GUEST ARTIST BIOS

Robert Oppelt, Guest Artist

is Principal Bassist, musician of the NSO. In 1982 he was chosen by Music Director Mstislav Rostropovich to join the NSO's bass section, becoming the orchestra’s youngest member at age 21. He was promoted to Assistant Principal in 1984 and Principal Bass in 1996 under Music Director Leonard Slatkin.

He has appeared as a soloist with the NSO in performances of Mozart’s Per queste bella mano, Paganini's Moses Fantasy, and Koussevitsky's Concerto for Double Bass. Most recently, Mr. Oppelt performed Bottesini’s Grand Duo with Irina Muresanu and the Arlington (VA) Philharmonic. Chamber music collaborations include Yo-Yo Ma, Hilary Hahn, Guarneri String Quartet, and Kennedy Center Chamber Players. He attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and enjoyed summers at Brevard and Tanglewood Music Centers.

In 2007, Mr. Oppelt released a CD entitled The Double Bass -Robert Oppelt and Friends through MSR Classics which features ensemble works with the double bass. The CD was praised by Fanfare Magazine as “superbly executed by a crew of fine musicians.” A follow-up CD (called “Encore!”) was issued in 2019.

Andrew Axelrad, Guest Artist

joined the Glenn Miller Orchestra Immediately after graduating from college. Known as a “ghost band,” performing under the original name of the deceased leader, it presents an average of 300 live shows a year.

After two years of traveling the world performing for thousands, Axelrad joined The Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force. It was formed in 1950 to continue the tradition of Major Glenn Miller’s Army Air Corps dance band. Their musical excellence has led to many collaborative performances and recordings with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan and Doc Severinsen. In 1990, they established the Jazz Heritage Series, featuring the “Note” in concert with legendary icons of jazz. The Jazz Heritage Series is broadcast to millions over National Public Radio. One of the group's recent holiday recordings, "Cool Yule," reached #2 on the Jazz Week jazz chart.

SSG Jan Knutson, Guest Artist

the guitarist has been a member of The U.S. Army Band, Pershing's Own since August 2018. Prior to joining Pershing's Own at the age of 19, he attended the Manhattan School of Music as a student of Rodney Jones. At the age of 15, he recorded his solo CD album, "Out of Nowhere." At the age of 16 he was selected as a Strathmore Artist in Residence and presented several concerts throughout the year and recorded his second album, "Looking Both Ways," featuring guitarist Steve Abshire, bassist Tommy Cecil, and mandolinist Danny Knicely. Knutson has been a featured artist at several jazz festivals including Richmond Folk Festival, True Blue Jazz Festival, Syracuse JazzFest, and Savannah Folk Festival. Knutson is a native of Berwyn Heights, MD, and graduated from the Science and Technology Program at Eleanor Roosevelt High School.

Li-Ly Chang, Guest Artist

is a pianist, composer, teacher, and chamber musician. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the National Taiwan University and a Master of Music in Piano & Composition from the University of West Texas. Special graduate studies at The Peabody Conservatory of Music included piano, composition, and chamber music.  Ms. Chang has studied with Sacha Gorodnitzki and Leon Fleisher, among others. Li-Ly Chang has given recitals, lecture-recitals, workshops, and performed concertos in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. Currently, she teaches piano, and Music Appreciation at Montgomery College and she has served as Director of the International Young Artist Piano Competition, Washington DC.

ROBIN PHILLIPS, GUEST NARRATOR 

Robin Phillips’s career has always marched down three paths simultaneously: Performer; Writer; Producer. As a performer, she is a singer, actress, and narrator. As a writer she is a journalist, playwright, and screenwriter -- and as a producer -- she creates plays, films, and cabaret.

Since 2014 Robin Phillips has been the writer/producer of her own narration for intimate opera performances by Opera Camerata in Washington D.C.’s grand ambassadorial residences and historic private clubs. She is known as their Narrator/Living-Breathing-Subtitle.

Robin is a member of the National Press Club; Founding Member, National Speakers

Association, DC Chapter (1983); member, Women in Film and Video; and a member of the Virginia Chamber Orchestra’s Honorary Board. Currently the CEO of Groundbreaker Films, Robin will be presenting the final cut of her 93-minute documentary film, “Shakespeare: Hiding in Plain Site” at the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship annual conference in Oakland, California in October 2021.

An earlier film,” Behind the Name SHAKESPEARE: Power, Lust, Scorn & Scandal” was honored with a total of thirty-two awards in the US, UK, and Europe.

HOLLY MASON, GUEST NARRATOR

Holly Mason received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry from George Mason University in 2017. Her work has been published in The Adroit Journal, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, The Northern Virginia Review, Foothill Poetry Journal, University of Arizona Poetry Center Blog, EntropyCALYXThe Rumpus, and elsewhere.

She received a Bethesda Urban Partnership Poetry prize, selected by E. Ethelbert Miller. She has been a panelist for OutWrite in DC (a celebration of LGBTQ+ literature) and participated in DC's Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here events as a Kurdish-American poet. Holly currently lives in Northern Virginia, works in the GMU English Department, and is on the staff of Poetry Daily.