Brian Russell, Guest Director
Nashville native Brian T. Russell received his Masters and Doctoral degrees in conducting from the Eastman School of Music. While in Rochester he served as Assistant Conductor of the Eastman-Rochester Chorus, preparing and/or conducting the 200-member ensemble in performances of works by Brahms, Beethoven, Bruckner, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Rouse, Schumann, and Stravinsky. He also conducted the Eastman orchestras in staples of the symphonic repertoire. He studied trombone, piano, and voice at Middle Tennessee State University.
In the fall of 2012 he returned to Middle Tennessee, where he teaches choral music in Rutherford County. He previously was Assistant Professor of Music at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington and Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, where his responsibilities included teaching coursework in music education and conducting performances of large choral works with orchestra, such as the Honegger King David and Beethoven’s Mass in C.
Dr. Russell's teachers include William Weinert, Raphael Bundage, Neil Varon, and Mark Scatterday among others. He lives in Murfreesboro, TN with his wife and three children.
Allison Edberg, Guest Director
Noted for the beauty of her playing as well as for her versatility, violinist Allison Guest Edberg is one of the preeminent performers of baroque and modern violin. She has been praised by The Chicago Sun Times as "impeccable, with unerring intonation and an austere beauty". Equally at home as an orchestral and chamber musician, she also performs regularly as a violist and in recent years has added the viola d'amore to her list of favorite instruments.
Ms. Edberg has performed throughout North America, collaborating with many of the top baroque ensembles, including Chatham Baroque, Ensemble Galilei, Apollo's Fire, the Foundling Baroque Orchestra, the Washington Bach Consort, La Monica, and The Vivaldi Project. She is frequently featured at the Bloomington Early Music Festival and the Indianapolis Early Music Festival. Her discography includes recordings for the Eclectra, Delos, and Centaur CD labels.
Highly regarded as a teacher, Ms. Edberg has served on the faculties of Indiana State University, DePauw University, Ohio State, the Interlochen Arts Camp and Lawrence University. She is currently the concertmaster of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, a member of Ensemble Voltaire, and a new resident of the Chicago area.
Ms. Edberg studied with Stanley Ritchie at the Indiana University Early Music Institute where she was the recipient of the Willi Apel Scholarship in baroque violin. She received a Master of Music degree from the University of Michigan where she studied with Camilla Wicks. Her Bachelor’s degree is from the Peabody Institute with Daniel Heifetz.
Tucker Biddlecombe, Guest Director
Tucker Biddlecombe is Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. His duties include conducting the Vanderbilt Symphonic Choir and the Blair Chamber Choir, serving as Artistic Director for the Blair Children’s Chorus program, and teaching courses in conducting and choral literature.
Dr. Biddlecombe spent ten years teaching public school choral music in New York and Florida. He received National Board Teacher Certification in 2007, and was named 'Teacher of the Year' at Lawton Chiles High School (FL) in 2008. Ensembles under his direction have performed at state and division conventions of the American Choral Directors Association. He is a sought-after clinician and adjudicator, and will conduct honor choirs in four states during 2014, including the Florida All-State Men's Chorus.
He is a published composer and arranger, with choral works printed by Alliance, Hinshaw, and Walton Music. Also a burgeoning researcher, Dr. Biddlecombe's article on specificity of conductor feedback was recently published in the fourth volume of the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing.
Dr. Biddlecombe holds the PhD in Music Education and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Florida State University, and a Bachelor of Music degree, with majors in Vocal Performance and Music Education, from SUNY Potsdam. He is a native of Buffalo, New York.
Murray Somerville, Artistic Director Emeritus
Harpsichordist, organist, and conductor, Dr. Somerville was born in London and grew up in Rhodesia. He was a student of Bach conductor Karl Richter, studied at Oxford (Organ Scholar of New College under Sir David Lumsden), and holds a doctorate from New England Conservatory in Boston. Dr. Somerville was the founding conductor of the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, and was Music Director of the Winter Park Bach Festival in Florida. During his tenure as founding Artistic Director for Music City Baroque, the ensemble was three times named "Best of Nashville" by the Nashville Scene. Since his retirement, he and his wife Hazel reside in York and Charleston, South Carolina.
Violinist Karen Clarke is a founding member of Music City Baroque, previously having served as concertmaster and acting artistic director for the ensemble. Faculty of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt, having been previously Professor of Violin at Florida State University School of Music; she serves also as concertmaster of the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra. She has performed and recorded with the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra, the Apollo Ensemble and the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra; her students have been finalists in solo and chamber competitions.
Dr. Jessica Dunnavant is an instructor for both Belmont Academy, where she teaches flute and provides piano accompaniment for flute students, and Middle Tennessee State University, where she teaches Introduction to Music, flute and other courses as needed. She performs with Music City Baroque on Baroque flute and recorder, and she serves on their Musicians Council. Dr. Dunnavant also plays with saxophonist Paula Van Goes as the Greenbrook Ensemble. She is a blogger for The Music Collective and she is the Vice President/President-Elect of the Mid-South Flute Society. She maintains a large private flute studio in Middle Tennessee. Previous Visiting Assistant Professor appointments include the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where Dr. Dunnavant taught flute and Music Theory; Florida State University, where she taught flute, Baroque flute and recorder; and Texas A&M University-Kingsville, where she taught flute, Early Music Ensemble, Music Appreciation, and Aural Skills. Dr. Dunnavant holds degrees from the University of Maryland (DMA), Florida State University (MM) and Middle Tennessee State University (BM).
Keith Nicholas holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a Master of Music degree from Florida State University. He joined the Nashville Symphony in 1999 and currently teaches cello as adjunct faculty member at Austin Peay State University and Belmont University.
Francis Perry has appeared with Belle Meade Baroque since 2006, shortly after he moved to Nashville from the New York metropolitan area. He has performed on both lute and guitar at The Boston Early Music Festival. His article "A Recipe For Learning A New Piece of Music" was published in a recent issue of SOUNDBOARD magazine.
George Riordan, oboist, a founding member of Belle Meade Baroque, is Director of the School of Music at Middle Tennessee State University, a post he has held since August 2003. In addition to serving as a founding member of Belle Meade Baroque, Dr. Riordan regularly appears as principal oboist with the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra.
Laura Ross has been a member of the Nashville Symphony since 1984 and was previously a member of the Toledo Symphony. Laura is the Nashville Symphony union steward, serves on the executive board of Local 257 and is secretary of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM).
Passionate about music of all time periods, cellist Christopher Stenstrom is equally at home whether performing contemporary solo cello works, chamber music masterpieces, or Baroque and Classical music on period instruments. A member of the Nashville Symphony since 1999, he is a founding member of the Grammy-nominated Alias Chamber Ensemble, and can be heard regularly as a chamber musician.
He is increasingly in demand as an early music specialist, performing as a solo and continuo cellist with Music City Baroque, and with the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra and Bourbon Baroque. Christopher studied with the late Andor Toth, Jr. at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he also studied viola da gamba and baroque cello with Catharina Meints. He received a Master's degree from Bowling Green State University, where he had an assistantship as a member of the graduate string quartet and studied with Dr. Alan Smith.
He is an active volunteer in the nonprofit arts community, serving on the boards of Music City Baroque and the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Music City Baroque Chamber Chorus made its debut singing Bach's Motet No. 3, "Jesu, meine Freude" in the March 2009 concert at the Blair School of Music. It comprises a group of stylistically aware choral musicians from the Nashville area, including members of St. George's Choir and the Nashville Symphony Chorus.