Presently principal clarinetist with the Austin Symphony, Stephen Girko was appointed as principal clarinetist with the San Antonio Symphony for the 1999-2000 season. Prior to that, he was the principal clarinetist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 1975 through 1998. He made his debut appearance with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra by performing the Clarinet Concerto of Aaron Copland, with the composer conducting. Since then Mr. Girko has appeared as soloist performing the concertos of Mozart, Nielsen, & Weber, as well as the Introduction, Theme & Variations of Rossini & the Premiere Rhapsodie of Debussy.
Stephen Girko was born in New York City. He attended the State University College of New York at Potsdam, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in music education in 1965. The following year, he received his Master of Music degree in performance from The Manhattan School of Music. After a year of teaching, Mr. Girko fulfilled his military obligation by performing with the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, N.Y. While at West Point, he also played principal clarinet with both the Albany Symphony Orchestra and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra. Upon leaving the military, Stephen was appointed principal clarinetist with the Oklahoma City Symphony, a position he held for four years. He subsequently served as associate principal clarinetist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra for a year before coming to Dallas.
Mr. Girko has also enjoyed an active career as a teacher, having taught at Oklahoma University for four years as well as Southern Methodist University for 18 years. His students are represented in orchestras and colleges throughout the United States. Mr. Girko is a frequent soloist and clinician at various clarinet symposia, as well as having been a member of Music in the Mountains, a summer chamber orchestra festival held in southwestern Colorado and The Carmel Bach Festival.
Mr. Girko is presently on the faculty of Texas State University as well as teaching clarinet in the San Antonio public schools. He also a member of Wild Basin Winds, a woodwind quintet based in Austin Texas.
Mr. Girko, a skilled cook, owns and operates a small catering company called “EAT MY PIZZA!” He takes to his client’s home the ingredients with which to make New York style pizzas as well as an incredibly delicious salad. After the guests have observed his culinary skills and have filled themselves with the fruits of his labor, he will then entertain them by performing both classical and popular music on his clarinet.
Kristin Wolfe Jensen
Kristin Wolfe Jensen, renowned performer and teacher, has been the bassoon professor at The University of Texas at Austin since 1995, and is also on the faculty of the International Festival Institute at Round Top and Principal Bassoonist with the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. In addition she has made a number of acclaimed solo and chamber music recordings.
A reviewer in the American Record Guide said of Ms. Jensen’s solo CD Shadings, “…She has simply turned in the finest-played bassoon recital I have ever heard….She obviously sees tone quality as the foundation for her fluent technique…It is a ravishing sound, siren-like in its attractive flair….Ms. Jensen could teach a lot about musicality to a number of famous violinists….”
Her recent releases include Handel: The “Halle” Sonatas” (2017, Equilibrium label), ModalCycle – Live from France (2016, Longhorn Label), and …and Kristin Wolfe Jensen, UT Bassoons in Collaboration (2015, Longhorn label). Fanfare Magazine wrote of her 2010 release, Parables and Reflections, bassoon music of Virko Baley, on the TNC label, “Kristen Wolfe Jensen expertly unites the varied facets of Baley’s Parables and Reflections (the CD title) into a consistent interpretative vision, from Treny-Laments II’s haunting depths, which later metamorphose into swift, but still deep, emotional waters; to the impetuous Scherzo I: Kozak Mamai, from Partita No. 2; the extended meditation of the Aria: Tears; or the dreamy Tango (both from the partita). Baley has given her ample opportunity to showcase her virtuosity; she’s unfazed by rapid passages demanding agility and precision, she has mastered the Baroque technique of counterpointing melodious phrases with pedal tones, she alternates effortlessly between themes separated by register to create the illusion that a solo instrument can conduct a dialogue with itself, and she suavely overcomes the potential pitfalls that long-lined legato phrases pose for wind instrumentalists”. Many of her performances appear on her YouTube channel.
Ms. Jensen is Founder and Artistic Director Emerita of the biennial Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition for young women bassoonists from the Americas, providing the largest prizes of any bassoon competition in the world. An esteemed pedagogue, she has given guest recitals and master classes at many major American music schools and her former UT students hold major orchestral positions and university teaching positions around the country. Her extensive online bassoon method, MusicAndTheBassoon.org, provides an innovative, multimedia approach to learning the bassoon.
Formerly, Ms. Jensen served on the faculties of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of North Texas. Ms. Jensen has toured Europe with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, served as Acting Principal Bassoonist of the Houston Grand Opera, and has been a member of The Dallas Opera Orchestra, the Richardson Symphony, the Las Vegas Symphony, Jupiter Symphony of New York and Continuum. She has performed solo recitals at several International Double Reed Society conferences, and was co-host of the 2005 conference in Austin. As a student, she won the concerto competitions at the Juilliard School of Music in 1990 where she received her MM, and the Oberlin Conservatory in 1989 as an undergraduate, which led to performances of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto, k. 191.
Listen to Kristin Wolfe Jensen’s recordings: https://bassoon.music.utexas.edu/media-gallery/
With a tone and musicality described as “pure chocolate”, Patrick Hughes has soloed in recitals throughout the US, at annual regional horn conferences, and at 10 International Horn Symposia. In 2006 he performed the Asian premiere of Kazimierz Machala’s Concerto for Horn, Winds and Percussion in Bangkok, Thailand. He has also been a featured soloist with various ensembles at the University of Texas (most recently performing the Hamburg Concerto by György Ligeti), as well as the Northwestern University Percussion Ensemble, the St. Olaf Orchestra, and the Dallas Wind Symphony. The Dallas Morning News described Hughes as “…a dream soloist…His tone was warm and honeyed, his virtuosity and legato both apparently effortless.”
Mr. Hughes wears many hats at the Butler School of Music: Associate Professor of Horn, Director of Graduate Studies, and Head of the Brass, Wind and Percussion Division. He also enjoys an active and varied musical life as pedagogue, soloist, chamber and free-lance musician, and composer. He is a much sought-after guest clinician, teaching masterclasses and lecturing at Universities and Conferences across the US and abroad. In May of 2013 he went on a teaching/performing tour in Australia, where he worked with the students and performed solo recitals at the Queensland and Sydney Conservatories. In a recent return to composition and arranging he has produced a number of pieces for the award-winning UT Horn Choir, most notably: From Hildegard, Dancing on the Hill, The Wexford Carol, and True Colors. His music is published through Brownwood Music Publishing, and in addition to the horn choir pieces, his works for horn and piano include Morrison’s Jig, Send in the Clowns, and Pange Lingua.
He can be heard as a contributing artist on the recordings Thoughtful Wanderings…compositions by Douglas Hill; MidWinter (with Minnesotan singer/songwriter Peter Mayer); New Mexico Winds; Devisadero, works by Christopher Shultis, and Barber: An American Romantic: Conspirare. His new Solo CD, Crossroads (featuring Colette Valentine and the UT Horn Choir), is scheduled to be released in December of 2018.
Mr. Hughes is a current member of the Advisory Council for the International Horn Society, and serves on the Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Fund board. He plays a custom Patterson horn.
Haeni Lee is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Violin Performance at the University of Texas at Austin, under Professor Sandy Yamamoto. Born in 1992 in Seoul, Korea, she began playing the violin at the age of seven. She attended Sunhwa Arts School (2004-2007) and Sunhwa Arts High School (2007-2010) studying with Jong chul Kim with top honors. In 2010, she was accepted to Seoul National University, where she worked with Ju-young Baek and received her Bachelor of Music degree. Haeni Lee is also the recipient of several prizes and awards, including a Sungjung National music competiton and Eumyoun music competition. In Korea, she played in the Agnus Dei Ensemble with Ju-young Baek in Seoul Art Center at IBK Hall. In 2014, she then moved to the United States to earn her Master of Music degree with Mauricio Fuks at Indiana University as a scholarship recipient. While at Indiana, she was a concertmaster of the IU Chamber Orchestra and also performed as a soloist with IU Concert Orchestra after winning the departmental concerto competition. For the past summers, she has participated in Tanglewood Music Festival and Texas Music Festival.
Bruce Williams began his professional career as a violist at the age of fifteen and four years later won a position with the Fort Worth Symphony. In 1983, he won the principal violist position with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra in Israel and was also a member of the Haifa Clarinet Trio; they performed throughout Israel and Europe. In 1985, upon his return to the U.S., he accepted the assistant principal violist position with the The Orchestra of Santa Fe. He also was invited to concertize throughout the U.S. as a member of the Allegro Chamber Trio (ACT) with flutist Megan Meisenbach and harpist Mary Golden. This trio performed together for many years and was featured on National Public Radio's Performance Today. ACT recorded on Centaur records as The Meisenbach/Golden Duo. In 2003, he won the Austin Critics Table award for Outstanding Instrumentalist for his performance of Hector Berlioz' Harold in Italy with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Williams is the manager, as well as a founding member, of the Artisan Quartet (AQ). The AQ began their Artisan Quartet Series in 2012 in Austin, Texas. This popular string quartet performed at Carnegie Hall in 2012; they were presented by MidAmerica Productions. The AQ was recently named Quartet in Residence both with Mozart Festival Texas in San Antonio and the newly-formed Mason County Chamber Music Festival (MCCMF) in Mason, Texas. Mr. Williams is the Artistic Director of the MCCMF. Mr. Williams is a guest artist with the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio and the Fayetteville Chamber Music Festival in Fayetteville, Texas and has been invited to perform in chamber music festivals in California and Colorado. He is the principal violist with the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Victoria Bach Festival (VBF). He often appears with chamber ensembles and as a soloist during the VBF. Mr. Williams has recorded on Harmonia Mundi recordings with the Grammy Award winning choral group Conspirare under the artistic direction of Craig Hella Johnson.
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.
Double bassist Jessica Valls is an Austin, Texas-native musician who exemplifies the artistry of a true music lover, focusing not on just one genre, discipline, or stage.
Performing regularly with several orchestras including the Austin and San Antonio Symphonies, Jessica is previous principal bassist for Orquestra da Rádio e Televisão Cultura in São Paulo, Brazil, and enjoys traveling to Brazil to perform and teach. She appears with chamber ensembles, jazz, tango and bluegrass bands, in studio recording sessions, on film soundtracks, television and radio jingles, and on popular festival stages around the world such as The International Festival at Round Top and Encontro Brasileiro de Contrabaixos in Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil.
A repeat presenter at the International Society of Bassists Convention, Jessica’s solo performances can be multi-instrumental, vocal and percussive. The use of multi-media tools allows her to expand her repertoire and performance venues, adding to the growing pool of new works for solo double bass.
Formal studies include Juilliard, Oberlin, Manhattan School of Music and University of Texas at Austin where she completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2010.
Jessica is a regular guest artist and clinician at the North Texas Bass Camps, the Austin Chamber Music Workshop, Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, and Victoria Bach Festival. Currently Dr. Valls is on the faculty at Southwestern University, Huston-Tillotson University, and The Girls’ School of Austin. She also maintains a private studio for budding string players of all ages.