Bios

Composers

Vartan Aghababian

Composer Vartan Aghababian (b. 1964, Detroit, Michigan) began piano studies at the age of eight and soon after started composing. His grammar school years of music study were infused with Orff Schulwerke and Dalcroze Eurhythmics; in the years that followed, his private studies were augmented to include the recorder, the oboe and English Horn, voice and dance. His experience includes performances in choirs, orchestras, wind ensembles as well as many solo and chamber performances.  He studied with William Bolcom and Leslie Bassett during his undergraduate years (BM, 1987) at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) and afterwards with James Hartway at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI).  After receiving a diploma in film scoring (1992) from the Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA), he moved to Los Angeles pursue a career as a film music editor with Warner Brothers Studios (Burbank, CA).  Following the two years in southern California, he returned to Boston to work as a freelance composer, scoring short documentary films and composing on commission. He completed his master’s degree in composition (MM, 2002) at the Longy School of Music (Cambridge, MA) studying with Eric Sawyer.  He completed his doctoral studies in composition at Boston University (DMA, 2008) studying with Samuel Headrick. His music has been
performed across the United States, in Asia and Europe.

Currently, Dr. Aghababian is a member of the music theory and composition faculties at Boston University (Boston, MA), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) and at the Winchester Community Music School (Winchester, MA); he directs a chamber orchestra at the Winchester Community Music School.  He is a three year former member of the faculty at the Boston University Academy (Boston, MA), a nine year former facuty at the South Shore Conservatory (Hingham, MA) and a twelve year former faculty member at the Longy School of Music (Cambridge, MA).  He was the Composer in Residence for the vocal ensemble Recuerdo (Cambridge, MA) for seven years.  He teaches privately, lectures publicly and continues to compose on commission.

Kathy Wonson Eddy

pamelajmarshall.jpgPamela J. Marshall

Pamela J. Marshall (b.1954) studied at Eastman and Yale and has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony. She has written for chamber ensembles, synthesizers, mandolin, and orchestra, including commissions from organist Carson Cooman, Assabet Valley Mastersingers, Unitarian choirs in Massachusetts and Minnesota, the Fisher Foundation, Axiom Duo, Trio Arundel, mandolinist Neil Gladd, and DanceArt.

Her Christmas arrangements for orchestra “Traditional Christmas” and “Three Appalachian Carols” have been played throughout the United States. Her mandolin music is recorded on a Plucked String and Uncommon Strings CDs and chamber music is recorded on the Clique Track label. Her company, Spindrift Music, publishes her recent music (on the Web at http://www.spindrift.com).

Since 2005, the Spindrift Commissioning Guild has supported several projects for new chamber music. A major project for 2007 is Art-Poem-Music, a collaboration with visual artist Sirarpi Heghinian Walzer and poet Elizabeth Kirschner. Pamela plays horn, leads composing and improvisation workshops, records concerts and nature soundscapes, and does photography and web design (www.honeycreeper.com).

Thomas Stumpf

Thomas Stumpf is a well-known and versatile figure on the Boston musical scene. As a solo and collaborative pianist his performances have taken him to four continents, and he is featured on 8 CD’s, including a recent 2-CD solo album on the Albany label, entitled “Reflections on Time and Mortality.” His repertoire includes the complete piano works of Mozart (which he performed in 9 recitals at Boston University in 1990-91) and he is also a champion of new music (he has performed many world premieres, including a number of works composed especially for him). As Artistic Director of Prism Opera he conducted and directed operas by Mozart (in his own translations), Britten, Holst and Vaughan-Williams. He was the Music Director at Follen Church in Lexington for 20 years. During this time he conducted major choral works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Respighi, Britten, Duke Ellington and others. His experiences at Follen led to his first book, “A Sounding Mirror,” published by Higganum Hill Books in 2005. As an educator, he has taught at New England Conservatory, UMassLowell, and Boston University; he is presently on the faculty at Tufts University. He has given masterclasses at colleges all over the U.S., in Russia, Germany, and Switzerland.

His compositions have been heard in Boston, New York City, Germany and Russia, and won him the Kahn Award in 1992. Performers have included singers Joan Heller (who recorded his “Lear’s Daughters” on the Neuma label), Pamela Murray, Jean Danton, Lucy Deghrae, and Thomas Gregg; violist Scott Woolweaver, cellist Emmanuel Feldman, and bassist Pascale Delache; pianists John McDonald and Edith Auner; choral groups including the Pharos Music Project, C4 in New York City, the Master Singers of Lexington, and the Oberlin Women’s Chorale.

John M. Tarrh

John M. Tarrh, a Lexington-based composer and Assistant Conductor of Lexington Pops Chorus since 2010, received his musical training at the New England Conservatory of Music where he earned a Master’s degree in Music Composition studying with Michael Gandolfi and a Master’s in Music Theory studying with Deborah Stein. In addition to singing with Lexington Pops Chorus, Mr. Tarrh plays percussion with the New Philharmonia Orchestra of Newton, MA where he has served as Chair of their Board of Trustees for the past decade. Mr. Tarrh also serves on the board of Lexington Symphony, and provides senior financial and management consulting services to the business community. Mr. Tarrh has written music for a variety of ensembles including full orchestra and concert band as well as chamber and solo works, in addition to vocal works. He is perhaps best known for his second symphony, Freedom, which was performed by Lexington Symphony, Lexington Pops Chorus, and the Mastersingers of Lexington for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the town of Lexington in 2013. He is on the web at www.tarrh.com.

Performers

Alexandra Whitfield

A native Bostonian, soprano Alexandra Whitfield performs around the New England area as a soloist, educator and chorister.  Her most recent engagements include Lady of the Camellias with the Boston Ballet, Magnificat with Cantata Singers, Schubert’s E-minor Mass with the Newton Community Chorus and Fauré’s Requiem with the Cantata Singers Chamber Series.  Recent roles include Josephine (HMS Pinafore) with the Nahant Music Festival, Zerlina (La Serva Padrona) with Opera New Hampshire, and Belinda (Dido and Aeneas) with Piccola Opera.  She has taught music privately, with Classroom Cantatas, and as a Teaching Artist at various summer camps.  A major passion of hers is performing chamber music, and she has brought old favorites and new finds into assisted living residencies, temples, churches and house concerts. Alexandra received her Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from the Longy School of Music, and was the only vocalist to be awarded the Roman Totenberg Award for stellar academic and artistic achievement and deep commitment to the art of music.  She placed in second for NEMPAC’s vocal competition, was a prize-winner in the Massachusetts NATS competition and a semi-finalist in the American Prize Competition and Rochester Classical Idol.

Regie Gibson Above the BasementRegie Gibson

Literary performer, Regie Gibson, has lectured & performed widely in the U.S., Cuba & Europe. As a representative of the U.S., Regie competed for & received the Absolute Poetry Award in Monfalcone, Italy. Himself & his work appear in “love jones” a feature-film based on events in his life. He’s been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, various NPR programs, & has presented for several Ted X events. He’s served as a consultant for both the National Endowment for the Arts “How Art Works” initiative & the “Mere Distinction of Color”: an exhibit at James Madison’s Montpelier examining the legacy of slavery & the U.S. constitution. Regie has performed with &/or composed texts for, The Boston City Singers, The Mystic Chorale & the Handel+Haydn Society. He’s been published in Poetry Magazine, Harvard’s Divinity Magazine & The Iowa Review, among others. He is a recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award for Poetry; The Walker Scholarship for Poetry from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center; a YMCA Community Writer’s Fellowship; The Lexington Foundation Education Grant; & is a recent recipient of a 2017 Brother Thomas Fellowship for Artistic Excellence from The Boston Foundation. 

When Regie is not teaching, he performs with Atlas Soul: A world music, global funk ensemble & is the Artistic Director of Shakespeare to Hiphop’s “Shakespeare Time-Traveling Speakeasy”: a multimedia performance focusing on the works & influence of William Shakespeare.

IMG_0860Lisa Kempskie

Lisa Kempskie has a degree in violin performance from UMass Lowell and has done graduate work in music education at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Equally comfortable on violin and viola, she freelances throughout the greater Boston area and is currently principal viola of the Lexington Symphony. For 7 years, Lisa directed the elementary and middle school string program in the Winchester Public Schools and is currently on the faculty of the Westford Suzuki School. She also has studied bow-making, repair, and rehair at the Violin Craftsmanship Institute in New Hampshire, and works as a repair person for regional string companies as well as many local players. Lisa is a certified music practitioner through the Music for Healing and Transition Program which trains musicians to aid the sick and terminally ill through individually-tailored live therapeutic music.

Jane Sheena

Jane Sheena, cello, won a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy of Music, London in 1982. She studied with Florence Hooton and David Strange. On graduation in 1986 she began freelancing in London. Successful in auditioning for the Hong Kong Philharmonic she moved there in 1987. Jane enjoyed 4 years of playing great repertoire, with renowned soloists as well as exploring Hong Kong and traveling in S.E Asia. She also met her husband, who was also in the orchestra. They moved together to San Antonia, TX in 1991. Jane performed frequently with the San Antonio Symphony as well as playing in a quartet and teaching. Moving to Boston in 1994 Jane now freelances in the area and teaches at The Waldorf School, Lexington, at Rivers School in Weston and at her home studio. She lives in Lexington with her husband and three children.

Elizabeth Whitfield

Elizabeth Whitfield studied violin performance at London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama. After graduating, she free-lanced in London, playing with Orchestra of St. John’s Smith Square, London Sinfonietta, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players and Kent Opera.

In 1986, she moved to Boston with her husband and focused on raising her three daughters while playing on a more informal basis until attaining Green Card status and eventually U.S. citizenship, enabling her once more to free-lance in and around the Boston area.

Liz has been concertmaster of the Lexington Symphony since its formation in 1994. She has been particularly involved in furthering the reach of the symphony’s educational outreach program, “Orchestrating Kids Through Classics”.

With Lisa and Jane she enjoys exploring the somewhat neglected repertoire for string trio, and is excited to be partnering with her daughter in commissioning these 5 new works in celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

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