Amira Acre began her piano studies at the age of three in Montreal. At four she had her first professional engagement on the radio, and at five she won her first piano competition. She studied with Abbey Simon at the Juilliard School where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She earned her doctorate in piano performance at Rutgers University, where she also was awarded a teaching fellowship.
Ms. Acre has been the recipient of many scholarships and awards including three Canada Council Grants and Fellowships to Tanglewood, Fountainebleau, and Banff. She was awarded full tuition scholarships at Juilliard from the William Petschek Piano Fund. She has won scholarships from La Fondation des Amies de l’Art. She has received the first prize at the Artists International Auditions in New York and was a winner of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra competition and Grand Prize winner at the Maidenhead Festival in England. She was a frequent winner of the Quebec Music Festival, the Canadian Music Competition and was a winner of the CBC Radio Talent competition.
Ms. Acre gave her New York debut in 1984 at Carnegie Recital Hall to great critical acclaim. This led to many engagements across Canada and the United States. Ms. Acre has performed in France, England, Belgium, Italy and many other countries across Europe. Her most recent Boston appearance was as a soloist with the Brockton Symphony Orchestra at Jordan Hall. She also performed Rachmaninoff Concerto #3 with the Civic Symphony and Tchaikovsky Concerto #1 with the Wellesley Symphony.
Besides performing internationally as a solo artist Ms. Acre is a distinguished chamber musician and has performed numerous times at Lincoln Center in New York City. She has performed in many music festivals including those at Banff, Orford, Shaw, and Lanaudiere in Canada; Aspen, Bowdoin, and Tanglewood in the United States; and Fontainebleau, France. A number of Ms. Acre’s recitals have been broadcast on CBC Radio on the “Music from Montreal” series.
Melanie Howell was born near Milwuakee, WI and received her undergraduate degree in Classical Saxophone Performance and Music Education from the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, WI. While there, she performed in the Downbeat Award winning Lawrence Universtiy Jazz Ensemble as well as performing in clinics with Dave Holland, Kenny Garrett, and Michael Brecker.
After working aboard several Carnival Cruise Line ships as a showband musician, she went on to the New England Conservatory of Music to pursue her Masters in Jazz Performance. Melanie currently is a member of the Jazz Composers' Alliance Orchestra and the Beantown Swing Orchestra where she plays baritone sax and bass clarinet. She also enjoys playing in pit orchestras around the Boston area and continues to play classical saxophone music. Melanie can also be seen at several Celtic music sessions around Harvard Square, as her other love is playing the traditional Irish flute.
Having performed publicly since he was nine years old, Li is gaining attention as a significant recitalist, chamber musician, and soloist with orchestra. Li has appeared at the opening ceremony of Boston’s new Institute of Contemporary Art, at the inauguration of President Tony Woodcock at New England Conservatory, and at Boston’s Steinway Hall. He also played at New York’s Carnegie Hall in the new TV series produced by the popular NPR radio show, From the Top. In addition, he has been featured on WBZ-TV’s Liz Walker Show and ABC’s Martha Stewart Show.
Li has appeared as soloist with the Xiamen Philharmonic (Xiamen, China, Tao Lin conductor), Symphony Pro Musica (Massachusetts, U.S.A., Mark Churchill conductor), Simon Bolivar Youth Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (Caracas, Venezuela, Sarah Ioannides conductor), Boston Philharmonic Orchestra (Benjamin Zander, conductor), and the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra (Arcady Leytush conductor). Li is invited to perform with the Miami Symphony Orchestra (Eduardo Marturet conductor) and the Nordic Chamber Orchestra Sweden (Sundsvall, Sweden, Christian Lindberg Conductor) in the 2008 - 2009 concert season.
Li won second prizes in both the Virginia Waring international Piano competition and the Cincinnati World Piano Competition at the age of nine. In 2008, Li won the second prize in the Gina Bachauer International Piano Junior Artist Competition.
Li began studying piano at four with Dorothy Shi for seven years. Currently, he studies piano from Wha Kyung Byun at the New England Conservatory, where he pursues music studies, taking classes such as chamber music, composition, music theory and piano seminar. Li lives with his family in Lexington Massachusetts where he attends Jonas Clarke Middle School. Li is an active fan of the Boston Red Sox.
Violinist Yuki Beppu was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1997 and moved to the United States with her parents in 1999. She started playing the violin at the age of four. She has been a student at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School (NEC) since 2003. She studies with Mrs. Kazuko Matsusaka, Ms. Julliane Lee, and Mr. Joseph Silverstein. She was a first place winner of the NEC concerto competition 2007 and appeared as a soloist playing with the NEC Youth Repertory Orchestra at the Jordan Hall in NEC (2008).
Yuki received the Leonard D. Wood Awards (first place) at the Young Artist Competition 2008 of the Philharmonic Society of Arlington. She appeared in the Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick Inauguration Gala with Lynn Chang and Yo-Yo Ma (2007). Yuki played the violin for a 6-day series of the musical “Beauty and the Beast” with the Lexington Players in the summer of 2007. She plays chamber music at NEC, and her group “Trio Con Brio” performed for the radio program “From the Top” (2008). Yuki also appeared in the Chamber Music Series of the Winsor Music (2009). She played the Mozart concerto with the Lexington Symphony (2010).
Thomas Stumpf received his degrees in piano performance from the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He was awarded the Bösendorfer Prize and the Lilli Lehmann Medal. He has appeared with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Boston Pops Orchestra (under Arthur Fiedler), Alea III (under Theodore Antoniou), and the Lexington Symphony. Stumpf is a well-known collaborative pianist, and in that role, he has performed with Rita Streich, Edith Mathis, D'Anna Fortunato, Richard Stoltzman, Jack Brymer, Walter Trampler and Leslie Parnas.
He has premiered many compositions by contemporary American composers and is a composer himself. Stumpf's compositions have appeared on concert programs in Boston, throughout the U.S. as well as in Germany and the U.S.S.R.; in 1992 he won the Kahn Award for his music theater project "Dark Lady," one section of which was recorded on the Neuma label by soprano Joan Heller. In 2005, his choral work “Though I Walk” was premiered at St. Bartholomew’s in New York City by the Pharos Music Project.
He is Director of Music at Follen Church in Lexington, MA, where he has conducted the Senior Choir in many major choral works, from Bach's St.Matthew Passion and Mozart's Requiem to Britten's "Ceremony of Carols" and the Sacred Concerts of Duke Ellington. He also conducts the Follen Youth Choir, and directs the Youth and Junior Choirs every June in fully staged, double cast productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. His experience at Follen has led to his first book: a collection of essays entitled "A Sounding Mirror: Courage and Music in our Time," published in 2005 by Higganum Hill Books. He is also the co-founder and Artistic Director of Prism Opera, and has conducted and directed Mozart's "La Clemenza di Tito" (in his own translation), as well as operas by Britten, Vaughan-Williams and Holst.
Stumpf has taught piano at the New England Conservatory and Boston University (where he was Chair of the Collaborative Piano Department from 1990 to 1997). He regularly gives master-classes at the Musikschule in Mannheim, Germany. He currently teaches at UMassLowell (where he has been the head of the keyboard department) and on the Applied Music faculty at Tufts University.