Director and Jury Chair
Gregory Fulkerson ’71 rose to prominence as a major exponent of American contemporary music, taking first prize in the International American Music Competition sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Kennedy Center. As a result of that victory, he began a very active performing career that included debuts in New York, London, Paris, Rome, and Brussels.
Fulkerson began playing violin at age 4 in the University of Texas String Project. His early studies were guided by Paul Kling, whose profound intelligence and deep love of music proved a constant inspiration. Fulkerson is a 1971 double-degree graduate of the college and conservatory. His early career included three years in The Cleveland Orchestra, a year as the founder of the Audubon Quartet, four years with the New York New Music Ensemble, and two seasons as concertmaster of the Honolulu Symphony. He pursued graduate studies at the Juilliard School with Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay.
Fulkerson was a professor of violin at Oberlin Conservatory from 1982 through 2017 and continues to teach at New York University.
Icelandic violinist Sibbi Bernhardsson ’95 joined the faculty of Oberlin Conservatory in 2017. During his 17-year tenure as a member of the Pacifica Quartet (2000-2017), he performed more than 90 concerts each year worldwide in many of the leading concert halls including Wigmore Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus, Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw, Suntory Hall, and New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall.
Bernhardsson has performed at festivals including the Edinburgh Festival, Ravinia, Music@Menlo, and the Iceland Art Festival. Collaborations include those with Menahem Pressler, Yo-Yo Ma, Jörg Widmann, Lynn Harrell, Leon Fleisher, Johannes Moser, the Emerson String Quartet, and members of the Guarneri and Cleveland quartets.
He has appeared on television on the Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live, and the MTV Europe Music Awards with award-winning rock artist Björk.
With the Pacifica Quartet, he received numerous honors including a Grammy Award, Musical America Ensemble of the Year, and the Avery Fisher Career Grant.
Bernhardsson gives regular concerts and master classes across the U.S. and in Europe and Asia. He has appeared as a soloist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Reykjavik Chamber Orchestra.
His teachers include Gudny Gudmundsdottir, Almita and Roland Vamos, Matias Tacke and Shmuel Ashkenasi.
He was previously on the faculty of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Internationally renowned as a soloist, as well as a pedagogue, Romanian-born French violinist Radu Blidar is founder and president of the Vibrarte International Music Competition in Paris.
Blidar made his concert debut at the age of 12. Career highlights include recitals and concerto appearances at the Lincoln Center in New York; the Barbican Centre and the Royal Festival Hall in London; the Cité de la Musique, Maison de Radio France, Musée d’Orsay, Salle Gaveau, and Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris; the Mozarteum in Salzburg; as well as performances in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, South Africa, Japan, and South Korea.
He studied in Romania, Austria, and in France at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. He was a prize winner at numerous international violin competitions. He was elected in 1993 as Young Violinist of the Year by the European Council and the Juventus Foundation. He was awarded in 1994, the Fondation de France prize; then in 1997, and in 1999, he received the Musique Française and Musique de Chambre honorary prizes.
His highly acclaimed digital debut launched a series of contemporary works recordings and commissioned works premieres.
Blidar teaches at the Royal College of Music in London. Many of his students have been laureates at international competitions and are also members of major orchestras.
He plays on several violins, including a 1714 Stradivarius.
Yi Huang is associate professor of violin at Xinghai Conservatory of Music. He also serves as president of the Asian Suzuki Society, vice president and standing director of the Guangdong Violin Society, director of the China Violin Society, and director of the Guangdong Higher Music Education Association.
He has served as a juror for many domestic and international competitions.
A winner of numerous competitions as a young performer, Huang was admitted to the Central Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Lin Yaoji. He was a member of the China Youth Symphony Orchestra and served as its deputy chief.
He has performed with world-renowned conductor Seiji Ozawa and cellist Rospodović. In 2003, Huang began studies with Devy Erlih at France’s Conservatory of Music in Paris. The following year, he won first prize in the Ernest Chausson international violin competition. He earned a master’s degree in violin and chamber music at the Higher Music Teachers College in Paris.
Huang’s students have scored outstanding results in many international competitions. One of them, Su Qianxun, won first place in the fourth Novosibirsk International Violin Competition Junior League in 2016—the youngest winner in the competition’s history.
A founding member of the Smithson Quartet and the Castle Trio, Marilyn McDonald has toured the world as a chamber musician in repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary. A former student of Angel Reyes and Josef Gingold, she is well known for her interest in performing on historical instruments. Her former students in this area occupy positions of importance worldwide—including roles with the Boston and Houston symphonies and in several active string quartets—and have been international prize winners in the Locatelli, Berkeley Bach, Naumberg, Stulberg, and Fischoff competitions.
McDonald has been artist in residence at Boston University and has held visiting professorships at the Eastman School of Music and Indiana University. She teaches each summer at the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute and has been honored with the Excellence in Teaching Award at Oberlin, where she is professor of violin. McDonald’s recordings can be heard on the Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Virgin Classics, Decca, Gasparo, Smithsonian, and Telarc labels.
Naoko Tanaka is on the faculty at the Juilliard School, New York University, and Aspen Music Festival and School. Born in Tokyo, she began her studies at Toho Gakuen School of Music. She won several prizes and competitions as a young violinist before moving to the United States to study with Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School.
Tanaka is a founding member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and has led them as concertmaster in performances at Carnegie Hall, throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia, and on more than 30 Deutsche Grammophon recordings. She is currently a member of St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble and the Raphael Trio.
Tanaka’s former students have won prizes at the international violin competitions of Long-Thibaud-Crespin, the ARD in Munich, and the Pablo Sarasate. They have gone on to win positions in numerous orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, the St. Louis, San Francisco, and Houston symphonies, Berlin Philharmonic, and the Lucerne Symphony in Switzerland.
Almita Vamos is a graduate of the Juilliard School, where she studied with Mischa Mischakoff and Louis Persinger.
Vamos has won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching six times, the ASTA Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award, and the Concert Artist Guild Award, among many other prizes. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning.
Currently, she is a professor of violin at the Chicago College of Performing Arts and the Music Institute of Chicago. Vamos’ students have won top prizes in many national and international competitions including Menuhin, Tchaikovsky, and Queen Elisabeth. Her students play in most of the major orchestras across the United States and throughout the world.
She was a member of the Lydian Trio and the Antioch Quartet, and has performed recitals at the 92nd Street Y, Town Hall, and Carnegie Recital Hall. She has soloed with the Juilliard Orchestra, the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra (under the direction of Walter Hendl), and with orchestras across Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
She continues to teach master classes and perform worldwide as soloist and chamber musician. During the summer months, she teaches at the Aspen Music School and Festival, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the Chautauqua Music Festival.