We are so excited to partner with the Minnesota Opera for our upcoming performance of Classical Uprising: The [uncertain] Four Seasons. Below are the members of the MN Opera Orchestra that will be joining us onstage alongside GRAMMY-nominated violinist Jesse Irons under Dr. Emily Isaacson’s musical direction.
Violinist Allison Ostrander enjoys a multifaceted career as orchestral leader, versatile chamber musician, teacher, studio musician and freelance violinist. Currently, Ms. Ostrander performs as concertmaster of the Minnesota Opera and is a regular substitute violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Previously, she has held positions with the Naples Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, the Aspen Music Festival orchestra as an orchestra fellow,
the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Four Voices String Quartet, the Madison Symphony, the Spoleto festival, the Painted Sky chamber music festival in Flagstaff AZ, the IRIS Orchestra where she has held the Isaac Stern concertmaster chair on numerous concerts throughout her 20 years with the ensemble, and has been a guest artist with Twin Cities ensembles such as The Bakken Trio, LOFTrecital, Musical Offering, Music on the Hill chamber series, St. Croix Valley Opera, Vocalessence and Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion”.
In addition to her performing schedule, Ms. Ostrander is professor of violin and chamber music at the University of St. Thomas. She can be heard on the Naxos label performing Stephen Hartkes’ “Rose of the Winds” octet with members of IRIS Orchestra, as well as Kevin Puts’ 2012 Pulitzer Prize winning opera “Silent Night” with the Minnesota Opera. Her primary teachers include Margaret Pressley, Vartan Manoogian, Paul Kantor and David Perry. She holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in violin performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Julia is presently sitting Assistant Concertmaster of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, having been a core member of the orchestra since 1985. She began her career in Russia as a member of the Leningrad Conservatory Orchestra. After immigrating to the United States in 1977, she became a founding member of Minesota Sinfonia, and Concertmaster soon thereafter. She has performed with many of the region’s top freelance groups and maintains a prestigious private teaching studio.
David Mickens has been performing and teaching violin in the twin cities since 1981. He grew up in Colorado and holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from UNC. He holds a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University. He has played frequently with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and many other music ensembles in the twin cities. David has been a violinist in the Minnesota Opera Orchestra for the past 40 years. He enjoys time with family, traveling, and performing for services and recitals at his church.
Angela Waterman Hanson
Angela Waterman Hanson is a member of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra since 2005. She was concertmaster there during the 2006-2007 season, and performs with the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In 2021 she was named assistant concertmaster of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra. She is also concertmaster of the Saint Paul Civic Symphony and is a member of the Minnesota Sinfonia. Hanson completed her masters and doctorate at the University of Minnesota where she studied with internationally known pedagogue Sally O’Reilly. She is Professor of Violin at Bethel University and at the Free Lutheran Bible College both since 2008 and also maintains a private teaching studio out of her
home. Originally from Wheaton, Illinois, Hanson holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from St. Olaf College, where she studied under Charles Gray. She has performed locally as a freelancer with many groups. An avid chamber musician, Hanson was a founding member of the Mill City String Quartet. Solo opportunities include performances with the Bethel Symphony Orchestra, the Northern Symphony, the Dakota Valley Symphony and the Saint Paul Civic Symphony.
Laurie Petruconis maintains a diverse musical career as an orchestral, opera and chamber music player and as a Suzuki violin teacher. Ms. Petruconis performs regularly with the Minnesota Orchestra and is Principal Second Violin in the Minnesota Opera Orchestra. She joined the faculty of the Northern Lights School for Strings in 2003. She received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Oberlin Conservatory and her Master of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Minnesota. Ms. Petruconis studied with Jorja Fleezanis, Almita and Roland Vamos, and Stephen Clapp. Her Suzuki pedagogy training came from Doris Preucil, Nancy Lokken, Sue Baer, Alice Joy Lewis and Edmund Sprunger.
Elise Meichels Parker is assistant principal second violin of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, and is an active part of the Twin Cities music scene. Elise has recorded and performed with the Guthrie Theater, STRINGenius, and the Children’s Theatre Company. Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Broadway show performances include Ain’t Too Proud, My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly!, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, The King and I, and several tours of The Lion King. Elise also enjoys playing popular music, including performances with Stevie Wonder, The Who, The Eagles, Idina Menzel, Mannheim Steamroller, Evanescence, Celtic Thunder, Josh Groban, Amy Grant and Weird Al Yankovich, amongst others.. Elise has been a guest artist for ensembles including VocalEssence, Candlelight Concerts, LOFTrecital, Ladyslipper Ensemble, American Composers Forum, and An Opera Theatre. The Star Tribune has described her playing as “soulful,” while the Pioneer Press wrote “Elise Parker wrings pure beauty from her violin.”
As an avid orchestral musician, Elise has performed with numerous ensembles, including the Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, San Antonio Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Madison Opera, Madison Ballet, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, South Dakota Symphony, Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, KUHF Houston Public Radio Chamber Players, 21/20 Contemporary Ensemble at the Shepherd School of Music, and the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society.
Since 2010, Elise has been a teacher for the Augsburg University Suzuki Talent Education Program, a nationally and internationally recognized program. She also visits dozens of Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools giving classroom demonstrations, all-school orchestral performances, and conducting high school orchestra sectionals. She has been adjunct faculty at Augsburg University since 2019.
Elise received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From there she attended Rice University, earning a Master’s degree and was the recipient of the Distinguished Fellowship of Violin Award. She has studied privately with Kathleen Winkler, Vartan Manoogian, Maseo Kawasaki, Naoko Tanaka, and Nancy Lokken.
Elise plays on a Gasparo da Salò composite violin, whose back and ribs were made in 1580 in Brescia, Italy. (Da Salò is sometimes credited as the co-inventor of the modern violin.)
Heidi Amundson enjoys an eclectic freelance career here in the Twin Cities. She began studies on piano at age 5 and violin at 10 and has enjoyed studying with teachers such as Doris Preucil, James Maurer, Yumi Hwang-Williams, Cho Liang Lin, and Sally O’Reilly. As a core member of Minnesota Opera Orchestra, she has enjoyed playing many wonderful productions. Throughout the years she has played a wide variety of genres with groups ranging from the Minnesota Orchestra and Houston Ballet to Mannheim Steamroller and Kanye West. Additionally, she has enjoyed some Summertime fun participating in a quartet residency program with the Grand Teton Music Festival and this year was invited to play Alexfest in Alexandria, Minnesota. When not performing, she can be found at her home with husband Brit and six children. She enjoys homeschooling, gardening, reading, baking bread, and Brazilian embroidery. She holds degrees from The University of Denver and Rice University. Soli Deo Gloria
Emilia Mettenbrink lives in Minneapolis, MN and plays violin for both the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO. Born in 1979, she began violin studies at the age of 3 and won the Minnesota Sinfonia Young Artist Competition at the age of 9. She went on to study violin performance with Paul Kantor at the University of Michigan and received a graduate degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with David Perry. While in Madison Emilia served as the Assistant Concertmaster for the Madison Symphony Orchestra as well as playing for the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. She then moved to Miami where she spent four years with the New World Symphony Orchestra as a rotating principal and soloist. Emilia has a love for chamber music and was a member Breckenridge Music Festival for many years. Her summers include both Sömmerfest performances with the Minnesota Orchestra and opera with the Mill City Summer Opera creating live, open air performances in the ruins of the Mill City Museum of Minneapolis. Emilia moonlights as a yoga instructor for strength, health, balance, and tranquility.
Anne Ainomäe (viola) was born and raised in Estonia. She is an avid chamber
musician. Before moving to USA, Anne was a member of Tallinn Chamber
Orchestra and founding member of Prezioso String Quartet, which has won
numerous prizes in Europe, and recorded works of Schulhoff, Vasks, Webern and Rääts. Anne has worked with Estonian National Symphony, Nordic Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony; and is a regular performer with St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera Orchestra and Englewood Arts Chamber music series in Colorado.
Since 2019, Anne has been a viola and chamber music professor at Augsburg
University. Theatre work includes two month residency at Ritz Theatre in Minneapolis, performing Bernarda Alba in 2020. Ms Ainomae has studied at Sibelius Academy, Tallinn Academy of Music and Theatre and University of Denver Lamont School of Music.
Coca Bochonko, viola, is a freelance musician living in St. Cloud, Minnesota. She is a member of the Mill City String Quartet, Music St. Croix chamber ensemble, cofounder of the Loehrke-Bochonko Duo, as well as principal violist of the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra and the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra. She has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Vocal Essence, Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony and Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. During the summer of 2017, Coca was the violist for the Guthrie Theater’s production of Sunday in the Park with George. An avid collaborator and soloist, Ms. Bochonko has also performed numerous solo and chamber music recitals throughout the Midwest and Canada. She has made solo appearances with the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra, Long Prairie Chamber Orchestra, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra and Heartland Symphony Orchestra, and the Loehrke-Bochonko Duo has presented recitals across Minnesota as well as in Texas, Wisconsin, and Manitoba.
Coca studied viola at McGill University and Southern Methodist University. Her teachers include Sabina Thatcher, Ellen Rose, Heidi Castlemann, Victoria Chiang, Douglas McNabney and Joanne Martin. She has also participated in the residential summer programs at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Aspen Music Festival.
Chuck Krenner is a violist, arranger, composer, and artist, from St. Paul, MN. Chuck attended the Cleveland Institute of Music where he received his bachelor’s degree in performance on the viola. He studied viola with Thomas Turner, Mark Jackobs and Jeffrey Irvine. Chuck has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, the South Dakota Symphony, the Toledo Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony. From 2016-2018 he was associate principal for the South Dakota Symphony. Currently Chuck is a member of Minnesota Sinfonia as a violinist and violist, and he subs with the MN Opera. Chuck is an active freelancer around the Twin Cities and teaches violin and viola privately in St. Paul, MN.
Teresa Richardson, cellist, has been Acting Principal of the Minnesota Opera since 2018. Teresa has performed in many orchestras, including the Minnesota Orchestra, Mill City Summer Opera, Evansville Philharmonic, and Fort Wayne Philharmonic. She has performed with Bakken Trio, The Musical Offering, Zeitgeist, VocalEssence, and recorded for Prince. Teresa appeared as soloist with orchestra performing concertos by Elgar, Haydn, Saint-Saens, and Boccherini. Fulfilling a strong passion for teaching, Teresa is on the faculty at North Star Cello Academy. Teresa earned Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees in cello performance from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where she graduated with high distinction.
Cellist Kirsten Whitson performs extensively as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician. She has played throughout the US, Europe, Japan and Cuba with Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Milwaukee Symphony, Florida Orchestra and Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic. She has also performed at the Bellingham (WA) Festival of Music, Festival of the Lakes in Alexandria, MN, the Minnesota Beethoven Festival, the Grand Teton Music Festival, and with Zeitgeist New Music.
Kirsten has presented solo cello concerts throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota for over 20 years. She has been featured on programs broadcast by KFAI and Minnesota Public Radio. She is passionate about the extensive repertoire written for solo cello and has premiered several commissioned pieces. Composers Timothy C. Takach, David Evan Thomas, Carl Witt and Jocelyn Hagen have created music for her. One of Jocelyn Hagen’s pieces for her involved live digital looping. Kirsten can be heard on Centaur Records, playing chamber music by Louise Farrenc.
Kirsten received a B.M. and an Artist Diploma from Indiana University, where she studied with Fritz Magg and Janos Starker. While at Indiana University, Kirsten was Fritz Magg’s assistant and won a coveted Performer’s Certificate.
Kirsten received Artist Initiative Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board in 2002 and 2018, a grant from the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers in 2020, a Creative Support Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board in 2021, and was a 2020 McKnight Artist Fellow. She was selected as a 2022 Resident Artist at Ragdale, supported by the McKnight Foundation.
John Michael Smith
Has performed with the Minnesota Opera since 1980, and was appointed Principal Bass in 1999. Performed, recorded, and toured with both the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Orchestra. Performs with many Twin Cities and regional ensembles. Performed with the eclectic chamber music group HELIOS, with two CD recordings by that ensemble.