Rebecca Smithorn is the Education Conductor of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and the Artistic Director of Ensemble 4-33.
Ms. Smithorn recently created The Listening Lab, an orchestral concert series that teaches young audiences listening skills based in mindfulness techniques and research in music cognition. Described as "interesting and ingenious," that program received full support from the Peabody Dean's Incentive Grant and was selected for the Johns Hopkins Social Innovation Cohort. As Education Conductor of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, she is bringing The Listening Lab to schools throughout the Baltimore area.
As a pianist, Ms. Smithorn has given solo, chamber, and lecture performances at the Steinway Recital Hall of St. Louis, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, the Diastole Scholars Center, the Brevard Music Festival, and the Eastman School of Music, among others. She has served as a teaching artist with MyCincinnati and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids, two music education programs for underserved communities.
Ms. Smithorn was the founder and conductor of Ad Hoc, an award-winning chamber ensemble which was nominated as a "Maverick Classical Music Ensemble" on ArtsJournal's Sandow.
She has been a finalist for fellowships with the New World Symphony Orchestra and the Chautauqua Institute and was nominated for the Conductor's Guild Thelma A. Robinson Award, a biennial award for promising young conductors. She has received career development awards from the Rislov Foundation in Ann Arbor, the Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester, and the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust in New York City.
Ms. Smithorn completed graduate studies in orchestral conducting at the Peabody Conservatory, where she studied with Marin Alsop and Markand Thakar.
Sam Bessen, Director of Outreach and Community Engagement
Director of Outreach and Community Engagement
A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Sam Bessen is an accomplished horn performer and teacher in Baltimore, Maryland.
Bessen is currently working on his Master of Music degree in Horn Performance at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University, where he studies with Denise Tryon. There he is a member of the Marquee Brass Quintet, which recently toured in a weeklong residency in El Paso, Texas, as part of the Peabody Young Artist Development program. Marquee Brass was subsequently invited to develop another residency in Mesa, Arizona in April of 2017. Bessen also performed a lecture with the ensemble as part of TEDxJHU 2016 (more can be found at marqueebrass.com).
Bessen earned his Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Denver, where he studied with Susan McCullough. While in Denver, Bessen served as principal horn of the Pueblo Symphony Orchestra and fourth horn in the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra for their 2014-15 seasons. Other orchestras he appeared with include the Stratus Chamber Orchestra, the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra, the Parker Symphony Orchestra, the Boulder Symphony Orchestra, the Lone Tree Symphony Orchestra, and the Denver Pops Orchestra. Bessen also performed frequently with the Denver Brass, including a performance with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble in 2014.
Bessen was a finalist in the T. Gordon Parks Collegiate Concerto Competition, and the winner of the Western Horn Workshop’s Solo Competition in 2014.
As a performer, Bessen seeks to bring together performer and audience in engaging and innovative recitals often featuring new and obscure works for horn. He recently performed an acclaimed recital at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He can be heard in the Peabody Symphony Orchestra's recordings with Marin Alsop of works by Kevin Puts and Aaron Kernis, as well as in John Steinmetz' "Three Pieces for Ten Winds" with the Mill Avenue Chamber Players and the Pacific Arts Woodwind Quintet.