Violinist Lydia Chernicoff is the Founder and Artistic Director of New Muse Concerts, a chamber music series defined by its daring programming and lively, casual atmosphere.
As an advocate for reframing classical music as an inclusive art form, and for promoting creative collaboration across the arts, Lydia has been featured in Charleston Magazine’s Arts Profile, The Post & Courier, Charleston City Paper, and as a presenter at PechaKucha 39 — a speaker series spotlighting members of Charleston’s creative community.
Lydia has performed as a recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral player throughout the US, and in Europe, China, and South America. In 2007, she founded Trio Appassionata alongside cellist, Andrea Casarrubios, and pianist, Ronaldo Rolim.
Lydia has collaborated with the PostClassical Ensemble, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, INSCAPE Chamber Orchestra, and Alarm Will Sound, and has served on the chamber music faculty of Peabody Conservatory’s Preparatory Division, and as the director of the Homewood Chamber Music Program at Johns Hopkins University. She performs regularly with the Charleston Symphony and Chamber Music Charleston.
She received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory as a student of Violaine Melançon, and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Maryland as a student of James Stern.
Alva Anderson, voice/viola, was born in the Bronx to parents who fostered a great appreciation for the Arts, and began piano lessons at the age of 10. Her desire to be a part of the music program in high school led her to the viola. At the time, she didn’t know what a viola was but it soon became her ‘voice’.
Her other voice revealed itself while Alva was on tour in Europe with a chamber music ensemble. Late one night at a jam session in a jazz club in Switzerland, a good buddy invited her to the microphone. The song was “My Funny Valentine.” The feeling and audience responses were intoxicating. The message was clear; she was twice blessed.
With the acknowledgment of those gifts came the great joy, the responsibility to support, develop and share them with others.
Back in the ‘States’ Alva began to frequent jam sessions throughout New York City. She attended vocal and instrumental workshops with Barry Harris, Billy Taylor, Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton, Jimmy Heath and Billy Mitchell, Frank Owens, John Blake, Turtle Island String Quartet and Jimmy Seigler. For more than 20 years Alva has shared her love for music with her students in the New York City public schools. Many of her students have gone on to become professional musicians and music teachers.
Alva has created two one women shows; The Elegant One, the Life in Music of Ella Fitzgerald and Fine “Brown” Frame, the Music of Ruth Brown.
Her band members Tom DiPietra, guitar, Jesse Crawford, bass and Charlie Taylor, percussion have performed these concerts in libraries, churches and schools in New York City. With this band Alva Anderson creates original music and puts her own spin on the music of these singers and the other singers who have fed her desire to sing.
Praised by The New York Times for having a "gorgeous tone and an edge of-seat intensity" and described as "superhuman" by Australia's ABC Classic, Spanish cellist and composer Andrea Casarrubios has played as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. First Prize winner of numerous international competitions, Andrea has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Piatigorsky, Ravinia, and Verbier Festivals.
Andrea's compositions have been heard in 78 countries, presented by organizations such as the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, World Heritage Festival, Sphinx Organization, Carnegie Hall, Washington Performing Arts, Decoda, NPR, Philadelphia's WRTI, Chicago’s WFMT, Canada's CKIA, and the Spanish National Radio (RNE).
A committed mentor, Andrea has taught at The Juilliard School, University of Southern California, Eastman School of Music, Queens College, University of Kansas, University of Iowa, as well as at numerous festivals and masterclasses on tour. Her latest engagements include commissions and concerts in Canada, Spain, Mexico, Germany, and the U.S.A. Andrea's teachers have included Maria de Macedo, Lluis Claret, Amit Peled, Marcy Rosen, and Ralph Kirshbaum. As part of her doctorate degree in New York, she also studied composition with John Corigliano.
Danielle Cho, cello, joined as Assistant Principal Cellist of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra in 2021.
She is a co-founder of Sound Impact, a collective of musicians dedicated to empowering youth through innovative music programs in schools, juvenile detention centers and international communities. Danielle has led Sound Impact’s international programs in Costa Rica and Panama. This passion was instilled in her after studying in Barcelona as a Fulbright Scholar, after which she was invited to play with the Orquesta de la Comunitat Valencia where she toured internationally under Lorin Maazel and Zubin Mehta. She was also a featured soloist at the 2014 TedxFulbright Conference and the first Fulbright alumni to be selected to serve on two missions with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA) Global Leaders Program in Argentina and Haiti.
Highlights of Danielle’s career have been solo appearances with the Erie Chamber Orchestra and the Festival Filharmonica Juvenil (Argentina) and festival appearances in Europe and the US including IMS Prussia Cove, Spoleto, Music in May, the Holland Music Sessions, Taos, Sarasota, and Schleswig-Holstein. Additionally, Danielle performs regularly with the American Pops Orchestra, the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra.
She holds degrees from the University of Southern California and the New England Conservatory. In her spare time, Danielle enjoys photography, hiking and boxing.
Dr. Kari Kistler is an in-demand performer of oboe and English horn repertoire, based in the Southeast. She is a core member of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and also freelances in the greater region.
Kari has performed all over the US, including at the Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, and Music Academy of the West. Prior to moving to Charleston she was a Fellow with the New World Symphony (NWS) in Miami Beach, FL. She performed multiple times under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas while at NWS, as well as many other prestigious conductors—Christoph von Dohnanyi, Susanna Mälkki, Peter Oundjian, and John Adams, to name a few.
Kari has performed recently with the New York Philharmonic, the Charlotte Symphony, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, the Sarasota Orchestra, the Virginia Symphony, and the Savannah Philharmonic.
She earned her Bachelors of Music, summa cum laude, and her Doctor of Music degrees from The Florida State University, her Masters of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and her Performance Diploma from Boston University. Her main teachers were John Ferrillo, John Mack, Robert Sheena, and Dr. Eric Ohlsson.
Dr. Ismar Gomes is a chamber musician, recitalist, baroque cellist, and orchestral player. Recent performance highlights include recitals as a member of Duo Sorolla across the United States, as well as collaborations with members of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Emerson, and the Johannes Quartets. A member of the Virginia and Richmond Symphonies he frequently performs with the Baltimore Symphony.
As a baroque cellist, Dr. Gomes is a member of Mélomanie and is a regular guest with several early music ensembles. Dr. Gomes has worked with noted composers including George Walker, Aaron Jay Kernis, Marc Neikrug, James Lee III, and David Lang and has commissioned and championed works by today’s leading and emerging composers. As a recording artist Dr. Gomes has recorded with the Harlem Quartet and recently released two albums with Mélomanie, as well as live recordings of works by Larry Nelson, Mark Hagerty, and others.
Formerly Visiting Assistant Professor of Cello at Luther College, he currently serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Cello at Gettysburg College, and recently presented masterclasses at Georgetown, Towson, and Duke Universities. Prior faculty appointments include the Cleveland Institute of Music Summer Chamber Music Festival, StringFest at Merkin Hall, the Performing Arts Institute, and the Three Bridges Festival. Ismar attended the Peabody Conservatory, studying with Alison Wells and Amit Peled. Previous teachers include Marc Johnson and Clive Greensmith of the Vermeer and Tokyo Quartets. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Stony Brook University, under the tutelage of Colin Carr.
Originally from Rochester, New York, violinist Lenora Cox Leggatt began studying at age seven and made her solo debut with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at sixteen. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music studying with Catherine Tait and Zvi Zeitlin, and Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music with Donald Weilerstein.
Lenora served as concertmaster for The Cleveland Opera Orchestra for eight years, and for the former Ohio Chamber Orchestra and Cleveland San Jose Ballet. She has appeared as concertmaster under conductors such as Leonard Slatkin and Andre Previn, and as soloist under Peter Bay and Leslie Dunner. Ms. Leggatt has enjoyed performing in the violin sections of the Cleveland Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Charlotte Symphony and San Diego Symphony, and was a tenured member of the Calgary Philharmonic for three years.
A three-year fellowship student at the Aspen Music Festival, she has also performed in the music festivals of Tanglewood, Basel, and London where she gave a world premiere performance with her twin sister—oboist, Johanna Cox Pennington. In addition, Lenora and Johanna’s Carnegie Hall performance of the music of Dinos Constantinides was critically acclaimed as “the highlight of the concert”.
Ms. Leggatt currently resides in Charlotte, NC.
Singer-songwriter LaToya Reneá studied at The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music in Manhattan & Nyack College, in Nyack, NY. She sees music as a miraculous tool and gift given by the Maker of the Universe. Her South Carolina roots planted a vision in her for music as a real language and way of life. LaToya is a student of the Charleston jazz tradition of music as noted in the book Charleston Jazz, penned by the late Jack McCray.
LaToya has taught over 3,000 students throughout New York and whether directing in faith based organizations or private/public institutions, she motivates her students to gain the knowledge and technical skills necessary to sing and make music independently. LaToya’s students currently study at New York’s coveted Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (New York, NY) and Berklee College of Music (Boston, NY).
LaToya served as the vocal feature of the Dal Segño Trio, which headlined the 2019 National Center of Performing Arts’ Jazz Festival in Mumbai, India.
LaToya Renea’s raw passion for artistry is balanced by her past and present study of music. As at home in jazz and gospel as she is in pop and classical, she’s left very few genres unexplored in over 20 years of professional singing.
LaToya is a recent graduate of Queen’s College (Flushing, NY) and on April 13, 2021 she completed her graduate recital where she wrote/arranged every tune while simultaneously releasing her first EP entitled Divertimento, a three track EP of original music she penned and recorded over 14 years ago.
Simply put, she loves, lives, speaks and breathes music.
Brazilian pianist Ronaldo Rolim is acclaimed for his “special ability to present touching interpretations” (El Norte), “consummate elegance” (New York Concert Review) and “mastery of phrasing, agogic accents, and dynamics” (Oberbaselbieter Zeitung).
A winner of the 2017 Astral Artists National Auditions, he has performed extensively over four continents as a guest soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. Ronaldo has captured top prizes at numerous international competitions, including Géza Anda, James Mottram, Bösendorfer, San Marino, Lyon, and Teresa Carreño, and performed with groups such as the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Concerto Budapest, St. Petersburg State Capella Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, Phoenix Symphony, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as many of Brazil’s foremost ensembles.
A passionate advocate of chamber music, he is the founding member of Trio Appassionata, and greatly enjoys working with diverse chamber musicians, having performed with the Jasper, Aizuri and São Paulo quartets, and members of Ensemble Connect, the Baltimore Symphony, the Brazilian Symphony, and Bronx Arts Ensemble.
In 2019, Ronaldo released his latest album on Odradek Records, "Szymanowski - The Wartime Triptychs", devoted to the programmatic works the Polish composer wrote during World War I. The topic was extensively discussed in Mr. Rolim's doctoral thesis, completed in 2016 at Yale University.
Born in 1986, Ronaldo began his musical training at the age of four and was a student of the Magda Tagliaferro School in São Paulo. In 2005, he moved to the United States, where he studied with Flavio Varani, Benjamin Pasternack and Boris Berman.
The Classical Voice of North Carolina described violist Kirsten Swanson as a “stunning musician with flawless technique combined with that unique ‘viola’ sound that can melt your soul.” Feeling equally at ease with “new” and “old” music, in an orchestra or solo, Dr. Swanson enjoys a diverse career that takes her all over the world.
As an orchestral musician, Dr. Swanson held the position of Assistant Principal viola with the Charlotte Symphony from 2005-2007, a position she returned to in the ’19- ’20 season. She had previously been appointed acting Section viola with the North Carolina Symphony and won positions in the Winston-Salem Symphony and Greensboro Symphonies. She is frequently invited to sit guest Principal viola with the Amarillo Symphony in Amarillo, Texas.
An experienced chamber musician, Dr. Swanson has collaborated with such artists as Schlomo Mintz, Garth Knox, Jon Nakamatsu, and members of the JACK, Pacifica, and Ciompi String Quartets. She is the violist of the Madison Park and Central string quartets and can frequently be heard performing in and around North and South Carolina. During the summers, she is on faculty of Chamber Music on the Hill (Cmoth), a chamber music intensive music festival for teens and college students, in Spartanburg, NC.
A committed teacher, Kirsten has studied Suzuki pedagogy with Joanne Martin, Betsy Stuen-Walker, James Hutchins, and Joanne Bath and holds a Graduate Certificate in Suzuki Pedagogy from East Carolina University. She has taught violin and viola at Wake Forest University and Elon College. She holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, the Longy School, and the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Currently, she is the adjunct viola professor at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and maintains a thriving private studio of enthusiastic violinists and violists at her home.
Canadian violinist Jessica Tong has garnered international acclaim as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, having been described as an "outstanding talent" (Performing Arts in Canada) with "keen sensitivity and receptivity" (Bloomington Herald Times), who "allow[s] us to savour her sense of ardour and intensity, but never at the detriment of her tonal beauty." (ClassiqueInfo France) A recipient of a Canada Council Grant for Musicians and a DAAD scholar, she has been a top prizewinner at the Eckhardt-Gramatte, Toronto Symphony, Canadian Music, and Yellow Springs International Competitions, as well as the recipient of the David Ouchterlony Award for Outstanding Artist.
A devoted chamber musician, Ms Tong's performances have taken her to Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Merkin Hall, les Invalides in Paris and the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and led to collaborations with artists such as Leon Fleisher, Pamela Frank, Cho-Liang Lin and members of the Cleveland, Vogler, Brentano and Borromeo Quartets. She has served as the first violinist of the Vinca and Larchmere String Quartets, holding the post of Artist-in-Residence at the University of Evansville and concertmaster of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra in Indiana. She is currently Artistic Director of the chamber music residency organization Music Beyond the Chamber, Chamber Music Director for the Composers Conference at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and Assistant Professor of Violin at the State University of New York at Fredonia.
A pupil of Pamela Frank, Jessica has also studied with Kathleen Winkler, Donald Weilerstein, and Zhang yun Zhang, and has been mentored as a chamber musician by members of the Alban Berg, Vogler, Artemis and Brentano and Cleveland Quartets.
Dan Urbanowicz, is currently a violist in the Sarasota Orchestra. He performs regularly with the Jacksonville Symphony, Southwest Florida Symphony, and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Dan has played with the New World Symphony at Carnegie Hall, the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, the Atlantic Symphony, the Canton Symphony Orchestra, the Firelands Orchestra, and the Plymouth Philharmonic. He has served as principal violist of the Augusta Symphony, Charlottesville Opera, Gulfshore Opera, Venice Symphony, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany, the Pacific Music Festival in Japan, and the Chautauqua Music School Festival Orchestra.
Dan also enjoys playing the viola d’amore. As a viola d’amore player he has been featured with the Colorado Chamber Players, Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, College of Charleston’s Second Monday Series, and Augusta University as a guest lecturer and recitalist.
His principal teachers include Martha Katz and Jeffrey Irvine. Dan holds a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music and a bachelor’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music.
He plays on a 2017 Robert Clemens viola and his viola d’amore is from the 19th century and is of unknown origin.