Curator and Piano
Michael Tilson Thomas assumed his post as the San Francisco Symphony’s Music Director in 1995, consolidating a relationship with the Orchestra that began with his debut here in 1974. A Los Angeles native, he studied with John Crown and Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California, becoming Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra at nineteen. He worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland at the famed Monday Evening Concerts and was pianist and conductor for the Piatigorsky and Heifetz master classes. In 1969, Mr. Tilson Thomas won the Koussevitzky Prize and was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony. Ten days later he came to international recognition, replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert at Lincoln Center. He went on to become the BSO’s Principal Guest Conductor, and he has also served as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, and as a Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. With the London Symphony Orchestra he has served as Principal Conductor and Principal Guest Conductor; he was recently named Conductor Laureate. He is Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, which he co-founded in 1987. NWS has helped launch the careers of more than 1,000 alumni worldwide, including more than a dozen members of the SFS. He served as Artistic Director of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra in 2009 and 2011. Michael Tilson Thomas’s recordings have won numerous international awards, including twelve Grammys for SFS recordings. In 2014, he inaugurated SoundBox, the San Francisco Symphony’s new alternative performance space and live music series. His television credits include the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts and in 2004 he and the SFS launched Keeping Score on PBS-TV. His compositions include From the Diary of Anne Frank, Shówa/Shoáh, settings of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Island Music, Notturno, and most recently, Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. Michael Tilson Thomas is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France, was Musical America’s Musician and Conductor of the Year, and was inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame in 2015. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2010 was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama. In December 2017 he was named to the California Hall of Fame.
Conductor and Piano
German conductor Christian Reif joined the San Francisco Symphony as Resident Conductor and Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra in the 2016-17 season. He was previously Conducting Fellow with the New World Symphony in Miami, where he was mentored by Michael Tilson Thomas. Mr. Reif completed his master of music in conducting at the Juilliard School under Alan Gilbert, where he received the Charles Schiff Conducting Award. He also studied with Dennis Russell Davies at the Mozarteum Salzburg. Mr. Reif is currently a member of Germany's Conductor's Forum where he was named one of their “Maestros of Tomorrow.” He was Conducting Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in 2015 and 2016 and has also worked as assistant and cover conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and for the New York Phil Biennial. Mr. Reif won the German Operetta Prize 2015, awarded by the German Music Council. In the 2017-18 season, Mr. Reif makes his debut with the Orchestre National de Lyon and the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, works with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Orchestra, and makes return engagements with the Berkeley Symphony, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, and the Lakes Area Music Festival. His enthusiasm in performing contemporary music has led to many world premiere performances, including Michael Gordon’s El Sol Caliente, a city symphony in honor of Miami Beach’s centennial; and concertos for DJ and orchestra, performed at the New World Symphony’s PULSE events. A dedicated and enthusiastic educator, Mr. Reif has also worked as a teaching fellow at the Juilliard School. He hosted and conducted education concerts with the New World Symphony, which were also webcast globally.
Tim Day is Principal Flute of the SFS, occupying the Caroline H. Hume Chair. He served as principal flute with the Baltimore Symphony for twelve seasons, has been acting principal flute with the Minnesota Orchestra, and was guest principal flute with the Boston Symphony. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, Mr. Day joined the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1987 and during the summers is on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.
Britton J. Day is a member of the accompanying staff of the San Francisco Conservatory and the San Francisco Conservatory Preparatory Division. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory. Upon graduation from Oberlin, he continued his piano studies at the San Francisco Conservatory, receiving both a Master of Music, and the Professional Studies Diploma in piano performance. He also maintains a private teaching studio, and in his spare time, plays music with his parents, Robin McKee and Timothy Day, both members of the San Francisco Symphony.
Oliver Herbert currently serves as Associate Principal Cello of New Jersey’s Symphony in C, in addition to performing regularly with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. He has held principal positions with the Eastern Sierra Symphony, National Youth Orchestra of the United States, San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Colburn Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Herbert has received honors at competitions including the Prix Jean-Nicolas Firmenich at the 2017 Verbier Festival, first prize and Pablo Casals Prize in the 2015 Irving M. Klein International String Competition, and the second prize in the 2015 Stulberg International String Competition. He currently plays on a 1769 Guadagnini cello that belonged to Italian cellist Antonio Janigro, on generous loan from the Janigro family.
Raushan Akhmedyarova, who joined the San Francisco Symphony 2006, is a native of Kazakhstan and comes from a family of musicians. She won first prize at the National Violin Competition of Kazakhstan, the International Competition of Asia in Tashkent, the UNISA International Competition in Pretoria, and the Geneva International Competition. She graduated from the Kazakh State Conservatory and studied privately at the Moscow Conservatory, and in 1994 she received a full scholarship to study at Southern Methodist University. Ms. Akhmedyarova was previously associate concertmaster of the New Century Chamber Orchestra and on the faculty of the San Francisco Academy Orchestra. For more on Raushan Akhmedyarova, visit sfsymphony.org/raushanakhmedyarova.
Chunming Mo was born in Shanghai, China. She started to play the violin at age eleven, and she went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from the Shanghai Conservatory. She later earned her master’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory. Before becoming a member of the SFS in 1991, Chunming Mo was a member of the Shanghai Symphony and the Sacramento Symphony.
Alina Ming Kobialka, winner of the 2011 San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition, began violin studies at age five under the tutelage of Roy Oakley. At age fourteen, she made her solo debut with the San Francisco Symphony and was featured live on the NPR radio show From the Top. Not long after, she toured with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. Debuts with the Las Vegas Philharmonic and the Kagawa International Youth Orchestra in Japan and performances with the Macau Youth Symphony followed. In 2014 and 2016, she returned as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony. In 2017 she was awarded second prize as the youngest competitor of the Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition, and was an artist at the Marlboro Music Festival. She also recently performed in the Shanghai International Arts Festival. Ms. Kobialka has been featured on the television shows Vegas Morning Blend on ABC, and the Macau Morning Show. She is an alumna of the Colburn Music Academy.
Mayumi Hiraga Wyrick is native of Mill Valley, CA. Born into a large family of musicians, Ms. Wyrick began playing the violin at age five. She completed her undergraduate studies at the New England Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Lucy Chapman and Jennifer Frautschi. She then went abroad to Holland to pursue her master’s degree at the Amsterdam Conservatory, where studied with Vera Beths and Anner Bylsma. Ms. Wyrick recently returned to the US and performs regularly in the greater New York area.
Amy Hiraga studied at the University of Cincinnati College—Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School. She has been a member of the Orchestra of Saint Luke’s and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Hiraga spent one year as a member of the SFS before returning to the East Coast with her husband, SFS Associate Principal Cello Peter Wyrick. She worked as a freelance musician in New York and joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 1991, then rejoined the SFS when she and Mr. Wyrick returned to San Francisco in 1999.
Nancy Ellis, a New Jersey native, joined the San Francisco Symphony’s viola section in 1975. She attended Oberlin College for two years before transferring to Mills College, of which she is a graduate. She has toured Europe with a quartet that backed rock singer Van Morrison, and she has attended the Marlboro Music Festival and toured with Music from Marlboro.
Peter Wyrick, SFS Associate Principal Cello, is the occupant of the Peter and Jacqueline Hoefer Chair. Born in New York to a musical family, he began studies at the Juilliard School at age eight. He made his solo debut at age twelve. He has been principal cellist of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and associate principal cellist of the New York City Opera Orchestra. As a member of the Ridge String Quartet, he performed throughout the world and recorded the Dvořák piano quintets with pianist Rudolf Firkusny, an RCA recording that won France’s Diapason d’Or and a Grammy nomination. He has also recorded the Fauré cello sonatas with pianist Earl Wild for dell’Arte records.
Stephen Paulson joined the San Francisco Symphony as Principal Bassoon in 1977. Also a conductor, he has served as Music Director of Symphony Parnassus since 1998. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he studied bassoon with K. David Van Hoesen and Mordechai Rechtman, and composition with Samuel Alder. He has served as principal bassoon with the Rochester Philharmonic and co-principal bassoon of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Mr. Paulson has performed and taught at the Aspen Music Festival, New World Symphony, Grand Teton Music Festival, and the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific, and given master classes at colleges worldwide, including the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, and the Shanghai Conservatory. In April 2009, he assisted Michael Tilson Thomas as woodwind coach and performer in the YouTube Orchestra. Mr. Paulson is longtime Professor of Bassoon at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. For more on Stephen Paulson, visit sfsymphony.org/stephenpaulson
Greg Paulson is the guitarist for progressive death metal band Arkaik. Since joining the group in 2014, the band has given 190 performances pm nine tours in support of their four albums released by Unique Leader Records. Mr. Paulson began classical violin lessons at age six, but switched to electric guitar at age seventeen. His style draws influence from progressive metal, neo-classical guitar, and jazz fusion.
Adam Larsen is a documentary filmmaker and designer for live performance. Designs for the San Francisco Symphony include Debussy’s Le martyre de Saint Sébastien, Peter Gynt, Peter Grimes, On the Town, Das klagende Lied, and most recently Michael Tilson Thomas’s Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. Mr. Larsen is also Resident Projection Designer for SoundBox. Other works include Hal Prince’s LoveMusik on Broadway; Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking The Waves at Opera Philadelphia and Prototype; Lee Breuer’s The Gospel at Colonus at the Athens, Edinburgh, and Spoleto festivals; Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle at the Singapore and Edinburgh festivals; Saariaho’s Maa with Atlanta Symphony; Janáček’s From the House of the Dead at Canadian Opera; The Pelleas Project at the Cincinnati Symphony; Dove’s Siren Song, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann at Hawaii Opera Theatre; John Adams’s A Flowering Tree and Handel’s Agrippina at Opera Omaha; Handel’s Semele with Pacific Musicworks; John Cage’s Second Hand and Foss’s Phorion with New World Symphony; Dove’s Flight at Juilliard; Yoon’s Sunken Cathedral at Prototype; and Mascagni’s Iris at Bard Summerscape. Mr. Larsen’s documentary about autism entitled Neurotypical aired on the PBS series POV.
Luke Kritzeck has worked with artists from diverse disciplines and backgrounds in theater, dance, music, circus, and opera on stages around the world. Prior to joining New World Symphony as the Director of Lighting in 2014, Mr. Kritzeck spent six years working for Cirque du Soleil on its touring production TOTEM and in Macau, China on its resident show ZAiA. His other projects with Cirque du Soleil include serving as the lighting director for featured performances, including the Venetian Macau Tennis Showdown and the International Indian Film Awards, which was broadcast to more than 350 million viewers. Mr. Kritzeck’s design credits include Chautauqua Opera Company, Cincinnati Ballet, Cedar Fair Entertainment, Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca, Lafayette Ballet Theatre, and the San Francisco Symphony.