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Festival Artists


Inessa Zaretsky is the Director of the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival.

Ms.Zaretsky is an award winning pianist and composer whose performances have taken her around the world while her music has been performed in England,  Norway,  Canada,  Australia,  Italy , Russia and throughout the United States. She studied piano with Richard Goode and composition with Robert Cuckson at the Mannes College of Music in New York and has collaborated with many notable musicians, such as the Miro, Enso, Jasper and Cassat String Quartets, Kent/Blossom Festival Orchestra,  Chamber Music Series of the St. Lukes Orchestra,  musicians of the Boston,  Chicago and Orpheus Orchestras, members of the Metropolitan Opera and many others.

Ms. Zaretsky is on the Piano faculty of Mannes College, The New School University, and is the Artistic co-director of the Phoenix Chamber Music Series in New York City.

Described by Strad magazine as “thrilling,” and praised by the Washington Post for its “glorious sonorities,” the Enso String Quartet has won numerous awards, including top prizes at the Concert Artists Guild competition and the Banff International String Quartet Competition. In the words of Classical Voice, it is “one of the eminent string quartets of our era.” Founded at Yale University in 1999, the Enso has in short time risen to the front rank of string ensembles. 

2015 marks the Enso String Quartet’s 5th year in residence at the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival.


Enso String Quartet

KEN HAMAO, violin


Jasper String Quartet



Winner of the 2012 Cleveland Quartet Award, the Jasper String Quartet has been hailed as “sonically delightful and expressively compelling” (The Strad) and as "powerful" (The New York Times).

Based in Philadelphia, PA, the Jaspers are the Professional Quartet-in-Residence at Temple University's Center for Gifted Young Musicians.They recently released two highly acclaimed albums for the Sono Luminus label featuring the works of Beethoven, Schubert, and Aaron Jay Kernis, as well as a digital release of Beethoven Op. 131. From 2015-2017, the Quartet will premiere their commission of Mr. Kernis’ 3rd String Quartet across the world, including at Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall in London.

  Jasper String Quartet

Vadym Kholodenko

Winner of the coveted gold medal at the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2013, Vadym Kholodenko captured the attention of jury, audience, and critics alike for powerful, exhilarating performances. Also taking home prizes for best performance of the piano quintet and best performance of the commissioned work, he further demonstrated his artistry with a stunning cadenza in Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467—which he composed himself on the plane from Moscow to the Competition. 

In the 2014–2015 season, Mr. Kholodenko will make orchestra debuts with the Indianapolis Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, and San Diego Symphony, and gives solo recitals in Boston, Louisville, Miami, and Seattle. Outside of the United States, he will appear with the Malmö Symphony, Madrid RTVE Symphony, and Qatar Philharmonic Orchestras, and undertake a tour of South America with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra. In recital, he will perform throughout the United Kingdom, and for Radio France in Paris, the Schwetzingen Festspiele in Germany, Al Bustan Festival in Lebanon, and on tour of Japan and Singapore.

Born in Kiev, he currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and two daughters.


GEORGE POPE, flute. Professor of Flute at the University of Akron. He is a founding member of the Solaris Wind Quintet, and has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Tulsa Philharmonic, the Canton and Toledo Symphony Orchestras. His solo and chamber performances throughout the United States, Europe, Brazil, and broadcasts on National Public Radio, have received unanimous acclaim.


LYNN HILEMAN is assistant Professor of Bassoon at West Virginia University and principal bassoonist of the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra. Lynn also plays in the Laureate Wind 

Quintet and has performed with the Rochester Philharmonic, Syracuse Symphony, New Haven Symphany, and Buffalo Festival Orchestras. Lynn is a lifelong been a champion of contemporary music and experimentation in concert programs.

2015 marks her 7th year in residence at the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival.




DAVID BELL received his training at Oberlin Conservatory where he was a student of Lawrence McDonald and Northwestern University as a student of Robert Marcellus. Other teachers 

have included Larry Combs, Arnold Jacobs, and Clark Brody. He has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, and the Milwaukee Symphony and has toured 

internationally with the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Solaris Wind Quintet.

2015 marks his 7th year in residence at the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival.



CYNTHIA WATSON’S playing has been described as "creating a lasting impression withexquisite singing tone" (Times Union, Albany, N.Y.), "an evening of superlative work" and "[a performance] with soulful brilliance" (Schenectady Gazette). Ms. Watson is the Principal Oboe of the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Canton Symphony Orchestra. 

She has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Opera, the Rochester Philharmonic and the Virginia Opera Orchestra. Ms. Watson is on the faculty at Case Western Reserve University, and the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory Outreach Department.

2015 marks her 7th year in residence at the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival.


PHILIP ALEJO is the newly appointed Assistant Professor of Bass at the University of Arizona. He recently performed as Associate Principal Bass of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and taught at St. Ambrose University. He served as Visiting Professor of Bass at the University of Michigan in Fall 2011.

As a chamber musician, Philip collaborates regularly with harpist Claire Happel. Additional performances have taken place alongside Menahem Pressler, Yehonatan Berick, Antonio Lysy, Martin Beaver, Paul Coletti, Sandy Yamamoto, James Austin Smith, Maiya Papach, Spencer Myer, Katinka Kleijn, and David Bowlin.

2015 marks Philip’s 2nd year in residence at the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival.


Oboist Keve Wilson is a past winner of Concert Artists Guild and solo oboist with theGrammy nominated Absolute Ensemble. Former oboist of Opera Pacific in Los Angeles, Keve has toured with Alarm Will Sound, Wind Soloists of New York, and performed many world premieres, including After Hearing Bach by Peter Schickele. Hailed by the New York Times for her “magnificently sweet tone,” Keve can be heard on Stephen Sondheim’s 2013 cast recording Passion and is currently oboist in the Tony winning Broadway show A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. She recentlyreturned from the Makuleke Village in South Africa thanks to the Clifford-Levy Creativity Grant. Her album Pure Imagination was released on Composers Concordance Records/NAXOS in 2011. Keve is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where she studied with Richard Killmer.

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