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2016 artist full bios.

Jessica Linnebach

Violinist Jessica Linnebach has distinguished herself among the next generation of Canadian classical artists being lauded on concert stages nationally and around the world. Since her soloist debut at the age of seven, Jessica has appeared with major orchestras throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Jessica has been a member of the first violin section of the NACO since 2003 and was named their Associate Concertmaster in April 2010.

A passionate chamber musician, Jessica is a founding member of the Zukerman Chamber Players, a string quintet led by Pinchas Zukerman. Since the ensemble’s inception in 2003, it has toured extensively to international acclaim appearing throughout North America, South America the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Its recording of the Mozart Viola Quintet in G minor was nominated for a Juno Award in 2004 and its fifth and latest release, quintets by Mozart and Dvorak, was released in early 2008 on the Altara Label.

Accepted to the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at the age of ten, Jessica remains one of the youngest ever Bachelor of Music graduates in the history of the school. At eighteen, she received her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City where she studied with Pinchas Zukerman and Patinka Kopec.

Jessica has also collaborated with some of the most illustrious artists of our day, including Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Leon Fleisher, Joseph Kalichstein, Gary Graffman, Gary Hoffman, Lynn Harrell, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, and Michael Tree.

Jessica Linnebach plays a circa 1840 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume (Guarnerius del Gésu 1737) violin.

Joanna G'froerer

Joanna G'froerer enjoys an exciting career as an orchestral player, chamber musician, soloist and educator. Joanna G'froerer has been principal flute of the NACO since 1992, after winning the audition for that position at the age of 20.

She studied flute in Vancouver with Kathleen Rudolph, graduating from the Vancouver Academy of Music, and spent summers at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan, and with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. Joanna studied at McGill University with Timothy Hutchins, earning a Licentiate in Music from McGill in 1993.

Ms G'froerer has appeared as concerto soloist in over thirty different programs since joining the NACO. She has also performed as flute soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony, the Kingston Symphony, the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, the former CBC Radio Orchestra and the Peterborough Symphony, as well as with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra after winning the wind division of the MSO Competition in 1990.

Joanna G'froerer has been featured in the chamber music festivals of Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, and has been a regular participant in the Ottawa Chamberfest since the mid-1990s. She has been a guest artist with the Tokyo and Penderecki String Quartets, and is a member of the NAC Wind Quintet, which features the five principal winds of the NACO.

Joanna G'froerer's recordings include the Mozart Flute Quartets on CBC Records with violinist Martin Beaver, Pinchas Zukerman on viola, and cellist Amanda Forsyth -- named "best Canadian chamber music recording" of 2001 by Opus Magazine. In 2002, she recorded an all-Rodrigo disc as concerto soloist with Maestro Maximiano Valdes and the Asturias Symphony Orchestra for the Naxos label. Joanna's most recent Naxos recording is an all-Saint-Saëns chamber music disc, featuring the NAC Wind Quintet with pianist Stéphane Lemelin. Gramophone magazine named it an "Editor's Choice" shortly after its release in 2011.

As a teacher, Joanna has taught at McGill University and the UOttawa, and currently is a member of the faculty of the NAC Summer Music Institute. She has been on faculty at the Scotia Festival of Music and at the Campos do Jordao winter festival in Brazil.

Michelle Gott

Michelle Gott is an award-winning and versatile harpist active in Canada and the United States. As an orchestral musician, Ms Gott has played with the NACO, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Pops. She has performed extensively for productions on Broadway, including The Producers and The Fantastiks and for artists such as Diana Krall and Olivia Newton-John. Ms Gott has been a featured soloist at the National Arts Centre and the National Art Gallery in Ottawa, and with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Atlantic String Quartet, and the Juilliard Chamber Orchestra as winner of the 2009 Juilliard Concerto Competition.

An avid performer of contemporary music, Ms Gott has worked closely with many composers including Pierre Boulez, Virko Baley, Ursula Mamlok, Anthony Cheung, Nico Muhly, Andrew Staniland, and David Fulmer. Notable performances include the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s opera, Dark Sisters (2011), the North American premiere and a recording of Anthony Cheung’s Centripedalocity with the Talea Ensemble, as well as many premieres and performances with the AXIOM Contemporary Ensemble, Sequitur Ensemble, New Juilliard Ensemble, the Slee Sinfonietta at the University of Buffalo, and the NAC-supported late-night contemporary music Wolfgang Sessions.

 Ms Gott’s passion for multidisciplinary artistic collaborations is at the heart of her commissioned projects. Ms Gott commissioned Roderick Gorby to compose a work for small ensemble with two harps doubling on vocals, which Ms Gott premiered in 2011. Ms Gott was also featured as harpist and vocalist at the Henry Mancini Institute of her own jazz arrangements, for which she was a prizewinner at the 2004 Lyon & Healy International Jazz and Pop Harpfest.

A winner of numerous national competitions, Ms Gott is also a recipient of Juilliard's Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Leadership and Achievement in the Arts as well as the Richard F. French grant for her doctoral dissertation research on the music of R Murray Schafer. She is currently on faculty at the UOttawa, where she teaches harp and coaches chamber music. She is also the director of harp ensembles for the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy. Originally from Las Vegas, Ms Gott began her harp studies at the age of four with her late mother, Caryn Wunderlich-Gott. She then went on to study with Nancy Allen at The Juilliard School where she completed three degrees (BM, MM, DMA).

Rachel Mercer

Described as a "pure chamber musician" (Globe and Mail) creating "moments of pure magic" (Toronto Star), Canadian cellist Rachel Mercer has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across five continents.

Grand prize winner of the 2001 Vriendenkrans Competition in Amsterdam, Rachel is cellist of Ensemble Made In Canada, the Mercer-Park Duo, the Seiler Trio, the Art of Time Ensemble, and is Artistic Director of the "5 at the First" Chamber Music Series in Hamilton.

She has appeared as guest principal cello with the Canadian Opera Company, National Arts Centre, Group of 27 and Munich Chamber orchestras, and will join the NACO as Associate Principal Cello in January 2016. Rachel has given master-classes across North America, South Africa and in Israel and is currently Artist-in-Residence at Western University.

An advocate for new Canadian music, Rachel has commissioned and premiered works including a cello concerto by Kevin Lau, solo work by Andrew Downing and chamber music by Abigail Richardson-Schulte, William Rowson, John Burge and Omar Daniel.

Rachel can be heard on the Naxos, Naxos Canadian Classics, Centrediscs, Dalia Classics and EnT-T record labels, and released a critically acclaimed album of the Bach Suites on Pipistrelle in March 2014, recorded on the 1696 Bonjour Stradivarius Cello from the Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank.

Winner in the 2015 Canada Council Instrument Bank competition, Rachel is grateful to have been awarded the 1730 Newland Joannes Franciscus Celoniatus cello for a 3 year loan.

Sean Rice

A native of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Sean Rice has performed extensively throughout North America and around the world. His broadcasts include recitals with CBC National Radio, performances for Swiss Radio DRS, and Newfoundland’s weekly music program,Musicraft. Mr Rice has appeared as soloist with Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Axiom, The New Juilliard Ensemble, Symphony Nova Scotia, Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra, and Memorial University Chamber Orchestra.

Gaining recognition as an exciting performer of contemporary music, The New York Times recently described Mr Rice as a “technically precise, exuberant protagonist,” for his performance of Magnus Lindberg’s Clarinet Quintet. Mr Rice has performed at Pierre Boulez’s Lucerne Festival Academy (2008-2010), New York City’s Museum of Modern Art Summergarden Series (2007-2009), The Juilliard School’s 2007 Chamberfest, The Juilliard School’s Focus! Festival, the National Arts Centre Young Artist Program (2005-2006), Banff Music Festival, and Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival. In addition, Mr Rice has performed numerous chamber music recitals as a guest of Memorial University’s Faculty Recital Series.

Following his 2007 Montreal debut at Jeunesses Musicales, La Presse wrote: “…clarinettiste canadien Sean Rice y révéla une technique impeccable, une authentique musicalité, une sonorité tour à tour éclatante et chaleureuse, et un vrai talent de chambriste.” Mr Rice continued the 2007/08 season in his first national tour with pianist Jean-Philippe Sylvestre for Jeunesses Musicales touring series. In addition to performances throughout Canada, Mr Rice has performed in major cities in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Malaysia, Brazil, and most recently Japan where he presented recitals for the 2009 & 2010 Kyoto International Music Festivals.

Sean Rice is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland where he received his Bachelor of Music while studying with Paul Bendzsa. Continuing his studies under the tutelage of Charles Neidich, Mr Rice graduated with a Master of Music from The Juilliard School and has maintained his studies there as a Doctorate of Musical Arts candidate. As a student at music festivals, Mr Rice has studied with prominent clarinetists Kimball Sykes, Alain Damiens, Alain Billard, and Fan Lei. The recipient of numerous awards, Mr Rice received first prize at the 2006 Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec Canadian Concerto Competition.

Yehonatan Berick


Prizewinner at the 1993 Naumburg competition and a recipient of the 1996-97 Prix Opus, Yehonatan Berick is in high demand internationally as soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and pedagogue.

Performances as soloist include: Quebec, Winnipeg, Windsor, Ann Arbor, Jerusalem and Haifa Symphonies; the Israeli, Cincinnati, Montreal and Manitoba Chamber Orchestras; Thirteen Strings; and Ensemble Appassionata. Recital offerings include the complete Paganini Caprices, and the complete Solo Sonatas and Partitas by Bach.

He has collaborated with many world renowned artists. Festival and chamber series include Marlboro, Ravinia, Seattle, Ottawa, Great Lakes, and Music@Menlo. He tours extensively worldwide, and has been featured in many of the world's most important venues, including Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall.

On CD, Berick has recorded for the Acoma, Albany, Centaur, Equilibrium, XXI-21, Gasparo, Summit, and Helicon labels. On video, he can be seen on the BluRay DVD "Paganini: 24 Caprices". His recordings have won rave reviews in the press.

Equally sought after as violin teacher and chamber music mentor, Berick serves as Professor of Violin at the UOttawa and Visiting Professor at the UToronto. He has been invited as teacher and artist-in-residence at many festivals, and is featured in masterclasses worldwide. His students hold leading positions in major orchestras, ensembles, and music schools worldwide.

Yehonatan Berick currently plays a 1761 violin by Carlo Ferdinando Landolfi, generously on loan from the UOttawa, as well as violin by Honoré Derazey Père from 1852, and a viola by Stanley Kiernoziak from 2003.

Yosuke Kawasaki

Yosuke Kawasaki currently serves as Concertmaster of Canada’s NACO. He is also a member and co-Concertmaster of the Mito Chamber Orchestra and Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan both under the baton of Seiji Ozawa. Prior to his position in Ottawa, he served as Concertmaster of the Japan Century Orchestra and Montgomery Symphony Orchestra. Mr Kawasaki is currently on faculty with the UOttawa School of Music, Affinis Summer Music Festival and Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy.

Mr Kawasaki has made solo appearances with Aspen Chamber Symphony, Greenwich Village Orchestra, Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra, Idaho State-Civic Orchestra, Japan Century Orchestra, Kyushu Philharmonic, Mito Chamber Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmonica de Lima, Saito Kinen Orchestra, South Carolina Philharmonic, Thirteen Strings, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and Singapore National Youth Symphony.

As a chamber musician, Mr Kawasaki is a founding member of the Arkas String Quartet, a resident ensemble in Sasebo, Japan; the D’Amici String Quartet along with Federico Agostini, Sadao Harada, and James Creitz, touring the Americas; and the Trio Ink piano trio with Vadim Serebryany and Wolfram Koessel, also touring teh Americas.

His most recent recordings include chamber works by Beethoven, Mozart and Schumann on the TDK Core Label and Denon Label. He has also recorded Bach’s Double Concerto and the Complete Brandenburg Concertos with Walter van Hauwe and the Saito Kinen Chamber Players, both on the King Label.

 Mr Kawasaki began his violin studies at the age of six with his father Masao Kawasaki and continued with Setsu Goto. At the age of ten he was accepted into The Juilliard School Pre-College Division and further continued his education and graduated from The Juilliard School in 1998 under the tutorship of Dorothy DeLay, Hyo Kang, Felix Galimir and Joel Smirnoff.

Jonathan Krehm

Jonathan Krehm studied clarinet with Avram Galper, Yona Ettlinger and Harold Gomez. He is an avid supporter of musical culture and  has been a director of Art of Time, the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, and The Music Gallery. Along with Jacob Stoller, Jonathan has run the Canzona Chamber Players concert series in Toronto, now entering its 14th season. He performs regularly in Toronto.