Meet the Musicians
Tanja Bechtler holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the North Carolina School of the Arts and a Master of Music Degree from the Manhattan School of Music.
Bechtler served as an orchestral player for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra for 12 years.
She is the founder of the and the director of the Bechtler Ensemble. This music series can be heard at Central Piedmont Community College, the Bechtler Museum and other educational venues. During the summer she will perform concerts in her native country Switzerland.Her duo partner and husband guitarist Bob Teixeira have recorded the CD titled “Shade Grown” and perform regularly in the Charlotte area. Tanja also serves on the faculty of Gardner-Webb University.Tanja is also an active participant of the practice HORA that has enabled her to continue and create her career path after she left the symphony.
Paul Nitsch is the Carolyn G. McMahon Professor of Music and Artist-in-Residence on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina. He also serves as Artistic Director for the Friends of Music at Queens University of Charlotte and as Executive Director for the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival.
For twelve years, Dr. Nitsch also served as Assistant Director, Pianist-in-Residence, and Pianist of the Garth Newel Piano Trio at the Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs, Virginia. He subsequently served for nine years as Artistic Director for the Fontana Concert Society in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he earned an ASCAP award for “adventuresome programming.” He is particularly devoted to the study and performance of chamber music with piano. He has collaborated with many ensembles, including the Solaris Wind Quintet and the Cavani String Quartet, and many other chamber musicians in frequent performances of almost all of the standard piano chamber music literature during the last three decades, as well as many contemporary and commissioned works. His performances have been heard nationally on National Public Radio, as well as locally on WQXR in New York City, WCLV in Cleveland, and in Michigan, Virginia and North Carolina.
Paul Nitsch was born in Great Bend, Kansas, and grew up in Boulder, Colorado. He studied piano with professors George Crumb, David Burge, and Paul Parmelee at the University of Colorado during his junior high and high school years.
Dr. Nitsch earned the Bachelors and Masters degrees in piano performance at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland. His teachers there were Walter Hautzig and Leon Fleisher. He was awarded two Fulbright Scholarship Grants for study with Dieter Weber and Noel Flores at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna, Austria. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Collaborative Piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music with pianist Anne Epperson. As adjudicator for numerous piano festivals and competitions, he most recently served as judge for the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition at Notre Dame University.
Peter deVries received his Bachelor and Master degrees in music from Indiana University of Music. He is an international soloist and has performed with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
He was a professor of violin for 12 years and was the winner of the Presidential Distinguished Teacher Award in 1992.
Nina Kogan studied in Russia and holds a B.A. in piano teaching and accompanying and a B.S. in engineering.
After graduating from music college, she continued her education with private voice and piano teachers in Moscow.
Currently she works as an accompanist, teaches piano privately, performs extensively as a solo pianist and accompanist.
Joseph Meyer, violin, is an active soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral leader who has been garnering critical acclaim throughout the country. He has been described by the San Francisco Classical Voice as “a standout player, both technically brilliant and musically innovative.” The Miami Herald has called his solo playing “exquisite”, while the Boston Globe described his chamber music performance of the Carter 1ststring quartet as “an extraordinary event.” Former positions in orchestras include concertmaster of the Louisiana Philharmonic, guest concertmaster of the Knoville and San Antonio Symphony, and a member of the the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble.
Mr. Meyer is currently the associate concertmaster of the Charlotte.
The Bechtler Ensemble is pleased to join forces with poet Larry Sorkin. Larry and Tanja have been collaborating with an innovative approach to create a dialogue between poetry and music. Over the last five years they’ve tackled themes like the ineffable, spirit and breath, and love and loss that Larry has derived from his studies in Jungian and Depth Psychology. Besides writing and performing, Larry organizes events and facilitates workshops based on his experience with men’s issues and support. You can find some of Larry’s published work on Interpoezia.net and in the collections “Love” by Jacar Press and “Men of Their World”. He was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
“It was a poetry recital that sounded almost like a jazz recital – what wonderful interplay.
And always her tone just perfectly balances your voice and words
I loved it”
“I want to thank you and Tanja for an enjoyable and very powerful evening of music and poetry. I knew it would be good, I just didn’t expect to be that good. The combination of your reading of the poetry you had selected as well as written and Tanja’s beautiful music were remarkable and very moving.”
Graduating from the Eastman School of Music with a Bachelor’s degree in Viola Performance in 2004, violist Kirsten Swanson spent 2005-2007 as Assistant Principal and section violist with the Charlotte Symphony. She recently completed her Masters Degree at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA.
An extensive orchestral musician since high school, Kirsten has played with the North Carolina Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, West Virginia Symphony, Vermont Symphony, and Aspen Festival and Chamber Orchestras, to name a few.
Chamber music being her first love, Kirsten co-founded the Atticus String Quartet, a semi-professional quartet based in Eastern North Carolina. She was a regular on the Honor’s Chamber Recitals during college and was even featured on Eastman’s promotional cd distributed across the world. She has collaborated with such artists as Jon Nakamatsu, Calin Lupano, Garth Knox, and members of the Pacifica Quartet and enjoys playing with the faculty string quartet at the University of North Carolina- Charlotte.
An avid fan of contemporary music, Kirsten has premiered new works by Eastman and World composers and has worked with many living composers as a member of Ossia and Musica Nova, new music ensembles at Eastman and with HGNM, the new music group at Harvard University. Music has taken Kirsten across the United States and Europe as a violist in festivals such as the Garth Newel Chamber Festival, Kneisel Hall, the American Institute of Musical Studies Festival Orchestra in Graz, Austria, Master Classes at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, Master Classes in San Sebastian, Spain, and, as a New Horizons Fellow, the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado.
Her principal teachers include Joanne Bath, John Graham, and Roger Tapping. Currently, Kirsten is the adjunct viola professor at the University of North Carolina -Charlotte and enjoys playing often with the Charlotte and North Carolina Symphonies.
Cynthia Lawing, pianist, is a native of Hong Kong. She received her musical training from Wittenberg University and The Cleveland Institute of Music. Her teachers include William Kurzban and Vitya Vronsky of the Babin-Vronsky duo piano team.
Cynthia has performed throughout Asia, Europe and South America as a soloist and chamber musician. She and her husband William Lawing (trumpeter) recently performed in Germany where their American music program was well received.
Currently she teaches at Davidson College, frequently serves as an adjudicator and clinician.
Cynthia is a member of the duo piano team Cynthia Lawing and Gloria Cook.
Cynthia was one of the founding members of the Charlotte Chamber Music Society whose performers, primarily members of the Charlotte Symphony regularly performed chamber music concerts at the Mint Museum’s Golden Circle Theatre.
JZ holds a Master of Music degree in piano performance from Michigan State University and is a faculty member at Queens University of Charlotte. She has been fortunate to study under the celebrated Korean-American pianist Yonghi Moon, a current piano professor at Peapody Conservatory, who was highly influential in the development of her piano artistry during her years in the music doctoral program at Michigan State.
JZ’s performance specialty is the Romantic Era, where Chopin tops her list of favorite sublime composers. Her most admired artists include the current pianist Murray Perahia and the late British Jazz singer Amy Winehouse. JZ was a visiting scholar at Michigan State University and previously served as a faculty member at Hunan Normal University in China and at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Later this fall she will team up with Opera Carolina’s Josh Barbour for an evening of Paganini, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, Arensky, and Chopin. She is also currently planning concert tours in universities in mainland China.
Her newest passion is designing performance gown . She designed Tanja’s gown for a Spanish themed concert at the Bechtler Museum, to enhance the connection with the audience. Her inspiration for the designs stem from a trip to Madrid and Barcelona in 2004; and especially from her visit to Gaudi’s Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família with her adopted Spanish brother and Barcelona native, Antonio Cortés, and his wife. The designs also serves to honor Antonio’s living mother, the prolific composer and celebrated pianist Consuelo Colomer, and to remember the artistic epiphany that JZ experienced during her trip to Spain.
Tatiana Karpova joined the Charlotte Symphony shortly after immigrating to the United States in 1999.A graduate from the Sverdlovsk Conservatory,she continued her musical studies at the Moscow Gnessin Institute of Music, where she completed her DMA. After winning a second prize at the David Oistrakh Violin Competition in1988, Ms. Karpova began a busy performing career as a soloist and chamber musician.Her concert engagement took her on many tours throughout the former USSR, including performances with the Uralic Symphony, Odessa Philharmonic,Budapest Chamber Orchestra and Moscow Philharmonic. In addition to her performing accomplishment, Ms. Karpova has been an active teacher. In 1994 she joined the faculty at the Novi Sad Academy of Music and also taught at the Ural State Conservatory. Currently,Ms. Kapova makes her home in Charlotte, where she frequently performs with different chamber music groups in additions to her busy schedule with the Charlotte Symphony.
Mark Adams Watkins
Like many composer/arrangers, for the last 20 years, Mark Adam Watkins (BMI) has found an affinity for the eclectic. With a Jazz Piano degree in tow from California State University, Long Beach, he wrote for Improv Acting studios (bang. studio, Improv Olympic, the Hothouse), commercial music houses (King Klong Music Group, Nashville Tracks) & scored for TV/Film. After his grad work in Composition at the Henry Mancini Institute & California State University, Los Angeles, he teamed up with the Quadre horn quartet, which inspired chamber works with varied instrumentation as he developed a partnership with Solid Wood Music, and Alry Publishing.
Mr. Watkins spent many years orchestrating for the Pagaent of the Masters’ Orchestra in Laguna Beach, California; The New Four Freshman; the Vitamin Rock String Quartet, & music directing music theatre tours & tributes to the Rat Pack. He has instructed at the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Center; CSU, Los Angeles, California Baptist University, & Central Piedmont Community College. Some highlights include working on projects with: Lou Rawls, Al Jarreau, Bill Conti, Beyonce, JC Chassez, Debbie Harry, Lisa Loeb, Jack Sheldon, & the Trans-Sylvanian Orchestra. He currently works as a free lance composer/arranger, & moonlights as a pianist with the Bechtler Ensemble, North Carolina, Charlotte, & Greensboro symphonies, Opera Carolina among other ensembles ad hoc.