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Meet the Artists

QuinTango Artists’ Bios

The "Meet the Artists" section below includes the musicians who have performed in multiple formal concerts, tours, or educational programming. They are the heart and soul of QuinTango's extended family. The list is alphabetical.

Eva Cappelletti Chao, violinist, performs with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, and Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. She is Concertmaster for Concert Opera of Washington as well as for many DC-area choral groups. Prior orchestral positions have included Concertmaster and soloist with the Washington Chamber Symphony, Assistant Concertmaster of the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Opera, and a member of the New World Symphony in Miami. As a chamber musician, teacher and guest soloist, she enjoys a successful collaboration with violist husband Philippe Chao as The Cappelletti-Chao Duo and has performed with the American Festival for the Arts, Wintergreen Music Festival, and Eastern Music Festival. Over the past 13 summers she has enjoyed performing with the Grand Teton Music Festival.

Jon Nazdin, bass, is a native of Washington DC. A graduate of The Berklee College of Music, he plays all genres of music on double bass and electric bass.  Noteworthy highlights include working with Barbra Streisand, The Three Tenors, George Benson, Doc Severinson, Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road project, Denise Graves, Branford Marsalis.  Mr. Nazdin has appeared on numerous "indie" recording projects.

Joan Singer, violin, is the founder and director of QuinTango.  She has performed in concert in England, France, Mexico, Italy, Holland, Germany, Costa Rica, Guatemala, India, Sikkim, Uruguay and Argentina, as well as throughout the United States.  Since founding QuinTango, she has become a record producer, tour director, grant administrator, arts panelist, Master Teaching Artist, and international lecturer on tango, realizing her dreams of combining music performance, travel, and writing.

Lukasz Szyrner, cello, A great talent like Lukasz Szyrner comes along infrequently . . . [He] is without a doubt an outstanding instrumentalist who has a brilliant technique and a vivid talent....@ Stephen Kates, Professor of Cello at The Peabody Conservatory.  Born in Poznan, the musical capital of Poland, he began his studies at the age of seven and at age ten was performing in the Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra, where he made his solo debut at fourteen performing the Saint-Saëns cello concerto.  By age twenty, Mr. Szyrner was winning competitions worldwide - the International Nicanor Zabaleta Competition for Strings in San Sebastian, Spain; the Irving M. Klein String Competition in San Francisco; the Mary Graham Lesley International Music Competition; the Yale Gordon Competition; the International UNESCO competition for Young Musicians; and the D'Angelo Young Artist Competition. He was a semi-finalist in the Leonard Rose Competition and in the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. He is the recipient of the Glos Wielkopolski A Medal of Young Art@ award for his artistic achievements in Poland and abroad.  Mr. Szyrner has performed solo and chamber works throughout Europe and in major cities across the United States, including New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston.  He is a member of the cello section of the Baltimore Symphony.

Jeffery Watson, piano, has appeared as soloist with the Honduran National Symphony, Pan American Symphony, Rosario (Argentina) Chamber Orchestra, Alexandria Symphony and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, with additional performances in Croatia, Alaska, Uruguay and Peru.  Dr. Watson was associate conductor for the Kennedy Center’s award-winning production of” Sunday in the Park with George” as part of the Center's 2002 Sondheim Festival and music director and coach for the Maryland Opera Studio at the University of Maryland. He recently conducted a TEDMed Talk performance involving 12 pianists and one piano at the Kennedy Center. He is on the faculty of the Washington Conservatory of Music in Washington, DC and teaches at George Washington University. Before giving his heart to tango, Dr. Watson served as the Executive Director of the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW). 

QuinTango alumnae:

Libby Blatt (d. 2015), double bass, a founding member of QuinTango, retired in 2012. She can be heard on all of QuinTango's albums. She has performed in Washington, Miami, Chicago and New York with Hungarian orchestras, chamber groups, string quartets and dance bands. She has concertized in France, Italy, Germany and Holland with the Capital Chamber Ensemble.

Jennifer Rickard, violin was a member of QuinTango from 2006 - 2013. She is also a member of the National Philharmonic, the National Gallery Orchestra, and a substitute with the Richmond Symphony and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. In addition, she coaches for the Northern Virginia Youth Symphony and maintains a private teaching studio in her home. Jennifer enjoys her summers in Greensboro, NC on faculty at the Eastern Music Festival. Before moving to Washington, Jennifer was a member of the New Orleans and Phoenix Symphonies, spending the 1991-1992 season in New Orleans as associate and acting concertmaster. She received her BA from Barnard College in New York and her MM from the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati.

Kerry Van Laanen, cello, was a member of QuinTango from 2006 - 2013 who performs regularly with the Baltimore Opera, Washington National Opera, National Gallery Orchestra, Post-Classical Ensemble, Wolftrap Orchestra, Concert Artists of Baltimore, and the National Philharmonic Orchestra. A highly respected chamber musician, she has also performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as in concert in Italy and at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. She maintains an active cello studio in her home state of Maryland.

Phil Hosford, piano, was a member of QuinTango from 2006 - 2012. A pianist of international reputation, he has toured throughout the U.S., Europe, South America, Africa and Southeast Asia.. The Washington Post acclaims his playing as “ the perfecting meeting of artistry and pyrotechnics...gripping and powerful.” Performance highlights include those at the Kennedy Center, Strathmore Center for the Arts, New York’ s Lincoln Center, London’ s Wigmore Hall, Teatro del Opera in Buenos Aires and Kolarec Narodni Hall in Belgrade. He is the winner of top prizes in 15 national and international competitions, the Terrence Judd International Auditions in London, the United States Artistic Ambassador Auditions and the Beethoven Foundation’s Triennial Awards. Mr. Hosford is a recipient of the Solo Performers Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1995, Mr. Hosford and his wife, Hayuru Taima, founded the Academy of Music in Gaithersburg, MD.

Paula Akbar, violin, made her debut with QuinTango at the 2002 Piccolo Spoleto Festival and has since toured with the group in Florida and Costa Rica. She can be heard on the group's new release, To Buenos Aires with Love and at selected concerts in the 2003-04 season. She has played in the Oregon, New Haven and Baltimore Symphonies and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. She is currently a member of the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra and a first violinist in the National Symphony Orchestra.

Luisa Casasnovas, violin, has performed with QuinTango in the Washington, D.C., metro area and on tour during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. She began her studies at the National Conservatory of Music in the Dominican Republic and completed her graduate studies at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She is a winner of the prestigious Marbury Competition for Violin and has performed as soloist with the National Symphony of Santo Domingo. She has served as a principal player for both the Annapolis Symphony and Concert Artists of Baltimore and has served as concertmaster for the Salisbury and Goucher Symphonies, the Mechanic and the National Theatre Orchestras, the Columbia Pro Cantare and the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra. She is also an internationally recognized videographer.

Ronald M. Chiles, piano, made his QuinTango debut in 2003. He has been featured soloist on three separate occasions with the Boston Pops Orchestra, and has recently performed as soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin. He is an active accompanist and theater musician who has been heard in twenty-seven national touring shows in the past six years at the Kennedy Center, National Theater, Warner Theater, Arena Stage, Lisner Auditorium and Mechanic Theater. He is a former piano soloist/Chief-in-Charge of the U.S. Navy Concert Band and former leader and musical director of the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters. He holds degrees from the University of Arkansas and Catholic University of America.

Irma Field Cripe, cello, was a founding member of QuinTango. Her cello and speaking performances can be heard on QuinTango's first two albums. An enthusiastic music teacher, she has organized courses and festivals in both her native Costa Rica and the United States. She currently maintains a thriving cello studio in Bowie, Maryland. She has performed with the National Symphony of Costa Rica, the Wichita Symphony, and currently is a member of the Alexandria Symphony. She has appeared in concert at the Embassy of Costa Rica, Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Women and the Arts, and the Inter-American Development Bank. A Fullbright Scholar, she received her M.M. from Wichita State University.

Karen Davis, piano, made her debut with QuinTango in the Winter of 2003 and toured with the group to Indiana, Georgia, and North Carolina. She made her debut with the National Symphony Orchestra playing a Mozart Concerto at age twelve. A graduate of the NC School of the Arts, she won first prize in the National Society of Arts and Letters Competition, as well as the Bartok, Baldwin and Inter-American Festival Competitions. She studied at Juilliard and at Peabody with Leon Fleisher. She has appeared as soloist throughout the USA, Europe, Asia and South America. The London Times described her performance as "unique and assured . . . played with sparkling brilliance and technical accuracy."

Erin Eyles Espinoza, cello, made her concert debut with QuinTango on the 2004 tour to the Florida Keys. She has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra as a regular cello substitute since 1998. She freelances in Metropolitan Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, performing solo, chamber music and orchestral repertoire. As a soloist, she has appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower theater and with the United States air Force Strings as featured soloist on tour. Erin has concertized in the United States, South America, Europe, and Asia. She holds a master’s degree from Peabody Conservatory and an undergraduate degree from Carnegie Mellon University in cello performance.

Jorge Espinoza, cello, was QuinTango's principal cellist from 2002 - 2006. He made both his European and Piccolo Spoleto debuts with QuinTango. He can be heard on the group's new release, "To Buenos Aires with Love." He is a 2001 prize winner in the Doctor Luis Sigall International Cello Competition in ViZa del Mar, Chile. He received the Gregor Piatigorsky Scholarship at Peabody Institute in Baltimore, where he served as teaching assistant to Stephen Kates. He holds an undergraduate degree from the Catholic University of Santiago, a master's degree from Carnegie Mellon University, and Graduate Performance Diplomas in Cello and in Chamber Music from Peabody Institute.

Aron Rider, cello, made her concert debut with QuinTango in 2002 and has been a regular member of QuinTango's Concerts-in-Schools group during the 2002-3 season. A featured soloist with the Anderson Symphony Orchestra, Pam-American Symphony, and the Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra, she has given solo cello recitals throughout the Midwest, South and in the Washington metro area. She currently is on the faculty of St. Mary's College and has an extensive private teaching studio in Northern Virginia. She performs with numerous groups in the Washington metro area, including the National Chamber Orchestra.

Rachel Schenker, violin, was a founding member of QuinTango. She can be heard on the first two QuinTango albums. She holds degrees in music performance from Indiana University, where she studied with the legendary Josef Gingold, and Yale University, where she studied with Oscar Shumsky.An active freelancer in Washington, D.C., she has performed with the Washington Bach Consort, the Kennedy Center Opera, and Virginia Beach Pops. She is a member of the National Gallery Orchestra and the Harrisburg Symphony. A devoted teacher, she teaches students of all ages throughout the Washington metropolitan area.

Bruce Steeg (d. 2003), piano, was a founding member of QuinTango and a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music. His brilliant piano work can be heard on all of QuinTango's albums. He served as soloist with the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point as well as appearing as soloist with the National Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Orchestra. He toured with Paul Whiteman, Guy Lombardo, and Yul Brynner before coming to Washington, D.C., as conductor of the National Ballet. He performed in concert with Marilyn Horne, Robert Merrill, Beverley Sills, and Michel Legrand. In addition to his work with QuinTango, he was the pianist with the National Symphony Pops under the direction of Marvin Hamlisch. Bruce passed away in October, 2003.

For information about bookings and additional press photos, please contact Joan Singer at 703-548-6811 or by email, joan at quintango.com QuinTango's web site may be visited at www.quintango.com.

Updated: August 2015

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