Music and spirituality have always been fully intertwined in the artistic vision of trumpeter, bandleader, composer, educator and activist Sean Jones. Singing and performing as a child with the church choir in his hometown of Warren, Ohio, Sean switched from the drums to the trumpet at the age of 10.
Sean is a musical chameleon and is comfortable in any musical setting no matter what the role or the genre. He is equally adept in being a member of an ensemble as he is at being a bandleader. Sean turned a 6-month stint with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra into an offer from Wynton Marsalis for a permanent position as lead trumpeter, a post he held from 2004 until 2010. In 2015 Jones was tapped to become a member of the SFJAZZ Collective. During this time, Sean has managed to keep a core group of talented musicians together under his leadership forming the foundation for his groups that have produced and released eight recordings on the Mack Avenue Records, the latest is his 2017 release Sean Jones: Live from the Jazz Bistro.
Sean has been prominently featured with a number of artists, recording and/or performing with many major figures in jazz, including Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Gerald Wilson and Marcus Miller. Sean was selected by Miller, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter for their Tribute to Miles tour in 2011.
He has also performed with the Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Youngstown Symphony Orchestras as well as Soulful Symphony in Baltimore and in a chamber group at the Salt Bay Chamber Festival.
Sean is also an internationally recognized educator. He was recently named the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair of Jazz at John Hopkins University's Peabody Institute in Baltimore. Before coming to Peabody, Sean served as the Chair of the Brass Department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Pene Pati and Amina Edris
Pene Pati, tenor
Samoan tenor Pene Pati is a graduate of San Francisco Opera's Adler Program where, under Music Director Nicola Luisotti, he made an acclaimed 2017 debut as Il Duca di Mantova in Verdi's Rigoletto, and has subsequently been hailed 'the most exceptional tenor discovery of the last decade' (Opéra-Online) following his first performances as Percy in Donizetti's Anna Bolena at Opéra national de Bordeaux in the 2018/2019 season. Subsequent productions of Gounod's Roméo et Juliette at San Francisco Opera and Opéra national de Bordeaux as well as Alfredo in Verdi's La traviata at Moscow's historic Bolshoi Theatre have secured Pati's position as one of the most sought-after tenors of his day.
In the upcoming season, Pati debuts at Opéra National de Paris (L'Elisir d'amore), Teatro San Carlo di Napoli (Lucia di Lammermoor), Wiener Staatsoper (Anna Bolena), San Diego Opera (Roméo et Juliette), Staatsoper Berlin (La traviata) and Festival d'Aix-en-Provence (Moïse et Pharaon). In concert, he adds Beethoven's Symphony No.9 and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde to his repertoire in Limoges and St Pölten respectively, joins The Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst in concert performances of Otello, and appears at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées as part of Les Grands Voix in Massenet's Thaïs with l'Orchestre National de France and Pierre Bleuse.
In the formative years of his career, Pati enjoyed a string of high-profile competition successes taking the coveted Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge 'Bel Canto' Award (2012), both Second Prize and Audience Prize at Operalia (2015), and Second Prize at Neue Stimmen (2015). As First Prize winner at the Montserrat Caballé International Aria Competition (2014), Pati joined a special celebratory concert to celebrate the life of the late, great soprano at Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu in 2019, and was part of an all-star line-up of soloists performing at the 2017 Richard Tucker Gala at New York's Carnegie Hall.
Since 2012, Pene Pati has enjoyed huge commercial success as part of Sol3 Mio, a popular trio formed together with his tenor brother and baritone cousin. Their first album, released on Decca Classics, achieved 8x platinum sales in New Zealand and they continue to perform concerts together to sold-out stadiums whenever solo schedules permit.
Amina Edris, soprano
Soprano Amina Edris was born in Egypt and raised in New Zealand. Hailed as a "revelation" (Forum Opera) and praised for her "lustrous" tone (Opera News), Amina is rapidly establishing herself as one of the most exciting young stars on today's operatic stage. Amina's 21/22 season began with acclaimed performances as Alice Robert le diable in Bordeaux. Highlights of the rest of the season will include house debuts at the Opéra du Rhin for Micaëla Carmen and the Canadian Opera Company and Opéra de Limoges for Violetta La Traviata, as well as a return to the Opéra de Paris as La Folie Platée.
Amina recently "brought the Opera Bastille to their knees thanks to her unparalleled portrayal of the title-role" in Vincent Huguet's new production of Massenet's Manon (Forum Opera). Amina previously debuted this role to great critical acclaim at the Opéra National de Bordeaux. Other notable appearances in recent seasons have included her debut at the Grand-Théâtre de Genève as Fatime Les Indes galantes in a new production by Lydia Steier and a return to the San Francisco Opera for the title-role in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette.
In future seasons, Amina will enjoy further house debuts at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Gran Teatre del Liceu as well as return appearances at the San Francisco Opera and Opéra National de Bordeaux.
Equally as dazzling on the concert stage, Amina's appearances include Fauré Requiem, Mahler Symphony no. 4, gala concerts at the Opéra National de Bordeaux and with Real Filharmonia de Galicia, and Rossini's Petite messe solennelle on tour with the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire conducted by Domingo Hindoyan.
Amina holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Canterbury New Zealand, a Masters from the Wales International Academy of Voice and a post-graduate diploma from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. After completing her studies, Amina participated in the Merola Opera Program, subsequently becoming an Adler Fellow at the San Francisco Opera.
Her many accolades include First Prize and the Audience Prize at the inaugural Concours Bordeaux Medoc Lyrique 2018, the Deborah Riedel award at the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Bel canto Competition, and the prestigious Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald's Operatic Aria Competition.
Frederica von Stade
Recognized as one of the most beloved musical figures of our time, Frederica von Stade has enriched the world of classical music for three decades with her appearances in opera, concert, and recital. The mezzo-soprano is well known to audiences around the world through her numerous featured appearances on television including several PBS specials and "Live from Lincoln Center" telecasts. She has made over sixty recordings with every major label, including complete operas, aria albums, symphonic works, solo recital programs, and popular crossover albums. Her recordings have garnered six Grammy nominations, two Grand Prix du Disc awards, the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Italy's Premio della Critica Discografica, and "Best of the Year" citations by Stereo Review and Opera News. Miss von Stade was awarded France's highest honor in the Arts when she was appointed as an officer of L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 1983 she was honored with an award given at The White House by President Reagan in recognition of her significant contribution to the arts.
Photo Credit: © Ellen Appel
Jake Heggie is the composer of the operas Dead Man Walking, Moby-Dick, It's A Wonderful Life, If I Were You, Great Scott, Three Decembers and Two Remain, among others. He has also composed nearly 300 songs, as well as chamber, choral and orchestral works. He frequently collaborates with some of the world's most loved singers. Heggie's recent song recording with mezzo Jamie Barton, Unexpected Shadows (Pentatone), has been nominated for a 2022 Grammy Award. The operas - most created with Gene Scheer or the late Terrence McNally - have been produced on five continents. Dead Man Walking has received more than 70 international productions, making it the most-performed American opera of our time. The Metropolitan Opera recently announced a bold new production by Dead Man Walking for the 2023 season, to be directed by Ivo van Hove and conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Moby-Dick will follow on a subsequent season at the Met. Heggie is currently working on his 10th opera, INTELLIGENCE, collaborating with Gene Scheer and director/choreographer Jawole Zollar for Houston Grand Opera's 2023 season. Also upcoming are new works for violinists Joshua Bell and Daniel Hope, the Miró Quartet and the Classical Tahoe Festival. Recent premieres have included Songs for Murdered Sisters to new poems by Margaret Atwood and INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope to texts by Gene Scheer. Heggie has served as a mentor for the Washington National Opera's American Opera Initiative, CU Boulder's opera workshop program and Chicago Opera Theater's Vanguard Emerging Composer Program. He is a frequent guest artist at universities, conservatories and festivals throughout the USA and Canada. jakeheggie.com
Alexander String Quartet
left to right: Zakarias Grafilo, violin
Frederick Lifsitz, violin
David Samuel, viola
Sandy Wilson, cello
Photo credit: Terry Lorant
The Alexander String Quartet has performed in the major music capitals of five continents, securing its standing among the world's premier ensembles, and a major artistic presence in its home base of San Francisco, serving since 1989 as Ensemble in Residence of San Francisco Performances and on the faculty of the School of Music at San Francisco State University. Widely admired for its interpretations of Beethoven, Mozart, and Shostakovich, the quartet's recordings have won international critical acclaim. They have established themselves as important advocates of new music commissioning dozens of new works from composers including Jake Heggie, Augusta Read Thomas, Tarik O'Regan, Samuel Carl Adams, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Wayne Peterson.
The Alexander String Quartet's annual calendar includes engagements at major halls throughout North America and Europe. They have appeared at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, and the Metropolitan Museum; Jordan Hall; the Library of Congress; and chamber music societies and universities across the North American continent including Yale, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA, and the University of Illinois Krannert Center. Recent overseas tours include the U.K., the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Greece, the Republic of Georgia, Argentina, Panamá, and the Philippines. Their visit to Poland's Beethoven Easter Festival is beautifully captured in the 2017 award-winning documentary, Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet. Distinguished musicians with whom the Alexander String Quartet has collaborated include pianists Joyce Yang, Marc-André Hamelin, and Jeremy Menuhin; clarinetists Joan Enric Lluna, Richard Stoltzman, and Eli Eban; soprano Elly Ameling; mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato; violinist Midori; cellists Lynn Harrell and Sadao Harada; and jazz greats Branford Marsalis, David Sanchez, and Andrew Speight. The quartet has worked with many composers including Aaron Copland, George Crumb, and Elliott Carter, and enjoys a close relationship with composer-lecturer Robert Greenberg, performing numerous lecture-concerts with him annually.
The John Santos Trio
Bassist/composer Saul Sierra, pianist/composer Marco Díaz and John Santos have been playing and composing together for 20 years.
The trio forms the nucleus of the John Santos Sextet which has released six highly acclaimed CDs: Papa Mambo (2007 Machete Records), Perspectiva Fragmentada (2008 Machete Records), Filosofía Caribena Vol.1 (2011 Machete Records), Filosofía Caribena Vol.2 (2013 Machete Records), Siempre Clásico with Ernesto Oviedo (2014 Machete Records), and Art of the Descarga (2020 Smithsonian Folkways). All the recordings feature an historic cast of special guests who are among the greatest pioneers and innovators in the fields of Jazz Latino and Afro-Latin traditional music. Some of those guests are: Jerry Medina (Puerto Rico), Ray Vega (NY), Orestes Vilató (Cuba), Johnny Rodriguez (NY), Nelson Gonzalez (NY), Jerry Gonzalez (NY), Steve Turre (NY), Orlando "Maraca" Valle (Cuba), Rico Pabón (Oakland), Juan Gutierrez (NY), Sandy Pérez (Cuba), Quique Dávila (Puerto Rico), Pavel Urkiza (Cuba), José Roberto Hernandez (México), Ernesto Oviedo (Cuba), and Tito Matos (Puerto Rico) among many others. The Trio's versatility and depth in tradition inform their exciting contemporary excursions.
Photo Credit: James Berry Knox Photography
Paula West is an American jazz and cabaret singer known for her rich, powerful contralto voice and for her highly nuanced interpretations of an extraordinarily eclectic selection of songs that range from the Great American songbook to reinterpretations of songs by artists such as Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Lou Reed and Johnny Cash.
Ms. West has performed predominately in clubs in San Francisco and New York, with additional performances in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and select European cities. For ten years she held a one-month residency at the Empire Plush Room at the York Hotel in San Francisco. She has had recurring engagements at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Mezzrow in New York as well as SF Jazz, Feinstein's at The Nikko, and Yoshi's in San Francisco. Her nights at the Algonquin Hotel's famed Oak Room earned her three straight New York Magazine Nightlife Awards as "Outstanding Female Jazz Vocalist." The New York Times has been particularly vocal in their praise for Ms. West, singling out her "thickly textured voice [that] has ripened into a driving expressive force" and an "ever-deepening feel for the blues." She has also performed at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, The White House, and Maison de la Musique in Paris.
Her collaboration with noted pianist/arranger George Mesterhazy (who accompanied the late Jazz great Shirley Horn) was lauded in the New York Times, as "a match made in pop-jazz heaven" (Stephen Holden, The New York Times, October 22, 2007). Ms. West performed with the George Mesterhazy Quartet at Yoshi's in San Francisco's re-vitalized Fillmore Jazz District, The Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, & The Rrazz Room in San Francisco.
Ms. West has recorded four albums (three studio and one live), including: Temptation (1997), Restless (1999), Come What May (2001), and Live at Jazz Standard (2012). In February 2013, Ms. West traveled to New York to appear with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to perform in Blood on the Fields for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.
Ms. West has been praised for her willingness to creatively re-imagine the standards that she does perform, and an eagerness to identify worthy songs not usually found within the jazz/cabaret repertoire.
Ms. West currently performs at jazz venues around the country and has recurring engagements at Feinstein's at The Nikko Hotel, SFJazz, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. www.mspaulawest.com
Photo Credit: Tyler Boye
Grammy-winner Jason Vieaux, "among the elite of today's classical guitarists" (Gramophone), is described by NPR as "perhaps the most precise and soulful classical guitarist of his generation".
Jason recently made his debuts for Domaine-Forget Festival, Carmel Bach Festival, Wolf Trap, and made returns to San Francisco Performances, Caramoor, Ravinia, and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Other recent venues include the National Gallery of Art, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, the 92Y, Seoul Arts Center, and Shanghai Concert Hall. Jason Vieaux has performed as soloist with over 100 orchestras, including Cleveland, Toronto, Houston, Nashville, and Orchestra of St. Luke's.
In March 2021, Jason Vieaux performed the premiere recording of a new solo work, "Four Paths of Light", a new solo guitar suite dedicated to Vieaux by jazz legend Pat Metheny for his 2021 album Road To The Sun. Jason performed the live recording of Jonathan Leshnoff's Guitar Concerto with Nashville Symphony in 2019 (Naxos). Jason's passion for new music has also fostered recent premieres from Jeff Beal (House of Cards Symphony, BIS, 2017), Avner Dorman, Vivian Fung, Mark Mancina, Dan Visconti, and many more. Slated for Spring 2022 release is a new solo Bach recording on Azica. Of his Grammy-winning 2014 solo album Play, The Huffington Post declared that Play is "part of the revitalized interest in the classical guitar."
Vieaux's multiple appearances over the years with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Music@Menlo, Strings Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival, etc., have forged his reputation as a top chamber musician. Regular collaborators include the Escher String Quartet, Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, and accordion/bandoneon virtuoso Julien Labro.
As a teacher, Vieaux co-founded the guitar department at the Curtis Institute of Music in 2011, and has taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music for 25 years. Jason's online Guitar School has subscribers from over 30 countries.
Marcus Shelby Trio
Marcus Anthony Shelby is a composer, bassist, bandleader, and educator who currently lives in San Francisco, California. His work focuses on the history, present, and future of African American lives, social movements, and music education.
In 1990, Marcus Shelby received the Charles Mingus Scholarship to attend Cal Arts and study composition with James Newton and bass with Charlie Haden. Currently, Shelby is the Artistic Director of Healdsburg Jazz, an artist in residence with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, and a past resident artist with the San Francisco Jazz Festival and the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Shelby has composed several oratorios and suites including "Harriet Tubman", "Beyond the Blues: A Prison Oratorio", "Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.", "Black Ball: The Negro Leagues and the Blues", "Green and Blues", and a children's opera "Harriet's Spirit" produced by Opera Parallel 2018. Shelby also composed the score and performed in Anna Deavere Smith's Off Broadway Play and HBO feature film "Notes from the Field" (2019). Shelby is also the voice of Ray Gardener in the block buster Disney Pixar film "SOUL" 2020. Shelby has also worked with a range of artists including Angela Y. Davis' "Blues Legacies and Black Feminism" (2019), Joanna Haigood's "Dying While Black and Brown" (2014), Margo Hall's "Bebop Baby" (2013) and "Sonny's Blues" (2008), the Oakland Ballet's "Ella" The SF Girl Choir (2013), The Oakland Youth Chorus (2014), and many other productions over the past 23 years. Shelby has served on the San Francisco Arts Commission since 2013 and has worked
with the Equal Justice Society for over 20 years.