Yosuke Kawasaki currently serves as Concertmaster of the NAC Orchestra in Canada. His versatile musicianship allows him to pursue a career in orchestra, solo and chamber music. His orchestral career began with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra and soon led to Mito Chamber Orchestra, Saito Kinen Orchestra and Japan Century Orchestra all of which he led as Concertmaster. His solo and chamber music career spans five continents, collaborating with artists such as Seiji Ozawa, Pinchas Zukerman and Yo-Yo Ma and appearing in the world's most prestigious halls such as Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall and The Royal Concertgebouw.
Kawasaki's most current ensembles are Trio Ink and the Arkas String Quartet. His passion for chamber music led him to create the short lived Classical Unbound Festival in Prince Edward County, Ontario, which he served as Co-Artistic Director. Subsequently, he has been appointed Music Director to the Affinis Music Festival in Japan. He is also an artistic advisor to a brand new chamber music festival in Bulgaria called The Unbeaten Path.
As an educator Kawasaki has given masterclasses and performed side by side with students in schools across Canada. Well versed in the string quartet literature he was entrusted by Seiji Ozawa as the youngest faculty member of the Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy at the age of 26. He is currently an adjunct professor of violin at the University of Ottawa.
Mr. Kawasaki began his violin studies at the age of six with his father Masao Kawasaki and continued with Setsu Goto. At the age of ten he was accepted into The Juilliard School Pre-College Division and further continued his education and graduated from The Juilliard School in 1998 under the tutorship of Dorothy DeLay, Hyo Kang, Felix Galimir and Joel Smirnoff.
Violinist Jessica Linnebach has distinguished herself among the next generation of Canadian classical artists being lauded on concert stages nationally and around the world. Since her soloist debut at the age of seven, Jessica has appeared with major orchestras throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Jessica has been a member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) since 2003 and was named their Associate Concertmaster in April 2010.
Acknowledging the importance of versatility in today’s world, Jessica has developed a reputation as one of those rare artists who has successfully built a multi-faceted career that encompasses solo, chamber and orchestral performances. A passionate chamber musician, Jessica was a founding member of the Zukerman ChamberPlayers, a string quintet led by Pinchas Zukerman. During the 8 years they performed together, they toured extensively to international acclaim appearing throughout North America, South America the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Their recording of the Mozart Viola Quintet in G minor was nominated for a Juno Award and its fifth release, Quintets by Mozart and Dvorak, is on the Altara Label. Chamber music collaborations have included some of the most illustrious artists of a generation - Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, James Ehnes, Leon Fleisher, Lynn Harrell, Yo-Yo Ma, Jon Kimura Parker, Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham, and Michael Tree.
In 2014, Jessica and three of her NACO colleagues formed the Ironwood String Quartet, and they are frequent performers at various chamber music series and festivals, including the WolfGANG and MFASA series, as well as the Pontiac Enchanté, Ritornello, and Classical Unbound festivals.
As her schedule permits, she is also a solo artist in demand across North America. Over the past couple of years she performed with orchestras in the United States, as well as in Canada, including the Edmonton and Thunder Bay Symphonies, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Jessica is also the Artistic Director of the ‘Classical Unbound Festival’, a chamber music festival in Prince Edward County.
Accepted to the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at the age of ten, Jessica remains one of the youngest ever Bachelor of Music graduates in the history of the school. While there, Jessica’s primary teachers were Aaron Rosand, Jaime Laredo and Ida Kavafian. At eighteen, she received her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City where she studied with Pinchas Zukerman and Patinka Kopec.
Jessica Linnebach plays a circa 1840 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume (Guarnerius del Gésu 1737) violin. Her bows are crafted by Ron Forrester and Michael Vann.
In 2014, after 12 years living abroad, violist David Marks returned to Canada to accept the position of Associate Principal with the NAC Orchestra. Born in Vancouver, David grew up in Virginia in the heart of a musical family. From an early age he experimented with composing, writing, drawing and painting; these passions have resulted in dozens of original songs, paintings and murals. Viola studies took him across the US and Europe for lessons with Roberto Diaz, Atar Arad, Karen Tuttle, Gerard Caussé, Thomas Riebl and Nobuko Imai, to the Banff Centre, L'Académie de Musique Tibor Varga and Prussia Cove.
In Europe, David performed as Principal Viola with L'Orchestre de Montpellier and L'Opera de Bordeaux, La Orquesta de la Ciudad de Granada, Holland Symfonia and Amsterdam Sinfonietta. He was Principal Viola of the London Philharmonic under the batons of Vladimir Jurowski, Christoph Eschenbach, Yannick Nezet-Seguin and Marin Alsop. As a fixture on the contemporary music scene, he performed across Europe with the Asko/Schonberg Ensemble, Ensemble Modern, Mondriaan Quartet, Fabrica Musica and Nieuw Amsterdamse Peil. He was a member of the avant-garde Dutch contemporary music group, Nieuw Ensemble, with whom he toured China and recorded over 40 works.
As a folk musician, David has toured Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia singing his songs with The History of Dynamite. His folk-opera, The Odyssey was performed at the Banff Centre and subsequently at Theater de Cameleon in Amsterdam. He plays fiddle and guitar and has performed with Van Dyke Parks, Bill Frisell and Patrick Watson.
He lives with his wife and 4 children in Wakefield, QC.
Described as a “pure chamber musician” (The Globe and Mail) creating “moments of pure magic” (Toronto Star), Canadian cellist Rachel Mercer has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across five continents. Grand prize winner of the 2001 Vriendenkrans Competition in Amsterdam, Rachel was cellist of the Aviv String Quartet from 2002-2010. An active chamber musician, she currently plays with piano quartet Ensemble Made In Canada, the Mercer-Park Duo, and the AYR Piano Trio (with Yehonatan Berick, violin and Angela Park, piano). In 2010 she co-founded the “5 at the First” Chamber Music Series in Hamilton for which she is Artistic Director.
Rachel has given masterclasses across North America, South Africa and in Israel, as well as talks on topics from performance to self-management, and is Artist-in-Residence at Western University in London, ON. An advocate for new Canadian music, Rachel has commissioned and premiered works including a cello concerto by Kevin Lau, solo music by Vivian Fung and Andrew Downing, and chamber music by Nicole Lizée, Abigail Richardson-Schulte, Sarah Slean, Samy Moussa, and John Burge.
Her first article, on commissioning, was published in 2018 by the Association of Canadian Women Composers Journal. Rachel can be heard on the Naxos, Naxos Canadian Classics, Centrediscs, ATMA, Dalia Classics and EnT-T record labels, and released a critically acclaimed album of the Bach Suites on Pipistrelle in March 2014, recorded on the 1696 Bonjour Stradivarius Cello from the Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank. Rachel joined the National Arts Centre Orchestra as Associate Principal Cello in 2016, winning the Principal Cello chair in 2017.