Virginia Symphony welcomes new members for 96th season is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra performing at Lake Matoaka Amphitheater at the College of William & Mary (Submitted)
The Virginia Symphony Orchestra performing at Lake Matoaka Amphitheater at the College of William & Mary (Submitted)

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra has welcomed seven new musicians into the ranks of Southeastern Virginia’s only full-time professional orchestra.

“We are thrilled with the new musicians who are joining us this season,” Music Director JoAnn Falletta said in a press release announcing the hires. “They bring their extraordinary talent and vibrant energy to our Orchestra, and we know that their artistry will increase the enjoyment of our audiences.”

The following biographies were provided by the Virginia Symphony:

Everett Burns (horn)

Burns joined the Virginia Symphony as Third/Associate Principal Horn in 2016. Prior to this he was active as a freelance musician, performing with groups including the Houston Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Hawaii Symphony, and Sarasota Orchestra. He was a member of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic for four years, first as Second Horn and later as Principal Horn. In 2012 he was a member of the pit orchestra for the tour of Shrek the Musical, which performed in the United States, Canada, China, and Malaysia.

As a soloist, Burns was awarded first prize in the International Horn Society’s Premier Solo Competition in 2009. He holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where he studied with Jeff Nelsen, Richard Seraphinoff, and Dale Clevenger. He received his Master of Music Degree at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he studied with William VerMeulen. He grew up in Richardson, Texas.

David Garcia (oboe)

Garcia, a native of South Texas, joins the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2016. An active freelancer throughout the Baltimore/Washington D.C. Metro area, he has performed with many of the region’s leading orchestras including the Washington National Opera, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Concert Artists of Baltimore, the Richmond Symphony, Maryland Symphony, and the New Orchestra of Washington, among others.

Garcia received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his Master of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory. His teachers include Katherine Needleman, Erin Hannigan, Robert Atherholt, and John Snow.

Ismar Gomes (cello)

Gomes performs across the US and Europe as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. Hailed for his “impressive virtuosity, energy, and a handsome tonal range” (Berkshire Review), Gomes has established himself as a captivating young artist with a commanding voice and a growing reputation for delivering exciting performances and innovative programming.

Aside from his regular work as a recitalist, chamber musician and orchestral cellist, Gomes has given 50+ world premiere performances, and is engaged in several commissioning projects. Recent collaborators include members of the Pittsburgh and Baltimore Symphonies, as well as members of the Johannes, and Brentano String Quartets. During the 2015 – 2016 season, Gomes served as a Fellow of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

On faculty at Loyola University of Maryland and Notre Dame of Maryland University, Gomes has enjoyed teaching young musicians for well over a decade, offering guest master classes at universities and in preparatory programs around the country. Most recently, Gomes was a faculty member and guest artist for StringFest at Merkin Hall, the Performing Arts Institute at Wyoming Seminary, and the CIM Summer Chamber Music Program, as well as a Young Artist at the Three Bridges International Music Festival – he is currently a Faculty Artist at the Rushmore Music Festival. In 2014, Ismar traveled to Africa for a series of Chamber Music concerts in Cameroon.

Yu-Chia Hsiao (violin)

Hsiao has been playing on a per service basis with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra since 2014. Yu-Chia, born in Taiwan, began studying violin at the age of seven. As a top prize winner of the Academy of Taiwan Strings Concerto Competition, she made her solo debut with the Academy of Taiwan Strings at the age of thirteen. In 2006, she performed Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy with Fu-Jian Dance Drama and Opera House Orchestra in Fu-Jian, China. She also gave well-received solo recitals in Taiwan in the summers of 2007 and 2010.

Hsiao’s numerous awards include the first prize in the Taiwan Music Competition, the Hsing-Tien Temple Competition, and the 5th International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians—Taiwan Pre-Audition; the finalist for the 7th Junior Arts of Toshiya Edo Violin Competition in Japan.

Laura Seay (viola)

Seay has been characterized as “a burst of unbound energy” (The East Hampton Star), and her enthusiasm for classical music continues to attract audiences across the globe. Seay first won national recognition in performance with Itzhak Perlman and members of the Perlman Music Program for a nationally televised broadcast of the 2003 “Live from Lincoln Center.”  Since then, she has appeared in performances across North America, Europe and Asia including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Carnegie Hall in New York City, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and Chicago Symphony Center.

As a soloist with orchestra, Seay has performed with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, University of Colorado Symphony, University of Northern Colorado Wind Ensemble, and the Denver Young Artists Orchestra.

An avid chamber musician, Seay has collaborated in performance with renowned artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Paul Katz, Donald Weilerstein, Roger Tapping, Jeremy Denk, and Nicholas Kitchen.  During the 2009-2011 seasons, Seay has performed as a member of the Vinca Quartet (The New York Times: “Stunning…musicians worth keeping an eye on.”) and was a founding member of the New York-based LK String Quartet, which is praised by The New York Times as “fiery and propulsive, with striking unanimity”, The Washington Post as “Gorgeous” and by The New York Sun as “exceptional…the future of classical music, which looked hale and hearty.”

Currently Seay serves on the faculties of the Governor’s School for the Artist in Norfolk, Virginia and Hampton Roads Chamber Players. She holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Viola Performance from The Juilliard School where she studied viola performance with Heidi Castleman, Steven Tenenbom, and Hsin-Yun Huang and chamber music with Robert Mann and David Soyer.

John Shawger (horn)

Shawger was appointed as Principal Horn for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s 2016-17 season after joining the orchestra as 4th horn in the fall of 2015. Shawger has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony and Filarmónica de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Originally from Milwaukee, Shawger completed his undergraduate degree in horn performance at Northwestern University in Illinois, also earning a minor in computer science. He continued his studies in the Master’s program at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. While at Colburn, Shawger  performed in Walt Disney Concert Hall as principal horn under maestros Gustavo Dudamel (Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5), James Conlon (Britten War Requiem) and Esa-Pekka Salonen (Stravinsky Firebird) with the Colburn Orchestra.

Shawger was a member of the YMF Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles from 2012-2015, joining the orchestra as 2nd horn, and was later appointed principal horn in 2013. An avid chamber musician, Shawger performed regularly on the Colburn Chamber Music Society series, collaborating with clarinetist Joaquin Valdepeñas and pianist Jon Kimura Parker.

Angelina Weber (violin)

Weber graduated from McGill University (Montreal, QC) in 2014 with a Master of Music degree, having studied with Mark Fewer and Alexander Read. Previously, Weber attended the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY) where she studied with Lynn Blakeslee and graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance, with Distinction.

As an avid orchestral musician, she has played with the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, the Strauss Symphony of Canada, Pronto Musica, Indiana University Festival Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute Festival Orchestra, McGill University Symphony Orchestra, and Eastman Philharmonia. Weber has performed as guest soloist with the Concordia Symphony Orchestra in Edmonton, and is an Alberta Provincial Music Festival award recipient in the category of Strings, Voice, and Creative Music. Currently, Weber maintains a private violin studio at the Virginia Beach School of the Arts. She lives in Norfolk with her husband, VSO trumpet player Adam Gandolfo.