April 22, 2007

  UNF String Ensemble Dr. Simon Shiao, conductor
   Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings and works by Diamond, Dvorák & Hovhaness
   Maurice Ravel's Piano Trio
   performed by
   Simon Shiao, violin
   Alexei Romanenko, cello
   Gary Smart, piano

The virtuoso string players of the University of North Florida String Ensemble consist of students and faculty as well as outstanding community musicians. The String Ensemble performs a wide range of repertoire from early Baroque to contemporary music with an emphasis on performing and promoting the music of great American composers.

In addition to the annual concerts in the University of North Florida's Lazzara Performance Hall, the UNF String Ensemble also performs regularly in area schools and other Jacksonville concert venues, including the March 4, 2007, Intermezzo presentation of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with the UNF Opera Ensemble.

Dr. Simon Shiao is the Gerson Yessin Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of North Florida, where he teaches violin and viola, and is the Director of Orchestral Studies. He has presented lecture-recitals and masterclasses at numerous universities and conservatories in the U.S., Belize, Taiwan and China. Dr. Shiao is the chair of the solo competition for the Florida Chapter of the American String Teachers Association, and has adjudicated the Music Teachers' National Association Young Artist Competitions and the UNF String Competition.

A versatile player, he holds the distinction of having performed at Carnegie Hall as a recitalist and with both string quartet and orchestra. Dr. Shiao has appeared around the world in concert, as well as on broadcasts of CNN's Science and Technology program and on Public Radio's Live on WGBH Radio. He was co-concertmaster of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, and currently performs with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and with the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra in Wyoming.

In February 2006, Dr. Shiao and UNF music professor Dr. Gary Smart became the first artists to perform an Intermezzo concert, presenting The Kreutzer Project, featuring Beethoven's legendary Kreutzer Sonata for violin and piano. Next season, Dr. Shiao will join soprano Katherine Cromley for an Intermezzo Sunday Concert, on October 21, 2007.

Dr. Shiao holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music, and Master and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra Principal Cellist Alexei Romanenko, born in Vladivostok, Russia (12.28.1974), began playing the cello at age six and by the time he was twelve had won First Prize in the Far-Eastern Competition for Strings. He continued his studies at the Moscow Conservatory, and in 1993 he garnered top prize in the Gnesina Cello competition. Awarded a scholarship to study with Laurence Lesser and Bernard Greenhouse at the New England Conservatory of Music, Mr. Romanenko came to the United States in 1998, and in the process renewed old family ties to this country: Alexei's great-great-grandmother was an American Indian, and his Granddad Pit, who was brought to Russia in 1914 at age 6, had been born in Seattle, Washington.

In 1999, Mr. Romanenko received the Presser Music Award in Boston and won First Prize at the 8th International Music Competition in Vienna, Austria. And in 2002, he won the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra Cello Fellowship Competition.

Alexei Romanenko has been heard in live radio broadcasts on WGBH Radio in Boston, and on the international broadcast of "Voice of America" in Russia, from WFMT Fine Arts Radio, Chicago. He also appeared in "Old First Concerts," on San Francisco's KTVU-Channel 2. Mr. Romanenko has performed in New York at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, Cambridge's Pickmann Hall, Montgomery's Davis Theatre, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. and in Chicago's Preston Bradley Hall. Among his career highlights Mr. Romanenko includes joining legendary cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich in a gala concert at Berlin's Brandenburg Gates in 2000, and performing for former President Bill Clinton in 2001.

Mr. Romanenko joined the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra during the 2005-2006 season, and although his solo career takes him far and wide, area solo performances this season include Dvorák's Cello Concerto with the Coastal Symphony of Georgia (October 16, 2006), and Haydn's Cello Concerto no. 1 with the JSO (March 9, 2007). He also teaches at the University of Florida, in Gainesville.

A unique and distinguished musician, Gary Smart is a composer and pianist with an abiding interest in Americana, world music and jazz, as well as with the Western classical music tradition. His career has encompassed a wide range of activities in all these areas, and he may be the only pianist to have studied with Yale scholar/keyboardist Ralph Kirkpatrick, the great Cuban virtuoso Jorge Bolet, and the master jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.

Dr. Smart received his education at Indiana University, the Hochschule fur Musik Köln (Germany) and Yale University, and has performed in the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Asia and the United States as soloist, accompanist and chamber music player.

A recipient of composition awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Music Educators National Conference, and other prestigious organizations, his music has been recorded on Mastersound Records and is published by Margun Music. The Major’s Letter, a CD featuring five of his song cycles sung by four singers with the composer at the piano, was recently released by Albany Records. Dr. Smart's The Songs I Sang, for mixed chorus and trumpet, was selected by the Orange Park Chorale for inclusion in their November 19, 2006, Intermezzo Sunday Concert of music by local composers, and the State of Florida's Division of Cultural Affairs includes excerpts of several of Dr. Smart's compositions on their website, available for online listening.

Also an award-winning teacher, Dr. Smart has taught at several institutions in Japan and as a Distinguished Fulbright Professor in Indonesia. Before coming to Jacksonville he was chair of the Music Department at the University of Wyoming, where he received the "President's Award" for outstanding faculty. From 1999-2003, he was the Chairman of the University of North Florida Department of Music, and is currently the Terry Professor of Music at UNF.

In February 2006, Dr. Gary Smart joined UNF music professor Dr. Shiao as the first artists to perform an Intermezzo concert, presenting The Kreutzer Project, featuring Beethoven's legendary Kreutzer Sonata for violin and piano. In addition to this performance of the Ravel Piano Trio, this season's Intermezzo series also includes his March 18, 2007, Solo Recital, and on September 16, 2007 he joins baritone Krzysztof Biernacki to inaugurate our 2007-08 season.

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