Press Releases

Brandenburg All-Stars, Joyous Music for the Holidays Dec. 12

Date Released: 11/5/2010

New York's finest musicians including Purchase faculty members present four of Bach's best loved and most often performed works. Performing Arts Center Dec. 12 at 3 PM. Click for details.

Joyous music for the holidays will be presented by the Brandenburg All-Stars on December 12 when some of New York’s finest musicians including faculty members from the Purchase College School of the Arts Conservatory of Music perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s most spirited and festive Brandenburg Concerti.  The concert takes place at the Purchase College Performing Arts Center at 3 PM.  Tickets are $52.50. Box Office 914-21-6200 or visit


The performance will include four of Bach’s most often performed and best loved works. The joyful exuberant Concertos are a holiday treat for friends and family. The music displays a lighter side of Bach’s genius and highlights one of the happiest and most productive periods of his life. The works opened a vivid new world of music for chamber orchestra.  They came into being as an unexpected gift. Bach presented the works to the Margrave of Brandenburg as a bound manuscript.  The Margrave never thanked Bach for his work-- or paid him.  The gift later renamed the Brandenburg Concertos became a benchmark of Baroque Music and three centuries later they still have the power to move people.


The musicians will perform Concerto for Oboe and Violin, BWV 1060; Brandenburg Concerto no.4, BWV 1049; Brandenburg Concerto no.5, BWV 1050; and Brandenburg Concerto no.2, BWV, 1047. 


Performers include: Tara O’Connor, flute; Laurie Smukler, violin; Calvin Wiersma, violin; Tim Cobb, double bass; Bradley Brookshire, harpsichord; Ira Weller, viola; Anne Chairge, flute; James Austin Smith, oboe; Julia Lichten, violin cello; Daniel Phillips, violin; and Graham Ashton, trumpet.

According to Ashton, there is a 250 year debate as to whether Bach wrote his 2nd Brandenburg for trumpet , horn or corno da caccia (a conical trumpet pitched the same as a horn in F).  Ashton has played this work 31 times on trumpet and recorded it twice for EMI.  This performance at the Performing Arts Center will be on the corno da caccia. It is a first for Mr. Ashton and possibly a first for New York.


Tara O’Connor a two time Grammy nominee, is Professor of flute and head of the wind department at the Purchase College School of the Arts Conservatory of Music and has recently performed at Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the 92nd

Street Y.


Bradley Brookshire is a harpsichordist, noted conductor and recording artist.  He was recently named an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera where will assist guest conductor William Christie on the Met’s upcoming production of  Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte” and he will serve as assistant conductor and harpsichordist for the Metropolitan Opera’s premiere of “The Enchanted Island” on New Year’s Eve 2011.  He is director of Graduate Studies at the Purchase College School of the Arts Conservatory of Music and leads the Purchase College Camerata.


Graham Ashton a native of London, trained at the Royal Academy of Music.  He has appeared as a soloist with orchestras throughout the world including the BBC Symphony, London Philharmonic, ABS Orchestras in Australia to name a few. He has given hundreds of master classes and made eight solo recordings for EMI, Virgin Classics, Nimbus, Signum Classics, Koch and Claves.


He has recently performed in UK, Germany, France, China and in summer 2011 he will give recitals in Hong Kong, Thailand, and France, and record a trumpet and organ CD for Signum Classics in London in Tulle Cathedral with French organist Michael Matthes.   He has also recorded commercial albums with Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Barbara Streisand and Van Morrison.  He has also performed on numerous film soundtracks including Yentil; Never Say, Never Again; Octopussy, Batman, Dangerous Liaisons and Casanova.  In 1990 he appeared with Sean Connery in the banquet scene in The Russia House directed by Fred Schepisi.


As a composer and arranger, Mr. Ashton has written for film, theatre and concerts.  He is currently composing music for G.W. Pabst’s 1925 silent movie Secrets of a Soul.  Other 2011 commissions include a new fanfare for the US Army Westpoint Ensemble “The Hellcats, ceremonial music for the 2011 ANZAC Service at the National Cathedral, Washington, DC, and a Sonata for Trumpet and Organ, to be premiered in Nimes, France in March 2011.  Mr. Ashton’s Music is published exclusively by Editions BIM in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Mr. Ashton is a member of the New York Chamber Brass and the contemporary ensemble FIRES-New York.  He is Professor of Trumpet and Chair of Brass at the Purchase College School of the Arts Conservatory of Music.


Julia Lichten is a career soloist, chamber and orchestral musician, and teacher and coach in the New York area.  She is has been a member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra since 1995 and has toured as a soloist with Orpheus, as well as with Musicians from Marlboro and the American Chamber Players.  She has performed at the festivals of Marlboro, Tanglewood, Taos, Library of Congress, Caramoor to name a few.

A graduate of Harvard-Radcliffe and the New England Conservatory of Music, she has performed at Harvard, Yale, Princeton universities and has toured Europe under State Department sponsorship as an “Artictic Ambassador.”   She had recorded for the Marlboro Recording Society, Arabesque, Koch International classics, Sony Classical, and Deutsche Gramaphon. She is a member of the cello faculties of the School of the Arts Conservatory of Music at Purchase College and the Manhattan School of Music.


Laurie Smukler is a violinist who is regarded as one of the finest chamber musicians in the country. An active performer and soloist, she is a graduate of the Cleveland Music Institute and Julliard. For eight years she travelled internationally as the original and first violinist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet. She has performed extensively with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society.  With her husband Ira Weller, she directed and performed in the “Collection in Concert” series at the Pierpont Morgan library.  She now plays first violin in two part-time string quartets, The Bard Festival String Quartet, and the Purchase Faculty String Quartet, in residence at Purchase College.  Ms. Smuckler is Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at the School of the Arts Conservatory of Music at Purchase College,  as well as at the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, and the Conservatory of Music at Bard College.  She has performed at many summer festivals including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Marlboro Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, Music Mountain and the Mount Desert Island Festival, and the Kneisel Hall Festival in Blue Hill, Maine to name a few.  In the coming year she will record the three Brahms Sonatas for violin and piano with the Canadian pianist, Jane Coop.


Ira Weller, a violist is a member of the acclaimed Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He plays regularly with the Festival Chamber Players in Weill Hall in New York City and the “Collection in Concert” series at the Pierpont Morgan Library.  He also performs with the Purchase Conservatory String Quartet and the Bard String Quartet. He has collaborated with many distinguished artists, including James Levine, Leon Fleischer, Dawn Upshaw, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Janos Starker, and Robert Mann.  His vital interest in contemporary music has led to premieres of works by Ned Rorem, Ezra Laderman, Justin Dello Joio, Tobias Picker, Shulamit Ran, Phillip Glass and others.  He is a regular guest at Kneisel Hall in Blue Hill, Maine and at the Bard Music Festival and has performed at Bargemusic, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, New York Chamber Soloists, and Music from Marlboro. He has edited works from the Pierpont Morgan’s music manuscripts including a rare 18th century original viola sonata by Felice Giardini and a newly discovered Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s A major string quartet.


As a founding member and violist for the first 10 years of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, Mr. Weller recorded works by Dvorak, Mendelssohn, Mozart, and others.  He has also recorded works of Dvorak and Kodaly with Laurie Smukler and Krista Benion-Feeney.  He is on the viola faculty of the School of the Arts Conservatory of Music at Purchase College, Mannes College of Music, and the Conservatory of Music at Bard College.


Calvin Wiersma is a violinist who has appeared throughout the world as a soloist and chamber musician. He is a member of the Manhattan String Quartet and has toured with them at numerous Chamber Music Festivals including the Aspen Music Festival, Interlochen and many others.  He recently toured internationally with Kathleen Battle and participated in national and international tours with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and performed in concerts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a noted performer of contemporary music, he is a member of Cygnus and the Lochrian Chamber Ensemble and has toured with Steve Reich and Ensemble 21 and has been featured in solo performances for the international League of Composers of Music. He is an Assistant Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at the Purchase College School of the Arts Conservatory of Music and has been an artist in residence and on the faculties of other institutions.


Daniel Phillips, violinist, is an established chamber musician, solo artist and teacher. He trained at Julliard and has performed as a soloist with many American Symphonies. He appears regularly at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, Spoleto USA, and the International Musicians Seminar in Cornwall, England.  He is a founding member of the Orion String Quartet, which tours internationally and has residencies at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Mannes College of Music. The group has had works written for them by Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, John Harbison and others. They have recorded the completer quartets of Beethoven on Koch and the four quartets of Leon Kirchner on Albany Records. Earlier he toured and recorded in a string quartet for SONY with Gidon Kremer, Yo-Yo Ma and Kim Kashkashian.  He is a Professor of Violin at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, CUNY.


James Austin Smith, oboist, is an active performer and advocate for chamber and new music. He is an artist of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and regular guest of the Orpheus Orchestra, and Talea Ensemble. He has premiered dozens of works for oboe and has worked extensively with Pierre Boulez and John Adams. Mr. Smith has appeared at the Marlboro, Lucerne, Chamber Music Northwest, and Spoleto USA festivals to name a few. 


Annie Chairge, flute, is a Purchase alumnus class of ’07 who studied with Tara O’Connor for four years and earned a masters degree in Flute Performance at the University of Texas.  She received first place in the Purchase Conservatory of Music Baroque Concerto competition her senior year, and was alternate winner of the Conservatory’s 2002 Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition as a first year undergraduate. She held the Principal flute position in the New York Youth Symphony (2001-2005) and performed with the group at Carnegie Hall several times a year.     

She has appeared at summer festivals at including the Lake Placid International Flute Seminar and is currently a private music instructor who often plays with ensembles which cover a variety of styles, including blues, jazz and alternative.


Timothy Cobb, double bassist, is principal bass of the Met Orchestra and maintains a busy schedule of chamber collaborations which include Emerson, Guarneri, Leipzig and New Helsinki Quartets to name a few. He makes regular appearances with the Met chamber players at both Weill and Zankel halls, as well as numerous concert series nationwide.  Mr. Cobb serves as principal bass for the Mostly Mozart Festival, as well as for the St. Bart’s Music Festival.  He has appeared on tour with Musicians from Marlboro and has collaborated with numerous artists ranging from Pinchas Zukerman to James Levine.  He appears with the Chamber  Music Society of Lincoln Center and many other festivals and concert series throughout the United States.  Mr. Cobb can be heard on all Met recordings after 1985.

In addition to the Met, Mr. Cobb serves as principal bass for Valery Gergiev’s “World Orchestra for Peace,” a hand-picked orchestra giving performances dedicated to promoting international cooperation, understanding and peace, from which he has been designated: UNESCO International Artist for Peace.” He is the Double Bass Department Chair at Julliard in addition to faculty positions at Purchase College, the Manhattan School of Music and Rutgers University.