BOARD OF DIRECTORS (2020-2021)

 
 
 
 
 
 

Evangeline Benedetti

A member of the New York Philharmonic from 1967 until 2011, Evangeline also teaches cello and the Alexander Technique privately.  She is author of the book, Cello, Bow and You: Putting It All Together, Oxford University Press, 2017. She is on the faculty of iClassical Academy, an online series of masterclasses. 

 

For more info, visit: www.evangelinebenedetti.com

Alessandro Benetello

Born in Italy, Alessandro Benetello graduated from the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan, where he studied cello and composition, and continued his studies with Antonio Janigro at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He was a tenured member of La Scala and the R.A.I. orchestras in Milan and toured with chamber music groups throughout Italy. 

 

In the U.S., Alessandro is a member of the NYC Ballet Orchestra and has performed with numerous chamber music groups and orchestras, including NYC Opera and Radio City Music Hall.  He was a founding member of La Scuola d’Italia, where he was chairman of the music department for thirty years, and maintains a studio of private cello and piano students.  His music publishing company, titled Organized Chaos Music Editions, offers an extensive choice of music for vocal and instrumental ensembles.

Kate Dillingham

Cellist KATE DILLINGHAM is a soloist, recording artist and an avid proponent of the music of living composers. Following her debut, which featured world premieres of works by Augusta Read Thomas and Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Higdon, the press deemed her "an excellent cellist; dignified, intelligent, and compelling … an adventurous, dedicated champion of contemporary music … an extraordinary performer who displayed musical insight and emotional depth…". She has performed as a soloist with The St. Petersburg Philharmonic, The Moscow Symphony Orchestra, The Salzburg Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and The Brno Philharmonic (Czech Republic). She has appeared at Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, Bargemusic, Symphony Space, and The DiMenna Center in New York City. Kate was a student of Bernard Greenhouse at Rutgers University and of Maria Tchaikovskaya at the Moscow Conservatory. A long association with Mr. Greenhouse led to collaboration on an edition of the Sonatas for Violoncello and Keyboard, BWV 1027-1029 by J.S. Bach, published by G. Schirmer Inc., which she presented in a combined concert and lecture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and recorded with renowned harpsichordist Jory Vinikour for Affetto Records. Kate has recorded albums of varied repertoire from Haydn to Higdon which are available at iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. As Executive Director of Random Access Music (RAM) and the Queens New Music Festival, (New York, USA) Kate is engaged in presenting, commissioning and performing music of the 21st Century. When Kate is not performing on her beautiful 235-year-old antique cello, she proudly plays one of two modern instruments (2011, 2015) by master maker, Zoran Stilin.

For more info, visit: www.katedillingham.com

Sean Grissom

Sean has been involved with the VCS for many years, and believes in the mission of the Society to promote the art of cello playing.  At the forefront of the Alternative Style movement, he wants to expand the boundaries of the instrument to show its vast potential. He has 15+ recordings to his credit, as well as a series of Alternative compositions for today's players- you can NEVER have enough cello!

Hannah Holman

Hannah Holman, cellist, joined the New York City Ballet Orchestra at the beginning of the 2012-2013 season. Her career has encompassed orchestral and chamber music, solo performances, and teaching. In a review of the second CD she recorded with pianist Réne Lecuona, Fanfare magazine declares "her tone and technique are the stuff that cello legends are made of "... Holman's cello sings with a lustrous tone that's hard to resist."

 

In addition to her work with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, Ms. Holman is the principal cellist of the Quad City Symphony, a position she has held since 2008 and is super delighted to be named the new one year adjunct Cello Instructor at the University of Northern Iowa and Biola University for 2020-2021. She began her professional career in England playing with the English String Orchestra under Yehudi Menuhin and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle. Her previous orchestral work also includes serving as assistant principal cello with the Michigan Chamber Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony; and the American Sinfonietta.

 

Hannah is fortunate to have a diverse career allowing much time for solo work.  In 2019, Hannah performed the Korngold Cello Concerto with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Higdon's Soliquoy also with the QCSO, and with the Solomon Chamber Orchestra.  She is in the middle of a video project highlighting the lives of women cellists from the past, and performed six pieces with the Iowa City Community Chamber Orchestra, each piece  focusing on a different cellist.  She performed the 4th Cello Suite of J.S. Bach in Carnegie Hall on March 3, 2020 as part of the Bach Cello Suite Festival, celebrating 300 years of the cello suites.

 

An active chamber musician, Ms Holman helped found Trio 826, with her dear friends Susanna Klein, violin, and Julia Bullard, viola. She was a founding member of the Beaumont Piano Trio, which performed around the United States and England, and was also a founding member of Quadrivinium, a music ensemble in residence at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. From 2002-2011, she was a member of the Maia Quartet, the University of Iowa's quartet in residence, which toured China, Japan, and throughout the United States, including teaching residencies at Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Great Wall International Music Academy in China, and the Austin Chamber Music Center. She regularly performs in chamber ensembles with musicians from throughout the United States.

 

A dedicated private teacher who finds great fulfillment in helping students of all ages grow musically, Ms. Holman was on the University of Iowa music faculty from 2002-2012, and has served on the faculties of the Worcester College (UK), Michigan State University Community School, and Virginia Union University. She has participated in numerous festivals, and has been on the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival since 2001 and currently serves on the faculty of the International Cello Institute, the Five Seasons Music Festival, and Taconic Music.

 

Ms. Holman studied at the Eastman School of Music and Michigan State University, where she completed her Bachelor of Music degree. She obtained her Master of Music Degree with Fritz Magg at the New England Conservatory. Hannah was fortunate enough to have several lessons with William Pleeth in London as postgraduate study. Her musical education began at age 5 with her grandmother, whose 1925 Becker cello she plays today. She is eternally grateful for the fine teaching of a transformative teacher, Louis Potter, during her junior high and high school years.

 

Ms. Holman - whose hobbies include food, wine, and finding killer deals on shoes - divides her time between NYC and Iowa City, Iowa, where she lives with her son, Matisse, and their cat, Ripley.  Please visit her at her website: https://www.hannahholmancello.com/

Thomas Mesa

The Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa has established himself as one of the most charismatic, innovative, and engaging performers of his generation.  Mr. Mesa was the winner of the $50,000 First Prize in the 2016 Sphinx Competition; the Thaviu Competition for String Performance (Chicago, 2013); The Astral Artists 2017 National Auditions; and the Alhambra Orchestra Concerto Competition.  He has appeared as soloist with orchestras in the United States and Mexico, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, Santa Barbara Symphony, Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra which received this rave review from the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “A listener with closed eyes would have been hard pressed to distinguish [Mesa’s] shapely, expressive performance from that of another gifted artist two or three times his age.”

As a recitalist, appearances include the Mainly Mozart Festival, The Academy of Arts and Letters in NYC, Bargemusic, University of Miami’s Signature Series, Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, Columbia University, Flagler Museum, Carnegie Hall, The U.S. Supreme Court, The Heifetz Institute, California Center for the Arts, Meadowmount School of Music, Strad for Lunch Series, International Beethoven Project, Perlman Music Program Alumni Recital, and universities nationwide.

As a recording artist, Thomas was featured on the GRAMMY-nominated album, “Bonhoeffer,” with the multiple GRAMMY winning group called The Crossing Choir.  He has appeared with them as soloist at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, Longwood Gardens, The Winter Garden (broadcast on WNYC) and the Theological Seminary in New York City.  Mr. Mesa and The Crossing also collaborated on the American premiere of “Astralis” for choir and solo cello by renowned composer Wolfgang Rihm and have more collaborations/premieres scheduled for future seasons.  Other recording projects include the piano and cello works of Brahms, Beethoven, a whole album dedicated to the music of Debussy, and a special project in collaboration with PARMA Recordings in a “Call for Scores” that will bring together and record new works for solo cello and cello/piano.  This project will include an album release concert at The DiMenna Center in New York City and the CD will be available on all commercial streaming platforms.

As a ensemble musician, Mr. Mesa is touring with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and is the principal cellist of Sphinx Virtuosi who have played at almost every major venue across the United States.  As a driving force in Sphinx Virtuosi, Thomas has been featured on tour in double concerti for the last couple years and in conjunction with the Sphinx Organization, Carnegie hall, and New World Symphony, has commissioned a solo concerto by Jessie Montgomery to be toured in 2020.  He has toured with Itzhak Perlman both nationally and internationally and is the cellist of the St. Petersburg Piano Quartet, which in high demand, having played sold-out concerts at Barge Music, Bard Festival, Doheny Mansion, Kohl Mansion, Music Mountain and numerous other venues across the U.S.

He is a sought-after educator for his ability to connect with students and teach them to teach themselves. He has given masterclasses at institutions such as U.C Berkeley, Boston Conservatory, Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, University of Miami, Meadowmount School of Music, Walnut Hill School and has held faculty positions at Sphinx Performance Academy, The Heifetz Institute’s PEG Program, Music Mountain Festival and School, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Montecito International Music Festival, St. Petersburg International Music Academy, The Mozart Academy at John Jay College in New York City.

Thomas Mesa received his BM from The Juilliard School, MM from Northwestern University, and is a doctoral candidate at Manhattan School of Music.  His principal teachers were Timothy Eddy, Julia Lichten, Hans Jorgen Jensen, Mark Churchill, Ross Harbaugh, and Wells Cunningham. He has played a gorgeous cello for ten years made by Richard Tobin that was made in 1820.  This cello was used to record soundtracks for the first movies ever created.

Robert Reed

Robert Reed is an accomplished cellist and educator with an active performing schedule that includes chamber recitals, and solo appearances with orchestras. Since 1998 he has been a frequent guest of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has toured Europe and Japan. He holds degrees in performance from New England Conservatory and from the University of Michigan where he received his doctorate. Dr. Reed counts among his teachers Lawrence Lesser, Stephen Kates, Colin Carr, Erling Blondal Bengtson, and distinguished pedagogue, Louis Potter, Jr. (author of the Art of Cello Playing). Dr. Reed’s extensive experience as a chamber musician has been shaped by coaching from such figures as Leon Fleischer, Eugene Lehner, Benjamin Zander, members of the Juilliard and Cleveland String Quartets, Victor Rosenbaum, Russell Sherman, and Martin Katz. Reed was also a member of the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra for over 15 years, and he has appeared in performance with many notable celebrities such as the Three Tenors, Joshua Bell, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, John Denver, Rod Stewart, Yes, Deep Purple, Mary J. Blige, Earth Wind and Fire, and Andrea Bocelli, to name just a few.  

Dr. Reed has held teaching positions at Eastern Michigan University, Hillsdale College, Albion College, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and Interlochen Summer Music Camp. Dr. Reed is currently Associate Professor of Music at BMCC/City University of New York. He was a founding member of the Musica Trinitatis Concert Series at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Manhattan, former Treasurer for the Michigan Chapter of The American String Teachers Association, and has served on the executive council of the Violoncello Society.

Sara Sant'Ambrogio

In one year, Grammy Award-winning cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio launched her American career with a nationally televised recital at Carnegie Hall and her international career as a medalist at the Tchaikovsky Violoncello Competition in Moscow, Russia. The New York Times described Sara's New York debut as "sheer pleasure.

Ms. Sant'Ambrogio has appeared as a soloist with orchestras including Beijing, Boston, Budapest, Chicago, Prague, Osaka, Royal Philharmonic & San Francisco. She has performed thousands of concerts on six continents in venues from Aspen to Amsterdam, from the Hollywood Bowl to Stockholm, from Kennedy to Lincoln Centers & from Marlboro to Musikverein in Vienna.

Miss Sant'Ambrogio has collaborated with the New York City Ballet & with such artists as Sting and Tim McGraw to Yo-Yo Ma and Rudolf Serkin in genres from classical to country to Spanish hip hop. Her solo recordings have been featured on movie soundtracks, most recently as the opening track on the HBO film, “A Matter of Taste.”

Sara studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and at The Juilliard School where she won the all-Juilliard Competition in her first month resulting in her first, of many, Lincoln Center performances.

Ms. Sant'Ambrogio has won numerous international competitions and won a Grammy Award for Bernstein's "Arias and Barcarolles." Ms. Sant'Ambrogio has been profiled in Strad, Vogue, Gramophone, Elle, Strings, Vanity Fair, Fanfare, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CBS, ABC, PBS, Fox, USA and CNN. Ms. Sant'Ambrogio was the subject of a feature length documentary, which aired on PBS and international networks.

Ms. Sant'Ambrogio is a founding member of the Naumburg Award winning Eroica Trio. Eroica has performed thousands of concerts worldwide and has released eight celebrated recordings for Angel EMI Classics Records, garnering multiple Grammy nominations. Most recently Sara’s recording of concertos by Elgar, Wolosoff and her own arrangements of Piazzolla’s Oblivion and Libertango with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra debuted at #6 on the Billboard Top Classical Recordings chart and stayed in the Top Ten for months after it’s release.

Sara’s CDs, photographs, and tour information are available at her website  www.sarasantambrogio.com and at eroicatrio.com

Patricia Santos

Patricia Santos is a songwriter and singing cellist (or vocellist) who loves many different kinds of music.  She draws on her classical training to meld the cello with non-classical styles and strives to continually learn new techniques or find new ways to use old ones. Her own songs range from blues to rock to folk and art-pop. Lucid Culture calls her a "dark, diverse cello rocker", and Vance Gilbert describes her “as if Nina Simone and Yo-Yo Ma had a kid.” Her debut EP "Never Like You Think" was listed on New York Music Daily's Top 50 NYC Albums of 2015. Patricia is half of the duo of singing cellists The Whiskey Girls, half of Petty Larceny with her multi-instrumentalist husband Brian Broelmann, and is a member of parlor rock big band Kotorino. A New York native, she has played in venues around the country including Carnegie Hall, Joe's Pub, Bowery Ballroom, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 54 Below, NPR's Tiny Desk, House of Blues, The Music Box Supper Club in Cleveland, and The Oriental Theater in Denver. She has worked with artists such as Hurray for the Riff Raff (and can be heard on their latest album, "The Navigator"), Katreese Barnes, Martha Redbone, Charming Disaster, Valerie Simpson, Emily Mure, Tim Haufe, and Prince Ea. Patricia is a teaching artist for Musicambia, a non-profit that brings the life-changing power of music to incarcerated communities. She received her Bachelor’s of Music in Cello Performance from Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory with Regina Mushabac, and her postgraduate studies were with Bryan Dumm of the Cleveland Orchestra. Patricia is a member of the New Directions Cello Association.

Inbal Segev

Known for her “complete dedication and high intelligence” (San Francisco Classical Voice), Israeli-American cellist Inbal Segev combines “rich tone, secure presence and complete technical mastery” (Jerusalem Post). She has appeared with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic and Pittsburgh Symphony, collaborating with such prominent conductors as Marin Alsop, Lorin Maazel and Zubin Mehta. Committed to reinvigorating the cello repertoire, she has commissioned new works from Timo Andres, Anna Clyne, Avner Dorman, Gity Razaz and Dan Visconti. A co-curator of chamber music at the Baltimore Symphony’s New Music Festival, she co-founded the Amerigo Trio with former New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow and violist Karen Dreyfus. Her discography includes acclaimed albums of Bach’s Cello Suites (Vox) and Romantic cello works (Avie), while her popular YouTube masterclass series, Musings with Inbal Segev, has thousands of subscribers around the world and more than a million views to date. Segev’s many honors include prizes at the Pablo Casals, Paulo and Washington International Competitions. A native of Israel, at 16 she was invited by Isaac Stern to continue her cello studies in the U.S., where she earned degrees from Yale University and the Juilliard School. Her cello was made by Francesco Ruggieri in 1673.

 

For more info, visit www.inbalsegev.com

Jay Shulman

Cellist Jay Shulman was born to a musical family in New York. After early studies with Anthony Sophos, Lillian Rehberg Goodman and Harvey Shapiro,

Jay attended Syracuse University where he studied with Frederick Miller, and Colby College, with the Hungarian String Quartet.

With violinist Frances Magnes, Jay was a co-founder of the Rochambeau Trio, and with pianist Fredrica Wyman, the River Duo.

Jay was a 36-year member of the Long Island Philharmonic, is cellist of the Broad Street Chamber Players, and teaches and performs throughout the Hudson Valley.

He has recorded with the Bronx Arts Ensemble and is heard on the soundtrack of Sedat Pakay's PBS documentary "Josef and Anni Albers."

Jay has produced CD reissues of the Stuyvesant String Quartet for Parnassus, Bridge and Artek Records, and of the music of his father, Alan Shulman, for Bridge and Hep Records.

Mark Shuman

Mark has performed as chamber musician and soloist in concert halls throughout the world.  For many years a member of the Composers String Quartet, he is also a founder of the period instrument group The Aulos Ensemble.  He has worked with a broad spectrum of artists ranging from Elliott Carter and Raymond Leppard to Streisand and Lenny Kravitz.  He has been involved in recordings running the gamut from Telemann Oboe sonatas and Carter String quartets to Michael Jackson, the Fugees, and jingles for Chocolate Lucky Charms.  In his efforts to expand the cello repertoire, Mark seeks out contemporary and previously neglected works and has recorded the cello music of the Spanish composer and virtuoso Gaspar Cassadó.  For ASV Quicksilva he has recorded the complete cello music of Mendelssohn with pianist Todd Crow.  A native New Yorker, Mark is a graduate of the Juilliard School.

Jeffrey Solow

Cellist Jeffrey Solow maintains a busy schedule traveling throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America and Asia as recitalist, soloist, chamber musician,and teacher. His winning the Young Concert Artists International Auditions launched a career that encompasses performances of more than 40 works with orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Japan Philharmonic, Vietnam Opera & Ballet Orchestra (Hanoi), Prime Philharmonic (Korea), Seattle Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the American Symphony. He has also presented recitals throughout the US and in Europe, Japan, Korea, China, Central and South America, and he has been guest artist at many national and international chamber music festivals. Hisrecordings, two of which have been nominated Grammy Awards, can be found on the Columbia, ABC, New World, Centaur, Delos, Kleos, Capstone, Everest, Music Mastersand Telefunken labels. A prolific writer, Strad, Strings and American String Teachermagazines have published his reviews and articles and his editions are published by Breitkopf, International Music Company, Peters, Latham, Ovation, and Henle Urtext. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mr. Solow earned a degree in Philosophy magna cum laude from UCLA while studying with and later assisting the legendary Gregor Piatigorsky at USC. Recognized as an authority on healthy and efficient cello playing, Mr. Solow is professor of cello at Temple University in Philadelphia. He is past president of ASTA—the American String Teachers Association—and past president of the Violoncello Society, Inc. of New York.

For more info, visit www.jeffreysolow.com

Josh Weissenborn

Josh Weissenborn, CPA

Manager, Assurance Services at Ernst & Young

 

I was taught from a young age to love and appreciate the cello’s gifts as a means of communication of many different emotions. Unlike many of my colleagues on the board, I took a different path than pursuing a career as a professional cellist. Even before touching a real cello (although I had my makeshift cello in hand), I remember listening to Rostropovich’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme and the piece that has most impacted my love for the instrument, Dvorak’s concerto, which I still cherish most of all pieces to this day. From the very moment that cassette tape played, I was transported into a completely different world. Listening to Rostropovich play these works built this ideal of sound that I would later strive to achieve.

When I finally convinced my parents to give me lessons, I immediately chose to study with Barton Frank, a protégé of Piatigorsky at Curtis. He was the principal cellist of the National and New Orleans Symphonies before turning to teaching, becoming professor of cello at Washington State University and Western Washington University. Although he had a reputation around the small city of Bellingham, WA for his oftentimes difficult and eccentric personality, he would become my mentor and the person who cultivated my passion for the instrument and inspired my continual search in achieving different sounds on the cello. He also introduced me to works outside of the standards, including Prokofiev’s extremely inventive (although at times meandering) op. 58 cello concerto. Locating works outside of the standards is also another passion that he instilled in me, something I hold to this day.

Some of my fondest memories in my eight years of study with Mr. Frank revolved around hearing stories of the greats: Heifetz, Piatigorsky, Rachmaninoff, Stern, Feuermann, Casals, Rose, Seidel, and Kreisler to name a few. I was mesmerized by the lives and experiences of these individuals. Sometimes after lessons, we would listen to their recordings, as well as recordings of him as soloist, which included his wonderful rendition of the premier performance of Hovhaness’s cello concerto (later given the official world premier by Starker in Seattle). He instilled in me an appreciation for the unique and individual sounds of the older generation of players, as well as an inquisitiveness about the lives and eccentricities of these musical geniuses.

Since moving to New York four years ago, I was fortunate to meet our board president, Kate Dillingham who has since become my cello mentor and good friend. Through Kate, I was introduced to the VCS and began attending events. My first event was a celebration of the life and career of another one of my cello idols, Leonard Rose. Hearing more about his life and personal details from those who knew him in various capacities brought me back to my earlier years with Mr. Frank, who has since passed on. I strongly believe in the mission of the VCS to carry forward memories of the diverse and distinguished members of yesteryears to future generations, as well as creating a welcoming environment for everyone who loves the cello, regardless of playing ability. For this reason, I joined the VCS board and will strive to build upon the traditions of this historic and unique organization for future generations of cello lovers to come.

Jeffrey Zeigler

Jeffrey Zeigler is one of the most innovative and versatile cellists of our time. He has been described as “fiery” and a player who performs “with unforced simplicity and beauty of tone” by the New York Times. Acclaimed for his independent streak, Zeigler has commissioned dozens of works and is admired as a potent collaborator and a unique improviser. Zeigler is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts (Grammy’s), the Chamber Music America National Service Award and The Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award.

 

Jeffrey Zeigler was the cellist of the internationally renowned Kronos Quartet for eight seasons. Since moving on from the quartet in 2013 he has built a multifaceted career that has led to collaborations and tours with a wide array of artists from Yo-Yo Ma and Roomful of Teeth to Tanya Tagaq and Hauschka, and from Philip Glass and John Corigliano to Laurie Anderson and John Zorn. He has also performed as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Royal Danish Radio Symphony and the Ulster Orchestra under the batons of JoAnn Falletta, Dennis Russell Davies, Peter Oundjian and Dmitry Sitkovetsky.

For more info, visit http://www.jzcello.com