Musicians for the 2016-2017 Season


Praised by critics for his passionate expression and dazzling technique, Andrew Armstrong (piano) has delighted audiences across Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada, and the United States, including performances at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and Warsaw’s National Philharmonic.  Andrew’s orchestral engagements across the globe have seen him perform a sprawling repertoire of more than 50 concertos with orchestras, and has additionally appeared in solo recitals in chamber music concerts with violinist James Ehnes, cellist Robert deMaine, the Elias, Alexander, American and Manhattan String Quartets, as a member of the Caramoor Virtuosi and the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players.   Mr. Armstrong has released several award-winning recordings with his longtime recital partner James Ehnes, including 3 volumes of the music of Béla Bartók; Prokofiev’s Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 and Five Melodies; Tartini’s Devil’s Trill and Leclair’s Tambourin Sonata; a recital disc of works by Franck and Strauss; as well as an album of the sonatas by Debussy, Elgar and Respighi (Onyx Classics).  Mr. Armstrong lives happily in Massachusetts, with his wife Esty, their two children, two dogs, two guinea pigs, and two fish.

Edward Arron (cello) began playing the cello at age seven in Cincinnati and continued his studies in New York with Peter Wiley. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School, where he was a student of Harvey Shapiro.  Mr. Arron made his New York recital debut in 2000 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since that time, he has appeared in recital, as a soloist with major orchestras, and as a chamber musician throughout North America, Europe and Asia.  In 2013, Mr. Arron completed a ten-year residency as the artistic director of the critically acclaimed Metropolitan Museum Artists in Concert. Currently, he is the artistic director, host, and resident performer of the Musical Masterworks concert series in Old Lyme, Connecticut, as well as the Festival Series in Beaufort, South Carolina and Chamber Music on Main at the Columbia Museum in Columbia, SC. Additionally, Mr. Arron curates a series, “Edward Arron and Friends,” at the Caramoor International Music Festival, and is the co-artistic director along with his wife, pianist Jeewon Park, of the new Performing Artists in Residence series at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Dr. Janice Crews (oboe) is an oboist, music educator, and arts manager from Athens, Georgia. Dr. Crews has performed with many professional orchestras throughout North America and Mexico and has performed as a guest recital artist and master class instructor throughout the U.S. and in both Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo, Brazil.  She currently works for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra as the Director of Education and Community Engagement.

Two-time Grammy nominee and Avery Fisher career grant recipient Jennifer Frautschi (violin) has garnered worldwide acclaim as an adventurous musician with a remarkably wide-ranging repertoire. Highlights of her past season included performances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Tucson Symphony, as well as return engagements with the Alabama, Arkansas, Belo Horizonte , Chattanooga, Phoenix, and Toledo Symphonies and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. This past summer she performed at the Ojai, La Jolla, Santa Fe, Moab, Bridgehampton, and SaltBay Music Festivals.  Her discography includes the Stravinsky Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Robert Craft, and two Grammy-nominated recordings with the Fred Sherry Quartet, of Schoenberg’s Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra  and the Schoenberg Third String Quartet.  Her most recent releases are a recording of Romantic Horn Trios, with hornist Eric Ruske and pianist Stephen Prutsman, and the Stravinsky Duo Concertant with pianist Jeremy Denk.  With pianist John Blacklow she will release two discs on Albany Records this year:  the first devoted to the Schumann sonatas; the second an exploration of recent additions to the violin and piano repertoire by American composers.   Born in Pasadena, California, Ms. Frautschi was a student of Robert Lipsett at the Colburn School; she also attended Harvard, NEC, and Juilliard, where she studied with Robert Mann. She performs on a 1722 Antonio Stradivarius violin known as the “ex-Cadiz,” on generous loan from a private American foundation.

Zachary Hammond  (oboe) is currently the principal oboist of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Before coming to Charleston, he was the principal oboist of  “Symphoria” in Syracuse, New York.  Zac has performed with many other orchestras throughout the country including the Rochester Philharmonic, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony and the Lake Placid Sinfonietta.   Zac is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music.

Julia Harlow (harpsichord) is the Director of Music and Organist at Second Presbyterian Church and keyboardist for KKBE synagogue.  She teaches music privately and at the College of Charleston. She is originally from Iowa and obtained her masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Oregon, in Eugene.  In 2010 she started an ensemble, La Belle Musique, which showcases music of the 17th and 18th centuries, notably that of women composers (Facebook:  La Belle Musique, Charleston, SC).  For forty years, she also played and taught the Scottish bagpipes.

Frances Hsieh (violin) earned bachelor degrees in Music and Biology at Duke University and a Master’s in Violin Performance at the Eastman School of Music.  She is a member of Chamber Music Charleston, has won positions with the Colorado Music Festival and the Richmond, Asheville and Charleston symphony orchestras.  She also performs with the North Carolina, Phoenix and Hilton Head symphonies.

Grammy award-winning violinist Karen Kim (violin) is widely hailed for her sensitive musicianship and passionate commitment to chamber and contemporary music. She has performed extensively throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, appearing in such venues and concert series as Carnegie Hall’s Zankel and Weill Recital Halls, Lincoln Center, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York; the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society and Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Her recordings as a founding member of the Parker Quartet from 2002 to 2012 include the complete string quartets of György Ligeti, which received the Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance in 2011. With the Parker Quartet, Karen Kim also received the Grand Prize and Mozart Prize at the 2005 Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition.

Charles Messersmith (clarinet) began playing the clarinet in California at the age of 8. He attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and received a Bachelor of Music degree (while studying with Franklin Cohen) in 1991.  He then went on to receive his Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music while studying with David Breeden (San Francisco Symphony).  After graduation, he became the principal clarinet of the Augusta symphony and performed there for four years.  In 1998 he was appointed by national auditions to the Second Clarinet position with the Charleston Symphony, and in 2005 to the Principal Clarinet position.  He has also performed with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra as co-principal clarinet since 2006. Along with regular performances with the Charleston Symphony and Chamber Music Charleston, he performs all around the Lowcountry with local, national, and internationally renowned chamber musicians as well as for Piccolo Spoleto programs in the spring. In the summers he performs in Virginia at the Wintergreen Music Festival in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  He has been featured as soloist with the Charleston Symphony on numerous occasions, performing the Copland Clarinet concerto, the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, and the Weber Concerto in F Minor.

Amy Schwartz Moretti (violin) is an accomplished chamber musician, solo artist, teacher and concertmaster.  Mentored by Isaac Stern at his Chamber Music Workshop in Carnegie Hall, Ms. Moretti performed in Carnegie’s main hall as first violinist of the award-winning Cambiata String Quartet.  She made her international recital debut as violin winner of the 1997 Irving M. Klein International String Competition.  Her Carnegie Hall solo concerto debut was in 1998 with the New York Youth Symphony, a few months before graduating valedictorian from the Cleveland Institute.  The following year, she won the concertmaster audition of The Florida Orchestra marking the beginning of her professional career.  Ms Moretti is Director of the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Georgia and is also a member of the Ehnes String Quartet.

Born and raised in central Massachusetts, Sandra Nikolajevs (bassoon) began her formal musical education at the Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Juilliard School in New York City.  She furthered her education at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, as the first American in the German Bassoon Studio of acclaimed solo bassoonist Pascal Gallois.   An avid chamber musician, Ms. Nikolajevs has performed chamber music in Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.  Ms. Nikolajevs is currently Principal Bassoonist of the Savannah Philharmonic and has held the same position with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, South Carolina Philharmonic and Augusta Symphony. She is Founder, President and Artistic Director of Chamber Music Charleston.

Timothy O’Malley (cello) was first introduced to the cello at the age of nine when he participated in a strings program in Tucson, Arizona. Since then, his studies have brought him across the United States and to Europe. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and his Master’s degree in Orchestral Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. He is a member of Chamber Music Charleston and a Fabrication Specialist with Boeing South Carolina.

Dr. Irina Pevzner (piano) was born in Ukraine and raised in Latvia. After graduating from the Riga Jazep Medins Music College, she moved to the United States. Dr. Pevzner holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of South Carolina, a Master of Music degree in piano performance from Carnegie Mellon University, Artist Certificate from the College of Charleston, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania.  Irina has performed in Latvia, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Brazil, and throughout the East Coast of the U. S.  Locally, she has performed at the Monday Night Concert Series, International Piano Series, and in numerous programs with Chamber Music Charleston.  Dr. Pevzner is the Executive Director of the Charleston Academy of Music.

Ghadi Shayban (piano) was born in Beirut in 1983, at the height of the Lebanese Civil War.  He started learning piano after emigrating to Canada.  An artist at home in any genre, Ghadi has served as the principle keyboardist with the Charleston and Hilton Head orchestras and has directed musicals in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, as well as Charleston.  His piano teachers have included Clifton Matthews, Enrique Graf, the late Earl Wild, and Ilana Vered.  He holds degrees in piano and conducting from Carnegie Mellon University.

Debra Sherrill-Ward (horn) is a proud founding member of Chamber Music Charleston.  Debra is also a member of the North Charleston Pops!, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and the Savannah Philharmonic.  During the summers, she is the director of the Charleston Horn Camp and is a participant with the St. Augustine Music Festival and Loon Lake Live.  Before moving to the Lowcountry, she held the positions of Associate Principal Horn of the Barcelona Symphony and Principal Horn of the South Dakota Symphony.

Ben Weiss (viola) earned degrees in violin and viola performance from Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music. While in Bloomington, he was a member of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and the Carmel, Terre Haute and Richmond symphony orchestras.  In addition to Chamber Music Charleston, he performs regularly with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and teaches at the College of Charleston.

Jenny Blickensderfer Weiss (violin) completed her Bachelor’s degree and Performance Diploma at Indiana University. While living in Bloomington, she was a member of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and the Carmel, Terre Haute and Richmond symphony orchestras. She enjoys performing with her husband, Ben, and performs regularly with Chamber Music Charleston and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.

Jean Williams (bass) earned Bachelor’s degree in music from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA where she studied with Henry Scott and Neil Courtney of the Philadelphia Orchestra. She served as a string teacher for the Council Rock School District in Bucks County, PA before moving to Charleston. She is a former member of the Greenville Symphony and the South Carolina Philharmonic and is an active freelance musician in the Charleston area.

Regina Helcher Yost (flute) plays second flute for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, assistant principal flute/piccolo at the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, flute with Chamber Music Charleston, and is an Adjunct Professor of flute at Charleston Southern University.   Previously, she was associate principal flute/piccolo for the Honolulu Symphony, second flute/piccolo for the Knoxville Symphony, and acting second flute for the St. Louis Symphony. She has also substituted with Minnesota Orchestra and the Atlanta and Detroit symphonies.