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Spotlight on the Symphony - Souvenir de Florence

  • Samper Recital Hall 6500 Soquel Avenue Santa Cruz, CA, 95062 United States (map)

Souvenir de Florence

The opening recital of our Spotlight on the Symphony Recital Series will feature six of the Symphony’s string musicians, including concertmaster Nigel Armstrong, Daniel Stewart on viola, principal viola Chad Kaltinger, principal cello Jonah Kim, and assistant principal cello Saul Richmond-Rakerd.

The highlight of the program will be Tchaikovsky’s beautiful sextet, Souvenir de Florence, so named because he wrote it while in Florence. However the last two movements are distinctly reminiscent of Russian folk-like melodies and rhythms.

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Carl Heinrich Biber (1681 - 1749)           Passacaglia in G minor

Nigel Armstrong                                   Improvisations

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)     Violin Sonata No.3 in C Major, BWV 1005

Fuga. Alla breve
Allegro assai

Nigel Armstrong, Violin

--- Intermission ---

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847)          Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20

Allegro moderato ma con fuoco
Scherzo: Allegro leggierissimo

Nigel Armstrong, violin
Chinh Le, violin
Loretta Taylor, violin
Rochelle Nguyen, violin
Daniel Stewart, viola
Chad Kaltinger, viola
Saul Richmond-Rakerd, cello
Erin Wang, cello


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Nigel Armstrong, Violin

Nigel Armstrong is emerging as a dynamic and creative artist both within and beyond the realm of classical music. From his musical beginnings as a member of "The Little Fiddlers" in Sonoma, CA to collaborations with tango musicians in Argentina he's enjoyed using the violin in a versatile manner throughout his life.

As soloist Nigel has performed with orchestras such as the Dusseldorf Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, YOA Orchestra of the Americas, and the Boston Pops, and with conductors including Sir Neville Marriner and Carlos Miguel Prieto. He received the 2nd Prize, the Ole Bull Prize, and the Nordheim Award at the 2010 Menuhin Competition Senior Division in Oslo, Norway, and got the 4th Prize plus the Prize for the Best Performance of the Commissioned Work (STOMP, by John Corigliano) at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition. As a chamber musician his concerts have taken him across the US and abroad--highlights have included opportunities to share the stage with the Tokyo String Quartet and pianist Jonathan Biss.

Nigel feels fortunate to have had the chance to explore great orchestral literature throughout his career. Since 2009 he's appeared as concertmaster with the Colburn Orchestra, LA's American Youth Symphony, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, the YOA Orchestra of the Americas, and most recently the New York String Orchestra in their annual Carnegie hall performances.

A graduate of the Colburn School and the Curtis Institute of Music, Nigel's teachers have included Arnold Steinhardt, Robert Lipsett, Zaven Melikian, and Donald Weilerstein, among others. He also recently had the opportunity to live with and learn from the Plum Village community founded by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, where he spent a year working on their organic farm and taking part in their daily life, an experience for which he continues to be grateful.

Chinh Le, Violin

Chinh Le was born in Vietnam and came to the US in 1980. Mr. Le completed his Bachelor of Music from Indiana University. He has performed with the New World Symphony in various genres from solo to chamber music series. He was an active performer throughout Europe, South America and Asia before he joined the Symphony Silicon Valley in 1991. He was the music director and conductor of the Saigon Chamber Ensemble between 1998 to 2001. In 2003 he co-founded the Pacific Music Associations, based in Northern California, with purpose of preserving traditional Vietnamese music. Mr. Le is a member of Opera San Jose and San Jose Chamber Orchestra. Additionally, he is the Associate Concertmaster of Santa Cruz Symphony.

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Loretta Taylor, Violin

Loretta Taylor lives in San Francisco where she was born and raised.  She has worked extensively with many orchestras throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and has performed with orchestras in San Juan, Puerto and Perth, Australia. In addition to being Principal Second Violin of the Santa Cruz Symphony, Loretta teaches at the San Francisco Community Music Center and is the concertmaster of the Golden Gate Symphony & Chorus and Principal Second Violin of the Russian Chamber Orchestra, both of San Francisco. She has coached chamber music for the Chamber Musicians of Northern California and the Sequoia Chamber Music Workshop.  She has been a soloist with the Old First Orchestra, the Community Music Center Orchestra, and the New Millennium Strings. Loretta Taylor is a graduate of San Francisco State University, magna cum laude.

Rochelle Nguyen, Violin

Rochelle Nguyen is an active chamber and orchestral musician in the bay area. She currently plays in the Monterey Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, and Stockton Symphony (Associate Concertmaster), and subs with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and Opera San Jose. Rochelle is an avid chamber musician, playing in multiple groups in the bay area, as well as in Seattle, WA, with the Oceana String Quartet (OSQ), two-time winner of the University of Washington (UW) School of Music chamber competition, and winner of both the Washington State and Northwest Regional MTNA Chamber Music competitions in 2013. As a member of OSQ, Rochelle has worked with Melia Watras, Atar Arad, Elisa Barston, and Paul Kantor.

Rochelle studied violin with Daniel Kobialka, Robin Sharp, Ron Patterson, and Diane Nicholeris. She has worked with Pamela Frank, Joseph Silverstein, and members of the Corigliano, St. Lawrence, Emerson, Cypress, Concord, and American string quartets, as well as members of the San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Rochelle has attended several summer music festivals, including Music@Menlo, St. Lawrence String Quartet Chamber Music Seminar, and Tanglewood Music Center, where she worked with renowned conductors such as James Levine, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kurt Masur, Herbert Blomstedt, Leonard Slatkin, Robert Spano, and Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos. 

Rochelle grew up in the bay area; she received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and her master’s degree from the University of Washington in Seattle.

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Daniel Stewart, Viola

Daniel Stewart is in his fifth year as Music Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony. Mr. Stewart's first four seasons in Santa Cruz have led to great critical acclaim, including the Peninsula Reviews' assertion that "Arguably, the Santa Cruz County Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Stewart has now developed into the finest musical ensemble South of San Francisco and North of Los Angeles."

Mr. Stewart has served as principal violist of numerous ensembles, including the New World Symphony, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, and the Verbier Festival and Chamber Orchestras. He has performed as an orchestral musician with the San Francisco Symphony, recorded for EMI with Maxim Vengerov, and toured extensively in over 40 countries.

Read his full bio here.

Chad Kaltinger, Viola

Chad Kaltinger is an active freelancer in the San Francisco area and maintains a busy schedule as orchestral violist, chamber musician, soloist, and recording artist.  Principal violist for Opera San Jose and the Santa Cruz Symphony, he is a frequent guest principal at the San Jose Chamber Orchestra. Chad has performed in many festivals around the U.S. including Music in the Mountains, Arizona Musicfest, South by Southwest, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and the Mendocino Music Festival. He is an active proponent of new music and performs regularly with the Cabrillo Music Festival, the University of California-Santa Cruz New Music Works Ensemble, and the Worn Chamber Ensemble.  He was the soloist in the  2012 U.S. premiere of Noam Sheriff’s Canarian Vespers, for solo viola and strings, with the Cadenza Chamber Orchestra in Santa Cruz, California.

Chad hails from Chicago where he began his studies at age 9.  He studied at the Music Institute of Chicago in Wilmette, Ill. with Peter Slowik, and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with Emanuel Vardi.  As a fellowship student at the Aspen Music Festival he studied with Heidi Castleman and Victoria Chiang.  Chad was the winner of the 1994 E. Nakamichi Viola Concerto Competition at the Aspen Music Festival.  He joined QSF in December 2012.

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Saul Richmond-Rakerd, Cello

Saul Richmond-Rakerd began cello at the age of 9.  While attending Brown University, he performed as principal of the Brown University Orchestra and as a soloist. He received Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Physics and Anthropology, but cello remained a passion of his. After graduating, Saul immersed himself in music full-time. After attending the Castleton Music festival in 2013, he moved to Florence, Italy to pursue a Biennio di Violoncello, and to play professionally as principal cellist of the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana.  He then received his Master of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory under the tutelage of Jennifer Culp.

Musical awards include finalist of the San Francisco Conservatory Concerto Competition in 2016, First Prize at the Barbara Fritz Chamber Music Award (2016), First Prize at the Luigi Boccherini Chamber Music Competition in Lucca, Italy (2016), Second Prize at the Dorothy Van Waynen Competition for Strings (2016), Primo Arco Premio (2014), Weston Prize for the Arts (2013), and the Buxtehude Premium Prize in Music (2012).  He has been a member of many chamber groups and was a founding member of the cello quartet Quattro alla Volta. He currently serves as assistant principal cellist in the Santa Cruz Symphony and as a section cellist with the Monterey Symphony.


Erin Wang

Erin Wang, cello, received a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Arts in French from Oberlin College and Conservatory, a Master of Music from DePaul University, and an Artist Certificate in Chamber Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music while studying with Jennifer Culp. She has performed chamber music with Yo-Yo Ma, Menahem Pressler, Peter Frankl, and Anthony Marwood, and has collaborated with the Irish music ensemble Anuna, hip-hop artist Kanye West, and Death Cab for Cutie.

Ms. Wang has appeared with Quartet San Francisco, Santa Cruz Chamber Players, the New Century Chamber Orchestra, and the Aspen Chamber orchestra while completing a three-year fellowship in the studio of Darrett Adkins at the Aspen Music Festival. She has performed as soloist with the San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra playing Bloch’s Schelomo. Ms. Wang currently teaches and performs in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Earlier Event: June 2
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Later Event: October 11
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