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The Western Wind Vocal Ensemble, Inc is a
Since 1969, the internationally acclaimed vocal sextet The Western Wind has devoted itself to the special beauty and variety of a cappella music. The Ensemble’s repertoire reveals its diverse background – from Renaissance motets to Fifties rock ’n’ roll, from medieval carols to Duke Ellington, from complex works by avant-garde composers to the simplest folk melodies.
In addition to maintaining a demanding performance schedule, which has included such venues as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, ArtPark, The Ordway Theater, The Metropolitan Museum, The Frick Museum, The Jewish Museum, Folger Shakespeare Library, Library of Congress, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Western Wind regularly conducts Workshops in Ensemble Singing. The workshops, attended by vocalists ranging from novice to professional, address the particular challenges of singing in small, largely un-conducted ensembles.
As part of its non-profit mission to spread the joy of music to people of all ages, The Western Wind coordinates a highly-acclaimed arts-in-education program in the New York City public school system called The Western Wind Goes To School for children ages 8–18. The curriculum ranges from the fundamentals of music notation and rhythm to highly refined interpretation of challenging vocal repertoire.
Since 1989, The Western Wind has produced a series of radio programs distributed throughout the United States by National Public Radio and Public Radio International. The programs address topics ranging from settings of love songs throughout the centuries to a musical narrative of the Jewish High Holy Days.
The Western Wind has also produced twenty recordings, twelve of which have been released on Western Wind Records, the group’s own record label, available on this site and distributed worldwide by Naxos.
Eric S. Brenner (countertenor) has been hailed for his “penetrating eloquence”, “astonishing solo singing,” (NY Times), and “auto-tuned Mr. Roboto majesty” (Stage Mage). Current engagements include Arvo Pärt’s Vater unser at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a recital of works by 17th century composer/castrato Marc’Antonio Pasqualini. Eric is countertenor soloist in recent performances and recording of Han Lash’s Requiem (Naxos), as well as Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize winning Angel’s Bone (VIA Records). Other engagements include: alto soloist in Vivaldi’s Introduction and Gloria at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue; soprano and alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah at Avery Fisher (Geffen) and Alice Tully Hall; Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” at Carnegie Hall, St. Thomas Church, St. John the Divine and St. Ignatius Loyola; frequent performances with Artek, Big Apple Baroque, & Les Canards Chantants. Eric premiered the roles of Doodle in Stefan Weisman’s & David Cote’s Scarlet Ibis, Beast in Han Lash’s Blood Rose, and Poet in Virko Baley’s Holodomor in Ukraine. Eric has also premiered works by Jessica Meyer, Doug Balliet, Kamala Sankaram, and Toby Twining. Eric is a proud dog-dad, a new homeowner, writes fiction, is co-composer with Matt Shloss of music for Rob Reese’s Yahweh’s Follies, and persists in being an incorrigible Mets fan. ericsbrenner.com
Paul Greene-Dennis (bass) hails from Brentwood, NY. He is a versatile musician, mainly an opera singer, who also lends his bass to other styles and genres of music, including jazz. He has performed opera and oratorio with various organizations in the New York area including the Oratorio Society of New York, the Long Island Choral Society and the Queens College Opera Studio. Paul also does voice-over for various projects to which he has lent his voice and artistry.
Linda Lee Jones (soprano), a New Orleans native, is active as a soprano, teacher and massage therapist in New York City and Central New Jersey. Her work as an ensemble singer has afforded her the opportunity to perform with the area’s most prominent choral groups, including the choirs of Trinity Wall Street Church, Musica Sacra, the New York Choral Artists, St. Ignatius Loyola Church and the Mostly Mozart Festival, along with some of the world’s finest orchestras and conductors. Ms. Jones is a member of the professional Chorale of the Carmel Bach Festival in Carmel, CA and sings regularly with the choir of St. Mary the Virgin in New York. As a soloist she has appeared with the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, the Louisiana Vocal Arts Chorale, the Masterwork Chorus of NJ and the Argento Chamber Ensemble in New York. Before relocating to New Jersey she served as Director of Music for Munholland United Methodist Church in New Orleans, where she worked with choristers of all ages. Ms. Jones hold a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Loyola University and a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting and Voice from Westminster Choir College of Rider University.
Christina Kay (soprano) enjoys a versatile career that spans concert, opera, and choral repertoire. An avid performer of early music, she made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2019 as soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Masterwork Chorus and Orchestra. Her skill with Renaissance and Baroque-era repertoire has led her to notable summer festivals, including the Carmel Bach Festival’s Virginia Best Adams Masterclass, the American Bach Soloists Academy, and the Baroque Opera Workshop at Queens College. In New York City, she performs with period ensembles ARTEK and The American Classical Orchestra, and has also appeared with Brooklyn Baroque, Ensemble Leonarda, and Gotham Early Music. Christina is particularly interested in ornamentation and improvisation of late Renaissance and early Baroque repertoire, and loves writing and performing her own ornamented arrangements of popular 16th and 17th century madrigals. Also a passionate advocate of contemporary works, she has performed the role of Lead Singer in Petr Kotik’s Master-Pieces (S.E.M. Ensemble), premiered the role of Daphne in David Chesky’s La Farranucci (Operavocateur), and most recently appeared as Annabelle in an Act I preview of Timothy Lee Miller’s new opera The Bird Lady with OperAvant, Inc.
Bradley King (tenor) – Praised by reviewers and audiences for his “profound” and “engaging” style, Bradley performs regularly in a broad range of programs from contemporary to ancient. Bradley performs with many of the premiere ensembles in the country, such as Boston Early Music Festival, the Rose Ensemble, Les Canards Chantants, and Apollo’s Fire. On stage he has performed such diverse roles as Anthony from Sweeney Todd, and Colin from Le Devin du Village, and also frequently collaborates with composers such as Doug Balliet, Fiona Gillespie and Andrew Lovett on new works. Bradley’s unique blend of power and sweetness has earned him accolades all over the world, notably as first prize winner of the James Toland Vocal Arts Competition, Semi-finalist in the New York Oratorio Society Competition, and performances at the Mozarteum Academy in Salzburg. Hailing from Media, Pennsylvania, Mr. King holds degrees in voice and conducting from DePauw University and the University of North Texas.
David Vanderwal (tenor) is a native of Portland, Oregon. He has performed as a soloist with The American Bach Soloists, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, New York Collegium and Tafelmusik. Recently Mr. Vanderwal performed Handel’s Messiah with the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choirs of Buffalo, NY, Pax Christi of Toronto, ON, Danbury (CT) Symphony Orchestra, the Mendelssohn Choir (CT), and First Congregational Church of Greenwich, CT. He performed Bach’s Easter Oratorio, and a new concert Mass of John Tavener with the Choir of St. Thomas Church, in New York. Mr. Vanderwal appeared at the Carmel Bach Festival in California, and taught at the International Bachakademie’s Stuttgart Festival in Überlingen, Germany. He also presents a set of song recitals throughout the year.
William Zukof (countertenor) is a founding member and executive producer of The Western Wind. He sang countertenor with the ensemble from 1969 to 2019. A New York City native, he was born in Manhattan and received his BA degree from The City University of New York. In his early twenties, he became a student of the noted American countertenor Russell Oberlin. He has appeared as a soloist with the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, the Roger Wagner Chorale, the Gregg Smith Singers, the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, Musica Sacra of New York, and the Zamir Chorale. Mr. Zukof performed the Bach Magnificat under the direction of Leonard Bernstein at the Vatican in Rome. His operatic appearances include roles with the Washington Opera, the Center for Contemporary Opera, the Eastman School, and the University of California at Berkeley. He is executive producer for Western Wind’s recordings, including the latest release, We Are Still Here – The Holocaust Through Music & Memory, the ninth in a series of Judaica recordings. A version of this program narrated by Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht is being distributed nationwide by Public Radio International.
Joan O. Epstein, Board President, Music Professor, Composer, Trumpeter
Joan Epstein as been a member of the Eckerd faculty since 1981, offers a wide variety of music and interdisciplinary arts courses including Myths & Music, American Musical Landscapes, Sound Design, Modern Music, Tonal Theory, Song Writing and Trumpet Performance. She also teaches The Human Experience and the popular Autumn Term course Icarus Ascending. A composer, American music scholar and trumpeter, Epstein grew up in St. Petersburg and earned degrees from Smith College, the Yale U. School of Music and the U. of South Florida. She is a frequent participant at Western Wind Workshops where her compositions are frequently performed.
Zach Nelson, Secretary
Zach Nelson is a Columbia MBA marketing executive with 20 years of digital & integrated campaign + relationship marketing experience. As VP, Group Strategy Director at Harte Hanks, Zach leads their consumer goods and healthcare client work. Prior to joining Harte Hanks, Zach held leadership positions with marquee agencies: Zach received his BA in Music with Honors and Distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a focus in music theory and history. He was introduced to the Western Wind 30 years ago through their workshops in ensemble singing, and was so inspired by the mission of the ensemble that served as Marketing Director for four years, and subsequently as a member and eventually president of the Western Wind Board of Directors He currently resides in Irvine, CA with his wife and two children. In his limited time outside of parenting, Zach is a singer/drummer in a semi-professional 80s cover band, and enjoys tennis, inline skating and downhill skiing.
William Zukof, Treasurer
Founding member of the ensemble. Has directed the business of the ensemble since 1975 overseeing all aspects of the company’s business including coordination with the bookkeeper and accountant, fundraising from government, foundation and private sources and workshop management.
Dennis M. Parker, Attorney
Dennis Parker serves as the Executive Director of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ), an organization which was founded in 1965 to fight for economic justice for our nation’s most vulnerable – low-income families, communities of color, people with disabilities, immigrants and children. NCLEJ uses a combination of litigation, ground-breaking advocacy and policy analysis in collaboration with a wide range of partners across the country to advance racial, immigrant, and gender justice concerns. Prior to joining NCLEJ in January of 2019, Dennis served as the director of the Racial Justice Program of the ACLU, leading its efforts in combatting discrimination and addressing a range of issues which have a disproportionate negative impact upon communities of color, including the “School-to-Prison” Pipeline, racial bias in the criminal justice system, housing discrimination and related economic justice issues and digital discrimination. Prior to joining the ACLU, he served as the Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau in the office of the New York Attorney General and, for fourteen years, worked on and directed the educational work of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
John M. Schwartz, Assistant Attorney General, NY State
Board member (with some time off) for many decades. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s office he was an attorney in private practice specializing in entertainment law. He worked with many prominent clients including the Beatles.
Sandra Orlovsky Schwartz, Member
A visual artist, retired. Sandra has exhibited at many prominent galleries including the Pratt Institute, Gallery North; Hampton Bay Gallery; Regency Auction House.