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Strings

Janet OrensteinJanet Orenstein, violin

Violinist Janet Orenstein has enjoyed an active performing career both in the United States and abroad as a chamber musician, soloist and advocate of contemporary music. She is a founding member of the Guild Trio and has toured with them extensively in Canada, Europe and the United States for over ten years. Her trio career has included residencies at the Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY, the Stony Brook Medical Center, and for five years at the University of Virginia, where she was a performing and teaching member of the faculty.

As winner of the USIA Artistic Ambassador Competition, Ms. Orenstein toured extensively in Africa, giving recitals and master classes with pianist Christina Dahl. As a chamber musician she has apeared in New York's Alice Tully and Merkin Concert Halls, as well as at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Ms. Orenstein has performed at the Apple Hill Chamber Music Festival in Nelson, New Hampshire, the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Burlington, Vermont, and the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove in Cornwall, England. An advocate of contemporary music, she has premiered works by Sheila Silver, William Bolcom, and Harvey Sollberger, among many others, and performs from a vast repertoire of new music.

Since moving to North Carolina with her husband and two children, Ms. Orenstein has taught violin and chamber music at various times at UNCG, Wake Forrest University and UNCSA. She has appeared numerous times as a guest violinist in concerts with Dimitri Sitkovetsky as part of the Greensboro Symphony's chamber music series and plays frequently with members of the UNCG, Wake Forrest and UNCSA faculties. Ms. Orenstein is currently a member of the Greensboro Symphony.

Monte BelknapMonte Belknap, violin

Monte Belknap’s performing career spans over 30 years with notable solo performances and accomplished mentors. In 1989 he won the International Starling Violin Competition at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado and began his studies at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati where he earned his bachelors and masters degrees. His violin teachers include Carolyn Belknap, his mother, Catherine Bauch, Richard Fuchs, Ozzie Lehnert, Eva Szekely, Kurt Sassmannshaus, and Dorothy Delay. Mr. Belknap served as concertmaster of the Illinois Symphony and Chamber Orchestras and has performed as soloist or recitalist in Europe, South America and throughout the United States. He also studied chamber music with some of the world’s leading performing ensembles including the Juilliard, Tokyo, and LaSalle String Quartets and the Beaux Arts Piano Trio. An avid fan of chamber music he performs regularly with the Deseret Piano Trio and the Park City International Music Festival in Utah. During the summers he teaches or performs at several Belknap Violin Camps training students and teachers with his acclaimed practice system. He also teaches at the summer music festival at Brigham Young University’s Summerfest Music Festival.

Monte is highly sought after recording musician as the featured soloist on the sound tracks to the second and third Work and the Glory movies and also several PBS specials including Fire on Ice. This past year he performed at the Barge Music Series in New York City and is currently featured on BYU Television with his Violin Encores with Monte Belknap, live performance.

His distinguished skills as a master teacher has led many of his students to win national awards and perform as soloists with noted symphonies including the Cincinnati Symphony, the Dayton Philharmonic, the Jacksonville Symphony, and many others. He is the creator of the www.letsplayviolin.com website which is always adding new videos to help aspiring violinists from around the globe. He is enjoying his eighth year on the music faculty of the Brigham Young University—School of Music, having previously taught at BYU-Idaho and Western Illinois University.

Spencer MartinSpencer Martin, viola and co-director

Spencer Martin has performed and taught at music festivals throughout the U.S., Canada, Israel, and Europe as both violist and conductor.  An active chamber and orchestral musician, he has appeared as guest violist with the Pro Arte String Quartet and the Amelia Piano Trio.  His solo performances include Berlioz’s Harold in Italy with the Luther College Symphony Orchestra in venues in Austria, including Vienna’s Konzerthaus.  Spencer has served as Principal Violist in the Tuscaloosa Symphony, and also frequently performed in the viola sections of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.  Spencer’s solo, chamber, and orchestral performances have been featured in numerous radio broadcasts including National Public Radio, Canadian Brodcasting Corporation, Minnesota Public Radio, and Kansas Public Radio.

Spencer’s CD, “Gems Rediscovered,” was released to critical praise on the Delos label in 2012 and features lesser-known works for viola and piano by Ernest Walker, Paul Juon, Robert Fuchs, and Benjamin Dale.  Spencer can also be heard on the Innova label on the disc “Waves of Stone, Music by Brooke Joyce.”

A former member of the music faculty at the University of Alabama, Spencer holds degrees from Butler University, Wichita State University, and the University of Minnesota.  His teachers include Korey Konkol, Catherine Consiglio, and Barbara Westphal. Also an avid proponent of Baroque music, Spencer performs frequently on Baroque violin and has studied in Berlin with Baroque violinist Bernhard Forck.

To see and hear excerpts of Spencer's performances, or for further information, please visit his website:  www.spencerlmartin.com

Barbara WestphalBarbara Westphal, guest violist and chamber music coach

Internationally acclaimed violist Barbara Westphal concertizes regularly as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and Asia. She also appears regularly as guest artist at international music festivals such as those of Santa Fe, New Mexico; Sarasota, Florida; Great Lakes, Michigan; Vaasa, Finland; Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; and Incontri in Terra di Siena, Italy, among many others.

Ms. Westphal won the only prize for solo viola in the 1983 Munich Competition, as well as the prestigious Busch Prize the same year. From 1978 to 1985, Ms. Westphal was the violist of the highly acclaimed Delos String Quartet, First Prize Winner at the 1981 International String Quartet Competition in Colmar, France. In addition to numerous international tours with the Quartet, she recorded extensively with the ensemble both on radio and disc. Her own recordings on the Bridge label include the Brahms Viola Sonatas (with Ursula Oppens), the Reger Viola Sonatas and a recital program of works by Rebecca Clarke, Henri Vieuxtemps and Georges Enesco (both with Jeffrey Swann) and the six Solo Suites by J.S. Bach. Fanfare magazine said of the Brahms CD: “This recording absolutely outshines any others that are currently available and, to me, seems worthy of comparison with the legendary Primrose. For fans of a deep viola sound full of character it is absolutely unique.”

In 1997 Ms. Westphal founded the Trio da Salò with violinist Ani Kavafian and cellist Gustav Rivinius which immediately celebrated major successes at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival. The Trio’s first CD, featuring works by Mozart and Beethoven, was recently released on the Kleos Classics label.

Barbara Westphal studied in London and New York and took her concert examination under Itzhak Perlman and Michael Tree (Guarneri Quartet). Since 1989 she has held a professorship at the Lübeck College of Music in Germany. She is a much sought-after teacher whose students are engaged with top orchestras in Germany and abroad, and several of her students have won awards at international competitions. Ms. Westphal regularly presents master classes in Europe and the United States and serves as a judge at major competitions. 

Brooks Whitehouse

Brooks Whitehouse, cello

A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School for the Arts, Brooks Whitehouse has performed and taught throughout the US and abroad, holding Artists-in-Residence positions at SUNY Stony Brook, the Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY, the University of Virginia and The Tanglewood Music Center. As founding members of The Guild Trio Whitehouse and his wife, violinist Janet Orenstein won both the "USIA Artistic Ambassador" and "Chamber Music Yellow Springs" competitions, and with that ensemble they have performed and held master classes throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Norway, Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Portugal, France and Australia. The trio has been a frequent feature on National Public Radio's "Performance Today", and has also appeared on the University of Missouri's public television series "Premiere Performances", and "Front Row Center" on KETC-TV9 in St. Louis.

As a soloist Whitehouse has appeared with the Boston Pops, the New England Chamber Orchestra, and the Nashua, New Brunswick, Billings, and Owensboro Symphonies. He has appeared in recital throughout the northeastern United States, and his performances have been broadcast on WQXR's "McGraw-Hill Young Artist Showcase", WNYC's "Around New York," and the Australian and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation networks. He has held fellowships at the Blossom and Bach Aria festivals, and was winner of the Cabot prize as a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. He currently teaches and performs during the summer at the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival. As guest artist he has appeared with the American Chamber Players, the New Millennium Ensemble, the JU Piano Trio, The Apple Hill Chamber Players, the Atelier Ensemble and the New Zealand String Quartet. Mr. Whitehouse is also cellist of the European-based Atma Trio, and is 44% (by weight with instruments) of the cello/bass duo Low and Lower with bassist Paul Sharpe. He as recorded for the Centaur, CRI, and Innova labels.

Before joining the faculty of UNCSA, Whitehouse held professorships at the University of Florida and the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG). While at UNCG he was Artistic Director of three international cello celebrations honoring the legacy of cellists Luigi Silva, Bernard Greenhouse, and Laszlo Varga, and hosted some of the world's finest cellists, including Janos Starker, Steven Doane, Joel Krosnick, Timothy Eddy, and Paul Katz. Whitehouse currently serves on the board of the Greenhouse Foundation, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for aspiring young cellists around the world.