Ben Sung, Violin
Ben is a founding member of ClefWorks, Inc. and is also ClefWorks’ Artistic Director. He is coming to us from Fargo, North Dakota where he is Concertmaster of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra. He is also a faculty member at both Minnesota State University-Moorhead and North Dakota State University, and is the Series Director of the Cheryl Nelson Lossett Performing Arts Series at MSUM.
This summer, Ben was honored with an invitation to be Guest Concertmaster of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra in Norway. He was also a featured soloist and teacher at Festival Invierno de Garanhuns in Brazil! Along with that, his piano ensemble, called the Arsenal Trio, was selected for the Chamber Music Residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
Ben has also performed as soloist with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, National Repertory Orchestra, Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, Texas Music Festival Orchestra and the Solistas do Virtuosi of Festival Internacional de Musica in Recife, Brazil. He has participated in the Professional Training Program at Carnegie Hall, the Lucerne Festival Academy in Switzerland and at the New York String Seminar.
His accomplishments also include being selected as winner of the Eastman School of Music Starling Award, the Gladys Gingold Scholarship at Indiana University and the Violin Fellowship competition of the Montgomery Symphony. He has also recorded the music of composers Steve Rouse and Marc Satterwhite for the Centaur label. Ben Sung holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Oleh Krysa, and Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he studied with Nelli Shkolnikova. He has also studied with Fredell Lack, Sonya Monosoff, Ida Kavafian and Mitchell Stern.
Ben and his wife Jihye moved from Montgomery to Fargo last year, and there he is enjoying running, watching the snow fall and everything that comes out of Jihye’s kitchen.
Todd Harris Sheldrick, French Horn
At eight years old Todd fell in love with the sound of the horn at his first Boston Symphony Orchestra concert. He decided at that early age to be a performing musician. Todd lives in Portugal now and is enjoying his position as principal horn of the Orquestra do Algarve. He finds special joy in bringing out the great wit and character found in horn parts of the symphonic repertoire, especially that of the classical period.
In addition to his regular duties, he has performed solo with orchestras on several occasions, he has recorded four CDs, including the Symphonie Concertante K.279b by Mozart, he has performed in many concert tours – including trips to London, Brussels, Milan and Vienna – and he has participated in numerous radio and television broadcasts.
Todd is equally comfortable with contemporary music and enjoys being an innovator, composer and improviser, specializing in extended techniques in both solo and collaborative performances. He is the creator of “Overtone74,” a horn based electro-acoustic improvisation machine. Since its premier in Phoenix in 2000, “Overtone74” has been heard in Tuscaloosa, Lisbon, Porto Edinburgh and most recently in Denver this past July. As an instructor, Todd has also presented lectures and demonstrations on extended techniques, improvisation and “Overtone74” at music festivals and horn symposia in Europe and the United States. Todd holds a B.M. from the Oberlin College Conservatory and a M.M. from Arizona State University, where he studied with Thomas Bacon.
Xak Bjerken, Piano
Pianist Xak Bjerken has performed solo and chamber music recitals in Europe and throughout the United States. He has made orchestral solo appearances in Edinburgh with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, in Rome with the Spoleto Festival Orchestra and in Disney Hall, Los Angeles, with members of the LA Philharmonic. Xak has also performed at the Royal Concertgebouw Hall in Amsterdam, at Alice Tully Hall, Weill Hall and at the Kennedy Center. He has also given recitals in Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Hungary.
Xak is the pianist of the Los Angeles Piano Quartet, which tours the U.S. regularly, and with his wife, pianist Miri Yampolsky, he directs MAYFEST, an annual chamber music festival in Ithaca, New York. In addition, he has directed three festivals of 20th-century music: “Angels, Saints and Birdsong: A Messiaen Festival,” “Through the Iron Curtain: Music of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union” and “The Stravinsky Project.” Mr. Bjerken has held chamber music residencies at the Tanglewood Music Center and the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. He has performed at the Olympic Music Festival and the Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival and he has served as well on the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival.
Xak’s first solo recording for CRI, High Rise, was released in 2001. He has also recorded for Chandos, Albany Records, Fleur de Son and Koch International. He has also made three recordings with violist Michael Zaretsky for the Artona label. Mr. Bjerken earned his bachelor’s degree cum laude at UCLA, studying with Aube Tzerko, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the Peabody Institute as a student and teaching assistant to Leon Fleisher.