Julia Birnbaum, originally from Maryland, started playing the violin at age 5. Ms. Birnbaum received her degree in Violin Performance from Northwestern University under the tutelage of Blair Milton. Ms. Birnbaum recently completed a two-year fellowship with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the training orchestra to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She also completed the certificate program at Peabody Preparatory in Baltimore under Rebecca Henry. Julia served as concertmaster under Maestro Lorin Maazel at the Castleton Festival in 2011 and also attended Aspen Music Festival, American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, CIM's Encore School for Strings, and Indiana University String Academy. She has performed with the New World Symphony, Illinois Symphony, Dubuque Symphony, Chicago Arts Orchestra, Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra and the Chicago Composers Orchestra. Julia is also an active chamber musician and violin teacher in Chicago area. Ms. Birnbaum teaches private and group lessons through the Chicago School of Music.
Emanuel Ban began studying violin at the age of eight, and his violin and viola teachers included Desiree Ruhstrat, Olga Kaler, and Rami Solomonow. Emanuel was the recipient of the 2003 Park Ridge Civic Orchestra and the 2005 Indianapolis Matinee Musicale scholarships. He was also a finalist with the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra and the DePaul Symphony Orchestra concerto competitions in 2006. He completed both his Bachelor and Master of Music degree in Violin Performance at DePaul University. Orchestras he has performed with include the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Arts Orchestra, Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Festival Orchestra, and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Indianapolis.
Sara Barlowe began studying music at the age of five in North Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University where she studied with esteemed pedagogue Mimi Zweig. While in school, Sara performed regularly with a variety of ensembles in the area such as the Columbus Philharmonic and the Terra Haute Symphony. She also had the opportunity of performing with notable artists such as Grammy-Nominee Maureen McGovern and Garrison Keillor on a live broadcast of NPR's "A Prairie Home Companion". Since moving to Chicago, Sara has been a free-lance violinist/violist and teacher in the metro area and has been particularly active in the realm of new music. She can be seen performing with ensembles such as the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, Chicago Composer's Orchestra, and the Chicago Sinfonietta.
Byron Huey began his studies at the Colburn School of Performing Arts. He received his bachelors degree from the University of Southern California studying with Ronald Leonard. At Northwestern University, he received a masters degree studying with Hans Jorgen Jensen. Currently, he is an active freelance cellist who teaches and plays with South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Elmhurst Symphony, Rockford Symphony Orchestra and Grand Rapids Symphony. In the past, Byron has participated in festivals such as Green Lake Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, Texas Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival and Encore School for Strings. Previous instructors include Alan Harris, Richard Weiss, Richard Naill, and Nancy Yamagata.
Gabriel Datcu is a versatile guitarist in several styles of music including jazz, funk, alternative, classical and latin. A native of Romania, Gabriel was invited at an early age to perform at several music venues throughout Bucharest and on Romanian national TV stations. This opportunity has provided him to meet, study, and perform with several renowned Romanian musicians. Gabriel later recorded in the national Radio-Television Studios which let him to be soon invited by Marin Pecheaís Big Band to perform and tour in Europe. In 2001, Gabriel moved to Chicago and was awarded a musical scholarship at DePaul University, where he studied with jazz guitarist Bob Palmieri, and at Northern Illinois University with Fareed Haque. Eventually, Pat Metheny Groupís bassist, Steve Rodby, helped him advance to playing elements of improvisations. During Gabriel's time at the Bloom School of Jazz, David Bloom had a strong influence on his music growth; consequently, Gabriel has appeared at several of Chicago jazz stages, such as the Green Mill and the Jazz Showcase. Currently, Gabriel continues to use his musical talent as he performs on several recording projects involving both classical and jazz music, with modern bands as well as classical ensembles throughout Chicago.