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2018 International Music Festival Artists
The Ulysses String Quartet has been praised for their “textural versatility,” “grave beauty,” and “gentle blanket of color,” (Strad) as well as “avid enthusiasm ... [with] chops to back up their passion” and a “vibrant sonority” (San Diego Story). Winners of the Grand Prize and the Gold Medal in the Senior String Division of the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the group was founded in the summer of 2015. Ulysses also won First Place in the American Prize, and 2nd Prize of the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in 2017. The quartet competed in the Semifinals round of the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition where they garnered a Career Development Grant.
Hailing from Canada, the United States and Taiwan, members have performed in prestigious halls such as Esterházy Palace, Carnegie Hall, and the Taiwan National Concert Hall. Recent season highlights include appearances at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, Emilia Romagna Festival, Kneisel Hall and the Schneider Concerts. Upcoming appearances include the NOVA Chamber Series, a return to the Louis Moreau Institute in New Orleans, and a residency at L’Archet Concert Series. Members perform on instruments and bows graciously on loan from the Canada Council of the Arts Instrument Bank and the Maestro Foundation.
The name ‘Ulysses’ pays homage to Homer’s hero Odysseus and his ten year voyage home. Additionally, the quartet’s base in Washington Heights, New York City, lies in close proximity to the resting place of former U.S. president, Ulysses S. Grant. The Ulysses Quartet believes intensely in the power of music to inspire, enlighten, and bring people together. They are committed in sharing this passion by increasing access and appreciation for classical music while enhancing audience engagement. To this end, the quartet offers interactive programs and workshops for all ages that demystify traditional repertoire while introducing new and exciting works. Their programs invite participants to learn about the inner workings of the string quartet, and explore connections that music makes with our world today, through the rich history of its creation.
Along with active chamber music careers, Ulysses members hold principal positions with groups such as the Cape Symphony, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, International Chamber Players, and Miami Symphony and Shattered Glass. They received degrees from the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory and Yale University. Members are pursuing their Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree at the City University of New York, Manhattan School of Music, and Stony Brook University.
Christina Bouey, Canada
Canadian violinist, Christina Bouey has won awards and prizes including the Grand Prize at the Fischoff Competition, Osaka International Chamber Competition, Hugo Kortchak Award for outstanding achievement in chamber music, Heida Hermann International, Canadian National Music Festival, Queens Concerto Competition, and the Balsam Duo Competition. Christina has performed as soloist with the Greenwich Symphony, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, River Cities Symphony, Tonkünstler Ensemble, Metro Chamber Orchestra, Bergen Symphony, Prince Edward Island Symphony, and the Banff Orchestra to name a few. Her solo and chamber credits include Carnegie Hall, Esterházy Palace, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Schneider Series, the Dame Myra Hess series, La Jolla Summer Fest, Kneisel Hall Festival, Emilia Romagna Festival, Harvard Club of New York, Montreal Chamber Festival, Debut Atlantic, and the Indian River Festival. She has also been featured on WQXR New York. Christina has collaborated with artists such as Jeremy Denk, Steven Doane, Cho-Liang Lin, and Bright Sheng among others. Christina graduated from Manhattan School of Music (2013) with a Professional Studies Certificate in Orchestral Performance, studying with Glenn Dicterow and Lisa Kim as a full scholarship student, (2012) with a Professional Studies Certificate, studying with Laurie Smukler, and in 2011 she received a Master of Music, while studying with Nicholas Mann. Christina is currently serving as concertmaster of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, is a member/founder of the Ulysses String Quartet. She plays a 1900 Scarampella on generous loan from the Canada Council Instrument Bank.
Rhiannon Banerdt, USA
Violinist Rhiannon Banerdt made her solo debut at age 14 with the New England Symphonic Ensemble in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has since given solo and chamber music performances at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, New York's Weill Hall at Carnegie, and Boston's Jordan Hall. Ms. Banerdt is a founding member of the Ulysses String Quartet, Grand Prize Winners of the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. A recipient of the 2012 Borromeo String Quartet Guest Artist Award, Ms. Banerdt was invited to perform with the quartet in Jordan Hall. Ms. Banerdt has participated in numerous eminent chamber music festivals including Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, Taos School of Music, the Castleman Quartet Program, and the La Jolla Summerfest. Ms. Banerdt holds the position of Assistant Concertmaster with the Cape Symphony, and is on faculty at the Bloomingdale School of Music on New York City’s Upper West Side as well as a serving as a Graduate Teaching Fellow at Brooklyn College. A native of Los Angeles, Ms. Banerdt attended the New England Conservatory, where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as a student of Lucy Chapman and Paul Biss, and is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the CUNY Graduate Center with Mark Steinberg.
Colin Brookes, USA
Versatile and virtuosic violist Colin Brookes is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher has taken him to cities across the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. He is a founding member of the Ulysses Quartet. In addition to quartet life, Colin performs regularly with the groups A Far Cry, The Knights, Cantata Profana, and the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra. Colin holds a Bachelor of Music from the Juilliard School, along with a Master of Music, and Artist Diploma from Yale University where he received the Georgina Lucy Grosvenor Memorial Prize. His former teachers include Ettore Causa, Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory, Nicholas Cords, Lawrence Dutton, Jeffrey Irvine, Roger Chase, Marylene Gingras-Roy and Carolyn Hills. He currently plays on an Italian 19th-century viola and bow generously on loan from the Maestro Foundation.
Grace Ho, Taiwan
Taiwanese-American cellist Grace Ho is an active soloist and chamber musician in the United States and Asia. Ms. Ho has appeared as a soloist with orchestras including the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, Ho Chi Minh City Symphony Orchestra, Sun Taipei Philharmonic, Lewisville Lake Symphony Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Philharmonic Orchestra, and University of North Texas Chamber Orchestra. She has performed in prestigious concert halls such as Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium and Zankel Hall, Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Taiwan National Concert and Recital Halls, and the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House. Ms. Ho is a founding member of the Ulysses Quartet, Grand Prize and gold medal winners of the 2016 Fischoff Competition and silver medalist of the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition. Ms. Ho is also the Principal cellist of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, a member of Shattered Glass ensemble, and a board member of the International Chamber Players. Ms. Ho holds degrees from the University of North Texas and Manhattan School of Music, and is a DMA candidate at Manhattan School of Music. Former teachers include David Geber, Clive Greensmith, and Eugene Osadchy.
Annie Gnojek, USA
A Kansas native, Annie Gnojek is in high demand as a freelance musician, flute educator and clinician in the Lawrence and Kansas City areas, where she manages a successful flute studio. In addition to her private teaching, she has presented master classes at several schools including Oklahoma State University, Fort Hays State University, University of Northern Colorado, University of Wyoming, Sacramento State University, University of Puerto Rico, and the University of Costa Rica. Apart from her teaching career, Annie is also the flutist in the trio Allégresse along with Margaret Marco, oboe, and Ellen Sommer, piano. They perform numerous concerts throughout the year both nationally and internationally including the world premiere performance of two new trios in Birmingham, England in July 2008, and the world premiere of pieces for flute, oboe, piano and bassoon in Tokyo, Japan in 2015.
Dave Gnojek, USA
Dave Gnojek is a freelance musician in the Lawrence and Kansas City area whose positive energy and ability to explore a wide range of musical settings keeps him in-demand. He has performed with big bands, jazz combos, classical chamber groups, musical theater orchestras, reggae bands, and with the Kansas City Symphony. He has appeared as a sideman with major performers and composers including Dave Liebman, Maria Schneider, Conrad Herwig, John Fedchock, Dave Pietro, and the Temptations. While earning his degree at the University of Kansas, he was a 5-year member of the award-winning KU Jazz Ensemble I. A former private music instructor, Dave has established a successful career in graphic design and currently serves as a Creative Director at the University of Kansas. In addition to performing, his design work allows him to support his fellow musicians through the creation of their websites, album covers and promotional materials.
Ken Hakoda, Japan
Ken Hakoda is the Chairman of the Kansas Wesleyan University Music Department and is the Music Director of the Salina Symphony. During his tenure with the Symphony he has increased the number of concerts from four to seven with tremendous growth in ticket sales, resulting in an average concert attendance of 1,000. In addition, the Youth Symphony Program has flourished under his leadership, growing from one orchestra into a comprehensive educational program involving more than 170 students from grade school through high school. To honor his accomplishments, the Ken Hakoda Endowed Conductor Chair was established in May of 2014. He earned his Bachelors in Music Education from St. Olaf University and has composition and conducting degree from Wichita State University. Currently Hakoda is finishing his doctoral degree at the Columbia University Teacher College.
Jesse Henkensiefken, USA
A Kansas native, Jesse Henkensiefken performs regularly as both a cellist and conductor. He serves as the Kansas Wesleyan University International Music Festival Director, Director of Orchestras & String Studies, as well as the Assistant Conductor and Principal Cellist of the Salina Symphony. He concertizes throughout the U.S. and abroad, having appeared at the Kansas City Lyric Opera House, NYC’s Kaufman Center, the Eastman School of Music, Lincoln Center and in Guadalupe and the Bahamas. He is the recipient of the 2014 & 2017 Woodworth Career Development Grants for conducting, and was awarded the Mu Phi Epsilon Foncannon Conducting Scholarship Award in 2013. Henkensiefken has studied at both the Manhattan School of Music and at the University of Kansas where he received is Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree. In 2015, he had the privilege of traveling to the Tchaikovsky State Moscow Conservatory in Russia, where he had further training under the direction of Anatoly Levin. His other mentors include George Manahan, David Gilbert, Nikolai Uljanov, Paul Vermel, Leonard Slatkin, Kurt Masur, Martin Storey and Edward Laut.
Edward Laut, USA
Cellist Edward Laut, has appeared as soloist on radio and television in the U.S. and abroad. Concerto for Cello and Jazz Band, Sonata for Solo Cello, and Suite for Cello and Jazz Trio, by renowned composer David Baker, were premiered and recorded on the Liscio label by Laut. He has recorded for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and National Public Radio and won the plaudits of such composers as Samuel Barber, George Crumb and Virgil Thompson for his performances of their works. Laut, a graduate of Indiana University having studied with Janos Starker, has held principal positions in the Manila Symphony, the USAF Band, Washington, D.C. and the Atlantic Symphony, was assistant principal of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and cellist in the Cleveland Orchestra. He taught in the Philippines under the auspices the JDR III Fund Project. In 1977 he joined the faculty of the University of Kansas, where he was named Outstanding Educator by the Mortar Board Society.
Augstin Muriago, Argentina
Pianist Agustin Muriago has performed throughout the United States, Spain, and his native Argentina in venues such as Steinway Hall and the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York City, and the Teatro Ópera in Buenos Aires. He has offered masterclasses and adjudicated numerous competitions, among them the MTNA Young Artist Competition, KMTA Honors Auditions, and the Hartford Music Teachers Alliance’s Virtuoso Pianists Competition. His major teachers include José Ramón Méndez, Luiz de Moura Castro, David Westfall, Veda Zuponcic, Aldo Antognazzi, and Marcela Fiorillo, having also received advice from Lilya Zilberstein, Frederic Chiu, Julian Martin, Solomon Mikowsky, Douglas Humpherys, and Seymour Bernstein. As a prizewinner of the 2008 “Teachers del Norte-Pianists del Sur” auditions under the direction of Mirian Conti, he continued his studies in the United States, earning degrees in piano performance from The Hartt School (DMA), New York University (MM), and Rowan University (BM summa cum laude). Dr. Muriago is on the piano faculty at Kansas State University, where he coordinates the Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy degree in addition to teaching class piano and applied lessons. Prior to his appointment at K-State, he served on the faculties at The Hartt School Community Division and New York University.
Tatiana Tessman, Russia
Tatiana Tessman is International prize winning pianist who has performed as soloist with orchestras around the world, including the World Symphony in Cincinnati, Shreveport Symphony, Bach’s Festival Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Philharmonia, Uruguay Philharmonic Symphony, Panama Philharmonic Symphony, Korea W. Philharmonic, the Russian Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. On the competition front, Tessman has seen overwhelming success, claiming first prizes at the Glenn Gould International Piano Competition in Ostra (Italy), Santorini International Piano Competition (Greece), 55th Wideman International Piano Competition, the Missouri International Piano Competition and the 50th Cincinnati World Piano Competition, in addition to multiple other awards won at the Panama International Piano Competition, the Florida International Piano competition and the Eisenberg-Fried Manhattan School of Music Concerto Competition in New York. She has earned degrees from the Moscow Conservatory and Park University, and received her Doctoral of Music Arts degree from the Manhattan School of Music