HRCP Quartet in Residence:
In 2002, four friends decided to join forces to explore their collective passion for chamber music; thus, Hampton Roads’ Ambrosia Quartet was formed. While all members of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, their backgrounds are as diverse as the music they play. Violinists Simon Lapointe and Mayu Cipriano hail from Québec and Tokyo, respectively; violist Beverly Kane Baker grew up locally in Hampton; and cellist Rebecca Gilmore came to the area from Charlotte, North Carolina. Their resumes collectively represent many years of study at the very best conservatories, including the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, Indiana and Rice Universities, and the Juilliard School.
The Ambrosia quartet has worked closely with several Hampton Roads composers, having recorded the string quartets of Adolphus Hailstork for Albany Records and premiered several works by John S. Dixon, including serving as artistic editors of Dixon’s transcription for string quartet of Mozart’s famous variations for piano on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. They’ve also forged another bond within the community recently, becoming the Quartet in Residence for The Academy of Music, a community music school headquartered in Norfolk.
In more than a decade of recitals, the Ambrosia Quartet has explored the chamber music with the prestigious Feldman Chamber Series as well as the Virginia Arts Festival and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. And they’re not limited to quartets, frequently performing trios or participating in other ensembles. These friends are bonded together by a mutual love of the very best chamber music of any style, and they strive to reach the most diverse audiences possible, having performed in churches and museums just as readily as in fine concert halls in the U.S. and internationally.
Some might think it no surprise that an excellent orchestra would bring forth an excellent string quartet, but this is not always the case. Chamber music ensembles require rare chemistry to elevate the playing to a special realm. The Ambrosia Quartet has that chemistry and achieves that elevation.
Left to Right: Rebecca Gilmore, cello, Beverly Kane, viola, Simon Lapointe, violin, Mayu Cipriano, violin
Bernardo Canga holds a degree in Violin and Viola Performance from the Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Oviedo, Spain, having been mentored by prestigious pedagogues. He is intensely involved in chamber music; in 2003 he was the String Coordinator of SICOR (Orchestra and Chorus System of the Bolivian Amazon), an institution that promotes orchestras for at-risk youth and has contributed to the revival of the baroque music from and in the Jesuit missions of South America. Bernardo Canga also holds a Master’s degree in Music Therapy from the Pontificial University of Salamanca and completed a Clinical Fellowship in Music Therapy at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. He is a Neonatal Music Therapist at Eastern Virginia Medical School in the Department of Pediatrics and has a strong professional focus on global health; as a researcher, Bernardo has published in medical and music therapy journals and lectures regularly in national and international symposiums.
Performing and teaching viola in Hampton Roads since 1990, Stacey , as she is known to her friends, is a member of the Virginia Symphony and performs with most of the arts organizations in the area. She is on faculty at Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University and The Governor’s School. Stacey is also a violist and librarian for The Harbor Quartet and maintains a small private studio. Stacey received her Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School and her Masters from Rice University Shepherd School of Music. Stacey has played with Symphonica D’ell Emiglia Romagna, (Italy), Houston Ballet Orchestra, Virginia Symphony, Virginia Opera, Virginia Musical Theater, Richmond Symphony, Williamsburg Symphonia and Norfolk Chamber Consort as well as many “non-classical” performances with Broadway touring companies and solo artists, including Lion King, Josh Groban, Tony Bennet, Wayne Newton, and Phantom of the Opera.
Simon Lapointe was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1979. He showed interest in the violin at the age of 2, and received his first violin lesson 2 years later. He obtained his Bachelor’s of Music from the Conservatoire de Trois-Rivières in 2000, studying with Helmut Lipsky and Joanne Pothier. He then went on to get his MM at the Peabody Conservatory of Music with soloist and now Tokyo String Quartet 1st violinist Martin Beaver.
Simon joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as Principal Second Violin in 2005. He previously played with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and the West Virginia Symphony, as Assistant Principal Second Violin and Concertmaster, respectively. He served as Assistant Concertmaster of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra during the 2009-2010 season, and since 2010, is also Assistant Principal Second Violin of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. He is also a substitute violinist with the Baltimore Symphony and the Washington National Opera. His chamber music experience includes being first violin for the Montclaire String Quartet and the Ambrosia Quartet. He is Adjunct Professor of Violin at the Virginia Commonwealth University.
Simon was a prizewinner of many competitions in the US and Canada. He is regularly invited as a soloist and recitalist in Baltimore, Quebec and Hampton Roads, as well as at the Lanaudière Festival. He also offers masterclasses, chamber coachings and orchestral exerpt coaching for the Bay Youth Orchestras, Richmond Youth Symphony, and the Hampton Roads Chamber Players.
Beverly Kane Baker, viola, began violin lessons at the age of six with Margaret Davis. While under Ms. Davis’s instruction, she traveled to Baltimore to participate in the Suzuki Violin workshop and met the acclaimed Japanese teacher. After two years of study, she advanced to Elizabeth Chapman’s studio. As a member of the Chapman Youth Ensemble, Ms. Baker performed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and at the capital building in Richmond, Virginia. She traveled for two summers to England to participate in the Purbeck Music Festival with the noted Hungarian teacher Kato Havas. During this festival, Ms. Baker performed the Telemann Viola Concerto at the Royal College of Music in London. The following summer, she was voted “Most Outstanding Musicician” and won the concerto competition at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. During her senior year in highschool, she attended the Juilliard School of Music’s pre-college division studying viola with Christine Dethier. In 1979, she received a Bachelor of Music degree in performance from the University of Missouri-Columbia, having studied with Carolyn Kenneson. Ms. Baker performed in master classes with the Beaux Arts Trio, the Tokyo String Quartet and Lillian Fuchs.
In 1983, Ms. Baker joined the Virginia Symphony as a section player. In 1987, she was appointed assistant principal viola. She won the principal position in 1994 and currently holds that position with the symphony as well as Virginia Opera. The Virginia Symphony made its Carnegie Hall debut in 1997, and Ms. Baker performed with her colleagues on NBC’s Today Show. She has performed with the Gateways Music Festival, a festival featuring African-American artists. She performs regularly with the Virginia Chamber Players and was invited to perform Harold in Italy with the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra in North Dakota. Beverly is also a member of the Ambrosia Quartet.
Ms. Baker is a featured artist in solo and chamber music performances with the Virginia Arts Festival. Many of these performances have been broadcast on NPR’s Performance Today. She has also performed chamber music with the Miami String Quartet and members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Beverly has performed with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra in Detroit. She performed Brandenburg no.6 with Jamie Laredo and the Mozart Duo with renowned violinist Nadja-Salerno-Sonnenburg. Ms. Baker has been featured in many solo performances with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Beverly has performed with the Soulful Symphony, performed chamber music with the Dover Quartet, and performed with Gateways musicians at the League of American Orchestras conference.
Ms. Baker is featured on Bruce Hornsby’s album “Harbor Lights” and her musical studies have been documented in the book “Black Women in American Orchestras” by D. Antoinette Handy.
Beverly also performed with the Re-Collective Orchestra at Sony Studios to record the filmscore of Lion King under the direction of Hans Zimmer.
Beverly and her husband Norman have raised 3 grown children and are enjoying their 5 grandchildren. She enjoys working out and playing with her worship band.
Mayu Kuroda Cipriano was born in Tokyo, Japan and began studying the violin at the age of five. At 12, she won the Special Prize in the All Japan Mainichi Competition; and at 13, played with the NHK second symphony. At the behest of Cho-Liang Lin, she came to the United States to study with Ms. Dorothy Delay and Masao Kawasaki at the Juilliard Pre-College. Mayu continued her undergraduate studies at Juilliard, earning a Bachelor of Music in 1998. In addition to Juilliard, she also attended the Aspen Music Festival for six consecutive summers beginning in 1991, earning second prize in the Nakamichi concerto competition. As a result, she performed in recital at the Wheeler Opera House Aspen.
Mayu joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in 2003. She is also regular substitute with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, joining them for their 2010 Carnegie Hall performance. She previously held positions with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, and has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and the New City Ballet.
Mayu has been a member of the Ambrosia Quartet since 2005. In 2016, the quartet recorded the String Quartets of Adolphus Hailstork for Albany Records. They have been also featured performers for the Virginia Arts Festival, the Feldman Chamber Music Society Series, and the Salon Series with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
Mayu has also performed numerous solo recitals in New York City and Japan with her sister Ai, also a Juilliard graduate in piano. The Sisters Duo have performed at the Cremona Exhibition at the Christoph Landon Gallery, Columbia University, the Russian Tea Room, Oji Hall in Tokyo, and were featured on Radio City 84.0 MHz Tokyo and the Japanese Television show Zoom In Asa live from New York. Mayu is married to James Cipriano, who is a tuba player with the United States Army Music program and resides in Norfolk, VA with their beloved cats Eddie and Velvet.
rebecca gilmore phillips
Rebecca Gilmore Phillips, native of North Carolina, joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 1999. Currently she is Assistant Principal Cello with the VSO. In 2010, Ms. Gilmore Phillips was broadcast live on NPR for a performance of Schubert’s Guitar Quartet with JoAnn Falletta. In February 2016 she is thrilled to be performing the “Beethoven Triple Concerto” with her VSO colleagues.
Prior to being in Virginia, she performed as Principal Cellist of The Greensboro Symphony where she made her solo debut of Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo Variations”. Much earlier in her career she soloed with the Charlotte Symphony and the Charlotte Repertory Orchestra and the latter with which she performed Haydn’s “Cello Concerto in D Major”.
Around the Hampton Roads area, Ms. Gilmore Phillips has been a featured solo and chamber artist with the Virginia Arts Festival, The Virginia Symphony and the Norfolk Chamber Consort. Her cello career has traveled up the east coast to perform with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as well as in countries all over the world. Within the United States she has both taught and performed with numerous music festivals including the New England Music Camp (Maine), the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra, The Brevard Music Center, Garth Newel Chamber Music Center and the North Carolina School of the Arts’ International Music Program where she performed Saint-Saens’ “Cello Concerto” with their orchestra in ten major cities throughout Europe. During a residency in Canada with pianist/composer, Gabriela Frank, a world premiere performance of “Ríos Profundos” led to a recording titled, “It Won’t Be The Same River”. In 2006, her Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra recorded Piazzolla’s “Four Seasons”.
Ms. Gilmore Phillips’ passion for chamber music has been the impetus for a quartet journey, comprised of professionals from the VSO, notably, Ambrosia Quartet, which began in 2002. The group has been featured twice on the Feldman Chamber Music Society Series and the Williamsburg Regional Library series. Ambrosia Quartet is exploring future recordings and travel abroad.
Ms. Gilmore holds degrees in Cello Performance from Indiana and Rice Universities. Her teachers include Janos Starker, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Norman Fischer and Desmond Hoebig. As a teacher herself, Ms. Gilmore Phillips “carries the torch” by working with kids throughout the Hampton Roads area through the VSO’s Community Engagement Program as well as maintaining a private cello studio.