Jonathan Blumhofer

jonathan-blumhoferHailed as one of the “nation’s most promising composers” (American Composers Orchestra) and a writer of “highly atmospheric” (The Portland Press Herald) and “nimbly woven” (New Music Box) music, composer Jonathan Blumhofer was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1979. His first musical activities involved studying violin and piano, and he later took up the viola.

Jon’s compositions have received numerous awards and honors, including recognition from the American Composers Forum, the American Composers Orchestra, ASCAP, the Worcester (MA) Arts Council, the Longfellow International Composers Competition, Boston University, and the Boston Conservatory, among others. His compositions have been performed and recorded by a number of ensembles in the United States and Europe, including the Dreamsongs Project, the Worcester Chamber Music Society, the American Composers Orchestra, the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra, Xanthos Ensemble, Juventas New Music Ensemble, and the Camerata Chicago.

As a writer and scholar, Jon’s research interests include American music (particularly the music of Leonard Bernstein and John Adams), 20th century music, and modern European history. Jon has taught at Clark University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, MA, online for the University of Phoenix, and at Gordon College in Wenham, MA.

Jon earned his doctorate from Boston University, his Master’s degree from the Boston Conservatory, and his bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College. His principal teachers include Edwin Childs, Dalit Warshaw, Jan Swafford, Joshua Fineberg, Richard Cornell, and Samuel Headrick. Jon also studied with Allain Gaussin and Andre Bon at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, and with Ladislav Kubik at the Czech-American Summer Music Institute in Prague.

An avid fan of Chicago Cubs baseball, food, travel, and wine, Jon lives with his wife and two children in Worcester, MA where, in addition to his aforementioned activities, he writes about music for the Arts Fuse and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

In 2003 Jonathan was specially commissioned to write Variations on Thaxted for Camerata Chicago’s inaugural season. It is being performed at the Sweetest Day Series 2016 concerts.

Rose Armbrust


Violist Rose Armbrust Griffin received her Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School, Artist Diploma from The Curtis Institute of Music and Masters of Music from Indiana University.  During her time at The Curtis Institute of Music she held the James and Betty Materese Annual Fellowship. Most notably, Rose was awarded a Performers Certificate at the conclusion of her Masters for  “recognition of her outstanding musical performance”.  Her teachers include Heidi Castleman, Hsin-Yung Huang, Roberto Diaz, Michael Tree and Atar Arad.

Rose has performed as soloist with the Bogota Symphony Orchestra, Woodstock’s Mozart Festival Orchestra, The Curtis Chamber Orchestra and the Indiana University’s Chamber Orchestra.  Composer Johnathan Graybill’s  “Viola Concerto”, was written for and premiered by Rose along side the Ball State University Orchestra.   She was awarded first prize in the Chicago Viola Society and Rembrandt Chamber Players Competitions and was a prizewinner at The Fichoff Chamber Music Competition.

As an active chamber musician, Rose has collaborated with renowned artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Pamela Frank, Vadim Gluzman, Peter Wiley and the Amernet String Quartet.  Her chamber music performances include concerts at The Kennedy Center, Avery Fischer Hall, Music from Angelfire, Zankel Hall, Ravinia’s Steans Institute and The Musica Bella Concert Series. She has been a guest artist at The North Shore Music, Chataqua and the Kingston Chamber Music Festivals and has performed with The Chicago Ensemble, The Jupiter Chamber Players, The Pilgrim Chamber Players,  The Chicago Chamber Musicians, The Rembrandt Chamber Players and the MusicNOW series.   Currently, she is an active member of the International Chamber Artists and can be heard throughout the year on WFMT.

Rose has served as principal violist of The Haddonfield Symphony and as guest principal of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and Firebird Chamber Orchestra.  Other orchestral performances include Woodstock Mozart Festival, and the Lyrique-en-Mer Festival in Le Palais, France.  Rose is currently the Principal Violist of Camerata Chicago, Assistant Principal of The Lake Forest Symphony and guest musician with The Promusica Chamber Orchestra (OH).

Rose’s passion is music education.  During her time at Indiana University, she was awarded the merit-based Viola Associate Instructorship.  She has been a guest lecturer at Fort Hays University (KS) , Northern Illinois University, Washington and Lee University (VA) and Florida International University (FL).  She is currently the viola instructor at Wheaton College where she serves as the Chamber Music Coordinator and teaches an Introduction to Music History Course.   Because of her love of teaching and chamber music, Rose fills her weekends with coaching chamber music at Midwest Young Artists.

Rose has recorded for Albany Records.  She plays on a 1989 Marten Cornelissen that was borrowed during her time at Curtis and subsequently purchased after she realized she couldn’t live without it.

Sylvia McNair

mcnair-3set-400x168Two-time Grammy Award winner and regional Emmy Award winner, SYLVIA McNAIR, lays claim to a three-decade, stellar career in the musical realms of opera, oratorio, cabaret and musical theater. Her journey has taken her from the Metropolitan Opera to the Salzburg Festival, from the New York Philharmonic to the Rainbow Room, from the Ravinia Festival to The Plaza, from the pages of the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to the London Times and the cover of Cabaret Scenes. Having appeared as a soloist multiple times with nearly every major opera company and symphony orchestra in the world, this songbird has flown the classical coop. She’s retracing her star route now with Gershwin, Porter, Sondheim and Bernstein.mcnair-2624-0300x0381

Numerous Pops appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and others continue the reincarnation of her musical gifts in the most remarkable ways with the most rewarding results. A review of her performance with Marvin Hamlisch and the Milwaukee Symphony tells the tale: “…. she is that rare opera type who really gets the popular song. She reined in the vibrato and played to the microphone perfectly. Her matchless enunciation not only delivered the words and their sentiments, but also helped to etch the rhythms. Her wonderfully pure ‘Summertime’, purged of all diva carrying-on, is among the best I’ve ever heard.” Third Coast Digest

mcnair-2544-0300x0427It would be difficult to top Sylvia’s invitations to sing the Bach B-minor Mass with the Vienna Philharmonic for Pope John Paul II at The Vatican and a recital for The U.S. Supreme Court by special request of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. But her engagements for nine of the last eleven summers at the Ravinia Festival with Broadway legends John Raitt, George Hearn and Brian Stokes Mitchell are what her dreams are made of. Her Great American Songbook cabaret shows have been heard in New York at the Rainbow Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Savoy Room at Sheldon Hall, The Colony in Palm Beach, Feinstein’s at the Regency, the Aspen Music Festival and the famed Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, which made critic Rex Reed swoon, “I could get used to this kind of ecstasy.”

mcnair-2362-0160x0160Sylvia has left an indelible audio trail documenting her vocal prowess with over 70 recordings ranging from Mozart arias with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields to the music of Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen with pianist Andre Previn. Most recently, Sylvia released a Christmas CD, PEACE, and a disc of Latin American jazz standards called ROMANCE. PEACE sold out its first run in a matter of weeks. ROMANCE received a rave review from Fanfare Magazine’s Lynn Rene Bayley: “…. here the record is, and it’s fabulous. In fact, it’s the biggest surprise of its kind I’ve encountered since Diana Ross’s live album of Billie Holiday standards.”If you are planning on buying or want to learn about Phentermine from UK have a look at this Phentermine website to buy Phentermine online or offline from United Kingdom.

mcnair-2544-dah-0400x0158A proud Buckeye from Mansfield, Ohio, Sylvia earned a Masters degree with Distinction from the Indiana University School of Music, received honorary doctorates from Westminster College (1997) and Indiana University (1998), the Ohio Governor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts and Entertainment (1999) and the Indiana Governor’s Arts Award (2011). In 2007, Sylvia received the Gaudium Award from The Breukelein Institute for “extraordinary and distinctive contributions to the arts and public life.”

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Emily Frederick

emily-frederick-160x160Emily Frederick, age 16, began her piano career at seven years old. Today, she attends school at Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire where she is a sophomore honors student. She currently studies with international concert pianist Lyudmila Lakisova.

Emily has competed in the Fox River Academy of Music and Arts Young Artists Piano Competition and the annual Granquist Music Competition where she won top prizes, and took second place in the Chicago Area Music Teachers Association Roberta Salver Piano Competition where she competed in the most advanced level. Emily recently took third place in the Chopin Youth Piano Competition in Milwaukee. She was placed as a finalist in the New Music School of Chicago Young Artists Competition, and was later invited to attend a selective three day camp held by The New Music School where she studied with Mary Sauer, Principal Pianist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She has also studied with Dr. Pawel Checinski, internationally renowned Steinway artist, Dr. Shiho Saito, Director of the Lindeblad School of Music, Hugh Sung, collaborative pianist from Curtis School of Music, and international pianist Sveltlana Smolina. Emily has participated in numerous master classes with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra and the Music Institute of Chicago, as well as many others. She is also a part of the Midwest Young Artists intensive chamber program.

Emily accompanied on harpsichord, the Pre-College Baroque Festival Orchestra, playing Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto in D Major directed by Drostan Hall. She continues to study with Drostan Hall as a supplement to her solo piano.

Ellen Maloney

ellen-maloney-4-300Ellen Maloney is Concertmaster of the Camerata Chicago Academy Orchestra.

Ellen Maloney is 15 years old and has been studying the violin for 6 Years. She is a Sophomore at Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn. In Addition to her current position as Concertmaster for Camerata Chicago Academy Orchestra, she is also a member of Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, CYSO Chamber Music Program, Glenbard West Orchestra and Glenbard West String Quartet.

Ellen spent several years as a member of the Hall School of Music Training Orchestra and Baroque Festival Orchestra. She was also a member of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra program where she was also a member of their Chamber Music Institute.

Ellen was honored as the Co-Winner of the 2012-13 EYSO Philharmonia Orchestra Young Artists Concerto Competition. In the last 2 years she has also received First Place in the Olympic Division of the Granquist Music Competition.


Ellen also enjoyed participating in the Illinois Music Educator’s Association District 9 Honors Orchestra and also the 2014 Glenbard West’s Honors Recital. Other memorable highlights have been performing on WFMT Radio in The Hall School of Music’s Baroque Festival Orchestra, as well as Masterclasses with Elena Urioste and Grammy nominated violinist, Caroline Goulding.

Ellen studies violin with Drostan Hall, Music Director and Conductor of Camerata Chicago and President of the Hall School of Music in Wheaton. She also works in collaboration with pianist, Sooka Wang of LaGrange.

Marc Johnson

Camerata Chicago mourns the passing of Marc Johnson

Marc Johnson, 1947 – 2014

All at Camerata Chicago are deeply saddened by the passing of Marc Johnson, former cellist of the Vermeer String Quartet. Marc performed the Haydn D Major Cello Concerto with us in 2008, bringing a new and fresh interpretation in what was regarded as a wonderful series of concerts. Camerata Chicago and Drostan Hall, its Music Director, works closely with the Vermeer String Quartet’s members, particularly Mathias Tacke, our great concertmaster and Shmuel Ashkenasi who has for a long time been our world-renowned Artistic Advisor. Our thoughts are with these true friends at this time. Marc was kind and generous and brought the highest quality of playing to our concerts. Camerata Chicago extends it condolences to Marc’s family and wishes them peace at this sad time. Marc will be fondly remembered and sadly missed.

Also See:

Marc Johnson Obituary

Marc Johnson, Professor, School of Music, Boston University

Vermeer Quartet, Naxos Classical Music

Arts Journal Obituary by Norman Lebrecht

See original schedule for Feb 2008

The flyer for February 2008 Concert


Mathias Tacke, concert master


Mathias 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.He will undertake his new position beginning in the fall 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.

Aurélien Pétillot

Aurelien Petillot, Principal Viola

Violist Aurélien Pétillot has garnered much esteem as a versatile and engaging performer and pedagogue. He has been invited as a guest artist and soloist by many ensembles and orchestras, in Europe and North America, both on Baroque and modern violas.

A passionate chamber musician, and an ardent advocate of music by living composers, he is a founding member of the Chiaroscuro Trio, whose debut CD of world premiere recordings of contemporary American works for voice, viola, and piano was released by Albany Records in the summer of 2013. In a review of the CD, Fanfare Magazine commended his “rich, beautiful tone that would be the envy of many a chamber or solo violist today.” He has played with the Cavani String Quartet, members of the Azmari, Mirò, and Tosca String Quartets, and toured with The Young Eight, the only professional String Octet in America. He is also the founder and artistic director of Viola By Choice, a non-profit chamber ensemble dedicated to promoting the originality, versatility and importance of the viola and its repertoire. Viola By Choice received the 2009 Austin Table Critics Award for “Best body of work”, and was praised for “offering smart and alluring programs that feed the brain and the soul – and do so with polished, enthusiastic musicianship.” Viola by Choice released its CD, Florilegium in 2010.

Aurélien Pétillot holds a Bachelor’s in musicology and performance from the Paris-Sorbonne University, a Master’s from the Mannes College of Music, in New York, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin. His principal teachers, Jean-Claude Bouveresse, Alexander Brussilovsky, Pierre-Henri Xuereb, Caroline Levine, and Roger Myers, are heirs of an impressive lineage of pedagogues and performers that traces all the way back to Vivaldi and Corelli.

Currently, Dr. Pétillot is lecturer of viola and theory at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, principal violist with the Camerata Chicago, co-principal violist of the Lacrosse Symphony, and conductor of the Red Cedar Symphony Orchestra. Previously, he was the music director of the Chippewa Valley Youth Symphony, the viola and music history faculty at the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, a faculty artist with the Austin Chamber Music Center, and the viola faculty at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. He also played regularly with the Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Victoria symphony orchestras, as well as the Austin Lyric Opera and Ballet Austin. His lecture/recital entitled Death Symbolism as Creative Hallmark in Shostakovich’s Viola Sonata, based on his doctoral thesis, has been presented in various universities in America as part of the commemorations celebrating the 100th anniversary of Shostakovich’s birth. Other lectures have dealt with humor in music, the inter-relationships between the arts, and of course, the viola. A review by the Austin American Statesman of a concert of viola works inspired by colors reads: “The concert epitomizes the kind of eclectic, inclusive, lively programming that Pétillot promotes. Dialogue with other musicians, collaboration with other art forms, supporting the emerging composers of his own generation, digging through archives to find the forgotten gems of the viola repertoire— these are things that ignite Pétillot.”