Mary Beth Woodruff, Santa Barbara Strings Artistic Director, violin
Mary Beth Woodruff founded Santa Barbara Strings in 2009. An established teacher and accomplished artist, Ms. Woodruff has been on the faculties of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, Songfest International at the Colburn School, and the Westmont Academy for Young Artists. In addition, Ms. Woodruff was professor of violin/viola at the Biola University Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, where she served as head of chamber music studies, lectured in music history, strings literature/repertoire, and strings pedagogy for 7 years. She soloed with the Biola Symphony Orchestra on a concert tour of Italy, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, and on tour to China. She has performed with the Boston Philharmonic, the New England Chamber Orchestra, Emmanuel Music of Boston, the Jerusalem International Symphony Orchestra Winter Festival in Israel, as well as the Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, and Opera Santa Barbara. Ms. Woodruff earned her Master’s Degree in Violin Performance at Carnegie Mellon University on a full scholarship, following undergraduate studies at the New England Conservatory of Music and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in music and chemistry. Her principal teachers have included Julia Bushkova, Ronald Copes, Andres Cardenes, John Harbison and Arturo Delmoni. She currently serves on the MIT Educational Council, is the Santa Barbara center representative for the Royal Conservatory of Music Development Program, maintains a private violin and viola studio. Ms. Woodruff is the Concertmaster of the Santa Maria Philharmonic.
Jane Chung, violin
Jane Chung performs as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician across the United States, Europe, and Asia. She has collaborated extensively with dance for more than a decade, including as resident musician and composer for Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance and with choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. In 2009, Ms. Chung premiered and managed Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet's first project with live music—a collaboration for which her playing was praised as "excellent" and "sweet-voiced"—and continues performing with the company in ongoing projects. With the aid of a Yale AlumniVentures grant, she has developed and premiered numerous dance repertoire across the Northeast. Ms. Chung performs on a 1782 Joseph and Antonius Gagliano violin.
Basil Vendryes, viola
Basil Vendryes has been Principal Violist of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra since 1993. He is a former member of the San Francisco Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and the Rochester Philharmonic orchestras. As violist with the Aurora String Quartet (1986-95) Mr. Vendryes performed extensively, and has recorded the complete Mendelssohn Quartets for Naxos. He currently serves on the faculties of the University of Denver Lamont School of Music, the Castleman Quartet Program in Fredonia, New York, the Green Valley Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada and the Interharmony International Music Festival in Tuscany, Italy. He is also the founder/director of the Colorado Young Sinfonia. He has recorded for Columbia, Phillips, Decca, RCA and Nonesuch, as well as chamber music for the Ariel, Cadenza Music, Centaur, CRI and Naxos labels. Mr. Vendryes plays on a rare Italian viola made in 1887 by Carlo Cerruti.
Andrew Smith, cello
Andrew Smith is an associate professor of music at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he performs regularly as a member of The Cerberus Trio. He is a member of the Camerata Deiá, a group founded in 2001 to be the resident ensemble with The Festival Internacional de Deiá, a summer festival in Mallorca, Spain. He is also a founding member of The Adriatic Chamber Music Festival, a summer music program in southern Italy, where he has taught and performed since its inception in 1998.
For two years he was principal cellist with the West Virginia Symphony, where he was in residence with the Montani String Quartet. Mr. Smith has won several awards and prizes, including first prize in the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation competition in Santa Barbara, and an Esperia Foundation grant to study with the eminent Hungarian cellist Csaba Oncay at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. In the fall of 2008, he joined the Las Vegas Philharmonic as principal cellist.
Robert Thies is an artist renowned for his consummate musicianship and poetic temperament. He first captured worldwide attention in 1995 when he won the Gold Medal at the Second International Prokofiev Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia. With this victory, Thies became the only American pianist to win a Russian piano competition since Van Cliburn's triumph in Moscow in 1958. Robert enjoys a diverse career as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and recording artist. He has already performed 40 different concerti with orchestras all over the world, including the Saint Petersburg (RUSSIA) Philharmonic, Auckland Philharmonia, Louisville Orchestra, and the Mexico City Philharmonic.
Robert is highly sought after as a recital partner and collaborator in both instrumental and vocal chamber music. Offstage he is in high demand for special recording projects by contemporary composers, and he sometimes appears on soundtracks for film and television.