MEET OUR JUDGES
Violinist FRANK ALMOND held the Charles and Marie Caestecker Concertmaster Chair at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for 25 years until 2020. He also held the ConcertMaster position with the Rotterdam Philharmonic with Valery Gergiev and Guest Concertmaster of the London Symphony Orchestra with Kurt Masur.
Frank regularly performs as a soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and as soloist and chamber musician throughout the U-S and Europe. He is the founder of his own chamber music series in Milwaukee, Frankly Music, consistently recognized for innovative programming and its ability to attract leading performers from around the world.
At 17, Frank Almond was one of the youngest prizewinners in the history of the Nicolo Paganini Competition in Genoa, Italy, and five years later was one of two American prizewinners at the Eighth International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, which was documented in an award-winning PBS film.
His extensive recording discography includes a wide range of repertoire on various labels that have garnered multiple Grammy nominations.
His most recent series of recordings, A Violin’s Life, chronicles the extraordinary history and lineage of his current violin, the 1715 Lipiński Stradivarius. This instrument has direct ties to Giuseppe Tartini, Edvard Grieg, Johannes Brahms, and Robert and Clara Schumann.
On January 27, 2014, the “ex-Lipiński” Stradivarius was stolen from Mr. Almond in an armed robbery after a concert. The violin was recovered nine days later, and the story continues to make headlines around the world. The robbery and recovery are the subject of a documentary film, “Plucked,” premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in April (2019). Frank will has also been featured on a hit edition of” The Moth Radio Hour” from Alice Tully Hall, the critically acclaimed story-telling program heard on Public Radio stations nationwide.
Frank holds two degrees from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Dorothy Delay, Michael Tseitlin, Felix Galimir, and Joseph Silverstein. He currently serves on the Faculty at Roosevelt University in Chicago and is the Johnston Artist-in-Residence at the Milwaukee Youth Symphony, one of the largest youth arts programs in the United States. Previous teaching positions include positions at Northwestern University and Texas Christian University.
Frank Almond writes an online column, as he admits, “instead of practicing.” Non divisi offers his thoughts, hopes and expectations for the present and future of classical music.
More information about Frankly Music, A Violin’s Life and the Lipiński Stradivarius is available at frankalmond.com.
A charismatic and versatile flutist, JANET ARMS has been a member of the New York City Opera orchestra since 1988. She has also performed and recorded with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Ballet, Metropolitan Opera, as guest principal flutist with the St. Louis Symphony in the US and throughout Europe, as well as with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston, at Tanglewood, and on tour. She had a long-standing association with the Bard Festival Orchestra and the American Symphony Orchestra, has worked with the NYC Ballet, American Ballet Theater, New Jersey Symphony, as well as subbed on Broadway in The King and I, Finding Neverland and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
As a faculty member of the Hartt School, Janet holds the title of Senior Artist Teacher as well as the Associate Chair of Chamber Music of Winds and Brass. As a newly appointed member of the flute faculty, Janet Arms is now teaching at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, where she started in the fall of 2018. She has been a faculty member of the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy - PRISMA in Powell River, BC for many years and has spent several summers in Brazil, teaching and performing with the faculty of the renowned Festival Eleazar de Carvalho in Fortaleza. She spent one recent summer performing chamber music in Greece at the St George International Music Festival.
As an active performer in commercial recording here in NYC, Janet can be heard on a number of film documentaries for PBS. Scored by Michael Bacon, these include Jewish Americans, The Kennedy Years, and The Roosevelt Years to name a few. She made her recital debut at Carnegie Hall as a prizewinner of the Concert Artists International competition while completing her Masters degree at Juilliard.
Ms. Arms’ chamber music career has included appearances with her NYC Opera colleagues at Lincoln Center, performances at the Eastern Shore Chamber Music Festival, with the Concordia Chamber Players, the New York Chamber Soloists and appearances at PRISMA with her colleagues from the Chicago Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, LA Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony, and Victoria Symphony Orchestra.
Her most recent chamber music project, The Pandora Duo, is a collaboration with guitarist and fellow Hartt faculty member Christopher Ladd. Concertizing throughout the northeast, the duo is busy recording and working with living composers, promoting new music and adding new works to their ever expanding repertoire.
Pianist JUN CHO has appeared as both solo and chamber musician in United States, Italy, Spain, and South Korea. He is largely active in New York City, performing a wide range of repertoire in major venues including Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. An avid collaborator, Mr. Cho has performed with renowned musicians including Itzhak Perlman, Philippe Quint, and Randall Goosby. He has given extensive collaborative performances at the Aspen Music Festival and the Sejong Music Festival, and served as a piano faculty member at the Heifetz Institute. He currently serves as an artist-faculty member at the Perlman Music Program, and the current studio pianist of violinist Itzhak Perlman at the Juilliard School.
Jun received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at The Juilliard School, and doctoral degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. His mentors include Julian Martin, Jon Kimura Parker, and Seymour Bernstein.
With a voice described as “honey-coloured and warm, yet robust and commanding” (The Globe and Mail), baritone TYLER DUNCAN has performed worldwide to great acclaim in both opera and concert repertoire. Recent and upcoming engagements in 2021/22 include Handel’s Messiah with TENET Vocal Artists, Schubert’s Winterreise with the Aspect Chamber Music Series and selections from J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with Early Music Vancouver. In 2022, Mr Duncan will appear with Arizona Early Music in Handel’s Apollo e Dafne and Bach’s Ich habe genug, join Vancouver Symphony in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, returns to the Handel and Haydn Society in C.P.E. Bach’s Magnificat, re-join Music of the Baroque as the bass soloist in Haydn’s Creation and reprise Bach’s Ich habe genug with Mercury Chamber Orchestra.
Mr. Duncan has performed at The Metropolitan Opera as Prince Yamadori in Madama Butterfly, Huntsman in Rusalka, Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Moralès and Le Dancaïre in Carmen, Herald in Verdi’s Otello, Millhand in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and the Journalist in Lulu. At the Spoleto Festival USA, he debuted as Mr. Friendly in the 18th-century ballad opera Flora, returning the next season as Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte. Other notable appearances have included Raymondo in Handel’s Almira, Dandini in La Cenerentola with Pacific Opera Victoria and Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Princeton Festival. In the realm of new opera, he recently performed the role of Raymond in Nic Gotham’s Nigredo Hotel with City Opera Vancouver and sang the world premiere of Jonathan Berger’s Leonardo at the 92stY in NYC. In the summer of 2021, Mr. Duncan covered the role of Arthur in Le roi Arthus (Chausson) at Bard Summerscape.
Mr. Duncan has received prizes from the Naumburg, London’s Wigmore Hall, and Munich’s ARD competitions, and won the 2010 Joy in Singing competition, 2008 New York Oratorio Society’s Lyndon Woodside Oratorio-Solo Competition, 2007 Prix International Pro Musicis Award, and Bernard Diamant Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts. Originally from British Columbia, Canada, he now resides in the scenic Hudson Valley of New York and holds a passport from both countries. Mr. Duncan earned music degrees from the University of British Columbia, Hochschule für Musik (Augsburg), and Hochschule für Musik und Theater (Munich) and is currently on the voice faculty of the Longy School of Music in Boston.
RICHARD HIRSCHL joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s cello section in 1989. A native of Washington, Missouri, he began cello lessons with his father, an amateur cellist. His intermediate studies were with Savely Schuster, associate principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony. He was accepted into the class of Leonard Rose and Channing Robbins at the Juilliard School, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1987 and a master’s degree in 1988.
Hirschl was an associate teacher at Juilliard before moving to Chicago. He was the winner of the 1988 Juilliard Concerto Competition, 1988 Irving M. Klein International String Competition and 1980 St. Louis Symphony Scholarship Competition.
In addition to his New York debut with the Juilliard Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall, Hirschl has given concerto performances with the Peoria Symphony, the Northwestern Indiana Symphony, the New Philharmonic, Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra, Jupiter Symphony, St. Louis Philharmonic, Maracaibo Symphony (Venezuela), National Repertory Orchestra, St. Louis Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York.
He has appeared in chamber music performances with celebrated pianists Daniel Barenboim, András Schiff and Ursula Oppens, cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Lynn Harrell and violinist Vadim Repin. He is on the faculty of the Chicago Conservatory for the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and has a large class of private students. He plays a Venetian cello made by Matteo Goffriller in 1710 and a cello made in Chicago by William Whedbee in 2014. He and his wife Laura make their home in a downtown high-rise where they are the proud parents of Ava Clare and Vivian Rose Hirschl.
Clarinetist DEAN LEBLANC has been performing with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as an Associate Musician since 1998. He enjoys a versatile performance career as an orchestral musician and has also performed with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Orchestra, Lincoln Center Festival, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, American Symphony Orchestra, Bard Music Festival, American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician he has performed with the MET Chamber Ensemble, Skaneateles Festival, Windham Festival, the New York Chamber Music Festival, and the New York Philharmonic’s CONTACT! Series to include a few.
Mr. LeBlanc has recorded for Decca, Atlantic, Telarc, New World Records, and EMI labels as well as for numerous major motion picture soundtracks including the Emmy Award Winning HBO Miniseries Mildred Pierce and the Oscar Winning Film True Grit. He can be heard on two of the MET’s Grammy Award winning recordings, including The Tempest where he played Principal Clarinet and on Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle as a section member.
Mr. LeBlanc holds a bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music where he was a recipient of the Performer’s Certificate Award, and a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. His teachers have included Kenneth Grant, Franklin Cohen, and Ricardo Morales. Mr. LeBlanc is a Selmer Artist and serves on the Adjunct Faculty of the Juilliard School.