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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

 

St. Augustine Music Festival featured artists this season include:

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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.

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Nigel Armstrong, violin

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’s 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 international competitions, including the 2010 Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition and the 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition.

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Andres Diaz, cello

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

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Jin Kim Pena, cello and 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 include 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 Pena together they have three beautiful daughters, Ines, Gaby, and Elisa.

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Stephen

Stephen Robinson, guitar

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. Visit: www.stephenrobinsonguitar.com

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Bob Moore, composer

Bob Moore is a composer with a multifaceted résumé.

To date he has published nearly 200 choral and instrumental works, many of which have been recorded on six CDs and appear in various hymnals. He was a resident composer in the Faith Partners Program, sponsored by the American Composers Forum and a finalist in the Jacksonville Symphony Orc hestraʼs Fresh Ink Competition. Several of his works were premiered during the Saint Augustine Music Festival, including the Rilke Songs and Five Songs on Frost (both sung by the composer), Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano and Rhapsody for Oboe and Piano. As composer in residence and guest conductor for the St. Augustine Orchestra, he premiered several new works, including Aurelia, commissioned in celebration of their 50th anniversary and Someday, commissioned to commemorate the 40 anniversary the of the Civil Rights Act. In addition to a wide variety of sacred music, his catalog contains art songs and compositions for solo piano, chamber ensembles, band and orchestra. Several of his works have received awards and many have been composed on commission.

He served for 20 years as the Director of Liturgical Music at San Jose Catholic Church in Jacksonville, Florida, he was the Director of Music Ministry at the Cathedral- Basilica of St. Augustine and the Director of Music for St. Patrick ʼs Episcopal Church, He is currently the Director of Music Ministry at The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour.

He has taught privately as well as band, chorus and general music in public and private schools while serving as artistic director for two community choruses (The Amelia Island Chorale and The Orange Park Chorale). With percussionist Tony Steve, he has performed jazz and experimental music, including a series of innovative live silent film scores. Joe Yorio joins them in the trio, De Profundis, which performs sacred jazz and world music.

His publishers include G.I.A. Publications, World Library Publications, Santa Barbara Music Publishers, Hal Leonard, Augsburg Fortress, MusicSpoke and Oregon Catholic Press.

Bob studied composition with Richard Proulx, William Schirmer, Gordon Goodwin, and Bud Udell at the University of South Carolina, Jacksonville University, and the University of Florida.

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Scott Watkins, piano

Scott is classical pianist and graduate of The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music with a degree in piano performance where he held the Van Cliburn Scholarship and studied with Bela Siki. He was also a student of the late Canadian pianist Raymond Dudley at The University of South Carolina where he earned the Master of Music degree. He holds a Doctor of Music degree in piano performance from The Florida State University where he studied with the late Edward Kilenyi. He won the prestigious Artistic Ambassador Award in 1985, and the Patricia D’Angelus Award at the Memphis Beethoven International Piano Competition in 1999. Since those early days his career has taken him to many of the world’s concert stages, and he has enjoyed many collaborations with some of the finest orchestras and noted soloists.

Called “a polished player in his prime,” by Folio Weekly, his performances have been described as “fresh, forceful, and exciting” (Tallahassee Democrat) … and “colossal, with instances of delicate lyricism” (La Nacion, Buenos Aires). He was called “superb” by the Chicago Sun Times.  …“a versatile interpreter with ethereal and delicate touches of color” (Die Welt, Frankfurt) … “always seeks to penetrate the depths of the music.” (La Hora, Quito, Ecuador) … “a rousing, virtuosic performance, excitingly played with finesse and spirit. This was, in sum, a performance of distinction” (The State, Columbia, South Carolina) … “a sparkling performance, from the flourishes of the passage work and finely articulated voicing, to the full, lush sound of romanticism … a splendid performance” (The Press Journal, Vero Beach, Florida). His most recent Carnegie Hall recital was described as “a highly praiseworthy concert – a fulfilling musical evening” (New York Concert Review).

Watkins is currently Associate Professor of Piano at Jacksonville University, and since 2011, he has held the position of Visiting Foreign Scholar at Beifang University’s Conservatory of Music and Dance in Yin Chuan, China, where he performs, teaches, and lectures during the Spring. Watkins’ latest recording, American Piano Sonatas, was released in September on Jacksonville University’s record label, Dolphinium Records, and includes music by Howard Hanson, William Schirmer, and Carlisle Floyd. Peter Burwasser, music critic for Fanfare Magazine writes that Watkins plays “splendidly, bringing a fine balance of colorful tonality and elegance” to the works.

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Roberto Diaz

Roberto Diaz, viola

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.

 

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