The Ensemble

Gerald Rizzer, Piano

Gerald Rizzer is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Chicago Ensemble. He holds degrees from the University of Chicago and Yale, and he also attended Juilliard. Mr. Rizzer teaches piano, theory, and ensemble at Sherwood Community Music School. For many years, he taught music appreciation courses at DePaul. Mr. Rizzer composed the music for several shows performed at Theater Building Chicago. He recently recorded a second CD of his Songs Without Words for piano.

Michelle Areyzaga, Soprano

Michelle Areyzaga has performed with Chicago Opera Theater, Lyric Opera’s “In the Neighborhoods”, New York City Opera, Chicago Light Opera Works and Orquestra Sinfonica del Estado de México. Her Pamina, part of Chicago’s Silk Road Festival, was aired on public television. Additional roles include Cunegonde, Sophie (Werther), Mimi and Musetta, Adele and Belinda. She appears regularly with Chamber Music Society Lincoln Center as well as the New York Festival of Song. She performed Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music under John Rutter. Oratorio solos include the Brahms Requiem and the Poulenc Gloria. Ms. Areyzaga recorded CDs of music by Gwyneth Walker, Lita Grier, and William Ferris. She has been heard frequently in WFMT live broadcasts.

Eleanor Bartsch, Violin

Eleanor Bartsch is the concertmaster of the Dubuque Symphony and associate concertmaster of the Elgin Symphony. As a chamber musician, she plays with Madison, Wisconsin’s Willy Street Chamber Players, of which she is a founding member, and the Chicago-based Apas Piano Trio. Ms. Bartsch is a champion of new music and has appeared with Spektral Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, and Milwaukee-based Present Music. She has been a guest performer on many chamber music concert series including those of Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, both in Madison; the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota; Midsummer Music, in Door County, Wisconsin; Caroga Lake (NY) Music Festival; and Chamber Music on the Fox, in Elgin. Ms. Bartsch holds a BA and Masters from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, from which she also has a graduate certificate in Entrepreneurship from the School of Business. She is on the faculty of the Barrington Music Academy, the Chicago School of Music, and UW – Madison Summer Music Clinic.



Stephen Boe, Violin

Stephen Boe received his Bachelors and Masters from Indiana University School of Music, where he served as assistant to Henryk Kowalski, Josef Gingold, and Franco Gulli. He became assistant professor of Indiana University School of Music, was a faculty member at DePauw University and Ohio University, and is currently a faculty member at the Music Institute of Chicago. As a chamber musician, Mr. Boe has performed at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center and throughout Europe, China, South America, and the US. He was a founding member of the New Artists String Quartet and first violinist with the Brooks Unstrung Quartet, and he has collaborated with the Ying and Lark Quartets. Mr. Boe served as concertmaster for several regional orchestras and appeared as soloist with several of them. He has given master classes at Beijing Central Conservatory and elsewhere. Mr. Boe performed at the Brevard Music Festival and festivals in Germany and South America. He has performed on NPR’s “Performance Today”, KUNI, and WFMT.

Ricardo Castañeda, Oboe

Ricardo Castañeda received his Bachelors and Masters from Northwestern University, where he received an award for excellence in performance and won the concerto competition. He studied with Ray Still, who was principal oboist of the Chicago Symphony. Mr. Castañeda has performed with the Chicago Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Grant Park Symphony, and Chicago Opera Theater. Principal oboe positions include Chicago Sinfonietta, Lake Forest Symphony, and Joffrey Ballet orchestras. He has made solo appearances in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. An active teacher in the Chicago area, he is on the faculty of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and he is program director of the Birch Creek Music Festival in Door County, Wisconsin.

Ryan Cox, Baritone

Ryan Cox has been a professional member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Grant Park Choruses since 2003. In 2010 Mr. Cox was the baritone soloist in William Schuman’s “A Free Song” for Grant Park Music Festival’s “Pulitzer Project,” which was recorded by the Cedille label. He recently was the bass soloist cover for Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass and Britten’s War Requiem with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, Mr. Cox sang Schubert lieder on the CSO Chamber Music Series: “Rivers.” He has also been featured on the Music Now series, singing the Chicago premiere of Mason Bates’ Sirens. Additional solo appearances on the concert stage include Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel’s Messiah, the Fauré, Brahms and Mozart Requiems, Schubert’s Mass in G, Dubois’ Seven Last Words, Mozart's Grabmusik, Pontifex in Bach's St. Matthew Passion, and several Bach cantatas. Operatic roles include Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, the Count in La Nozze di Figaro and the title role in Gianni Schicchi as well as numerous short operas and scenes. He is the music director at First Congregational Church in LaGrange, Illinois where he directs all of the vocal and instrumental ensembles. He is also the Director and Voice Instructor of the First Conservatory of Music. Mr. Cox is a graduate of Millikin University with degrees in Vocal Performance and Business Management.

Elizandro Garcia-Montoya, Clarinet

Elizandro Garcia-Montoya, born in Costa Rica, has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, Charleston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, and the State of Mexico Orchestra. A prizewinner in the 1999 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, he has played with the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Fulcrim Point, Pilgrim Chamber Players, and Spektral Quartet. Mr. Garcia-Montoya has performed with several music Festivals including Tanglewood, National Repertory Orchestra, International Festival at Round Top, Spoleto/USA, and Yale’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. He holds a Bachelors degree from Baylor University and a Masters from Rice University. He also has a Professional Studies Diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music and has pursued additional post-graduate studies at DePaul University. Mr. Garcia-Montoya is principal clarinetist of the New Hampshire Music Festival and the New Millennium Orchestra of Chicago. He teaches at DePaul Community Music School, People’s Music School, Elmhurst College, and the Arts Academy.

Jaime Gorgojo, Violin

Jaime Gorgojo frequently appears as a soloist and chamber musician. Recent appearances include recitals at the Dame Myra Hess Memorial concert series, Grand Teton Music Festival, Strathmore Hall in Washington DC, and Chicago Symphony Presents chamber music series. Mr. Gorgojo is a 2018 recipient of an Individual Artist grant from City of Chicago to produce the recording of an album entitled “Iberia,” featuring Spanish music for violin and piano. He appeared as concertmaster with Northbrook Symphony, Park Ridge Civic Orchestra, and other groups in Chicago. Formerly, he was concertmaster of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Mr. Gorgojo recently joined the orchestra of Haymarket Opera Company. He is the first violinist for Corky Siegel´s Chamber Blues. He teaches violin and chamber music at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and is Artistic Director of Chicago Chamber Music Festival, a summer program for young musicians.

Shanna Gutierrez, Flute

Shanna Gutierrez has specialized in contemporary performance practice and techniques. She has helped commission and has presented premieres of more than 100 works. Ms. Gutierrez is co-founder of FluteXpansions, an online resource for contemporary flute performance practice. She is also founder of Sonic Sculptures: A Journey in Sound, through which she presents concerts and workshops in the US and abroad. Awards granted Ms. Gutierrez included prizes at the Stockhausen Courses and at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for new music, and she is the recipient of a project grant from NewMusicUSA. She has appeared at numerous new music festivals, often performing works written for her. Currently, she is recording flute music of Claus-Steffen Mohnkopf. Chamber music collaborations have been with Collect/Project and Sonic Hedgehog. She has been a guest with Collegium Novum Zurich, ensemble interface, ensemble TZARA, and Fonema Consort. Ms. Gutierrez holds a Bachelors from the University of Michigan and a Masters from Northwestern University. She teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago.

Amy Hess, Viola

Amy Hess is a member of Lyric Opera Otchestra. Formerly, she was principal viola of the Civic Orchestra and a member of the Northwest Indiana Symphony. Recently, Ms. Hess collaborated with bassist Edgar Meyer at Aspen. She received a Masters from Northwestern University, where she was selected as soloist with the orchestra. She holds degrees in both French and violin from Oberlin, spending a semester in Paris studying violin and musicology.

Roy Meyer, Violin

Roy Meyer holds a Bachelors from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Masters from the University of South Florida. He also studied in New York City. Mr. Meyer is concertmaster of Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and has played with the orchestras of Sarasota, Southwest Florida, Quad Cities, Orlando, Madison, Dubuque, and Central Wisconsin. As a chamber musician, Mr. Meyer performs at Apollo Music Festival in Minnesota and at the Illinois Chamber Music Festival in Bloomington. He has performed as soloist at Brooklyn Center for the Arts and other venues and has conducted master classes at Wisconsin universities.

Alexa Muhly, Cello

Alexa Muhly holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music. Her major teachers include Aldo Parisot, and Alan Harris. She has performed extensively in the United States, Canada, England, France, Germany, Hungary, and Lithuania, and is an active orchestral and chamber musician in the Chicago area. In recent seasons, she was the principal cellist of the Kalamazoo Symphony, and also appeared with the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Pine Mountain Music Festival. Ms. Muhly received early recognition as first-prize winner in the Iowa Center for the Arts competition as well as prize winner in the Jugend Musiziert national competition in Germany. Other honors include a long-term residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Calgary, Alberta and awards from the Cleveland Institute of Music, Yale University, and the Aspen Music Festival. She was the cellist for the new music ensemble Opus 21 with whom she has performed at Symphony Space and Carnegie Hall in New York City. She recently has performed in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Ms. Muhly currently teaches cello performance and music theory at Oakton Community College.


Ben Roidl-Ward, Bassoon

Ben Roidl-Ward is a bassoonist and improviser based in Chicago. His dedication to working with and advocating for composers of his generation has led him to commission and premiere numerous solo and chamber works featuring the bassoon with the goal of broadening the repertoire and expanding the possibilities of the instrument. Mr. Roidl-Ward has appeared as a soloist with the Seattle Symphony and the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, along with several regional orchestras throughout the United States. He has performed with the International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Dal Niente, the Chicago Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic, and has appeared at the Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Lucerne, Tanglewood, Spoleto, and Banff Festivals. A 2018 Luminarts Fellow in Classical Music, Mr. Roidl-Ward is a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and a student of David McGill at Northwestern University. He also studied with Ben Kamins at Rice University, George Sakakeeny at the Oberlin Conservatory, and Francine Peterson in the Seattle Area.


Andrew Snow, Cello

Andrew Snow is active as a recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician. He has been with The Chicago Ensemble for more than a decade. Mr. Snow holds degrees from Northern Illinois University and Southern Methodist University. Mr. Snow has performed several recitals in Mexico with his wife, pianist Beatriz Helguera-Snow, and they have recently recorded a CD, “Voices of Mexico, Past and Present”, made possible by a grant from the Mexican National Foundation of Arts and Culture. Mr. Snow was formerly the cellist of the Lyra Quartet. Currently, he is a member of Chicago Sinfonietta, Lake Forest Symphony, and the Chicago Philharmonic. He was principal cellist of the Kenosha Symphony and Chicago Symphonic Pops, with whom he toured the Far East. He has played with of the Milwaukee Symphony, Grant Park Symphony, Lyric Opera, Joffrey Ballet, and Ars Viva, as well as with Fulcrum Point and Contemporary Chamber Players. He teaches privately and adjudicates student competitions.