Violinist Marcia Henry Liebenow is concertmaster of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra and professor of violin, viola, and chamber music at Bradley University. She leads a multi-faceted career as a recitalist, chamber musician, soloist, and highly regarded teacher. Her performances have been nationally broadcast on American Public Media's Performance Today. She has appeared as soloist with the Samara Philharmonic Symphony in Russia, served as Primo Violino at Orvieto Musica in Italy, and performed in Germany, Ireland, Wales, and with orchestras throughout the United States. She has presented at national ASTA conferences, and was a featured performer at the 2021 International Music by Women Festival.
In 2020, Marcia created and performed in a series of eleven Driveway Concerts that were live-streamed on Facebook during the pandemic, and viewed more than 25,000 times. She is a founding member of the Concordia String Trio, Peoria Lunaire new music ensemble, and River City String Quartet. She has recorded two CDs with her Concordia String Trio, American Vistas and Viennese String Trios, and recorded the Grieg Violin Sonatas with internationally acclaimed pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi, also on the Centaur label. Marcia is a faculty artist at the Red Lodge Music Festival in Montana, the Birch Creek Music Festival in Wisconsin, and the ARIA International Summer Academy in Massachusetts and Canada.
Her work has been recognized with the Outstanding Studio Teacher Award from Illinois ASTA, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Ohio University. She earned her graduate diploma in violin performance from the New England Conservatory, and her master and bachelor degrees with highest honors from Ohio University.
John Orfe, Piano
John Orfe, piano, has earned critical acclaim for his interpretations of five centuries of keyboard repertoire ranging from the canonic to the arcane. As the core pianist and a founding member of critically-acclaimed new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, he has performed in Carnegie Hall, Miller Theatre, Roulette, the World Financial Center, and Symphony Space in New York; Disney Hall, Mondavi Hall, and Hertz Hall in California; and music series and festivals across the United States and Europe. The New York Times praised his “virtuosic ardor” in performances of György Ligeti’s Piano Etudes and Concerto. His solo piano transcription of John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine was hailed as “a knockout” by the Boston Globe and “breathtaking” by the San Francisco Chronicle, which also praised his “hypervirtuosic” performances of Nancarrow. Dr. Orfe gave the US premiere of Steve Reich’s “Piano Counterpoint” at Stanford University’s Bing Hall as well as the work’s East Coast premiere at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has recorded on Canteloupe, Nonesuch, and Parma labels. His compositions have earned praise from The New York Times, LA Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Die Welt, and Hamburger Abendblatt. He is a winner of a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, a Tanglewood Music Center Fellowship, and numerous other awards and prizes. He holds degrees from Eastman, the University of Rochester, and the Yale School of Music.
EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks, Violin
An expansive musical career has taken EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks, violinist and concertmaster of the Peoria Bach Festival Orchestra across Europe, Japan, South America, Canada, and the United States and has included performances in New York's Carnegie Hall as well as in Giants Stadium and Madison Square Garden. EmmaLee is equally at home as a concertmaster and soloist on stage and as chamber musician in more intimate settings. With boundless energy, this young musician performs classical, baroque, and contemporary music, as well as traditional fiddle music. A firm believer that music can move people, quite literally, EmmaLee takes the lead in string bands across New England and in the Midwest, where her vibrant fiddle music drives spirited, old-time dancing. During her formative years EmmaLee studied with violinist and Peoria Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Marcia Henry Liebenow. She received her doctorate from SUNY Stony Brook where she worked with such renowned artists as Philip Setzer of the Emerson String Quartet, Pamela Frank, Ani Kavafian, and Gilbert Kalish. She is on faculty at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and the Birch Creek Summer Performance Center. She serves as principal second violin with the New Bedford Symphony and as co-director of the groundbreaking Newport String Project in Newport, Rhode Island.
Jenna Ferdon, Violin
Jenna Ferdon, violinist/violist, is a member of the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra and a lead teacher for the Omaha Conservatory of Music's String Sprouts program, where she also teaches individual lessons as one of OCM's artist-faculty. Prior to her move to Nebraska, she served as adjunct faculty of violin and viola at Knox College in Galesburg, IL. She has enjoyed being a section member of orchestras in the Midwest, including the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, Waterloo Cedar Falls Symphony, and the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra. During the summers, she is a teaching assistant at the Birch Creek Music Academy in Door County, WI and the Five Seasons Chamber Music Festival in Cedar Rapids, IA, and serves as principal second violin in the Peoria Bach Festival Orchestra.
Adriana Ransom, Cello
Cellist Adriana Ransom is interim director of the School of Music at Illinois State University where she previously served as professor of cello and director of the String Project and the Community School for the Arts. She earned a bachelor of music degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and master and doctorate degrees from the University of Minnesota. As a soloist she has recently appeared with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, the Illinois State Wind Symphony, and the Illinois State Symphony Orchestra. She has also appeared as a guest artist on solo and chamber music recital series, including Chicago Cello Society concerts, the Peoria Bach Festival, and at universities throughout the Midwest. She is currently principal cellist of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra.
Jennet Ingle, Oboe
Jennet Ingle, oboe, loves the oboe. She has built an active career around performing, teaching, making reeds for and writing about it, and believes deeply that everyone else loves it, too – perhaps they just don't know it yet. Jennet performs as principal oboist of the South Bend Symphony and the Northwest Indiana Symphony and teaches oboe at Valparaiso University. She has also performed with Chicago’s Music of the Baroque and other area ensembles. Since 1998 she has owned and operated Jennet Ingle Reeds, and can be found on the web at www,jennetingle.com. Jennet is an active performer and has released a CD, Music That SHOULD Have Been Written for the Oboe. She is the founder of a South Bend chamber music series, Musicians for Michiana.
Lisette Kielson, Recorder
Recorder player and flutistLisette Kielson is affiliate instructor at Bradley University where she directs the Collegium Musicum. A founding member of Peoria Bach Players and Chicago Recorder Quartet Lisette performs as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player throughout the Midwest and has released recordings with Centaur Records as well as with her own label. Past President of the American Recorder Society, she currently serves on the faculty of the Whitewater Early Music Festival and as music director of the ARS Chicago Chapter and teaches at early music workshops throughout the country. She holds bachelor and master degrees from Indiana University and a post-master’s diploma from The Royal Conservatory of The Hague, The Netherlands.
S. Blake Duncan, Recorder
S. Blake Duncan, recorder player and oboist, has enjoyed a varied career as an oboist, English Horn player, organist, choir director, early music performer and teacher in Illinois for the past 30 years. Currently retired and living across the bridge from St. Louis in O’Fallon, IL, he served as an adjunct faculty member in the Music Department at Bradley University teaching double reeds, music appreciation, music technology and director of the early music Collegium Musicum before his retirement. He also served on the faculty for the Lutheran Summer Music Program for 15 years and was a member of the Illinois and Peoria Symphony Orchestras. A long time opera enthusiast he served as the chorusmaster, orchestral personnel manager and as both a chorister and an oboist for Opera Illinois and the Sugar Creek Opera. He was a founding member of the Peoria Bach Festival Orchestra.
Courtney Huffman, Soprano
Courtney Huffman, soprano, made her New York solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall after placing first in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition. She performed in Long Beach Opera's U.S. premiere of Vivaldi’s Motezuma to critical acclaim. Her stage credits include Yadwiga in Ben Moore’s Enemies, A Love Story, Violetta in La Traviata, Betty in Lowell Liebermann’s Miss Lonelyhearts, Frasquita in Carmen, and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. An equally accomplished concert artist, she has been a featured soloist with Boston Baroque, performing the role of Amor in a semi-staged version of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, and appearing as the soprano soloist in Bach’s Wedding Cantata and Coffee Cantata. Her love for recital work has taken her overseas, including a ten-day concert tour throughout Southern China, and her passion for contemporary music has given her the opportunity to work with and premiere pieces by Alan Chan, Lori Laitman, Ben Moore, Timothy Takach, and Marc-André Dalbavie. She taught voice at Gordon College in Boston for several years and currently serves on the voice faculty of Bradley University.
John Jost, conductor, is professor emeritus of music at Bradley University where he directed the Bradley Chorale, Community Chorus, and Chamber Singers, and taught conducting from 1989 until his retirement in 2018. He received his bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees from Stanford University. Before joining the Bradley faculty he directed ensembles and taught in California, New York, and Haiti where for several decades he directed a summer music camp for Haitian youth. He has held both principal viola and principal second violin positions in the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, has served as president of the Illinois Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, is co-founder and artistic director of the Peoria Bach Festival, and currently directs the new Peoria-area chamber choir Lumière. He has won awards for teaching and service from Bradley University, the American Choral Directors Association, the Haitian Ministry of Culture, and the Haitian Episcopal Church.
Peter Wykert, organist, is the Cantor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Peoria. He has served as music director at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Elmhurst, IL and as a music intern at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, IL. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Concordia University Chicago. As Cantor he plans worship services, directs ensembles, serves as primary organist, oversees the Trinity Concert Series, and serves as the managing director of the Peoria Bach Festival. In the community, he accompanies the Peoria-area chamber choir, Lumière, as an organist, accompanies ensembles and musicians at Concordia Lutheran School, and performs concerts at the Lutheran Hillside Village.