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2018 Artist Roster


Stephanie Arado, violin

       Violinist Stephanie Arado’s career encompasses a wide range of performance and teaching experience.  She most recently completed a year of teaching at the Interlochen Arts Academy, an institution she graduated from in 1982.  She occupied the Loring M. Staples Chair as Assistant Concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1991 to 2013.  During the 1995/96 season, Ms. Arado served as Concertmaster of The Colorado Symphony under the baton of Marin Alsop.  She maintains a private teaching studio and is a founding member of the Bakken Trio, a premier chamber music organization in the Twin Cities.  Through her work with the Bakken Trio she has collaborated with many living composers and commissioned numerous chamber compositions.  Ms. Arado continues to serve as a Co-Artistic Director of the Bakken.

       Ms. Arado played her first solo recital at the age of eight.  She went on to debut with the Chicago Symphony as a 12 year old; following that she has performed as a soloist with symphony orchestras throughout the US, including the Detroit, St. Louis, and Minnesota Orchestras.  As a 21-year-old Ms. Arado was the first American ever invited to play with the European Union Youth Orchestra led by Claudio Abbado and Leonard Bernstein.  She was also invited to perform as a part of the prestigious chamber music festival Musiktreffen in St. Moritz, Switzerland with Paul Tortelier and Yuri Bashmet, two of the most renowned chamber musicians of the century.

       She was born and raised in Chicago.  She began playing the violin at the age of five using the Suzuki method with Sister Mary Ricardo of La Grange.  She was fortunate to have worked with many fine violin pedagogues in her youth including Paul Rolland, Eugene Gratovich and David Cerrone at the famous Meadowmount School.  She spent five summers as a Fellowship student at the Aspen Music School. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music at Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL) studying with Almita and Roland Vamos, and completed her Masters Degree at Juilliard in New York City under the tutelage of Dorothy Delay and Paul Kantor.


Lydia Artymiw, piano

       In 2017 pianist Lydia Artymiw celebrates her 28th year as Distinguished McKnight Professor of Piano at the University of Minnesota.  Artymiw also received the U of M’s 2015 “Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award,” the “Dean’s Medal for Outstanding Professor” in 2000, and Thursday Musical of Minnesota’s “2016 Teacher of the Year” award.

       In 2015, Artymiw was on the jury for the first Van Cliburn Junior International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, TX, as well as on the juries for twelve piano concerto competitions at the Juilliard and Manhattan Schools in New York.  She was a guest piano teacher at Juilliard in 2015 and 2017 and presented master classes at both and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 2016.

       The recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Prize, Philadelphia-born Lydia Artymiw has performed with over one hundred twenty orchestras world-wide including the Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Detroit Symphony, LA Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

       Solo recital tours have taken her to all major American cities and to important European music centers, and throughout the Far East.  She has performed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Ukraine, Estonia, Finland, and Poland, as well as in China, Singapore, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea.

       Critics have acclaimed her seven solo recordings for the Chandos label, and she has also recorded for Bridge, Centaur, and Naxos.  Her debut Chandos “Variation” CD won Gramophone Magazine’s “Best of the Year” award, and her Tchaikovsky Seasons CD sold over 25,000 copies.  Her festival appearances include Aspen, Bantry (Ireland), Bay Chamber, Bravo! Vail Valley, Caramoor, Chamber Music Northwest, Foulger, SaltBay, Chautauqua, Grand Canyon, Hollywood Bowl, Marlboro, Montreal, Mostly Mozart, Seattle, and Tucson.

       An acclaimed chamber musician, Artymiw has collaborated with such celebrated artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Richard Stoltzman, Arnold Steinhardt, Michael Tree, Kim Kashkashian, John Aler, Benita Valente, and the Guarneri, Tokyo, American, Alexander, Borromeo, Daedalus, Miami, Orion, and Shanghai Quartets, and has toured nationally with Music from Marlboro groups.  A recipient of top prizes in the 1976 Leventritt and the 1978 Leeds International Competitions, she graduated from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and studied with distinguished concert pianist and former Director of the Curtis Institute of Music, Gary Graffman, for twelve years.  For more information, please visit Artymiw’s website at lydiaartymiw.com.


Susan Billmeyer , piano

      Susan Billmeyer has performed throughout the U.S. as a recitalist and collaborative pianist, and is in constant demand as a chamber musician.  Billmeyer has performed regularly with the Minnesota Orchestra since 2005, and joined them for two European tours in 2006 and 2010; she is heard frequently with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra as well.  Her commitment to bringing compositions of recent times to a wider audience has led to numerous world premieres and collaborations, including tours and guest performances with ICE (the Intergalactic Contemporary Ensemble), Zeitgeist, Present Music, and the Indiana University New Music Ensemble.  She has appeared on the BIS and Innova labels, most recently recording Finnish composer Kalevi Aho’s 2006 Trio for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano, released by BIS in the spring of 2012.  She is also a founding member of the Hot Dish Trio with Leslie Shank, violin, and Karrin Meffert-Nelson, clarinet.

      Susan Billmeyer holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory, Indiana University, and the University of Minnesota.  In addition to her musical training, she holds a degree in East Asian Studies from Oberlin College.  A respected coach and teacher, Dr. Billmeyer’s academic positions include a visiting professorship in piano and theory at the University of Richmond and a guest instructorship at the MacPhail Center for the Arts.  Currently she lives and teaches in Minneapolis.  


Richard Bock, cello

       Richard Bock, principal cellist with The Phoenix Symphony for 24 seasons, began his cello studies at the age of 12 with Harvey Shapiro at The Juilliard School.  Leopold Stokowski chose Bock, at age 18, to be principal cellist of the American Symphony Orchestra, making him the youngest principal player in the orchestra's history.  Following his tenure with the ASO, Riccardo Muti, conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra in Florence, Italy, chose Bock as his principal cellist.  Bock remained in that position for eight years. It was during that time that he was asked to join the prestigious Musicus Concentus Chamber players as solo cellist, touring throughout Italy and Germany.

      Upon returning to the United States, Bock joined the Pro-Arte Chamber Orchestra, the first string orchestra to tour the Soviet Union under the auspices of the State Department.  Bock was the featured soloist, playing the C major Concerto of Haydn to critical acclaim in Leningrad, Moscow, Kiev, Riga and Vilna. Following this tour, Bock joined the Soviet Emigre Orchestra and toured North and South America.

       In 1981, Julius Rudel chose Bock to be the principal cellist of the Buffalo Philharmonic.  It was during his stay in Buffalo that Bock founded the Westminster Chamber Orchestra.  His orchestra was described by the Buffalo News as a group whose “dynamics, balance, intonation and the like displayed an almost magical perfection and focus.”  While with The Phoenix Symphony, Bock performed Don Quixote by Strauss in November 1995 and Shostakovich's Concerto No. 1 in April 1996, both under conductor James Sedares.  He also appeared as soloist with the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra directed by Jeffrey Siegel.  In 1994-95, Bock was the artist in residence at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona and held a similar position at Arizona State University's School of Music in 1995-96.  Recent recordings of Bock include Mosaic, a collection of Yiddish songs and music of the royal courts of Europe.  Additional recordings include the Rozsa Simphonia Concertante with the New Zealand Symphony, The Paul Winter Consort on A&M Records and Three Intermezzi for Cello on CRI Records. 

       In June 2009, Mr. Bock’s Phoenix restaurant, Giuseppe's on 28th, was featured on the Food Network’s popular series Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.


Christopher Brown, bass

       Former Principal Bass of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO), Christopher Brown appeared as soloist with that orchestra on several occasions.  Prior to joining the SPCO, Brown was a bass player with Pittsburgh and Detroit symphonies.  Beyond his performance activities, Brown has published a resource book, Discovering Bows for the Double Bass, and owns The Bow Broker, a business that buys and sells bows throughout the world.  In addition to his work in classical music, Brown is a jazz enthusiast, songwriter, and composer, an interest that dates from his high school days at the Interlochen Arts Academy.  He once appeared on the cover of Life magazine in his role of Jesus in the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar."  Summertime takes Brown to the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson, Wyoming and the Festival of the Lakes in Alexandria, Minnesota.  He also performs in recitals throughout the United States.  Brown received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.  Chris teaches double bass at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, and he is the ensemble director at the Minnesota Waldorf School.  Chris retired from the SPCO in 2013.


William Eddins, piano

       Former Music Director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, William Eddins is a native of Buffalo, N.Y., he currently resides in Minneapolis with his lovely wife Jen, a clarinetist, and their two boys Raef (AKA Raefster; Munchers) and Riley (AKA Squeaky; The Imp; Dr. No).

       Bill has been playing piano since he was five when his parents bought a Wurlitzer Grand piano at a garage sale.  He started conducting during his sophomore year at the Eastman School of Music, and most of the '80s were spent trying to decide whether to pursue a career in conducting or piano.  The quandary was answered for him when he realized that the life of a poor, starving pianist was for the birds.  In 1989 Bill decided to study conducting with Dan Lewis at the University of Southern California, whence he managed to land assistant conductor posts with the Chicago Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra in 1992.

       Bill has many non-musical hobbies including: cooking, eating, discussing food, and planning dinner parties.  He is also quite fond of biking, tennis, reading, and pinball. Unfortunately, due to pianistic paranoia his days in the martial arts are long over.

       Bill is committed to bringing classical music to the greater public.  He has started a podcast – Classical Connections – which is dedicated to exploring the history of classical music and highlights live chamber music performances in which Bill has taken part. He has also produced a solo piano CD – Bad Boys, Volume I – which features Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata and Albright's “Nightmare Fantasy Rag.”


Jennifer Gerth, clarinet

       Principal clarinet of the Duluth-Superior Symphony and an active member of the Twin Cities musical community, Jennifer Gerth performs with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, Mill City Opera, and the Minnesota Dance Theatre.  Jennifer is on the faculty at the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College and the University of St. Thomas.



Sarah Lewis, cello


       Cellist Sarah Lewis is in her 20th season with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.  A Saint Paul native, Sarah started piano lessons at the MacPhail Center for the Arts at the age of three.  She holds degrees from Southern Methodist University and the Juilliard School, where she studied with Lev Aronson and Channing Robbins, respectively.  Prior to joining the SPCO, Lewis was a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (1994 – 1996), and performed as a substitute musician with the Minnesota Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. 

       Sarah has appeared as soloist with the SPCO, and she gave the U.S. premiere of Malcolm Forsyth’s Eclectic Suite for Cello and Piano with Lydia Artymiw.  An avid chamber musician, she has performed solo and chamber recitals in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Twin Cities.

       During the summer, Sarah has been a featured performer at the Alexandria Festival of the Lakes and the Lakes Chamber Music Festival, both in Minnesota, and has played in the prestigious Music in the Vineyards chamber music festival in Napa Valley, CA.  She has played in Durango Colorado’s Music in the Mountains for the last 5 years.

Before joining the SPCO, Sarah toured and recorded with pop artist Lorie Line, and she can be heard on numerous recordings of composer/performer Peter Ostroushko. 

       Lewis makes her home in Edina, MN with her husband and two children, two cats, and a dog.  Her other interests include downhill skiing, mountain climbing, and yoga.

Colin McGuire, violin

       Growing up in Mankato, MN, Colin McGuire began his study of the violin at the age of 4. He has studied with Patti Tryhus, Marilyn Bos, and his brother Peter McGuire, Principal Second Violin of the Minnesota Orchestra.

       Colin has been fortunate enough to perform in a variety of ensembles and settings.  He holds a permanent seat in the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra as Associate Concertmaster.  Colin returned to Minnesota after playing full time with the Thunder Bay Symphony.  Other orchestral opportunities have arisen with the Minnesota Orchestra, Mill City Opera, Minnesota Opera, Music St. Croix, and various other orchestras and ensembles in the region.

       Colin has enjoyed wonderful opportunities to perform and travel as a soloist and chamber musician.  Recently, he has enjoyed the formation of the Hennepin String Quartet along with performances with larger Chamber ensembles, where performances have ranged from German Salon music to a chamber reduction of Mahler Symphony No. 4.

       Colin is also a tennis teaching pro and coach.


Jill Olson Moser, violin


       Violinist Jill Olson Moser performs extensively as an orchestral and chamber musician in the Twin Cities.  She performs with the Minnesota Opera and is a regular substitute with the Minnesota Orchestra.

       Prior to performing in the Twin Cities, Jill was the Concertmaster of the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony and the Fargo-Moorhead Opera Orchestra.  She was also a member of the Britt Festival and Wintergreen Performing Arts Orchestras in Oregon and Virginia respectively, as well as the Heidelberg Schlossfestspiele in Germany.

       Jill is a native of Lincoln, Nebraska, and a graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.  Her primary teachers include Dr. Robert Emile, Catherine Tait and Jorja Fleezanis.  She studied chamber music with members of the American String Quartet and the Cleveland Quartet.

       A devoted educator, Jill has an active Suzuki violin studio and is on the faculty of Gustavus Adolphus College.

Tamás Strasser, viola

       An avid chamber musician, Tamás Strasser has been violist with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) since 1975.  He was previously a member of the Kansas City Philharmonic, United States Army Strings, New Art String Quartet and Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia.  Strasser has performed with The Vienna Trio and the Muir, Moscow and Bakken string quartets.  Strasser has been a soloist with the Santa Fe Opera, the SPCO and the Kansas City Symphony, among other orchestras.  He served as artist-in-residence for the North Carolina School of the Arts summer program and on the faculties of Madeline Island Music Camp and Macalester College.  He has taught master classes at the University of Minnesota and Kansas City Conservatory, among others.  Strasser received his bachelor’s degree from the Kansas City Conservatory and master’s degree from the Catholic University in Washington, D.C.  His principal teachers were Andor Toth, Tiberius Klausner, Michael Rabin and Dorothy Delay.  He serves on the faculty at the University of St. Thomas teaching violin and viola and leading the String Orchestra.  Strasser has performed as principal violist with the Wintergreen (VA) Festival, the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder and the Aspen Chamber Symphony.  2013 once again finds Strasser playing principal viola for the Music in the Mountains Festival in the California wine country, as well as participating in the Arizona Musicfest. Strasser returns to perform chamber music in Alexandria’s Festival of the Lakes this August. Tam’s hobbies include chess, motorcycling, and traveling.  Mr. Strasser retired from the SPCO in 2013.


Sonja Thompson, piano

       Pianist Sonja Thompson is very happy to be back in beautiful Alexandria, Minnesota for another inspiring week of chamber music! In her "regular" life Sonja enjoys a varied professional career as educator, church musician, theater musician, conductor, coach and performer. In addition to her positions as Assistant Professor of Music and College Organist at Augsburg College, and Music Associate at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, she also regularly appears as pianist and collaborator in a wide array of events and venues.

      Highlights from the 2014-15 season included a concert of rarely heard Gershwin for the Summer Concert Series at Plymouth Congregational Church in July; performing on the Prairie Home Companion cruise to the Caribbean in March; providing music direction for Carousel for the Augsburg Theater Department in April; Longest Night – a theatrical fantasia celebrating the winter solstice - with Bradley Greenwald at Open Eye Figure Theater in Minneapolis in December; a two piano recital at SUNY Plattsburgh with duo partner Dr. Karen Becker in November; two concerts of Norwegian music for The Grieg Society in September and October; a recital of Grieg songs with Maria Jette for the Grand Forks Symphony in October; and two CD releases: Songs of Fields and Prairies, a collection of Art Songs by composer Jocelyn Hagen, and Listen, a compilation of Musical Theater Songs by writer/composer Aaron Gabriel.