ERIKA BURNS, VIOLIN
Erika Burns, a native of Washington State, is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oklahoma where she studies with Hal Grossman. Ms. Burns was awarded first place in the 2014 Western Washington University Music Competition and she is an alumnus of the Aria International Summer Academy, where she performed in recital with renowned recording artist flutist Judith Mendenhall, and the Icicle Creek International Chamber Music Institute. Ms. Burns made her concert debut in 2003 with the Everett Youth Symphony and she has also performed with the Everett Symphony, the Icicle Creek Chamber Orchestra and, most recently, with the Civic Orchestra at OU in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. She has appeared in master classes with Midori, Charmian Gadd, and Bayla Keyes. Ms. Burns received her Master's degree in Violin Performance at OU and her Bachelor's degree at Western Washington University with Professor Walter Schwede.
Rachel Swerdlow, VIOLa
Rachel Swerdlow has been a member of the Seattle Symphony viola section since 1987. Originally from New York, she attended Juilliard’s Pre-College Division, Curtis Institute of Music and graduated with highest honors from the State University of New York at Stony Brook with a B.A. in Music History and Theory. She earned a Master's Degree in Performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she also taught music history to undergraduates and coached chamber music in the school’s Prep Department. Principal teachers include Eugene Becker, John Graham, and Isadore Tinkleman. Rachel was a Fellow at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, attended the Taos, N.M. Chamber Music School and The Quartet Program in Troy, N.Y. She served as principal viola of the Santa Rosa Symphony and the Colorado Philharmonic and is a regular participant in the Grand Teton Music Festival. She has taught viola at the Cornish College of the Arts and coached at Music Northwest, Chamber Music Madness and Yakima Music en Accion, an El Sistema program in Eastern Washington. Rachel is the founder of the Seattle Chamber Players and a co-founder of the Fulton Street Chamber Players. She has twice rafted down the Grand Canyon, playing string quartet concerts inside canyons and on the river. This season Rachel performed as a guest artist with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, running and working on her old house.
Walter Gray, Cello
Walter Gray has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Mexico, the Far East, and Europe, including performances in Moscow, Odessa, Zagreb, Seoul, and Tokyo. He was a founding member of the Kronos Quartet and for over five years presented hundreds of concerts including numerous world premieres. He has continued to be a new music enthusiast performing with the New Performance Group, Quake, and Music of Remembrance.
Many recordings followed which include those of John Cage, Paul Schoenfield, Jake Heggie, Chinary Ung, Paul Dresher, and Janice Giteck. As a record producer Mr. Gray has worked for the London Symphony, Seattle Symphony, North West Chamber Orchestra, New Hampshire Music Festival and numerous solo and chamber musicians.
Mr. Gray grew up in Seattle and San Francisco and is a graduate of Lowell High School. He was a member of the Seattle Youth Symphony and studied cello with Raymond Davis and Robert Sayre. He then attended the Curtis Institute of Music where his primary teachers and coaches included Orlando Cole, Eugene Lehner, Mischa Schneider, Felix Galimir, and members of the Guarneri String Quartet.
A member of the Seattle Symphony since 1979, Mr. Gray has performed as soloist with the orchestra several times. He has taught at the State University of New York at Geneseo, Mills College, Cornish College of the Arts, Western Washington University, the University of North Texas, and Seattle University. The first week of December you will find Mr. Gray working with students of Stephen Balderston at DePaul University during “Cello Slam”. In the summer he makes regular appearances at the Olympic, Marrowstone, New Hampshire, and Grand Teton Music Festivals.