Brenda Vongova (Pianist)
President & Artistic Director of the UNSRC Chamber Music Society
Born in Canada, Brenda Vongova is a Russian-trained concert pianist who has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, as well as the United Nations. In 2015, she performed the world premiere of the “Piano Concerto for the United Nations” in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations with the UN Symphony Orchestra. In the past, she spent several years teaching classical piano to the blind, the visually impaired, the disabled and children from underprivileged communities. Ms. Vongova studied classical piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music.
While pursuing graduate 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 two other Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly, the office of the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, as well as the Executive Office of the former United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. BAN Ki-moon.. She currently works in the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Mr Antonio Guterres. In May 2016, she received her Masters degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.
Anne-Chris Visser (Violinist)
Vice President of the UNSRC Chamber Music Society
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.
Ariel Horowitz (Violinist)
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.
Johnna Wu (Violinist) was recently the only artist selected in 2015 to study in Germany under the Fulbright Scholarship, which allowed her to live
in Berlin to research contemporary music and improvisation. During this year, she also had the privilege of performing and improvising with Middle-Eastern refugees. She obtained a Masters of Music
degree in violin performance at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Joseph Lin. At Juilliard, she launched a chamber music initiative entitled “The Piazzolla Project”, designed as an intensive
study of improvisation as a new approach to classical music. The study of improvisation has allowed her to fuse her strong interests in contemporary music, jazz, tango, and musical theatre with
She graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts with double degrees in Biology and Musicology, where she organized a year-long series for residents of the Morningside Heights community. The purpose of this series was to unify people of all artistic and intellectual backgrounds through musical performances.
Hana Mundiya (Violinist)
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.
Yuko Sunda (Violinist)
Born in Japan, Yuko Sunda began her violin studies at age 2 and already won a prize at a local competition at age 7. When she was 12 she became a member of Tokyo Junior Orchestra Society as her first career of orchestra violinist, then in her high school days, her solo recordings have come out on CDs by a local label.
Having studied science of arts and literature at Keio University, Yuko is a professional translator mainly works on medical equipment and clinical study industry.
Currently Yuko resides in New York City, where she maintains a busy schedule as a violinist for a variety of ensembles, such as: Symphony Orchestra of the Americas, UNSRC Symphony Orchestra, New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble, Apotheosis Opera, Amore Opera, and Vocal Production Orchestra, as well as some chamber music groups.
Laura Munisteri (Violinist)
Treasurer of the UNSRC Chamber Music Society
Laura Munisteri has played with numerous orchestra and chamber music ensembles in the U.S. and Netherlands. She is currently the Chief Investment Officer of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University in Public and International Affairs, and pursued graduate studies in economics at the London School of Economics.
Rohan Mundiya (Violinist)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 is currently a student at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, where he has been the concertmaster of its orchestra and performing in chamber ensembles. He studies violin with Zoia Bologovsky in New Hampshire and Nanae Iwata in New York.
Anat Malkin Almani (Violist)
Named as one of the “gifted young violinists who are among the vanguard leading the march of violin art into the 21st century” by Henry Roth in his book entitled “Violin Virtuosos from Paganini to the 21st Century”, Anat Malkin Almani was already performing as soloist with symphony orchestras by the age of six. At ten, she embarked on her first world tour, comprised of recitals and performances with orchestras, throughout Norway, Mexico and the United States. She made her Carnegie Hall debut under the baton of Alexander Schneider. Additional performances, as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician have taken her throughout Argentina, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Holland, Israel, Italy, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Ms. Almani has been featured on American and Israeli radio, as well as having made numerous appearances on U.S., Israeli and South American television.
An avid chamber musician, Ms. Almani performs annually with distinguished artists, including David Geber, Mikhail Kopelman, Julia Lichten and Nicholas Mann. She has also collaborated with well-known artists such as Emanuel Borok, Liza Ferschtman, Jerry Grossman, Jeremy McCoy, Peter Winograd and the Aviv Quartet, among others. Ms. Almani is a member of The Malkin Duo with her sister, violinist Bracha Malkin. Prizewinner of numerous competitions, the Duo has performed numerous recitals at Weill Recital Hall and has performed, to critical acclaim, both as recitalists and as soloists in Argentina, Colombia, Israel, Italy, Uruguay and throughout the United States.
A sought after teacher, Ms. Almani has given master classes in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Europe, Israel, Russia and in the United States. She makes frequent appearances at festivals around the world. She is presently on the Violin and Viola faculties of the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division and the artist faculty of the Academy of Music Festival in New York
Jenn Chang (Violist)
New York-based violist Jennifer Chang enjoys a multifaceted career performing in ensembles throughout the country. She especially enjoys playing chamber music in non-traditional venues, presenting string quartets to new audiences. Upon moving to New York, she helped found the HausMuzik ensemble, performing concerts in homes, churches, gardens, and libraries; she also performs with the Listen Closely chamber music initiative in New York’s Inwood neighborhood. Some of her other favorite performance venues have been the MoMA sculpture garden, Small’s Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, and The Barn at Castle Hill, at the Manchester-by-the-Sea chamber music festival.
A graduate of Harvard college, Jenn seeks to use music for social change and community enrichment. She presented her senior thesis about the Venezuelan social program El Sistema at symposiums organized by the New England Conservatory and Community MusicWorks. In 2015, Jenn was honored to play principal viola in the inaugural orchestra concert for The Dream Unfinished, a collective of classical musicians and activists who promote NYC-based civil rights and community organizations.
Jenn completed her Master’s degree at Juilliard, studying with Misha Amory and Heidi Castleman. At Juilliard, she performed regularly with the New Juilliard Ensemble and served as a principal violist of the Juilliard Chamber Orchestra and the Juilliard Orchestra. Previous teachers include Roger Tapping, James Buswell, and Marylou Speaker Churchill. Jenn also works at Google, most recently focusing on social impact initiatives.
Adrian Daurov (Cellist)
Adrian Daurov is a versatile cellist, who performs on world famous concert stages including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Madison Square Garden, and Boardwalk Arena in Atlantic City, ranging from classical solo recitals to playing shows with the likes of Alicia Keys, Josh Groban, Burt Bacharach, Frank Ocean and The Roots, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Sarah Brightman and the Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Ros. Most recently, Adrian has collaborated with the Swedish folk rock band First Aid Kit, performing and recording for the iTunes Live Sessions, he also frequently performs with the cello rock band Break of Reality.
Since Adrian's debut as a soloist with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra at age 15, he has nourished his career by receiving the top prizes at several international music competitions in
Europe and the US as well as touring as a soloist with the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra in 2004 and being appointed the principal cellist of the Bayreuth Youth Festival Orchestra in Germany. In
2008 Adrian Daurov was featured in the Gala Concert in celebration of Russia's Independence Day at Carnegie Hall's main stage along with Russia’s opera stars Yelena Obraztsova and Vladimir Galouzine.
After studying at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia, Adrian was a recipient of the Jerome L. Greene Scholarship to study at the Juilliard School with the renowned cello pedagogues Andre
Emelianoff and David Soyer (of the Guarneri Quartet), where he completed his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in 2009. In June 2007 Adrian was also appointed the principal cellist of the Chamber
Orchestra of New York, and a year later formed his own group – the
award-winning Voxare Quartet.
Adrian was also featured on a jazz album by New York's rising jazz star Romain Collin and appeared on America’s Got Talent show. Adrian made his New York solo debut at Merkin Hall at Lincoln Center and performed as a soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Daurov has also collaborated in chamber music programs with pianists Di Wu, Spencer Myer, Alexander Ghindin, Inon Barnatan, violinists Giora Schmidt, Mark Peskanov and flutist Eugenia Zukerman, the St. Petersburg String Quartet and many others. This season will also see Mr. Daurov performing solo with the symphony orchestras of Wyoming, Longwood (MA) and St. Petersburg in Russia.
Daurov is a devoted performer of the music of our time. He has collaborated with composers Mohammed Fairouz, Grigory Smirnov, Daron Hagen, Christopher Gunning and Daniel Capelletti, with the latter three having written works for Mr. Daurov. Adrian resides in New York and plays on a cello made by luthier John Terry in Florence in 1989.
Gjilberta Lucaj (Cellist)
A native of Albania, Gjilberta Lucaj, studied classical cello at the Music Conservatory at SUNY Purchase College, Mannes College of Music, Juilliard School of Music and received a Masters in Music Education from the Steinhardt School of Education at NYU. Her classical solo career has taken her to Mexico, China, South Korea, Europe. She has been featured in the New York Times, TimeOut NY, and Couture Fashion Magazine. Ms. Lucaj, pioneered the concept of pairing her dynamic cello solo performances with couture fashion shows starting in 2005. She has performed for Fashion Week in NYC, the Tri-State area, PA, Boston and Miami. As a member of Classical Pops Festival in Barbados she has performed with NY Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Chicago Symphony etc. Ms. Lucaj has recorded and performed for Sony, Avatar Studios, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Ricky Martin and Coldplay. She was invited from the US Embassy in Afghanistan to perform and teach at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music.
Craig Klonowski (Bassist)
Born outside of Cleveland, Ohio, Craig Klonowski has dedicated his life to music. Craig is the principal Double Bass with the United Nations, has sat as principal with the Queer Urban Orchestra and Litha Symphony, and section double bass with the One World Symphony, Springfield Symphony, Lima Symphony, Ashland Symphony, and Central Ohio Symphony. He has also worked in musical theater and cabaret formats, notably with the College Light Opera Company (Falmouth, Mass.), Cleveland Cabaret Project at the Cleveland Playhouse Square Center and Kalliope Stage. Mr. Klonowski has worked as a music director and composer, composing and directing for the Reading Company at the Cleveland Playhouse. His original score helped to win two college Emmys for the short film, “When the World Goes Dark” including the Humanitarian Award and Runner up for Best Animated Short Film. His other original scores including “Dream of Spring”, “The Fear Inside” and “Choices” have helped lead these short films to very successful film short festival tours.
Mr. Klonowski has his Bachelors Degree in Music Education from The Ohio State University and
Masters Degree in Music Education from Cleveland State University, where he graduated as a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda Honors Music Fraternity. Since 2010, Craig has been teaching Orchestra at Esperanza Preparatory Academy, a dual-language school in Spanish Harlem, where he founded the only string orchestra in his geographic district and continues to create access to classical music for young scholars.
Mr. Klonowski is also the founder of the Galactica String Quintet, which is dedicated to exploring the boundaries of the string quintet and educating young people on the power, flexibility, and applications of the chamber ensemble. With his husband, Mr. Klonowski is one of the founders of the Half Full Institute, Inc. non-profit organization, dedicated to helping those who help others and creating access to arts opportunities for the youth of New York City.
David Yardley (Medieval Harpist 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
Ms. Megumu Tagami
Ms. Karmen Kolombo
Ms. Sophia Ostapenko
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