2019 GESHER MUSIC FESTIVAL ARTISTS
Lucy Dhegrae, soprano
“Vocal versatility and an omnivorous curiosity” (New York Times) are the hallmarks of mezzo-soprano Lucy Dhegrae, a passionate vocalist with a flexible technique that fits a variety of styles. She has performed with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Talea Ensemble, the Albany Symphony, among others, at such venues as Miller Theatre, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center.
Dhegrae, who is “everywhere new music is being sung” (New York Classical Review) regularly premieres new vocal works and operas, and has worked closely with such composers as Unsuk Chin, Jason Eckardt, Susan Botti, Alexandra Vrebalov, and Sky Macklay. Her opera premieres include Trillium J by Anthony Braxton, Andy: A Popera (Opera Philadelphia/Bearded Ladies Cabaret), A Marvelous Order by Judd Greenstein, and Ashley Fure’s The Force of Things. Dhegrae’s festival appearances include Darmstadt (Germany), Klangspuren (Austria), Mostly Mozart, Bard Music Festival, Gesher Music Festival (St. Louis), and Aldeburgh Music Festival (as a Britten-Pears Young Artist).
Dhegrae is the 2018 recipient of University of Michigan School of Music’s Emerging Artist Award, and among the first cohort of fellows with Turn the Spotlight, a new mentorship program for young professionals. As “adventurous mezzo-soprano” and “raconteur” (The New Yorker) she directs Resonant Bodies Festival, an international presenter of boundary-pushing contemporary music vocalists, which she founded in 2013. She has taught at SoundSCAPE (Cesena, Italy), Banff Centre (Alberta, Canada), and Bard College Conservatory’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program; and has been invited to present lectures at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, CUNY’s Graduate Center, NYU, and William Paterson University. She graduated from the Bard College Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Program (MM in Vocal Performance ’12) as well as the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance (BM in Vocal Performance '08) and is a core member of the new music ensemble Contemporaneous.
Eva Kozma, violin
Eva Kozma began violin lessons at the age of seven in her home of Targu Mures, Romania. Kozma won Second Prize in 1993 and Third Prize in 1994 in the Romanian National Competition. Kozma studied at Gheorghe Dima Music Academy, and later at McGill University. She served as Concertmaster of the McGill University Orchestra from 2001 to 2003, and won first place in the university concerto competition in 2003. She received a Fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center and performed with the New World Symphony during the 2003-04 season.
Kozma was appointed Assistant Principal Second Violin with the St. Louis Symphony in September 2004. She has performed regularly in the Pulitzer Arts Foundation chamber series, curated by David Robertson. Pulitzer concert highlights include George Crumb’s Black Angels in 2007, and Bartók’s Solo Sonata in 2008.
Kozma has performed many chamber concerts under the auspices of the Symphony’s Community Programs, and she has played in schools throughout the St. Louis area.
Cristina Buciu, violin
Cristina Buciu is a native of Bucharest, Romania and comes from a family of well-known musicians. Her teachers include Sherban Lupu, Peter Zakofsky, and the Muir String Quartet. Ms. Buciu is an alumnus of the Academy of Music in Bucharest, the University of Illinois from which she holds a Master’s degree, and a recipient of the prestigious Artist Diploma from Boston University. She has concertized extensively with several orchestras in Romania and the U.S., including the National Radio Orchestra of Romania, the Concerto Chamber Orchestra on it’s European tour, and the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Buciu has performed solo and chamber music recitals in her native Romania, as well as England, Italy, Germany, and major cities in the U.S. Some of her engagements include collaborative recitals with such noted artists as Csaba Erdeliy, Sherban Lupu, Andres Diaz, and Phyllis Curtin. Twice the winner of the National String Competition in Romania and the International Violin Competition in Stusa, Italy, Ms. Buciu is also a recipient of the Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship. She has been featured on National Radio-Television of Romania, Yugoslavia, the Voice of America, as well as other American radio stations. Cristina Buciu has been invited to several summer festivals, including the Gubbio Festival, the Mittenwald, Novi Sad, and Lanciano Festivals, as well as the Tanglewood Music Festival in ’96 and ’97 where she worked with the Juilliard String Quartet, Leon Fleisher, and played under the direction of Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink, and Andre Previn. She also appeared as a guest artist several times at the acclaimed International New Music Week in Bucharest. Cristina is the former assistant concertmaster with the Syracuse Symphony, a frequent substitute with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Elgin Symphony, and is a founding member of the Mellits Consort.
Sixto Franco, viola
Sixto Franco is so excited to be back at the Gesher Music Festival. A new member of the 5th House Ensemble, Sixto is a music and performing arts enthusiast. He is enjoying an active career as a performer, teacher and composer, having concertized in Europe, United States, and Mexico. Sixto Franco is passionate about chamber music and has had the honor to perform with Eighth Black Bird, International Chamber Artists, Symbiosis Ensemble in L.A., the Kaia String Quartet, the Chicago Chamber Music Festival and the Chicago Chamber Orchestra.
Sixto has appeared as a soloist with the Camerata Musicales in Spain, the Thornton Music School Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Salamanca, Spain. He has also served in the Santa Barbara Chamber orchestra, the Barcelona Symphony and the Chicago Philharmonic, in addition to having performed with artists such as Paquito D´Rivera, Fareed Haque, Ernie Adams, Robert McDuffy, Mike Mills, Steve Larson and Austin Wintory.
Sixto Franco enjoys composing and has written music for different mediums such as chamber music, theater and dance. He made his debut on February 2011 premiering his work “Blanco y Negro” in a Cancer Benefit Concert promoted by the Spanish Consulate in Los Angeles. The “malArte Association” of Valencia, Spain, premiered his piece Five “O’clock Tabu” as the soundtrack for the interdisciplinary work with the same title. His last collaboration included the Chicago’s Tiffany Lawsone Dance Company resulting on the creation of “Calm Panic” for solo viola and dancer.
Sixto Franco has released three albums: “Latino Music for Guitar and string quartet” (2018) released by DelMark records, “Latinoamerica” (2015) and “Quartango” (2016) as a member of the Chicago based Kaia String Quartet. He is a Master Graduate from Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California and has earned a Performance Degree in Chamber Music studies at the Northern Illinois University.
Sixto and his wife Rachel, an amazing lighting designer, enjoy taking their two-year-old daughter, Odessa, to music, theater and dance shows all over Chicago!
Sara Sitzer, cello
Sara Sitzer, whose playing has been described as “rich” and “lustrous” by the Chicago Classical Review, leads a varied life as an orchestral, chamber, and solo cellist, as well as entrepreneur, administrator, and music writer. She has performed recitals all over the world, from Frank Gehry’s New World Center in Miami Beach to the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Her performing career has taken her to Israel, Japan, England, Australia, as well as throughout the United States.
Ms. Sitzer’s dedication to connecting with communities through live chamber music performance led her to found both the Gesher Music Festival in St. Louis, Missouri (2011), as well as Chamber Music on the Fox in Elgin, Illinois (2014). She presently serves as founding Artistic Director for both organizations and performs as an artist on both. As a writer, she has been published in the St. Louis Beacon and NewMusicBox (the blog of New Music USA).
Ms. Sitzer is a member of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and regularly performs with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Opera Theater, and Broadway in Chicago, among other ensembles. Ms. Sitzer has had the opportunity to perform alongside the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra, as well as with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra in Sydney, Australia. Additionally, she travels to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia each summer to perform and to serve as cello and chamber music faculty at the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival. Other festivals she has attended include Tanglewood Music Center, Pacific Music Festival, and the Aspen Music Festival.
A champion of chamber music and new music in Chicago, Ms. Sitzer is a former member of Chicago Q Ensemble, with whom she recorded two albums, gave a TEDx presentation, and was presented by organizations including the Chicago Loop Alliance, Frequency Series, (Un)Familiar Music Series, Chicago Home Theater Festival, City of Chicago, and American Music Project.
Ms. Sitzer holds a Master of Music Degree from the University of Wisconsin, where she attended on a Collins Fellowship. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University as a Trustee Scholar. She also completed a 3-year fellowship with the New World Symphony in Miami under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.
Dana Hotle, clarinet
Dana Hotle, clarinet, can be heard performing in both her home state of Missouri and in Illinois. She is currently Principal clarinet with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and is a founding member and Artistic Director of Chamber Project Saint Louis. Mrs. Hotle is a former member of The Equinox Chamber players and the Cedar Rapids Symphony. She has performed with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera, St. Louis Opera Theater, Webster Symphony Orchestra and the New World Symphony. Mrs. Hotle holds a bachelors degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a Masters from the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with David Krakauer. Dana is a faculty member of the Community Music School of Webster University. She lives in South St. Louis with her husband Chip, son Elliot and dog Betty.
Daniel Pesca, piano
Described as a “lively young pianist” by The New York Times, Daniel Pesca has performed at the Kennedy Center, Miller Theater and the Chicago Cultural Center. Recently, Daniel has been a guest concerto soloist with the Slee Sinfonietta, the Orchestra of the League of Composers, the Eastman BroadBand, and Musica Nova. In April 2013, he performed the Carter Double Concerto at Zankel Hall. He spent several summers at the Aspen Music Festival as an orchestral piano fellow and pianist of the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. Daniel’s work as pianist and harpsichordist can be heard on CDs from Urtext Classics and Block M Records. Daniel holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music and has previously taught piano literature at Eastman and at Syracuse University. In September, he joins the faculty of the University of Chicago as Director of Chamber Music and Artist-in-Residence in contemporary piano. In Spring 2017, he will be a guest professor of composition at Ithaca College.