Guitarist Jan Knutson 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 in New York City.
Glenn Paulson is the former timpanist of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra. He has been a member of The American Symphony and the Bard Summer Music Festival, and has also performed with The EOS Chamber Orchestra, The New York Philharmonic, The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and in many Broadway shows including As The World Goes ‘Round, The King And I, and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Weber.
In 1997, he won a position with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in Washington DC. He also performs with the Washington Ballet Orchestra and The Lyric Opera Orchestra of Maryland.. He can be heard on over twenty five recordings with The United States Marine Band, The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, The Bronx Arts Ensemble, The Eastman Wind Ensemble, The Juilliard Orchestra, and The New Jersey Symphony. He also recently soloed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as part of the PBS Great Performances Series honoring composer John Williams.
He has served three terms on The Percussive Arts Society Symphonic Committee and helped create an exhibit featuring various military percussion sections in the PAS museum in Indianapolis. He also presents master classes at Colleges, Universities and Music Conservatories throughout the country on How the Marine Band Percussion Section Interprets and Plays the Marches of John Phillip Sousa.
Mr. Paulson has been composing since 2010 and has had numerous compositions premiered at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, The College Band Directors National Convention, the New York City Day of Percussion at New York University, the Texas Band Masters Convention, and John Phillip Sousa Hall in Washington DC. All the works are published by Bachovich Publications. He received his Bachelor’s degree from The Eastman School of Music and his Master’s degree from The Juilliard School.
As of 2022, Sarah Russell-Hunter is a senior at The College of William & Mary majoring in Allied Health & Music. She has studied violin for 14 years under Meredith Buxton, Hyunji Lee, and Susan Via. Sarah served as President of the William & Mary Symphony Orchestra from 2021-2022, and is also involved with the William & Mary Gallery Players and Appalachian Music Ensemble.
After graduation from the College of William & Mary in May, Sarah will attend the University of Virginia’s Master of Nursing program as a Conway Scholar.
Lydia Doughty, french horn
As of 2022, Lydia Doughty is currently a junior at The College of William & Mary. A Horn player for 10 years, she has joined many groups at the local, state and national levels and has scored superior ratings for solos judged at the state level. Lydia won two concerto competitions while in high school and, for one of these, was granted the honor of joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as a soloist. She is an active participant of the William & Mary Symphony Orchestra, Brass Ensemble and Wind Ensemble. Lydia currently studies with Devin Gossett, Second Horn of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and has previously studied with Doug Quinzi, Assistant Principal of "The President's Own" United States Marine Band.
In addition to her musical endeavors, Lydia is majoring in mathematical biology, and is conducting research with Drew LaMar. She intends to follow this research through to her senior year.
Lydia Doughty, french horn
Jacquelynne Fontaine-Isaac, soprano, has performed nationally and abroad in both Opera and Musical Theater. Most notably she was the Italian Opera Diva Carlotta in “The Phantom of the Opera” National Tour for over 1,000 performances throughout the US and Canada. Favorite roles include Donna Anna and Pamina (Viterbo, Italy), Violetta and Susanna (Rogue and Tacoma Opera), and most recently, Musetta in Los Angeles. As a concert soprano, she has performed live on KUSC Classical radio, at the Chautauqua Institution, with the South Coast Symphony, Marina Del Rey Orchestra, Orchestra del’ Lazio in Italy, and at the Redlands Bowl, among others.
A conductor, voice teacher, and beginning coder, Jacquelynne received a Masters in Music from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, completing two years of Doctoral study. She is a member of the Actor’s Equity union and SAG/AFTRA. Additional information is at www.jfontainestudio.com
Recognized for her “velvety legato and embracing warmth of sound” (Washington Classical Review) and “lyric-mezzo of uncommon beauty” (The Washington Post) mezzo-soprano Kristen Dubenion-Smith specializes in in oratorio and sacred vocal chamber music of the medieval, renaissance and baroque eras.
Her 2022-2023 season solo highlights are BWV 170 with Chatham Baroque, Cupid in Blow’s Venus and Adonis with the Bach Collegium in San Diego, the Monteverdi Vespers with both Apollo’s Fire and the Washington National Cathedral Baroque Orchestra, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Washington Bach Consort, Handel’s Messiah with Ensemble Altera, BWV 3 with Bach in Baltimore, and an international tour of Handel’s Solomon with The Clarion Choir and The English Concert.
Commercial recordings include The Folger Consort, Apollo's Fire, Cathedra, and Via Veritae and she was an ensemble singer on the Grammy winning album, The Prison, by Ethel Smyth, with The Experiential Orchestra.
Called “winningly wily and dauntless” by Boston Classical Review, Kate Jackman is a multifaceted musician and actress. She performed the lead role in Oliver Knussen’s Higglety Pigglety Pop! at the Tanglewood Festival. Her other roles include Amneris in Verdi’s Aida, the title role in Carmen, and Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible.
Kate made her Kennedy Center recital debut in 2012. She has been featured at Carnegie Hall in Marilyn Horne’s The Song Continues series and has performed solos from Handel’s Messiah at the Kennedy Center, with Helena Symphony, and over internationally televised programming with The National Shrine in Washington, D.C.
This season, Kate is making her debut with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. She will also join the cast of Helena Symphony’s Sweeney Todd.
Lyric tenor Jerry Kavinski has appeared regularly in the Washington, DC area for over twenty years. Solo engagements include: The National Symphony Orchestra, Washington Bach Consort, Washington Chorus, New Dominion Chorale, Maryland Choral Society, and Reston Chorale. Since 2009 he has served as the Choir Director/Director of Music at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Great Falls, Virginia. Other professional vocal engagements include performances with Washington Concert Opera, Opera Lafayette, Cathedra, National Gallery of Art Vocal Arts Ensemble, Folger Consort. The Washington Chorus, The National Cathedral Choir of Men, and Cathedral Choral Society. Career highlights include singing for Papal Vespers with Pope Benedict XVI, the State Funerals of George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, and the 2009 and 2013 Inaugural Prayer Services for Barack Obama.
Christopher Mooney has appeared nationally with New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Opera Theatre, Opera Northeast, Connecticut Grand Opera, State Repertory Opera of New Jersey and the Caramoor Festival. He has shared the stage with such notables as Sherrill Milnes, Jerry Hadley, Jerome Hines, Renee Flemming and Marcello Giordani. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in Opera Orchestra of New York’s production of Lucrezia Borgia. Locally he regularly sings with the Virginia Opera and the Virginia Symphony, Mr. Mooney serves on faculty with Opera Festival di Roma, Chris joined the voice faculty at The College of William and Mary in 2021.
Shuai Wang began playing the piano when she was five years old and won her first piano competition at the age of eight. While a student at the Shenyang Conservatory of Music in China she studied with Professor Dongdun Zhang and also participated in master classes taught by Rosemary Platt, a visiting professor who had retired from Ohio State University.
Before departing for the United States to attend college, Shuai Wang won first prize in Mozart Competitions in both Mainland China and Hong Kong, and first prize in the 69th Steinway International Youth Piano Competition in the Northeast China Region. She was also awarded second prize in the China Region of the 6th Annual Music Competition of Canada.
She earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music under Professor Robert Shannon and a Master of Music degree from the University of Michigan as a student of Dr. Logan Skelton.
Shuai Wang recently completed her doctoral studies under Professor Larissa Dedova at the University of Maryland, where she won the University of Maryland (UMD) Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. She performed the Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the UMD Symphony and the Beethoven Choral Fantasy with the UMD Summer Chorus and Orchestra.
As the winner of the Sigma Alpha lota Competition in Chautauqua, New York
she performed a Mozart concerto with Chautauqua’s Music School Festival Orchestra. Other significant solo appearances include the Concert Hall in the Hong Kong City Hall, a “Winners Concert” in Carnegie Hall, and “Noon Concert Feat” at the Arts Club of Washington, DC.
Violinist Emil Israel Chudnovsky hearkens back to the grand romantic tradition of the golden age of violinists. His lush sound and inimitable ability to connect with audiences have garnered him accolades from listeners, presenters, and critics alike. Recent seasons have included his debut at the Seoul Arts Center in South Korea with the Kammersymphonie Berlin, an inaugural recording with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, and a debut with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco in Mexico, when he replaced an indisposed soloist for a previously unknown concerto on ten days’ notice. In all, Chudnovsky has performed in over 30 countries throughout Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East. A veteran of the competition circuit, he holds nine international awards, including top prizes from the Paganini, Szeryng and Enescu international competitions and 1st Prizes from the Curci (Naples), Valsesia-Musica (Milan), and the Young Artists Competition of the N.F.M.C.
Emil Chudnovsky was born in Moscow, Russia to renowned violinist Nina Beilina and the late Maestro Israel Chudnovsky, the eminent opera conductor. After mother and son immigrated to the United States, he began his violin studies at the Mannes College of Music pre-college division. Having studied at the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music, he holds degrees from Yale University and the Mannes College of Music.
Robin Phillips' 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 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, Entropy, CALYX, The 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.
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.
is a multi-woodwind instrumentalist specializing in saxophones, clarinet, and flutes. He 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.
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.
An accomplished and popular American composer, Charlie Barnett is the winner of numerous awards for his film scores, including the Rome International Film Festival’s Jerry Goldsmith Award. Barnett also writes music for television; his credits include Saturday Night Live, Weeds, Royal Pains, and Archer. Barnett’s lively orchestral and chamber works are performed both nationally and internationally. Notable collaborations include a spoken-word piece written and performed with Dr. Maya Angelou.
As a producer, Barnett has recorded scores of pop and jazz albums for labels including Def Jam and Elektra. And as a performer, he plays guitar and piano for Chaise Lounge, an eclectic jazz band that frequently appears on the national college radio charts with his original compositions. Barnett has also been heard as an occasional commentator on NPR. His essay “Hitching a Ride with Junior McGee” was included in the network’s Classic Driveway Moments compilation.
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Dennis M. Layendecker; D.M.A.; Col. USAF (Ret.), is the Director of the George Mason University School of Music. He holds the Heritage Chair in Music and serves as Director of University Orchestras in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), positions he has held since joining the faculty in August 2009. The Heritage Chair in Music was established in the 1980s by former Mason president George Johnson and his wife Joanne as a way of promoting the arts on campus and within the community.
During his 26-year Air Force career, Dr. Layendecker served as a band commander, conductor, artistic director, pianist, public spokesperson, educator, and diplomat for the Air Force at home and abroad. In July 2002, then Colonel Layendecker assumed command of The United States Air Force Band, Washington, D.C. As part of his duties, he provided direct musical and ceremonial support to the President of the United States and his Cabinet, members of Congress, and other high-ranking civilian and military leaders nationally and internationally. In addition to his duties at the USAF Band, from December 2007, he also served as the Chief of Music for the Air Force. In this capacity, he advised the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs leadership on music policy, officer hiring, development and assignments, force structure, and total force integration of Air Force active duty and Air National Guard musical units. During his military career, he led more than 6,000 musical performances worldwide in support of public outreach, community relations, troop morale and welfare, and recruitment and retention programs for the Air Force and Department of Defense. He officially retired from the Air Force in late August 2009.
Dr. Layendecker is a graduate of the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Music Education in 1975. He began his conducting studies in 1977 while on full piano scholarship attending the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, Belgium. He subsequently augmented his conducting studies during summer masterclasses at the Academia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and at the Vienna (Austria) Academy of Music. In 1981, he earned a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and in 1988, completed a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the Air Force, Dr. Layendecker served on the music faculties of The American Conservatory of Music, Chicago, Illinois, and Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington.
He was inducted as a member of the American Bandmasters Association in 2006. He has remained active as a conductor and clinician throughout his professional career.
During his distinguished career in the Air Force Dr. Layendecker led many of America’s finest musicians throughout the United States, Asia, the United Kingdom, and Europe—from Los Angeles to New York, Vienna to London, and Oslo to Tokyo. Gifted in foreign languages, he is fluent in French and functional in German and Italian. He has performed in such notable venues as Washington D.C.’s National Theatre and D.A.R. Constitution Hall; Kodak Theatre in Hollywood; Semper Opera, Dresden; Neues Gewandhaus, Leipzig; Royal Albert Hall in London; Alte Opera, Frankfurt; and the Beethovenhalle in Bonn. He has led his ensembles before numerous world leaders to include seven American presidents, Queen Elizabeth of England, and Pope John Paul II. His radio and television broadcast credits include appearances on BBC, German Radio and Television, Polish National Radio, Radio Luxembourg, RAI Italy, and public radio and national television across America.
In addition to his civilian academic credentials, Dr. Layendecker is a graduate of the Air War College, a distinguished graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, and a graduate of the Air Force Academic Instructor’s School and Squadron Officer School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award with oak leaf cluster, National Defense Service Medal with bronze star, and the Global War on Terrorism Medal.
A native of Springfield, Illinois, Dr. Layendecker resides with his wife Myriam in Burke, Virginia. They have been blessed to raise six children, and late in 2009 welcomed their first grandchild, Simon Peters.
The Airmen of Note is the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force. Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., it is one of six musical ensembles that comprise The U.S. Air Force Band. Created in 1950 to continue the tradition of Major Glenn Miller's Army Air Forces dance band, the current band consists of 18 active duty Airmen musicians including one vocalist.
Through the years, the Airmen of Note has presented its own brand of big band jazz as well as more contemporary forms of jazz to audiences via annual tours across the United States, deployments around the world, and local performances throughout metropolitan Washington, D.C. Their commitment to musical excellence has earned the respect of the foremost jazz artists from around the globe, leading to many collaborative performances and recordings with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan, and Doc Severinsen. In 1990, the Airmen of Note 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, independent jazz radio stations, satellite radio services, and the Internet. In addition, the “Note” produces and delivers recorded music to millions of fans worldwide through hundreds of media outlets. One of the group's holiday recordings, "Cool Yule," reached #2 on the JazzWeek jazz chart.
As part of The U.S. Air Force Band, The Airmen of Note honors those who have served, inspires American citizens to heightened patriotism and service, and positively impacts the global community on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and the United States. The excellence demonstrated by these Airmen musicians is a reflection of the excellence displayed by Airmen stationed around the globe. Each member is proud to represent all Airmen, whose selfless service and sacrifices ensure the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America.
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Pro Coro is a select group of singers drawn from the Alexandria Choral Society (ACS). Both organizations are conducted by Brian Isaac. The Society aspires to enhance the cultural life of the city of Alexandria and surrounding communities by presenting diverse and engaging musical programs at the highest artistic level.
ACS consistently offers meaningful and exciting musical experiences to both singers and audiences through a commitment to a diverse repertoire, understanding through education, and performance excellence.
The ACS strives to enhance the cultural life of the city of Alexandria by blending individuals into one voice - and together making music.