with the Romaniacs
February 13, 2021 · 7:30 PM
Peoria Civic Center Theater
George Stelluto · conductor
Masha Lakisova · violin
Michelle Areyzaga · soprano
Take Roma culture and mix in equal portions of Jazz and romantic music… it’s the perfect musical recipe for Romance. Come explore the Roma world of Jazz great Django Reinhardt and experience the magic of Hot Club Jazz in 1930s Paris!
John Miller started playing at the age of nine. During the 1970’s, John toured with Chicago crooner Jimmy Damon, and later toured with pop star Dobie Gray (“The In Crowd” and “Drift Away”). For years he was well known in Peoria as a private lesson teacher and performer. Credits include performing in orchestral settings with Bob Hope, Tom Jones, Rich Little, and Cab Calloway. He was a regular performer for years on acoustic bass with Sally Weisenberg and the Famous Sidemen, and also at the Juvae Jazz Festival in Decatur, IL, with the late Rachael Lee, the Dixie Daredvils, Billy Rogers, and Diversity. John was an adjunct faculty member from 2005-2012 at Knox College in Galesburg, IL, teaching Jazz guitar. During those years, John became interested in the Gypsy Jazz style and formed the Romaniacs with his then-student Joe Park (guitar), Tim Brickner (contrabass), and—later—Professor Perry Rask (soprano and baritone sax). Since then, the group lineup has changed, and in addition to Joe Park now includes Andy Crawford (bass) and Professor Larry Harms (clarinet). John still enjoys performing with the Romaniacs, the Boss Trio (a jazz organ trio), and multi-talented artist/guitarist Preston Jackson.
Larry Harms is a native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He graduated from University of Tennessee in 1985 with a degree in Jazz Studies and Studio Music where he studied with Jerry Coker. He earned a master’s degree in Saxophone Performance from Illinois State University in 1988. Larry has taught at Illinois Central College since 1989 where he is a Professor of Music. His performance credits include The Four Tops, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, the Mills Brothers, and Harry Connick Jr. Locally he plays clarinet and saxophone with Nathan Taylor & Friends, the Romaniacs, the Jazz Train, and leads the Central Illinois Jazz Society house band.
Joe Park started playing in Peoria as a student of John Miller. Eventually the two formed their group, the Romaniacs. Joe is based in St. Louis now where he teaches private lessons and leads his own groups, The Hot Club of St. Louis and The Joe Park Trio. He hosts the annual Django Reinhardt Guitar Summit in St. Louis featuring the area’s top players. Joe continues to perform regularly with the Romaniacs, as well as a number of other Gypsy Jazz and Swing Jazz ensembles across the Midwest.
Andy Crawford is the managing director of the Rootabaga Jazz Festival/Knox Jazz Year and Instructor of music at Knox College, where he directs Jazz combos and the Jazz bass and guitar studios. He performs regularly with multiple groups throughout the state, performed on dozens of recordings and has been featured multiple times with the PSO, including with The BraziLionaires, Judy Page, the Todd Kelly Quartet, the Claude Bolling Suite for Chamber Orchestra and Jazz Piano Trio, and the PSO’s performance of La La Land. Andy also organizes the San Pancho Music Festival in Nayarit, Mexico, an annual 3-day festival in its 21st year that welcomes over 5,000 attendees and features 30 musical groups over 3 days every February. Crawford is a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala and returns annually to lead student immersion groups.
“While it is not out of the ordinary for me to come across immensely and precociously talented youngsters as host of “From the Top,” it is quite a rarity to be introduced to a very young artist who displays not only incredible facility but the truest manifestations of artistry: devotion and dedication, a personal and rigorously integral aesthetic point of view, and the requisite leadership and responsibility for inspiring her peers. Masha Lakisova is just such a rarity, a true artist destined for great things.”
Christopher O’Riley, Host, NPR’s “From the Top”
“Ms. Lakisova is one of the most brilliant, communicative, and intelligent young musicians I have had the pleasure of hearing in recent years. She possesses a wonderful natural stage presence, musical maturity well beyond her young age, and a virtuoso command of her instrument which is always at the service of music.”
Vadim Gluzman, Violinist, Stradivari Society Artistic Advisor, and Recipient of the “Leopold Auer” Stradivari violin, 1690
At just eighteen, Chicago violinist Masha Lakisova is fast becoming one of the rising stars of her generation. She has had the privilege of performing in esteemed concert venues in the United States and all over the world. Masha has appeared as a soloist with more than twenty orchestras worldwide, such as Kremerata Baltica, HEMU, Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra, and Lake Forest Symphony. At the North Shore Chamber Music Festival, she became the first recipient of the Arkady Fomin Scholarship. She was featured on NPR’s “From The Top,” where she received the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, and on WFMT’s Introductions, both as a soloist and as a member of various chamber groups.
She has taken top awards and won numerous prestigious competitions such as First Prize at the 2018 Tibor Junior International Violin Competition, Second Prize at the 2015 International Andrea Postacchini Violin Competition, was named a 2017 National Young Arts Winner, finalist at the 2013 International Louis Spohr Violin Competition, the winner of Walgreens National Concerto Competition, and the DePaul Concerto Festival.
From 2011-2017, Masha was a member of Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, where she served as concertmaster in three orchestras and played first violin in four chamber groups. Her chamber groups have appeared three times on NPR’s “From The Top” and won the Gold Medal at the Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition in 2016 and 2017. They received 1st Prize in the 2015 and 2016 Rembrandt High School Chamber Music Competition, as well as 1st Prize at the WDAV Young Chamber Musicians Competition in 2017. They were also the overall winners at the 2016 Discover Chamber Music Competition and Silver Medalists at the 2016 St. Paul String Quartet Chamber Music Competition. In 2018, Quartet Bellezza was accepted to the Julliard String Quartet Seminar.
Masha currently studies at Julliard Pre-College with Itzhak Perlman and Li Lin, and she had previously been a student of Grigory Kalinovsky, Drew Lecher, and Larisa Zhizhin. Masha has taken lessons and masterclasses with such prominent virtuosi as Ana Chumachenko, Anne Sophie Mutter, Pinchas Zukerman, Miriam Fried, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Augustin Hadelich, and Ida Kavafian. She has collaborated with Vadim Gluzman, Pavel Vernikov, Svetlin Roussev, Ilya Kaler, Yossif Ivanov, Masumi Per Rostad, Rose Armbrust Griffin, Ani Aznavoorian, Mark Kosower, Christopher O’Riley, David Schrader, and the Ariel Quartet.
Masha has been accepted to many prestigious summer music festivals. In 2015, she attended the Heifetz Music Institute and has been a student at the Perlman Music Program since 2016.
Miss Lakisova is the proud recipient of a magnificent violin by Giovanni Francesco Pressenda, Turin, 1845 on loan from The Stradivari Society of Chicago thanks to the generosity of her patron, Edward Manzo.
As a coveted performer with a diverse repertoire, American soprano Michelle Areyzaga is held in high regard by orchestras and opera companies throughout the United States and abroad. She has performed operatic roles with New York City Opera in Telemann’s Orpheus as well as in their VOX series, and has appeared in leading roles with Chicago Opera Theater, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s In the Neighborhoods programs, Opera Birmingham, Ravinia Festival, and Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México.
Michelle Areyzaga’s association with the music of Leonard Bernstein runs deep. She has become well known for her interpretation of his delightful and moving music – from her portrayal of Cunegonde in Candide to her participation in varied programs featuring his works, including musical theater and chamber music/recital works. Areyzaga toured the show Bernstein on Broadway together with Jamie Bernstein(Leonard’s daughter) for six years, performing it with the Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Oregon Bach Festival, among many others. Areyzaga is still often heard performing Bernstein, such as her performances in Las Vegas and at Ravinia in conjunction with the composer’s centennial celebration.
As an orchestral soloist, she has appeared with, in addition to orchestras listed above, Richmond Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Grant Park Music Festival, Rochester Symphony, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, and North Carolina Symphony, among others. She sang the first Bach B minor Mass in the country of Costa Rica, under the baton of Maestro John Nelson.
Ms. Areyzaga’s operatic roles have included Susanna, Le nozze di Figaro; title role, Madama Butterfly; Cunegonde,Candide; Adina, L’elisir d’amore; Despina, Così fan tutte; Zerlina, Don Giovanni; Pamina, Die Zauberflöte; Lauretta, Gianni Schicchi; both Musetta and Mimì, La bohème and Casilda in The Gondoliers.
Known as a foremost interpreter of vocal art song and chamber music, Ms. Areyzaga has been a repeat guest of the New York Festival of Song under the direction of Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Chicago Ensemble, as well as Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, and the Tucson Desert Song Festival. She has collaborated with the Avalon String Quartet, the Cavatina Duo, and the Lincoln Trio, and has been selected to perform world premieres of many new works by American composers.
As a recorded artist, she has performed song cycles by Gwyneth Walker on The Sun Is Love (Proteus). Other recordings include Songs from Spoon River (Cedille) by Lita Grier and The Small Hours, songs by William Ferris. She has sung numerous times in both live and programmed broadcasts on Chicago’s classical music radio station WFMT.
Ms. Areyzaga made her European concert debut as soloist in Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor at England’s York Minster Cathedral, Ely Cathedral, and St. Mary’s Church in Oxford. In Paris, she received standing ovations as soloist in the Lord Nelson Mass with the orchestra of London’s Royal Academy of Music and the St. Charles Singers.
Michelle Areyzaga has been named “Artist of the Year” by Pioneer Press and has been an award recipient from the Julian Autrey Song Foundation, Wm. C. Byrd International Young Artist, Shreveport Opera Singer of the Year, Marguerite McCammon Vocal Competition (Ft. Worth Opera), NATSAA—National Finalist ”Outstanding Artist”chosen by Teresa Stratas, Metropolitan Opera National Council (Central Region), Viñas Concurs International and the Concert Artist Guild.
She received her B.A. in Vocal Performance from Roosevelt University with honors and was a member of Ravinia’s Steans Institute for Young Artists. In addition she has been a member of the OperaWorks Summer intensive Program in L.A. and a member of Chicago Opera Theater’s Debut Artist Series.
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.