Stefan Sanders enjoys an emerging career as an imaginative conductor, devoted educator, and ardent champion of new music. Mr. Sanders has collaborated with an array of distinguished artists such as violinist Gil Shaham, Fred Childs from public radio’s Performance Today, country sensation The Texas Tenors, and the esteemed Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, to name a few. Guest conducting engagements in the U.S and abroad include the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic (Czech Republic), Austin Symphony Orchestra, Austin Lyric Opera, Corpus Christi Opera, and the Round Top International Festival Institute.
Mr. Sanders is currently the Music Director and Conductor for the Round Rock Symphony where he is attracting much praise for innovative programming, new venues, and collaborations with local arts organizations, attracting broader audiences and redefining the orchestra’s role in its community. Past positions have included Assistant Conductor for the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the University Orchestra at the University of Texas at Austin and Apprentice Conductor for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Beginning formal conducting studies in 2008 with Gerhardt Zimmermann at the University of Texas at Austin, Mr. Sanders continued his studies as a fellow at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen under the tutelage of maestros Robert Spano, Larry Rachleff, and Hugh Wolff. Further studies include intensive work with eminent conducting pedagogues Gustav Meier and Jorma Panula.
Prior to a career as a conductor, Mr. Sanders was an internationally renowned trombonist, having performed as a soloist in the United States, Asia and Europe. His performance of Eric Ewazen’s Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra with the Czech Philharmonic can be heard on the Albany Records label. Mr. Sanders was a member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s trombone section for seven seasons and has performed with several orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Opera’s 2001 production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and the Florida Orchestra. Mr. Sanders was also invited by Sir Elton John to play in the orchestra for his Radio City Music Hall concerts in 2004, recorded for the Bravo Television Network.
Mr. Sanders holds a bachelor’s degree from the Juilliard School and a Master's and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Stefan and his wife, harpist Kela Walton, and their dog, Siesta, live in Austin, TX.
Classical guitarist Thomas Echols is quickly being recognized, not only as a masterful recitalist, but as an engaging lecturer on contemporary repertoire for the guitar. His recent recital and lecture at the 2010 Guitar Foundation of America’s Annual Convention in Austin, Texas, inspired William Kanengiser of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet to write:
"It was a distinct pleasure to witness Tom Echols's lecture/demonstration focusing on one of the most important works in the contemporary guitar repertoire: Eliot Carter's "Changes." With deep intellectual insight and masterful musical skill, Mr. Echols deconstructed and re-constructed this most enigmatic piece, putting into context its structural and philosophical underpinnings. Most impressively, after a detailed lecture worthy of an American Musicological Society presentation, he deftly performed the work from memory, with a nuance and passion rarely heard. Bravo to Messrs. Carter and Echols!"
A prizewinner in the Portland International Guitar Competition and the Donald Miller Concerto Competition, major engagements have included the Whittier Bach Festival, Whittier, CA, the Hispanic-American Guitar Festival in Tijuana, Mexico, and a recital for "Music at the Mansion" concert series in Los Angeles.
Accepted at age 16 into the College of Music at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Echols was awarded a full scholarship to study with Dr. Charles Wolzien. He earned a Master of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin, studying with renowned performer and pedagogue, Adam Holzman. He was awarded the Diploma di Merito from the prestigious Accademia Musicale in Siena, Italy, where he studied with Maestro Oscar Ghiglia. Dr. Echols holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California, where he studied with William Kanengiser, Brian Head, and Pepe Romero. He has been inspired by participation in master classes with such world-famous artists as Eliot Fisk, Sergio and Odair Assad, David Russell, Christopher Parkening and David Starobin.
His debut CD, Plainte Calme, includes Elliott Carter’s Changes along with Echol's own arrangements of works by Olivier Messiaen and Claude Debussy. He has also recorded and toured with the Grammy nominated rock band Devotchka. Dr. Echols resides in Austin, Texas.
The Italian-born cellist Francesco Mastromatteo, described as a “virtuosic and passionate musician” by the Dallas Morning News, has won acclaim both in the United States and abroad. He served as principal cellist of the Università Giordano Symphony Orchestra in Foggia, Italy, from 2002 to 2004 and later of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra in Dallas from 2004 to 2008. Francesco performed as soloist with both symphonies, as well with the Meadows Wind Ensemble, the chamber orchestra Suoni del Sud, and the Orchestra Cittá di Pescara. A First Prize winner of the G. Turci National Cello Competition of Ravenna, Italy, he also performed the complete solo suites by J.S. Bach at the prestigious Ravenna Festival in 2009 and at Southern Methodist University in 2007.
In 2010 Francesco was appointed Artist in Residence of the non-profit organization “Classical Music for the World” based in Austin, Texas. He also holds positions as the Artistic Director of the Giovanni Paisiello Concert Society of Lucera, Italy and the Founder and Artistic Director of the concert series "Spring of Harmony" at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Dallas. Also in 2010, he attended the contemporary music workshop on cello solo music lead by Anssi Karttunen in Santa Fè, for the Sibelius Academy of Helsinki.
Francesco's interests are not limited to his instrument alone. With a keen passion for all different aspects of art, he holds a Master's with honors in Literature and History of Arts from Bari University. He also holds an Artist Diploma and a second Masters in Performance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas where he studied under the inspiring tutelage of Andres Diaz. In 2012, under Professor Bion Tsang, Francesco earned his Doctorate in Cello Performance from the University of Texas at Austin.
The music of Joel Love explores an eclectic mix of genres, from short video pieces to works for chamber and large ensembles. It creates colorful landscapes of sound through the use of image, melody, and tonality, and seeks to reveal the connection between music and spirituality.
Recent accolades abound for Joel's work. PARMA Recordings selected Synchronicity in Purple Minor for publication in its 2012 Anthology. In 2010, Real Fiction received a Compositional Excellence Citation by the New York Youth Symphony. In 2009, Da Camera of Houston presented Joel with an Aspiring Artist Award and the commission of Just One Person.
Joel’s works have been performed by The Aura Con-temporary Music Ensemble, The Boston New Music Initiative, the Ohio State University Wind Symphony (2013), the Texas A&M University Symphonic Winds (2013), the Lamar University A Capella Choir, the University of Texas Wind Symphony, and have been exhibited at many art galleries throughout the United States. Joel's first work for wind ensemble, Aurora Borealis, was recently selected for performance at the 2013 SCI National Conference in Columbus, Ohio in February.
His film scores include the documentary film Stitched, official selection at the 2011 Carmel Art and Film Festival, as well as a short film Kidfellas, lauded as “Best Musical Score” at Houston’s 2011 48-Hour Film Project. Other notable collaborations with artists from other disciplines feature a city-wide public art exhibit with artist Karyn Olivier, Inbound: Houston, and a three-month in-stallation by Prince V. Thomas, On Joy, On Sorrow, at the Houston Center for Photography. On Joy, On Sorrow was praised by the Houston Chronicle as ”a beautiful piece that feels cleansing to watch."
Joel is currently working towards a DMA in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin, where he is an Assistant Instructor of Music Theory.