2018 Faculty

Telegraph Quartet, quartet in residence

The Telegraph Quartet was formed in 2013 with an equal passion for the standard chamber music repertoire as well as contemporary and non-standard repertoire, alike. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2017 as “…an incredibly valuable addition to the cultural landscape” and “powerfully adept… with a combination of brilliance and subtlety,” the Telegraph Quartet was most recently awarded the prestigious 2016 Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award. Past prizes include the Grand Prize at the 2014 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. The Quartet has since gone on to perform in concert halls, music festivals, and academic institutions from Los Angeles and New York to Italy and Taiwan, including Carnegie Hall, San Francisco’s Herbst Recital Hall and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Chamber Masters Series and at festivals including the Chautauqua Institute, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, and the Emilia Romagna Festival. In 2016, the Quartet was invited as one of a handful of emerging professional string quartets from around the world to perform in Paris, France at the Biennale de quatuors à cordes, a showcase for major concert presenters of Europe and Asia taking place at the Philharmonie de Paris.

Ambroise Aubrun, violin

Since his recital debut at age 14, Dr. Aubrun has been invited to numerous festivals such as “Le Cercle musical” (Cannes, France), the “Festival de Loudun”, the “Dilijan Chamber Music Series” (Los Angeles and Yerevan, Armenia), the “Incontri in terra di Sienna” (Italy), Sonnet and Sonatas, “Le Salon de Musiques”, and Pacific Serenades (Los Angeles).
Highlights of Dr. Aubrun’s 2017-18 season include debuts at the Cambrai Festival as the “revelation of the year”, concerts in Los Angeles and Paris and the release of his first album with the Hortus Label. Dr. Aubrun teaches Violin and Chamber music at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music as well as at UC Santa Barbara.
He has performed alongside such artists as Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Kevin Fitz-Gerald, David Bismuth, Guillaume Sutre, Scott St. John, Martin Chalifour, Fred Sherry, Clive Greensmith, Rohan de Saram, Carrie Dennis as well as the Borroméo and Ebène string quartets. An advocate for contemporary music, Mr. Aubrun has premiered over 20 works and has closely worked with composers such as Eric Tanguy, Alyssa Weinberg and Roger Bourland. The recipient of numerous awards, (1st Prize at Vatelot Competition, laureate of the Langart Foundation and winner of the Charles Oulmont Prize of the Fondation de France…), Dr. Aubrun has appeared as a soloist in the Sibelius, Joachim, Weinberg and Bruch Concertos, and the Bartok Rhapsody No.1.
Dr. Aubrun graduated at age 19 from the Paris National Superior Conservatory (CNSMDP) where he studied with Roland Daugareil and Serge Pataud. He then obtained his Master’s and Doctorate degrees from UCLA under Professor Guillaume Sutre, as well as his Artist Diploma from the Colburn Conservatory of Music with Martin Beaver. Dr. Aubrun plays a Matteo Goffriller violin, on a generous loan by the Langart Foundation.

A photo of Susan Bates by Isabella Ramos

Susan Bates, viola

Faculty, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Pre-College, founding member New Age Quartet, previous founder/director, California Summer Music, Lake Tahoe Music Festival Academy, currently founding director, Young Chamber Musicians. Ms. Bates is the recipient of the Gruber Award for Excellence in Chamber Music Teaching from Chamber Music America.

A photo of Armen Ksajikian

Armen Ksajikian, cello

Widely hailed as one of the greatest cellists in North-Central Eagle Rock, and rapidly gaining a high reputation on BOTH sides of the Atlantic… Boulevard, Armen is not exactly your ‘garden-variety’ cellist. He is Associate Principal Cello of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and a member of the Armadillo String Quartet since 1982. He has performed in a 34-hour marathon of the complete Haydn string quartets.

A photo of David Balakrishnan

David Balakrishnan, violin

David Balakrishnan, composer/violinist and founder of the Grammy-winning Turtle Island Quartet born in Los Angeles, California in 1954. After graduating from UCLA in 1976, he quickly established his reputation as a young and talented improvising violinist, appearing on many recordings and making guest appearances with the David Grisman Quartet and jazz violin legend Stephane Grappelli. Under his direction, Turtle Island has won two Grammy awards and David himself has been nominated six times, the most recent being a 2015 nomination in the instrumental composition category for his piece, “Confetti Man”. Several distinguished musicians have played with the TIQ, including clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, guitar legends Leo Kottke and the Assad brothers, pianists Billy Taylor, Kenny Barron, Cyrus Chestnut and Ramsey Lewis, singers Tierney Sutton and Nellie McKay and the Ying Quartet. A distinguished musician/composer,David won Chamber Music America’s prestigious Classical Commissioning Program grant in 2015, supporting a full-length work commemorating the quartet’s 30th anniversary season.

Photo of Randy Fisher

Randy Fisher, viola/violin

Committed to chamber music since 1973 (before CMA!), Randy Fisher’s ensembles bore chamber music traditions from coachings with members of the Juilliard, Cleveland and Budapest quartets as well as Lillian Fuchs and Joseph Gingold. Since moving to California, Fisher has coached regularly at Humboldt, CalCap, SoCal, CMNC, Santa Barbara, Golden Gate and Grand Pacific workshops. Previously, he played in symphonies and string quartets based in seven states and five countries, taught chamber music at colleges in Colorado, Virginia and Hong Kong, and served as Director of Education and Community Outreach for five symphonies.

Photo of Anne Harley

Anne Harley, soprano

Canadian soprano Anne Harley tours regularly in North America, Europe and Asia and has appeared as soloist with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Opera Boston, BAM Next Wave Festival, American Repertory Theatre, Handel & Haydn Society, Boston Camerata, at the Banff Centre for the Arts and at the Tanglewood Festival. Her solo performances of new music and modern-day premieres of early music are available on Hänssler Profil, Naxos, Sony Classics, Canteloupe, Musica Omnia, einKlang and BMOP/sound, among others. In 2011, she founded the new music commissioning project Voices Of The Pearl. A prize-winning performer-scholar, director and educator, and chair of the Scripps College music department, she has been invited to give master classes and teaching residencies at Shanghai Conservatory, Beijing University, Brown College, among others.

Emma Rubinstein, violin

Emma has appeared in concerts both nationally and internationally as a guest soloist and chamber musician. She became concertmaster of the Idaho Falls Symphony in July 2009. Prior to arriving in Idaho Falls, she was Assistant Professor of Music and first violin of the Oxford String Quartet at Miami University of Ohio (“Quartet art at the highest level” – Salzburg, Austria). She is also the former first violinist and founding member of the Anacapa String Quartet (“Consummate interpreters” – San Jose, Costa Rica).

Susan Freier, violin

Susan is a former violinist with the Chester, Stanford and Ives Quartets. She served on the faculty of her alma mater, Stanford University, after returning to her native Bay Area in 1989 from her appointment at Indiana University. With the Chester she won the Evian, Munich, Portsmouth (England) and Chicago Discovery competitions, and recorded for the AIX, New World and Naxos companies with the Stanford and Ives. Co-Artistic Director of the Ives Collective, she has performed at the Aspen, Schlern, Orfeo, Telluride Chamber and Mendocino Music Festivals. Susan has been performing with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players since her return to the Bay Area.

Stephen Harrison, cello

Cellist Stephen Harrison has been a member of the Stanford University faculty since 1983, when he returned to his native Bay Area to co-found the Stanford String Quartet. In 1998 he became the founding cellist of the Ives Quartet and is now co-Artistic Director of the Ives Collective. These ensembles have commissioned works from composers such as William Bolcom, Ben Johnston, Elinor Armer, and Dan Becker. Cellist of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players since 1986, he has performed internationally and recorded for the Naxos, Music and Arts, CRI, New Albion, Newport Classics, AIX, New World and Bridge recording labels.

Peter Henderson, piano

A versatile pianist, Peter Henderson is active as a performer in solo, chamber and orchestral settings. Henderson is Associate Professor of Music and Artist in Residence at Maryville University, where he has been a faculty member since 2005. He performs frequently as an ensemble keyboardist with the St. Louis Symphony, and made his debut as a subscription concert soloist with the Symphony in January 2008. During January and February 2016, Henderson was the piano soloist in the St. Louis Symphony’s subscription concert and California tour performances of Oliver Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux étoiles…. Critics described him as a “powerhouse soloist” (San Francisco Chronicle) and an “excellent pianist” (Los Angeles Times), and praised his Messiaen playing for its “intense focus and thrilling vibrancy” (San Jose Mercury News). In addition to his work as a keyboard performer with the St. Louis Symphony, he occasionally gives pre-concert lectures from the Symphony’s Powell Hall stage, introducing subscription concert programs. Henderson has also served as Principal Keyboardist of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony since 2015.

Henderson is an advocate of new music, having given several premieres of solo piano and chamber works. In recent years, he has programmed solo recitals exploring focused repertoire: during the 2011-12 season, he performed the 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven; in November and December 2012, he presented the complete piano works of Debussy; and in November 2013, he played Chopin’s 27 Études in a single concert. Henderson’s discography includes collaborations with violinist David Halen, flutist Mark Sparks, violist Jonathan Vinocour, bass trombonist Gerry Pagano, soprano Marlissa Hudson, and The 442s, a Saint-Louis based crossover group. He appears on CDs published by AAM Recordings, AMP Records, and other labels, and is the piano soloist on a disc released during 2015 that features Fred Onovwerosuoke’s 24 Studies in African Rhythms. His second solo CD, “A Celebration of African Composers for Piano,” was issued in 2017.

Henderson is a member of the Ilex Piano Trio, along with violinist Kristin Ahlstrom (his wife), and cellist Anne Fagerburg. Both Kristin and Anne are St. Louis Symphony members.

Henderson holds the degree Doctor of Music from Indiana University, Bloomington, where his piano instructor was Dr. Karen Shaw. Prior to attending Indiana University, he studied piano with Dr. Jay Mauchley at the University of Idaho, Moscow. In addition to his performing activities, Henderson also works as a recording producer and composes music. He and Kristin live in St. Louis with their lively, sweet beagle/terrier-mix Zinni.

Mary Beth Woodruff, violin

Ms. Woodruff grew up in Southern California and began studying the violin at the age of 7. At the age of 15 she was accepted at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan. While at Interlochen, she served as co-concertmaster of the IAA Symphony Orchestra and was a member of the Honors Quartet with whom she was a prize winner in both the Downbeat Magazine Chamber Music Competition and the Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition. Following graduation, Ms. Woodruff matriculated at the New England Conservatory of Music and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At M.I.T. she majored in both chemistry and music and was awarded an Advanced Music Performance Scholarship. She was honored with membership in the Burchard Scholars in the Arts at M.I.T. and received the Von Ness Scholarship for Best Performer in the Arts. While studying in Boston, she was member of the Boston Philharmonic, Emmanuel Music, the MIT Chamber Music Society, and the New England Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Woodruff attended Carnegie Mellon University for graduate school with a full scholarship to study with Andres Cardenes, concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony. During this time period, she participated in the Jerusalem International Symphony Orchestra Winter Festival in Israel and was co-concertmaster. Upon receiving her Masters she began teaching at Biola University Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles where she taught violin, viola, music history, strings literature/repertoire, strings pedagogy, and was Head of Chamber Music Studies. During her 7 years at Biola, she led a group of students on a chamber music concert tour of mainland China and soloed with the Biola Symphony Orchestra on a concert tour of Italy, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.

Upon the birth of her first child Ms. Woodruff left Biola to focus on performing and opened a Violin/Viola teaching studio in Santa Barbara county. She and her husband now have three children and reside in Solvang. In 2009, Ms. Woodruff expanded her work in training young musicians and created SANTA BARBARA STRINGS which not only trains young musicians in orchestral and chamber music ensembles, but also in the composition of works written and performed by the players and Artistic Director.

Ms. Woodruff has collaborated/performed with Menachem Pressler, Andres Cardenes, and Julia Bushkova. In Santa Barbara, she has performed with the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, was assistant concertmaster for the Opera Santa Barbara and for the past 5 years with the Radian String Quartet. Her principal teachers have included Ronald Copes, James Buswell, Julia Bushkova, Andres Cardenes, and John Harbison.

Jeffrey Sykes, piano

Acclaimed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as “a commanding solo player, the most supportive of accompanists, and a leader in chamber music,” pianist Jeffrey Sykes has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and Chile, and collaborates regularly with leading instrumentalists and singers. Together with violinist Axel Strauss and cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau, Sykes is a founding member of the San Francisco Piano Trio, an ensemble noted for its virtuosic interpretations of works ranging from the trios of Haydn and Beethoven to those of Leon Kirchner and Astor Piazzolla. Mr. Sykes is the co-founder and artistic co-director of the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society of Wisconsin, a highly-acclaimed and innovative chamber music festival now in its twenty-seventh season. He is a regular guest artist with the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society; the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio, Texas; and Music in the Vineyards in Napa Valley, California; and in 2007, he served as the guest artistic director of Music in the Vineyards. He has recorded for the Albany, CRI, Mandala, Centaur, and Cactus Pear record labels. For eighteen years, Mr. Sykes served as the Music Director of Opera for the Young, a preeminent producer and presenter of opera for children that has introduced more than two million children to opera. He works extensively as a vocal coach throughout the US and teaches piano, voice, and chamber music at the University of California at Berkeley and California State University East Bay. A recipient of the Jacob Javits Fellowship from the US Department of Education and a Fulbright Scholar, he completed his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.