Born to a musical family in Kazan, Russia, Elena Nezhdanova made a debut with an orchestra at the age of eight. Newly appointed Director of the Youth Program at North Carolina Bach Festival, Elena was a recipient of several prizes and awards. In October 2015 Elena performed Tchaikovky’s 1st piano concerto in B-flat minor with Sichuan Symphony Orchestra in Chengdu, China. Her recent professional engagements include numerous performances with her duo partner cellist Dr. Roman Placzek, a North Carolina Tour with a guest Morin Khuur (Horsehead fiddle) player from Inner Mongolia, and the Richard Luby International Violin Symposium in Chapel Hill among many others. She attended University of Florida International Piano Festival and Aspen Music Festival and School. her pedagogical activities include: vice-president of MTNA collegiate chapter - UNCG, presented at the GMTA, and NCMTA conference at Meredith College, and was commissioned to write a review of Irina Gorin's piano method "Tales of Musical Journey" for the Clavier Companion Magazine, which should be published in 2017. A sought after teacher and a competition juror, Miss Nezhdanova holds degrees from Syracuse University, Ithaca College, and is currently a Doctoral candidate in Piano Performance and Collaborative Arts at UNCG.
In his young career, Niccoló Muti has already established himself as a versatile musician. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Incontri Musicali, an annual chamber music festival that brings classical music’s most-promising young talents to Spoleto, Italy for three weeks of chamber music performances each summer. He is also an avid conductor and has studied extensively with his father, conductor Lorenzo Muti. As a violinist, Niccoló has performed in concerts across the U.S. and Europe, including appearances in Switzerland, Norway, the Czech Republic, and as featured soloist with the National Orchestra of Romania in Italy. He also performs regularly with the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle in Durham, North Carolina. Niccoló received his Bachelor's degree in Violin Performance from Indiana, where he studied with Mimi Zweig. He completed his Master’s Degree at Rice University, where he was awarded the Vicki West Prize to study with Kathleen Winkler. An accomplished (former) ballet dancer, Niccoló still likes to go out dancing for fun. He also enjoys playing tennis, cheering for his favorite soccer team (Juventus FC), and exploring new cuisines and wines.
Newly appointed Director of Operations of the North Carolina Bach Festival flutist Erin Munnelly enjoys her rich performing and teaching career in Raleigh, North Carolina. A sought after orchestral player Erin is Principal Flute with the Durham Symphony Orchestra, Substitute Flute and Piccolo with the North Carolina Symphony, Co-Principal Flute with the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, and Principal Flute with the Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra. Besides that she is also a member of the Raleigh Flute Choir. Miss Munnelly is also a flutist and piccolo player with the newly established chamber music association Triangle Chamber Music Collective. As part of her successful pedagogical activities, Erin maintains a large private teaching studio. In addition to teaching and performing, Miss Munnelly is Personnel Manager of the Durham Symphony Orchestra and serves on the boards of the Raleigh Civic Symphony Association and Raleigh Area Flute Association where her position is the Masterclass Coordinator. She is also a member of the National Flute Association. Erin earned her Master of Music degree from the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and her Bachelor of Music degree from East Carolina University, both in flute performance. Her principal teachers include Bradley Garner, Jack Wellbaum, and Christine Gustafson.
Through teaching and performing, keyboardist Stephanie Schmidt is committed to a dynamic and communicative treatment of all types of classical music. Currently progressing towards a DMA in piano (UNCG), her mentors in the field of early music include Andrew Willis (fortepiano and harpsichord) and Christopher Marks (organ). In addition, she frequently participates in events focused on historically-minded performance, including masterclasses with Malcolm Bilson (Cornell) and David Breitman (Oberlin). While maintaining a full piano studio in Cary, NC, Stephanie is an active member of the Historical Keyboard Society of North America, and looks forward to her fourth consecutive presentation at the organization's annual conference this April. She has also performed as part of the UNCG Focus on Piano seminar (CPE Bach) and the Cherry Hill concert series.