Amelia Hollander Ames – Founder, viola
Amelia Hollander Ames founded Con Vivo Music in 2007 upon returning from Israel, where she had spent three years as violist of the Israel Contemporary String Quartet and Tel Aviv Soloists. She built Con Vivo Music on her dream to play chamber music in her hometown of Jersey City at the same high level as she had in Israel and elsewhere around the world, and for audiences that represented the full range of Jersey City’s vibrant population.
Mrs. Hollander Ames is a passionate violist, educator and conductor, having served on faculty at New Jersey City University, Third Street Music School Settlement, the Inter-School Orchestras of NY, and Jerusalem’s Hasadna Conservatory. In 2013 she moved to Massachusetts where she is a Resident Artist at Boston’s Conservatory Lab Charter School and performs with A Far Cry, Antico/Moderno, North Shore Chamber Music, Harvard Collegium, and the symphony orchestras of Portland, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod. Amelia returns to Jersey City frequently to perform with Con Vivo Music.
Mrs. Hollander Ames, a graduate from the Eastman School of Music and New England Conservatory, founded Con Vivo Music in 2007 and is a founding board member.
Zach Herchen – Artistic Director, saxophone
Zach Herchen is a NYC-based saxophonist and audio engineer. He has premiered dozens of compositions ranging from jazz tone poems to Japanese noise rock to multimedia works. His self-released album, “Emerging Voices”, features commissioned works for voice and sax with opera singer Elisabeth Halliday. Mr. Herchen has performed as a soloist in Italy, Sweden, Germany, and at various American universities. He performs with Con Vivo Music, New Thread Quartet, First Construction, Rhymes With Opera, Quiet City, and Man Down.
Mr. Herchen has served on staff at New England Conservatory’s Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice, was a Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival Fellow, and an artist-in-resident at Wildacres Retreat. He has performed at Boston University’s Spectral Summer Professional Performance Workshop, the SEAMUS National Conference, Third Practice Electroacoustic Festival, the 4th International Master-Class for Classical Saxophone, and the Look & Listen Festival.
Mr. Herchen, a graduate of The Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, has served as Artistic Director and board member since 2013.
Kevin Clark – Board Treasurer, composition
Kevin Clark is a composer, grantmaker, and product manager. At New Music USA he led the creation of a new kind of grantmaking platform, giving awardees new tools to engage their audiences alongside financial support. Mr. Clark is also active as a consultant and speaker in the arts and technology sectors, and co-produces the history and comedy podcast Actually Happening.
A resident of Jersey City since 2009, Mr. Clark is committed to the growth and success of Jersey City’s cultural sector. A reading of his opera, Summer’s Twilight, was produced by Art House Productions in 2012. In 2013, Mr. Clark became involved in Con Vivo, first advising on the Modern Dances Kickstarter campaign, and then as a board member.
Mr. Clark, a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Peabody Conservatory, has served as Treasurer of the Con Vivo Music Board of Directors since 2013.
Mazz Swift – Board Member, violin
Critically acclaimed as one of America’s most talented and versatile performers today, Violin/Vox/Freestyle Composition artist Mazz Swift engages audiences worldwide with her signature weaving of composition and improvisation called MazzMuse.
Ms. Swift, as a composer, focuses primarily on pieces for solo acoustic violin, solo electric violin with electronics, and music for small, atypical chamber ensembles. Her piece for violin, viola and double bass, dedicated to Trayvon Martin and his family (entitled “Invisible”) as well as a piece for violin, clarinet and viola (entitled “A True Stranger…”) were included in Con Vivo’s 2014 release Modern Dances, and she has also had her chamber pieces performed at festivals, including the New Harmony Music Festival and the Moab Music Festival, some performances of which were live-broadcast on NPR.
Aside from her work as a performing artist and composer, Ms. Swift is a teaching artist with Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program, conducts workshops on free improvisation in the States and abroad, and has traveled to Suriname, Mozambique, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, Albania and Siberia as cultural ambassador on behalf of the United States Department of State. Her debut CD as band leader, MazzMuse: The Band, produced by Vernon Reid of Living Colour was released December 15, 2014.
Ms. Swift attended The Juilliard School of Music and has served as a member of the Con Vivo Music Board of Directors since 2008.
Dan Lippel – guitar
Guitarist Daniel Lippel, called an “exciting soloist” (New York Times), enjoys a diverse career as a soloist, chamber musician, and performer in various genres pursuing innovative collaborations and recording projects. Recent solo performances include the Sinus Ton Festival in Germany, University of Texas at San Antonio, and the Tangents Guitar Series in San Francisco. He has performed as a guest with many ensembles, and has been the guitarist for the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) since 2005. Lippel is the co-founder and director of New Focus Recordings, and has also recorded for Bridge, Kairos, Albany, and Tzadik. He received his DMA from the Manhattan School of Music, in David Starobin’s studio.
Andrew Roitstein – bass
Bassist Andrew Roitstein has been featured in chamber music concerts in New York’s Zankel Hall and Washington DC’s Kennedy Center, and has performed with the New York Philharmonic and Hong Kong Philharmonic. He is a founding member of the award-winning Toomai String Quintet, an ensemble that has been featured in chamber music series at Carnegie Hall and the 92nd St. Y, among others. Mr. Roitstein has recorded for artists such as Joanna Newsom (Drag City) and Jessica Pavone (Tzadik Records). In 2007, he won second prize in Juilliard’s Double Bass Concerto Competition and was a semifinalist in the 2011 International Society of Bassists Solo Competition. Mr. Roitstein greatly enjoys playing Latin American music and performs with Argentine Tango greats Hector Del Curto and Pablo Ziegler. In addition to performing, he is dedicated to community engagement and serves as faculty of the New York Philharmonic’s School Partnership Program and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. As an arranger, his works have been performed by the Toomai String Quintet and members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Mr. Roitstein received his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees at the Juilliard School, where he was a student of Eugene Levinson.
Paul Vasile – piano
Paul Vasile is a collaborative pianist and church musician in New York City, most recently serving as Minister of Music at Park Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ/United Church of Christ) and Artistic Director of Arts at The Park, a church-sponsored concert series presenting some of the region’s finest performers and ensembles. Mr. Vasile’s wide-ranging talents and musical interests provide frequent opportunities to perform as a pianist, conductor and concert organist. An abiding interest in contemporary music has led to performances of new works by Lembit Beecher, Lisa Bielawa, Nathan Davis, Yotam Haber, Elliott Schwartz, Carl Schimmel, Aaron Spiegel and Pēteris Vasks. He has also performed in his own recitals of American Romantic organ music in Germany, Latvia and in New York City, including several performances on the historic Appleton pipe organ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. www.paulvasile.com
Sarah Nelson Craft – mezzo-soprano
In opera, oratorio, and art song ranging from the Baroque to contemporary works, mezzo-soprano Sarah Nelson Craft is a versatile performer at home on stages throughout the world today. She recently participated in “The Song Continues: Paris Residency,” working with the legendary Marilyn Horne and performing in a series of recitals and masterclasses presented by Carnegie Hall at the Opéra Bastille. Upcoming solo performances include Mozart’s Coronation Mass with the American Classical Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall and Vivaldi’s Gloria with the Masterworks Festival Chorus at Carnegie Hall. In 2013 Sarah made her mainstage debut with the Caramoor Festival as Ninetta in Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes and in various concerts there for which she was noted as a “young singer to watch out for”. 2012 marked her Lincoln Center debut at Avery Fisher Hall as the alto soloist in both Bach’s Mass in B minor and Handel’s Messiah with the National Chorale. She made her international debut in China in 2010 at the Macau International Music Festival as Second Woman in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Other notable performances have included Mahler’s Symphony No.2 with the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, the title role in La Cenerentola with both Fargo-Moorhead Opera and Opera at Florham, and an appearance on NPR’s This American Life live at BAM. She presents regular art song recitals as an Artist-in-Residence at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Sarah earned her Bachelor’s Degree (cum laude) from Dartmouth College and her Master’s Degree from the University of North Texas College of Music. www.sarahnelsoncraft.com
Benjamin Grow – conductor, harpsichord, trumpet
Conductor and multifaceted musician Benjamin Grow is active in many different areas of the musical world. He has conducted a wide array of new music ensembles in New York, including the Con Vivo Ensemble, Our Silent Canvas, and Red Light New Music. He has also conducted several recording sessions at The Juilliard School and the recording of I Have No Stories To Tell You, a new opera by Opera Philadelphia’s Composer-in-Residence, Lembit Beecher. In 2012, he conducted Beecher’s oratorio, And Then I Remember, in “an expert performance” (WKCR) at the DiMenna Center.
As a trumpeter, he has performed throughout the U.S., Mexico, Panama, and the West Bank; his interest in early music has led him to performances on cornetto, harpsichord, and as a singer with both period and modern ensembles in New York, Montreal, and Houston. His arrangements and compositions have been performed by the Caravel Quartet, the Toomai Quintet, DZ4 woodwind quartet, Ensemble Counterpoint, and the Strangetet. He wrote music that was featured in a video for Michter’s Whiskey when they won Distiller of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2012.
A dedicated music educator, Mr. Grow was the founding conductor of the 92nd St. Y Youth Orchestra and currently conducts the chamber orchestra at the School for Strings, where he is also a music theory instructor. For several years, Mr. Grow co-presented an annual lecture at the 92nd St. Y, “The Physics of Music,” as part of their Mysteries of Science series, and has given pre-concert talks at the Museum of Biblical Art. He received his Bachelor of Music degree at Rice University and currently studies with Jeffrey Milarsky at the Manhattan School of Music.
Christa Robinson – oboe
Oboist Christa Robinson moved to NYC from Saskatchewan, Canada, where she performed as Principal Oboe with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. She now lives in Brooklyn, NY and is a member of the Colonial Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Chamber Orchestra of NYC and the Double Entendre Music Ensemble, and can frequently be heard performing with the Harrisburg Symphony, The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, the DiCapo Opera, and new music ensembles Sequitur, Argento, Alarm Will Sound, the S.E.M Orchestra and Signal. In 2010, Christa will be premiered an oboe quartet written by Martin Bresnick commissioned through the Meet the Composers organization, and awarded to the Double Entendre Music Ensemble. In addition to performing, Christa is a faculty member of the Third Street Music School Settlement, and teaches early childhood music at several nursery and elementary schools throughout NYC. When away from the stage or the classroom, Christa can be found in the pottery studio covered from head to toe in clay.