Meet the Musicians of Sapphire Woodwind Quintet
Kim Fleuchaus, Flute enjoys a diverse career in both classical and world music. She has performed with the Milwaukee, Charlotte, Elgin, Rockford and South Bend Symphony Orchestras, the South Carolina and Illinois Philharmonic Orchestras, Fifth House Ensemble, Cube Contemporary Chamber Ensemble and the Goodman Theatre. In addition, she has appeared as soloist with the South Carolina Philharmonic and the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony. Her work also includes commercial jingles, video game music, numerous studio albums, live radio broadcasts and film scores. She received a B.M. from Northwestern University and an M.A. in Ethnomusicology from Bethel University, after which she began playing the Egyptian nay. Her study of Arabic music has led to performances with various Middle Eastern ensembles throughout the U.S. and Canada for nearly 20 years, including dozens of live theatre performances and concerts at the White House and Kennedy Center, as well as her work with the Salaam-Shalom Music Project – an interfaith music collaboration. She lives in Lincolnshire with her husband and three young children. Kim also runs Jubal Music, a booking agency that provides musicians for public and private events.
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Allison Baker Wehrle, Oboe holds degrees in oboe performance from Illinois Wesleyan University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Michigan. Upon moving to Chicago, Allison worked as an editor for the Instrumentalist Magazine and later contracted some writing, proofing, and editing work with GIA Publications. Her published articles and interviews have appeared in The Instrumentalist and the Double Reed Journal. Upon leaving the publishing world, Allison amassed a large private teaching studio that took her to far-flung suburbs such as Schaumburg and Naperville and began subbing with several orchestras in the tri-state area. She has been a regular member of the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, the Chicago Bach Ensemble, and the Bel Sonore Chamber Ensemble. Allison also taught at Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL, where she was a featured soloist with their wind ensemble in 2015. She was a reed maker for Midwest Musical Imports in Minneapolis, MN for more than 15 years. Allison currently lives in Chicago with her husband and two young daughters.
Anna Najoom, Clarinet maintains a diverse performing and teaching career. She performs frequently with orchestras throughout Chicagoland area and the Midwest including the Chicago Philharmonic, Rockford Symphony and Paramount Theater. As a member of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Najoom has performed at some of the most prominent venues in Chicago including Symphony Center, Auditorium Theater, and Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. With the Sapphire Woodwind Quintet, she performed a live recital on WFMT 98.7 FM as part of the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series. Najoom is a passionate music educator who serves on the faculty of the Merit School of Music and maintains a private teaching studio in Park Ridge. She earned a Master of Music in Clarinet Performance from the University of Minnesota, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI.
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Mackenzie Brauns, Bassoon received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and an Artist Diploma at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Mackenzie attended the Aspen Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, Round Top Music Festival, Colorado College Music Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, Kent/Blossom Music Festival, Festival Napa Valley and the National Orchestral Institute. She is an active performer throughout the Midwest and beyond. Mackenzie is Principal Bassoon of the Firelands Symphony Orchestra, Mansfield Symphony Orchestra, Youngstown Symphony Orchestra and the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic. Mackenzie has also performed with the Canton Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony Orchestra (Indiana) and many others.
Lisa Taylor, Horn completed a Bachelor of Music at New England Conservatory and a Master of Music at Peabody Conservatory when women in the brass section were still a curiosity. She spent two pleasant summers at the Chautauqua Music Festival, one brisk winter at the Banff Centre in Canada, and enjoyed a summer contract at the Hochschule Mozarteum in Salzburg, near a bakery with exceptional strudel. Before becoming an official Midwesterner, she was a member of the Annapolis Symphony and played extra with the Baltimore Symphony. She is currently principal horn in the Park Ridge Orchestra, and was featured as a soloist in 2012. Lisa has played with many local groups, including the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Illinois Symphony, New Philharmonic, and the Southwest Michigan Symphony. Along with Sapphire Woodwind Quintet, she is a also a member of the Cathedral and the Liberty Brass Quintets. On the non-classical side, Lisa plays with Jeff Hedberg’s C11 Jazz Ensemble and can be heard on their CDs. Lisa maintains two teaching studios and offers private instruction to horn players of all ages, including a horn choir for older “come-back” players. She also has degrees in mechanical engineering and enjoys giving demonstrations in schools, using instruments such as the alphorn and didjeridoo to illustrate the science of sound. Her latest project is designing simple musical instrument kits to be assembled and decorated for a music class at the Adult Down Syndrome Center in Park Ridge, IL.
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