Orchestra member bios 2020





Richard Altenbach, concertmaster, received his Master of Music Degree from University of Illinois where he graduated magna cum laude. Formerly 1st violinist of the Los Angeles Chamber, LA Opera, Joffrey Ballet, and Houston Symphony Orchestras, he has served as Concertmaster of the Mozart Camerata, Associate Concertmaster of the Omaha, Berkeley, and Hollywood Bowl Orchestras, and member of the Fontenelle String Quartet. Richard performs currently as Concertmaster of InConcert Sierra and the Auburn Symphony. He has been featured locally as a chamber musician and soloist for InConcert Sierra, Music in the Mountains, and the Apollo Arts Ensemble. Richard and musician/singer wife Dawn are proud parents of their very musical son Bren and reside in Nevada County.

Kristen Autry, violin, began her career at age 6, fiddling in the mountains of Idyllwild at its Bluegrass Invite. She has degrees in Violin Performance and Telecommunications at Pepperdine University, and a Masters in Music Performance at Long Beach State. She studied with Yukiko Kamei, Mehli Mehta, Elizabeth Ivanoff Holborn, Abram Shtern, and Moni Simeonov. Enjoying all genres, her projects include Bella Musica (flute quartet), eclectic electronic duo Kristarah, and new age ensemble Logrythm, tours with Googoosh, Yanni, and Kitaro and freelance orchestra and chamber concerts. She is a member of the North Star Piano Trio, and dedicated to educational outreach.

Dr. Cindy Behmer, oboe & English horn, is a prominent freelance oboist and educator based in Sacramento, California. Since relocating to Sacramento in 2013, Dr. Behmer has performed with several regional orchestras including the Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Sacramento, Sacramento Philharmonic, Reno Philharmonic, and Stockton Symphony. In addition to her private studio, Dr. Behmer serves as Choir Director and Band Instructor at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and School in Elk Grove. Dr. Behmer has 2 children, ages 6 and 2.

Bakyt Bekdjanov, violin, received Master and Doctorate Degrees in Nijny Novgorod Conservatory, Russia. Was an assistant of concertmaster of President Orchestra in Kyrgyzstan, International Festival Chamber orchestra, Saint Peterburg Academic Symphony orchestra. He was teaching in Kyrgyz National Conservatory and State School of Music, Nijny Novgorod Conservatory. As member of Semetey String Quartet, played in Carnegie Hall, San Francisco Conservatory, Stanford University. Currently playing in Stockton Symphony; teaching privately.

Liesl Berry, horn, received her B.M. at the USC Thornton School of Music.  She spent 15 years performing as a freelance artist throughout Southern California, where she was a member of the televised Hour of Power Orchestra and delivered hundreds of educational concerts for K-12 students through Music Center on Tour.  Liesl lives in El Dorado Country with her husband, Evan. Her career in music was inspired by her first beloved teacher, Cameron Kopf.

Devon Bradshaw is concertmaster for the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra. She began playing with the orchestra as a UC Davis student and graduated in 2017 with a double major: a B.S. in statistics and a B.A. in music. She now works for the UC Davis School of Education as the Business Services Assistant, and has continued her role as concertmaster for the orchestra. We asked her to talk with us about preparing for a concert on the scale of the annual Rising Stars of Opera event, and her experience as a UC Davis Symphony Orchestra member.

Joan Burg, bassoon, no bio submitted

Murray Campbell, oboe, is a member of the experimental chamber quartet “Bristle,” Euro-café ensemble “Beaucoup Chapeaux” and the Foothill Chamber Winds. He also plays with the North State Symphony and the Auburn Symphony. He was born in Scotland and studied sonology at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague before moving to Nevada County in 2005.

Dain Chen, violin, is a graduate student at California State University studying violin performance, and a violin teacher in Folsom and Sacramento. She played CSUS orchestra as a first violinist for 3 years and has played in other orchestras such as Apollo Symphony Orchestra, Camellia Symphony Orchestra, Brevard Music Festival Orchestra, and others. She tries to keep building her career as a violinist after her marriage to cellist, Jia-mo Chen, and pregnancy.

Jia-mo Chen, cello, holds an M.M. from San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has performed with North State Symphony, CSU Sacramento Orchestra (principal for two years), SF Conservatory Orchestra (principal for one year), and was a regular member of Chicago Civic Orchestra. He is currently the cello instructor at the Pacific Institute of Music and the adjunct assistant professor of cello at American River College.

Susan Lamb Cook, cello, is currently Lecturer in Cello and Chamber Music at the University of California, Davis, and a member of the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra.  She is on the artistic staff for festivals in Eisenstadt, Austria; Saarburg, Germany; and Vianden, Luxembourg and has performed and given master classes throughout China.

Thomas Derthick, bass, is principal of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Choral Society, and was principal at the Cabrillo Festival for 25 years. He has performed with the Sacramento Chamber Music Society, San Francisco Symphony and Opera, and the San Diego and Oregon Symphonies. He is faculty/soloist at Sacramento State, UC Davis, and University of the Pacific; and is Music Director of the Central Valley Youth Symphony.

Shannon Devir, flute & piccolo, received her B.M. from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has performed in Canada, Taiwan, and the United States, including with the Victoria Symphony, Classical Philharmonic, and Sunriver Music Festival Orchestra. With a passion for teaching, she currently teaches flute at Nevada City School of the Arts and has held teaching positions at the San Francisco Waldorf School, Cascade Community School of Music, and the University of San Francisco.

David Eby, founding cellist for the internationally acclaimed band, Pink Martini, has an active performing and teaching career on the West Coast. He studied at the Eastman School of Music and received the Performer’s Certificate and BM degree under the tutelage of Paul Katz of the Cleveland Quartet. He had the great privilege of studying under Janos Starker at Indiana University, where he received his MM degree. He was the Principal Cellist of the Evansville Philharmonic and the Owensboro Symphony Orchestras, and founding cellist for the Evansville String Quartet. He performs with the Oregon Symphony and teaches at Lewis & Clark College, Oregon Episcopal School, and Lake Oswego School District.

James Een, viola, performs with orchestras and chamber music groups across northern California.  He is a member of the Sacramento Philharmonic, Modesto Symphony, Sacramento Choral Society, California Musical Theatre, and others.  Mr. Een also performs with the Sacramento Opera, Townsend Opera, and the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento.  Een has a B.M. and B.S. from Minnesota State University – Mankato, and a M.M. from Arizona State University.

Aubrey Fisher, violin, grew up in a musical family and has been making music for over 20 years. She continues to play in a violin and piano duo with her sister. She joined the Auburn Symphony in 2006, where she is currently principal 2nd, and the Folsom Lake Symphony in 2015. She also subs for many other ensembles throughout the Sacramento region. She teaches violin in Auburn, California.

Randy Fisher, viola, coaches regularly at chamber music workshops in the Bay Area and Southern California. Studying in New York, his career began in string quartets coached by members of the Juilliard, Cleveland and Budapest quartets. He has since played with quartets of principal players for orchestras in New York, Virginia, Colorado and Spain, taught and conducted at Old Dominion University, Colorado College and the Hong Kong Conservatory, and served as Director of Education for professional symphonies in 4 states.

Jolán Friedhoff, violin, holds a B.M. from Indiana University, and a M.M. from the U of Texas, Austin. She served as Assistant Concertmaster of the Saar State Opera Orchestra in Saarbrücken, Germany, for over 20 years, before returning to the US in 2008 and joining the faculty of UC Davis as Lecturer for Violin and Chamber Music. She was Concertmaster of the Camellia Symphony for 6 years, and alongside her freelance work in several orchestras around the region, she presently holds the positions of Concertmaster of the Bear Valley Music Festival and of Opera Modesto, as well as Assistant Concertmaster of the Sacramento Choral Society Orchestra.

Ryan Goodpastor, percussion, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accounting, and a Bachelor of Science in Percussion Performance.  He earned an additional Master of Business Administration in Finance from Brandman University, part of the Chapman University System.  He is currently a Student Services Technician at Sierra College and performs freelance throughout Northern California including playing with the Auburn Symphony, MIM, InConcert Sierra and Sierra Stages.

Helen Graham, violin, is the owner of Graham Music Studio in Yuba City, CA, is President of the Yuba Sutter Youth Symphony Board of Directors, and is a violinist in the Veridian String Quartet. Ms. Graham holds a B.M. in Violin Performance from the University of the Pacific, and a M.M. in Suzuki Pedagogy from the University of Denver.

Laura Harrington, oboe & English horn, received her B.M. from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She has been teaching oboe, piano, and group classes since 2003 in California, China, and Taiwan. Laura enjoys performing with a variety of groups throughout the greater Sacramento area, including the Auburn Symphony, Folsom Lake Symphony, Green Valley Theater Company, River City Theater Company, and more. Recently, she has enjoyed picking up flute, saxophone, and clarinet on the way to becoming a versatile reed player for musical theater.

Nancy Hill, violin, received a B.S. and M.A. from Juilliard, followed by a Fulbright Grant in Germany. She played contemporary music in New York, Cologne and Copenhagen. Orchestras include Rhein and LA Chamber Orchestras, Pasadena Symphony, Tulsa Philharmonic, National Orchestra of Mexico City, San Diego Symphony, MIM, and InConcert Sierra. She has taught privately for many years in Grass Valley.

Peter Jandula-Hudson, viola, born in Poland, has resided in the US since 1987. He graduated with honors from Indiana University, and served as both Assistant Principal and Principal violist with New Mexico Symphony. In 1997 Peter moved to L.A. and as a studio musician recorded with legendary composers such as John Williams, Randy and Tom Newman, Alexandre Desplat. He was a member of Los Angeles Opera, Pasadena Symphony, and Supreme Music Program (a band accompanying and touring with the star of Will & Grace: Megan Mullally.)

Marni Johnson, french horn, is a commercial freelance musician in Los Angeles. For over thirty years, she has worked in many phases of the industry: recording and live performance, as well as teaching and coaching.

Cara Jones, horn, is a member of the Sacramento Choral Society Orchestra and the Sacramento State Fine Arts Brass Ensemble. She performs regularly with the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera and is an active freelance artist throughout Northern California. Cara performs with the Arizona Musicfest and Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestras. She earned her Bachelors and Masters of Music from CSU Sacramento with honors. She and her husband live in Elk Grove, CA with their two children.

Steven Kaiser, percussion, graduated from Oberlin College in 1974, and, while not a conservatory student, spent much of his time studying percussion and playing in various ensembles.  Since then he has performed classical, jazz and popular music, and currently plays in the percussion section of the Camellia Symphony Orchestra in Sacramento.

Cameron Kopf, horn, has a degree in French Horn Performance from Univ. of Cincinnati Conservatory. He was in Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico; Nashville, Sacramento, and San Jose Symphonies; and toured in “The Phantom of the Opera” Broadway production. He performs with Foothill Chamber Winds, SMCO, Sierra Brass (trumpet), and Nev. Co. Concert Band (trumpet). He teaches horn & trumpet privately. (Cameron Kopf) passed away in August 2018, survived by his husband James Kopf Johannssen.)

Connie Kupka, violin, has her degree from UCLA and after graduation won a scholarship to study chamber music with the Guarneri Quartet.  She and her husband David Speltz enjoy performing in their award-winning ensemble, the Arriaga Quartet.  Connie participates in prestigious summer festivals throughout the United States. She is a long time member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Jonathan Latta, percussion, performs throughout Northern California and Colorado. Prior to moving to California in 2014, he was Director of Percussion Studies at Fort Lewis College teaching applied percussion, percussion ensemble, non-western music, orchestration, and jazz. He taught percussion at University of the Pacific from 2017-2018 while serving as Assistant Dean. From 2002-2006, Jonathan was a member of the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West. His other performing experiences include the Colorado Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra, and Stockton, Modesto and San Juan Symphonies.

Amy Lindsey, violin, received her M.M., with an emphasis in Orchestral Career Studies, from the University of Nevada, Reno. A current member of the Fresno Philharmonic and North State Symphony, Amy also performs regularly with the Reno Philharmonic, Reno Chamber Orchestra, and Stockton Symphony. She and her husband reside in Lodi, where she maintains a private teaching studio.

Amanda Lostritto, violin, received her Bachelor’s of Music Performance with a concentration in Violin from California State University where she studied violin with Anna Presler, and piano with Richard Cionco. She was an active member of the Symphony Orchestra, Baroque Ensemble, Chamber Choir, and several small Chamber ensembles. She currently lives in Napa where she is Lead Violin Teacher at Napa Valley Language Academy, and teaches privately in the East Bay. She enjoys performing and recording with various orchestras and ensembles throughout Northern California, and is passionate about providing an individualized, well-rounded music education for her students. In addition to music, she is also pursuing a Health Coaching Certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and enjoys hiking, cooking, and wine tasting

Elizabeth McAllister, clarinet, holds B.M. and M.M. degrees in clarinet performance. She performed with Raleigh Symphony, North Carolina Theater, National Opera, Gold Country Chamber, California Wind Orchestras, and InConcert Sierra. She served on the faculties of North Carolina Wesleyan College, Meredith College, and Sierra College.

Angelina Mejia, horn, earned her B.M. in horn and B.M. in music education from California State University, Sacramento. She holds positions with the North State Symphony, Townsend Opera, Placer Pops Chorale, and subs with the Santa Rosa Symphony. Angelina also teaches elementary school band in the San Juan USD and teaches privately at Tim’s Music and from her home. She lives in Sacramento with her husband and son.

Michael Meeks, trumpet, studied at the Royal College of Music, London. He has played at music festivals throughout the world and with all the major orchestras in the United Kingdom; the most notable being the London Symphony Orchestra and the Academy of St. Martin’s in the Fields under Neville Mariner. He currently is principal trumpet with the Sacramento Philharmonic Opera, the Sacramento Choral Society, and also plays frequently with InConcert Sierra and Music in the Mountains.

Rose-May Mickelson, violin, has resided in Nevada County since 1984 and has played with Music in the Mountains, InConcert Sierra, and Auburn Symphony. She is part of the Sierra Strings Quartet and plays chamber music with friends for the love of music. A teacher for over 20 years, she currently has a studio at SoundCheck Music.

Kenneth Olson, trumpet, received his B.M. and M.M. in trumpet performance from the University of Michigan. He was principal trumpet of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra for over 14 years. He also played principal trumpet with the symphony orchestras of Aguascalientes and Guanajuato, Mexico, and performed with the orchestra of Gothenburg, Sweden and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He currently lives in Stockton and freelances all over Northern California.

Sage Po, harp, holds a B.F.A. in harp performance and a Certificate in Music Education from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. She has played with the Pittsburgh Ballet, Johnstown Symphony, and Altoona Symphony Orchestras and was featured by the Pittsburgh Concert Society, Johnstown Chamber Music Festival, and the Carnegie Mellon Baroque Ensemble. She regularly performs as a soloist and with symphonies throughout the Sierra foothills. Additionally, she teaches music and directs choir and bucket band in Roseville City School District.

Forrest Powell, trumpet, freelanced in the Los Angeles area for the past 14 years, and recently relocated back to No. California. His credits include over 75 musicals, and dozens of big bands and orchestras in L.A. The past few years, Forrest has been on national and international tours for A Chorus Line, Legally Blonde, How the Grinch Stole Christmas42nd Street, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Kirsti Powell, flute, moved to Grass Valley in 2003. She studied music at Pepperdine University and obtained her degree in economics from UCLA. In addition to musician, Kirsti has also held the titles of bookkeeper, actuary, home builder, and mom. She recently took on the challenge of learning French horn and is having fun adding to her musical abilities. Locally, she performs with Music in the Mountains, Sierra Stages, and InConcert Sierra. This past summer, Kirsti coordinated the hiring of musicians for the InConcert Sierra and Nevada County Library “Musical Monday” series.

Shawn Prudhomme, viola, a Grass Valley native, received his B.M. in performance from the University of the Pacific. He currently freelances and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area on viola and violin, playing orchestral, chamber, traditional Celtic, and popular styles of music.

Thomas Rance, timpani, received his B.M. in music education from the University of Iowa and currently performs throughout Northern California. He is principal in the Modesto Symphony, Sacramento Opera, and the Sacramento Choral Society.  In addition to these groups, he performs with InConcert Sierra, Music in the Mountains, the California Music Theater, and has had the pleasure of performing with the Russian National Orchestra at the Festival del Sole in Napa, California.

Melinda Rayne, viola, joined the Monterey County Symphony at age 16. Her various engagements have included performances with celebrities from Pavarotti to Bob Hope. She is principal violist for the SF Opera Center Orchestra, and a member of San Jose Chamber, Opera San Jose, Sacramento Philharmonic and Sacramento Choral Society Orchestras.

Jeffrey Reynolds, bass trombone, played 22k services with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (1969-2006) before retiring to the West Slope, Sierra Nevada. He has been heard on soundtracks for all of the major Hollywood film studios and record companies, and was professor in charge of 80 brass players at California State University Long Beach. Currently Reynolds arranges music for and directs four Compline Choirs at Holy Trinity Church in Nevada City. Compline is a short, late night, chanted, Monastic prayer service at end of day. (Editor’s note: the Compline Choir performs on the first Sunday of each month.)

 Matthew Reynolds, horn, performed with various orchestras, including San Diego, San Jose, and Sacramento Symphonies with a long tenure as 2nd horn with Monterey Symphony. He performed on numerous soundtracks and albums. Matthew toured, performed and recorded with Yanni for four years, traveling to 23 countries as a French horn player and vocalist.

Stephen Rice, bass, studied under James Clute of the Minnesota Orchestra at the University of Minnesota. He played with the Sacramento Symphony from 1984 until 1996, and currently plays with the North State Symphony. He also plays the cello.

Dave Riddles, bassoon, retired to Nevada City 13 years ago with his wife Carol. He received his M.M. from Indiana University, and spent 35 years in Los Angeles as a studio musician, playing on over 800 film scores, numerous television shows and was principal bassoon with the Pacific Symphony in Orange County for 18 years. Although “retired,” he has played with Sierra Stages for 10 years, with MIM for 6 years, and in other local groups.

Lloyd Roby, trombone, teaches at CSU Chico. He received a D.M. from Indiana University, M.M. from Northwestern University, and B.S.M.E. from Duquesne University. He has performed with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Tommy Dorsey Band, Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, and as extra/substitute with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Sacramento Symphony Orchestra.

Alexandra Roedder, cello, holds a B.A. in music from UC Berkeley, a second bachelor’s from the Royal Conservatory of the Hague in historical performance, a master’s from UCLA in cello performance, and also holds a doctorate in musicology. She is part of Baroque & Beyond, the North Star Piano Trio, and the duo Tonic/Dominant with pianist Nancy Lee Harper. She serves as principal cellist of the Auburn and Folsom Lake Symphonies and plays with many groups throughout Northern California. Her cello studio welcomes players of all ages and abilities.

Irina Samarina, violin, received Master and Doctorate degrees in Nijny Novgorod, Russia. Laureate of several National and International Competitions. Was concertmaster of President Orchestra in Kyrgyzstan, International Festival Chamber orchestra, Opera orchestra, Symphony orchestra in Russia. Traveled all around the world with solo concerts including Carnegie Hall.  Now, Adjunct Professor of American River College, plays in Stockton Symphony, teaching privately. Member of MTAC.

David Speltz, cello, started the cello after his father suggested he “saw on this for a while, it’ll keep you out of trouble”. A degree in mathematics only served to convince him that the cello was easier. After some private lessons, David found himself more than qualified for the Hollywood studios, sawing away there for 45 years, while interjecting some classical music making between sessions. (His sons are members of the Escher String Quartet, Brooke Speltz plays cello and

Karen Stenger, clarinet, earned a B.M in Education from the University of Pacific in Stockton. She performs with InConcert Sierra Orchestra, Auburn Symphony, Sierra Nevada Winds, Rocklin Theater Co., and also plays lead alto sax in the Auburn Winds Big Band. She has enjoyed playing with the Garmisch Kurorchester and Big Band in Garmisch, Germany, where she lived for ten years. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Auburn.

Steven Thompson, trombone, has held principal positions with the L.A. Classical Ballet, National Orchestra of Costa Rica, and the symphony orchestras of Hiroshima (Japan), New West (L.A.), Santa Monica, Wichita, and American Youth. His festival orchestra experience includes both Aspen and Pacific Music Festivals, Grand Teton Seminar, and Music Academy of the West. He performs throughout Northern California, including the Sacramento Philharmonic, Opera, Ballet, and Choral Society. Dr. Thompson is Director of Orchestra Studies at American River College, Music Director of the Napa Regional Dance Company and Music Director of Bay Area orchestra, SONUS.

David Thorp, viola, Holds a B.M. in Viola Performance from the University of South Florida in Tampa and a M.M. in Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, New York City.  Currently, he is principal violist for the Apollo Orchestra and for the Auburn Symphony.  He is a violin and viola instructor with the Bach Foundation and a Violist in the Apollo String Quartet.  He has performed as a soloist with the Light Opera of Manhattan and the American Philharmonic Orchestra of Lincoln Center, New York. He served in the Cosmopolitan Orchestra of New York, Chamber Music on Nantucket and at the Aspen Music Festival Repertory and Philharmonia Orchestras. David is the Conductor of the Auburn Youth Symphony String Ensembles and teaches viola and violin at Music & More Arts Academy.

Darin Tidwell, flute, moved to Oakland six years ago from Orange County where he played principal with the Golden State Pops Orchestra, the Bellflower Symphony and the Orange Coast Symphony.  He currently plays with Bay Area ensembles, including principal in the Oakland Civic Orchestra.

David A. Wells, bassoon, plays modern and period instruments in a plethora of ensembles and styles. Recent highlights include performing on Baroque and modern bassoons at the Carmel Bach Festival and playing Gypsy swing with Hot Club Faux Gitane. Wells also teaches bassoon and music history at Sacramento State, and co-directs the Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition for young women bassoonists.

Daniel Wilder, cello, grew up in Kansas, where he began his cello studies at the age of five.  He has enjoyed studying, performing and teaching cello in Minneapolis, Chicago and now here in Northern California, where he currently lives with his wife and two year old daughter. Daniel currently has a small studio of cello students and is a member of the Folsom Lake Symphony.

Zoe Schlussel, violin is a passionate violinist, performer, and educator. ​She has performed with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Southwest Michigan Symphony, Holland Symphony, Apollo Festival Orchestra, and as concertmaster with the University Symphony Orchestra at Western Michigan University. She currently has private teaching studios in Auburn, Grass Valley, and Nevada City, CA and has been teaching private lessons for over ten years. She is a member of InConcert Sierra’s Music Education Committee and has previously taught violin at Western Michigan University, Crescendo Academy of Music, and as the Strings Specialist at Yuba River Charter School.



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