A student of Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski at the Curtis Institute of Music, Mr. Lipkin won the prestigious Rachmaninoff competition at age 20. He went on to appear with all of America's "top five" orchestras: The New York Philharmonic (several times), the Boston Symphony (repeatedly), the Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Chicago, as well as many other major American ensembles. Conductors with whom he has collaborated include Serge Koussevitzky, Fritz Reiner, Charles Munch, Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy, William Steinberg, George Szell, and Christoph von Dohnanyi, and more recently with Kenneth Schermerhorn, Gerard Schwarz and George Cleve.
Extremely active in chamber music, he has since 1988 been Artistic Director of the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival; he has performed with Jascha Heifetz (60 concert tour), Oscar Shumsky, Uto Ughi, Arnold Steinhardt, Aaron Rosand, William Primrose, David Soyer and Lawrence Lesser, and toured the U.S., Europe and South America with the Guarneri Quartet. Mr. Lipkin performed a ten city European tour with the Juilliard String Quartet in 1999 and appeared again with them at the Library of Congress in 2001. He has recorded sonatas with Shumsky, Rosand and Steinhardt (complete duos of Schubert).
For many years, Mr. Lipkin concentrated on conducting (he studied with Serge Koussevitzky and George Szell). After serving as the New York Philharmonic's Assistant Conductor, he was Music Director of the Long Island Symphony from 1963 to 1979, and of the Joffrey Ballet from 1966 to 1979.
Returning to extensive concertizing as a pianist, he has earned particular acclaim for his Beethoven cycles, which have encompassed not only the 32 piano sonatas and the five concertos, but the ten violin sonatas and the five cello sonatas as well. He has performed cycles of all of the major works of Schubert, including the complete sonatas.
Lipkin's recording of the Stravinsky piano concerto with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic may be heard on the SONY label. In that orchestra's Special Editions he appears twice, once as soloist and once as conductor.
His recordings of the complete 32 sonatas of Beethoven are available on Newport Classic; all 32 sonatas may also be heard on a single MP3 disc, the first time this has been accomplished. This set was chosen one of the ten best of 2004 by the Boston Globe. Recordings of all the major pianos solo works of Schubert, including the complete sonatas, have also been released by Newport Classic.
Mr. Lipkin is on the faculties of both the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School. He was formerly Director of the University of Maryland's International Piano Festival and the William Kapell Piano Competition.
Tania Mandzy Inala is a native of Massachusetts. Her recent performances include Zerlina in Don Giovanni and the Monitress in Suor Angelica for Opera San Jose. Upcoming engagements include a Stern Fellowship with Songfest and Frank Martin's The Love Potion with Boston Lyric Opera. For Ohio Light Opera, she appeared as Lazuli (L'étoile), Estrelda (El Capitan), the title role in Iolanthe, Lady Angela (Patience) and Orestes (La Belle Hélene), to name just a few. In Europe, she was Rosina (The Barber of Seville) for the Minotaur Opera Theatre of London, and Nancy (Albert Herring) for the British Youth Opera. Roles performed at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama include Mother Bayard and Cousin Ermengarde (The Long Christmas Dinner), Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), and Clairon (Capriccio).
On the concert stage, Tania was recently a featured soloist in Boston Ballet's production of Midsummer Night's Dream, Nashua and Lexington Symphony's performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 as well as numerous other galas and concerts across the United States. For the Pasadena Master Chorale, she appeared as soloist in Monteverdi's Magnificat and Handel's Messiah. Other works performed include Mozart's Requiem and Mass in C Minor, Rutter's Feel the Spirit, Rossini's Stabat Mater, Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Handel's Dixit Dominus, Haydn's Nelson Mass, Theresienmesse, and Missa Cellensis, and Rossini's Stabat Mater.
Awards and accolades include finalist in the Charles A. Lynam Vocal and Irma CooperOpera Columbus competitions, and First Prize in the Boston NATS and Susan Longfield Competitions. She received her MM from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University.
Glen Swarts is a star product of the local Bay Area music scene. He grew up in Vallejo and received his Bachelors and Masters in Music Performance from San Francisco State University. Early on Glen became principal horn with the Carmel Bach Festival and the Berkeley, Marin, Fremont and Modesto Symphonies where he was also featured soloist.
If you have been to a Broadway musical in San Francisco at any time since 1989 you have heard Glen's marvelous work in the major productions of Wicked, Les Miserables, The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera and innumerable others.
In constant demand as a session musician, Mr. Swarts has recorded for the film and video game industry at George Lucas' Skywalker Sound. Among his film credits include The Zodiac (horn solo), Predator 2, Jurassic Park III, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Video game credits include The Simpsons, Starcraft II, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and Disneyland Kinnect.
Laura Griffiths is Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. She was previously Principal Oboe of the Cleveland Orchestra. After graduating, Laura became Principal Oboe of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, a position she held for nine years. During this time she also was the woodwind chamber music teacher at the Eastman School of Music. Laura has been guest Principal Oboe of several major orchestras across the country, including the Boston Symphony, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony. She was also Acting Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra for three seasons. Laura was Principal Oboe and soloist with the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra in San Diego for nine summers. She was also Principal oboe of the Britt Festival Orchestra for four summers. This is Laura's tenth season as Principal Oboe of the Midsummer Mozart Orchestra. Laura graduated with honors from the Eastman School of Music, where she was a student of Richard Killmer.
Eugene Brancoveanu, a former Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, made his debut there as the Second Prisoner in Fidelio and has since appeared as Belcore in L'Elisir d'Amore, Christian in Un Ballo in Maschera, Marullo in Rigoletto, Morales in Carmen, Frank in Die Fledermaus ,Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and the Innkeeper and the Captain in Manon Lescaut. Eugene Brancoveanu's virile voice and superior stagecraft have earned him critical acclaim in both North America and Europe. Following performances of San Francisco Opera's The Little Prince, the San Francisco Chronicle lauded the superb cast as being "led by extravagantly gifted baritone Eugene Brancoveanu as the Pilot. With his unforced charisma, vocal clarity, and total heft, Brancoveanu managed the tricky feat of doing most of the show's heavy lifting..." Brancoveanu originated the role of Marcello in Baz Luhrmann's production of La Boheme, for which he won a Tony Award. He appeared in the Carnegie Hall premiere of Michael Tilson Thomas' The Tomashevskys, conducted by the composer, and was also featured in the PBS broadcast earlier this year. Eugene Brancoveanu sang "Songs of a Wayfarer" in a return to Peninsula Symphony Orchestra and was soloist in Mozart's Requiem with Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra. In October 2012 Mr. Brancoveanu made his directorial debut, directing La Boheme for Livermore Valley Opera. In December 2012 Brancoveanu appeared in several roles in Festival Opera's production of About Face – an opera experience by Kurt Erickson, and The Face on the Barroom Floor by Henry Mollicone. In January 2013 the baritone will appear as Lancelot in Virginia Opera's production of Camelot.
Rising star, American Soprano Christina Major, has already established herself for her sumptous and agile "Italianate sound" that brings back memories of the earlier greats. Recently she was hailed in Opera News as being a "sensitive actress" who "brought about the highest emotional stakes of the evening."
Recently The Dallas Morning News hailed her as the "...standout, alternating fire and subtler warmth with touching, real emotional depths."The San Francisco Chronicle called her a "fascinating and hugely talented singer," with a "magnetic presence and vocal brilliance," and the Oakland Tribune called her performance as Violetta "literally and figuratively worth dying for." The San Jose Metro wrote of her Donna Anna that she "built tension with precision, delivering high notes at low volume, expressing excitement and yearning with her richly layered voice, feathered by quivering restraint. It was the highlight of the production."
Events during the 2013-2014 season include return engagements to the Greenville Symphony as well as Symphony Silicon Valley to perform works of Poulenc, Verdi and Mascagni as well as the Verdi Requiem. She will debut with The Stockton Symphony in Verdi's Requiem and The Jacksonville Symphony in Ralph Vaugnan Williams Dona nobis pacem. July of 2012 saw her return to the prestigious Midsummer Mozart Festival where she performed the Soprano I Solos in the Mozart C Minor Mass. She was granted the honor of being among the first Operatic soloists in the newly completed Weill Concert Hall of the Green Music Center with the Santa Rosa Symphony in December where she performed Verdi Operatic pieces to glowing reviews. In 2011 Ms. Major returned to the Arizona Music Festival to sing Beethoven's Ninth, followed by her first performances of the role of Elettra in Opera San Jose/ Packard Humanties lavish production of Mozart's Idomeneo. She performed with West Bay Opera in the role of Donna Anna followed by her debut with Symphony Silcon Valley in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. She will then returned to Greenville Symphony under the baton of Russian conductor Edvard Tchivzhel to sing Beethoven's Ninth as well as performances of Carmina Burana under the baton of Robert Moody with the Winston-Salem Symphony. 2010 brought Ms. Major to her debut performances in Verdi's Messa da Requiem at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX as well as being selected as a Grant winner in the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation. She was presented in Concert in New York City with her fellow winners in December 2010. In 2009 she was a prize winner in the Gerda Lissner Foundatation Vocal competition as well as the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation Vocal Competition. She was presented by the Gerda Lissner Foundation at Weill Hall in Carnegie Hall in May. She encored with Tucson Symphony in performances of Handel's Messiah. She sang the role of Violetta in La Traviata with Opera Coeur D'Alene, Konstanze in Die Entfurung aus dem Serail with the Midsummer Mozart Festival in San Francisco and concert performances of Handel's Messiah with the Tucson Symphony. Ms. Major made guest appearances in concerts for Lake George Opera and the Annual "Comfort Ye" Benefit in New York City with Lauren Flanigan and other acclaimed colleagues. During the 2008 season, Ms. Major was seen on the stage at Opera Coeur D'Alene as well as a December "Messiah" and January "Exultate Jubilate" with the Tucson Symphony. Additional performances included concerts with the Trujillo Symphony in Peru and a recital in Lima, Peru as part of the International Voice Competition of Trujillo Winner's Concert Series. She sang Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with the Greenville Symphony and the Florida Bach Festival, Mendelssohn's St. Paul with the Dallas Symphony Chorus, and Handel's Messiah at the St. Andrew's Methodist Church in Hacienda Heights, California.
In the 2006-2007 season Ms. Major was Mimi in La Boheme with the Forth Worth Opera, was the soprano soloist in Carmina Burana for her debut with the Delaware Symphony and also with the Colorado Music Festival, she sang Brahms' Requiem with the Dallas Symphony Chorus in both Dallas and on tour in South America, Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with the Winston-Salem Symphony, and performed in a Gala concert with Arizona MusicFest.
During the past several seasons, Ms. Major performed the role of an Accuser/Victim in the world Premier of Bright Sheng's Madam Mao at the Santa Fe Opera, Mimi in La Boheme Knoxville Opera, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Coeur D'Alene, and Violetta in La Traviata with Rimrock Opera in Billings, Montana and at the Nevada Opera. Additional performances include Nedda in Pagliacci with Opera San Jose, the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Amarillo Opera as well as covering for the Santa Fe Opera. Additional roles in her repertoire include Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Nedda in Pagliacci, and Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor.
Highlights of her recent concert calendar include Carmina Burana with the Phoenix Symphony, Brahms' Requiem with the University of Alaska, and Mozart's C minor Mass with the Midsummer Mozart Festival in San Francisco, under the baton of Maestro George Cleve. She has also performed with the National Philharmonic and at Duke University.
From 1998-2000 Ms. Major was on Opera San Jose's resident principal artist roster, the youngest singer ever selected for the program at that time. She made her professional debut there in the role of Anne Trulove in The Rake's Progress, and shortly thereafter, sang the roles of Juliette in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, and Hanna Glawari in Die Lusitge Witwe. In 1999, she returned as a resident artist to sing the roles of Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and later performed there as Micaela in Carmen and Violetta in La Traviata. Ms. Major has also participated in the young artist programs at the Santa Fe Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera. She was a finalist in the Sarah Tucker Grant Awards in 2002 and a national finalist in the Marguerite McCammon Vocal Competition in 2003. A Dallas Opera Guild Winner in 2005, she continued in 2006 as a Grand Finalist in the Jensen Foundation voice competition.