2019 Festival Artists
Returning to Juneau is world renown pianist Julie Coucheron. She has established an international career as a soloist and chamber musician. She has won first prize in all the national competitions she has entered, including those in Italy, Germany and the U.S. Ms. Coucheron has worked with such renowned musicians as Lazar Berman, Claude Frank, Emanuel Ax and Vladimir Feltsman. She has played in such major venues as Verizon Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.
King Louie & LaRhonda Steele
Louis was dubbed "Portland's Boss of the B-3" by The Oregonian, and KOIN TV calls LaRhonda Steele, "Portland's First Lady of the Blues!" Fun, funky, & spontaneous blues, soul, & jazz by a phenomenal vocalist and “Portland’s boss of the B-3,” Until a few years ago, Steele said, “I hadn’t worked enough with Louis to know the tricks in his bag. He’s got a lot of references from different songs and progressions from different things he’s learned over the years, so it always makes it new.”
When Steele and Pain perform together, they don’t hew to a rigid script. Each brings a list of songs, they briefly compare notes, keys and tempos before show time — and then they just go for it. “Every time we’d do a song, it’d never be the same,” Steele said. “There was always something a little bit different about it. That’s what I love about working with Louis. The music is always alive.”
They both laughed, then Pain jumped in: “It’s a jazz sensibility,” he says. “You’re playing soul music but improvising the arrangement and keeping each other amused!” Steele in particular feels reinvigorated and “clearer about what I’m here to do.” “When she hits the stage now, it’s another level,” Pain says. “Everyone hears it. I think you can hear the fun and the spirit.”
Founded in 2016, Volante Winds was formed out of a desire to collaborate with inspiring and amicable colleagues in the pursuit of excellence in chamber music performance.
As doctoral candidates at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Volante Winds has a passion for pedagogy that shines through in their recitals and masterclasses. A firm believer in the need for Citizen Musicians who actively engage with their community, Volante Winds has sought out dynamic collaborations with local artists. As part of their mission to bring music to underserved areas, Volante Winds has performed for rural communities throughout the United States.
Volante Winds are an avid champion of new music. As part of the Salón Latino Chamber Music Series, the ensemble gave the U.S. premiere of Marco Lucas’ wind quintet, O Palácio dos Ventos. The ensemble has also been guest performers of IU’s New Music Ensemble, the Jacobs School of Music Audio Engineering Society, and most recently the 2018 IU Bassoon Day. The quintet actively seeks out opportunities for collaboration with IU and Bloomington community organizations including being featured performers for the Windfall Dancers 40th Anniversary Gala.
Volante Winds were semifinalists at the 2018 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, semifinalists at the 2017 Plowman Chamber Music Competition. In 2018 the quintet was invited to perform at the Mineral Springs Chamber Music Festival in Wisconsin.
Gonzalo Bergara Trio
Gonzalo Bergara has emerged a virtuoso composer and lead guitarist, mixing a cascade of arpeggios with the sounds of Paris and his native Argentina, to forge his own style of progressive Gypsy Jazz. Gonzalo will be performing with his acoustic trio including guitarist??and bassist??
Gonzalo began playing professionally at age 16 in Buenos Aires. By 17 he was already fronting his own blues trio on National Television. In 2000, at age 19, he arrived in America. Just 30 years old, Gonzalo has toured worldwide with John Jorgenson Quintet, as well as performed and recorded with hundreds of artists including Tim Hausser from Manhattan Transfer, Sylvie Vartan, Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks, Howard Alden and more. "Gonzalo Bergara’s music exists in a way that very little music does. He has lavished such care on every phrase, built each arrangement with such lapidary precision and pared away anything extraneous, the music becomes sculpture. It has weight, density, gravity. This is serious….and deeply moving."
Guitarist Eliot Fisk is known worldwide as a charismatic performer famed for his adventurous and virtuosic repertoire. He is also celebrated for his willingness to take art music into unusual venues (schools, senior centers, and even logging camps and prisons!). After nearly 50 years before the public he remains as his mentor Andres Segovia once wrote, “at the top line of our artistic world.”
Fisk continues to break new ground for the guitar with marathon performances of his transcriptions of all 6 Bach solo cello Suites which will be “under the stars” in the Planetarium.
Praised for playing with “supreme melodic control and total authority” and “decided dramatic impact” (Calgary Herald), the Argus Quartet has quickly emerged as one of today’s most dynamic and versatile young ensembles, winning First Prize at both the 2017 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, and the 2017 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition. Argus is dedicated to reinvigorating the audience-performer relationship through innovative concerts and diverse programming. The Quartet’s core mission is to connect with and build up a community of engaged listeners, with the strong belief that today’s ensembles can honor the storied chamber music traditions of our past while forging a new path forward. In that spirit, the ensemble’s repertoire includes not just master works of the chamber music canon, but also a wide range of pieces by living composers.
Jamiee Paul Jazz Band with Leif Shires
Ms. Paul was influenced by Gospel and Blues, cultivating a special place in her heart for jazz. She left her home town for Nashville to study music business at Belmont University. After graduation Jaimee quickly found work at various record labels handling marketing and radio promotion, and simultaneously she began working part time as a studio session singer. Jaimee’s talent was quickly recognized, and soon she began touring as background vocalist with country superstar Wynonna, The Judd’s and most recently, pop sensation, Kelly Clarkson.
In 2008 Green Hill Music signed Jaimee as their first female vocalist, and her debut record, “At Last”, reached #1 on the iTunes Jazz charts. Several albums have followed, placing in the Top 10, including “Bonded”: a tribute record to the 50 years of the James Bond film series, produced by multi-Grammy award winning producer, Michael Omartian. Her devotional hymns record, “Hear My Prayer” garnered a Dove award nomination for Best Inspirational Album in 2013.
Leif Shires, a trumpet player from California’s San Joaquin Valley, moved to Nashville in 2004 and his first discovery was a sultry jazz singer who was looking for a trumpet player. From that discovery began a romance that blossomed into marriage. Leif’s career has continued to flourish as he has worked with many different artists spanning a variety of genres.
As a duo, Leif and Jaimee have had the privilege of performing for audiences throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan. Some attendees have included a United States President, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Military leaders, and Ambassadors. They recently have independently released their first Jaimee Paul Band album, “My Favorite Things”, with new twists and turns on both jazz and pop classics. Music enthusiasts have been touched and inspired by their incredible talent, love for each other, and the music they are honored to create.
Mark O’Connor Band
Mark O’Connor Band’s very first performance took place at the legendary Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas in 2015. In 2017 – less than a year and a half later – they took home the GRAMMY Award for Best Bluegrass Album for their debut recording, Coming Home.
In a whirlwind three years, the band has also performed at the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony, received standing ovations at the Grand Ole Opry, reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Top Bluegrass Albums chart, and opened for the Zac Brown Band that included two nights at Fenway Park. They have put together shows unlike any other, blending country and pop sensibilities with Americana rawness, bluegrass drive, and chamber music sophistication, one that has begun winning over audiences at festivals around the world. The O’Connor Band is the product of Mark O’Connor’s imagination – one that has served him well over the course of his four-decade professional career. A former child prodigy and national champion on the fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, Mark has won numerous GRAMMYs and CMA Awards, appeared on hundreds of commercial country albums, collaborated with the likes of Johnny Cash, Wynton Marsalis, Dolly Parton, and Yo-Yo Ma, and performed everything from original violin concertos to swing and jazz. But until recently, he had not worked on a project quite like this.
“The Mark O’Connor Band is the real deal. Mark is a musical genius and has been a pioneer in the bluegrass and Americana community. He has collaborated across so many different genres, while still being recognized in his own stratosphere for his conquering of the fiddle, and that is something I truly admire. Now together with his whole band he’s really found his niche and it’s exciting to hear the sound they’re creating together.” – Zac Brown
“Very few bands can achieve this sense of playing-as-one so completely, so effortlessly that the entire force of the music – the vocals and every instrument –settles into us physically and emotionally as we listen.” — No Depression Magazine
“Mark O’Connor has managed to discover and reveal some very high level and intriguing new talent - within his own family! As a longtime fan, it’s very satisfying to hear Mark’s fiddling back in the bluegrass/country setting after 20 years away from it. There is nobody who does it like him.” — Bela Fleck