Sophie Webber, Cellist, Artistic Director
“Passionate yet thoughtful… sublime to hear.” -Time Out Chicago
“Sophie Webber is an extraordinary musician and a first-rate cellist. Her spirit is always warm and engaging and her playing is consistently compelling.” -Dale Warland
Sophie is in demand as soloist, chamber musician, collaborator, and music teacher in Chicagoland and in Europe. She is involved in a number of interdisciplinary collaborations including being a member of the new music ensemble, Fulcrum Point, and as Artistic Advisor for Renovo String Orchestra) and is committed to bringing talent and creativity together in ways that are meaningful for the community. With a Doctorate from the Indiana Jacobs School of Music, her principal teachers include Janos Starker, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, and Richard Markson. Sophie has served as cello faculty at Southeast Missouri University, and is currently on the faculty at Lake Forest College and the Music Institute of Chicago.
Phyllis Chen, Pianist, Toy Pianist, Composer
Praised by the New York Times for her “delightful quirkiness matched with interpretive sensitivity,” Phyllis is a pianist, toy pianist, composer that performs original multimedia compositions and works by contemporary composers. The Oregonian states, “her captivating performance was animated by unbridled inventiveness, the kind of joyous creativity that playing with toys is meant to inspire.” Playing an instrument that has no set boundaries or genre, Phyllis has been invited to perform at a large range of music festivals and venues such as the Chicago World Music Festival, Portland Piano International and the San Francisco Music for People and Thingamajigs Festival. Phyllis is one of the founding members of the International Contemporary Ensemble and has recently also been commissioned by Opera Cabal in Chicago, Roulette Intermedium (via Jerome Foundation), NYSCA Funds for the Arts, cellist Katinka Kleijn and the Mt. Holyoke Choir. Phyllis is also the founder of the UnCaged Toy Piano, an annual call for scores to expand the repertoire for toy piano.
Joel Styzens, Multi-instrumentalist, Composer
Joel Styzens is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and hearing conservation advocate
Henriet Fourie, Soprano
A native of South Africa, now lives in Chicago where she is in demand as a soloist onstage and as a collaborator with chamber musicians and composers. In addition to singing with Fused Muse Ensemble she sings with CUBE Ensemble, Bella Voce and the William Ferris Chorale while also maintaining a private teaching studio. Henriët holds degrees in Vocal and Piano Performance from the College of Charleston (SC) and a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from DePaul University (IL) where she studied with Julia Bentley.
Iddo Aharony, Composer
Iddo Aharony’s diverse body of work includes pieces for a variety of ensembles and solo instruments, along with compositions for contemporary dance, opera and various theater and multimedia projects. His stage work, Oedipus: Opera-Theatre, was premiered in summer 2011 at the Israel Festival of Culture in Jerusalem. Aharony’s acoustic and electronic music has been performed by many ensembles and musicians in the United States, France, Britain and Israel, and presented at festivals such as SEAMUS and the New York City Electronic Music Festival. Other notable recent projects: Ayin Shel Ayin for chamber ensemble and electronic media premiered by new music ensemble eighth blackbird; falling out of time for cello and live electronics performed by ensemble dal niente; and memory boxes 1-8 composed for Pacifica Quartet. A native of Tel Aviv, Israel, he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Music Composition at the University of Chicago.
Heather Styka, Singer-songwriter, Poet
Chicago singer-songwriter Heather Styka’s songs are as fresh as they are rooted in the folk and Americana tradition. Also a poet and writer, Styka has an instinct for lyrics that are smart and unexpected but never cryptic, analyzing the importance of moments, places, and relationships with a “sweet, Midwestern croon” (Kelly Simms, Illinois Entertainer). In addition to numerous songwriting awards, her 2011 release ‘Lifeboats for Atlantis’ received critical praise, hitting #3 on the national FOLK-DJ charts.
From foot-stomping grooves to whispered hymns, “Heather’s unique
delivery combines the influences of a fragile Irish air, the warm
effervescence of upbeat Americana, soulful country and mournful blues.”
(Tim Carroll, FolkWords).
Ana Fau, Pianist
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ana Fau attended the Eastman School of Music and is a graduate of the Rimsky Korsakov State Conservatory of St. Petersburg, Russia. Her numerous concerts as a soloist and chamber musician include recitals at the Ateneo Theater of Madrid, the state palaces of Dresden and Freiberg in Germany, the House of the Nation’s Friendship, Moscow, the National Geographic, Chaliapin museums and Royal Palaces of St Petersburg, Russia. In the U.S, she performed at the the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center, Columbia College of Chicago, the Chamber Music Series of the Pan American Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC, the University of Wisconsin, the Cervantes Institute, and the University of Chicago, among others.
Since 2006, she has been a programming advisor for WFMT, having recorded extensively for this radio station, she produced and performed the Chopin Marathon at WFMT, 98.7 FM Chicago, inviting several pianist from the Chicago area, marking the 200th anniversary of his birth. She also recorded the Shostakovich Sonata for Cello and Piano with cellist Ian Maksin, marking the 75th anniversary of its premier.
She has played as a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Honduras, the Saphire Chamber Orchestra at NWU, the Cervantes Chamber Orchestra. As a chamber musician, she has performed with members of the CSO, Moscow Symphony Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Norway.
She has recorded for the National Radio of Argentina, Municipal Radio of Buenos Aires, Radio Amadeus of Buenos Aires, Radio of Corpus Christi, Texas, National State radio of Russia, National Radio of Honduras and has given interviews with Univision Chicago and Channel 4 of Italian TV. Recently, she gave a series of recitals in Texas at the invitation of the Chopin Society of Corpus Christi.