Allison Brewster Franzetti (Program Director; Piano)
2014 Latin Grammy® Nominee for Best Classical Album and 2008 Grammy® Nominee for Best Instrumental Soloist without Orchestra, pianist Allison Brewster Franzetti has received international acclaim from critics and audiences alike for her stunning virtuosity and musicality, both as a soloist and chamber musician.
Her performances include the Grammy® Awards Classical Music Tribute to Earl Wild and Lang Lang at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the American Classical Music Hall of Fame, the Robert Schumann Festival at the Marcella Sembrich Museum in Lake George, New York, the Campeche Festival in Mexico and at the opening of the VI International Festival of Music at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has also been a guest artist with the Brooklyn Philharmonic (featured on NBC-TV News), the Long Island Philharmonic, the English Sinfonia, the City of Prague Philharmonic, the Denver Symphony, the Colonial Symphony playing her own arrangement for solo piano and orchestra of Camille St. Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals,” the European Women’s Orchestra, and the Adelphi Orchestra, amongst others. She has played the world premiere of “Piano Concerto No. 2” by Carlos Franzetti at the Teatro Colon with the Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires conducted by Javier LoGioia Urbe, commissioned for Ms. Brewster Franzetti as part of their 50th anniversary season, the European premiere with the Janacek Philharmonic conducted by Dennis Burkh, and the US premiere with the Queens Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Constantine Kitsopoulos.
Solo recital performances include her critically acclaimed debuts at Merkin Hall in New York and the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, her recital debut at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in London, and tours throughout the US, Mexico, Europe, Argentina and Japan. Ms. Brewster Franzetti is the piano soloist on the soundtracks of the 2006 American/Argentine film, Tango Fatal, the 2005 Argentine/French film, Ronda Nocturna, and the 2003 French/Spanish film, Dans le rouge du couchant.
Her latest CD, “Franzetti Plays Franzetti,” was released on Amapola Records. This new recording features solo piano and chamber music by Carlos Franzetti. Naxos Records released a complete boxed set of “Mieczyslaw Weinberg – Complete Piano Works” in January 2015.
An accomplished collaborative pianist, she has worked with Sir James Galway, John Corigliano, Stephen Paulus, Carlos Franzetti, Lowell Liebermann, Robert Aldridge, David Maslanka, Ransom Wilson, Robert White, Eugenia Zukerman, and Julius Baker, amongst others.
Dr. Brewster Franzetti is the recipient of degrees from Manhattan School of Music, the Juilliard School and Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She is currently Artistic Director of the Young Artist Program and Director of Chamber Music for the Extension Division, Mason Gross School of the Arts.
Born in New York City, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Associate Concertmaster Brennan Sweet (Violin) began violin studies at age 2 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In 1977, he studied violin at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. Beginning his college education as an engineering student at Washington University in St. Louis, Sweet transferred and earned a BM from Indiana University, eventually serving for three years as teaching assistant to Josef Gingold before joining the faculty for another two years as Lecturer.
Concertmaster of several orchestras, including the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, Sweet was also a founding member of the Evansville String Quartet. He performed for two seasons as Assistant Concertmaster of the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder. He joined the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in 1994 as Associate Concertmaster and subsequently led the Orchestra for three seasons as Acting Concertmaster under Maestro Zdenek Macal. Sweet is a founding member of the Mostly Mozart at Monteux Festival in Hancock, Maine, and has served as coach and performer at the Raphael Trio Chamber Music workshop in New Hampshire.
In 2007, he joined the faculty of Kean University as a Concert Artist, teaching students and performing chamber music concerts regularly throughout the year. Sweet performs recitals with acclaimed pianist Jenny Lin in the New York metropolitan area.
Cellist Mira Kang (Cello) has a versatile career as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. She made her debut at the age of 16 as a soloist with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the most prominent orchestras in her native country, Korea. She was also invited to perform in the Seoul International Music Festival and has been featured on live radio and MBC television broadcasts in performances with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. Kang has performed throughout South Korea, the Northeastern US, and Germany as a recitalist and chamber musician. Currently a New Jersey resident, she has performed in Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall, Borden Auditorium, the Miller Theater at Columbia University, and the Arts Council of Princeton.
Mira Kang is a member of the piano trio group, TRIDENT, formed with faculty members of the Extension Division at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She participated in the recent recording of “Franzetti Plays Franzetti” on Amapola Records with TRIDENT.Both a performer and a passionate educator, Kang has been invited to music festivals such as Northern Lights Festival and ASTA/Chamber Music Institute to serve in both capacities. Her passion for chamber music and music education led her to form and direct a string chamber ensemble group, Veritas, whose members consist of highly achieving teenage string players.
In addition to her busy private studio, Kang currently teaches at Young Artist Program of Mason Gross School of Arts at Rutgers University. She also serves as adjudicator for numerous competitions and auditions such as National League Performing Arts’ competition series and NJMTA auditions.
Michelle Grondin-Gergich (Flute) holds a MM in Instrumental Conducting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and a BM in Flute Performance from the University of Minnesota. Michelle maintains a full schedule as a flutist, conductor, clinician, and chamber coach. In addition to her role as Flute Professor and Chamber Ensemble Coach for the Mason Gross Extension Division Young Artist and Adult Chamber Music Programs, Michelle coordinates sectionals for the Tian Guo Marching Band, teaches Music Classes for children ages 6 months to 5 years, and annually co-teaches an intensive Chamber Music Camp geared toward elementary and middle school student ensembles.
Michelle began her flute studies at age 5. Chamber Music experiences soon followed, with public chamber music performances starting at age 9. Michelle’s high school chamber ensemble, The Zenith Quartet, received the 2008 Kenneth Geoffroy Memorial Award from the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.
Saxophonist Raymond Kelly (Saxophone) is a current Doctorate in Musical Arts candidate in saxophone performance at Rutgers University. Kelly holds a Master’s in Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory, all in saxophone performance.
Kelly is currently studying with saxophonist Paul Cohen and has studied with Timothy Ruedeman, James Umble, and Gary Bartz. The past year Kelly won the Rutgers’ 2016 Graduate Concerto Competition and will perform the Ballade for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra by Frank Martin this spring with the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra.
Kelly has performed throughout the United States and abroad and can be heard on the album The Gift of Life by composer and French horn player of the Imani Winds, Jeff Scott, with the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet.
Enzinger attended the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music from 2005 thru 2012, where he was a recipient of the Dean’s Scholarship as he pursued his Bachelor’s, Performance Diploma, and Master’s degrees in cello performance. His principal cello instructors in Indiana were Peter Stumpf, Eric Kim, Janos Starker, and Helga Winold. Enzinger received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in cello performance from the Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts in 2015. His principal cello instructor at Rutgers was Jonathan Spitz. Throughout his doctoral studies, Enzinger served as Principal Cellist of the graduate orchestra at Rutgers and was a member of the Rutgers Graduate String Quartet. In 2015, Enzinger participated in the Montclair State University Cali School of Music’s String Quartet Mentorship Program which culminated in the performance of a full string quartet recital program at Carnegie Hall.
In addition to Enzinger’s avid teaching, he is a dynamic performing cellist. He regularly performs in major venues such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and the Kimmel Center. His professional orchestral experience began in 2008 when he was appointed Assistant Principal Cellist of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and Terre Haute Symphony orchestras. In 2009, he also joined the Evansville Philharmonic and Owensboro Symphony orchestras as Section Cellist. Enzinger currently serves as Principal Cellist of the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra, a post he has held since 2013. In addition to his professional orchestral contracts, Enzinger has performed with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, American Symphony, Princeton Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, Carmel Symphony, Wheeling Symphony, Camerata Orchestra, and Bloomington Pops Orchestra. For four summers, Enzinger attended the prestigious Aspen Music Festival and School in Aspen, Colorado, and in the summer of 2015, he performed a series of concerts at the Bard Music Festival.
Lijie “Lexi” Zheng (piano) is a pianist and teacher based in Princeton, NJ. Zheng received her BA in Piano Performance from the Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou, China, and her MM in Piano Performance from the Westminster Choir College of Rider University. As a performer, Zheng has performed solo recitals in China and the United States and has performed with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. As a teacher, Zheng has taught at the Westminster Conservatory of Music, the Chords School of Music in Guangzhou, and also runs a private piano studio in Princeton. Zheng has studied with notable piano pedagogues, including Dr. Vivian Li, Ingrid Clarfield, Lillian Livingston, and Dr. James Goldworthy.
Sean Ullmer is a second-year undergraduate student at Mason Gross School of the Arts, studying vocal music education and music composition. This is his first year with the Mason Gross Extension Division. In addition to being an intern at CMMG, Sean also operates a private voice studio. He also regularly performs as part of groups such as Opera at Rutgers, Kirkpatrick Choir and various theatre companies, and as a composer has collaborated with various artists and ensembles in the New Brunswick community.