Brenda Vongova (Piano)
President & Artistic Director of the UNCMS
Brenda Vongova has been a United Nations international civil servant for over a decade. During this time, she has championed the UN values of peace, respect for human rights, and has been a vocal advocate for the universal ideals, principles and values enshrined in the UN Charter – through music. In 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters, she founded the UN Chamber Music Society – dedicated to promoting the values of the United Nations through the universal language of music. She has been awarded the Gluck Community Service Fellowships, and has devoted several years to teaching classical piano to the blind, the visually impaired, the disabled and children from underprivileged communities.
Brenda Vongova currently serves in the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Mr Antonio Guterres. Prior to this post,
she served in the Office of the former United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. BAN Ki-moon. Her expertise in handling political briefing materials was honed during her previous service in
the Office of the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, who oversaw the UN’s diplomatic efforts to prevent and mitigate conflicts worldwide. Between 2008 to
2010, she served the in the cabinets of several President of the United Nations General Assemblies. While pursuing academic studies at Harvard, Ms. Vongova was invited to join the cabinet of the
sixty-second President of the United Nations General Assembly. From there, she continued on to serve in the cabinets of the sixty-third and sixty-fourth Presidents of the United Nations
Born in Canada, Brenda Vongova studied classical piano with Russian School teachers and at the Royal Conservatory of Music. She has performed at prestigious venues worldwide, such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, and the United Nations. In 2016, she was awarded a Masters degree in Diplomacy and International Relations. She is currently studying piano under the tutelage of Juilliard Professor Jerome Lowenthal.
Hana Mundiya (Violin)
Hana Mundiya made her concerto debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 13 at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center as a part of the orchestra’s Young People’s Concerts. A prizewinner in the 9th Leopold Mozart Competition (2016) in Augsburg, Germany and second place winner in the 2016 Aspen Music Festival Concerto Competition, she has also performed at Merkin Concert Hall as a winner of the New York International Artists Competition, and chamber music in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. Hana has appeared as a guest soloist for the New York Piano Society in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall three times, most recently in March 2016, and, in 2015, performed with ThePianoGuys at Perelman Hall at Carnegie Hall. In 2011, Hana performed as a soloist in a series of concerts with the Mainzer Kammerorchester in Germany; the Allgemeine Zeitung described her performance at the Kurhaus in Wiesbaden as “convincing and technically impeccable”. Hana has appeared with other orchestras, including the Minsk Festival Orchestra, playing the Symphonie Espagnole by Lalo when she was 11 years old. She is currently a freshman at Princeton University, following a year of study at the college division of
The Juilliard School. Her teachers include Naoko Tanaka and Donald Weilerstein, with whom she has been studying since attending Juilliard Pre-College.
In addition to performing in formal concerts, she enjoys playing for outreach programs and charity organizations. She performs with the Jeunes Virtouses de New York, a New York based non-profit string chamber orchestra, and tours regularly with the group in different regions of France and in New York. With this group, she has played in outreach concerts for senior citizens and students of all ages. Individually, Hana has fundraised in both Japan and New York for the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami and Earthquake. She regularly visits senior homes and schools because she truly believes that music is one of the most effective forms of emotional and spiritual alleviation. She started playing the violin at the age of three at the School for Strings. She is a graduate of the United Nations International School in New York City, where she gave performances for Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, and various heads of state. She holds a Bachelors Degree from Princeton, and is currently pursuing her Masters Degree at Juilliard.
Rohan Mundiya (Violin)
As a guest artist of the New York Piano Society Gala Concert, Rohan Mundiya performed at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, in March 2013 and 2016. In 2015, he won the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Concerto Competition and performed Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Orchestra at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Also, in May 2015, he won the Keiser Music Competition at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH. Rohan performed Prokofiev Sonata for Solo Violin at St. Peter’s Church in New York City as one of the five finalists of Lyra Competition in 2013 and received the Audience Favorite Award. As a student at the United Nations International School, Rohan had performed violin for the visiting Heads of Governments and dignitaries to the United Nations in New York City.
In 2015 and 2016, he participated in the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado where he studied with Naoko Tanaka and performed in concerts as a member of the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra and chamber ensembles. In 2014, he attended Montecito Music Festival in Santa Monica, California. He was the youngest attendee at the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Vermont in 2012. During every summer from 2009 to 2012, Rohan attended the Fetes Musicales en Savoie Music Festivals in France and performed solo and chamber music in public concerts.
Rohan started playing the violin at the School for Strings in New York and became concertmaster of the school’s most advanced orchestra, SFS Camerata before he started high school. He was invited as a guest soloist of the Fetes Musicales en Savoie and performed in numerous venues across the Savoie region in France in 2009. Since then, he has performed in dozens of concerts and recitals in Japan, France, and the United States. In 2012, he was honored to play solo works by Bach and Wieniawski at the Ginza Church in Tokyo, to benefit the victims of the Great Tohoku Tsunami and Earthquake in Japan. Rohan studies violin with Zoia Bologovsky in New Hampshire and Nanae Iwata in New York.
Ariel Horowitz (Violin)
Hailed by The Washington Post as “sweetly lyrical”, violinist Ariel Horowitz cannot remember life
before loving music. Winner of top prizes at the Stulberg and Irving M. Klein International String
Competitions, as well as The Juilliard School’s Violin Concerto Competition, The Violin Channel
praised Ariel’s artistic energy: “If they gave out prizes for attitude…we think we may have found the Olympic champion.” Ariel is a student of Itzhak Perlman and Catherine Cho at The Juilliard School as a recipient of the Arnold R. Deutsch/Dorothy DeLay Scholarship. In July 2015, Ariel performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Tito Munoz at the Strathmore Music Center and Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to rousing standing ovations. Ariel’s solo appearances also include performances with the Neue Philharmonie Westphalia, Raanana Symphonette, Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra, Carmel Symphony Orchestra, New Albany Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, and the Doctor’s Orchestral Society of New York as well as numerous recitals in the United States, Italy, France, Israel, Brazil, and Argentina. Ariel was featured on National Public Radio’sFrom The Top with pianist Christopher O’Reily in 2012, and at the From The Top Annual Gala in 2014. In 2016, Ariel premiered a new work for violin and viola by Joel Friedman, commissioned by The Klein Competition and including performances in California, Oregon, New York City, and Washington D.C. The Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists has played a large role in Ariel’s musical development. She was distinguished as a semifinalist in the 2016 Menuhin Competition in London, England, and in the 2012 Menuhin Competition in Beijing, China, Ariel was featured in the Final Gala Concert and received the Morningside Music Bridge Young Artist Award. Ariel has attended The Perlman Music Program, Mozarteum Salzburg, Keshet Eilon International Master Course, Yellow Barn Young Artists Program, and Orford Music Centre among other festivals. A devoted chamber musician, Ariel has received guidance from many musicians including Joseph Lin, Daniel Phillips, David Finckel, Roger Tapping, Li Lin, Sarah Kapustin, Merry Peckham, and former teachers Mimi Zweig and Mauricio Fuks. Ariel performs in The Juilliard Orchestra, most notably under the baton of the late David Zinman at Carnegie Hall and Maestro Itzhak Perlman at both David Geffen Hall and Harris Theater in Chicago.
Community outreach and service is an integral part of Ariel’s artistic commitment. Ariel is the
founder of The Heartbeat Project, a student-run project that combines music and math education
and cultural exchange for elementary school students on the Navajo Reservation in June 2016. This
project is generously supported through a Community Engagement Grant from The Juilliard School.
At the London and Beijing Menuhin Competitions, Ariel was a Young Menuhin Ambassador,
performing and teaching at local schools. Ariel served as Diversity Advocate (2014-15), Gluck
Community Service Fellow (2014-16) and Resident Assistant (2015-16) at The Juilliard School. In
2013, Ariel co-produced a food drive and recital at The Juilliard School to raise awareness for those
affected by food poverty in the NYC area.
Anne-Chris Visser (Violin)
Born in the Netherlands, Anne-Chris Visser studied Law and Music (violin) in Leiden and Rotterdam. She holds both a Master of Law degree (criminal and civil law) cum laude and a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors. Anne-Chris studied violin from 1996 to 2001 at the Rotterdam Music Conservatory (Codarts Rotterdam) with Thijs Kramer and Misha Furman. During those years, she played in several semi-professional orchestras. In 1998 she became a member of the National Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands, which toured internationally, and performed in the World Exhibitions in Lisbon and Berlin. While studying violin, Anne-Chris had the opportunity to play in orchestras conducted by Valery Gergiev, Ilya Musin, Jansug Kakhidze, Friedemann Layer, Reinbert de Leeuw, Alexander Liebreich, Paul Goodwin and Mark Wigglesworth. Before joining the UN, she worked at the De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek (law firm), the Ministry of Finance of the Netherlands and in the Council of Europe in Strasbour, France while continuing to play chamber music and projects in semi-professional orchestras. From 2010 to 2016, she worked at the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) as a Legal Officer and Gender Focal Point. She is currently a Senior Adviser to the Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), assisting the Somali government in strengthening its capacity to prevent and counter violent extremisn and terrorism.
Florrie Marshall (Viola)
Florrie Marshall is an artist of sounds, and lover of all things musical. Florrie comes from a long musical lineage and is proud to be continuing in the footsteps of her family members from previous generations. After the passing of both paternal grandparents and maternal grandmother who lead lives as professional musicians, Marshall continued her musical studies with her great-aunt and legendary pedagogue Dora Marshall Mullins in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
With a passion for exploring the chamber music literature, Marshall has been a participant at several esteemed chamber music festivals most recently including ClasClas, under the direction of Guy Braunstein, former concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic. Other festival appearances include the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival’s Winter Workshop 2016, 2017 & 2019, the Heifetz International Music Institute, the Beethoven Institute in New York City and the Manchester Music Festival. Such festivals have afforded Marshall the opportunity to perform alongside revered artists such as Guy Braunstein, Franz Bartolomey, Chris Grymes, Ida Kavafian, Ani Kavafian, Michael Kannen, Ara Gregorian, Hye-Jin Kim, Ilya Kaler, Ralph Kirshbaum, Mark Jakobs, Raman Ramakrishnan, Emanuel Gruber and Melissa Reardon.
In addition to her love of chamber music, she also developed as an orchestral musician, having served as principal violist of the Yale Philharmonia, concertmaster, principal second violin and principal viola for both the East Carolina University Symphony Orchestra and conductor-less ensemble, The Virginia Beach Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. During her senior year at ECU, Marshall performed an orchestral concert in the same way her grandfather once did: As concertmaster from the first violin section for the first half, and as concertmaster from the viola section for the second half.
Florrie earned a bachelor’s degree in violin performance and a Certificate of Advanced Performance Studies in viola from East Carolina University where she studied with Hye-Jin Kim and Ara Gregorian. She most recently earned her Master of Music degree from Yale University as a recipient of the Stephen and Denise Adams Fellowship, where she received the 2017 Presser Foundation Graduate Award and the 2018 Philip F. Nelson Prize. Florrie also received the 2017 Interdisciplinary Arts Award from Yale’s Center for Collaborative Arts and Media. Florrie studied with renowned pedagogues Ettore Causa and Steven Tenenbom. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate at the Yale School of Music.
Drake Driscoll (Cello)
Drake Driscoll has established herself as both a versatile performer and advocate for social change through music. Her commitment to the arts includes a significant component of administrative and community work in addition to her performance and teaching opportunities as a cellist. Drake is a member of the United Nations Chamber Music Society and was a Gluck Community Service Fellow at The Juilliard School. A passionate teacher and arts administrator, Drake is a mentor and substitute coach for Juilliard Pre-College chamber music, Management Associate for After Arts, and Marketing and Production Assistant for the NYC branch of Music for Food. She has also served as the Teaching Assistant to Hans Jørgen Jensen and Julia Lichten at the Meadowmount School of Music and has her own private teaching studio in NYC.
Drake’s recent solo performances with orchestra include Elgar’s Concerto in E minor with the Triangle Youth Philharmonic and Lalo’s Concerto in D minor with the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra. While participating in the Holland International Music Sessions, Drake was heard on National Public Radio in the Netherlands, performing Debussy’s Cello Sonata and Paganini’s Moses Variations. A recent highlight of Drake’s orchestral career was an appearance in the legendary BBC Proms Royal Albert Hall as part of the 2019 Juilliard/Royal Academy of Music orchestral collaboration. Drake has held many leadership positions including principal cello of the Juilliard Chamber Orchestra, the Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra, the Triangle Youth Philharmonic, and the North Carolina Symphony Youth Sinfonietta.
Drake is a member of the 2020-2021 Global Leaders Program cohort, pursuing an Executive Graduate Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship, Cultural Agency, Teaching Artistry, and Civic Leadership. She recently graduated from The Juilliard School with a Master of Music degree and was a 2020 recipient of the Norman Benzaquen Career Advancement Grant. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, and previously attended the New England Conservatory Preparatory School and Walnut Hill School for the Arts where she graduated with the Music Department Award. Her previous teachers include Elizabeth Beilman, Natasha Brofsky, Hans Jørgen Jensen, and Nicole Johnson.
Thapelo Masita (Cello)
Thapelo Masita uses his music to help further the arts in his home country of South Africa. He earned a Bachelor of Music in cello performance from the Eastman School of Music in 2017 and a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School in 2019. Through a faculty position at the Opportunity Music Project and a fellowship in the Music Advancement Program – a Juilliard Sponsored Community Engagement Initiative, Masita has been able to serve young people from underrepresented communities. Masita is a founding member of the Uhuru String Quartet, which seeks through artistic collaborations and performance to connect and empower women who have experienced domestic violence and homelessness. The Quartet has commissioned and performed a new quartet by Japanese-American composer Sato Matsui, and has collaborated on several occasions with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw. Masita is the founder and executive director of the Bokamoso International Chamber Music Festival and Workshop in South Africa, which aims to share the joys of music with local communities while providing high level training to promising youths from around the country. Thapelo is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at CUNY Graduate Center where he works with Julia Lichten. He performs on a cello made by Oded Kishony, on generous loan to him by the Virtu Foundation.
Derek Louie (Cello)
Derek Louie is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Music in cello at the Juilliard School, studying under the tutelage of Clara Kim and Joel Krosnick. He has given numerous performances including appearances at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NPR’s From The Top and The Rising Stars Concert Series at the Great Mountains Festival in South Korea. Derek has been a prize winner in several international competitions including 1st prize in the 2019 Berliner Philharmonic Competition, 2017 Enkor International String Competition and grand prize in the 2017 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition and the 2017 Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra Young Artist Competition. Hehas soloed with several orchestras including The Bergen Philharmonic, Ensemble 212, and the American Symphonia orchestras. He has attended festivals around the world including Verbier Academy, Chigiana, and the Perlman Chamber Music Workshop. In 2021 Derek co-founded Opus Illuminate, an online concert series dedicated to performing and raising awareness for works by composers of underrepresented communities in order to expand the horizons of conventional programming. Derek has been awarded a Gluck Community Service Fellowship – presenting biweekly interactive classical music, jazz and dance performances in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and alternative care facilities.
Sarah Favinger (Bass)
Sarah Favinger received her Bachelor of Music degree from James Madison University in
May of 2012 in Music Performance. In August of 2015 she graduated with a double major Master of Music degree in Double Bass Performance and Music History and Literatures at Baylor University in
Waco, Texas. While at James Madison and Baylor, she performed with the Symphony Orchestras, Wind Ensembles, Jazz Ensembles, Chamber Ensembles, and Theatre Departments. Ms. Favinger has also performed
in several jazz groups in Maryland, Virginia, Texas, and Paris, France. Her previous teachers and mentors include: François Rabbath, Sandor Ostlund, Samuel Cross, Adam Hopkins, and Joseph
In 2016 she completed a year of intensive study at the International Rabbath Institute Paris with François Rabbath. In Paris, she actively performed in recitals at the Cité Universitaire and around the city as a soloist and in the jazz sphere, including a pair of Kurt Weill concerts with soprano Jennifer Linshield and at jam sessions. As a vocalist, Ms. Favinger has performed in a classical settings, previously with the Paris Choral Society, St. Louis Choir and in Assisi, Italy, as well as in jazz settings.
David Yardley (Medieval Harp and Countertenor)
David Yardley has performed as a countertenor and harpist in Canberra, Sydney, the United Kingdom, the United States and Afghanistan, as a soloist and in ensembles. He has recently concluded a role singing with the professional choir of Southwark Cathedral, London. He has sung with a number of highly regarded ensembles, including the renowned Choir of Jesus College, Cambridge and the Sydney-based Renaissance Players. Mr. Yardley is also active as a director and as a composer. In late 2012, he released a CD of his compositions comprising a collection of works written to authentic medieval English texts for which no music has survived. The CD received critical praise in the national newspaper. In 2016, he won the RSCM Australia composition prize. His works have been performed in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Mr. Yardley currently works as Counsellor (Political) in the Australian Mission to the United Nations, responsible for managing the variety of work undertaken by the Political team.
From left to right: Ms. Laura Munisteri (Violinist & Treasurer) and Ms. Anne-Chris Visser (Violinist & Vice-President) performing the J.S. BACH Concerto in D Minor at the World Premiere Concert of the UN Chamber Music Society of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council - dedicated to refugees..
The Executive Council of the UN Chamber Music Society
of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council
President & Artistic Director:
Ms. Brenda Vongova
Honorary Artistic Adviser:
Mr. Christopher Tin, 2x Grammy Award winning composer
Ms. Anne-Chris Visser
Public Relations Adviser:
Mr. Firas Kayal
Mr. Mohammed Shaker
Ms. Ruxandra Ferascu
Ms. Yulya Vanetik
UNCMS Advisory Board
Professor Natasha Brofsky,
The Juilliard School
United Nations Headquarters
UN Chamber Music Society
of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council
c/o Ms. Brenda Vongova (S-3802)
New York, NY, 10017
Painting by Adolph Menzel (1850 - 1852). Frederick the Great plays flute in his summer palace Sanssouci, with Franz Benda playing violin, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach accompanying on keyboard, and unidentified string players.
Photo credit: Wikipedia / Google Cultural Institute