Zeneba Bowers, ALIAS’ Artistic Director, earned both her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music. She has served as concertmaster of Charleston’s Spoleto Festival, Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy and the New World Symphony. Zeneba joined the Nashville Symphony in 1999 and became Assistant Principal Second Violin in 2001, a position she holds to this day. She helped found ALIAS in 2002 and the group quickly became a major element of Nashville’s classical music scene. The group garnered a Grammy nomination in 2011 for “Best Small Ensemble Performance” on its debut CD, “Hilos,” which Zeneba co-produced.
Sari DeLeon Reist performs regularly with some of Nashville’s finest musicians and ensembles, both on stage and in the recording studio. She plays with the Nashville Opera Orchestra and is a regular substitute with the Nashville Symphony. She was also a soloist with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra and the Nexus Chamber Orchestra. In the popular realm, Sari can be heard on recordings by Lady Antebellum, Kings of Leon, Ben Folds, Train, Carrie Underwood and many others. Sari received her Bachelors of Music degree in cello performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Later, she received her Suzuki Certification from School for Strings in New York City. She has served on the faculties of School for Strings, Mannes College of Music, The Children’s Orchestra of New York and the Governors School for the Arts in TN.
Arlington, Texas, native Chris Farrell joined the Nashville Symphony viola section in 1999. Previously, he was a member of the Knoxville Symphony. Chris holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Music degree from Indiana University. He has been a member of ALIAS for nearly a decade and has led its Education and Community Outreach efforts since 2008. In 2015, ALIAS will present the world premiere of Chris’ String Quartet No. 2.
ALIAS violinist Alison Gooding has been a member of the Nashville Symphony since 1998. With degrees from Florida State University and the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, she has also performed with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. Alison is a founding member of ALIAS and an active recording musician. She also dedicates significant amounts of time to music education and outreach. In this pursuit, she has served ALIAS, the Nashville Symphony and TPAC/Wolftrap Early Learning through the Arts. In addition, Alison is an adjunct faculty member at Belmont University. She has played in venues around the world; is the recipient of honors including the prestigious Mautz Award; and donates her time to various charitable organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Licia Jaskunas has been principal harpist with the Nashville Symphony since 1998. Previously, she played with the New World Symphony and spent several summer seasons with the Utah Festival Opera Company. She has also performed with orchestras of the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Pacific Music Festival and the Spoleto Festival. Licia studied at Indiana University and the Eastman School of Music. She was the winner of the American Harp Society’s National Competition in 1987.
Clarinetist Lee Levine has recorded chamber music for the Gasparo label, orchestral music for the Naxos label, and popular and commercial music for a number of Nashville’s top producers. She studied music at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore; is a recipient of Tanglewood Music Center’s Cabot Prize for Outstanding Instrumentalist; and earned two nominations for Outstanding Instrumentalist from Nashville Music Awards. Lee recently retired from a 30-year orchestral career, which included positions as principal clarinetist with the Bogota Philharmonic, the National Repertory Orchestra and the Nashville Symphony. She remains an active chamber musician and recording musician.
Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at Belmont University, Christopher Norton holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music and a doctorate from Louisiana State University. In addition to his work with ALIAS, he regularly performs with the Nashville Symphony, Sympatico Percussion Group and the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra. Previously, Chris performed, recorded and toured with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Bob Becker Ensemble and the Jack Daniel’s Silver Cornet Band. He has also held positions with the Rochester Philharmonic, Virginia Symphony, Baton Rouge Symphony, Alabama Symphony and Eastern Philharmonic. Chris is Music Director of the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also recorded several CDs, including This Road We’re On, featuring horn-percussion duos with his wife and fellow ALIAS musician Leslie Norton, and Christopher Norton: Creston Concertino for Marimba.
Leslie Norton has been a member of the faculty at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music since 1989 and Principal Horn for the Nashville Symphony since 1990. Previously, she played with the New Orleans Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic and the Atlanta Symphony. She has also performed with the OK Mozart Festival, the Skaneateles Festival, the Peninsula Music Festival and served as Principal Horn at the Eastern Music Festival for 20 years. A founding member of ALIAS, Leslie is a member of the Blair Woodwind Quintet and Blair Brass Quintet. She is also a recording artist, who has performed on more than 300 recordings; these diverse projects range from the Naxos Series with the Nashville Symphony, to IMAX films and CNN jingles, to collaborations with various Nashville icons in the commercial music industry. Leslie is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music.
Pianist Melissa Rose has performed in Russia, Argentina, Greece, Malta and throughout the United States. She regularly collaborates with Summerfest in Kansas City and the Nashville Ballet, in numerous chamber music and song recitals. She is also an official pianist for national and international music competitions and conferences. Critics describe Melissa as a “suave partner” who is “powerfully and intensely musical.” Her recordings include Tonadillas by Granados (ViolaSound); Michael Slayton’s Le soir tombe (Arizona); Peter Schickele: A Year in the Catskills (Naxos); Mirabelle Trio (Blue Griffin); J. Mark Scearce’s Magritte Variations (Centaur), and an album of horn, violin and piano trios by Gerard Schwarz and Paul Lansky. Melissa received piano performance degrees from the University of Michigan and the Yale School of Music. As Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Piano at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, she enjoys coaching chamber music and teaching courses in instrumental/vocal collaboration.
Passionate about music of all time periods, cellist Christopher Stenstrom is equally at home whether performing contemporary solo cello works, chamber music masterpieces or Baroque and Classical music on period instruments. A member of the Nashville Symphony since 1999, Chris is a founding member ALIAS and can be heard regularly as a chamber musician, including performances with the Nashville Symphony’s OnStage program. He is increasingly in demand as an early music specialist, performing as a solo and continuo cellist with Music City Baroque, and with Bourbon Baroque. Chris studied with the late Andor Toth, Jr. at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he also studied viola da gamba and baroque cello with Catharina Meints. He received a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University, where he studied with Dr. Alan Smith. He is an active volunteer in the nonprofit arts community, serving on the boards of Music City Baroque and the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra.
After two years as an English major at James Madison University, cellist Matt Walker transferred to Florida State University, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music. After playing for three years with the Jacksonville Symphony and then five years with the Charleston Symphony, he won a position in the cello section of the Nashville Symphony in 1999. In 2002, Matt helped found ALIAS and he has since appeared regularly with the ensemble as a cellist, bassist, guitarist and composer. ALIAS has presented several world premieres of Matt’s compositions and he is featured on the group’s Grammy-nominated CD “Hilos,” which he also co-produced. As a composer as well as a performing musician, Matt has written many pieces that have been performed across the U.S. and in Europe. In 2012, he was commissioned by the Nashville Ballet, which performed his “Arabian Blues” in May 2012. That same month, Yo-Yo Ma premiered Matt’s cello duo “Yo-Yo Joe.”
After 19 years of wandering, Roger Wiesmeyer came home to play English Horn in the Nashville symphony in the fall of 2001. Before settling here, he received a bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and played in the Pittsburgh and San Francisco symphonies. Roger also plays oboe and piano and finds music a constant source of delight and solace.
Violinist Jeremy Williams is from Albany, New York. He moved to Nashville in 1998 when he joined the Nashville Symphony. He holds bachelor’s degrees in music and psychology from the University of Michigan and a Master’s Degree in Music from Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied with Andres Cardenes. Throughout his career, Jeremy has played with many orchestras and chamber ensembles. In addition to regular appearances with ALIAS, he has played with Excelsior String Quartet and the Red Springs Ensemble, which he founded. As an educator, Jeremy leads a string quartet that performs programs for young people in Tennessee schools. His dog has convinced him that Nashville summers are too hot, so they retreat north whenever they get the chance.
Jessica Blackwell completed her studies in 2009 at The Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where she received a Graduate Performance Diploma. The previous year, she received her Master’s Degree in Performance/Pedagogy from Peabody, where she was a student of Pamela Frank and studied string pedagogy with Rebecca Henry. Blackwell received her B.M. in Performance in 2006 at Rice University, where she studied with Sergiu Luca.
Blackwell has been a member of the Nashville Symphony since 2009. She has played with several orchestras including New World, Baltimore, San Antonio, Annapolis and the Symphony of Southeast Texas, where she served as acting concertmaster.
In Nashville, Blackwell serves as a co-concertmaster for both the Gateway Chamber Ensemble and the Nashville Philharmonic. She is also honored to be a guest performer with ALIAS chamber ensemble.
Music festivals Blackwell has participated in include Tanglewood Music Festival, where she served as a concertmaster in both 2007 and 2008; Britten-Pears Programme in Aldeburgh, England; National Repertory Orchestra Festival; National Orchestral Institute; Bowdoin Music Festival; and ENCORE. Blackwell currently participates in the Grand Teton Music Festival, where she has played for the past five summers.
Blackwell serves on the board of the Middle Tennessee Suzuki Association as vice-president. Previously she was on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory’s Preparatory Program. Since 2009, Blackwell has served as an artist-teacher of violin at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.
Philip Dikeman is currently Associate Professor of Flute at The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, a position he assumed in 2011. Prior to joining the faculty at The Blair School, he was a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for almost 20 years. During his tenure with the DSO, he held the position of Assistant Principal Flute as well as Acting Principal Flute for his final two seasons. In addition, he has played Guest Principal Flute with both the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony and joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic on their 2010 U.S Tour as Guest Associate Principal Flute.
In chamber music, Mr. Dikeman was a member of the Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings for 18 seasons. His performances with DCWS included regular appearances on their subscription series, as well as various tours including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Lucerne, Switzerland. He was also a featured performer for the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival while still a member of the DSO. He has made recital and master class appearances throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Interlochen.
In 2014, he was honored to accept the role of Program Chair for the National Flute Association’s 2014 Convention, aptly titled “Perform, Inspire, Educate!” Also, in the spring of 2015 he traveled to Berlin with the Blair Woodwind Quintet to play a concert at the invitation of the Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet.
Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, flutist Kathryn Ladner joined the Nashville Symphony as third flute and piccolo in 2012. Prior to joining the Symphony, she received a Masters in Music from Rice University, where she studied with Leone Buyse. Her undergraduate education was at the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Bonita Boyd, graduating in 2010. Kathryn has also performed as part of the National Repertory Orchestra, the Pacific Music Festival, and the Aspen Music Festival, where she was the Piccolo Fellow in 2010.
Since moving to Nashville, Kathryn has performed with the Eastwood Chamber Ensemble, taught lessons at the W.O. Smith School, and performed educational programs in public schools. She lives in East Nashville, where she enjoys taking walks with her dog at Shelby Park.
Soprano Lea Maitlen, a native of Chicago, received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and her Master of Music from Belmont University. She is currently active in several facets of the musical realm; as an educator, a performer, and in the music industry. Maitlen is a founding member and Executive Director of the Nashville-based Portara Ensemble, and last year appeared with a quartet from Portara as the soprano in the Tennessee premiere of David Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion. She has also been a featured soloist in operas and oratorios in Illinois, Colorado, and Tennessee. Maitlen’s work in the music industry has focused on championing new music and undiscovered artists, with a focus on choral repertoire.
Christina McGann has been a featured performer at the Kennedy Center, the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, New York City’s Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, and Bargemusic, and at various venues throughout the U.S., Korea, El Salvador, and Europe. She has also performed concertos with orchestras including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Richardson Symphony Musica Bella Orchestra in New York, the Moldovan Chamber Orchestra, the National Chamber Orchestra in Washington D.C., Ohio University New Music Ensemble, and the St. Petersburg Academic Symphony in Russia.
McGann has had great success at national and international competitions, winning top prizes at the National Symphony Young Soloist Competition, the Lennox Competition, the Ackerman Chamber Music Competition with Trio Artica, and the Rischoff Chamber Music Competition, junior division. She was also awarded Third Prize at the Johansen International Competition and Second Prize at Chamber Music Yellow Springs with the iO Quartet.
McGann holds both B.M. and M.M. degrees in violin performance from The Juilliard School, where she was accepted with Presidential Distinction. Her principal teachers include Ronald Copes, Victor Danchenko, Robert Mann, and Donald Weilerstein. Christina is currently a doctoral candidate at SUNY Stony Brook under the guidance of Soovin Kim, Philip Setzer, and Hagai Shaham.
Also an avid educator, McGann began her teaching career in New York City as a Juilliard Morse Fellow – a program that places Juilliard students who are extensively trained as artist-educators into public school classrooms on a weekly basis throughout the school year. In addition to private teaching experience, McGann taught as part of Juilliard’s Instrumental Music Program, has been on faculty at Brooklyn College Preparatory, coached chamber music as a graduate assistant at SUNY-Purchase and received her Suzuki pedagogy training through all books at New York City’s School for Strings. She has also served as Artist in Residence at Ohio University School of Music. She currently serves as Adjunct Artist Teacher of Violin at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.
McGann is also a sought-after orchestral musician, and has been guest concertmaster of the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cape Cod Symphony.
Praised for his “sweet, luxurious” sound (Fanfare), violinist Stephen Miahky was recently appointed the Joseph Joachim Professor of Violin and First Violin of the Blair String Quartet at Vanderbilt University. He has garnered acclaim for his performances as a recitalist and a chamber musician throughout North America and Europe. His most recent engagements include performances at New York City’s Symphony Space, Merkin Hall, and Bargemusic, Atlanta’s ProMozart Society, the Princeton Chamber Music Society, the Southwest Virginia Festival of the Arts, Vancouver’s Sonica Boom Festival, the American Academies in Rome and Belin, the Netherlands’ De Lakenhal, NPR’s Performance Today, and for the Dalai Lama.
As a chamber musician, Miahky has performed at Monadnock Music, the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, Kneisel Hall, Chamber Music Ann Arbor, with the Michigan Chamber Players, the Bryant Park Quartet, the iO Quartet, and with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. He has performed with such distinguished musicians as Cho-Liang Lin, Nicholas Eanet, Martin Beaver, Norman Fischer, Steve Doane, and members of the Arianna, Chester, Concord, Tokyo, and Los Angeles Piano Quartetes. Miahky is currently a member of Brave New Works, and a rotating concertmaster with the IRIS Orchestra in Memphis, TN. He has also served as guest concertmaster of the Columbus ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, the Illinois Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony and the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston.
Miahky has been a soloist with the Bowling Green Philharmonia, Ohio University Symphony Orchestra, Cornell Symphony Orchestra, the Cornell Chamber Orchestra, the Ann Arbor Symphony, the Brave New Works Ensemble, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, the IRIS Orchestra, and the University of Michigan Philharmonia. He can be heard on the AMP, New Dynamic, Edition Modern, Albany, and Naxos record labels.
A native of Akron, Ohio, Miahky received his D.M.A. from Rutgers University where he received the Bettenbender Award for outstanding artistic achievement. He received his B.M. and M.M. from the University of Michigan and remains the university’s only two-time winner of the Earl V. Moore Award for outstanding achievement. Miahky studied chamber music with Andrew Jennings, Martin Katz and members of the Cleveland, Julliard, American and Tokyo String Quartets, and received additional training at the Aspen Music Festival, the Meadowmount School, the Perlman Music Program, Canada’s National Arts Centre, and the Blosson Festival. His major teachers include Arnold Steinhardt, Paul Kantor, Stephen Shipps, and Alan Bodman. He has served on the faculty of the Point Counterpoint Chamber Music Camp, Cornell University, Ohio University, Bowling Green State University, and has given master classes throughout North America and Korea. In addition to Vanderbilt University, Miahky serves on the faculty of the Montecito International Music Festival in Thousand Oaks, CA.
Pianist Arunesh Nadgir has performed as soloist and chamber musician in the United States, South America, Europe, and Asia. He has performed in venues including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theatre, and Jordan Hall, and has participated in several international music festivals including the Millennium International Piano Festival, The Moulin d’Ande Festival, and the Kneisel Hall Summer Music Festival. He has been heard on WPLN and WNYC in live radio broadcasts.
An accomplished teacher, Nadgir is an Assistant Professor of Piano at Middle Tennessee State University. He maintains a private piano studio, is the President of the Middle Tennessee Music Teachers Association, and teaches at the Point CounterPoint Music Camp in Vermont during the summer
Nadgir began taking piano lessons at the age of seven with Michael Thomopoulos and later studied under Wha Kyung Byun, Robert McDonald, and Natalya Antonova. He has performed in master classes conducted by many world-renowned musicians including Julian Martin, Joseph Kalichstein, Roger Tapping, Pamela Frank, and Daniel Pollack. Nadgir holds degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music, The Juilliard School, and the Eastman School of Music.
Nashville native and bassist Tim Pearson performs regularly with the Nashville Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, IRIS Orchestra, Chattanooga Symphony and the Clarksville based Gateway Chamber Orchestra. As instructor of double bass at MTSU, he performs with the Stones River Chamber Players and recently premiered the “Iberian Concerto for Double Bass and Wind Ensemble” by Spanish composer Jesus Santandreu. He earned degrees from the University of Memphis and Indiana University and did additional studies with Bruce Bransby and Paul Ellison. Tim resides in Nashville with his wife, pianist Megan Gale with whom he enjoys jogging, watching hockey and drinking delicious beer and for whom he enjoys attempting to make delicious cakes.
As a classical guitarist, and specialist on the Renaissance and Baroque lutes, Francis Perry has appeared at colleges and music festivals in the United States, Italy, and Spain. Along with his duo partner, Timothy Broege, Mr. Perry was a featured performer at the American Recorder Society’s concert series at the Boston Early Music Festival. Mr. Perry serves as Artistic Director for The Nashville Early Music Festival, with its inaugural event in September, 2015 at Lipscomb University. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the North Carolina School of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Rutgers University. A member of Music City Baroque for the past 8 years, he teaches lute and guitar at Belmont University.
Described as a “true musical talent and professional” (Ivan Trevino, Composer), Eric Willie has a varied career as a solo performer, chamber musician, orchestral player, and teacher. He has performed in Carnegie Hall, several Percussive Arts Society International Conventions, the Big Ears Music Festival, and on regional live broadcasts such as Nashville’s NPR Station “Live In Studio C.” Eric regularly performs with the Nief-Norf and LegalWood Projects. In addition to performing, Eric serves as Director of Percussion Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Until recently, Rebecca Willie lived in Nashville where she played in the Nashville Symphony, served as Concertmaster of the Nashville Philharmonic, and performed chamber music wherever she could including Alias, Eclectic Chamber Players, and Legal Wood Project. In June 2014, Rebecca and her family moved to Greensboro, NC so her husband could accept a fantastic job at UNC-Greensboro. In September of 2014, Rebecca won Assistant Concertmaster of the Winston-Salem Symphony where she now plays. She continues to keep her connection to Nashville alive by performing with Alias and serving as Principal Second violin of the Nashville Opera.