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.
Flutist Philip Dikeman, Associate Professor of Flute at The Blair School of Music, was a member of 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. He also appeared as concerto soloist with the DSO on numerous occasions and took part in various tours to Europe, Asia, Florida, The Hollywood Bowl, and Carnegie Hall.
Dikeman attended the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Robert Willoughby and received his Bachelor of Music. He received his Master of Music from the Yale School of Music, studying with Thomas Nyfenger. He was named the George Wellington Memorial Scholar for his outstanding musical and academic excellence upon completion of his degree at Yale University.
Immediately after graduation, Philip began his professional career when he was appointed Principal Flute of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he held for five seasons. Prior to joining the Detroit Symphony in the fall of 1992, he played Principal Flute for a short time with the San Antonio Symphony. He has also played Guest Principal Flute with both the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony. He also joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic on its 2010 U.S Tour as Guest Associate Principal Flutist, playing under Maestro Gustavo Dudamel. In August of 2012, he played again with the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl for a concert with Placido Domingo.
In competition, Mr. Dikeman holds the distinction of having won first prize in both the National Flute Association’s (NFA) Young Artist and Orchestral Audition Competitions.
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 numerous tours including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Lucerne, Switzerland. He has also been a featured performer for the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival on numerous occasions since 1994. He has made recital and masterclass appearances throughout the United States including Los Angeles, Boston, and Interlochen.
In March of 2012, he was the special Guest Artist at the invitation of the Chicago Flute Club, presenting both a recital and masterclass. In May, he visited the Cleveland Institute of Music and gave masterclasses for both the College and Pre-College flute students. During the summer of 2012, he joined the faculty at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp as a Valade Fellow, Instructor of Flute.
Most recently, Dikeman was invited to be Program Chair for the National Flute Association’s Convention, to be held in Chicago in August 2014.
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. 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.