Christmas with Ninebark Ensemble
December 2nd, 2023
Christ United Methodist Church
December 2nd, 2023
Christ United Methodist Church
Zachary Saathoff, violin
Lindsey Bordner, violin
Karl Braaten, violin
Ian Snyder, violin
Valerie Little, viola
Chi-Chi Bestmann, viola
Ruth Marshall, cello
Jane Cords-O'Hara, cello
Charles Block, bass
Horacio Nuguid, piano
Works for string ensemble by baroque composers Biber, Corelli and Geminiani in the first half and the Piano Concerto in A Major, K 414 (2nd and 3rd movements) by Mozart followed by a set of Christmas Carols in the second half.
Zachary Saathoff is a violinist and educator in the Twin Cities area, where he began hi undergraduate studies at the age of 16 with Sally O’Reilly. He earned master’s degrees in both violin performance and music theory from the University of Minnesota and was awarded a Fulbright grant to study for two years in Graz, Austria with Yair Kless. During this time, he
performed concerts throughout Austria and Germany.
Upon completing his studies, Zachary served as concertmaster of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra for three seasons, appearing with the orchestra as a featured soloist and in numerous chamber programs.
He then returned to Minnesota where he teaches privately and as an instructor with the Totino-Grace Fine Arts Academy, in addition to actively performing with numerous orchestral and chamber ensembles throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.
Zachary currently lives in New Brighton, where he shares teaching space with spouse Emily, golden retriever Henry, and daughter Adalind.
Pennsylvania native Valerie Little, viola, has often performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, Orchestra Iowa, Florestan Chamber Music, at the Schubert Club and with a number of singer/songwriters. She is an artist-in-residence at the annual Apollo Music Festival in Houston, Minnesota, where she also serves as librarian. From 2013-2022, she was the violist for Mill City String Quartet, a five-time MPR Class Notes Artist, and past teaching artist through Schubert Club, Chamber Music Society of St. Cloud, and Britt Festival in Jacksonville, OR.
Valerie holds bachelor’s degrees in viola performance and English from Pennsylvania State University, a Master of Music degree in viola performance from the University of Texas-Austin, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in viola performance from the University of Minnesota.
She became a tenured member of the Minnesota Orchestra in September 2015, after serving six seasons as acting assistant principal librarian. When she's not in the library, she enjoys serving the Orchestra on various committees or participating in a variety of pre-concert events.
Valerie is also a skilled writer whose non-fiction writing was twice-nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize. Her debut hybrid chapbook, Little Blue Primer, is available from Toho Publishing.
A native of Taiwan, conductor and violist Chi-Chi Bestmann enjoys a diverse career, from performing Mozart in Carnegie Hall to jamming with rapper Jay Z at Radio City Music Hall to conducting The Annual Westchester All-County Orchestra Festival. Her ability to straddle both roles of musician and conductor across different genres, has led her to venues including Saturday Night Live, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and Merkin Hall, performing with such artists including Kurt Masur, Beyoncé, and Enya.
In addition to presenting recitals and collaborative concerts in the United State, Europe and Asia, Ms. Bestmann is a devoted teacher. She was a faculty member at Mannes School of Music (Extension), Hoff-Barthelson Music School, and Riverdale Country School. Ms. Bestmann was also the conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra at Third Street Music School Settlement in New York City. Her commitment to education inspired the creation of Petite Concerts Inc., a nonprofit organization that offers live-music experiences to young children through local venues with easy access in hopes of cultivating classical music audiences of the future.
While still a student, Ms. Bestmann was the youngest participant with the New York Philharmonic’s Conductor Table hosted by Kurt Masur. She was the Music Director of Taina Teacher's College Orchestra (Taiwan) and worked with many youth and community orchestras in the New York area including the Children's Orchestra Society, Hoff-Barthelson Orchestra and Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra.
As the winner of the 1998 Mannes Concerto Competition, Ms. Bestmann made her solo debut performing with the Mannes Orchestra under the baton of John Mauceri. She participated in festivals such as the International Musician’s Seminar in Prussia Cove, England and the Mozarteum International Sommerakademie in Salzburg, Austria. She served as principal violist of the New England Symphonic Ensemble which was frequently directed by acclaimed composer and conductor John Rutter. As a chamber music enthusiast, Ms. Bestmann is a member of the Solace Piano Quartet and performs with members of the Metropolitan orchestra and New Jersey Symphony.
Ms. Bestmann holds a Bachelor of Music in Orchestral Conducting, a Master of Music and a Professional Studies Diploma in Viola Performance, all from Mannes School of Music. Her primary teachers include violists Karen Ritscher and Thomas Riebl, violinist Albert Markov, chamber music coaches Felix Galamir, Daniel Phillips and Todd Phillips and conductor Michael Charry.
Ms. Bestmann recently relocated to St. Paul from New York with her husband and two daughters. She is the artist director and conductor of MacPhail Northside Youth Orchestra and the newly appointed conductor for JCC Symphony of Minnesota in 2023. A former viola faculty member at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, Ms. Bestmann continues to freelance with ensembles in the Twin Cities area which includes the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Opera.
Cellist Ruth Marshall enjoys a varied career split evenly between teaching and performing. She is the cellist of Artu Duo, a collaborative ensemble with pianist Garret Ross, which has performed extensively across the United States, including a debut at Carnegie Hall in 2016.
Ruth is also active as a soloist, and has played concertos with the Wartburg Community Symphony, Winona Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble Society of New York City, and the Kokomo Symphony Orchestra. From 2012 to 2016, she performed extensively as an orchestra player, simultaneously playing as principal cello of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, as an associate member of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Ohio, and as a permanent sub in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. From 2015-2022, she was the cellist of the Mill City String Quartet, during which time she performed for thousands of students through multiple residencies with Minnesota Public Radio.
Ruth is a committed cello instructor, working with students of all ages and levels at her home studio, and teaching cello students at Winona State University and Hamline University. She holds graduate degrees in cello performance from DePaul University, and undergraduate degrees in the humanities from the University of Washington.
Currently based in Minneapolis, Jane Cords-O’Hara is a busy freelance cellist who performs with a wide variety of groups. She is a member of The Knights, as well as Memphis based Iris Orchestra, Jamison Ensemble and Ladyslipper Ensemble in Minneapolis. She has performed, toured and recorded with numerous other ensembles over the years including the St. Paul
Chamber Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Argento, Da Capo Chamber Players, MN Opera, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, String Orchestra of NYC and A Far Cry. Equally comfortable in many styles, Jane has played a large amount of new and spectral music, as well as a more recent venture of baroque cello, and has performed with Lyra Baroque, Bach Society of Minnesota and the WolfGang Ensemble.
As a member of The Knights, a NYC based chamber orchestra, Jane has been performing since 2004. Nominated for a Grammy in 2017, The Knights have collaborated with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, Susan Graham, Dawn Upshaw and Bela Fleck.
Jane has a deep love of chamber music. A founding member of the Jamison Ensemble, Jane performs all around the Twin Cities. She is a member of Ladyslipper Ensemble, a frequent performer at the LOFT Chamber Music series in Minneapolis, and has also been a guest artist with Chamber Music Society of Minnesota.
Jane is a passionate teacher. She has a private studio in Minneapolis and also teaches at Augsburg University and the University of Wisconsin River Falls. She was on faculty at the International Cello Institute at St Olaf college in 2017 and at the Northern Lights Chamber Music Institute in 2018. She spent several summers mentoring young aspiring composers at the
Walden School in New Hampshire.
Born and raised in Ireland, Jane Cords-O’Hara began playing the cello at the age of nine. She studied with Hannah Roberts at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, before moving to New York to complete her studies with Timothy Eddy at Mannes College of Music. She has attended the International Musician’s Seminar at Prussia Cove, Holland Music Sessions, London Masterclasses and the Conservatoire Americain at Fontainebleau, France. She was chosen to play at masterclasses at the World Cello Congress III and the International Cello Festival in Manchester.
Jane lives with her husband, Dan, and daughter Aoife in Minneapolis.
Charles Block studied double bass with Shinji Eshima at San Francisco State University and Bruce Bransby at Indiana University He plays regularly around the Twin Cities as a substitute/extra with Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, St. Paul Chamber orchestra, and in Broadway shows.
He joined Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra in 2004, becoming principal in 2011. He served as principal bass of the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra from 2010-20 and associate principal of the Memphis Symphony from 2006-08, and was a tenured member of the Madison Symphony bass section from 2005-07. In past years Charles has worked as a substitute/extra with many of the top orchestras in the upper Midwest, including the Chicago Symphony, the Milwaukee
Symphony, and the Grant Park Orchestra. He teaches at UW River Falls.
Internationally, Charles has worked with the RTE National Symphony in Dublin, Ireland, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Macao Orchestra, and the Thunder Bay Symphony in Canada among others. Charles lives in Minneapolis with his wife Kate Nettleman and their daughter Inez.
Horacio Nuguid is a pianist with an extensive repertoire whose “beautiful tone” and “elegance” has captivated audiences. In addition to several standard piano concerti, Nuguid has also performed lesser-known works such as Edward MacDowell’s Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Clara Schumann's Konzertsatz, Mario Pilati's Suite and Ferdinand Ries' Grand Variations on Rule Britannia with different orchestras in the Philippines, Mexico and the United States. As founder and artistic director of the Rochester Chamber Music Society, Nuguid has been collaborating with distinguished artists in the region for more than 22 seasons. He was the recipient of the Ardee Award for “outstanding artist” in the city of Rochester. Nuguid received his music performance degrees from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila (BM), the University of Northern Iowa (MM) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (DMA). As a music educator, Dr. Nuguid has presented master classes internationally and served as an adjudicator for piano competitions in Minnesota. He has served as artist/faculty at the Young Artist World Piano Festival in Minnesota for over 20 years and has been a frequent guest artist of the Philippine High School for the Arts. Nuguid has recently published an anthology of piano pieces by Filipino composers, which he has been promoting through a series of lecture-recitals.
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