CONDUCTORS & SOLOISTS
SILAS NATHANIEL HUFF is the Director of Orchestras at Washburn University (KS), Commander of “New Mexico’s Own” 44th Army Band, Music Director of the Colorado Pops Orchestra, and Co-Director of the International Conducting Institute. He has conducted ensembles across America, Europe, and Asia. Maestro Huff’s past positions include Music Directorships at the Astoria Symphony Orchestra (NYC), University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder Concert Band, U.S. Army Orchestra (DC), Round Rock Symphony Orchestra (TX), and the Moscow Ballet’s U.S.A. east coast tours.
As a U.S. Army Music Officer, Captain Huff conducted concerts at the White House, U.S. Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery, Pentagon, and on tour for audiences numbering in the thousands, and in recordings and broadcasts that were seen by millions of viewers.
Maestro Huff holds degrees from Texas State University and UCLA, and also studied at the Trossingen Hochschule für Musik (Germany), L’Institut Musical Provence-Aubagne (France), and University of Colorado Boulder.
Hailed for his "expert direction" by the Fanfare Magazine, Paraguayan conductor ERNESTO ESTIGARRBIA is Assistant Conductor of the Quad City Symphony Youth ensembles, and the conducting staff member at the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies. Previous posts include Music Director of the Buffalo Community Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Southeastern Minnesota Youth Orchestras.
Ernesto has guest conducted the Mankato Symphony, Rochester Symphony, Oskaloosa Music Festival Orchestra as well as several orchestras in Argentina and Paraguay. In addition to symphonic performances, Ernesto has led opera productions of Gianni Schicchi, Idomeneo, Albert Herring, and Weisse Rose.
An accomplished violist, Ernesto has performed extensively in Europe and the Americas. His festival appearances include Britten-Pears Orchestra, Orchestra of the Americas, and Festival de Música de Santa Catarina.
Ernesto holds degrees from Pittsburg State University and the University of Minnesota where he studied with Mark Russell Smith.
Since his Lincoln Center conducting debut in 1986, STEPHEN ROGERS RADCLIFFE has been recognized for his electrifying, musically acute performances, his passionate dedication to the nurturing of young talent and his innovative approach to audience development and artistic enrichment in the musical institutions with which he has served.
For over a decade Maestro Radcliffe was Director of the Seattle Conservatory of Music and Music Director of both the Marrowstone Music Festival and the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras; America’s largest youth orchestra training program. An artist, educator and scholar, Maestro Radcliffe was the Harry and Mildred Bemis Endowed Fellow in Musicology at Brandeis University, Director of Orchestra and Opera Programs at the University of Massachusetts, and Staff Conductor of the Boston Lyric Opera, Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
From 1987 to 1997 Mr. Radcliffe was the Music Director of the New York Chamber Ensemble, which appeared regularly at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, as well as on recordings, radio broadcasts and international tours. As Principal Guest Conductor of the Hungarian Virtuosi, Maestro Radcliffe performed at the Franz Liszt Academy and Pest Vigado in Budapest, as well as on international tours, radio and television broadcasts and recordings.
HOWARD HSU is the Music Director of the Valdosta (GA) Symphony Orchestra, and serves as Associate Professor of Music and Director of Orchestra Studies at Valdosta State University. Under his leadership, the Valdosta Symphony was selected as the 2014 winner of the American Prize in Orchestral Performance (community division).
Hsu has performed with the Canadian Brass, Robert McDuffie, Simone Dinnerstein, Jennifer Frautschi, Wendy Warner, Christine Brewer, Rachel Barton Pine, Orion Weiss, Stanford Olsen, Alexander Ghindin, Alexander Schimpf, Katia Skanavi, Awadagin Pratt, Elena Urioste, Amy Schwartz Moretti, the Empire Brass, and the Melodica Men, and has introduced live classical music to thousands of children in the Southern Georgia region.
Hsu has worked closely with groups dedicated to training young musicians, including the Lake George (NY) Opera Festival. Hsu has conducted the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association All State Orchestra, Georgia Music Educators Association All State 9/10 Orchestra, and the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program Orchestra and String Ensemble.
Hsu received his D.M.A. from the University of Connecticut, his M.M. from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and his B.S. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Minnesota-based soprano, JENNY HAUGEN, is a regularly featured performer with The Summit Avenue Music Series, ProMusica Minnesota, and The Minnesota Valley Chorale. Haugen received her Bachelor of Arts in Music from Bethany Lutheran College and her Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from The Boston Conservatory. Along with academic diplomas, Ms. Haugen has participated in summer programs such as Daniel Ferro Vocal Program, Inc. in Greve-in-Chianti, Italy (2006), The Wesley Balk Opera/Music-Theater Institute in Minneapolis, MN (2007), and The Boston Conservatory Vocal Pedagogy Professional Workshop (2013). In 2015, she was awarded second place in the Grieg Young Artists Competition. Earlier this year, Haugen created and performed a personal recital centered on the theme of communication and connection, made possible through an Individual Artist Grant from Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council. Haugen currently teaches voice lessons at Martin Luther College, Bethany Lutheran College, and privately.
A Twin Cities native, EMILY SAATHOFF began playing the violin at the age of six, eventually going on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in violin Performance from the University of Minnesota, conducting her studies under Sally O’Reilly. Since 2013, she has been first prize winner in the most senior division of the Schubert Club scholarship competition and Mary West String Competition, as well as winning second place in the Thursday Musical Competition. Resulting from her participation in the Mary West
competition, she appeared as a featured soloist with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, performing
the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto.
Emily is the current Concertmaster of the Mankato Symphony Orchestra, and she performs frequently around the region with various groups including the Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Sinfonia, Minnesota Oratorio Society, and Minneapolis Pops. Emily also enjoys participating in the wide variety of freelance performance opportunities that the Twin Cities offers. She is part of the music faculty at University of
Northwestern St. Paul, and teaches a private studio out of her home in New Brighton.
GEOFF HERBACH is the author of ten books, including the Stupid Fast trilogy, Fat Boy vs. The Cheerleaders, and Hooper. His work has received the Cybil’s Award for best Young Adult fiction, the Minnesota Book Award,
Outstanding Book by a Wisconsin author and has been listed among the
year’s best by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers
Association and the International Literacy Association. In the past, Geoff
produced a live comedy show for Minnesota Public Radio and traveled around the country telling weird stories in rock clubs. He lives in St. Peter,
Minnesota and teaches writing at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
AARON HUMBLE has enjoyed solo appearances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Columbus Philharmonic, the Mankato Symphony, and the Boston Pops and concert appearances at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Library of Congress, Wolf Trap, and The Chautauqua Institute. During his tenure with Cantus, Aaron sang nearly 1000 concerts and recorded 10 albums with one of the nation’s premier vocal ensembles. Aaron has recently sung as a soloist and ensemble singer with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Tucson’s Grammy-nominated True Concord Voices, and Orchestra, and The Grammy-Nominated South Dakota Chorale while also remaining active nationally as a soloist in recital and oratorio. An Assistant Professor of Voice and the Director of Choral Activities at Minnesota State, Mankato, Aaron is also the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Apollo Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Aaron is a graduate of Millikin University, and holds the Doctor of Music from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Aaron splits his time between Mankato and Minneapolis where his husband Xu and their two cats, Chopstick and Toothpick currently reside.
MELISSA WILLIAMS, soprano, has been a frequent soloist throughout the Twin Cities and Western Wisconsin for years. She has a degree in vocal music performance from University of Northwestern (Roseville, MN) and two Master of Music degrees in vocal performance and choral conducting from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her most recent local performances have been Soprano soloist for Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45 and Christmas in Christ Chapel performance of Britten’s
Sanctus from War Requiem, Op. 66, both with the Gustavus Adolphus College Orchestra and Choirs. She
has performed once before with the Mankato Symphony Orchestra as the witch in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretl. Along with her music ministry / choral director positions, Melissa has directed choir and taught voice at Association Free Lutheran Bible School and Seminary (Plymouth, MN) and Finlandia University (Hancock MI). She currently instructs private voice at Gustavus Adolphus College and MSU Mankato.
STEPHANIE R. THORPE, soprano, is active in opera, musical theatre, contemporary music, and in recital. She is a frequent performer with the Mankato Symphony Orchestra, their Free Family Series, Morgan Creek Vineyards, as well as Thursday Musical, a performing arts organization. Steve Staruch, MPR radio host and moderator for Thursday Musical, described her performances as “beautiful singing” with “diction so clear he could have taken dictation” and a voice “velvety purple in color and so sexy from top to bottom.” Stephanie was a winner of the Nevada District National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards, a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and performed full-time in Las Vegas for several years. Currently, she is an Associate Professor of Music – Voice at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Stephanie received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She also holds degrees from the University of Iowa and Briar Cliff University, a Vocology Certificate through the National Center for Voice and Speech and is certified in Contemporary Commercial Vocal Pedagogy.