Cello Celebration Artists & Clinicians

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Special Honoree:

Bill and Linda Wharton
Cellist Biographies:
Efe BaltacigilJohn Michel | Tom Walworth
Pianist Biographies:
Anne Schilperoort | Barbara Balatero | Jessica Choe
Conductor Biography:
Nikolas Caoile
Vocalist Biography:
Gayla Blaisdell
Past Honorees:
Páll Gröndal, Raymond Davis, Cordelia Wikarski-Miedel, Ray Carlsen, David Tonkonogui

Bill and Linda Wharton have been performing as duo recitalists extensively throughout the United States for many years. One of the most unique abilities of these artists is their ability to perform the most advanced repertoire on cello or piano, accompanying each other. Linda attended Interlocken Arts Academy and the University of Arizona under the instruction of world renowned pedagogue and teacher, Gordon Epperson. Bill studied with Gordon Epperson from high school and received his DMA from the University of Arizona. Since settling in Moscow, Idaho in 1974, both have been a strong musical force in the Palouse region and beyond. Many of their students have gone on to professional careers throughout the country. Bill is recently retired from the University of Idaho but is continuing to teach cello and bass as an adjunct professor. He also maintains an active and flourishing studio in Boise, Idaho. Linda has served as principal cello of the Washington- Idaho Symphony, the Spokane Symphony, and is active in teaching Suzuki cello.

Linda Wharton, cello soloist, teacher and pianist from Moscow, Idaho.  A graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, she has a Bachelor of Music from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.  Cello teachers have included Dr. Gordon Epperson, Leopold Taraspulsky and Dr. William Wharton.  She has been a member of regional , community and festival orchestras throughout the U.S., including 35 years as principal cellist of the Washington-Idaho Symphony.

        Linda is a registered Suzuki Teacher and has had a large studio.  She and her cellist husband received the Moscow Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts Education for their innovative program to introduce pre-schoolers to the cello.

She performs with William Wharton as the Wharton Duo, displaying versatility on the cello and piano.

Efe Baltacigil

“[A] cellist of superb nuances and spontaneous musicality” (The Seattle Times).

Principal Cello of the Seattle Symphony since fall 2011, Baltacıgil was previously Associate Principal Cello of The Philadelphia Orchestra since 2003. Recent highlights include his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle, performing Bottesini’s Duo Concertante alongside his brother Fora; performances of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with the Bilkent Symphony and the Seattle Symphony; and Brahms’ Double Concerto with violinist Juliette Kang and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.

Baltacıgil performed a Brahms Sextet with Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman and Jessica Thompson at Carnegie Hall, and has participated in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project. He has also performed the Schumann Cello Concerto with the Curtis Chamber Orchestra, has toured with the group Musicians from Marlboro, and is a member of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society II.

Named String Player of the Year in Turkey in 2013, Baltacıgil has also received the Peter Jay Sharp Prize, the Washington Performing Arts Society Prize, and first prizes in concerto competitions in Istanbul and New York, as well as in the Allentown (Pennsylvania) Schadt String Competition. He was the winner of the 2005 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and received an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2006.

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Baltacıgil started studying the violin at age 5 and changed to the cello at age 7. He received his bachelor’s degree from Mimar Sinan University Conservatory in Istanbul in 1998 and an artist diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 2002, where he studied with Peter Wiley and David Soyer. He was a recipient of the Curtis Institute’s Jacqueline du Pré Scholarship.

photo © Christian Steiner

Tom WalworthTom Walworth  

Tom Walworth, composer, teaches orchestra and guitar for the Federal Way Public Schools at Thomas Jefferson High School and Sequoyah Middle School. He is the principal cellist for the Rainier Symphony and serves as a cello coach for the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association. He has studied with Cordelia Wikarski-Miedel, Hamilton Cheifetz, and performed in a master class with Janos Starker. He received his BA in Music Education and his MA in Teaching from the University of Puget Sound. Tom is also a published composer of choral music and lives in Des Moines with his wife, Ellen, their son, and their two cats.

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Pianist Jessica Choe began her musical studies at the age of 3 in her native Korea where she was a prize winner in several national piano competitions including the Samick National Piano Competition, the Korea Daily Times Piano Competition and the Korean Department of Education Music Competition.  After immigrating to the US at the age of nine, she performed throughout the continental United States in such halls as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, Lincoln Center and the Barns at Wolf Trap. 

Jessica has won numerous awards in the US including the Beethoven Society of America Piano Competition, the Baldwin Competition, the Henbest Piano Competition, the Bartok-Kabelevsky International Piano Competition and the Steinway Society Piano Competition.  She was a finalist in the National Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition in 1996 and 1998.  Jessica is also the recipient of the 2004 Presser Foundation Career Development Award. 

In the 2003, Jessica made her European debut at Fondation Bemberg in Toulouse, France, and her New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall, both under the auspices of La Gesse Foundation.  Jessica has performed solo recitals in France, Italy, Switzerland, San Marino in such halls as Teatro Concordia, I Tatti, and Salle Frank Martin.   As an avid chamber musician, she has performed with members of Kennedy Center Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony and Seattle Symphony. 

She frequently performs on the Chamber Music Series of the Seattle Symphony,  Music of Remembrance, as well as Vashon Chamber Series.   As a soloist, she has performed with Peabody Orchestra, Whatcom Symphony, Beethoven Society Orchestra, Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic amongst others.

She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Herbert Stessin, Benjamin Pasternack and Eleanor Sokoloff.   

Anne Schilperoort
Anne Schilperoort has been heralded by music critics as a '"sensitive accompanist", a "pianist of great versatility", and a "congenial partner".   With a BMusic from the University of Victoria and a MM in accompaniment from USC, she established an accompanying program at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Anne has studied piano with Gwendolyn Koldofsky, Brooks Smith, and Dr. Robin Wood.   As a freelance artist in Toronto, Ontario   Anne served as accompanist for the famous Amadeus Choir, worked with the Canadian Opera Company, and played for numerous young artists. She has toured most of the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and Germany in Chamber Music Concerts.  Two unique concert tours have taken her to Saudi Arabia and Romania as well.   Anne now resides in Yakima, Washington with her husband and three children.  She serves as professor of piano at Yakima Valley Community College and is principal pianist with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra.

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Nikolas Caoile

Nikolas Caoile is a conductor, pianist, and music educator. Currently, he is Music Director and Conductor of the Wenatchee Valley Symphony Orchestra, and Director of Orchestras at Central Washington University. In 2016, Caoile was appointed Associate Chair and Graduate Coordinator. He served as the Conductor and Artistic Director of the Salem Chamber Orchestra from 2012-2016. He has guest conducted many other orchestras including: Philharmonic Orchestral of the Americas, Lake Union Civic Orchestra, Northwest Mahler Festival Orchestra, Rainier Symphony, Yakima Symphony, Gig Harbor Symphony, Lake Avenue Orchestra, and the Olympia Symphony. He made his New York City debut in 2009 conducting the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas in collaboration with the Christopher Wheeldon's Morphoses Dance Company at New York City Center. Caoile has participated at the Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music where he worked with Marin Alsop and Gustav Meier. In the 2016-2017 season, Caoile will guest conduct Auburn Symphony, Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers (OSSCS), and the Idaho All-State Orchestra.

A passionate believer in music education for all ages, Caoile has led numerous educational and community engagement concerts including the Alaska and Indiana All-State Orchestras, the Washington All-State Jr. Orchestra as well as many regional honor orchestras in Washington, Montana, Alaska, Arizona, Oregon and Indiana. In 2016, Caoile received the Outstanding Orchestral Achievement Award from the Washington Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Caoile regularly presents clinics at National Association for Music Educators Regional and State Conferences and has served as a presenter for Seattle Symphony Pre-concert Talk series. Caoile is conductor of several orchestra festivals and workshops including the Kairos Lyceum, Icicle Creek Summer Symphony, and the Orchestra Leadership Workshop at CWU.

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Dr. Gayla Bauer Blaisdell, Associate Professor of Voice and Opera, joined the faculty of Central Washington University in 2008 and became the Vocal Area Coordinator two years later in 2010. She has a vibrant studio of aspiring singers and directs the nationally award-winning CWU Opera Ensemble. In addition to teaching Dr. Blaisdell has sung in many major New York City venues including Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall, and Symphony Space. Dr. Blaisdell has appeared multiple times at Benaroya Hall in Seattle as a soloist and performs regularly with regional orchestras in the Pacific Northwest. Favorite performances include the Verdi Requiem, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and excerpts from Tristan und Isolde.  She often appears with the CWU ensembles to premiere contemporary works and collaborates with colleagues from CWU and around the country in recitals. Dr. Blaisdell’s recording of songs by Elaine Ross and Stephen Paulus is available in digital format from the major online retailers and in CD form from the artist. Along with opera, concert and recital appearances, Dr. Blaisdell is highly sought after as a clinician and adjudicator.

Dr. Blaisdell holds a Ph.D in Vocal Performance from New York University. She has established herself as a scholar in feminist theory and opera presenting her work at national and regional venues since the completion of her dissertation in the field. She holds a Graduate Diploma in Opera and a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory and a Bachelors Degree in Voice and a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music. Dr. Blaisdell also trained at the Steans Institute at Ravinia, Tanglewood, Opera North, the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Italy and Dorian Opera Theater. 

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Barbara BalateroBarbara Balatero graduated from Oberlin Conservatory with a Bachelors Degree in Cello Performance and a Masters of Music in Teaching where she studied cello with Andor Toth. Between 1974 and 1976 she served as a US Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador, playing in the National Symphony, teaching cello and starting the Suzuki Program in the National Music School.

Barbara maintains a large private studio of Suzuki students in Seattle, and is the Director of the “Japan-Seattle Suzuki Institute”.  She is a registered Teacher Trainer of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and is a cello student of Rajan Krishnaswami.   

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 John MichelJohn Michel enjoys his career as a teacher, chamber musician and soloist.  More recently, in several recitals, he performed for memory all of the six Bach Cello Suites.  He was one of seven cellists featured at the First Kobe International Cello Festival, Japan in 2001, where he gave a solo recital and a master class.  At the World Cello Congress III, he gave the world premiere of the Solo Sonata “Othmar” by Maria Newman.  In addition to regular solo recitals, he has performed with orchestras the Dvorak, Shostakovich, Haydn D, Elgar, Tchaikovsky “Rococo”, Brahms Double and Beethoven Triple Concertos, much of which one can hear at He is founder of the Internet Cello Society (, a cyber-community of cellists, which currently has over 14,000 members representing 84 different countries.

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