An accomplished orchestral and chamber musician, violinist Oleg Chelpanov earned his Doctoral degree from the Saint Petersburg (Russia) State Conservatory in 2002 and continued his studies at the University of Minnesota, under the tutelage of Sally O'Reilly. While residing in Minneapolis, Mr. Chelpanov performed numerous solo and chamber music recitals and played frequently in both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. In 2006, he won a permanent position with the world-renowned Saint Petersburg (former Leningrad) Philharmonic Orchestra, and spent the following three years performing as a member of the orchestra in the finest venues across Europe and Asia. Currently based in Houston, Texas, Mr. Chelpanov maintains a teaching studio and appears regularly with the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, and Minnesota orchestras.
A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, cellist Sonya Matoussova now resides in Houston where she is actively involved in the city’s music scene as both performer and educator. She regularly plays in the cello section of the Mercury Chamber Orchestra and is the assistant principal cellist of the Symphony of Southeast Texas.
Ms. Matoussova has won top prizes at several competitions, including the Schlern International Competition (Italy) and the Canadian Music Competition. Her passion for chamber music has taken her all over the world, with performances in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Romania, and the Netherlands.
In 2015, Ms. Matoussova was featured as a soloist with the Symphony of Southeast Texas, performing the Vivaldi Double Concerto alongside principal cellist Thomas Schroeder. In 2008, Ms. Matoussova appeared with I Musici de Montreal as one of the soloists for the premiere of Paul Desenne's Dragoncello for six celli and string orchestra.
In addition to maintaining an active private studio, Ms. Matoussova teaches at the International Music Academy, where she recently founded a chamber music program. Ms. Matoussova is a Mercury Teaching Artist, as well as a Lead Teacher for the Coda Program; a Houston Youth Symphony initiative inspired by “El Sistema”.
Ms. Matoussova is an alumna of the Da Camera Young Artist Program. She holds degrees from the University of Montreal (class of Yuli Turovsky) and the University of Houston (class of Vagram Saradjian).
Winner of the 2019 Opus Prize for “Concert of the Year” with her ensemble Kleztory, violinist-violist Elvira Misbakhova holds a Doctorate in Music Performance from the University of Montreal. She is associate principal viola of Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, and both the Trois-Rivières and Longeuil Symphony Orchestras, as well as principal viola of the New Generation Chamber Orchestra. She has performed as a soloist with Orchestre Métropolitain, the Drummondville Symphony Orchestra, the New Generation Chamber Orchestra, and I Musici de Montréal, and gave the Canadian premiere of Boris Pivogat’s “Holocaust” with the Montreal Intercultural Orchestra.
Ms. Misbakhova began her violin studies at the age of seven in her native Tartarstan. She was admitted to the Kazan State Conservatory in 1994, where she became the assistant principal viola of La Primavera chamber orchestra. After arriving in Canada in 1999 to continue her studies under the tutelage of Eleonora Turovsky, Ms. Misbakhova served as principal viola in the Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal, and was a winner of the university’s prestigious concerto competition. She was awarded a scholarship from the Québec Research Fund for Society and Culture (FQRSC) and a Merit Scholarship from the Faculty of Superior Studies (FESP) for her doctoral studies.
In the year 2000, Ms. Misbakhova discovered she had a talent for improvisation, as well as a passion for Klezmer music. Her explorations of the Klezmer style soon led her to join the celebrated Canadian ensemble Kleztory. As violinist of the group, she has performed in front of the Montreal, Québec, Longeuil, and Laval Symphony Orchestras, Orchestre Métropolitain, the Brussels and McGill Chamber Orchestras, and Les Violons du Roy, among others. Kleztory has recorded five albums to date, and is working on a sixth. One of their recordings, on the prestigious Chandos Records label, was made in collaboration with I Musici de Montreal.
Ms. Misbakhova is a founding musician of the Trio Con Moto (with harpist Valérie Milot), and a member of the Isometrik trio (clarinet, viola, and piano). She frequently returns to Russia to perform with La Primavera and the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra.
Elvira Misbakhova performs on a 1962 Giacomo and Leandro Bisiach viola, on generous loan from the Canimex Foundation.
Demonstrating consummate musicianship and enthusiastic commitment to the art of music-making, pianist Wenli Zhou brings a world-class technique, a deeply-embedded musicality, and infectious excitement to her playing.
Dr. Zhou began her early musical training at the age of five in her native China at Sichuan Conservatory of Music, subsequently making her first public appearance at age six in Chengdu. As a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, Dr. Zhou has given performances in such places as Carnegie Recital Hall, Miller Theaters in New York city, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D. C., Liszt Academy of Budapest in Hungary, the Netherlands, Japan, Poland, Canada, and numerous cities through China and the United States.
She is the recipient of prizes and awards from international and regional competitions, including the World Piano Competition, the twenty-seventh Frinna Awerbuch International Competition of the New York Congress of Piano Teachers, the Houston Tuesday Music Club Young Artist Competition, Grace Welch International Piano Competition in Chicago, the Kankakee (Illinois) Concerto Competition, and the Rislov Foundation Award. In addition, she was the winner of the Rice University Concerto Competition, the University of Michigan Concerto Competition as well as the Western Michigan University Concerto Competition.
Dr. Zhou’s recent appearance as a guest artist at the American Suzuki Institute was well received. She has been invited to perform in festivals such as the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and the International Holland Music Sessions. She has performed in master classes given by Emanuel Ax, Garrick Ohlsson, and David Owen Norris. In addition, Dr. Zhou has worked with prominent pianists and composers, such as Vladimir Feltsman, Betsy Jolas, Lee Kum-Sing, Paul Ostrovsky, John Perry, Bright Sheng, Alexander Slobodyanik, and Earl Wild, among others. She has also adjudicated a number of piano competitions in the United States and China.
Dr. Zhou holds degrees and diplomas from Rice University (Doctoral of Musical Arts), the University of Michigan (Master of Music), Western Michigan University (Bachelor of Music) and Sichuan Conservatory of Music (Pre-College). Her primary teachers include Robert Roux, Logan Skelton, Arthur Greene, Lori Sims, Silvia Roederer, and Hanguo Yang. Dr. Zhou has served on the faculty the University of Texas Pan American. She maintains a full teaching studio of award-winning students and is currently on the faculty at Houston Community College.