Guest Artists

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Steve Sanchez, clarinet

Sunday, October 4, 2015
"The Heartbeat of America"
McAfee Performing Arts Center, Saratoga

Steve Sánchez, San Francisco native, is currently 2nd clarinet of the Monterey Symphony Orchestra. Previously, Steve was the Acting Utility and Bass Clarinet of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for the 2011-2012 season, and prior to that he held the position of Principal Clarinet with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. Steve has performed with the orchestras of the the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Ballet, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and in 2013 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Steve can be heard on the 2012 release of American Mavericks with the San Francisco Symphony, the 2013 release of Beethoven Symphony 9 with SFS, and the 2013 Rachmaninov release with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Steve received an M.M. degree as a Fellow from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance. His principal teachers included Dan Gilbert, Fred Ormand, and bass clarinet with Tony Striplen. Awards include scholarships from the Gordon Getty Foundation and has additionally been a recipient of the Leni Fe Bland Foundation Award. As an educator, Steve has been on faculty at SFCM since 2011 and was previously on faculty at Chabot College. Steve has also given masterclasses at the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, and Oklahoma City University. During the summer, Steve has been a guest with Music in the Mountains, the Utah Festival Opera, and also as a faculty member of the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Not a stranger to social media, Steve is very active as the co-administrator of the national online forum for clarinetists, Clarinet Jobs. Away from the clarinet, Steve spends his time pursuing the perfect café macchiato and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe during the winter.


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Brian Bowman, euphonium

Sunday, December 6, 2015
"The Heart of the West"
McAfee Performing Arts Center, Saratoga

Characterized by a virtuosic technique and a warm, rich, velvet tone, Brian Bowman’s playing has thrilled audiences for more than a quarter of a century. His superb musicianship and dedication to fine brass playing have made him one of the foremost euphonium soloists in the world today. His history of euphonium “firsts” is impressive:

  • First euphonium recital in New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall, 1976
  • First Euphoniumist to serve as president of the INTERNATIONAL TUBA AND EUPHONIUM ASSOCIATION (formerly Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association - T.U.B.A)
  • First euphonium concert tour of Japan
  • First Guest Euphonium Artist-Falcone International Euphonium Competition
  • First euphonium master class at the Paris Conservatory Superior of Music, France
  • Master teacher at the first Deutsche Tubaforum workshop to include the euphonium, tenor horn and baritone, Hammelburg, Germany, 1991

Dr. Brian L. Bowman enjoys a distinguished career as a soloist, clinician, recording artist, educator and administrator. Dr. Bowman has held the principal euphonium position, in addition to being a featured soloist, in each of the bands he has been associated with: THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SYMPHONY BAND, THE UNITED STATES NAVY BAND, THE UNITED STATES BICENTENNIAL BAND, THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE BAND and THE RIVER CITY BRASS BAND in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

He is in demand as a guest soloist with high school, university, municipal and professional ensembles. He has performed as a soloist in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, The Virgin Islands, Norway, Finland, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Hungary, Great Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, Tonga Taiwan, Thailand and the People’s Republic of China. He has appeared as tenor tubist with the New York Philharmonic, the National Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Worth Symphony, and the Orchestra Symphonica of Xlapa, Mexico. He has performed concertos with the Lexington Kentucky Symphony, the Sapporo Japan, Symphony Orchestra the North Carolina Symphony and the Madison Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to his live performances, Dr. Bowman can be heard on over 35 service band recordings and his six solo albums. He has appeared as featured soloist on Iowa Public Television with the Karl King Fort Dodge Municipal band and performed with the New Sousa Band in the Wolftrap PBS television special.


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Walter M. Mayes, narrator

Sunday, December 6, 2015
"The Heart of the West"
McAfee Performing Arts Center, Saratoga

Walter M. Mayes is a regular performer with various Bay Area theatre 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.


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Layna Chianakas, mezzo soprano

Sunday, February 28, 2016
"SJWS ♥ Opera"
McAfee Performing Arts Center, Saratoga

Now in her eighth year as Associate Professor of Voice, Voice Area Coordinator and Director of Opera Theatre at San Jose State University, Greek-American mezzo-soprano,  Layna Chianakas, has been hailed as "the type of singer that makes one remember why to go to the opera." Her versatility as a singing-actor has aided her in the portrayal of many leading opera roles including Carmen in Carmen, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Sesto in Giulio Cesare, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, The Woman in Poulenc's La Voix Humaine, the title role in La Perichole and countless Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. She has performed with such opera companies as Cleveland Opera, Nashville Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Sarasota Opera, Virginia Opera, Dayton Opera, Festival Opera, Nevada Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Madison Opera, Sacramento Opera, Intermountain Opera, Opera San José and Richard Wagner Bayreuth Festival.  She performed Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Chorus Pro Music in Boston, in which the Boston Globe praised her as "an audience favorite, singing with a strong, cutting voice and breathing real pathos into the character of the betrayed peasant girl."  She performed Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Dayton Opera and Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Opera Santa Barbara.  She madeher directorial debut with Opera San José's La Voix humaine by Poulenc, performed the title role of Orphée in Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice with Opera Santa Barbara, and sang her fifth production of Madama Butterfly as Suzuki with Intermountain Opera during the 2011/12 season.  She sang the role of His Mother and directedAmahl and the Night Visitors (in which her own son sang the title role) with San Jose State Opera Theater/San Jose State Choral Department as well as with Intermountain Opera in Montana.  Ms. Chianakas directed Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Cavalli’s L’Ormindo for the San José State Opera Theatre, Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine and Hansel & Gretel for Opera San José and shesang Amneris inAida with Dayton Opera, a role premiere in April 2014. She returned to Intermountain Opera as La Principessa in Suor Angelica and Zita in Gianni Schicchi in May 2015, and will be the stage director for SJS Opera Theatre’s Orfeo ed Euridice  in December 2015, Opera San Jose’s Carmen in February 2016 and Il barbiere di Siviglia in February 2017, and SJSOT’s La Divina by Pasatieri and Postcard from Morocco by Argento.

Ms. Chianakas has extensive experience and much success in the recital forum.  She spent three years touring with The Songs of Franz Schubert Concert Series performing over 100 recitals, accompanied by world-renowned coach and accompanist John Wustman.  She was named Artistic Ambassador of the United States, performing recitals for some of the foremost diplomats of our country and giving master classes in Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, British Guyana and Jamaica.  She has performed on the mid-day public radio broadcast of the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series, in Chicago, IL, the Krannert Center Sunday Salon Series in Champaign, IL, and a number of recital series throughout Germany.  Ms. Chianakas gave her New York Recital Debut at Christ and St. Stephen's Church and has performed an all-Schubert program as part of the San Francisco Performances Concert Series.  She appeared in a solo recital with the Old First Concerts Series in San Francisco, sang a recital and gave a master class at Simpson College, and performed a recital on the Los Gatos Community Concert.  She is a frequent collaborative recitalist with tenor, Joseph Frank, classical guitarist, Steven Lin, and pianist and composer, Craig Bohmler.

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Ms. Chianakas moved to Kassel, Germany, where she taught voice and beginning piano with the Musikschule-Ehlen for four years.  While in Germany, she attended the Mozarteum Salzburg and studied Lieder with some of the foremost coaches in the world.  It is there, she acquired her fluency in German.  She returned to the United States and received a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Illinois.  She currently lives in San José, CA with her husband and two children; her greatest productions. 


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Keith Brion as John Philip Sousa

Sunday, May 15, 2016
"John Philip Sousa: To Reach Every Heart"
McAfee Performing Arts Center, Saratoga

Keith Brion has led his popular "Sousa at the Symphony" performances with nearly all of America's major and regional orchestras and in countless repeat performances. In addition he has led numerous general pops programs. He also tours nationally with his own New Sousa Band.

The authentic Sousa programs are a fulfillment of his long-standing ambition to take a fresh look at America's musical traditions. These modern recreations have proved to be as alive today as they were over a century ago. Building on Sousa’s own considerable background as a violinist and orchestral composer, they are the result of research in libraries, newspapers, museums, interviews with former Sousa band members, and the study of old recordings. Mr. Brion has given special attention to reviving Sousa's appealing and durable programming skills, and to adapting the original techniques of Sousa's Band to his modern performances. His concerts are authorized by John Philip Sousa Inc., John Sousa IV, President.

Keith Brion's "portrayal" includes Sousa's conducting mannerisms and stage appearance from the 1920's, replicas of his baton, uniform and white gloves. His investigation of the Sousa Band's period performance technique has led to numerous modern editions of Sousa's orchestral and band music.

Mr. Brion’s general pops performances are modeled on Sousa’s timeless concert formula allowing a wide variety of theme programs, including Patriotic Pops, Christmas shows, Leroy Anderson, Valentine’s etc. He is a past pops conductor of the Harrisburg Symphony and of Palo Alto’s Summer Symphony series.

He has numerous recordings. In May of 1986, he led a PBS-TV special, "The New Sousa Band on Stage at Wolf Trap." He also appeared in the PBS-TV special "If You Knew Sousa" and for the BBC Open University. He has recorded Sousa with his own New Sousa Band, The Slovak Radio Orchestra and the Rochester Philharmonic. Three volumes of Sousa's orchestral music have been recorded on the Naxos label with the Slovak Radio Orchestra as well as three recordings of Victor Herbert and one of Percy Grainger's orchestral music. He has also recorded the music of Sousa, Percy Grainger and Alan Hovhaness for Delos and Naxos. He is currently undertaking the recording of Sousa's "Complete Wind Works" for Naxos, a sixteen CD series with London's Royal Artillery Band. Ten volumes have been completed.

Mr. Brion is a former director of the Yale University Band, which he led at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. At Yale, in the spring of 1978, he conceived a re-creation of the historical sounds and sights of John Philip Sousa and his band. The concerts met with instant popular and critical acclaim, and were later taped for PBS and National Public Radio.


Virginia Mayhew, alto saxophone

Monday, July 4, 2016
"Fantastic Fourth: Take Heart, America!"
Oak Meadow Park, Los Gatos

Saxophonist/composer/arranger/bandleader Virginia Mayhew has been an active participant in the New York jazz scene since 1987, and has lead her own groups for over 25 years. She currently leads several quartets, a quintet, and a septet.

In the course of her career, Virginia has worked with renowned artists from Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, Cab Calloway, Frank Zappa, James Brown, Norman Simmons, Al Grey, Junior Mance, Joe Williams, Chico O'Farrill, Marlena Shaw, to Toshiko Akiyoshi, Kenny Barron, Leon Parker, Ingrid Jensen, Claudio Roditi, Nnenna Freelon, and many others.

Virginia has been a guest on Marian McPartland’s ‘Piano Jazzʼ, the featured artist on NPR’s ‘All Things Consideredʼ, and has appeared twice on ‘Jazz Set’ with Dee Dee Bridgewater. She was selected by Downbeat magazine as a 'Rising Star’ on soprano saxophone, and has been the subject of several feature articles in Downbeat, Jazztimes and Jazziz magazines.

Her latest recording, Mary Lou Williams – The Next 100 Years, was just selected by Downbeat as one of the Best New Releases of 2012 and by Rhapsody as one of the ten best new CDs of 2012.

Virginia has appeared in most of New York City's major jazz venues (including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Town Hall, Jazz Standard, Blue Note, Sweet Basil, Smalls), and has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia as well as in the Caribbean and Bermuda. Virginia has also been featured as a leader at many jazz festivals, both within the United States and abroad, and has traveled twice as a representative of the United States as a Jazz Ambassador (in the tradition of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington), once to the Newly Independent States and a second time to Southeast Asia.

Early in her career, Virginia worked with veteran trombonist Al Grey for several years. She is featured on his 1992 release, FAB (Capri), and contributed several arrangements to his 1995 CD, Centerpiece (Telarc). She also worked for several years with Brazilian trumpet and flugelhorn player/ composer/ arranger Claudio Roditi, and was recently part of ‘Dreamin’ the Duke', featuring Nnenna Freelon, Harolyn Blackwell, Mike Garson, and Terell Stafford. In addition, Virginia freelances with in the NYC area.