Praised for his “fluid virtuosity” and “soulful melodies,” Los Angeles native Brook Speltz is the cellist of the internationally renowned Escher String Quartet – Quartet-in-Residence at Southern Methodist University – and an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. An extremely versatile cellist, Mr. Speltz has performed as a soloist, chamber musician, and recitalist throughout the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. First Prize winner of the prestigious Ima Hogg Competition, he has performed as a soloist with the Houston Symphony, Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, and International Contemporary Ensemble, and is a regular performer at England’s IMS Prussia Cove and on tour with Musicians from Marlboro. Mr. Speltz has been personally invited by Itzhak Perlman and Richard Goode to collaborate in chamber music recitals throughout the country, and as a result of these collaborations, has been nominated for the inaugural Warner Music Prize presented by Warner Music and Carnegie Hall. A lover of all facets of the music world, Mr. Speltz has enjoyed performing on tour with the cello rock band Break of Reality, whose recent U.S. tour raised funds and awareness for music programs in public schools all around the country. Mr. Speltz studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Peter Wiley and at The Juilliard School with Joel Krosnick, after his formative years of study with Eleanor Schoenfeld in Los Angeles. He performs on a 1756 J.C. Gigli on loan from his father, a cellist and his first inspiration in a family of professional musicians.
Described as “an assured soloist” with “fearless technique,” Dr. Cecilia Huerta-Lauf brings passion and heart to her performances as an accomplished cellist. A native of Dickson, Tennessee, she made her solo debut with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra at age 16. Cecilia has enjoyed tenures with groups such as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Discovery Ensemble, Florida Grand Opera, and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra & founding String Quartet, and founding administrative director/principal cellist of the Boston Latin-American Orchestra. In 2012, Cecilia was a semi-finalist in the Carlos Prieto International Cello Competition. Currently, Cecilia is the founder, co-director, & cellist of NouLou Chamber Players; and substitutes with the Louisville Orchestra. She also served as President of the Chamber Music Society of Louisville Board. Cecilia has participated in music festivals across the United States, Canada, France, and Italy. Degrees include pre-college at Vanderbilt University, B.M. at DePaul University in Chicago, M.M. at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and her D.M.A. at University of Miami in FL.
Since performing as a concerto soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at age 18, cellist Nicholas Finch has established himself as an artist of great depth and diversity, both within and beyond the classical genre. This season, Finch will lead the inaugural year of the Derby City Chamber Music Festival as its Artistic Director, featuring some of the best chamber musicians from Louisville and around the country, including members of the Escher String Quartet, pianist Joyce Yang, and many more. In recent seasons, Finch conducted members of the Louisville Orchestra and others in works by Aaron Copland and Jack McFadden-Talbot. He also premiered three new cello concerti written for him by composers Lev “Ljova” Zhurbin, Alyssa Weinberg, and Dorian Wallace, and will record them during the 2022/2023 season for his debut recording. Just months prior to the onset of COVID-19, he appeared as cello soloist in Richard Strauss's "Don Quixote" with the Louisville Orchestra. Finch was appointed Principal Cellist of the Louisville Orchestra during the 2013-2014 season by music director Teddy Abrams. He has appeared with the Boston-based chamber orchestra ‘A Far Cry’ on numerous concerts and recordings, one recording having been nominated for a Grammy Award. He has additionally appeared numerous times with the Jupiter Chamber Players in New York City. Finch has collaborated with some of the most prominent artists of today, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble, pianist Joyce Yang, members of the Dover and Escher String Quartets, and many more. A native of Boston, Finch began his cello studies at the age of 12. He attended Harvard, Juilliard, the University of Michigan, and the Mannes College of Music. He has studied conducting with Markand Thakar, Kenneth Kiesler, and with Michael Jinbo and Ludovic Morlot at the Pierre Monteux School. Finch currently splits his residence between Louisville and New York City.