(ST. LOUIS)  The St. Louis Symphony is pleased to announce the appointments of several new members of the orchestra.  All will be joining the Symphony for the 2014-2015 seaosn.

Jelena Dirks will serve as the St. Louis Symphony’s Principal Oboe.  Jelena is the third generation of professional female musicians in her family. A San Diego native, she grew up listening to her mother, now retired Chicago Symphony violist Karen Dirks, practicing excerpts.  Jelena took up the piano at age 5, which had the added benefit of giving her mother a free accompanist.  As a youth she spent her hours dancing and playing the piano, until at age 11, she ceaselessly begged her parents for an oboe when her soon-to-be first oboe teacher told her “she would make a perfect oboist.” 

Jelena is on the faculty of DePaul University where she teaches both piano and oboe and is the woodwind coordinator.  She is highly sought after as both a teacher and performer and has performed with virtually every major musical group in Chicago, including Lyric Opera, the Chicago Philharmonic, and five years of regular performances, tours, and recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  She plays chamber music whenever possible, most often as the oboist for the critically acclaimed Prairie Winds Quintet, and is a frequent guest artist on the CSO Chamber Music Series, and with the Chicago Chamber Musicians.

David Kim has been named new Assistant Principal Cello.  A native of Dallas, Texas, David started playing the cello at the age of four. After deciding to pursue a career in music, he went on to receive his Bachelors & Masters degrees from The Juilliard School. While at Juilliard on full scholarship, he studied with Harvey Shapiro. Other teachers included Ronald Leonard, Stephen Geber and David Finckel. During his time in New York, Kim performed various solo and chamber concerts at Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall and at the Kosciusko Foundation for the Violoncello Society of New York. He also served as Principal Cellist of the Juilliard Orchestra and with the New York String Orchestra under Jaime Laredo.

David joined the St. Louis Symphony in 1999, appointed by the late Hans Vonk.  Recent chamber music performances outside of Powell Hall include concerts at the Pulitzer Foundation, Saint Louis Art Museum, Innsbrook Institute and Sheldon Concert Hall. David also works extensively with the Community Music School of Webster University and the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. 

Jonathan Chu is the St. Louis Symphony’s new Assistant Principal Viola.  Jonathan Chu has been a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra viola section since the start of the 2013-2014 season. Distinguished in chamber and orchestral music, he performs on both violin and viola. As a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra's viola section, he toured throughout Asia and Europe, and he has performed with many other ensembles including ECCO, the St Louis Symphony and Santa Fe Opera orchestras as a violinist, the Juilliard Orchestra as concertmaster, and the St. Paul and Orpheus chamber orchestras as guest principal. Mr. Chu has performed chamber music with the Musicians from Marlboro and in Caramoor's "Rising Stars" series. With the Fader Piano Quartet, he was a prizewinner at the Coleman Competition in Pasadena, CA. He is also a founding member of the Io String Quartet.

Mr. Chu has attended festivals including Marlboro, Yellow Barn, and Taos, and has recorded with rock band Vampire Weekend as both violinist and violist. Mr. Chu attended Vanderbilt University, where he graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of music degree along with a second major in economics, and received his master's degree at the Juilliard School, where he studied with Robert Mann. He plays on a violin made in 1823 by Nicolas Lupot, a gift from his former teacher Marianne Pashler, and a viola made in 2004 by Hiroshi Iizuka.

Amanda Stewart is the St. Louis Symphony’s new Associate Principal Trombone.  Amanda has performed with numerous orchestras.  She was most recently principal trombone of the San Antonio Symphony, a post she’d held since 2004.  She was associate principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic for two seasons (2009-2011), assistant principal trombonist of the Lyric Opera of San Antonio from 2005-2009, and has also played with the Baltimore, Boston, Houston, Kansas City, National, North Carolina, and Toronto Symphonies.  

 As a soloist, Amanda has performed with the San Antonio Symphony and the Deep Creek Symphony in McHenry, Maryland.   She is a member of the San Antonio Brass Quintet, which performs throughout Southern Texas, presenting educational outreach programs.  Amanda has also toured with the critically acclaimed Burning River Brass.  She can be heard on the recording Slide Partners: 100 Years of American Trombone Virtuosity, Arthur Pryor and Joseph Alessi, on which she performed in the trombone quartet segment. 

Amanda is currently on faculty at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.  She has also taught privately at several other universities, namely Our Lady of the Lake University, St. Mary’s University, and Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.  A native of Oakland, Maryland, she began playing the trombone at the age of six. Amanda received her bachelor of music degree from The Juilliard School in 2004, studying with Joseph Alessi.   She is an Edwards artist, performing on Edwards trombones.

The St. Louis Symphony is also proud to announce the appointments of four new section musicians for the 2014-2015 season:

Christopher Dwyerhorn.   Chris Dwyer previously served as Second Horn for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Principal Horn for the Sarasota Opera Orchestra.  He has frequently performed as a guest with many orchestras including the Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Malaysian, and Kansas City symphony orchestras. Chris participated in Deutsche Grammophon studio recording projects with both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Pierre Boulez and with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nezet-Seguin.  Chris has performed in many music festivals including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Santa Fe Opera, Music from Angel Fire, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival at Yale University, and the National Repertory Orchestra.   Chris received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music where he was a student of Eli Epstein. He also studied with Dale Clevenger while serving as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Julie Thayer, horn.  A native of Atlanta, Julie Thayer has previously held positions with the Houston Symphony and Harrisburg Symphony, and has been a regular guest with many others, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, and Atlanta Symphony. Most recently she was acting Fourth horn with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel, with whom she collaborated on multiple recordings and tours. Julie graduated from the Eastman School of Music, studying under Peter Kurau, and later worked with William Ver Meulen at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. She was an inaugural recitalist at the Kennedy Center's Conservatory Series, and was a winner in the International Horn Society's 2004 orchestral competition. She has also been a frequent guest artist or participant at many leading summer festivals, including Mainly Mozart, La Jolla Summer Fest, Breckenridge Music Festival, the National Orchestra Institute, and the Music Academy of the West.  Julie plays a custom-made horn by Dan Rauch. 

Xi Zhangviola.  Ms. Zhang was born in Hubei province, China.  She has frequently participated in the Verbier Music Festival in Switzerland, Schleswig Holstein Music Festival in Germany, Pacific Music Festival in Japan, Tanglewood, Spoleto Music Festival, and New York String Seminar.  Ms. Zhang completed her bachelor degree with Ms. Martha Katz, and her master and graduate diploma with Ms. Kim Kashkashian at New England Conservatory.

Chris Tantillo, viola.  Chris Tantillo, originally from Long Island, NY, began playing the violin at the age of seven. He switched to the viola in high school while attending the Interlochen Arts Academy, where he studied with David Holland. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Stanley Konopka, and continued his graduate work there as a student of Robert Vernon.  After school, Chris was invited to join the New World Symphony, in Miami Beach, FL, under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas. The following year he spent playing with the San Diego Symphony and, since 2006, has been playing with the St. Louis Symphony.  He has spent past summers as a member of the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, CO, at the Aspen Music Festival and school, as a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Festival, where he received the viola award for excellence in performance, and most recently playing with the Colorado Music Festival. An avid chamber musician and teacher, Chris performs regularly with the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis, and maintains a private teaching studio.