Festival Orchestra Principal Chairs

The Festival Orchestra is made up of principal players from major North American orchestras and exceptional musicians from other local, regional and national ensembles. We are fortunate to have this assemblage of talent as our resident Festival orchestra. These talented artists will also present chamber music and perform as soloists with the orchestra during the Festival.

Richard Roberts, Concertmaster Alexander Hanna, Principal Contrabass
Brice Andrus, Principal Horn Joseph Robinson, Principal Oboe
Laura Ardan, Principal Clarinet Christina Smith, Principal Flute
Brant Bayless, Principal Viola Steven Thomas, Principal Cello
Charles Butler, Principal Trumpet Rob Tucker, Principal Timpani
Victor Costanzi, Principal Second Violin Robert Williams, Principal Bassoon
   

 

Richard Roberts, Concertmaster

Richard Roberts,
Concertmaster


Richard Roberts, Concertmaster has served as Principal Concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra since 1982. He studied violin with Josef Gingold at Indiana University, chamber music with Janos Starker and William Primrose, and pursued further studies in Geneva, Switzerland with Henryk Szeryng. Prior to his appointment in Montreal, he was Assistant Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra under conductor Lorin Maazel.

Mr. Roberts has also appeared as soloist and chamber musician throughout North America, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia in repertoire ranging from the early Baroque to Contemporary music. He has appeared as soloist with the Montreal Symphony on more than sixty-five occasions. As a teacher, Mr. Roberts has served on the faculties of the University of Minnesota, McGill University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, has given master classes at Indiana University, Oberlin College, the University of California at Los Angeles, and has been a frequent judge for competitions world-wide. He is also an editor for Ovation Press. Mr. Roberts has been concertmaster of the Bellingham Festival of Music since 2004.

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Brice Andrus, Principal Horn

Brice Andrus,
Principal Horn

Brice Andrus, Principal Horn
is Principal Hornist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He joined the ASO in 1966, while still a student at Georgia State University, and moved up to the principal’s chair in 1975. He holds the ASO’s endowed Sandra and John Glover Chair. In 1967 he traveled to the Middle East for a two-month tour with the Georgia State University Brass Ensemble, performing in Afghanistan, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Syria.

Mr. Andrus’ solo appearances with the ASO include works by Britten, Dukas, Knussen, Mozart, and Franz and Richard Strauss. He has performed in music festivals at Amelia Island,Florida, Madison, Ga, Highlands-Cashiers, North Carolina, and Bellingham, Washington. Mr. Andrus has toured with the Summit Brass and was a featured performer at the International Horn Society Workshops in 1993 and 1999. He studied horn with Forrest Standley and Dale Clevenger. Mr. Andrus is married to Susan Welty, the ASO’s Associate Principal Horn.

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Laura Ardan, Principal Clarinet

Laura Ardan,
Principal Clarinet

Laura Ardan, Principal Clarinet
is Principal Clarinet of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, a position she has held since 1982, and has performed with the Atlanta Chamber Players since 1987. A student of Roger Hiller and Stanley Drucker, she attended the Juilliard School of Music on scholarships from the Juilliard School and the Naumburg Foundation. Prior to coming to Atlanta, she spent four years as resident clarinetist and teaching artist for the Lincoln Center Institute and two years with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Ms. Ardan has performed in the Tanglewood, Marlboro and Mostly Mozart Festivals and has appeared as guest artist with “Emanuel Ax Invites...” on the Great Performers Series in New York’s Lincoln Center. The past several summers she has been a featured performer at the Grand Teton Music Festival, as well as chamber music festivals in Highlands-Cashiers, NC and Amelia Island, Florida.

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Bryant Bayless, Principal Viola

Bryant Bayless,
Principal Viola

Brant Bayless, Principal Viola
joined the viola section of the Utah Symphony in October 2001. He came to Utah from New York City as violist of the Arcata String Quartet, serving as Artist-in- Residence at Utah State University for three years and performing with Arcata throughout the US and Europe, including concerts at New York’s Town Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and London’s famed Wigmore Hall.

Mr. Bayless is a frequent guest artist with chamber groups in Utah and throughout the country, including recent appearances with Pinchas Zukerman, pianists Orli Shaham and Joseph Kalichstein, and members of the Muir String Quartet. During summers, Mr. Bayless performs with the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra and is a member of the Artist Faculty at the International Musical Arts Institute in Fryeburg, Maine. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree in 1997 from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Pinchas Zukerman and Patinka Kopec. His viola is a 1995 Nicholas Frirsz.

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Charles Bulter, Principal Trumpet

Charles Bulter,
Principal Trumpet


Charles Butler, Principal Trumpet
is distinguished by his associations with the Israel Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, Malaysian Philharmonic, Orquesta de Tenerife, Orquesta de Galicia, Houston Symphony, the Louisiana Symphony Orchestra, Burning River Brass and many high level performing organizations across the US and abroad. Charles has worked with many leading conductors and is a prolific recording artist. He has been featured on numerous commercial recordings with Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Itzhak Perlman (Israel Philharmonic), Donald Runnicles (San Francisco Opera), Hans Graf (Houston Symphony), and over 100 recordings with the Seattle Symphony as well as countless motion picture and TV sound tracks. Two of his most recent motion picture sound track recordings for 2007- 2008 have been “Forbidden Kingdom” with Jackie Chan and “Hulk II” with Ed Norton. Charles currently resides in Seattle and returns to the Bellingham Festival for his 7th season.

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Victor Costanzi, Principal Second Violin

Victor Costanzi,
Principal Second Violin


Victor Costanzi, Principal Second Violin
is one of North America’s more versatile violinists, with a résumé spanning many genres (symphony, chamber music, opera, ballet, musical theatre, pop and film) and eras, from early music with John Eliot Gardener to new music with Steve Reich. After his solo debut at sixteen with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra he was invited to attend the Eastman School on full scholarship. Since then he has toured Latin America, the U.S. and Canada, to glowing press notices (inspired playing brought the house down”- Toronto Globe and Mail; “the highlight of the concert”- Montreal Gazette). He is co-founder and Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed Vetta Chamber Series. He has recorded for CBC, Vox, Skylarc, Centre Disc and Miracle record labels. In March, 2005, Mr. Costanzi relocated from Vancouver BC to New York, where he is active as a Broadway concertmaster.

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Alexander Hanna, Principal Contrabass

Alexander Hanna,
Principal Contrabass

Alexander Hanna, Principal Contrabass
was born in 1986 in Bowling Green, Ohio and was appointed principal double bass of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2008. He made his solo debut with The Toledo Symphony at age fourteen as both a pianist and double bassist.

Curtis Institute of Music accepted Alex as a double bass player in 2004, where he studied with Philadelphia Orchestra principal bass Hal Robinson and renowned soloist Edgar Meyer.

He has been a substitute with the Minnesota Orchestra, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Pittsburgh Symphony and principal bass of the Haddonfield (New Jersey) Symphony.

Hanna performed and toured for three summers with the Verbier Festival Orchestra (Switzerland). While a fellow at Tanglewood playing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he was awarded the Maurice Schwartz Prize. In 2008, Alex performed in the Hawaii Contrabass Festival in Honolulu, and performed the contrabass solo in Mozart’s Per questa bella mano last year with Richard Zuch and the Mozart Chamber Orchestra (Wayne, PA).

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Joseph Robinson, Principal Oboe

Joseph Robinson,
Principal Oboe

Joseph Robinson, Principal Oboe
served as Principal Oboe of the New York Philharmonic for 27 years from June, 1978 until September 2005, succeeding the illustrious Harold Gomberg. He was also the last oboist in America to study with the legendary Marcel Tabuteau. Like both of them, Mr Robinson became one of the most distinguished orchestral musicians of his era. In 1989 he proposed, planned, and arranged funding for the first residency in the history of the New York Philharmonic, at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In May 2005 at Riverside Church in New York City Mr. Robinson received the highest award bestowed by the Manhattan School of Music, the Presidential Medal, for 27 years of meritorious faculty service.

Today Mr. Robinson resides in Blaine with his wife, violinist Mary Kay Robinson. They are parents of three remarkable daughters — executive Katie, Doctor Jody and diva Becky.

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Christina Smith, Principal Flute

Christina Smith,
Principal Flute

Christina Smith, Principal Flute
is a native of Sonoma County, California. She began flute studies at age seven, and has appeared as soloist with many orchestras in Northern California, including the San Francisco Symphony at the age of 15. She graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy, winning the Academy’s highest honor, the Young Artist Medal. In the same year, she became an awardee in the NFAA’s National Arts Recognition and Talent Search. She entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 1989 to study with Julius Baker and Jeffrey Khaner. She also studied with Timothy Day and Keith Underwood.

Appointed principal flutist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the age of 20, Ms. Smith has appeared as soloist with them performances of works by Mozart, Vivaldi, Bizet, Rodrigo, Nielsen, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, and Kaija Saariaho. Summer appearances include the Blossom, Tanglewood, Sunflower, Highlands, Bellingham, and Marlboro Music festivals. Currently on the faculty at Kennesaw State University, she regularly appears in recitals, chamber music, and master classes throughout the US.

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Steven Thomas, Principal Cello

Steven Thomas,
Principal Cello

Steven Thomas, Principal Cello
is principal cellist of the New Haven Symphony, Orchestra New England and several choral groups including the Pro Arte Singers. He holds degrees from Cambridge and Yale Universities earning a doctorate from the latter. He has won several top prizes including the Bach and Villa-Lobos International Competitions in Washington and Rio de Janeiro, respectively. He has toured extensively in Europe, North and South America as soloist, teacher and with the Cantilena Piano Quartet. He has recorded for the MVL, Point, Delos, Koch International and MMO labels. Mr. Thomas was recently appointed to the faculty of the University of Florida School of Music in Gainesville.

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Rob Tucker, Principal Timpani

Rob Tucker,
Principal Timpani

Rob Tucker, Principal Timpani
is a Washington native who performs regularly with the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, and Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestras, as well as in most of Seattle’s major recording studios, having played for countless motion picture soundtracks, video games, and commercials. As a chamber musician he has performed with the Seattle Chamber Players, and is a founding member of the Pacific Rims Percussion Quartet, and Quake, a new music septet. Rob attended the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Southern California.

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Robert Williams, Principal Basson

Robert Williams,
Principal Basson

Robert Williams, Principal Bassoon
joined the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as Principal Bassoonist in September 1974. He was formerly solo bassoonist with the Winnipeg Symphony, Winnipeg CBC Orchestra, Colorado Philharmonic and Tucson Symphony. He has played summer engagements with the Minnesota Orchestra and Boston Symphony at Tanglewood. He also plays in the Cut Time Players, the Neo-Bubonic Bassoon Quartet, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Bassoon Quartet, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Woodwind Quartet, and the Grand Teton Music Festival. He has appeared as soloist with the DSO on numerous occasions, playing Concertos by Hummel, Mozart, Weber, Vivaldi, Rota, Strauss, Hindemith, Haydn, and Fucik. He can be heard on all of the DSO/Dorati recordings on the London label including the award winning disk of the “Rite of Spring” made in the spring of 1981 and on the recent DSO/Jarvi recordings on the Chandos label. Williams is on the faculty of Wayne State University and has been on the music faculties of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

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