Cassandra Bequary, violin
Cassandra Bequary, originally from Connecticut, began playing violin at the age of 5. She completed her undergraduate studies at Oberlin Conservatory where she worked primarily with Marilyn McDonald and Gregory Fulkerson. She then earned her masters of music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying with Ian Swensen, Mark Sokol, and Catherine Van Hoesen. Cassandra’s orchestral and chamber music performances have brought her all over the world, including to festivals such as Thy Chamber Music, Round Top, Galluzzo International Chamber Music Festival, and Mendocino. Cassandra joined the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s second violin section in 2016.
Karen Gerbrecht, violin
Karen began playing the violin at the age of three, influenced by four generations of musicians in her family. She studied at the Vancouver Academy of Music until leaving BC to pursue a post-secondary education at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Graduating first in her university class, Karen was awarded the single highest scholarship awarded by NCSA; the Sarah Graham Kenan Scholarship. After graduation, while performing as Associate Concertmaster of the Spoleto Festival Opera Orchestra (Spoleto, Italy) Karen was named Director of Chamber Music at Davidson College, (Davidson, NC) and remained in that post for two years until winning a position in the Vancouver Symphony, where she is Associate Principal Second.
After settling in Vancouver, Karen was appointed to the faculty of the Vancouver Academy of Music, and taught there from 1990 – 2002. As both a chamber musician and an orchestral player, Karen has performed throughout Europe, Canada, the US and Asia, and she continues to count traveling as one of her favorite pursuits. Since joining the VSO, Karen has been named a McBride Scholar at Bryn Mawr in Philadelphia and has twice attended the Banff Centre for the Arts as an Artist-in-Residence. In 2012, Karen is delighted to appear as a member of the Nomidi Trio, and is particularly honoured to be working and performing with Nomidi and the iconic Canadian dancer Margie Gillis.
Karen is very good at making her son laugh.
Emilie Grimes, viola
Originally from Ottawa, Emilie Grimes holds a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School, where she studied with Michael Tree and Steven Tenenbom. She completed her Undergraduate degree at the University of Montreal under the tutelage of Neal Gripp.
As an orchestral and chamber musician, Emilie has performed in venues worldwide. She toured with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra in Germany, and was heard on Hong Kong’s Radio 4 with the Vancouver based Koerner Quartet. She was heard on WQXR in New York, playing baroque viola with Juilliard’s historical performance ensemble, and was featured in the National Arts Centre’s “My First NAC” showcase concert series. She regularly appears in numerous series around Vancouver, including the VSO Chamber Players, UBC’s Wednesdays at Noon, the Little Chamber Series, Music on Main, the Blueridge Music Festival, the Vancouver Chamber Music Society, and has performed as a guest with the NU:BC new music ensemble. She was appointed Adjunct Professor of Viola at the University of British Columbia from 2017 to 2019.
Emilie joined the viola section of the Vancouver Symphony in 2012, and recently won the position of Assistant Principal Viola. She currently holds the title of Acting Associate Principal Viola.
Olivia Blander, cello
Originally from Ottawa, Olivia Blander completed her Masters of Music degree at Yale University in the studio of professor Aldo Parisot. She received her Bachelors degree from the Harid Conservatory (Boca Raton, Florida) where she studied with Canadian cellist Johanne Perron.
Olivia has appeared frequently as a soloist and chamber musician on CBC radio, including the nationally broadcast \”Debut Series\”. She has been a participant in several major summer festivals including classes at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and the fellowship program of the Tanglewood Music Centre.
After returning to Ottawa from the U.S. in 2000, Olivia enjoyed four months working with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, and joined the Vancouver Symphony in September 2001.