Performer Biographies

Alicia Lee
Born into a musical family, Alicia Lee grew up in Michigan, where she began playing violin and piano at the age of five and switched to the clarinet when she was twelve. She maintains a busy freelance career throughout New York City, performing and touring regularly with a variety of groups, including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Knights, NOVUS, ACME, and Alarm Will Sound. She has performed at the Lucerne, Spoleto (Italy and United States), Yellow Barn, and Bay Chamber Festivals in addition to being in residence at the Marlboro Music Festival for the past several summers.

She is a founding member and operations manager of Decoda. During the 2015–16 season, she will perform with Decoda at Pensacola State College and DePauw University, as well as leading workshops and residencies in Mexico and the United Kingdom. She is also the director of the Decoda | Skidmore Chamber Music Institute.

Lee was formerly the associate principal and E-flat clarinet player of the Santa Barbara Symphony, a position she held for seven seasons. She also performed as solo bass clarinetist of the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway during the 2013–14 season. She completed a two-year fellowship with the Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall and the Juilliard School; as part of her fellowship, she was a teaching artist at PS 249 in Brooklyn.

Anderson & Roe Headshots
Anderson & Roe Piano Duo
Known for their adrenalized performances, original compositions, and innovative music videos, Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe are revolutionizing the piano duo experience for the twenty-first century. Described as “the intense synchronization of genius” (ThirdCoast Digest) and “the most dynamic duo of this generation” (San Francisco Classical Voice), the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo aims to make classical music a relevant and powerful force around the world. Their album, When Words Fade (Steinway Label), was released to critical acclaim in 2012 and spent more than twelve weeks at the top of the Billboard Classical Charts, while their Emmy-nominated, self-produced music videos have been viewed by millions on YouTube.

Since forming their dynamic musical partnership in 2002 as students at the Juilliard School, Anderson and Roe have appeared on National Public Radio and MTV, toured extensively worldwide as recitalists and orchestral soloists, and participated in numerous symposia for international leaders. They were handpicked to appear on the Sounds of Juilliard CD celebrating the school’s centenary. Highlights of the 2014–15 season included tours throughout North America, Asia, and Europe; concerto performances with the Calgary Philharmonic, Chautauqua Symphony, and Winnipeg Symphony; a new all-Bach album on the Steinway label; and the release of their ambitious—and literally explosive—music film, The Rite of Spring. This year Anderson and Roe are both hosting and performing in the festival’s finale concert. Roe served as the 2015–16 festival curator for Joye in Aiken.

Nadia Azzi Headshot
Nadia Azzi
The pianist Nadia Azzi is only seventeen but has already taken numerous top prizes at national and international competitions. She was born in Dunedin, Florida, to parents of Lebanese and Japanese heritage, began playing the piano when she was five, and made her New York City debut at Carnegie Hall when she was eleven.

She was a 2015 National YoungArts winner, won a special award from Ishikawa Music in 2015, and won the 2014 Nordmann Scholarship Competition, which gave her a full-tuition merit scholarship to continue her studies in the Juilliard Pre-College Division.

Azzi has appeared on NPR’s From the Top as well as on WGN-TV Chicago, made her European debut in Italy, and made her orchestral debut with the Boston Neapolitan Orchestra. She has recently performed with the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra, Orchestre de la Francophonie in Montreal, Northwest Indiana Symphony, Tampa Bay Symphony, Richey Community Orchestra of Pasco County, Florida, and the Juilliard Pre-College String Ensemble under distinguished conductors.

She is fluent in Japanese and is a member of American Mensa. She actively promotes music through numerous outreach programs and community services in both solo and chamber music performances. At Juilliard she is studying under Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky.

Meena Bhasin Headshot
Meena Bhasin
The violinist Meena Bhasin, a native New Yorker, is a cofounder of Decoda, a society of virtuoso chamber musicians, arts advocates, and educators. She is passionate about using music as a tool for social impact and has led projects from Mexico to India that facilitate cross-cultural dialogue and bring music to places where it is rarely heard, including prisons, hospitals, schools, and shelters.

Bhasin is a member of Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and also makes frequent appearances with the San Francisco Symphony and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. She relishes collaborations across genres and has toured the United States as a soloist with the legendary rock band Jethro Tull and performed Persian music as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic. Her chamber music collaborators have included Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman, Emanuel Ax, Joyce DiDinato, and Daniel Hope; she has made frequent concert appearances on the Carnegie Hall stages. Bhasin, who recently moved to San Francisco, graduated as a Presser scholar from the New England Conservatory and holds a BA in international relations from Tufts University.

Claire Bryant Headshot
photo credit: Caroline Bittencourt

Claire Bryant
The New York City–based cellist Claire Bryant is a leading performer of chamber music, contemporary music, and the solo cello repertoire in such premiere venues as Carnegie Hall, Southbank Centre (London), Suntory Hall (Japan), Lincoln Center, and the Barbican Centre (London).

She is a founding member of Decoda and director of its criminal justice initiative, Music for Transformation. She also is a principal cellist of Trinity Wall Street’s chamber orchestra, Novus NY, and has collaborated closely with such artists as Daniel Hope, Anthony Marwood, Emanuel Ax, Sir Simon Rattle, Dawn Upshaw, and Ron Carter, as well as the Weilerstein Trio, Saint Lawrence String Quartet, and the Danish String Quartet. She frequently appears as a guest artist with New York’s Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Band, and its Ensemble ACJW fellowship program, of which she is an alumna.

Bryant’s recent festival appearances in the United States include the Mainly Mozart Festival, Portland Chamber Music Festival, Bennington Chamber Music Conference, Lincoln Center Festival, Bay Chamber Concerts, and Carnegie Hall’s Making Music Series.

A native of South Carolina, Bryant is an educator and advocate for inclusive arts in our society. Her work was recognized in 2010 with the Robert Sherman Award for outstanding innovation in community outreach and music education by the McGraw Hill Companies.

India Carney Headshot
photo credit: Tyler Golden – NBC

India Carney
Best known for her passionate performances, the mezzo-soprano India Carney “has a voice of gold,” according to MStars News. Carney is a multitalented performing artist and vocalist from Brooklyn, New York, and music has been a lifelong pursuit for her. During her senior year at UCLA, Carney made her national television debut as a featured artist on NBC’s Emmy Award–winning The Voice. As a YoungArts alumna in voice and theater in 2011, Carney sang at the John F. Kennedy Center. After her recent performance for the 2015 National Arts Awards, the New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote, “Earlier this week I watched some young musicians perform Lady Gaga songs in front of Lady Gaga. As India Carney’s voice rose and swooped during the incredible anthemic versions of her dance hits, Gaga sat enraptured. Her eyes moistened. Occasionally her arms would fling up in amazement. Finally, she just stood up and cheered.” Carney is also a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She graduated with distinction from UCLA, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in music-voice performance.

Qing Yu Chen Headshot
Qing Yu Chen
Qing Yu Chen, now fifteen, was nine years old when she was accepted into the Juilliard Pre-College Division, where she studies with Masao Kawasaki and Cho Liang Lin. Although she is well known in the world of classical music, she is perhaps best known for her role as the title character in The Little Violinist, a 2014 short film directed by Yang Wang for which Qing Yu Chen was named best actress at the School of Visual Arts Short Film Festival in New York.

She made her Carnegie Hall solo debut in 2014 after winning the Markov Young Artists Competition as a soloist and subsequently appeared in Stern Auditorium with the Shattered Glass Ensemble and Alexander Markov. That year she and the cellist Noah Lee teamed up to win the grand prize at the National League of Performing Arts Chamber Music and Ensemble Competition in New York. As winner of the Juilliard Pre-College violin competition in 2013, she performed the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Juilliard Pre-College Symphony, conducted by Leonard Slatkin. She took the first and grand prizes at the Youth Talent and Arts Competition in 2011 and won first prize at the New York International Music Competition. She has also performed for Ban Ki Moon, secretary general of the United Nations, and appeared twice, as a soloist and chamber musician, on National Public Radio’s From the Top. She participated in the Aiken festival as a soloist in 2015 and appears this year with her long-time collaborator, the pianist Nadia Azzi. Chen is a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award and Scholarship recipient. She attends the Dalton School and plays an 1854 Raffaele Gagliano instrument, a loan made possible by Henry Choi and the Doublestop Foundation. She will be a competitor in the senior category of the 2016 Menuhin Competition in London, where 44 people were selected from 307 applications.

Sean Chen Headshot
Sean Chen
Hailed for his “exceptional ability to connect with an audience combined with an easy virtuosity” (Huffington Post), the pianist Sean Chen, twenty-seven, is a 2015 fellow, with funding for two years from the prestigious Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing Arts.

In 2013 he earned third prize in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the first American to reach the finals in nearly twenty years. He was also the 2013 DeHaan Fellow of the American Pianists Association. Since then, he has continued to earn accolades for “alluring, colorfully shaded renditions” (New York Times).

This season he is appearing with the San Diego Symphony, Carmel Symphony, and Sunriver (Oregon) Festival orchestras, as well as the North Carolina, Hudson Valley, Pasadena, Bakersfield, Knoxville, Fairfax, and San Angelo symphony orchestras, and the National Symphony of the Dominican Republic. He also is giving solo and chamber recitals in Chicago, Denver, Louisville, and Los Angeles. Lauded for his natural charisma and approachable personality, Chen is in demand for residencies that combine performances with master classes, school concerts, and artist conversations.

He has appeared at major venues worldwide, including Jordan Hall in Boston, Subculture in New York City, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Salle Cortot in Paris. His recent CD releases include La Valse, a solo recording on the Steinway label; a live recording from the Cliburn Competition released by Harmonia Mundi; and an album of Michael Williams’s solo piano works on the Parma label.

Chen grew up in the Los Angeles area and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard. He received his artist diploma in 2014 as a George W. Miles Fellow at the Yale School of Music.

Andy Clausen Headshot
photo credit: Sasha Arutyunova

Andy Clausen
Andy Clausen is a New York–based composer, trombonist, producer, and graduate of the Juilliard School. The Seattle native relocated to New York in 2010 and enjoys a diverse schedule and collaborating with choreographers, filmmakers, folk and blues artists, and classical composers, as well as New York’s jazz elite.

Clausen’s debut album as a composer, The Wishbone Suite, was commissioned by 4Culture, the cultural agency of Washington’s King County (Seattle is the county seat), and he recorded for Table & Chairs Music in 2011. JazzTimes praised the project for its “sprightly chamber-jazz aesthetic, with a palette including accordion and clarinet . . . [it is] aglow with youthful enthusiasm but also extremely savvy.” Clausen is also founding member of the Westerlies, a brass quartet whose 2014 debut, Wish the Children Would Come on Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz, garnered critical acclaim from NPR’s Fresh Air, JazzTimes, and PopMatters.

Clausen is a recipient of the Lotos Foundation Prize for Composition, the Gerald Wilson Prize for Jazz Composition from the Monterey Jazz Festival, and the Emerging Artist of the Year award from the Earshot Jazz Festival. In 2014 he participated in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program at the Kennedy Center, the Ravinia Steans Institute for Jazz, and the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Other current projects include the Andy Clausen Split Stream Big Band and SHUTTER, a multimedia chamber music project with photojournalists.

Owen Dalby Headshot
photo credit: Sasithon Photography

Owen Dalby
Praised as dazzling by the New York Times, “expert and versatile” by the New Yorker, and “a fearless and inquisitive violinist” by San Francisco Classical Voice, Owen Dalby is known for his gripping interpretations of music from across the stylistic spectrum. He is a cofounder of Decoda and the newest member of the St. Lawrence String Quartet. In 2015, his first season with the SLSQ, Dalby also toured Europe as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, was presented at Carnegie Hall, made new recordings, and codirected the chamber music program at Stanford University, where the quartet is ensemble-in-residence.

He made his Lincoln Center debut in 2010 at Alice Tully Hall. He regularly performs chamber music at festivals from Hamburg to Honolulu and from Iceland to Mumbai, and he can be heard as soloist and leader on baroque violin with New York Baroque Incorporated, the Four Nations Ensemble, Clarion Music Society, and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and Choir. He has taught music at the Choir Academy of Harlem, PS 14Q in Queens, and PS 112 in Brooklyn, and in master classes at Princeton University, Skidmore College, and the University of South Carolina.

Decoda Group Shot
Decoda
The thirty artists of Decoda first collaborated in the renowned Ensemble ACJW fellowship program created by Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School, and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. They now are extending that relationship as an affiliate ensemble of Carnegie Hall. Since its inception in 2011, Decoda’s projects have performed in schools, hospitals, and prisons as well as in prominent international concert halls. Decoda has been invited to perform at the White House at an event dedicated to the arts and criminal justice reform.

In the 2015–16 season, Decoda will present projects with partners in the United States, Denmark, England, Mexico, and Ireland. Decoda’s New York City offerings this season include performances at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Sawdust, and the Tertulia Chamber Music series.

Decoda musicians will again lead an intensive two-week session of the Decoda | Skidmore Chamber Music Institute at Skidmore College this summer for young musicians to explore leadership and community service through the intensive study of chamber music. Students learn how to fully engage their audiences and communities through scripted interactive chamber music performances while improving their own performance and public speaking skills. For the last five years Decoda has participated in Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections Program, undertaking creative projects at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York; Beth Abraham Health Services and Clinton High School in the Bronx; and the Valley Lodge shelter in Manhattan.

Member musicians rotate in and out of Decoda as their personal schedules permit and as Decoda’s performance schedule requires. Appearing here in Aiken are Meena Bhasin (viola), Claire Bryant (cello), Owen Dalby (violin), and Alicia Lee (clarinet)

Daniel Fung Headshot
Daniel Fung
The pianist Daniel Fung is rapidly establishing himself as one of his generation’s most versatile and active collaborative pianists. He is in demand as a vocal accompanist, coach, and chamber musician, and he has performed throughout his native Canada, the United States, France, Italy, and Austria. His performances have taken him to such prestigious venues as New York’s Alice Tully Hall, Peter Jay Sharp Theater, and Carnegie Hall and Canada’s Winspear Centre in Edmonton.

Fung is an alumnus of the Music Academy of the West, Tanglewood Music Center, and the Georg Solti Accademia Peretti Répétiteurs Masterclasses in Venice. He has served as music staff at Opera on the Avalon in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and at Si Parla, Si Canta in Urbania, Italy. His passion for accompanying vocalists has led to his participation in Marilyn Horne’s The Song Continues at Carnegie Hall and live-streamed master classes from Juilliard with Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, Patricia Racette, and Eric Owens. Equally experienced in instrumental repertoire, Fung recently completed a five-city tour with the clarinetist Wesley Ferreira and presented a recital with the flutist Stephanie Kwak.

Fung is a C. V. Starr Doctoral Fellow in collaborative piano at the Juilliard School and holds degrees in solo piano performance from the University of Calgary. His teachers have included Margo Garrett, Jonathan Feldman, and Marilyn Engle. A passionate believer in outreach and education, he has worked with the Juilliard Drama Intensive in Ephraim, Utah; appeared several times at Juilliard in Aiken; and is a Gluck Community Service Fellow. Upon the completion of his master’s degree in collaborative piano, Fung was a recipient of Juilliard’s William Schuman Prize, presented to a graduate student for outstanding achievement and leadership in music.

Imani Winds Headshot
photo credit: Pierre Lidar

Imani Winds
Imani Winds—Valerie Colman (flute, composer), Toyin Spellman-Diaz (oboe), Mark Dover (clarinet), Jeff Scott (French horn, composer), and Monica Ellis (bassoon)—is North America’s premier wind quintet and one of its most successful chamber music ensembles. With two member composers and a deep commitment to commissioning new work, the group is enriching the traditional wind quintet repertoire while bridging European, American, African, and Latin American traditions.

Its touring schedule has taken Imani Winds around the globe. In the United States the group has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. The group has also played virtually every major university performing arts series, including those in Amherst, Ann Arbor, Austin, Seattle, Stanford, and Urbana. Festivals include Chamber Music Northwest, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society, Virginia Arts Festival, Bravo! Colorado, and the Ravinia Festival. In 2015 Imani Winds made its Paris Jazz Festival debut and was featured at the Huntington Festival in Australia.

For its Legacy Commissioning Project, the ensemble is commissioning, premiering, and touring new works for woodwind quintet by established and emerging composers of diverse musical backgrounds. The effort began in 2008, and its fifth album on E1 Music—Terra Incognita, after Wayne Shorter’s piece for the group—is a celebration of the project with new works written for Imani Winds by Wayne Shorter, Jason Moran, and Paquito D’Rivera. Imani Winds’s recording of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, on Warner Classic, made iTunes’s Best of 2013 list. Imani members Coleman and Scott both regularly contribute compositions and arrangements.

The group’s Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center residency culminated in a recital at Alice Tully Hall with the renowned clarinetist-saxophonist-composer D’Rivera. The ensemble has also worked with such luminaries as the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the bandoneonist Daniel Binelli, the Brubeck brothers, the clarinetist David Shifrin, and the pianists Gilbert Kalish and Shai Wosner.

Paul Jacobs Headshot
Paul Jacobs
A recent concert by the organist Paul Jacobs drew this assessment from the New Yorker’s Alex Ross: “An obliterating performance by one of the major musicians of our time.” “Paul Jacobs is one of the great living virtuosos,” Anne Midgette declared in the Washington Post, and a 2013 article in the Economist called Jacobs “America’s leading organ performer.” Jacobs, known for his imaginative interpretations and charismatic stage presence, promotes organ music, arguing that the instrument has for too long been excluded from the mainstream of classical music. He has also been an important influence on the revival of symphonic music featuring the organ.

The first and only organist ever to have won a Grammy Award (in 2011 for Messiaen’s towering Livre du Saint-Sacrement), Jacobs combines a probing intellect and extraordinary technical skills with a repertoire that spans the gamut of music, both old and new, written for his instrument. His performances of the complete works for solo organ by Bach and Messiaen have transfixed audiences, and he is a fierce advocate of new music, introducing listeners to works by Samuel Adler, Mason Bates, Michael Daugherty, Wayne Oquin, Stephen Paulus, and Christopher Theofanidis, among others.

In addition to his appearances at the Joye in Aiken Festival, Jacobs’s 2015–16 season includes solo appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra (performing Camille Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3, conducted by James Levine), Pacific Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and the Lexington Philharmonic. Jacobs returns to Nashville in November for a series of concerts and live recordings of Michael Daugherty’s Organ Concerto with the Nashville Symphony and its music director, Giancarlo Guerrero. Also in the 2015–16 season, Jacobs and the world-renowned dramatic soprano Christine Brewer are touring the program of their upcoming Naxos album, Divine Redeemer, with appearances in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Atlanta. Jacobs’s recital schedule this year brings him to both the Kennedy Center and the Denver Cathedral. And this summer he returns to the Oregon Bach Festival, where he is the director of the organ institute.

He was fifteen when he became head organist of a parish of 3,500 in his hometown of Washington, Pennsylvania. At twenty-three he made musical history when he played Bach’s complete organ works in an eighteen-hour marathon on the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death. Jacobs studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, double-majoring in the organ and the harpsichord, and at Yale University. Jacobs joined the Juilliard faculty in 2003 and was named chair of the organ department in 2004, one of the youngest faculty appointees in the school’s history. He was named to Juilliard’s prestigious William Schuman Scholar’s Chair in 2007.

Will Liverman Headshot
Will Liverman
Praised by the New York Times as “mellow-voiced and charismatic” and Opera News for his “noble sound and bearing,” the baritone Will Liverman created the role of Dizzy Gillespie in Daniel Schnyder’s Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD with Opera Philadelphia in 2015 and reprised that role with the Gotham Chamber Opera at the historic Apollo Theater. In 2016 he makes his debuts in August with the Seattle Opera as Raimbaud in Le comte Ory and as Sam this month in The Pirates of Penzance for the Atlanta Opera. In late April he appears with the South Dakota Symphony for its Beethoven celebration.

During the 2014–15 season he appeared with the Madison Opera as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Wolf Trap Opera as Beaumarchais in The Ghosts of Versailles, and Minnesota as Andrew Hanley in the world premiere of Puts’s The Manchurian Candidate. He also returned to the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. Last season also marked the end of his tenure with the prestigious Ryan Opera Center in Chicago, where he sang numerous roles, including Figaro in special family performances as well as Fiorello in the same opera.

Liverman’s other recent performances include Figaro for the Utah Opera and the husband in Les mamelles de Tirésias for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. On the concert stage, he has sung Orff’s Carmina Burana and Handel’s Messiah as a guest artist at the University of Chicago. He apprenticed with the Santa Fe Opera and has appeared at the Glimmerglass Festival. He made his Alice Tully Hall debut with the New York Festival of Song, collaborating with Steven Blier on a program entitled “Road Trip.”

His honors include one of the top awards presented by the William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation in the 2013–14 season and a 2013 Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. He was a grand finalist at the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, for which he sang “Batter My Heart” from John Adams’s Doctor Atomic and Papageno’s suicide aria from Die Zauberflöte with Sir Andrew Davis conducting the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Liverman earned his master’s degree in music from the Juilliard School. He is familiar to Aiken audiences for his performances during the 2011 edition of Juilliard in Aiken.

Sammy Miller Headshot
Sammy Miller
A native of Los Angeles, Sammy Miller has become known for his maturity and relentless focus on making music that feels good as a drummer, singer, and bandleader. Miller formed his ensemble, the Congregation, after completing his master’s degree at the Juilliard School. The band focuses on sharing the power of community through its music—joyful jazz. While each band member has performed or recorded with notable artists, including Wynton Marsalis, O.A.R., Iron and Wine, and Lee Fields at venues from the White House to the Hollywood Bowl, the band has opted to stay together as the Congregation and create globally conscious music with the intention of spreading joy throughout the world.

Riley Mulherkar Headshot
photo credit: Lauren Desberg

Riley Mulherkar
Riley Mulherkar has been recognized as a “smart young trumpet player” (New York Times) and praised by the Wall Street Journal as a “youngster to keep an eye on.” Born and raised in Seattle, Mulherkar moved to New York in 2010 to study at Juilliard, where he completed his bachelor’s degree in 2014 and his master’s in 2015, receiving the Knowles Prize for Jazz and the Peter Mennin Prize for outstanding achievement and leadership in music. He is also an inaugural recipient of Juilliard’s Marks Fellowship. In 2011 Wynton Marsalis named Mulherkar a “rising jazz artist” in JET Magazine, and in 2014 Mulherkar became the first recipient of the Laurie Frink Career Grant at the Festival of New Trumpet Music in New York.

Mulherkar has performed at the Umbria Jazz Festival, Jazz à Vienne, and Carnegie Hall, and he has shared the stage with Marsalis, Leonard Slatkin, and Dave Douglas, among others. Mulherkar is a founding member of the Westerlies, a brass quartet that has premiered more than fifty original works since its inception in 2011. Its debut album, Wish the Children Would Come on Home, was hailed as “an impressive feat from almost any angle” by Nate Chinen in JazzTimes and was named Debut Album of the Year by NPR Music’s Francis Davis.

Mulherkar is actively engaged in educational outreach. He has taught at the Harlem School of the Arts and founded the music program at stART Osceola, a summer arts-intensive program in Florida, where he has taught for five years. He has also facilitated master classes in Brazil, Mexico, and across the United States.

Clovis Nicolas Headshot
Clovis Nicolas
Born in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), the jazz bassist Clovis Nicolas grew up in Provence and decided to become a musician after studying philosophy at the University of Aix-en-Provence. After his graduation from the Conservatoire de Marseille, he moved to Paris, where his precise and tasteful bass playing soon gained him a solid reputation and performances with such artists as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Brad Mehldau, Andre Ceccarelli, Michel Legrand, Stefano Di Battista, Belmondo, and many others.

Nicolas appears on three albums, including Hymne au Soleil, that received Grammy Awards in 2004. He is also featured on the two critically acclaimed debut albums of the pianist Baptiste Trotignon and toured extensively with his band, appearing at all the major international festivals. Nicolas subsequently moved to New York and since has been touring and performing extensively with some of the most prominent jazz musicians today, including Peter Bernstein, Grant Stewart, Harry Allen, Sachal Vasandani, Carl Allen, Joe Magnarelli, Jane Monheit, Peter and Will Anderson, Frank Wess, Branford Marsalis, and Dan Nimmer.

In 2012 Nicolas was featured in the concert “Ron Carter at 75” at Alice Tully Hall, performing with such greats as Herbie Hancock, Russell Malone, Lewis Nash, Benny Golson, and Buster Williams. That evening, the actor Danny Glover introduced Nicolas as the inaugural recipient of the Ron Carter Scholarship. Carter was one of Nicolas’s professors at Juilliard, where Nicolas earned both his bachelor’s degree and his master’s in music. At Juilliard he also studied with the composer Kendall Briggs.

The repertoire of Nicolas’s own band features his original compositions as well as arrangements of jazz classics. He released the album Nine Stories for Sunnyside Records in March 2014. It has received rave reviews from such publications as Jazz News (France), Jazz Life (Japan), Musica Jazz (Italy), and All About Jazz (United States). Downbeat, the legendary jazz magazine, named Nine Stories one of the best albums of 2014.

Mathis Picard Headshot
Mathis Picard
Mathis Picard, a jazz pianist and recipient of a Nina Carasso Foundation Scholarship, has been studying at the Juilliard School since 2012. Originally from Grenoble, France, he was four when he began learning classical piano with the Suzuki method in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He returned to France, where he switched to jazz studies when he was eight. In 2005 he moved to Manchester, England, to attend a music boarding school; he was ten and still enrolled there when one of his compositions was published in The Real Book North West. Six years later the Northern Chamber Orchestra of Manchester commissioned Picard to write a piece and perform with the NCO. In 2010 he was a finalist at both the Yamaha Jazz Experience and the Nottingham International Jazz Piano Competition. He has also placed first in jazz at the Glasgow Piano Festival, received a musicianship award from the Chelthenham International Jazz Festival, and twice has been given the Berklee Award of Excellence in Musicianship at the school’s program in Perugia, Italy. He recently has had the pleasure of sharing a stage with the American jazz pianist Jason Moran, received a YoungArts award, placed second at the Montreux Jazz Piano Competition, and has performed at some of New York’s famous jazz spots.