Learning through Listening and Performing
Young Chamber Musicians, founded and directed by violist Susan Bates, offers chamber music instruction and exciting performance opportunities to advanced string players and pianists ages 14-20.
The curriculum includes weekly coaching and group rehearsal, master classes by renowned chamber music artists from near and far, student performance opportunities and exposure to professional concerts that engage students as both performers and listeners.
YCM immerses students in the chamber music repertoire to develop ensemble skills; encourage musical imagination; and, experience the art of working with others.
Young Chamber Musicians makes its home in a beautiful 1914 rose brick Tudor mansion in collaboration with the Peninsula's premier concert series, Music at Kohl Mansion, and in partnership with Mercy High School. The Mansion's Library and Great Hall were designed with music in mind, and they are ideal for the program's public master classes, overture performances and the annual Winter Solstice and Finale Concerts. Weekly coaching is held in Mercy High School classrooms and piano studio.
Click the Mansion photo to see a Video about Young Chamber Musicians and its collaborators.
Each month, Music at Kohl Mansion presents the best national and international chamber music ensembles in concert, and through the Carlstrom Student Ticket Program, YCM students attend these concerts free of charge.
Susan Bates, Founder & Director
Young Chamber Musicians is led by long-standing champion of chamber music education, Susan Bates with guest appearances by noted chamber music artists from near and far. Ms. Bates holds the 1992 award for "Excellence in Chamber Music Training" from Chamber Music America, and she is the 2013 recipient of the Tom Heimberg Viola Advocate Award from the Northern California Viola Society. Since 1982, she has guided numerous young musicians who are now pursuing careers as professional musicians and playing chamber music "for the love of it".
Ms. Bates' career includes the creation and direction of several chamber music education programs for highly talented musical youth in the San Francisco Bay Area: San Francisco Conservatory of Music Preparatory Chamber Music Program (1983-2000), California Summer Music (1996-2000), Lake Tahoe Music Festival Academy with the Miró Quartet (2000-2006), and Young Chamber Musicians (2008-present). She also serves as an instructor of viola and chamber music in the Preparatory Division of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (1982-present) and the Virtuoso Program of San Domenico School (1980-1983 and 2008-2011). In 2002, Ms. Bates joined her colleagues of Midwest Young Artists, Chicago, Illinois to create the MYA Summer Chamber Music Program serving on its faculty until 2009. Ms. Bates joined the faculty of the San Diego Chamber Music Workshop (SoCal) in 1979 and remains a dedicated coach at the workshop each summer.
Susan Bates is a founding member of the New Age String Quartet that worked under the tutelage o the Paganini Quartet. She was for seven years instructor at San Jose State University serving as violist of the faculty ensemble, the San Jose String Quartet. The Quartet worked closely with composer Lou Harrison, giving the premier of his Quartet Set (1978). Ms. Bates also recorded Mr. Harrison's Threnody for Carlos Chavez (1979) for Solo Viola with Gamelan Sekar Kembar for CRI. In 2010, Susan Bates retired from the viola section of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra after 34 years. Recently, she was awarded the 2013 Tom Heimberg Viola Advocate Award from the Northern California Viola Society.
Eric Chin, violin
Violinist, Eric Chin, a founding member of the acclaimed Telegraph Quartet is equally passionate about performing and teaching. Captivated by chamber music, he founded the award-winning Nexus String Quartet in 2007 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. After the final season of the Nexus String Quartet, Mr. Chin accepted an invitation to join the Hausmann Quartet and the chamber music/string faculty at San Diego State University. In 2014, after relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area, he co-founded the Telegraph Quartet, the 2014 Grand Prize winners of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and in 2016 the coveted Naumburg Chamber Music Competition. Eric's concert tours as a soloist, chamber musician, and concertmaster have taken him throughout Europe, as well as Canada, Asia, and the United States. He has appeared at festivals, including SoCal Chamber Music Workshop, LyricaFest, and Chamber Music Connection. He was also invited to perform and give master classes at many Taiwanese universities, including the National Taiwan University of Arts in Taipei. Mr. Chin has performed with members of the Juilliard, Concord, Meliora, Miami, and Alexander String Quartets. Eric is passionate about teaching, and maintains a private violin studio in addition to his chamber music coaching.
Debra Fong, violin
Debra Fong, violinist, is a Lecturer in Violin and Chamber Music at Stanford University, and she maintains a private violin studio in Palo Alto. She is Concertmaster of the Peninsula Symphony, Principal Second Violinist of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, and she spends her summers performing as a first violinist with The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. In Fall 2016, Ms. Fong was guest conductor of Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra’s Preparatory Ensemble. An active chamber musician, Ms. Fong has performed at numerous festivals, including Toronto Summer Music; Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine; Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival; Grand Teton Music Festival; Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival; and Yale/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. She has been a featured guest artist with the St. Lawrence String Quartet; Stanford University’s Pan-Asian Music Festival; the North American New Music Festival in Buffalo, New York; Bach Week in Evanston, Illinois; and the New Music Festival at Santa Clara University.
Ms. Fong received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees with Honors and Distinction in Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she studied with Eric Rosenblith, James Buswell, Eugene Lehner, and Louis Krasner. She has held the position of Associate Concertmaster of the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Opera in Norfolk, and is a former violin faculty member at New England Conservatory's Preparatory School, The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and The Music Institute of Chicago. Ms. Fong plays a Guiseppe Rocca violin kindly on loan from Stanford University’s Harry R. Lange Instrument Collection. In her leisure time, she enjoys practicing yoga, dabbling in photography, playing word games, and seeking out excellent coffee. Ms. Fong is married to cellist Christopher Costanza, and they have an ebullient violinist daughter, Isabella.
Eric Gaenslen, cello
Cellist Eric Gaenslen has performed as a chamber musician, recitalist and guest soloist in venues across North America and Europe. As cellist of the renowned Rossetti String Quartet, Eric performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Berlin Konzerthaus and at the Maverick and Vail Bravo Music Festivals and Festival del Sole. One of his favorite collaborations was playing the Gian Carlo Menotti Suite for two cellos and piano with Gautier Capucon and Jean-Yves Thibaudet inSpoleto, Italy, forthe composer’s 95th birthday. He also performed with the Ying and Enso String Quartets. Solo highlights include the world premiere of Siddartha for cello and string orchestra, by Laura Carnibucci, and a performance of Bloch's Shelomo at New York's Avery Fisher Hall. From 2009-2011 Eric held the position of Acting Principal Cellist of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
A devoted educator, Mr. Gaenslen gives master classes in cello and chamber music across the country and has worked with students at the University of Missouri, Kansas City; State University New York at Purchase; California State Universities at Fresno, Northridge and Long Beach; the Brevard Music Center; Cornish College and the University of Western Washington He has held faculty positions at the Mannes College in New York and at the University of California, Santa Cruz. From 2013-2015 Eric was Artist in Residence at the University of Washington where he instructed the undergraduate cello majors as well as the Doctoral students. Eric currently teaches privately in Burlingame and Palo Alto and also maintains a busy performing career.
Mr. Gaenslen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and a Master of Arts degree from the Juilliard School of Music. His teachers have included Joel Krosnick, Robert Mann, Aldo Parisot, William Pleeth and Irene Sharp.
Jeffrey LaDeur, piano
Praised for his "glowing sound”, “assured virtuosity" (San Francisco Classical Voice) and “dazzling pianism” (Sarasota Herald Tribune) Jeffrey LaDeur enjoys a busy career as soloist, chamber musician, and educator. LaDeur’s spontaneity, tone color, and sense of architecture, have distinguished him as an artist of international caliber. Engagements at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Shanghai Conservatory, Eastman Theater, Banff Centre, and other prestigious venues were followed by an invitation from the Naumburg Foundation to make his Carnegie Hall debut. LaDeur is pianist and founding member of the acclaimed Delphi Trio, and Founder and Artistic Director of New Piano Collective, an artistic alliance between pianists of international renown.
As soloist with orchestra, Jeffrey maintains a repertoire of over forty concerti. Recent performances include appearances with the Oakland Symphony, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, the Denver Philharmonic, Merced Symphony, and members of the South Dakota Symphony. LaDeur is frequently heard in recital at venues such as PianoForte Chicago, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Dakota Sky International Piano Festival, and he returns to Carnegie’s Weill Hall to culminate his survey of Debussy’s solo piano music, its influences and inspirations, on the anniversary of the composer’s death in March, 2018. Jeffrey’s debut album featuring works by Rameau and Debussy, will be released on the MSR Classics in summer of 2017.
As pianist of the Delphi Trio, LaDeur has performed at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota, the Smithsonian Museum, and the Orlando Festival in the Netherlands. Dedicatees of William Bolcom’s First Piano Trio, Delphi presented its world premiere in November, 2016. In addition to his activities with the Trio, Jeffrey has collaborated with chamber music legends such as Robert Mann, Bonnie Hampton, Geoff Nuttall, and Ian Swensen.
After an auspicious debut with the Eastman Philharmonia in César Franck's Variations Symphoniques during his first semester of study at the Eastman School of Music, Jeffrey completed his B.M. in piano performance, studying with Douglas Humpherys. LaDeur earned his M.M. in chamber music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music studying with Yoshikazu Nagai and completed additional studies with Robert McDonald. Jeffrey received his formative musical training from Mark Edwards and Annie Sherter, a student of Vlado Perlemuter and Alfred Cortot.
Lisa Lee, violin
Lisa Lee made her solo debut with the San Francisco Symphony at age 16 and has since appeared as soloist with the Pacific Symphony, Macau Youth Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, San Domenico Da Camera Orchestra, Fremont Symphony, and Opole Philharmonic of Poland. She has been invited to perform at such festivals as Ravinia, Marboro, Evian, International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove, Caramoor, and Lucerne. Her chamber music partners have included Gary Graffman, Nobuko Imai, Andras Schiff, David Soyer, Yo-Yo Ma, Donald Weilerstein, Andres Diaz, and Arnold Steinhardt. Lisa continues to perform as founding member of The Lee Trio with her sisters, cellist Angela Lee, and pianist Melinda Lee Masur. The Trio’s “gripping immediacy and freshness” and "rich palette of tone colours" [The Strad] is marked by audiences and critics across the globe. The Lee Trio is devoted to working with and performing the music of living composers. Piano trios by composers including Nathaniel Stookey, Philip Lasser, Uljas Pulkkis, Laurence Rosenthal, Julian Yu and Sylvie Bodorova have been given their world, American and European premieres by The Lee Trio. Lisa is graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her mentors include Zaven Melikian, Arnold Steinhart, David Takeno, Donald Weilerstein, and Denes Zsigmondy. Her 1872 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume is on generous loan.
Nancy Skei, cello
Nancy Cousins Skei is a recitalist and teacher in Fresno, California. She is a member of the Fresno Philharmonic and in previous years performed with the Monterey Symphony. She taught cello and chamber music at Western Carolina University, Humboldt State University and Fresno State University, and in private studio with a roster of over 30 students. From [years] she gave numerous solo and chamber music performances and performed extensively with the San Joaquin Trio (with violinist David Margetts of Fresno State University, and pianist Mary Mark Zeyen of Fullerton State University). She performed often with Monterey’s Camerata Singers in collaboration with Carmel Poet Taelen Thomas, setting the music of J.S. Bach to the poetry of Robinson Jeffers, and played a World Premier of Steven Tosh’s “Eric Zahn.” She also composed cello parts for a Community Concert Series performance of English, French and Spanish songs with pianist Melinda Coffey and soprano Judith Dickison.
Ms. Skei studied cello in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, notably with Donald Homuth, Lucien La Porte and Bonnie Hampton, and chamber music with Albert Gillis, violist of the Paganini String Quartet. She is a founding member of the New Age String Quartet, winners of prizes from the South Bay Chamber Music Society and the Coleman Competition, an ensemble specializing in Avant Garde music of the early 1970s. Currently, Ms. Skei is completing a five-year study of “Cello Kinesiology” (the study of movement as it pertains to relieving tension while playing the cello.) Her work has helped cellists, of all ages and levels of advancement, to alleviate tension from their playing in order to achieve marvelous results in their over-all technique and beauty of sound.
Musicology, Audience Engagement
Kai Christiansen is a musicologist and presenter specializing in classical chamber music. Based in San Francisco, Mr. Christiansen writes and lectures throughout the Bay Area working regularly with such organizations as Music at Kohl Mansion, Monterey Bay Chamber Music, Music in May, the Gold Coast Chamber Players and Ensemble San Francisco. Leveraging a multi-decade career in software engineering and technical training, Mr. Christiansen is also the founder of earsense.org, an extensive online chamber music exploratorium featuring the world’s most comprehensive public databases of chamber music soon approaching its 20th anniversary.