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 2019-2020 production season.
Alyson 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.
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.
Violinist Arianne Urban is a Chicago/Miami based freelance musician and an active solo, chamber, and orchestral player. As a Classically trained musician, Arianne is well versed in playing a wide range of musical genres, including improvising in jazz, pop, and folk music. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician across the world, ranging from sold out rock shows in Tokyo to Chamber Festivals in Italy. Urban is a regular member of the Nu Deco Ensemble in Miami, FL, as well as an active collaborator with recording artists, arrangers and producers working in film and session work. She regularly records with Arranger Matt Jones in Chicago and has played on Grammy Nominated Albums with recording artists Chronixx, Ledisi, Jessie J, John Legend, and on PJ Morton's Grammy Award Winning "Best Traditional R&B" song How deep is your Love. Arianne has shared the stage with world-renowned artists including Michael Buble, Joshua Bell, Gloria Estefan, Josh Groban, Johnny Mathis, Andrea Bocelli, Gloria Gaynor, Edgar Meyer, Father John Misty, Gil Shaham, Take 6, George Benson, Mike Mills, Katharine McPhee, Freddy Cole, Randy Waldman, Terence Blanchard, the Marley brothers, David Foster, PJ Morton, Lindsey Stirling, Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Dave Grusin, Monica Mancini, Jon Secada, and Mark O’ Connor. She has appeared on George Benson’s 2013 album Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole; a live PBS Special Jazz and the Philharmonic, featuring Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Dave Grusin, Mark O’Connor, Terence Blanchard, Shelly Berg, and produced by Phil Ramone; and a live PBS Special Gloria Estefan: The Standards. Urban has served as Concert Master of the DePaul Symphony Orchestra, guest concertmaster in Tokyo with Yoshiki, and was also Concert Master of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and Miami String Project. Arianne Urban holds a graduate degree from DePaul University and received her Bachelors of Music from the Frost School of Music, where she was first violinist of the Stamps String Quartet — an elite group of string students that represented the University of Miami through international performances.
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.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Orlando Pimentel began his musical training in Venezuela’s System of Youth Orchestras, also known as “El Sistema”. From 1989 to 2009, he was a member of the “Simon Bolivar” Symphony Orchestra and performed with such renowned conductors as Claudio Abbado, Sergiu Comissiona, Gustavo Dudamel, Eduardo Mata, Sergei Senkov, among others. Orlando Pimentel has participated in master classes held by Luis Rossi, Anthony Pay, Walter Boeykens, Kalman Berkes, Eddy Vanoosthuyse, Michel Lethiec, Mario Frogionni, Walter Seyfarth, Judit Jaimes and Raquel Adonaylo. In 1988, together with three other colleagues, he formed the Caracas Clarinet Quartet (1996 National Artist Award: Best Classical Ensemble), a chamber ensemble that has performed throughout Venezuela, as well as in China, Europe, South America, and The United States of America. The Caracas Clarinet Quartet released three CD’s: “Cuarteto de Clarinetes de Caracas” (1995), “Aires Tropicales” (1997) with guest artist Paquito D’Rivera, and “Suelos” (2007) with guest artists Anat Cohen, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and Jorge Glem. Orlando Pimentel performs regularly with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Fox Valley Symphony, Racine Symphony, Kenosha Symphony, and Festival City Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Pimentel has been invited to perform as part of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Sphinx Symphony Orchestra Competition. Orlando Pimentel performs regularly with his wife, pianist Elena Abend, as part of the Elisio Ensemble. Mr. Pimentel received his Master’s Degree in Clarinet Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee studying under the tutelage of Todd Levy (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Opera). Most currently he has been appointed as Faculty of clarinet at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.
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.
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!
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.
Talia Dicker is a dynamic and versatile cellist with an abiding enthusiasm for orchestral and chamber music. She currently resides in New York City, where she is an active performer and teacher throughout the northeast corridor. Past engagements include positions in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Civic Orchestra’s MusiCorps program for comprehensive outreach and music education, Youth Orchestra of the Americas, Colorado College Summer Music Festival Orchestra, and Illinois Symphony Orchestra. Talia received her Bachelor of Music with Honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she studied with Brandon Vamos of the Pacifica Quartet. She went on to earn a Master of Music in Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Steven Doane and Rosemary Elliott.
Australian-American violinist Irene Fitzgerald-Cherry is an active freelancer in the New York City area and across the US. She is a member of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and substitutes regularly with the California Symphony, Las Vegas Philharmonic, and the New Hampshire Music Festival. Irene has performed chamber music with Robert Walters of the Cleveland Orchestra, David Goldblatt of the San Francisco Symphony, and Sara Trobäck and Claes Gunnarsson of the Gothenburg Symphony. She graduated summa cum laude from NYU Steinhardt with a BM in Violin Performance and Linguistics, as well as receiving an MFA from the Swedish National Orchestra Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden, and an Artist Diploma from the San Francisco Academy Orchestra. Irene teaches piano and violin lessons privately and for City Strings & Piano and Music to Your Home.
Pianist Miles Massicotte has been hailed as a “truly extraordinary” artist showing “a dazzling display of pianistic prowess” (The News-Times). Born in 1990, he began studying piano at the age of 10, and gave his first public performances shortly thereafter. He enjoys a diverse musical career that began in his native Connecticut and has taken him across the United States and abroad, where he has been featured variously as a recitalist, a soloist with orchestras, a chamber musician, as well as a composer and improviser. Miles was the winner of the 2015 Stony Brook Concerto Competition, the 2011 James Furman Memorial Competition, and is additionally the recipient of over 15 scholarships and awards. He has been a featured student in a number of masterclass with renowned pianists such as Peter Frankl, Yves Henry, and Angela Cheng. As a soloist and guest artist he has been invited to perform in venues such as the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall, Ives Concert Hall, and Infinity Hall, among many others. As a chamber musician he has performed in virtually every conceivable capacity, from duos to large contemporary ensembles, both throughout the United States as well as internationally. As a young jazz musician, Miles was the recipient of the Louis Armstrong Award. He has gone on to perform on stage alongside jazz greats such as John Scofield, Dave Liebman, and Vic Juris. His original compositions in this genre have been noted for their “suite-like shifts” and their “amazing vibrancy and chordal modalities” (Hartford Courant). Miles initial musical education came at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, and upon graduating he had twice received the Academy’s “Most Outstanding Classical Instrumentalist” award (2006, 2008). He continued his studies at Western Connecticut State University, where he studied with Russell Hirshfield and Patricia Lutnes, receiving the institution’s “Music Chair” award in his final year (2012). In 2018, Miles received his Doctorate of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University, under the tutelage of Gilbert Kalish.