2021 Artists

Anna Reider, violin

Anna Reider, violin, is first violinist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and concert mistress of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. Her first solo orchestra performance was at age seven, and has since had a highly acclaimed career. Full Bio.

Helen Hwaya Kim, violin

Helen Hwaya Kim, violin, made her orchestral debut with the Calgary Philharmonic at the age of six, and has gone on to become a respected and sought-after artist. She is the full violin professor at Kennesaw State University. Full Bio.

Ashley Sidon, cello

Respected as both a soloist and chamber musician, Ashley Sandor Sidon is the Briggs Endowed Professor of Cello at Drake University and Executive Director of the Zenith Chamber Music Festival. As an invited performer and clinician, Dr. Sidon’s credits include international solo performances across China, in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, Taiwan, Italy, Germany, France, Poland, and Brazil.  Nationally, her performances as a chamber musician and as an orchestral soloist have taken her to the leading universities, chamber music festivals, and concert stages from Maine to California.  Full Bio.

Sheldon Person, viola

Praised by the Edmonton Journal for performing “with precision and grace,” and by NUVO Magazine for his “consistently rich tone [and] expressive, intense playing,” Sheldon Person is a violist in the Houston Symphony and enjoys an active career as a chamber musician, recitalist, and teacher. Full Bio.

Paula Kosower, cello

Paula Kosower is an active performer and teacher currently residing in Evanston.  Recently she has performed concerts with Fulcrum Point New Music Project, with the Chicago Chamber Musicians, for the Chicago Philharmonic Chamber Music Series, and for faculty concerts at North Park University and Northeastern University. Full Bio.

Kelly Kuo, piano

Praised by the Cincinnati Enquirer as “a leader of exceptional musical gifts, who has a clear technique on the podium and an impressive rapport with audiences,” Kelly Kuo brings a dynamic versatility and nuance to a diverse repertoire, which includes over 90 operas and an expansive symphonic repertoire as well. Currently in his eighth season as Artistic Director of Oregon Mozart Players, recent engagements have included productions with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cincinnati Opera, Kentucky Opera, Madison Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Brevard Music Center, Tulsa Opera, Anchorage Opera, and The University of Texas at Austin, and concerts with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Lexington Philharmonic, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, and Ballet Fantastique.
Full Bio.

Sycil Mathai, trumpet

Sycil Mathai is a trumpeter with a global musical career spanning genres from ensembles like The Knights Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra to Broadway shows like “South Pacific” and “Mary Poppins.” He has also worked with artist Carter Burwell, the dance companies of Merce Cunningham and Mark Morris Dance Group, and movie directors Andy Kaufman and the Coen Brothers. Mathai has recorded for RCA, PBS, CBS, EA Sports, and Warner Classics, and has shared the stage with artists ranging from Yo-Yo Ma to Stevie Wonder. Recently, he saw the release of his recording with The Knights Orchestra featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and a recording of violin concertos featuring Gil Shaham. Sycil is a graduate of Juilliard under the tutelage of Mark Gould, and Texas Christian University as a student of Steve Weger. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Trumpet and Area Coordinator for Brass/Percussion at California State University Fullerton. Sycil is delighted to join the 2021 Zenith Festival and is very proud of his wife, Dr.Maureen Yuen (Assistant Professor of Violin at Drake University), who recently received her doctorate from Columbia University.  

Dennis Siebenaler, organ

Dennis Siebenaler, associate professor, holds a D.M.A. in music education from the University of Texas at Austin, and a M.M. in piano performance from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Siebenaler has been a presenter at numerous regional, state, national and international conferences, and has articles published in Texas Music Education Research, Proceedings of the National Conference on Piano Pedagogy, Journal of Music Teacher Education, UPDATE: Applications of Research in Music Education, Research and Issues in Music Education and Journal of Research in Music Education. He has completed three levels of Kodaly pedagogy and studied Orff methodology as well as Dalcroze Eurhthymics. Siebenaler previously taught at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, the University of Texas and at Zavala Elementary in Austin, Texas. He has also worked as a church musician, piano teacher and professional accompanist.

Meridian Arts Ensemble

A quintet comprised of five brass players, the Meridian Arts Ensemble is one of America’s leading brass groups exploring the music of today. Founded in 1987, the ensemble has nine commercial CD releases, over fifty premieres, and performances on four continents and in forty-nine states.  Meridian’s exciting and ambitious musical approach has changed the face of classical music.  The ensemble began its career looking away from academic music and toward the American vernacular.  Meridian’s arrangements of the music of Frank Zappa brought critical and popular acclaim, interviews on NPR’s weekend edition, and performances in concert halls and rock clubs. As a former faculty ensemble at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, our members now hold professorships at universities across the country. For more info, click here.

Jade Trio

The Pittsburgh-based piano trio consisting of pianist Ellen Fast, violinist Dawn Posey, and cellist Katya Janpoladyan. For their individual bios, click here.

Kassia Ensemble

The dynamic group of women that form Kassia Ensemble strives for more inclusive gender and racial representation in the world of chamber music. The Ensemble achieves this by promoting women’s entrepreneurship and leadership in the arts, collaborating with artists of all genres and performing music by composers of all genders as well as diverse ethnicities.   

Based in the Pittsburgh area, its members hold positions in the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet orchestras, the West Virginia Symphony, the Wheeling Symphony, and the Erie Philharmonic. The seven member ensemble is composed of the traditional string quartet, double bass, clarinet, and harp. This unique instrumentation allows for quite a bit of variety in programming.  Concerts range from charming duos such as Andrea Clearfield’s Three Songs for Violin and Double Bass and Shulamit Ran’s Private Games for Clarinet and Cello to larger scale works like Andre Caplet’s Conte Fantastique.  Full Bio 

Local Artists

Quartet 515

Quartet 515 was formed in 2015 out of a desire to create beautiful chamber music. 

All members of Quartet 515 are Des Moines-based professional musicians and maintain active performing careers in the community. As avid orchestral players, they all perform with the Des Moines Symphony and various other community orchestras. Their deep appreciation for chamber music, though, led them to form Quartet 515.

Quartet 515 musicians who will be featured in the 2021 Zenith series are Hanna Wolle (violin 1), Robert Espe (violin 2,) Joyce Beyer (viola), and Stephen Dorff (cello).

Nicholas Roth, piano

Nicholas Roth, Professor of Piano at Drake University, is a featured performer and teacher throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. He is a Yamaha Artist, a Fellow of the American Pianists Association, earned prizes in chamber music competitions in Italy, and received a DAAD grant to further his studies in Germany. Roth holds the DMA from Michigan State University, Artist Diplomas in solo piano and art song collaboration from the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, and MM and BM degrees from Indiana University where he was a recipient of the distinguished Performer’s Certificate and the Joseph Battista Memorial Scholarship. He studied with Ralph Votapek, Elisso Virsaladze, Helmut Deutsch, Edward Auer, Emilio del Rosario, and Michel Block. He has recorded for Blue Griffin, Naxos, MSR Classics & Innova.

Andrew Classen, trumpet


Andrew Classen
 is professor of trumpet and jazz studies at Drake University. He is currently principal trumpet with the Orchestra Iowa. He has played with numerous Broadway shows including: Wicked, Spamalot, Book of Mormon, Hairspray, Annie, Little Shop of Horrors, The Producers, Chicago (solo trumpet), The Full Monty42nd Street, and Thoroughly Modern Millie.

He is in much demand as a clinician/guest artist for recitals, masterclasses and seminars, regionally, nationally and internationally. He has perform in China, Mexico, England and much of continental Europe. His classical trumpet album, It’s About Time, is available through Amazon or the iTunes store. Full Bio.