Get to know Celine Dion's musicians in Las Vegas
Philippe Dunnigan | Jenny Elfving | Laraine Kaizer | Rebecca Ramsey | Stevlin Belneev | Lisa Dondlinger | Lenka Hajkova | John Arnold | De Ann Letourneau | Lindsey Springer | Raymond Sicam III | Irina Chirkova | Jerome Gordon | Kaila Potts | Dmitri Kourka | Eric Tewalt | Philip Wigfall | Daniel Falcone | Matt Fronke | Nathan Tanouye
Credit: Denise Truscello
Philippe Dunnigan is one of Montreal’s premier violinists. After graduating from the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal, where he received his classical training, he was quickly attracted by a variety of musical styles, which led him to play as soloist with symphony and chamber orchestras, as well as in Rock, Pop, and Tango groups.
A versatile musician, he has shared his talent and experience with of some of the greatest names of the local and international stage. He has performed as a concertmaster with different artists, including Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, José Carreras, Céline Dion, Tony Bennett, Ginette Reno, André Gagnon, Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Yes, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Anne Murray and in productions such as "Camelot," "Me and My Girl," and "The Phantom of the Opera." He also has performed on four occasions for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England and for Queen Beatrix of Holland.
He has taught at most prominent music schools of Quebec and has been a member of the jury for competitions. He also participated in over 150 music recordings, television, publicity, film productions and video games. In 1998, Philippe Dunnigan decided to make use of his extensive knowledge of musicians and the musical scene, and launched Menasen Musique. He has produced 4 albums for Analekta records. He is artistic director and producer of the "Montreal Jazz Club" series , for which he received 3 "Jazz Album of the Year" nominations at the "ADISQ" annual Gala (2005, 2006 and 2008).
Jenny Elfving began her violin studies at the age of 3 in Matsumoto, Japan using the Suzuki Method. Following that she continued her education in Sweden and at the age of 15 she got accepted into the Music Conservatory of Falun, the only high school in Sweden with a specialized classical music program.
Coming from a family of violinists, she has continued the family tradition to pursue a career in music. Jenny has a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the Royal Danish Academy of Music and a Performance Diploma from Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Jenny has attended master classes with famous violinists such as Eszter Haffner, Milan Vitek, Gerhard Schultz, Terje Moe Hansen, Leo Berlin, and Karl-Ove Mannberg among others.
She has received numerous scholarships from Sweden and Denmark to support her musical development and she is an enthusiastic chamber musician and orchestra player. Jenny is currently working towards her Masters of Music at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and is also the assistant concertmaster in Céline Dion’s Orchestra in Las Vegas, NV since 2011.
Laraine Kaizer-Viazovtsev was born in Peoria, IL where she earned her Bachelor of Music Degree in 1998 majoring in violin performance from Bradley University studying with Marcia Henry. In 2000 she graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN as a violin performance major violin pedagogy minor studying with Mauricio Fuks. She received her Doctorate of Musical Arts Diploma in 2004 with the same major and minor concentrations from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH studying with Kurt Sassmannshaus.
Laraine's specialty is improvising in a wide variety of styles and creating "arrangements" on the spot for recordings using multiple tracks. Besides Celine Dion's show, currently Laraine is the assistant principal second violinist in the Las Vegas Philharmonic, a free lance 'strolling violinist,' specializing in a wide variety of styles, a free lance visual artist, a chamber music coach and private teacher at the Nevada School of the Arts.
Rebecca Ramsey composes her own music. Based on the music from her album "The Stone Sanctuary, Silhouettes of Zion", her “Music to Awaken the Heart” program features guided visualization meditations accompanied by her exquisite violin artistry.
Rebecca has played lead violin for Frank Sinatra, Pavarotti, Bocelli, Tony Bennett, Van Morrison and many other great names in music. Besides Celine Dion show, she is a member of the Las Vegas Philharmonic.
Svetlin Belneev was born in a family of musicians and the art of music have always taken an important part in his life. Starting violin training at the age of 5, he studied in the National School of Music and State Music Conservatory where he graduated with Bachelor degree in violin performance. While there Svetlin performed extensively on festivals, variety shows and concert tours throughout Europe, Asia and the US, as a member of various musical ensembles as well as a soloist.
Svetlin has always been interested in many different styles and had a chance to work with artists of highest caliber such as Vasco Vasilev, Nigel Kennedy, ELO, Jean-Luc Ponty and others. After moving to the US, Svetlin continued his studies on a Graduate level and earned a Master of Music (violin performance/pedagogy) from the Penn State University where for two years he served as a member of the String Quartet-in residence performing at venues such as the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC) Kimmel Center of the Performing Arts (Philadelphia) Carnegie Hall (New York).
Moving to the West coast/Los Angeles area introduced a whole new sphere of creative artistic experiences for Svetlin. He worked on recording sessions for movies, arrangements for various types of groups while maintaining an active performing schedule. Recent appearances include performances with Il Divo, Jordin Sparks, Shakira, Alejandra Guzman, Natalie Cole, jazz-pianist David Benoit (Charlie Brown), Grammy-nominee group Sol de Mexico, saxophonist Warren Hill amongst the others.
Lisa Dondlinger has quickly become one of the most sought after young musicians in the entertainment industry. Lisa moved to Los Angeles in the fall of 2000.
Lisa has performed and recorded with such diverse artists as: Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Snoop Dogg, Kelly Clarkson, Foo Fighters, Earth Wind and Fire, Sara Bareilles, Mary J. Blige, Fergie, Carrie Underwood, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Josh Groban, Annie Lennox, Barry Manilow, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett, Luciano Pavarotti, John Williams, Quincy Jones, Alejandro Sanz, Rascal Flatts, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, and Diane Reeves to name a few.
She has performed on the Academy Awards, the Grammy Awards, American Idol, Idol Gives Back, Dancing with the Stars, America's Got Talent, Grease: You're the one That I Want, The American Music Awards, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Association of Country Music Awards, and on many movie soundtracks and commercials. She is a member of the New West Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, LA Master Chorale, Pasadena Pops Orchestra and Mladi: LA's own conductorless chamber orchestra. Lisa currently serves as Professor of Violin at Pepperdine University.
De Ann Letourneau is a native of Superior Wisconsin where she began studying with Diane Balko, the former Concertmaster of the Duluth-Superior Symphony, at age 14. Through the many competitions, awards and scholarships that followed, she quickly became known as one of the outstanding young artists in the US.
De Ann attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and studied with Efim Boico & the Fine Arts Quartet. She then attended the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music to study with Dorothy DeLay & Kurt Sassmanshaus. She has also had the opportunity to study at times with some of the world's best violin pedagogues such as Josef Gingold, Jascha Brodsky & David Cerone.
She was awarded the Governor's Excellence in the Arts Award and was a prizewinner at the National Arts Competition in Washington DC. She also won First Prize at the International Starling Violin Competition in Aspen CO. In Las Vegas, she was honored as the first ever recipient of the "Woman of Distinction Award in the Performing Arts" and then received the Congressional Certificate of Achievement for her work in the Las Vegas performing arts.
Her career, now spanning over 20 years, includes many performances throughout the US and Europe as soloist and chamber musician on violin and viola. She is sought after in Las Vegas for some of the biggest popular performers of today. She has also been a frequent guest artist performing recitals on many radio broadcasts. She has been seen on TV performing for the Billboard Award shows, Country Music Awards, Latin Grammy's and many other production shows. She has performed with artists such as Smokey Robinson, Metallica, Vanessa Williams, Johnny Mathis and many others. She has also been the Concertmaster for Orchestras with Pavorotti, Placido Domingo, Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, Alicia Keys and many others.
Besides Celine Dion's show, De Ann is the Concertmaster of the Las Vegas Philharmonic. Recently, she collaborated to form the "Letourneau Smith Rivers Trio" with Sandra Rivers and Andrew Smith, the principal cellist of the Las Vegas Philharmonic. In addition to performing, De Ann is also active in bringing music education to young and old audiences.
Lindsey Springer received a Master's Degree in Cello Performance from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music studying cello with William Grubb and Yehuda Hanani. After making her debut solo performance with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, she lived in Italy serving as principal cellist with the Lucca Opera Festival Orchestra. A native of the Chicagoland area, she moved to Las Vegas in 2006 to pursue alternative cello techniques including playing electric cello with the rock string quartet, Phat Strad. She has played principal cello in the pit orchestras of Phantom of the Opera: The Las Vegas Spectacular, the Producers, Mannheim Steamroller, and the Lion King.
Most recently, Springer can be seen playing cello for Beyonce on her Live in Las Vegas DVD, and with David Foster on his David Foster and Friends- the Hitman Returns DVD. Her television performances have included the Grammy Awards performing with Carrie Underwood, Country Music Awards- playing electric cello for Heide Newfield, and the Latin Grammys performing with Shakira, Alejandra Guzman, Franco De Vita, Laura Pausini, Camila, and Andrea Bocelli. Her recent studio recordings include solo cello tracks for the album "Mumbo Jumbo" by the band Air Supply. She's also performed with some of the nation's top stars including Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, Harry Connick Jr, Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, Mary J Blige, Smokey Robinson, Sarah Brightman, Earth Wind and Fire, and Seal. As a recording artist, she has recorded all types of musical projects ranging from soundtracks to pop albums and has collaborated with various instrumentalists as well as vocalists, frequently premiering newly commissioned works.
Lindsey also has a deep passion for teaching. As an educator, she has held adjunct faculty positions at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the College of Southern Nevada, and has had the fortunate experience of teaching the nation's top future string players at KO Knudson Magnet School for the Arts as well as maintaining a full time private cello studio. She also enjoys playing chamber music with the Firenze Strings, a chamber ensemble dedicated to performing classical works in Las Vegas. She currently holds the position as principal cellist for Celine Dion and the Frankie Moreno show in Las Vegas.
Raymond Sicam III is a cellist and vocalist who also plays the piano, guitar, drums and is an aspiring songwriter. Raymond studied music at the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts, Las Vegas Music Festival, Interlochen Center for the Arts and UNLV. After studying piano with Norman Vito, he studied cello with Myriam Santucci, Robin Reinarz, Moonlight Tran, Eric Kim, Andrew Smith, and has performed in masterclasses for great cellists such as Brinton Smith, Nathaniel Rosen, Owen Carmen, Andrew Schulman, Matt Haimovitz and Benjamin Zander.
Raymond has made solo appearances with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, the Nevada Chamber Symphony and the Henderson Civic Symphony. In Chicago, Raymond has performed with the New Millennium Orchestra, Ensemble Noamnesia for Guy Maddin's film Brand Upon the Brain and was a sound engineer for various groups. In New York City he performed in the La MaMa Experimental Theater Company on stage playing memorized and improvised music for the run of the musical The Jack of Tarts. He is also co-creator of the band CelloVox with cellist, vocalist and songwriter Isabel Castellvi, having played and sung for audiences in Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam and Paris. Raymond has been playing modern music with UNLV’s NEXTET ensemble on and off since 2004 and is a member of the St. Cecilia Trio with violinist Erika Syroid and pianist David Kowaleski. Since 2008, he has been a part of the Adoremus Schola Cantorum at Our Lady of Las Vegas Catholic Church as cantor and cellist. With Classical Entertainment Inc., Raymond has been the featured cellist for its unique boutique pop fusion style, playing for special engagements.
As a freelance cellist he has performed with artists such as John Mayer, Rod Stewart, Sarah Brightman, David Foster, Josh Groban, Jewel, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Gladys Knight, Wayne Newton (singing backup and playing keys as well), Joey Albert, Paula Tsui, Marco Antonio Solis, Mannheim Steamroller, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, trumpeter Chris Botti, flautist James Galway, violinist Hilary Hahn, cellist Lynn Harrell, Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein, and the band Cheap Trick for Sgt. Pepper Live! On television he has been on CBS performing with the band Rascal Flatts at the 2008 Academy of Country Music Awards, on PBS for the event Michel Legrand: 50 Years of Music, sharing the stage with Michel Legrand, Frank Sinatra Jr., Dionne Warwick, George Benson, Patti Page, Steve Lawrence, Melissa Manchester and Jerry Lewis. He has also been playing in the Lion King Las Vegas musical as a substitute for cello. Raymond is elated to be in Celine Dion’s orchestra and feels fortunate to be performing with such an inspiration.
Irina is an active solo and chamber musician. Up to the fall of 2005, she had been a teaching assistant to Rhonda Rider at Wellesley College as well as a cello faculty and a String Department Coordinator at the Brookline Music School, MA; Santa Monica Music Center, CA; Cornerstone Music Conservatory, CA; Santa Monica Academy of Music, CA. As an electric cello band member of CCBONNES and MystiQuintet groups, Irina toured internationally (Dubai, Qatar, Greece, Canada), as well as within the US. Irina has performed at political conferences for Bill Clinton and Mitt Romney.
She has also participated at TV shows such as The Late Show of David Letterman, Kimora Lee's show and the Jingle Ball event with Kanye West. Her latest recordings include Sully Erna's (Godsmack), solo album "Avalon", released September 2010, as well as Mark Salling's "Pipe Dreams" solo album, November 2010. Since 2011, Irina is one of the three Celine Dion's cello players chosen for Celine's new Las Vegas show. Her 2011 tours include: Avalon international tour with sully Erna and Triango Quartet tango tour in Slovakia.
Jerome Gordon began his viola studies at the age of 11. He received his Bachelor of Music and a degree in Music Business from Northwestern University, studying primarily with Roland Vamos. He received his Master of Music from The University of Southern California, working with Donald McInnes.
Before relocating to Los Angeles Mr. Gordon was a member of the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. During his tenure in New World he toured Europe performing in concert halls in France, Italy, and Spain. He also performed chamber concerts throughout Italy and collaborated with members of the Orion String Quartet and the Vienna Philharmonic.
Violist Jerome Gordon enjoys a diversified career as an orchestral, studio, and chamber musician. He has been invited to perform as guest principal violist with the Amarillo and Berkeley symphonies, and since moving to Los Angeles in 2008 performs regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Pacific Symphony Orchestra. He has recorded for major motion pictures, television series, and commercial recordings. He has also collaborated on various chamber series throughout southern California. In addition to the classical concert stage Mr. Gordon has performed and recorded with popular artists such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Stevie Wonder and Celine Dion, among others. As of 2011 Mr. Gordon can be seen in the new Celine Dion production in Las Vegas at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
Kaila Potts was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in Las Vegas, NV. Her viola studies began in a public school string program at age 11, eventually continuing privately with John Sullivan. Three years later she decided to supplement her viola studies with violin instruction with Rebecca Ramsey. Her musical pursuits eventually brought her to the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati to study violin and viola under Piotr Milewski, Dorothy Delay, Masao Kawasaki, and Catharine Carroll, where she earned her Bachelor of Music in Violin and Viola Performance. She received her Masters degree in Viola with Donald McInnes at the University of Southern California where she also earned a Graduate Certificate in Performance.
Kaila Potts, Associate Principal Viola of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Santa Barbara Symphony and a member of various Southern California orchestras, is the First Place Senior Division Laureate of the 7th National Sphinx Competition, 2004. Praised for her "depth and beauty of sound, color, and expression", Ms. Potts, is also the first prize winner of numerous other competitions, including the Geraldine B. Gee International Viola Competition, and the Ennio Bolonini Scholarship Competition, as well as a third prize winner in the Clara Baur Instrumental Competition. Ms. Potts had her solo debut in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall on January 10, 2011. In addition to her professional musical endeavors Ms. Potts currently hosts a community chamber music series at her home to promote urban classical music experiences within diverse populations and is a donation-based yoga teacher, based out of San Antonio and Los Angeles.
She began her professional career as an orchestral musician with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra where she served as Principal and Assistant Principal Viola until 2003, and has worked under many notable conductors including James Levine, David Zinmann, James Conlon, and James De Priest. An avid chamber musician, Ms. Potts has collaborated with a number of distinguished artists including Midori Goto, (with whom she made her premier in Los Angeles’s Disney hall), Lynn Harrell, Ron Leonard, Peter Salaff, Kathleen Winkler, and Donald McInnes, and is currently a key member of the new Los Angeles based, conductorless chamber ensemble, Symbiosis.
Her solo performances have taken her to appear with numerous orchestras in the United States including solo engagements with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Hartford, Atlanta, Memphis, Colorado, Santa Monica, and Grand Rapids Symphonies, in addition to performances in Asia, Europe, and Israel and an invitation to perform as a guest artist with the London Philharmonic in 2007. 2004 also marked her debut in Carnegie hall as the Principal Violist of the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra; she has performed in this prestigious venue every year since. Ms. Potts is the recipient of Fellowship Awards from the Music Academy of the West and Orchestral Fellowships with the Aspen Music Festival for four summers, and recently made appearances in music festivals in Brazil, France, and Alaska. Ms. Potts has also been a member of Celine Dion’s string section since 2011 and performs regularly with her in Las Vegas, NV.
Eric Tewalt is originally from Indiana, and moved to Las Vegas in 1999. Eric keeps up touring schedules with such artists as Toni Braxton, Sheena Easton, Michael Cavanaugh, and Steve March-Torme. Other live performance credits include Michael Feinstein, Michael Buble, Ben Vereen, Martha Reeves, Tears for Fears, and others. Recording credits include dance artist Kristine W. and European artists, Funk This. Eric just finished recording ‘Straight up with a Twist’, the newest recording from Kristine W.
He is performing, currently, in the Las Vegas production of ‘Jersey Boys.’ In addition to performing a production show in Las Vegas, Eric also appears live, as part of Frankie Valli’s touring band.
Phil has since performed with some of the greatest names in entertainment, including Quincy Jones, Gladys Knight, Clint Holmes, Joe Williams, Marlena Shaw, Aretha Franklin, The Four Tops, The Temptations and many others.
A 2-year engagement with Bette Midler has recently concluded, and Phil can currently be heard playing alto saxophone with Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns as well as the BB King All-Star Band.
Phil has written and produced for many artists, including a collaboration with Saxophone legend Tom Scott. Phil can also be heard on numerous recordings, most notably his own CD, titled Cosmic Soul, and a soon-to-be-released second CD.
Daniel Falcone began working professionally at age 15. During high school he backed the likes of Tony Bennett, Rita Moreno, Jerry Lewis, George Burns, Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Paul Anka and many other headliners on the Las Vegas Strip.
While attending USC, he toured with Pia Zadora and played with some of the world’s finest orchestras, including the London Philharmonic. After his time at USC, Danny returned to Las Vegas, playing for many headliners and production shows until he was asked to join the Tom Jones band as the lead trumpet player in 1998. After a 2-year world tour, Dan returned to Las Vegas to perform in a Ricky Martin production, “Storm”, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
Two years later, Dan joined Paul Anka full-time and toured for many years playing split-lead and lead trumpet, recording two albums and a DVD. He then joined the Las Vegas production of Broadway Musical “Hairspray”. Following that, Dan spent some time touring with Filipino Superstar Martin Nievera.
Dan performed with Toni Braxton for more than a year before joining the Las Vegas production of Broadway hit “Jersey Boys”. At this same time, Dan was hired to perform with Bette Midler (The Showgirl Must Go On), for her two and half year stint, at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. Currently, Dan is the lead trumpet player with Celine Dion as well as continuing to perform with the hit musical Jersey Boys.
TV credits include Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Lionel Richie and Friends, The Michael Parkinson Show on BBC, Men Strike Back on VH1, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, The Today Show, Good Morning America and has been a member of the Jerry Lewis Telethon Orchestra. Dan has also performed and recorded with many artists including Alicia Keys, D’Angelo, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Bill Champlin, Cheap Trick, Gladys Knight, Patti Austin, Frankie Valli, Vince Gill, Big and Rich, Barry Manilow, Lionel Richie, Aretha Franklin, Brian Bromberg and Gino Vannelli.
Matt Fronke's success as a trumpeter, singer and author reflects the diversity of his musical tastes and his professional experience ranging from funk to symphonic music through pop, jazz style New Orleans, swing, fusion, salsa, reggae and rock.
A native of Long Beach, California, he studied at the State University where he received specific advice from the best specialists of jazz and philharmonic music. His prestigious collaborations in cinema and television are countless, as well as his recordings, arrangements and compositions.
Born in Platteville, Wisconsin in 1974, Nathan Tanouye began studying music in elementary school, first with piano lessons and later on trombone. At age 11 he moved to Hawaii, where he attended high school and began his college education. While at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, Nathan studied trombone with members of the Honolulu Symphony, including Jim Decker and Mike Becker. After receiving a performance scholarship to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1995, Nathan moved to Las Vegas and completed his BM in both applied trombone and jazz studies.
As a freelance trombonist, he has performed with artists such as Natalie Cole, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, The Temptations, Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Placido Domingo, Donny & Marie Osmond, Bette Midler, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Barbra Streisand, and Jerry Lewis. In addition, Nathan has been the principal trombonist in the Las Vegas Philharmonic since 1998 and has performed on the Las Vegas Strip in shows such as At the Copa, Storm, Hairspray, and The Producers. Since 2005, Nathan has performed and recorded with Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns, for which he also writes and arranges.
As a composer, he has written works for many different sizes of ensembles, ranging from jazz trio to concert band. In February of 2004, the UNLV Wind Orchestra Premiered Three Steps Forward, a piece written by Mr. Tanouye to feature Eric Marienthal, Will Kennedy, Jimmy Haslip, and Russell Ferrante, later recorded and released on the Klavier label. Since that time, Nathan has written three more wind ensemble pieces; Kokopelli’s Dance (2005), Four Flew Over the Hornet’s Nest (2006), and Loki’s Revenge (2010).
Nathan has also done extensive work as an arranger and orchestrator, including arrangements for a diverse range of ensembles, including symphony orchestra as well as many mixed chamber ensembles. One of his biggest arranging credits, “Crossings – The Russ Freeman Project” (Peacock 2006), a collaborative work with Carolyn Freeman featuring the music of pianist Russ Freeman, received rave reviews from the jazz community and helped launch The Las Vegas Jazz Connection jazz orchestra lead by Nathan. Since 2005, Nathan has lead the orchestra in numerous concerts featuring his arrangements and compositions and has released a second CD with the LVJC entitled “Remembering Russ”, which again features his arrangements of the great Russ Freeman’s music. The group’s third CD, entitled “Eleven” will be released in December, 2012.
Currently, Nathan performs with and arranges music for Celine Dion and is Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies & Studio Trombone at UNLV.