season four biographies

Benjamin Davis | Viola
Benjamin Davis is about to enter his senior year pursuing a B.M. in Viola Performance at the University of Minnesota under the instruction of Korey Konkol. He is an active orchestral musician, chamber musician and soloist. In addition to the University Symphony Orchestra, Davis is also a substitute violist for both the Des Moines and Quad Cities Symphonies. He is a promoter of modern music and has had the opportunity to collaborate with composers and performers from across the globe. Davis keeps a busy summer schedule and most recently attended the Chautauqua Institution where he received instruction from Roland Vamos. Finally, he is the artistic director of the Oskaloosa Chamber Music Festival. This festival just finished a successful second season and it combines Davis’ love for chamber music and music outreach.

Geoffrey Deibel | Saxophone
A Washington, D.C. native, Geoffrey Deibel is emerging as an important voice for the saxophone and contemporary music. He maintains a multi-faceted career as performer, teacher, and researcher. Geoff's performances as soloist and chamber musician have taken him around the United States and across the globe. He has appeared at the Internationale Ferienkurse Für Neue Musik, Darmstadt, the International Iannis Xenakis Festival in Athens, Greece, the XV World Saxophone Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, and was invited for a week-long residency at University College Cork, Ireland. Geoff has commissioned or premiered new works for saxophone by Jesse Ronneau, Claudio Gabriele, Drew Baker, Elliott Sharp, Mari Takano, and Hans Thomalla, and has collaborated with such notable composers as Bernard Rands, Howard Sandroff, and Christopher Adler, among many others. He has also been featured on the New Music Chicago and Soundfield series in Chicago.

Geoff is a member of the critically acclaimed h2 quartet, 2007 first prize winner of the Fischoff Competition and a winner of a 2010 Aaron Copland Fund Grant. The group has been hailed by American Record Guide as "an ensemble to watch for years to come." Geoff is also a member of the FireWire Ensemble, a group that specializes in improvisational and electro-acoustic works. He has performed frequently in orchestral settings, including appearances with the New World Symphony (Miami), Grant Park Symphony, and others. Geoff holds degrees in history and music from from Northwestern University, and a Doctoral degree from Michigan State University. His principal teachers have included Joseph Lulloff, Frederick Hemke, Leo Saguiguit, and Reginald Jackson. Geoff currently serves on the faculty of Grand Valley State University and Alma College.

Clare Harmon | Artistic Director
Clare Harmon received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Viola Performance from the University of Minnesota. At present, Clare is taking a leave of absence from her graduate studies in Viola Performance at Michigan State University. Her mentors and teachers have included Tom Turner, Ken Freed, Sarah Plum, Yuri Gandelsman and Dr. Marcie Ray.

Responding to the dearth of live art music available to rural communities, Clare founded Chamber Music Midwest in 2008. As defined by its mission statement, the festival seeks to dissolve the the barriers that prevent universal access to music and ideas. Performers, repertoire, and venues are carefully curated with emphasis on balancing the accessible and the unfamiliar.

Clare's current research addresses the history of the anatomy theatre, musical performance, and the construction of a "docile" body. Through this cross-disciplinary approach, she intends to illuminate the intrinsic violence of musical practice and performance. Clare will present her most recent project, Rebellion and Reclamation: Reformulating Eighteenth Century Music for Twenty-First Century Bodies at Performa '11 (Uni. Aveiro, Portugal) in May of 2011 and again at Feminist Theory and Music (Arizona State University) in September.

As a violist, Clare has participated in the Banff Centre's Master Classes and  Le Domaine Forget. Locally, she has performed with the Lansing and West Michigan Symphony Orchestras.

Benjamin Kunkel | Classical Guitar
Classical Guitarist Benjamin Kunkel grew up in Mankato, MN, where he began playing the guitar at the age of nine. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Minnesota, studying under Jeffrey Van, and a Master of Music degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying under world renowned guitarist Jason Vieaux. Benjamin is an active solo and chamber musician, giving concert appearances across the United States. He has also performed in master classes with a number of distinguished artists, including Ricardo Iznaola, Stanley Yates, Ricardo Gallen, Nigel North, Paul O’Dette and Carlos Perez. A dedicated teacher, Benjamin is currently on the faculty of The Music Settlement and Fairmount Center for the Arts in Cleveland, OH, and is also a sought after guest instructor, most recently giving master classes for the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society and guitar students at Edinboro University.

Erin Lawson | Violin
Erin Lawson is a violinist from Huntington, West Virginia. She is currently pursuing a master of music degree at Michigan State University studying with I-Fu Wang. Erin completed her undergraduate work in violin performance at West Virginia University in 2010 studying with Mikylah McTeer and Margaret Cooper.

At Michigan State Erin plays with the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras as well as Musique 21, an ensemble specializing in 20th and 21st century works directed by Raphael Jimenez which recently recorded Charles Ruggiero's Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Large Chamber Ensemble, Boppish Blue Tinged. Erin has also performed in the Ad Libitum chamber orchestra, directed by Yuri Gandelsman in a performance of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, music from the Alfred Hitchcock movie, Psycho, and In Company, by Phillip Glass.

Erin is currently a member of the Midland Symphony Orchestra and frequent substitute with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra. In recent summers she has appeared at the National Orchestral Institute in College Park, Maryland and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. This summer--her entomological appeal notwithstanding--Erin is pleased to accept the Vera Ellen chair in violin performance at the small but prestigious Chamber Music Midwest festival before going to the Bayview Music Festival in Petoskey, Michigan.

Akira Mori | Guest Conductor
Born in Japan and educated in the United States, Akira Mori is currently Director of Orchestral Studies and Assistant Professor at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa (U.S.A.). His previous conducting engagements include Tokyo Symphony, Tokyo Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and others. He has professionally conducted in countries such as Japan, U.S.A, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Argentina. Mori is winner of the Hideo Saito Award from Tokyo International Music Competition Conducting Contest, and 3rd Prize and Best Concerto Accompanying Award from Dinu Niculescu International Competition in Romania. Akira Mori is equally active in the teaching field and has been a professor and conductor in music schools at Indiana University, University of Minnesota, Louisiana State University and Tokyo College of Music, among others. His recordings can be heard on Japan Victor.

Joseph Peters | Resident Conductor, Artistic Advisor
Oboist and conductor Joseph Peters is a native of Minneapolis currently pursuing a Master of Music degree at the Yale University School of Music in New Haven, CT where he is a student of Stephen Taylor. He received his Bachelor of Music from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where he studied oboe with John Snow. He is the former Principal Oboe of the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and has performed locally with the Mankato Symphony, Kenwood Symphony and Sapphire Chamber Consort. Joe is currently a substitute oboist with the Minnesota Orchestra.

As a soloist, Joe has appeared with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies. During past summers he has participated in National Repertory Orchestra, the Banff Centre’s Master Classes and the National Orchestral Institute where his mentors included Richard Killmer, John Ferrillo and Robert Atherholt.

An avid chamber musician, Joe was a founding member of the West Bank Winds Woodwind Quintet. Also committed to teaching, he was a founding member of the 4th Street Music Collective, an organization of music teachers providing lessons in the Minneapolis area. In addition to music, Joe also enjoys swing and ballroom dancing, good books and sports.

Joe’s conducting mentors include James Patrick Miller and Toshiyuki Shimada.

Sarah Plum | Violin
After a distinguished career as a performer, violinist Sarah Plum has been appointed Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola at the Drake University department of music. Since winning the first prize in the International Stulberg Competition in 1984 she has appeared on stages in the US and abroad as a soloist and chamber musician. Additionally, she has played in European orchestras both as a leading and section player. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School where she received a Bachelor's and Master's degree and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she received a DMA. Her major teachers were Szymon Goldberg, Joyce Robbins, Dorothy Delay and David Cerone.

Soon after receiving her DMA she moved to Europe, where she played in the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra (WDR) Cologne as well as the North German Radio Orchestra (NDR) and Saarlaendischer Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra among others. With these orchestras she played under conductors such as Semyon Bychkov, Andre Previn, Christoph Eschenbach, Kurt Masur and Mariss Jansons; took part in tours of Europe, North and South America and performed at international venues and festivals. Her orchestral experiences also included principal and concertmaster positions in the London Philharmonic, Saarlaendisches Staatstheater, Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra and the Kammerorchester Pforzheim.

As a modern music specialist she played at festivals such as Archipel, Ars Musica, the Luzern Festival and the Festival d'Automne Paris and with groups such as the Ensemble Moderne, Musik Fabrik Nord Rhein Westfalen, Nieuw Ensemble Amsterdam and Ensemble Contrechamps. As well as extensive touring and recording she premiered numerous pieces by composers such as Brian Ferneyhough, Salvatore Sciarrino, Emmanuel Nunes, and Toshio Hosakawa. Noted solo performances include the world premiere of Sidney Corbett's Archipel at the Landesuseum Mainz as well as recitals in Berlin and Paris.

Sarah has been heard in numerous TV and Radio Broadcasts on the WDR, NDR, Deutsche Welle and BBC. She has recorded on the Bridge, BMG, Arte Nova and Cappriccio labels.

Larkin Sanders | Clarinet and Composition
Larkin is currently a graduate student in Clarinet Performance at Michigan State University. She is studying with Dr. Justin O'Dell and is currently playing with the MSU Wind Symphony as well as a variety of chamber ensembles. Since she has been at Michigan State, she has been developing a specialty in clarinet reed making and chamber music composition.

She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Clarinet Performance at the University of Kansas in 2009. There, she studied with Dr. Larry Maxey and Dr. Stephanie Zelnick. She played with the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Helianthus Contemporary Music Ensemble, and a variety of chamber ensembles. She also worked for KU's Midwestern Music Academy as a camp counselor, chamber music coach, course instructor, and sectional instructor.

Jennifer Tinberg | Clarinet
Jennifer Tinberg is a classical musician based in the Midwest region of the United States. She has performed with ensembles throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois as well as several countries in Europe including Italy, Greece and Ireland. Currently, she is working towards a Masters degree at Michigan State University under the instruction of Dr. Justin O’Dell. Her undergraduate work was in music education at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire where she studied with Dr. Richard Fletcher. Highlights of her undergraduate performances include playing principal clarinet in both the Wind Symphony and University Symphony Orchestra, and playing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto as a concerto competition winner. Her most recent project is recording a new solo work by composer Phillip Sink, which she premiered in April of 2011.

Alysa Treber | Flute
Alysa is currently earning her Master's degree at Michigan State University, where she currently studies with Richard Sherman. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Washington, having studied under Donna Shin and Felix Skowronek. As an active performer in the Seattle community, she played with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra along with several other groups in the Puget Sound area. A recent transplant to the East Lansing, Michigan area, Alysa is active as both a soloist and chamber musician, and a founding member of the White Pine Woodwind Quintet.