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Welcome Our New Musicians!

We are excited to introduce six new musicians to the ranks of our string and brass sections this season:

Kevin Chen, First Violin
Dae Hee Ahn, Second Violin
Robert Anemone, Second Violin
Rachel Ostler, Second Violin
Jaclyn Rainey, Principal Horn
Anthony Limoncelli, Second Trumpet

Get to know these great players in the interviews below and be sure to watch out for them on the Virtual Stage this fall!

Kevin Chen
First Violin

Interviewed by
David Coucheron, Concertmaster

David Coucheron: Tell me about your background. Where did you grow up, is there a family member who influenced your interest in music? 
Kevin Chen: I was born in the city of Ithaca, New York, where I started playing the violin at age 5, encouraged by my Dad, who had played violin and trumpet as a kid and also in the Taiwanese Army’s military band. We moved to Princeton, NJ when I was seven, and was enrolled at the Juilliard School’s Pre-College Program at 14. Up until this point my dad had been my primary violin teacher. I joined Ms. Naoko Tanaka’s studio, who I studied with through both pre-college, my undergraduate, and graduate years. I also studied with David Chan while working towards my Masters degree at Juilliard, and with Stefan Jackiw privately for five years. For the last three years have been a Fellow at the New World Symphony in Miami under the leadership of Michael Tilson Thomas.

DC: Was there a pivotal experience that made you sure you wanted to be an orchestral musician?
KC: Two years before I became a student at the Juilliard Pre-College, my teacher, Ms. Naoko Tanaka, brought me to see the Pre-College Orchestra perform at the Peter J. Sharp Theater in New York. I had never watched an orchestral performance before, and seeing all those musicians, my age, work and perform together as a unit was really inspiring.  After a few years in the Pre-College experiencing playing and performing in an orchestra, I was again inspired after being able to watch a dress rehearsal by the Berlin Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, who were on tour to New York and Boston. I listened to them rehearse Mahler 9, and was completely awestruck by the wall of sound and music that hit me in the nearly empty hall. Even if they only played a few notes before stopping, the power and/or nuance and subtlety of their playing was still evident, and their ability to maintain a thickness of sound even in tender and soft moments is not something I’ll ever forget.

DC: Do you have any non-music related hobbies?
KC: I like to keep active, I bike and run and go to the gym pretty often. This is in part to keep myself in check with my passion for food and cooking. I’ve been trying to work my way through a cooking textbook when I have time.

Dae Hee Ahn
Second Violin

Interviewed by
David Coucheron, Concertmaster

David Coucheron: Tell me about your background. Where did you grow up, is there a family member who influenced your interest in music? 
Dae Hee Ahn: I started playing the violin when I was four years old. Back in South Korea, where I was born, my mother founded a piano academy where she had about forty students. So naturally, I was exposed to music as a child of a music teacher. When I was seven, my family moved to the States and eventually settled in New Jersey. I studied at the Juilliard Pre-College prior to getting accepted for the undergraduate degree there. I then pursued my master’s degree at Yale School of Music, where I am also expected to receive a doctoral degree May of 2021. 

DC: Why did you want to play in the ASO?
DHA: There are two reasons why I was drawn to playing with the ASO. The most obvious reason is that the ASO is a great, inspiring, and reputable orchestra. Anybody would want to be part of such a group if given the opportunity. The less obvious reason is that my husband was living in Atlanta pursuing his doctorate at Emory while I was pursuing mine at Yale. After three years of long distance, it seems almost a dream for us to settle together in this beautiful city where I also have the best job possible!

DC: Do you have hobbies outside music?
DHA: Outside of playing music, I enjoy going for walks with my husband in beautiful weather, exploring new parks in the city, eating sweets (my favorite these days is getting matcha ice cream from Matcha Cafe Maiko), and grabbing a meal with friends. 

Robert Anemone
Second Violin

Interviewed by
David Coucheron, Concertmaster

David Coucheron: Tell me about your background. Where did you grow up, is there a family member who influenced your interest in music? And how did you pick the violin?
Robert Anemone: I spent most of my childhood in Williamsburg, VA. Neither of my parents are professional musicians, but they both are both great lovers of music so there was often music in the house. When I was three years old, I asked them if I could play the violin-- I'm not sure I entirely knew what one was, and I certainly didn't know what I was getting myself into, but fortunately for me they acquiesced and bought me a 1/16th size instrument and signed me up for lessons. Soon after, my older sister started studying cello and we both began piano lessons, so we were able to play together a great deal in various configurations. When I was 16 I moved to Boston to attend first the Walnut Hill School for the Arts and then the New England Conservatory, where I received both my Bachelor's and Master's degree. While in Boston, I won the position of Principal Second Violin with the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine, and a few years later I moved to Evansville, IN to become the concertmaster of the Evansville Philharmonic and play with the Eykamp String Quartet. After three years in that job I won a position in the first violin section of the North Carolina Symphony, where I played until winning the position with the ASO.

DC: What was the whole audition experience like to audition for the ASO?
RA: Orchestral auditions have a reputation-- often well-deserved-- for being very unpleasant, but my experience with the ASO was great. The audition was run very smoothly and everyone showing us around backstage was very kind, and I also very much appreciated  that they invited multiple candidates to play with the orchestra and read chamber music with members of the orchestra before making the final decisions. I think this communicates to the orchestra a much better sense of who we are as musicians than simply hiring after the final round, and I appreciated having the opportunity to experience the orchestra from the inside as part of the process.

DC: What do you like doing outside of music?
RA: I am an enthusiastic amateur woodworker, a fair-weather runner, and a big fan of bad movies

Rachel Ostler
Second Violin

Interviewed by
David Coucheron, Concertmaster

David Coucheron: Tell me about your background. Where did you grow up, is there a family member who influenced your interest in music?
Rachel Ostler: I'm 27 years old, and I grew up in Miami, Florida. Neither of my parents are musicians, but they were always very encouraging of my musical interests. My mother is Colombian and emigrated to the U.S. when she was 25. She loves classical music, but she never actually had the opportunity or financial means to learn an instrument while she was growing up, so she definitely gave me the sense from an early age that I was lucky and that it was a beautiful thing to be able to play music. My dad is also a lover of classical music; I grew up listening to Dvorak and Beethoven symphonies on car rides with my dad.

DC: How did you pick the violin? 
RO: Actually I feel more that the violin picked me, as silly as it sounds. My older sister had started taking violin lessons, and I was just doing what little sisters do best: stealing their older sister's toys. I guess at that point the "toy" she played with the most was the violin! But in all seriousness, I grew up playing the piano just as much as I played violin (if not more), and I made the decision to focus on violin when I was 17. In retrospect, I think a big part of why I chose the violin at that point was because of my experiences in youth orchestra. Also, let's face it: those pianists have too many notes to deal with.

DC: Hobbies outside music? What do you like doing?
RO: I play tennis and soccer, I love hiking and exploring the outdoors. Oh, and books. Lots and lots of books. Especially anything by Zadie Smith and/or German philosophers.

A Note from David Coucheron, Concertmaster

I am extremely excited to welcome the four new violinists to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra this fall. They will be a great addition to a violin section I am very proud of, and I wish them all a long and prosperous career with the ASO.

Jaclyn Rainey
Principal Horn

Interviewed by
Susan Welty, Associate Principal Horn

Susan Welty: We are so excited to have you back with us as Principal Horn of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. You previously played Third Horn here before winning Associate Principal Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. What did you miss most about Atlanta while you were playing in the Los Angeles Philharmonic? 
Jaclyn Rainey: I missed a lot of things about Atlanta! Most importantly I missed my wonderful friends, and Antico Pizza! 

SW: Well, we missed you, too! Alright, tell us about where you are from.
JR: I grew up outside of Louisville, KY. Both of my parents play instruments as a hobby and suggested that my brother and I do the same. Little did they know both of us would grow up to be professional musicians. 

SW: When did you first think you wanted to be a professional musician? 
JR: I attended a week long band camp in middle school and that was when I started taking music more seriously. That experience prompted me to audition and later attend a performing arts high school and it all snowballed from there.

SW: Where did you study?
JR: I did my bachelors degree at the Eastman School of Music and studied with Peter Kurau. For my masters degree I attended the New England Conservatory and studied with Richard Sebring and James Sommerville. 

SW: What are your hobbies?
JR: Being from Kentucky I grew up riding horses, and have gotten back into it this summer during the quarantine. Besides that I love being outside and hanging out with friends, socially distant of course.

A Note from Sue Welty, Associate Principal Horn

I’m delighted to welcome Jaclyn Rainey back to the ASO as our new Principal Horn. Jaclyn played 3rd horn with the ASO before leaving to play Associate Principal Horn with the LA Philharmonic for the past two years. I’m looking forward to playing many wonderful performances with her. Congratulations, Jaclyn!

Anthony Limoncelli
Second Trumpet

Interviewed by
Stuart Stephenson, 
Principal Trumpet

Stuart Stephenson: Tell me about your background. Where did you grow up, is there a family member who influenced your interest in music?
Anthony Limoncelli: I grew up in New Hyde Park, NY, which is a neighborhood on Long Island. Both my father and my sister inspired me to become a musician. My father was an amateur trombone player and lover of all kinds of music, and my sister was a professional oboe player before starting a highly successful career in marketing.

SS: Where did you study and with whom?
AL: I’ve been lucky to have many wonderful teachers throughout my studies. At the Manhattan School of Music, I studied with Mark Gould, at The Juilliard School I studied with Raymond Mase, and at Rice University I studied with Barbara Butler and Charlie Geyer. I believe we both share all of those teachers! I also must mention the great teachers Anthony Bavota and Michael Klein who taught me throughout high school and influenced my decision to make orchestral performance my career, as well as Ethan Bensdorf who mentored me throughout my time as a student in Manhattan.

SS: It’s funny, both Mike [Tiscione, Associate Principal Trumpet] and I are also Butler/Geyer students, so 3/4 of the section is from a similar background! Was there a pivotal experience that made you sure you wanted to be an orchestral musician?
AL: During my first year at The Juilliard School, I played principal on a suite of Prokofiev’s ballet Cinderella. It was the first time as a student that I was tested with very delicate and exposed solos and felt that I had the skills to execute them.  I knew I wanted to continue experiencing those musical challenges and the feeling of accomplishment after a great performance.

SS: You just came from playing with the Sarasota Orchestra - what position did you play there, and are there any challenges to now playing Second Trumpet with the ASO?
AL: I was previously principal trumpet of the Sarasota Orchestra. It will be challenging to move from a leadership role to a supporting section role, as putting my musical stamp on a piece comes more naturally to me, but I am excited to strengthen my 2nd trumpet skill set and become a more well-rounded musician in the process.

SS: What are you looking forward to about Atlanta?
AL: I’m excited to be around the energy and diversity of a big city. Also, I can’t wait to go to a Braves game when it is safe. Most of all, I’m looking forward to being a member of the ASO!

A Note from Stuart Stephenson, Principal Trumpet

I’m very excited to welcome Anthony to the section. It’s been years (the seven I’ve been with the orchestra plus a few years at least before that) since the orchestra has had a full trumpet section. I can’t wait to start the season (however it might look) with a full section - now we can really hone in and develop the ASO’s trumpet section “sound” and style. Welcome, and I hope to have many years of playing together!

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