Rutgers String Day





**Registration is closed**

2018 Participating Schools:

Coming soon

Rutgers String Day is a brand-new event coordinated by Dr. Elena Chernova-Davis that will bring together the most advanced high school chamber orchestras from the tri-county area for a day of playing, fun, and learning at Mason Gross School of the Arts' Nicholas Music Center. Some highlights of the day are:

• Compete in an adjudicated program
• Receive comments from a panel of judges
Participate in clinic sessions and workshops from our Faculty and D'Addario Strings
• Perform on the final concert led by Director of Orchestras at Mason Gross, Maestro Kynan Johns


 All orchestras will receive comments and feedback from our panel of judges and have an opportunity to participate in an educational clinic with Mason Gross faculty. All groups will have an opportunity to perform directly under the baton of Maestro Kynan Johns in a joint performance of the orchestras at the final concert.

Registration procedure:

  • REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED. We have enough space for 5-7 orchestras and participation will be on a first come first serve basis.

We understand that planning a trip with your students takes time and planning. School orchestra directors should contact Dr. Elena Chernova Davis  at with any questions you may have.




• Schedule coming soon

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• A substantial movement from a major work for String Orchestra that is six to nine minutes in length
• The piece to be performed together at the final concert: The Simple Symphony, Op. 4 by Benjamin Britten (please click on the links below for bowings and markings)
*Coming Soon*

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Kynan Johns       Jonathan Spitz        Dr. Elena Chernova-Davis        

Daniel Panner        Craig Mumm        Brennan Sweet 

Yoon Kwon            Bradley Aikman



KYNAN JOHNS, Guest Conductor

Kynan Johns is the Area Coordinator of the Strings Program, Director of Orchestras, Orchestral Conducting, Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, HELIX!, and Sinfonia here at Mason Gross School of the Arts. Kynan Johns combines his position as director of orchestras at Rutgers University with being director assistente at the Palau de les Arts, Reina Sofia, Valencia, Spain, to Maestros Maazel and Mehta. A native of Australia, Johns has conducted orchestras throughout the world, including among many others, the Israel Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Chinese National Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Symphony, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. In the field of opera he has conducted at La Scala, Maazel’s 1984 and Don Giovanni, Madame Butterfly and Don Carlos in Valencia, working with Domingo, Frittoli, Wyn-Rogers and Koerl. Johns has been the recipient of prizes in international conducting competitions such as the Dimitris Mitropoulos International Conducting competition and the Maazel/Vilar Conducting competition. The Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, under Johns, released their first commercial CD of Flagello’s Saxophone Quartet Concerto under the Naxos label in 2006.

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JONATHAN SPITZ, Faculty - Cello

Jonathan Spitz is the Area Coordinator of the Strings Program and has been the Cello Professor on the Mason Gross Faculty since 2002. He has performed in the New York area as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral principal. He has been principal cello of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra since 1991, and tours internationally as a member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, where he also serves as co-artistic director. He performs as principal cellist of the American Ballet Theater Orchestra and the American Symphony Orchestra at the Bard Music Festival.

Spitz has appeared as a soloist with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions, including performances of the cello concertos of Schumann, Dvorák and Haydn, Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations, as well as Brahms’ Double Concerto with NJSO Concertmaster Eric Wyrick. He has also performed frequently as a soloist with Orpheus, the Riverside Sinfonia, and Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic.

An active chamber musician, Spitz was a participant at the Marlboro Music Festival and has performed with artists such as Rudolf Serkin, Benita Valente, Felix Galimir, and Oscar Shumsky. He also was a founding member of the Leonardo Trio, and toured and recorded extensively with that ensemble. He serves on the artist faculties of the Brevard Music Center and Sommer Sinfonie in Valdres, Norway. A graduate of the Curtis Institute, he was a student of David Soyer. Spitz has recorded for Deutsche Grammaphon, EMI, Decca, Nonesuch, and Blue Note, among others. He performs on a cello by Grubaugh and Seifert from 2011.

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DR. ELENA CHERNOVA-DAVIS, Event Coordinator & Faculty- Violin

Dr. Chernova-Davis is a current Violin Professor at Mason Gross School of the Arts. Prizewinner of the Aleksander Glazunov International Competition (Paris), Dr. Elena Chernova-Davis has enjoyed a career as soloist, chamber musician, and concertmaster in her native Uzbekistan and throughout the United States. After graduating with honors as a full-scholarship student from the Tashkent State Conservatory, she came to the United States to continue her studies with soloist Elmar Oliveira and first violinist of the Vermeer Quartet Shmuel Ashkenasi. She is a recipient of the Irene Alm Memorial Award for excellence in performance and scholarly research and has worked with conductors such as Bernard Haitink, Esa Pekka-Salonen, and Jeffrey Tate as principal second of the Chicago Civic Orchestra and as a member of Florida Grand Opera, Artosphere Festival Orchestra, and Princeton Symphony. As a passionate and dedicated teacher her philosophy is to guide development and tailor an individual approach to each student that encourages growth, curiosity and motivation.

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BRENNAN SWEET, Faculty - Violin

Born in New York City, Brennan Sweet began violin studies at two years of age in Edmonton, Alberta. In 1977 he studied violin at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. Sweet earned a bachelor of music degree from Indiana University, and served for three years as teaching assistant to Distinguished Professor Emeritus Josef Gingold before joining the faculty for another two years as a lecturer. Concertmaster of several orchestras during his time in Indiana, including the Evansville Philharmonic and Owensboro Symphony Orchestras, Sweet was also a founding member of the Evansville String Quartet. He performed two seasons as assistant concertmaster of the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder under Maestro Giora Bernstein, and in 1994 he won the position of associate concertmaster with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Subsequently, he led the orchestra for three seasons as acting concertmaster under Maestro Zdenek Macal. Sweet was a founding member of the Mostly Mozart at Monteux Festival in Hancock, Maine, and has served as coach and performer at the Raphael Trio Chamber Music workshop in New Hampshire and ASTANJ's Chamber Music Institute. After holding the position of concert artist faculty member at Kean University for seven years, Sweet began teaching at the Mason Gross Extension Division at Rutgers University in 2013. In 2015 he was invited to join the collegiate faculty at the Mason Gross School. 

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YOON KWON, Faculty - Violin

Winning the New Jersey Symphony Young Artists Auditions at the age of 13 (the youngest in the history of the competition), violinist Yoon Kwon began her professional career as a 13-year-old joining the roster of IMG Artists, and subsequently made her New York debut at age 17 at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, performing the Stravinsky Violin Concerto. Since then, she has performed extensively with major orchestras on five continents, such as the Cologne and Warsaw philharmonics, and the California, Cincinnati, Colorado, El Paso, Houston, Honolulu, New Jersey, New Mexico, Phoenix, St. Louis, Wichita and Vancouver symphonies. Eminent conductors with whom she has collaborated are Alan Gilbert, James Conlon, Lawrence Foster, Paavo Jarvi, Sirgiu Commisiona, among others.

An avid chamber musician, Kwon has collaborated with Andras Schiff, Cho-Liang Lin, David Soyer, Felix Galamir, Fred Sherry, Joseph Silverstein, Lynn Harrell, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, Paul Neubauer, Robert McDuffe, Richard Stolzman, members of the Juilliard, Guarneri, Emerson and Orion String Quartets, among others, numerous festival appearances inside Marlboro, Verbier, Tanglewood, Kuhmo, Rome, Aspen, La Jolla, Spoleto, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festivals, to name a few. She also gave numberous chamber music performances in New York as a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center II between 2006 and 2009. As a recitalist, she has performed in more than 100 cities, and toured extensively under CAMI with her sister, pianist Min Kwon. Kwon made her Carnegie Hall recital debut in 2008. 

Kwon holds her bachelor of music, master of music and artist diploma from the Juilliard School. A protege of Dorothy DeLay for over a decade starting from the age of 8, Kwon also studied with Cho-Liang Lin and Donald Weilerstein. In 2013, she marked her eighth season as a member of the first violin section with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

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DANIEL PANNER, Faculty - Viola

Daniel is currently a Viola Professor at Mason Gross School of the Arts. Daniel Panner enjoys a varied career as a performer and teacher. As violist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, he concertized extensively throughout the United States and Israel. He has performed at numerous music festivals, including Marlboro, Ravinia, Tanglewood, and Aspen, and he has collaborated with members of the Cleveland, Emerson, Guarneri, and Juilliard String Quartets. As a member of the Whitman String Quartet, Panner received the 1998 Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award and served as teaching assistant to the Juilliard String Quartet for two years. He has taught at the Juilliard School, the Mannes College of Music, SUNY Stonybrook, and Queens College, and he has given master classes at such schools as Peabody, Hartt, and the North Carolina School of the Arts. He has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Orchestra of St. Lukes; he has also toured with musicians from Marlboro and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. As a guest artist, he has performed with the Juilliard String Quartet, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Daedelus String Quartet, the Flux String Quartet, and the Moscow Conservatory Trio. Panner has been heard on National Public Radio's "Performance Today," both as soloist and chamber musician. He has served as the principal violist of such orchestras as the New York City Opera and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra. An active performer of new music, he is a member of Sequitur and the Locrian Ensemble and has performed as guest with such new-music groups as Speculum Musicae, the Da Capo Chamber Players, and Transit Circle; he has recorded solo viola works by Thea Musgrave and Victoria Bond, both for Albany Records. Panner studied with Jesse Levine at Yale University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in history. He continued his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music with Joseph dePasquale and the Juilliard School with Samuel Rhodes.

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CRAIG MUMM, Faculty - Viola

Craig Mumm is the associate principal violist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York. He is also a frequent guest artist on the Carnegie Hall concert series of the MET Chamber Ensemble and the New York Chamber Music Festival at Symphony Space.

Mumm has recorded extensively on the Deutsche Grammaphon, Sony, Naxos, and Decca labels. His 2011 Grammy®-nominated, world-premiere recording of Franco Alfano's Piano Quintet was praised in The Strad magazine. Mumm can be heard weekly on the famous MET Opera international radio broadcasts and in theaters for performances of The MET: Live in HD.

Mumm regularly teaches master classes at music schools including the Manhattan School of Music and the Boston Conservatory. As an active member of the American String Teachers Association, he has been a juror for solo competitions as well as featured presenter at the national ASTA convention.

He is a faculty member of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas and has taught master classes in Caracas at the music center of "El Sistema". Recent teaching, solo and chamber music performances include residencies at Instituto Superior de Música Estado de Veracruz in Esperanza Azteca-Puebla, Mexico; Filarmónica Joven de Colombia;ASM Music Festival in Panamá; and the Festival de Música de Santa Catarina, Brazil.

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BRADLEY AIKMAN, Faculty - Double Bass

As a performer, Bradley Aikman has extensive experience in symphonic, opera, and ballet repertoires with NYC's premier ensembles, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, and the New York City Ballet. Other orchestral appearances include the Minnesota and Sarasota Orchestras, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. He is also the principal bass of the Albany Symphony (NY), and a member of the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra.

He can be heard on two Grammy winning recordings including the Met's Ring Cycle from 2012 and the Albany Symphony's Conjurer by John Corigliano. He has participated in the Albany Symphony's rich tradition of recording American composers such as John Harbison, Michael Torke, and Paul Creston. Bradley has also recorded numerous television and film scores, including an episode of Mozart in the Jungle where he performed at the infamous Rikers Island. Most recently, he recorded Mahler's Sixt Symphony with the Minnesota Orchestra. Mr. Aikman has recorded for Naxos, Bis, Albany Records, and Exton labels.

Mr. Aikman has performed chamber music at Carnegie's Weil Recital Hall, the Sarasota Music Festival, the Saratoga School of Dance, and Montauk's Third House. When he was assistan principal bass with the New Haven Symphony, he performed the east coast premier of Charles DeRamus' Greta's Dream for double bass quartet and narrator. He has performed in North and South America, Asia, and Europe, most notably in the Metropolitan Opera's Japan tour of 2011.

He was awarded a full-tuition Whitaker Scholarship to attend the Manhattan School of Music. This allowed him to complete both a master's and professional studies degree in Orchestral Performance while studying with Timothy Cobb. Previously, he earned a Bachelor's of Music Eduction degree at Ithaca College.

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