Music and the other arts are the most potent demonstration that, in the heart, we are all one community.

~ Jan Swafford

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Linda Banister
vocalist (mezzo-soprano)

Linda Banister - voice (mezzo soprano)

A frequent solo recitalist and guest artist, Linda has performed on concert stages throughout the central and southeastern United States, Hong Kong, and central Italy. She is popular at conferences, clinics, workshops and symposiums around the country with a variety of choral and vocal music genres and subjects, and has served as a vocal adjudicator throughout the United States, and over the oceans to Europe and East Asia.

Linda has sung a wide range of operatic roles and has shared her talent and experience with several regional arts organizations, including the Augusta Opera, Augusta Choral Society and the Aiken Choral Society. Her devotion to the arts in Augusta, Georgia, also extends to artistic leadership with several groups, including the Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society, the Augusta Opera, the Morris Museum, and the Jessye Norman School of the Arts. Linda also serves as a member of the governor’s cabinet for the Southeast Region of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

A native North Dakotan, Linda holds a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of Missouri in Columbia and earned a Doctor of Music degree in voice performance from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. She teaches studio voice and opera workshop at Augusta State University in Augusta, Georgia.

Ruth Berry
cello, Artistic Director of In Praise of Music

Ruth Berry, cello

Ruth is cellist and founding member of several chamber ensembles, incuding the Fenimore String Quartet, the Magellan String Quartet, the Continuo Collective of the South, Trio d’Esprit, and Ensemble Sonaris. She gives recitals of popular classics with Ensembles Intermezzo, and designs entertaining educational programs for various chamber ensembles, including her Tin Pail Tales interactive performances which are popular with early childhood learning centers and other literacy development programs. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the musician-run chamber orchestra, Lyra Vivace, and a unique musician collective, In Praise of Music (

Ruth has recently moved to her home town of Hamilton, NY after living in Augusta, GA for many years (where she worked as principal cello of the Augusta Opera and Symphony and served as an artist in residence with the Magellan String Quartet at Georgia Southern University). Since 1986, Ruth performs during the summers with the Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra (specializing in solo continuo accompaniment on baroque or modern cello when the programming calls for it)–and, when not in the orchestra pit, lives in her historic and award-winning Kitt Shipman Memorial Chapel in Springfield Center, NY. During the “off summer” months, Ruth travels regularly to perform for arts organizations throughout the North and SouthEastern USA.

Ruth attributes her rewarding journey as a musician largely to the opportunities offered by Colgate University during her childhood: she first studied cello with Hamilton resident Cathy McLelland (who moved to Hamilton with her husband, Colgate professor emeritus Jim McLelland, following studies with the famed cellist Aldo Parisot). As a member of the Colgate Orchestra during her youth, Ruth also was mentored by string quartet members then in residence (The Amici/Madison and Manhattan Quartet), especially Stephen Stalker with whom she studied.

Ruth went to college at Boston University (where she studied cello with Leslie Parnas and received the Edwin E. Stein Award for Excellence in the Arts). Her graduate degree and studies at Cornell University were in musicology, analytical techniques and performance practice. Ruth is currently working on a certificate in Labor Studies from the Cornell School of Industrial Labor Relations.

  • Young Scots Christian Curnyn leads a modern band that incorporates baroque continuo. Michael Leopold’s theorbo pokes its long neck up from the pit like a periscope. Leopold also plays baroque arch lute and there are the pleasures of Ruth Berry’s baroque cello and David Moody’s harpsichord.-Notes from Philly (review of Tolomeo 8/06/2010)
  • The musical proceedings were masterfully helmed by conductor Christian Curnyn … He was ably abetted by the sensitive playing from Ruth Berry (Continuo), Michael Leopold (Theorbo) …-Opera Today 24 Aug 2010
Richard D Brasco
conductor, educator

Richard Brasco - conductor, educator

Richard is an educator and conductor, specializing in (but not limited to) wind ensembles. Richard teaches at Augusta State University, where he conducts the ASU Conservatory Wind Symphony and high school division of the ASU Summer Band Camp. His active retirement, following thirty-five years of work in Georgia and South Carolina as a music educator and conductor, also includes directing professional CSRA wind players as the Conductor of Savannah River Winds. Under his direction, the Savannah River Winds has received many honors, including the John Philip Sousa Foundation Sudler Silver Scroll Award and a recording contract with the C.L. Barnhouse Publishing Company.

Richard is frequently engaged as clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor all over the globe, including opportunities in London, England; Edinburgh, Scotland and Alaska, and throughout the USA, including the SouthEast tour of the United States Army Field Band, the University of Georgia Winter Music Festival, and numerous national conventions and symposiums. He has trained concert, jazz, and marching bands to perform high level music on a high level (consistent Superior ratings), including national tours to perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, the Lord Mayor’s Parade in London, and the Easter Festival in Maastricht, Netherlands.

Richard was nationally featured with the “Educators Who Make A Difference” article in Band and Orchestra. His other honors include four National Band Association Citations of Excellence, three ASBDA/Stanbury Awards, the ASBDA Career Achievement Award, the Teacher of the Year Award, three Star Teacher Awards, and the WJBF “Golden Apple Award.”

A native of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, Richard has a Bachelor of Science degree from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. He lives in North Augusta, South Carolina, with his wife Barbara. Their son, Craig, lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife Erika, daughter Natalie, and son Nicklaus. Their daughter Mia, lives in Aiken, South Carolina, with her husband C. Allen Miller and their daughter Penelope.

Aaron Brask
french horn

Aaron Brask, french horn

Aaron is a member of the Jacksonville Symphony and the Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra. He graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy and Boston University. A former member of the Florida Orchestra, he also toured Germany twice with Pepe Romero and the American Sinfonietta. Aaron teaches at Jacksonville University and Florida State College at Jacksonville. Four CD releases in a wide variety of musical styles as well as other info can be found at his website.

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