Angela Lee, Cello

Since giving her Carnegie Hall debut in 1994, Angela Lee's "amazing finesse, control and coloration" [San Francisco Chronicle] has been celebrated with recitals in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and Victor Borge Hall in New York, Chicago's Cultural Center, The Phillip's Collection and Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Copenhagen's Nationalmuseet and the Purcell Room at South Bank Centre in London. Her festival appearances include Mahler-Jihlava, St. Petersburg’s Revelations, International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove, Taipei, Banff, Pontino, Cagayan Valley, La Musica, Marlboro, Chautauqua and Chelsea.  Ms. Lee was the featured cellist in Harris Yulin's production of Don Juan in Hell starring Ed Asner and Cherry Jones and has collaborated with composers including Lukas Foss, Aaron Jay Kernis, Tania León and Yehudi Wyner. 

A graduate of The Juilliard School and Yale School of Music, she is a recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to study in London with William Pleeth, a grant from the Foundation for American Musicians in Europe, the Jury Prize in the Naumburg International Cello Competition, and a cello performance fellowship from the American-Scandinavian Foundation.  With her two sisters, Angela Lee performs as a member ofThe Lee Trio and premieres new works written for them, most notably, by Nathaniel Stookey and Jane Antonia Cornish.  The Lee Trio tours internationally, appearing in major venues in New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Copenhagen, Kiev, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Toronto. Ms. Lee plays on a 1762 Nicolo Gagliano cello from Naples.

Avi Downes, Piano

Since making noteworthy debuts at the age of sixteen in London, Vienna, and Amsterdam, Avi Downes has performed extensively throughout Europe, South America, and the United States.

A native of San Francisco, Avi Downes began her piano studies at the age of three as the youngest student ever admitted to the San Francisco Conservatory. At 14, she moved to Europe to further her musical education; completing her studies at the University of Vienna and the University of Cologne.

Throughout her career, Ms. Downes has divided her time between her solo work and various chamber ensembles. As the youngest of three very musical sisters who constantly made music together, her interest and talent for chamber music showed itself at a very young age. She was awarded top prizes in some of the most prestigious international music competitions in the world, including the ARD Competition in Munich, the Rostropovich Competition in Paris, the Maria Canals in Barcelona, and the Vittorio Gui, and Trio di Trieste competitions in Italy.

Axel Strauss, Violin

The first German artist to ever win the international Naumburg Violin Award in New York, Axel Strauss has been equally acclaimed for his virtuosity and his musical sensitivity. The Salt Lake Tribune praised his well-rounded artistry by saying, „Strauss quickly established that he is a virtuoso to be reckoned with. But amid his technical acumen, there was a genuine musician. His interpretive prowess was delightful.“

Mr. Strauss made his American debut at the Library of Congress in Washington DC and his New York debut at Alice Tully Hall in 1998. Since then he has given recitals in major North American cities, including Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 2007 he was the violinist in the world premiere of „Two Awakenings and a Double Lullaby“ – written for him by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis. Mr. Strauss has performed as soloist with orchestras in Budapest, Hamburg, New York, Seoul, Shanghai, Bucharest, San Francisco and Cincinnati, among others. He has collaborated with conductors such as Maxim Shostakovitch, Rico Saccani, Joseph Silverstein, and Alasdair Neale. His recordings include the Brahms violin concerto (BPOlive), Mendelssohn‘s „Songs without Words“ (Naxos), the violin version of the Sonatas Opus 120 by Brahms (Organum) and the Duo for Violin and Cello by Kodaly (Oehms Classics). In December of 2009 Naxos released his recording of the 24 Caprices by Pierre Rode. Amadeus Press has issued a DVD featuring Axel Strauss in concert at Steinway Hall in New York City.

Mr. Strauss frequently performs at various music festivals in the US. Festival visits abroad have taken him to Germany, India, Korea and Japan. His chamber music partners include Menahem Pressler, Kim Kashkashian, Joel Krosnick, Robert Mann and Bernhard Greenhouse. Since his European debut in Hamburg in 1988, Axel Strauss has been heard on concert stages throughout Europe. He has given concerts in Moscow, Vilnius, Berlin, Bremen, Leipzig and Nuremberg. Concert tours have taken him to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Romania. He has also toured South America and performed in Japan with the Philharmonic Violins Berlin.

At the age of seventeen he won the silver medal at the Enescu Competition in Romania and has been recognized with top prizes in the Bach, Wieniawski and Kocian competitions. Mr. Strauss studied at the Music Academies of Lübeck and Rostock with Petru Munteanu.       In 1996 he began working with the late Dorothy DeLay at The Juilliard School and became her teaching assistant in 1998.  He has also worked with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Felix Galimir, and Ruggiero Ricci, and at the Marlboro Music Festival with Richard Goode, Mitsuko Uchida and Andras Schiff. Mr. Strauss has been residing in the United States since 1996. He maintains a busy performance schedule and serves as Professor of Violin at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Axel Strauss performs on an outstanding violin by J.F. Pressenda, Turin 1845, on extended loan through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society in Chicago.

Caroline Lee, Viola

Violist Caroline Lee has performed throughout the US and Canada as an orchestral player as well as a chamber musician and recitalist.  She is currently a member of the San Francisco Ballet orchestra and also performs regularly as a sub with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Before relocating to the Bay area, Caroline was a member of the Kansas City Symphony for eight years.  She also performed with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra as principal violist and New Ear Ensemble, an ensemble dedicated to performing music written by living composers.  An active chamber musician, she has performed in Banff, Domaine Forget, and the International Musical Arts Festivals, collaborating with members of the Tokyo, Cleveland and Colorado quartets, as well as artists such as Eric Friedmann, Steve Dann, Ian Swensen, and Richard Stolzman. Along with her sister Aeri, Caroline formed the Lee duo and performs recitals throughout north America, championing less familiar viola repertoire.  She is also member of Eos Ensemble, performing a wide range of works for chamber ensemble within the SF bay area.  

Caroline received her bachelor in music degree at the University of Michigan and her masters and Artist Diploma at Yale School of Music.  She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and two children.

Charles Chandler, Double Bass

Bassist CHARLES CHANDLER has been a member of the San Francisco Symphony since 1992. Prior to that he was Associate Principal Bass and Soloist with the Phoenix Symphony.  Charles has been the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, including the San Francisco Symphony Pepsi Cola Young Musician Award and Irving Klein Competition. His major bass teachers were Shinji Eshima, of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and David Walter, at the Juilliard School. In 1987, Charles was a member of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival under the direction of Leonard Bernstein.

Playing with Marin Symphony, he enjoyed performing with his wife Van, a violinist. For many years Charles was Principal Bass of the Carmel Bach Festival. He has also performed with the Music at Menlo Festival and frequently records at Skywalker Ranch.  Charles and Van reside in San Francisco with their daughter Julie.

Chen Zhao, Violin

Violinist Chen Zhao joined the San Francisco Symphony in August 2000. As a member of the Orchestra, he has participated in performances of Mahler’s symphonies that have been recorded for the Symphony’s own label, SFS Media, and in performances of music by Beethoven, Berlioz, and Shostakovich that have been recorded for several Keeping Score films. Chen has toured throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, and performed at prestigious festivals such as Ravinia, La Jolla, Santa Fe, Evian, and Lucerne Festivals. He has served as concertmaster of the New World Symphony and the Round Top Festival Orchestra, and has appeared as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.

A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, SF Conservatory of Music, and Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Chen‘s teachers include Camilla Wicks, Felix Galimir, Heiichiro Ohyama, and Martin Lovett of the Amadeus Quartet. Chen is currently on faculty at the SF Conservatory of Music and SF Symphony Youth Orchestra.

David Kim, Viola

Hailed for his ‘rich, freely sweeping expression’ and ‘keen sense of storytelling’ by The Strad magazine, Korean-American violist David Kim is quickly becoming recognized as one of the most compelling musicians of his generation.  As first-prize laureate in the Ninth Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition on the Isle of Man, he made his UK recital debut at Wigmore Hall, where he premiered Darkness Draws In by British composer David Matthews.  He has garnered additional top prizes at the William Primrose and Irving M. Klein competitions as well as distinctions at the Geneva and Walter W. Naumburg Competitions.  Mr. Kim made his New York concerto debut at Avery Fisher Hall with the Juilliard Orchestra conducted by Andrew Litton and has also appeared with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra.  

As a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s prestigious Chamber Music Society Two from 2006-09, Mr. Kim has championed important new works, resulting in the New York premiere of Tigran Mansurian’s Duet for Viola and Percussion and the world premiere of Mario Davidovsky’s Piano Septet.  He has also participated in a “Live from Lincoln Center” PBS broadcast of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and Brahms’ G Major String Sextet, which aired in January 2008.  He has collaborated with such artists as Midori, Gary Hoffman, Frans Helmerson, Mihaela Martin, Nancy Allen, Marina Piccinini, Edgar Meyer, Pascal Rogé, David Finckel, Gilbert Kalish, and members of the Borromeo and Guarneri String Quartets.  Other chamber music engagements have included the Musée du Louvre, Ravinia’s Rising Stars Series, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and his numerous festival appearances include the Marlboro Music Festival, Steans Institute for Young Artists, Verbier Academy, Music@Menlo, Takefu International Music Festival, Taos School of Music, and Music Academy of the West.  In addition he has been a member of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and the IRIS Orchestra.

Mr. Kim was a recipient of the 2007-08 Fulbright/Swiss Government Arts Grant and studied with Nobuko Imai at the Geneva Conservatory.  He has also attended the Juilliard and Eastman Schools and the New England Conservatory where his teachers were Kim Kashkashian, Carol Rodland, Samuel Rhodes, and Zvi Zeitlin.  He joined the San Francisco Symphony in 2009.

Elizabeth Prior, Viola

A noted violist, Elizabeth Prior performs regularly with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra (where she has served as Associate Principal) as well as the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and, as Associate Principal, the Marin Symphony. Other orchestral credits include the Baden Baden Radio, Stuttgart Radio, Basel Symphony, and Mannheim Opera Orchestras, as well as the Freiburg Philharmonic and Cape Town Symphony.

A native of South Africa, she was a prizewinner in the International String Competition in Pretoria, and has toured extensively as an orchestral soloist, recitalist and in chamber music ensembles such as the Broderick String Quartet, the Marin Harp Trio, Trio Resonance, the Barbican String Quartet, and Ensemble 13 Karlsruhe. Ms Prior gave her recent debut at Carnegie Hall with the Russian Chamber Orchestra and is a regular soloist with the Chamber Ensemble of Cologne. She is also a featured artist at the New York Viola society. Festival performances include the Colorado Music Festival, the Cabrillo Festival, the Grand Tetons Music Festival, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and the Fredener Musiktage. Ms Prior is also known for organizing a series of ‘house concerts’ on behalf of the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music called“ Donald Runnicles and Friends“. Her Viola is made by Tarasconi from 1906.


Katie Kadarauch, Viola

Katie Kadarauch has been assistant principal viola of the San Francisco Symphony since 2007. A Bay Area native, she studied at the Colburn School Conservatory of Music (while performing frequently as a substitute with the Los Angeles Philharmonic), the New England Conservatory, and the Cleveland Institute. Principal teachers include Paul Coletti, Kim Kashkashian and Robert Vernon, as well as members of the Cleveland, Cavani and Takacs string quartets.

At Colburn she formed the Janaki String Trio, which won the Concert Artists’ Guild International Competition in 2006. The trio was hailed by the New York Times at their subsequent Carnegie Hall debut as “magnificently polished” and exhibiting “an irresistible electricity.” They have recorded Beethoven, Penderecki and Vanhal for Yarlung and Naxos. Active in the commissioning of new works, the Janaki Trio performed throughout North America, Europe and Australia. A three-time veteran of the Marlboro Festival, Ms. Kadarauch also tours with “Musicians from Marlboro” in performances across the United States.

Jeffrey Sykes, Piano

Acclaimed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as "a commanding solo player, the most supportive of accompanists, and a leader in chamber music," pianist Jeffrey Sykes has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Western Europe.  The San Francisco Examiner praised his appearance with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players as “a tour-de-force performance [that was] the evening’s major delight.”  Recent activities include a Carnegie Hall recital under the auspices of the Pro Musicis Foundation, a live broadcast over WGBH, Boston Public Radio, and a tour of Chile sponsored by the US State Department.

Mr. Sykes is the founder and artistic director of the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society of Wisconsin, a highly-acclaimed and innovative chamber music festival now in its nineteenth season. He is a regular guest artist in the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio.  In 2007, he served as the guest artistic director of Music in the Vineyards, a chamber music festival in Napa Valley, California.  Last year, Sykes joined with violinist Axel Strauss and cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau to form the San Francisco Piano Trio.

For the last fourteen years, Mr. Sykes has served as the Music Director of Opera for the Young.  He works extensively as a vocal coach throughout the US and teaches at the University of California at Berkeley.  He also joined the faculty of California State University-East Bay in the fall of 2008 where he directs the piano accompanying program.

Mr. Sykes holds degrees with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden-bei-Wien, Austria.  He then was a Fulbright scholar at the Hochschule für Musik in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  A recipient of the Jacob Javits Fellowship from the US Department of Education, he completed his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Keisuke Nakagoshi, Piano

A native of Japan, Keisuke Nakagoshi earned a B.M. in composition and an M.M. in chamber music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying composition with David Conte and piano with Paul Hersh. Graduating as the recipient of multiple awards, Nakagoshi was selected to represent the Conservatory for the Kennedy Center's Conservatory Project, a program featuring the most promising young musicians from major conservatories across the United States. He won the Conservatory's Piano Concerto Competition and performed Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26 with the Conservatory Orchestra in the inaugural orchestra concert in the Conservatory's new Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall. Nakagoshi has performed to acclaim on prestigious concert stages across the United States, including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, Benaroya Hall and Davies Symphony Hall. He has received training from some of the most celebrated musicians of our time—Emanuel Ax, Gilbert Kalish, Menahem Pressler, David Zinman, The Peabody Trio—and enjoys collaborating with other accomplished musicians such as Karl Leister, Lucy Shelton, Joseph Alessi, Ian Swensen, Jodi Levitz, the Afiara String Quartet and Ensemble Parallèle. Recently he performed Rhapsody in Blue with the Marin Symphony conducted by Alasdair Neale. He also tours as principal pianist and slide guitarist with conductor George Daugherty's award-winning "Bugs Bunny on Broadway," performing with American orchestras from coast to coast. Nakagoshi and Swiss pianist Eva-Maria Zimmermann formed ZOFO duet in 2009, commissioning and performing music for piano four hands (

Canadian cellist Sébastien Gingras grew up in Chicoutimi, Québec, where he went to school for several years at the Conservatoire de Musique.  After graduating from this institution in 2003 from the class of David Ellis, he moved to Boston to study with Laurence Lesser at the New England Conservatory and received his Master of Music degree from this school in 2005.  The following year, he received the Graduate Diploma with distinction in performance from the same Conservatory.


Laura Magnani, Piano

Italian pianist Laura Magnani, native of Spoleto (Italy), holds a double Degree in Piano and Voice, earned with honors at the Conservatory “F. Morlacchi” in Perugia, a Diploma of Specialization in Piano at the “Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia” in Rome and a DMA in Piano at the Conservatory of Perugia.
Her many titles include a great number of Masterclasses attended in Salzburg, Brussels, Rome, Perugia with eminent pianists such as S. Perticaroli, A. Delle Vigne, B.Petrushansky, M. Campanella and many others.
Since the age of 15 she has been active as a performer, touring Italy, Europe, USA and Canada both as a soloist and in various Chamber Ensembles, constantly gaining the enthusiasm of the audience and the acclaim of the critics.
Personally invited by Gian Carlo Menotti she was featured in the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds, and she has been repeatedly invited to perform at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston (SC) as an Ambassador of her hometown.
Very skilled also as an organizer, she directed the Spoleto Piano Festival for 15 years.
Her versatile talent keeps her busy also in the fields of Opera, Musical Theatre and Vocal repertoire as well as in Music Education, in which she has been active since the age of 19, teaching Piano, Chamber Music and Vocal training.
Her latest production, a CD/DVD featuring works by Liszt, Chopin and Prokofev, was released in November 2013.
Laura just moved from Italy to San Francisco, California.

Matthew Young, Viola

Matthew Young joined the San Francisco Symphony viola section in 2012. Winner of a 2007 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Performing Musicians, he has also performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and was a member of the Minnesota Orchestra for several years.

Young is active as an educator; in summer 2009 he rejoined the faculty of the National Orchestral Institute. He attended the University of Kentucky and Yale School of Music before studying with Robert Vernon at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Young was a founding member of the Verklärte Quartet, which won grand prize in the 2003 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

Sebastien Gingras, Cello

Sébastien has won top prizes in several solo competitions including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Competition, the Festival de musique du Royaume, the Canadian Music Competition and the New World Symphony Concerto Competition.  Sébastien has also been heard on several occasions on CBC in recital and in a concerto appearance.

He has participated in several festivals and seminars including Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute, Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival, the New York String Orchestra Seminar, the Domaine Forget Festival, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and the Festival de musique de chambre du Larzac, France.  Mr. Gingras has also joined renowned artists in chamber music performances including Menahem Pressler, Anthony Marwood and the Alcan and Borromeo String Quartets.

Sébastien has been a member of the New World Symphony and the Saint Louis Symphony before joining the San Francisco Symphony for the 2010-11 season.

Yuna Lee, Violin

As an avid chamber musician and recitalist, violinist Yuna Lee has toured extensively throughout Europe, South America, and the United States. In 2006, Yuna received an orchestral fellowship at the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, where she was also the featured soloist on the annual Concerto Showcase Series.

As the 2nd violinist of the Phaedrus Quartet, Yuna has been invited to perform at the Verbier Festival, La Jolla SummerFest and Festival Aix-en-Provence where she collaborated with distinguished artists such as Gil Shaham, Joshua Bell, and Yuri Bashmet. A graduate of The Juilliard School in New York City, she has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, as well as various New York City hospitals and New Jersey Public Schools where she lead outreach programs for seniors and children. Yuna has received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degree at Juilliard under the tutelage of Cho-Liang Lin and Naoko Tanaka.

Yoko Shimoura, Piano





The Lee Trio: Lisa Lee, violin | Angela Lee, cello | Melinda Lee Masur, piano

Since their critically acclaimed Wigmore Hall London debut in 2002, The Lee Trio's "gripping immediacy and freshness" and "rich palette of tone colours" [The Strad] continue to inspire and move audiences and critics around the world, establishing the dynamic ensemble made up of sisters and native San Franciscans--Angela, cello; Lisa, violin; and Melinda, piano--as one of the the premier chamber ensembles on the international stage.  Winners of numerous competitions and graduates from Juilliard, Yale, Curtis and Harvard, each member is a brilliant soloist in her own right.  The Trio won 2nd Prize at the 2004 Gaetano Zinetti Competition in Italy and the Recording Prize at the 2004 Kuhmo International Chamber Music Competition in Finland and was awarded the 2007 Gotthard-Schierse-Stiftung grant in Berlin for rising international artists.

The Lee Trio has given recitals at the Mendelssohn Festival and Bachfest in Leipzig, Germany and at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, performed in Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, England, Canada and completed its first tour of China, giving performances and masterclasses in Hong Kong, Macao, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Shanghai, performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Macao Youth Symphony, Shenzhen Symphony and the Shanghai Philharmonic orchestras.  Other appearances have included recitals at the Center for Jewish History, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and The Scandinavia House in New York City, Gorham's Bluff Institute in Alabama, the Philharmonie in Berlin, Schumann-Haus in Leipzig, Kloisters in Plankstetten and the Franckeschen Stiftungen Konzertsaal in Halle, Germany, the Old Radio House in Copenhagen, Denmark and the Philharmonic in Kiev, Ukraine.  The Trio's return to China has included recitals at the Zhongshan Culture and Art Center, Hong Kong's City Hall Theatre and Lee Hysan Concert Hall, and recordings for RTHK4, Hong Kong's classical broadcast radio.  In the autumn of 2010, The Lee Trio received the honor to perform for German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her official visit to New York City.  

The Lee Trio is passionate about sharing with the next generation of musicians and regularly gives master classes at schools and universities around the world.  Together they have served as Associate Chamber Music Faculty at the Zephyr International Chamber Music Festival in Courmayeur, Italy, and in 2006, each member received the California State Assembly Recognition for Exemplary Service to the Community.  In 2010 the Trio was the first classical ensemble to perform an outreach concert for students at the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas.  Performing the music of living composers is another passion and last season, the Trio premiered a multi-movement work by American composer Nathaniel Stookey as a recipient of the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music Musical Grant Program.  During the 2010 Chelsea Music Festival in New York City, The Lee Trio served as Ensemble-in-Residence and performed premieres of living composers including the world-premiere of Jane Antonia Cornish's Duende.  For more information, please visit