Austin Chamber Ensemble Artists For Season 2018-2019

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Martha Mortensen Ahern, Artistic Director And Pianist

Martha Mortensen Ahern, an educator and pianist/collaborative artist, has performed in Europe and throughout the United States. In addition to performing and teaching, Martha also serves as Artistic Director for the Austin Chamber Ensemble.  'Marti' has been heard live in interviews and performances on local FM radio stations KMFA and KUT.  She holds leadership positions with Music Teachers National Association (State and Local), American Guild of Organists, and is a member of Mu Phi Epsilon.  As an educator, her students continue to receive Superior ratings in contests and festivals, as well as scholarships to attend colleges and universities as music majors and solos with the Austin Lyric Opera. She presented a Grammy Foundation ProSession piano master class in June 2006. For more information, see Martha's website.


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Katherine Altobello, Mezzo-Soprano

Katherine Altobello has been hailed a “spitfire…having the energy, concentration, and stamina to make it look easy.” Katherine’s musical versatility and dramatic ability allow her to perform in a vast array of musical styles and genres. She has performed with New York City Ballet, the National Chorale at Lincoln Center, San Diego Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Tulsa Opera, Ash-Lawn Opera, Brevard Music Center, Wildwood Opera, Opera in the Heights, Lexington Music Theatre Company, Bloomington Music Works, the Knoxville Symphony, and many others. In addition to singing, Katherine has been fortunate to do variety of commercial voice-over work for TV and radio.  Katherine enjoys teaching voice lessons to people of all ages and skill levels. For more information, see Katherine's website.

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James Anderson, violinist

A Fort Collins, Colorado native, violinist James Anderson has been hailed by critics as a violinist "who bucks tradition," a "world class violinist, improviser, and composer," and "the most swinging violinist in Colorado." James is at home in a number of musical arenas including classical, jazz, tango, bluegrass, and rock. As a graduate student, James studied at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England. While in England, James became a regular on the vibrant London jazz scene while studying alongside some of the world's finest classical performers such as the Belcea String Quartet and the London Symphony Orchestra. James has been featured in concert halls around the globe including London's Wigmore and Barbican Halls, and the Sala Mozart in Zaragosa, Spain. After seven years on the renown Austin, Texas music scene,  James is now based in Charleston, South Carolina and is an in demand violinist and teacher on the vibrant music scene. For more information, see James's website.

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Stephen Burnaman, Pianist

Stephen Burnaman has performed throughout the United States and abroad in such major musical centers as Boston, New York, Chicago, Rome, Warsaw, Taipei and Hong Kong.  Highlights include performances at the Hong Kong City Theatre, the Rome Festival in Italy, and a solo recital at the Chicago Cultural Center, which was broadcast live over the WFMT fine arts radio and television network. He is currently Professor of Piano and University Organist at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, and is former president of the Austin District Music Teachers Association, which named him Teacher of the Year for 2003 and Collegiate Teacher of the Year for 2004 & 2005.  He has served churches in Massachusetts and Texas as pianist and organist and from 2006-2011 performed as pianist for the Austin Singers, a professional choral ensemble. For more information, see Stephen's website.

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Karla Hamelin, Cellist

Cellist Karla Hamelin is a dynamic soloist, educator and interdisciplinary performer known for her innovative teaching style and distinctive collaborations. On faculty at Texas State University since 2011, Karla enjoys an active and varied career as a solo, chamber and orchestral music performer. She is a frequent recitalist that appears regularly as a collaborative artist. Karla has also worked with numerous artists in other disciplines including composers, dancers, choreographers, visual artists, poets, authors, actors, and internationally renownwned bands in Austin’s SXSW and ACL festivals, as well as studio musicians. Her ability to play a broad and diverse spectrum of repertoire has made her in demand as a performer of new works, a sought after chamber musician, as well as a featured artist in the Blanton Museum Baroque Cantata series. Recent performances and masterclasses have been presented in Mexico, Budapest, Vienna and Prague. Dr. Hamelin received her Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Texas at Austin, a Masters in Music from The University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Music degree from The University of Manitoba. For more information, see Karla's webpage.

Brennan Howell, Percussionist

PLACEHOLDER TEXT: Pianist Andrew Cooperstock performs widely as soloist and chamber musician and has appeared throughout six continents, including performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the United Nations, the Chautauqua, Brevard, and Round Top music festivals, Saarburg (Germany) International Music Festival, Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Hong Kong’s Hell Hot! New Music Festival, and on NPR, Radio France, and the BBC. Winner of the National Federation of Music Clubs Competition, he has served as juror for numerous international competitions in the U.S. and China. An avid chamber player, he has collaborated with the Takács String Quartet, Dorian Wind Quintet, Colorado Chamber Players, Trio Contraste, Opus Two Violin-Piano Duo, and Broadway actress Marin Mazzie. Cooperstock’s latest recording, Leonard Bernstein: Complete Solo Works for Piano (Bridge Records, 2017), was lauded by Gramophone as “winning” and “brilliant.” A Steinway artist, Dr. Cooperstock is Professor of Piano at CU Boulder and Artistic Director of the University’'s Leonard Bernstein at 100 celebration. For more information, see Andrew's Opus Two website.

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Jeffrey Jones-Ragona, tenor

Jeffrey Jones-Ragona serves as the Artistic Director of the Capital City Men’s Chorus (Austin, TX), Director of Music at the Cathedral of Saint Mary (Austin), and as Conductor of the Makheilah at Temple Beth Israel (Austin). He has taught on the music faculties of Drake University, St. Edward’s University, and Southwestern University, and performs regularly with Texas Early Music Project and La Follia Austin Baroque. He has performed with Austin Baroque Orchestra since 2013, as a chorister, featured soloist, and harpsichordist. Jeffrey received his DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of Texas at Austin 2006. He is the 2003 recipient of the Austin Circle of Theatre’s B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Musical Direction of Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera The Pirates of Penzance.

June Julian, Soprano

PLACEHOLDER TEXT: Janette Jones, native Austinite, first stepped on stage while taking Opera Workshop at the University of Texas. Then she appeared in Austin Melodrama Theatre. In New York, she was part of the Charles Lowe Young Vaudevillians and also spent three years with the Light Opera of Manhattan. Back in Austin, she sang in the chorus of Austin Opera but found her home with Gilbert & Sullivan Austin.

Patryce King, Pianist

PLACEHOLDER TEXT:Martha MacDonald holds degrees from Baylor University, the University of Michigan, and The University of Texas. She is an active chamber musician and has performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe as clarinetist with the Austin Chamber Ensemble and Trio Contraste, a violin, clarinet, piano trio. She can be heard in recordings on the International Clarinet Association CD Project and Chamber Music of Kathryn Mishell. She has taught woodwinds formerly in the Detroit and Houston areas, and at the American School of The Hague, The University of Texas and St. Stephens Episcopal School in Austin. In addition to performing she is Executive Director of the Austin Chamber Ensemble, President of Austin Young Artists Concerts, and maintains a private music studio of clarinet, flute and piano students. 

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Phillip Spencer, Bass

Phillip Spencer is a professional freelance bassist living and working in Austin since 2013.  With a degree in classical performance from the University of Northern Colorado, he has gone on to perform internationally with groups that perform in genres ranging from jazz, country, rock, classical, and tango music.  Phil can be found playing in and around Austin, in most of the area's most prominent music venues, any night of the week, with a large variety of ensembles and styles.  He has been referred to as the swiss army knife of bass players.  Whatever it is, he'll get the job done. For more information, see Phil's website.