Karen Clarke, Concertmaster and Acting Artistic Director
Founding member of Music City Baroque. 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.
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.
Brent Wissick, Guest Director
Brent Wissick is Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he teaches cello, viola da gamba, and early music ensembles. A member of Ensemble Chanterelle and the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, he is a frequent guest with the Dallas Bach Society, Folger Consort, Concert Royal, Smithsonian Consort of Viols, Boston Early Music Festival, Magnolia Baroque as well as Wroclaw Baroque in Poland. He was an NEH Fellow at Harvard and served as chair of Higher Education for Early Music America. A former student of John Hsu at Cornell University, he has performed and taught at many of the important schools, workshops and festivals in North America, Australia, Europe and Asia. His recording of Sonatas and Cantatas by Bononcini was released by Centaur and his online video article about them has been published by the Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music. He has also recorded for Albany, Titanic, Dux, Radio-Bremen, MusicaOmnia, and Koch International. Currently, he is Past President of the Viola Gamba Society of America, having served as President from 2000 through 2004, chair of the 2007 Pan-Pacific Gamba Gathering, and a board member since 1986.
Rebecca Cole is a member of the Nashville Symphony. She performed at the Oregon Bach Festival for 18 years, and was Principal Second Violin at the Peter Britt Festival for 12 years. This past summer, she attended the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, where she studied with Tafelmusik Concertmaster Jeanne Lamon, and also participated in the Vancouver Early Music Programme, working with Marc Destrube, Jacques Oggs, and Jap ter Linden.
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, including performances with the Nashville Symphony's OnStage program.
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.