Artist Biographies

The MasterGuild Series

Artist Biographies


Jeremy Constant, violin

After winning the Grand Prize in the 1979 Du Maurier competition in Canada, Jeremy studied in New York with Ivan Galamian and then with the great violinist Itzhak Perlman before making the San Francisco Bay Area his home. He became a member of the San Francisco Symphony in 1984, with whom he continues to perform as Assistant Concertmaster. He has been Concertmaster of the Marin Symphony since 1994 and in 2000 was named Concertmaster of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. He is a frequent soloist with the orchestra and participant in the Edgar M. Bronfman Chamber Series.

As an active soloist and chamber musician both here and abroad, Jeremy has performed on radio and television around the world. He was violinist in the San Francisco Piano Trio, and a founding member of the Navarro Trio and Navarro Quartet. He can be heard as Assistant Concertmaster on Grammy Award winning releases such as the continuing Mahler cycle by the San Francisco Symphony and can been seen on their ongoing television project Keeping Score.

Jeremy plays the ex-Heberlein Stradivarius, from the year 1700. This Stradivarius was donated to the San Francisco Symphony for his exclusive use. Residing in Oakland with his wife Sharon, Jeremy is a pilot who took over 7 years to build a plane which he currently enjoys flying.

 

Jean-Michel Fonteneau, cello

Jean-Michel Fonteneau is a founding member of the Ravel String Quartet, winner of two prizes at the Evian String Quartet International Competition in 1989, and of the first French Grammy Award “Les Victoires de la Musique Classique” in 1993. They toured extensively around the world and single-handedly created the first ever string quartet residency program in France.

Highly sought after, Mr. Fonteneau performs frequently with such renowned artists as Leon Fleisher, Menahem Pressler, Gilbert Kalish, Claude Frank, Peter Frankl, Kim Kashkashian, members of the Amadeus, Juilliard, Pro Arte, and Fine Arts Quartets.

A passionate and devoted teacher, Jean-Michel Fonteneau served on the faculty of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Lyon, France, until 1999, when he moved to the United States to join the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His students have won national and international competitions, appeared on “From the Top”, and been honored as a Presidential Scholar.

He appears regularly at summer festivals including the Yellow Barn Music Festival, Domaine Forget, Oberlin at Casalmaggiore, MYA, and the Morges Summer Academy in Switzerland.

Mr. Fonteneau’s recordings can be found with Musidisc-France and Albany Records.

 

 Cordula Merks, violin

German violinist Cordula Merks, newly appointed concertmaster of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra comes to us as the former assistant concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony. Before moving to Seattle, she held concertmaster positions with Germany’s Essen Philharmonic, Bochum Symphony and Bergische Symphony. She has served as a guest concertmaster for many orchestras, including the Dresden Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, West German Radio Orchestra, Cologne Opera and Portuguese National Opera. This last summer she played as part of Claudio Abbado’s famous Lucerne Festival Orchestra and toured in Europe as concertmaster of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

When not playing in the orchestra, Sha enjoys playing as a soloist and especially as a chamber musician and has performed in the US, Israel and all over Europe. Merks was born in Germany and spent her childhood in Holland. She started playing the violin at the age of 6 and was accepted by the Young Talent Department of the Royal Conservatory in The Hague at the age of 12. Her teachers have included Shmuel Ashkenasi and Herman Krebbers, among others and she holds degrees from the Amsterdam Conservatory and Northern Illinois University. She 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.

 


Amy Hiraga, violin

Violinist Amy Hiraga was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra from 1991 until 1999. She is currently a permanent member of the San Francisco Symphony. Ms. Hiraga has performed and recorded with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the New York Chamber Orchestra and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. She has appeared as soloist with the Seattle Symphony, the Aspen Philharmonia, Solisti New York, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra and the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble. In addition, she has performed chamber music at the Caramoor, Bard, Olympic, Chamber Music West, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festivals, as well as with the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Chelsea Ensemble and the Partita Chamber Ensemble. Her teachers include Emanuel Zeitlin in Seattle, and Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School. Amy Hiraga lives in Mill Valley, California with her husband, Peter Wyrick, and their two daughters, Mayumi and Mariko.


Nancy Ellis, viola

Nancy Ellis received her training at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Oberlin College and Mills College, where she studied with Nathan Rubin. Ms. Ellis has been a member of the San Francisco Symphony since 1975, and has also performed with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and as a chamber music player with Music from Marlboro, as well as part of a quartet in support of rock singer Van Morrison.


Peter Wyrick, cello

Peter Wyrick is the Associate Principal cellist of the San Francisco Symphony. He has performed as chamber musician and soloist with renowned chamber groups and orchestras throughout the world. Mr. Wyrick was a member of the acclaimed Ridge String Quartet whose recording of the Dvorak Piano Quintets with pianist Rudolf Firkusny on the RCA label won the French Diapason d’Or and was nominated for the 1993 Grammy Award for the Best Chamber Music Performance. He has participated in Finland’s Helsinki Festival, the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C., and Spoleto, Italy, as well as the Vancouver, Bard, Chamber Music West, La Jolla and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festivals.

He has performed as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, the Aspen Chamber Symphony, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the Queens Philharmonic, the American and the Oklahoma City Chamber Orchestras, and the Kozponti Sinfonicus in Budapest, Hungary. was the Principal cellist of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center and the Associate Principal of the New York City Opera Orchestra. His recordings include the cello sonatas of Gabriel Fauré with pianist Earl Wild for dell’Arte records, as well as performances for Stereophile and Arabesque records. Mr. Wyrick was one of the last students of Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School, and plays on a David Tecchler cello made in Rome circa 1724.

Roy Bogas, piano

A student of Ada Clement, Adolph Baller, Hedwig Rosenthal and Rosina Lhevinne, Roy Bogas received his training in chamber music with the Griller Quartet and the Alma Trio. At the age of 19 he became accompanist to Yehudi Menuhin, playing over a hundred concerts with him throughout North and South America. He has also played with many other artists including Zara Nelsova, Ruggiero Ricci, Michael Rabin, Jaime Laredo and Joseph Szigeti, with whom he recorded a number of 20th century works for Mercury Records.In 1962 he was a prizewinner at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, making his New York and London debuts the following year. In addition to recital work, he has performed as soloist with virtually every orchestra in California as well as many other orchestras in this country and abroad. He is also principal solo pianist for San Francisco Ballet and Diablo Ballet. Currently a member of the music faculty at Holy Names College, he is very active as a chamber music performer, having appeared on the San Francisco Symphony Chamber Music Series at Davies Hall, as well as with the Sierra Chamber Series, the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento, Chamber Music Sundaes and the new Masterguild Series at Holy Names College.