Performer & Composer Bios

TRAP GIRL is a punk band from Los Angeles, formed in 2014. Anarchy/Equality. Noise/Punk.

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the ULCA Herb Alpert School of Music is a tuition-free two-year program that accepts one ensemble of musicians for each class. All of the students receive full scholarships, as well as stipends to cover their monthly living expenses. The students study both individually and as a small group, receiving personal mentoring, ensemble coaching, and lectures on the jazz tradition from jazz legends and masters. They are also encouraged to experiment in expanding jazz in new directions through their compositions and performances. The students in the current class were selected by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Kenny Burrell, James Newton, and Jimmy Heath.

Michael Mayo, vocals, was born and raised in Van Nuys, California. He began singing at age 3 and attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, studying with Monk Institute alumni Jason Goldman and Walter Smith III. Mayo later studied with Dominique Eade, Jerry Bergonzi, Miguel Zenón, John Lockwood and Ken Schaphorst at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he received his bachelorʼs degree in jazz voice performance. He has performed in Australia, Brazil and Chile, and appeared at the Panama Jazz Festival. In 2013, Mayo participated in The Kennedy Center’s American Voices Festival and the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program.

David Otis, alto saxophone, grew up in Downey California, where he began studying saxophone at age 9. He graduated from California State University, Northridge with a bachelorʼs degree in jazz studies. In 2012, he was a featured soloist in the Universityʼs Jazz A Band, which was named Top College Big Band at the Monterey Jazz Festivalʼs 2012 Next Generation Jazz Festival. Otis has performed with Tigran Hamasyan, ShafiqHusayn, John Daversa, Wayne Bergeron, Jimetta Rose, Jairus Mozee, Kamasi  Washington and Gene Coye. He has performed at noted Los Angeles venues including the Blue Whale, Catalina’s Jazz Club, Nola’s, the Piano Bar and Room 5.

Daniel Rotem, tenor saxophone, was born in Jerusalem, Israel, and began studying saxophone at age 13. He studied at Thelma Yellin High School and the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in Tel Aviv, and was the youngest student awarded first place in Rimonʼs Outstanding Jazz Player Competition. Rotem received a full scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelorʼs degree in jazz performance. He has attended the Siena Jazz Workshops in Italy and performed with Bill Pierce, Hal Crook, Alain Mallet, Greg Hopkins, Peter Erskine, George Garzone, Lionel Loueke and Dave Liebman.

Ido Meshulam, trombone, was born in Bat-Yam, Israel, and at age 3 began studying soprano trombone with his father. He graduated summa cum laude from the Berklee College of Music with a bachelorʼs degree in music performance. Meshulam received first place honors in the 2012 International Trombone Associationʼs Carl Fontana Jazz Trombone Competition, 2013 Eastern Trombone Workshop National Jazz Trombone Competition, and 2014 International Trombone Associationʼs J.J. Johnson Jazz Trombone Competition. He has performed with Conrad Herwig, Luis Bonilla and Cyrus Chestnut, and appeared at the Red Sea Jazz Festival, DC Jazz Festival and Birdland.

Carmen Staaf, piano, was born in Seattle, Washington, and began playing piano at age 6. She graduated from a five-year, double-degree program, studying anthropology at Tufts University and jazz performance at the New England Conservatory. Upon graduating, she joined the piano faculty at the Berklee College of Music. The winner of the 2009 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Pianist Competition, Staaf has performed as a guest soloist with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra under Wynton Marsalis, and has appeared on NPR’s “JazzSet” with Dee Dee Bridgewater. She has performed across the United States and in Europe, Latin America and India.

Alex Boneham, bass, was born in Sydney, Australia, and began playing bass at age 9. A James Morrison “Generations in Jazz” scholarship recipient, Boneham graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with a bachelor’s degree in music performance. In 2012, he won the Australian Bell Award for Young Jazz Artist of the Year. Boneham has toured in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Europe; attended the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music; and performed with Greg Osby, Joel Frahm, Mike Moreno, Will Vinson, Dale Barlow, Charles Tolliver and Passenger. He has appeared on more than 25 albums including one that topped the Billboard folk charts.

Christian Euman, drums, was born in Blue Island, Illinois, and began playing drums at age 3. He attended Western Michigan University as a Billy Hart Jazz Scholar and received a bachelorʼs degree in jazz studies. Euman has served as an instructor at the Keith Hall Summer Drum Intensive since 2009. He was awarded second place in the 2010 Percussive Arts Society International Drumset Competition. Euman has performed with Donny McCaslin, Kris Bowers, Kurt Elling, John Clayton, Robert Glasper and Ed Simon. In 2012, he was the drummer for the hit musical “Crowns” at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, and he has appeared at the 2012 and 2013 Next Generation Jazz Festival.

Elisabeth Le Guin is a founding member of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the Artaria String Quartet, as well as the author of Boccherini’s Body: an Essay in Carnal Musicology (2006) and The Tonadilla in Performance: Lyric Comedy in Enlightenment Spain (2014). She is the winner of American Musicological Society’s Alfred Einstein Award (2003) and Noah Greenberg Award (2007), and has received grant support from the ACLS, the UC Presidents’ Research Fund, the Institute for International Education (Fulbright program), UCLA’s International Institute, and the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain and United States Universities. In addition, she re-started UCLA´s Early Music Ensemble in 2009 after a 15-year hiatus, and has served two terms as Study Center Director for the UC Education Abroad Program in Mexico City.

Ethnomusicologist and countertenor Ryan Koons is completing his PhD in ethnomusicology at UCLA. As a music scholar and documentary filmmaker, he has conducted research in the American indigenous Southeast, the Scandinavian diaspora, South Africa, Mississippi, and early music and American folk music communities. Koons’ research is varied and includes Native American traditions, contemporary baroque performance practice, archival studies, and dance. Koons is also a professional musician, specializing in early music and traditional music from Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and the British Isles.

Alexandra Grabarchuk is a doctoral candidate in the department of musicology at UCLA. Her dissertation, “The Soundtrack of Stagnation: Paradoxes within Soviet Pop and Rock Music of the 1970s,” touches on issues of popular music aesthetics and cultural production in the Brezhnev-era USSR, and dismantles the official/unofficial divide in the study of popular music in late Soviet socialism. In addition to studying Soviet estrada, she is also an avid conductor, pianist, and mezzo-soprano.

Robert Een is a composer, singer, cellist, and performing artist. He has won an Obie Award for music composition, two New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards for music composition and sustained achievement, and presented worldwide. He is known for unique orchestrations and the use of extended techniques for voice and cello, which he has featured on sixteen albums of genre-defying original music. He has written scores for film directors Noah Baumbach, Eric Stoltz, Gregory Colbert, Andrea Simon, David Gere, as well as for theater directors and choreographers Dan Hurlin, Liz Lerman David Dorfman, Brian Selznick, Lionel Popkin, PearsonWidrig, and Ron K. Brown among others.

Internationally renowned Russian baritone Vladimir Chernov joined the Music Department faculty at UCLA In January 2006 as a Professor of Vocal Studies. Mr. Chernov has sung over 40 leading roles and has appeared at nearly every major international theater including the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, Teatro Colon, Paris Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera and Vienna State Opera, under many of today’s great conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Valery Gergiev, James Levine and Seiji Ozawa.

Mona Lands, pianist, is a graduate of Mills College and received her Masters Degree in accompanying at USC. She has worked as an accompanist and coach at Cal State Northridge, Cal State LA, the Aspen Opera Theatre Center, Opera Pacific’s Overture Company, the Ezio Pinza Council (EPCASO) summer program, Guild Opera, and for The Young Artists of the Future Competition. She is the accompanist for the Angeles Chorale, the Palm Springs Opera Guild Competition and the Loren L. Zachary National Vocal Competition. She was the Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera Palm Springs Showcase concerts for 10 years, from 1994 through 2003. She is currently the Music Director for Opera Buffs, Inc. As a member of the UCLA Music Department, she works as accompanist and coach for Opera UCLA and is the staff accompanist and Coordinator of Accompanying.
David S. Lefkowitz, a native of New York City, studied music composition at The Eastman School of Music, Cornell University, and University of Pennsylvania, where his principal teachers were Joseph Schwantner, Samuel Adler, George Crumb, and Karel Husa. As a composer David S. Lefkowitz has won international acclaim, having works performed in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Ukraine, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain, Canada, Mexico, Israel, and Egypt.

Led by Ivan and Tzvetanka Varimezovi, “Superdevoiche” is the women’s choir part of the UCLA Balkan Ensemble, specializing in the performance of folklore songs and modern arrangements based on traditional Bulgarian songs. Since 2001 they have been working to popularize the sound of the “Balkan Ensemble” throughout California and outside The United States. Selected performances include the International Folklore Festival in the town of Bourgas; the Folk Festival in Bulgaria in the town of Koprivshtitsa; the Bulgarian Cultural Centers in San Francisco and Los Angeles; and at Professor Tim Rice’s receipt of the “Sv. Sv. Kiril and Methodii” from the President of the Republic of Bulgaria. They have toured in the United States and Europe and collaborated widely with singers and instrumentalists from throughout the world. Most recently, they organized a Bulgarian tour for the “Dunava” choir from Seattle, Washington in 2014.

The Two Figaros (I Due Figaro) is an opera by Saverio Mercadante, to a libretto by Felice Romani. It is from 1826, and is one of a series of Neapolitan bel canto masterpieces recently unearthed by Maestro Riccardo Muti. We are honored to be able to present the work’s West Coast premiere. In addition to this evening’s performance, Opera UCLA will be presenting The Two Figaros in full in conjunction with the UCLA Department of Theater at The Freud Playhouse on February 13 at 8pm, February 15 at 2pm, February 20 at 8pm, and February 22 at 2pm. Tickets are available through CTO. The West Coast premiere of The Two Figaros is made possible by a generous and deeply appreciated grant from the Max H. Gluck Foundation, which enables Opera UCLA to distribute 50 tickets free of charge one hour before the performance to seniors over 62 and to students with ID.

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