Chris James, flute
Canadian flutist Chris James is a highly versatile young performer. Praised by the New York Times for his “brilliant” orchestral playing, Chris enjoyed a stellar freelance career prior to joining the VSO. In addition to positions with the Memphis, Missouri, and Ann Arbor Symphonies, he has appeared with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra, the Michigan Opera Theater Orchestra, and the Detroit, Toronto, Albany, and Nashville Symphonies, among others.
Also an active chamber musician and soloist, he has performed in such diverse venues as New York’s Weill Hall, Toronto’s Mad Bean Café, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Ontario Legislature Buildings, and the open-air Piazza del Plebiscito in Viterbo, Italy. Recent honours include performances at the the 9th Kobe International Flute Competition, and an appearance on CBC Music’s “30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians Under 30” (2017). Chris has won prizes at numerous competitions at home and abroad, including the National Flute Association’s Young Artist Competition and the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals’ National Competition. He has been invited as a recitalist to the Mid-South Flute Festival, the Universities of Memphis and Central Arkansas, various National Flute Association conventions, and concert venues across Canada and the United States.
A dedicated educator, Chris is increasingly in demand as an adjudicator. He has recently served in this capacity at the Mid-South Flute Festival, the Toronto, Ottawa and Oshawa Kiwanis Festivals, the Ontario Music Festivals Association’s Provincial Finals, Rhodes College, and the University of Michigan.
Beth Orson, oboe
Beth Orson has played Assistant Principal Oboe and English Horn with the Vancouver Symphony since 1990. Adjunct faculty at the UBC School of Music since 1993, she was appointed Oboe Coach for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in 2008.
As a chamber musician, Ms. Orson appears regularly with the VSO Chamber Players, on the Noon-Hour recital series at UBC, and at NYO. Principal Oboe of the NY Symphonic Ensemble from 1988-2005, she completed nineteen tours to Japan with the NYSE, performing in every major concert hall in Japan, often as oboe soloist. Ms.Orson’s solo English horn performances include the world premiere of Bramwell Tovey’s “The Progress of Vanity” for English horn and small orchestra at the 2012 International Double Reed Society Conference and again with the VSO in 2014. Other English horn solo performances include Rodney Sharman’s “Songs Without Words,” James MacMillan’s “The World’s Ransoming,” Brian Cherney’s “In the Stillness of September 1942” and Sibelius’s “The Swan of Tuonela” all with the VSO as well as the solo English horn part to Dan Seguin’s Leo Award-winning score for the CBC feature film “Murder Unveiled” and on Christopher Nickel’s album, “Rain.”
Ms.Orson can be heard playing both solo oboe and English horn on composer Jeffrey Ryan’s new album, “My Soul Upon My Lips” to be released in October 2020 by Redshift Records.
A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and winner of the Oberlin Concerto Competition, Ms. Orson’s principal teachers were Laurence Thorstenberg, James Caldwell, and Elaine Douvas.
Jeanette Jonquil, clarinet
Jenny Jonquil has been the principal clarinetist of the VSO since 2005. She was previously the principal clarinetist of the Charleston Symphony and a member of the Milwaukee Symphony. She has performed as guest principal with the Minnesota Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
For several summers, Ms. Jonquil was the principal clarinetist of the Colorado Music Festival. In BC, she has performed at the Pender Harbour, Blueridge, and Quadra Island Festivals. She has attended the Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany, Pacific Music Festival in Japan, Chautauqua Festival in New York, Spoleto Festival USA, and was a fellow at Tanglewood where she was awarded the Gino B. Cioffi Memorial Prize for Outstanding Woodwind Playing.
Ms. Jonquil attended Northwestern University (BM) and Yale University (MM). Her primary teachers were Russell Dagon and David Shifrin. While at Yale, her quintet was the first prize winner at the Coleman Chamber Music Competition (LA) and she was the winner of both the Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition and the Nyfenger Memorial Prize for Excellence in Woodwind Playing.
Gwen Seaton, bassoon
Gwen Seaton joined the Vancouver Symphony as Second Bassoon in 2009. Originally from the Lower Mainland, she holds a Bmus from the University of British Columbia where she studied with Chris Millard and Jesse Read. She also holds a Mmus from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, having studied there with Ben Kamins.
Prior to joining the VSO, she played Second Bassoon with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2007/2008 season and has also served as Acting Principal for the Vancouver Opera. She has participated in the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Music Academy of the West. As soloist she has performed with the Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra and the Music Academy of the West Festival Orchestra. She has given numerous masterclasses at UBC and has also been a faculty member for the PRISMA Music Festival in Powell River.
Gwen spent 2017/2018 on sabbatical living near Munich, Germany, where she learned more about German approaches to bassoon playing. While residing there she performed wind chamber music, touring with the Münchner Holzbläserquintett. In addition to teaching privately, Gwen is honoured to be on faculty for the Saint James Music Academy in the Downtown Eastside.
Andrew Mee, horn
Andrew joined the horn section of the Vancouver Symphony in 2012. In addition to his role in the orchestra, he regularly performs with the Vancouver Symphony Chamber Players and is a member of the Admare Wind Quintet. Andrew has participated in concerts or recording sessions with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, and the Victoria Symphony.
He holds degrees from the New England Conservatory and Yale University. His main teachers were Harcus Hennigar, James Sommerville and William Purvis. Outside of the orchestra, Andrew loves being outdoors and enjoys as much time as possible on his road bike or snowboard.