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Many Thanks to the Musicians & Vocalists Who Contributed Their Time & Talent to JCOR's Successful December 11, 2022, Fundraising Event!


Ben Cohen, Music Director of the Vocal Arts Ensemble, has been active in the southeast Michigan music, theater, and education communities since he began his doctoral studies at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.  He also is choir director at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills, and musical theater director at Camp Greylock in Becket, Massachusetts. A prolific composer and playwright, Cohen’s many works have been performed in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Michigan.


Ian Cumming studied violin and viola at the Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where he became a regular member of the Elizabethan Melbourne Orchestra playing for opera and ballet, and later joined the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.  Cumming teaches in Chelsea, where he is a founding member of Chelsea Chamber Players.


Sara Cumming is a founding member and cellist of Chelsea Chamber Players.  In addition to teaching cello, Cumming has freelanced with the Houston Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, and the movie recording industry in Melbourne.  She studied at the University of Illinois and Rice University; her teachers include Laurien Laufman, Shriley Trepel, and Anthony Elliott.


Michael Gurt is the Paula Garvey Manship Distinguished Professor of Piano at Louisiana State University.  He has performed as soloist with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Capetown Symphony, China National Symphony Orchestra, and the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra in Durban.  He has made solo appearances in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Capetown, Istanbul, and recently completed a tour of Brazil. He has recorded on the Naxos, Centaur, and Redwood labels.  Gurt holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the Juilliard School.


Val Jaskiewicz, who studied violin with Detroit Symphony Orchestra violist James Waring and University of Michigan viola Professor Jacob Krachmalmick, now plays with the G-Fours string quartet.  Currently a partner with the online teaching platform, MuzikMatrix, Jaskiewicz retired in 2019 following three decades at SHAR Music, where he served as vice president and content manager.  He sits on non-profit boards, including the Kerrytown Concert House.


Sonya Lewis, a passionate violist and violinist, studied with Rebecca Chudacoff and Michael Avsharian.  She currently plays with the University of Michigan Life Sciences Orchestra and the G-Fours string quartet, which formed in her garage during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Lewis is a psychiatrist, and was born and raised in Ann Arbor.  She welcomes the opportunity to make a difference in the world through music and social action.


Joshua Marzan, a freelance pianist based in Southeast Michigan, is a staff pianist with the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.  He also plays for several Ann Arbor-area community groups, events, and schools.  Marzan completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano at U-M in 2017.


Louis Nagel is a Professor Emeritus of Piano at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, where he received U-M’s Harold Haugh Award for Excellence in Teaching.  His recording catalogue represents the classical music repertoire from Bach and Balakirev to Hayden, Liszt, Mendelssohn, and Shostakovich.  Nagel has concertized and taught around the world, including appearances and residencies in Israel, Vienna, Russia, England, Australia, Taiwan, and Poland.


Renee Robbins has been a piano teacher across six decades. She also is an active collaborative pianist and trainer of Suzuki teachers. Robbins’ major piano teachers have been Jose Echaniz and Joseph Gurt. She has taught at Suzuki workshops around the United States and internationally, including in Israel and Bermuda.


Alejandro Uribe studied chamber music under Marcus Thompson and Marek Zebrowski in Boston, where he travelled from his hometown, Mexico City, for doctoral studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He now studies with Nathaniel Pierce.  Presently a professor of mathematics at the University of Michigan, Uribe has played with the University’s Life Sciences Orchestra for many years, and with various local chamber music groups. He is grateful for the opportunity to be part of today’s event.


Vocal Arts Ensemble has secured a place among the region’s premier chamber ensembles since its inception in 1992.  The core membership of 24 professional singers and instrumentalists maintains the Ensemble’s tradition of excellence in the performance of distinctive and versatile repertoire of fine choral music that reaches from Byrd to Bolcom, and beyond.  VAE has been the featured choir with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, and is invited to perform around Michigan, collaborating with local artists and ensembles.


Jennifer Somers Weizer studied violin with Sally Thomas and Margaret Pardee while attending the Columbia/Julliard joint program.  She is a member of the University of Michigan Life Sciences Orchestra and plays chamber music in Ann Arbor.  Weizer is an ophthalmologist at the Kellogg Eye Center, Michigan Medicine.


Wendy Caron Zohar is director of the Zohar Violin Studio.  Her key teachers of violin include Jeannette Drinkall Meyer, Henry Meyer of the LaSalle Quartet, Thomas Moore, Ramy Shevelov, Simon Kuhn, Chaim Taub and Max Hobart.  Her viola teachers include Heidi Castleman, Paul Doktor and Garfield Jackson.  Among her many professional associations, Zohar has performed extensively worldwide, including ten seasons with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and then London’s Primavera Chamber Orchestra.

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