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Ronn Yedidia, accordion
Ronn Yedidia was born in Israel in 1960 and began his musical career as a child prodigy pianist, winning 1st Prize at the Young Concert Artists’ Competition of Israel at the age of eight. His main teacher and mentor was Israel’s first lady of the piano, Pnina Salzman, who herself was a protege of Alfred Cortot. In 1984 he entered the Juilliard School from which he holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in composition. During his studies there under David Diamond and Milton Babbitt he received all the major prizes in composition, including the Lincoln Center Scholarship, the Irving Berlin Scholarship, the Henry Mancini Prize, and the Richard Rodgers Scholarship.
In 1987 he was presented on Israeli Television as Discovery of the Year in Classical Music, performing his Third Piano Sonata “Outcries”. His compositions have been broadcast on New York radio stations WNYC, WNCN, WFUV & WQXR, and he has been featured on NBC & WOR television networks in the U.S. and on both KBS-TV and MBC-TV in South Korea. His works have received critical acclaim throughout the world.
In 1994 Ronn Yedidia was invited by Thomas Frost and Wanda Toscanini-Horowitz to edit and record the unpublished piano compositions of the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz.
Between 1993 and 1998 he served as Composer in Residence and Chairman of the Piano Department at the Bloomingdale House of Music in Manhattan. His students have been recognized in numerous competitions and festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe. Between 2001 and 2004, he served as Vice President and Program Director of the Piano Teachers Congress of New York. Since the summer of 2003, he has served as Piano and Composition Professor at the Puigcerda Festival of Classical Music in Spain.
Ronn Yedidia was awarded the 2006 San Antonio International Piano Competition Commission to compose a new solo-piano work to be performed by all finalists of the competition.
His first Compact Disc recording entitled “Yedidia Plays Yedidia” was released in March, 2001 on the Altarus label (AIR-CD-9078). His popular “Lullabye” was released in 2003 on EMI Classics’ Ahn Trio “Groovebox” CD. His music is distributed through the publishing company Verse Music, in affiliation with BMI.
Lara St. John, violin
Canadian violinist Lara St. John has been described as “something of a phenomenon” by The Strad and a “high-powered soloist” by the New York Times.
She has performed as soloist with many orchestras including those of Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver in North America and throughout Europe, Australia, Asia, and South America.
The Los Angeles Times wrote: “Lara St. John happens to be a volcanic violinist with a huge, fabulous tone that pours out of her like molten lava. She has technique to burn and plays at a constant high heat.”
Lara created her own Ancalagon Records label in 1999, and has recorded with the Royal Philharmonic, the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and The Knights. She won a Juno in 2011 for her Mozart album. Of her Bach Six Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo, American Record Guide wrote: “I simply don’t know where else you can go to hear Bach played at this level of artistry.”
Lara began playing the violin at two years old. She made her first appearance as soloist with orchestra at four, and her European debut when she was 10.
She performs on a 1779 Guadagnini thanks to an anonymous donor and Heinl & Co. of Toronto.
She is also a collector of traditional music, a founding member of Polkastra, and has an adorable 4-foot iguana named Cain.
Eddy Khaimovich, Bass
Eddy Khaimovich, a much sought-after Israeli bassist and composer living in New York, has recorded his first album featuring multi Grammy-award winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove to raving acclaim from critics and audiences alike. Since moving to New York in 2001 to attend the prestigious Manhattan School of Music on full scholarship, Eddy’s facility and agile command of the instrument as well, as warm, deep tone and unique musical voice have earned him a solid reputation on New York music scene in Jazz, Classical, World and Commercial music worlds.
A long time recipient of the prestigious America- Israel Cultural Foundation grants, he has played and/or recorded with world renowned musicians including Jazz, Commercial and World music greats, such as multiple Grammy-award winner Roy Hargrove, 2010 Latin Grammy-award winner Fernando Otero, James Moody, Paquito D’Rivera, Fred Hersch, Benito Gonzales, Andrew Gouche, Francisco Mela, Etienne Mbappé, Oz Noy, Oscar Feldman, Delmar Brown, Alvester Garnett, Hal Galper, Arnie Lawrence, Andy LaVerne, Octavio Brunetti, Henry Threadgill, Steve Davis, Jeff Hirshfield, Mike Holober, Gene Jackson, Quintino Cinalli, David Schnitter, Bill Goodwin, Sam Barsh, Leonardo Suarez Paz, Dave Silliman, Valery Ponomarev, Curtis Fowlkes, Darrell Green, Mauricio Zottarelli and classical luminaries Lorin Maazel, Yuri Bashmet, Vladimir Spivakov, Maxim Vengerov, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta, Lara St. John and Borislav Strulev, among many others. Eddy has been featured on the Israeli National Broadcast radio and has received coverage of his music by multiple programs on several Israeli National TV channels and International TV Channel RTVI. Eddy has appeared on the “Night Bird” talk show and on the live broadcast of the International Tel-Aviv Jazz Festival
Giacomo La Vita, guitar
Guitarist Giacomo La Vita was born in the countryside near Florence, Italy, but grew up in the U.S. where he took up the guitar at the age of 10. For the last 15 years Giacomo has performed as both a soloist and ensemble musician in major halls in New York City, as well as in many cities across the U.S., in his native Italy, and throughout Europe. Recent highlights include performances in Geneva, Berlin, and New York at Merkin Hall, with the Garden State Philharmonic and with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra under the baton of Maestro James Levine.
A top prize winner of 15 international classical guitar competitions, Giacomo is also the only instrumentalist in the history of Mannes College of Music to win the annual Concerto Competition twice: in 2001 with the Fastasia para un Gentilhombre, and in 2005 with the Conceirto de Aranjuez, both by Rodrigo. At age 18 he was the subject of an ABC Television Network profile, and performed live on KQTV television.
In addition to his solo career, Giacomo performs in a voice-guitar duo with his wife, soprano Jeanai La Vita, called the La Vita Duo. The duo has released a CD titled “Nightfall” and features original arrangements made by Giacomo of works by composers Strauss, Brahms, Chopin and Debussy, among many others, as well as newly composed music written for the duo by contemporary composers.
Always seeking to enlarge the repertory, Giacomo is an avid arranger of music for guitar and has published many solo and ensemble works, ranging from Scarlatti to Rachmaninoff. Currently he is transcribing and recording J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier for classical guitar (a project which has won Giacomo a place as a finalist for a Fulbright Award). He has had new music written and dedicated to him (such as the ground-breaking works Ballade and 6 Etudes for solo guitar by Ronn Yedidia), commissioned new works for guitar, and is himself the composer of music for solo, duo and trio guitars.
Percussionist Benny Koonyevsky is a recipient of the Francoise Shapira Prize, for which he took first place and subsequently made his solo debut with the Israel Philharmonic. He holds a master’s degree from the Juilliard School and a bachelor’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music.
Mr. Koonyevsky was a member of the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and Principal Timpanist with The International Symphony Orchestra under Lorin Maazel and Sleswig Holstein Festival under Sir George Solti. He is currently Assistant Timpanist and Percussionist with the Springfield (MA) Symphony Orchestra.
He is highly in-demand as a drum set/percussion artist performing with various world music groups, as well as touring with such artists as Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Kate McGary, Alabina, Andy Stutsman, Peter, Paul and Mary, Debbie Friedman, The High Tops, The Lion King, Spamalot, Wicked and “In the Heights” (on Broadway). Recording Credits include: Gloria Estefan, Vanessa Williams, Donald Fagan, Julian Green, Jennifer Holiday and more.
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