WE ARE WYS
is the first of its kind – a chamber orchestra bringing together the finest young performers in the nation's capital. A musical home for pre-professionals, talented amateurs, current students and recent graduates, WYS aims to be a vehicle for collaboration.
Intended as a supplement to the vibrant orchestral programs of area universities, not a replacement, WYS has no weekly commitments, and tries to carefully avoid university conflicts.
We'll meet three times in the coming season, usually over a single weekend, to prepare exciting and affordable concerts for new audiences. Whether it's as a performer or a listener, we hope you'll come and join us!
Matthew F. Reese is an American conductor active on both sides of the Atlantic. He currently conducts the Washington Young Sinfonia and was most recently music director of the English chamber orchestra, Consortium Novum. A recipient of Oxford’s conducting prize, Matthew has held the Music Directorships of the Oxford University Philharmonia (2016–17), the Oxford University Wind Orchestra (2015–16), and The Choir of Pusey House (2017–18). In 2016, he was named the University’s inaugural Conducting Scholar, assistant-conducting the St. Anne’s Camerata. Matthew has studied conducting under the Celibidache student, Angel Gil-Ordóñez (PostClassical), Paul Spicer (Finzi Singers), Akiko Fujimoto (Minnesota Orchestra), and with the Haydn scholar, James Armstrong (William & Mary).
Matthew holds degrees from the College of William & Mary (BA) and the University of Oxford (M.Phil, 2016; D.Phil, 2020). He is currently a Visiting Lecturer in Musicology at the Peabody Institute and The Johns Hopkins University, as well as cover conductor for the National Orchestral Institute. Recent assistantships include the Georgetown University Symphony Orchestra and the Annapolis Symphony Academy.
You can read more about him at matthewreeseconductor.com | Photos © Zak Thomas Johnson, 2018
Jane Rabinovitz is the Manager of Dance Programming at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In her role at the Kennedy Center she executes the main stage Ballet and Contemporary Dance seasons and curates and produces local and regional dance performances on the Center's Millennium Stage performance series and in the new REACH expansion spaces. Locally, Jane serves on the Pola Nirenska Award jury and is an active member of Dance Metro DC. She also performs as a company member with Washington, D.C. based company, DancEthos.
Photo © Margaret Wroblewski, 2018
Ben Lauer is the Social Media and Communications Manager at the Folger Shakespeare Library. He manages the Folger's Theater Partnership Program, a content-sharing network of over fifty United States Shakespeare theaters; is the web producer of the Folger's popular Shakespeare Unlimited podcast; and shares Shakespeare news and knowledge daily with the Folger's more than 150,000 followers. In addition to his work at the Folger, Ben is an actor in the Washington, DC region. He has performed at Constellation Theatre Company, Faction of Fools Theatre Company, and others.
Photo © Tori Boutin, 2015
Meara O’Malley is the Higher Education Policy Assistant at the Association of American Universities, working on issues of undergraduate and PhD education reform and sexual harassment and gender discrimination in academia. She has served in several previous roles at the Choral Arts Society of Washington in operations, finance, fundraising, and box office. She is active in Irish traditional music as a vocalist and instrumentalist, and organizes local community activists through the DC Childcare Collective.
Photo © Lauren Harrington, 2018
Emma Rose Oechsner, Georgetown
Emma is a third year undergraduate student at Georgetown University studying Political Economy and Russian. Since matriculating, she has served as a first stand violist in Georgetown’s Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Angel Gil-Ordonez. She is the current president of the Georgetown Chamber Ensembles, where she has spearheaded a campaign to include works by women in each program, and move towards a diverse and inclusive classical cannon. Emma previously spent two years as a violist in New York State’s premier youth symphonic ensemble, the Empire State Youth Orchestra, under the direction of Helen Cha-Pyo, and was invited on a concert tour of Portugal with the orchestra. Emma has consistently mentored young string musicians and worked to bring classical music and education to underserved communities in innovative ways. She is excited to be joining Washington young professionals in a space that empowers creativity and adds music and openness to the D.C. community.
Photo © Ludovic Marc Pitrois, 2019
WYS is accepting applications from current university students who would like to serve as orchestra "Reps." These representatives help recruit talented players from their own college music departments, organize publicity for their campuses, and assist in general administration of the ensemble. Commitment can vary depending on student interest, with minimum involvements of only four or five days of work across the academic year. For students interested in careers in arts administration or non-profits, the role can expand, and can be tailored to specific student interest and needs. We encourage applications from students who would also like to be ensemble members.
While these positions are currently non-stipendiary, we hope to introduce an honorarium for the 2020–21 season.
Contact us for more information!
Annie Jeng is a performer, educator, and collaborator who strives to forge creative pathways between diverse communities and the arts. She is a Presser Award recipient and has performed at Hill Auditorium, Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, New York's Tenri Cultural Center, Italy, Spain, and China. For the past three years, she has been the Artist Fellow of the Brancaleoni International Music Festival in Piobbico, Italy. She recently performed Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major with the Ann Arbor Symphony and Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotique with University of Michigan’s Contemporary Directions Ensemble.
During her undergraduate studies at New York University, Annie started the music series, "Music with a Vue," at Bellevue Hospital to bring music to patients, workers, and visitors of the hospital. Her most recent project, "Music by the Barrel," challenged the traditional concert experience by hosting a music series at the local Ann Arbor Distillery. Annie is also involved with University of Michigan’s Prison Creative Arts Project, by facilitating music workshops in prisons in the Southeast Michigan.
Her commitment to contemporary music and collaborating with composers has led to performances with Yarn/Wire, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Tony Arnold, members of the JACK Quartet, and Amy Williams. Her doctoral dissertation focused on researching the contemporary piano repertoire and the techniques and notations that are utilized. Her latest project, Circles and Lines, is a pedagogical resource of newly commissioned works by female composers that will introduce extended techniques and unconventional notations to intermediate students. The project was funded by the highly selective Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship. Annie is also the pianist and Educational Programming Coordinator of Four Corners Ensemble, a Pierrot ensemble that is committed to championing works by living composers and collaborating with diverse communities.
Annie has participated in New Music on the Point, Nief Norf Summer Festival for Contemporary Music, the Gijon International Piano Festival, and the Amalfi Coast Piano Festival. She has had faculty positions at the Schoolcraft College Piano Academy and the Faber Piano Institute. Annie received a Bachelor's in Music (BM) and a minor in Public Health from New York University where she studied with Miyoko Lotto and Dr. Jose Ramon Mendez. She completed her Masters in Music (MM) at the University of Michigan and received her Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Piano Performance and Pedagogy with Dr. Logan Skelton and John Ellis. She currently teaches at University of North Carolina at Greensboro as Assistant Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy.
Mezzo-soprano Sylvia Leith is a versatile performer whose repertoire spans from the medieval to the contemporary. In 2019, she was a Mid-Atlantic regional finalist in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artists Awards (NATSAA) competition, and a Young Artist with the Boston Early Music Festival, where she covered countertenor Christopher Lowrey in the role of Ruggiero in the festival’s mainstage production of Steffani’s Orlando generoso. In 2018, she appeared in the title role of Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto with Red River Lyric Opera, and as Nancy in Britten’s Albert Herring with the Boston University Opera Institute. Sylvia earned her B.A. in German from Yale University, where she performed seven principal opera roles with the Yale Baroque Opera Project and the Opera Theatre of Yale College, including Nerone in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea and Hänsel in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel. As an oratorio soloist, she has sung Vivaldi with the American Baroque Orchestra, and Bach cantatas under the direction of John Harbison. A dedicated art song performer, Sylvia is on the roster of the Boston Art Song Society, and has been a member of the Young Artist and Professional Programs at SongFest in Los Angeles, where she coached with Roger Vignoles, Alan Smith, and Kevin Murphy, and performed in masterclasses for Graham Johnson, Libby Larsen, and William Bolcom, among others. She is a founding member of the Uncommon Music Festival in Sitka, Alaska, where she has performed every summer since 2016. Also passionate about the medieval repertoire, Sylvia has been a vocal fellow at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, Italy, to study performance of the Roman de Fauvel, and in 2018, she co-devised and performed a lecture-recital of Philippe de Vitry motets at Fordham University. She currently lives in Baltimore, and is a member of the Choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine. In the D.C. area, she sings with the Washington National Cathedral Choir, Cathedra, and ChorSymphonica.
https://www.sylvialeithmezzo.com/ | Photo © Raye Leith
Canadian Pianist Carson Becke has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician around the world. He is also the co-director of Pontiac Enchanté, a concert series in Luskville, Quebec.
After moving to the United Kingdom in 2005 to study at the Purcell School, Carson completed his undergraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he worked with Tatiana Sarkissova. Following studies in London, he completed his master’s degree (M.Phil.) in performance and musicology at the University of Oxford, made possible by the generous support of the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation of Canada. Through his master’s degree, He studied the piano privately with Hinrich Alpers in Berlin with the support of the University of Oxford’s Conway Scholarship program.
Currently, Carson is reading for his doctorate (D.Phil.) in music at Magdalen College, University of Oxford. Carson’s doctoral studies are generously supported by the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund. His research concerns the role of the piano in the life and work of Richard Strauss. Alongside his research on Strauss, he is working on a multi album project to record Strauss’s early piano, chamber, and vocal music. Carson is also on staff at the Purcell School of Music, where he teaches musicianship.
http://carsonbecke.com | Photo © Camille Bonneau, 2016