Musicians

ACM works with talented free-lance musicians in Chicago, Mexico City, Milwaukee and New York to bring our production season to life.  We also partner with existing ensembles in these and other cities when we can to produce programs like Composer Alive, Sound of Silent Film and Open House.

Here are the musicians we are proud to be working with during the 2018-2019 production season.

Chicago

Alyson Berger

Cello

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 3.01.48 PMAlyson Berger, cellist, is an active free-lance performer and recitalist in the Chicago area. A native of New York, she began studying cello at the age of 7 and made her orchestral debut at the age of 16 with New York`s Orchestra de Camera playing the Lalo Concerto. In NY she went on to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music and Ithaca College and spent summers at the Meadowmount School and the Ithaca Violoncello Institute. After completing her undergraduate work at Ithaca she accepted a position in the Bloomfield String Quartet-a quartet that serves to promote classical/chamber music performance and education in Kansas. While working with the quartet she earned her Master`s Degree from Wichita State University and was a member of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and a finalist in the Naftzger Young Artist Competition. After teaching/performing in New York, she relocated to Chicago and has performed with the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Elgin Symphony and the Northwest Indiana Symphony and has performed as guest soloist with the Ravenswood Community Orchestra. As a contemporary chamber musician in Chicago she has performed with CUBE, New Music DePaul and is proud to be a founding member of ACM and its performing group Palomar. She has been featured on the Sunday Salon series at Chicago's Cultural Center, the PianoForte Salon Series and Live from Studio One on WFMT. She has traveled and performed in Europe, Mexico and Asia; most recently this summer (2010) in Tokyo, Japan. Her teachers include Mildred Johnson, Einar Holm (Ithaca College), Mark Evans (National Symphony), William Cernota (Lyric Opera) and Diane Chaplain(Colorado Quartet). She has performed in Master Classes for Jerry Grossman, Carter Brey and Takayori Atsumi. Alyson has been a faculty member at VanderCook College of music in Chicago and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan and currently has a large studio of students in Evanston IL.

Jeff Yang

Violin

Jeff Yang is the violin and recorder soloist with Mannheim Steamroller and former first violinist with Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues. He has also served as concertmaster and conductor for Il Divo on their 2009 tour. Currently, Jeff is member of the Palomar Ensemble in Chicago and performs regularly with the Grant Park Symphony and the Chicago Philharmonic. He served as Concertmaster for the New Millennium Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Italy, National Repertory Orchestra, Emerald City Philharmonic, and as principal player of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, International Festival Orchestra in Israel, and Octava Chamber Orchestra. Outside of the classical scene, Jeff has played with jazz violinist Randy Sabien, harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy, singer/songwriter Marcy Levy, and be seen in many PBS productions of Soundstage with artists such as Faith Hill, Jewel, Dennis DeYoung, Burt Bacharach, Peter Cetera as well as on numerous Oprah shows with Andrea Bocelli and Il Divo. In the fall of 2009, Jeff opened Chicago Strings, a full service violin shop in Evanston, Illinois.

Amy Wurtz

Piano

Pianist and composer Amy Wurtz was born in California, and began studying piano at the age of six. She started writing her own music at age sixteen, and went on to study Piano Performance and Creative Writing at the University of Redlands before completing dual Master's degrees in Musical Composition and Piano Performance at the University of Minnesota. She studied piano with Alexander Braginsky and Louanne Long and was a composition student of Judith Lang Zaimont and Alexandra Pierce. During her studies Amy received various scholarships and stipendiums and held positions as a lecturer in Music Theory at the Minneapolis Community Technical College and as a Teaching Assistant for the University of Minnesota. Since completing her studies, Amy has worked as a freelance pianist, accompanist, composer, music copyist, conductor and teacher, with students in piano, composition, counterpoint, and harmony. Amy also worked at the East Metro Music Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she was appointed Chair of the Piano Department for almost the entire duration of her tenure. Among her accomplishments are performing the American premiere of Armenian composer Beatrice Ohanessian's "The Dawn," and winning first prize in the Vocal Composition category of the 2001 Beyer National Federation of Music Clubs Composition Competition for her work, "Mariposa en arrullo," a song cycle for Mezzo-Soprano and piano using the poetry of Pablo Neruda. In 2004, Amy traveled to Argentina in order to study piano with Master Teacher Inés Gómez-Carrillo. After one year of intensive study in Buenos Aires, Amy moved to Germany, to focus on presenting her work, Message from the Soul, with text by Professor Sadegh Angha. Amy organized, rehearsed, and conducted performances of this 70-minute work for Chorus, Chamber Orchestra, Soloists and speaker in various cities throughout Europe. Amy moved to Chicago in 2008, where she composes, teaches and performs throughout the city and surrounding areas. She is a member of the Calumet Chamber Musicians, and also performs regularly as a soloist and with Access Contemporary Music and other chamber ensembles. She is Music Director at Hemenway United Methodist church, teaches at SPACE Conservatory, and is the Vice President of New Music Chicago. On April 15 2012, she released a CD of her first two string quartets, in collaboration with the Chicago Q ensemble.

Cory Tiffin

Clarinet

Cory Tiffin is the principal clarinetist of the Las Vegas Philharmonic and has also performed this role with numerous orchestras throughout the country, including the Green Bay Symphony, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, and the New Hampshire Music Festival. As a chamber artist and soloist, Tiffin has performed in recital with the Grammy Award-winning Chicago Chamber Musicians; the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio; collaborated with Chicago’s leading new music ensemble, Fulcrum Point New Music Project; and worked with the University of Chicago New Music Ensemble in addition to being featured on chamber music series across Chicagoland and throughout Las Vegas, notably at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He founded and ran the eclectic Chicago-based Anaphora Ensemble for several years; was a founding member of the New York City-based baroque and contemporary chamber opera company, Operamission; and was featured on concerts and radio programs throughout the United States and Europe, and is regularly featured on Chicago’s classical music station, WFMT-FM. Recent solo appearances include Bernstein’s “Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs” with the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Debussy’s “Premiere Rhapsodie” with the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra. Time Out New York called Tiffin a “clarinet maverick” and Lawrence Johnson of Chicago Classical Review wrote: “…Tiffin’s understated virtuosity was the fulcrum of the performance – as it was all afternoon…” Tiffin is the Instructor of Clarinet at Loyola University. He has also served on the faculties of DePaul University, UNLV, The Chicago High School for the Arts, and as an affiliate instructor at the University of Chicago. He maintains a studio in both Chicago and Las Vegas and appears as a guest clinician and lecturer at universities and schools nationwide.

Milwaukee

Ben Adler

Clarinet

Benjamin Adler was appointed the Donald and Ruth P. Taylor Assistant Principal Clarinet Chair of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in 2015. In addition, he has held positions with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Debut Symphony Orchestra, American Youth Symphony, and has performed regularly and gone on tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Mr. Adler has performed as soloist with the National Repertory Orchestra and was a grand-prize winner in the Francis Walton LMC competition in 2014. Benjamin has competed in international competitions such as the Carl Nielsen International Clarinet Competition, where he was a semi-finalist. Benjamin has spent his summers in such festivals as the Aspen Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival and is currently principal clarinet of the Sierra Summer Festival in Mammoth Lakes, California. He also participated in the Hear Now Music Festival in Los Angeles. Along with being a performer, Benjamin is an active educator within his surrounding communities. In addition to his own private teaching, Benjamin strongly believes in the power of music and outreach, and has worked in inner city schools in both Los Angeles and Chicago. Mr. Adler grew up in Brooklyn, New York where he first started studying clarinet with his mother Laurie Friedman-Adler. Benjamin earned a Bachelors degree at Northwestern University under the tutelage of Steve Cohen. He received his Masters degree and Artist Diploma from the University of Southern California and the Colburn School respectively, where he studied with Yehuda Gilad.

Emma Koi

Flute

Emma Koi maintains an eclectic career as an orchestral, chamber and collaborative flutist. She is an alum of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Principal Flute of the Festival City Symphony, Third Flute/Piccolo with the Wisconsin Philharmonic Orchestra, and is a frequent substitute musician with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. She had the pleasure of joining the MSO on their Carnegie Hall tour for the Spring for Music Festival in 2012. Ms. Koi has worked under the batons of conductors Edo de Waart, Charles Dutoit, Michael Tilson Thomas, Jaap van Zweden and Ricardo Muti, and has performed with soloists Yo-Yo Ma, Jennifer Koh, and Alisa Weilerstien, among others. An active chamber musician and collaborative flutist, Ms. Koi is an alum of the Leonard Sorkin Institute of Chamber Music and the Bowdoin Institute of Chamber Music in Brunswick, Maine. She has performed locally with Milwaukee Musaik, Frankly Music, Access Contemporary Music for Doors Open Milwaukee, and on many recital projects with Milwaukee area chamber musicians. She enjoys a regular schedule of collaborative projects, and has worked with Danceworks Performance Company, Wild Space Dance Company and in collaboration with Chicago Symphony Orchestra Composer-in-Residence Anna Clyne. A multi-faceted artist with a passion for interdisciplinary collaboration, Emma Koi is the founder of Cadance Collective, a Milwaukee-based ensemble of musicians and dancers, treating choreography and composition as equal tools in creating new work for the stage. Cadance Collective performed at the Inaugural Milwaukee Fringe Festival in August, 2016, and has been a featured guest artist on several subscription concerts at Danceworks Performance Company. The company has created commissioned work for the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center and the Battery Factory, the Shorewood Senior Resource Center, and the Cedarburg Cultural Center. Cadance Collective’s work has received favorable reviews from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Magazine and Shepherd Express, and has received global attention in the Epoch Times. In demand as a teacher and clinician, Ms. Koi has served as a coach for youth band and orchestra programs throughout the country and was on the faculty at the 2nd Annual Festival of Youth Orchestras and Choirs in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2011. She has served on the faculty at Mount Mary University, and maintains a private studio for flute students in the Milwaukee area. Emma Koi holds a Master of Music in Flute Performance from Carnegie Mellon University and degrees in music (BA) and dance (BFA) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her teachers include Jeanne Baxtresser, Alberto Almarza, Caen Thomason-Redus and Jeani Foster.

Alicia Storin

Cello

Alicia Storin, a collaborative cellist, earned her B.M. at the University of MN - Twin Cities, her M.M. from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a Performance Certificate in Chamber Music from U.W.M. as a member of the Institute of Chamber Music. Alicia is a founding member of collaborative dance and music ensemble Cadance Collective, the Riso Quartet, and Camerata Milwaukee. She has also performed in An Iliad as the Muse at both the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and American Players Theatre. Alicia teaches for the Waukesha String Académie, the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Hartford Union High School, and is a member of the Wisconsin Philharmonic.

Peter Thomas

Cello

Peter J Thomas has been a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra since 2008. Originally from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where he was born into a family of musicians, Mr. Thomas started cello at age five at the American Suzuki Talent Education Center and received degrees at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the Cleveland Institute of Music. His primary teachers were Lawrence Leviton, Tanya Remenikova, Joseph Johnson, and Stephen Geber. Prior to joining the MSO, Mr. Thomas performed in the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Canton Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and the New World Symphony. Mr. Thomas has performed around the country as a soloist, chamber musician, and with the award winning classical cross-over indie-rock band, I’m Not A Pilot. INAP’s discography can be heard on television, movies, and radio stations all over the world and streaming online at Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio. Voted Best Rock Band 2010, 2011, and 2013 in Milwaukee’s Shepherd Express Weekly, Best Rock Band 2011 at WYMS 88.9fm Radio Milwaukee Music Awards (Song of the Year 2014 nomination), and nominated for a plethora of awards including Band of the Year 2012 at the Wisconsin Area Music Awards, I’m Not A Pilot has extensively toured the Midwest performing as a four-piece band (and also in collaboration with youth orchestras) at colleges, high schools, performing art centers, music clubs, music festivals, and house concerts. Peter has also presented clinics and workshops across the country through his innovative use of the electric cello and has recorded, arranged, and edited music for Hal Leonard Music. As a teacher, Mr. Thomas maintains a private cello studio of extremely gifted musicians and serves on the faculty of the American Suzuki Institute in the summer. He has taught masterclasses at the UW-Stevens Point, Lawrence University, Washington College, and at numerous high schools across the state of Wisconsin. His students have won numerous competitions and full tuition scholarships in music programs across the country. Mr. Thomas also serves on the board of the Wisconsin Cello Society and Crescendo – the social group for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Peter enjoys the life of being a multi-genre performer/teacher and strives to spread awareness of the arts in the community through his many outlets. Peter performs on an 1813 Thomas Kennedy cello.

Elizabeth Warne

Violin

Originally from Appleton, Wisconsin, Ms. Warne's professional training includes a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her teachers include members of the Fine Arts Quartet, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and The Cleveland Orchestra. Ms. Warne has been a first violinist with the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra since 1998, and plays with the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, and the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra. She was a member of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, and subbed with the Nashville Symphony, before returning to Milwaukee, where she had been Concertmaster of the Skylight Opera Theater. She has held concertmaster positions with several orchestras in Wisconsin and Texas, and has held teaching positions at Carson-Newman College, Carthage College, and Austin College. Ms. Warne enjoys teaching both violin and viola, with an age range of student having spanned 3 1/2 to 61 to date!

New York

Hristina Blagoeva

Flute

Hristina Blagoeva, a native of Sofia, Bulgaria, is a New York based performer and music teacher. In Bulgaria, she was a winner of the German/Austrian Chamber Music Competition, The Earth and People Music Competition, and the Young Virtuosi National Music School Competition. She also won the First European Meeting Competition in Pachino, Italy, and has performed as a soloist with the National Music School Guitar Orchestra and the Bankia Chamber Orchestra in Sofia. She also performed as a soloist with the String Chamber Orchestra in Pacino, Italy. After her studies in Bulgaria, Hristina continued her education at Louisiana State University under the tutelage of Katherine Kemler, where she won two Louisiana State University Concerto Competitions as well as the Mississippi Jackson Concerto Competition, and performed as a soloist with the LSU Symphony in 2005, 2007, and the Louisiana Symphonietta Orchestra. She received her Bachelor of Music in 2007, completed the Master of Music at the University of Texas-Austin under the instruction of Marianne Gedigian in 2009, and afterward studied with AraleeDorough, principal flutist of the Houston Symphony, Houston, Texas 2009-2011. As an orchestral musician, Ms. Blagoeva has performed with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Accadiana Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Sinfonietta Chamber Orchestra, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Festival Hill Symphony, Natchez Festival Opera Orchestra, Opera Vista Company and the Long Island Choral Society Orchestra. Ms. Blagoeva was also part of the Aura Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, and cuttently performs with Contemporary Chamber Players Ensemble at Stony Brook. Hristina is a member of the Iktus Duo chamber group of flute and percussion which recently won the Ackerman Chamber Music Competition held by the Stony Brook University and the Emerson String Quartet. Hristina is currently a doctoral Candidate at Stony Brook University, studying with Carol Wincenc. As a flute and theory instructor, Hristina has been a Teaching Assistant at University of Texas at Austin, University of Houston, Stony Brook University, and is on the faculty of the Long Island Conservatory.

Christopher Graham

Percussion