Friends of Chamber Music & Heartland
Young Artist Project Faculty
Dmitri Atapine, Cello
Described as a cellist whose “playing is highly impressive throughout" (The Strad), DMITRI ATAPINE has appeared at leading venues such as Alice Tully Hall, Zankel and Weill Halls at Carnegie Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, and the National Auditorium of Spain. He regularly preforms with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and is a frequent guest at festivals including Music@Menlo, Chamber Music Northwest, La Musica Sarasota, Cactus Pear, Pacific Music Festival, Aldeburgh, and Aix-en-Provence.
Mr. Atapine's many awards include top prizes at the Carlos Prieto International Cello, and the Premio Vittorio Gui chamber competitions. His recent engagements included collaborations with such distinguished
musicians as Cho-Liang Lin, Paul Neubauer, David Finckel, Ani and Ida Kavafian, Wu Han, Bruno Giuranna, David Shifrin, the St. Lawrence and Miró quartets. Mr. Atapine’s recordings, including a world-premiere of works by Lowell Liebermann, can be found on the Naxos, Albany, Urtext Digital, BlueGriffin and Bridge record labels.
Mr. Atapine holds several directorships, among them Friends of Chamber Music Kansas City, Apex Concerts, Young Performers at Music@Menlo and Ribadesella Festival. Cello professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, Mr. Atapine holds a doctorate from the Yale School of Music where he was a student of Aldo Parisot.
Sean Chen, piano
A “thoughtful musician well beyond his years” (The Republic), pianist Sean Chen shares his “alluring, colorfully shaded renditions” (New York Times) and “genuinely sensitive” (LA Times) playing with audiences around the world in solo and chamber recitals, concerto performances, and masterclasses. After winning the 2013 American Pianists Awards, placing third at the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and being named a 2015 Annenberg Fellow, Mr. Chen is now a Millsap Artist in Residence at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory.Mr. Chen has performed with many prominent orchestras, including the Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Kansas City, San Diego, Knoxville, Hartford, Louisiana Philharmonic, Milwaukee, North Carolina, Pasadena, Phoenix, Santa Fe, and New West Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Chamber Orchestras of
Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and South Bay. He has collaborated with such esteemed conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Michael Stern, Gerard Schwarz, Nicholas McGegan, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Marcelo Lehninger, and James Judd. Solo recitals have brought him to major venues worldwide, including Jordan Hall in Boston, Subculture in New York City, the American Art Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Salle Cortot in Paris.
Mr. Chen has served on the juries of notable piano competitions, including the American Pianists Awards, Thailand International Piano Competition, West Virginia International Piano Competition, Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists, and Steinway competitions around the country. Given his natural inclination for teaching and approachable personality, Mr. Chen is particularly in demand for residencies that combine performances with master classes, school concerts, and artist conversations, which have brought him to such institutions as the Cleveland Institute of Music, Indiana University, University of British Columbia, University of Houston Moores School, Spotlight Awards at the Los Angeles Music Center, Young Artist World Piano Festival, and several Music Teachers’ Associations throughout the country. Complete bio
Jun Iwasaki, violin
Jun Iwasaki was appointed concertmaster of the Kansas City Symphony by Music Director Micheal Stern and started his tenure at the beginning of the 2022/23 season. A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music’s prestigious Concertmaster Academy, he has been hailed for his combination of dazzling technique and lyrical musicianship. In a review of Iwasaki’s performance at the Mimir Chamber Music Festival, the Fort Worth Star Telegram called him “the magician of the evening. He could reach into his violin and pull out bouquets of sound, then reach behind your ear and touch your soul.”
Prior to joining the Kansas City Symphony, Iwasaki served as concertmaster of the Nashville Symphony from 2011-2022 and the Oregon Symphony from 200711. Throughout his career, he has appeared with numerous other orchestras, including the Tokyo
Symphony RochestraOregon, Symphony, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Blossom Festival Orchestra, Rome (Georgia)
Philharmonic, New Bedford Symphony, Canton Symphony, Richardson Symphony, Cleveland Pops Orchestra, Plano Symphony Orchestra and the Huntsville Symphony. In addition, he has served as guest concertmaster of the
Pittsburgh Symphony, Gulbenkian Orchestra (Portugal), São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (Brazil), Santa Barbara Symphony, National Arts Center Orchestra (Ottawa), and Canton (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra.
As chamber musician, Jun has been a part of the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Summerfest, Chamber Music Northwest, Mainly Mozart, Chamber Music International, and Mimir Chamber Music Festival among others.
Jun has served as Adjunct Violin Professor at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, and as the artistic director of Portland Summer Ensembles in Portland,Oregon, a workshop for young musicians focusing on chamber music.
Benny Kim, violin
Whether playing in the intimate setting of a string quartet or performing a concerto on the stage of a concert hall, Benny Kim’s “emotional depth and musical carriage are his real drawing cards. His is a style that touches the peak of romantic violin playing.” (The Washington Post) Known for his versatility as soloist, chamber musician and teacher, Mr. Kim has been described as having “titanium technique” and producing “exquisite, pearly colorations.”
In past seasons Benny Kim has performed with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit, Houston, Utah, Denver, San Diego and Phoenix. Internationally, he has performed with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Orquésta Sinfonica Nacional de México, and the major orchestras of South Africa. He has been a
regular at the festivals of Aspen, Bravo! Vail Valley, Chamber Music Northwest, Music from Angel Fire, Santa Fe, Savannah, SummerFest La Jolla, Tucson, and Vancouver.
As a chamber musician, Mr. Kim is first violinist of the Miami String Quartet, winner of the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award. Highlights of recent seasons include performances on the Quartets Plus Series at Carnegie Hall and the Fortas Chamber Music Series at the Kennedy Center. The ensemble’s commitment to new music has led to many commissions and premieres, including Concierto de Cámara by Roberto Sierra, Septet by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Angels by Joan Tower and Green Sneakers by Ricky Ian Gordon.
Additionally, he has collaborated with numerous artists including Pinchas Zukerman, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Lynn Harrell, and Gary Graffman. With Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg, Benny Kim appears on two recordings for EMI: Bella Italia and Night and Day. He can also be heard on recordings on Koch International and Centaur. In recital, Kim has performed in virtually every major city in the United States, including critically acclaimed engagements at New York’s 92nd St. Y and at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center.
A passionate proponent of bringing the arts to the people, Kim continues to give school concerts, lecture-demonstrations, and “informances” to students at all levels, senior citizens, and various other groups. Kim states, “I want to reach as many people as possible who would not otherwise have the opportunity to be touched by music.”
Benny Kim is a graduate of the Juilliard School where he studied with Dorothy DeLay. He makes his home just outside Kansas City where he is currently associate professor of violin at the University of Missouri/Kansas City Conservatory of Music. His early studies were with Doris Preucil and Almita Vamos.
A golf fanatic, he is always in search of a game and brings his clubs whenever he travels. Mr. Kim plays a Stradivarius violin, dated 1732.
Jackie Lee, viola
Jackie Lee, is a recipient of top prize awards in the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition, the Ekstrand Competition and the National Viola Competition of Taiwan. As an active chamber musician, Mr. Lee was a member of the Satori Quartet, the recipient of the Fellowship of Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar. Mentored by the world-renowned Takacs Quartet, Satori Quartet was appointed Young Artist Quartet-in-Residence at Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival. The quartet was also invited to perform at the Aspen Music Festival and Bravo Music Festival and to conduct a series of outreach programs to more than a dozen of schools and over 2,500 students throughout the Colorado area.
Recognized by the Music Teachers National Association as an outstanding teacher for
coaching the Kammer Trio, the silver prize winner in MTNA National Chamber Music Competition, Mr. Lee’s students have gone on to be accepted into major college conservatories across the country, including the Juilliard School, the Cleveland Institute of Music, New England Conservatory of
Music, Colburn Conservatory of Music, Indiana University, Rice University Shepherd School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, University of Michigan and the UMKC Conservatory. His chamber music students have often been prize winners in major national and international competitions as well as recipients of the fellowships of major music festivals, including the International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition, the MTNA National Chamber Music Competition, and the fellowships of Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar and McGill International String Quartet Academy (MISQA) to name a few.
Mr. Lee is currently serving as the Artistic Director and a faculty member at the Heartland Chamber Music. Previous teaching activities of Mr. Lee include the youth string programs of the Aspen Music Festival, the Bravo Music Festival, and Kneisel Hall Music Festival. Mr. Lee received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Viola Performance as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Audio Recording Engineering at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in viola performance from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.
Scott Lee, viola
Scott Lee has established himself as one of the most exciting and unique violists. His exceptional musicality and virtuositic playing distinguish him as one of this generation's quintessential artists.
New York Times described his playing as “flawless technical resources combines them with an assured sense of musicianship, a remarkable and auspicious talent. ” Also, hailed as “the superstar of his generation” by the String Magazine.
Winner of the 1996 Concert Artists Guild Competition, he became the youngest winner in the Competition’s 50 year history. Mr. Lee has been a top prize winner in the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, the William Primrose Viola Competition, and the Corpus Christi (TX) Young Artists Competition. Scott Lee has
appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras, including, the Kansas City Symphony, San Diego Symphony and L.A Chamber Orchestra. Other orchestral performances include the Longmont Philharmonic, and the International Sejong Soloists. In recital, he has performed at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and Merkin Hall in New York, Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Scott Lee has been a featured soloist at the International Hindemith Viola Festival and at the 22nd and 24th International Viola Congresses.
Scott Lee is also an extremely active chamber musician. Recent highlights of Mr. Lee’s chamber music concert schedule include performances at the El Paso Music Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, OK Mozart Festival, Newport Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Summerfest, Ravinia Festival, Savannah Music Festival, New York City’s Bargemusic, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Musicians from Marlboro, Merkin Concert Hall, and Taiwan’s National Concert Hall, Alice Tully Hall, The Gardner Museum in Boston and the Metropolitan Museum, the Marlboro Festival and in numerous chamber music venues across the United States. He has also collaborated with members of the Guarneri, Juilliard, Orion, and Miami String Quartets, and performed with members of the Beaux Arts and Mannes Piano Trios. His chamber music partners have included such renowned artists as Cho-Liang Lin, Nai-Yuan Hu, Gil Shaham, Hilary Hahn, Ralph Kirshbaum, David Soyer, Peter Wiley, and Gary Hoffman.
Mr. Lee joined Miami String Quartet in 2011. The quartet has recorded for BMG records in their release of two sting quartets by Alberto Ginastera and String Quartet No.1 and No.2 by Peteris Vasks which was dedicated and premiered by the Miami String Quartet.
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Mr. Lee began his music studies on the violin at age eight studying with Chia-Rong Lin. He took up the viola at age thirteen, and came to the United States the next year to study at the Idyllwild Arts Academy in California, where his viola teacher was Donald McInnes and his violin teacher was Alice Schoenfield. He has studied with Michael Tree at the Curtis Institute of Music and at The Juilliard School where he studied with Paul Neubauer.
He is now Professor of Viola at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and a faculty member at the McGill International String Quartet Academy in Montreal.
Chiafei Lin, violin
Violinist Chiafei Lin joined the Kansas City Symphony in 2014 and she has been serving as the Acting Assistant Concertmaster since 2018. Lin grew up in a musical family; she began studying piano at age four with her mother, a dedicated high school music teacher. She found the instrument of her life at age six and won the prestigious Taiwan National Youth Violin Competition at age 15. Her debut as a soloist was playing Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen with her school orchestra at age 14. Lin has performed in festivals and summer programs around the world: Salzburg Mozarteum Academy, Aspen Music Festival and Sun Flower Music Festival, to name a few. After graduating from the National University in Taipei and the Cleveland Institute of Music, Lin finished her study at UMKC where she received her Graduate Teaching Assistantship and Doctor of Musical Arts degree..
As a native Taiwanese, Lin feels a strong connection to her mother country. She was invited to perform in the Taiwan Connection Festival 2007-2009 where she served as the principal second violinist and collaborated with world-renowned musicians such as Nai Yuan Hu, Robert Levin, Dong-Suk Kang, Jian Wang. Lin has also given numerous recitals and chamber music concerts in Taiwan with her friends. She launched an all-Brahms concert project with pianist Pei-Chun Liao with their appearance in the JCCC Ruel Joyce Concert Series, and they plan to take the program to Taiwan in the near future.
As a chamber music enthusiast, Lin is a founding member of the FIAMA Quartet and Quartet Le Monde; the groups have been performing actively in Kansas City in concert series hosted by JCCC Ruel Joyce, Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and Heartland Chamber Music. Recently Lin has performed in a trio with Matt Sinno and Susie Yang for the Kansas City Symphony Mobile Music Box concert series; the group played across the Kansas City metro area and enjoyed seeing many smiling faces in the past pandemic year.
As an educator, Lin is a founding faculty member of Heartland Chamber Music of which her husband, Jackie Lee, serves as the artistic director. Since the summer of 2001, Heartland has been her favorite summer activity where she coaches chamber music and witnesses the passion of chamber music making from the young musicians. Lin lives with her husband and two boys in Kansas City; besides music, they enjoy exploring good restaurants! Lin credits her violin playing to all her teachers and especially to Wen-Liang Yiu, Cheng-Tu Su, and Benny Kim
Michael Mermagen, cello
Cellist Michael Mermagen (M.M. The Juilliard School, B.M. The Peabody Conservatory of Music) is Professor of Cello at UMKC Conservatory, and Head of Strings. He was formerly Associate Professor of Cello and Chamber Music and Head of the Instrumental Division at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America.
Michael made his debut at age sixteen with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra after receiving the Young Soloist’s Award. Michael began his studies at Peabody Preparatory where he studied with Paula Skolnick-Childress and Mihaly Virizlay. Principal teachers in college were Stephen Kates at Peabody Conservatory, and Zara Nelsova at The Juilliard School. As the Juilliard School’s concerto competition winner,
he performed with Juilliard Orchestra under Otto-Werner Mueller, in Alice Tully Hall. He was soloist with the National Orchestra of New York, where he held the prestigious Emanuel Feuermann principal cello chair and performed in Violoncello Society of New York master classes lead by Yo-Yo Ma, Janos Starker, and Bernard Greenhouse.Michael toured regularly with The Aspen Ensemble, the American Chamber Players, 1997–2003, and with Arista Piano Trio (named Chamber Music America’s Artists to Watch) 1987–1995. During his tenure at The Catholic University of America, he joined violinist Jody Gatwood and pianist Marilyn Neeley in the Rome Trio. He collaborated with the San Francisco Ballet and was featured as the cello soloist for the New York premiere of two works by the renowned choreographer Mark Morris. Michael is currently performing around the country with the Aspen String Trio, formerly the ensemble in residence at the University of Baltimore.
As an artist-faculty member at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Michael has held the prestigious position of principal cellist of the Aspen Chamber Symphony for more than 25 seasons. He has performed chamber music in Aspen with artists Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Jeremy Denk, Vladimer Feltzman, Lynn Harrell, Robert McDuffie, Susanne Mentzer, Anton Nel, Nadja Salerno- Sonnenberg, Gil Shaham, The Takács Quartet, and the Weilerstein family. He has also collaborated with many distinguished conductors, including Comissiona, Conlon, Levine, Maazel, Marriner, McGegan, Robertson, Skrowaczewski, and Zinman.
Michael has toured and given recitals, concerto performances, master classes and chamber music performances around the world. He has participated in the Grand Canyon Music Festival, Prince Albert Music Festival in Kauai, and Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine. He has been heard on WQXR’s Concerts Plus, WNYC’s Around New York, and regularly on NPR’s Performance Today. Michael performed live with Richard Westenberg’s ensemble Musica Sacra on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and performed as a substitute cellist in the New York Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Orchestra of Saint Luke’s, 92nd Street Y Orchestra, Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, American Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the Long Island Philharmonic.
Michael recorded and performed the Patrick Zimmerli Piano Trios for Arabesque label, after a celebrated debut of the same pieces at the Seattle Chamber Music Society. He made the premier recording and critical edition of composer and Holocaust victim James Simon’s “Arioso” for solo cello. He performed and recorded for the documentary film featured on PBS and Netflix, Defiant Requiem, a film about a most dramatic example of intellectual and artistic courage in the Theresienstadt (Terezín) concentration camp during World War II.
Upcoming commercial releases include the Music of Martinu for Naxos label with the Aspen String Trio. Recent appearances include the performance of Brahms Double Concerto with violinist Livia Sohn and Stockton Symphony, again with violinist David Perry and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and the Prince George’s Philharmonic, Beethoven Triple Concerto with Elisabeth Adkins and Edward Newman and the Maryland and Fairfax Symphonies, and Vivaldi Concertos with conductor Nicholas McGegan. He performs on a Nicolo Gagliano cello, Naples, 1774.
Hyeyeon Park, piano
Described as “a pianist with power, precision, and tremendous glee” by Gramophone, pianist Hyeyeon Park is highly in demand at the most prestigious venues, concert series, and festivals around the world. She is a frequent guest with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Chamber Music Northwest, Emerald City Music, Kumho Chamber Society, etc. Hyeyeon regularly performs at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Seoul Arts Center, where she was named Artist of the Year. Prizewinner of numerous international competitions such as Oberlin, Hugo Kauder, Corpus Christi, Maria Canals, Ettlingen, and Prix Amadèo, she directs Apex Concerts as well as the Young Performers Program at Music@Menlo. Recently named the artistic co-director of Friends of Chamber Music Kansas City, she holds a masters from Yale University and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.
Susie Yang, cello
Susie Yang joined the Kansas City Symphony as Associate Principal Cello in 2010. She made her solo debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the age of 11. The performance was broadcast on PBS in Chicago and also the classical radio station, 98.7 FM. She has also appeared as a soloist with many orchestras in the greater Chicago area. As an avid chamber musician, she won a top prize in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and has participated in the Juilliard Quartet Seminar and the Beethoven Intensive Quartet Seminar at the New England Conservatory of Music. From 2006-2008, Susie was a fellow of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach and was a rotating principal under music director, Michael Tilson Thomas. After winning the concerto competition, she performed the Dvořák Cello Concerto with the New World Symphony in 2007. In April of 2016, Susie
performed Dvorak Cello Concerto again, as a subscription soloist, with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Susie has performed as a soloist, orchestral, and chamber musician at many music festivals, including Sarasota, Schleswig-Holstein, Music Academy of the West, Spoleto Italy and USA, Taos, and Yellow Barn. Originally from the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Susie holds degrees and numerous scholarship awards from The Juilliard School and New England Conservatory of Music, and her teachers include Andre Emelianoff and Laurence Lesser. She has a small private studio of cello students that she loves to teach and enjoys performing chamber music around the community.