The Composer, Asako Hirabayashi

Composer and harpsichordist, Asako Hirabayashi’s first recording on Albany Label, whose program is entirely composed and played by herself, was selected as one of the 5 best classical CDs of the year 2010 by Minneapolis Star Tribune. It was described as “A superb player, is also a gifted creator of music” (The Diapason, 2010),“A strong case for her instrument's third-millennium credentials…the best harpsichordist. A delight!”(Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2010),“Twenty-four tracks of passionate, sparkling, lyrical, even poignant music to help secure the harpsichord’s presence in the new millennium.” (Fanfare, 2010) “…charming, unreservedly melodic, poignant and lighthearted”(American Record Guild, 2010) “ Her contemporary harpsichord music is ingenious, fanciful, diverse and unpretentious… I admit I’ve never been a fan of the harpsichord, she has changed all that for me and awakened me to the idea that a composer can reinvent an instrument…” (Fanfare, 2010)“ “With stylistic influences from her native country, American jazz, French Impressionism, and Latin and South American rhythms and sensibilities, Asako Hirabayashi brings us enticing music and outstanding performances on this impressive recording. (International Alliance for Women in Music, 2011)  

As a harpsichordist, she has been described by The Music Connoisseur as  “an impressive talent, brilliant,” and by The New York Concert Review as “a gifted harpsichordist with genuine… refined sensibilities for phrasing, dynamic gradations and nuanced tonal beauty”. She has appeared as a guest featured soloist in international festivals and music series worldwide, including her New York debut recital at Carnegie Hall, the Boston Early Music Festival, the International Bach Festival in Ukraine, the International Contemporary Music Festival “Contrasts” in Ukraine, the Festival Musicale delle Nazioni in Rome, Italy, the concert series at Palais du Pharo in Marseille, France, the Bach Society of Minnesota, the Schubert Club Concert Series etc. She won numerous grants and awards including the 2009 -10 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians, 2012 Artist Initiative grant, the Irene Diamond Scholarship from the Juilliard School, and the Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions. Her performances have been broadcast worldwide and she appeared as a guest solo performer on A Prairie Home Companion in 2009.

As a composer, she won several first prizes at international composition competitions, such as the Alienor International Harpsichord Composition Competition and NHK International Song Writing Competition in Japan, and awarded Jerome Fund for New Music and Subito grant from American Composers Forum.   She has won the 6th, 7th 8th Alienor consecutively. Her works have been published by Skyline publications Inc. and Tundradogs Music Publishing Inc. and have been performed worldwide.

She has taught classes and given lecture recitals at the Juilliard School, Miami University, the University of Kentucky, Northern Kentucky University, and the International Bach Festival in Sumy, Ukraine, the Tchaikovsky National Academy of Music in Kiev, Sumy Conservatory in Ukraine and Northern Kentucky University, the University of Minnesota. She served as vice president of Midwestern Historical Keyboard Society, and is a founder and a harpsichordist of Cincinnati Baroque Orchestra, Duo Libero, Duo Tastiera and Ladyslipper.

She holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in composition from the Aichi Art University in Japan and Doctoral degree in harpsichord performance from the Juilliard School. 

The Writer, Steven Epp

Steven Epp is an actor and writer based in Minneapolis. Steven was a co-Artistic Director of Theatre de la Jeune Lune, 1983-2008, winner of the 2005 Tony award for Best Regional Theatre.

In his 25 years with Jeune Lune Steven collaborated in the creation and performance of over 50 productions. He co-authored Children of Paradise, winner of the 1993 Outer-Critics Circle award for best new play; co-wrote and/or adapted scripts for Crusoe, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The 3 Musketeers, The Pursuit of Happiness, Dashiell Hammet’s Red Harvest, The Little Prince, Euripides Medea, Kafka’s Amerika, and Marivaux’s The Deception.

Steven adapted numerous opera projects for Jeune Lune including: Don Juan Giovanni, The Magic Flute, Cosi Fan Tutte, Figaro, Astor Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires, and Boito’s Mefistofele.

Steven was a co-author of Fissures for The Humana Festival, adapted Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale for the Bakken Trio, Moliere’s A Doctor In Spite of Himself with Christopher Bayes for Yale Repertory Theatre, Goldoni’s Il Campiello for Ten Thousand Things, wrote the new play Massoud, The Lion of Panjshir, commissioned by Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles, and a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor Lost for Actor’s Theater of Louisville.

Currently Steven is co-Artistic Director of The Moving Company where he has written The House Can’t Stand, Come Hell and High Water based on Faulkner’s novella Old Man, Out of the Pan Into the Fire, based on Grimm fairytales, and Refugia.

The Conductor, Andrew Altenbach

Anderw Altenbach, conductor — The Boston Globe wrote, “Altenbach built the drama with such point and purpose, it was as if Rossini were creating a new art form.” Andrew Altenbach continues to garner attention as a musical leader of his generation. Mr. Altenbach is Music Director of Opera at the Boston Conservatory. Mr. Altenbach is Artistic Director of the Minnesota Bach Ensemble, a professional chamber orchestra comprised of players from the Minnesota Orchestra. Mr. Altenbach recently returned from guest conducting with the Lakes Area Music Festival (Brainerd, MN) for opera and symphonic programs. Upcoming projects include Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri, Iphigenie en Tauride, and The Rake’s Progress in Boston, a full season of programs with the Minnesota Bach Ensemble, the Indiana University Symphony Orchestra, then a return engagement with the Lakes Area Music Festival.. Recent opera credits include Opera Birmingham, Opera Africa, Central City Opera, Minnesota Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Music Academy of the West, San Francisco Opera Merola Program, and Indiana University Opera Theatre. Symphonic credits include the Atlanta, Memphis and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestras, St.Paul Chamber Orchestra, Chautauqua Institution, and Grand Teton Music Festival. He was music director for the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra and the Bach Chamber Players of St.Paul. This summer he finished a very successful tenure as Artistic Director of Boston Opera Collaborative, leading the organization with new programming and award­ winning productions. When not performing music, Mr. Altenbach enjoys biking, reading, photography, and spending time with his wife, Julia, and their son, Henry.

 

                                                              Performers

Momoko Tanno (Yukionna/Oyuki)

Soprano, Momoko Tanno received numerous accolades throughout the US for her performances in productions created by Tony Award-winning Theatre de la Jeune Lune. Momoko was called “A dynamo who beautifully pours out passion and fire onstage” in a feature article in the Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN.

A versatile performer, Momoko Tanno was born in Tokyo, lived in Brazil, USA, and France. She received her B.A. in Vocal Performance at Nihon University in Tokyo, earned her M. M. in Vocal Performance at University of Minnesota, and continued her studies in Paris, France. She has performed with major theaters in the Twin Cities and nationally, in productions such as M. Butterfly at the Guthrie, Figaro (Susanna), Don Juan Giovanni (Donna Anna) and Carmen (Frasquita) with Theatre de la Jeune Lune, American Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and Pacific Overtures (Tamate, Shogun’s Mother) with Park Square Theater and Mu Performing Arts. Momoko appeared in A Little Night Music with Mu Performing Arts last summer.

As a concert artist, Momoko has performed with Minnesota Orchestra in a Benefit Concert for Japan, Bach Society of Minnesota, Heinrich Schütz-Chor, Tokyo, and Heinrich Schütz-Chor, Heilbronn. She is a faculty member at MacPhail Center for Music and has released a CD Kono Michi -Japanese Songs arranged by Gregory Theisen made possible by the MacPhail Artist Grant through the McKnight Foundation. Recipient of 2013 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, Momoko performed in the reading of the opera Yukionna with Nautilus Music-Theater, and at the Minneapolis Japanese School.

Shahzore Shah (Minokichi)

Shahzore Shah is a tenor in the Twin Cities-based vocal ensemble, Cantus. He earned degrees in vocal performance, music education and French from the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin. He enjoys singing solo and ensemble repertoire across a wide variety of genres, among them opera, art song, world folk, and Indian classical. Outside of Cantus, Shahzore performs regularly with the Lau Hawaiian Collective and participates in the First Readings Project. Shahzore is thrilled to join the cast of Yukionna to perform this exciting new work.

Lu Zang (Mosaku)

Baritone Lu Zang, a native of Hunan, China, is a pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at University of Minnesota School of Music. Mr. Zang received his Professional Certificate in Opera from University of Colorado Boulder, Masters of Music degree in Voice Performance from Boston University, and Bachelor of Music degree from Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Mr. Zang was praised by The Boston Music Intelligencer for his “dignity and precision” as Nicholas in Boston University’s 2010 production of Vanessa. Mr. Zang was also praised by Daily Camera for his “Remarkable” singing of the role of Ford in CU opera’s 2013 production of Falstaff. Mr. Zang’s other opera roles include the title role in Don Giovanni, the title role in Gianni Schicchi, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Capulet in Romeo et Juliette.

Jennifer Lee (Kelly) Broden (Akiko)

Jennifer is grateful and thrilled to be a part of "Yukionna" again. Some of Jennifer's past roles and performances include Mu Performing Arts' Mu's "A Little Night Music," "Into The Woods," "The Walleye Kid," and "Filipino Hearts." She was a original founding member of 7 Days A Cappella at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities an was chosen at Twinsfest to sing the National Anthem at Twins Stadium.

Jennifer thanks her husband Brent and new baby Evelyn for their love and support.

James Waldo (Daimyo)

Jim Waldo is a graduate of St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota.  A native of the Twin Cities, Jim sings with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Chorale, Minnesota Beethoven Festival Chorale, and is active as a recording musician.  He also plays bass in the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.  His solo appearances include with the Minnetonka Symphony, and with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra as Polydorus in Berlioz' L'Enfance du Christ.  Jim lives in St. Paul and is a proud East Sider.

Mikyoung Park (Haruko)

Dr. Park, a lyric soprano, Voice and Piano faculty at MacPhail Center for Music in Mineapolis, was born in Seoul, South Korea. Mikyoung has a Doctorate of Musical of Arts in voice performance and received a Voice Pedagogy Certificate at the University of Minnesota. She received both a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music from Seoul National University in Korea and completed the Opera Institute program at the Seoul National University. Dr. Park also holds a Master of Sacred Music degree in Choral conducting from Luther Seminary in St. Paul.  

As an Opera performer, her operatic repertoire include: Albert Herring, Ariadne auf Naxos, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor, Cavalleria Rusticana, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Boheme, Rigoletto, The Magic Flute, and Don Giovanni.

Dr. Park has been an avid member of the National Association of Teachers Singing, a member of Music Teachers National Association, and a member of Association of Professional Piano Instructors.

 Beside of teaching at MacPhail Center for Music, she currently serves as Music Director at Living Spirit United Methodist Church in Minneapolis and at Agora Program in St. Paul. 

Justin Madel (Sumiko)

Justin Madel has appeared in theatrical, operatic, and concert performances throughout the United States.  He has collaborated with the Tony-award winning Theatre de la Jeune Lune on numerous productions, including CarmenThe BallroomCarmina Burana, and Figaro.  He has also performed with the Moving Company, American Repertory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theater, Minnesota Opera, Kenwood Symphony Orchestra, Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra, and Skylark Opera.  Festival appearances include at the Silver Bay Music Festival, Pine Mountain Music Festival, and The Columbia Festival of Music. In 2004, Justin took first place in the celebrated Schubert Club Competition.

Mary Jo Gothmann (Piano/Harpsichord) 

Pianist Mary Jo Gothmann enjoys a varied career as a chamber musician, soloist, opera coach and organist.  Her recent chamber music engagements have included performances with the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota, Bakken Trio, Hill House Chamber Players, Music at Trinity, Colonial Chamber Music Series, Lakes Area Music Festival,  Joya! and the Taos Chamber Music Group.   Mary Jo performs frequently with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra  and the Minnesota Orchestra; has appeared with EOS Orchestra in New York City and as piano soloist with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the St. Paul Civic Orchestra.  She has worked for some of the most prestigious opera companies in the United States including the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Minnesota Opera and has performed recitals with singers from the Metropolitan Opera as well as with instrumentalists from many of the country's major symphony orchestras. Mary Jo is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Program, University of Minnesota, New England Conservatory and St. Olaf College. 

Taichi Chen (1st Violin)

Taichi Chen began his violin studies in his native country Taiwan when he was 7 years old.  At age 14 he was sent to Toho Gakuen of Music in Tokyo Japan to continue his music education.  He was offered a full music scholarship to attend Boston University to study with Roman Totenberg in 1976.  After three years he decided to study with Shmuel Ashkenasi at Northern Illinois University, where he earned his bachelors and masters degrees.  He joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1985 as a member of the second violin section.

Through the years he has participated in many chamber music concerts during Sommerfest, performing with pianists such as Alicia de Larrocha, Garrick Ohlsson and Andreas Haeflinger, and most recently with Andrew Litton and orchestra colleagues performing the Frank Piano Quintet in F minor.

Taichi has been a regular volunteer at North Memorial Hospital in the discharge department for many years.  He and his wife Robin also volunteer together, playing violin duets in their cancer treatment center. Together they manage a small farm in Finlayson, Minnesota, from which they donate some of their produce to the PRISM food shelf.

Margaret Humphrey (Violin)

A featured concert soloist with several local orchestras, she maintains a vibrant freelance career schedule in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. Ms Humphrey also performs as a core member of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra. Touring nationally, she frequently guests with Tempesta di Mare in Philadelphia, the Kingsbury Ensemble in St Louis, and Bach and the Baroque series in Pittsburgh. International touring as a founding member of Belladonna baroque quartet, she also solos yearly in the Ancient Music Series in St Savin, France. Ms Humphrey has recorded on the Chandos, Dorian, and Ten Thousand Lakes labels.

Tamás Strasser (Viola)

Tamás Strasser avid chamber musician Tamás Strasser has been violist with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra since 1975. He was previously a member of the Kansas City Philharmonic, United States Army Strings, New Art String Quartet and Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia. Strasser has performed with the Vienna Trio and the Muir, Moscow and Bakken string quartets and been a soloist with the SPCO, Kansas City Symphony among other orchestras, and the Santa Fe Opera. He served as artist-in-residence for the North Carolina School of the Arts summer program and on the faculties of Madeline Island Music Camp and Macalester College. He has taught master classes at the University of Minnesota and Kansas City Conservatory, among others. Strasser received his bachelor’s degree from the Kansas City Conservatory and master’s degree from the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. His principal teachers were Andor Toth, Tiberius Klausner, Michael Rabin and Dorothy Delay. He serves on the faculty at the University of St. Thomas teaching violin and viola and leading the String Orchestra. Strasser has performed as principal violist with the Wintergreen (VA) Festival, Colorado Music Festival in Boulder and the Aspen Chamber Symphony. This is his fourth year as principal violist at the Cascade Music Festival in Oregon. Strasser returns to perform chamber music in Alexandria’s Festival of the Lakes this summer.

Scott Lykins (Cello)

Scott Lykins is Founder and Artistic Director of the Lakes Area Music Festival, held each summer in his native Brainerd, MN since 2009. He received Bachelor ('09) and Masters ('11) degrees from the Eastman School of Music studying with Professors Steven Doane and Alan  Harris, respectively. He has participated in the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the National Orchestra Institute, National Repertory Orchestra and the Summer Music Festival at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO. As an orchestral performer, he has served as principal cellist of the Classical Symphony of Chicago and the Eastman Philharmonia Orchestra, and has played regularly with the South Dakota, Syracuse, and the New World Symphonies. With a strong interest in arts administration, Scott received a Certificate from the Catherine Filene Shrouse Arts Leadership Program at Eastman. Also a skilled pianist Lykins made his european debut in 2013 with baritone John Taylor Ward in a tour of Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise.

Charles Block (Double Bass)

Charles Block currently serves as principal bass of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra. He has also served as assistant prinicpal of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, Charles can be spotted working as a substitute/extra with ensembles such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, and Minnesota Opera. Overseas Charles has worked with the Macau Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Sinfonietta, and the RTE National Orchestra in Dublin. Charles received his education at San Francisco State University studying with Shinji Eshima, and Indiana University with Bruce Bransby.

Barbara Leibundguth (Flute)

Barbara Leibundguth has performed as principal flutist with major orchestras in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Houston, and was a member of the Minnesota Orchestra for twenty years, including fourteen as co-principal. She also served as principal in the Omaha Symphony and Opera/Omaha for eleven seasons. Leibundguth graduated from Northwestern University, and her teachers were Walfrid Kujala and Marcel Moyse. She attended the Marlboro, Blossom, and Grand Teton summer festivals, and was featured on A Prairie Home Companion. She won a 2002 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Artists, and recorded a CD, Visionary Duos, for the Albany label. Currently, Leibundguth serves on the music faculty at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Basil Reeves (Oboe)

Retired Principal Oboe of the Minnesota Orchestra, Basil Reeve, a native New Yorker, was the lead oboist with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and New York City Opera before joining the Minnesota Orchestra in 1971. In his forty-one seasons, Basil has performed most of the major oboe repertoire, ranging from concertos by Telemann and J.S. Bach to those of Strauss, Vaughan Williams and Henze. In March 2009, he and the orchestra premiered the Christopher Rouse Oboe Concerto.

Basil has also performed in virtually every Minnesota Orchestra Sommerfest and winter season chamber series during his tenure. He served for 37 years  as co-artistic director of the long-standing Twin Cities group the Musical Offering chamber ensemble. Basil teaches year-round privately and at the University of Minnesota, and summers at the Round Top Institute.

Sarah Porwoll-Lee (Clarinet)

Clarinetist Sarah Porwoll-Lee enjoys a busy solo and chamber music career in the Twin Cities. Performing credits include appearances with Zeitgeist, Spitting Image Collective, Rockdale Opera Company (Australia), the Australian Army Band-Sydney, and solo appearances throughout the Midwest. Ms. Porwoll-Lee is active in the music education community, serving as adjunct faculty at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, clarinet and woodwind ensembles instructor at Chanson Voice & Music Academy (St. Paul), and music lesson writer at Study.com. She is a 2015 recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant. Ms. Porwoll-Lee holds degrees from the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

David Hagedorn (Percussion)

David Hagedorn is an Artist in Residence in Music at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where he teaches percussion, jazz studies, and world music. He received a DMA in Percussion Performance from the Eastman School of Music, where his principal teacher was John Beck. He also holds a MM in Percussion Performance from the New England Conservatory where he studied with Vic Firth, of the Boston Symphony, and a BS in Music Education from the University of Minnesota, where he studied with Marv Dahlgren and Paula Culp, of the Minnesota Orchestra. He has recorded with the George Russell Living Time Orchestra on Blue Note Recordings, jazz singer Debbie Duncan on Igmod Recordings, Brian Setzer on Surf Dog records, and also with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra on Teldec Recordings. He has his own album, SolidLiquid on artegra recordings that was released in 2003. He is also featured on the Chris Bates Good Vibes trio album released in April of 2014. Hagedorn regularly performs in the Twin Cities with groups such as the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, the Phil Hey Quartet, Pete Whitman’s X-tet, Low Blows, and VocalEssence. He performs on Malletech vibes and mallets, and also has two books of snare drum solos published by Neil A. Kjos Publishing.

Matthew Barber (Percussion)

Matthew Barber received his B. M. in Percussion Performance from the University of Michigan in 1980. Since that time he has performed extensively with most of the Twin Cites’ and surrounding area’s theaters and orchestras. He was the staff percussionist at the Guthrie Theatre from 1980-87, where he also served as assistant conductor.  Mr. Barber was principle percussionist with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra from 1995-97 and currently is the principal percussionist with the Minnesota Opera, a post he has held for fifteen years. He also plays extra percussion with the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO.