Winsor Music's mentoring program is a quartet made up of one professional mentor and three talented high school students.
Winsor Music's Artistic Director Peggy Pearson formed Violobos after our December 2014 benefit concert, on which three of these outstanding students performed; they demonstrated an admirable work ethic, a high degree of musicianship, and an easy, natural chemistry when performing together. Violobos provides them with multiple opportunities for different kinds of performances (outreach concerts, house concerts, concert series appearances) through and with the invaluable experience of an ongoing mentoring relationship with a working professional musician.
In September 2014, funds were raised to add a second professional mentor, expanding the program to include three more students from the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. In January 2016, a third group was formed, mentored by Grammy-award winning violinist and violist Saul Bitran.
Alma Bitran, cello
Alma Bitran has been playing cello since the age of five. She studies at New England Conservatory Prep Division in Boston with teacher Ron Lowry. At the age of twelve, Alma played as a soloist with the Brookline Youth Orchestra. She is currently principal cellist of the Brookline High School orchestra, where she attends school as a sophomore. She has participated in both senior and junior Eastern Districts, and played in the Festival Youth Orchestra at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. She is currently a member of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Aside from cello, Alma plays guitar in her psychedelic rock band, The Barbie Dolls.
Saul Bitran, violin, mentor
Saul Bitran, first violinist with the award-winning Cuarteto Latinoamericano, was born in Mexico City, to Chilean parents. He is a recipient of the highest artistic awards given by Mexico and Chile, namely the Bellas Artes Medal (in 2000) and the Order of Merit Pablo Neruda (in 2014), respectively.
The Cuarteto Latinoamericano, winner of the Latin Grammy in 2012 and the Diapason d’or in 2007, was established in 1982, and is known worldwide as the main exponent of the string quartet literature by Latin American composers. Cuarteto Latinoamericano has recorded most of the string quartet repertoire by Latin American composers, in over 70 CDs for various international labels. These albums have become, according to many music critics, the reference recordings for this repertoire. The sixth and last volume of the Heitor Villa-Lobos Quartets cycle, recorded for Dorian, was nominated for two Grammys in 2002. In addition to the quartet, Bitran serves as Artist-in-Residence at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where he teaches violin and chamber music. Also, he is the violinist with the Boston based Trio Tremonti. Between 1987 and 2008, Saul was Associate Professor and Artist in Residence at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Besides his regular teaching activities, Bitran has taught in numerous music festivals around the world, such as Dartington International Summer School (1994 and 2004), Centre d'ArtsOrford, Chamber Music Institute at Holy Cross, Grenoble Festival, Festival de Música de Cámara de San Miguel de Allende, and many others. As first violinist of the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Bitran has been soloist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony, the San Antonio Symphony, the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa among many other orchestras, under conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gerard Schwarz, Eduardo Mata, Keith Lockhart and others.
Bitran graduated from the Rubin Academy of Tel Aviv, Israel, where he studied with Prof. YairKless, During his stay in Israel, Saul played in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and was concertmaster and frequent soloist of several orchestras in that country. As first violinist of the Rubin Academy String Quartet, Saul performed throughout Israel and Europe. Saul Bitran divides his time between Mexico City and Boston.
Aixin Cheng, cello
Aixin Cheng is 14 years old and a freshman at Walnut Hill School for the Arts. She studied cello for eight years and comes from Beijing in China. Aixin currently studies with Laura Blustein at NEC Prep. She attended the BIMFA Chamber Music Festival in 2015 and has been accepted to the Castleman String Quartet Program and Morningside Music Bridge for the summer of 2016.
Sean Diehl, viola
Sean Diehl, 15, is currently a freshman at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Having begun his studies at the age of four, Sean primarily plays violin but performs with Violobos as a violist. Sean has attended Kinhaven Music Camp and Greenwood Music Camp in addition to other summer music festivals.
Peter Fletcher, viola
Peter is a 17-year-old student attending Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts. He plays viola in the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO) and is the assistant conductor of the Brookline Youth Orchestra (BYO). Peter studies composition and conducting with John Ferguson, the director of BYO. He studies viola with Michael Zaretsky, a violist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). He is also a violist in Brookline high school's Jazz Band and Orchestra. Peter plays in the Whistler Quartet under the supervision of Winsor Music.
Njioma Grevious, violin, viola
Njioma Grevious, of Newton, is a violinist and violist who has been a scholarship recipient of Project STEP’s string training program since she was 6 years old. A student of Irina Muresanu, Njioma plays violin with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and is excited about performing on violin and viola with Violobos. Njioma is especially grateful for the life-changing mentorship and summer study scholarship assistance Winsor Music and Peggy Pearson have provided over the years. Through that support, Njioma has been able to attend the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, The New England Chamber Music Festival, Encore Coda and Music on The Hill. Njioma has especially enjoyed reaching out to seniors through music in nursing homes and also performing at benefit events with Winsor Music, Lexington Chamber Music Center, Project STEP, the Borealis Ensemble and with her siblings as part of the Mahewa Trio since she was 4 years old. She enjoys promoting classical music to all and arranging a cappella and instrumental pieces for the joy of it. In addition to past orchestral performances at Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall and The Concertgebouw, Njioma greatly enjoyed performing in Berlin, Prague and Lucerne during the summer of 2015 under the baton of Benjamin Zander.
Ashley Kim, violin
Ashley Kim, violin, is from Seoul Korea and began playing violin at the age of six. She is a first-year student at Walnut Hill School for the Arts and has attended festivals such as Summit, CISA in Cambridge University, and was awarded a full scholarship to the Hotchkiss School Summer Portal. Ashley has participated in master classes led by Victor Danchenko, CJ Chang, Ida Kavafian, Almita Vamos/Roland Vamos, Anne Weithas, and David Kim, as well as with the Shanghai Quartet, Miro Quartet, and Brentano Quartet.
Peggy Pearson, oboe, mentor
Peggy Pearson is a winner of the Pope Foundation Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Music. Lloyd Schwartz, who received the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, called her "my favorite living oboist." Ms. Pearson gave her New York debut with soprano Dawn Upshaw in 1995, a program featuring the premiere of John Harbison's Chorale Cantata which was written specifically for them. She has performed solo, chamber and orchestral music throughout the United States and abroad. A member of the Bach Aria Group, Ms. Pearson is also solo oboist with the Emmanuel Chamber Orchestra, an organization that has performed the complete cycle of sacred cantatas by J.S. Bach. According to Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe, "Peggy Pearson has probably played more Bach than any other oboist of her generation; this is music she plays in a state of eloquent grace." Ms. Pearson is Director of Winsor Music, Inc.; she is also Artistic Director of, and oboist with the Winsor Music Chamber Series in Lexington, Massachusetts. She is a founding member of the chamber group, La Fenice, with performances at Winsor Music, the Skaneateles Festival in New York, Maryland's Eastern Shore Chamber Music Festival, and the Union College Series in Schenectady, New York. Ms. Pearson has toured internationally and recorded extensively with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and has appeared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra as principal oboist, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and Music from Marlboro.
In addition to her freelance and chamber music activities, Peggy Pearson has been an active exponent of contemporary music. She was a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute in contemporary music, and has premiered numerous works, many of which were written specifically for her. She is featured on a recording of John Harbison's music entitled First Light, with Dawn Upshaw and Lorraine Hunt (Archetype Records). She has premiered and recorded Quartetto for oboe and strings by Mario Davidovsky (Bridge Records), John Harbison's Snow Country (Archetype Records), Peter Child's Sonatina (CRI), and Ivan Tcherepnin's Flores Musicales (CRI). As director of Winsor Music, Inc., Ms. Pearson organized the Winsor Music Consortium (a project to commission works for oboe) and in 2000, premiered its first commissioned work, Quartet for Oboe and String Trio, by Yehudi Wyner. She was a founding member of the Emmanuel Wind Quintet, an ensemble formed to study and perform the Schoenberg Wind Quintet, and winner of the Naumburg Award in 1981. The Emmanuel Quintet collaborated with the Guild of Composers, and worked with other composers including Milton Babbitt, Mario Davidovsky, Gunther Schuller, John Harbison, Fred Lerdahl and John Heiss.
She has been on the faculties at Songfest, The Tanglewood Music Center (Bach Institute), the Conservatory of Music (University of Cincinnati), Wellesley College, the Composers Conference at Wellesley College and the Longy School of Music. She is currently on the faculties at Boston Conservatory and MIT (Emerson Scholars Program).