Sahar Hassan, mezzo soprano & artistic director
Egyptian American mezzo-soprano Sahar Hassan is a gifted and exciting singer. Her lush and vibrant voice is beautifully enhanced by her innate musical sensitivity. Sahar’s talents have taken her to various stages, concert and recital venues throughout New England, the Midwest and West Coast. She made her operatic debut with Fresno Lyric Opera, in California, as Barbarina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and her roles have included Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito, (Mozart); Hero in Beatrice et Benedict, (Berlioz); Despina in Cosi fan Tutte, (Mozart); Abigale in The Crucible, (Ward) and Marianne in Tartuffe, (Mechem). On the East Coast, Sahar has been a soloist with the Sixteen Singers, Spectrum Singers, Andover Choral Society and she was the founder of Ensemble Rossignol for soprano, clarinet/flute and piano. Sahar’s oratorio repertoire includes Haydn’s Theresien Mass, Mozart’s Requiem, Piccolomini Mass and his Coronation Mass, Schubert’s Mass in G, Vivaldi’s Gloria and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. She was a guest artist at New England Conservatory, Chappaquiddick Summer Music Festival, Longy School of Music and The French Library & Cultural Center, in Boston. In the Twin Cities, Ms. Hassan has enjoyed working with composer David Evan Thomas and was invited to perform Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 at Sundin Hall and at Bravo! Institute. She has been a soloist at Saint Agnes Church, in Saint Paul. Ms. Hassan is a member of the substitute roster for Handel and Haydn Society vocal ensemble. Sahar earned her Master of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music and has studied at the Hochschule für Musik in München, Germany and the Conservatoire de Versailles in France. She has served on the faculties of Wellesley College, Phillips Exeter Academy, in New Hampshire, New England Conservatory’s Division of Preparatory and Continuing Education, Salve Regina University, in Newport, Rhodes Island, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, in Collegeville, Minnesota, as well as the Wellesley Composers’ Conference, where she was a chamber music coach. Currently, Ms. Hassan is on the voice faculty at McNally Smith College of Music.
Sharon Carlson, managing director
Sharon Carlson, Managing Director of Ladyslipper Ensemble, has been closely connected to the Twin Cities arts community for many years. As Assistant to the Director of The Schubert Club, she worked with its Executive Director Bruce Carlson from 1975 until his death in 2006. Sharon is a graduate of Augsburg College where she majored in French and minored in Latin. She completed requirements for her B.A. degree after attending summer courses at the University for American Universities in Avignon, France. Before beginning her employment at The Schubert Club she spent a month in Paris with St. Olaf College’s interim French language program, and lived in Lyon where she worked as an ‘au pair’ for a family with four children.Upon retiring from The Schubert Club in 2010 Sharon has remained active in the local arts community. She is presently Chair of The Edvard Grieg Society, a small arts organization devoted to promoting Norwegian art and culture, including the music of Edvard Grieg. She is on the Board of Norway House, and a member of the Cultural Arts Committee of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Sharon also sits on the board of the Saint Paul Conservatory of Music.
Paul Berget, lute
Paul Berget received his B.F.A. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1972. After graduation, he continued his studies with the legendary Diana Moulton at the Royal College of Music in London, where he also studied with acclaimed lutenist Nigel North. In 1973, he appeared on Broadway in a musical production of Cyrano starring Christopher Plummer. In addition to playing early music, he has also performed in a variety of other musical styles: modern classical and steel string guitar, and world music. Recently he has been performing as the lutenist in the internationally acclaimed ensemble Minstrelsy!, a group that records on the Lyra Chord label. Other early music collaborations include the Rose Ensemble, Ensemble Polaris, the Minnesota Lute Quartet (MiLQ), and performances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Paul Berget lives in Minnesota, USA
Chris Brown, bass
Christopher Brown played with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for 34 years as principal bass, and appeared as soloist with the orchestra on several occasions. Prior to joining the SPCO, Brown was a bass player with Pittsburgh and Detroit symphonies. Beyond his performance activities, Brown has published a resource book, Discovering Bows, for the Double Bass, and owns The Bow Broker, a business that buys and sells bows throughout the world. In addition to his work in classical music, Brown is a jazz enthusiast, songwriter, and composer, an interest that dates from his high school days at the Interlochen Arts Academy. He once appeared on the cover of Life magazine in his role of Jesus in the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Summertime takes Brown to the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson, Wyoming and the Festival of the Lakes in Alexandria Minnesota. He also performs in recitals throughout the United States. Brown received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. He has three children, Linnea, Wyatt and Amele. He enjoys hiking and camping and is sometimes seen playing his guitar around the campfire.
Mary Burke, viola da gamba
Mary Burke has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across the US with numerous ensembles, including Consortium Carissimi, the Rose Ensemble, Catacoustic Consort, Bach Society of Minnesota, Ensemble Polaris, the Gregorian Singers, Duo Geminiani, and Camerata Pacifica Baroque, and has toured with the crossover group Ensemble Galilei. She has performed at the Bloomington Early Music Festival, the Boston Early Music Festival, and the Bach Festivals of Baldwin-Wallace College and the University of Minnesota. Ms. Burke has recorded on Sony Classical, Voces Novae, and treblehook records, and has been heard on Minnesota Public Radio, NPR, WNYC, and Concert FM (New Zealand).
Helen Chang, violin
Helen Chang Haertzen joined the Minnesota Orchestra’s first violin section in 2003. In 2006 she appeared as soloist in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Orchestra under Andrew Litton’s direction. At Orchestra chamber concerts she has played works of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Ravel and Mozart. Haertzen, who formerly was principal second violin of the Bamberg Symphony in Germany, has toured with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and played with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. She also served on the faculty of Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra, teaching orchestral training and chamber music to international students. As soloist, Hearten has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Esplanade and Junge Philharmonie Erlangen, and with the Staatsorchester Braunschweig. Growing up in the Boston area, Haertzen studied under Roman Totenberg. She attended Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute, the Salzburg Mozarteum and the San Francisco Conservatory. Her principal teachers also included Szymon Goldberg, Felix Galimir, Ruggiero Ricci, Camilla Wicks and Bo Youp Hwang. Haertzen was a prizewinner of the Karl Lipinski-Wieniawski Competition in Poland.Haertzen is a member of the Isles Ensemble and has performed as a guest artist with the Walden Chamber Players and the Bamberg String Quartet. She has taken part in innovative collaborations with dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and collaborated with the Boston Ballet in a performance of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. In Boston, she has appeared at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Goethe Institute. She played the Jascha Heifetz Guarnerius violin in recital at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor and has appeared as a recitalist throughout Europe. In 2005 Cavalli Records released Haertzen’s recording of the Bach Partitas for Solo Violin, which drew critical acclaim from the American Record Guide. In addition to performing, she enjoys teaching. Her students have gone on to study at top conservatories and music festivals, and to win orchestra positions.
Born and raised in Ireland, Jane Cords-O’Hara began playing the cello at the age of 9. She studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK, before moving to New York to complete her studies with world renowned cellist Timothy Eddy at Mannes College of Music. Before relocating to the Twin Cities in 2014, Jane freelanced and taught in New York City for 12 years. She made her recital debut at Weill Hall (Carnegie Hall) in 2006 as a winner in the Artist International competition. She was Artist in Residence at International House NYC from 2004-2005. As a member of The Knights chamber orchestra (www.theknightsnyc.com), she performs and tours frequently, and has recorded on many labels including Sony Classical, as well as performing and recording on several occasions with artists such as Yo Yo Ma and Gil Shaham. She also performed several concerts at Carnegie Hall with Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. Jane is also a member of Iris Orchestra (www.irisorchestra.org). Since moving to the Twin Cities, she performs regularly with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, as well as continuing to travel back to NYC and beyond for festivals and performances. Recent appearances have been at the Ravinia, Caramoor, Ojai and Tanglewood Music Festivals, and a US tour with Gil Shaham and the Knights. She has also performed and toured with Orchestra of St. Lukes, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Da Capo Chamber Players, String Orchestra of NYC and North Sky Cello Ensemble. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband Dan and their daughter Aoife.
Dr. Levin is a Professor of Piano at the Concordia University, St. Paul and the piano faculty at the St. Paul Conservatory of Music. In 2016, Dr. Levin was invited to join the faculty of the InterHarmony International Music Festival. Oleg Levin was born and received his early music education in Belorussia where he graduated with Diploma with Honors in Piano Performance, Accompanying and Piano Pedagogy from the College of Music, Mogilev, Belorussia. Upon coming to the United States he went on to earn his Bachelor and Doctorate degree in Piano Performance from the University of Minnesota, where he studied with esteemed professor Alexander Braginsky. As a pianist, Dr. Levin has won prizes in a number of local piano competitions, including Schubert Club Competition, Marvin O. Mechelke II Piano Competition and Hutchinson Music Scholarship. In 2015, the Minnesota State Arts Board awarded Dr. Levin with $10,000 to “advance the awareness of his work through both public performances and the marketing of his first professional solo recording of Russian piano music of the 20th and 21st centuries”. Dr. Levin maintains an active performance schedule as a soloist and chamber musician. As a performing artist, Dr. Levin enjoys giving recitals in various venues around town, as well as collaborating with his colleagues. Individuality and creativity have marked the overall pursuit of his musical career. Personal Statement: “There is no doubt that everyone has affection for music, whether it is a hobby or a part of their career. The desire that began as a listener soon convinced me that I wanted to become more involved in the practice and creativity of music. By graduating with a degree in piano performance I am able to demonstrate what I enjoyed as a listener and driven by as a performer. Music has undoubtedly been the most rewarding experience of my education and my life. My teachers have been a constant inspiration over the years, and I look forward to the opportunity of extending my knowledge and experience in my music career. As a performer, I am trying to serve composers by allowing their music to speak through my personal voice. As a human being, I am trying to live up to the meaning of their great works. ”
Phillip Rukavina, lute & theorbo
Phillip Rukavina has performed widely as a lute and vihuela da mano soloist, ensemble performer, and as a continuo lutenist. He has appeared on many major concert series, including Early Music Now, Early Music Columbus, Music in the Park, Seattle Early Music Guild, La Guitarra California, and at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. He teaches regularly on the faculty of the Lute Society of America’s Seminars at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, directing the event in 2008, 2010, and 2012. Phillip has also directed the lute program at the Amherst Early Music Festival in 2005, 2007, and 2009. In 1998, Phillip received a Travel Study grant from the Jerome Foundation and was awarded a second Jerome grant in 2003. He is a founding member of the Venere Lute Quartet, appearing on their two critically acclaimed compact discs Sweet Division (2003) and Palestrina’s Lute (2007). He has performed with various ensembles, including the Newberry Consort, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and the Rose Ensemble. Phillip studied lute with Pat O’Brien in New York and with Hopkinson Smith at the Academie Musical in Villecroze, France and in Basel, Switzerland.
Ginna Watson, baroque violin
Ginna Watson is a Minneapolis-based violinist who specializes in historically-informed performance. She plays baroque violin and viola with the Lyra Baroque Orchestra and medieval bowed strings and harp with The Rose Ensemble for Early Music. Ginna has performed in concert series and festivals around the country, including the Boston Early Music Festival, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, and Princeton University. Internationally, she has performed throughout France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Bolivia. Ginna frequently gives masterclasses on medieval and baroque performance practice, including Houston Baptist University, Colorado State University, Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity in Los Angeles. Ginna is also the violin instructor at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.