Performer Bios

Dror Biran, piano

Dror Biran’s playing has been described in Die Bleed as “powerful, but also beautifully sensitive, seductively lyrical but intensely dramatic”. Born in Israel, Dr. Biran studied piano with Mrs. Lily Dorfman, Mr. Arie Vardi, Mr. Paul Schenly, and Dr. Daniel Shapiro. In 2006, he received his Doctoral degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music. Dr. Biran is a top prizewinner in the M.K. Ciurlionis International Piano Competition, the Cleveland International Piano Competition, the Pilar Bayona International Piano Competition and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. Dr. Biran has performed with major orchestras including the Lithuanian Philharmonic Orchestra, RTVE Symphony Orchestra of Spain and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Dr. Biran is Associate Professor of Piano at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Future engagements include concerts in the U.S., Europe, Israel and South Africa.


Walter Gray, cello

Walter Gray has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Mexico, the Far East, and Europe, including performances in Moscow, Odessa, Zagreb, Seoul, and Tokyo. He was a founding member of the Kronos Quartet and for over five years presented hundreds of concerts including numerous world premieres. He has continued to be a new music enthusiast performing with the New Performance Group, Quake, and Music of Remembrance. 

Many recordings followed which include those of John Cage, Paul Schoenfield, Jake Heggie, Chinary Ung, Paul Dresher, and Janice Giteck. As a record producer Mr. Gray has worked for the London Symphony, Seattle Symphony, North West Chamber Orchestra, New Hampshire Music Festival and numerous solo and chamber musicians. 

Mr. Gray grew up in Seattle and San Francisco and is a graduate of Lowell High School. He was a member of the Seattle Youth Symphony and studied cello with Raymond Davis and Robert Sayre. He then attended the Curtis Institute of Music where his primary teachers and coaches included Orlando Cole, Eugene Lehner, Mischa Schneider, Felix Galimir, and members of the Guarneri String Quartet. 

A member of the Seattle Symphony since 1979, Mr. Gray has performed as soloist with the orchestra several times. He has taught at the State University of New York at Geneseo, Mills College, Cornish College of the Arts, Western Washington University, the University of North Texas, and Seattle University. The first week of December you will find Mr. Gray working with students of Stephen Balderston at De Paul University during “Cello Slam”. In the summer he makes regular appearances at the Olympic, Marrowstone, New Hampshire, and Grand Teton Music Festivals.


Hal Grossman, violin

Violinist, Hal Grossman has been enthusiastically acclaimed by critics and audiences alike for his “vibrant tone” and “superb technique”. Grand Award Winner of the Lima Young Artist Competition and Silver Medalist of the International Stulberg String Competition, Mr. Grossman also received First Prize Awards at the prestigious International Cleveland Quartet Competition and the National Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. His New York Debut at Carnegie Hall received exceptional reviews from the New York Times. He was invited to perform for their Royal Highnesses, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, in a CBC television and radio broadcast. Recital appearances have taken him throughout North America and Europe. 

In the United States he has also been heard on National Public Radio, WQXI-New York, and WFMT-Chicago. Mr. Grossman served as the Concertmaster of the Estranach Festival Orchestra in Luxembourg, a position he has also held with the Illinois Philharmonic, the Boise Philharmonic, the Lansing Symphony and the SaginawBay Symphony Orchestra. He has been featured at the Casals (Puerto Rico), Evian (France), Orfeo (Italy), InterHarmony (Germany) music festivals and, in the continental U.S., the Aspen, Lancaster, Breckenridge, Fontana, Great Lakes, Marrowstone, Manitou, and Garth Newel music festivals. 

An outgrowth of Mr. Grossman’s teaching is the development of The Grossman Method© and its course Creating the Healthy Musician, a unique teaching system that addresses musicians’ health and performance issues within the applied lesson structure. Mr. Grossman, who earned his Yoga Ed. certification in 2009, combines his knowledge of Yoga, Feldenkrais Method® and Alexander Technique to create The Grossman Method’s Creating the Healthy Musician and its workshops; No Pain, ALL GAIN: A Healthy Way to Stretch and Play and the Breathe Your Way to Better Playing. The Grossman Method© has an international presence and has been used by leading performing artists and teachers. 

Mr. Grossman is Associate Professor of Violin at The University of Louisville and on the violin faculty at the Aria International Summer Music Academy and the Marrowstone Music Festival. He was formerly on the violin faculties at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Miami University and the University of Oklahoma.

 

Lee Luvisi, piano

A native of Louisville, Lee Luvisi served as Artist in Residence at the University of Louisville School of Music from 1963 until his retirement in 2001. 

Lusivi’s performance activities through the years have included a formidable array of engagements across all of the fifty states, as well as Canada, Mexico, Australia and Europe. He has been soloist with nearly every important orchestra in North American and under such distinguished conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy, William Steinberg, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Sir Neville Marriner and Robert Shaw. 

As a chamber pianist, Luvisi has collaborated with many of the world’s foremost musicians and ensembles. Included amongst these have been the Juilliard, Guarneri, Cleveland and Emerson Quartets, and eminent artists such as Itshak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Alexander Schneider, Leonard Rose, Richard Stoltzman, Jan DeGateani, Frederica von Stade, Benita Valente and Dawn Upshaw, to name a few. For two decades, until 2003, he was an Artist Member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. 

Luvisi has participated in the Marlboro, Aspen, Casals, Mostly Mozart, Chamber Music Northwest, Chautauqua and Tanglewood summer festivals, among many others. 

During the 2000/01 season, Mr. Luvisi presented the complete solo piano works of Beethoven in a twlve-concert series in his native city where, a decade earlier, he had undertaken a similar marathon encompassing Mozart’s complete solo keyboard compositions to celebrate that composer’s bicentennial. In 2007, he performed Bach’s entire Well Tempered Clavier here at the University. 

Mr. Luvisi’s YouTube site offers more than thirty programs of mostly live recital performances over the past quarter century or more.


Brittany MacWilliams, violin

Violinist Brittany MacWilliams has an active career both as performer and educator. She has had solo engagements with such orchestras as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Munich Hochshule Orchestra and Aspen Chamber Symphony. Ms. MacWilliams can be heard as soloist on several critically acclaimed compact discs of violin concerti for the Arte Nova Classics/BMG label. An avid chamber musician, Ms. MacWilliams is a founding member of the Baur Quartet and the Xavier Trio. She won the prestigious Dorothy Richard Starling Teaching Fellowship and 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.


Anna Petrova, piano

Bulgarian pianist, Anna Petrova, is praised for her “artistic, clear and enlightened” performances [BBC Magazine.] 

At her New York orchestral debut with conductor Philippe Entremont, shortly followed by a second invitation, Petrova was noted for her “ultra-smooth playing style”- New York Fine Arts Examiner. She has recently joined the piano faculty at the University of Louisville and performs extensively as a soloist and chamber musician. 

This season Petrova is in Norway and Spain with Norwegian violinist Anna Margrethe Nilsen on a CD release tour with the Complete Grieg Sonatas for violin and piano (Centaur Records, 2017). As the pianist of the clarinet-viola-piano trio Iris, Petrova will tour Canada and Germany with an innovative program of classical repertoire paired with works by living composers. She has been involved intensely in the founding and launching of the Alberto Jonás International School of Music in Valencia, Spain, which will open its door this June. Other activities include return engagements as a soloist in the US and Spain, a masterclass in the Jose Iturbi Valencia Conservatory, and chamber music appearances at festivals in the US and Europe. Currently, she is working on a two-CD set of the complete piano sonatas of Russian composer Samuil Feinberg for NAXOS. A solo recital CD as well as a number of chamber music recordings will be released on Centaur Records in 2018. 

Highlights of recent seasons include a recording of Stravinsky’s Les Noces with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and conductor JoAnn Falletta, Virginia Arts Festival (NAXOS, 2016); a solo tour of Chile; a masterclass and solo recital in Beijing, China, and performances of Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini, Prokofiev First and Third Piano Concertos, and the Beethoven Triple Concerto. At her return engagement with the Monterey Symphony Orchestra, CA, the Peninsula Reviews wrote: “There was a lot of vitality in her crisp playing […]bringing out in Petrova an impetuous excitement that stirred the audience to its feet at its conclusion.”- Lyn Bronson. 

Prizewinner of numerous international competitions, including the José Roca (Spain), Bösendorfer (Bulgaria) and Maria Yudina (Russia), Petrova was a semifinalist at the Queen Elizabeth International Piano Competition in Belgium, where she performed as a soloist with the Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia under Paul Goodwin. Other conductors she has played with include Max Bragado-Darman, Bruno Aprea, Ramón Tébar, Francisco Valero – Terribas, and Jonathan Pasternack. 

She has given solo recitals in halls such as Carnegie’s Weil Recital Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Brussels’ Conservatoire Royal, Chicago’s Preston Bradley Hall, Vienna’s Bösendorfer Hall, Auditorio Ciudad de Leon and Palau de la Musica in Spain. 

Her performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio Performance Today, New York’s WQXR, Chicago’s WFMT, and Bulgarian National Radio and Television. 

Petrova holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Manhattan School of Music, where her main teachers have been Horacio Gutiérrez and André-Michel Schub. 

Her future engagements include Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 2 with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra and a North-American tour with violist Molly Carr with a program by American and English composers (Carter, Liebermann, Bridge and Clarke.)

 

Rachel Swerdlow, viola

Rachel Swerdlow has been a member of the Seattle Symphony viola section since 1987. Originally from New York, she attended Juilliard’s Pre-College Division, Curtis Institute of Music and graduated with highest honors from the State University of New York at Stony Brook with a B.A. in Music History and Theory. She earned a Master’s Degree in Performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she also taught music history to undergraduates and coached chamber music in the school’s Prep Department. Principal teachers include Eugene Becker, John Graham, and Isadore Tinkleman. Rachel was a Fellow at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, attended the Taos, N.M. Chamber Music School and The Quartet Program in Troy, N.Y. She served as principal viola of the Santa Rosa Symphony and the Colorado Philharmonic and is a regular participant in the Grand Teton Music Festival. She has taught viola at the Cornish College of the Arts and coached at Music Northwest, Chamber Music Madness and Yakima Music en Accion, an El Sistema program in Eastern Washington. Rachel is the founder of the Seattle Chamber Players and a co-founder of the Fulton Street Chamber Players. She has twice rafted down the Grand Canyon, playing string quartet concerts inside canyons and on the river. This season Rachel performed as a guest artist with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, running and working on her old house.


Paul York, cello

An accomplished soloist, chamber musician and teacher, Paul York has appeared in recital and with orchestras in the U.S. and abroad. Mr. York serves on the string faculty at the University of Louisville. Recent solo appearances include a performance of Karel Husa’s Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Colored Field for Cello and Orchestra by Aaron Kernis with the Louisville Orchestra and Vivaldi’s Double Concerto in G Minor with internationally acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. He is also a member of the artist faculty at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Mr. York was selected to participate in the prestigious Piatigorsky Seminar at the University of Southern California where he received his bachelor’s degree. He received 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. Mr. York has recorded for the Centaur, Arizona University Press and Ablaze labels.