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Ben Stapp

Ben Stapp, a composer and performer residing in Queens, New York is shaking things up at home and abroad. His group, the Zozimos, serves as a secret weapon for creating new works.  It’s a modular group where ideas are work-shopped, improvisers can be allowed to run wild, and complex writing can be executed at the drop of a hat. The group has received awards including 1st place in the Bob Stewart Tuba Competition at the 38th Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, a Roulette Large Ensemble Commission, and most recently, the Jerome Roulette Commission for his Opera, “Myrrha’s Red Book”. The second of the two CDs (ACT 2) was just released on Evolver Records in October 2015.


Stapp has performed, recorded, and/or toured with several top-tier ensembles around the world from a variety of musical disciplines including such groups as Red Baraat, the International Contemporary Ensemble(ICE), Joel Harrison’s 19 (Sunnyside), the ECCE Ensemble,  Mino Cinelu’s World Jazz Ensemble, the Ben Stapp Trio (Uqbar Music) with Satoshi Takeishi and Tony Malaby, and Stephen Haynes’ Quintet (New Atlantis) featuring, Warren Smith, William Parker and Joe Morris.


"My time in the Sacramento Youth Symphony was invaluable. I remember my first audition ever was with this group and getting a spot there, in the top ensemble was a breakthrough moment for me.  It would be one of the first confidence builders that really helped fuel my passion for music."  


"I remember listening and performing for the first time to Dvorak's New World Symphony and Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade - what an experience! Getting ready for these performances during rehearsal, practicing the pieces at home, being around passionate musicians, and being inspired by Michael Neuman as a high schooler really helped kindle that musical flame inside me.  His passion and intensity infected my core and helped me understand myself better as a musician destined to be.  And for the icing on the cake, a moment I can never forget and that really stuck with me, a tour across Europe with the SYS, playing amazing repertoire!  What blast and memorable trip. I can't recommend this group enough for the young musician.  I must also mention and credit two music teachers I grew up with in Sacramento that had an indelible impact on me during my time with SYS: the late Joseph Earl who helped me become the tubist and musician I am today, I am forever indebted, and Jack Warren who helped me mature musically through classical guitar, poetry, literature, and jazz." -Ben Stapp

Sasha Tkacheff

Sasha Tkacheff takes the violin to new dimensions with her eclectic set of original electric compositions. Blending elements of classical, blues, hip-hop and modern rock has singled out Sasha as one of California’s up-and-coming artists. Sasha incorporates her passion into every improvisation, “I want to deconstruct accepted academic ideas about the nature of the violin and bring a new vision to the Rock ‘n Roll scene. It’s time for the world to hear the true dimensions that the electric violin can express.” Growing her roots out of Sacramento, CA, SASHA began studying the violin at age eight. Over the past fifteen years Sasha has presented numerous performances for the JAMMIES and the Sacramento Youth Symphony where she served as concertmistress for a time.


In recent years, Sasha has been cultivating the violin as an instrument of improvisation learning from several Blues and Jazz greats of Northern California. Her individual work and collaborations have led to featured performances at The Fillmore, Sacramento Concerts in the Park, California State Fair, Northern California Blues Festival, and Wells Fargo Pavilion. Look for Sasha at local concerts and clubs. Sasha released her debut EP, Phantom Love, in 2005. She is currently working on several new projects. Her book and CD Age of Coming is in progress. She is avaliable for solo performances and collaborating with your current project/album. She is able to meld with many genres, bringing an influence and out-of-world dimension with her electric violin. Sasha has performed for weddings, receptions, and professional events. A classy and experienced performer, she brings the appropriate ambiance with a contemporary edge. Visit her at for more information about CDs, booking, shows, and projects. Sign up on Sasha’s mailing list to hear the action first!

Fantee Jones


Taiwanese-American pianist and violinist, Fantee Jones of Roseville, CA gave her first solo recital at the age of seven and made her concerto debut performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A Major, K. 488 at age ten. She has continued her noteworthy accomplishments winning many awards in various international competitions. Miss Jones made her Carnegie Hall debut in May 2005 and has also performed on Princess Cruise Lines, Cunard Cruise Lines, Mondavi Center, and the Temppeliaukion Kirkko in Finland.


She was the gold medalist at the 2011 Seattle International Piano Competition, prizewinner at the 2012 Gina Bachauer International Young Artists Piano Competition, winner of the 2013 Mieczyslaw Munz Scholarship, Third Prize winner at the 2014 Lagny-sur-Marne International Piano Competition in France, and a top prizewinner at the 2014 Kosciuszko Chopin Piano Competition. Recently, she was a semifinalist at the 2015 National Chopin Piano Competition in Miami and a winner of the PianoTexas International Young Artists Concerto Competition. As a result, she performed Prokofiev 3rd concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Lio Kuokman.


Miss Jones has attended prestigious music festivals such as the Banff Piano Master Class and PianoTexas International Academy and Festival. In 2015, she was selected to be a fellow in the Bowdoin International Music Festival, as part of the Kaplan Fellowship program.


As an avid chamber musician, Miss Jones has worked with many renowned musicians including Lewis Kaplan, Seymour Lipkin, Jerome Lowenthal, Robert McDonald, Anton Nel, and Andre-Michel Schub. Besides playing piano, she also plays violin and flute. Miss Jones was a member of the Sacramento Youth Symphony Premier Orchestra first violin section for five seasons.


Miss Jones began piano training with her mother at the age of three. She received her Bachelor of Music as the Roy M. Rubinstein recipient at the Manhattan School of Music in 2014 and a student of Dr. Marc Silverman. Miss Jones currently holds the Peter Jay Sharp and Pearl Bell 88’s Scholarship, and is pursuing her Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School, under the tutelage of Mr. Hung-Kuan Chen.

Taylor Fong

Taylor Fong is a freelance bass trombonist currently residing in Sacramento. A native of Sacramento, Taylor received a Bachelor's of Music Degree from Sacramento State University where he studied with Joel Elias. As a freelance musician, Taylor frequently performs with orchestras such as the Sacramento Philharmonic, Sacramento Choral Society, Modesto Symphony, Townsend Opera, Fresno Grand Opera, VITA Academy Orchestra and has performed the Nutcracker with the Sacramento Ballet. Taylor was also recently appointed as bass trombone of the North State Symphony for the 2015-2016 season. 


Taylor has also participated in various Summer music festivals including a full scholarship to the Aspen Music Festival in 2014, a full-tuition fellowship to the Summer Brass Institute at Menlo and the Third Coast Trombone Retreat in Montague, Michigan. 


An avid traveler, Taylor studied abroad at the Hochschule für Musik in Trossingen, Germany under the guidance of trombone legend and former principal trombone of the Munich Philharmonic, Abbie Conant. With this grand opportunity, Taylor had the pleasure to perform in trombone quartets, trombone choir, brass ensemble, symphony orchestras as well participate in incredible master classes taught by trombonists who perform in the Stuttgart Radio Symphony, Bayreuth Festspielhaus, the Berlin Philharmonic, Stuttgart Opera and many more. 


As a student at Sacramento State, Taylor has performed in the symphony orchestra, wind ensemble, 1 o'clock jazz band and has even sung in the chamber choir.  In the 2014-2015 school year, Taylor was awarded "Most Outstanding Senior" of the School of Music at Sacramento State. Taylor is also a two-time recipient of the Sacramento Saturday Club Scholarship, as well as the 2014-15 Alumni Association Visual and Performing Arts Scholarship.

Jerome Simas

Jerome Simas holds the position of solo bass clarinetist and utility clarinetist with the San Francisco Symphony. He has performed as a guest orchestral musician with other American orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the San Francisco Opera Orchestra (acting principal clarinet), and the Naples Philharmonic of Florida. He was a fellow at the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas - with whom he recorded Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto for BMG Classics and RCA Victor labels – and has held principal clarinet positions with the California Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, IRIS Orchestra, Modesto Symphony, Monterey Symphony, and Akron Symphony. As a chamber musician, he studied and performed at Marlboro Music in Vermont and appears in chamber and solo recitals in the US and abroad. He is solo clarinetist of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble in San Francisco, presenting contemporary compositions alongside traditional masterworks.


Jerome Simas won first prize at the International Clarinet Society’s Young Artist Competition, grand prize at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and first prize at the Yellow Springs National Chamber Music Competition. He has appeared as soloist with the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, California Symphony, New World Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Modesto Symphony, IRIS Orchestra, and the Cleveland Institute of Music Symphony, where he received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees as a student of Cleveland Orchestra principal clarinetist, Franklin Cohen.


As a music educator, he has taught master classes in the United States, Canada and China and is currently a coach with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Community of Music Makers program. He is a regular coach with youth orchestras and university ensembles throughout Northern California and has been a faculty member at the University of Akron, UC Davis, Stanford University, and at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance. Currently, he is a professor of clarinet at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Joshua Neumann

I started playing the cello when I was 8 years old in Nevada City, CA a small town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I joined the Sacramento Youth Symphony when I reached high school where continued my orchestral studies for four years. During those years I had the privilege to play with artists such as Roger Hodgson and Super Tramp, Winton and Delfeayo Marsalis, Bobby Mcferrin, and Joanna Newsom.  After high school, I accepted a music scholarship from San Diego State University and played in the orchestra's principle chair for two years. In 2001 I transferred to Cornish College of the Arts to continue my studies in cello performance and received my BA degree in 2004. Soon After I made the transition to the rock world where I have been performing around the world and recording full time. I have been primarily working with Brandi Carlile, a singer songwriter from Seattle, WA who I started working with in 2005.  


Albums I’ve recorded with Brandi include: "Brandi Carlile" Self produced -2005, “Live at Easy Street” self produced -2007, “The Story" produced by T-Bone Burnett -2007, “Live From Boston” -2008,

"Give Up the Ghost" produced by Rick Rubin -2009, “XOBC” self produced -2010, "Live at Benaroya Hall with the Seattle Symphony" -2011, "Bear Creek" produced by Trina Shoemaker -2012, and

"The Fire Watchers Daughter" Co produced by Trina Shoemaker and Ryan Hadlock, -2015.


Television performances with Brandi include: Conan O'Brien, The Tonight show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The CBS Early Morning Show, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, The Jools Holland show, Austin City Limits, Three Wishes and Live at Red Rocks on AXS TV. Six of our songs were featured on the television show Grey's Anatomy.


On July 4th, 2010 we played for the USO show on the south lawn of the White House for President Barack Obama. Currently, I am on tour with Brandi headlining countless shows and opening for bands such as:  Dave Matthews, Maroon 5, Sheryl Crow, The Fray, John Mayer, The Killers, The Avett Brothers, Tori Amos, Chris Isaak, Train, One Republic, Jewel, Shawn Colvin, The Indigo Girls, Ray LaMontagne, and Jamie Cullum.


Works I have done outside of the Brandi Carlile Band include:

Roger Hodgson/Supertramp, Rites of Passage - Recording and live performance 1997

Train, Recording of "Wild Horses"  - 2006

Indigo Girls, Live at the Roxy - Recording, DVD and live performance 2008

I Think We're Alone Now, Film score -  2008

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - Recording session 2013

Kevin Presbrey, Dust into Dust EP - Recording 2013 produced by Ryan Hadlock

Toby Beard, "Nobody Told Me" - Recording 2013 produced by Ryan Hadlock

Mary Lambert, Showbox at the Market - Live performance 2014

Who Owns Water, Film Score - 2014

Connor Zwertsh, "What Comes After" - Recording 2014 produced by Ryan Hadlock

The Cerny Brothers, "Sleeping Giant" - Recording 2014 produced by Ryan Hadlock

Catherine Britt, "Bone Shaker" - Recording 2015 produced by Ryan Hadlock

Conrad Sewell, Recording Session -2015 produced by Ryan Hadlock


Adam Flatt

Adam Flatt, conductor, enjoys a busy and versatile musical presence in three different regions of the United States. He serves as Music Director of the Colorado Ballet, the Newport Symphony (the Oregon coast’s professional orchestra) and the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra.


His prominent presence in the musical life of Colorado extends back many years. When Marin Alsop invited him to join the Colorado Symphony as Associate Conductor in 2001, he began a five-year tenure during which he conducted over 250 performances with the orchestra, including classical subscription, parks, outreach, special event performances, and live broadcasts for radio and television. He created and hosted family and educational concerts that reached tens of thousands of children and families in the region. Mr. Flatt also served a highly acclaimed tenure as Music Director of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra from 2001-2007, and returned many summers to lead productions with Emerald City Opera, a festival in Steamboat Springs.


Adam is well-known for his inspiring work with music students at the highest level. He serves on the faculty of Curtis Summerfest and the Rocky Ridge Music Center. He has previously held positions with two of America’s most prominent youth orchestras: the Portland Youth Philharmonic and the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, and recently served a residency with the Landes-Jugend-Sinfonie-Orchester Saar. He has led performances with many excellent university and conservatory orchestras.


Mr. Flatt’s professional career began as Apprentice Conductor to the Oregon Symphony and Music Director James DePreist. Adam Flatt has guest conducted the orchestras of Alabama, Cheyenne, Dallas, Delaware, Houston, Lubbock, Midland, Missoula, Monterey, Oregon, Sacramento, Saint Louis, San Juan, Santa Rosa, South Carolina, and many others. He has led performances with the major ballet companies of Portland and Salt Lake City as well as that of Denver. He has led productions for Colorado Light Opera, Eugene Opera, and Colorado Symphony collaborations with Central City Opera and Opera Colorado.


Adam Flatt has his bachelor’s degree with honors in music from the University of California at Berkeley, and his master’s degree in conducting from the Indiana University School of Music. He studied music for two years in Austria and Germany, and studied at the Aspen Music Festival.


"The Sacramento Youth Symphony helped to set the course of my life.  When I entered as a young violin student I was mesmerized by the full symphonic sound that resonated through my heart and soul and bones at SYS. Tuesday nights upstairs at Sac High were the much-anticipated highlight of my week, as Ralph Matesky's Variations on a theme of Paganini, Smetana's Moldau, Dvorak's New World and so many others made the core-deep impression that music can make on a teenager. Michael Neumann was accessible and generous with his time, his score library, and later his podium as my interest in conducting was born. For a quiet young man whose singular passion was symphonic music, the SYS gave much meaning to my life.  


A committed group of parents including my mother made the SYS's first international tour, to Austria and England, happen in '84. As a result, Vienna became my own destination later in college, a definitive chapter for me that still echoes every day.


Working with student musicians has remained a constant and indispensable part of my own career as a conductor. In my seven years as conductor of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, and now during my summers with the orchestras at the Rocky Ridge Music Center and the Curtis Institute of Music's Summerfest, I am humbled and inspired to know that the mixture of youth and music is potent, and that any moment we share in music can remain with the young musician for the rest of his or her life. I know this from my own experience, and from my own important and indelible memories of the Sacramento Youth Symphony." -Adam Flatt

Eric Gorfain

Eric Gorfain is founder and leader of The Section Quartet, the premier rock string quartet in Hollywood. Classically trained, Eric earned a Bachelor's in Music, Violin Performance, from
UCLA, and has since become an in-demand string arranger while building The Section Quartet into a first-call recording session ensemble in the LA studio world.

Eric toured as Concertmaster in the US and Japan with Jimmy Page & Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin during their reunion tour in 1994/5 and has since written string arrangements for James
Blunt, Christina Aguilera, Snow Patrol, Sean Lennon, Fiona Apple and Sam Phillips, just to name a few. The Section Quartet has also recorded or performed with Foo Fighters, Maroon 5,
Kanye West, Silversun Pickups, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds andRyan Adams, in addition to dozens of other top bands and artists from all over the world.

In 2009 The Section Quartet composed and performed the score to the movie Whip It!, the directorial debut of actress/producer Drew Barrymore.

Eric’s rock string quartet arrangements are now being published in sheet music form by both Strings Charts and Alfred Music, beginning with songs by Radiohead, The Shins, Coldplay, OK Go, Grizzly Bear and Elvis Presley.


"Little did I know, at the age of 13, that joining the Sacramento Youth Symphony would set my life on a trajectory far beyond my imagination.  The high-level of performance and repertoire experience I received served me well throughout music school and into my career as a professional musician.  And working my way up from the back row of the 2nd violins to Concertmaster in my senior year of high school taught me the lessons of hard work and determination, plus how to accept responsibility for and enjoy the fruits of that hard work.  Congratulations to the SYS for 60 incredible years of music education…much of it under the untiring baton of Michael Neumann, who has guided this orchestra with passion, love and artistry." - Eric Gorfain

Todd Montemayor

A music education graduate of the University of Redlands, Todd Montemayor is a passionate advocate for music in the lives of our youth. He currently teaches orchestra, band, choir, and general music at four elementary schools in San Bernardino. He is the music director and conductor of two youth symphonies in Southern California: the Buddy Rogers Youth Symphony in the Coachella Valley, and the Redlands Youth Symphony based in Redlands, California. He currently resides with his wife, three cats, and dog in Yucaipa, California.


Working with and developing community youth music organizations is one of Todd’s biggest priorities in music education. Originally from Sacramento, California, Todd grew up playing in the Sacramento Youth Symphony’s Premier Orchestra as a violinist and percussionist under the baton and tutelage of Michael Neumann. In 2006, Todd was invited to conduct the Sacramento Youth Symphony Premier Orchestra in a world premier of Mt. Fuji a tone poem by young composer Ian Politano.  In the summer of 2007, Todd traveled with and conducted the Premier Orchestra to sold-out audiences on an international tour to Helsinki, Finland; Tallinn, Estonia; and St. Petersburg, Russia.  Todd regularly returns to Sacramento to conduct and coach at SYS's Summer Chamber Music Workshop directed by renowned cellist, Susan Lamb Cook.


While at the University of Redlands, Todd studied the disciplines of wind, orchestral, and choral conducting with Dr. Eddie Smith, Co Nguyen, Dr. Nicholle Andrews, and Dr. Jean-Sebastien Vallee. Todd studied classical percussion with William Schlitt, principal timpanist of the Redlands Symphony Orchestra and chamber music with Pavel Farkas.


Todd also serves as a freelance violinist and percussionist in Southern California. He often serves as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and teacher. Todd is currently a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the nation's largest and oldest professional fraternity in music, the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Organization and the San Bernardino County Music Educators Association.

Charles Messersmith

Charles Messersmith, Principal Clarinet of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, began playing the clarinet at the age of 8.

He attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and received a Bachelor of Music degree (while studying with Franklin Cohen)  in 1991 and his Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music while studying with David Breeden (San Francisco Symphony).  After graduation, he became the Principal Clarinet of the Augusta Symphony and performed there for four years.  In 1998 he was appointed by national auditions to the Second Clarinet position with the Charleston Symphony, and in 2005 to the Principal Clarinet position.


Along with regular performances with the Symphony, he performs throughout the year with local, national, and internationally renowned chamber musicians. He has often been a featured performer as part of the Piccolo Spoleto (SC) Festival. In the summers he performs in Virginia at the Wintergreen Music Festival in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  He has been featured as soloist with the Charleston Symphony on numerous occasions.


Mr. Messersmith is on faculty at the College of Charleston and Charleston Southern University, has a thriving private teaching studio, and travels around the greater Charleston area leading masterclasses and clarinet sectionals in elementary, middle schools, and high schools.


"I played in the youth symphony from 1983 - 1987.  I have played clarinet professionally for 20 years now, and my experiences with the youth symphony definitely launched what has been an incredible ride.  It was with the SYS that I first knew what it was to play classical music with a dedicated group of like-minded musicians, many of which are still performing today.  Now, as principal clarinetist of the Charleston Symphony, I am able to reflect on many of those experiences, and share them with a new generation of teenaged young men and women who are playing here in the Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra. I work closely with them, doing sectionals, but also my son (14, violin) plays with them so I am seeing it from the side of a parent now as well.  The benefits are immeasurable.


The SYS opened my eyes to new experiences and repertoire, and inspired a life-long love of classical music.  Without that experience, I don't know that I ever would have pursued a career in music.  I cannot thank Michael enough for the time he puts in to this organization, and to the board and army of volunteers who work behind the scenes to continue giving this invaluable experience to a new generation of classical music lovers and performers." -Charles Messersmith

  Jason Uyeyama  

Jason Uyeyama is founder and director of the Orange County String Studio.  He is also Associate Professor of Music and Director of String Studies at La Sierra University, where he teaches violin, viola, and chamber music.  He holds a Master's degree from The Juilliard School where he studied with Masao Kawasaki.  Previous teachers include Itzhak Perlman, Dorothy DeLay, and Yao-Ji Lin.


Mr. Uyeyama continues to lead an active career as recitalist, chamber musician, orchestral musician, and soloist.  He has performed regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2005, and has performed with the Pacific Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.  Festival appearances include Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo, Festicamara in Medellin, Colombia, as well as the festivals of Aspen, Tanglewood, and Taos.


Students of Mr. Uyeyama have been accepted to The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, The Colburn School of Performing Arts, University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and the Mannes School of Music.  His students have also been accepted to numerous summer festivals including Aspen, Music Academy of the West, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the Montecito International Summer Music Festival.


An advocate of community outreach, Mr. Uyeyama has been Music Director of Community Kids Connection in San Bernardino, CA since 2008.  Through this program, he has given free violin lessons to underserved children and performances for local hospitals and charity events.

  Brett Abigaña  

Brett Abigañaʼs music has been performed throughout the world, and his music has been commissioned and performed by numerous performers including The United States Navy Band, flutist Hilary Abigana, ALEA III, The Afiara String Quartet, The Webster Trio, The Fourth Wall Ensemble, The United States Army Field Band and Soldiersʼ Chorus, and The Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra. He has written a wide variety of music including chamber music for strings and winds, song cycles, and numerous pieces for orchestra and symphonic band, including several concertos. He has gained a reputation for writing expressive, colorful music, and is much in demand as a guest lecturer, clinician, and conductor.


Mr. Abigaña completed his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at The Juilliard School where he studied with Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser, and received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from Boston University where he studied with Samuel Headrick and Richard Cornell. Other studies include composition, harmony, and counterpoint with Narcis Bonet, Michel Merlet, and Philip Lasser at La Schola Cantorum in Paris, as well as conducting with Judith Clurman, and ear training with Mary Anthony Cox.


Mr. Abigaña is currently on faculty at Boston University Academy, and is the co-founder and Associate Director of the Boston Composers’ Coalition, a non-profit group of composers dedicated to the creation, performance, and dissemination of new American music.

  George Hayes

A native of Colusa, California, George Hayes began his violin studies when he was 4 years old with Ingrid Gaston in Yuba City, CA and later continued his studies at CSU Sacramento as a student of Bill Barbini and Ian Swenson.  While at CSUS, George performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the CSUS Symphony Orchestra, as a winner of the Concerto Competition, and appeared numerous times as a soloist with Camerata Capistrano. Other solo performances include appearances with the North State Symphony, Yuba-Sutter Oratorio Society, and the Sacramento Youth Symphony Premier Orchestra.

Hayes is currently Concertmaster for Townsend Opera in Modesto, and has served as Principal Second Violin for the Camellia Symphony Orchestra, Folsom Lake Symphony, and North State Symphony. He performs regularly with the Reno Philharmonic, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, One Found Sound, and the North State Symphony, and also appears with the Pacific Chamber Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, Sacramento Choral Society, Modesto Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Stockton Symphony, Livermore Valley Opera, Fresno Grand Opera, and Veridian Symphony Orchestra.

As a chamber musician, Hayes has appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento, on the Fort Bragg Center For The Arts Chamber Music Series, and has participated in the Eisenstadt Music Festival in Austria. Other summer festival appearances include the Lake Tahoe Music Festival, Mendocino Music Festival, Bear Valley Music Festival, and Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute in Toronto, Canada.

Hayes maintains a private teaching studio at his home in Sacramento, and is an instructor with the Sacramento Youth Symphony’s Overture Strings Program. He is also a coach at the Sacramento Youth Symphony Summer Chamber Music Workshop, a fellow at the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra Camp, and has been an associate instructor at the Sacramento School of Music, and CSUS String Project.

  Jane Clayson Johnson

Jane Clayson Johnson is an Emmy-winning journalist and author, widely known for her work on CBS’s The Early Show, as a co-host with Bryant Gumbel, as well as The CBS Evening News and 48 Hours.  Before that, Clayson traveled the world as a correspondent for ABC News’ World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and Good Morning America.  She has won numerous awards including the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio and Television News Directors of America. Clayson substitutes for host Tom Ashbrook on the NPR program On Point, and has produced specials for the Discovery Channel.  Clayson’s book, I Am a Mother, was published in 2007 and chronicles her decision to leave the network news business to have a family.  

Clayson played in the Sacramento Youth Symphony while attending Sacramento Country Day School and Rio Americano High School.  She traveled with SYS to Europe in 1987 to play at the International Youth and Music Festival and fondly remembers Michael Neumann’s dedicated leadership of the orchestra.  

Clayson currently lives with her family in Boston -- where her two young children play the violin in the String Training Orchestra at New England Conservatory.

Maximilian Haft

Maximilian Haft is a multi faceted violinist living in Europe. Hailed for his performances as an interpreter of contemporary music, Maximilian has performed on major stages in Europe, North America, and South America. As a soloist, Maximilian performed Lutoslawski’s Violin Concerto Chain II with the Northern Netherlands Orchestra in 2011. He was a recipient of the HSP Huygens Scholarship (2010) and was a finalist in De Link Prijs (2011) and the Storioni Chamber Music Competition (2011). He has recorded for several music labels, most recently as a soloist for Musique Suisse’s release of Beat Furrer’s Komponisten-Portrait.


In 2009, Maximilian was accepted to the Asko-Schoenberg Ligeti Academy, a collective of post-graduate students devoted to the study and performance of contemporary repertoire. Maximilian attended the Lucerne Festival Academy from 2010 – 2012, where he worked with Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble Intercontemporain. He has also been a fellow at the Brittan-Pears and Orford Festivals. Maximilian has performed at the following festivals: the Bern Biennale, Acht Brücken (Cologne), Warsaw Autumn, Tonlagen Festival (Dresden), Axes Festival (Krakow), Donaueschingen Festival, Ultraschall (Berlin), and reMusik (St. Petersburg).


Maximilian has worked with The Asko-Schoenberg Ensemble (Amsterdam), Ensemble Klang (The Hague), Musik Fabrik (Cologne) and Ensemble Contrechamps (Geneva). Max is currently a member of Oerknal (The Hague), Ensemble Garage (Cologne), and a founding musician of ensemble proton Bern. As an orchestral musician, Maximilian has worked with the Metropole Orchestra, the Bern Camerata, and is a member of the New Utrecht Philharmonie. He spends his summers in California teaching chamber music to young aspiring musicians and performs with the Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music orchestra.


In addition to being a new music specialist, Maximilian is an avid improviser and performer of pop and folk music. Maximilian has performed with White Hinterland, Tesla, Anais Mitchell and was a member of the Eef van Breen group from 2009 – 2012. He was also a founding member of the folk/pop group Cuddle Magic. He is a proud owner of an original Stroh violin or “horn violin”.


Maximilian Haft studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music pre college division with Zaven Melikian and Wei He. He has a Bachelor’s in Violin Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he studied with the late Masuko Ushioda. He graduated with a Master’s degree cum laude from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague having studied with Vera Beths.  Maximilian plays on a violin made by Andranik Gaybarian and a bow from Randy Steenburgen. 

Allison Buck

Bassoonist Dr. Allison Buck received her Doctorate of Arts in bassoon performance from Ball State University in Muncie Indiana. She received both her Bachelors and Master’s in Music at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music.


Every summer Dr. Buck performs with the International Lyric Academy in Rome and Viterbo, Italy. In the United States she regularly performs with many groups including In Concert Sierra, Benicia Ballet, Symphony Orchestra of Northern California, Sonoma Symphony, Santa Cruz County Symphony, Lamont Symphony Orchestra, Lake Tahoe Symphony, Sierra Nevada Winds, Anderson Symphony, Auburn Symphony, CSU Sacramento Wind Ensemble, U.S. Marine Corps MCAGCC Band in 29 Palms, Ca., the Governor’s Own 59th Army National Guard Band, Camellia Symphony, Sacramento Youth Symphony (1993), and the Italian American Opera Foundation among others. Allison made her first solo appearance at the age of 17 with Del Oro High School in Loomis, California.


Dr. Allison Buck currently has a studio of over 20 students in the Sacramento area; the majority of which are bassoonists, but also flute and oboe students. Her students have received scholarships into various universities, command performances and gold medal rankings in the California State Solo Competition, and spots in local honor bands. Beginning next summer, Dr. Buck will be taking her top high school seniors to perform with her in Italy, giving her students the opportunity to gain international performance experience before they begin their college career.


Allison’s teachers include Dr. Keith Sweger, Paolo Carlini, Chad Cognata, Dr. Susan Willoughby, and Maryll Goldsmith. This summer she will be performing for the ninth time on a full scholarship in Italy with the International Lyric Academy and Tuscia Operafestival. 

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