Canadian-born violinist Lara St John has been described as "something of a phenomenon" by The Strad and a "high-powered soloist" by the New York Times.
She has performed as soloist with the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Seattle, Brooklyn, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, the National Arts Centre, the Boston Pops and many more in North America. In Europe, she has played with the NDR Symphony (Hanover), Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Bournemouth Symphony, and the Amsterdam Symphony, among others. In Asia, solo appearances have included the Hong Kong Symphony, Tokyo Symphony, China Philharmonic in Beijing, Guangzhou Symphony and the Shanghai Broadcasting Orchestra. Lara has also performed with the Queensland Orchestra in Australia.
The Los Angeles Times has written, "St. John brings to the stage personal charisma, an unflagging musical imagination and genuine passion." Recitals in major concert halls have included New York, Boston, San Francisco, Ravinia, Washington DC, Prague, Berlin, Toronto, Montreal, and in the Forbidden City of Beijing.
Her debut CD, BACH: Works for Violin Solo, has sold over 40,000 copies and received resounding acclaim. The Chicago Tribune described Ms. St. John as having "superb technique and an irresistible vitality," while US News and World Report called the recording "an exquisite performance". Her second album, Gypsy, was described as "a sizzling display" by Gramophone, and The Strad called her "an electrifying player, as deeply satisfying in Bach as she is bewitchingly seductive in Waxman's Carmen Fantasy".
Her third recording, Bach: the Concerto Album, appeared in the "strongly recommended" section of Gramophone, which stated, "It is difficult to argue with such a technically dazzling and unfailingly musical interpretation." In June of 2005 the recording was released on iTunes where it immediately became No. 1 in the classical category. Lara has also recorded for Sony Classical.
She has been featured in People, US News and World Report, on CNN's Showbiz Today, and NPR's All Things Considered, Fox News, CBC and a Bravo! Special: Live At the Rehearsal Hall.
Lara began playing the violin when she was 2 years old. She made her first appearance as soloist with orchestra at age 4, and her European debut with the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon when she was 10. She toured Spain, France, Portugal and Hungary at ages 12 and 13, entered the Curtis Institute at 13, and spent her first summer at Marlboro three years later. Her teachers have included Felix Galimir, David Takeno, and Joey Corpus.
Lara's latest recording, Bach: The Six Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo, described as "awe-inducing" by The Toronto Star, was released exclusively on iTunes on September 4, 2007(street release October 9) where it climbed to No. 2. Upcoming releases include a recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, featuring two world premiere works: the Matthew Hindson Violin Concerto and the Martin Kennedy/ St John arrangement of Totentanz, as well as The Red Violin Suite by John Corigliano.
She performs on the 1779 "Salabue" Guadagnini thanks to an anonymous donor and Heinl & Co. of Toronto.
Mike Marshall is one of the world's most accomplished and versatile acoustic musicians, a master of mandolin, guitar and violin whose playing is as imaginative and adventurous as it is technically thrilling. Able to swing gracefully from jazz to classical to bluegrass to Latin styles, he puts his stamp on everything he plays with an unusually potent blend intellect and emotion a combination of musical skill and instinct rare in the world of American vernacular instrumentalists.
Now living in Oakland, California, Mike grew up in Central Florida, where throughout his teens he played and taught bluegrass mandolin, fiddle and guitar. In 1979, at the age of 19, he was invited to join the original David Grisman Quintet. Mike has since been at the forefront of the acoustic music scene, playing on hundreds of acoustic-music recordings both as lead artist and ensemble performer. His 1982 Cd, Gator Strut, is a classic example of a new generation of bluegrass virtuoso instrumentalists forging new directions in this vital musical style.
Cellist Sam Bass, while a student of Irene Sharp,
recieved a bachelor's of music from the San Francisco
Conservatory of Music in 1994. A cellist with many
interests, Sam has performed and composed works for
solo cello, cello/piano duo and several eclectic ensembles. Several of
his compositons have appeared in independent feature films. As a
performer he has appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay
Leno, he has shared stages with David Byrne, Thomas
Dolby, Les Calypool and many others. As a recording
artist he has worked with the likes of Mr. Bungle,
Mars Volta, Third Eye Blind, Vanessa Carlton and
Madeline Peyroux. Currently pursuing
intersts in jazz performance and composition Sam performs and
teaches regularly around the Bay Area and the United
Dave has been playing bass for nearly 25 years. Since the early 1990's, he has devoted much of his musical life to the music of the Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach, starting on the Six Solo Cello Suites and then shortly thereafter, the Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. Dave has performed four complete works at four solo bass shows sharing the bill with Michael Manring, Jean Baudin, Jeff Schmidt, Edo Castro, and other noteable Bay Area bassists. Dave's 7-string electric bass was custom made by Hanewinckel Guitars so that more Bach works could be played without requiring any transposition of phrases for adaptation to this instrument. All of Dave's solo Bach works are played nearly exactly, though transposed by octaves down to the lowest playable range.
Lynda Arnold studied classical music from age 8 and
majored in music at DePauw University in Indiana
before moving out to California and expanding her
musical horizons. She performs and produces as
Divasonic and runs a production company and label
called Digital Bliss Productions that promotes the
efforts of women producers around the world. Lynda
teaches piano and flute out of her studios in Oakland,
Alameda and South San Francisco. She is excited to
get back to her classical roots. After all, JS BACH
and Lynda Arnold share the same birthday...March
Kelly Back was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. More Mississippi delta than midwestern cornfields, Kelly grew up hearing country, blues, and plenty of southern rock. Soon he started exploring the worlds of fusion and jazz and his course was set. After studying music at a few different schools Kelly decided it was time to get out and get some real playing experience. A year after playing clubs he headed to Nashville...to play more clubs. Also around this time Kelly befriended musical virtuoso Shawn Lane. Shawn opened up Kelly's eyes to many different musical cultures and pushed him to develop his own musical path. Now living in the Bay Area, Kelly splits his time between (unpronounceable), a blues band, and trying to play as much music as possible. Kelly, a fellow Bach fanatic, has also been working on many solo Bach works on the electric guitar.
Pianist Fred Weed has been playing music since the age of 6. He studied piano with Fernando Valenti and Don Haas at San Jose State University and more recently with Marcos Silva. He spent many years in San Jose playing piano for just about every musical theater group in Santa Clara Valley. In the 1980s he moved to Berkeley, and played piano with many Bay Area salsa (Afro-Cuban) bands. Fred has produced two solo piano shows at the Jazzschool here in Berkeley, each showcasing four or five Bay Area pianists, and plans two more later this year.