2023 GUEST ARTISTS
AXEL STRAUSS - VIOLINIST
Professor of Strings at McGill University
German violinist Axel Strauss, equally passionate about teaching and performing, joined the faculty of the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in 2012. Prior to moving to Montreal he served as Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Axel Strauss won the international Naumburg Violin Award in New York in 1998. Later that same year he made his American debut at the Library of Congress in Washington DC and his New York debut at Alice Tully Hall. Since then he has given recitals in major US cities, including Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 2007 he was the violinist in the world premiere of "Two Awakenings and a Double Lullaby" – written for him by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis. Mr. Strauss has performed as soloist with orchestras in Budapest, Hamburg, New York, Seoul, Shanghai, Bucharest, San Francisco and Cincinnati, among others. He has collaborated with conductors such as Maxim Shostakovitch, Rico Saccani, Joseph Silverstein, and Alasdair Neale. Mr. Strauss has also served as guest concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic as well as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. His recordings include the Brahms violin concerto (BPOlive), Mendelssohn's "Songs without Words", the 24 Caprices by Pierre Rode, the last three violin concertos by Rodolphe Kreutzer and the complete works for violin and piano by George Enescu (Naxos). Amadeus Press has issued a DVD featuring Axel Strauss in concert at Steinway Hall in New York City. Mr. Strauss frequently performs at various music festivals in the US. Festival visits abroad have taken him to Germany, India, Korea and Japan. His chamber music partners have included Menahem Pressler, Kim Kashkashian, Joel Krosnick, Robert Mann and Bernhard Greenhouse. Since his European debut in Hamburg in 1988, Axel Strauss has been heard on concert stages throughout Europe. He has given concerts in Moscow, Vilnius, Berlin, Bremen, Leipzig and Nuremberg. Concert tours have taken him to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Romania. He has also toured South America and performed in Japan with the Philharmonic Violins Berlin. At the age of seventeen he won the silver medal at the Enescu Competition in Romania and has been recognized with many other awards, including top prizes in the Bach, Wieniawski and Kocian competitions. Mr. Strauss studied at the Music Academies of Lübeck and Rostock with Petru Munteanu. In 1996 he began working with the late Dorothy DeLay at The Juilliard School and became her teaching assistant in 1998. He has also worked with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Felix Galimir, and Ruggiero Ricci, and at the Marlboro Music Festival with Richard Goode, Mitsuko Uchida and Andras Schiff.
ASHLEIGH GORDON - VIOLIST
Longy School of Music at Bard College
Described as a “charismatic and captivating performer,” Ashleigh Gordon has recorded with Switzerland's Ensemble Proton and Germany's Ensemble Modern; performed with Grammy-award winning BMOP and A Far Cry; and appeared at the prestigious BBC Proms Festival with the Chineke! Orchestra. Comfortable on an international stage, she has performed in the Royal Albert and Royal Festival Halls (London), Konzerthaus Berlin and Oper Frankfurt (Germany), Gare du Nord and Dampfzentrale Bern (Switzerland) Centre Pompidou (Paris), and the Lee Hysan Concert Hall (Hong Kong). Ashleigh is co-founder, Artistic/Executive Director and violist of Castle of our Skins, a Boston-based concert and educational series devoted to celebrating Black Artistry through music. In recognition of her work, she has presented at IDEAS UMass Boston Conference and 180 Degrees Festival in Bulgaria; has been featured in the International Musician and Improper Bostonian magazines as well as the Boston Globe; and was awarded the 2016 Charles Walton Diversity Advocate Award from the American Federation of Musicians. She is a 2015 St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award recipient, a 2019 Brother Thomas Fellow, a nominee for the 2020 "Americans for the Arts Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities,” and named one of WBUR’s “ARTery 25”, twenty-five millennials of color impacting Boston’s arts and culture scene. As an advocate of social change through education, Ashleigh served as viola instructor in the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra's Intensive Community Program, a rigorous string instrumental program that provides instruction to populations often underrepresented in classical music. Beyond instrumental instruction, she has presented lectures on citizen artistry and entrepreneurship, workshops for fellow educators on Caribbean folksongs, and guest lectured at Gettysburg College (PA), Keene State College (NH), Oberlin College Conservatory of Music (OH), and North Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts (NC). She has shared the stage as a guest panelist at the Sphinx Connect Conference and Chamber Music America Conference discussing topics of diversity in classical music, and is an Instructor of Teaching Artistry at the Longy School of Music at Bard College.
NATASHA BROFSKY - CELLIST
The Juilliard School
Natasha Brofsky is cellist of the Naumburg Award-winning Peabody Trio, which has performed on leading chamber music series throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.. The trio has been heard on numerous radio broadcasts, and has recorded on the New World, CRI, and Artek labels. She has performed as a guest artist with numerous ensembles, including the Takacs, Prazak, Cassatt, Norwegian, Jupiter, Ying, and Borromeo quartets. Brofsky has held principal positions in the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra under Iona Brown. She was also a member of the Serapion Ensemble, performing with the group in Germany and Austria, and the string trio Opus 3, which performed throughout Norway for Rikskonsertene, the Norwegian State Concert Agency. She recorded Olav Anton Thommessen's Concerto for Cello and Winds for Aurora Records and was a regular participant at Open Chamber Music in Prussia Cove, England. She has given master classes at many schools, including San Francisco Conservatory, Peabody Conservatory, and Boston University. She has taught at Barratt-Due’s Institute in Oslo and at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the Heifetz Institute. She has been on the faculty at the Yellow Barn Festival (Vermont) since 2001; New England Conservatory since 2004, and has been on the faculty at Juilliard since 2012 and of the school’s Pre-college faculty since 2016. She holds a BM and Performer's Certificate from the Eastman School and a MM from Mannes College the New School for Music. Brofsky studied with Marion Feldman, Robert Sylvester, Paul Katz, and Timothy Eddy, and on a Fulbright grant with William Pleeth in London, where she was awarded the Muriel Taylor Cello Prize.