Artists

Amy Owens

Amy Owens is quickly gaining attention as an exciting young American singer. Praised in Opera News for her “pristine soprano and vivacious enthusiasm,” “engaging bell-like soprano,” and “open top notes and trills that match her sparkling wit,” Amy has been gaining national attention for her performances around the country. She was most recently seen with the Santa Fe Opera, and she has made many appearances with Utah Opera, Central City Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, and Utah Festival Opera. She is the recent winner of a 2014 Sullivan Foundation Award and the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in the NYC district. In 2015 she will make appearances with Opera Naples as Despina in Così fan tutte, the New York Festival of Song in their new music series NYFOS Next, Wolf Trap Opera in Le Nozze di Figaro and The Ghosts of Versailles, and the Utah Symphony in L’enfant et les sortilèges. She is a versatile performer of opera and musical theater, early music and new music, with repertoire including The Nightingale in Le Rossignol, Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Emily in Our Town, Ellie in Showboat, Flora in Turn of the Screw, Olympia in Tales of Hoffmann, and Johanna in Sweeney Todd. Amy Owens is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Rice University.

Cong Zhao

Cong Zhao is a world famous Pipa (Chinese lute) player. As a musician, dedication to Pipa has rewarded her with top prizes in national competitions. As a teacher, deep love for teaching has won her awards of education.

Cong Zhao was born in a family of musicians. She studied Pipa with her mother at very early age, and developed an extraordinary interest in this ancient Chinese instrument. At the age of 13, she won the First Prize in the Jilin Provincial Competition for Traditional Instrumental Music. At the age of 16, she won the Second Prize in the National Competition. In 1996, she entered the Central Conservatory of Music for her excellent performance, and followed Professor Guanghua Li, a renowned music educator in China. In 1998, Cong Zhao held her first solo concert in Beijing. After graduating in 2000, she won the First Place in a professional qualification test hosted by the Ministry of Culture and was then recruited as First Pipa Soloist in the Central Orchestra for Chinese Music in Beijing. She was later elected as a committee member of Young Excellent Artists by the Chinese Culture Ministry.

Cong Zhao has toured some 20 countries with a dozen of state leaders watching her performances and her music echoing on world-famous stages. In August 2000, she toured the United States and performed in the headquarters of United Nations. In November 2000, she accompanied the Ensemble in France and participated in the “China Cultural Season in France”. In February 2002, she toured in 13 Spanish cities and in April, she toured Japan and gave performances in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations. In June, she performed in the “China Cultural Season” in Athens, Greece; In October, she played in the Egypt Music Festival. In October 2004, she accompanied Mr. Jintao Hu, the president of China, in his visit to Ukraine and performed for eight other presidents. In February 2005, she visited Denmark and was warmly welcomed by the Danish Princess in person. In July of the same year, she was invited as a unique Chinese representative artist to perform in Korean International Music Festival. In November, she performed in a four-woman group with Richard Clayderman and toured in Asia.

From Lincoln Centre to Tokyo Concert Hall, from Carnegie Music Hall to Champs Elysees Theatre, from Athens Acropolis theatre to Amsterdam Music Hall, Cong Zhao has conveyed her understand of Chinese traditional music as well as her confidence and smile to every audience member who loves her beautiful Pipa sound. Her innovative Pipa was recognized as a patent. Her CD album Carman was distributed worldwide. Her latest production Dance in the Moon was made in Denmark. She embraces Pipa with great sentiments and spreads traditional Chinese music with deep patriotism.

Jindong Cai

Jindong Cai joined the Stanford University faculty in 2004 as the first holder of the Gretchen B. Kimball Director of Orchestral Studies’ Chair and Associate Professor of Music in Performance. He is Music Director and Conductor of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, the Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Stanford New Ensemble. He is also the Artistic Director of the Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival, which he founded in 2005. Maestro Cai serves as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra in China, and of the Mongolia State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet in Ulan Batar.

Before coming to Stanford, Professor Cai served on the faculties at the Louisiana State University, the University of Arizona, the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and the University of California at Berkeley. He held assistant conducting positions with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.

Born in Beijing, Mr. Cai received his early musical training in China, where he learned to play the violin and the piano. He came to the United States for his graduate studies at the New England Conservatory and the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. In 1989, he was selected to study with famed conductor Leonard Bernstein at the Tanglewood Music Center, and won the Conducting Fellowship Award at the Aspen Music Festival in 1990 and 1992.

Together with Sheila Melvin, Mr. Cai has co-authored several New York Times articles on the performing arts in China and a book Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese. The book was reviewed by The China Quarterly of Cambridge Journals, as “a delightful book. It opens up a cultural arena much neglected in scholarship on China.”

Joseph Dennis

In a budding career, American tenor Joseph Dennis has already gained recognition for his vocal talent and comedic gifts. In his summer 2013 apprenticeship with the prestigious Santa Fe Opera, he sang the role of Giuseppe in La Traviata and that same year returned to sing as soloist in their Holiday Concert Series. Summer 2014 he rejoined the roster of Santa Fe Opera for the American premiere of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen by composer Huang Ruo, sung completely in Mandarin Chinese. He stepped into the title role at the last moment, to great acclaim. The New York Times noted, “For the American tenor Joseph Dennis, the understudy promoted to leading man at less than two weeks’ notice, it was a trial by fire, which he passed admirably.” In 2014-15 he sings Steva in Janácek’s Jenufa with Des Moines Metro Opera.

Also in 2013-14 he joined the Palm Beach Opera roster in productions of Il barbiere di Siviglia and Les contes d’Hoffman, and to sing the role of Malcolm in Verdi’s Macbeth. He pursued theatre studies at Collin College and vocal performance at Stephen F. Austin State University and at the University of Oklahoma where he performed Pylades in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride and Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff. He is currently pursuing his Artist Diploma in Opera Studies at the Juilliard School of Music.

On concert stages he has sung as soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Dubois’ The Seven Last Words of Christ and in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. In March of this year he will sing Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass with the renowned Voices of Ascension Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by Dennis Keene.

Joseph was a 2nd prize winner the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition in 2014. In 2012 he was a prize winner of the San Antonio Tuesday Music Club competition. He is currently a Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition. Read more about Joseph here.

Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra

Read more about the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra here.

Suli Xue

One of the most outstanding Chinese-American violinists, Suli Xue enjoys an active career on today’s international music stage. A member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, a Professor of Violin in the Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California, the Artistic Advisor of Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra, the Artistic Director of the Schoenfeld International String Competition and the former concertmaster of the Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China, Suli Xue has earned high acclaim around the world for his unique artistry.

Suli Xue graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and USC Thornton school of Music - a protégé of world-renowned violin professor, Alice Schoenfeld. He was frequently invited as a guest artist and faculty to teach and perform at International Music Festivals in United States and Europe. Recently, Suli Xue performed as a soloist with the YMF Debut Orchestra and Moscow State Symphony Orchestra for their New Year's Concert Tour. He also released two CD albums entitled Melodies of China and Golden Melodies. The albums were received with extraordinary praise and popularity in China as well as internationally.