Monica Mathews - (Clarinet/ Laura’s Friends) love for music started early on, with recorder lessons at age 5 and piano starting at 6. After learning violin and viola in elementary school, Monica finally settled with the clarinet as her primary instrument. While continuing to study music in college, she ultimately earned her Bachelor’s in Health Administration from the University of North Florida and has also taken classes through University of Florida's graduate certificate program for Arts in Medicine. She is currently a member of several ensembles at the Northeast Florida Conservatory. She believes strongly that music has benefits on both the mental and physical well-being of a person and is passionate about sharing that knowledge and her love of music with others.
Reinaldo Perez - has performed as a soloist with the major orchestras of Cuba, including the National Symphony Orchestra. He started his solo career in 1972, having offered numerous recitals, as well as in collaboration with several chamber groups. Some of these groups include “ Siglo XX” and the wind Quintet of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.He has also performed in countries such as Bulgaria, Russia, Czechoslovakia, U.S.A (New York), Nicaragua, and Dominican Republic. Several composers have written music for him, including Federico Smith, who wrote an oboe concerto for him. Reinaldo Perez founded the woodwind trio “Federico Smith.” The trio has performed extensively in Cuba, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua with excellent press reviews.
Kayo Ishimaru - (Harpist) is enjoying her 22nd season as principal harpist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. A native of Osaka, Japan, Ms. Ishimaru began her musical studies on piano at age three, and transferred to harp at age ten. She continued her formal study at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. With a scholarship from the French government, she studied at the renowned Paris Conservatory, where she was awarded the coveted Premier Prix.
Dr. Jerry Gilmer - (Piano) a native of Staunton, VA, has degrees in piano performance: a Bachelor of Music from West Virigina University, a Master of Music from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University where he studied piano with Amos Allen and Dean Boal (past Dean of the Conservatory), and a Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree from WVU. He has studied piano with concert pianists Jerome Lowenthal and Herman Godes (WVU).
Janet Gilmer - (Piano\Voice) A Virginia native, lyric soprano- Janet, received her undergraduate BME degree from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA. She continued graduate studies at the Peabody Conservatory of the JHU, Baltimore, MD, under the tutelage of Martiel Singer, head of the opera department of the Curtis Institute of Music. She received her Masters of Music Degree in vocal performance at WVU, Morgantown, WV, studying under Metropolitan Opera tenor Jon Crain. Ms. Gilmer continued post-graduate studies at Westminister Choir College, Princeton, NJ.
Richard A. Dickson - conductor, performer and educator with degrees from Stetson University (BME) and University of Florida (MM and PhD-completed except for dissertation) in music, music education and curriculum and instruction. After serving for twelve years as Executive Director for Amelia Arts Academy (community school of the arts) and Music Director/Organist at Amelia Plantation Chapel on Amelia Island, Richard and his wife, Janet moved (returned) to Jacksonville to be near three adult children and six grandchildren. Richard is former member and District Chair for Florida Bandmasters Association, Southeast Representative for the National Band Directors Association and Chair for Southern Division/National Guild Community Schools of the Arts.
Max Huls - (Violin) A member of JSO since 1993. Max received Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music and Philpsophy from Stephens College; Master of Music from University of Memphis
In addition to his core role in the JSO, Max is concertmaster of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia. During the 1997-98 season, he was acting concertmaster of the Savannah Symphony and appeared as soloist and conductor. He also served as concertmaster of the Memphis Symphony and Opera Memphis. He was introduced to the First Coast as soloist with the JSO in Bartok's Second Rhapsody for violin and orchestra.
Max is a violin coach for the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra and served as interim conductor of the JSYO in 1995. While on faculty, he conducted the orchestras of the University of Memphis and Rhodes College.
Since 1983, Max has played principal second violin for Peninsula Music Festival in Wisconsin. He has also particiapted in the Aspen Music Festival, Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, Missouri Symphony Society, Eastern Music Festival and Memphis Chamber Music Society.
Regina Torres - (Voice) Ms. Torres received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Florida and a Performance Diploma in Voice from the Indiana University School of Music where she performed on the Mainstage as Ludmilla in The Bartered Bride, Mrs. Gleaton in Susannah, and La Zelatrice in Suor Angelica. She has also appeared as a soloist in performances of both Verdi’s and Dvořák’s Requiem (Space Coast Symphony), Bach’s St. John Passion, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem, and a debut in the Bob Carr Auditorium (Orlando, FL) in Handel’s The Messiah. She is a frequent recitalist and enjoys creating unusual programs. Ms. Torres is also one-half of the duo, Mezzolicious, a cabaret ensemble which brings the wonderful aspects of the mezzo-soprano to life in song and theatre.
Dr. Marc Dickman -Dr. Marc Dickman, from Valdosta, Georgia, is a founding member of the acclaimed Jazz Studies Program at the University of North Florida. Dr. Dickman earned degrees from Troy State University, McNeese State University, and the University of North Texas. His versatility on euphonium, trombone, bass-trombone, and tuba in the classical and jazz styles places him in much demand in the United States. At UNF he teaches applied low brass and jazz ensemble. His students have won awards in the jazz and classical areas. Dr. Dickman was a featured jazz artist at the 2000 International Tuba Euphonium Conference in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, the 2001 ITEC in Lahti, Finland, the 2002 ITEC in Greenville, NC, and the 2004 ITEC in Budapest, Hungary, and the 2005 and 2008 U.S. Army Tuba Euphonium Conference.
Rob Chapman - (saxophone) is originally from Sarasota, Fl. He graduated from the University of Tampa where he was named outstanding musician. Rob has performed with numerous big bands, concert bands, blues, and jazz combos. He was a founding member of "Not Tonight I've Got the Blues Band" in Jacksonville. That band performed at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival and has opened for many notable acts including Spyro Gyra, Pointer Sisters, Neil Sedaka, Blood,Sweat and Tears, and Louise Mandrell. His horn section has played with Clarence Carter, The Drifters, The Platters, and Delbert McClinton.
Saori Herreros - (Violin /Viola) is a native of Osaka, Japan where she studied the violin with Professor Midori Kugota from the Soai University. She received her master degree from the Osaka College of Music where she studied American violin and chamber music. She received a Performance Certificate while studying performance violin with Dr. Simon Shiao at the University of North Florida from 2012 to 2014. While studying at UNF she was the concertmaster of the UNF orchestra. She was a chamber music and orchestra assistant at the Osaka College of Music and also taught at the Osaka College of Music Affiliated Music School. She moved to Jacksonville in 2016.
Dr. Sarah Jane Young - Flute - Currently on faculty at Northwest Florida State College and Bethune-Cookman University, Dr. Sarah Jane Young has performed with the Tallahassee Symphony since 2005 and the Pensacola Symphony since 2007 after having begun her orchestral career with the Wallingford Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut. After receiving her Master’s degree from Florida State University, Sarah Jane was selected as the Professor of Flute at the King Hussein Foundation National Music Conservatory in Amman, Jordan. While there, she served as Principal Flute with the Amman Symphony Orchestra and the Amman Sinfonietta, as well as the National Music Conservatory Woodwind Quintet. She has performed for both Queen Noor (Queen Consort of Jordan) and Princess Muna al-Hussein (Princess consort of Jordan). As a soloist and chamber musician, she has performed in Canada, England, Jordan, Costa Rica, Belgium, Italy, Bolivia, and throughout the United States. Performance venues include Sprague Hall, Woolsey Hall, Jerash South Theater in Jordan, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center. She has had the honor to share the stage with such prestigious artists as Gunther Schuller, Christopher O’Riley, J. K. Simmons, and Renée Fleming.
As a chamber musician Sarah Jane currently performs with Bold City Contemporary Ensemble based in Jacksonville, Florida. She is a founding member of Traverso Colore, an all baroque flute ensemble; founding member of the Coreopsis Wind Quintet winner of the Promising Young Artist Competition; founding member of Duo Velocipede, an adventurous flute and saxophone duo specializing in the music of Neil Anderson-Himmelspach; and founding member of award winning new music ensemble What Is Noise.
She has performed as a guest artist at the National Institute of Music in Costa Rica, Harford Community College in Maryland, Furman University, the University of North Carolina at Ashville and Chapel Hill, James Madison University, University of Missouri, Florida State University, Webster University, and the Conservatory of Music in Bolivia. She served on faculty at the FSU Summer Band Camp, Montelione Music Camp, and is currently on faculty at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.
Laura Ingalls - (violin/Cello) Laura E. Ingalls grew up in Jacksonville, FL. She was privileged to take private violin lessons from age five and to be in strong children’s choir and graded orchestra programs at her church. She studied violin at University of North Florida and earned the Bachelor of Arts in Education, Music Education (Magna Cum Laude). Laura went on to play violin at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where she earned the degree Master of Church Music. Laura has performed as a soloist, in chamber groups and in orchestras. She has played with several orchestras including the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra, Durham Symphony Orchestra; with chamber groups and as a soloist in recitals. Currently, Laura plays with Coastal Symphony of Georgia, Jacksonville University Orchestra, several churches and The String Group LLC. She has also practiced varying improvisation styles: from Bluegrass, to early Baroque, to contemporary Christian in church bands. Laura also loves to teach music. Laura has taught private violin, viola and cello lessons, mixed strings classes, general music classes and children’s choirs since 1997. Currently, Laura teaches at three schools of music in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia. As a strings teacher she combines traditional and Suzuki methods and materials. Laura teaches with enthusiasm, kindness and patience.
Kamila Shahtakhtinski, NCTM - Piano - Holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in piano solo and chamber ensemble performance, teaching and accompaniment from Azerbaijan State Conservatory (now Baku Music Academy). She served as Associate Professor of Piano department of BMA in 1987-98 and toured as soloist, member of chamber group and accompanist to major cities of former Soviet Union, as well as Italy and US. She also performed concertos with Azerbaijan State Symphony and Chamber Orchestras and recorded for Azerbaijan State Radio and TV. Several of her students successfully graduated from BMA and participated in local and regional competitions.
Ms. Shahtakhtinski moved to USA in 1997 and is teaching privately in Jacksonville (FL) since then. She is faculty member at NFC, Jacksonville, FL (2012-present) and continues to perform as soloist and accompanist. Many of her students participated and were awarded at District, State, National and International events. Ms. Shahtakhtinski also serves as a musician (2003) Music Director (2006-present) at St. George Episcopal Church (Jacksonville, FL). She also recorded album of classical piano selections “Dedication” (2007) with Twenty-First Century Studios, Jacksonville, FL.
Michael Dell - (Piano/Organ) Born in Jacksonville in 1959, Michael Dell received his Bachelor in Church Music degree from Stetson University (DeLand, FL) and a Master of Church Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth, TX). Additional studies were with Dr. Gerre Hancock at St. Thomas (Episcopal) Church in New York City, as well as numerous workshops and conferences. He has served churches in Texas, Alabama, and Florida, and has the good fortune of currently being Organist/Director of Music at South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church, which also serves as the rehearsal home of his recently established mixed community choral group, The Heritage Singers of Jacksonville.
BENEFIT MUSIC FESTIVAL
GALLERY OF STARS
Without music, life would be a mistake. — Nietzsche
NORTHEAST FLORIDA CONSERVATORY
Ronald Touchton - is a native of Jacksonville, FL and received his Bachelor's in Piano Performance under Dr. Gerson Yessin in 1981 and continued nine more years of study under John MacEnulty. He has been teaching private piano lessons for over 33 years and has worked several churches in Jacksonville, Massachusetts and Vermont and was accompanist for ballet classes. He has been a member of the Music Teachers National Association since 1984 and performed twice at their state conventions.
Tony Fidyk - (Percussion) is a freelance musician and a senior studying music education at the University of North Florida. Throughout his high school career he performed with top-level all-county and all-state concert band, symphony, and large big band. Fidyk is also apart of the premier college big band, "JE1", at the University of North Florida for the past two years. Fidyk has gotten the great pleasure to have performed with Bill Prince, J.B. Scott, Lynne Arriale, the Naval Academy Concert Band, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble and countless others.
Arvid Smith - Arvid began performing in 1966 while in high school, with the gamut of bands any highschooler would form. It was as a college music major that the total eclecticism of the guitar and its variants opened the world to him.
He co-authored a best-selling book on acoustic slide guitar for Mel Bay Publications (Contemporary Slide Guitar pub. 1976 and a seller for 26 years) and soon after took the lion’s share of the tracks on the first John Fahey Tribute project for the venerable Kicking Mule Records label. Further on, his return to electric music brought him into play with such eclectic non-mainstream players as Fred Frith while working within some of Florida’s more outside bands, such as The Great Invisibles and Nerve Meter.
It was working in theatrical sound design that Arvid met and became partners with Lee Hunter, forming the alt-folk band Tammerlin in 1993. For the next 16 years and 5 CD releases Tammerlin toured the States and Europe, receiving wide acclaim for their folk-inspired sound. Arvid has continued to pursue his own vision, particularly as a composer and performer on Sitar and Dilruba, inspired by the music of India. Currently he is also performing with the Group Canary In The Coalmine.
Nadia Zarembo - (guitar, mandolin, and organ) of Russia has a Master degree from Russia in string folk instruments and instrumental conducting. She also has Master of Music degree from SUNY (Binghamton) in choral conducting with minor in organ. 15 years of experience teaching in Children’s music schools and at a music college in Russia. In USA she has been a private instructor, taught beginning piano at SUNY (Binghamton), and as a student conductor worked with University and Community Choir. She moved to Florida in summer 2007 from New York State.
Philip Pan - (violinist) former Concertmaster of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra since 1984. He regularly solos with the JSO and has also made concerto appearances with the Albany Symphony, Schenectady Symphony, Gainesville Chamber, Boston Pops and Bach Aria Festival orchestras. He has performed in recital at Alice Tully Hall, the Aspen Music Festival, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, the Madison Chamber Music festival, the Homestake Opera House (Lead, SD) and in many other venues throughout the U.S. He and his wife, JSO flutist Rhonda Cassano, are founders of the Bach and Beyond! series, Synergy and Sound Effects at MOCA Jacksonville.
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Phone: (904) 374-8639