Chamber music Stl


Blaine Dodson

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Blaine joined the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra horn section in 2023. Previously he served in the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and played regularly as a guest in the horn sections of the Detroit Opera, Toledo Symphony, Ann Arbor Symphony, Lansing Symphony, and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. Blaine earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, where he studied both music education and horn performance under the guidance of Gail Williams and Jonathan Boen. While at Northwestern, Dodson performed with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, later completing his master’s degree in horn performance at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance, where he studied with Adam Unsworth and Bryan Kennedy. Blaine is an enthusiastic teacher with private studio as well as working with a number of school bands orchestras, general music, and choir programs. He has also taught classes in music theory and composition at the middle school and high school levels. When he is not playing the horn, Blaine enjoys being active and spending time outdoors hiking and swimming.

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Siyu Zhang

Siyu Zhang is from Changchun, China where she began her violin studies at the age of five. She moved to Beijing to attend middle and high school at the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music. Siyu continued her studies in New York as a full scholarship student of Lucie Robert at the Manhattan School of Music where she graduated with distinction earning a Bachelors of Music degree. She went on to complete her Master of Music degree with Kathleen Winkler at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Siyu joined the violin section of St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in 2023 after spending four seasons with the Jacksonville Symphony. Previously she has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, Atlanta Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, and the Detroit Symphony. Siyu was also selected as one of six Zubin Mehta Fellows from Rice University to participate in a performance and week of mentorship with the New York Philharmonic as part of the Global Academy program. She was the winner of the 2009 Andrea Postacchini International Violin Competition in Italy. She has performed on Chinese television, and gave the world premiere performance of a violin concerto with the ChangYing Symphony in 2017. Zhang has performed in leadership positions at numerous summer festivals including the Spoleto, Aspen, Texas, and Pacific Music Festivals, and the Music Academy of the West.  

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Steven Franklin

Steven Franklin joined the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in 2023 as Principal Trumpet. Previously, he was Associate Principal Trumpet of the Kansas City Symphony, Principal Trumpet of the Hawaii Symphony and has performed as guest Principal Trumpet with the Chicago Symphony and Rochester Philharmonic. A native of Chicago, Steven earned his bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music studying with David Bilger. In the summer, Steven serves as Solo Trumpet with the Lake Placid Sinfonietta in the Adirondack Mountains of New York where he enjoys hiking and fly-fishing. He recently became an “Adirondack 46er,” climbing the 46 highest peaks in the region. He is an avid chamber musician He was a founding member of The Brass Project, a Philadelphia-based brass sextet that commissioned over 40 new works during his tenure.  As a soloist, he has appeared with the New World Symphony, Ocean City Pops, Lake Placid Sinfonietta, and many other regional ensembles. He has won first prize in various competitions including the Roger Voisin (famous former Principal Trumpet of the Boston Symphony) Memorial Trumpet Competition, the International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition, and the National Trumpet Competition. Steven is passionate about music education. He maintains a private studio and is on faculty for the MasterWorks Festival in Campbellsville, Kentucky. Steven has given masterclasses in South America and Asia and in the United States. He is also an active composer having been commissioned by the American Brass Quintet, Lake Placid Sinfonietta, and by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, and New York Philharmonic. When not practicing or composing, most of his other interests involve being outdoors, including hiking, disc golf, and triathlon. He and his wife, Naomi, reside in Brentwood.  

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Darwin Aquino

Conductor, composer and violinist Darwin Aquino has performed throughout the US, Europe and Latin America. His presence as a Latinx artist in multiples stages is a bright light for diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music. Darwin was recently appointed Conductor for the New Works Collective with Opera Theater of St. Louis and Music Director of the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra. Additionally, he also serves as Conductor-in-Residence for the Washington University Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Gateway Festival Orchestra’s Summer Seasons. Darwin has enjoyed regular engagements the Philharmonishes Staatsorchester Mainz, Saarländisches Staatsorchester in Germany, The Cleveland Opera, National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, ADCA Symphony Orchestra in New York, Chicago Summer Opera, Filarmónica Boca del Rio in Mexico, Caribbean Lyric Festival, Missouri Festival for the Arts, Alfredo Saint Malo Festival Orchestra in Panama, FIU Symphony Orchestra in Miami, among others. He has also cover conducted the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Youth Symphony Orchestra, Palm Beach Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Americas (OA). He has appeared as guest conductor for the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the St. Louis Ballet (Giselle) and the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis; guest composer for the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Heredia in Costa Rica. Other engagements included the Florida Grand Opera, Missouri Symphony Orchestra, Ashland Symphony Orchestra in Ohio and the Caribbean Lyric Festival. Previous positions include Music Director for Winter Opera St. Louis,Director of Orchestral Studies University of Missouri St. Louis, Assistant Conductor Florida Grand Opera, Director National Conservatory of Music Dominican Republic, Assistant Conductor Palm Beach Symphony, Composer in Residence Dominican National Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director El Sistema DR , and holds a masters of music degree in orchestral conducting from the Florida International University, studying with Gzregorz Nowak. As a composer, Darwin’s compositions have enjoyed performances with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Juilliard School in New York City, the Illinois Modern Ensemble at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the Latin American Music Festival in Venezuela, and the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City.  

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Julia Paine

Julia Paine joined the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as second bassoonist in 2022. Originally, from the suburban Chicago, The youngest of three sisters, who all play musical instruments, Julia chose the bassoon at the age of 10. Years later, family gatherings were filled with music played by tuba, French horn, and bassoon trios Prior to joining the SLSO, Julia performed with orchestras including the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and Oregon Symphony. Not just a single dimension talent, Julia has a compelling scientific background having completed her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Marine Science to go along with her Bachelor of Music degrees…earned simultaneously at the University of Miami. She later received her Masters in Music at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Her primary teachers have been Ben Kamins and Gabriel Beavers. When not performing, Paine loves to see her extended family and go snorkeling in the kelp forests of Catalina Island.

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Andrew François

Andrew François joined the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra viola section in September 2019. He has performed with the Verbier Festival Orchestra, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, New World Symphony Orchestra, and was in the inaugural class of fellows with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Resident Fellows program. As a chamber musician and soloist, Andrew has given recitals throughout the United States and Europe. He also served as artist faculty with the Anchorage Chamber Music Festival. Originally, from Kankakee, Illinois, Andrew began his musical studies on violin as a 10 year old in his school’s string program. He received Artistic Excellence Fellowships from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University as well as Illinois State University. As an undergraduate student, he was a Teaching Assistant and private instructor at Illinois State University in its String Project program. As a graduate of the Jacobs School of music, Andrew held the title of Graduate Assistant for the string department, as well as at on the Jacobs School of Music Council as a Graduate representative. In his spare time, François enjoys playing tennis and practicing yoga.

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Alejandro Valdepeñas

Alejandro Valdepeñas performs regularly both as a violinist and violist. Named St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Associate Principal Violist, he joined the orchestra to open the2022/2023 season. His recent engagements include performances and recordings with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Chamber Soloists and the Amici Chamber Ensemble. He has served as a violinist with the Santa Fe Opera and has performed with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Originally from Toronto, Alejandro made his solo debut on violin at age 9 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Sarah Chang. Summer festival performances include the Aspen Music Festival and School and Norfolk Chamber Music Festival at Yale. Alejandro received his Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory studying with Paul Biss, and his Master of Music degree from Rice University studying with Paul Kantor.

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Davin Rubicz

Cellist Davin Rubicz has held positions with the Kansas City Symphony, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and has also played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician, he has performed with LaJolla SummerFest, Chamber Music Society of Saint Louis, Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, Pulitzer Arts Foundation series and the Missouri Chamber Music Festival. Davin has held teaching positions in the preparatory departments at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Rice University. He has served on the faculty at the Mercer School of Music, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Suzuki program, and was invited to teach Richard Aaron’s studio at the University of Michigan. In 2020, he was appointed Artistic Director of the Community Music School Preparatory Program at Webster University and also maintains a private studio in St. Louis. Davin began his studies in early childhood with the Suzuki method.  After attending intensive summer music training programs at the Indiana String Academy, ENCORE School for Strings, and Music Academy of the West, he was accepted at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Rice University, studying with Richard Aaron and Norman Fischer and completing a BM and MM in cello performance. He spent his summers at the Spoleto Music Festival (Italy), Taos School of Music, and Aspen Music Festival. Outside of music, Davin enjoys practicing yoga, growing vegetables, and riding his electric unicycle.  

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Cally Banham

Cally Banham was appointed to the Solo English horn position in 2006. Before joining the SLSO, she held posts, including English horn with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Principal Oboe with the Memphis Symphony, Fellow with the New World Symphony, and English horn with Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico, in Toluca, Mexico. She has performed as a guest English horn with the New York Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Cleveland Orchestra. In 2013, she transformed her hobby of dancing Argentine Tango into a musical pursuit. She founded Cortango, a tango/classical/jazz fusion ensemble. Cortango released its debut album, Tandas, in 2015. As the leader of Cortango, and Executive Producer of Tandas, Banham appeared as a guest on the PBS national program Arts America. In 2018, she co-produced her own solo Christmas album, Cor Christmas, which received extensive radio play in North America, and was featured as Album of the Week by KUSC Los Angeles and KDFC San Francisco, and highlighted on Classical MPR and NPR Performance Today. Cally is a scholar of the history of Tango, and she produces and hosts the radio program “Tango with Cally”, which airs weekly on Classic 107.3 St. Louis and WXXI Classical Rochester. A native of Philadelphia, Cally graduated from Temple University and the Manhattan School of Music. She studied with Louis Rosenblatt and Joseph Robinson. She lives in Lafayette Square St. Louis with her two cats, Grizabella and JB.

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Jessie Chen

Born in Torrance, California, Jessie is a graduate student at Yale School of Music, and earned his master’s degree at The Juilliard School. Mr. Chen won the Princeton University Concerto Competition in both 2014 and 2016, was a Grand Prize Winner of The Music Center’s Spotlight Awards in 2012, and is currently a member of the New Haven Chamber Orchestra. Jessie sits as replacement violin with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

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