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Musicians' Biographies

Jessica Tong, violin & Michael Sheppard, piano

This concert has been cancelled.

Our final concert this season is scheduled for March 28, 2021.

Lauded for her "lyrical intensity" (Baltimore Sun) and her "performances to remember" (Woodstock Times), violinist Jessica Tong has garnered international acclaim as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. A recipient of the Canada Council Grant for Professional Musicians and the David Ouchterloney Award for Most Promising Young Artist, she is also a DAAD Scholar and has also been a top prizewinner at the Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition, the Toronto Symphony, Canadian Music and Yellow Springs International Chamber Music Competitions.

A devoted chamber musician, Jessica's performances have taken her to Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, the Kennedy Center, les Invalides in Paris and the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and led to collaborations with artists such as Pamela Frank, Leon Fleisher, Cho-Liang Lin and members of the Cleveland, Vogler, Brentano and Borromeo Quartets. She has served as the first violinist of the Vinca and Larchmere String Quartets, and most recently held the post of Artist-in-Residence at the University of Evansville and concertmaster of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra in Indiana. Her debut album of chamber works by Stephan Krehl with the Larchmere Quartet and clarinetist Wonkak Kim was released in 2016 by Naxos Records to critical acclaim.

Dedicated to finding innovative ways to make the chamber music art form relevant and understood by current society, Jessica is also a passionate advocate for music education and humanizing the concert experience. She has been an Artist-in-Residence for the Perlman Music Program in Florida, the Gorgeous Sounds Program in Oregon and a two time recipient of the ProQuartet Odyssee Residency Grant in France. She has served as a Co-Artistic Director for several chamber music workshops including Chamber Music of the Rockies in Colorado, University of Florida’s ChamberFest, and the Harlaxton Music Festival in England. She is a co-founder of the chamber music residency organization Music Beyond the Chamber, as well as the newly appointed Chamber Music Director for the Composers Conference and Chamber Music Workshop at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

Michael Sheppard is the 2003 recipient of the APA Classical Fellowship Award sponsored by the American Pianists Association. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he has been playing the piano since the age of two. Mr. Sheppard has a Masters degree from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, where his teacher was Ann Schein. Mr. Sheppard has performed in master classes for such renowned artists and pedagogues as Eugene Istomin, Seymour Bernstein, Victor Rosenbaum, Garrick Ohlsson, Murray Perahia, Stephen Hough, Ann Schein, Kemal Gekic and Daniel Barenboim.

Mr. Sheppard has appeared in solo recitals and chamber music throughout the United States, as well as in France and Italy. Committed to new music as well as the traditional repertoire, he has worked closely with such composers as Nicholas Maw, Michael Hersch, and Robert Sirota. In addition to his performances, he also enjoys composing his own music.

Mr. Sheppard spent two summers at the Aspen Music Festival on full scholarship and more recently, was a piano Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. At Tanglewood, he worked closely with such distinguished musicians as Emanuel Ax, Ursula Oppens and Pamela Frank. In recent summers, as a prizewinner of the La Gesse Foundation Fellowship given by the Princess Cecilia di Medici, Sheppard presented concerts of solo and chamber music in Toulouse, France and Verona, Italy. Also, as part of the La Gesse prize, he performed three times in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall in New York City, as well as at Monticello, the historical home place of Thomas Jefferson.

Michael is a native of Philadelphia and resides in Baltimore, where he works at both the Peabody Conservatory and the Baltimore School for the Arts, sharing his love and understanding of music and the artistic process with future generations.

For further information about Jessica Tong feel free to visit Jessica's website.

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