Kairos Children’s Choir*
Kairos Youth Choir
An emphasis on choral music excellence has carried Kairos Youth Choir since its founding in 1990. Now in its thirty third season, Kairos continues to be a vital part of the Bay Area community. Kairos Choir has appeared in many civic and cultural events, including the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Berkeley Opera, and the Hard Nut with the Mark Morris Dance Group, more recently in musical collaboration with California Bach Society in their award-winning performance of St. Matthew Passion, as well as being selected for regular performances at the Junior Bach Festival. The representatives from this unique and soulful California choir have sung internationally at Tivoli Gardens in Denmark, and throughout Norway in 2000, in Tuscany Italy in 2008, at the Festival of the Aegean in Syros, Greece in 2011 and in choral festivals in Austria, and Czech Republic in 2014. Kairos was invited for the honor of return performances at the Festival of the Aegean in Greece again in 2017 and was hailed with resounding success by international audiences.
Laura Kakis Serper, Director and Founder of Kairos
Laura has vast experience conducting children’s choirs and serving as a community- builder through music programing. Ms. Kakis Serper received her degrees from the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music as well as attended Westminster Choir College, and the Aspen Music Institute. She has performed for many years as a soprano soloist and in operas and musical theatre. Her Greek heritage inspired the name of the Kairos and its choruses and her folksong choral arrangements have been sung by choirs world-wide, including at Carnegie Hall. She is also the Director of Choral Music at The Crowden School where her choirs have performed with the San Francisco Symphony for three seasons, most recently in Orff’s Carmina Burana. Ms. Kakis Serper was recognized at the California State Senate for over twenty years of excellent musical service to the community through Kairos Choir programs.
*All donations received on this concert will benefit the Alameda County Community Food Bank.
12/21, Thursday, 7:30PM
Solstice Labyrinth Walk **
On this darkest of nights, we invite you to a very special solstice event. Come take a meditative walk around the Labyrinth of Epworth UMC, accompanied by solo viola music performed by CCE Artistic Director, Caroline Lee.
**This event will take place at 7:30 pm in the downstairs fellowship hall of Epworth. Please enter through the Hopkins Entrance.
1/14 | 4PM
Evan Kahn, cello
California-based Evan Kahn has been praised as “a cellist worthy of serious listening” for bringing his “electrifying … nuanced and colorful” style to all of his collaborations, from concerti to chamber music to contemporary performances. He has commissioned and premiered over 60 works by composers from around the world, including his father’s Cello Concerto.
Evan holds principal positions in five orchestras — San Francisco Opera, New Century Chamber Orchestra, Symphony San Jose, Opera San Jose, and the San Jose Chamber Orchestra. Dedicated to the orchestral craft, he also performs with the Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, and as acting principal cellist with the Britt Music and Arts Festival. In April/May 2018, he served as Artist-in-Residence with Performance Today at NPR, sharing some of his favorite works for cello and his philosophies on music and life. In February 2019, he was named Musical America’s New Artist of the Month. He is a resident cellist for a number of Bay Area small ensembles, including Ninth Planet, After Everything, and the Wave Chamber Music Collective.
Evan attended Aspen Music Festival on a fellowship for four summers, where he studied with Darrett Adkins and played co-principal in the Aspen Academy of Conducting Orchestra, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and the Aspen Philharmonic as an Orchestral Leadership Fellow. Other off-seasons were spent playing chamber music at the Taos School of Music, as resident cellist at the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio, and the New York String Orchestra Seminar, where he served as principal cellist.
Evan received a Master’s in Chamber Music at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying with Jennifer Culp. He graduated with college and university honors from Carnegie Mellon University, studying with David Premo. Before college, he took lessons in Los Angeles with John Walz, Timothy Loo, and Karen Patch. Other important mentors include Paul Hersh, Thomas Loewenheim, Amos Yang, Mark Kosower, Robert DeMaine, and Bonnie Hampton.
In addition to performing and teaching, Evan enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons, watching British television, and playing with his cat. He plays on a cello by Carlo Carletti, c. 1900, and a bow by Jacob Eury c. 1830-1835.
2/4 | 4PM
Schubert Octet Schubert Octet with musicians from SF Ballet Orchestra
Cordula Merks, violin
Violinist Cordula Merks is the Concertmaster of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. Previous positions include First Assistant concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony and concertmaster of Germany's Essen Philharmonic, Bochum Symphony and Bergische Symphony. She has also served as guest concertmaster for many orchestras, including the Houston Symphony, American Ballet Theater at the Met, Dresden Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Portuguese National Opera.
When not playing in the orchestra, Cordula enjoys playing as a soloist and as a chamber musician and has performed in the US, Israel and all over Europe.
Cordula was born in Germany and spent her childhood in Holland. She started playing the violin at the age of 6 and was accepted to study at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague at the age of 12. Her teachers have included Theodora Geraets, Jaring Walta, Shmuel Ashkenasi, and Herman Krebbers, and she holds degrees from the Amsterdam Conservatory and Northern Illinois University.
Ms. Merks has won prizes at all Dutch national competitions, at various concerto competitions and at several international competitions, including the International Johannes Brahms Competition in Austria.
Cordula is married to contrabassoonist Mike Gamburg, and together they have two daughters, Mia, and Emmie.
Craig Reiss, violin
Violinist Craig Reiss grew up in Sacramento and became a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in 1993. He also holds the position of Associate Principal Second Violin with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.
Mr. Reiss has been a featured soloist with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Central Massachusetts Symphony, the National Repertory Orchestra, and the Vallejo Symphony.
Mr. Reiss earned his Bachelor of Music degree while working with Rafael Druian at Boston University, and in 1987 became an Associate of the Royal College of Music in London where he studied with Trevor Williams. He has participated in the Tanglewood, Spoleto, and Colorado Music Festivals.
Craig is the founding member of the Eos Ensemble, a chamber group comprised of Opera and Ballet musicians, whose goal is to present concerts of wide ranging musical styles and instrumental combinations. The San Francisco Classical Voice wrote of them recently: "they performed with depth and power."
Caroline Lee, viola
Violist and founder/artistic director of Community Concerts at Epworth Caroline Lee has performed throughout the US and Canada as an orchestral player as well as a chamber musician and recitalist. She is currently a member of the San Francisco Ballet orchestra and also performs with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony. Before relocating to the Bay area, Caroline was a member of the Kansas City Symphony for eight years and also performed regularly with the Chicago Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra during their summer seasons. She also performed with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra as principal violist and New Ear Ensemble, an ensemble dedicated to performing music written by living composers. An active chamber musician, she has performed in Banff, Domaine Forget, and the International Musical Arts Festivals, collaborating with members of the Tokyo, Cleveland and Colorado quartets, as well as artists such as Eric Friedmann, Steve Dann, Richard Stolzman and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Along with her sister Aeri, Caroline formed the Lee duo and performs recitals throughout north America, championing less familiar viola repertoire. Caroline received her bachelor in music degree at the University of Michigan and her masters and Artist Diploma at Yale School of Music.
Thalia Moore, cello
Thalia Moore is a native of Washington D.C. She began her cello studies with Robert Hofmekler, and after only 5 years of study appeared as soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. After two years’ study with Christopher Rex in Philadelphia, she enrolled at the Juilliard School of Music as a scholarship student of Lynn Harrell, and received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in 1979 and 1980. While at Juilliard, she was the recipient of the Walter and Elsie Naumberg Scholarship and won first prize in the National Arts and Letters String Competition.
Ms. Moore has been Associate Principal Cellist of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra since 1982 and a member of the cello section in the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra since 1989.
Ms. Moore’s interests range from early performance practice to contemporary music: in 1979, she was a founding member of the Aurora Baroque Ensemble, based in New York, and has performed many baroque and classical operas under such conductors as Nicholas McGegan, Sir Charles Mackerras, and Roy Goodman.
As a member of the new music groups Earplay and the Empyrean Ensemble, she has recorded works by Mario Davidovsky, Maria Niederberger, Ross Bauer, Cindy Cox, Jorge Liderman, Kurt Rohde, and David Rakowski. She has presented numerous premieres of works, including the 2005 world premiere of Laws of Motion, a concerto by Richard Festinger written especially for her.
Mark Wallace, Double Bass
Double Bassist Mark Wallace began studying the double bass in his public school’s orchestra program, led by former San Antonio Symphony violinist Joan Blesser. Wallace later enrolled at The Juilliard School where he was admitted with Presidential Distinction, having received the highest audition rating among double bass applicants that year. At Juilliard, his teacher was Eugene Levinson, principal bass of New York Philharmonic. Mark graduated with undergraduate and graduate degrees both from The Juilliard School. He later studied with Donald Palma at Yale School of Music.
Before moving to the Bay Area, Mark worked as an assistant principal bass of Filarmonica de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte Brazil and previously performed with Florida Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, Sarasota Opera Orchestra, and Westchester Chamber Symphony.
Mark lives in Petaluma, California with his wife, son, 3 cats, and 11 chickens. Mark is currently performing as assistant principal bass of San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and is a regular guest performer with San Francisco Opera Orchestra, New Century Chamber Orchestra, and the local symphonies of Marin, Modesto, Stockton, Santa Rosa, and Berkeley.
Cori Tiffin, clarinet
Cory Tiffin has served as the Principal Clarinet for the Las Vegas Philharmonic
since 2011 and appeared with dozens of other orchestras across the United
States. As a longtime Chicagoan, Tiffin performed in recital with the Grammy
Award-winning Chicago Chamber Musicians and has collaborated with the
Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio in addition to being a Performing Member of the
Chicago Philharmonic and a regular guest with the Grant Park Music Festival. He
collaborated with some of Chicago’s leading new music ensembles, such as
Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Access Contemporary Music, and the
University of Chicago’s New Music Ensemble. Tiffin also founded and ran the
eclectic Anaphora Ensemble for several years and continues to perform on
notable concert series and radio programs. Time Out New York called Tiffin a
“clarinet maverick,” and Lawrence Johnson of Chicago Classical Review
remarked: “...Tiffin’s understated virtuosity was the fulcrum of the performance –
as it was all afternoon...”
Tiffin served on the faculties of DePaul University, Loyola University, University of
Nevada-Las Vegas, and The Chicago High School for the Arts and was an
Affiliate Instructor at The University of Chicago. Tiffin studied at DePaul
University with Larry Combs, Julie DeRoche, and Wagner Campos.
Since relocating to the Bay Area in 2020, Tiffin has grown in demand, becoming
a member of One Found Sound and appearing regularly with the San Francisco
Symphony and numerous other ensembles across the region. Recent highlights
include being featured as bass clarinet soloist with Left Coast Chamber
Ensemble and as clarinet soloist with Master Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra. Tiffin
has also recently performed at the Carmel Bach, Mendocino, Bear Valley, and
Music in the Mountains summer music festivals.
Rufus Olivier, Jr., Bassoon
Rufus Olivier is a principal bassoonist with San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Orchestra. At 21 years of age, he became a bassoonist with San Francisco Symphony Orchestra before moving to his current positions with the Ballet and Opera.
Olivier has been a guest soloist with numerous orchestras throughout the United States, Japan, and France, premiered new works for the bassoon, and was featured in live radio recitals in Los Angeles. He is a founding member of the Anchor Chamber Players, Midsummer Mozart Festival Orchestra, and Stanford Wind Quintet. He has recorded many movie, video, CD, and TV soundtracks including Disney’s Never Cry Wolf, San Francisco Opera’s Grammy-nominated CD Orphee et Eurydice and won a Grammy for the soundtrack Elmo in Grouchland.
Prior to arriving in the Bay Area, Mr. Olivier performed with Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Neville Marriner, and Goldofsky Opera Tours. He has studied with David Briedenthal of Los Angeles Philharmonic and is on the music faculties of Stanford University, Azusa Pacific University, and Mills College. In February 1993 Mayor Frank M. Jordan Awarded Olivier The Seal of The City and County of San Francisco, in recognition of his “Exemplary Accomplishment on The Occasion of Black History Month.” In February 2005 Rufus was the featured subject of the cover story in International Musician, a publication that reaches musicians in the United States, Canada, and Europe. That same year, Olivier received the Award of Merit from the United States Postal Service.
Kevin Rivard, horn
Known for his “delicious quality of tone,” Juilliard graduate Kevin Rivard is currently principal horn of San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and co-principal horn of San Francisco Opera Orchestra.
As a soloist and chamber musician, he has performed with New Century Chamber Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Winner of numerous solo competitions, he was awarded the grand prize at Concours International d’Interprétation Musicale in Paris (2008), International Horn Competition of America (2007), and Farkas Horn Competition (2003).
Rivard has served as guest principal horn with Los Angeles Philharmonic, performed with Philadelphia Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and he was a featured soloist with Houston Symphony. Previous positions have included Colorado Symphony Orchestra and The Florida Orchestra. Rivard has performed with Santa Fe Opera, Sarasota Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and Verbier Festival.
4/28 | 4PM
Jennifer Cho, violin, John Churchwell, piano
Jennifer Cho, violin
Born in Glendale, California, Jennifer Cho attended the Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences before moving to the Juilliard School where she studied with Stephen Clapp and Robert Mann. For her graduate studies, she was chosen by the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to be a Graduate Scholar. The JKC foundation financially supported her studies until she graduated with a Master's Degree in 2008.
Jennifer returned to the west coast when she won a position with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in 2010. In 2017 she was appointed Concertmaster of the California Symphony by Donato Cabrera and has been lauded as bringing "eloquently shaped violin solos." - Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle. Jennifer performs regularly as a soloist with many different ensembles in the Bay Area. Most recently she performed the Brahms Double Concerto with cellist Jonah Kim and the Mendocino Music Festival.
Jennifer has been invited to be guest concertmaster at the Reno Philharmonic, Las Vegas Philharmonic, Mendocino Music Festival, Sarasota Opera, Merola Opera, New Hampshire Music Festival, and Skywalker Sundance Orchestra. She has also performed with the San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Symphony, and New Century Chamber Orchestra.
Jennifer lives in Petaluma, California with her husband and son. She is an avid permaculture gardener and has been passionate about creating a food forest landscape in her front and backyard.
John Churchwell, piano
One of the leading collaborative pianists of his generation, John Churchwell enjoys a career on the concert stage as well as in the nation’s leading opera houses.
In August 2011, Mr. Churchwell was named Head of Music for San Francisco Opera. Previously, Mr. Churchwell was an assistant conductor for both the Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Opera for 14 years. He has assisted on more than 140 productions and has collaborated with some of the world’s leading conductors including James Levine, Nello Santi, Nicola Luisotti, James Conlon, Donald Runnicles, Sir Charles Mackerras, Marco Armiliato, Fabio Luisi, and Eun Sun Kim.
A champion of American music, John was involved in the world premieres of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby and Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. In recent seasons, Mr. Churchwell has prepared the world premieres of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Christopher Theofanidis’ Heart of a Soldier, as well as the Philip Glass opera Appomattox, the Stewart Wallace/Amy Tan collaboration The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Tobias Picker's Dolores Claiborne, as well as the world premiere of Girls of the Golden West by John Adams, all for San Francisco Opera. From 2005-2008 Mr. Churchwell was the official accompanist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.
This summer saw Mr. Churchwell appeared in recitals with Renée Fleming, Sasha Cooke, and Susanna Phillips.. Mr. Churchwell has partnered some of today’s most sought-after vocalists including Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Diana Damrau, Larry Brownlee, Lisette Oropesa, Isabel Leonard, Frederica von Stade, Dawn Upshaw, and Carol Vaness. Recent appearances include San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall and the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis, CA with tenor Michael Fabiano and the Hollywood Bowl for Prairie Home Companion with soprano Ellie Dehn. In addition to song recitals, Mr. Churchwell is an active chamber musician and has appeared regularly with members of the Metropolitan and San Francisco’s Opera Orchestras.
As an educator, Mr. Churchwell is a frequent guest at Universities and Conservatories both here and abroad. Recent residencies include Houston Grand Opera, McGill university, Minnesota Opera, and Calgary Opera. Mr. Churchwell has spent the last 23 summers teaching at the Music Academy in Santa Barbara, CA. He was recently named Co-Director of the Lehrer Vocal Institute alongside Sasha Cooke.
A native of Knoxville, TN, Mr. Churchwell studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and Tufts University where he earned a Bachelor of Music in Piano and a Bachelor of Arts in French, respectively. Mr. Churchwell continued his studies at the University of Minnesota where he earned a Master of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Accompanying. Mr. Churchwell studied song literature at the Banff Centre for the Arts and remains the only pianist to be invited for three summers as a Tanglewood Fellow. Mr. Churchwell is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program.
5/12 | 4PM
Laura Griffiths, oboe
Laura Griffiths is Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and was formerly Principal Oboe of The Cleveland Orchestra. Since her first position as Principal Oboe of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, she has been guest Principal Oboist with many major orchestras across the country, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, she spent several seasons as Acting Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Opera and one season as Acting Associate Principal Oboe with the San Francisco Symphony. This past spring, she served as Associate Principal Oboe for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on a European tour.
Laura has always been active as a chamber musician. Her first group, the Pittsford Camerata, specialized in Baroque music and was comprised of former members of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Rochester Philharmonic. Here in the Bay Area, Laura is a member of STROBE, a group dedicated to performing works for strings and oboe.
Laura’s past summer festivals include Principal Oboe of the Britt Festival in Oregon, the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, and the Midsummer Mozart Festival. This summer she performed at La Jolla Summerfest.
Laura is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Richard Killmer.
Ani Bukujian, violin
Ani Bukujian was born into a musical family and started playing the violin at the age of two and a half. When her grandmother gifted her with a toy violin, she would stand in front of the television while imitating famous violinists, such as Sarah Chang and Itzhak Perlman. Ani studied with her father exclusively until the age of 15.
A native of Los Angeles, she is the winner of numerous musical competitions, including three gold medals at the World Championship of Performing Arts, and first place at the Bach Competition, the ASTA Annual National Solo Competition, and the Pasadena String Festival. At the age of 7, she was a solo performer in her debut concert with a chamber orchestra at the Alex Theatre in California. Ani was also part of the Viva-Vivaldi All-Girl Orchestra in Washington DC, being the youngest 1st violin in the orchestra.
Ani has recently performed as a member of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and has served as Concertmistress in the Miami Summer Music Festival, where she played the solo of Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra. She has also participated in other festivals such as Bowdoin Music Festival and Fontainebleau Festival in France. She has performed in venues such as David Geffen Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie’s Stern, Zankel, and Weill Hall as a chamber and orchestral musician as well as solo performer. Ani has collaborated with distinguished artists such as Kim Kashkashian, Ian Swensen, Dimitri Murrath and participated in masterclasses with teachers including Andres Cardenes, Aaron Rosand, Ruggiero Ricci, Abraham Shtern, Gerard Poulet, Dmitry Berlinsky, Ida Haendel and Pamela Frank among others.
She holds both Bachelor and Master Degrees from The Juilliard School where she studied with Lewis Kaplan from 2011 to 2015 and Laurie Smukler from 2015 to 2017. She attended the San Francisco Conservatory where she studied with the concertmaster of San Francisco Symphony, Alexander Barantschik. Ani recently won the position of Principal Second violinist of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and concertmaster of Marin Symphony.
Elizabeth Prior, viola
An active Bay Area violist, Elizabeth Prior is the principal violist with the Santa Rosa symphony and a member of the New Century Chamber Orchestra. Elizabeth is also the associate principal violist with the Marin Symphony, and season substitute with the San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Opera. She performs regularly with the San Francisco Symphony and the Pittsburgh (PA) Symphony. Other orchestral credits include Freiburg Philharmonic (Associate principal) and the Cape Town Symphony. She has recently worked with the Las Vegas Philharmonic and the Reno Phil, the Südwestfunk (Southwest Radio, Germany), Stuttgart Radio, Basel Symphony, and the Mannheim Opera Orchestras.
A native of South Africa, she was a prizewinner in the International String Competition in Pretoria and gave her debut at Carnegie Hall with the Russian Chamber Orchestra. She toured regularly as a soloist with the Chamber Ensemble of Cologne in France and was recently featured with the Santa Rosa Symphony.
Other solo and chamber music engagements include:
Founder of the Broderick Ensemble, Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Midsummer Mozart and "Chamber Music San Francisco." She is a member of the Farallon Quintet and Strobe Ensemble.
Krisanthy Desby, cello
Krisanthy Desby has performed in orchestras and chamber ensembles in the U.S., Mexico, Europe, and South Africa. She was Associate Principal Cello of both the Napa Valley Symphony and the Santa Cruz Symphony, and continues to play with several orchestras throughout the Bay Area. Before coming to San Francisco, she played in the Houston Symphony, as well as the Houston Ballet Orchestra and the Houston Grand Opera, and was a member of the Tucson Symphony. She founded the Laurel Ensemble, a mixed strings, winds, and piano chamber ensemble, which was active from 2005-2010, playing with the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music program and performing throughout the Bay Area, as well as in Los Angeles and at the Musicarama Festival in Hong Kong. She is a member of the Grand Teton Music Festival and Midsummer Mozart Festival, and has participated in the Mendocino Music Festival, Neuberg Kulturtage in Austria, and The Scotia Festival in Canada.