Jiwon Evelyn Kwark, violinist

Violinist Jiwon Evelyn Kwark is a dynamic soloist, chamber musician, orchestra musician, and a teacher full of love for her students. After attending the pre-college division of the Korean National University of Art and continuing her studies at Colburn School of Music, she obtained a bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School, a master’s degree from Yale School of Music, and obtained Professional Studies from Manhattan School of Music in the Orchestral Performance Program. Her primary teachers were Glenn Dicterow, Ani Kavafian, Lisa Kim, Masao Kawasaki, and Alexander Treger.

Since making her solo debut with the Amabile Orchestra in Korea at the age of 9, Ms. Kwark has performed with numerous orchestras in the U.S. and Korea as the winner of competitions, such as YMF Debut Orchestra, South Coast Symphony, Palisade Symphony Orchestra, and Chungnam State Philharmonic Orchestra. Besides being invited to tour Canada in the recent years with YOA and performing in France at the Ecoles d’Art Américaines de Fontainebleau, she toured the cities of Germany with the Penderecki Musik Academie Orchestra as the concertmistress and soloist of the orchestra under the baton of renowned composer, Maestro Penderecki.

As an orchestra musician, Ms. Kwark has performed with the San Francisco Symphony, New Century Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley, and American Youth Symphony. She has served as the concertmistress of Manhattan School of Music Symphony and the Assistant Concertmaster of the New York Concert Artist Symphony Orchestra. She performs regularly as the Associate Principal Second Violinist of the Marin Symphony.

As an active chamber musician, she has performed with ensembles in YMF Chamber Music, Sarasota Music Festival, and Bowdoin Music Festival. Her trios and quartets have won many chamber competitions including the International Young Artist Peninsula Music Festival and were broadcasted live on radio KMZT in Los Angeles numerous times. Ms. Kwark performs frequently as a violinist in her chamber group, Ensemble Ari. www.jiwonevelynkwark.com

SeokJong Baek, tenor

San Francisco Classical Voice hails South Korean baritone SeokJong Baek for his “warm, beautifully modulated voice”, after his performance in the Merola Grand Finale concert, Mr. Baek joins San Francisco Opera as an Adler Fellow in 2019, where he will sing Morales in Carmen, Gregorio in Romeo et Juliette, and the Innkeeper/Naval Captain in Manon Lescaut. He will also be responsible for covering the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, the Hunter in Rusalka, and Lescaut in Manon Lescaut. As a Resident Artist with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, he sang performances of Yamadori in Madama Butterfly, David in Barber’s A Hand of Bridge, and Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief. Last summer as a participant in San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Program, he sang selections as Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles and Masetto in Don Giovanni, as well as “Zaza piccolo zingara from Berrettoni’s Zaza in the Merola Grand Finale concert.

While a member of the Aspen Opera Center, Mr. Baek sang his first performances of Giorgio Germont in La traviata, as well as Silvio in Pagliacci and Il Conte in Le nozze di Figaro in a concert of opera scenes. While studying at Manhattan School of Music, his roles included Gautru in Delibes’ Le roi l’a dit and Colonel Tschang in Das Land des Lächelns, as well as scenes from Don Pasquale in concert. He was also awarded First Prize in the Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Vocal Competition
. Mr. Baek is also the 3rd Prize winner from the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition 2018, Grant Award winner from the Giulio Gari Foundation Internation Vocal Competition, Extraordinary Prize winner from the Sonora International Opera Competition, 2nd Prize winner of the Alfredo Silipigni Vocal Competition, 2nd Prize winner from the New Jersey Verismo Opera Competition, and has received awards from the Opera Index Vocal Competition and the Peel Music Festival Competition.

Mr. Baek attended the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto’s Vocal training program, and holds both a Bachelor of Music and Masters of Music from Manhattan School of Music.