FEATURED ARTISTS: WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH
March 25, 2022
Eleanor Núñez is an OC-based conductor, pianist, and educator with nearly 15 years of teaching experience. She graduated from California State University Fullerton with a Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting and a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance. Eleanor programs unique concerts that bridge the gap between the audience and musicians on stage. Her belief that music should be accessible to all shines through her creative repertoire programming, enthusiastic rehearsals, and inviting concert environment. Musically, Eleanor loves exploring “the classics” and pairing them with new, modern works. Her conducting experience spans orchestral, wind ensemble, and choral repertoires since she enjoys working with musical groups of all disciplines and genres. In her free time, Eleanor enjoys spending time outdoors with her adorable Maltipoo, Oboe! You can find Eleanor on Instagram @eleanornunez.
Christine Araoka is a composer, performer, and educator from Southern California. She writes and arranges for a wide selection of ensembles including big bands, jazz combos, brass bands, and has worked with groups such as Heartland Marimba, Lala Brass, and Pandemonium Prism. Likewise, Christine has recently returned from a tour of the UK with widely acclaimed pop singer Engelbert Humperdinck. Christine can be found as a working musician around the Los Angeles and Orange County area, playing jazz, pop, rock, and classical music. In addition to her performance career, Christine is also an accomplished educator, running her own private studio and teaching on faculty at UC Riverside.
Christine began her piano education from an early age, learning from her mother. Expanding her music education, she also studied choir and percussion in high school. After discovering her fascination with extended harmonies, she pursued both jazz and classical piano as well as percussion at Riverside City College under the mentorship of Charles Richard, Joel Paat, Judy Johansen, and Steven Schmidt.
Graduating Cum Laude, Christine received her Bachelor’s degree from California State University of Fullerton in 2018. There she pursued her studies in Jazz Performance under the mentorship of GRAMMY-Award winning pianist Bill Cunliffe, pianist and educator Alison Edwards, and established studio musician Francisco Torres.
In 2021 Christine received her Master’s Degree in Composition, graduating with a Magna Cum Laude from Azusa Pacific University under the mentorship of Phil Shackleton and Mark Gasbarro.
Currently, Christine is excited to present her new compositional work with Southern California Marimba, along with releasing her own music. As a composer, she strives to create cross-genre music that connects with listeners of all kinds.
When Christine is not writing or teaching, she can be found in jazz venues, botanical gardens, or in her patio propagating her plants.
Mackenzie Azela is a composer, oboist, guitarist and educator residing in Norwalk, California. As a composer Azela writes, records, and produces both in chamber and pop genres. Her most recent publication Love’s Hidden Life features rapper Labeezium in a three part music reflection on Søren Kierkegaard’s Work’s of Love. Her piece ‘Things To Be…’ for solo bassoon and pedal board will be premiered by esteemed bassoonist and doctoral candidate Emily Lazernik this April.
Azela performs as a guitarist for the chamber pop group EMÆL and as a bassist for indie singer-songwriter Krost. She typically serves as Synesthesia Sinfonietta’s audio engineer and is greatly honored to join as a composer and oboist for this concert.
Azela is an enthusiastic and passionate educator. She teaches on behalf of Young Musicians Foundation in Compton USD and LAUSD. Her curriculum focuses on American musical genres born out of cultural movements and technologic innovations of the 20th century. Her goal is to give her students the autonomy to perform and create music that they love.
Azela’s artist name was adopted in 2021 in honor of her abuela, Azela Borunda Baeza, and her family’s Tejano heritage.
FEATURED ARTISTS: TIS THE SEASON
December 3 & 4, 2021
Brianna Finnell, soprano, has just recently made her professional debut as Adele in Die Fledermaus with Pacific Lyric Association Opera. She has earned her MFA in Vocal Performance at University of California, Irvine and holds a bachelor of music from the same institution. At UCI, she appeared as Adele in Die Fledermaus and Emily Webb in Our Town. During the Covid 19 pandemic, she was recording vocals from her home studio for various churches and producers. Her videos have been shared by famous soprano Angel Blue, The McCallum Theatre and Theatre 29.
Tenor Soloist, David Sánchez has sung with many groups around the country. He has sung with the Men of Song as a Tenor soloist, and has also had the opportunity to sing at the Hollywood Bowl with Andrea Bocelli. Sánchez has also been seen on stage in roles such as Valentin in Kiss of the Spider Woman. He can currently be seen singing with the world renowned Gold Medal winning group Westminster Chorus. David Sánchez is a California State University, Fullerton graduate where he studied Music Education with an emphasis on instrumental education. In addition to being a successful vocalist, David Sánchez also studied clarinet and has been a member of the Synesthesia Sinfonietta Orchestra since it’s debut
JOSÉ LUIS MALDONADO
José Luis Maldonado, Jr. was born in Montebello, California and grew up in the city of Whittier. He began his musical studies at age 8 as a saxophonist. He did not begin singing until he was 19 years of age, when he studied Bel Canto with world class soprano, Ann Gresham.
"It is more than singing; we present our souls to the world through our instrument with words, music and body language. As an artist, I always want to create beauty and profundity through my singing."
Maldonado has been awarded music scholarships at Cerritos and Rio Hondo College, as well as, California State University, Fullerton. José is a member of the Los Angeles Opera College Advisory Comittee and has performed in several LA Opera Masterclasses. He is a proud member of the professional ensemble, project ERANOS. He was recently the winner of the New Century Singers young Artist Competition and was in Boston as a finalist for Classical Singer Magazine's Audition Plus Competition. José has also toured for schools (k-12) across Southern California performing " Songscapes on Tour," under the direction of Ann Gresham. In the Vocal Performance program at CSUF along with his merit scholarship, he received the Jane Smith Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship Award and the Opera Award. At CSUF he performed as Dr. Falke in Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus in 2014. His second operatic role was as Baron Mirko Zeta in The Merry Widow, by Franz Lehar, in February, 2015. In March 2015, he presented his first professional recital in the city of Whittier titled: “Dulce et Decorum est...” alongside soprano, Kristin Kenaston. In April he performed the role of il Marito in G.C. Menotti’s Amelia Goes to the Ball. Mr. Maldonado went to Italy joining the Assisi Performing Arts Festival in June/July 2015 as a baritone soloist. In April 2016, he peformed the role of JJ Peachum in Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera. After his senior recital in May, Jose graduated with BM in Vocal Performance from the Cal State Fullerton School of Music. José completed his graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music where he earned a Master's of Music degree under the tutlelage of Mailtand Peters. At the Manhattan School of Music he performed the role of Haraschta in Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen and the role of Kalmán Zsupán in the main stage production of Die Zigeunerbaron by Johann Strauss II in 2017. He recently has performed the roles of Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, by W.A. Mozart in March 2018 and the role of Don Magnifico in Rossini’s La Cenerentola in April 2018. In July he performed the title role of Falstaff in Falstaff, by Giuseppe Verdi for the Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance Opera Festival in New York City. José has performed the role of Poncio Pilatos in the opera El Caminante de Nazaret by Rafael Grulloón with the Mimesis Ensemble in New York City. He has performed with OperaMaya in Cancun Mexico and the iSing Festival in China in the summer of 2019, where he also sang the role of Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen with the Missouri Symphony. In 2021, he reprised Cosî fan tutte with the Opera Next Door in Brooklyn. He then sang in the Napa Vallesy Music Festival as Betto Gianni Schicchi, alongside Lucas Meachem as the title role. Mr. Maldonado performed in Busseto in the Carlo Bergonzi academy as Sharpless in Madama Butterly and performed in recital in Castel Guelfo. This fall he is performing Don Giovanni’s Masetto with Mission Opera, Cendrillon (Viardot) ‘s Pictordu with Santa Monica College Opera Theatre and Papageno from Die Zauberflöte with Music On Site, Inc. in Witchita, Kansas. Maldonado has been reviewed by Opera News as a "seemingly unlimited baritone", and he is a recipient of the Opera Buffs Inc. Career grant and as well as the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation. He was also a proud member of the Holland Community Opera Fellowship with Opera Omaha in the fall of 2018.
FEATURED ARTISTS: ELEGANT ARIAS
August 21, 2021
Lyric Coloratura Soprano, Sarah Lonsert, began her singing career as a form of therapy for her High-functioning Autism. Winner of the Vo-Cal Competition, 2nd at NATS, and semifinalist in the Classical Singer competition. She has sung with; Andrea Bocelli, The L.A. Symphony, and John Williams. Notable overseas performances; Rome, Paris, Eglise Notre-Dame des Blancs-Manteaux, Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Trossingen, The Glinka Cappella, and The Rock Church. Sarah’s scholastic achievements are graduating from California State University Fullerton with her BM in Vocal Performance and is currently working on her Master’s in Music at California State University Northridge. Sarah continues to study classical voice under Diane Ketchie. She currently performs in the LA Master Chorale under Maestro Grant Gershon and in the Pacific Chorale under Maestro Robert Istad.
Emily Weinberg began her vocal studies ten years ago with her current teacher, tenor, Daniel Hendrick. Over the last decade, Emily has used her time to expand her understanding of the musical world by earning her bachelors degree in vocal performance from California State University Fullerton where she continued her private vocal studies with mezzo soprano Janet Smith. During her time at CSUF, Emily was cast in lead roles such as Mrs. Peachum in Weil’s Threepenny Opera, Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, and L’enfant in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortileges. She also spent three years as a member of the CSUF University Singers under the baton of Dr. Robert Istad, a group with which she performed on two international tours; in the Baltics and Russia in 2017 and a second in Spain in 2019 as a featured soloist for David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion.
Since her graduation from CSUF, Emily has become a professional singer with the Pacific Chorale and many other institutions. Her upcoming performances include a featured solo with Opera Buffs, the role of Mercedes in Bizet’s Carmen with Lyric Opera of Orange County, and the role of Ms. Todd in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief with the International Lyric Academy in Venice for the summer of 2022.
FEATURED ARTISTS: AMERICAN LANDSCAPES
April 27, 2019
On the Shoulders of Giants
Mathew Aaron Campbell (b. 1992) is a native of Deep South Texas. His musical training started at the age of 8 when he took piano lessons followed by learning how to play drumset. His studies continued through middle school and high school with percussion as his primary instrument. He is an alumnus of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and studied percussion and composition with Dr. Joe Moore III. As an award-winning composer, Mathew has had many collaborative projects with various educators throughout the nation. His passion for composing and conducting led to premieres with various student ensembles at the state and national levels. He has premiered works at The National Flute Convention in 2013, ClarinetFest in 2016, the Texas Music Educator’s Conference in 2015-2017, and many of his works were premiered at UTRGV throughout his undergraduate studies. His piece Into the Void: A Study in Disembodied Consciousness was awarded first prize in the SATB Chorus and Percussion (3- 5 Players) Category of the 2015 Percussive Arts Society Composition Contest. He is currently a member of Project 21: Music for the 21st Century. He is published through C. Alan Publications. His works for the Texas Prescribed Music List can be found here. Mathew is a founding member of The Uptown Collective.
Mr. Campbell is currently attending Oklahoma City University as a graduate student earning his MM in Music Composition and Wind Conducting under the direction of Dr. Edward Knight and Dr. Matthew Mailman, respectively.
Copland: Concerto for Clarinet
Sierra Allen, originally from Seattle, is a rising clarinetist in Los Angeles. She has appeared in the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and New West Symphony. In 2018, Sierra received 3rd prize in Vandoren’s Emerging Artist Competition. She was also a finalist in Pershing’s Own National Collegiate Solo Competition and the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle Frances Walton Competition. Sierra is currently a student of Boris Allakhverdyan, principal clarinet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Past teachers include Joshua Ranz, principal clarinet of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Ray Guyll, director of the Microsoft Jazz Band.
Born in Southern California, Annabella Cervero has loved music since childhood. She grew up taking piano lessons and singing in church. Even as a child, Annabella would make up her own music while practicing for her piano lessons. As she reached high school, Annabella decided to pursue a career in music and became heavily involved in musical theatre and choir. In 2017, Annabella graduated summa cum laude from Vanguard University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Music Composition degree. Upon graduating, Annabella was hired as a private voice and piano teacher in several studios throughout the Orange County area. In September 2018, Annabella was the featured composer of the season 2 opening concert of Stephen Nutt’s FreeLAncer concert series in Los Angeles. Annabella is very excited to be working with the Synesthesia Sinfonietta in their inaugural concert. She would like to thank her friends, family, and beloved fiancé for their undying support. Annabella gives all the glory to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
Copland: Lincoln Portrait
Bret Iwan has loved the legacy and story behind Walt Disney for as long as he can remember, but he never dreamt life would take him to where it has; voicing Walt’s most iconic character, and carrying on a legacy he has always held in great esteem. After graduating high school in 2000, Bret decided to pursue his love of art and animation. Bret earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Ringling College of Art and Design in 2004, before moving to Kansas City where he started his career at Hallmark Greeting Cards. Just before Bret's fifth anniversary with Hallmark, he received an email from a college friend, a PIXAR animator, outlining the auditions that were being held to select an understudy for the voice of Mickey Mouse. Realizing the chance of a lifetime, he didn’t hesitate before practicing and submitting his audition. After several auditions, Bret was awarded the role as the fourth official voice of the beloved character, Mickey Mouse, a character first voiced by Walt Disney in 1928. Bret moved to Los Angeles in September of 2009 to start the next chapter of his creative career. His first recording was in June of 2009, and since then, he has gone on to record for theme parks, video games, toys, promotional material, game shows, live shows, ‘Mickey Mouse Clubhouse’, and ‘Mickey and the Roadster Racers’ television series. The opportunities presented by the role continue to surprise him, and he looks forward to “fillin’ in for the boss” far into the future.
Bret resides in Los Angles, California.