BRANKO BARNIC, guitar
Branko Barnic began to play guitar at the age of 11 and he graduated at Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia with major in classical guitar. During his time at Academy and later, he performed as a soloist, with chamber ensembles and took part in many national and international festivals where he attended masterclasses and workshops with world’s famous guitarists such as: Aniello Desiderio, Dusan Bogdanovic, Pavel Steidl, Oddair Assad, Roland Dyens, etc.
Important field of his activities is pedagogy. He worked eight years in Elementary and High Music School in Serbia as a guitar teacher. He taught children from 7 to 19 years old and students from his class won many prices on national and international guitar competitions.
Besides classical guitar Branko also plays electric and acoustic guitar and has performed in a couple of rock’n’roll / blues bands for several years.
He continued his education with Performer Diploma in Guitar Performance at Jacobs School of Music – Indiana University, under guidance of maestro Ernesto Bitetti. He was awarded with a position of Associate Instructor for Guitar. He taught both, beginner and advanced guitar classes. In 2016 he graduated with Master’s degree in guitar performance at University of Minnesota, where he also had a position of a Teaching Assistant at guitar department and taught all levels, individual and group lessons.
Since 2012 he performs in guitar duo “Mediterranean Breeze” with Milena Petkovic. The duo performed on many academic and casual occasions in Indiana and Minnesota.
DENIS EVSTUHIN, piano
Russian pianist Denis Evstuhin has earned international acclaim for his vibrant artistry, remarkable sound quality and brilliant virtuosity by audiences and critics alike. Denis has performed in major cities throughout Europe, Russia, and the USA. He has appeared on stages of the world’s most prestigious venues, including Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the great Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff Halls in Moscow, the Mariinsky Theater and Philharmonic Halls in St. Petersburg, as well as Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. Evstuhin appeared as a soloist with the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Fairbanks Symphony, and the Sioux City Symphony. Denis has earned prizes in a number of international competitions around the World. In 2010 Denis was a guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.
Denis holds a B.M and M.M. from the St. Petersburg Conservatory. While in the USA, he received DMA degree in Piano Performance at the University of Minnesota (studio of A. Braginsky). Evstuhin has participated in master classes, performing for some of the most distinguished pianists of our time.
After a successful performance at The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis in July 2009, Denis was invited to organize and serve as Artistic Director of Music at the Museum, a concert series featuring a wide range of Russian classics. Recent highlights include a performance with Osmo Vanska and Erin Keefe in Minneapolis and 2014-2015 US tour.
For more information visit: www.denisevstuhin.com
ANTON MELNICHENKO, piano
Russian-born pianist Anton Melnichenko has been performing on several continents since his first solo recital at the age of twelve. His performances have always garnered him both public and critical acclaim. In addition to top prizes Melnichenko has received various special audience awards on numerous international competitions.
A graduate of the prestigious Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, Anton has also received an Artist Diploma at Hamline University, as well as his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Minnesota, where he studied with Professor Alexander Braginsky.
Melnichenko has earned top prizes in a number of international and national competitions, including first prizes at the International Competition “Citta di Fasano” (Italy), the Shubert Club Competition (USA), International Competition The Art of 21st century (Ukraine), Gavrilin International Piano Competition (Russia), as well as the fourth prize at the V International Piano Competition in Andorra. He has also appeared on many television and radio stations in Russia, US and Europe, such as Minnesota Public Radio, Russia K Channel (Culture), Russian National Television and others, performing works by Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Shostakovich.
Besides his solo career Anton Melnichenko is an established collaborative pianist and has been working with many instrumentalists and vocalists around the world. He is also a staff collaborative pianist at Hamline University.
MLADA KHUDOLEY, voice
Praised by the New York Times for her “lush, sizable and luminous voice”, Russian soprano Mlada Khudoley has performed at such illustrious theatres as Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Bolshoi Theatre, Mariinsky Theatre, the Royal Opera of Denmark, the Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Dusseldorf), the Stuttgart Staatsoper, the Leipzig Oper, the Graz Oper, the Teatr Wielki (Warsaw), the Greek National Opera, the Teatro Massimo (Palermo), the Teatro Regio (Turin), opera houses in Los Angeles, Washington, Dallas, Minnesota, Vancouver (Canada), Tel Aviv, the Latvian National Opera and the Kazan and Yekaterinburg Opera Houses.
She has performed with such outstanding conductors of the present day as Valery Gergiev, Seiji Ozawa, Semyon Bychkov, Gianandrea Noseda, and the singers Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanca, Vladimir Galuzin, Bryn Terfel, among other.
Her repertoire includes Bellini’s Norma, Santuzza (Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana), Donna Anna, Donna Elvira (Mozart’s Don Giovanni), Manon (Puccini’s Manon Lescaut), Fevronia (Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh), Strauss’ Salome (Salome) and Ariadne (Ariadne auf Naxos), Tchaikovsky’s Lisa (The Queen of Spades), Tatiana (Eugene Onegin), Verdi’s Lady Macbeth (Macbeth), Aida, Abigaile (Nabucco), Violetta (La traviata), Wagner’s Sieglinde (Die Walkure), Senta (Der Fliegende Hollander), Elisabeth (Tannhauser) among others.
For more information visit: www.mladakhudoley.com
ROMULO SPRUNG, violin
Brazilian born violinist Romulo Sprung began his studies on the violin at the age of nine, under the instruction of Shinobu Saito. At thirteen, he won his first national competition for young artists, the XVI Young Instrumentalists of Brazil Competition. He was also awarded second place at the Paulo Bosisio National Competition, a prestigious competition held in Brazil for violinists of all nationalities.
Mr. Sprung holds a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil, where he was a student of Fredi Gerling. While in his undergraduate studies, Mr. Sprung participated in a number of prestigious music festivals, including Campos do Jordao International Winter Festival and Jaraguá do Sul Music Festival (FEMUSC). Additionally throughout his career, Mr. Sprung has played in master classes for some of the great violin soloists and teachers of our time, including Shlomo Mintz, Miriam Fried, Noah Bendix-Balgley, Andres Cardenes, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yang Liu, Leon Spierer, and Richard Young.
Romulo holds Master’s degree in violin performance from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh as well as an Artist Diploma in Violin Performance from Roosevelt University in Chicago. Currently, Romulo is pursuing his Doctoral degree at the University of Minnesota School of Music with professor Sally O'Reily.
BENJAMIN OSTERHOUSE, cello
Benjamin Osterhouse completed his Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance at the University of Northwestern, Saint Paul, as well as a Masters of Music degree at the University of Minnesota. Currently, he is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Minnesota School of Music with renowned professor Tanya Remenikova.
During his college career he has soloed with the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, the University of Northwestern Orchestra, and the Two Rivers Chorale. Besides playing in a number of regional orchestras in the Midwest, he has played in orchestras as far away as China, Norway, and Canada.
Music has been a great source of joy for Benjamin, and he strives to inspire his students to work hard, be creative, and love what they are doing.
ANASTASIYA NYZKODUB, clarinet
Ukrainian-born clarinetist Anastasiya Nyzkodub is currently completing her Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at the University of Minnesota where she studies with professor Alexander Fiterstein. Prior to her DMA studies she also completed her Master’s degree at the University of Minnesota. Ms. Nyzkodub received her Bachelor Degree in Clarinet Performance at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
Before coming to the US, Anastasiya studied clarinet with her father, Sergiy Nyzkodub at the College of Arts in Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia). She participated in a summer program New Names in Russia and played in a chamber ensemble Consone. While pursuing her Bachelor degree she played and toured with New Music Ensemble.
In 2015 Ms. Nyzkodub received a First prize at the Thursday Musical Young Artist Competition. During past seasons she performed with Minnesota Fringe opera and Mankato Symphony. She was a semi-finalist of the William Byrd Young Artist Competition (2017).
IRINA STENE, piano
Russian-born pianist Irina Stene started her professional musical education at the age of 6. She holds a Bachelor's degree from the Music Academy in Arkhangelsk, as well Master's Degree as the Petrozavodsk State Conservatory, and Doctoral Degree in Collaborative piano/Coaching at the University of Minnesota. She has served as staff accompanist/pianist at a music school in Saint-Petersburg, Russia working with children's groups and maintaining a private piano studio.
Stene has collaborated with Saint Cloud State University, and St. John's University/St. Ben's College, playing both faculty and student recitals. She has participated in master-classes with Arlene Shrut (Julliard School of Music), Margo Garrett (Julliard School of Music), Tomas Muraco (Manhattan School of Music) as well as several others and have had an opportunity to perform with Scott Lykins (cello, MN), Richie Hawley (clarinet, TX), Nicholas Daniel (oboe, Great Britain), Jean Del Santo (soprano, MN), Philip Zawisza (baritone, MN). She has twice participated in annual Source Song Festival, MN where she worked with Olivier Godin (piano, Canada), Julius Drake (piano, Great Britain), Fraçois Le Roux (baritone, France), Stephen Swanson (baritone, IA).
OLGA SCHLOSSER, voice
Russian-born Olga Schlosser started her musical education at the age of 6. After graduating from the Music School in Yekaterinburg, Russia, she continued her musical education at the Yekaterinburg Tchaikovsky Musical College. She has worked as a Soloist with Moscow's National Orchestra and has been involved in Music ministry at churches in both Russia and the US.
In her teaching Olga Schlosser focuses on helping her students to find their unique voice as well as to develop stage confidence, musical style, and artistic potential.
STELLA SOKOLOVSKY, piano
Stella Sokolovsky has begun studying piano at age 6 and was accepted to the Music Lyceum at the State Conservatory in Minsk, Belarus. At the age 11 she started performing in major cities throughout Belarus, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Great Britain, Canada and the USA, performing works by J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Medtner, Liadov, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff and others.
Stella's musical education culminated at the State Academy of Music in Minsk, Belarus. In a summer of 1994 she had participated at the “Interlochen Art Camp” in Michigan, taking Master’s level courses of piano and organ performance. In 1998 Sokolovsky participated at master-class of the celebrated pianist Daniel Pollack. She has also earned several honorable diplomas from various International piano competitions in Europe.
Her teaching experience has begun with coaching young students at the Belarusian State Academy of Music. For several years Sokolovsky has successfully taught piano for both young and adult students at Music for everyone School and the Millennium Center for performing arts in Minnesota. In her teaching style, Stella combines essentials of both Russian and American traditions and methods of teaching.
IRENE MERZ, violin and guitar
Academically trained musician, performer, and teacher, Irene Merz was born in Tbilisi, Georgia and received her Master's and Doctoral Degrees at Tbilisi Conservatory of Music. She is a Third-place winner of the 7th Annual Competition for Caucasus region musicians. While in Georgia, Irena was a member of Kutaisi Symphony Orchestra and Tbilisi Conservatory Symphony Orchestra.
Irene enjoys sharing her professional skills with students of all levels, from beginners to advanced, using a unique combination of 35 years of educational and performance experience.
Irene is also an experienced music therapist. She organized and participated in various musical programs at hospitals, orphanages, and nursing homes.