Allan Pollack has served as the music director and conductor of the Symphony of the Redwoods for the past twenty-four years. He also currently serves as Artistic Director for the Mendocino Music Festival, and served as Artistic Director/Conductor for the Camellia Symphony Orchestra in Sacramento for eight years.
Pollack received a PhD in composition from UC Berkeley in 1984, and has since written several works for orchestra and chamber ensemble. Among his compositions are The Spiral Dance for chorus and orchestra, From the Song of Songs for soprano and orchestra, Two Movements in Time for orchestra, a Vibraphone Concerto, and A Summer Evening at the Boonville Fair for orchestra. His jazz concerto for saxophone, Albion Song, was recently premiered at the Mendocino Music Festival and subsequently performed by the Camellia Symphony Orchestra.
Dr. Pollack has had an extensive teaching career in the Bay Area, including a 35-year lectureship at the UC Berkeley, various appointments at the Conservatory of Music, San Francisco State University, and the San Francisco Community Music Center. He also taught clarinet and saxophone out of his Berkeley studio for decades. His work as a clarinetist and saxophonist embraced a myriad of styles, and he played in many chamber groups, orchestras and jazz bands. Some say he still plays a mean jazz saxophone.
Pollack’s commitment to excellence has inspired musicians and audiences alike and, over the years, he has played a significant role in developing and sustaining musical life on the North Coast.
Paul Psarras -Guitarist and versatile musician, Paul Psarras has embraced a broad range of musical styles throughout his young career. Rooted by his Greek heritage, he was exposed to Greek folk music from a young age that led to his career as a professional musician. A recent graduate, with bachelors and masters degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory, Paul has studied with David Tanenbaum, Charles Ferguson, Mark Teicholz, Dusan Bogdanovic, Lawrence Ferrara, Sergio Assad and Richard Savino.
2012's highlights began with an invitation to the GRAMMY'S for his role in the recording Kingdoms of Castille, with El Mundo and in June, he performed in the San Francisco Opera's Merola program. Last year's performances included an appearance with the San Francisco Symphony and conductor/composer John Adams in his nativity oratorio El Nino, with soprano Dawn Upshaw. As a member of the Pacific Guitar Ensemble, he performed in a five-concert tour of the bay area. As a soloist he appeared with the Vallejo Symphony and the Bear Valley Orchestra performing the Concierto de Aranjuez. His composition Alkioni, was performed around the Bay Area by the Pacific Guitar Ensemble and the Mobius Trio.
An enthusiast of early music and modern music alike, Mr Psarras performs works from the vast array of genres from Renaissance to modern. He performed with acclaimed early music group El Mundo in their GRAMMY nominated recording Kingdoms of Castille. In 2010, he was featured on a world premiere recording including acclaimed Russian composer Sophia Gubaidulina's Repentence, featuring concert guitarists David Tanenbaum and Thomas Viloteau and two principle players from the San Francisco Symphony. Also recorded is Belinda Reynolds'guitar ensemble work, Begin with the Pacific Guitar Ensemble.
Over the past decade, Paul has been rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist with Fotia, a successful Bay Area-based Greek band that has played various cultural events through out the United States. Fotia has released several recordings where Paul played an integral role as arranger, producer and performer, playing several different instruments including the oud, saz and other folk instruments.
Paul took second prize in the 2008 Wesley Day solo classical guitar recording competition and was a prize winner at the 2010 and 2011 Sierra Nevada Classical Guitar Competition. He was a finalist in the 2009 and 2011 SFCM concerto competitions and is a recent graduate of the professional studies program with an emphasis in early music performance practice at the San Francisco Conservatory under the tutelage of Sergio Assad and Richard Savino.
Livia Sohn - Hailed by Opus Magazine as "a stunning musician", violinist Livia Sohn performs widely on the international stage as concerto soloist, recitalist, and festival guest artist in North America, Europe, and Asia. The Strad Magazine says, "Livia Sohn possesses a remarkably lithe and transparent tone of exceptional purity. [Her] virtually blemishless accounts are nothing short of remarkable. Even when under the most fearsome technical pressure at high velocity, every note rings true with pinpoint accuracy.
"This past season saw Livia performing in Rome, Madrid, New York City, and San Francisco, to name a few.
Livia has been a guest soloist with symphony orchestras from Pittsburgh to Pusan, from Boston to Berlin, from Cincinnati, from Brooklyn to Boca del Rio, from New York to Budapest and many cities in between.
Livia has been a guest artist as soloist, in recital, and as chamber musician at festivals such as the Cartagena International Music Festival in Colombia, Aspen Music Festival, Edmonton Chamber Music Society, Newport Music Festival, Bay Chamber Concerts, Chamber Music Society of Sonoma, Prince Albert Music Festival in Hawaii, New York City's Mostly Mozart Festival, Festival of the Sound and Pender Harbour Music Festival in Canada, and Festival de San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, among others.
Born from her love of chamber music, Livia is part of the piano trio Latitude 41, which was formed in 2009 with pianist Bernadene Blaha and cellist Luigi Piovano. Their debut CD of Schubert's monumental Trio in E flat major, and Schubert's "Notturno", was released in 2011 on the label Eloquentia to rave reviews.
In addition to the CDs she has recorded with Latitude 41, this year the Eloquentia label released a disc of Livia playing the concertos of Benjamin Britten and living composer Jonathan Berger about which Gramaphone Magazine says, "Sohn's playing...is shot through with angst and urgency...", and The Strad Magazine said she "gives a committed account of the solo part, and ... demonstrates an ease in getting through the notes, even where Britten sets his formidable double-stopping challenges.
"Livia gave her first public performance at age eight. She attended the Juilliard Pre-College Division from the age of seven, then the Juilliard School, where she studied with Dorothy DeLay, Hyo Kang, and Felix Galamir. Livia plays on a J. B. Guadagnini violin crafted in 1770, and a Samuel Zygmuntowicz made in 2006. She has been on faculty at the Music Department of Stanford University since 2005, and makes her home in the Bay Area.
Sharon Wei -Canadian violist Sharon Wei is a dynamic and varied musician, establishing herself as one of the most respected violists on the scene today. She has appeared as soloist, chamber musician, and guest principal violist throughout North America and Europe. She has collaborated with conductors such as James Levine, Kent Nagano, Paavo Järvi, Zubin Mehta, Jean Christophe Spinosi and Yuri Termirkanov. She has been guest principal violist of the Cincinnati Symphony, Canadian Opera Company and Verbier Chamber Orchestra, and Ensemble Matheus in Paris. Sharon has performed in chamber music settings with musicians including Lynn Harrell, Gary Hoffman, Claude Frank, Joseph Silverstein, Joel Quarrington, James Campbell, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
She has appeared regularly at festivals such as Verbier, Prussia Cove, Banff, and Ravinia. She has taught at Curtis Summerfest, Port Milford and at Scotiafestival of Music as violist of the Supernova String quartet. Sharon co-founded Ensemble Made in Canada. Winner of a CBC rising stars award, EMIC is currently Ensemble-in-Residence at Western University and has performed and taught across Canada and the US. They have released 2 critically acclaimed CDs. They are strong advocates of new music and have premiered new works by John Burge, Christopher Mayo, John B Hedges. In 2016 they will premiere a new piece by Omar Daniel.
Sharon has been the recipient of grants through the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council. She has toured under the auspices of Debut Atlantic and Prairie Debut and won the viola prize at Yale University.
Sharon was on faculty at Yale and Stanford University and is currently Assistant Professor at Western University. She has created a course for performance majors in which students learn off-stage initiatives such as networking, grant writing, website design and managing finances.
Spencer Myer - Spencer Myer's career was launched with three important prizes: First Prize in the 2004 UNISA International Piano Competition in South Africa, the 2006 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellowship from the American Pianists Association and the Gold Medal from the 2008 New Orleans International Piano Competition. He is also a laureate of the 2007 William Kapell, 2005 Cleveland and 2005 Busoni international piano competitions. He enjoys a growing reputation as a vocal collaborator since winning the 2000 Marilyn Horne Foundation Competition. Myer was a member of Astral Artists' performance roster from 2003-2010.
Lauded for "superb playing" and "poised, alert musicianship" by the Boston Globe, and labeled "definitely a man to watch" by London's The Independent, Myer is one of the most respected and sought-after artists on today's concert stage.
His orchestral, recital and chamber music performances have been heard throughout the North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. He has been soloist with, among many others, Boise, Dayton and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestras, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, the Baton Rouge, Indianapolis, Juneau, Phoenix, Santa Fe, Springfield (MA, OH), Tucson and Wyoming symphony orchestras, Mexico's Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, South Africa's Cape Town and Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestras and Beijing's China National Symphony Orchestra, collaborating with, among others, conductors David Bernard, Nicholas Cleobury, Leslie B. Dunner, Robert Franz, Neal Gittleman, Bernhard Gueller, Jacques Lacombe, Jahja Ling, Dirk Meyer, Timothy Muffitt, Maurice Peress, Kyle Wiley Pickett, Arthur Post, Kevin Rhodes, Lucas Richman, Matthew Savery, Klauspeter Seibel, Steven Smith, Arjan Tien and Victor Yampolsky.
An enthusiastic supporter of the education of young musicians, Spencer Myer—a Steinway artist—has been a frequent guest artist at workshops for students and teachers, and has served on the faculties of the Baldwin-Wallace University and Oberlin College conservatories of music. Myer is also an advocate of contemporary music and inter-arts collaboration, and has worked with ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), Indianapolis' Dance Kaleidoscope and the Juilliard School's "Composers and Choreographers" series. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, the Juilliard School and Stony Brook University. In the fall of 2015, Myer was appointed Artist-Teacher in Piano and Collaborative Piano at Boston's Longy School of Music of Bard College.
Spencer Myer's debut CD for Harmonia Mundi USA solo music of Busoni, Copland, Debussy and Kohs was released in the fall of 2007 to critical acclaim by Fanfare and Gramophone magazines. He can also be heard on a composer-conducted Naxos CD in performances of three concerti from Huang Ruo's Chamber Concerto Cycle and in a performance of Ravel's Chansons madécasses, included on "Intimate Masterpieces," a 2013 CD featuring faculty and alumni of the Oberlin Conservatory and issued by Oberlin Music. Myer's most recent recording "Bolcom: Selected Rags" is scheduled for release in the fall of 2016 on the Steinway & Sons label.