Guest Artist Bios

Francisco Vila, cello
Francisco Vila began playing the cello at age 8 and had his solo debut with orchestra at 14. Concert activities have taken him throughout Europe, North America, and South America. Performing collaborations have included those with artists such as Nobuko Imai, Cho-Liang Lin, Gary Hoffman, Wolfram Christ, Toby Hoffman, Sunwook Kim, Martin Chalifour, and members of the Juilliard String Quartet.

Mr. Vila has been a participant at the Ravinia Steans Institute and guest artist at the Beaumaris, Santander, and Stavelot music festivals, among others. As a member of the iPalpiti Festival of International Laureates, he performed in such venues as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, Los Angeles’ Disney Hall, Mozarteum Salzburg, and on international tours.

Mr. Vila views teaching as an important aspect in music-making. In March of 2015 he founded and directs the International Music Festival of Esmeraldas (Ecuador) in his hometown. This is a social project that awards full-tuition scholarships to numerous gifted young talents from Central and South America for two weeks of masterclasses with some of the world’s great artists. For his work with this platform, Mr. Vila has received coveted grants from the U.S. State Department, Tarisio Trust, and the Sphinx Mpower Grant.

He was granted a Presidential Scholarship to the Boston Conservatory for his Bachelor studies, after which he received a Performance Diploma from Indiana University where he was a student of Janos Starker, Sharon Robinson, and Menahem Pressler. In 2012, he was selected to the inaugural cello class at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium, where he earned an Artist Diploma under the famed cellist Gary Hoffman. In the same year he became the second-prize laureate of the Sphinx Competition in Detroit, Michigan.

Mr. Vila serves on the faculty at the Longy School of Music of Bard College and performs on a fine cello, crafted by Vincenzo Panormo in 1790, on generous life-term loan from the Karl McNutt Family Trust, as well as the ex-Janos Starker Edward Tubbs bow.

Mr. Vila will perform Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major on Opening Night: Beethoven Celebration, January 23 at 2 pm & 7:30 pm.

Susan Egan, vocalist
Susan Egan has made powerful impressions in theatre, film, television and music. On Broadway, she headlined as Thoroughly Modern Millie, won critical acclaim as “Sally Bowles” in Cabaret, starred in Triumph of Love and State Fair, and most notably, received Tony Award® and Drama Desk® nominations for “Best Actress” as the original “Belle” in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.   Regionally, Egan starred alongside Carol Burnett in Putting It Together, Tommy Tune in the national tour of Bye, Bye Birdie, reprised her role of “Belle” for the Los Angeles premiere of Beauty and the Beast, and developed works at Yale Repertory, Baltimore Center Stage, South Coast Repertory, and the Mark Taper Forum.   Her film credits include 13 Going on 30Gotta Kick It Up for the Disney Channel, and award-winning indies seen at Seattle Film Festival, Sarasota Film Festival, Slamdance, the HBO Comedy Festival and beyond. In animation, Susan voiced the characters of “Meg” in Disney’s Hercules, “Lin” in the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, “Gina” in Porco Rosso, “Angel” in Lady and the Tramp II, “Ginny” in Achmed Saves America, and is currently “Rose Quartz” and “Pink Diamond” on Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe. She spent two seasons on television with the WB’s Nikki, and has appeared on Modern Family, HOUSE, NUMB3RS, NYPD Blue, Arli$$, Drew Carey, Party of Five, Great Performances, movies for ABC, CBS, and Disney Channel, and more.  Susan has headlined with more than 50 symphonies worldwide, including concerts at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl, and has over 40 recording credits including her solo CDs: All That and More, So Far, Winter Tracks, CoffeeHouse (Best Vocalist 2004), Susan Egan LIVEThe Secret of Happiness, and 2015’s Softly. In 2018, Egan formed a company with fellow Broadway stars Laura Osnes and Courtney Reed, and musical director Benjamin Rauhala – they are currently touring their award-winning concert, Broadway Princess Party, reaching theatre and cosplaying fans in kingdoms near and far. Originally from Southern California, Susan attended the Orange County School of the Arts and UCLA, where she received a Carol Burnett Award in Musical Theatre.  She is an accomplished master teacher in music performance, obsessive gardener, and happy wife and mom of two daughters… who have no interest in princesses.   @IAmSusanEgan, @BwayPrincessPty

Ms. Egan will perform on The Belle of Broadway, February 6 at 2 pm & 7:30 pm.

Scott Watkins, piano
Scott Watkins is an American classical pianist and graduate of The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music with a degree in piano performance where he held the Van Cliburn Scholarship and studied with Bela Siki. He was also a student of the late Canadian pianist Raymond Dudley at The University of South Carolina where he earned the Master of Music degree. He holds a Doctor of Music degree in piano performance from The Florida State University where he studied with the late Edward Kilenyi. He won the prestigious Artistic Ambassador Award in 1985, and the Patricia D’Angelus Award at the Memphis Beethoven International Piano Competition in 1999. Since those early days his career has taken him to many of the world’s concert stages, and he has enjoyed many collaborations with some of the finest orchestras and noted soloists, including soprano Elizabeth Futral, tenor Stanford Olsen, and violinists Eugene Fodor and Hillary Hahn. He has worked with conductors Fabio Mechetti, Andrew Lloyd Jones, Heping Liu, Michael Krajewski, Christopher Confessore, Phillip Spurgeon, Christopher Wilkins, Marguerite Richardson, and Daniel Dominick among many others. Called “a polished player in his prime,” by Folio Weekly, his performances have been described as “fresh, forceful, and exciting” (Tallahassee Democrat) … and “colossal, with instances of delicate lyricism” (La Nacion, Buenos Aires). He was called “superb” by the Chicago Sun Times. As a recitalist, his playing has often been described as sophisticated: “Watkins keeps one ear open at all times for the composer’s voice” (Daily Bulletin, Tryon, North Carolina) …“a versatile interpreter with ethereal and delicate touches of color” (Die Welt, Frankfurt) … “always seeks to penetrate the depths of the music.” (La Hora, Quito, Ecuador) … “a rousing, virtuosic performance, excitingly played with finesse and spirit. This was, in sum, a performance of distinction” (The State, Columbia, South Carolina) … “a sparkling performance, from the flourishes of the passage work and finely articulated voicing, to the full, lush sound of romanticism … a splendid performance” (The Press Journal, Vero Beach, Florida). His most recent Carnegie Hall recital was described as “a highly praiseworthy concert – a fulfilling musical evening” (New York Concert Review). Watkins is currently Professor of Piano at Jacksonville University, and since 2011, he has held the position of Visiting Foreign Scholar at Beifang University’s Conservatory of Music and Dance in Yin Chuan, China, where he performs, teaches, and lectures during the Spring. Watkins’ latest recording, American Piano Sonatas, was released in September on Jacksonville University’s record label, Dolphinium Records, and includes music by Howard Hanson, William Schirmer, and Carlisle Floyd. Peter Burwasser, music critic for Fanfare Magazine writes that Watkins plays “splendidly, bringing a fine balance of colorful tonality and elegance” to the works. Scott Cantrell of The Dallas Morning News was equal in his praise writing that “Watkins offers an enterprising triptych of formally traditional but stylistically varied sonatas spanning seven decades [which] he plays authoritatively and expressively.” In 2016, Watkins discovered the unpublished manuscript of American composer Howard Hanson’s “Symphonic Rhapsody” – composed in 1919. Carl Fischer published Watkins’ edition of the work in December, 2017.

Mr. Watkins will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 on Heroic Beethoven, February 20 at 7:30 pm.

Sirena Huang, violin
Praised by The Baltimore Sun for her “impeccable technique…deeply expressive phrasing…and poetic weight,” Sirena Huang is one of her generation’s most celebrated violinists. She brings not only technical brilliance and powerful artistry to the stage, but also a profound sense of connection to her audience.

Sirena has been the recipient of numerous accolades and awards. In 2017, she was awarded First Prize at the Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition and later that year, she was the winner of the New York Concert Artist Worldwide Debut Audition. In 2009, she won First Prize Gold Medalist of the 6th International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians. She won First Prize and the Audience Award at the Cooper International Competition in 2011. That same year, she was also named the first Artist-in-Residence of Hartford Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, she was awarded the Hannloser Prize for Violin at the Verbier Music Festival in Switzerland. She is also a top prize winner at Singapore International Violin Competition as well as the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition.

Sirena made her solo debut with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra in 2004 at the age of nine and has performed in twenty countries across three continents. She has been featured as a soloist with more than fifty prestigious ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Russian Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and the Staatskapelle Weimar in Germany. She has performed in leading venues, including Berliner Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Kravis Center, Esplanade-Theaters on the Bay, Shanghai Concert Hall, and the Taiwan National Concert Hall, among many others. She has appeared as a guest artist at the Verbier Music Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, Ravinia Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Newport Music Festival, Music in the Mountains Festival, Eastern Music Festival, Sarasota Arts Series, “The Great Music for a Great City” series in New York City, and many others.

Motivated by a deep wish to inspire peace and harmony with her music, Sirena has performed before world leaders, thinkers and humanitarians. She has appeared at the World Peace Conference held in Petra and at the Opening Ceremony of the “Forum 2000 World Conference” in Prague, among others. In addition to her TED Talk in 2006, Sirena has been featured on numerous radio and television broadcasts, including WQXR’s McGraw-Hill Young Artists Showcase, and NPR’s “From the Top” as well as several interviews with WNPR, CNBC, WTNH, WTIC, WB20 and Beethoven Radio.

Ms. Huang will perform Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 on From the New World, March 13 at 2 pm & 7:30 pm.

Julian Rhee, violin
Violinist Julian Rhee has been establishing himself as a prominent musician and performer across the United States. The first prize winner of the Johansen International Competition in Washington DC, Julian was also awarded the Solo Bach, Commissioned Work and the Elaine H. Klein Prize at the Irving M. Klein International String Competition. In January of 2020, he was named the First Prize Winner of the 2nd triennial Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition. In January of 2018 Julian was named a Finalist of the National YoungArts Foundation, and he performed at the New World Center in Miami. Subsequently, Julian appeared at the John F. Kennedy Center as a Presidential Scholars in the Arts and received his medal at the White House. This past summer, Julian was the recipient of the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Scholarship, and was named the winner of the Aspen Music Festival Violin Concerto Competition, where he performed with the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra at Benedict Music Tent.

An avid soloist, Julian made his Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra debut at age eight, and has gone on to perform with orchestras such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Symphony Orchestra, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Avanti Symphony Orchestra, West Suburban Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Philharmonic, the Lacrosse Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. In June of 2017 Julian toured across Argentina and Uruguay performing the Brahms Concerto as the guest soloist. He has performed in an array of venues including Ravinia’s Bennett Gordon Hall, Heinz Hall, the Overture Center for the Arts, Teatro El Círculo in Rosario, Argentina, The Musikverein in Vienna, Bartok Hall in Hungary, New World Center and the John F Kennedy Center.

A passionate chamber musician, Julian’s performance on violin and viola earned him and his String Quartet first prize in the 2018 A.N. & Pearl G. Barnett Chamber Music Competition and Rembrandt Chamber Music Competition, and Gold Medals at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the M-Prize International Chamber Arts Competition. Julian has appeared with the Jupiter Chamber Players in New York City, and will be performing with Henry Kramer at Pierce Hall this August.

Julian has appeared alongside internationally-renowned ensemble Time for Three on National Public Radio’s From The Top, 98.7 WFMT’s Introductions, Milwaukee Public Radio 89.7, Milwaukee Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio and Television (WPT/WPR).

Julian shares his passion for music by serving in the local community as an assisting artist and mentor of the Wisconsin Intergenerational Orchestra (WIO), which brings together musicians of all ages and skill levels in a challenging, non-competitive environment. In addition, he regularly speaks and performs at schools and retirement homes in Wisconsin and Illinois, most recently at West Bend High School and North Shore Country Day School as its Susan Marshall Artist.

Julian Rhee studied with Almita and Roland Vamos as a scholarship recipient at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy. He is a graduate of Brookfield East High School as Class President and Valedictorian. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree with Miriam Fried at the New England Conservatory.

Mr. Rhee will perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 on Epic Tchaikovsky, March 27 at 7:30 pm.

Terrence Wilson, piano
Acclaimed by the Baltimore Sun as “one of the biggest pianistic talents to have emerged in this country in the last 25 years” pianist Terrence Wilson has appeared as soloist with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Washington, DC (National Symphony), San Francisco, St. Louis, and with the orchestras of Cleveland, Minnesota, and Philadelphia and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Conductors with whom he has worked include Christoph Eschenbach, Alan Gilbert, Neeme Järvi, Jesús López-Cobos, Lawrence Renes, Robert Spano, Yuri Temirkanov, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and Gunther Herbig.

Abroad, Terrence Wilson has played concerti with such ensembles as the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland, the Malaysian Philharmonic, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He has toured with orchestras in the US and abroad, including a tour of the US with the Sofia Festival Orchestra (Bulgaria) and in Europe with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yuri Temirkanov.

An active recitalist, Terrence Wilson made his New York City recital debut at the 92nd Street Y, and his Washington, DC recital debut at the Kennedy Center. In Europe he has given recitals at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, the Lourvre in Paris, and countless other major venues. In the US he has given recitals at Lincoln Center in New York City (both Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall), the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, the Caramoor Festival in Katonah, NY, San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre, and for the La Jolla Chamber Music Society. An avid chamber musician, he performs regularly with the Ritz Chamber Players. Festival appearances include the Blossom Festival, Tanglewood, Wolf Trap, with the San Francisco Symphony at Stern Grove Park, and an appearance with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra on July 4, 2015 before an audience of over fifteen thousand.

During the 2017-2018 season, Terrence Wilson appeared as guest soloist with the Alabama Symphony and made his debut with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. He also made his debut with the Richmond Symphony in performances of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy. Other highlights of the season included a return appearance with the New Jersey Symphony, and chamber music performances with the Ritz Chamber Players in Jacksonville, Florida.

In the 2018-2019 season, Wilson returns as guest soloist with the Omaha Symphony, gives his debut performance with the Hilton Head Symphony, and performs recitals of the complete sets of Rachmaninoff’s Études Tableaux Op. 33 and Op. 39 in advance of a recording of both sets. He will also appear with the Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia. Also on the horizon for the coming seasons is the commission, premiere performance and recording of a new solo piano work by American composer Michael Daugherty.

Terrence Wilson has received numerous awards and prizes, including the SONY ES Award for Musical Excellence, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and the Juilliard Petschek Award. He has also been featured on several radio and television broadcasts, including NPR’s “Performance Today,” WQXR radio in New York, and programs on the BRAVO Network, the Arts & Entertainment Network, public television, and as a guest on late night network television. In 2011, Wilson was nominated for a Grammy in the category of “Best Instrumental Soloist With an Orchestra” for his (world premiere) recording with the Nashville Symphony conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero of Michael Daugherty’s Deus ex Machina for piano and orchestra – written for Wilson in 2007.

Terrence Wilson is a graduate of The Juilliard School, where he studied with Yoheved Kaplinsky. He has also enjoyed the invaluable mentorship of the Romanian pianist and teacher Zitta Zohar. A native of the Bronx, he resides in Montclair, New Jersey.

Mr. Wilson will perform Grieg’s Piano Concerto on Season Finale, April 10 at 7:30 pm.