Rutgers String Day





2020 Participating Schools:



2020 String Day Presenter:

D'Addario Strings

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 OPEN. We have enough space for 5-7 orchestras and participation will be on a first come first serve basis.
  • There is a $250 participation fee for each participating school. All checks should be made out to "Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey" and sent to:
  • Ximena Dilizia, Business Assistant
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
    Marryott Music Building- Room 106
    81 George Street
    New Brunswick, NJ 08901

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.




**Check back soon**

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**Check back soon**


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This year we are holding the first ever Rutgers String Day ensemble competition. If you are interested in entering, please submit a high quality video/audio recording of the piece of your choice. The recording should be no longer than 7 minutes. The winner of the competition will be announced at the Final Concert. Please send all video submissions or links to videos,  and questions to

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Kynan Johns       Jonathan Spitz        Dr. Elena Chernova-Davis        Brennan Sweet           Louis Levitt



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 - Viola

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 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 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 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. Sweet was a founding member of the Mostly Mozart at Festival in Hancock, Maine, and has served as coach and performer at the Raphael Trio Chamber Music workshop in New Hampshire and ASTA NJ'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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LOUIS LEVITT, Faculty - Double Bass

As a member of Sybarite5, Louis Levitt was the first double bassist to win the Concert Artist Guild Competition. Since then, he has performed with Sybarite5 in hundreds of concerts across the nation. Recent highlights include Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, Wolf Trap, Grand Tetons Music Festival, and the Aspen Music Festival. Internationally, he has appeared at the New Docta International Music Festival in Argentina, Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival in Newfoundland Canada, Osaka Festa in Japan, and at the Forum in St. Thomas Virgin Islands. His self-produced debut EP with Sybarite5 cracked the top ten on the Billboard charts, and its follow-up LP, Everything In Its Right Place, was released at Carnegie Hall on CAG Records.

In addition to his position at the Mason Gross School of the Arts he is also a guest soloist and lecturer. Levitt has recently performed and spoken at the Curtis Institute, New England Conservatory, Mannes School, the annual Chamber Music America conference, and the national APAP arts conference. He is also a principal double bassist of the Iris Chamber Orchestra in Memphis TN, and maintains a position with the Sarasota Orchestra in his hometown of Sarasota Florida.

Inspired by the Phoenix Concert Series in NYC, and participating in the 2017 Silkroad Global Musician Workshop, Levitt's latest project is called Bright & Shiny Things with mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert and began touring during the 2017-18 season. More information is available at and

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