Guest Artists


Isabelle Chapuis, flute

Sunday, October 20, 2019, 3:00 PM
"Vive la France!"
McAfee Performing Arts Center, Saratoga

Born in Dijon, France, Isabelle Chapuis studied with several of her country's best-known flutists, including Jean-Pierre Rampal, Michel Debost, Alain Marion and Marcel Moyse. Isabelle attended the Conservatoire National de Musique In Paris, where she was awarded the Premier Prix de Flûte. The jury was presided by James Galway.

 In 1975, at the age of 25, Isabelle relocated to California, where she was appointed Lecturer-in-Flute at the School of Music at San Jose State-University. There Isabelle taught both undergraduate and graduate flute students for 33 years, until her retirement in 2008 at the rank of Senior Lecturer in Flute. She received two awards from the President of the University for "outstanding teaching” and for "notable professional attainment."

From the age of 16 to the present, Isabelle has taught flute privately and at various musical institutions. In 2014, after her flute student Annie Wu was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Isabelle received a letter-of-commendation from President Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, recognizing Isabelle as one of “the United States' most influential teachers of music."

Isabelle was appointed Principal Flute of Opera San Jose in 1983 by General Director Irene Dalis. Isabelle retired from that position this year. In 36 seasons, she played more than 1000 performances of 120 operas, including many world premieres. From 1975-1985, Isabelle served as Principal Flute with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.

As a flute soloist, Isabelle has performed flute concertos with numerous orchestras in the United States, including the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, the Stockton Symphony, the Livermore Symphony, the Lafayette (WI) Symphony, the Palo Alto Philharmonic, the California Bach Society and the Greensboro NC Symphony. She has also performed extensively in Europe, including appearances with the Czech Chamber Orchestra in Prague, L'Orchestre de Chambre de Radio-France in Paris, the Philharmonique de Dijon, l'Orchestre de chamber Jean-Francois Paillard in Valence and l’Orchestre symphonique de fa Jeunesse Musicale de Belgique in Brussels.

From 2013-2016, Isabelle served as Co-Musical Director of the Festival of French Music of the Alliance Fronçaise of Silicon Valley in Mountain View. There she performed numerous works of French chamber music with invited Bay Area soloists. She also recorded a work for two flutes and orchestra by Mozart, a virtuoso Sinfonia Concertonte, together with the recently-deceased American flute soloist Robert Stallman and the Czech Chamber Orchestra in Prague under conductor Andrej Kukal. Stallman and Chapuis have also performed the Concerto for Two Flutes and Orchestra, composed by the 19th century Doppler Brothers, with the San Jose Youth Orchestra, conducted by Vair Samet.

In 2014, the national music magazine Flute Talk published a 12-page cover story on Isabelle's career. It included an interview and many photographs. In the article, Isabelle described her studies with famous flutists. She also recounted working together with several noted composers at the Conservatoire de Paris, including Olivier Messaien, Henri Dutilleux, Jacques Rivier and Andre Jolivet.

In May 2015, Isabelle served on the jury of the Concours des Prix de Flûte at the Conservatoire de Marseille.

Isabelle Is a Sankyo Artist. She plays both gold and silver Sankyo flutes.


Mana Saxophone Quartet

Sunday, February 16, 2020, 3:00 PM
"Czech Mate"
McAfee Performing Arts Center, Saratoga

Michael Hernandez, soprano saxophone
Michael Mortarotti, alto saxophone
Diane Hunger, tenor saxophone
Thomas Giles, baritone saxophone

Called a “groundbreaking ensemble” by the Los Angeles Chronicle, the MANA QUARTET has repeatedly won high praise from today’s leading composers, noted as “vigorous and accomplished…deserving every success” and “beautifully balanced…a new bright light in the world of chamber music” by Pulitzer Prize winners Charles Wuorinen and Ellen Taafe Zwilich. Championed as “Saxophone Ambassadors” by Chamber Music Magazine, MANA embodies its namesake as a force advocating for the saxophone in classical music.

Since its inception in 2007, the ensemble has premiered dozens of new compositions and given new life to many underrepresented original masterworks. Using vintage instruments built to the acoustical specifications of the saxophone’s inventor, Adolphe Sax, MANA’s impassioned performances offer a vivid reimagining of the saxophone’s nineteenth-century heritage – a refined aesthetic characterized by intrinsic warmth, dynamic range of character, and absolute versatility. Released in 2016, MANA’s debut album, Vide Supra, featured four new quartets dedicated to the ensemble by Stephen Dankner, Everette Minchew, Kevin Villalta, and Anthony J. Stillabower. The recording made the Entry List for a GRAMMY Nomination.

In 2009, MANA became the first saxophone quartet to receive the Alice Coleman Grand Prize of the Coleman International Chamber Competition, garnering international attention and activity on the chamber music circuit. Over the past decade, MANA has performed around the world, appearing in numerous featured broadcasts on NPR’s Performance Today and live concerts at Bartholomeus Gasthuis (Netherlands), Cité de la Musique (France), Hanns Eisler Berlin Hochschule für Musik (Germany), Darmstadt Konzert (Germany), Ober-Ramstadt (Germany), International SaxFest of Szczecin (Poland), SpectrumNYC (NY), Ethos New Music Festival (NY), SoundWired Chicago (IL), University of Miami’s Frost School of Music (FL), FeNAM/Festival of New American Music (CA), Jacksonville Friday Musicale (FL), Goldenberg Cultural Series (NY), Trinity Chamber Concerts of Berkley (CA), El Dorado Chamber Concerts (CA), Community Concerts at Second of Baltimore (MD) etc. The quartet has also been responsible for the North American premieres of multiple concertos for saxophone quartet and orchestra, appearing with the ECHO Chamber Orchestra, Lubbock Symphony, Hot Springs Festival Orchestra, and the National Music Festival Players.

MANA is currently in residence at San Jose State University and has previously held long-term appointments as Chamber Ensemble in Residence of the National Music Festival, at Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, the Hot Springs Music Festival, Music in the Mountains, and the Taneycomo Festival Orchestra.

The MANA Quartet is a D’Addario Performing Ensemble and performs exclusively on Reserve Classic reeds. 


Pasquale Esposito, Italian tenor

Saturday, May 17, 2020, 3:00 PM
”That’s Italian!”
McAfee Performing Arts Center, Saratoga

PASQUALE ESPOSITO was born and raised in Naples, Italy. He immigrated to the United States winning the Green Card Lottery in 1998.  He pursued his passion for music by studying at San Jose State University, where he was a distinguished alumnus, receiving his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 2009. He is an international crossover recording artist, acclaimed for his pop-opera delivery of songs.

Esposito has released seven albums and began touring internationally with his first musical revue: Naples … That’s Amore in 2005.  Thereafter, he toured with his CD of original compositions: A Brand New Me (2009) and Il Tempo (2011).

Following the success of spreading his rich Italian culture through music, he embarked on writing and producing his first PBS Special: Pasquale Esposito Celebrates Enrico Caruso in 2015The program was filmed in the historic Castello Giusso in Vico Equense on the Amalfi Coast. Esposito was accompanied by the Orchestra Santa Chiara conducted by Maestro Renato Serio. The docu-concert pays homage to Caruso by taking the audience on a musical journey in Italy highlighting the life, career and songs that made Caruso an international star.  Maestro Placido Domingo collaborated in the program with an intimate interview. The PBS Special had over 220,000,000 potential viewers coupled with a current live touring version. A CD, DVD and Bluray are available of the special.

Esposito had his successful debut at San Francisco Opera in June 2015 with the premiere of Marco Tutino’s Two Women (an opera adaptation of the 1960s film La Ciociara –with Sophia Loren, whom he had the pleasure of sharing the stage with in her recent US Tour).  The New York Times stated that Esposito sang with “airy charm” for his performance of Ragazzo del Popolo while the San Francisco Chronicle described Esposito as “a charismatic and dulcet-toned singer.”

In Spring 2018, Esposito released his second Public TV special on PBS stations: Pasquale Esposito Celebrates Italian Piazzas.  Esposito was accompanied by the Orchestra Talenti Napoletani conducted by Maestro Adriano Peninno. This docu-concert is a unique musical journey of culture, art, and tradition where Esposito dedicates a song to each of the beautiful piazzas (squares) performed in the prestigious Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples, Italy.  A live concert version of the special wasfollowed with a robust fall/winter 2018 North American tour including the following cities: Toronto, San Jose, Las Vegas, New York City, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Hartford, Sacramento, Detroit, Reno and Chicago.

Presently, Esposito is arranging and recording a Christmas album that will be featured in his next Public Television Special Celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.  It is set for release in December 2019.

Esposito established Notable Music and Arts Organization, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit charitable organization promoting music education in Spring 2012.  The organization provides music instruction to underserved students in the SF Bay Area and develops and produces educational programming for public television. Esposito travels nationally to major universities and colleges offering master classes in vocal technique and also provides private instruction in his San Jose studio.


Walter M. Mayes, narrator

Saturday, July 4, 2020, 1:00 PM
”Fantastic Fourth!”
Oak Meadow Park, Los Gatos

Walter M. Mayes is a regular performer with various Bay Area theater companies, appearing in Carnival for 42nd Street Moon; The Sound of Music for Woodside Community Players; Hamlet for City Lights; Gypsy! for Broadway By the Bay; How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Curtains, and Anything Goes for Foothill Music Theatre; and as the title characters in Man of La Mancha and Mack & Mabel for South Bay Musical Theatre (SBMT) and Sweeny Todd for Sunnyvale Community Players. In addition, he works frequently as a director, most recently helming Promises, Promises for SBMT. As Walter the Giant Storyteller, he has made hundreds of appearances at libraries, schools and bookstores throughout the country. Walter is currently the librarian and drama teacher at the Girls’ Middle School in Palo Alto.


Cheryl Blalock, soprano

Saturday, July 4, 2020, 1:00 PM
”Fantastic Fourth!”
Oak Meadow Park, Los Gatos

Well-known in the San Francisco Bay area, CHERYL BLALOCK is a premier voice teacher, acting coach, stage director and performing soprano.

A passionate leader in the performing arts, for the past 11 years, Cheryl has served on the board of directors for Lyric Theater, actively driving Fundraising and Marketing. She has directed numerous Main Stage, Discovery and Outreach shows for Lyric Theatre and served as a faculty member for 9 years at the San Francisco’s Girl’s Chorus teaching students from middle school to adults.

Cheryl has performed over 40 lead roles with companies such as Lamplighters, Lyric Theatre, Stanford Savoyards, and West Bay, Livermore, Oakland, Marin and Inland Opera Companies. She has toured nationally with two of Ken Malucelli’s productions, Oh Mr. Sousa and Savoy Express. She performs both traditional and contemporary chamber music and as a professional soloist with local symphonies and churches.

In addition to her BA in Music and French from CSU, Long Beach, Cheryl has an MBA from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. Cheryl has extensive training from highly respected voice and acting teachers including Michael Morris, James Toland, and Daniel Helgot. She is fluent in French and English with basic performing skills in Spanish, Mandarin, Italian and German.