All the members of Sinfonia Spirituosa are dedicated teachers, and a central tenet of our vision is celebrating the music of the past while inspiring young musicians of the future. Through immersion in a creative rehearsal and performance environment, we aim to stimulate and support promising high school, undergraduate, and graduate level instrumentalists and singers who are curious, open-minded, and committed to exploring original instruments and studying the musical language of the Baroque period.
Thus far, seven talented young musicians have performed alongside Sinfonia Spirituosa as mentees:
- Khadija Aguinaldo, traverso
- Ben Gardner, violin
- Chiara Giordani, violin
- Francesca Giordani, violin
- Breana H. McCullough, viola
- Owen Rooney, violin
- Jorge A. Torrez, countertenor
Get to know a few of them:
Khadija Aguinaldo, traverso
Khadija Aguinaldo graduated from the School of Music at California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Music degree in Flute Performance. As a member of Dr. Lorna Peters’ baroque chamber ensemble, Camerata Capistrano, she discovered her joy for historical performance. Coming from an orchestral background where interpretation rests largely with the conductor’s artistic vision, it was a challenging yet welcome change of pace to be in rehearsals that included open discussion, collaboration, improvisation, experimentation — all focused on the goal of finding the best synergy and style specific to each part of the group. Camerata Capistrano provided immersion in the unique language and culture of Baroque performance practice, as well as the opportunity to learn the importance of score savviness, verbal communication, cueing skills, eye contact, and sensitivity to group phrasing in a chamber ensemble sans conductor.
Working with the members of Sinfonia Spirituosa as a participant in their Mentorship Program has been invaluable training in rounding out my musical development as a performer. Being a conductor-less small baroque chamber orchestra, Sinfonia Spirituosa requires solid and clear communication, respectful collaboration, and often improvisation between the musicians — an alluring aspect of this period of music and one that was a welcome change from my previous modern orchestral performance experience.
I believe it is a fundamental and necessary part of every musician’s education to study the roots of Western classical music, and it is certainly further enhanced by playing any period’s music on the instruments it was originally written for. So in addition to studying the repertoire and learning the nuances, rhetoric and national styles inherent in Baroque-era music, I also studied the wooden, one-keyed traverso. This was a humbling yet stimulating challenge that opened a new world of flute performance that I could only experience on this period instrument. With supportive guidance and valuable lessons from flutist Dr. Cathie Apple, I learned completely new fingerings, embouchure placement, and tunings. Depending on the tonality of a piece, the inherent characteristics of the traverso lend themselves to natural variation in colors, strength, and dynamics — a distinctive contrast to the dependable consistency of the modern metal-keyed flute.
It is truly a privilege to have Sinfonia Spirituosa local to our Northern California area. It deeply enriches our music community with historically-informed performances, and its Mentorship Program gives instrumentalists like me unique and rare access to this amazing repertoire. Joining the orchestra and being so warmly welcomed and mentored by its members was an honor. The energy of rehearsing and performing with the ensemble was palpable, infectious, and inspiring. Special shout outs to Dr. Cathie Apple, Dr. Lorna Peters, Naomi Rogers-Hefley and Timothy Stanley who have been such devoted and supportive mentors during my experiences in both Camerata Capistrano and Sinfonia Spirituosa.
Ben Gardner, violin
Ben Gardner initially wanted to play the cello, but instead chose the violin to make the walk to school easier. He quickly fell in love with the instrument, and 16 years later he holds two degrees in Violin Performance: a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and a Master’s degree from the University of Oregon. He has appeared as a soloist and ensemble member across the Western United States in classical ensembles and Baroque orchestras, playing on period instruments.
Playing with Sinfonia Spirituosa was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. All of the members are sensitive, communicative musicians who gave me wonderful feedback and truly made me feel like I was a part of the orchestra. My first rehearsal with the ensemble was on my birthday, and after reading some Bach chorales together, they surprised me by playing Happy Birthday!
I especially want to thank director/harpsichordist Lorna Peters and concertmaster Jubal Fulks for coaching me on both the Baroque style and on all the nuances involved in playing in a chamber orchestra. Rehearsing and performing with Sinfonia Spirituosa provided me with invaluable skills, and inspired me to begin my own Baroque ensemble in Oregon.
Chiara and Francesca Giordani, violins
Chiara Giordani is double majoring in Business Economics and Italian at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to her studies, she is involved in the Italian Club and Pre-Law Society. She also recently auditioned for the UCLA Symphony and is currently their principal second violin. Chiara is very grateful for the mentorship and teaching methods that Sinfonia Spirituosa professionals offer. By including her in discussions and decisions as well as giving her the chance to learn through a variety of performance situations, she feels included and challenged as she grows in her music education. Even though she especially enjoys the specific repertoire selected for the group, she most of all loves working with the amazing musicians who inspire and support her.
Francesca Giordani is a chemistry major at the University of California, Berkeley, College of Chemistry. Aside from her science courses, she enjoys studying music and performing baroque violin. She has performed with the UC Berkeley Baroque Ensemble (Baroque Bears) since her freshman year. Sinfonia Spirituosa has given her the chance to continue her baroque studies and performance opportunities. When asked about her most memorable moment with the ensemble, she fondly remembers the many hours of rehearsals and discussions and of course, the amazing musical moments that take audience’s breaths away. For her, there is no greater feeling than performing with other musicians who enjoy sharing their gift as much as she does.
From Chiara and Francesca:
Chiara wants to particularly thank Sinfonia Spirituosa members Mr. Moreno, her teacher since the seventh grade, Naomi Rogers-Hefley, an especially impactful role model, Dr. Jubal Fulks, an inspirational coach and, most of all, Dr. Lorna Peters, one of the best directors she has ever had!
Francesca wishes to thank Sinfonia Spirituosa members Mr. Moreno, her teacher since the 8th grade, Naomi Hefley-Rogers, her mentor and role model, and Dr. Lorna Peters for giving her this wonderful opportunity.
Breana H. McCullough, viola
Breana H. McCullough is a Karuk Baroque and Modern violist from Bozeman, Montana. McCullough started her career at a young age and has since performed with various ensembles including the Bozeman Symphony, I‑90 Collective, Battle Creek Symphony, Carpe Diem String Quartet and others. She began a masters degree in Historical Performance at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music but has since started a gradate degree in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles as a fully funded Cota-Robles Fellowship recipient. Her research focuses on Indigenous representation in Early Art Music as well as Karuk epistemological and cultural practices. She currently sits as a co-chair in the IDEA Taskforce for Early Music America and is the student representative in the Indigenous Music section for the Society of Ethnomusicology. McCullough currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
It was a privilege and honor to have the opportunity to perform and work with the members of Sinfonia Spirituosa. Working so closely with members of the ensemble allowed me to further develop skills in the realm of historical performance all while having a wonderful time getting to know the artists and Sinfonia Spirituosa audiences. I appreciated the feedback and insights I received from all the members of the ensemble and the brilliance each individual brings to the stage.
One of the strongest and most beautiful observations I had regarding performing with Sinfonia Spirituosa was the commitment, care, and passion they have to creating wonderful music and the friendships they forge in the process. I loved seeing the way this ensemble interacted in such constructive and collaborative ways. This was beyond inspiring and the way they interacted showed me as a mentee the beauty friendship can bring to a musical ensemble and how that translates onto the stage.
Overall, I had such a wonderful time getting to know the ensemble and their audience. It was such a great opportunity and I look forward to taking the golden pieces of knowledge bestowed onto me into my future music and academic endeavors. Thank you so much to Dr. Lorna Peters and the members of Sinfonia Spirituosa for such a great opportunity. Yôotva!
Jorge A. Torrez, countertenor
Jorge A. Torrez is a countertenor studying vocal performance at University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music in Stockton, CA. He is a current vocal student of Burr C. Phillips and was most recently seen on stage in Pacific Opera Theatre’s Spring 2019 production of Brigadoon as Harry Beaton. After Pacific, he plans to continue his vocal studies in baroque music and vocal pedagogy to teach voice to the up and coming generation of singers.
“Sol da te mio dolce amore” is the aria from Orlando Furioso by Antonio Vivaldi that I was incredibly lucky to perform with Sinfonia Spirituosa this past year.
Getting the opportunity to experience Sinfonia Spirituosa in rehearsals and working along side these amazing musicians was an absolute honor. I didn’t have much experience working with a baroque ensemble prior to singing with Sinfonia Spirituosa, but they took me under their wing and taught me how to be an ensemble member. Listening to how violinist Naomi Rogers-Hefley and cellist Timothy Stanley played their instruments gave me a more in-depth understanding for how I, as a vocalist, should phrase my lines and match articulations. Baroque flutist Cathie Apple and harpsichordist Lorna Peters instilled in me that eye contact was very important during rehearsals/performances — and indeed it was! It was very affirming to know that we were all on the same page with each other.
“Sol da te mio dolce amore” by Vivaldi is essentially a virtuosic duet for voice and baroque flute. The musicality that Cathie Apple brought to the piece inspired me to sing at her level of artistry and in return, we were able to create some truly magical, beautiful musical moments together. It is very obvious that these musicians care about bringing this special music to life and sharing it with aspiring student musicians. This was an invaluable experience and if I could have the chance to work with them again, I most definitely would!