San Francisco's Home for Great Concerts since 1970

Ensemble 1828 – Friday, January 29 at 8 pm



Ensemble 1828
Nicole Oswald, violin; Isaac Pastor-Chermak, cello; Alison Lee, piano

Claude Debussy Cello Sonata
César Franck Violin Sonata in A major
Maurice Ravel Piano Trio in A minor

Ensemble 1828—violinist Nicole Oswald, cellist Isaac Pastor-Chermak, and pianist Alison Lee—debuted in June 2019 with a seven-concert tour of Northern California cities, performing an all-Schubert program to packed houses and critical acclaim. Honoring Schubert’s last and most productive year with their name, Ensemble 1828’s debut was praised for its “thoroughly engaging energy” and “rhetorical uniqueness.” In March 2020, the trio was back on tour in the Bay Area celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday with performances of his Archduke trio, squeezing in a weekend of concerts only hours before the Covid-19 Shelter-in-Place order. With live performances canceled for the foreseeable future, Ensemble 1828 brought their June 2020 program to a national audience with two live-stream concerts, as well as a recording date at 25th Street Recording Studios in Oakland. The trio is excited to announce upcoming dates in 2021, bringing an all-French program to venues including Old First Concerts in San Francisco, Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, and online broadcasts available worldwide.

Nicole Oswald is currently pursuing a masters of music under the world- renowned violinist, Andrés Cárdenes at the Carnegie Mellon School of Music. At CMU, Nicole is a graduate assistant and serves as concertmaster of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic Orchestra. Nicole recently received an Artist Diploma from the Frost School of Music in Miami, FL 2018. There, she studied under Charles Castleman as a graduate teaching assistant and Henry Mancini Institute fellow. Nicole has been a guest artist at the Castleman Quartet Program and studied chamber music with members of the; Pacifica, Fine Arts, Ying, Dover, Cavani, Concord, Juilliard, Bergonzi and Chilingirian String Quartets. She has appeared in solo master classes with; Rachel Barton Pine, Christian Tetzlaff, Mimi Zweig, Giora Schmidt, Csaba Erdélyi, Irvine Arditti, and Vadim Repin. While in Miami, Nicole was a chamber music teacher at Miami Youth for Chamber Music, appeared as a guest performer with the Bergonzi String Quartet and played in the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra. This fall, Nicole will join the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra as a section violinist while finishing her graduate studies at CMU. Nicole plays on a 1920 Stefano Scarampella on generous loan to her from Charles Castleman.

A native of Fremont, California, Alison Lee is a pianist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the first prize winner of several competitions such as Thursday Musical’s Scholarship Competition, the Dorothy Van Waynen Piano Competition and the Pacific Musical Society Competition. She was awarded second prize in the 2016 Midwest International Piano Competition, where she performed Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with conductor Jason Weinberger and the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony. Most recently, Alison was featured as a soloist with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra after winning their 2019 National Young Artists Competition.

In addition to her enthusiasm for the solo piano repertoire, Alison is passionate about playing chamber music. Her creative output includes frequent collaborations with her sister, pianist Katherine Lee, as well as with cellist Isaac Pastor-Chermak, with whom she has presented recitals featuring the complete Beethoven sonatas for cello and piano. Other collaborative performances include appearances with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and violinist Charles Castleman.

Over the years, Alison has participated in numerous summer festivals: the Aspen Music Festival, The Banff Centre’s Piano Master Class, Mänttä International Piano Masterclasses, Pianofest in the Hamptons, Seattle Piano Institute, and the Castleman Quartet Program. Through these festivals and master classes, she has worked with renowned pianists including Menahem Pressler, Angela Hewitt, Jerome Lowenthal, Matti Raekallio, Julian Martin, Anton Nel, Jeremy Denk, and Jonathan Biss.

Alison holds a doctoral degree in piano performance from the University of Minnesota, where she was a student of Lydia Artymiw. Prior to studying in Minneapolis, Alison studied with Jon Kimura Parker at Rice University and Angela Cheng at Oberlin Conservatory.

Isaac Pastor-Chermak is Principal Cellist of Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony; Associate Principal Cellist of Stockton Symphony; Assistant Principal Cellist of Opera San Jose and Fresno Philharmonic; and a member of Berkeley Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, and Dayton Philharmonic. He spends his summers at the Eisenstadt Classical Music Festival in Austria, where he is Assistant Principal Cellist, and the Lake Tahoe Music Festival, as Principal Cellist. Mr. Pastor-Chermak is the cellist of Black Cedar Trio, the only professional flute-cello-guitar ensemble in the country, and Ensemble 1828, a piano trio, as well as a frequent sonata collaborator with pianists Miles Graber and Alison Lee.

Mr. Pastor-Chermak is in constant demand as a solo artist, performing more than 100 concerts every season on an 1889 Riccardo Antoniazzi cello. Some highlights of his 2018-19 season include the world-premiere recording of Elliott Miles McKinley’s String Quartet No. 8 in August 2018; a recital of Debussy, Bernstein and Frank Bridge with Mr. Graber in December 2018; and an all-Schubert program with Ensemble 1828 in June 2019. Mr. Pastor-Chermak fits these creative projects around weekly symphonic programs throughout the country, as well as his local teaching and conducting obligations.

As an educator, Mr. Pastor-Chermak teaches a small-but-mighty studio of private students, who receive consistent high marks in regional competitions and have been admitted to the top conservatories in the country. Pastor-Chermak sits on the Board of Directors of the East Bay Music Foundation, which supports outreach and performance opportunities for young musicians, and Calliope, a brand new ‘arts hub’ based in Albany, CA. Mr. Pastor-Chermak holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley (B.A. with honors) and San Francisco Conservatory of Music (M.M. with honors). He makes his home in the North Berkeley hills, but is at home wherever the music takes him.

Old First Concerts has volunteer opportunities available!

Our concerts rely on the generosity of volunteers to assist with simple tasks like:


distributing programs

box office

set-up and clean-up

Scheduling is flexible — you choose when to work! We especially need helping hands for our Friday and Saturday night performances.

An excellent opportunity for students, seniors, or anyone who possesses a love for music!

If you’d like to consider volunteering with Old First Concerts, please contact for more information.