Chinese performer and composer Gao Hong is a master of the pear-shaped lute, the pipa. She began her career as a professional musician at age 12, and later graduated from China’s premier music school, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she studied with the great pipa master Lin Shicheng. In both China and the U.S. Gao has received numerous top awards and honors, including First Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition and an International Art Cup in Beijing. In 2005 Gao Hong became the first traditional musician to be awarded the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship, and in 2019 she became the only musician in any genre to win five McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians.
Gao has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Argentina, Japan, Hong Kong, China, and the U.S. in solo concerts and with symphony orchestras, jazz musicians, and musicians from other cultures. Her performances of pipa concerti with symphony orchestras include world premieres with the China National Traditional Orchestra (中央民族乐团) at the National Center for the Performing Arts (国家大剧院) in Beijing, the Guangdong National Orchestra, the Hawaii Symphony, and the Women’s Philharmonic (San Francisco). She is the author of the first pipa method book written in English that was published and distributed worldwide by Hal Leonard, the world’s largest music print publisher. As a composer, she has received numerous commissions. Her composition for solo pipa, “Flying Dragon”, won the 2012 Global Music Award – Award of Excellence Solo Instrumental (Gold Medal).
China’s foremost music publication, People’s Music, wrote of Gao Hong that “like the famous Luoyang peony, she has gradually emerged as the best of all beautiful flowers. Her performance has extremely strong artistic appeal and belongs under the category of ‘fine wine’, the more you listen, the more beautiful it gets.”
Ye Yu graduated from Sichuan Conservatory in China in 1982 and subsequently became an instructor at the institute. He then moved to the United States to study for his DMA at the University of Minnesota with John Miller, principal bassoonist of the Minnesota Orchestra. During his studies. He won the University Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. Yu has performed in many professional orchestras throughout the Eastern and Midwestern United States, including the Minnesota Orchestra, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, and community orchestra around the Twin Cities.
As a soloist, he has performed bassoon concertos with the Northeast Orchestra and the University of Minnesota Symphony Orchestra. Recent appearances include performances at the Sichuan Conservatory, China Conservatory, Xian Conservatory, and Wuhan Opera. In April 2017, he was invited to Utah State University for a collaborative performance with Professor Dennis Hirst. Other collaborative projects include a performance tour to China with Professor Robyn Jones from the University of Memphis. Yu owns a local double reed business, Golden Bamboo.
Spinto Soprano, Heather Hjelle, most recently took the stage performing the role of “Gioconda” in La Gioconda with Opera MODO. Previously, she made her professional debut as “Santuzza” in Cavalleria rusticana with Main Street Opera in 2017. Early that year, she covered Metropolitan Opera soprano Alexandra LoBianco as “Santuzza” with Opera Steamboat. That same year, Heather traveled to Italy to perform the role of “Donna Anna” in Don Giovanni with Operafestival di Roma.
Previous roles include: “Suor Angelica” (Suor Angelica) with Operafestival di Roma, “Erste Dame” (Die Zauberflöte), “Clara” (Signor Deluso), and “La fata verde” (La Bella dormant nel bosco) with North Park University Opera. Scene credits include: “Countess Almaviva” (Le nozze di Figaro), “Violetta” (La Traviata), “Mimi” (La Bohème), “Fiordiligi” (Così fan tutte), “Lucia” (Lucia di Lammermoor), “Manon” (Manon), “Hanna” (Die lustige Witwe), “Vanessa” (Vanessa), and “Cio-Cio-San” (Madama Butterfly).
A Minnesota native, Heather earned a degree in Theatre with a minor in music from Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato. At Bethany, she was a featured performer in numerous plays and choral ensembles. In 2016, she received her Masters of Vocal Performance from North Park University where she won second place in the Graduate Performance Awards.
Ms. Hjelle is looking forward to returning to Opera Steamboat this summer where she will be covering the role of “Ariadne” and performing the role of “Echo” in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos.
Adrienne Johnson has been an Elementary Teacher and playwright in the Archdiocese of St. Paul for over 20 years. After graduating with a degree from the Juilliard School she went into the field of education, with an emphasis on writing and producing original plays, one of which earned her a Grammy nomination in the field of education in 2016.
Adrienne raised four children (all boys) and started seriously practicing again five years ago. Encouraged by friends and mentors, she has participated in amateur competitions held in Boston, Washington DC, Denver, and Chicago.
Adrienne is an advocate of community service and works with local organizations to bring music to retirement and health communities in the Twin Cities area. She continues her own advancement in music by attending festivals such as Piano Texas and the International Keyboard Festival in New York during the summers.
Currently, she is writing a musical play about the immense contributions of Fred Rogers, titled It’s a Beautiful Day: celebrating love, joy and friendship.
Minnesota born cellist Daniel Keeler is a passionate musician, composer, and educator. Praised for his lush and energetic performances, Daniel has appeared across the United States as a soloist, orchestral, and collaborative musician.
As a performing contemporary musician, Daniel has performed a vast array of contemporary works in various solo recitals and with groups such as the Missouri Contemporary Ballet, the Missouri Composers Orchestra Project, at the Missouri International Composers Festival, and even with the pop group Trampled by Turtles. He also held an assistantship with the University of Missouri New Music Ensemble-the leading contemporary ensemble in Central Missouri and part of the Mizzou New Music Initiative.
As an orchestral musician, his leadership roles span nearly a dozen orchestras at the community, collegiate, and professional levels. Accolades include appearances as a soloist with several orchestras around the midwest, including concertos and concert pieces by Bloch, Dvorak, Haydn, Lalo, and Popper. As an educator, Daniel is an Orchestra Director for Mounds View Public Schools, and teaches as a private lesson instructor to students of all ages and diverse backgrounds. Additionally, he has been a resident and guest cellist for several music festivals around the states of Minnesota and Missouri. Daniel has won several competitions including being Winner of the 2019 MNSOTA Mary West Solo Competition, 2017 MTNA State Competition, and the 2017 Missouri Emerging Artist Competition. In his free time Daniel enjoys hiking, canoeing, and backpacking around the United States, as well as boating excursions on the grand Lake Superior.
Daniel is currently a doctoral student in cello performance and pedagogy at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and holds degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia in cello performance, and the University of Minnesota-Duluth in Music Education. His primary teachers include Tanya Remenikova, Eli Lara, Betsy Husby, and John Madura.
Soprano Jimin Lee was born in Daejeon, South Korea. She is internationally recognized and has received awards in multiple competitions across the globe. In Korea, Jimin placed second at the Sinye Music Competition in 2011 and also received the ‘PADAF’ Music award in 2016.
Jimin began her concert career in the Young Artist Debut Concert in the Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra in 2014. In Korea, her roles include “Contessa” in the opera Le Nozze di Figaro at Sookmyung Women’s University, “Magda” in La Rondine, “Zerlina” in Don Giovanni, “Marguerite” in Faust, and “Nedda” in I Pagliacci. In the United States, she performed as “Governess” from Turn of the Screw and prepared the role “Blanche” from Dialogue des Carmelites.
Jimin Lee earned a Bachelor of Music degree in voice from Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul and her Master of Music degree in voice performance from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, she is pursuing her doctoral studies at University of Minnesota School of Music in Minneapolis where she studies with Victoria Vargas.
Music is a creative activity that makes us imagine a better world in order to create it. Amos believes that the experience of a live performance can touch our consciousness and change the way we look at the world, thus making us better human beings.
Amos is studying a Doctor of Musical Arts program in Piano Performance at the University of Minnesota under the guidance of the Professor Alexander Braginsky. During the past two years he was based mainly in the city of Merida, México, where he developed a remarkable concert career, as soloist and in different chamber formations. He was also Piano Professor and Collaborative Pianist at the Bachelor of Musical Arts of Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatán (ESAY).
Regarded as one of the most outstanding young Mexican musicians, Amos Lucidi has performed extensively as a soloist and in chamber groups in Mexico, Italy, France and the United Kingdom, participating in important festivals such as the International Festival of Mayan Culture and Merida Fest. He has been soloist on several occasions with the Symphonic Orchestra of the Yucatan. More recent appearances include recitals in venues such as St. James’s Piccadilly and the Old Royal Naval College in London, l’Eglise de Saint-Merry in Paris and Teatro Clitunno in Trevi, Italy.
Amos’ solo repertoire comprises a wide range of authors from the Baroque to the 20th-century music, especially focusing on late Russian composers as Scriabin, Rachmaninov, and Prokofiev. He frequently includes music from the Mexican composers, Manuel M. Ponce and José Rolón, in his recitals. Most recently, he has started a project rescuing the piano compositions of Jorge González Ávila, considered as one of the most important composers of the mid-20th century in Mexico. Amos’s chamber music repertoire includes duos, trios, quartets, and quintets for piano and different instruments.
In September 2017 he obtained the title of Master of Arts in Piano Performance with Distinction at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, under the guidance of the internationally renowned pianists Mikhail Kazakevich and Peter Tuite. He was the recipient of the Alfred Kitchin and Rosamund Mott scholarships, as well as the NOSWAD Charitable Trust. Renowned pianists, such as Lilya Zilberstein, Alan Weiss, Niklas Pokki, Enrico Pace, Drahomira Biligova, Giuseppe Bruno, Martyn van den Hoek and Jorge Federico Osorio, have acknowledged his talent and musical qualities in different master classes and piano festivals.
When Amos was eight years old he started piano lessons in Mexico, but it was not until the age of fourteen that he decided to devote himself to music under the guidance of Cuban pianist Alberto Alvarez. In 2011, he obtained the Bachelor Degree in Musical Arts with honors at the ESAY, (Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatan). In 2014, he completed the Diploma di II Livello with mention Cum Laude at the Istituto Superiore di Studi Musicali “P. Mascagni” of Livorno with the Argentinian pianist Daniel Rivera. During his studies, he has obtained many scholarships and awards as recognition of his dedication.
In 2017 he funded the Nemesis Trio with Heather Stewart (violin) and Helena Švigelj (cello), both postgraduate students at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, which was awarded first place at the CAVATINA Intercollegiate Chamber Music Competition 2017. Winner of the 3rd place at the first piano competition José Jacinto Cuevas in Mérida, Mexico in 2008 and 2nd place at Premio Crescendo 2014 in Florence, Italy, his performances have been recognized in other competitions, where he has been a semifinalist, such as Premio Pianistico Scriabin 2014 in Italy and Concurso Angélica Morales-Yamaha 2016 in Mexico.
Korean-American Pianist, Michael Min is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Collaborative Piano and Coaching at the University of Minnesota under the guidance of Dr. Timothy Lovelace, and has been taking applied voice lessons with Professor. John De Haan.
He is a music director of the global soloist’s ensemble ‘MUZIK’ formed with singers who graduated from the University of Minnesota that are actively performed worldwide such as in China, Canada, and South Korea.
Prior to his study at the University of Minnesota, Michael was formerly a faculty member at Middle Tennessee State University, where he actively performed and coached students in their musical studies.
Michael received his B.A from the Sahm-Yook (Korean Seventh-Day Adventist) University in Seoul, Korea, and completed his M.M in Piano Performance at Middle Tennessee State University where he studied with Dr. Eun-byol Ko and Dr. Adam Clark and received D.M.A in Piano Performance at the University of Minnesota under the tutelage of Dr. Kyung Kim.
Recent notable honors have included Grand Prize in the Seoul National Symphony Orchestra Competition, prizewinner in the Venusto Music Competition (supported by the Mayor of Seoul, Korea), first place in the 2019 Golden Classical Awards International Competition (New York), American Protégé International Competition (New York), and winner of the University of Minnesota School of Music Concerto Competition.
Michael is very thankful to fulfill one of his lifetime dream of performing as a vocal soloist with an orchestra, in addition to performing as a piano soloist.
Chris Raddatz currently serves as principal clarinet with the Kenwood symphony Orchestra. A native of Wisconsin, Chris began playing the clarinet in the fifth grade. He received a B.A in music from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire as well as a master’s in music performance from the University of Minnesota. His teachers have included Richard Fletcher, John Anderson, and John Scott. Chris currently lives in Saint Paul with his dogs Rags and Lola where he works as a restaurant manager.
Danica Scofield (11) is a student of Dr. Megan and Dr. Christopher Wallace. She started piano lessons a few weeks before she turned 5 and learned how to play the piano by ear. By the age of six, she had her debut at Carnegie Hall, New York as a second prize winner for the American Protégé Piano and Strings International Competition. When she was 8, she took first place in the Bösendorfer USA Competition in the 10-13 age group. That summer, she had her first fundraising concert at a public university in Bangkok, Thailand where she was one of the two main piano soloists.
In 2019, Danica competed in the Minnesota State Fair Amateur Talent Contest for ages 12 and under and performed in front of approximately 8,000 people at the Grandstand. She took first place and won the contest when she was only 9 years old. With her love of performing and sharing the gift of music, her dream of playing with an orchestra came true when she took first place in 2 concerto competitions. When not playing the piano, Danica enjoys playing tennis, cooking, reading, and managing her very own Youtube channel.