Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa to lead free Masterclass March 24

Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa will present a free masterclass on Saturday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave. in Elgin.

The event, sponsored by S.E. Ainsworth & Family, and a project of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and Gail Borden Public Library, is free and open to the public.

Student musicians participating in the class are cellists Ernesto Bañuelos, performing Cello Concerto in B minor: Antonín Dvorák, I. Allegro; Trudie Childs, playing Sonate, opus. 8: Zoltán Kodály, I. Allegro maestoso ma appassionato; Jane Lin, performing Concerto No. 1, Op. 33: Camille Saint-Saëns and Raphael Maranon playing Cello Concerto in B minor: Antonín Dvorák, III. Finale.

The masterclass is part of educational programming offered by the ESO during Classics Series concert weeks.

On Wednesday, March 21, music lecturer and composer Jim Kendros will discuss the ESO's upcoming concerts at free Listeners Club events at 10:30 a.m. at Greenfields of Geneva and 1 p.m. at the Gail Borden Public Library.

Music director Andrew Grams will give a pre-concert chat before concerts March 24-25 that feature Brahms' Haydn Variations, Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations, and Elgar's Cello Concerto, performed by 2016 Sphinx Competition winner Thomas Mesa.

Concert tickets start at $30; student tickets are $12. Valet or free parking. To learn more, visit

Ernesto Bañuelos, 18, is currently a senior at Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville. He began cello lessons with Lisa Bressler in 2013 and this year is continuing his musical studies with Dr. Horacio Contreras at the Music Institute of Chicago. He has been a member of the EYSO for 4 years and a member of the Maud Powell String Quartet for the last 2 years. Last summer, Ernesto participated in Carnegie Hall's NYO2 program. At the end of the 3-week residency, performed alongside the Philadelphia Orchestra, Giancarlo Guerrero, and Esperanza Spalding at the Kimmel Center and Carnegie Hall. In the last couple of years, he has performed in masterclasses for Stefan Kartman, Dmitry Kouzov, Anthony Arnone and John Sharp. Recently, he won the $150 prize at the Rockford Symphony Concerto Competition. He also won his high school orchestra's competition, where he looks forward to performing the Dvorak Concerto in May. Besides playing music, Ernesto also interns at the engineering company Northrop Grumman, where he is working on programming a practice tool app with the $250 budget he was given.

Trudie Childs, 16, is a sophomore at St. Charles East High School. She has been studying the cello since age 10 and is currently a private student of Larry Glazier. She is an active member of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra having come up through the ranks of the Prelude, Sinfonia, and Philharmonia orchestras before becoming a member of the Youth Symphony in 2016. Trudie won the EYSO Young Artist Concerto Competition and performed the Lalo Cello Concerto with the orchestra in March 2016. Earlier this month she performed the Kabalevsky Cello Concerto as the winner of the 2018 competition. This is her fourth season as a member of the Chamber Music Institute. She has been an ILMEA participant at the district level (District 9) since sixth grade and most recently performed as a member of the All-State Honors Orchestra under the direction of Jeffrey Grogan at the IMEC conference in Peoria. She also performed in a masterclass with Carter Brey. She is a section leader in her high school's Chamber Orchestra and a member of the Bel Canto choir. Trudie enjoys singing and performing with her sisters as The Catalpa Trio. She plans to pursue cello performance in college.

Jane Lin, 14, is a student at Naperville North High School. She began playing the piano when she was 4 and the violin when she was in fifth grade. At the age of 11, she began to play the cello. Jane found a great interest in this instrument. She has participated in ILMEA for two years and she is now the principal cellist of DuPage Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Raphael Maranon is a junior at Niles West High School in Skokie. He began playing cello in fourth grade and now studies with Nazar Dzhuryn, cellist of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. He is also part of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra and their chamber music program. Maranon is extremely active in the Niles West Music Department where he plays principal cello in the Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Musical Theatre Orchestra, and has been featured as a soloist on many concerts district wide. Maranon also has worked with Dr. Raymond Harvey and Dr. Mallory Thompson both in ensemble and solo capacities. Outside of music, Maranon enjoys reading, watching plays, and hang out with friends.

Thomas Mesa, Cuban-American cellist, is quickly establishing himself as one of the most charismatic and versatile performers of his generation with a wide variety of solo engagements across the United States. Thomas is a Winner of the Astral Artists Auditions (2017), the Sphinx Competition (2016), Thaviu Competition for String Performance (2013), and the Alhambra Orchestra Concerto Competition (2006). Concerto engagements for this season and future seasons include The Cleveland Orchestra, The LA Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl, Erie Chamber Orchestra, Firelands Symphony, and Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Recent recital engagements, past and present, include the Mainly Mozart Festival, Nantucket Musical Arts Society, Bargemusic, Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, Columbia University, Carnegie Hall, The Supreme Court of The United States, The Heifetz Institute, Meadowmount School of Music, Strad for Lunch Series in NYC, International Beethoven Project, Perlman Music Program Alumni Recital as well as universities across the United States

As an enthusiastic interpreter of music for choir and cello, Thomas was one of the featured instrumentalists on The Crossing Choir's album called "Bonhoeffer" that was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2017. Led by Donald Nally, this multiple award-winning ensemble has invited Thomas as the featured soloist at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Longwood Gardens, The Winter Garden (broadcast on WNYC) and the Theological Seminary in New York City. Additionally, Thomas and The Crossing Choir collaborated on the American Premiere of "Astralis" (Choir and Solo Cello) composed by Wolfgang Rihm, one of the most important composers of this generation. (Thomas will perform again as soloist with a choir at the Washington National Cathedral in March, 2018.)

As a chamber musician, Thomas has toured with Itzhak Perlman both nationally and internationally and is a member of St. Petersburg Piano Quartet who are in high demand for the most important series in America. The quartet has played sold out concerts at Barge Music, Doheny Mansion, Kohl Mansion, Music Mountain, and Flagler Museum in Palm Beach. In other settings, he has collaborated with world-class artists such as Roger Tapping, Paul Katz, Andres Diaz, and Joseph Silverstein.

Thomas is in high demand as a teaching artist for his innate ability to connect with students and teach them to teach themselves. Being a late starter on cello, Thomas had to learn to play the cello quickly and efficiently in order to catch up to his peers. Future and past masterclasses include institutions such as Northwestern University, Boston Conservatory, Walnut Hill School for the Arsts, U.C Berkeley, University of Nevada - Las Vegas, University of Miami, and Meadowmount School of Music. Thomas has held faculty positions at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Montecito International Music Festival, St. Petersburg International Music Academy, The Mozart Academy at John Jay College in New York, and Manhattan School of Music where he currently teaches through the Long Distance Learning Program.

Thomas' orchestral experience, and leadership experience, has been for the Northwestern Symphony Orchestra and their Contemporary Music Ensemble. During his time in school, he performed under the batons of James Levine, Tan Dun, David Afkham, Alan Gilbert, James Conlon, Nicholas McGegan, Ludovic Morlot, Franz Welser-Most, Joel Sachs, Benjamin Zander, Victor Yampolsky, Donald Nally, and Timothy J. Robblee.

Thomas is a graduate of The Juilliard School (B.M. 2012) where he received various scholarships; and Northwestern University (M.M. 2014) where he was the recipient of the Richard and Helen Thomas Fellowship and Graduate Program Honors for extraordinary contributions to the String Department. Currently, he is a doctoral candidate at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City where he studies with Julia Lichten. His principal teachers have been Timothy Eddy, Hans Jorgen Jensen, Mark Churchill, Ross Harbaugh, and Wells Cunningham. Thomas plays on a Richard Tobin cello dated 1820.

Jim Kendros' goal is to make each presentation exciting, educational and entertaining. As a well-known public speaker in the Chicagoland area, he has lectured for corporations, community centers, libraries, senior facilities, and groups of all kinds. In addition to leading the ESO Listeners Club, Kendros is the pre-concert lecturer for the Lake Forest Symphony and the Northbrook Symphony. He is also a composer and performer on piano and rare period instruments. He also played guitar in a rock band many years ago. For more information, visit

Now in its 67th season, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. The ESO has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year an unprecedented four times - in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016. The ESO strives to create an enjoyable entertainment experience that goes beyond the magnificent music performed by some of the best musicians in the region.

Before concerts, area musicians often perform in the lobby, and patrons can buy drinks at the bar and purchase gifts at the Elgin Symphony League Boutique. Pre-concert chats are given by Music Director Andrew Grams, guest artists and others one hour before most performances, and Saturday night patrons are invited after concerts to Mingle with the Musicians at area restaurants. In addition, free Listeners Club discussions presented by music historian Jim Kendros are offered in Geneva and Elgin on Wednesdays before ESO Classics Series concert weekends. Flex passes are available for purchase so that you can choose your concerts at a later date based on your own schedule. And if a patron can't make a concert, the ESO offers free exchanges to subscribers and to single ticket buyers for a small fee. There is accessible, free parking around the Hemmens Cultural Center and valet service available.

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra is a world-class orchestra providing quality musical explorations that are entertaining, hassle-free and conveniently located close to home in the western suburbs. Get to Know Your ESO!

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