Snow Pond Music Festival


Where Aspiring Artists,
Develop, Collaborate & Grow

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Tara Helen OConnorTara Helen O'Connor is a charismatic performer noted for her artistic depth, brilliant technique and colorful tone spanning every musical era. Recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a two-time Grammy nominee, she was the first wind player chosen to participate in The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two) and is now a Season Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. A Wm. S. Haynes flute artist, Tara is a regular participant in the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Chamber Music Festival of the Bluegrass, Spoleto Festival USA, Chamber Music Northwest, Mainly Mozart Festival, Music from Angel Fire, Rockport Music, Bay Chamber Concerts, Manchester Music Festival, the Banff Centre, the Great Mountains Music Festival, Chesapeake Music Festival and the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Along with her husband Daniel Phillips, she is the newly appointed Co-Artstic Director of the Music From Angel Fire Festival in New Mexico.

A much sought-after chamber musician and soloist, she has premiered hundreds of new works and has collaborated with the Orion String Quartet, St. Lawrence Quartet, Emerson String Quartet, Jaime Laredo, Dawn Upshaw, Eliot Fisk, Jeremy Denk, Ida Kavafian, Peter Serkin and David Shifrin. Tara is a member of the woodwind quintet Windscape, the legendary Bach Aria Group and is a founding member of the Naumburg Award-winning New Millennium Ensemble. A passionate advocate of new music, she is a member of the Talea and Cygnus Ensembles. Tara has appeared on A&E's Breakfast with the Arts and PBS' Live from Lincoln Center. She has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, EMI Classics, Koch International, CMS Studio Recordings with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Bridge Records. She has just released a solo CD of American flute works entitled The Way Things Go on Bridge Records with pianist Margaret Kampmeier.

Tara holds a DMA from Stony Brook University where she studied with the late Samuel Baron. Her other teachers include Julius Levine, Thomas Nyfenger, Robert Dick and Keith Underwood. Her yearly summer flute master class at the Banff Centre in Canada was legendary.  She is Associate Professor of Flute, Head of the Woodwinds Department and the Coordinator of Classical Music Studies at Purchase College School of the Arts Conservatory of Music. Additionally, Tara is on the faculty of Bard College Conservatory of Music, the Contemporary Performance Program at Manhattan School of Music and is a visiting artist, teacher and coach at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.  She lives with her husband, violinist Daniel Phillips and their two miniature dachshunds, Chloé and Ava on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Daniel Phillips

Violinist Daniel Phillips enjoys a versatile career as a veteran chamber musician , soloist , violist, and teacher. A graduate of Juilliard, his teachers were his father Eugene Phillips, Ivan Galamian, Sally Thomas, Sándor Végh and George Neikrug. He is founding member of the 35-year-old Orion Quartet, in residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York City. Available on recording are the complete quartets of Beethoven and Leon Kirchner. He won the Young Concert Artists auditions and bronze medal in the Leipzig Bach Competition in 1976, and has been an up and coming young soloist ever since. He gave debut recitals at the 92nd street Y and Alice Tully Hall which received great reviews in the NYTimes. He has performed as soloist with the Pittsburgh, Houston , Boston and Yakima Symphonies and has been a regular at Spoleto, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the International Musicians Seminar in the UK for the last four decades and is a senior artist at the Marlboro Music Festival. He teaches at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, Bard College Conservatory, and Juilliard. He lives with his wife, flutist, Tara Helen O’Connor with their two cute mini dachshunds on the upper west side of Manhattan.

Clancy NewmanCellist Clancy Newman has enjoyed an extraordinarily wide-ranging career, not only as a cellist, but also as a composer, producer, writer, and guest lecturer. He received his first significant public recognition at the age of twelve, when he won a Gold Medal at the Dandenong Youth Festival in Australia, competing against contestants twice his age. He went on to win first prize at the Naumburg International Competition, and he has performed as soloist throughout the United States, as well as in Europe, Asia, Canada, and Australia. A recipient of an Avery Fisher career grant, he can often be heard on NPR’s “Performance Today” and has been featured on A&E and PBS. As a composer, he has expanded cello technique in ways heretofore thought unimaginable, particularly in his "Pop-Unpopped" project, and he has been featured on series by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Chicago Chamber Musicians. In March 2019 his piano quintet was premiered at the opening ceremony of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC, and in 2021 he was commissioned by the Kingston Chamber Music Festival to produce four educational videos to assist school teachers as they navigate the covid-19 pandemic. Mr. Newman is a graduate of the five-year exchange program between Juilliard and Columbia University, receiving a M.M. from Juilliard and a B.A. in English from Columbia.

Guest Artist

Claire Chase 150pxClaire Chase is a flutist, interdisciplinary artist, and educator. She co-founded the International Contemporary Ensemble in 2001, was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2012, and in 2017 was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Fiercely dedicated to the music of our time, Chase has given the world premieres of hundreds of new works by a new generation of artists, and in 2013 began Density 2036, a 24-year commissioning initiative to create a new body of repertoire for the flute leading up to the centennial of Edgard Varèse’s seminal 1936 flute solo Density 21.5. Each year leading up to the centennial, Chase premieres a program of newly commissioned music, and in 2036 she will play a 24-hour marathon of all of the repertory generated in the project. In the 2022-23 season, a week long retrospective will take place featuring the first ten programs in the project to date. This season, Chase released the first five years of Density 2036 (2013-2017) on a four-album compilation produced in collaboration with Meyer Sound Laboratories in Berkeley, CA.

Upcoming projects include a collaboration with the Ecuadorian anthropologist Eduardo Kohn on a multi-species opera by Pauline Oliveros, a new duo concerto with Esperanza Spalding by the Brazilian composer Felipe Lara, and an evening-length new solo work by the Australian composer Liza Lim for contrabass flute, electronics, and kinetic percussion.

A deeply committed educator, she is Professor of the Practice of Music at Harvard University, where she teaches courses on contemporary music, cultural activism, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Chase is also a Creative Associate at The Juilliard School. She lives in Brooklyn.

Jessi ThompsonViolist Jessica Thompson is a passionate chamber musician who performs regularly throughout the United States and abroad as a member of the Daedalus Quartet.  The quartet, Grand Prize winner of the 2001 Banff International String Quartet Competition and resident quartet at Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society Two from 2005-07, is currently in residence at the University of Pennsylvania.  As a member of Daedalus, Ms. Thompson has premiered works by such composers as Fred Lerdahl, Joan Tower, Richard Wernick, and Vivian Fung.  Ms. Thompson has also toured with Musicians from Marlboro and has performed at numerous festivals, including the Portland Chamber Music Festival, the Halcyon Music Festival (Portsmouth, NH), the Newport Music Festival, and the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival.  She performs often as a member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Thompson has appeared as a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra and in recitals in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC.   She currently teaches at Princeton and Columbia Universities.  She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Karen Tuttle.

Rieko Aizawa

Praised by the NY Times for an “impressive musicality, a crisp touch and expressive phrasing”, Japanese pianist Rieko Aizawa has performed throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, including New York City’s Lincoln Center, Boston's Symphony Hall, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, and Wigmore Hall in London.

At the age of thirteen, Ms. Aizawa was brought to the attention of conductor Alexander Schneider on the recommendation of the pianist Mitsuko Uchida. Schneider engaged Ms. Aizawa as soloist with his Brandenburg Ensemble at the opening concerts of Tokyo's Casals Hall. Later that year, Schneider presented her in her United States début concerts at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall with his New York String Orchestra. She has since established her own unique musical voice. 

Ms. Aizawa is also an active chamber musician. The youngest-ever participant at the Marlboro Music Festival, she has performed as a guest with string quartets such as the Guarneri Quartet and the Orion Quartet. She is a founding member of the Horszowski Trio and of the prize-winning Duo Prism. Ms. Aizawa became artistic director of the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival in Colorado in 2010.

Recently, Ms. Aizawa’s solo debut recording of Scriabin’s and Shostakovich’s “24 Preludes” was released by Altus in Japan, and her second album of Messiaen's and Faure's preludes is coming out in the upcoming season.  Ms. Aizawa also has a great interest in exploring unusual repertoire. - the St. Paul Pioneer Press said of her performance with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra conducted by Hans Graf: "the Salieri Piano Concerto in C was played so splendidly by Rieko Aizawa. Hers was a graceful reading. .... Aizawa's performance lent the work a respect it rarely receives." In the same year, she received the Washington Award.  

Ms. Aizawa was the last pupil of Mieczyslaw Horszowski at the Curtis Institute and she also studied with Seymour Lipkin and Peter Serkin at the Juilliard School. Ms. Aizawa lives in New York City, and she is on the faculty at Bard College and Brooklyn College. Ms. Aizawa is a Steinway Artist. 

Jesse Mills

Two-time Grammy nominated violinist Jesse Mills enjoys performing music of many genres, from classical to contemporary, as well as composed and improvised music of his own invention.  

Since his concerto debut at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Mr. Mills has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has been a soloist with the Phoenix Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, the New Jersey Symphony, the Green Bay Symphony,  Juilliard Chamber Orchestra,  the Denver Philharmonic, the Teatro Argentino Orchestra (in Buenos Aires, Argentina), and the Aspen Music Festival's Sinfonia Orchestra.

As a chamber musician Jesse Mills has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada, including concerts at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, the Metropolitan Museum, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Boston's Gardener Museum, Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, and the Marlboro Music Festival. He has also appeared at prestigious venues in Europe, such as the Barbican Centre of London, La Cité de la Musique in Paris, Amsterdam’s Royal Carré Theatre, Teatro Arcimboldi in Milan, and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels. Mills is co-founder of Horszowski Trio and Duo Prism, a violin-piano duo with Rieko Aizawa, which earned 1st Prize at the Zinetti International Competition in Italy in 2006. With Ms. Aizawa, Mills became co-artistic director of the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival in Colorado in 2010.

Mills is also known as a pioneer of contemporary works, a renowned improvisational artist, as well as a composer. He earned Grammy nominations for his performances of Arnold Schoenberg's music, released by NAXOS in 2005 and 2010. He can also be heard on the Koch, Centaur, Tzadik, Max Jazz and Verve labels for various compositions of Webern, Schoenberg, Zorn, Wuorinen, and others. As a member of the FLUX Quartet from 2001-2003, Mills performed music composed during the last 50 years, in addition to frequent world premieres. As a composer and arranger, Mills has been commissioned by venues including Columbia University’s Miller Theater, the Chamber Music Northwest festival in Portland, OR and the Bargemusic in NYC. 

Jesse Mills began violin studies at the age of three. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School in 2001.  He studied with Dorothy DeLay, Robert Mann and Itzhak Perlman. Mr. Mills lives in New York City, and he is on the faculty at Longy School of Music of Bard College and at Brooklyn College. In 2010 the Third Street Music School Settlement in NYC honored him with the ‘Rising Star Award’ for musical achievement.

Giora SchmidtPraised by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as "impossible to resist, captivating with lyricism, tonal warmth, and boundless enthusiasm," violinist Giora Schmidt has appeared as soloist with many prominent symphony orchestras around the globe including Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Canada’s National Arts Centre, Toronto, Vancouver and the Israel Philharmonic. 

In recital and chamber music, Giora has performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, San Francisco Performances, the Louvre Museum in Paris, and Tokyo's Musashino Cultural Hall. Festival appearances include the Ravinia Festival, the Santa Fe and Montreal Chamber Music Festivals, Bard Music Festival, Scotia Festival of Music and Music Academy of the West. He has collaborated with eminent musicians including Yefim Bronfman, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Lynn Harrell, Ralph Kirshbaum and Michael Tree.

Giora Schmidt 2Born in Philadelphia to professional musicians from Israel, Giora began playing the violin at the age of four. A graduate of the Juilliard School, his teachers have included Geoffrey Michaels, Patinka Kopec, Dorothy DeLay and Itzhak Perlman; with additional guidance from Pinchas Zukerman. Committed to education and sharing his passion for music, Giora is currently Assistant Professor of Violin at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music (CCM) and on the artist faculty at New York University (NYU Steinhardt.) He was previously on the faculty of the Juilliard School and the Perlman Music Program. Through technology and social media, he continues to find new ways of reaching young violinists and music lovers around the world.

He is the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, The Classical Recording Foundation's Samuel Sanders award, and was a Starling Fellow at the Juilliard School. 

Giora plays a c. 1830 violin by Giuseppe Rocca and strings kindly sponsored by Thomastik-Infeld, Vienna.

Dr Jacqueline Leclair 325pxOboe

Oboist, Jacqueline Leclair, is Associate Professor of Oboe, Woodwind Area Chair, and Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs at the Schulich School of Music. She is a member of the ensembles Signal and Sequitur, and can frequently be heard performing solo and chamber music concerts internationally. Dr. Leclair was on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music (NYC) and was Assistant Professor of Oboe at Bowling Green State University (Ohio) 2007-2012. During her last two years at BGSU she also served as the Director of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music.

Summer festivals for which Dr. Leclair has served as faculty and/or performer include the Lincoln Center Festival (NYC), Chamber Music Conference at Bennington College (VT), June In Buffalo (NY), Chamber Music Festival of Aguascalientes (Mexico), East/West Festival (Kazan, Tatarstan), and the Sebago Music Festival (ME) among others.

In addition to performing a variety of classical and other musics, Dr. Leclair specializes in the study and performance of new music. She has premiered many works, and regularly presents classes in contemporary music and its techniques at schools such as UCLA, the Eastman School of Music, Brigham Young University, The North Carolina School for the Arts, and the University of California in San Diego.
Dr. Leclair has recorded for Nonesuch, CRI, Koch, Neuma, Deutsche Grammophon and CBS Masterworks, receiving critical acclaim in particular for her premiere recording of Roger Reynolds’ Summer Island. She is the editor of Universal Edition’s Sequenza VIIa by Luciano Berio. And her recently published, and already acclaimed book about the oboe is: Oboe Secrets: 75 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Oboist and English Horn Player.

Originally from Syracuse NY, Dr. Leclair presently resides in Old Montreal, Quebec. Her musical studies were at the Eastman School of Music and SUNY Stony Brook where her oboe mentors were Richard Killmer and Ronald Roseman.




As an active recitalist, he has been featured on the Boston Celebrity Series, Mohawk Trail Concerts, Electric Earth Concerts, and Longy School of Music’s Modern American Music Concert Series’. As featured soloist with orchestra, Mr. Eng has performed with the Hart House Orchestra of Toronto, Cornell Symphony Orchestra, and the Lyrica Chamber Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Mr. Eng has collaborated with world-renowned artists including Elmar Oliveira, Eugene Drucker, Terry King, and Victor Rosenbaum. He has made festival appearances at Spoleto, Orford, Domaine Forget, Killington, the Scotia Festival, the Quartet Program at Bucknell University, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar at Stanford University. He has performed and taught in Bermuda, China, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, and all over North America.

In 1998, Andrew received his A.R.C.T. Performer’s diploma from the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Canada, and then in 2003 and 2005 respectively received his Undergraduate Diploma in Performance and Master of Music in Modern American Music at the Longy School of Music as a student of Laura Bossert.

Michal Schmidt 325px


Israeli musician Michal Schmidt has been described as  “ ...a splendid musician, inspired and inspiring.... she has a highly inquisitive and intellectual approach to music coupled with superb technique and magnificent sound”.  Active as cellist and pianist Ms. Schmidt studied at the Academy of Music of Tel -Aviv University in Israel, (undergraduate),  the Royal Academy of Music in London UK  (Artist Diplomas in both cello and piano),  the Curtis Institute of Music (Diploma), the University of the Arts (Masters of Music degree) and Temple University   (DMA degree/ Doctorate in Cello Performance ).  Her dissertation for the DMA  “Two Sonatas, Two Instruments - One Performer”  is accompanied by a recording of two of the cello sonata by Beethoven with Ms. Schmidt playing both the cello and the piano parts.

Michal has been active in numerous performing groups including the orchestra of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Trio Camille, FourHorizons, Tiadam Trio ( Israel), Network for New Music, Trio MiReSol,  Piano4. In 2014 she was the acting principal cellist for the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra for a  U.S tour in twenty cities with soloist Branford Marsalis. In addition she is a recitalist, accompanist, teacher and chamber music coach.

Ms. Schmidt has taught at Dickinson College (2000-2008), Haverford College (2005-to date), University of Pennsylvania ( 2009-to date).  She was the  Brandywine Visiting Artist at West Chester University in 2013-14 and professor at Rowan University  2017-18. She is a member of the faculty at the Maine Chamber Music Seminar, a summer program for college and graduate level students, focusing on chamber music.

In 2007 Ms. Schmidt established a series of annual concerts “ TRIBUTE”,  which is dedicated for the most part to presenting contemporary works of composers she has worked with personally.  Among the composers whose works she has performed are Richard Wernick, Osvaldo Golijov, Margaret Garwood, Laurie Laitman, Sylvia Glickman, Robert Maggio, Andrea Clearfield, Noam Sivan, Luke Calrson, Ofer Ben Amots, Philip Maneval and many more.

 A few special Tribute concerts celebrating various anniversaries included a  marathon of Brahms Sonatas (2007), a Schumann Tribute (2010), a marathon of the Cello Sonatas of Beethoven (2015), The Grand Violin Sonatas of Beethoven ( 2016), A Schubert Tribute (2018), a Tribute to composer Andrea Clearfield ( 2019), the full Beethoven Violin Sonatas Cycle - in progress (2019-2020).

Michal’s newly released recording “SOLA,”  includes a number of the works performed in the Tribute concerts to date.

Snow Pond Center for the Arts


Transformative Experience

I had a transformative experience at MCMS. When I first arrived I was feeling frustrated with my progress, but in just two weeks, It was as if I made a year's worth of progress. I was excited, motivated, inspired, and so much more that is difficult to describe in words. The incredible faculty are not only extraordinary, but they also care so much about your growth and well-being. They push you to be your best every day, and just playing with them will teach you more than anything! – MCMS Participant ‘21