Edwin Outwater, Artistic Director
Edwin Outwater is Director of Summer Concerts at the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), and Artistic Director of the Eastern Sierra Symphony, a summer festival in Mammoth Lakes, California. After a remarkable decade of groundbreaking work, he has been named Music Director Laureate of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. An ardent champion of new music and cross-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration, he is a visionary programmer with a gift for bringing context to the concert hall. Equally adept at interpreting canonical masterworks, premiering new commissions, and connecting audiences with repertoire beyond the mainstream, Outwater is, in the words of Michael Tilson Thomas, “one of the most innovate conductors on the scene today.”
In the 2016-2017 season, his final season as Music Director of the KWS, Outwater and the orchestra continued their groundbreaking Intersections concerts. This season, he explored the deep relationship between music and science in a collaboration with the Institute for Quantum Computing and cellist Johannes Moser. Other KWS highlights included a gala farewell concert with Measha Brueggergosman and Stewart Goodyear, and world premieres from Richard Reed Parry and Riho Esko Maimets. In his fourth season as Director of Summer Concerts at the SFS, an appointment that extends throughout the year, Outwater leads collaborations with vocalist Rhiannon Giddens, pianist Ben Folds and others. As the only guest artist invited to curate a third consecutive season, Outwater returned to help lead the trailblazing series SoundBox in the SFS’s new nightclub-style performance space, and curates and conducts the Music for Families series. At the Eastern Sierra Symphony, Outwater is quickly creating one of the most creative and distinctive festivals in the United States, attracting musicians from major orchestras around the country, and collaborating with some of the world’s most sought-after composers and vocal artists.
Mr. Outwater’s extensive guest-conducting schedule featured several special projects with the Chicago Symphony in collaboration with Wynton Marsalis and Yo-Yo Ma, as well as creating and performing “Sound Health” at the Kennedy Center, in collaboration with soprano Renée Fleming and the National Institutes of Health. He also returned to the New World Symphony and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He made debuts with the Brussels Philharmonic, the Grant Park Festival, and the Montreux Jazz Festival, and appeared with Mason Bates at the Kennedy Center in their acclaimed new music series, “Kennedy Center Jukebox.” In the United States, Outwater has conducted the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, as well as symphony orchestras including Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, New World, and Seattle. In Canada, he has led the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the symphonies of Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Victoria. International appearances include the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony, Kyoto Symphony, BBCNOW, the New Zealand Symphony, Adelaide Symphony, Malmö Symphony, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Mexico City Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica de Xalapa, and Hong Kong Sinfonietta. In 2009, Outwater made his professional opera debut conducting La traviata at the San Francisco Opera, and he has since led productions at Cincinnati Opera and New York’s Lincoln Center. He participated as Associate Conductor in both YouTube Symphony projects, at Carnegie Hall and at the Sydney Opera House. He also led the performances for From Here On Out, the KWS’s 2011 Analekta release of music by Muhly, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, and Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, a recording for which NPR Music praised Outwater for guiding “dexterous performances by musicians who play the music like they own it.” Outwater is also featured on two 2014-15 releases: Expanded, which captures his Barbican Centre debut with These New Puritans, and Sarah Kirkland Snider’s highly anticipated album Unremembered.
Outwater was Resident Conductor of the SFS from 2001-06, where he worked closely with Michael Tilson Thomas, accompanied the orchestra on tour, conducted numerous concerts each season, and collaborated with such artists as Kurt Masur, Yo-Yo Ma, and Evelyn Glennie. He twice substituted for Tilson Thomas, and in 2006 premiered and recorded The Composer is Dead by Nathaniel Stookey and Lemony Snicket, which was subsequently released by HarperCollins and has become one of the most-performed works written in the 21st century. In 2008, his SFS recording of music by Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate was released to wide acclaim.
From 2001-05, Outwater was the Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, leading all its concerts and a 2004 European tour, when the orchestra made debuts at Vienna’s Musikverein and Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, besides returning to Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Before joining the SFS, Outwater served as Resident Conductor and Associate Guest Conductor of the Florida Philharmonic, Associate Conductor of the Festival-Institute at Round Top in Texas, Principal Conductor of the Adriatic Chamber Music Festival in Molise, Italy, and Assistant Conductor of the Tulsa Philharmonic.
Outwater’s work in music education and community outreach is justly celebrated. In 2004 his education programs at the SFS received the Leonard Bernstein Award for Excellence in Educational Programming, and his Chinese New Year Program won the MET LIFE award for community outreach. In Kitchener-Waterloo, Outwater redesigned the orchestra’s education series and initiated myriad community connections. At the SFS, he conducted Family Concerts; Adventures in Music performances, heard by more than 25,000 students from San Francisco schools each year; and Concerts for Kids, which reaches students throughout Northern California. In Florida, Outwater designed the Florida Philharmonic Family Series and its Music for Youth program, heard annually by more than 40,000 fifth-grade students in South Florida. He appears frequently with training orchestras and at music festivals worldwide, including the New World Symphony, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the National Music Camp of Australia, National Youth Orchestra of New Zealand, Music Academy of the West, National Orchestral Institute, Festival-Institute at Round Top, and New York’s Mannes Conservatory Orchestra. Outwater has served as Music Director of the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony and on the faculties of the University of Tulsa, Idyllwild Arts Academy, and University of California, Santa Barbara.
A native of Santa Monica, California, Edwin Outwater graduated cum laude in English literature from Harvard University, where he was music director of the Bach Society Orchestra and the a cappella group Harvard Din and Tonics, and wrote the music for the 145th annual production of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. He received his master’s in conducting from UC Santa Barbara, where he studied with Heiichiro Ohyama and Paul Polivnick, besides studying music theory and composition with John Stewart, Joel Feigin, and Leonard Stein.
Amy Sze, 2107 Horton Kohl Soloist
Amy Sze, 16, began playing the violin at the age of 3 and now studies with Aimée Kreston at the Colburn School where she is the recipient of the Richard D. Colburn Scholarship Award. She is an entering 11th grader at the Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica where she is the recipient of their EMMI music studies scholarship.
Amy was recently a semifinalist of the triennial Stradivarius International Violin Competition held in Salt Lake City. She is also a 1st prize winner of the Classics Alive Young Artists National Auditions, recipient of the Chamber Music Award and 1st prize of the Palisades Symphony Concerto Competition, 1st prize winner in her division of the Gail Newby Concerto Competition, and Gold Medalist of the Montecito International Music Festival Concerto Competition. As a member of the Fuoco String Quartet coached by Andrew Cook and Aimée Kreston, she was a semifinalist of the University of Michigan’s International M-Prize Chamber Music Competition and a bronze medalist of the National Chamber Music Competition of the Pasadena Conservatory.
Aimée Kreston, Executive Director and Principal Second Violin
A native of Chicago, violinist Aimée Kreston spent her formative years studying with with renowned pedagogue Almita Vamos. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music where she studied with Jascha Brodsky, Yumi Ninomiya, and Felix Galamir and then continued her studies with the legendary concertmaster Michel Schwalbe.
In 1989 Ms. Kreston became the youngest member of the Minnesota Orchestra and a year later won the post of Principal Second Violin in that ensemble. From 1993-1997 she served as Concertmaster of L’Orchestre de Paris; the only American in the ensemble. She has been privileged to work with some of the world's greatest conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Sergio Celibidache, Carlo Maria Guillini, Gorge Solti and Pierre Boulez.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1998, Ms. Kreston joined the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra as concertmaster, and in June of 2000, she was engaged as concertmaster of the Pasadena Symphony.
Ms. Kreston was a prizewinner of the Tibor Varga International Violin Competition in Sion, Switzerland in 1989 and at the WAMSO Young artist’s competition in Minneapolis in 1988.
A committed teacher, Ms. Kreston has been a prime mover of Project Harmony, a program designed to bring high quality, low-cost musical training to disadvantaged children in Los Angeles. In 2002, she traveled to Cambodia where she conducted teacher training at the Phnom Penh conservatory. She is also on the faculty of the Henry Mancini Institute at UCLA and at The Colburn School in downtown Los Angeles. Ms. Kreston is married to violist Andrew Picken.
Dmitri Bovaird, Orchestra Manager
Violist Dmitri Bovaird is a native of Southern California and he teaches and performs in the Los Angeles area. Mr. Bovaird currently is a member of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. His early musical training was on the violin, studying with Sybil Maxwell and then he later switched to viola. His teachers have included Sven Reher, Bernard Kadinoff, Myron Sandler, and Donald McInnes. Mr. Bovaird has been performing as an orchestral musician since elementary school. His professional career has been large and varied. It has ranged from chamber concerts in remote villages of Belize and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra concerts on the sands of Copa Cabana to playing opera performances at the Music Center of Los Angeles and Andre Agassi Foundation fundraisers at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He has performed, toured and recorded with numerous orchestras, including the Burbank Symphony, Camerata of Los Angeles, Korean Philharmonic, Japanese Philharmonic, Pasadena Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Opera a la Carte, Mozart Camerata, Pasadena Pops, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, Festival Mozaic, Santa Barbara Symphony, Topanga Symphony, Symphony in the Glen, San Fernando Valley Symphony, California Philharmonic, Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Opera and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Mr. Bovaird is also active in the Los Angeles freelance scene. His work in this area includes countless gigs from church concerts to recording sessions.
Elizabeth Hedman, concertmaster
Elizabeth Hedman joined the Eastern Sierra Symphony on the faculty and Concertmaster in 2012.
Ms. Hedman has been a soloist with The National Repertory Orchestra, The Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, The Northwest Chamber Orchestra, and The Seattle Youth Symphony, among others. Her education includes Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she won both the Concerto Competition and the Valedictory Award and was teaching assistant to Donald Weilerstein. Her principal violin teachers include Mr. Weilerstein, Margaret Pressley, and Naoko Tanaka; and for piano, Beth Hall.
Currently, Elizabeth resides in Los Angeles and she is Principal Second and Acting Concertmaster for the Santa Barbara Symphony as well as a member of the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, and the Pasadena Symphony and Pops. Elizabeth plays regularly with the Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the Santa Barbara Opera. She is a member of Ensemble Green and the Pasadena String Quartet. Since 2009 she has been performing at the renowned Oregon Bach Festival, where she acts as Principal Second for select performances.
Andrew Picken, principal viola
Violist Andrew Picken was raised in the Los Angeles area and spent many summers in the High Sierra. He is the associate principal violist of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra and has performed with many other ensembles in the region including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. An avid chamber musician, Mr. Picken has performed around the world, from Taiwan to Saint Petersburg and from Tblisi to Mexico City. Mr. Picken records frequently in the motion picture studios and can be heard on the soundtracks of such movies as King Kong, Master and Commander, and Finding Nemo.
Ken Olsen, Principal Cello
2017 Is Ken's first season with the Eastern Sierra Symphony and he joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as assistant principal cello in 2005. He is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and a winner of the school’s prestigious concerto competition. His other awards include first prize in the Nakamichi Cello Competition at the Aspen Music Festival and second prize at the 2002 Holland-America Music Society Competition. His teachers have included Richard Aaron at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Joel Krosnick at New York’s Juilliard School of Music and Luis Garcia-Renart at Bard College. He also has been a participant at the Steans Institute for Young Artists (the Ravinia Festival’s professional studies program for young musicians) and at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute. A native of New York, Kenneth Olsen is a founding member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, a conductorless string orchestra comprised of young musicians from orchestras and ensembles all over the country.
Stephen Thiroux, Bassoon
Bassoonist Stephen Thiroux joined the Eastern Sierra Symphony Orchestra in 2004. For 18 years, Stephen was Principal Bassoonist of the Ventura Symphony Orchestra. He was also a member of the Hour of Power Orchestra at the Crystal Cathedral for over 12 years. As a founding member of the Avenel Chamber Players (woodwind quintet with piano), Stephen has participated in several world premieres commissioned by the group. He maintains an active career as a freelance bassoonist and contrabassoonist throughout southern California.
Oscar Hidalgo, Principal Bass
Oscar Hidalgo is a native of Los Angeles. He attended USC, where he studied with Peter Mercurio, Dennis Trembly, Fred Tinsley and Susan Ranney. After graduating from USC he studied in Vienna with Johannes Auersperg and in Siena with Franco Petracchi. While in Europe he performed with the Rossini International Opera Festival in Pesaro, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra Per Musica in Amsterdam, as well as the Double Bass ensemble The Wardrobes in London. He held the position of Principle Bass in the Sinfonietta Salzburg. He was solo Double Bass for the White Oak Dance Project, on tour with Mikael Baryshnikov.
Back in Los Angeles, he's performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Pacific Symphony and many other Los Angeles area orchestras as well as the Ojai Festival, the Oregon Bach Festival and Chamber Music Unbound in Mammoth Lakes. He was Associate Principal for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for 15 years and served as Acting Principal for five seasons with them. He has worked as a recording artist for the Motion Picture and Television Industries since 1993.