Chamber Music ~ Practice Training ~ Improvisation
Suzanne Smith, CelloChanWoods Founder and Director, has performed and taught for over 30 years. During that time she has developed a philosophy of teaching that includes the whole person in ways that help ignite the creative process and instill confidence in her students. A pursuit of excellence at CCW takes place in this context. Over the last seven years, many cellists have left CelloChanWoods with a new clarity about their personal, cellistic, and artistic goals. A highly supportive community of musicians makes it all the more possible.
Ms. Smith has a bachelors in performance from Oberlin Conservatory under the late Richard Kapuscinski, formerly a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She went on to complete a Masters in Music under Bernard Greenhouse of the Beaux Arts Trio. After doing two more years of post graduate study with Mr. Greenhouse, she later worked with Janos Starker over a 2 year period from 2010-2012. At the Tanglewood Music Festival she performed under Colin Davis, Michael Tillson Thomas, Seji Ozawa, and Gunther Schuller. In master class Suzanne has worked with Lynn Harell at the Scotia Festival, Jules Eskin at the Sarasota Festival, Rya Garbasova at the Cleveland Institute, and more. Suzanne studied the Suzuki method in the 1980s with Evon Tate, Gilda Barston, and was honored to have a meeting with Dr. Suzuki himself in 1970. She has preformed as chamber musician, soloist, and orchestral performer throughout her life.
Suzanne's cellisitc work, has become directly and positively impacted by her study of Zen, or Ch’an Buddhism, for the past 25 years. Ch’an, in the name Cellochan or CelloChanWoods, means the deepest understanding or to “see”. Though Buddhism is not studied here, many of the ideas relating to focus, confidence, and openness are shared. The retreat is an opportunity to explore the joy of music making in the context of mind and body integration. Through basic centering meditation and relaxation in movement classes, students can locate tension and/or blocks in their playing. Zen offers many ideas regarding focus and concentration. Over a period of 10 years, Suzanne studied under the late Zen Master, Master Sheng Yen, for whom a chair at Columbia University has been dedicated. Master Sheng Yen founded the Dharma Drum Buddhist University in Taiwan. She has participated in numerous Zen retreats and uses the method of “Silent Illumination”. As a result, Suzanne is able to clearly communicate to her students how to effectively sit, move, focus, and to be more open and aware at the cello. The cello is part of her own spiritual practice. This retreat accepts students as young as 12 up to adults. Participants are placed in their appropriate playing level at the retreat. The CelloChanWoods staff is highly qualified to teach very advanced students of any age. Janos Starker "You have to have confidence before you put your hands on the instrument".
Dory Mead, CelloChanWoods Assistant Director, leads classes in movement, facilitates many aspects of the CCW vision, and creates dynamic events. Her talent as a leader and ability to bring people together is well known. She earned her BMA in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan school of Music, where she studied with George Shirley and Freda Herseth, and has had 18 years of private study. She appeared in La Purpura de la Rosa and The Rover while at Michigan. Ms. Mead spent two summers performing with the Aspen Music Festival Opera program, during which she was a featured artist opening for Jessye Norman. Ms. Mead has also performed with the Metro City Lyric Opera, Arbor Opera Theater and the Austin Shakespeare Company. While studying with W. Steve Smith in New York, Ms. Mead incorporated both Jazz and Classical into her performance repertoire at the Victor Café in South Philadelphia. Recently appearing with the Brass Tacks Ensemble as King Henry in Shakespeare's Henry V, Titania in Ann Arbor Shakespeare in the Arb, 2015 alumna of the OperaWorks Intensive training program and member of A2CT's long-form Imrov troupe 'Dearly Beloved, Ms. Mead is dedicated to continued education as a performer and educator. She currently teaches privately in Ann Arbor, MI, is a faculty member of the Community Music School of Ann Arbor. As a teacher and mentor, Ms. Mead spent ten years teaching rock climbing and outdoor adventure activities to children and adults. She has been teaching singing lessons for 5 years and her technique is influenced by her teacher W. Stephen Smith, author of The Naked Voice. Assistant director of the CelloChanWoods Music Retreat, her experience mentoring a wide range of people through challenging processes makes her a patient and positive vocal instructor with a unique approach.
Jason Gong is an international pianist and cellist from Michigan, currently pursuing his Guildhall Artist Masters in Music Performance with Prof. Noriko Ogawa and Prof. Paul Roberts at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, United Kingdom. He received his Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Michigan studying under Dr. Louis Nagel.
An accomplished performer and music educator, Jason comes to CelloChanWoods as a cellist assistant to the CCW cello staff. His polished cello playing, perspective as a pianist, and his solid teaching skills bring added perspective to the artistic process at CCW. Jason loves collaboration, and some of his recent projects include work with musical theatre, silent film, contemporary composers, local musicians, and dancers and choreographers of the London Contemporary Dance School. He has also performed in many duos, trios, quartets, and quintets, as well as larger ensembles and orchestras such as the Guildhall New Music Ensemble, UM University Choir, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Civic Ensemble, the Panache Group, Mosaic Youth Theatre, and the Seaway Chorale and Orchestra. Jason is very excited to be returning to the positive and encouraging atmosphere of CelloChanWoods. He greatly values the positive and encouraging atmosphere, as well as the strong sense of community the retreat fosters. CCW creates an extremely supportive environment where the participants are able to work through both musical problems, but also mental and emotional barriers.
Ian Robinson is a cellist, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer from Philadephia, PA. He has a Bachelors degree from Indiana University, where he was the last student of legendary cellist Janos Starker. He has two Masters degrees, one from the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cello Performance and another in Suzuki Pedagogy. In addition to directing the strings program at Norfolk Collegiate, he also plays with the Virginia Symphony and Williamsburg Symphony. Outside of the classical realm, he plays bass in The Original Superband (a jazz big band) and records with electronic group Slightly Faded. Ian can be found on YouTube on the channel Robinson Bros, and on SoundCloud as Crobi and Solar Echo. Ian is a very special peformer and teacher. He is highly imaginative, exciting, and present for his students.
Sonja Kraus, originally from Germany, is an international cellist, teacher, and researcher whose musical career has taken her around the world. Early in her career she traveled with the National Youth Orchestra of Germany to Japan, Venezuela , and more than ten countries in Europe. During her Bachelors, her piano trio Ananda performed in Europe with frequent appearances in Germany, France, and Switzerland. In August 2012, Sonja moved to the United States and has since performed as soloist or as part of chamber music ensembles in many states from East to West Coast. She has recently expanded her career to Latin American countries, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Ecuador.. At the moment , Sonja is the cello professor at the Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo in Guayaquil where she is helping to develop the first Master’s program for musicians in Ecuador. At the same time, she is the principal cellist of the Orquesta Filarmónica Municipal de Guayaquil. Before she moved to Ecuador, Sonja was a doctoral student at the Jacobs School of Music atIndiana University Bloomington where she previously earned her Master’s degree. Before moving to the United States, Sonja finished her Bachelor’s in cello and pedagogy at the University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart, Germany. Sonja has been teaching since she started her studies in Germany. In the beginning, she mentored pre - college students at the Musiksc hule Unterensingen. After moving to the US, she was named the Associate Instructor to Emilo Colon, cello, at the Jacobs School of Music – Indiana University Bloomington. She later joined the faculty of the String Academy there. During the past four summers Sonja has been the staff coordinator and cello instructor at CelloChanwoods, a cello retreat with a theme of well being and the arts, in Vermont. Additionally, she has given masterclasses in the US and internationally. Some of the universities she has been invited to include: DePaul University School of Music, Chicago IL; University of Reno, NV; Conservator io de Música de Puerto Rico; Colegio Universitario San Gerónimo de La Habana,, Cuba; and University of Music and Performing Arts Frankfurt, Germany. Before her current position as principal cellist of the Orquesta Filarmónica Municipal de Guayaquil , Sonja has been assistant principal cellist in the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and a member of the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra.. Dur ing her final year in Germany,, she worked in the S tuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra and before that as substitute cellist for the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and the Stuttgart Opera Orchestra. As a researcher, Sonja focuses on broadening the cello repertoire by identifying manuscripts and creating editions of unpublished cello works f rom the classical era. She has found three cello concertos by Franz Anton Hoffmeister and is in the process of creating scholarly editions for these works. In January 2019, Sonj a will record all three concertos with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra . During this production for Naxos , she will collaborate with the conduct or Constantin Trinks and the music producer Michael Fine. She has recently been awarded a tenure track cello professorship at North Dakota University starting in the fall of 2018.
Gabriele Jimbo Viteri is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Music in cello performance at the Jacobs School of Music - Indian University Bloomington, studying with Emil Colon. Gabriel is originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador and has toured mulitple countryies throughout Latin America as a member of various youth orchestras and of the Guayaquil Symphony Orchestra. Garbiel's musical experiences include a diverse range of ensembles including string quartets, chamber , and symphony orchestras. He is the co-founder of his city’s first cello ensemble and has been a soloist with multiple youth, university orchestras in Ecuador, as well as with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ecuador in 2017.
While in Ecuador, Gabriel has taken part in many national competitions, including the "Jovenes Talentos" National Competition on it's 2013, 2015, and 2016 editions, being a finalist in both 2013 and 2015. In 2016 he won 1st prize. As a teacher and instructor, Gabriel has collaborated on a regular basis with several youth orchestras as instructor and section coach. He taught both individual lessons and sectionals to help develop orchestral cellists. Future projets include dynamizing Ecuador's classical music scene by bringing US-based musicians to Ecuador to both teach and perform during the summer and to collaborate with different orchestras in Ecuador. Gabriel will also participate in international music festivals in the US and abroad. Future projects include recitals in Ecuador this coming August and a degree recital next spring. CCW was such and amazing experience and I'm very glad to be part of it.
Chef Mary Potts lives a multifaceted life, which comes together in creative and adventurous approaches to food. Celebrated photographer, competitive Jujitsu World Gold Medalist, and avid traveler, Mary weaves many talents in to an expressive tapestry of cooking. Her long career in some of the finest restaurants in the culinary air of South East Michigan includes being a Baker at Blue Tractor, Pastry Chef for the famed Vellum restaurant, leading to a position as Sous Chef at Lena and ultimately recruited as the inaugural Executive Chef at the Ypsi AleHouse in Michigan. All these experiences come together to create Chef Mary’s unique approach, which blends home-cooked comfort foods with the flavors she experiences around the globe.
You will see numerous photos of Chef Mary's creations during CelloChanWoods in the Gallery (many of which incorporate locally grown food purchased at the local farmers market as well as bounteous organic blueberries harvested right in the blueberry fields of Knoll Farm).
Jen Eastridge is a Marketing Consultant and Small Business Entrepreneur living in Michigan. Her formal training in Fine Arts combined with her professional experience in Marketing and Product Development have led to a wonderfully broad scope of clients with whom she has worked over the years.