Kyle P. Walker, a critically-acclaimed pianist with a passion for using music to address social issues, is on a mission to bridge traditional Western repertoire with the work of neglected composers from around the world. Many of his performances have been featured on media broadcasts including The Green Space at WNYC, WQXR’s Mcgraw-Hill Financial Young Artists Showcase, SC Public Radio, Sunday Baroque, NPR’s Public Radio East, NPR’s 1A, CNN, and PBS. He has been featured in recitals at New York’s Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, and with orchestra in Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. Highlights of past seasons include solo performances at The Apollo Theater, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frist Museum of Art, The Tantaloona Cave of Australia, the Lied Center of Kansas, and Berkeley Piano Club. He is currently touring with a solo performance project entitled Bach to BlackNotes, which features works of J.S. Bach juxtaposed with music of neglected composers who speak to issues of oppression and inequality.

Pianist Michelle Cann made her orchestral debut at age fourteen and has since performed as a soloist with prominent orchestras such as the Atlanta and Cincinnati symphony orchestras, The Cleveland Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Ms. Cann’s 2022-23 season includes an appearance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, return engagements with the Cincinnati and New Jersey symphonies, and debut performances with the Baltimore, National, New World, Seattle, and Utah symphonies. She makes her debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Youth Symphony and performs recitals in New Orleans, Little Rock, Sarasota, Toronto, and Washington, D.C. Ms. Cann is the recipient of the 2022 Sphinx Medal of Excellence and the 2022 Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award. Embracing a dual role as performer and pedagogue, Ms. Cann frequently teaches master classes and leads residencies. She has also appeared as cohost and collaborative pianist with NPR’s From The Top. Ms. Cann studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, where she serves on the piano faculty.

Stewart Goodyear is an accomplished concert pianist, improviser and composer. Mr. Goodyear has performed with, and has been commissioned by, many of the major orchestras and chamber music organizations around the world. Last year, Orchid Classics released Mr. Goodyear’s recording of his suite for piano and orchestra, “Callaloo” and his piano sonata. His recent commissions include a Piano Quintet for the Penderecki String Quartet, and a piano work for the Honens Piano Competition. His Rachmaninov recording received a Juno nomination for Best Classical Album for Soloist and Large Ensemble Accompaniment. Highlights for the 2022.23 season are his return to the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Southbank Centre (UK), and a North American tour with the Chineke! Orchestra.

Olga Kern has brought to stages around the world a mix of the charisma and power. Born in 1975, Kern has a musical ancestry that her family traces back to the circles of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky. Both her parents were musicians, and after hearing her mother play Chopin, she took up the piano herself at the age of 5. Glamorous and naturally gifted when it came to projecting stage presence, Kern showed a knack for winning competitions. The jewel in Kern’s competition crown came in 2001 at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, TX, where she became the first woman in the nearly 40-year history of the event to take the top prize. She performed Liszt’s Don Juan Fantasy, impressing judges with her sheer power and flair, and she launched her recording career on the Harmonia Mundi label with a fresh reading of the same work.

Elizabeth Steiner enjoys a busy schedule as a freelance harpist in the Philadelphia area. She has most recently performed as principal harp with the Baltimore Symphony, Delaware Symphony, Orchestra 2001, Lancaster Symphony, Maryland Symphony, and second harp with the Sarasota Orchestra, among others. An avid performer of music across a wide variety of genres, Elizabeth has most recently performed with artists Josh Groban, Moses Sumney, and Weird Al. As a teacher, she has been the harp faculty for the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia since 2014 and maintains a private studio at her home in Philadelphia. She is also the Executive Director of The Lyra Society, a non-profit organization founded by Elizabeth Hainen in 2004 that provides high quality instruments and weekly private harp lessons to 30 Philadelphia public school students.

Jannina Norpoth, Grammy-nominated violinist, made her debut as a soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at age 14. Her string quartet, PUBLIQuartet, is recognized for unique and genre inclusive programming, earning them the 2019 Visionary Artist Award from Chamber Music America. A versatile musician, Ms. Norpoth performs and writes alongside her husband bassist/guitarist/songwriter John-Paul Norpoth in the folk/rock group HOLLANDS. Ms. Norpoth has performed internationally, including appearances at the Women of the World Festival at The Apollo Theater, Detroit Art X Festival, Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival, Saturday Night Live, VH1’s Save the Music, among others. As a soloist, she has performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Bloomfield Symphony, Casalmaggiore International Chamber Ensemble, and more.

Violist Paul Laraia has established an international career performing as soloist and chamber musician. 1st Prize winner of the 13th Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, 1st Prize winner of the 14th National Sphinx Competition, and Gold Medalist with High Distinction at the 5th Manhattan International Music Competition, Paul has also been soloist with major orchestras such as the Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Filharmonica de Bogata, New Jersey Symphony, Nashville Symphony, among others. The 2022-2023 season features Paul’s string quartet, Catalyst Quartet, as artists in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. As of 2023, Paul has joined the faculty of the Boston Conservatory at the Berklee School of Music in order to pass on his belief in music’s power to heal and to connect people.

Christine Lamprea, Cellist and 2018 Sphinx Medal of Excellence Winner, is an artist known for her emotionally committed and intense performances. Upon her Carnegie Hall debut as soloist in 2013, she has since returned to Carnegie, as well as performed with orchestras such Costa Rica National Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, National Symphony of Michoacan, New Jersey Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and toured with the Sphinx Virtuosi across the U.S. Ms. Lamprea strives to expand her musical boundaries by exploring many genres of music and non-traditional venues for performance and teaching. Her Songs of Colombia Suite includes arrangements of traditional South American tunes for cello and piano or guitar, and have been performed at the Colombian Embassy and Supreme Court of the United States for Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Mary Javian’s goal as a performer, educator, curator and public speaker is to use music to create positive social change in communities. She has presented around the world in these areas for two decades. Ms. Javian has toured and performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and other world-class ensembles as a double bassist. She has served as principal bass of the IRIS Orchestra and has recorded with the Philadelphia and IRIS orchestras, the Tanglewood Music Center, Network for New Music, Dolce Suono Ensemble, and the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music. As chair of career studies at Curtis, Ms. Javian has created a dynamic social entrepreneurship curriculum that develops the entrepreneurial and advocacy skills that 21st-century musicians need.

JIJI is an adventurous guitarist known for her virtuosity and command of diverse repertoire. Equally at home with both acoustic and electric guitar, her concert programs range from traditional and contemporary classical to free improvisation. Through her impeccable musicianship, compelling stage presence, and commitment to commissioning and performing new musical works, JIJI has solidified her reputation as a top 21st century guitarist. In recent seasons, JIJI has presented solo recitals at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall; Lincoln Center; 92nd Street Y; Caramoor; Green Music Center; and the National Art Gallery, among other distinguished venues. Her performances have been featured on PBS (On Stage at Curtis), NPR’s From the Top, WHYY-TV, FOX 4-TV, Munchies (the Vice Channel), The Not So Late Show (Channel 6, Kansas), and Hong Kong broadcast station RTHK’s The Works. In 2016, she became the first guitarist in 30 years to secure first prize in the Concert Artists Guild Competition. In addition to advocating for the music of her contemporaries, JIJI also performs and records many of her own works, and she continues to develop her distinctive compositional voice.

Emlyn Ngai enjoys a diverse life as both a modern and historical violinist. In addition to being associate concertmaster of the Carmel Bach Festival and director of the festival’s Circle of Strings, Emlyn is a member of the Adaskin String Trio with which he has performed extensively across Canada and the United States and has been recorded for broadcast by CBC Radio, Radio-Canada, and National Public Radio. As concertmaster of Tempesta di Mare, the Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, he has performed across the US and in Europe, and has made eight releases on the British label Chandos.

American conductor Andrew Grams has steadily built a reputation for his dynamic concerts, ability to connect with audiences, and long-term orchestra building.  He’s the winner of 2015 Conductor of the Year from the Illinois Council of Orchestras and has led orchestras throughout the United States including the Chicago Symphony, Detroit Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, and the Houston Symphony. Andrew Grams became music director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra after an international search in 2013 and recently concluded his tenure there after 8 seasons. His charismatic conducting and easy accessibility have made him a favorite of Elgin Symphony audiences.

David Amado has been music director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra since 2003, and in July 2016 he began a second music directorship at the Atlantic Classical Orchestra in Florida. As a guest conductor, Amado has led numerous prominent orchestras. In addition to the St. Louis Symphony, where he served as associate conductor from 2001 to 2004, he has led the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Rochester Philharmonic, and the Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, National, New World, and Toronto symphonies. Recent engagements have included the Mobile, New Bedford, New Haven and Toronto symphony orchestras and California’s Symphony Silicon Valley. In June of 2019, he will make his debut at the Mostly Modern Festival in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Rolando Morales-Matos is a well sought-after Latin, Jazz and Classical percussionist. He is a band leader/vibraphonist/composer of Latin Jazz group Rolando Morales-Matos & Forward. He has toured worldwide, appearing with artists such as Paquito D’Rivera, Dave Samuels, and Dave Valentine, among others. Rolando has recorded with Ron Carter, Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, and Birdland Big Band. In 2006, Rolando was the recipient of Drum Magazine’s World Beat Percussionist of the Year Award. Since 1997, he has been the Percussionist and Assistant Conductor of the Tony Award- winning Broadway musical The Lion King. Rolando Morales-Matos is a faculty member at Curtis Institute of Music, Temple University, The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and New Jersey City University. Rolando Morales-Matos endorses Pearl Drums and Adams Musical Instruments, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, and Evans drumheads.

Angela Zator Nelson, associate principal timpani and section percussion, joined The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1999 as the first female percussionist ever hired by the Orchestra. Along with performing classical music, Nelson is an active chamber musician with a forte in new music. Nelson joined the faculty at Temple University as adjunct professor in 2001. She has given master classes to numerous students of all ages and has presented classes at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, the Oberlin Percussion Institute and at the annual Alan Abel School of Orchestral Studies. Nelson is a Zildjian Performing Artist and endorses their cymbals. She also endorses Grover Pro Percussion.

Don Liuzzi joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as principal timpanist in 1989. He was a percussionist with the Pittsburgh Symphony, taught at Duquesne University, and was assistant conductor of the Three Rivers Young People’s Orchestra. He also performed marimba and percussion solos on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS. He joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1994. He has been an active chamber-music performer with the Network for New Music, recording for the Albany and CRI labels. A Yamaha performing artist, Mr. Liuzzi consulted on the design of and performs on the Yamaha 9000 series Dresden-style timpani. 

Jonathan Beyer is a baritone that has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Opera Frankfurt and more. He has performed throughout North America, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. His repertoire spans opera, oratorio, musical theater, art song, and jazz. He has taught the Curtis Institute of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Chautauqua Institution, University of British Columbia and more. He also maintains a private studio in NYC and online that includes college students, young artists, and professionals. 

Michael Eberhard is currently the Artistic Administrator at Opera Philadelphia, a position he has held since 2009. A trained opera singer, Mr. Eberhard has performed with such companies as Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Utah Festival Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera. He received his Bachelor of Music Degree from the Eastman School of Music and his Masters of Music from New England Conservatory, where he studied with Edward Zambara. Mr. Eberhard moved to Philadelphia to attend the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts where he studied with Joanna Levy. He has judged various competitions including the Marcello Giordani International Voice Competition, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Greenfield Competition, and Astral Artists Voice Competition.

Mikael Eliasen is a Danish-born coach and accompanist. As a renowned pianist and vocal coach, Eliasen has traveled the world over, educating musicians with his passionate vision for creativity ad excellence, a charismatic spirit, and remarkable ears. Mr. Eliasen joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1986 and became the head of the Curtis Vocal  Department in 1988. He retired as Artistic Director of the Curtis Opera Theatre in 2019 where he led the Mikael Eliasen Voice Program as part of Curtis Summerfest for 30 + years. Eliasen has collaborated with numerous singers in recital internationally, including Robert Merrill, Eric Owens, Tom Krause, John Shirley-Quirk, Elly Ameling, Edith Mathis, among others. While home in the United States, he works regularly at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, LA Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera; and is Artistic Advisor to Opera Philadelphia. Eliasen´s dedication to the human voice has brought him to studios and schools across the world, forever changing the landscape of classical music and the career paths of countless musicians along the way. He is a champion of new music and composers and lives in Philadelphia with his husband and cat.

Lourdes Starr, a trained musician with degrees in performance and composition, leads Astral with more than 25 years of experience in the classical music world and has a strong track record of supporting highly talented young musicians. Her vast range of expertise in orchestral touring, concert production, special event planning, fundraising, the creation of digital content including online courses, summer music festivals, and digital arts education has spanned various administrative roles with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Curtis Institute of Music, and ArtistYear. During her time at Curtis, she co-founded and co-chaired Curtis’ Council for Inclusive Excellence, an initiative that explored and addressed systemic racism in Philadelphia and the classical music industry. Starr was also the driving force behind the Curtis Summer programs, including the highly successful Young Artist Summer Program, Chamber Music for Adults, and Sphinx Performance Academy at Curtis.

Vera Wilson, Founder of Astral Artists, opened its doors in 1992. 

As a linguist, fluent in five languages, Mrs. Wilson served as Foreign Press Translator for The Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh and Boston symphonies and the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition. She held various positions at the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and The Curtis Institute of Music, among others. It was during this period that she recognized the need for direction and mentoring for graduating musicians as they transitioned from student to professional and prepared to launch their careers.

She currently serves on the boards of The Presser Foundation and the Kingston Chamber Music Festival. She serves on the recommendation boards of the Avery Fisher Artist Program Career Grants and the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia Career Grants. She is a member of the Cultural Cabinet of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and has served on the panel of adjudicators for the Philadelphia Orchestra Albert M. Greenfield Competition and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

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