Alisa Rose with the Americana String Quartet & Fog Holler
Americana String Quartet
Matthew Szemela & Nigel Armstrong, violins
Alexandra Simpson, viola & Matt Park, cello
Casey Holmberg, Tommy Schultz & Noa
Alisa Rose Quartet with Solo Violin: Embracing Roots World Premiere
Grammy-nominated violinist and composer Alisa Rose is joined by the Americana String Quartet and Fog Holler in a concert featuring the premiere of her work Quartet with Solo Violin: Embracing Roots. She says of the piece: “This work is my response to conversations with diverse musicians around themes of inclusivity within the Bluegrass community, and is in my compositional style which integrates American fiddle idioms into classical concert forms. By writing this piece, I want to support the movement towards cultural change and inclusivity that Bluegrass Pride represents. This work was created with the support of the San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Grant.”
Grammy-nominated violinist and composer Alisa Rose is a modern musician who easily navigates between many musical styles. With roots in classical music as well as the rich American musical folk traditions, her stylistic fluidity gives her the ability to create uniquely expressive music which is free from the constraints of genre.
Alisa Rose has appeared with a wide range of artists including the Real Vocal String Quartet, 2008 Rockygrass winners 49 Special, and Grammy-nominated Quartet San Francisco. Alisa performed and taught throughout Eastern Europe as an Ambassador of the State Department, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, NPR’s Weekend Edition, the historic Carter Family Fold festival, TEDx Alcatraz with Bob Weir, Song of the Mountains on PBS, as well as numerous international tours.
Alisa teaches privately as well as at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she received her B.M. and M.M. in Chamber Music studying with Camilla Wicks and Bettina Mussumeli.
Fog Holler is a fast-growing sensation in the world of bluegrass and acoustic music, born from an intense love of early country and traditional American music shared by Casey Holmberg, Tommy Schulz, and Noa. Discovered playing on the streets by Grammy award-winning artist Laurie Lewis, their innovative sound and energetic punk rock spirit has enthralled audiences across the world. The group’s original music synthesizes sincere, poignant writing with the austere, spiritual vocal stylings and harmonies of brother duos like the Stanley Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys. Fog Holler has toured in the U.S, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and Switzerland and has shared stages with acts like Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands, Jerry Douglas & The Earls of Leicester, The Po’ Ramblin Boys, The Kathy Kallick Band, The Watkins Family Hour, and The Del McCoury Band.
Praised by The New York Times for his “outrageous fiddling,” Matthew Szemela is a violinist who crosses musical genres with ease. He has performed as soloist, chamber and orchestral musician in several renowned concert halls both domestically (Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully, Merkin Recital Hall, Library of Congress, Kennedy Center), and abroad (Japan, China, Korea, Belgium, Luxembourg, Australia, Italy). Matthew has collaborated, recorded, and performed with a myriad of artists including Jay-Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Savion Glover, Sting, Lana Del Rey, Josh Groban, Placido Domingo, Bob Weir, Dave Stewart, Billy Childs, Lisa Fischer, Johnny Mathis, Andrea Bocelli, and Olivia Newton John. In the fall of 2007 Matthew portrayed an Irish rock violinist in the Warner Brothers film August Rush, working with famed music producer Phil Ramone. TV appearances include Good Morning America (with Josh Groban), The View (with Rihanna), and American Idol (with Lana Del Rey).
Nigel Armstrong is emerging as a dynamic and creative artist both within and beyond the realm of classical music. From his musical beginnings as a member of The Little Fiddlers in Sonoma to collaborations with tango musicians in Argentina and solo performances with orchestras on four continents he’s enjoyed using the violin in a versatile manner throughout his life. Since 2009 he’s appeared as concertmaster with the Colburn Orchestra, LA’s American Youth Symphony, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, YOA Orchestra of the Americas, and the New York String Orchestra in their annual Carnegie hall performances. Beginning in the 2016/17 season he serves as concertmaster of the Santa Cruz Symphony.
Alexandra Simpson has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in a broad range of settings, from playing with Kygo at Outside Lands to performing for the Colombian President Ivan Duque. She has studied with the world’s leading viola teachers- Kim Kashkashian at New England Conservatory, Ettore Causa at Yale School of Music, and Dimitri Murrath at San Francisco Conservatory of Music- and played at such festivals as Tanglewood, Prussia Cove International Musicians’ Seminar, and Kneisel Hall. She was recently featured as a soloist with the Camellia Symphony and has performed chamber music with renowned musicians such as Tessa Lark, Jennifer Pike, Owen Dalby, Norman Fisher, and Ian Swensen.