The Florida Orchestra welcomes 8 new musicians | Deviations
ST. PETERSBURG — The Florida Orchestra will welcome eight musicians for its first full season with TFO this month. All won highly competitive blind auditions that drew applicants from across the country and around the world for full-time positions with Florida’s largest professional orchestra under the artistic direction of Music Director Michael Francis.
Tenure-track positions include Yefim Romanov, first assistant concertmaster; Natalie Yu, Deputy Principal Second Violin; Chi Lee, associate principal viola; Matthew Eeuwes, Deputy Principal Viola; Sebastian Stefanovic, viola; Yoni Draiblate, cello; Ansel Norris, Principal Associate/Utility Trumpet; and Ben Hauser, second trumpet.
In addition, six musicians will join TFO this fall for one-year positions: Russell Hoffman, interim assistant principal oboe; Jacob Thonis, acting assistant principal bassoon; Valerie Ankeney, acting assistant principal/duty horn; Nicole Haywood, bassoon/contrabassoon; Jonas Benson, viola; and Troy Chang, cello.
The Florida Orchestra employs 68 full-time professional musicians who live, work, and give back to the Tampa Bay community.
Here is a presentation of the eight new musicians of TFO:
Yefim Romanov, first assistant concertmaster — Violinist Yefim Romanov joins TFO for his first full season as assistant concertmaster during the 2022-23 season. A native of Kazakhstan, he was previously concertmaster of the New World Symphony and is a graduate of Yale University, Indiana University and the University of Florida. During his summers, Romanov was a member of the Spoleto Music Festival USA, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the Colorado College Music Festival and the Banff Music Festival.
Natalie Yu, Deputy Principal Second Violin — Natalie Yu joins TFO for her first full season as Assistant Concertmaster in the 2022-23 season. She made her solo debut with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra in 2005 at the age of 11 and has since had a thriving career as a concert performer and orchestral musician. Yu holds an Artist Diploma and Bachelor of Music from Colburn Conservatory of Music as well as a Master of Music from Rice University.
Chi Lee, Associate Principal Viola — Chi Lee joins TFO for his first full season as Associate Solo Viola in the 2022-23 season. Born in Taiwan, Lee received her bachelor’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, her master’s degree from Rice University, and is a doctoral candidate in musical arts at the University of Maryland. His performances at international festivals include the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany, the Britten-Pears Young Artists Program and the Asian Youth Orchestra, touring Japan and China.
Matthew Eeuwes, Deputy Principal Viola — Matthew Eeuwes joins TFO as Assistant Principal Viola for the 2022-23 season. Originally from Canada, Matthew graduated from the Eastman School of Music in viola and violin and was previously a section violist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Sebastian Stefanovic, viola — Viola player Sebastian Stefanovic joins TFO for the 2022-23 season. He is originally from Baltimore and earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School while studying with Ivo-Jan van der Werff. He is also a strong advocate of new music and has commissioned, premiered and recorded a variety of solo and ensemble works.
Yoni Draiblate, cello — Israeli-born cellist Yoni Draiblate joins TFO for the 2022-23 season. He has toured the United States, Europe and South America with orchestras and performed on prestigious stages such as Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Teatro Colon in Argentina and the Berlin Philharmonic.
Ansel Norris, Principal Associate/Utility Trumpet – Ansel Norris joins TFO for his first full season as Associate/Public Service Principal Trumpet in the 2022-23 season. His sound has been heard on NPR’s Performance Today, From the Top, and on Medici.tv, as the first-ever American laureate in the Brass division of the International Tchaikovsky Competition. He was twice named first prize at the National Trumpet Competition USA. Norris is a member of the band Gravity the Architect, which combines acoustic instruments with modern pop textures and beats.
Ben Hauser, second trumpet — Ben Hauser joins TFO as second trumpet for the 2022-23 season. Previously, he was principal trumpet of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the York Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania. From 2017 to 2021, he hosted ceremonies, concerts, national tours and educational clinics as a member of the US Navy Band and Brass Quintet.
TFO will present more than 100 concerts this season at venues in Tampa Bay, including a wide range of classical, popular and family music. Maestro Francis kicks off the season with TFO’s 55th Celebration benefit concert featuring Itzhak Perlman on October 1 at the Mahaffey Theatre. The following weekend, October 7-9, the Hough Family Foundation’s Masterpiece Series kicks off with Carl Orff’s epic Carmina Burana, kicking off the classic series that spans from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and much more. The Raymond James Pops series includes blockbusters such as Harry Potter vs. Star Wars, Holiday Pops and the Beatles’ iconic Abbey Road album. All tickets are on sale now at FloridaOrchestra.org.