Samantha George, Artistic Director/Violin  Lawrence University
Washington Island Music Festival - Samantha George
The Washington Island Music Festival welcomes Samantha George, who is stepping into her new role as Artistic Director of the Music Festival in 2018. Samantha has been playing violin at the WIMF since 2000. While she is on the Island, she also hosts “Inside the Notes” music appreciation courses at the Red Barn and offers pre-concert talks before Music Festival concerts.

Currently Associate Professor of Violin at Lawrence University, Samantha served as Associate Concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra from 1999-2008. She received a high-school diploma from the Interlochen Arts Academy and Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Performer’s Certificate degrees from the Eastman School of Music. She also holds a doctorate in violin performance and music theory from the University of Connecticut.

As a soloist, Samantha has performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Raleigh Symphony, Idaho State Civic Symphony, Hartford Symphony, and the United States Coast Guard Band. She is a host of Lawrence University “Live from the Conservatory” intermission interviews and received the 2012 “Excellence in Teaching: Young Teacher Award” from Lawrence University.

Stephen Colburn, Washington Island Music Festival Artistic Director Emeritus/Oboe Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Oboist and co-founder of the Washington Island Music Festival, Stephen Colburn performed as Principal Oboist of the Milwaukee Symphony and served with distinction from 1966 until his recent retirement. During the past seasons he has continued his performing career as principal with the Chicago Master Singers, DuPage Chorale and Ars Viva (Chicago) orchestras. He has also appeared as guest principal with the Lake Forest Symphony and Illinois Philharmonic. He is currently Co-Artistic Director of the Chicago Double Reed Festival. Previous engagements include principal of the Santa Fe Opera and Grant Park Music Festival. Stephen Colburn’s solo engagements include the American premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Oboe Concerto at the Ojai Festival in California and the Oboe Concerto by Lukas Foss with the Milwaukee Symphony. Mr. Colburn was founding Music Director of the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra as well as Music Director of the Racine Symphony. Teaching positions include Visiting Prof. atLawrence University, Adjunct Prof. at UW-Milwaukee, and woodwind coach of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Teresa Drews, Piano  Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

Teresa Drews, Director of Education and Piano Department Chair at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, is excited to spend her 9th summer as a festival musician in 2018. An active performer in the Milwaukee area, she often collaborates with WCM faculty and fellow Washington Island Ensemble members.  Most recently Ms. Drews and Meaghan Heinrich (along with Mayfest alum Libby Garrett) have formed the group “Nice Girls Playing Chamber Music” which performs in the Milwaukee area. Ms. Drews received a B.M. degree, with honors, from Northwestern University and an M.M. degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. She has studied with Sylvia Wang, Ann Schein, and Seth Knopp and performed in master classes by David Burge and Menahem Pressler. A committed music educator, Ms. Drews now oversees a group of over 90 musicians and educators who provide services in four WCM locations and in several community partnership sites. In the past, Teresa has maintained a large piano studio and has taught general music and piano at several Milwaukee area schools.

Kari Gordon, DirectorChildren’s Music Camp
Washington Island Music Festival Kari Gordon
Kari Sena Gordon has been a music educator teaching choral music, general music, and musical theatre for 36 years, in public school, church, and community settings. She has taught levels from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade at Southern Door Schools in Brussels, WI., Tippecanoe School Corporation in Lafayette, IN., and Kenosha United Schools in Kenosha, WI. She is also the director of Washington Island’s Scandinavian Festival and has done choreography for Island Players. In 1994, she led a group of dancers, representing Norway, in performance for the opening ceremonies of the World Cup Soccer Tournament in Chicago. A graduate of Luther College, she has also studied Scandinavian folk music and dance in both Norway and Sweden.


Nathan Hackett, Viola  Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Washington Island Music Festival Nathan Hackett

Violist Nathan Hackett is a long time member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. For the past nine seasons he served as its third chair violist, frequently moving up to Assistant and Principal Viola. He also enjoys collaborating with fellow MSO musicians as part of Milwaukee Musaik; a consortium of Milwaukee area musicians presenting chamber music concerts. Previously he held the Principal Viola chair with both the Milwaukee Ballet and Chamber Orchestras.

Hackett is also a member of The Philomusica String Quartet, resident ensemble of Wisconsin Lutheran College.  In 2017 the group celebrated 10 years together.  Their 18/19 season will begin with a live radio broadcast on Wisconsin Public Radio followed by three programs at Wisconsin Lutheran College and two at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. 2017 brought a stint as substitute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and an appointment to Principal Viola of the Namdo Classical Music Festival Orchestra with concerts in Kwangju and Yeosu South Korea. Hackett is a coach with the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra and teaches privately both at home and as an adjunct faculty member at WLC. This is Hackett’s 15th year of participation in the Washington Island Music Festival, he continues to love every minute!

Julian Hagen Co-Director, Under the Big Top
Julian Hagen, a fourth generation Islander, was raised in a musical family during a magical, musical time here on the Island. Songwriter, singer and all-around musician, this popular Island entertainer knows how to draw his audience in with his delightful, Island-flavored music and his warm sense of humor. Julian performs often with his multi-generational family and Door County friends in the area and elsewhere. He has his own recordings of originals mixed with covers and has been part of recording compilations with other artists.


Meaghan Heinrich, Lecturer/Oboe  Wisconsin Conservatory of Music
Washington Island Music Festival Meaghan Heinrich
Meaghan Heinrich is Chair of the Woodwind, Brass & Percussion Department at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where she teaches oboe, early childhood music, and K-5 general music classes in Milwaukee schools. Prior to coming to the Conservatory, she was Manager of Learning Programs and Community Engagement for The Cleveland Orchestra, where she continues to present guest workshops and pre-concert lectures.  Ms. Heinrich holds degrees in oboe performance from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (BM) and Rice University (MM).  As an oboist, she spent four years (two as Co-Artistic Director) touring nationally with the multi-disciplinary ensemble Tales & Scales, including appearances on family concerts with the Dallas Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Oregon Symphony, and Louisville Orchestra.  She performs regularly with orchestras in the greater Milwaukee area, and is a frequent guest speaker for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s “Meet the Music” pre-concert talks.

Rudi Heinrich, Bassoon  Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Washington Island Music Festival Rudi Heinrich
Rudi Heinrich is proud to be a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, joining the orchestra in 2013. Previously, Rudi served as Principal Bassoon in the Des Moines Metro Opera Orchestra for 10 seasons, Assistant Principal Bassoon in the Alabama Symphony for 5 seasons, and 2nd Bassoon in the Louisiana Philharmonic for 2 seasons.

Rudi Heinrich grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he first started playing music in the public school music program. Rudi completed his senior year of high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy, and then earned his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan where he studied with Richard Beene. He went on to work with William Winstead at the University of Cincinnati, where he received his Master’s degree.


William Helmers, Clarinet  Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Washington Island Music Festival William Helmers
William Helmers is a member of the Milwaukee Symphony and the contemporary ensemble, Present Music. He has worked with many other orchestras, including Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cleveland, Ravinia Festival, Santa Fe Opera and Rochester. Mr. Helmers is active in the performance and recording of new music; he gave the North American premiere of John Adams’ clarinet concerto, Gnarly Buttons, with the composer conducting, and the world premiere of James Grant’s Concerto for Bass Clarinet. Mr. Helmers has made numerous premiere recordings of solo and chamber music, including compositions by Roberto Sierra, James Grant, Kamran Ince, and Jerome Kitzke. Recent activities include planning and playing concerts with Milwaukee’s new chamber group Musaik, and performing with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival and in Severance Hall. Mr. Helmers holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Juilliard.

Cindra Hokkannen Co-Director, Under the Big Top

An enthusiastic supporter and choral participant of the Music Festival since its first year, Cindra has been MC and Co-Director of the popular “Under The Big Top” Concert since 1999.

A Washington Island native, she brings her own special charm and is a favorite performer, whether it be at the Red Barn, in an Island Players production, singing at Trinity Lutheran Church as cantor or in choir, or teaming up with friend and fellow Islander Dan Hansen at the TPAC. Cindra is an active community member and has served on numerous local boards and committees, in addition to working full-time at the Sievers School of Fiber Arts.


Hanna Hurwitz, Violin  University at Buffalo
Washington Island Music Festival Hanna Hurwitz
Playing with “live-wire splendor” (The New York Times) violinist, Hanna Hurwitz, comes from a family of literary and performing artists. As a musician who equally enjoys performing classics of the repertoire as well as new music of our time, Hanna’s recent activities have included performances with the Ensemble Dal Niente, Argento Chamber Ensemble, Mivos Quartet, Lucerne Festival Academy, Eastman BroadBand, and Slee Sinfonietta. She has been a guest artist and member of resident chamber ensembles at international festivals such as the SoundSCAPE Festival in Italy, the Valencia International Performance Academy in Spain, the Ritsos Project in Greece, and the Festival Internacional Cervantino in Mexico.This past season, Hanna co-founded a new ensemble, the Zohn Collective. The group recorded its first CD in 2017 under the Oberlin Music label, recently performed as resident ensemble at the Festival de Mayo in Guadalajara, Mexico, and is booked in the upcoming season for various recordings and performances.

Hanna also enjoys an active and varied teaching career. She is currently on the faculty at the University at Buffalo where she is adjunct violin instructor and director of the UB Composer’s Ensemble. She is also on the faculty of Buffalo String Works, a non-profit organization that provides free violin lessons to children of refugee families. Previously, Hanna served as teaching assistant to Charles Castleman at the Eastman School of Music, and Academic Assistant to the Miro Quartet at the University of Texas at Austin. Hanna holds a Bachelor’s Degree and Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, a Master’s Degree from The University of Texas at Austin, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts with a minor in Performance Psychology from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Rochester.

Stefanie Jacob, Piano  Wisconsin Conservatory of Music
Pianist Stefanie Jacob made her solo debut with the Boston Pops at 17, and her Carnegie Recital Hall debut in 1984. An avid chamber musician, she was twice awarded second prize at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and was awarded Indiana University’s Leo Weiner Prize for Chamber Music. Ms. Jacob has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony, the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, and the Waukesha and Manitowoc symphonies, and has recorded for the Arundax, CRI, Fleur de son, and Wisconsin Conservatory of Music labels.

A graduate of Harvard and Indiana Universities, Ms. Jacob teaches at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where she is the founding pianist of the resident Prometheus Trio. She also performs as the Duo Coriolan with her cellist husband Scott Tisdel, and as the Duo Cosí with violinist Susan Waterbury.

Kathi O’Connor Director, Festival Chorus

Kathi O’Connor has participated in the Washington Island Music Festival as rehearsal choral accompanist or director since 1999.  She is also currently assisting with the music ministries of Trinity Lutheran Church, Washington Island, Stella Maris Catholic Community of Northern Door County and St. Norbert Abbey, DePere, Wisconsin.  She recently retired as a Deputy Clerk of Circuit Courts after 31 years with the Brown County Clerk of Courts in Green Bay, Wisconsin.



Marlee Sabo, Soprano  Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

Soprano Marlee Sabo is an Artist Faculty member of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where she received the first Faculty Honors Award in May of 2002. In May of 2018, Marlee received the Faculty of the Year Award from the Conservatory honoring her many years of Teaching Excellence. She is also the first faculty member to have a scholarship permanently endowed in her name. A recent honor for Marlee has been her induction into the Stark County Citizens Wall of Fame in the McKinley Museum and National Memorial in her hometown of Canton, Ohio. Marlee received a B.M. degree from Oberlin Conservatory and a M.M. degree, with honors, from Indiana University School of Music. She also was awarded a certificate from the Akademie Mozarteum in Salzburg and was a Fulbright Scholar in Stuttgart, Germany, receiving further grants from that country. Ms. Sabo has performed in Europe as soloist at the Salzburg Festival, the Stuttgart Staatstheater, and on German television. In the U.S. she has soloed with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (with whom she has also recorded), the Atlanta Lyric Opera, and at Chicago’s Grant Park. In Milwaukee she has appeared as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Florentine Opera, and the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, as well as performing solo art song recitals, premiering recently composed music, and singing in oratotios and chamber music. Along with Stephen Colburn, Marlee is co-founder of the Washington Island Music Festival.

Emmy Tisdel, Violin McGill University
Washington Island Music Festival Emmy Tisdel
Emmy Tisdel recently received a Masters of Music in violin performance from the Shepherd School at Rice University, and has also studied at Oberlin Conservatory.  Emmy is a founding member and the Social Media Manager of Austin Camerata, a new chamber music festival in Austin, Texas.  Emmy was the winner of the 2017 Walter A. and Dorothy J. Oestreich Concerto Competition, and performed with the Concord Chamber Orchestra in March 2017. For the past two years Emmy has had the pleasure of attending the Music Masters Course in Yokohama, Japan, and will return there this summer. She has been a member of the Washington Island Music Festival since 2011. Private teachers include David Bowlin, Samantha George, and Katie Brooks. During her studies, Emmy has the opportunity to work with artists including Jamie Laredo, Christian Tetzlaff, David Kim, Kathy Winkler, Ivo Van der Werff, and the Punch Brothers. She will be moving to Montreal this September to continue her studies at McGill University as a student of Jinjoo Cho.

Scott Tisdel, Cello  Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Current Associate Principal emeritus of the Milwaukee Symphony, Scott Tisdel served as associate principal of the MSO and principal cellist of the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra for his first 30 years in Milwaukee. He has appeared as soloist with both ensembles, as well as with the Waukesha and Manitowoc symphonies and the Wisconsin Wind Orchestra. Prior to his arrival in Milwaukee, Mr. Tisdel served as principal cellist of the Florida Orchestra (Tampa). He is the founding cellist of the Prometheus Trio, in residence at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music; he also performs classical/jazz/fusion with the Jason Seed Stringtet, and plays bass with the Little Lake Stompers.



Julie Thornton, Flute  Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Washington Island Music Festival Julie Thornton
Julie Duncan Thornton plays Flute and Piccolo with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and is the Flute Professor at the Lamont School of Music (University of Denver). She has also performed extensively with the New York Philharmonic, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Houston Symphony. Julie has performed in North America, South America, and Europe. A native of Mercer Island, Washington, Ms. Thornton holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University and has completed DMA coursework at Rice University. Her primary teachers include Walfrid Kujala, Bonita Boyd, Leone Buyse and Carol Wincenc. As a high school student, Julie was a finalist of the Seventeen Magazine and General Motors National Concerto Competition. In college, Julie performed with the Solti Orchestral Project at Carnegie Hall. Julie and Michael enjoy playing chamber music together and raising their two daughters.

Michael Thornton, Horn  Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Washington Island Music Festival Michael Thornton
Michael Thornton is recognized for his noble tone and his “sureness of technique that is truly amazing” (Fanfare Magazine). He enjoys a distinguished and varied career as an orchestral performer, chamber musician, soloist, and pedagogue, and has performed on six continents. Michael Thornton currently holds the position of Principal Horn with both the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony. He has performed, toured and recorded as a guest with the Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, KBS Symphony (South Korea), Toronto Symphony, and many others. Michael has been a featured performer at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Mainly Mozart, Spoleto, Moab Music Festival, Campos do Jordao (Brazil), Medellin Festicamara (Colombia), Reno Chamber Music Festival, and more. As a soloist, he has performed with the National Arts Center Orchestra (Canada), Cape Town Philharmonic (South Africa), Melbourne Chamber Orchestra (Australia), the New Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria), and many US orchestras. Michael Thornton is currently Associate Professor of Horn at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His students hold positions in orchestras throughout the United States and abroad, and have won numerous awards and competitions.

Claude Sim, Violin  Colorado Symphony Orchestra

Claude Sim enjoys a varied music career as an orchestral principal, chamber musician, and multi-genre performing artist. He joined the Colorado Symphony in 1999 and currently serves as Associate Concertmaster. He was formerly Associate Principal Second of the Baltimore Symphony, and has served as guest Concertmaster of the Kansas City Symphony, Principal Second of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa), and section violin with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Claude has collaborated with members of the Vermeer and Tokyo String Quartet, and performed as guest first violin and viola with the critically acclaimed Miró and Pacifica Quartets.

He is the solo violinist of Extasis, an Argentine tango ensemble with a studio album to their credit. He has shared the concert stage with Irish-American fiddler Eileen Ivers, guitarist Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule), and performed as a duo with banjo master Béla Fleck at the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

Guest Artists

Douglas Anderson, Baritone Chicago Music of the Baroque

Douglas Anderson has been a soloist for the Grace Lutheran Church Bach Cantata series in River Forest, IL since 1978. He has performed solo roles with Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, including the title role in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneus, Monteverdi’s Orfeo, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s B Minor Mass, St. Matthew Passion, and Cantata 82. Dr. Anderson has performed as baritone soloist with the Grant Park Festival, and the Apollo Chorus of Chicago. Additional solo appearances include Mahler, Symphony No. 8, Vaughan Williams, Five Mystical Songs, and Sea Symphony, and Brahms Requiem. In 2012, he was bass soloist for a presentation of Bach, Cantata 94 during the year-long 800th-anniversary celebration of St. Thomas Kirche in Leipzig. Dr. Anderson is Professor of Neurological Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center and Stritch School of Medicine and the 2010 winner of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Synthes Skull Base Surgery Award. He is an avid cross-country skier and completed the three day, 100 mile, 2013 Arctic Circle Ski Marathon in Greenland.

Alison Vernon, Soprano  Countryside Church, Palatine, IL
Washington Island Music Festival Alison Vernon
Soprano Alison Vernon is delighted to be participating in this year’s Washington Island Music Festival. She has sung opera, concerts, recitals, and oratorios in Europe and the United States. In addition to singing professionally, Alison teaches as well. Most recently, she taught at Northeastern Illinois University and before that at Central Methodist University. She has collaborated with Eric Ewazen and premiered his song cycle Summer Journey right here on Washington Island several years ago with her husband Charles on trombone and the composer at the keyboard. She and her husband own a million dollar view with a sweet little cottage on Wickman here on the island. When they can’t be here, they can usually be found in Glenview, IL. Alison is also Director of Music at Countryside Church in Palatine, IL.