Carlos Aguilar is a soloist, interdisciplinary artist and actively premieres and performs new music. He is especially interested in experimental literature for the flute, integrating classical and contemporary traditions of performance and conceptual art.
As a teen, he swept San Diego's classical music scene by winning first prize in all open competitions. Carlos has been featured as a soloist with the La Jolla Symphony, Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Colburn Chamber Orchestra. Over the last few summers, he has attended the Banff Arts Centre, Marrowstone Festival and SoundSCAPE Festival. He is currently principal flute of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra with whom he has toured South America and Europe.
His mentors include Paula Robison and Dr. Elena Yarritu. He is based in Boston and New York City.
Recognized by the San Diego Tribune for her “luscious tone” and by Opera Wire for her “secure silvery high notes,” soprano Tasha Koontz is an artist garnering attention from coast to coast. Ms.Koontz lends her unique combination of nuanced and vocally exciting performances to a gallery of leading ladies in her repertoire, including Violetta in La Traviata and Mimi in La Bohème with Opera on the Avalon, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Bay View Music Festival, Alice Ford in Falstaff with Indiana University Opera Theater and with /kor/ Productions in Chicago, the Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro with Northwestern University and was featured as Woman 1 in Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath with Sugar Creek Opera.
In 2017 Ms.Koontz made her San Diego Opera debut as Annina in La Traviataconducted by David Agler and directed by Marta Domingo. Her performance was memorable and Opera Today declared “Tasha Koontz sang beautifully as Annina.” Last fall she returned to San Diego Opera to sing Edith in the season’s opening production of Pirates of Penzance. Ms.Koontz made her debut with Central City Opera in 2018 singing First Lady in Die Zauberflötewith great success. David Marlowe described her performance of First Lady as “nothing short of divine.” In the spring of 2019, Ms.Koontz returned once again to San Diego Opera singing the role of Frasquita in Carmen. Broadway World recognized Ms.Koontz for her “accurate powerful voice” and other reviews followed suit including another San Diego Tribune mention as a “power soprano.” Later this season, Ms.Koontz will make her debut with Chicago Symphony Orchestra singing High Priestess in Aida under the baton of Maestro Riccardo Muti. Ms.Koontz will reprise the role of High Priestess in the fall of 2019 with San Diego Opera.
As the First Place Winner in the 2017 La Jolla Symphony and Chorus Young Artist Competition, Ms. Koontz was featured in their 2017-2018 Season. First, she was the Soprano Soloist in Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 where she was praised by the San Diego Tribune for her “full-bodied tone.” She followed those appearances with performances of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, later in the season. Ms.Koontz also be made her debut with the San Diego Symphony in 2018 in their Jacobs Masterworks: Music and world of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Concert in April. A striking concert artist, displaying exceptional artistry and musicianship her repertoire includes Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem, Strauss’ Four Last Songs, Handel’s Messiah, Poulenc’s Gloria, Bach’s B minor Mass, as well as Faure’s Requiem. The soprano has appeared with the Chicago Arts Orchestra, Newfoundland Orchestra, Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra, Spokane Symphony Orchestra and the Northwestern University Orchestra.
A frequent competitor, Ms. Koontz recently won 2nd place in this year’s Susan and Virginia Hawk Vocal Scholarship Competition. Ms.Koontz was the recipient of an Encouragement Award in the 2018 MONC Western Region after being named a finalist at the MONC San Diego District Competition in 2017. Ms. Koontz was named a Finalist in the 2017 Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition in New York City and is the third prize All-Around Winner in the Musical Merit Foundation of Greater San Diego Competition. She adds these accolades to her growing number of awards and recognition from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions – including the Illinois and Indiana Districts and Central Region as well as the San Diego District and Western Region, the Coeur d’Alene Symphony Competition, the Bel Canto Foundation Competition, and the Brava! Opera Theater Competition.
Ms. Koontz is a Master of Music graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and received her Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University.
Anne Liu started playing piano at the age of four. She currently studies piano performance with Director Ethan Dong and Ariel Yang at Opus 119 Conservatory of Music. She previously studied piano with Mrs.Inessa Litvin.
Anne is a finalist winner of the 2018 National YoungArts and received U.S. Congressional recognition for this honor. She has performed extensively throughout the U.S., China, and Italy. She has been featured as a soloist to perform with the South Coast Symphony, San Diego Great Chamber Orchestra, Southern California Philharmonic, and will collaborate with the La Jolla Symphony in the 2018-2019 season.
She has won top prizes at the competitions:
* 2018 1st Prize-Grossmont Music Scholarship competition
• 2018:1st Prize-Young Musicians Foundation David Weiss Memorial Scholarship
• 2017:1st Prize-14th Southern California Philharmonic Young Artists Competition
• 2017:1st Prize-Helen B.Goodlin Scholarship Competition (Senior Division) Chet
and June Schmidt Award
• 2017:1st Prize-57th La Jolla Symphony and Chorus Young Artists Competition
• 2017: 3rd Place-Bosendorfer and Yamaha USAsu International Piano Competition for Young Artists and Special Award for the most outstanding performance of a composition by a Russian compose
• 2016: 2nd Place-Los Angeles International Liszt Competition and the Best Performance of Any Opera Paraphrase or Transcription In all categories
•2016:1st Place Winner-The South Coast Symphony Young STARS of The Future
Anne was also a top prize winner of the Los Angeles Young Musician International Competition,International Young Gifted Musicians Festival "Passion Of Music 2014," American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition, US Open International Music Competition, MTAC San Diego Concerto Competition, and Southern California Bach Festival.
Anne hopes to inspire others with her music and share her passions around the world.
In her free time, Anne enjoys reading, drawing, and watching movies.
American violinist Annelle K. Gregory is a laureate of international competitions, concert soloist, and recording artist. She is the 1st Prize & Audience Choice Award winner of the 2017 National Sphinx Competition and Laureate of the 2013 Stradivarius International Violin Competition. Annelle’s love of Russian music has led her to discover and revive forgotten works of great Russian composers, presenting these works in concert and in recordings. Her most recent project was the release of the first-ever CD of Rachmaninoff's complete violin/piano works, recorded with Russian pianist Alexander Sinchuk (Bridge Records 2017). The CD has received international acclaim and aired on radio stations across the U.S. and Europe.
As a soloist, Annelle has performed with the symphonies of Chicago Sinfonietta, Detroit, Fort Bragg, Houston, Kiev Virtuosi, La Jolla, Nashville, San Diego, Santa Monica, Torrance, and the California Chamber Orchestra, performing in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Hall, and the Kennedy Center as well as abroad in England, Germany, Portugal, Russia, and Ukraine. She has been featured on BBC, NPR, KUSC, and WQXR radios as well as on German television and Detroit PBS.
Annelle was awarded the 2017 Isaac Stern Award and the 2014 Glenn Dicterow Music Scholarship, and has received scholarships from the Musical Merit Foundation and the League of Allied Arts. Other awards include 1st Prizes in the 2017 “Grand Prize Virtuoso” International Competition, the 2017 NANM National Strings Competition, the 2016 American Protégé International Concerto Competition, and the 2017 Beverly Hills National Auditions. She was a featured soloist for the 2018 International Easter Festival (Kiev Conservatory), the 2017 Sphinx Virtuosi National Tour, and the 2016 iPalpiti Festival of International Laureates, and in 2013 opened for the Moscow Ballet, performing a solo with the principal ballerina. Annelle graduated first in her class, summa cum laude from USC’s Thornton School of Music, where she studied under Glenn Dicterow. Other teachers include Michael & Irina Tseitlin and Alexander Kirov.
Claire Lewis aspires to become an orchestral conductor and a concert pianist. Her educational goals are to earn a BM in piano performance and an MM in orchestral conducting. She studies under Mrs. Inessa Litvin. In 2017, she was the youngest Palomar College graduate in the college's 70-year history, at age 13. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for community college students. She enjoys playing violin in the San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra Symphony, as third chair Violin I, and the Palomar College Symphony Orchestra, as Assistant Principal Violin II. She is currently serving in a leadership role as VP of the San Marcos Youth Strings CA where she oversees teaching, arranges music, and conducts. She has taught piano for 6 years, enjoys clogging with the Silverhawk Stompers, and works as a certified CRLA tutor in Calculus at Palomar College.
- Sound Of Hope International Music Festival Grand Prize Winner 2018
- San Diego MTAC Chopin Festival 1st Place 2018
- San Diego MTAC Bach Festival Winner 2018, 2017, 2015, HM 2016, Regionals Winner 2018, 2015
- San Diego MTAC Sonata Competition 2nd Place 2017, HM 2016, Finalist 2015
- San Diego MTAC Certificate of Merit Level 8, Honors, Theory 97% 2016
- Helen B. Goodlin Competition 1st Place Div II 2016, 2nd Place Div I 2015
- Festival of Mozart 1st Place 2016, 2015, and 1st Place Classical Guitar 2015
- County of San Diego CA Proclamation declaring Sep. 26, 2017 to be "Claire Brynne Lewis Day" throughout San Diego County
- City of San Marcos CA Honorable Certificate of Achievement Jul. 11, 2017 for becoming youngest Palomar College graduate in the college's 70-year history
Hailed for his “powerful voice” (CASA Magazine) and “tremendous” singing (San Diego Reader), bass-baritone Ted Allen Pickell is a distinguished and accomplished young artist on the rise.
This 2018/19 season, Mr. Pickell joins the Palm Beach Opera Benenson Young Artist Program, where he will cover the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni, as well as perform the role of the Marquis in Verdi's La traviata and Frank in the family performance of Die Fledermaus. Additional engagements include a return to the title role in The Mikado with Bodhi Tree Concerts.
In the 2017/18 season, Mr. Pickell made his San Diego Opera debut as Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, alongside Greer Grimsley as the Pirate King. Additional engagements included a return to the title role in The Mikado with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, and spending the summer of 2018 at the San Francisco Opera's prestigious Merola Opera Program, where he sang Father Trulove in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. Mr. Pickell also joined the San Diego Opera's Apprentice Artist program, where he performed in selections from Don Giovanni, Faust, and Billy Budd.
Additional previous roles include Figaro/Le Nozze di Figaro, Leporello/Don Giovanni, Vater/Hänsel und Gretel, Blitch/Susannah, Sam/Trouble in Tahiti, Zuniga/Carmen, and the Warden/Dead Man Walking. Mr. Pickell has won awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Loren L. Zachary competition, the Bel Canto Foundation, the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
Mexican-American Soprano, Amanda Olea has distinguished herself as an emerging young artist, performing with Central City Opera, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Teatro Nuovo, Manhattan Opera Studio, and Utah Lyric Opera.
During the 2018-2019 season, Ms. Olea joins Central City Opera as an Apprentice Artist, singing the role of La Zia in Madama Butterfly. In the fall of 2018, Ms. Olea performed Flora in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw with CCM Opera.
In the summer of 2018, Ms. Olea was an Apprentice Artist at Teatro Nuovo, studying Despina in Cosí fan tutte. Notable performances include; Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with the Manhattan Opera Studio, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro with Utah Lyric Opera, and Adina in L’elisir d’amore at San Diego State University.
In frequent demand for recital and concert work, Ms. Olea has been the soprano soloist in Orff's Carmina Burana, Handel's Messiah with Cincinnati Collegium, the Mozart Requiem, and the Faure Requiem.
A strong advocate for new work, Ms. Olea was the soprano soloist in Stephen Paulus' To Be Certain of the Dawn at San Diego State University.
In 2019, Ms. Olea received the John Alexander Memorial Award within the CCM Opera Scholarship Competition, as well as first place awards from the Virginia Hawk Competition, La Jolla Symphony Young Artists Competition, and the Musical Merit Competition.
Ms. Olea is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, under the tutelage of Dr. Gwendolyn Detwiler. She holds a Master’s of Music from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor’s of Music from San Diego State University.
Praised for her “warmth” and “radiant vocal ease,” French-American soprano Véronique Filloux began her 2018/19 season with the success of winning First Prize in the Saltworks Opera Competition. Her season marks soloist debuts with several prestigious organizations, including Opera Lafayette, with whom she made both her Kennedy Center debut and New York City debut as Tigrane in Handel’s Radamisto. She also performed excerpts from Jommelli's Cerere Placata in the roles of Proserpina and Cerere with Opera Lafayette's outreach initiative. After covering Brigitta (Iolanta) and Doodle (The Scarlet Ibis) with Chicago Opera Theater, she returned to the Maryland Opera Studio as an alumna to sing and dance the role of Mae Jones (Street Scene). She went on to sing the music of Handel (Dixit Dominus) and Purcell (The Fairy Queen) as a soloist with Music of the Baroque. Véronique is thrilled to finish her season with a return to Central City Opera as an Apprentice Artist, singing the title role in Debussy's La damoiselle élue and performing as a soloist in ENCORE: A Musical Revue.
Véronique spent her most recent summer with Central City Opera, making her mainstage debut as Papagena (Die Zauberflöte) and winning the prestigious Central City Opera Young Artist Award at the end of the season. While there, she performed scenes as Clorinda (La Cenerentola) and Carrie (Carousel) as a Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Studio Artist and was a soloist in ENCORE: A Musical Revue. A recent alumna (MM '18) of the University of Maryland Opera Studio, she was honored to appear as Servilia in La clemenza di Tito and Soeur Constance in Dialogues des Carmélites in the 2017/18 season. In her first year, she created the role of Lily in the world premiere of Hennessy’s The Young King and covered Amore (Orfeo ed Euridice) and Lucia (The Rape of Lucretia). Her scenes performances included Norina (Don Pasquale), Mrs. Fiorentino (Street Scene), and Blonde (Die Entführung aus dem Serail). Upon her graduation, she was awarded the esteemed Daniel L. Pomeroy Prize for excellence in 17th and 18th century music.
Véronique has been proud to sing the roles of Isifile (Il Giasone), Despina (Così fan tutte), Olympia (Les contes d'Hoffmann), Annina (La traviata), Silberklang (The Impresario), Cis (Albert Herring), and Adele (Die Fledermaus) with organizations including Opera in the Ozarks, Northwestern University Opera, and Opera NEO. Passionate about concert work, she has appeared as a soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana, Poulenc's Gloria, Whitacre’s Goodnight Moon, Handel’s Messiah, and several Bach cantatas (notably BWV 77, 172, and 51). An avid performer of new music, she has been involved with several US and world premieres, even performing as a soloist in lost objects (Gordon/Lang/Wolfe) in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Véronique graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University (BM ’15) with degrees in Voice/Opera Performance and Operatic Languages.
Eighteen-year-old pianist Andrew Zhao began his major public performances at the age of eleven performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.1 with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Ken-David Masur. His most recent accomplishments include 2017 Yamaha USASU International Competition for Young Pianists, as well as the Conrad Bruderer First Place Piano Award presented by the Musical Merit Foundation of Greater San Diego. Andrew also won the silver medal at the 2015 Virginia Waring International Piano Competition in Palm Springs, California, and was selected as one of the 22 official competitors of the quadrennial Gina Bachauer International Young Artists Competition in 2016. He has won top prizes at other competitions, including second place and best etude prize at the 2012 Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, along with third place at the 2013 San Jose International Piano Competition, first place in the 2012 San Diego Symphony Young Artist Competition, first place at the 2012 Music Teacher’s Association of California Concerto Competition, and first place at the 2014 Glendale Piano Competition.
In addition to his competition accomplishments, Andrew’s public solo appearances include performances in Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall in New York City; the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, CA; Le Petit Trianon Theater in San Jose, CA; Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA; Copley Symphony Hall at the Jacobs Music Center, Shiley Theatre and Qualcomm Q Auditorium in San Diego, CA. In August 2016, he performed the first movement of Schumann’s Piano Concerto in Perugia, Italy with the resident orchestra of MusicFest Perugia.
Andrew currently attends Pomona College, where he studies piano with Professor Genevieve Lee. In San Diego, he has studied with Mrs. Inessa Litvin for six years, and is extremely grateful to Mrs. Litvin for establishing his musical foundations and his love for piano playing. Andrew also studied at the Colburn Music Academy, an intensive pre-college division of the Colburn School in Los Angeles, from 2013 to 2016. In addition, he has participated in masterclasses with such artists as Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Jerome Lowenthal, Ilana Vered, John O’Conor, and Mikhail Petukhov.
Anthony Whitson-Martini is already distinguishing himself in operatic performance as a “young and talented baritone” at the beginning of a bright future. Anthony has sung with San Diego Opera & Utah Festival Opera along with regional companies such as Lambs Players Theatre, Lyric Opera San Diego, Bodhi-Tree Concerts, & Point Loma Opera Theatre. Currently, Anthony is a resident artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts where he performed Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Ceprano in Rigoletto, Masetto in Don Giovanni, Johann in Werther, Spinelloccio & Il Notaio in Gianni Schicchi. Concert work includes appearances with the Lyric Fest, La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, San Diego Master Chorale, & San Diego Community Orchestra. Mr. Whitson-Martini is a winner of the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Competition, and has received awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Lotte Lenya Competition, Burbank Philharmonic, & Musical Merit Foundation of Greater San Diego.