Peter Blanchette, archguitar
Peter Blanchette is the inventor of the 11-string archguitar. “Blanchette is an ace on this, his self-designed instrument.” – Billboard Magazine. His repertoire of unusual and internationally acclaimed arrangements and compositions spans from medieval to contemporary to ethnic, played in solo recital or with selected other instrumentalists to form the Virtual Consort. A recipient of the MCC Artist Grant in Music Composition, Blanchette is a veteran performer of such high profile venues as NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. His CDs receive heavy airplay on “Sunday Baroque,” “The Thistle and Shamrock,” and regionally on WAMC, WNYC, and WFCR. His classical/jazz concept recording, “Had Miles Met Maurice” (DORIAN #dor-93198) was selected byAudioPhile Magazine as a “Top 100 Jazz CD of 2001.”In 2011, he received New England Public Radio Foundation’s Arts and Humanities Award for outstanding individual artist. As a composer, he has contributed to such television programs as HBO’s “Sex and the City,” USA Network/NBC’s “Royal Pains,” and PBS’ “Inside the Tuscan Hills.” Among other film work, Blanchette worked extensively with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom and director John Turturro on Turturro’s film Illuminata.“His updated film scores make the silents sing.” – Boston Sunday Globe.In the late 1990′s, the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) commissioned Peter Blanchette to compose scores to the Buster Keaton silent comedies “The General” and “The Navigator” which resulted in sell-out performances in venues around the Northeast. In 2009 Blanchette received grants from New England Foundation for the Arts “Meet the Composer,” and the Northampton Arts Council to complete the trio of Keaton’s masterpieces by composing a multi-instrumental score to the 1928 comedy, Steamboat Bill, Jr. which he premiered, along with master classes in film scoring, to resounding success at the Dingle Film Festival in Ireland in September 2009, and Amherst Cinema Arts Center in October 2009.He is also the founder and Artistic Director of the critcally-acclaimed Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra (hvgo.org), and holds a Master’s Degree in Music Composition from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree from Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont. archguitar.com
Christopher Haynes, composer
Christopher Haynes (composer, pianist, accordianist) directs the music program of Springfield and chairs the college's William Simpson Fine Arts series. He performs throughout the region and records frequently in area studios. Many have known him as the accordionist for the Young at Heart Chorus, and have heard his work on the Signature Sound label. As a composer, his work has been commissioned and performed at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), Williams College, Smith College and the Arlington Philharmonic Society. He lives in Northampton, MA with his three chilrdren and their fish named Liberace.
Carol Hutter, viola
Carol Hutter is a violin/viola teacher and longstanding member of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and has also appeared with the Hartford Symphony, Binghamton Symphony, Vermont Symphony, The Tri-Cities Opera Orchestra, the BC Pops Orchestra, and is a founding member of the Bel Canto Chamber Players. She was principal viola with the Arcadia Players Baroque Orchestra for 16 years and member of the Berkshire Bach Festival Orchestra and the New England Chamber Orchestra. She studied at State University at Binghamton, New England Conservatory of Music, and has her MM from UMASS Amherst She began teaching in Binghamton, NY, and after moving to New England became a facutly member of the UMASS Performing Arts Division. carolhutterviolins.com
Elaine Saloio, flute
Elaine Saloio is professor of flute at Westfield State University and holds teaching positions at Holyoke Community College and the Community Music School of Springfield in Massachusetts. In addition to her faculty positions, she teaches master classes throughout New England and most recently at the International Flute Festival in San José, Costa Rica. Elaine performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician in the United States as well as internationally. She earned her MM in Flute Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music along with the conservatory's prestigious Distinction in Performance Award. She holds an undergraduate degree in Flute Performance from the Boston Conservatory of Music. Ms. Saloio is the first prize winner of the James Pappoutsakis Flute Competition in Boston, MA. As winner, she performed at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA. Since 1995 Elain has been a member of the Board of Directors of this annual flute competition. She has performed with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and has recorded original music for the Eric Carole Museum of Picture Book Theatre in Amherst, MA. elaineflute.com
Benjamin Toth, marimba
Benjamin Toth is a Professor of Percussion at The Hartt School, University of Hartford. He has presented concerts, radio and television broadcasts, master classes, and children’s programs in countries spanning six continents. His varied musical interests are reflected in his performance credits including chamber music performances with Percussion Group Cincinnati, concerto appearances with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras, orchestral and ensemble work with the Sinfonia da Camera, Akron Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and the Milwaukee Ballet, and percussion and drum set work for regional theaters and national tours of Broadway musicals for the Goodspeed Opera House, Hartford Stage and Bushnell Theater. Performance venues have included Ravinia, Carnegie Recital Hall, Symphony Space, Hong Kong Cultural Centre and the Encontro Internacional de Percussao (Brazil). In addition, Toth has amassed more than 30 years of experience performing, directing, and arranging for steel drum bands, including a five-week residency in Trinidad in order to perform in the 2000 Panorama (Trinidad National Steel Band Competition). He has studied West African percussion in Ghana, including gyil playing with Bernard Woma, and Ewe barrel drumming with Emmanuel and Ruben Agbeli. Toth previously served on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Percussion Performance and Jazz Studies from the University of Akron, and a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois. Benjamin Toth is a Yamaha performing artist. He uses mallets made by Innovative Percussion and plays Zildjian cymbals. yamaha.com/artists/benjamintoth.html
Felice Swados, harp
Felice Swados received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and her Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music. She studied harp with Marcel Grandjany, Gloria Agostini, Lily Laskine and Jane Weidensaul. Piano teachers included Donald Waxman and Carlo Bussotti. Felice is on the faculty of Amherst and Smith colleges and teaches piano and harp at the Community Music School of Springfield, as well as at her studio in South Hadley, MA. She performs extensively with ensembles in the New England area, including the Pioneer Valley Symphony, The Commonwealth Opera, the Boar's Head Festival and the Brattleboro Music Center.