A native of Puerto Rico, Jose Ramos Santana performs a wide and diverse repertoire while being an acknowledged master of Spanish music. Mr. Ramos Santana has appeared as a guest soloist with such major orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, Detroit Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, 92nd Street Y Orchestra, The New York Virtuosi, Casals Festival Orchestra, Puerto Rico Symphony, and the orchestras of New Mexico, Sioux City, Utah, Syracuse among many others. Additional solo performances include the Moscow Philharmonic Latin-American tour, Orchestra of L'Hermitage of Saint Petersburg, Russia, and the orchestras of Guatemala, San Salvador, and the Orquesta de los Reyes, Lima, Peru. He has collaborated with distinguished musicians and conductors such as Krzsztoff Penderecki, John Adams, Dennis Russell Davies, Jerzy Semkow, Dimitri Kitaenko, Joseph Silverstein, cellist Arto Noras, violinist Gregory Zhislin, and pianist Vladimir Viardo.
Jose Ramos Santana's much lauded guest appearance with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall during the Sonidos de las Americas Festival was his third Carnegie Hall performance in one year. Mr. Ramos Santana has also performed at Zankel Hall and the Weill Recital Hall under the auspices of La Gesse Foundation.
A top prize winner of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition and a participant in the Xerox Piano Artist's Program he has appeared in numerous music festivals such as Spoleto, Caramoor, and the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy. His recital work has taken him to major venues throughout the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Central America and the Far East. He has been featured in documentaries on the PBS network, A&E channel and CBS Sunday Morning.
Jose Ramos Santana's world premiere recording of "Glosas" by Roberto Sierra with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, on the Fleur de Son label received critical acclaim. He has recently recorded the complete works for piano and violin by the Spanish Catalonian composer Xavier Montsalvage with violinist Eva Leon on the Naxos label.
As an active member of Musica de Camara, Inc., Mr. Ramos Santana has serves as jury member of the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition, Liszt-Garrison International Piano Competition, Louisiana International Piano Competition and William Kapell International Piano Competition selecting jury.
Mr. Ramos Santana is a graduate of the Juilliard School where he studied with Adele Marcus, William Masselos and Sylvia Rabinof. He has also coached with Leon Fleisher and Alicia de Larrocha. He is a member of the Piano faculty at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Akemi Takayama, Violin
Akemi Takayama, is an associate professor at the Shenandoah University Conservatory of Music where she holds the Victor Brown Endowed Chair in Violin. She was also invited to teach at Oberlin College throughout the fall of 2012.
Born to musical parents in Tokyo, Japan, she began her violin studies with her mother at the age of three. Her professional violin career began in Japan at the age of fifteen. She has performed throughout Japan, France and the United States. Recent symphony collaborations in Virginia include the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Opera Roanoke, Shenandoah Performs, and the Chamber Orchestra of Southwest Virginia. Ms. Takayama was a member of the internationally renowned Audubon Quartet for fourteen years while the group toured regionally and nationally. She has also been serving as the concertmaster of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra since 2004 and the Williamsburg Symphonia since 2007. Recent solo performances with orchestras include Daugherty's Fire and Blood and Ladder to the Moon, Mendelssohn's Double Concerto, Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, Pärt's Fratres, Beethoven's Violin Concerto, and Brahms's Double Concerto for violin and cello, Mozart's Violin Concerto, and Roskott's Violin Concerto.
Acclaimed by Isaac Stern as "a true musician," she was invited to the Marlboro Music Festival and has served on the faculties of the Chautauqua Institute in New York, the Idyllwild School for the Arts in California, the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, Shenandoah Performs in Virginia, and at Virginia Tech. Ms. Takayama is active as an educator and arts advocate throughout Virginia. Ongoing projects include recording with Centaur Records and an association with The New Orchestra of Washington.
During her graduate studies, Ms. Takayama was a teaching assistant to the renowned Donald Weilerstein at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she earned both an Artist Diploma and a Master of Music degree. Previously she studied with Toshiya Eto and Ryosaku Kubota at the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, where she earned her bachelor's degree in music performance, and with Brian Hanly at the University of Wyoming, where she earned her professional studies degree.
Her recordings with the Audubon Quartet are on the Centaur and Composers Recordings labels. Ms. Takayama plays a J.B. Ceruti violin from Cremona, Italy, made in 1805.
Wanchi Huang, Violin
Wanchi Huang, born in Taiwan, started playing violin at age six and came to the United States at age 13 to study at the Peabody Conservatory and the Baltimore School for the Arts. She soloed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under conductor Catherine Comet a year later. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music, a Master of Music from The Julliard School, and a Doctor of Music from Indiana University. She has given highly acclaimed recitals and collaborated with internationally renowned performing artists in chamber music performances throughout the United States, including at the Kennedy Center. She has served as an adjudicator at the Hong Kong Music School Festival multiple times and as a performing instructor at the Bay View Music Festival in Michigan for the past five summers. She has presented at the ASTA National Conference on multiple occasions. Her CD recording of Ysaye sonatas, released in the fall of 2012, is on the Centaur Records label.
She currently resides in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she teaches a full violin studio at the James Madison University School of Music.
Amadi Azikiwe, Viola
Amadi Azikiwe, violist, violinist and conductor, has appeared as a soloist with the Prince George's Philharmonic, Delaware Symphony, Virginia Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Fort Collins Symphony, Virginia Beach Symphony, Roanoke Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, Western Piedmont Symphony, Salisbury Symphony, the Gateways Music Festival Orchestra, the City Island Baroque Ensemble of New York, the National Symphony of Ecuador, and at the Costa Rica International Music Festival. He has also toured with Music from Marlboro, and performed at the Sarasota, Tanglewood, Aspen, Norfolk, and San Juan Islands Festivals, El Paso International Chamber Music Festival, Salt Bay Chamber Festival, Maui Classical Music Festival, Missouri Chamber Music Festival, Yachats Music Festival, Carolina Chamber Music Festival, and the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. As an orchestral musician, he has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, as principal violist of the SHIRA Jerusalem International Symphony Orchestra and guest principal violist of Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Mr. Azikiwe was a visiting faculty member of Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana. Currently, he is on the faculty of James Madison University, and Music Director of the Harlem Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Azikiwe has appeared as artist faculty at the Brevard Music Center, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, Killington Music Festival, Mammoth Lakes Chamber Music Festival, University of North Carolina School of the Arts Summer Session and the Aria International Academy in London, Ontario.
A native of New York City, Amadi Azikiwe was born in 1969. After early studies with his mother, he began his formal training at the North Carolina School of the Arts as a student of Sally Peck. He continued his studies at the New England Conservatory with Marcus Thompson and conductor Pascal Verrot, receiving his Bachelor's degree. Mr. Azikiwe was also awarded the Performer's Certificate from Indiana University, where he served as an Associate Instructor, and received his Master's Degree in 1994 as a student of Atar Arad.