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SAN LUIS OBISPO (CA) – The San Luis Obispo Symphony has added six local professionals to its Board of Directors, bringing a wealth of exp

New Music Director Andrew Sewell selects a diverse mix of popular classical selections, as well as contemporary classical and popular music for its 57th season


Caroline Tobin began studying the clarinet at age 13 her freshman year in high school.  Not satisfied with learning one instrument, the violin soon followed the next year and it was the violin that became her instrument throughout her undergraduate years at UCLA where she graduated with a BA in Fine Arts. A decade later she returned to the clarinet as a Master’s student at CSUN studying with Dominick Fera and Jim Kanter.  Following her Master’s degree in Clarinet Performance, she pursued further studies with Mitchell Lurie and Leon Russianoff who influenced not only her playing, but her teaching as well. Caroline became Principal Clarinet with the Ventura Symphony, holding that position for 21 years. Concurrently, she held the Bass Clarinetist position with the Santa Barbara Symphony for 25 years. Upon moving to the Central Coast with plans of retiring, Caroline found herself playing with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, the Santa Maria Philharmonic and the Mozart Festival Orchestra as well as teaching clarinet and clarinet ensemble at both Cal-Poly and Cuesta Colleges. In addition to being Principal Clarinet with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Caroline holds that position with the Santa Maria Philharmonic, the Symphony of the Vines, and the San Luis Obispo Master Chorale.


New to the Central Coast, Jessica finds she does not miss Los Angeles traffic…AT ALL.  Growing up in a household that only listened to baroque and early classical music, the oboe seemed a logical choice of instrument for her.  Oboe became her passion, but she chose mechanical engineering for her livelihood.  These days, when she is not travelling internationally selling geothermal power plants, she is on stage with her oboe.  This dual life all started at UCLA where she studied both music and engineering.  Her primary oboe teachers included Barbara Northcutt and David Weiss.  Jessica has played with numerous groups in the Los Angeles area: Los Angeles Music Center Opera, American Youth Symphony, Long Beach Ballet and Los Angeles Symphony to name but a few. She has performed with world-class musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma, Emmanuel Axe and Zubin Mehta.  She currently holds the principal oboe position for the San Luis Obispo Symphony and Symphony of the Vines.  Jessica performs with Opera San Luis Obispo as well as other local groups. As an active freelance musician, Jessica remains involved with the LA music scene, and she continues to hold positions in the Downey Symphony, Burbank Philharmonic, and other southern-California orchestras.


Alice McGonigal, a member of the San Luis Obispo Symphony since 1975, became an international flutist with the New Symphony of Tokyo, the Barbants Ensemble of Holland, the North Wind Quintet (NWQ), the International Congress of Women in Music in Mexico City and the Korean Philharmonic of Los Angeles.  She has BA & MA degrees from CSU Northridge and was chosen to play in the 2003 National Flute Association Professional Flute convention Choir in Las Vegas, NV.  She teaches private Flute and Guitar, and conducts an after school program of flute choir music at Laguna Middle School for teens, adults and seniors.  Alice can be heard on the Cambria and Safari labels.


Lara Lehmer volunteered to try the bass in 6th grade in SLO and was instantly hooked. She studied with Sarah Wood, Clifton Swanson,  Peter Mercurio, and Diana Gannett. She began playing in the SLO Symphony at the age of 14, as well as the Cal Poly Chamber Orchestra, the Cuesta Master Chorale, and soon after, the Mozart Festival. During high school, she played principal bass for the CMEA All-State, and CODA orchestras and, after her junior year, attended the Music Academy of the West.  Lara stayed busy playing bass while in college at Stanford University, graduate school at UCLA, and while living in Iowa, South Carolina, and Bakersfield.  After being away for 25 years, Lara and her family are grateful to once again call SLO home.


Ken Hustad has been working on the Central Coast as a freelance musician and bass instructor for over 30 years, playing orchestral and chamber music, jazz, rock, blues and country, as well as working in theater and recording. He is co-principal bass for the San Luis Obispo Symphony and Orchestra Novo and for 20 consecutive years played in the Mozart Festival/Festival Moziac Orchestra under Clifton Swanson, Jeffrey Kahane and Scott Yoo. He maintains a private bass studio and is bass instructor at Cal Poly University and Cuesta College, bass coach for the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony and Orchestra Novo Summer String Workshop. Ken plays with Jim Self’s Tricky Lix Band, The Royal Garden Swing Orchestra, The Cinders Blues Band, The Mystery Trees, The Irene Cathaway Rhythm and Blues Band, The BarFlyz, and others. Working with Cal Poly Arts, he has performed and contracted ensembles for touring artists including the Broadway production of “Chicago,” Garrison Kiellor, Pink Martini, Manhattan Transfer and Diane Schuur. His teachers include Clifton Swanson, Buell Neidlinger, Paul Elison and Stuart Sankey.


Nancy Nagano was born and raised in Morro Bay, California.  She began her musical studies at a young age with Wachtang “Botso” Korisheli and was a member of the fledgling San Luis Obispo County Youth Symphony. She finished her musical studies in cello performance at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg, Germany. She has played with the Freiburger Theater Orchestra, Southwest German Radio Orchestra, Kobe Chamber Orchestra, and the New Japan Philharmonic.  She has also performed solo and chamber music throughout Europe and Japan. For eight years she taught and conducted at the Tokushima Bunri University, where she made her conducting debut (as an alternate for Kent Nagano). This eventually led to her becoming the musical director of the Kochi Symphony Orchestra in Japan.  Her performances have included Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite with the City Ballet of Tokyo, Opera excerpts from Carmen, La Traviata, La Boheme and several major piano concertos with well-known artists in Japan.  She is currently the conductor of the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony, and performs as a cellist with the San Luis Obispo Symphony and with the string quartet “Beethoven’s Buddies.” Ms. Nagano owns and runs Elite Travel in Morro Bay where she also lives with her husband and two children.


David began playing the viola at age 10 in his hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma. His primary teacher was Wayne Crouse, Principal Violist with the Houston Symphony and Professor of Viola at the University of Oklahoma. He studied chamber music with Akira Endo, Michael Ma, Sally O’Reilly, and Janos Starker. David won Oklahoma’s Buttram String competition in 1989 and OU’s Sutton Chamber Music Award in 1992. He performed with the Lawton Philharmonic and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and after moving to Seattle in 1994 for graduate work in English at the University of Washington, David performed with Philharmonia Northwest, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Federal Way Symphony, and the Lumiere String Quartet. David earned his Ph.D from the University of Washington in 2001 and began teaching English at Cal Poly in 2002. Since moving to the Central Coast, he has served as principal violist for Opera San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria Philharmonic, San Luis Obispo Master Chorale, and performed with PCPA, Lompoc Pops Orchestra, and Symphony of the Vines. 


Emily Lanzone (Cox) earned her BM in violin performance from the University of Oregon, MM from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a Professional Studies Diploma from the San Francisco Concervatory of Music. Her principal teachers have included Kathryn Gray, Kathleen Winkler, Kathy Luckterberg, Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio, and Axel Strauss. Since moving to the Central Coast in 2011, Emily has been a member of the SLO Symphony, along with other area ensembles such as the Symphony of the Vines, OperaSLO, and Santa Maria Philharmonic. She also plays with the Santa Cruz County Symphony, and the Oregon Coast Music Festival in Coos Bay, OR. Emily teaches at Cal Poly University and works with the SLO Youth Symphony, while maintaining a private studio of violin and viola students. Although she specializes in orchestral performance, Emily's first love is chamber music, a passion which took her abroad to northern Italy in the summer of 2011 for the Zephyr Chamber Music Festival. A native of Portland, OR, she currently lives in Morro Bay, CA with her husband Brian and their son Kieran.


Paul Severtson was born and raised in California. He gained early experience as a student violinist with chamber music through a family string quartet, a high school string trio that was a prize-winner at the Coleman Chamber Music Auditions in Pasadena, and master classes with cellist Edgar Lustgarten in La Jolla. He attended Yale College where he was the first concertmaster of the Yale Symphony under the direction of John Mauceri. He received his Master of Music degree at the Yale University School of Music, where he studied violin with Broadus Erle and Syoko Aki. In his many years as a professional musician, he has performed in symphony, opera, ballet and chamber orchestras; popular, rock 'n roll and jazz groups; contemporary music ensembles; and as a folk musician with special interest in the Norwegian hardanger fiddle. In 1985 he was invited to perform on the hardanger fiddle at the opening of "Troldsalen," an intimate concert hall on the grounds of Edvard Griegs home near Bergen, Norway, with the royal family in attendance. In addition to being Co-Concertmaster of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Mr. Severtson teaches violin at Cal Poly and performs with other area ensembles.  He moved to the Central Coast from San Diego in 1992 and is the former Development Director at Public Radio KCBX FM-90.


Brynn Albanese made her solo debut at the age of 10 with the Carson Symphony Orchestra in Los Angeles, California. Growing up in Los Angeles within a family of professional musicians, she was exposed to music from infancy. Her Mother was a cellist, Father a clarinetist and her grandfather a concert pianist. The most prominent musician in the family was Opera Prima Donna, Licia Albanese. Brynn studied in Los Angeles from the age of four until seventeen with Elizabeth Ivanoff Holborn.

Mrs. Albanese graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore Maryland with the highest honors. She served as Concertmaster of the Peabody Orchestra for four years including a tour in 1987 to the former U.S.S.R. 

Brynn has performed at the Tanglewood Music Festival, where in 1958 her Mother also performed.  Both summers Mrs. Albanese was appointed Concertmaster for the first and second Leonard Bernstein Memorial concerts under Seiji Ozawa and Rodger Norrington; she received the Henry Kohn Award for The Most Valuable Member of the Tanglewood Festival. 

In the fall of 1992 Brynn relocated to Boston where she was appointed Concertmaster of the Boston Philharmonic under Benjamin Zander and also Principal Second of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra under John Williams and Keith Lockhart. From 1993 to 1998 she was a regular with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa; she participated in all domestic and international tours as well as all recordings.

On the Central Coast now since 2005, Brynn has performed numerous recitals and a wide variety of projects over the last ten years. Her musical life since then has extended far into the non-classical realm as she is the violinist for the extremely popular Gypsy, Tango, Swing, Folk and Wild Classical ensemble, Café Musique. They have performed all over California and beyond. 


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