BIOs – Bach on Parade: Voices, Strings and Keys

Born and raised in New York City, Mendelssohn Glee Club Conductor Gene Wisoff  received a B.A. in Music from Brooklyn College, where he sang in the chorus and other music groups. After college he sang in churches and synagogues as a soloist and, while studying voice and opera privately in order to pursue a singing career, occasionally conducted as well. A turning point came in 1986, when he was offered both the choirmaster’s position at his church and a soloist’s position at another prestigious church in Manhattan: He chose conducting.

He came to the Mendelssohn Glee Club as guest conductor in the fall of 1993 to fill in for the ailing John Royer Bogue. A year later, upon Bogue’s retirement, he became the Club’s fifteenth conductor. During his tenure as conductor for the Mendelssohn Glee Club he has arranged dozens of pieces for four-part men’s chorus, many of which are performed by other vocal ensembles.

He has guest conducted for the Yankee Male Chorus, Mohawk-Hudson Male Chorus Association, and Dicapo Opera Theatre, where he performed at an international choral festival in Montevettolini and Montechettini Alto, Tuscany, and at the International Choral Festival in Austria, where he led a televised performance of Christmas music at the Ratthaus in Vienna.

Holder of a M.B.A. from Baruch College, he has worked in arts management and also studied conducting at Mannes School of Music with Rudolph Palmer.


Hailed by the New York Times for her “warm, ample voice” and “distinctive earthy coloring,” and by Opera News for her “sumptuous, mid-weight soprano,” soloist Brandie Sutton has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, Radio Orpheus Symphony Orchestra (Moscow), Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Royal Danish Symphony Orchestra, Flint Symphony Orchestra, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. She has debuted principle roles at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Staatsoper Hamburgische, Semperoper Dresden, AlterOper Frankfurt, New York City Opera, and was a featured artist at Carnegie Hall. She has won several awards and competitions, including (most recently) Harlem Opera Theater.


Sean Christensen has been recognized as a tenor with a full, warm, and lyrical timbre, steadily establishing himself professionally in New York City. He has recently appeared as Chevalier de la Force in Sarasota Opera’s production of Dialogues des Carmélites, Des Grieux in Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble’s production of Manon, Fernando in Bare Opera’s production of Granados’ Goyescas, as well as Don Ottavio in Opera in Williamsburg’s production of Don Giovanni. Other recent performances include Azael in Bare Opera’s production of Ravel’s L’enfant prodigue, Gastone in Long Island Opera’s La traviata, Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera in Williamsburg, as well as Tamino in The Magic Flute with the Metropolitan Guild. He was a young artist at Caramoor Opera in 2016, where he performed as Oraspe in Aureliano in Palmira. He was an apprentice artist at Sarasota Opera in 2016, where he covered the role of Jaquino in Fidelio, and was awarded the Leo M. Rodgers Prize for Outstanding Apprentice Artist. He was also a studio artist at Chautauqua Opera in 2015, and an Opera North Young Artist in 2014, where he played Daniel Buchanan in Street Scene and covered Freddie Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady.

He has performed excerpts as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Jenik in The Bartered Bride, Don Jose in Carmen, Romeo in Romeo et Juliette, Ruggiero in La rondine, Alfredo in La traviata, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and as Faust in Gounod’s opera. He has performed as a soloist with the American Symphonic Orchestra and with the Mannes Opera.

Recipient of the Margaret Creal Shafer Prize in Performance and the Dr. Richard M. Siegel Memorial Prize for Music, he has given several recitals at Bard and Mannes, with repertoire focusing on Strauss, Duparc, Tosti, Poulenc, and others. He has sung under the batons of William Crutchfield, Jorge Parodi, Joseph Colaneri, James Bagwell, Leon Botstein, and Louis Burkot. He currently studies with Michael Chioldi.


Cellist Julia MinJeong Kang is an active performer, avid chamber musician, and passionate educator. She received the bachelor’s degree from Manhattan School of Music, master’s degree from The Juilliard School, and D.M.A. from Stony Brook University (SUNY).

She has played concertos with various professional orchestras, including the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and Seoul Pops Orchestra. A recipient of such notable awards as the Governor’s Award in Arts Education, Samuel Mayes Memorial Cello Award, Irene Diamond Graduate Fellowship Award, and the Staller Scholar Award, she has attended the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, and the Castleton Music Festival.

She frequently performs with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and such groups as the Mozart Orchestra of New York, New York Chamber Soloists, New York Classical Players, and Distinguished Concerts International New York. She has also played on the soundtracks of A Dog’s Purpose, Collateral Beauty, Keeping Up with the Joneses, The Girl on the Train, Noah, Hail Caesar, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, and many other major and independent films. She is currently on the faculty of Lyra Summer Music Workshop at Smith College in Massachusetts.

With her husband Tomoya Aomori, she formed AKDuo, a cello duo that plays Tomoya’s original compositions and arrangements, influenced by classical, jazz, and pop music, with the aim to create music and concert experiences that better communicate with the new generation of audiences. Together they have appeared live on Vermont Public Radio and in many countries across the world. AKDuo is in the artist roster for the Si-Yo Music Society Foundation.


Violist On You Lee  has collaborated with such world-renowned artists as Menahem Pressler, Ana Chumachenco, Ani Kavafian, Ronald Leonard, Antonio Lysy, Ettore Causa, Jonathan Spitz, Alan Stepansky, and Paul Coletti.

After commencing music lessons on the violin at age six in Seoul, Korea, she graduated from Seoul National University with a bachelor’s degree in violin performance. Switching from violin to viola, she studied with Hung Wei Huang (principal violist of the Seoul Philharmonic) from 2008, received the Artist Diploma at The Colburn School in 2010 (studying with Paul Coletti), and earned the M.M. from the Yale School of Music in 2012 (under the guidance of Ettore Causa). She currently pursues the D.M.A. at Rutgers University under the tutelage of Choong-Jin Chang (principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra).

She was a laureate in numerous competitions in Korea, which led to solo recitals and appearances with many orchestras in Seoul. Outside Korea, she has performed with the Orchestra Academy at the Toho School in Japan, Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, New Haven Symphony, Coburn School Orchestra, Yale Philharmonia, and the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, and at many music festivals (Sarasota Music Festival, Music @ Menlo, Rencontres Musicales, Camerara Lysy, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, et al.).


South Korean Violinist Minji Kwon has performed throughout the world as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra player. She has won prizes at the OSAKA International Music Competition, George Gershwin International Competition, Forte International Music Competition, National Symphony Orchestra Competition, and Seoul Symphony Orchestra Competition. She has appeared as soloist with State Philharmonic Orchestra Rzeszow in Poland, Seoul Symphony Orchestra, Seoul National Symphony Orchestra, Degu Philharmonic Orchestra, Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra, Hyup Strings Ensemble, and Seoul National University String Ensemble. She has performed in solo recitals at Kumho Art Hall and Ewon Culture Center and in numerous festivals, including the Aspen Music Festival (as a full scholarship recipient), Music Academy of the West, Juilliard Chamber Fest, Salzburg International Music Academy, Lake George Music Festival, Music Alp Festival, Lindenbaum Orchestra Festival (with Conductor Charles Dutoit), and Tong Young International Music Festival.

She has appeared as concertmaster at The Juilliard School (with the Juilliard Orchestra and the New Juilliard Ensemble) and at Music Academy of the West (performing with Alan Gilbert). As an active chamber musician, her trio has performed at many halls in New York and Washington, D.C. As a member of Sejong Soloists, she has toured the United States, Europe and Korea.

She began playing the violin at age eight. In 2009 she commenced studies as a special scholarship student with Professors Young-Uck Kim and Kyung-Sun Lee at Seoul National University, where she earned the B.M. summa cum laude in 2013. In 2015, she received the M.M. at The Juilliard School (under the guidance of Hyo Kang) and was appointed violinist in the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. She is a member of the violin faculty at New York Music School in Tenafly, New Jersey.


Edith Eisler has written of Korean-born Violinist Ye-jin Han in the New York Concert Review: “…the most remarkable aspect of her playing was its relaxed, casual effortlessness.  Her tone was pure, lovely and expressive in all registers, at any speed. Taking her virtuosity entirely for granted, she never used it for show or effect, turning even the unabashed bravura pieces into music…” She made her New York recital debut in 2009 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall.

From performing on period instruments with the Stony Brook Baroque Ensemble (led by baroque specialist Arthur Haas) to premiering new works with the Contemporary Chamber Players, her diversity and flexibility have captivated audiences around the world. She has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Korea, and won prizes at many competitions, including First Prize at the Five Towns Music and Arts Foundation Young Musician Competition in New York, and Special Prize at the Città di Brescia International Violin Competition in Italy.

She began her studies in violin and piano at age seven. She attended the Yewon School, Seoul Arts High School, and Seoul National University in Korea. She won top honors from the Korea Times, Chosun National Daily, and the Youth Chamber Music competitions and appeared in concert at the Young San Arts Center, Kum Ho Arts Hall, and Seoul Arts Center.  She also performed as soloist with the Modern Chamber Orchestra in Seoul, Casalmaggiore Chamber Orchestra, and Bergen (N.J.) Symphony Orchestra.

An avid and passionate chamber musician, she has been a prize winner of the Lilian Fuchs Memorial Chamber Music Competition in New York, and has performed with many acclaimed ensembles, including members of Emerson String Quartet, and the New York Classical Players. She has collaborated with Lucie Robert, Soovin Kim, Vladimir Dyo, Gorjan Kosuta, and Arthur Haas, and has appeared at the Banff Centre, Tibor Varga, Mozarteum International Academy, Carl Flesch Akademie, Fontainebleau Schools, and Casalmaggiore festivals. She has also appeared in masterclasses for such world- renowned artists as Aaron Rosand, Joel Smirnoff, Viktor Pikayzen, Igor Ozim, and Igor Oistrakh.

An active and committed educator, she has been invited to teach violin and viola at the Seoul International Music Festival, Maeil Chamber Music Festival, and Harbor Front Chamber Music Festival.  She has taught undergraduate violin and chamber music at Stony Brook University and has been on faculty at the North Shore Suzuki School, Music Academy of Long Island, and the Long Island Conservatory of Music.

She  holds the degree of Master of Music and Professional Study from Manhattan School of Music and the D.M.A. from Stony Brook University. Her principal teachers include Soovin Kim, Phillip Setzer, Hagai Shaham, Lucie Robert, Chong-sook Lee, and Wharim Kim.


Bass-baritone Aaron Theno is a versatile singer and performer, acclaimed for his work in both modern and traditional operatic works.  He has been seen as Le Commisaire in Philip Glass’ opera Orphée, which he performed with Glimmerglass Opera while a member of their Young American Artists Program.  He created the role of Michaelis in The Secret Agent with the Center for Contemporary Opera, and joined them again as Mr. Celius in A Death in the Family.  He has been lauded by the Oregonian as “a musical singer who established his character through incisive tone and diction” in his portrayal of Collatinus for Portland Opera’s The Rape of Lucretia, and was also seen as Masetto in their Don Giovanni and Angelotti in Tosca.

A lover of concert work, Mr. Theno has collaborated with Ricky Ian Gordon, singing selections of Mr. Gordon’s work, with the composer at the piano.  He was recently seen singing the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, has sung with the New Jersey Philharmonic as the baritone soloist in The Messiah, and has been engaged with the Bravo Vancouver Symphony.

He has received awards from several noted competitions including The Lotte Lenya Competition for Singers and Théatre Lyrichoregra’s International Czech Vocal Competition.

He received his Bachelor of Music degree in voice performance from The University of Michigan, and his Master of Music degree in voice performance from The Manhattan School of Music.

 


Alexandra Beliakovich is a versatile Belarusian-American pianist and educator. As a performer, she appeared with the Belarusian Symphony, Belarusian Chamber Orchestra, Cincinnati and Manhattan School of Music Philharmonic Orchestras, Havana Symphony Orchestra, and as recitalist in Belarus, China, Cuba, Japan, Poland, Spain and the U.S.A. She won First Prize at the Klaviermusik International Competition in Vilnius, Lithuania, Second Prize at the Fourth International Piano Competition in Panama, and Second Prize at the World Piano Competition 2011. Her  recent engagements include concerto performances with the Havana Symphony Orchestra in Cuba, where her performances of Gershwin’s Concerto in F and Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 won critical acclaim. She has also been a featured  soloist on New York’s WQXR.

A devoted chamber musician, she has performed with Howard Aibel, Gilbert Kalish, Anastasia Khitruk, and others. She has performed some of the most adventurous traditional and contemporary chamber music compositions at the Yellow Barn Music Festival in Vermont and the Bowdoin Chamber Music Festival in Maine, and has also performed as an organist and harpsichordist, both as a soloist and ensemble-member. In addition, she pursues an interest in composition.

Some of her latest performances involve lecturing as well as performing, including a recent lecture/recital– part of her doctoral research project–on the topic of “Encores of the Golden Age of Pianism.” She is committed to exploring undiscovered or unjustly-forgotten piano miniatures. An upcoming lecture/recital will feature a few very rarely performed masterpieces as well as her own composition, inspired by several musical settings of the responsorial chant O Magnum Mysterium.

She is a recipient of scholarships from the Belarusian President’s Special Fund for Talented Youth (2004 and 2005), the Roy M. Rubinstein Piano Performance Award (2010), and the Helen Cohn Award (2016). In 2015, she was named an Outstanding Citizen of the City of New York by the City Council.

From 2004 to 2006, she was an advanced student of piano and organ under Jury Gildiuk at the Belarusian State Academy of Music. She has since earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Solomon Mikowsky.


A native of Korea and a New York resident, accompanist Saffron Chung recently performed as a guest artist in Paris, France, as part of the Atelier Concert Series.

She has worked as an assistant conductor with such opera companies as Chautauqua Opera, El Paso Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Madison Opera, New York City Opera, Sarasota Opera, and Utah Festival Opera Company.

She taught accompanying at William Paterson State University and was staff accompanist with the Harlem Boys Choir and at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Mannes School of Music. She led a workshop of Brahms Lieder  for the voice  department  at Hong  Kong Academy for the Performing Arts.

Ms. Chung holds the M.M. in accompanying from the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and a B.M. from Oberlin College in piano performance and vocal accompanying.