2019 Master Artists
“In the hands of Nina Assimakopoulos, the flute is a kite, a nymph, a bolt of lightning.” ( Rochester City Paper ) Internationally acclaimed flutist and Altus Performing Artist Nina Assimakopoulos has been hailed as ”...a marvel!” ( Münchner Merkur ), and a versatile virtuoso with a “dramatic sense of pacing” who demonstrates “not just perfect technique and total breath control but supreme intelligent, elegant phrasing; broad tone color; lyricism; a full range of dynamic expression; and above all STYLE that paints the differences from Bach to Bartok…” ( American Record Guide ).
A champion of contemporary music, Nina Assimakopoulos is credited with over 80 international world-premiere performances and commissions, as well as multimedia collaborative projects and concerts integrating baroque through contemporary flute music with visual and digital arts, dance, and theater.
She has performed as a soloist all over the world including solo recitals at Carnegie Hall, The Alden Theater “Rising Stars” Concert Series in Washington, D.C., the “Dame Myra Hess Radio Broadcast Concert Series” in Chicago, the “Live from Hochstein” radio broadcast concert series in Rochester, New York, and the AmBul New Music Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Career Highlights include her New York Solo Debut at Carnegie Hall, solo recitals at The Alden Theater “Rising Stars” Concert Series in Washington, D.C., the “Dame Myra Hess Radio Broadcast Concert Series” in Chicago, the “Live from Hochstein” radio broadcast concert series in Rochester, New York, and the AmBul New Music Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria.
She has performed with the Munich City Opera, Bavarian Radio Symphony Academy Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra, and Toledo Symphony Orchestra.
Assimakopoulos is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the Aaron Copland Fund Grant for New Music Recording, two Fulbright Grants, the National Society of Arts and Letters Career Award, the Yehudi Menuhin Chamber Music Endowment, and the Munich Academy of Music “Meisterklasse” Certificate.
Her solo recordings include Flute Impressions, Arcadian Murmurs, and Points of Entry, Works for Solo Flute by American Women Composers, Volumes I and II released on Capstone Records and Euterpe Recordings.
In great demand as a teacher, Nina Assimakopoulos has given master classes all over the world including Mozarteum, Austria; Ljubljana Academy of Music, Slovenia; Munich Academy of Music, Germany; National Music Academy, Sofia, Bulgaria; and in the USA at the Eastman School of Music; Arizona State University; University of North Texas; University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Michigan; Michigan State University; Flute Festival Mid-South; Great Lakes Flute Festival; and the Iowa Flute Society Flute Fair.
Her students have been finalists and prize-winners in numerous competitions including the Fischoff Competition, the Alexander and Buono International Flute Competition, and the National Flute Association, Rochester Flute Association, Southeast Michigan Flute Association, Mid-Atlantic Flute Association, Oklahoma Flute Association, and Kentucky Flute Association Young Artist Competitions.
Assimakopoulos is flute professor at West Virginia University, where she hosts the annual five day International Flute Symposium at West Virginia University, featuring the most diverse offering of workshops and master classes as well as the largest roster of acclaimed flutists of any university flute symposium in the country.
In addition to her work as a musician, Assimakopoulos is a prize-winning painter whose work has been exhibited at museums and in internationally juried shows.
Nina Assimakopoulos studied with Peter Lloyd at the Indiana University School of Music and Paul Meisen at the Munich Academy of Music.
Described as a virtuoso flutist by the Boston Globe, Alberto Almarza brings a unique and passionate approach to music. His versatility and musicianship have led him to perform and record some of the most adventurous and challenging pieces from the music of today as well as works from the standard repertoire and Baroque literature on period instruments.
A native of Chile, Mr. Almarza previously held the position of Principal Flute of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago. He later came to the United States to study with Jeanne Baxtresser in New York and with Julius Baker at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he obtained his Master’s degree. He currently serves on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon as Associate Professor of Flute and Head of the Flute Department.
His skills as a pedagogue, lecturer and recitalist have led to invitations from international festivals in the U.S., Europe, Korea and Latin America, and most recently, to perform at a TED TALK Conference. He was a resident artist and member of the faculty at The Jeanne Baxtresser International Master Classes, and has served at the National Flute Association Advisory Board for New Music and the Professional and Artistic Development Committee
Mr. Almarza has appeared as soloist with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Memphis Symphony, BachFest Chamber Orchestra, and the Philharmonic, National Symphony and National Chamber Orchestras of Chile, and has collaborated with such artists as Julius Baker, Andrés Cárdenes, Alex Klein, Lionel Party and the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, among others. As a leading proponent of new music for the flute, Mr. Almarza has been instrumental in expanding the repertoire with numerous commissions and premieres of works by composers from around the world. Pieces written for him include four flute concertos and dozens of solo and chamber works.
He can be heard on radio broadcasts of International Music from Carnegie Mellon throughout North and South America, on compact discs from New Albion, Elán, Albany Records and Centaur Recordings as well as on a recently released Naxos Records compact disc of the Flute Concerto by Reza Vali with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.
Maxim Rubtsov Website
I nternationally acclaimed flutist Maxim Rubtsov has been called “miraculous,” “superb,” “absolutely impeccable” and “one of the best flutists of the Modern Age.” He is also one of Russia’s best musical ambassadors.Appointed Principal Flute of the Russian National Orchestra in 2003, Rubtsov has been given unprecedented solo opportunities with the RNO by its founding conductor Mikhail Pletnev and by others in the RNO collegium of conductors. These opportunities have included the Russian premiere of John Corigliano’s Pied Piper Fantasy in 2004 under the baton of Alexander Vedernikov. Of the performance the composer said, “Maxim Rubtsov is the perfect Pied Piper. He has both the charm and excitement that a great performer must have. With his movie star looks and charisma, and his magnificent playing and acting of the part, the legendary piper becomes alive for all to see.”
With Vladimir Jurowski and the RNO in 2007 Rubtsov performed Mozart’s Flute Concerto in G Major, after which Jurowski wrote, “Mr. Rubtsov is the sort of person who can stand on the concert stages of the world and inspire harmonious relations through his music and his personality.”
In addition to his solo work, Rubtsov has performed hundreds of faultless and surpassingly beautiful solo passages in symphonic music which are preserved in recordings of the RNO on the PentaTone Classics label. In 2011, Blue Griffin Recordings of Lansing, Michigan will release his solo CD “Maxim Rubtsov, Russian Romance,” with pianist Sergei Kvitko.
Born in 1977 in Bryansk, Russia, Maxim Rubtsov began to study piano at age five. At age seven he danced with the famous Moiseyev Dance Company and only later did he begin flute lessons. At age 13 he transferred to Moscow’s Gnesin Academy of Music and subsequently graduated with an advanced degree in music from the Moscow State Conservatory. Rubtsov joined the flute section of the RNO in 1999 and was appointed Associate Principal the following year, at the time the youngest ever to hold this position in the history of the orchestra.
At the invitation of Michael Tilson Thomas, Rubtsov was in residence with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for its July 2002 Russian Festival and performed each of the festival’s four musical programs. This residency opened a series of professional exchanges between the RNO and major U.S. orchestras under the Cultural Allies initiative of the Russian Arts Foundation.
In addition to his extensive orchestral work, Rubtsov regularly performs in chamber ensembles and is the leader and a founding member of the Russian National Orchestra Wind Quintet, which took top honors in the Fifth Annual Osaka International Chamber Music Competition. Together with the RNOWQ he has explored jazz and other genre-bending compositions, including the works of Chris Brubeck for wind quintet and jazz quartet, as well as adaptations of Peter and the Wolf and Wolf Tracks for children. Rubtsov has shared the stages of Europe in chamber performances with pianists Mikhail Pletnev and Francesco Schlimé.
December 2007 marked Rubtsov’s U.S. recital debut, with pianist Valentina Lisitsa, presented by Friends of Chamber Music of Miami. The Miami Herald called his playing “virtually faultless” and stated “he possesses a stellar technique.”
In October 2008 Maxim Rubtsov created a series of solo flute performances for children presented by the Bryansk Philharmonic. His recent collaborations with contemporary dance masters have included performances in Russia with Denis Boroditsky and Germaul Barnes.
In September and October 2009 Rubtsov toured the United States presenting concerts and master classes in five states, including the U.S. premiere of Andrey Rubtsov’s Divertimento in E Major arranged for flute and piano. His tour recital programs included compositions for solo flute, alto flute, flute and organ, as well as flute and piano. He also appeared as a flutist-dancer in performances choreographed by Germaul Barnes, Sarah M. Barry, and Rita Snyder. Excerpts of Rubtsov’s 2009 recital of Russian music with pianist Pamela Penick presented by the University of Alabama Celebrity Series were re-broadcast on 245 public radio stations across the United States.
As a performer and composer, Dr. Keeling regularly presents chamber and solo music across the New York City area. She has appeared at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, and the Firehouse Space, and at festivals such as the National Flute Association convention. As an orchestral musician, Dr. Keeling has served as principal flutist, piccoloist, and soloist with orchestras such as the Ureuk Symphony Orchestra and the New York Harmonic Band. She is the winner of the 2018 Flute Society of Kentucky New Music Competition. Internationally, she has performed solo in Italy with Grammy-award winning artist Rhonda Larson. Dr. Keeling's compositions have been premiered at the National Flute Association conventions and the Make Music New York Festival.
As a teacher, Dr. Keeling has led masterclasses on Baroque performance practice, music technology, performance health, and improvisation. She has experience teaching undergraduate flute lessons, woodwind methods courses, and coaching chamber ensembles. She is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda (National Music Honor Society) and the National Flute Association, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Flute Society of Kentucky.
Dr. Keeling holds degrees from The Graduate Center, CUNY (D.M.A., Music Performance), Middle Tennessee State University (M.A., Music Performance), and Western Kentucky University (B.S., Music Education). She has performed in masterclasses with Michel Debost, Keith Underwood, Alexa Still, Brad Garner, and abroad with Rhonda Larson in Italy. Dr. Keeling has studied with Robert Dick, Deanna Hahn Little, and Heidi Pintner Álvarez.
Melissa Keeling is best-known for her works for electric flute and Glissando Headjoint.
In addition to her flute performance career, Morgan is currently a Resident Flutist at The Flute Center of New York, and tour manager with The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass Band. In 2017, she developed a social media marketing and management business and continues to work with private clients to help build, promote, and manage their social media platforms.
Morgan graduated from Aaron Copland School of Music with a Masters in Flute Performance, and attended New York University on a Talent Scholarship for her Bachelor of Music where she graduated manga cum laude.
For more information on Morgan’s social media marketing and management enterprise please visit www.MorganPappasNYC.com. Information on her flute performances can be found at www.MorganFlute.com.
A musician of unusual versatility and natural musicality, Joshua began his musical life in rural Pennsylvania as a violist at the age of 8. By 13, he was performing in chamber groups, school orchestras, local and regional symphonies playing violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and saxophone. This early exposure to expression via a multitude of musical voices kindled a deep love of the tools musicians use to create their art, and a recognition that there is as much artistry that goes into creating a musical instrument as there is in performing on one.
Following studies at the Juilliard School and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, after taking a break from performing to focus on other interests (during this time, he obtained a certification in patisserie/baking, another lifelong passion; as well as a short but intensely satisfying career as a busy makeup artist in the San Francisco fashion scene), he realized that his true calling lay in the orchestra pits of the musical theater where he could make full use of his multi-instrumental abilities, both in New York City and abroad; as a musician in the orchestras of half a dozen different national and international Broadway productions, he has played in venues ranging from Atwood Hall in Anchorage, Alaska to Suntory Hall and Theatre Orb in Tokyo.
A versatile recording musician, Joshua has been featured on various musical theatre cast albums, television commercials, and film projects. Recently, he recorded every woodwind part that we heard in the hit BBC documentary about the legendary late Princess Diana entitled “Diana: In Her Own Words”, aired around the world on National Geographic, and can also most recently be heard as the flutist/alto flutist/piccolo player in the original cast album of the Yiddish “Fiddler On The Roof” revival, on Time Life Records.
During his global travels over the past decade, he has been fortunate enough to indulge his passion for the tools of the trade, play-testing every woodwind instrument he could possibly get his hands on and accumulating a vast wealth of knowledge and experience in all things woodwind-related, which lead to the birth of his wildly popular woodwind blog, “So Many Instruments, So Little Time”, which seeks to inform both the casual and career woodwind artist in all facets of the breadth of instruments available beyond the narrow list of familiar makes and models most people have grown up with. (His article detailing 17 of the top international oboe makers alone has garnered over 45,000 individual views as well as printings in various publications). Half a million readers later, he has becomegreatly sought after as a resource and consultant by many who are overwhelmed with their options when purchasing a new instrument, and over the last year, he has been approached by makers of various woodwinds to participate in the development and refinement of both new and existing products.
Joshua exclusively plays Sankyo flutes, as well as Powell and Hammig piccolos, which you can hear him playing 8 times a week in the pit of “Fiddler On The Roof” in New York City at 42ndStreet’s Stage42 theater.
BETA Quartet is a professional chamber music ensemble comprised of national and international prize-winning flutists Eftihia Arkoudis, Tatiana Cassetta, Dr. Alyssa Schwartz, and Meg Brennan. As advocates for new music, BETA is actively engaged in chamber music competitions, conventions, performances, and community outreach across the nation.
As strong competitors, BETA has won First Prize at the West Virginia Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Chamber Music Competition, First Prize at the Flute Society of Kentucky Quartet Competition, and advanced to the semi-finals in the 2017 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.
BETA has perform and held workshops at the Florida Flute Association Convention, the Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention, and the Flute Society of Greater Philadelphia Flute Day. Actively engaging in outreach, they have given concert tours and masterclasses around Metro-Detroit and West Virginia. In 2017, they were the resident artist at the International Flute Symposium.
BETA has been awarded grants from Friends of Flutes Foundations and the West Virginia University CCA. They are sponsored by Flute Specialists, Inc.
BETA has released their debut album with ℗2017 Merandi Records.
Ensemble in Residence
The Acronite Quartet is the honors graduate flute quartet of West Virginia University. Consisting of Masters students Samantha Donnell, Michelle Li, David Stedge, and Lauren Zwonik, the group recently placed 2nd in teh 2019 WVMTNA Chamber Music Wind Competition and 3rd in the 2019 WVU ChaMP Competition and has performed for WVU ChaMP Master Classes, Music at the Pylons, Student Appreciation and Audition Days. WVU's Acronite Quartet is committed to project-based educational and outreach performance.
Greek flutist and Trevor James Low Flutes Artistp;as an Adjunct Flute Professor, while a doctorate candidate on a graduate assistantship at West Virginia University. She is a winner of WVU’s Young Artist and International Grand Prize Virtuoso Competition (2016), an alternate winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society and National Flute Association Convention ‘Into the Music’ Masterclass, a finalist for The American Prize Competition (2018), and an alternate finalist of Byron Hester Competition (2015).
As an orchestral and chamber musician, she served as the principal flutist of Orpheus Kammerochester Wien , Ju nges Tonkünstler Orchester , Greek-Turkish Youth Symphony Orchestra , WVU Symphony Orchestra , and numerous other ensembles, giving her the opportunity to perform and record in prestigious venues of Greece, Austria, Germany, and Turkey. Currently, she performs as a founding member of the award-winning and recording artist BETA Quartet , who were semifinalists in Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and winners of the Flute Society of Kentucky Flute Quartet Competition (2017).
Arkoudis has performed the world premiere of several new works and has a passion for adding a theatrical element in her interpretations. Her musical activities have been supported by grants from WVU and Friends of Flutes Foundation, the Susan B. Hardesty, Eleana T. Donley, and Valerie Canady scholarships. She has performed in the masterclasses of Alberto Almarza, Krzysztof Kaczka, Lorna McGhee, Franscesca Arnorne, Erwin Klambauer, and Caroline Debonne, and was selected as a performer for the Jasmine Choi International Masterclass in Austria (2013) and the William Bennett Flute Academy in the US (2017).
Arkoudis graduated with her M.M. from West Virginia University, holds artistic diplomas with honorary awards from the Prayner Konservatorium Wien and the Athens Conservatoire, and has a Bachelor’s in Science from the Technological Institute of Athens. Her primary teachers are Nina Assimakopoulos, Reza Najfar, Urs Ruttiman, Panagioti Drakos, and Danae Kioupouroglou.
For full bio visit: https://www.eftihiavarkoudisflute.com/biography
Lauren has performed and conducted under the batons of Jeffery Domoto, Dr. Brian Doyle, Dr. Michael Haithcock, Dr. Steven Meyer, Dr. James Madeja, and Colonel Michael Colburn, She had had the honor of performing with the WVU Opera Ensemble, Crane Opera Ensemble, Crane Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Northern New York, and Northern Symphonic Winds.
Lauren has been a featured soloist with the Vermont Youth Orchestra as well as a distinguished clinician, soloist, and mentor in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Jamaica. This spring, she will be attending an international Fife and Drum Festival, held in Basel, Switzerland.
Lauren has almost a decade of teaching experiences around the world, including the K-12 Band Director in Harrisville, New York, music director at the Holy Name of Jesus Academy in Massena, New York, and three years as the conductor of the Clarkson University Orchestra. Lauren immensely enjoyed her position as the adjunct professor of flute at St. Lawrence University for two years. She is currently balancing active private studio of 25 students in three states: Vermont, New York, and West Virginia.
Past professors have included Kenneth Andrews and Berta Frank.
Samantha has eight years of teaching experience with private flute lessons, sectionals, chamber and full band ensembles at numerous schools, including- Stephen F. Austin State University Preparatory Music Division and members of the West Virginia University Flute Studio. She teaches fast-paced, with a vivacious, contagious energy that aids in equipping her students with the necessary tools to succeed as young musicians.
In 2015, Samantha was selected, by audition, to perform in the Mid-South Flute Society College Masterclass for piccoloist Jean-Louis Beaumadier, held at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. For four consecutive years, Samantha was selected as the first prize winner in both the Undergraduate Solo and Undergraduate Chamber Divisions in the Denise Jennings Competition at the Houston Flute Club. In 2017, she won 2ndprize in the Great Composer’s Competition.
Samantha has professionally performed in the Longview Symphony Orchestra, Marshall Symphony Orchestra and the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed as a student in the Stephen F. Austin Orchestra of the Pines and West Virginia University Symphony Orchestra and West Virginia University Wind Symphony.
Samantha is currently a member of the Acronite Flute Quartet. She is a competitive musician in the solo and chamber music world. She resides in Morgantown, West Virginia, where she teaches private lessons and is the flute choir director for the WVU Flute Studio.
Flutist Michelle Li graduated from Binghamton University in 2017, earning a B.A. in Music with Highest Honors and a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing. At Binghamton, Michelle was Co-Principal Flute of the Binghamton University Symphony Orchestra, and she performed frequently on flute studio recitals, Mid-Day Concerts sponsored by the music department, performance classes, and on and off campus with various flute chamber ensembles.
In 2016, Michelle made her orchestral debut with the Binghamton University Symphony Orchestra, performing Jacques Mouquet’s “La Flute de Pan” as a winner of the university’s Concerto Competition. As a founding member of the Horseheads Quartet, Michelle toured upstate New York in summer 2016, performing original arrangements of popular music. She co-founded DuoMotive with pianist Michael McAndrew, a flute and piano chamber duo focusing on new and contemporary music. The duo premiered "Lost and Found" by award-winning composer Nathan Scalise in July 2018.
Michelle currently studies with Nina Assimakopoulos at West Virginia University, where she performs with the Acronite Flute Quartet and the WVU Wind Symphony. Past instructors include Georgetta Maiolo and Angela McBrearty.
IFS Piano Collaborator
Armenian pianist Vahan Sargsyan graduated from Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory, under tutelage of Elza Tandilyan and his father, renowned pianist Villi Sargsyan.
He became Laureate of the International Piano Competition in Rio-de- Janeiro, Brazil. Few times over the last decade he was named a winner of Pittsburgh Concerto Society auditions as a soloist and in Duo/Trio chamber music categories. Mr. Sargsyan has concertized in Armenia, Georgia, Italy, Russia, Austria, Argentina, Brazil, USA, and Canada, his recordings being released by Alanna, Aerophon and Ablaze Records.
Mr. Sargsyan’s solo concerto performance in 2004 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra led to regular appearances at the orchestra keyboards, along with his solo and chamber performances in the Americas and Europe at various festivals, concerts, and masterclasses. Currently, he is a collaborative pianist and chamber music instructor at the Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.