One of Jennifer’s earliest memories of classical music was attending an educational concert by the Charlotte Symphony with a school group. She remembers being mesmerized by the shiny flutes in the orchestra, and believes that is when she chose her instrument. She thinks of this performance every time she plays for the Symphony Tacoma Education Concerts, and it makes her emotional to imagine the profound effect the orchestra may have on a young person in our audience. Jennifer believes that perhaps more than any other instrument, each flutist has a distinct personal sound that is akin to the human voice. She has found that flutists also have the opportunity for so much variation in tonal colors: the flute can sound almost like a horn or trumpet when playing with a bold sound in our lowest register, or can be played with a limpid, delicate, dreamy quality in the middle register, such as in Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. The bright and crisp upper register is the signature sound that everyone recognizes as being truly unique to the flute.
Jennifer is on the faculty of Pacific Lutheran University where she teaches flute and music theory. She performs with several other groups, including the Camas Woodwind Quintet, which is a resident faculty ensemble. She enjoys playing lots of chamber music with her colleagues at PLU. She also performs regularly with other large ensembles in the area such as Vashon Opera and Northwest Sinfonietta. She holds a Bachelor of Music from Oberlin Conservatory, Master of Music from University of Michigan and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Stony Brook University.
Jennifer grew up in North Carolina, but has lived in the Tacoma area for the past 12 years. She feels very fortunate to live in this wonderful region and to play in this orchestra. She also enjoys physical fitness, hiking, and gardening.
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Begin’s experiences with music were from pretty much the beginning of her life. Her father sang with the Seattle Gilbert, the Sullivan Society and the Seattle Opera Chorus until her teenage years, so she would attend rehearsals with him. She loved seeing how the singers would get into character and work diligently to get their parts just right. When she turned 5 her parents gave her a violin and started taking her to lessons. Her first teacher then further helped her to fall in love with music in general. Begin loves how the violin is small enough to feel like an extension of the body. When she holds it, she imagines that it is part of he arm, and tries to let her emotions sing out through each bow stroke. She enjoys how she can listen so closely and feel the vibrations of the instrument as she plays.
Begin has a Bachelor of Musical Arts degree from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington where concertmaster Svend Ronning was her professor. Along with Symphony Tacoma, she serves as the Concertmistress for the Seattle Rock Orchestra and plays events with Quartet Evolution, her string quartet. She teaches private lessons for the violin, viola and cello at both Off The Wall School of Music and Puget Sound Music Academy, and is a paraprofessional in the Edmonds School District.
Recently, she began working at the Musicians’ Association of Seattle Local 76-493 AFM where she is helping to coordinate efforts to create safer working environments and fair pay for Seattle’s many musicians. Begin also records on movie scores and hip hop or jazz albums frequently. Other passions of hers include taking care of her two young daughters, playing dominos and learning to practice mindfulness.
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Rebecca recalls often watching her older sister play violin, which inspired her to take up the instrument. When she tried, it seemed almost easy. Competing with her sibling helped her to strive for self-improvement throughout her career. While playing for the Symphony, she likes to think that the musicians all work together as a section, many voices becoming one.
Rebecca has a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Western Washington State University. After she graduated, she lived in Germany for 3 and a half years where she played in an opera orchestra, a symphony, and a chamber orchestra. Originally from Tacoma, the first orchestra she ever heard was the Tacoma Symphony. When she joined Symphony Tacoma in 2007, she felt like she had come full circle. It was good getting away from the area, but also good to come back. She also enjoys reading and hiking.
Denali’s earliest musical memories are from when she was around three years old. Her parents would always play the piano and organ in her home. They would also watch the music variety shows on TV at the time and they were regular family events. She must have watched or heard something that inspired her because she started dragging out the cookware to hit it! She took lessons on piano, guitar, and woodwind instruments before eventually being reunited with percussion. She appreciates the variety of instruments she gets called on to play as well as the changing role of a percussionist from piece to piece.
Denali earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Percussion Performance from Eastern Washington University. She performs regularly in a wide variety of ensembles and also teaches, coaches and adjudicates many different levels of musicians of all ages. When not playing or teaching she likes to go hiking. Travel is very important to her and she considers herself fortunate to have had many opportunities to see the world.
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Colin was exposed to a lot of music as a small child through his parents, but did not start playing the violin until he was 10. While participating in the Seattle School’s elementary music program he selected the violin because his grandfather was a violinist, and it was the most familiar musical object. He describes the violin as working a kind of magic that he can’t fully explain. The instrument seems to react to each individual player as if it were alive and I love the process of befriending, as it were, each violin.
Colin performs regularly with Tacoma Opera, Tacoma City Ballet, and Vashon Opera in addition to doing freelance work in the Puget Sound area. He has a Bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Washington. He loves both cooking and travel, despite it being difficult for him to find time for either one as often as he would like. His wife, assistant concertmaster Evelyn Gottlieb, is also a member of Symphony Tacoma.
Frank was really not all that interested in music as a kid. His parents made him take piano lessons, and encouraged his practicing, but his piano skills never really materialized. One day, his piano teacher asked him to come join the high school orchestra in the percussion section. He was hooked, and the rest is history.
Frank appreciates the variety of percussion instruments. There are so many different ways to shake or hit things to make different sounds. Sometimes he accompanies the flutes with a snare drum “melody,” and sometimes will provide a big resonant boom in just the right place to fill the hall with sound. He is a part of Philharmonia Northwest, and plays in various orchestras in the region on an ad hoc basis. He has also played with the Seattle Symphony on a few occasions.
Frank has a Bachelor and Master of Music from Rice University in Houston, Texas, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Chapman University in Orange, California. His main income comes from software development. He strongly believes that everyone should strive to make music a part of their life, especially children.
When Judson was young, his mother’s enthusiasm and passion for music clearly imprinted on her at an early age. As early as eighth grade, he settled on trumpet as a career. He began to read biographies of famous composers and performers and decided that his dream was to live the life of Anton Rubenstein as described in his memoir My Younger Years.
Judson teaches at the University of Puget Sound, plays with Northwest Sinfonietta and conducts the Brass Band Northwest. He has a Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance at Baldwin-Wallace College, Master of Music in Trumpet Performance at New England Conservatory of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts in Instrumental Conducting and Trumpet Performance at University of Washington. In his free time he enjoys skiing, swimming and bridge.
Charles Ives believed that shared community is integral to music, and is lost when music becomes trapped in vinyl or digital bits. Judson agrees with Ives: music is an art best engaged socially. Having spent some time recording, he finds playing for microphones to be very unsatisfying, especially when compared to playing for an audience.
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Karin’s first memorable experience with music was in kindergarten, when the class made violins with cake boxes and rulers. She enjoys playing violin because it has such an amazing range of pitches and sounds, and can do almost anything. She feels like violinists always get the best parts to play! Along with Symphony Tacoma, she is also a member of Northwest Sinfonietta and the Aronoff Chamber Players. She lives and teaches on Vashon Island, where she enjoys playing with multiple groups, including Vashon Opera.
Karin has a degree in violin performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. She pours the rest of her heart and soul into her family—husband, 14-year old and 11-year old twins.
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Teo began studying violin at the age of five under Linda Good, Director of the Island Strings program on Whidbey Island. He received a degree in English Literature with a minor in Music from The Colorado College where he studied with Michael Hanson and won The Colorado College concerto competition in 2003 and 2004.
In 2006 Teo earned a Masters degree in Violin Performance from The University of Washington. He has been teaching in the Seattle area for 15 years. He is currently First Violinist with the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra and is the Director of the Halycon Strings Music School in Ballard. He has earned a reputation as an outstanding violin instructor for youth by combining his interest in child education with his knowledge of the Suzuki method and his own experience of learning to play violin.
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Andrew Kam is an orchestra director with the Bellevue School District. He is the Conductor of the Cadet String Orchestra with Bellevue Youth Symphony. Andrew is a first violinist with Tacoma Symphony and Yakima Symphony, and performs in the Lake Chelan Bach Festival every summer. Andrew can be heard as one of the violinists in Kesha’s 2017 single “Praying”. In addition to studio recordings, Andrew joins the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s winter tour. He has performed at Moda Center (Portland), Key Arena (Seattle), and at the Spokane arena.
Andrew earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Miami. He completed his Master of Music in Music Performance at the University of Oregon. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, he lived in Massachusetts, Eugene, Oregon and Miami, Florida before settling in Bellevue in 2011. Andrew is married to Angie Kam, private violin teacher and Assistant Principal 2nd Violin in Yakima Symphony. Together they enjoy hiking, travelling, and spending time with family and friends.
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Danielle McCutcheon is a member of Symphony Tacoma and freelances as a soloist and chamber musician. She has performed with Village Theater, Spokane Symphony, Bellevue Philharmonic, Federal Way Symphony, Valse Café Orchestra, Seattle Choral Company, Orchestra Seattle, Philharmonia Northwest, as well as in back-up groups for Pavarotti, Josh Groban, k.d. lang, as Concertmaster for Northwest Symphony, as soloist with the Vashon-Maury and Octava Chamber Orchestras, and more. Her recent album, Clave de Sol, is available at Vashon Island Music.
Danielle is an herbal practitioner with a special interest in helping people cope with streee, anxiety and other physical disorders. Danielle is currently researching herbal protocols which may assist conventional treatments of Lyme disease, Fibromyalgia, and Cancer.
Katrin St. Clair
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Katrin began music studies at age 5 with kinder music classes at the St. Louis Conservatory and School for the Arts. The classes incorporated dance, singing, and playing rhythmic instruments. She holds a Bachelor of Music with honors from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Katrin has been guest master class teacher at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA and at Parker Elementary in Houston TX. She is on faculty at the Oregon Suzuki institute.
Katrin has performed with the Illinois Symphony and is currently a member of the first violin section of the Symphony Tacoma Orchestra. She also plays with the Seattle Studio Orchestra which records many movie sound tracks. Katrin frequently appears with the Northwest Sinfonietta as well as her own chamber music group, The Puget Sound Trio.
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Brandon Vance is one of the foremost exponents of Scottish fiddling in North America. In 1999, he became the youngest to win the National Open Scottish Fiddling Championship. This achievement, which he repeated in 2001, launched Vance into a decades-long performing, teaching, and composing career that has brought collaboration with some of the finest creative minds in 21st-century music making.
Vance has performed and taught internationally, serving as a guest lecturer at the University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy, as well as guest artist for the 50th Anniversary of the Armagh Piper’s Club at the William Kennedy Piping Festival.
With a M.M. from the Cleveland Institute of Music, one of the continent’s most distinguished conservatories, Vance performs with Pacific Music Works, Early Music Vancouver, Northwest Sinfonietta, mandolinist John Reischman, vocalist Nadia Tarnawsky, Alex Fedoriouk, uilleann piper Eliot Grasso, and composer Stephen Rice.
Bren Plummer is a freelance double bassist and composer from Seattle, Washington. Known as a strong player and insightful interpreter of both jazz and classical music, he is a member of two professional orchestras in Washington state and a regular contributor to jazz venues and night clubs all over the Seattle area. Bren has performed at numerous festivals including the Montreux Jazz festival in Switzerland, the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, The Round Top Festival in Texas, Jazz at Port Townsend in Washington State, and the Verbier Music Festival in Verbier, Switzerland. His compositions have been performed by orchestras in the United States and Europe at concert halls such as the Salle-Pleyel in Paris and the Delibes Center for Music in Valladolid, Spain.
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Janet Utterback received her B.A. in Music Education from the University of Puget Sound and her Masters in Music Performance from the University of Washington. Her professional performing experience includes the Yakima Symphony, Bellevue Symphony, Northwest Symphony, and Symphony Tacoma.