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Musicians

Amy Obenski

Amy Obenski"With inspiration stemming from an array of genres including jazz, classical, rock and R&B, Amy Obenski's music lends itself to an eclecticism that is surprisingly organic and natural. Her newest album, From The Deep, features grand piano, cello, viola, bass,drums, mandolin and even accordion. And the instruments are perfectly balanced beneath her sweet and sultry vocals. The lyrics, refreshingly honest and insightful, have been coined as "gripping" by critics.

In 2007 her song, "Carousel", was heard on the TV show Grey's Anatomy,taking the song to number twenty-three on the iTunes Folk Chart. Before that, her second album had been receiving play on MTV's program, MADE,which is still using her music today. Both successes have come to her by surprise. The first album, What We Tell, was discovered by an MTV executive who randomly heard her music on someone's iPod. A few years later, and on a whim, an editor placed the song from her second album onto Grey's Anatomy.

Being based out of Santa Cruz, California,Obenski tours mostly through the West Coast of the United States and plays steadily in the San Francisco Bay Area. She's performed in notable venues such as Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco, Don Quixote's in Santa Cruz, and has opened for the John Butler Trio in Los Angeles.

Her musical history stretches back to age five, when she began singing in her school choir. She spent her childhood in arts related public schools and started private piano lessons at age seven.While attending UC Santa Cruz she minored in music while acquiring a degree in Environmental Studies. She currently uses both of these skills by creating a series of benefit concerts called Take Back Your Forest. The concerts raise money for The Sempervirens Fund, an organization that protects redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains."

Kenneth Froelich

Kenneth Froelich

Described as "energetic, exciting, and rhythmically dynamic," composer Kenneth D. Froelich's music has recently emerged as a vibrant new voice in the world of contemporary chamber and orchestral literature.

His music has been performed by many world renowned performing ensembles,including the American Composers Orchestra, Duo46, Earplay, the Empyrean Ensemble, the California EAR Unit, the Jolles Duo, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Conundrum, the University of New Mexico Percussion Ensemble, the University of Southern California Symphony Orchestra, the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, and the Orpheus Ensemble of Fresno. Additionally, Kenneth has received several national awards and recognitions for his compositions from ASCAP, the National Association of Composers/USA, Meet the Composer, the California Association of Professional Music Teachers (in conjunction with MTNA), the Percussive Arts Society, the New York Youth Symphony,the Society of Composers, Inc., IDEAS (Interactive Digital Environments Arts and Storytelling), and others. Works of his have been performed internationally in Germany, Italy, England, China, Chile, Argentina,Peru, and Finland. His work "Clockwork Automata" is available on saxophonist Alan Durst's CD "Tangos y Serenatas", published by Centaur Records.

Kenneth D. Froelich was born in Chester, PA and raised in San Diego, CA. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Southern California, and both his Master of Music degree Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University. His principal composition teachers include Claude Baker, Don Freund, Sven-David Sandström, Eugene O'Brien, Donald Crocket, Frederick Lesemann, Morten Lauridsen, and Erica Muhl.

Kenneth currently lives in Fresno, CA with his wife Jennifer and daughter Katerina, where he is appointed as Assistant Professor in Music Composition at California State University, Fresno. Prior to his appointment at Fresno State, Kenneth taught at Ball State University in Muncie, IN, and at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Sewanee, TN. Kenneth's percussion ensemble work "Accidental Migration" is available through C. Alan Publications.Additional music is available through JOMAR Press, or by contacting Kenneth directly at kfroelich@csufresno.edu. You can also visit his website at http://zimmer.csufresno.edu/~kfroelich

Matt Smith

Matt Smith

Matt Smith grew up in San Diego, CA where he began studying piano at the age of six and trombone at the age of twelve. His first interest in composition was sparked by music for film and video games, and to this day his music retains a similarly impressionistic quality.

His music has been performed by a variety of ensembles in a myriad of venues, from four trombones in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (Origins, 2007), to the home of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Severance Hall (Chasing the Moon, 2011). Current projects include recording an album with songwriter Alex Cooke, as well as producing an EP of electronic music. For the 2010-11 concert season, Smith served as a fellow for both the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and the Canton Symphony Orchestra.

For the 2011-12 season, he continued his Canton Symphony fellowship with a new commission for chamber orchestra, to be premiered in the Spring of 2013. He was also selected as the runner-up for the Albany Symphony's young composer competition. Other honors include the 2010 and 2012 Donald Erb Prize in composition from the Cleveland Institute of Music, as well as an honorable mention in the 2012 ASCAP Morton Gould competition.

Smith attended school at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he completed a Master's degree in 2012 and Bachelor's degree in 2010. He studied composition with Margaret Brouwer and Keith Fitch, and electronic music with Steven Mark Kohn. He has participated in master classes with Robert Beaser, Tanya Leon, Malinda Wagner, Augusta Read Thomas, Joan Tower, Claude Baker, David Rakowski, Steven Stuckey, and David Del Tredici. He has also been a student at the Aspen Music Festival and Atlantic Music Festival, studying with George Tsontakis, Sheridan Seyfried, Stephen Cabbell, Andrew Thomas, and Robert Cuckson.

Michael Blanco

Michael Blanco "Michael Blanco is a bassist and composer living in New York City. He is a two-time recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award(2005, 2006) and presented those winning compositions on In The Morning, his debut release for the esteemed Fresh Sound/New Talent jazz label out of Barcelona, Spain.<

Since moving to New York City in January 2000, Michael has frequently performed with saxophonists Rich Perry and John Ellis, guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg, pianists David Cook and Adam Birnbaum, and drummers Mark Ferber and Bill Campbell, among many others. He has been involved in a wide variety of musical projects, including bands led by Doug Wamble (Marsalis Music), Bob Reynolds (John Mayer), John Chin (Fresh Sound/New Talent), Alan Ferber(Brooklyn Jazz Underground), Frank LoCrasto (MAXJAZZ), Shayna Steele,Sarah Tolar, and Frank Basile (Village Vanguard Orchestra).

Michael has twice been selected by the U.S. Department of State to be an artistic representative for the United States abroad. First, in 2001,he toured South America, Central America, and the Caribbean as part of the Kennedy Center's Jazz Ambassador program. Then, in 2008, he toured the Middle East as part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center program The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad.

Michael is also in high demand outside of the world of jazz. He is currently the bassist for the new Broadway musical Next to Normal and has performed in the orchestras of more than a dozen other Broadway shows, including Billy Elliot, Wicked, Spring Awakening, Grease, and Avenue Q. A frequent accompanist to singers, he has performed in concert with such notable artists as Carole King, Norah Jones, Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth,and Maureen McGovern.

Michael currently leads a jazz trio dedicated to performing his original compositions and has performed at major New York City venues including Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Birdland, Iridium and Blue Note and smaller important laboratories for jazz like Makor, Tonic, Smalls, Barbes and La Lanterna. Always seeking to expand his playing and develop new avenues of expression, Michael is currently studying classical bass with Timothy Cobb; principle bassist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and chair of the Juilliard School double bass department.

Although he spends most of his time in New York City, Michael has also had the pleasure of performing in Bahrain,Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Kuwait,Nicaragua, Oman, Panama, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Yemen.

Monica Mancillas

Monica MancillasMonica Mancillas was accepted to the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts at age eleven where she spent the next six hears honing her skills, performing, and touring as a singer, pianist, and dancer. Excelling in both the arts and her academic studies, Monica chose to study at the esteemed University of California at Berkeley, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with the highest of honors. It was during this time of study and introspection that Monica awoke one day to a new calling.Having enrolled in a jazz improvisation class, she found her self-inspired to write a jazz ballad for her grandparents fiftieth anniversary. Unable to sleep from the sheer excitement of this newfound talent, she spent the next several months writing and recording her first collection of songs. In 2000, decided upon a career in the recording arts, Monica moved from the Bay Area to Los Angeles where she promptly secured a position as Manager of a hip West Hollywood recording studio. Able at last to put her budding skills as an engineer and producer to work in a commercial facility, Monica spent the next few years writing, recording, producing and advancing herself within the industry. In 2003, she was offered a position at the esteemed Musicians Institute in Hollywood, where she now works as the first-ever female Director of the audio engineering department (RIT)Director of Audio Engineering at Musicians Institute in Hollywood/Recording Artist.

Jason Debord

Jason DeBord played his first show at age 14 for San Diego Junior Theatre and has been found in pits, on podiums and on stage ever since. He recently finished a run on Broadway as Associate Conductor for Shrek - The Musical. Additional Broadway credits include Legally Blonde, All Shook Up, Rent and Lestat. Other New York credits include Bat Boy, The Musical (Off Broadway), Radio City Christmas Spectacular, City Center's Encores and a multitude of workshops. He's been on the road with the National Tours of A Chorus Line, Rent, and Urinetown The Musical (Independent Reviewers of New England award for Best Music Direction). Regionally, he's performed at the Old Globe Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, A.C.T. San Francisco, Prince Music Theatre, 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle and The Colonial Theater (Berkshire Eagle Award for Best Music Direction, 2004) - he has also served as a teaching artist at the McCarter theater in Princeton, NJ. Jason has performed as accompanist for such luminaries as Sally Ann Howes, Christiane Noll and Laura Bell Bundy (music directing Bundy's NYC country band, The Distillery.) He has appeared numerous times at Carnegie Hall with The New York Pops, and in that role has accompanied - among others - Marin Mazzie, Jason Daniely, Emily Skinner and Christine Baranski. Jason is a highly sought-after audition pianist; his playing (and forehead) is featured prominently in the 2009 Sony Pictures Classics release, Every Little Step.

Simon Kafka

Simon Kafka

Simon Kafka has a multi-faceted international performing career that includes Broadway shows (Next to Normal , The Lion King, How to Succeed in Business Without Trying, and The Book of Mormon) as well as many different artists. He has performed with Lea Michelle and Jonathan Groff (Glee, Spring Awakening), Lesley Gore (It's My Party, You Don't Own Me), bassist Christian McBride, Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead, Spring Awakening) as well as many others. He was the guitar instructor on The Bridge Project at Brooklyn Academy of Music under the direction of Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) and performs original music with East West Quintet, who can frequently be heard on National Public Radio as well as performing nationwide. Simon was the musical director, co-arranger, and solo guitarist for "Timon Of Athens" at the Public Theater in New York City. Look for his many recording projects, including the record "Today is Just Today" produced by Coldplay's Guy Berryman by Hudson Hank, Nick Moran's "Who We Are," Andrea Mcardle Live at 54 Below, Emily Kinney "Expired Lover," and Tatum Greenblatt's "Imprints." He received his degree in performance from Manhattan School of Music in 2005 and is endorsed by Santa Cruz and Gibson Guitars.

Carl Eitzen

Carl EitzenSSgt Carl Eitzen is a native of San Diego,Calif. and performs on trumpet with the Brass in Blue, Concert Band, Heartland Brass, and the Ceremonial Band of the USAF Heartland of America Band, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. In addition to his performance duties, Sergeant Eitzen is the Musical Director for the Brass in Blue, and serves as an operations representative for the ensemble.

Sergeant Eitzen's earliest music training on the trumpet came from his father, John Eitzen. He received his formal music education from the University of Arizona and University of California at Los Angeles where he earned his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees, respectively. Carl also performs as 3rd Trumpet with the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra and is the former Principal Trumpet of the Las Colinas, Garland and Arlington Symphonies in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metro area. He has performed with other noted ensembles such as the Omaha Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, and Kansas City Symphony, to name a few. Carl has served as Musical Director, Show Band Leader, and played Lead Trumpet aboard several ships for Carnival Cruise Lines. His mentors include Jens Lindemann, Keith Johnson and Edward Reid.

Karen Bakunin

Karen BakuninKaren Elaine Bakunin has commissioned and premiered numerous works for solo viola by such distinguished composers as David Baker, Ed Bland, Gordon Kerry, Patrice Rushen, Bruce Taub, David Ward-Steinman, and Dan Welcher. As an arranger and soloist, Ms. Elaine's works for solo viola with string orchestra have been performed by the Rogue Valley Symphony (Oregon), the Afro-American Chamber Music Society, the Palisades Symphony, and the Southeast Los Angeles Symphony.

Outside the music world, Karen Elaine's presence is felt in the world's marine lands as a recreational scuba per and instructor. An active photographer and teacher of scuba ping in Southern California, Ms. Elaine has certified over two hundred scuba students and is a featured guest speaker for many of the Southern California pe clubs.

One of her most exciting excursions was in 2004 on the Russian research vessel Grigoriy Mikheev, spending a month aboard as pe buddy to Mr. Amos Nachom (the celebrated photographer from National Geographic).

Karen Elaine has recorded on the Delos, Harmonia Mundi, Laurel, R-Kal, Fleur de Son, and Tzadik record labels. Featured on the daily Karl Hass classical radio program 'Adventures in Good Music' is her recording of the 'Lyric Fantasies' by Norman Dello Joio, one of her many collaborative works with conductor David Amos. In the commercial world of music, Ms. Elaine can be seen on-screen on the American Idol, America's Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, and the Academy Awards Oscars TV shows. She also is with the band on numerous phonograph CD's and sound tracks for TV and Motion Picture, including Space Jam, Major Payne, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Speed Racer, Up, Star Trek, Desperate Housewives, Nathalie Cole's "Still Unforgettable", Avril Lavigne, Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder's "A Time to Love", Smokey Robinson's "Love Songs", and many more.

Matt Mead

Matt Mead

Matt Mead attended the Eastman School of Music, where he studied trumpet with world-renowned trumpeter and pedagogue James Thompson. In 2004, after receiving his degree in trumpet performance, Matt moved to Culiacan Sinaloa, where he played Principal and Assistant Principal with the Orquesta Sinfonica Sinaloa de las Artes. In 2009, Matt left Mexico and joined the National Tour of Fiddler on the Roof staring Chaim Topol. Matt lives in Brooklyn, is an active part of member of the New York music scene, playing everything from Broadway shows like Billy Elliot, to performing with groups such as the Wordless Orchestra, the Brooklyn Brass, and the Harrisburg Symphony. He has performed and recorded with a variety of groups including the Eastman Wind Ensemble, San Diego Symphony, the Music Academy of the West Orchestra and MAW Faculty brass quartet.

Erik Griswold

Erik Griswold

Eclectic composer-pianist Erik Griswold fuses experimental, jazz and world music traditions to create works of striking originality. Specializing in prepared piano, percussion and toy instruments, he has created a musical universe all his own that is "sincere" (neural.it), "playful" (igloo magazine), "colourful and refreshingly unpretentious" (Paris Transatlantic)

Since the late 1980s he has composed solo and chamber works for many adventurous performers in the U.S. and Australia, such as Margaret Leng Tan, Steven Schick, Either/Or Ensemble, Southern Cross Soloists, red fish blue fish, Speak Percussion, and many others. In 2012, new works include "Drifting cowboys in a mist" for Kurilpa String Quartet, "Bury the sound" for Decibel, and "Time Crystals" for Clocked Out Duo.

Griswold has received grants, commissions, and/or fellowships from the Australia Council for the Arts, Arts Queensland, Brisbane City Council, Melbourne City Council, Asialink Foundation, Queensland Music Festival, Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and the InterArts Consortium of the University of California. His work can be heard on Mode Records, Room:40, Listen/Hear Collective, Einstein Records, Accretions/Circumvention, Move, Clocked Out, and Innova.

His music has been performed at major festivals and venues throughout Australia, the U.S., Asia, and Europe, including: Carnegie Hall, Asia Pacific Festival (Wellington), Bang on a Can Festival (New York), Big Sur Experimental Music Festival, Chengdu Arts Centre, El Cruce (Madrid), Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella Series (Los Angeles), London Jazz Festival, Queensland Music Festival (Brisbane), Shanghai International Festival, Sydney Opera House, Roulette and Tonic (New York).

Together with Vanessa Tomlinson, Griswold directs Clocked Out, which produces innovative concert series, events and tours. Clocked Out recently received the APRA-AMCOS "Award for Excellence by an Organisation" for their 2009-10 programs.

Griswold has lived in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Melbourne, Adelaide, and now calls Brisbane home. He is currently adjunct professor at Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, and holds a PhD from University of California, San Diego.

Rachel Amov

Rachel AmovRachel Amov is a wonderfully accomplished, classically trained musician, with over 30 years performance background to her credit. Playing with an air of sweet precision on violin, viola and cello, she can one moment evoke a delightful energy, and at another, a haunting grace. Entwining the musical notes with a flourish of her bow, as if it were a magic wand, she captivates audiences with her mysterious and mystical gypsy flair. Rachel's instrumental versatility leaves the critical music enthusiast with a rewarding and memorable experience.

One of Rachel's earliest memories is that of her mother, (a very talented musician herself) playing Mozart and Beethoven on the piano for Rachel as she lay upstairs in bed drifting off to sleep. This instilled in her the desire to immerse herself in the art of music making and so she began to hone her skills at quite a young age. After early training on piano, guitar and violin, she launched into performing with youth orchestras, and for the Grossmont College Symphonia, which invited her to join them when she was just 12, and then on to her high school orchestra at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. She continued performing all throughout her college career, furthering her passion for classical violin and viola as a member of various college symphonies and chamber groups.

As a serious devotee of the musical expression she moved beyond the classics and started to develop a keen interest in Irish, Eastern European, Klezmer and the broader "folk" genres of music, which eventually took her to the pubs and folk clubs of San Diego. Here she found voice for her inner gypsy, listened, absorbed, and then started performing with many exciting musicians, including San Diego's own violin virtuoso, Chris Vitas, the eclectic Celtic/jazz group known as Raggle Taggle, the eastern European and Flamenco influenced, Electrocarpathians, and new age composer Kevin Keller.

Meanwhile, Rachel pursued her degree in education, from UC Berkeley, to UC Irvine and on to various institutions of higher learning in San Diego. Concurrent with her educational endeavors, she managed to find the time to support herself by working full time at various retail music stores and a variety of oddly interesting jobs, raise her adored dogs, participate in Renaissance Fairs, take dance lessons, baby-sit for friends, and host wildly entertaining musical extravaganzas at her home.

In 1991, during one evening's romp with a girlfriend to The Camelot Inn, Rachel wowed the crowd that gathered in the lobby by whipping out her violin and playing a Mozart violin concerto. It was obvious from that moment there was only one thing for the house band to do, and that was to bring her up onstage as a Friday night regular. It was there, amidst the pints and the punters, submerged in a haven of musical experimentation, and the varied struggles of the entertainers' life that the friendship and creative connection between Rachel and Theresa was born.

2013 brings a new direction for Rachel as she strikes out on her own for the first time, working on a solo album and looking for new and different musical challenges! Now certified in teaching the Mark O'Connor violin method Rachel is newly appreciating American musical history and styles.

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