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The Catholic University of America Symphony Orchestra in Concert



The Catholic University of America Symphony Orchestra in Concert

The Embassy of Italy, the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, DC, and the Catholic University of America Symphony Orchestra present a concert performed by the CUA Symphony Orchestra and the John P. Stevens High School Orchestra, with Simeone Tartaglione, Music Director and Conductor, faculty members Alessandra Cuffaro, and Michael Mermagen.



Giuseppe Verdi   (1813-1901)

Overture from I Vespri siciliani

Simeone Tartaglione, Conductor


Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Double concerto for Violin and Cello Op. 102                             

I.        Allegro

II.       Andante

III.      Vivace non troppo

Alessandra Cuffaro, Violin

Michael Mermagen, Cello

Simeone Tartaglione, Conductor




Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945)

Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana 

Katryn Freeburn, Conductor


Antonín Dvorak (1841-1904)

Symphony No. 8

Op.88 Allegro con brio                      


Allegretto grazioso-molto vivace

Allegro ma non troppo

Simeone Tartaglione, Conductor











Embassy of Italy
3000 Whitehaven St, NW
Washington, DC 20008




The Catholic University of America

The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music seeks to educate, engage, and energize its student body in a dynamic program that integrates classroom learning with real world performance, research, and teaching. Our variety of undergraduate and graduate majors allows each student to find his or her niche and to develop and grow into professional performing musicians, scholars, educators and composers who are ready for a 21st century musical career.

With approximately 300 music students, the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music maintains a wonderful, diverse community for new students within the context of a medium-sized university. Students form relationships with their peers; these friendships become professional contacts during careers in the arts. With students from Washington, D.C., around the United States and throughout the world, the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music is a place of nurturing, growth, and diversity that welcomes students to its doors.


John P. Stevens High School

John P. Stevens High School is a public high school in Edison, NJ that serves over 2,300 students from grades nine through twelve.  The music program has the highest number of students making regions and All-State in New Jersey. The band, choir and orchestra were invited to perform at the 2017 All-Eastern Conference in Atlantic City and the chamber orchestra was selected to perform at the conference’s keynote address.  The orchestra program consistently places first in local and national competitions receiving superior ratings. The orchestra program consists of a freshman orchestra, a concert orchestra, two chamber orchestras and a full orchestra and has over 140 students involved in the program.






Alessandra Cuffaro

“...Extremely tenacious...she plays with great care for sound, and has an elegant finishing touch, and musical phrasing to which we have to add strength of communication and the strong technique that is required to play the the 24 Capricci” A.Cantù, music critic, journalist and writer.

“In her hands, the violin is transformed, becoming a creature pulsating with life...” G. Salvatori, music critic and journalist, RAI, Tg2, Cultura e Società.

“...An inimitable performer of Paganini... shaping the music with a pure expression that gushes out from the soul and that conquers...” Prize “Le Arti” P. Amatiello, Roma, Sala della Protomoteca del Campidoglio.

“A sublime interpreter of my music... and also of the music of others!” Franco Mannino

“...Alessandra Cuffaro is one of the most complete and ingenious musicians of the Third Millennium...” N.Nula, art critic and journalist.

She is the first woman in the history of Italian violinists to perform the most difficult virtuoso pieces ever written for violin, Nicolò Paganini’s 24 Capricci Op.1 in one concert. She graduated in only six years (rather than the regular twelve) at the Corelli Conservatory under the guidance of L. Fusconi. Her studies continued at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena with R. Brengola, and with S. Girshenko, and B. Canino in numerous workshops. In Rome, she earned her second degree in Chamber Music from the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, with Marco Lenzi with the highest honors. She earned also the Artist Diploma at the University of Denver with Linda Wang.

Alessandra has won many first-absolute prizes for her playing in national and international competitions. Her more than six hundred performances as soloist with orchestra, solo violin or chamber music, have been reviewed in American, Italian, Spanish, French and Eastern European newspapers, radio and televisions. She plays alongside her husband, pianist. Composer and conductor Simeone Tartaglione, with whom she made many television appearances.

Ms. Cuffaro has thought several master classes in Italy and in the US. She has plaid all the 24 Capricci about 23 times around the world, among the most important cities New York, Rome, Madrid, Boston, Denver, Assisi, Leon, Mantua. In 2008 she was celebrated among the most important Italian American of the present generation, with the Cultural Award by ILICA Foundation in New York City for her Paganini performances. The motivation on the prize says:

“To have promoted the most authentic Italian culture around the world: Unique like Paganini”

In August 2009 she won the opening for one of the top violin positions in Italy, at the Palestrina Conservatory in Cagliari. In Nov 2011 she resigned to follow her husband in the United States and keep the family happily together.

Currently she is a violin faculty at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC and at The Music School of Delaware. She plays a wonderful Vincenzo Sannino 1914 known as “Il Violino Magico”.

Cellist Michael Mermagen (M.M. The Juilliard School, B.M. The Peabody Conservatory of Music) is Associate Professor of Cello and Chamber Music, Head of the Instrumental Division, and Adviser in Orchestral Instruments for the Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America.

Michael made his debut at the age of sixteen with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra after receiving its Young Soloist’sAward. 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 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. He also toured with American Chamber Players from 1997 to 2003 and from 1987 to 1995 with Arista Piano Trio (named Chamber Music America’s Artists to Watch). 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. He joined violinist Jody Gatwood and pianist Marilyn Neeley in Rome Trio, a resident ensemble of The Catholic University of America. 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 over twenty-five seasons. He has performed chamber music in Aspen with such artists as 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.

For over twenty-five years, Michael has toured and given recitals, concerto performances, master classes and chamber music performances around the world. He has participated in Grand Canyon Music Festival, Prince Albert Music Festival in Kauai, and Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine. He has been heard on WQXR’sConcerts Plus, WNYC’s Around New York, and regularly on NPR’s Performance Today. Michael performed live with Musica Sacra on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and performed as a substitute cellist in New York Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Orchestra of Saint Lukes, 92nd Street Y Orchestra, Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, American Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, and Long Island Philharmonic.

Michael recorded and performed the Patrick Zimmerli Piano Trios for Arabesque label, after a celebrated debut of the same pieces at Seattle Chamber Music Society. Upcoming commercial releases include the Music of Martinufor 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, 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.


Kathryn Freeburn is a second year Master's student at the Catholic University of America pursing a degree in Orchestral Conducting. She has appeared as a guest conductor with the CUA Wind Ensemble. She has previously been the Assistant Conductor at the Delaware Orchestral and Chamber Music Institute under the music direction of Simeone Tartaglione. She received her Bachelor's degree from George Mason University where she studied flute and conducting, under Jennifer Lapple and Anthony Maiello, respectively. Kathryn is currently a student of Murry Sidlin. This is her first appearance with the CUA Symphony Orchestra.

Brian Verdi (Ed. M, Ed. D, Columbia University, M.A., New York University, B.A., Montclair State University) is the orchestra director at John P. Stevens High School in Edison, NJ where he has taught for the past 11 years. Under his direction the orchestra program has tripled in size. Dr. Verdi is also a violinist and received his Suzuki training from the School for Strings in New York City under the direction of the Louise Behrend. His articles appear in the American String Teachers Journal and Arts Education Policy Review. He has also guest lectured at The Catholic University of America.  His research interests include music teacher professional development and education policy.


Simeone Tartaglione schooled in the European tradition covering conducting, composition, opera and chamber music, Simeone Tartaglione has become a versatile musician with a wide knowledge of and passion for the many areas of this art. He studied composition and conducting in Rome at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory and piano performance in Sicily at the Vincenzo Bellini Institute. In addition to his various degrees and honors, in 2003 he earned a Laurea as Doctor in Philology (Italian Literature and Musicology) Magna cum Laude, and is a published author.

Tartaglione currently holds a number of positions. At Catholic University in Washington, DC, he

is Clinical Assistant Professor, conductor of the orchestra and member of the conducting faculty.

He serves as Music Director of the Delaware Youth Symphony Orchestra, Core Orchestral Department Head and piano instructor at the Music School of Delaware in Wilmington, Conductor

of the Symphony at the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras of Strathmore in North Bethesda,

MD, and Artistic Director and Conductor of St. Anthony's Italian Festival. In May of 2010 he became the Music Director of the Newark (DE) Symphony Orchestra, during which time, this orchestra's audience increased by 63%. The orchestra has also enjoyed record increases in donations, advertisers, and press coverage during this time.

Among some of his last notable performances he conducted Carmina Burana last April in a sold

out Kennedy Center, made in June his debut at the Disney Hall in LA and conducted in September

Catholic University Orchestra, Washington Symphony Brass and several choruses for Pope

Frances memorable visit to Washington, DC.

Tartaglione has had extensive conducting experience in symphonic and operatic repertoire with

orchestras from Italy, the United States, Spain, Russia, Romania, Mexico, the Ukraine and Bulgaria. He has won numerous competitions and prizes including: Allied Arts, Leon Guide,

Athanor, Le Arti, Telamone, Diamante della Musica, Sykele, Rapisarda and Punto fermo. In

Rome he served as the Artistic Director of the Theatre Fusillo and of the MUSA Cultural Association for five years.

After winning an audition at the University of Denver he moved there in 2005.

At the same university he became Adjunct Professor of Conducting while earning an Artist

Diploma. Over the next five years he worked as guest conductor, vocal coach, pianist and harpsichord player with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra's Education and Outreach Programs, Central City Opera, Marilyn Horne Foundation, Denver Young Artists Orchestra, Colorado Youth

Symphony Orchestra, Augustana Musica Sacra Orchestra, and Broadway Music School. He also

served as cover conductor for the Colorado Symphony on a number of occasions.

Invited by Maestro Gustav Meier in 2006, Tartaglione moved to Baltimore where he continued

conducting studies at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University earning a Graduate Performing Diploma in 2009 with a conducting assistantship. From 2008 to 2010 he worked for the Peabody Opera Department, coaching and conducting several performances. In 2009 and 2010, he served as the Music Director of the Be Orchestra, a volunteer group of Peabody and other Baltimore area students and recently graduates, that served populations such as the homeless and prisoners. Still in Baltimore he served as conductor of the Chesapeake Chamber Opera conducting several staged productions. Tartaglione also collaborated with Mid-Atlantic Symphony, Peabody Symphony, Peabody Opera, and Hopkins Chorus and on occasions he served as cover and back stage conductor for the Baltimore Opera and the Baltimore Symphony.

Simeone Tartaglione has performed and recorded as conductor and as pianist in duo with his

wife, well known violinist Alessandra Cuffaro, the first Italian woman who performed all the 24

Paganini's Capricci in one concert. Last November 2015 he received in New York the ILICA award as 2015 Man of the Year





The Catholic University of America Orchestra

Maestro Simeone Tartaglione, Music Director


Violins I

Shinya Blattmann (Co-Principal)

Jun jie Piao (Co-Principal)

Hannah Gerdes (Asst-Principal)

Jonathan Goren

Alyssa Marielle Raqueno

Jian Song

Violins II

Nicholas Rao (Principal)

Cole E. Thomas (Asst-Principal)

Carson Kirchner

Ginalene Ruiz

Marie Erickson

Paige Wearmouth

Erin Hall


Tayla Schenk (Co-Principal)

Dan Zhang (Co-Principal)

Maria Veres

Emily Rzepka

Meghan Gieske

Juan Amaya


Michelle Choi (Principal)

Nathaniel Hoyt

Zach Levi

Ruric Ellings

Double Bass

Karen Berry (Principal)

John Park*


Troy Paolantoni (Principal)

Michelle Walton 

Cecilia Leskowicz


Eliana Schenk (Principal)

Francine Amos*


Anna Brashears (Co-Principal)

Sandra Chappell (Co-Principal)


Max Kaiser

Matthew Ogden


Matthew Davis (Principal)

Eric D Moore**

Michael Neal*


Jacob Dalager (Principal)

Matt Fitzsimmons


Tim Hilgert (Principal)

Carolyn Thomas


Jeff Cortazzo**  


Justin Lerma (Principal)


Mario Ramsey


Marie Harrison


Kevin McDonald

* Guest Artist



Conductor, Kathryn Freeburn

Librarian, Daniel Peterson

Orchestra Manager, Antonio Espinal

Cover/Assistant conductors: Antonio Espinal, Daniel Peterson, and Kathryn Freeburn

Zachary Gilbert, Production Manager


John P. Stevens High School Chamber Orchestra

Brian Verdi, Director

Violins I

Grace Wu*

Justin Cheng

Debisha Dey

Perry Huang 

Shankar Iyer

Vincent Huang

Anne Ikemoto

Violins II

Angela Cao

Joheen Chakraborty

Edmund Li

Sanjana Sastry

Iris Tu

Elisha Zhao

Matthew Hanna


Albert Ang

Karen Jiang

Sunjana Kulkarni*

Saagar Pande

Rachna Vemireddy

Akshay Yeluri

Cathy Diachang


Alice Fang*

Prateek Khandelwal

Daniel Seo*

Grace Wang

Danielle Zhao*


Varun Vasudevan

Daniel Zhan

*Playing full concert.



Data: Lun 21 Nov 2016

Orario: Dalle 19:00 alle 21:00

Organizzato da : Catholic U.,Embassy of Italy, IIC Washington

Ingresso : Libero


Embassy of Italy