student of Laurence Shapiro and James Oliver Buswell. Performing on a violin crafted in 1757 by J.B. Guadagnini of Milan and a 2008 viola by Jacek Zadlo of Chicago, she and her graphic designer husband Gary Albright enjoy traveling with their daughters 18-year-old Isabel and 16-year-old Gabrielle.
Elaine Barber began playing the harp at the age of ten, and began playing professionally in her native Mississippi four years later. She earned her master’s degree at the Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, studying with Beatrice Rose, and has been Austin Symphony Principal Harpist since 1992. Also an early music specialist, she plays baroque and renaissance harp with Texas Early Music Project, Austin Baroque Orchestra, Istanpitta and on the St. Cecelia Music Series. She has been featured soloist at the American Harp Society National Conference, and with Austin Symphony, Mississippi Symphony, Shepherd Symphony, and Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra. As an orchestral musician she has performed with Spoleto USA, San Antonio Symphony, Houston Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Mississippi Symphony and Mississippi Opera. She has performed with Ray Charles and Renee Fleming, for the King of Norway and the Governor of Mississippi, on movie and video game soundtracks and children’s TV shows. She plays with central Texas chamber music groups such as REVEL, Austin Chamber Music Festival, Cactus Pear Music Festival, Musical Offerings, and Victoria Bach Festival. She has recorded for the Naxos, Nonesuch and Matador labels, and has premiered solo and chamber works by James Sclater, Peter Stopschinski, Gordon Jones, and P. Kellach Waddle. Ms. Barber maintains a private teaching studio in Austin and has been on the faculty of Austin Chamber Music Center, Sewanee Summer Music Festival, Abilene Summer Music Festival, University of Texas Harp Camp, and Mississippi College. She is artistic director of the Girl Scout Harp Ensemble, probably the only Girl Scout troop anywhere made up entirely of harpists. She has two nicely grown children and a sweet old dog.
Douglas Harvey joined the cello section of the Austin Symphony at age 17, and in 2002 became the youngest principal cellist in the history of the Orchestra. In 2005, he became the principal cellist of the Austin Opera Orchestra. Douglas performed his first concerto as solo cellist with the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio at the age of 13, and made his debut as soloist with the San Antonio Symphony at the age of 15. At age 16 he was the youngest cellist in history to be invited by the University of Texas at Austin to perform a full recital on its campus. He won first place awards in the 2000 William C. Byrd International Competition, the Idyllwild International Young Artists Competition, and the Corpus Christi International Competition, as well as two first place solo Bach prizes awarded at the Corpus Christi and Kingsville International Competitions. Since then, Mr. Harvey has performed almost 20 different works for cello and orchestra. Douglas plays on the Grand Prize winning “Emperor” cello made c. 1860 in Paris by Gand Freres, commissioned by the Emperor Napoleon III.
Pianist Colette Valentine, one of the most active professional collaborative pianists in the United States, joined the faculty of the newly created Collaborative Piano Department at the University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music in the fall of 2008. She completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance at the State University of New York at Stony Brook with Gilbert Kalish after earning Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the University of Maryland where she studied with Nelita True. From 2000-2008 she was on faculty at Long Island University, C.W. Post Campus, as an instrumental repertoire coach and faculty recital partner. She was also a faculty member at New Jersey City University from 1996-2008 where, in addition to coaching students and performing with faculty and guest artists, she taught courses in The Application of Theory in Performance and The Art of Accompanying. In the summers, she joins other professional colleagues as a coach at the Interlochen Adult Chamber Music Camp in Michigan.
Critically hailed for her “clean, sparkling technique” (Salt Lake Tribune) and for her “consummate skill and musicianship” (Classical New Jersey), Colette Valentine has performed in such important venues as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, the Phillips Collection, the Corcoran Gallery, and internationally in Paris, Zurich, Tokyo, Seoul, and Hong Kong. As pianist of the Ecco Trio, praised by the Washington Post for capturing “the intimacy of chamber music at its best”, she has toured the United States and Japan. She has also collaborated in chamber concerts with the New York Philharmonic Winds, St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, the Washington Chamber Society, the Left Bank Concert Society, the Grand Teton Music Festival and the Rembrandt Chamber players, among others. For many years, she has been official staff pianist for the William Kapell International Piano Competition, the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, the Washington International Competition for Strings, and the National Flute Association National Convention. She has also served in that capacity for the Leonard Rose International Cello Competition, the Marian Anderson International Vocal Competition, and the Music Teachers National Association Competitions. She has recorded for the Albany, fontec, Antara, Well-Tempered and CRI labels.
Kathryn Mishell was born in Los Angeles, where she received her early musical training. Her college and graduate work were done at Pomona College, The University of Kansas, and the University of Southern California. During these years she was a piano student of John Perry and a composition student of John Pozdro and then Ingolf Dahl.
Ms. Mishell’s works include over a hundred piano pieces, ensemble and orchestral works, and music for chorus, dance and theatre. Her published collections of pieces for piano students have sold thousands of copies nationwide. She is the recipient of the 2011 Sylvia Glickman Prize from the International Alliance of Women in Music for her Piano Quartet. She is one of two women composers honored by the National League of American Pen Women in 1996. She was the 1997 commissioned composer of the Texas Music Teachers Association, and has received ASCAP awards for the past several years. Her commissions include chamber works for Trio Contraste, Chamber Soloists of Austin, the Arundel Trio, Pacific Serenades of Los Angeles, Musiques en Euroreígion, and Austin Lyric Opera’s Armstrong Community Music School, for which she is composer-in-residence. Mishell has participated in the Women’s Philharmonic New Music Reading Sessions, the Society of Composers National Conference, and has been guest composer at the UT at Austin.
Ms. Mishell produced and hosted Into the Light, a weekly radio program devoted to the music of women composers, for ten and a half years. Produced at KMFA, the fine arts station in Austin, it won three Gracie awards for outstanding work in biography for public radio, as well as two international Communicator Awards of Distinction for excellence in broadcasting. This project extended into the concert world as Ms. Mishell produced, lectured, and performed Into the Light, live for audiences. The hundreds of hours of broadcasts of the work of women composers with Ms. Mishell’s commentary are available for broadcast throughout the world.
As pianist, Ms. Mishell has performed extensively in the U.S. and Mexico as a soloist and in chamber music. She has been touring pianist for the Sharir Dance Company, and for the music dramas Paganini! and Heroes and Lovers, for which she wrote the incidental music.
A teacher of many award-winning young pianists, Ms. Mishell has taught at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and has acted as clinician, adjudicator, and as consultant in the use of computers in music instruction. She maintains a class of private piano students in Austin, where she has twice been awarded the Outstanding Pre-collegiate Teaching Award.