Geoffrey Robson has emerged as a force of artistic leadership throughout the U.S. and Arkansas. As Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO), his dynamic leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in state-wide and national visibility for the organization. By overseeing an accelerated shift to virtual offerings of performances and educational content, Maestro Robson ensured continued success of the orchestra and continued employment of all musicians and staff. The orchestra’s online Bedtime with Bach series received nationwide acclaim and was featured by the Washington Post and the Kelly Clarkson Show. In 2017, he was awarded the Respighi Prize in Conducting by the Chamber Orchestra of New York, and led the group in performance at Carnegie Hall. He has worked with renowned artists such as Gil Shaham, Midori, Rachel Barton Pine, Zuill Bailey, Vadym Kholodenko, Alexander Markov, Mandy Gonzalez, the Beach Boys, and many others.
During his tenure in Arkansas, he has conducted critically acclaimed and sold-out masterworks, pops, chamber, and children’s concerts. He frequently collaborates with organizations such as Ballet Arkansas, Arkansas Children’s Theater, Opera in the Rock, the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock, and numerous choral groups. He also writes, records, and produces At the Symphony, a concert preview radio series on KLRE Classical 90.5 in Little Rock.
Geoff also currently serves as Artistic Director of the Faulkner Chamber Music Festival. In this role, he curates a summer concert series and serves as director of the chamber music camp, which provides a unique, immersive experience to music students in the art of playing chamber music. He has served on the music faculty of Hendrix College, and was Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Central Arkansas, where he conducted the Conway Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted numerous ballet and opera productions including The Nutcracker, La Bohème, and Madama Butterfly with the Plano Symphony (Texas) and Opera in the Rock (Little Rock). As a founding member of The Chelsea Symphony (New York), he conducted numerous sold-out performances and served as an artistic advisor, ensuring the growth and success of the organization.
A champion of new music, Geoff collaborates with and explores the music of renowned living composers. In 2016, he conducted the San Juan (Colorado) Symphony in the world-premiere of James Stephenson's Concerto for Hope with celebrated trumpeter Ryan Anthony. He served as arranger, conductor, and violinist for the world-premiere of Billy Blythe, a one-act opera based on the life of the young Bill Clinton, by Bonnie Montgomery. He conducted the premiere of Into the Beautiful North by Joe Brent, performed by the 9 Horses trio, as well as the premiere of Richard III, A Crown of Roses, A Crown of Thorns, an opera by Karen Griebling. In 2021 and 2022, he secured commissions of new works by Tania León and James Lee III, which were performed by the ASO.
As a violinist, Geoff is an avid chamber musician and regularly collaborates with musicians across the country. He served as concertmaster of the Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and as Assistant Concertmaster of the Waterbury Symphony. He is recognized for his skill and versatility as a violinist and fiddle player, and has established himself as a highly sought-after studio musician. He creates and performs string and orchestral arrangements for recording artists to assist them in achieving their musical goals in the studio. Utilizing his extensive studio experience, Geoff conducted and served as executive producer for the 2021 recording of Florence Price’s Concerto in One Movement, with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Geoff is also an orchestral pops arranger and his music has been featured in numerous ASO performances.
Geoff studied orchestral conducting at the Mannes College of Music in New York City under the tutelage of David Hayes and holds violin performance degrees from Yale University and the Michigan State University Honors College. Primary violin teachers include Erick Friedman, Dmitri Berlinsky, James Krehbiel, and I-fu Wang. He studied conducting at Yale University with Lawrence Leighton Smith, Edward Cumming, and Shinik Hahm. Other notable teachers include John Farrer, Neil Thomson, Joana Carneiro, Dirk Brossé, and Larry Rachleff.
Amanda Curcio is the appointed executive director of the Chamber Music Society and the Faulkner Chamber Music Festival's coordinator. She is active in the musical community, as the principal first violinist in the Arkansas Symphony's community orchestra, a violinist in local chamber music ensembles, and a violinist in Little Rock's summertime adult strings camp. Amanda began studying the violin in New York, where she grew up, when she was 9.
Amanda is a U.S. Army engineer officer and served two tours to Iraq as an intelligence analyst. She is currently deployed to Germany to support the mission to train Ukrainians. Before commissioning, she worked for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette as an investigative reporter, winning Journalist of the Year in 2018 from the Society of Professional Journalists. Amanda taught middle school English Language Arts with Teach For America in Nashville.
Will Preece joined the Grand Rapids Symphony in 2011. Originally from Urbana, Illinois, he studied at Michigan State University, where he earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in cello performance.
Before joining the Grand Rapids Symphony, he was a member of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and most recently was principal cellist of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra.
Will is also one of the founders of the Faulkner Chamber Music Festival. He and his wife, violinist Jo Preece, live in Heritage Hill, Grand Rapids, with their daughter, Mina, and two brown dogs.
Pianist Andrius Žlabys has received international acclaim for his appearances with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including The New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Rotterdam Symphony, and Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires.
Andrius, born in Lithuania and trained at the Curtis Institute of Music, was 18 years old when the Chicago Tribune wrote: “Pianist-composer Andrius Žlabys is one of the most gifted young keyboard artists to emerge in years.” Žlabys was also heralded by The New York Sun in a review titled “A Shining Hope of Pianists” after his recital at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Andrius' artistry has received many other accolades from the press for his performances of “easy virtuosity” (The Strad), “generous and all encompassing“ sound (The Philadelphia Inquirer),“spell-binding interpretation” (The Plain Dealer) and his “wealth of musical perception” (The Greenville News). This international acclaim has followed his uniquely honest approach to music, as described by The Philadelphia Inquirer: “The beloved C-major chord... rippled off Žlabys' hands with such open-hearted rightness that you couldn't escape the notion that the pianist was acting as Bach's ventriloquist...”
A multifaceted musician of wide-ranging repertoire, Andrius holds a special reverence for J. S. Bach, while remaining a strong advocate for the contemporary stage with numerous works commissioned by and written for him. Andrius continued his studies in the U.S. with Victoria Mushkatkol (Interlochen Arts Academy), Seymour Lipkin (Curtis Institute of Music), Sergei Babayan (Cleveland Institute of Music), and Claude Frank (Yale School of Music).
Violinist Katherine Williamson joined the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in 2013 and assumed the Assistant Concertmaster post in 2019. Katherine started her tenure as an Arts Partner with the Rockefeller String Quartet. With the quartet, she was able to work throughout the state, performing classical music for countless school children, playing in the oncology ward of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and presenting numerous recitals to a variety of audiences across the state.
Katherine has served as the Director of the ASO’s String Academy since 2019. She is deeply passionate about music education and public service. In addition to instructing violin lessons, Ms. Williamson is very dedicated to bringing chamber music to the young musicians of Central Arkansas. Since 2017, she has been on the violin faculty for the Faulkner Chamber Music Festival and, since 2018, has served on the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock Board, and is the current board president.
Katherine also served on the ASO’s Player’s Committee as President for two years from 2016 to 2018. Named “Classical Innovator” by the Arkansas Times, she believes that all Arkansans should have access to inspiration through the power of world-class classical music. She is committed to this goal through her role both as an educator and performer.
Katherine earned a Bachelor of Music with Distinction from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in 2012, where she studied privately with Mark Kaplan and orchestral studies with Jorja Fleezanis and Alexander Kerr. She currently resides in downtown Little Rock with her rescue dog, Bernie the beagle.
Joo Yun Preece has been a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony since the 2017-18 season. Originally from Busan, South Korea, Jo began her musical studies at age 4, beginning with piano and adding violin a year later. After immigrating to Dansville, Michigan, at age 10, she continued studying the violin, attending the Meadowmount School of Music, Interlochen Arts Academy, Chautauqua Music Festival, and National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Jo earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in violin performance from Michigan State University, studying violin with I-Fu Wang and Dmitri Berlinsky, and chamber music with Natalia Khoma. It was during her chamber music studies that Jo met her future husband, Will, who was assigned to be the cellist in her quartet. After earning their graduate degrees at MSU, Jo and Will moved south, first to Memphis and then Little Rock, where Jo was a violinist for the Arkansas Symphony. She then founded the Faulkner Chamber Music Festival. For a decade, Jo worked with more than 100 students and performed chamber music with renowned artists from around the world.
During her time in Chicago, Jo started a chamber music program at the Civic Orchestra, taught at the Merit School of Music, and served as the coordinator of the Music Institute of Chicago’s prestigious Academy program. Since moving to Grand Rapids, Jo has enjoyed experimenting with gardening, renovating a historic home in Heritage Hill with Will, and seeing the world anew through the eyes of her daughter, Mina. During the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2018-19 season, continuing into the beginning of its 2019-20 season, Jo was part of the GRS staff as interim Director of Education. One of her current projects is the Heritage Hausmusik concert series, presenting intimate concerts in her neighborhood’s beautiful homes.
A Central Arkansas native, Jeremy Crosmer is a remarkable young artist — both as a cellist and a composer. Between 2012 and 2017, he served as the Assistant Principal cellist in the Grand Rapids Symphony and joined the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2017. Jeremy is a founding member of the modern music ensemble Latitude 49. He is also a current member of the band ESME, a duo that broadens the education of classical music by bringing crossovers and mashups of pop and classical music to schools throughout Michigan. ESME released its first CD in 2016.
Jeremy completed graduate degrees from the University of Michigan in cello, composition and theory pedagogy, and received his D.M.A. in 2012 at age 24. While still in school, Jeremy was awarded the prestigious Theodore Presser Graduate Music Award to publish, record and perform his Crosmer-Popper duets. He recorded the duets with Julie Albers; both sheet music and CD recordings are available online.
Jeremy has taught music theory, pre-calculus and cello at universities across Michigan. He draws mazes, writes science fiction and plays good old country fiddle in his spare time. www.jeremycrosmer.com
Ryan Mooney started the violin at the age of four with his aunt, Margaret Pressley. He then switched to viola at age 15 and went on to study with Ian Swenson and Jodi Levitz at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has attended such music festivals as Roundtop and Tanglewood where he had the pleasure of performing with the Mark Morris Dance Troup at Jacob’s Pillow. Ryan was also a fellow of the Carnegie Hall exchange program where he performed with his quartet in Carnegie Hall and on a Central Asian tour.
He has a large studio of violin and viola students, and teaches at the Community School of the Arts at University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Ryan has also served as FCMF faculty for more than a decade. He is married to Cathi Whaley and is a father to Carter Emerson Mooney.