The St. Augustine Music Festival, a highlight of St. Augustine summer events, features local and international performers, virtuosos, and classical music legends alike.
Jorge A. Peña
Viola; SAMF co-Founder and Artistic Director
A former member of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, Mr. Peña came to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in 1996. He was born in Honduras and educated in the U.S., attending Columbus State University and earning a degree in performance and chamber music from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Philadelphia Orchestra principal viola and president of the Curtis Institute Roberto Diaz, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra principal viola Richard Field, and Julliard Quartet member Earl Carlys. His chamber music experience includes the National Gallery of Art Chamber Orchestra, Virginia Chamber Orchestra, Atlanta Virtuosi, Tanglewood Music Center, Grand Teton Music Festival, University of North Florida and the Ritz Chamber Players as well as solo and small ensemble recitals in North America, Central America, Europe and Asia. He is a teacher and clinician for chamber music as well as solo master classes at LaVilla School of the Arts, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and the University of North Florida. Mr. Peña coaches violin and viola for the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra and coaches chamber music in the JSYO chamber music program and is on the faculty of Prelude Chamber Music Camp. Mr. Peña is a founder of the Sonora Ensemble, the Movado String Quartet; and founder and Artistic Director of the St. Augustine Music Festival. He is conductor and music director of the Coastal Youth Orchestra, and General Manager of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia in Brunswick, GA.
Cello; SAMF co-Founder
Mrs. Kim has appeared as soloist with the Savannah Symphony Orchestra, Korean National Orchestra, In Chun Symphony Orchestra and Korean youth Symphony. Her orchestral experience includes performances with the Columbus and Macon Symphony Orchestra, Maryland Symphony Orchestra, New York Festival Orchestra, Savannah Symphony, and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Jin has been heard in recitals over many states including Maryland, Georgia, Cleveland, and her native country Korea. Mrs. Kim studied Cello performance at the Columbus State University, and Hart School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. She coaches for the Jacksonville Youth Symphony and teaches a small studio of Cello students. She co-founded the St. Augustine Music Festival with her husband and violist Jorge Peña together they have three beautiful daughters, Ines, Gaby, and Elisa.
Hailed as “an astonishing talent, with exquisite technique”, Nigel Armstrong was born in Sonoma, California where he began playing the violin at the age of five. He started with Suzuki lessons, then went on to study with Zaven Melikian in San Francisco, Robert Lipsett at Colburn, and Arnold Steinhardt and Shmuel Ashkenasi at Curtis. At a young age, he traveled the world performing in competitions, and one thing is for certain-- Nigel has reached an extremely high level of violin playing, which he has spiced with a sense of adventure and individuality. In addition to being a renowned soloist, he enjoys the powerful moments that come from being a part of an orchestra. Nigel also enjoys playing fiddle and jazz for its creative aspects and seeing where it can go. He has worked intensely on the violin: studying four years at the Colburn School followed by two at the Curtis Institute; performing as a soloist with numerous orchestras; and winning awards and international competitions, including the 2010 Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition and the 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition.
Acclaimed by The New York Times for his “effortless virtuosity,” Stephen Robinson performs and conducts master classes at leading musical institutions and festivals worldwide. He has appeared as guest soloist with orchestras including the Cincinnati Symphony and Boston Pops Orchestras. In addition to serving as Professor of Guitar at Stetson University, Deland, Fla., since 1983, Dr. Robinson is an award-winning recording artist. The late renowned guitarist Andrés Segovia described him as “a magnificent guitarist, one of the most brilliant guitarists of our times.” New York-born Robinson began his guitar studies with Bruce Holzman at Florida State University, and also worked closely with Andrés Segovia. After graduate studies at the Yale School of Music, Florida State University awarded Robinson its first Doctor of Music in Guitar Performance.
Leon Fleisher and Katherine Jacobson
Duo performances of legendary pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher with internationally renowned pianist Katherine Jacobson have received accolades from music's most respected critics. The duo performs in recital and with orchestras around the world. Their performances of the Mozart Concerto for Two Pianos in F Major (K. 242) have been hailed in appearances in New York at Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia, Naples, Toronto, Dublin and Tokyo.
As a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007, pianist Leon Fleisher was recognized as a “consummate musician whose career is a testament to the life-affirming power of art.”
The child prodigy began to study the piano at the age of four and by the age of nine, the legendary Artur Schnabel invited him to be his student, first in Lake Como, Italy, and then in New York, where he nurtured and inspired the young Mr. Fleisher for the next ten years as he evolved into one of the great music masters of our time. Leon Fleisher made his debut with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Pierre Monteux, when he was sixteen years old. Maître Monteux called him “the pianistic find of the century.”
Mr. Fleisher went on to international renown, becoming the first American to win the prestigious Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition in Brussels in 1952. He subsequently enjoyed a prolific recording career, most notably with George Szell and The Cleveland Orchestra, recordings recognized as among the great collaborations in the concerto repertoire. In 1965, before a scheduled tour of Russia with The Cleveland Orchestra, Leon Fleisher began to suffer symptoms of a debilitating condition of his right hand, later diagnosed as focal dystonia, a neurological condition that causes the fingers to curl into the palm of the hand.
After a period of great despair, Mr. Fleisher channeled his creativity in new directions, mastering the piano repertoire for left hand and initiating a career in conducting. He renewed his dedication to teaching at Peabody, where he has been the inspiration to hundreds of students since 1959. Leon Fleisher holds the Andrew W. Mellon Chair at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. As a teacher, he has carried on a tradition that descends directly from Beethoven himself, handed down generationally through Carl Czerny, Theodor Leschetizky, Artur Schnabel and Leon Fleisher himself.
In the mid-90s, with the combined therapies of Botox injections and Rolfing, he regained sufficient use of his right hand, leading to an extraordinary career renaissance. In 2003, Mr. Fleisher joined forces with his wife, pianist Katherine Jacobson, to form the Fleisher-Jacobson Piano Duo, giving concerts world-wide and recording for Sony Classical. Leon Fleisher released the album Two Hands in 2004, which went on to hold a Top 5 Billboard Chart position and was hailed by critics as one of the best recordings of the year. Two Hands is also the title of the Oscar-nominated documentary film about his amazing life story. In 2013, Sony Classical issued a 23-CD box set of his entire recorded output, and in 2014, Mr. Fleisher released his first solo CD in a decade, the Grammy-nominated All The Things You Are.
In 2006, in Paris, Leon Fleisher received the honor of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters by the Minister of Culture of the French government.
At age 88, in addition to his teaching at Peabody, Mr. Fleisher continues with an international schedule of master classes, performances and orchestral guest conducting.
A Minnesota native, pianist Katherine Jacobson's career as a soloist, duo pianist and chamber musician has received international acclaim. She has performed at the Tanglewood Music Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Summer Festival and Miyazaki Summer Festival.
Orchestras with which she has appeared include the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, and the Orchestre National de Paris. Ms. Jacobson was recently featured on NPR's "Performance Today."
Together with Leon Fleisher, she recorded the Mozart "Concerto for Two Pianos", K. 242 with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra (Sony Classical). In 2015, the CD Four Hands was released featuring Ms. Jacobson and Mr. Fleisher (Sony Classical). They have recently commissioned a two-piano concerto by composer Nicholas Jacobson-Larson.
Ms. Jacobson studied with Vitya Vronsky at the Cleveland Institute of Music and was introduced to the piano duo repertoire by the duo piano team of Vronsky and Babin. Her main musical influence was Leon Fleisher, with whom she worked at the Peabody Conservatory.
Today the Fleisher-Jacobson Duo concertizes world-wide performing piano duo repertoire. She serves on the chamber music faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University.
Elissa Lee Koljonen
Recognized as one of the most celebrated violinists of her generation, Elissa Lee Koljonen has thrilled audiences and critics in over one hundred cities throughout the world. Ms. Koljonen initially received international acclaim when she became the first recipient of the prestigious Henryk Szeryng Foundation Award and silver medalist of the Carl Flesch International Violin Competition. Ms. Koljonen returned to the Philadelphia Orchestra in July 2007 performing the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1. Her performances include her debut in Spain with James Judd and the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, performances with José-Luis Novo and the orchestras in Annapolis and Binghamton, the Delaware Symphony, Reading Symphony, the Kimmel Center’s Summer Solstice, and the Philadelphia premiere of Behzad Ranjbaran’s Violin Concerto with JoAnn Falletta. Other engagements include the Boston Pops, Minnesota Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic and the symphonies of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Helsinki, and Seoul. Her engagements have taken her to some of the world’s most important venues, among them the Vienna Musikverein, Salzburg Mozarteum, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, London’s Barbican Centre, Seoul Arts Center, Boston’s Symphony Hall, and the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. As a recitalist, Ms. Koljonen has performed in many musical capitals including London, Amsterdam, Salzburg, Seoul, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York. A 2004 performance in Carnegie Hall was hailed with excellent critical review. Also an avid chamber musician, Ms. Koljonen appears regularly at festivals throughout North America, Europe and Asia. She garnered critical acclaim for her debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and her appearances with the London Mozart Players and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo in a special concert celebrating the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi Dynasty. Ms. Koljonen is a protégé of the great Aaron Rosand at the Curtis Institute of Music. Through his influence, she continues the legacy and tradition of Leopold Auer and his legendary school of violin playing.
String Trio Andrés Cárdenes, Roberto Diaz, and Andrés Diaz
One of the few professional string trios in existence today, the Diaz Trio has become one of the finest chamber ensembles in the United States. Composed of three internationally acclaimed artists, Andrés Cárdenes, Roberto Diaz and Andrés Diaz, the trio performs regularly in recital and at festivals around the world. In 1993 at the invitation of Isaac Stern, the trio performed at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall to celebrate the next one hundred years of music-making at Carnegie Hall. Other appearances include performances in Los Angeles, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Boston, Austin, and Lincoln Center in New York, as well as the Mostly Mozart Festival at Kennedy Center, Newport Festival, Cape and Islands Chamber Music Festival, Festival de San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, St. Cyprien International Festival of the Arts in Cyprien, France, the Kuhmo Festival in Finland, and an extensive tour of Chile. Their debut tours of Canada, in collaboration with Canadian pianist Angela Cheng and guitarist Norbert Kraft, were a resounding success. For several years, the Diaz Trio was the trio in residence at the Brevard Music Center.
Andres Diaz was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1964, and began studying the cello at the age of five. Three years later he moved to Atlanta, Georgia and studied at the Georgia Academy of Music with Martha Gerchefski. Mr. Diaz graduated from the New England Conservatory where he worked with Laurence Lesser and Colin Carr, and currently plays an active role in chamber music performances with the Conservatory’s faculty. He served for five years as Associate Professor of Cello at the Boston University and Co-Director of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Quartet Program, resigning in September 2001. He, along with violinist Andres Cardenes and viola player Roberto Diaz, is a member of the celebrated Diaz Trio. Mr. Diaz now lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Julie, and sons Peter Manuel and Gabriel Andres. Presently he is Associate Professor at Southern Methodist University. He plays a 1698 Matteo Goffriller cello and a bow made by his father, Manuel Diaz
A violist of international reputation, Roberto Díaz is president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music. As a teacher of viola at Curtis and former principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Mr. Díaz has already had a significant impact on American musical life. As a soloist, Mr. Díaz collaborates with leading conductors of our time on stages throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Mr. Díaz received an honorary doctorate from Bowdoin College and was awarded an honorary membership by the National Board of the American Viola Society. In 2013 Mr. Díaz became a member of the prestigious American Philosophical Society founded by Benjamin Franklin. In addition to his decade-long tenure as principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he performed the entire standard viola concerto repertoire and gave a number of Philadelphia Orchestra premieres, Mr. Díaz was principal viola of the National Symphony under Mstislav Rostropovich, a member of the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa, and a member of the Minnesota Orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner.
Recognized worldwide as a musical phenomenon, Grammy-nominated Andrés Cárdenes parlays his myriad talents into one of classical music’s most versatile careers. Cuban-born Cárdenes has garnered international acclaim from critics and audiences alike for his compelling performances as a violinist, conductor, violist, chamber musician, concertmaster, and recording artist. Since capturing Second Prize in the 1982 Tchaikovsky International Violin Competition in Moscow, Mr. Cárdenes has appeared as a soloist on four continents with over 100 orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Moscow Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra. He has collaborated with many of the world's greatest conductors, including Lorin Maazel, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Sir André Previn and Leonard Slatkin. Cárdenes has performed with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman and Christof Eschenbach. Ensembles include Lincoln Center Chamber Players, Miami String Quartet, Gryphon Trio, Miro Quartet, Fry Street Quartet, Amernet Quartet, Ying Quartet, Shanghai Quartet, and the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. He has been the violinist of the Diaz Trio since 1995 and has been a member of the Carnegie Mellon Piano Trio since 1991.From 2008-14, Cárdenes was Music Director of Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where Cárdenes also served as conductor of the Strings Festival Orchestra.