Current and Past Members
Matthew Brown (ring leader) was born in London and studied violin with Montagu Cleeve, legendary string teacher and expert on super heavy artillery. He is a graduate of King’s College London (B. Mus.) and Cornell University (M.A., Ph.D.) and was awarded a Junior Fellowship at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University. Currently Professor of Music Theory at the Eastman School of Music, he has also taught at Harvard University, Louisiana State University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory. Brown has published three books—Debussy’s ‘Ibéria’: Studies in Genesis and Structure (Oxford, 2003), Explaining Tonality: Schenkerian Theory and Beyond (Rochester, 2005), and Debussy Redux. The Impact of His Music on Popular Culture (Indiana, 2012)—and over thirty articles/reviews in such periodicals as the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Music Theory Spectrum, Cool and Strange Music! and Science. In 1988, he was the proud recipient of a Monsters of Rock Tour guitar.
Th. Emil Homerin (facilitator) is Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion & Classics at the University of Rochester, where he teaches courses on Islam, classical Arabic literature, and mysticism. Homerin completed his Ph.D. with honors at the University of Chicago. A specialist in Arabic literature and Islam, Homerin has lived and worked in Egypt, Turkey, and Morocco. Among Homerin’s many publications are From Arab Poet to Muslim Saint (2nd rev. ed., 2001), Ibn al-Fārid: Sufi Verse & Saintly Life (2001), The Wine of Love & Life: Ibn al-Fārid's al-Khamrīyah and al-Qaysarī’s Quest for Meaning (Chicago, 2005), Passion Before Me, My Fate Behind: Ibn al-Fārid and the Poetry of Recollection (2011), and two books on the woman Arab Sufi poet A’ishah al-Ba’unīyah, Emanations of Grace (2011) and The Principles of Sufism (2014). Homerin has been the recipient of grants from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, the American Research Center in Egypt, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has also received a number of awards including the American Association of Teachers of Arabic Translation Prize, the G. Granyon & Jane W. Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching, the University of Rochester’s Teacher of the Year Award, and the Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Education. Homerin is also a comic book aficionado and an authority on the work of P. Craig Russell, who he has previously interviewed.
Dariusz Terefenko (music director) teaches at the Eastman School of Music, where he began his career as a master’s student of jazz piano. After completing his M.M. in jazz piano performance (1998), he enrolled and finished a Ph.D. in music theory (2004) with a dissertation on Keith Jarrett’s Transformation of Standard Tunes. Terefenko holds a unique, joint teaching appointment in two departments: Jazz and Contemporary Media and Music Theory. He lectures on Music Theory, Jazz History, and Improvisation. His interests lie in the area of classical and jazz improvisation and ways they interact with one another. Terefenko’s recently recorded solo album, Evidence, offers his creative take on favorite jazz standards, jazz instrumentals, and own compositions. Presently, he is working on a book: Jazz Theory – From Basic to Advanced Study that will be published by Routledge in May 2013. Terefenko is also an avid fisherman.
Albert Kim (piano) is completing his D.M.A. at the Eastman School of Music, where he studies with Natalya Antonova and is a teaching assistant for freshman honors aural skills. He made his debut at the age of ten when he substituted for Vladimir Horowitz to perform at Carnegie Hall on the 500,000th Steinway piano. He has appeared with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Virginia Symphony, Eastman Philharmonia, Musica Nova, Hartford Symphony, the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Tenerife Symphony Orchestra and given solo and chamber recitals at Weill Hall, the Concertgebouw, the Cologne Philharmonie, Ravinia, the LaJolla and Kuhmo Chamber Music Festivals, Bargemusic, Caramoor, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Albert holds a bachelor’s degree in composition from Harvard University, where he conducted the Dunster House Opera and Toscanini Chamber Orchestra. Upcoming projects include publication of his new solo transcription of Ravel’s La Valse and a recording of the piano sonatas of Charles Ives. In his spare time, Albert likes to fly planes.
Christopher Winders (technical design) is a native of central North Carolina and holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music and a B.M. and M.M from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. While at Eastman he received the McCurdy Prize in 2003 and the Samuel Adler Scholarship in 2004. He has lectured at Eastman in the theory and composition departments, and the Eastman Computer Music Center. He has written numerous pieces ranging from chamber to orchestral, in both acoustic and electronic mediums. His article “Toward a Structural Ordering Within George Perle’s Twelve-Tone Tonality” was published in Theory and Practice (Vol. 33, 2008). He currently works for E.B. Marks Music Company as a music engraver, specializing in the scores of William Bolcom. In 2011 he received the Music Publishers Association Paul Revere Award for Graphic Excellence (second place) recognizing his work on Bolcom’s piano/vocal score for the opera Lucrezia. Other engraving projects include work for Eastman faculty members Matthew Brown, Marie Rolf, Jonathan Dunsby and Steve Laitz, including several recent publications, most notably Brown’s Debussy Redux.
Frederico Agostini (violin) is Professor of Violin and Co-Chair of the Strings, Harp, and Guitar Department at ESM. A world-renowned violinist, chamber musician, and teacher, he was previously a member of the faculty at Indiana University’s Jacob’s School of Music.
Griffin Campbell (alto saxophone) has appeared to critical acclaim as a performer throughout the United States and in Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Slovenia, China, Italy, Great Britain, and Japan. Conference performances include solo appearances at meetings of the World Saxophone Congress, North American Saxophone Alliance, the Society of Composers, Inc., the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, and the International Computer Music Conference. World premieres include concerti, chamber music, electro-acoustic works, and smaller pieces both in America and abroad. He has received grants from the Louisiana Foundation for the Arts and from Louisiana State University. His recordings can be found on the Capstone, Cat Crisis, Centaur, Electronic Music Foundation, SEAMUS, Vestige, and WorldWinds labels. He has conducted seminars and master classes at universities, conservatories, and conferences throughout the United States, South America, at the Faenza International Saxophone Festival (Italy, 2004, 2006), and the Xian International Clarinet and Saxophone Festival (China, 2005). Dr. Campbell holds degrees from Michigan State University (saxophone studies with James Forger) and Pfeiffer College (saxophone studies with Donald Grant and Michael Price). He is the Regional Director for the Southeastern US and Puerto Rico for the North American Saxophone Alliance, and is Distinguished Professor of Saxophone and Chair of the Instrumental Performance Division of the LSU School of Music where he has been on faculty since 1984. Griffin Campbell is a Vandoren and Selmer Artist.
Michael E. Ruhling teaches music history at the Rochester Institute of Technology and ESM, and conducts the RIT Orchestra. From 2004 to 2009 Dr. Ruhling served on the conducting and lecture faculty of the Classical Music Festival held annually in Eisenstadt, Austria. He has appeared as guest conductor of the Brighton Symphony Orchestra, Prince George’s Philharmonic, Finger Lakes Symphony, and the UNLV Symphony and Opera. He was named the 2008-2009 Christopher Hogwood Historically Informed Performance Fellow by the Boston Handel and Haydn Society, the oldest performing ensemble in the United States.
James Thompson is Professor of Trumpet at ESM. He has played Principal Trumpet with the Phoenix Symphony, the Orchestra of the State of Mexico, the National Symphony of Mexico, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He is currently Solo trumpet of the Orchestra Toscanini under the direction of Loren Mazel. In the last year, Prof. Thompson has performed as guest Principal Trumpet with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Baltimore Symphony.
James VanDemark (double bass) is widely acclaimed as one of the leading performers on the double bass and has featured as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Grant Park Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, National Symphony of Mexico, Netherlands Radio Symphony and with many other orchestras throughout the world. VanDemark is also the recipient of commissions from three Pulitzer-Prize winning composers: Christopher Rouse, Joseph Schwantner, and Gian-Carlo Menotti. VanDemark’s chamber music appearances include such groups as the Guarneri, Cleveland, Muir, Ying, Orford, and Colorado Quartets, as well as the Gryphon Trio, Vienna Schubert Trio, Los Angeles Piano Quartet, and pianists Alfred Brendel and Gary Graffman. Professor of Double-bass at the Eastman School of Music since 1976, VanDemark has also produced music videos for Atlantic Records, served as a music supervisor for John Cougar Mellencamp, represented three Oscar-winning screenwriters, co-owned an AMA Superbike racing team, and is an accomplished amateur boxer.
David Ying (cello) is currently Associate Professor of String Chamber Music and Associate Professor Violoncello ESM. As a member of the Ying Quartet, he has won numerous awards, including a Grammy, a Naumberg Chamber Award, and prizes in the Naumberg Cello Competition, and the Washington International Cello Competition.
Charles Castleman (violin) is the only Professor at a major American music school to have shattered each arm in accidents 45 years apart; he also cracked 3 ribs in a baseball game collision with future Congressman (Finance Committee Chair)- Barney Frank. His baby-sitter was Kitty Dixon (Dukakis)- future wife of a Presidential candidate. Much of his misspent youth was televised live nationally: with Frank Sinatra a disapproving observer he received a violin lesson from Jack Benny. He acted in a TV drama with Betty White and Eli Wallach as a prodigy who grows up to be a murderer. He performed at age 14 (substituting for Fritz Kreisler) on a show entitled “Life Begins at 80.” While attending Harvard he was acquainted with the future Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, and shared a room with a future Supreme Court Justice- Dave Souter. He is the published author of an article on Italian Renaissance madrigals. En route to a Silver Medal at the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium competition, he misheard his instructions from the jury, and played a piece they didn’t request; no one on the jury noticed. While in residence at a festival in Montreux, Switzerland, he sat in the Clarinet section of the accompanying orchestra (with instrument, but without reed or mouthpiece) to get into a sold-out rock concert.
Clay Jenkins (trumpet) began his career as a jazz artist at an early age playing with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. He recorded three live albums with the Kenton Band, Artistry in Symphonic Jazz, A Time for Love, and The Lost Concerts, Vols. I & II, and was also involved with the “Stan Kenton Orchestra in Residence Jazz Camps.” Clay moved to LA in 1978, where he was in demand as a live performer and a studio-recording musician. It was at this time that he studied with renowned trumpet teacher, James Stamp. From LA, he toured with the big bands of Harry James, Buddy Rich, and finally, the Count Basie Orchestra. Since joining the Eastman faculty in 2000, Clay has maintained a busy performing, recording, and teaching schedule. He continues to perform and record with the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, of which he is a charter member (the trumpet section has included trumpet artists Snooky Young, Bobby Bryant, Chuck Findley, Oscar Brashear, Byron Stripling, and Bijon Watson. Clay’s solo recordings include Rings, Give and Gather, Yellow Flowers After, Azure Eyes, and Matters of Time. Additionally, his ensemble with co-leader Kim Richmond has released three recordings: Range, Look at the Time, and Crossweave. Other artists Clay has recorded with include Milt Jackson, the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Diana Krall, Billy Harper, Lyle Mays, Peter Erskine, Harold Danko, Rufus Reid, Ray Brown, Joe La Barbera, Kurt Elling, Dr. John, Bob Sheppard, Jim Widner, John La Barbera, Pat La Barbera, Eric Reed, Gary Hobbs, Rich Perry, Bill Perkins, Bill Cunliffe, Gary Anderson, Billy Childs, Steve Houghton, Lennie Niehaus, Ernestine Anderson, Karrin Allyson, and Miki Coltrane. He recorded Trio East with his Eastman colleagues Jeff Campbell and Rich Thompson and has recently put out the album Blues State. Clay plays Edwards Instrument Company’s trumpet and represents this company as a performing artist.
Kenneth Lurie (cello) serves as Professor of Cello at the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He earned degrees from the Eastman School of Music (D.M.A.), the Cleveland Institute of Music (M.M.), and Ithaca College (B.Mus.Ed.) where his cello teachers were Steven Doane, Alan Harris and Einar Holm. Lurie’s studies included summers at Kneisel Hall, Meadowmount, the Quartet Program, the International Course of Violoncello Paraiba Brazil, the Ithaca Violoncello Institute and the Berklee College of Music. A frequent chamber music collaborator, Lurie’s orchestral experience includes serving as assistant principal with the Caracas Philharmonic, Roanoke Symphony and Shreveport Summer Music Festival. At home in a wide range of musical styles, Lurie also performs as a guitarist and singer/songwriter. He led the High Country Klezmer Ensemble playing mandola, toured the Southeast playing a 6-string MIDI cello and has recorded traditional Appalachian music with the Appalachian Acoustic Ensemble. Prior to joining the faculty at ASU, Lurie held academic appointments at Shenandoah Conservatory, Roanoke College and the Caracas Conservatory. His students have developed careers as public school teachers, college professors, chamber musicians, symphony orchestra cellists, as well as entrepreneurs in a variety of musical pursuits.
Kerry Smyth (graphic design) was born in Northern Ireland and spent his early years living between Ireland and South Africa, before attending art college in the north west of England. He climbed his way up the design ladder, working at various printers, advertising agencies, and marketing companies, before moving to the U.S. in 2003. Ten schools, twenty plus houses, four countries and too many jobs to think about, apparently leads you to Rochester, New York, and the Table Top Opera.
Jason R. Titus (guitar) is a Rochester native and holds degrees in Music from The Eastman School of Music, Louisiana State University, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He has performed on electric guitar with the LSU Symphony, LSU New Music Ensemble, and the LSU and University of Rochester Jazz Ensembles. Dr. Titus is a Senior Lecturer of Music in the College Music Department of the University of Rochester, where he teaches Music Theory. He also maintains a busy performing and recording schedule as a guitarist and keyboardist for several bands in Rochester, New York City, and Pittsburgh.