Guest Artists


Steve Sánchez, 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. For the 2015 season, Steve was performing full time as 2nd clarinet of the San Francisco Symphony. Previous positions include Acting Utility/Bass Clarinet of the San Francisco Symphony and Principal Clarinet of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.

Steve has performed nationally with the orchestra of the San Francisco Opera and Ballet, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; and internationally with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Steve can be heard on several recording by the SFS, Detroit Symphony, and various video game soundtracks.

Steve received his Masters in Music from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. His principal teachers include Dan Gilbert and Fred Ormand, in addition to coachings and master classes with Ted Oien, Stephen Williamson, and Yehuda Gilad. As an educator, Steve has been on the faculties of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Chabot Community College, and summers teaching at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp

Steve is a Backun Artist and performs on MOBA Gold Super Series clarinets.


Patrick Sheridan, tuba

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

Patrick Sheridan is one of the most celebrated soloists in his instrument’s history. He has performed more than 3,000 concerts in over 50 countries in venues ranging from the White House to NBA half-time shows to the Hollywood Bowl.

At 20 years of age, Patrick became a member of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. During his military service, he thrilled audiences across the United States with his amazing virtuosity and musicianship as one of the band’s primary soloists. Since then, Patrick has gone on to become an incredibly diverse artist with concert performances transcending stylistic genres and building fans around the world for his instrument, the tuba. He has been featured in television and radio broadcasts on 4 continents including appearances most recently on NBC’s Today Show and NPR’s All Things Considered and Performance Today. Patrick maintains a busy international career with more than 75 concerts annually with orchestras, bands, and chamber ensembles and in recital. At home and abroad, Patrick also performs with the creative collective, The Big Bottom Band.

Mr. Sheridan also works as a composer and arranger. His music and arrangements have been performed internationally by symphony orchestras, concert bands, marching bands, jazz bands and drum corps. Most recently his music was performed by the US Army Band and at the American Bandmasters Association’s national convention. He also co-composed with Sam Pilafian a new piece for tuba and wind band, The Strait of Hormuz, which he premiered at the 62nd Annual Midwest Clinics in December 2008. Patrick and Sam are also working on a double concerto for Joe Alessi and Wycliffe Gordon to be premiered at the CBDNA National Conference in 2011 by the University of New Mexico’s Wind Symphony with Eric Rombach-Kendall conducting. Patrick’s music, arrangements, CDs, DVDs, and books are published by Focus on Music, GIA Publications, De Haske Music, Mythen Hollanda and Dillon Music Publishing.


Walter M. Mayes, narrator

Monday, July 4, 2016
"Fantastic Fourth: Take Heart, America!"
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.


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. 


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.