2023 Cello Fest Artists
2023 Guest Artist Jake Charkey
Jake Charkey is one of a small handful of practitioners of Indian music on the cello.
He is a disciple of the violinist Padmabhushan Dr. N. Rajam. During the years he lived in Mumbai, he also recorded and performed with many of India’s most celebrated musicians. His unique sound can be heard on season 2 of MTV's Coke Studio, multiple episodes of MTV Unplugged, Emmy-nominated Netflix series Sacred Games, and in a number of Bollywood soundtracks.
As an educator, he has taught on the music faculty at Marlboro College and given workshops on Indian cello playing at the New Directions Cello Festival, UMass, and Berklee College of music.
Since returning to the USA in 2016 Jake has been an advocate for new music for solo cello which he programs in recital alongside Hindustani music. He has performed at the Kennedy Center, The Rubin Museum, Dumbarton Oaks, and The National Center for the Performing Arts in Mumbai.
He also performs with Layale Chaker and Sarafand, Adam Rudolph’s GO Organic Orchestra, and the Brooklyn Raga Massive. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
2023 Local participating cellists
Providence based cellist and songwriter, Zan Berry, is a passionate and creative musician who weaves together diverse musical interests in his work as a performer and educator.
As a performer, Zan explores a wide range of music and collaborations. He is a core member of Verdant Vibes, a new music collective and concert series that brings together artists and musicians creating new work in a variety of genres and media, acoustic and electronic. He also writes and performs experimental folk songs for cello and voice. Most recently Zan has created a new project, Cello Candy, which uses looping and effects pedals to explore cinematic sound worlds and expand the possibilities of the cello.
Zan is the founder and co-organizer of PVD Cello Fest with Kamyron Williams and Isabel Castellvi and is very excited about building community through unique cello-centric concerts in Providence!
While cellist Kamyron Williams has performed on stages across the Midwest and New England, his work with diversity oriented arts organizations, ensembles, and initiatives has garnered significant attention, in the “American Black Journal” series on PBS and NPR Michigan Radio. After both performing and leading community outreach for the Sphinx Organization, he has dedicated his career to tackling the challenges of equity, attendance, enthusiasm that classical music still struggles to overcome. As a leader, Kamyron is cofounder of the Black and Latinx artist collective EnRoot; As host of the podcast Voices Unheard, he spotlights underrepresented composers, overlooked repertoire, and those making an impact in local communities through music.; as an educator, he serves as Resident-Musician at Community MusicWork in Providence, RI; As a performer, he can be heard with Palaver Strings, a musician-led chamber orchestra and nonprofit organization based in Portland, ME. Originally from the Sunshine State of Florida, Kamyron makes his home in Providence, Rhode Island.
Isabel Castellvi is a cellist, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter, and composer. As a versatile musician you can find her collaborating with musicians from around the globe. These collaborations span many genres, including her indie rock bands The Bell Cycle and Alula, her own solo projects, western classical and contemporary classical music, Classical Indian Music, West African and Middle Eastern music, to free improvisation, performance art, as well as composing music for dance and film. Isabel is grateful to share music all over the world through performances, recordings and teaching. Her musical travels have taken her throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Central and South America and the Middle East. She received a Bachelor’s in music performance at DePaul University and a Master's in the Contemporary Performance Program at Manhattan School of Music. Isabel has studied North Indian Classical Music with renowned vocalist Rajyasree Ghosh in Kolkata, India and Falu Shah in New York City.
Kari Juusela is a Finnish/American composer, cellist, and former Dean at Berklee College of Music and Stetson University where he held the Almand Chair of Composition. Currently, he teaches music composition and theory for BerkleeOnline. As a cellist, he performs eclectic chamber music, is the principal cellist for the Narragansett Bay Symphony and Chamber Orchestra of Barrington and plays in the world music group Afrimanding. Juusela’s compositions have been performed internationally and have received top prizes in competitions including the Vienna International Opera Competition, the International Trumpet Guild Composition Competition, the International Red Stick Composition Competition; and London Chamber Group’s "Piece of the Year Competition.” His music is recorded and published by MuusJuus Music, Beauport Classical, ERM Media, Lakeside Records, Capstone Records, ISG Publications, and Yelton Rhodes Music.
Adrienne Taylor has cultivated a unique musical voice through collaborations with artists in music, theater and dance. Performance collaborations include Trinity Repertory Company, Newport Contemporary Ballet, Doppelgänger Dance Collective, the Sphinx Virtuosi and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble. She also writes and performs her own music, and she recorded SoLa, an album of original songs for cello, in 2018. As a MacColl Johnson Composition Fellow, she created a set of musical images inspired by her love of the natural world and the devastating impact of climate change.
Cellist Theodore Mook survived 30 years in New York City as a professional musician and now lives in a converted 19th Century church in rural Rhode Island, where he teaches at his home studio and hosts SwitchArts, a private concert series. A Magna cum Laude graduate of Boston University School of Music, where his principal teachers were George Neikrug and Leonard Shure, he has taught at many colleges and universities in New England and New York, with masterclasses and seminars throughout the United States, Europe and Australia. His performances taken him to the American Academy in Rome, Library of Congress, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as appearances with prominent early music ensembles such as the Providence Baroque Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Lukes, and the New England Bach Festival. He’s a Broadway veteran, with over 25 years in the pits, and has an extensive discography of chamber and new music, Broadway shows, and commercial soundtracks.
Megan Koch is an avid chamber musician, having performed chamber music throughout the New England area in collaboration with several series and groups, including the Newport String Project, the Nth Degree Chamber Ensemble, the Meeting House Chamber Music Festival and the new music ensemble Verdant Vibes. She also enjoys playing in orchestra, and has performed frequently with Rhode Island Philharmonic and New Bedford Symphony Orchestras, in addition to having been a member of Cape Symphony, Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, and Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.
Megan recently moved back to Rhode Island after two years of living in the SanFrancisco Bay Area. During her time there, she formed and performed with Covelo Piano Trio and the Bay Area Cello Collective. She also performed with San FranciscoBallet Orchestra and Symphony San Jose, and taught at Community School of MusicAnd Arts both privately and through their Music4Schools program.
As a coach and teacher, Megan teaches privately in addition to teaching with Musicians for the World, a non-profit offering online lessons to students in underserved areas of the world.
Megan has a Masters Degree in chamber music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she studied under Jean-Michel Fonteneau, and holds a Bachelors of Music degree from the Peabody Institute, where she studied with Alan Stepansky.
Stephen Marotto is a professional cellist and educator based in Boston, MA, and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University. Stephen is a passionate advocate for contemporary music and collaborates often with living composers. He has a wide range of music interests ranging from avant-garde experimental music, electroacoustic music, and various forms of improvised music. Stephen is also keenly interested in folk and bluegrass styles of music and plays mandolin in his spare time.
Rob Bethel has collaborated with diverse groups as Perishable Theatre ( Wozzeck), the Brown University Dance Extension, the Pan-Twilight Circus Orchestra, and the Boston Composers and Improvisors Collaborative. Ro is an active member of Music for People ( a network of improvising musicians) and has played in benefit performances for the Inter-tribal Peace and Healing Center of San Diego, CA.
“The name of the game in music is express and in improvisation the key to making up one’s own music and loving it is self expression.” Whether playing his cello, drumming, leading a group through singing exercises, or showing someone how to conduct an improvised piece with their friends, Rob seeks to enrich and inspire people with power of music.
Maintaining a busy performance schedule with Warp Trio, JY Lee has performed hundreds of
concerts and festival appearances all across the United States, in addition to tours throughout
The United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, West Africa, and the Caribbean. A graduate of the Juilliard School, he trained under David Soyer and Joel Krosnick, and studied
with Felix Wang as a Myra Jackson Blair Scholar at the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt
University. Not only versed in the field of Classical, JY is in demand as a recording artist and as
a collaborator on Jazz, Rock, and Country music albums. He also performs internationally with
the Emmy-Award winning Damien Escobar and his quartet, including performances at the 2013
Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball honoring Barack Obama.
Flannery Brown plays cello, sings songs, writes tunes.
Natasha Astrid is a Providence-based cellist. She is completing her Master of Music for Cello Performance at University of Rhode Island this Spring. As an artist, she has a visual arts practice as well. Her next point of interest is to combine her visual and musical arts practices to see what comes of it!
John Bender, cellist. Picture shows John and Natasha playing duets at Cello Fest 2022!
Miguel Vasquez, a cellist, is an active performer and educator in the New England area. Miguel has participated in several music festivals, including the Tanglewood Music Center in 2017 and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, where he was part of their 2009 – 2013 tours, as well as in their Carnegie Hall concert in 2010. Miguel graduated with a Bachelor of Music in 2014 from Longy School of Music of Bard College and Emerson College in Boston, where he studied with Boston Symphony Orchestra cellist Mihail Jojatu. In 2016, he graduated with a Master’s degree in Cello Performance from the New England Conservatory where he studied with Borromeo Quartet cellist Yeesun Kim.
Daniel Rowe divides his time between performing as cellist and programming as a software engineer. He studied cello with David Finckel and Jerry Grossman at S.U.N.Y, Purchase, and Baroque cello with Fortunato Arico. He was a graduate student and Dean's Scholar at Boston University. He has played with the American Repertory and Huntington Theatre companies, including world premier runs of three Philip Glass operas. Daniel has performed with the Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis, touring parts of the United states and Canada, including Jazz at Lincoln Center. He is currently a member of the Providence Baroque Orchestra, and of the Cambridge-based Renaissance group "Renaissonics", performing in the United States, France, Italy, and Taiwan. For over 25 years he has played cello and electric cello with the Guy Ford Band in various bars north of Boston. Daniel holds a master's degree in Computer Science from UMass Boston, and has been a lead programmer at several start-up software companies.
2023 Non- cellist collaborating artists
Damont Combs a poet from Southside Jamaica Queens NY and a graduate with a degree in Computer Technology Service from Johnson and Wales University. Mr. Combs otherwise known as Mr. Orange Live has released two books of poetry: My Poem... My Riddle, (Prysmatic Dreams Publishing, 2015) and Damont Combs presents A Touch of Orange. (Kingdom Enterprise LLC, 2016) Mr. Orange’ has noted the brightly colored color at numerous venues and is 2018 poet of the year, 2019 RI mentor of the year and produced multiple award winning films in 2020.
Mr. Combs has been active in many writing organizations in his communities such as What Cheer writers club, the Association of Rhode Island Authors as the host of Lively Literati (monthly open mic). He was the poetry curator for RI own motif magazine and monthly podcast interviewer as well. He is also an active participant in the Langston Hughes Poetry committee as their Poet in Residence and resident teaching artist.
Sidy Maiga's expertise in traditional Malian and West African music was just the beginning of his professional musical journey. He employs global rhythms that are as expressive as they are joyful.
Sidy collaborates regularly with local and international musicians, curating impressive festivals that shine a spotlight on African music and its evolution throughout the Diaspora.
Find out more at https://www.sidymaiga.com/aboutsidy
Nitin Mitta was born in 1975 in, Hyderabad, India. He has performed worldwide with some of leading Hindustani classical musicians, including Pandit Jasraj, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Shahid Parvez, and Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, and with such important Carnatic musicians as Lalgudi G.J.R Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi.
Mitta has also collaborated with pianist Vijay Iyer and electric guitarist R. Prasanna, as well as with vocalist Kiran Ahluwahlia, exploring jazz with Indian music.
Nitin Mitta moved to the United States in 2002. He joined the faculty of the LearnQuest Academy of Music in Massachusetts. He has appeared at many important festivals in India, and prestigious venues in the US, including Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Smithsonian (Washington DC) and Royce Hall (Los Angeles). He currently lives in New York City, where he teaches, performs, records music, and conducts tabla workshops.