Sylvia Byars, viola

Sylvia Byars is fourteen years old and is educated at Veritas Scholars Academy. She began violin lessons when she was very young and at about the age of twelve she switched to the viola and today’s concert performance marks her official debut as a soloist with the Telemann Viola Concerto. Sylvia studies the viola privately with Drostan Hall and joined the Camerata Chicago Academy Chamber Orchestra in 2018. She is now the Principal Violist of the senior ensemble. Sylvia is an enthusiastic member of the Wayne DuPage Hunt Pony Club and regularly participates in horse competitions and activities.

Rika Seko, violin

After graduating from Tokyo University of Arts, Rika Seko began her professional career in Bogota, Colombia in 1986, first as guest Concertmaster of the Colombia Symphony, then as Assistant Concertmaster in the Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra. During that time, she performed over 20 different concertos, from Baroque to Contemporary Repertoire, and gave numerous recitals in Latin America.

Since moving to Chicago in 1994 Rika has appeared with many Chicago-area orchestras including Chicago Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Camerata Chicago. As soloist she has performed with Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra (WI) and Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra (IL). She gave the Colombian premier performance of Serenade by Bernstein in 2006.

Currently she is Concertmaster at Elmhurst Symphony and a member of Grant Park Music Festival Symphony, Music of the Baroque, Fulcrum Point New Music Project and Associate Concert Master of Camerata Chicago.

Ambrose Hall, composer

Ambrose Hall has been composing since the age of 7. Born in 1970, he has written various works for orchestra, notably Fantasia at the age of 14 and Zap for Orchestra at the age 24. He composed the String Serenade originally as a quintet and it was first performed in Ipswich, England in 1988. Ambrose studied with the late Sir Charles Mackerras and interviewed him shortly before his death in 2010, which can be heard on Ambrose Hall received his Masters in Music (M.Mus Conducting) from the University of East Anglia, England in 2010. Currently Ambrose is working on a series of Albums in popular genres as well as classical works. Many of his works and performances are available on soundcloud and Youtube. Ambrose has played internationally as a virtuoso jazz pianist.

Mathias Tacke, concert master

mathiastacke-200x247Mathias Tacke was the second violinist of the acclaimed Vermeer Quartet, Chicago from 1992 until 2007. He is Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at Northern Illinois University and Guest Lecturer for String Chamber Music at Northwestern University.

Mathias Tacke was appointed Concertmaster of Camerata Chicago in the summer of 2008.

With the Vermeer Quartet Mathias Tacke gave performances in practically all of the most prestigious festivals, including Tanglewood, Taos, Ravinia, South Bank, Lucerne, Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein and Edinburgh, to name a few. Three of the Vermeer Quartet recordings were nominated for the Grammy Award. Mathias Tacke appears internationally as a soloist and chamber player, performing a wide range of repertoire from the Baroque to music of our time.

A native of Germany, Mathias Tacke studied with Ernst Mayer-Schierning in Detmold, Germany, with Emanuel Hurwitz and David Takeno in London, and with Sandor Vegh in Prussia Cove, Cornwall. He won first prize in the German National Youth Competition and graduated from the Musikakademie Detmold, where he was later appointed to the faculty.

From 1983-1992 Mr.Tacke was a member of the Ensemble Modern Frankfurt, one of the most important professional groups specializing in the performance of contemporary music. In this capacity he gave countless first performances, including works by most of today’s leading composers. He has made numerous recordings for such labels as Sony, ECM. Harmonia Mundi, Naxos and Cedille.

Songhea Sackrider

Songhea Sackrider – Violin

Songhea Sackrider received her Bachelors degree in Violin Performance from the University of Michigan and a Masters degree in Violin Performance from Northwestern University. She has been a member of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Chicago Arts Orchestra and guest principal and soloist with the Kalamazoo Symphony and is a recipient of the Kapnick Scholar Fellowship with the Civic Orchestra and Northwestern University. Songhea is on faculty at the New Music School, Chicago School of Music, Elmhurst Music Academy and GEMS World Academy and is a longtime member of Camerata Chicago.

Istvan Loga, Viola

Istvan Loga has followed his passion for classical music across borders. At the George Enesco School of Music, under the guidance of Professor Alexander Gavaller, he won numerous prestigious awards. His talent was noticed by the famous prof. Ervin Schiffer, who proposed to him to continue his studies at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. In 2010 he continued his studies with the Cordis Quartet at Nederland’s Strijkkwartet Academie in Amsterdam under the guidance of Stefan Metz (Orlando Quartet) and Marc Danel (Quatuor Danel). Istvan had frequent concerts across Europe, such as France, Switzerland, Germany and many more.

In April 2011, following the devastating earthquake in Japan, Istvan performed at a charity concert held in Brussels alongside world-renowned pianist Martha Argerich and Japanese violinist Yuzuko Horigome. Istvan also became a full-time member in several orchestras both in Europe and the United States, such as the Charlemagne Orchestra in Belgium, the Ars Viva Symphony, Camerata Chicago in Wheaton, Oisktrakh Symphony and Chicago Philharmonic in Chicago.

Throughout his career, Istvan Loga collaborated as a recording artist with renowned musicians in the industry. Most recently, he collaborated with Maroon 5 keyboardist and solo R&B artist PJ Morton through Matt Jones Orchestra. He was the principal violist on all the MJO recordings and live performances, including the Grammy-winning track “How Deep Is Your Love” and critically-acclaimed Tiny Desk Concert NPR Radio Headquarters.

Mr. Loga played one of the leading roles in the orchestra as the first chair for Pj Morton’s Valentine’s Day show at the Kennedy Center in DC. Istvan also worked with artists such as Austin Mahone, Dorinda Clark-Cole (Grammy Award winner), Benjamin Wright Jr., Will Downing, Gerard Singh, Eric Benet (Grammy Award nominee), Ruslan Sirota (Grammy Award winner), BJ The Chicago Kid, Guy Sebastian, Myron Butler (Grammy Award winner), Percy Bady (Grammy Award Winner), Spike Lee, Kirk Franklin (Grammy Award Winner), Brandon Williams and Big Sean (Grammy Award nominee and BET Awards winner).

Furthermore, Istvan Loga worked with nationwide broadcasting channels such as ABC/Disney. He was on the television show Betrayal. He was selected out of over 90 applicants to play the violin for the show’s ninth episode. Being selected from such a competitive pool for national television proves that he has come to national level.

Aside from these prestigious experiences, he played in national concerts such as Warner Bros. Presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, Johnny Mathis Show at Akoo Theater and Andrea Bocelli in Concert at Allstate Arena.

Istvan was selected for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago as a regular member for the 2014-2016 season. In addition to working with Yo-Yo Ma and CSO musicians, and performing at the CSO’s historic Orchestra Hall with distinguished conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Semyon Bychkov, Nicholas Kraemer, Daniel Boico, Matthew Aucoin, Sir Andrew Davis, Charles Dutoit, Cristian Macelaru, and George Daugherty, he also had opportunities to participate in various education and community engagement programs of the CSO’s Institute for Learning providing music education to local students. He won first prize and audience prize with the Tito Quartet at The 7th Plowman Chamber Music Competition in Missouri, USA.

Christopher Ferrer, Principal Cello

Christopher Ferrer is a member of Lakeshore Rush and principal cellist of Camerata Chicago, originally joining the orchestra in 2006.

Christopher has toured, recorded and performed internationally as an orchestral and chamber musician. His recording credits include the soundtrack for Spike Lee’s Chiraq and music for the 2020 film Dreaming Grand Avenue. He has performed with bands such as My Morning Jacket and Chance the Rapper – as well as with ensembles such as the Chicago Children’s Chorus, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Chicago Sinfonietta, The Florida Orchestra and Picosa. Christopher traveled as solo cellist for the Broadway North American Tour of West Side Story, giving performances throughout the United States and Canada. He is also featured as a guest artist on the award-winning album American Melting Pot as part of the premier recording of Ilya Levinson’s Shtetl Scenes for piano trio.

As a member of Lakeshore Rush, Christopher presents classical chamber works alongside the music of living composers, including premiers and new commissions by Laura Schwendinger, Beth Bradfish, and Amos Gillespie. Projects over the past seven seasons include residency at Avaloch Farms Music Institute and performances for Merit School of Music, Thirsty Ears, the Chicago Composers’ Consortium, New Music Chicago and the George Crumb festival at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Born in Valencia, Venezuela, Christopher began studying cello through the Community School for the Arts in Wheaton, IL at the age of seven and was later a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Hall School Baroque Festival Orchestra. He attended the Royal College of Music in London and Northern Illinois University, studying with many cellists in private lesson and master class including Ann Griffin, John Sharp, Cheng-Hou Lee, Yehuda Hanani, Alastair Blayden and Alexander Boyarsky.

Christopher Polen, Principal Bass

Bassist Kit Polen performs regularly with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, including joining them on tours through Europe, Asia, and the US. Since 2015, he has been Principal Bass of Camerata Chicago as well as the Associate Principal Bass of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, in addition to performing with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician, he has performed with many artists including the Kontras Quartet, Chai Collaborative Ensemble, and Leon Fleisher. Equally comfortable outside the traditional symphonic setting, Polen has collaborated with CSO’s MusicNOW series, the Chicago Composer’s Orchestra, and has also been a part of multiple Grammy nominated R&B recordings.

Polen has been based in Chicago since 2011, when he joined the Civic Orchestra of Chicago as Assistant Principal Bass. Prior to moving to Chicago, he earned his Master of Music from Indiana University and his Bachelor of Music from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, near his hometown of Hickory, North Carolina. He has spent summers studying and performing at multiple festivals including Aspen Music Festival, Chautauqua Music Festival, and Brevard Music Festival. His most influential teachers and mentors include Bruce Bransby, Lawrence Hurst, Craig Brown, Andrew Raciti, and Alexander Hanna.