Pianist and Composer
Gabriela Montero’s visionary interpretations and unique compositional gifts have garnered her critical acclaim and a devoted following on the world stage. Anthony Tommasini remarked in The New York Times that “Montero’s playing had everything: crackling rhythmic brio, subtle shadings, steely power…soulful lyricism…unsentimental expressivity.”
Celebrated for her exceptional musicality and ability to improvise, Gabriela Montero has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras. A graduate and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London, she is also a frequent recitalist and chamber musician, having given concerts at such distinguished venues as the Wigmore Hall, Kennedy Center, Vienna Konzerthaus, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus.
She made her debut with the NAC Orchestra in 2016 and was the recipient of the prestigious Heidelberger Frühling Music Prize in 2018.
Montero is also an award-winning and bestselling recording artist. Her most recent album features her own Piano Concerto No. 1 (the “Latin” Concerto) and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major, recorded with the Orchestra of the Americas in Frutillar, Chile.
Born in Venezuela, Montero made her concerto debut at age eight in her hometown of Caracas. Winner of the Fourth International Beethoven Award, she is a committed advocate for human rights, whose voice regularly reaches beyond the concert hall. Montero was named an Honorary Consul by Amnesty International in 2015 and recognized with Outstanding Work in the Field of Human Rights by the Human Rights Foundation for her ongoing commitment to human rights advocacy in Venezuela.
Praised by critics for the beauty, clarity and fluidity of her sound, impeccable phrasing and consummate musicality, Joanna G’froerer enjoys an exciting career as an orchestral player, chamber musician, soloist and educator. Principal Flutist of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra since 1992, she was appointed to that position at the age of 20, one of the youngest musicians ever to be hired by the NACO.
A native of Vancouver, Canada, Ms. G’froerer comes from a family of professional musicians. She studied flute in Vancouver with Kathleen Rudolph, and in Montreal with Timothy Hutchins, earning a Licentiate in Music from McGill University in 1993. Her education also included orchestral training at the Interlochen Arts Camp and with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.
Joanna performs regularly as a soloist with the NACO, having appeared as soloist in over thirty different programs since joining the orchestra. She has also performed concerti with many of Canada's other fine ensembles, including the symphony orchestras of Vancouver, Victoria, and Quebec City. Joanna G’froerer is a past first-prize winner of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Competition.
Among Ms. G’froerer’s acclaimed recordings are a CBC disc of Mozart’s Flute Quartets with Pinchas Zukerman, Martin Beaver and Amanda Forsyth, named Best Canadian Chamber Music Recording of 2002 by Opus Magazine. A Naxos recording of Rodrigo’s Flute Concerto and Fantasia Para un Gentilhombre with the Asturias Symphony under Maestro Maximiano Valdes was “exquisitely played by the Canadian virtuoso Joanna G’froerer” (Anthony Holden, The Observer). Also for Naxos, Saint-Saens, Music for Winds was an Editor’s Pick for Gramophone Magazine in 2011. A new recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, with Jens Lindemann, James Ehnes, Jon Kimura Parker and Charles Hamann, was nominated for a Juno Award in 2021.
Joanna G’froerer has been featured in the chamber music festivals of Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Ottawa, at the Scotia Festival and at Brazil’s Campos do Jordao Festival. She is a member of the National Arts Centre Wind Quintet, and the G’froerer Gott Duo, with harpist Michelle Gott.
Joanna was a co-founder of the Classical Unbound Festival in Prince Edward County, Ontario, and served as Co-Artistic Director during its first three seasons.
As an educator, Ms. G’froerer has taught flute at the NAC Summer Music Institute, at Domaine Forget and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and has presented masterclasses at universities and conservatories throughout Canada, as well as in the US, Europe and Asia. Joanna is presently on faculty at the University of Ottawa and at McGill University in Montreal.
Joanna G’froerer is a Wm. S. Haynes Artist, playing a custom 19.5 K gold Haynes flute with lightweight silver mechanism and headjoints in 19.5K and 14K gold.
Heralded for the “exquisite liquid quality” of his solo playing (Gramophone), Charles “Chip” Hamann was appointed to the principal oboe chair of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra in 1993 at the age of 22. Mr. Hamann has also served as guest principal oboe with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Quebec’s Les Violons du Roy.
Mr. Hamann’s solo debut album, the double CD collection Canadian Works for Oboe and Piano with pianist Frédéric Lacroix, was released in 2017 on the Centrediscs label and his playing was lauded for “well-rounded tone, sensitive phrasing and…breathtaking sustained tones” (The Whole Note) and “exquisite musicianship.” (The Double Reed) With the NAC Wind Quintet, his performances of music for wind instruments by Camille Saint-Saëns with pianist Stéphane Lemelin for the Naxos label, including the op. 166 Oboe Sonata, won Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice award in 2011. Mr. Hamann was also featured in J.S. Bach’s Concerto for violin and oboe BWV 1060 with Pinchas Zukerman on NACO’s 2016 Baroque Treasury album for Analekta that earned him praise as a “superb colleague” (Gramophone) and for “a gorgeous, expressive sound.” (Ludwig van Toronto) Mr. Hamann has commissioned numerous solo works from leading Canadian composers and continues to champion new repertoire. He will record a CD of newly commissioned music for oboe solo and oboe with piano in 2021 with pianist Frédéric Lacroix.
Charles Hamann has appeared as concerto soloist with Les Violons du Roy, the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra in Nebraska, the Yamagata Symphony Orchestra, and Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings. He has appeared many times with NACO, both in Ottawa and on tour, in major concertos including Mozart, Strauss, and Vaughan-Williams. He has been a featured recitalist at the International Double Reed Society conferences and has presented solo recitals across Canada and the US.
Mr. Hamann is Adjunct Professor of oboe at the University of Ottawa School of Music and was on the faculty of the NAC Summer Music Institute for twenty years. He is a frequent faculty member at the Canada’s National Academy Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and the Orchestre de la francophonie. Mr. Hamann has been a guest clinician throughout Canada and at leading conservatories in the US. Internationally, he has given clinics in Mexico, China and Japan, where he is a frequent guest artist at the Affinis Music Festival and has been a guest faculty member of the Hyogo Performing Arts Centre Orchestra, a prominent orchestral training institution.
Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, Mr. Hamann pursued early study with Brian Ventura and William McMullen and later at the Interlochen Arts Camp and Interlochen Arts Academy with Daniel Stolper. He earned a Bachelor of Music and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music in 1993, where he was a student of Richard Killmer.
Kimball Sykes joined the National Arts Centre Orchestra as principal clarinet in 1985.
Born in Vancouver, he received a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of British Columbia where he studied with Ronald deKant. In 1982 Mr. Sykes was a member of the National Youth Orchestra and was awarded the first of two Canada Council grants to study with Robert Marcellus in Chicago. He has participated in the Banff School of Fine Arts Festival, the Scotia Festival, the Orford Festival and the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival.
He has performed and toured with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and was a member of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. While in Vancouver, he was a founding member of the Vancouver Wind Trio. From 1983 to 1985 he was principal clarinet of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Sykes has performed as a soloist with the NAC Orchestra on numerous occasions. In May 2000, he gave the premiere performance of Vagues immobiles, a clarinet concerto by Alain Perron commissioned for him by the NAC, and in November 2002, he performed the Copland Clarinet Concerto, both conducted by Pinchas Zukerman. Other groups he has appeared with as soloist include Thirteen Strings, the Honolulu Symphony and the Auckland Philharmonia.
Mr. Sykes has performed numerous solo and chamber music programs for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He can be heard on the recent Chamber Players of Canada recording of Schubert’s Octet. He has also recorded the Mozart Clarinet Quintet with Pinchas Zukerman and NAC Orchestra principal musicians Donnie Deacon, Jane Logan and Amanda Forsyth which is included in the NAC Orchestra’s double Mozart CD for CBC Records which was nominated for a Juno Award in 2004.
Kimball Sykes is currently on faculty at the University of Ottawa.
Christopher Millard, one of Canada’s best known woodwind artists, joined the National Arts Centre Orchestra as principal bassoon in 2004 after serving with the Vancouver Symphony and the CBC Radio Orchestra for 28 years. He is also the principal bassoon for the Grand Teton Music Festival and has made five concert tours with Valery Gergiev and the World Orchestra for Peace.
A distinguished teacher, Mr. Millard served on the faculty of Northwestern University until 2014, and continues to give masterclasses at many of the foremost music schools: Curtis Institute, New World Symphony, Manhattan School, Rice University, Indiana University, the National Orchestral Institute as well as in Canada at Domaine Forget. For 20 years, Mr. Millard was the bassoon professor for the National Youth Orchestra where he helped nurture a new generation of Canadian wind players. His students now occupy numerous positions in American and Canadian orchestras. A student of Roland Small and the legendary Sol Schoenbach at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Mr. Millard also studied with the great French flutist Marcel Moyse.
A regular guest artist and teacher at the Scotia, Banff, Orford and Ottawa Chamber Music Festivals, Mr. Millard has also appeared in concert and recordings with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Marlboro Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the International Double Reed Society and as a soloist with numerous orchestras. He regularly performs at home and on tour with the National Arts Centre Wind Quintet, a highly acclaimed ensemble that has made a debut recording on the Naxos label.
Mr. Millard has received wide praise for his numerous recordings BIS, Naxos, Arabesque, CBC Records and Summit, including a disc in the prestigious “OrchestraPro” series. His recording of the Hétu Bassoon Concerto won a 2004 Juno Award. He is a recognized authority on the acoustics of reedmaking and a skilled woodwind technician.
Principal Horn with the National Arts Centre Orchestra since 2002, Lawrence Vine has also served as Principal Horn with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.
A much sought-after chamber musician, Lawrence has performed with Andrew Dawes, Lynn Harrell, Joseph Kalichstein, Anton Kuerti, Malcolm Lowe, Menahem Pressler, Pascal Rogé, David Schifrin, Joseph Silverstein, and Pinchas Zukerman. He regularly performs at home and on tour with the National Arts Centre Wind Quintet, a highly acclaimed ensemble that has recorded for the Naxos label.
As a soloist, he has appeared with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra. His festival credits include the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Banff Centre for Fine Arts, Cleveland’s Kent/Blossom Music, the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival and Ottawa's Music and Beyond Festival.
An active teacher and clinician, Lawrence is proud to teach the horn studio at the University of Ottawa's School of Music. He previously taught at the University of Manitoba, and has presented masterclasses at the Manhattan School of Music, Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory, Chicago’s Roosevelt University, Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the Universities of Colorado, Toronto, British Columbia, Calgary and Victoria. He also serves on the faculty of the NAC Summer Music Institute.
The Toronto Globe and Mail has praised his “fine, burnished playing”; the Winnipeg Free Press commended his “delicate phrasing, rounded tone, and sense of poise”; the Ottawa Citizen enthused that his “playing was assured, and his clear sound was remarkably subtle”; and the Montreal Gazette described his playing as “radiant”.
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.
Vancouver-born violist Jethro Marks was appointed Principal viola of the National Arts Center Orchestra in Spring 2011. He has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, China, Mexico, Europe, and Canada, and is a frequent collaborator with many artists and ensembles. Jethro is first violist of the Zukerman ChamberPlayers, a string ensemble led by Pinchas Zukerman that has completed highly acclaimed tours of festivals in Canada, the U.S., Europe, China, South America and New Zealand. The ensemble released its fourth CD in 2008.
One of five brothers growing up in a musical family, Jethro first studied violin with his father, who played in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. While attending Indiana University at Bloomington, he became intrigued by the rich, dark sound of the viola. He began to switch his focus and started studying with violist Atar Arad. Awards included first prize in the Kuttner Quartet Competition, first prize in the Concerto Competition, and receiving the prestigious Performers Certificate. In 1998, Jethro Marks was accepted into the Zukerman Program at the Manhattan School of Music as the only violist and he won first prize in the MSM Concerto Competition. Jethro first participated in the National Arts Centre’s Young Artists Program in 1999, returning the following summer. He returned to the NAC Summer Music Institute in 2000 and 2001 as a mentor and he made his CBC Radio debut in 2003 performing the Paganini 24th caprice on viola.
An avid chamber musician, has collaborated with some of the most illustrious artists and chamber groups of our day including Leon Fleisher, Lynn Harrell, Gary Hoffman, Jaime Laredo, Michael Tree, Itzhak Perlman, Yefim Bronfman, Emanual Ax, and the Orion Quartet, and has participated in festivals around the world including the Verbier Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Festival de musique de St. Barthelemy, Banff Festival of the Arts, Lanaudière Festival, Agassiz Festival, Ravinia Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood Festival, Musica Mundi in Belgium, Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, and Mostly Mozart, as well as the 92nd St. Y, Jupiter and Lyric Chamber Music Societies in New York City. Jethro is frequently featured in chamber music concerts in the National Arts Centre MFASA series, as well as the Ottawa Chamber Music Festivals.
His solo debut with the National Arts Centre Orchestra was in 2004 playing Harold in Italy and in 2007 he premiered the Steven Gellman Viola Concerto with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. In 2014 he performed the Malcolm Forsyth concerto with cellist Amanda Forsyth. He is a frequent collaborator with Ottawa pianist Mauro Bertoli, and play numorous recitals throughout Canada. He's joining the faculty of the University of Ottawa in Sept. 2015.
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.