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Guest Biographies



Daniel Nesta Curtis, conductor

Daniel Nesta Curtis was named Music Director of the Contemporary Ensemble at Carnegie Mellon University in 2012 and has served as the assistant conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic in Brooklyn, NY since 2011. Curtis worked with Artistic Director Alan Pierson in programming and producing two seasons concerts and community-specific events that were praised by The New York Times as “Responding to the histories and needs of its audiences in a way that has been truly inspiring,” and “Not just a good orchestra, but an important one.”  In April, 2013 Curtis made his debut with the Brooklyn Philharmonic conducting Randall Woolf’s Blues for Black Hoodies featuring emcee Wordisbon and in June, Curtis collaborated with the orchestra in a concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music titled “You’re causing quite a disturbance,” featuring neo-soul artist Erykah Badu. Since 2010 Curtis has been curator of the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s popular chamber music series at the Brooklyn Public Library, which mixes contemporary chamber music and the work of renowned Brooklyn authors, poets, actors, activists, and filmmakers. Curtis previously served as the associate conductor of the Bleecker Street Opera Company in New York, and professor of music theory at Mount Saint Vincent College in the Bronx. Originally from Key West, Florida, Curtis has conducted several orchestras in the Southeast including the Key West Pops Orchestra.

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Evan Kahn, cello 

Native to Los Angeles, California, Evan Kahn has performed in concert halls across the globe and in 15 different states. Dedicated to the performance of quality works by living composers, he commissioned five new works for cello for a recital in April 2014; his father, George Kahn, recently completed his work for cello and string orchestra, which Evan premiered in April 2015 under the direction of Maestro Daniel Curtis.

For the past two summers, Evan has attended Aspen Music Festival on a fellowship, where he studied with Darrett Adkins. He has closely collaborated in performance with such esteemed artists as Lynn Harrell, David Halen, Lorna McGhee, Billy Idol, and Jackson Browne. As an orchestral musician, Evan has served as principal cellist under the batons of Gustavo Dudamel, Manfred Honeck, Mei-Ann Chen, Barry Douglas, and Andrés Cárdenes.

A recipient of a instrument grant from the Maestro Foundation, he has the great honor and pleasure of playing on the foundation’s “Mendelsohn” cello, a 2001 instrument by Mario Miralles named after the foundation’s head, Aaron Mendelsohn. Evan plays with a Paul Martin Siefried bow, also leant to him by Maestro.

Evan is a Professional Studies Diploma student at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying with Jennifer Culp. He recently graduated with honors from Carnegie Mellon University, where he served as principal cellist of CMU orchestras. At CMU, he received awards such as The Harry G. Archer Award for Outstanding Senior, Presser Scholarship, four years’ worth of the Wilkins Cello Scholarship, and first prize in the Carnegie Mellon Concerto Competition. At home in Los Angeles, he studies with LA Opera principal cellist John Walz and Lyris Quartet cellist Timothy Loo. 

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Greta Mutlu, violin

Bulgarian violinist Greta Mutlu is the recipient of multiple competition prizes in her native country and abroad. Most recently, she was named winner of Carnegie Mellon University's 2015 Concerto Competition. Greta holds a bachelor's degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, an Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, and a Master of Music from Carnegie Mellon University. Her principal teachers include Paul Kantor and Andrés Cárdenes.

For the past two years, Greta has served as co-concertmaster of the CMU Philharmonic. She was selected as a member of the Honors String Quartet in Fall 2014. Some of Greta's appearances in Pittsburgh include concerts with Incidental Chamber Players and a fully staged production of Stravinsky's l'Histoire du Soldat with Attack Theatre. In May 2015, she will appear as a soloist in Resonance Works Pittsburgh's season finale.

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Paul Polivnick, conductor

 Maestro Paul Polivnick is a prominent figure on the world stage, conducting fine orchestras across the United States, Europe and Asia.

Currently the Conductor Laureate of the New Hampshire Music Festival where he was Music Director from 1992-2009, Paul Polivnick enjoyed both critical and popular success there. From 1997-2002 Polivnick served as Music Director of the Oberlin Conservatory Orchestras while maintaining an active schedule of national and international guest conducting engagements. Prior to that he served as the Music Director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra for eight years, during which time the season grew from 40 to 46 weeks.

From 1988-1993 Polivnick was the Principal Conductor of Harmonia Classica of Vienna Austria, a composers’ society devoted to “beautiful new music.” This post enabled him to conduct concerts and recordings in all of the principal Viennese halls. In the spring of 1987, Mr. Polivnick was nominated for the Seaver Award, an award given annually to the most outstanding young conductor in the USA.

Since that time, he has been seen on many podiums abroad including those o the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, ORF of Vienna, Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, L’Orchestre National de Lille, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, Orquestra Sinfónica de Barcelona y Nacional de Catalunya, Russian Philharmonic of Moscow, Kiev Camerata, Bmo Philharmonic, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra London, Ontario, UNAM Symphony Orchestra of Mexico City, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and all the leading orchestras in Korea: The KBS Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, Korea Symphony and the Philharmonic Orchestras of Busan, Bucheon, Daejon, Taegu and Gangju.

Polivnick has also guest conducted over 40 orchestras and opera companies in the USA including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Silicon valley in San Jose, California, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony, San Diego Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, Central City Opera, Santa Barbara Grand Opera and Charleston Opera to name a few.

Paul began his professional career in Los Angeles as a conductor and violist. Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Paul Polivnick grew up in Westchester County just north of New York City. 

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Carl Toplilow, conductor

Carl Topilow is renowned worldwide for his versatility, whether he is holding a conductor's baton or his trademark red clarinet. He is a multi-talented virtuoso who equally at home in classical and popular music both as conductor and instrumentalist.

Carl recently completed his 38th season as Music Director and Conductor of the National Repertory Orchestra, a summer music festival based in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado. He has assisted in the training of talented young musicians and conductors for positions in symphonic orchestras in the United States and abroad.  He is also Conductor and Director of the Orchestral Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Currently in his 35th year as conductor of the CIM Orchestras, he is also head of the Masters program in orchestral conducting. Graduates of this program can be found as maestros with several leading orchestras.

Following his longtime dream of conducting his own pops orchestra, Carl founded the Cleveland Pops Orchestra. The orchestra, currently in its 20th season, plays to large audiences in Severance Hall and in several other venues throughout Northeast Ohio. The Cleveland Pops Orchestra's diverse, innovative and electrifying programs have been critically acclaimed. The orchestra has two CDs, Music to Grow On, an exciting collection of music for children and adults of all ages, and Live at the Pops, a stirring compilation of music taken from live performances, as well as several sampler CDs used for promotions.

In 2008, Carl was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the The Firelands Symphony Orchestra, based in Sandusky, OH, performing 5 masterworks and 1 outdoor pops concert each season. Guest artists have included pianists Daniil Trifonov and Stanislav Khristenko, violinist Jaime Laredo, cellist Sharon Robinson, and guitarist Jason Vieaux.

Carl has also served as Principal Pops Conductor for the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra in Ft. Myers, Florida, as well as for the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

As a guest conductor, Carl has appeared around the world with more than 120 orchestras, in 37 states in the USA, as well as orchestras in Canada, China, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.

In addition to his busy conducting schedule, Carl avidly pursues his passion for performing as clarinetist. He often performs with his brother Arthur, a pianist, and the duo can be heard on three CDs, Come in from the Cold, A View from the Top, and Music of America.

Carl is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, with a degree in clarinet performance and a masters degree in music education. He has held conducting fellowships with the National Orchestral Association with Leon Barzin and the Aspen Music Festival with under Jorge Mester. Carl began his professional career as Exxon Arts Endowment Conductor of the Denver Symphony Orchestra.

Topilow's wife Shirley is President and CEO of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and Director of the Morgenstern Dance Studio. His daughter Emily, is a freshman at Bowling Green State University where she is majoring in psychology and continuing her violin studies. His daughter Jenny, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and Carnegie Mellon University where she studied with Andrés Cárdenes, is a violinist with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. 

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Yan Pascal Tortelier,  conductor

Yan Pascal Tortelier enjoys a distinguished career as guest conductor of the world’s most prestigious orchestras. He began his musical career as a violinist and, at fourteen, won first prize for violin at the Paris Conservatoire, making his soloist debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra shortly afterward. Following general musical studies with Nadia Boulanger, Tortelier studied conducting with Franco Ferrara at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and from 1974 to 1983 he was Associate Conductor of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse. Further positions since then have included Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Ulster Orchestra (1989-1992) and Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (2005-2008). He was also Principal Conductor of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra from 2009-2011, and currently holds the position of Guest Conductor of Honour, in which capacity he returns to the orchestra a number of times each season. Following his outstanding work as Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic between 1992 and 2003, including annual appearances at the BBC Proms and a very successful tour of the US to celebrate the orchestra's 60th anniversary season, he was given the title of Conductor Emeritus and continues to work with the orchestra regularly. He also holds the position of Principal Guest Conductor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Yan Pascal Tortelier has collaborated with major orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Filarmonica della Scala Milan, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Boston, Chicago, and Montreal symphony orchestras. Further afield he has collaborated with the Melbourne Symphony, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, and the Hong Kong and Malaysian philharmonic orchestras.

Highlights of the 2014/15 season and beyond include returns to the United States to conduct the orchestras in Pittsburgh, Dallas, Montreal, San Francisco, Minnesota, and Baltimore; European performances with the Iceland, Royal Flemish, Lyon National, Bournemouth symphony orchestras, and the Royal Liverpool and BBC philharmonic orchestra; and his return to Australia to conduct the Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney symphony orchestras. Tortelier will also perform with the St Petersburg Philharmonic and Montreal Symphony.

Tortelier has enjoyed a long association with Chandos Records, resulting in an extensive catalogue of recordings, notably with the BBC Philharmonic and Ulster orchestras, and including award-winning cycles of the orchestral music of Debussy, Ravel (featuring his own orchestration of Ravel's Piano Trio), Franck, Roussel, and Dutilleux. He has also conducted critically acclaimed discs of repertoire ranging from Hindemith and Kodaly to Lutoslawski, and Karlowicz. Recent releases for Chandos include the Ravel piano concertos coupled with Debussy’s Fantaisie, with pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, and a disc of works by Florent Schmitt with the Sao Paulo Symphony. In the 13/14 season, Yan Pascal Tortelier added to this catalogue with the release of an entire disc of Stravinsky, once again collaborating with Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. 

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