James Ferree, native of Atlanta, joined the Richmond Symphony as Principal Horn in January 2012, via the New World Symphony. Solo appearances include Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux Ètoiles… at Juilliard, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with the RSO, Schumann’s Konzertstück with the Richmond Philharmonic, and Gliėre’s Horn Concerto with the NWS, where the South Florida Classical Review wrote, “[Ferree] displayed a mastery of the instrument that allowed him to paint all the moods … golden sounds….” He has also performed with orchestras of Atlanta, Kansas City, and Jacksonville, Florida; played guest Principal with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Washington National Opera, Virginia Symphony, and guest Associate with the LA Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel on their 2016 European Tour.
Ferree is active locally as a chamber artist, having performed with the Atlantic Chamber Ensemble, Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia, Richmond Chamber Players, and the Staunton Music Festival. He can also be heard alongside the American Brass Quintet in their 50th Anniversary album. Ferree has also participated in the festivals of Crested Butte, Tanglewood, Spoleto USA, and Music Academy of the West, and has been a member of the Verbier Festival and Chamber Orchestras, performing with them and violinist David Garrett on his 2014 Germany tour.
An active composer, Ferree’s chamber works are frequently performed by members of the Richmond Symphony. Ferree holds BM and MM degrees from The Juilliard School.
Thomas Schneider joined the Richmond Symphony as Principal Bassoon in September of 2012. Before joining the RSO, Tom was a fellow for two years at the New World Symphony in Miami Beach under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. He has recently performed as guest Principal Bassoon with the Jacksonville Symphony, guest Associate Principal Bassoon with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and guest Co-principal Bassoon with the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Tom holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory and a Master of Music degree from the University of Maryland. His primary teachers are Sue Heineman, George Sakakeeny, Yoshi Ishikawa, and Debbie Torpe. He has appeared at festivals including the Tanglewood Music Center, National Orchestral Institute, National Repertory Orchestra, and the Sarasota Music Festival. Tom made his first solo appearance with the RSO in the fall of 2014 performing Peter Schickeleís Bassoon Concerto. In 2016, Tom was a finalist in the Matthew Ruggiero International Woodwind Competition.
Outside music, Tom loves to read, play soccer, and climb the beautiful mountains in his native Colorado.
Oboist and English hornist Alexandra von der Embse currently plays oboe and English horn with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. In 2017, she played principal oboe with the Breckenridge Music Festival. As Artistic Director and oboist of Ensemble39, a chamber group based on the Prokofiev quintet dedicated to artistic collaboration and expanding the reach of classical music, she has worked with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Syrian-born composer Kinan Abou-Afach, World Cafè Live’s LiveConnections, Philadelphia’s Fringe Festival, and Frutillar’s Teatro del Lago.
In 2014, she became one of the inaugural fellows for Curtis Institute of Music’s Artist Year. In addition to performing around Philadelphia with the BOK trio, she has taught music composition with non-traditional notation to fourth graders at South Philadelphia’s Taggart Elementary, and collaborated with a variety of organizations throughout Philadelphia, from El Sistema-style orchestral programs like Play On, Philly, to ProjectHOME. Each project involved a commission from a young Philadelphia composer.
A champion of new works, she has worked with young composers as well as established musicians like George Crumb, Richard Danielpour, Jennifer Higdon, David Ludwig, and Steve Mackey. Alexandra graduated from Curtis where she studied with Richard Woodhams, and Oberlin where she studied with Alex Klein, Robert Walters, James Caldwell, and Laura Griffiths. She has also studied extensively with Ariana Ghez and James Moore.
When she isn’t performing, she enjoys finding inspiration from the New York City Ballet (her husband is principal trombone of the orchestra) and exploring New York City’s vast food and theater scene.
Charles West is an orchestral, chamber and solo clarinetist, and a conductor, performing throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. His recorded repertoire ranges from standard sonatas to avant-garde, on labels which include Klaver, Wilson Audiophile, Centaur, CRI, Crystal and he is heard on a Grammy Award-winning Telarc CD.
Dr. West has been a Fulbright Scholar, President of the International Clarinet Association, and his career has included nearly thirty years as Principal Clarinetist in six different professional orchestras and opera companies on two continents. He has held teaching positions in three North American universities, with guest professorships in South America, Taiwan, Hong Kong, The People’s Republic of China and Australia. He has been Conductor of Orchestras and opera conductor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and during his seven-year tenure as Conductor of the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra, the orchestra became recognized regionally for its standard of excellence.
West has recently retired as Professor of Music at Virginia Commonwealth University. He remains an Artist-Clinician for the Buffet Crampon Corporation and for the Hal Leonard Corporation. He has written three books on woodwinds which are published by Meredith Music Publications. in 2011 the VCU School of the Arts awarded him its highest faculty honor, the Award of Excellence.
Daisuke Yamamoto, violinist, has been Concertmaster of the Richmond Symphony since 2013, and he has been featured as a soloist on several occasions since his arrival, including a performance of the Theme from Schindler’s List for the Holocaust Remembrance Concert, which was recently broadcast statewide. Other performances include Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, Ravel’s Tzigane and Vivaldi’s “Autumn” from The Four Seasons. An avid orchestral performer, he has performed with many orchestras across the US, including The Cleveland Orchestra, New World Symphony, and the Spokane Symphony. As a concertmaster, he has led the New World Symphony, Spokane Symphony, Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, Blossom Festival Orchestra and the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra. He has worked with such notable conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas, Franz Welser-Möst, Fabio Luisi, Osmo Vänskä, Nicholas McGegan, Robert Spano, Jeffrey Tate and David Zinman. As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with Robert McDuffie, Ida Kavafian, Peter Wiley, Steven Tenenbom, Jasper String Quartet, members of The Cleveland Orchestra, Tokyo String Quartet, Duo Patterson and Jerry Wong.