Patricio Acevedo [cajón | guitar | Andean Charango | Brazilian Cavaquinho | Venezuelan Cuatro] holds the degree in music theory and analysis from the University of Chile. He studied Classical Guitar at the Santiago Music Academy in Chile, and conducting under the supervision of, Genaro Burgos Musical Director of the youth orchestra of the University of Chile where he held the position of assistant director for 3 years. In Philadelphia he studied with Martin Knoblauch, music director of the Chestnut Hill Community Orchestra also acting as assistant director for a year. Before coming to US in 19991, he taught classical guitar and music, and co-produce, acted in and composed songs for numerous plays for children. He also participated in several courses in conducting and composition dictated by Cirilo Vila, pianist, Professor, conductor and composer of the university of Chile as well as recipient of the National Arts Award in Chile and Gustavo Becerra, composer and professor at Oldenburg University in Germany. In Philadelphia he became fully dedicated teacher. His first assignment was the middle school Penn Treaty where he taught music for 7 years. Currently he teaches at Creative arts high school in Camden where he has formed a number of ensembles besides teaching all courses of music theory. He formed the first and only Brazilian ensemble in the city of Camden; He is instructor of classical guitar and Bata ensemble. Within a year he formed the first string orchestra in Camden and 4 month later the first symphonic orchestra in the school district after more than 30 years of absence in the city. In the area of performing he has been a founder member of a few well-known ensembles in Philadelphia. The Chilean group Paramo (Latin American song), Alo Brasil (Brazilian traditional music), and Pagode project (Brazilian fusion). Patricio is the guitarist, singer, percussionist, composer, and arranger who specializes in Latin American strings instruments such as the Andean Charango, the Venezuelan Cuatro, Colombian Tiple and Brazilian Cavaquinho.
Rahim Alhaj virtuoso oud musician and composer, was born in Baghdad, Iraq and began playing the oud (the grandfather of all stringed instruments) at age nine. Early on, it was evident that he had a remarkable talent for playing the oud. Mr. Alhaj studied under the renowned Munir Bashir, considered by many to be the greatest oud player ever, and Salim Abdul Kareem, at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, Iraq. Mr. AlHaj won various awards at the Conservatory and graduated in 1990 with a diploma in composition. He holds a degree in Arabic Literature from Mustunsariya University in Baghdad. In 1991, after the first Gulf War, Mr. AlHaj was forced to leave Iraq due to his activism against the Saddam Hussein regime and began his life in Jordan and Syria. He moved to the US in 2000 as a political refugee and has resided in Albuquerque, NM ever since. In 2015 Rahim was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor for traditional arts in the USA. Rahim has performed around the globe (including Europe, China, India, and Russia) and is considered one of the finest oud players in the world. He has won many accolades and awards including two Grammy nominations. Rahim has recorded and performed with other master musicians of varied backgrounds and styles including genre-busting American guitarist Bill Frisell, modern accordion innovator Guy Klucevsek, Indian sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and indy-rock pioneers REM. He has composed pieces for solo oud, string quartet, symphony and beyond. Rahim’s music delicately combines traditional Iraqi maqams with contemporary styling and influence. His compositions evoke the experience of exile from his homeland and of new beginnings in his adopted country. His pieces establish new concepts without altering the foundation of the traditional “Iraqi School of Oud”. Rahim has released ten CDs. Journey (2014), is a retrospective of his music up to the present, including a new track. Little Earth was released in 2010 to remarkable reviews. The two-CD project features Rahim’s original composition in collaboration with the likes of Frisell, Klucevsek, Peter Buck (REM), Maria De Barros, Liu Fang, Robert Mirabal, Hossein Omoumi, Santa Fe Guitar Quartet, Yacouba Sissoko, Stephen Kent, and many more including Little Earth Orchestra. Ancient Sounds (UR Music, 2009), is a duet recording with Indian sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan, which was nominated for a 2010 Grammy in the Best Traditional World Music Recording category. In 2009 he also released a special recording Under The Rose with Ottmar Liebert, Jon Gagan and Barrett Martin, with all net proceeds benefitting Direct Aid Iraq. Home Again (UR Music, 2008), is a tour de force of touching and evocative original compositions portraying his trip to Iraq after 13 years in exile. When the Soul is Settled: Music of Iraq (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2007) was also nominated for a Grammy in 2008. His earlier recordings include Friendship: Oud and Sadaqa String Quartet (2005), a unique East and West musical collaboration, The Second Baghdad (2002) and the live CD Iraqi Music in a Time of War (2003). Rahim is featured in the 2009 documentary film on Smithsonian Folkways. Capping off an artistically fruitful 2009, Rahim was awarded the prestigious US Artist Ford Fellowship Grant. Rahim’s latest release is Infinite Hope (2015) with Amjad Ali Khan, a follow up to their 2010 Grammy-nominated collaboration. Rahim will also release a new recording on Smithsonian Folkways in late 2016/early 2017.
Jim Candido [double bassist] began his musical career in 1963, performing with the Don Shirley Trio. Columbia Artists Management programmed over 200 concerts for the trio across the US and Canada each year. In 1965 he free-lanced in New York City, working on off-Broadway shows and performing with symphonic orchestras. In 1966, he won an audition for a position with the New York Philharmonic, and was appointed to the bass section by Leonard Bernstein. His position with the New York Philharmonic lasted until 2003. During his tenure with the orchestra, he performed throughout Asia, Europe, South America, Canada, the Far East, Russia and China. During this time, he performed with the world’s greatest conductors and soloists. He also performed chamber music concerts in South America and Europe. In 2003 he retired and moved to Wallace, NC. Since then, he has performed with chamber and choral groups, ballets, orchestras in Pinehurst, Wilmington and Fayetteville. He also teaches violin (his original instrument) and currently has a position at the Duplin Music Academy, assisting up to 15 students.
Proclaimed “a virtuoso of a high order” by the Baltimore Sun, Kyle Engler [mezzo-soprano] has been praised for her extreme versatility in opera, oratorio, and chamber music. As a performer on the opera stage, she has sung the roles of the Secretary in Menotti’s The Consul, Charlotte in Werther, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia, Mercedes in Carmen, and Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro to name a few. In January, 2005, Ms. Engler was cast by Placido Domingo to premier the role of Lydia Dudley in Washington National Opera’s production of Democracy, An American Comedy by Scott Wheeler, garnering rave reviews in major publications around the country. She also premiered the role of Retinue in Augusta Read-Thomas’ opera Ligeia, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich, in Evian, France. Ms. Engler has been a featured soloist with many orchestras most recently performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Lancaster Symphony. An advocate of contemporary chamber music, Ms. Engler has collaborated with the Ravel Trio, the Morpheus Trio, the New Horizons Chamber Ensemble, and celebrated pianist Andre Watts. Ms. Engler, who earned a Master of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and is the Director of Vocal Studies at McDaniel College.
Daniel Lau [pianist] has received enthusiastic press notices for both his solo and chamber performances. The Washington Post praised his "exemplary artistry;" the Baltimore Sun noted "Lau's beautifully shaded playing;" the Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA) lauded his "flair, great technical proficiency and expressiveness;" and La Liberté (Fribourg, Switzerland) cited "playful nuances, translucent phrasing, and miraculous sonorities." He has appeared in recitals and with orchestras throughout North America and Europe. He collaborates frequently with singers internationally and is a sought-after chamber musician. With soprano Sabrina Coleman Clark, he has performed a multimedia show, "Marian Anderson - A Legacy of Hope," to thousands of school children. He is a founding member of the Ravel Trio praised recently by the Swiss Journal du Jura, "Splendid interpretation, vigorous and nuanced playing." Since 2006, he has released half a dozen recordings with a variety of artists, including a CD with award winning engineer Marc Arbort and a self-produced solo CD "Transcendent Colors." With a special interest in Asian American and African American composers, Lau is committed to the performance of living composers. He has premiered many solo and chamber music works and can be heard on a number of recordings of works by contemporary living composers. A versatile pianist, violinist and conductor, Daniel has served as Music Director for performances of Manon, Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Merry Widow, and The Magic Flute, among others. Lau attended Loma Linda University, where he served as concertmaster of the orchestra and 1st violinist of the LLU String Quartet. Graduating with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance - high honors, he won the coveted Dean's Award. He then attended the Peabody Conservatory of Music, becoming a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda honorary society while earning masters and doctoral degrees. His major teachers include Lillian Freundlich, Anita Norskov Olsen, Samuel Sanders, and Jerome Lowenthal. Dr. Lau is a dedicated educator of music and has given masterclasses and clinics throughout the United States. He serves as Vice President for Student Activities and Chair of the Piano Ensemble event for the Maryland State Music Teachers Association. He has taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of Music, Notre
Dame of Maryland University and was recently named Chair of the Department of Music at Washington Adventist University.
Luigi Mazzocchi [violinist] studied in the Venezuelan "El Sistema” and the Latin American Violin Academy with José F. del Castillo. He was a first violinist of the “Simón Bolívar” Symphony Orchestra and performed as soloist with the leading Venezuelan symphony orchestras. He attended international music festivals in Latin America, the US, Spain, France and Australia and is a prizewinner such competitions as the Venezuelan “Del Castillo” Latin American Competition and the 1999 FOSJA, performing in the Casals Festival. Mr. Mazzocchi studied with Liliana Ciulei and Helen Kwalwasser and has coached with M. Pardee, Z. Bron, O. Charlier, T. Tanaka, W. de Pasquale, L. Biava, and D. Arben. Currently, he is the Concertmaster of the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra, Co-Concertmaster of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, Associate Concertmaster of the Delaware Symphony and a member of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the West Jersey Chamber Orchestra, the Ocean City Pops, the Philly Pops and the Gaudeamus and Cachasa ensembles.
Maria Mazzocchi [violist] was born in Venezuela, where she studied viola with Javier Bulosa in the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra, also known as "El Sistema." She was a founding member of the "Orquesta Sinfónica de los Llanos" as principal viola. In Caracas, Mrs. Mazzocchi studied with Jesús Alfonzo, principal viola of "Simón Bolívar" Symphony Orchestra. She won the position of associate principal viola of the "Ayacucho" Symphony Orchestra, while continuing music studies at the "Simón Bolívar" Conservatory. She also joined the "Jovenes Arcos" Chamber Orchestra and played as soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of Venezuela. She won scholarships to study with Gerárd Caussé in his Viola Summer Academy in Caracas for three years. In 1994 Mrs. Mazzocchi joined the viola section of the "Simón Bolívar" Symphony Orchestra, with which she performed regularly with renowned International conductors. With this orchestra, she toured Europe and Latin America, and recorded a series of CDs of Latin American music with conductor Eduardo Mata for Dorian Records. In the US, Mrs. Mazzocchi studied viola with C.J. Chang, principal of the Philadelphia Orchestra. While teaching viola in her private studio, She completed her Bachelors of Nursing from Thomas Edison University and is currently getting her Master degree from Chamberlain College. Mrs. Mazzocchi works as a nurse home visitor for Nurse-Family Partnership and enjoys playing the viola as a freelancer in Philadelphia.
QIN Qian is a professional erhu player and teacher in Philadelphia. When she was 14, she joined the Performing Arts Troupe of Guigang City in Guangxi Province, China, as an erhu and violin player. She entered the Guangxi Art College at the age of 16, majoring in erhu performance, and studied erhu with Professor Huang Qidu and erhu master Zhang Yuming. Upon graduation, she worked as an erhu performer and teacher, while also playing piano, monochord, and ruan. In 1986, she started working as the music program editor, reporter, and program host for the Nanning radio station in Guangxi Province. In this role, she interviewed many famous musicians in China. Qin Qian has authored two books: "My Dreams Soar With Music" (2003), and "A Musical Journey in America" (2005). In 2003, she gave a highly successful erhu and monochord concert in Nanning, in which she was accompanied by the Guangxi Symphony Orchestra. In 2005, she released her first CD, "A Romantic Musical Journey," which featured her work on the erhu and monochord, and for which she received wide attention from music lovers in China. In 2005, she immigrated to the U.S., where she continued her efforts in promoting Chinese music. She has partnered with many Western musicians to perform on the erhu and other Chinese instruments in concerts featuring different musical styles, including classical, jazz, opera, and pop. The concerts have taken place in the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Australia. Qin Qian twice received the Outstanding Teacher Award at the Princeton International Chinese Music Competition at Princeton University (NJ) - in which her student won first prize in the competition. She is now an erhu teacher at the Ming De Chinese School (Radnor, PA) and at Swarthmore College (PA).
Clark Spencer [violist] is an active solo, chamber, and orchestral performer living in Wilmington, NC. He is currently assistant principal viola of the Oregon Mozart Players and a founding member of the Blue Box Ensemble. Clark has performed with the Fayetteville Symphony (NC), Long Bay Symphony Orchestra (SC) Eugene Symphony, Eugene Opera, the Corvallis Symphony, Newport Symphony, and the Oregon Bach Festival. He has had the privilege of performing under the batons of Andrew Litton, Marin Alsop, Jeffrey Kahane, Helmut Rilling, and Gunther Schuller. Originally from Lancaster, PA, Clark earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in performance from Boston University, where he studied viola with Michelle LaCourse and violin with Peter Zazofsky. He recently completed his Doctorate in Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Oregon where he studied Dr. Leslie Straka. His doctoral research on the Sonata in G by Paul Ben-Haim culminated in a new edition for solo viola. Clark has also studied with Martha Strongin Katz and Jeffrey Irvine. He has performed in masterclasses with Kim Kashkashian, Arnold Steinhardt, Roger Tapping, Pamela Frank, the Ying String Quartet, the American String Quartet, the Orion String Quartet, and the Muir String Quartet. Clark is an experienced violin and viola teacher and currently teaches at St. Mary Catholic School in Wilmington, NC. He completed his long term Suzuki training with Karin Hallberg and Louise Scott during his studies at the University of Oregon. In addition to his own studio, Clark has taught for the University of Oregon's Community Music Institute, where he taught group classes, coached chamber music and conducted a middle school string orchestra. He also coached violin and viola sections of the South Salem High School Chamber Orchestra and the Salem Youth Orchestra. During the summers of 2009 and 2010, Clark served on the faculty at the Vermont Youth Orchestra's Summer Program, Reveille. Dr. Spencer is on the string faculty at UNCW.
Distinguished performer Danijela Žeželj-Gualdi [violinist] has appeared as a concert soloist, chamber and orchestra musician throughout Eastern and Central Europe and USA. Her assertive style and strong musical personality have thrilled audiences including Carnegie Weill Hall, Carnegie Isaac Stern Hall, Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Schwartz Hall at Emory University, Legacy Hall in Columbus GA, Kolarac Belgrade Serbia, and in Vienna, Graz, Grumo Italy, Atlanta, Athens GA, Florence SC, Pittsburgh, Charleston, Savannah and Wilmington. Her concert tours included appearances in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Austria, and Italy. As a concerto soloist she appeared with Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, DeKalb Symphony Orchestra and University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra. Her musical career is noted for collaborations with remarkable musicians, including Evgeny Rivkin, and Levon Ambartsumian, and contemporary composers Augusta Reed Thomas, James MacMillan. Žeželj-Gualdi earned her Violin Diploma with highest honors at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia. While in the U.S., she earned a Master Degree at Carnegie Mellon University, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Georgia. Žeželj-Gualdi worked extensively with Eugenia Tchougaeva, Irina and Marina Jashvilli, Manana Dugladze, Cyrus Ferough, Carolyn Huebl, and Michael Heald and took part in master classes with Andres Cardenes, Thimothy Baker, Pamela Frank, and Misha Emory among others. In January 2008 she became a founding member of the Balkan Quartet, a string quartet which focus is to involve and inspire composers to create new music that would use an indigenous Balkan language, reviving the rich Balkan folk heritage on a high artistic level. Dr. Danijela Žeželj-Gualdi serves as a Violin and Viola Instructor and an Artistic Director of the Community Music Academy at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, as well as an Artistic Director and founder of the Ronald Sachs International Music Competition. She plays on a Pellacani violin lent to her by Ronald Sachs Violins.