YIN-FENG KEYNES CHEN, CONCERTMASTER
Yin-Feng Keynes Chen began his violin study at four, and entered Chongqing School of the Arts at the age of eleven, then the prestigious Shanghai Music Conservatory when he was thirteen. In 1995, he moved his violin study to CU Boulder and received Master Degree of Music Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Throughout Mr. Chen’s music career, he has received numerous prestigious awards which include the Dénes Koromzay Chamber Music Award; winner of CU College of Music’s Concerto Competition in 2000; winner of both the State and Regional Music Teachers’ National Association Music Competition in 2001; and first prize-winner in the 2002 Bruce Ekstrand Competition with his former quartet - Nacht Quartet - which was the Graduate String Quartet in Residence and the Performance Teaching Assistant ant CU Boulder.
He was chosen to attend the Takács Quartet seminar both in 1999 and 2001, and was awarded with full scholarship to participate in the Australian Chamber Music Festival in 1998, and scholarship to the prestigious Aspen Music festival in 1999. He was a first violin sectional member of the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra and has lead as the concertmaster for its orchestra tour in 2000-2001. His frequent regional performances have included numerous performances in the CU Music School’s Faculty Concert Series, a solo concert with the CU Symphony Orchestra; a solo recital for the Colorado Music Festival in 2001; two solo performances with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra’s Up Close and Musical Concert Series; and a duet performance with the world renowned Grammy winner, Kitaro, at the Boulder Theater in 2003; a series of chamber music concerts for the Backyard Arts Series in 2005; a duet concert for Boulder Chamber Orchestra’s 2007 concert series; a joint recital with pianist Mr. Weng Lei at CU Music School’s Guest Artist Recital Series in 2009, and as well as a quartet recital for Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra’s Chamber Music Series in 2010.
Besides Mr. Chen’s performance career, he has been teaching violin since 1994 and he has received this complete Suzuki pedagogy training under the famed Suzuki Pedagogue Dr. William Starr. Mr. Chen was the principle violin teacher for Englewood Arts’ Strings Attached program at five different Englewood public schools from 2003-2005. Mr. Chen Currently serves as the Music Director for Longmont Youth Symphony; He was also the Artistic Director for Boulder Youth Symphony and Conductor for Colorado Youth Symphony’s Sinfonia Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra. In the summer of 2010, Mr. Chen has leaded a successful youth symphony tour in China which they have visited and performed in numerous cities. He also serves as the Executive Director of A Mid-Summer Day’s Dream String Camp in Boulder. Starting the summer of 2006, Mr. Chen became the first violinist for the Illuminati Quartet, and they perform and teach for the String Quartet Program of Northern Colorado at both Greeley and Fort Collins, Colorado. Because of his passion for music education, Mr. Chen and his wife Regan Kane, have also co-founded a high-standard music school in the Boulder area called Flatirons Strings Academy since 2007.
Scott Bird, Assistant Conductor
Scott Bird is an orchestral conductor and a native of Colorado. Currently, he is serving his second year as the assistant conductor to the Boulder Symphony under the direction of Maestro Devin Patrick Hughes. Scott moved to the Front Range in 2016 to work under Hughes as an apprentice with the Arapahoe Philharmonic and Boulder Symphony. He was also appointed the assistant principal conductor of the Civic Youth Orchestra of Denver, sponsored by Avanti Music Academy. Scott has served for two years as the Music Director at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado where he teaches PreK-8 music, string orchestra and band. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado graduating in 2016 with an emphasis in education and voice. During his last year of undergraduate studies, Scott also played string bass and served as the assistant student conductor of the Western State Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Kenneth W. Todd.
Scott’s love of the orchestra brings him from the small, rural Western Slope town of Paradox, Colorado, where he grew up on a cattle ranch. He enjoys making the American West the subject of his oil paintings, watercolor, pencil and charcoal even leatherwork. He loves working with horses and riding, as well as braiding rawhide cowboy equipment. Scott is also a mountaineer, with his sights set to summit the highest peaks in the continental U.S. and eventually, Denali. Aside from orchestral music, Scott is a singer, songwriter and plays many folk instruments such as guitar, banjo and mandolin.
His vision for the symphony orchestra includes continuing to open the doors to people who have not had exposure to classical music. Scott believes whole-heartedly that music of all types is created for the enjoyment of every human being despite social class or geographic location, and makes it his mission to share that enjoyment with anyone that will open their heart to listen.
DANA VACHHARAJANI, CHORUS MASTER
Dana Vachharajani is the new Chorus Master for the Boulder Symphony. In 2015 she helped build the opera chorus for Boulder Symphony’s La Bohème, and will continue to lead the chorus for future productions. Dana’s career has spanned singing in top venues, teaching in public and private schools, and building her own private music school, Dana V. Music, in Louisville, CO.
A graduate of Carnegie Mellon and the Juilliard School, her selected performances include a solo performance of the Mira Bai Songs in Alice Tully Hall, various pieces with the Boulder Bach Festival, The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Boulder Ballet, as well as many recitals as a touring artist with the Piatagorsky Foundation. She also performed as soloist for the Aspen Chamber Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, and as a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall.
Dana now teaches privately, directs, and runs Dana V. Music in Louisville, CO. Today, Dana V. Music offers over 30 programs and teaches over 500 students per week. Many Dana V. Music students have gone on to study music at some of the country’s top programs.
She is supported by her husband Manish, daughter Anjali, son Kiran, and a 3rd child on the way.
CODY GARRISON, STAFF ACCOMPANIST
As an avid collaborative pianist, Cody Garrison enjoys working with a diversity of musicians and genres. He is on faculty in Metropolitan State University Denver’s music department as a staff accompanist in the brass and woodwind departments.
Cody is the principal collaborative pianist for the Boulder Music Institute, where he works with vocal coaches from throughout the country in private sessions and master classes designed to develop singers’ technique. He performs regionally and nationally with vocalists and instrumentalists, and recently collaborated with members of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the Boulder Symphony.
Cody currently serves as the staff accompanist for the Boulder Symphony and works as the rehearsal accompanist for its opera productions. He was the core accompanist for the University of Jamestown’s music department from 2004-2008 and has functioned as the pianist for the International Music Camp’s music theater program. He was a semifinalist in the Amateur Pianists International Competition in 2012. When not following his passion for the piano, Dr. Garrison is a dentist in Denver, Colorado.
Tom Kittle, Opera Director
Tom Kittle is a trained operatic singer with over 10 years of experience singing throughout the Colorado region, receiving both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. Tom believes music is an essential function of the human soul to express emotion, convey story-telling, and challenge ourselves to aspire to a higher level of knowledge. He aims to impart these ideas in his private vocal studio as well as in his performances.
Along with his substantial list of performed roles, such as: Valentin in Faust, Escamillo in Carmen, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Curly in Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutti, Don Giovanni in Don Giovanni, and others, he has also competed in, placed in, and won regional competitions. Tom is also a experienced soloist concert performer, having sung Brahms’ Ein deutches Requiem, Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, among others.
Tom made his directorial debut with Boulder Symphony's 2016-17 season production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.
LAUREN SAWYER, OPERA CONSULTANT
Lauren Sawyer is a dramatic soprano who has performed grand opera all over the world in cities such as Berlin, Germany, New York City, Los Angeles and recently with members of the Symphonique Orchestre de Montreal. An accomplished vocal technician, Lauren runs a voice studio, Boulder Classical Voice, in Boulder and New York City, where her students are attending some of the top conservatories in the country: Eastman School of Music, Oberlin and Berklee School of Music.
Her students are finalists in international competitions, such as The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Classical Singer Competition, Schmidt Youth Competition, and are singing in major opera houses that include Washington National Opera, Central City Opera, Virginia Opera, Sarasota Opera, Anchorage Opera and New York Lyric Opera. As founder of Boulder Music Institute, a local professional development summer program, her passion is helping singers develop a strong vocal technique so that they can be creatively expressive with their instrument. Her relationships with talent agencies and opera houses in the United States and Europe have helped many singers launch their careers.
Her husband, Greg, and daughters, Elizabeth, Kimberly and Aria are her inspiration and the great loves of her life.