Meet The Musicians
Mr. Diggs, began studying violin at the age of 9 in Baltimore City public schools. He received his B.M. in viola and Artist Diploma in Quartet Studies from Shenandoah Conservatory and is one of the founding members of Argot. His teachers included Doris Lederer and C. Thomas Shaw of the Audubon Quartet, and Olivia Hajioff and Marc Ramirez of the MarcOliva Duo.
He received his M.M. in viola performance from the San Francisco Conservatory under the instruction of Jodi Levitz of the Ives Quartet and received chamber instruction from pianist/violist Paul Hersh and violinist Axel Strauss.
He has participated in chamber masterclasses given by Kim Kashkashian, Christoph Wyneken, John O’Conor, and the Juilliard Quartet as well as an orchestral master class given by Sir Simon Rattle serving as principal viola.
When not performing with Argot, Mr. Diggs freelances with several orchestras including, The Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, The National Philharmonic, Harrisburg Symphony, Maryland Symphony , Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra and is the principal violist of the National String Symphonia. He was the violist in the Foreign Landscapes CD by Hauschka, principal violist for the R. Kreutzer Violin Concertos 17-19 CD released by Naxos featuring violinist Axel Strauss, and violist for the 2008 Grammy nominated album Indigo Road by lutanist Ron Mcfarlane.
He is also a Suzuki violin/viola instructor with more than 50 active students.
Helena Goldberg is a vocalist, pianist, bassist, composer, and music teacher who currently resides in Berryville, VA. She began her musical studies on the piano at the age of 4, and began performing and participating in competitive events by the following year. After studying at the Westminster Choir College piano summer program and the Aspen summer music festival during her high school years, she was accepted to Manhattan School of Music where she began her classical piano studies with department chair Marc Silverman. In 2005, she was accepted into the classical composition program, where she studied with department chair Nils Vigeland and Richard Danielpour.
Ms. Goldberg started playing bass and singing in a metal band around 2005, and since then has been consistently performing, touring nationally and internationally, and releasing critically acclaimed albums with her band Akris. She began teaching piano, voice, songwriting,theory and composition in 2006. Since then she has maintained a widely diverse student base, ranging from age 3 to adult. Her teaching focuses on an individualized approach and cultivates each students own unique proclivities to music. She specializes in working with students who are on the Autism Spectrum, and has had enormous success in developing verbal skills, communication, emotional expression and cognitive processing through the use of learning to read, understand and perform music. She has had similar success with other students displaying a wide range of mental illnesses as well as learning and physical disabilities.
Ms. Goldberg strongly believes in the connection between artistic expression and emotion, and the possibilities that are implied for continuing to help others manage their own particular challenges.
Cellist Vasily Popov maintains an active concert schedule including appearances as a soloist, recitalist, and member of chamber ensembles in the concert halls in Europe, Japan, Russia and U.S.A. His CD’s are produced by Arte Nova Records, BMR, Excelsior, Intercount Music, Madacy Records, and Melodia labels.
Vasily Popov held an associate principal cello position with the Soloists of St. Petersburg chamber ensemble and cello section position with the St.-Petersburg Philharmonic orchestra under Maestro Yuri Temirkanov. He also collaborated with the Live Music Now and Villa Musica concert organizations and performed with various chamber and symphony orchestras in Germany.
Currently living in Washington D.C., Mr. Popov serves on the cello and chamber music faculties of the Levine Music in Washington D.C. where he is also an associate chair of Chamber Music and Artistic Director and conductor of the Levine Chamber Orchestras. Mr. Popov is also on the music faculty of the Northern Virginia Community College teaching cello in Loudoun Campus. He leads various workshops and masterclasses, adjudicates national and international competitions.
Vasily Popov gives frequent solo and chamber music concerts, co-directs together with pianist Ralitza Patcheva Chamber Music At Noon concert series in the Washington D.C. public library.
Vasily performs on a French cello made in 1870 presented to him by Stephen and Susan Low. Vasily uses his Zeta E-Cello for his jazz, rock and contemporary music performances.
Ryan D. Romine
Bassoonist, educator, and administrator Ryan D. Romine serves as Associate Professor of Music and Assistant Dean for Recruitment at Shenandoah Conservatory (Winchester, VA, USA). As a bassoonist, he is a regular substitute principal and second bassoonist with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and Opera Roanoke. As a solo performer, he has dedicated himself to a career of presenting rediscovered, classic, and new works to audiences worldwide. His debut solo album of French contest pieces, Première, was hailed as “an absolutely brilliant CD…bringing back from oblivion some truly beautiful music, played with precision and lyricism…” and his rediscovery of Jacques Ibert’s Morceau de lecture for bassoon and piano in 2018 made international news. An active supporter of new works, Ryan has given numerous premiere performances both locally and for international audiences. As an extension of this work, in 2019 he published Bassoon Reimagined: An Extended Technique Sourcebook for Bassoonists and Composers. Ryan contributes to the academic side of his profession through the International Double Reed Society (IDRS) as only the third Bassoon Editor in its fifty-plus year history. Originally from Newark, OH, Ryan holds his undergraduate degree in music education from The Ohio State University and his MM and DMA in bassoon performance from Michigan State University. His primary teachers include Christopher Weait and Michael Kroth. For more info about Ryan and his musical endeavors, visit www.ryanromine.net.
Donovan Stokes has presented solo performances throughout the U.S., and in Mexico, Norway, Italy, England, France and the Czech Republic. His solo recording Gadaha garnered two JPF Music Award rankings for Best Album and Best Instrumental Song. Described as a musician who “paints primary colours and subtle shades to considerable effect” (The Double Bassist), Stokes is also noted for his “eye-popping display of technical wizardry and showmanship” (Madison Jazz).
As a chamber musician he has had the honor of collaborating with musicians Julian Schwarz, Alaria Ensemble, Frisson Ensemble, Clyde Thomas Shaw, Fry Street Quartet, Agua Va!, members of the Audubon Quartet, Stuart Malina, Blanka Bednarz, John O’Connor, David Oei and Seymour Lipkin, among others.
A Full Professor at Shenandoah University-Conservatory, he teaches jazz and classical bass and acts as String Area Coordinator. As a composer, he has enjoyed commissions from the DiscoverDoubleBass.com, Berry College Orchestra, Barry Green, Blanka Bednarz, The International Society of Bassists Young Bass Division, the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra and Jerry Fuller. He is also an specialist in the life and work of bassist and composer Rodion Azarkhin.
Dr. Stokes earned degrees from Vanderbilt University (B.M.) and Indiana University (M.M. and D.M.), where his major instructors were Lawrence Hurst, and Edgar Meyer. He studied fiddle styles with Crystal Ploughman and Mark O’Connor, string pedagogy with Lawrence Hurst, Helga Winold, Inez Wyrick and Mimi Zweig, and composition with Michael Alec Rose, Michael Kurek and Mary Jeanne Van Appledorn.
Stokes is a former President of Virginia String Teachers Association, Former Board Member for the International Society of Bassists, and current Artistic Director of the Bass Coalition and their Annual Bass Workshop where he heads a highly selective one-week Intensive Program for advanced bassists. find him on TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter
Akemi Takayama is known worldwide for her musical artistry and passion as well as for the extensive range and versatility of her repertoire. With a unique blend of warmth and excitement, her masterful performances have enthralled audiences throughout Japan, China, France, England, Turkey, Israel, and the U.S. She has enjoyed a varied career, performing in major concert halls worldwide. She was a member of the prize-winning Audubon Quartet for thirteen years, which was critically acclaimed by The New York Times. Currently the concertmaster of both the Roanoke Symphony and the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra, Takayama is also an Associate Professor of Violin, holding the Victor Brown Endowed Chair in Violin, in the Shenandoah Conservatory at Shenandoah University, where she works with private students and chamber groups. A native of Japan, Akemi Takayama showed promise as a violinist from an early age, beginning her performance career at age 15. In Japan, she studied with Toshiya Eto and Ryosaku Kubota at the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance. In the United States, she earned a Professional Studies degree at the University of Wyoming, studying with Brian Hanly. During her graduate studies, Takayama was a teaching assistant to famed violinist and pedagogue Donald Weilerstein at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she earned both the Artist Diploma and a Master of Music degree. Praised by Isaac Stern as a “true musician,” Akemi Takayama was invited to participate in the Marlboro Music Festival in 1997. Recent solo performances with orchestras include Daugherty’s Fire and Blood and Ladder to the Moon, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Double Concerto, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, Pärt’s Fratres, Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major, Chausson’s Poème, Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Triple Concerto, Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, Mozart’s Violin Concerto #5, Roskott’s Violin Concerto, and Barber’s Violin Concerto. In addition to concert seasons with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and the Williamsburg Symphonia, recent collaborations include the Opera Roanoke, Shenandoah Performs, the Chamber Orchestra of Southwest Virginia, and the New Orchestra of Washington. Takayama was a member of the internationally celebrated Audubon Quartet for fourteen years, during which time the group toured regionally and nationally and made a number of CD recordings on the Centaur and Composers labels. Active as an educator and arts advocate throughout Virginia, Takayama has served as the chair for College Advisory Committee for the Virginia String Teachers Association. She has served on the faculties of the Chautauqua Institute in New York, the Idyllwild School for the Arts in California, the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, Shenandoah Performs in Virginia, and Virginia Tech. In addition to teaching on the faculty at Shenandoah University (since 2007), Takayama was invited to teach at the Oberlin Conservatory in the fall semester of 2012. An inspiring educator, Takayama has taught countless violinists who now have successful careers performing chamber music and playing in orchestras. Many of her students have been accepted to pursue Master of Music or Doctor of Musical Arts degree studies at schools such as Indiana University, Boston Conservatory, Oberlin, Florida State University, Case Western Reserve University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, East Carolina University, and The Catholic University of America. Some have gone into music education, teaching at institutions such as the Princeton Shenzhen International Children’s Learning Center Education in Shenzhen, China; the Community School of The Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina; and the International School of Music in Bethesda, Maryland. Akemi Takayama has recorded many solo performances on CD with Blackwater Recording and Centaur Records. Her recent projects include recording the Roskott Violin Concerto, and her performances of Beethoven’s Sonatas for Piano and Violin and Sonata Duo, with renowned pianist John O’Conor. She plays on a Santino Lavazza violin made in 1714 and a Francois Xavier Tourte bow kindly loaned by the Ryuji Ueno Foundation and the RJ Fund.
Clarinetist Garrick Zoeter’s passionate and exciting way with the clarinet has been acknowledged around the world. The Clarinet recently described his playing as “remarkable, his tone is beautiful and he shows complete mastery of all the technical demands and effects that are required of this piece, His artistry and virtuosity are compelling. This is one of the finest clarinet performances I have reviewed.” While the Washington Post recently described a recent performance of his as “an utterly commanding performance, technically superb and radiant with otherworldly majesty all played with exceptional insight.”
A native of Alexandria, Va., Mr. Zoeter’s first serious clarinet studies were with Kenneth Lee and National Symphony Orchestra clarinetist William Wright. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Juilliard School as a student of Charles Neidich and his master’s degree from Yale University as a student of David Shifrin. He made his solo debut at the age of seventeen in Weber’s Concerto #1 with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He has won numerous competitions as a soloist including the 1991 International Clarinet Society International Clarinet Competition, as well as prizes in chamber music – the Grand Prize in the 1998 Fischoff, Coleman, and Yellow Springs chamber music competitions, the silver medal in the 1997 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and first prize in the 2002 Concert Artists Guild competition.
Mr. Zoeter is the founding member of the acclaimed multi- award-winning clarinet, violin, cello, piano quartet Antares. From 1997-2013 with Antares, he annually gave performances around the United States at such prestigious venues as The Kennedy Center, La Jolla Chamber Music Society, Aspen Music Festival, Strathmore, Ensemble Music Society of Indianapolis, Carnegie Recital Hall, Market Square Concerts, The Library of Congress, The Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art, and Cincinnati Chamber Music Society. His work with Antares resulted in the
commissioning and premiering of over 20 new quartets from several of North America’s top young composers including Mason Bates, John Mackey, James Matheson, Kevin Puts, Dan Visconti and Carter Pann. Zoeter is also a frequent performer with such diverse groups as Trio Solisti, The Audubon String Quartet, The Ensemble for the Romantic Century, the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, the University of Buffalo’s Slee Sinfinietta, The Post Classical Ensemble, the Pressenda Chamber Players, the Monadnock Music Festival, and the New Orchestra of Washington. Recent performances have included Donald Martino’s Triple Concerto in Buffalo, NY, and chamber music appearances in Strasbourg, France and Medellin, Columbia, as well as an appearance at The Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio, TX. He is heard frequently in numerous chamber music performances around Washington D.C. including Georgetown’s Evermay Estate.
A committed teacher as well as performer, Mr. Zoeter serves as the Anna Lee Van Buren Professor of Clarinet at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University. His students from Shenandoah include numerous competition winners and can be found performing in professional ensembles such as the President’s Own Marine Band, teaching in university and public schools positions, and serving as music therapists throughout the country and abroad. He formally served on the clarinet and chamber music faculty of Wesleyan University (2002-2007) and from 1997-2004 was the clarinet professor at the Festival Eleazar de Carvalho during the summer in the city of Fortaleza, Brasil. Mr. Zoeter has recorded for the CRI, Newport Classics, Bridge, Innova, Naxos, MSR Classics, and New Focus Recordings CD labels. In addition to his performing and teaching, Mr. Zoeter serves on the advisory council of the Washington D.C. chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters.
Come visit him at his YouTube channel: