Karen Follingstad has been Professor of Piano at San Diego State University since 1984. She has also taught at Kent State University, the University of Akron, and was artist faculty at the Kent-Blossom Music Festival from 1992-94, where she coached chamber music and performed with principal members of the Cleveland Orchestra. As a solo recitalist, Dr. Follingstad has performed extensively throughout Europe and North America and has recorded for the Hessische Rundfunk and the Norwegian Radio. She has appeared as soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Blossom Festival Orchestra, the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, and the Bear Valley Music Festival Orchestra, among others. An experienced collaborative pianist, Dr. Follingstad, in partnership with clarinetist Marian Liebowitz, was 1997 winner of the United States Information Agency/Kennedy Center Artistic Ambassador Competition, which resulted in a month-long tour of Central and South America. The Duo was also chosen to represent the U.S. at El Salvador’s Third Annual Peace Festival in 1998. She has also performed recitals with cellists Yo Yo Ma and Carter Brey, violinists Andrés Cárdenes, William Preucil, Cho-Laing Lin, Eugene Fodor, and others. Ms. Follingstad is a sought-after chamber musician, appearing with the Thouvenel String Quartet, the Arioso Wind Quintet, the Ensemble of Santa Fe, the Miami String Quartet, and the Pacifica String Quartet. Karen has also participated in numerous prestigious music festivals including the Berkshire Festival at Tanglewood, the La Jolla Chamber Music Society’s SummerFest, the Mainly Mozart Festival, and summer festivals in Bear Valley and Marin, California; Sedona, Arizona, and Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Martha Aaron’s professional career began with her appointment as principal flute of the North Carolina Symphony, after which she played with the Cleveland Orchestra for 25 years. After becoming a freelancer in 2006, she performed often with the Philadelphia Orchestra. During this time she also appeared as guest principal flute with the Metropolitan Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Mostly Mozart Festival, Jakarta Sinfonia, and the World Orchestra for Peace. Ms. Aarons served as Artist Faculty with the Aspen Music Festival for 19 years and has played in the Grand Teton Festival as well. In May of 2015, she participated in the Cubadisco music festival in Havana, Cuba. She has been soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, Aspen Chamber Symphony, and Ohio Chamber Orchestra. In 2003 Ms. Aarons performed the Aspen Music Festival premiere of the Flute Concerto by Christopher Rouse. Her CD, The History of the Tango, is recorded on the Azica label. It additionally features pianist Frances Renzi and Grammy-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux.
At age 21 Lev Polyakin, violin, was appointed co-concertmaster of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. In that position he was regularly featured as soloist, with many of his performances recorded by Melodia. In the U.S. he served as assistant concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, as well as concertmaster of the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen Music Festival. In 1984 Lev won several prizes in two international violin competitions, Carl Flesch in London and Romanini in Brescia, Italy. In addition to his solo performances with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Mr. Polyakin has appeared as soloist with the London Mozart Players, Royal Philharmonic, and Cleveland Orchestra. Recording credits include Melodia, BBC, National Public Radio, and Decca. He is prominently featured on a CD of the chamber music of Paul Schoenfield, which was nominated for a Grammy. Mr. Polyakin has a special interest in jazz and has recorded three CDs with his group “Russian Blue.” The albums are entitled Russian Blue, The Other Side of the Road, and Christmas Kaleidoscope.