MISCHA SANTORA, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Mischa Santora is one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial conductors of his generation. Recently appointed music director of the Boston Ballet, he will conduct a majority of their performances with the Boston Ballet Orchestra at the Boston Opera House. A champion of new music, he recently premiered works by Sally Beamish, Timo Andres, and Steve Heitzeg with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. In addition to his busy conducting schedule, Mr. Santora is the artistic director of the acclaimed Spotlight Concerts at MacPhail Center for Music (Minneapolis), with performances at Antonello Hall and around the Twin Cities. Mr. Santora's recent composition activities include music for theatrical productions, orchestral works, and soundtracks for film, TV/radio, and podcasts. He is the founder of a promising audio start-up company SONICITY, offering customizable high fidelity soundtracks for creative professionals.
In North America Mr. Santora has appeared with the Philadelphia, Minnesota, and Louisville Orchestras; the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Houston, National, New Jersey, Kansas City, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Richmond, North Carolina, Des Moines, Hartford, Princeton, Midland (Michigan), Eugene, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Hamilton (Ontario) Symphonies; as well as the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.
In Europe and the Middle East he has led the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, the Basel and Lucerne Symphony Orchestras, the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, the Budapest Matáv Symphony, the Miskolc Symphony, the Hungarian National Symphony Orchestra's Chorus, the Georgisches Kammerorchester Ingolstadt, and the Israel Chamber Orchestra.
In the Pacific Rim he was invited by the West Australian Opera Company to conduct a production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. In addition he has appeared with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the Taiwan National Philharmonic, and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in New Zealand. In Latin America he has guest conducted in Mexico, Peru, and Chile, including a national tour with the Teatro del Lago Festival Orchestra in January 2015.
Mr. Santora has established an impressive track record of creative programming. During his tenure as music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra from 2000-2014 he led innovative productions of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, de Falla’s Master Peter’s Puppet Show, and Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Frequently acting in a conductor/stage director role, Mr. Santora conceived productions for Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro, as well as Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.
Mr. Santora was the associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra between 2003 and 2009, where he conducted numerous subscription concerts and fully staged operatic performances. As the music director of the International Opera Festival Miskolc (Hungary) for three seasons starting in 2002, Mr. Santora has not only collaborated with many of the most established singers from Europe and Russia, but has also worked alongside Artistic Director Éva Marton on creating a new artistic profile for one of the most prestigious music festivals in Central Europe.
Between 1997 and 2002 Mr. Santora held the post of music director of both the New York Youth Symphony and the Juilliard Pre-College Orchestra, with performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In addition, he has worked with some of the finest young orchestras around the world, including the New England Conservatory’s Philharmonia, the Chamber Orchestra of the Curtis Institute, the Australian Youth Orchestra, the RIAS Orchestra in Berlin, and the Jeunesses Musicales Orchestra Switzerland.
Mr. Santora’s career has been marked by his strong advocacy of New Music. Under his artistic supervision of the New York Youth Symphony’s award-winning First Music program (then chaired by John Corigliano) the organization commissioned more than fifteen new works during his tenure, a tradition he continues in Cincinnati and Minneapolis. In the Twin Cities, he has conducted the Minnesota Orchestra's Composer Institute reading sessions in addition to serving on the panel of judges selecting the composers.
Mr. Santora has collaborated with many of the world’s leading solo artists including Gil Shaham, James Galway, Jonathan Biss, Anne-Marie McDermott, Dawn Upshaw, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Leila Josefowitz, Elmar Oliveira, Benita Valente, Vladimir Feltsman, Gary Graffman, John Aler, Pamela Frank, Richard Stoltzman, David Jolley, Galina Gorchakova, Nikolai Putyilin, Håkan Hardenberger, Miklós Perényi, a.o.
As the recipient of the 1998 Aspen Conducting Prize, Mr. Santora was invited by David Zinman to serve as the assistant conductor of the Aspen Music Festival for three consecutive seasons (1999 – 2002). He has participated in master classes with Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, David Zinman, Neeme Järvi, and Otto-Werner Mueller.
Mr. Santora has been the recipient of the UBS Culture Award and the Presser Foundation Career Grant, as well as scholarships from the Migros, Kiefer-Hablitzel, and Kurt-Dienemann Foundations of Switzerland.
Born to Hungarian parents in the Netherlands, Mr. Santora moved with his family of musicians to Switzerland where he began to study violin with his father, a member of the Lucerne Symphony. After he received a diploma in violin and teaching from the Academy for School and Church Music in Lucerne, Mr. Santora continued his violin studies with Professor Thomas Brandis, former concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. Mr. Santora subsequently undertook conducting studies with Otto-Werner Mueller at the Curtis Institute of Music.
STEPHANIE SKOR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
After spending the last 15 years as a performing artist in Boston, violinist and St. Paul native Stephanie Skor has returned to her hometown. She performed extensively in the New England area, and is now pursuing a busy freelance career in the Twin Cities. Stephanie is thrilled to be a part of the thriving Twin Cities music scene.
While in Boston, Stephanie established a career in music that uniquely combined performance with administrative leadership. For six years, Stephanie was a violinist in the critically acclaimed Boston-based chamber orchestra Discovery Ensemble, founded and conducted by the former Minnesota Orchestra Associate Conductor, Courtney Lewis; in the sixth season she was also named Operations Manager. Stephanie remains the Program Coordinator of New England Conservatory’s Summer Institute of Contemporary Performance Practice, a festival dedicated to performing cutting-edge music from the last one hundred years. She is also one of the resident performers in that festival. Stephanie has found that her professional performance experience enhances her administrative perspective. She is excited to bring that experience to her new role as Executive Director of the Minnesota Bach Ensemble.
Stephanie is an honors graduate of the New England Conservatory, where she studied with Nicholas Kitchen, a founding member and first violinist of the Borromeo String Quartet. In demand for her diversity as a violinist, Stephanie has enjoyed an eclectic performing career – from a U.S. tour with Jethro Tull to concertmaster at the Rockport Chamber Music Festival. She has performed with such artists as Kim Kashkashian, Paula Robison, Jorja Fleezanis, and the Pacifica Quartet. She was a member of the Gardner Chamber Orchestra and has worked with inspiring conductors including Osmo Vänskä, Michael Stern, Douglas Boyd, Joshua Weilerstein, James Ross, and Larry Rachleff. Stephanie has appeared in performances on WGBH, MPR, and Newstalk, a national radio station in Ireland. She has even recorded for the video-game series Final Fantasy.
Passionate about 20th century and contemporary music, Stephanie has premiered over 20 new works. She has enjoyed working with composers Georg Friedrich Haas, Vinko Globokar, Christian Wolff, and Nicholas Vines, and has played works by John Cage, György Ligeti, Cornelius Cardew, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Lei Liang, Thomas Adès, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. In Boston Stephanie was a member of the Composers’ Series in Jordan Hall, the NEC Contemporary Ensemble, and Juventas New Music Ensemble. She plays in the Callithumpian Consort and has performed with that Boston-based ensemble in the Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato, México. Stephanie will be recording a new string quartet by Australian composer Nicholas Vines in June 2018 at Cornell University.
DAVID WILLIAMSON, BASS, ARTISTIC COMMITTEE
Bass player Dave Williamson grew up in St. Paul in a musical family. He began his orchestral career as Principal Bass of the New Orleans Symphony after graduating from the Curtis Institute of Music. After five years in New Orleans along with a summer job at the Santa Fe Opera, Mr. Williamson was hired by the Minnesota Orchestra, where he has served as Acting Assistant Principal as well as Acting Associate Principal Bass. One of the most formative events in his career occurred in 2001 when conductor Helmuth Rilling asked him to serve as Principal Bassist of the Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene, Oregon. The opportunity to perform, study, and record many of the cantatas, oratorios and orchestral works of J.S. Bach with Maestro Rilling has been a lasting and wonderful gift for Dave. He has become an “over-the-top” advocate for these gems of the repertoire.
LINH KAUFFMAN, SOPRANO, ARTISTIC COMMITTEE
Praised as “radiant” by the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, soprano Linh Kauffman has appeared across the United States in oratorio, opera, new music and musical theater. Highlights of recent seasons include performances with Teatro Nacional de Panama, Oregon Bach Festival, Duluth Festival Opera, Quad Cities Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Richmond Symphony. She has twice been a young artist at the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall. She is a frequent soloist with the Bach Chamber Players of St. Paul, the Oratorio Society of Minnesota, the Bach Society of Minnesota, and Consortium Carissimi. Opera credits include the Minnesota Opera, University of Minnesota Opera Theatre, Berkeley Opera, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Opera Vivente, West Bay Opera.
Ms. Kauffman holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Maryland, the University of Minnesota. She also holds the Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy from the Schuessler Vocal Arts Center of the University of Minnesota and was the winner of the 2007 Voices of Vienna Vocal Prize Competition.
JOHN MILLER, BASSOON, ARTISTIC COMMITTEE
John Miller, recently retired Principal Bassoon of the Minnesota Orchestra, received his early musical training at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and the New England Conservatory in Boston. He also holds a BS degree in humanities and engineering from MIT and was awarded a Fulbright grant for music study in Amsterdam.
While in Boston, John founded the Bubonic Bassoon Quartet and made the premier recording of the Hummel Bassoon Concerto, released with the Weber Concerto on Cambridge Records. He assumed his position as Principal Bassoon of the Minnesota Orchestra in 1971, simultaneously joining the faculty of the University of Minnesota. Since then he has continued his solo career, performing many times with the Minnesota Orchestra as well as numerous other orchestras. He regularly presents master classes and recitals at many of the world’s major conservatories and music schools.
For more than 20 years John was a member of the American Reed Trio. Among his solo recordings are four concertos by Vivaldi and the Mozart and Vanhal concertos, all conducted by Sir Neville Marriner on two Pro Arte CDs. One of John’s educational activities that he is most proud of, The Nordic Bassoon Symposium, begun in 1984 as the John Miller Bassoon Symposium, has attracted an international mix of hundreds of professional, student, and amateur bassoonists.
BASIL REEVE, OBOE, ARTISTIC COMMITTEE
Retired Principal Oboe of the Minnesota Orchestra, Basil Reeve, a native New Yorker, was the lead oboist with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and New York City Opera before joining the Minnesota Orchestra in 1971. In his forty-one seasons, Basil has performed most of the major oboe repertoire, ranging from concertos by Telemann and J.S. Bach to those of Strauss, Vaughan Williams and Henze. In March 2009, he and the orchestra premiered the Christopher Rouse Oboe Concerto.
Basil has also performed in virtually every Minnesota Orchestra Sommerfest and winter season chamber series during his tenure. He served for 37 years as co-artistic director of the long-standing Twin Cities group the Musical Offering chamber ensemble. Basil teaches year-round privately and at the University of Minnesota, and summers at the Round Top Institute.
JONATHAN MAGNESS, VIOLIN, ARTISTIC COMMITTEE
Jonathan Magness is the Minnesota Orchestra’s associate principal second violin. Magness has performed chamber works at several Orchestra concerts, including Greenstein’s Four on the Floor at the Sommerfest; he reprised that work as part of Inside the Classics concerts. He has been featured as soloist with the orchestra on many occasions, including the Dvorak violin concerto with Marin Alsop conducting.
Magness has won prizes in numerous competitions, including the grand prize in the International Sparkasse Musikstipendium competition and audience prize and second place in the Luis Sigall Violin Competition, and a prizewinner in the Manchester International Competition in the United Kingdom, after which he was a soloist with the BBC Symphony. Other solo engagements include the Israel Chamber Orchestra, Klagenfurt Musikverein, Regional Orchestra of Chile.
Magness studied at the University of Minnesota, the Juilliard School and the University of Graz in Austria.