Spotlight Series – Translucent Beauty
Bach: Suite for solo cello #5, c-minor
Rebecca Merblum, cello
Margaret Brouwer: Sonata for Horn and Piano
Mike Alexander, horn
Miryana Moteva, piano
Electronic soundscapes/keyboard improv
Eyenga Bokamba, Visual Artist
Eyenga Bokamba is a visual artist and designer whose creative practice is based in the United States and Italy. Among her accomplishments are a Bush Leadership Fellowship, four solo shows in the US and one in Italy. Eyenga currently serves as a board member of the National Performance Network. The artist was inducted into the National Association of Women Artists (NAWA) in 2011 at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City.
Recent shows include Clinic Personal Structures, an international juried group show at the European Cultural Center, Venice, What will I do with all this freedom?, a solo show at the NAWA Gallery in New York City, and the Minnesota Black Fine Arts Show featuring 10 Minnesota artists of African descent; works were on view across Minnesota at the Austin Area Arts Gallery, Paramount Center for the Arts in St. Cloud, the Duluth Art Institute, and at the Minneapolis/ St. Paul International Airport, sponsored by ARTS@MSP The artist was featured in the 2020 Minneapolis Institute of Arts Foot in the Door Show and highlighted in Midwest Home’s May/June 2022 issue. Currently on view until November 30th: Holding Space for Possibility at the UM Physicians Mill City Clinic, Minneapolis.
For this program, Eyenga will use illumination, projection and short films to engage in a collaborative exploration of improvisation and re/cognition, creating a visual feast with her esteemed musical colleagues. “My greatest desire, says the artist, “is to create work that pivots on an axis of understanding and advances our collective consciousness about what it means to be alive, thriving, and empathetic in today’s world.” The artist is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and Harvard University.
Pianist Miryana Moteva is an active soloist, chamber musician, and piano teacher in the Twin Cities. With 10 years of teaching experience, she feels comfortable instructing students of all levels. Attention and sensitivity to each student’s goals guide Miryana’s teaching approach in piano lessons. She strives to make music learning a rewarding activity that not only supplies students with strong piano skills but also brings them joy. Having the privilege of studying with extraordinary musicians and mentors, Miryana believes that a strong teacher-student bond is a key to successful learning. In her studio, she maintains high standards and helps students reach them through extensive guidance, kindness, and creativity. Previously, she has served as a Collaborative and Applied Piano Teaching Assistant at University of Minnesota, and as a Music Theory and Ear Training Teaching Assistant at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.
An actively performing musician, Miryana sets an example and hopes to inspire students through her own playing. She has appeared in concerts at venues such as Sundin Music Hall, the Fitzgerald Theater, the Schubert Club, and the Cowles Center for Performing Arts. Her performances have been featured on Classical MPR. She regularly collaborates with instrumentalists, vocalists, and dancers in recitals across the country and Europe.
Miryana holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Minnesota. A native of Bulgaria, she is also a graduate of the National School of Music in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Rebecca Merblum, Cello
Rebecca Merblum, originally from Connecticut, has been dedicated to chamber music throughout her life as a cellist. The Hartt School gave life to this connection as Rebecca worked with the Emerson String Quartet and Mitchell Stern (American String Quartet). It continued through her studies at the Cleveland Institute and the New England Conservatory where she went on to earn her Bachelor and Masters Degrees respectively.
Based in Minneapolis, Rebecca is a frequent substitute with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Liquid Music series. In addition, she was a guest artist with the acclaimed Cavani Quartet in 2018 and 2019. This collaboration furthered her connection to string quartets, as a former member of the Artaria Quartet (2016-2017) and a founding member of the Azmari Quartet, the Corbett Ensemble in Residence at Northern Kentucky University (2004-2009).
Ms. Merblum also enjoys performing engagements with the Cincinnati Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and has performed in the past as a guest artist with the Salastina Chamber Music Series, Sundays at LACMA, the Green Umbrella Series (Los Angeles Philharmonic) and Classical Encounters. Additional chamber music performances involved collaborations with Michele Zukovsky (LAPhil), Martin Chalifour (LAPhil), Ronald Leonard (LAPhil), Andrew Schulman (Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra) and Panic Group, an ensemble dedicated to the presentation of new music. Rebecca was also a substitute with both the LAPhil and LAOpera from 2010-2016 and can be heard on several film soundtracks.
Rebecca crafted recent collaborations with the James Sewell Ballet and composer, Chad Hughes exploring the evolution of dance forms from the 18th century to the present. This theme can seen throughout her work – driven by the interwoven nature of the artistic process Rebecca also held a Target Center Residency through the pandemic at the Weisman Museum- Cello Conversations. The final panel ‘What Do You Hear’ inspired the project to continue into its second phase and it is now supported under the umbrella of Springboard for the Arts Fiscal Incubator Program. Earlier in 2020 she was also awarded a grant for her initiative ‘Your Dance’ by Springboard for the Arts as they addressed Artists Combating Isolation. Rebecca is currently working in partnership with Fueled Collective on a new Chamber Music Series – ‘Sound Dialogue.”
A dedicated teacher, Rebecca served as the Chair of the String Department at the Pasadena Conservatory from 2014-2016 where she was a member of the cello and chamber music faculties. Her students have gained recognition in numerous competitions and festivals including the Piatigorsky International Festival. Rebecca currently teaches at the MacPhail Center for Music and concurrently holds the title of Artist in Residence in association with their Global Music Initiative. Her project entitled ‘Threads’ begins in January of 2022. Rebecca is also very much involved in mentoring and working with students in Nairobi as a part of the Art of Music Foundation. Her efforts with the students of Ghetto Classics continue to expand as she is now Co-Artistic Director of the Kenya International Cello Festival. Now in its 2nd season, KICF will take place in March of 2023.
Rebecca was recently recognized for the breadth of her work with a 2022-2023 McKnight Fellowship Grant.
Mike Alexander, Horn
One of the most in-demand freelance musicians in the Midwest, horn player Mike Alexander is known for his versatility as a solo, chamber, orchestral, and commercial musician. Mike was appointed Principal horn of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra in 2019 after playing for several seasons as 4th horn.
In addition to performing in opera and ballet pits throughout Minnesota, Mike is a regular performer with both the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Outside of the classical scene, Mike has played in touring Broadway productions ranging from West Side Story to My Fair Lady, and has performed with myriad musical acts including The Who, Evanescence, Josh Groban, Weird Al Yankovic, and Mannheim Steamroller.
Alexander holds a master’s degree in horn performance from the New England Conservatory, and a bachelor’s in horn performance with Artist Diploma from the Eastman School of Music. Mike is currently the horn instructor at the College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University, Macalester College, and the MacPhail Center for Music, and has previously held teaching positions at the University of Wisconsin River Falls and the University of St. Thomas.
As a soloist, Mike performed the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings by Benjamin Britten with New England Conservatory’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Richard Strauss’ Horn Concerto with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Morceau de Concert with the Duluth Symphonic Winds, and principal horn on Schumann’s Concert Piece for Four horns and Orchestra with the Itasca Symphony Orchestra.
Michael Cain, piano
After moving to New York in 1990, Cain became a first call pianist, working with drum legend Jack DeJohnette for nine years, as well as Dave Holland, Steps Ahead, Ravi Coltrane, Bobby McFerrin, Stanley Turrentine, Lauren Hill, Joshua Redman, Pat Metheny, Charles Neville, Christian McBride, John Scofield, Robin Eubanks, and Meshell N’degeocello, among others.
His numerous awards include a 2006 Grammy nomination for Dance of the Infidel, Meshell N’degeocello’s release on which Michael is pianist and co-arranger. He has recorded several records as a leader including Circa, a 1996 ECM release which featured Ralph Alessi and Peter Epstein, and served as producer for several recordings including Ron Blake’s Shariya, and Brian Landrus’ Traverse and Capsule.
Other Notable projects include serving as musical director for the Jose Limon Dance Company, scoring the films Maybe and Real With Me, by director Carl Ford for Black Nexxus Films, and composing the music for the Broadway play View from 151st Street, which ran at the George Papp Public Theater in New York in the fall of 2007. Most recent, Michael produced the Western Canadian recording “Rebirth of the Cool” for Cellar Live Records. During the summer of 2018 Michael toured with legendary trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard.
As an educator Michael has been a Professor at the Eastman School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, the University of Minnesota, and Brandon University in Brandon, MB, Canada.
Michael’s latest release is entitled Hoo Doo and is available on iTunes and other platforms.