Dror Biran, piano (Artistic Director)
Dror Biran's playing has been described in Die Bleed as "powerful, but also beautiful sensitive, brilliant but full of artistry, seductively lyrical but intensely dramatic at the climaxes". The Plain Dealer added "his fortissimos crashed and roared, but next to them came pianissimos that whispered seductively...he has technique to burn and uses it effectively..."
His superb tonal control combined with interesting phrasing and voicing has won him consistent critical acclaim and enthusiastic audience.
Born in Israel, Dr. Biran is a top prize winner of several national and international piano competitions. He is a graduate of the Givataim Conservatory where he studied with Mrs. Lily Dorfman and The Rubin Academy of Music at Tel-Aviv University where he studied with Prof. Arie Vardi. In addition he received his Doctoral degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with Mr. Paul Schenly and Dr. Daniel Shapiro.
Dror Biran won top prizes at the M.K Ciurlionis International Piano Competition (1995), and the Cleveland International Piano Competition (1997) where he also received a special prize for the best performance of works by Chopin. His honors include the first prize at the "Pilar Bayona International Piano Competition" in Zaragoza, Spain (1998), first prize at the Israeli Rubin Academy Piano Competition (1998), and the Rafi Goralnik prize for pianists, in the Aviv Competition 2000. Dr. Biran has been a recipient of multiple the scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation for distinguished musicians.
Dr. Biran has performed widely as a soloist with major orchestras including the Lithuanian Philharmonic Orchestra, RTVE Symphony Orchestra of Spain, The Louisville Orchestra, Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He has played under the batons of Etinger, Rodan, Gueller, Gacia Asensio, Lane and others. His concert tours have taken him to the United States, Eastern and Western Europe, Israel and South Africa.
As a chamber musician Dr. Biran has appeared on a regular basis with different music ensembles such as Carmel and Aviv String Quartets, he has also performed with members of The Cleveland Orchestra in different venues. His concerts have been broadcast by WCLV, WQXR, The Voice of Music -- Israel, Classic FM South Africa among others. Dr. Biran can be heard on the JMC (Jerusalem Music Centre) labels featuring ballades by Brahms and Chopin.
Dr. Biran taught at Youngstown State University and Case Western Reserve University. Currently Dr. Biran teaches at University of Louisville School of Music in Kentucky as an Assistant Professor of Piano. His future engagements includes chamber and solo concerts in USA, Europe and Israel.
J. Patrick Rafferty, violin
J. Patrick Rafferty served as Concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra from 1986-1991. He previously served as Associate Concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony for eight years, and as Concertmaster for the Dallas Bach and Fine Arts Orchestras. He has also served as Acting Concertmaster of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, and Guest Concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony. His concerto credits include more than 40 works performed as soloist with such orchestras as the St. Louis Symphony, the Cincinnati Sympho ny, the Dallas Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, and many others. As a recitalist, Mr. Rafferty has performed in many major cities throughout the United States, including a recent series of performances of all ten Beethoven Sonatas in New York City. Teaching positions have included the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Alabama, and currently, the University of Louisville, where he is first violinist with the Louisville String Quartet. He is also on the summer artist faculty of the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, where he is concertmaster of the Brevard Music Center Orchestra. His former students perform and teach in many of the USA’s major symphonies and schools.
Brittany MacWilliams, violin
Violinist Brittany MacWilliams has an active career both as performer and educator. She made her professional violin debut at age ten with the Louisville Orchestra and went on to win numerous competitions including the Music Teachers National Association competition. Since then, Ms. MacWilliams has performed extensively as soloist and concertmaster in such diverse locales as Istanbul, Beijing, Salzburg, Munich, Lisbon, and New York. She has had solo engagements with such orchestras as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Munich Hochshule Orchestra, Kentucky Symphony, and Aspen Chamber Symphony. Ms. MacWilliams can be heard as soloist on two critically acclaimed compact discs of Giornovichi Violin Concerti for the Arte Nova Classics/BMG label. As a an avid chamber musician, Ms. MacWilliams is a founding member of the Baur Quartet and the Xavier Trio and has recorded four compact discs for the Vital Sounds label, including the Ten Celebrated String Quartets of W.A. Mozart. She was chosen as resident artist for the Next Generation Music Festival where she toured and performed with the Baur Quartet and pianist Awadagin Pratt. Ms. MacWilliams was the first winner of the prestigious Dorothy Richard Starling Teaching Fellowship in 2001, and she has taught at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and at Xavier University. Ms. MacWilliams is currently a member of the violin faculty at the University of Louisville School of Music and is also the founder and director of the Oldham County Chamber Ensemble.
Erin Rafferty, viola (Guest Artists)
Violist Erin Rafferty is currently pursuing her master’s degree at Indiana University. There, she is a member of the New Music Ensemble under David Dzubay and gives numerous premieres of both student and professional works. She is a member of Orchestra Kentucky Bowling Green and has also performed with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra, and the Bloomington Chamber Singers. She has been awarded orchestral fellowships from the National Orchestral Institute, the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, and the CCM Spoleto Festival. She has also been principal at the Brevard Music Center, where she worked with major performers such as Yo-Yo Ma, Bill Preucil, and Keith Lockhart.
A dedicated proponent of new music, Erin gave the world premiere of David Roberts’ Concertino for Viola and Electronics and has subsequently performed it at Electronic Music Midwest and the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States conference. She has performed at the Aspen Composers’ Symposium, the Midwest Composers’ Symposium, and at the Brevard Music Center as a member of the ITCH Ensemble.
As a chamber musician, Erin has recently collaborated with Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson on their 35th anniversary concert and has been in residence at the Lexington (KY) Summer Music Project. She has also been a member of the Advanced Chamber Music program at Brevard and of the Consentus String Quartet in Louisville, KY. She often appears in concert with her father, violinist J. Patrick Rafferty, most recently at the Norges Musikkhøgskole in Oslo, Norway.
She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she was the winner of the Geraldine Gee Scholarship and graduated cum laude. Her major teachers include Atar Arad, Roberto Diaz, Masao Kawasaki, and Catharine Carroll.
Paul York, cello
Recently hailed by The New York Times for his “warm-toned” performance of Lutosławski’s Grave (Metamorphoses), cellist Paul York is an accomplished soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. He currently serves on the string faculty at the University of Louisville, where he maintains an active teaching and performing schedule. Recent solo appearances include performances of Karel Husa’s Concerto for Violincello and Orchestra at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Aaron Jay Kernis’s Colored Field for Cello and Orchestra with the Louisville Orchestra, and Vivaldi’s Double Concerto in G Minor with internationally acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Of his performance at Carnegie Hall, New York Concert Review said “The fiendishly difficult solo part was brilliantly played by cellist Paul York; one had to be in awe of his playing.”
An avid chamber musician, Mr. York is a member of the Louisville String Quartet and was a founding member of The Logsdon Chamber Ensemble, a Texas Commission of the Arts Touring ensemble as well as ensemble-in-residence at Hardin-Simmons University. In April of 2006, he performed recitals throughout Japan. As a champion of contemporary music, Mr. York has commissioned works for the cello by such composers as Stefan Freund, Marc Satterwhite, Steve Rouse, Paul Brink, Douglas Knehans, and Fredrick Speck. He also premiered the work Ballad for Solo Cello and Seven Cellos by Grawemeyer and Pulitzer Prize winning composer, Aaron Jay Kernis as well as Alfred Bartles' new orchestration of Bartok’s First Rhapsody for cello with the Sewanee Festival Orchestra.
Mr. York has participated in numerous summer festivals. He is currently a member of the artist faculty at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, where he performs solo and chamber works, in addition to his teaching schedule. He has also performed at Strings in the Mountains in Colorado, Accent 09 and 11 at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the Abilene Chamber Music Series, and served as principal cello with the Des Moines Metro Opera Orchestra. He has held principal cello positions with numerous regional orchestras and performed as a member of the cello section of the Saint Louis Symphony under the direction of Leonard Slatkin.
Mr. York received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and his master of music degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he studied with Ronald Leonard. Other teachers include Gabor Rejto, and Louis Potter. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Mr. York was selected to participate in the prestigious Piatigorsky seminar at the University of South California and recently received a Distinguished Faculty Award from the University of Louisville. Mr. York can be heard on the Centaur, Arizona University Press, Ablaze, and CRS labels. His latest CD of premiere recordings entitled Cello Vision has recently been released on the Centaur label.