Prof. John Spirtas joined the Washington National Opera Orchestra and Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra in 2000 as Principal Percussionist. In this capacity he has performed with Placido Domingo and many other stars in the world of opera. He has accompanied the Bolshoi, Kirov, Royal, American Ballet Theater, and New York City Ballet Companies as well.
Prior to joining the WNOO/KCOHO Prof. Spirtas was a percussionist in the New World Symphony, in Miami Beach, Florida. He performed with the NWS in the 2000 American Mavericks Festival in San Francisco under the batons of Michael Tilson Thomas and composer John Adams. He was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in 1998, and at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo Japan in 1996 and 1997. He also attended the Aspen, Eastern and Chautauqua festivals.
Prof. Spirtas is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the New England Conservatory of Music. His teachers include Alan Abel, Will Hudgins, Salvatore Rabbio, Michael Udow and Nora Davenport.
Soprano Deborah Thurlow teaches applied voice and related vocal courses for Washington Adventist University. She is the Director of the Performance Workshop for WAU, where she has produced/directed/conducted twenty shows, including The Marriage of Figaro, Dido and Aeneas, Into the Woods, The Mikado, Godspell, Pirates of Penzance, and Fiddler on the Roof. She has assisted the university president with multi-media reports to the greater SDA church constituency, as well as producing the university’s 100th Anniversary celebration during the 2004-2005 school year in conjunction with the Alumni Association.
Ms. Thurlow has appeared with organizations such as The Light Opera Company of Southern Maryland, Interact Theatre Company, The Forgotten Opera Company, The Washington Savoyards, Eldbrooke Players, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, Friday Morning Music Club Chorale and Orchestra, the Mclean Choral Society, Columbia Collegiate Chorale and the New England Youth Ensemble.
Her opera roles include Hannah (The Merry Widow), Marietta (Naughty Marietta), Dorine (Tartuffe), Saphir (Patience), Pamina, First Lady and Papagena (The Magic Flute), Josephine (HMS Pinafore), Kate and Mabel (Pirates of Penzance), Pitti-Sing (Mikado), Pertelote (Chanticleer), Pauline (The Toy Shop), Wife (The Wise Women), and Destino (La Calisto).
Her oratorio soprano roles include Messiah (Handel), Magnificat (Rutter), Mass in G and Mass in A Flat (Schubert), Mass in B Minor and St. John Passion (Bach), Israel in Egypt and Alexander’s Feast (Handel), A German Requiem (Brahms), Hodie (Vaughan Williams), Mozart, Requiem and Coronation Mass, The Creation, Harmoniemesse and Theresienmesse (Haydn).
An active recitalist, Ms. Thurlow has performed at the Anderson House, Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies (Aldeburgh, England), Strathmore Hall, the Chevy Chase Women’s Club, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Folger Shakespeare Theatre, Dumbarton House, Baltimore’s Bau House, Hood College, Old Town Hall of Fairfax, the Charles Sumner Museum, and as part of the Music of Mapleview Chamber Festival. She has premiered works by composers Ron Warren, Winifred Hyson, Alan Newhouse and Elaine Erickson.
Ms. Thurlow is co-owner of The Musical Source, Inc., Washington, DC’s largest sheet music retailer, and is soprano soloist for Sixth Church Christ Scientist, DC. She holds degrees from Peabody Conservatory, as well as Washington Adventist University, and is currently a DMA student studying with Martha Randall.
Vanita Hall Jones leads an active life as both a performer and educator. Before graduating summa cum laude in Flute Performance from the Catholic University of America, Mrs. Jones performed with her world-renowned teacher and mentor, Julius Baker, and began teaching at The Catholic University of America, Montgomery College, and Washington Adventist University.
Her many solo and chamber performances include the World Bank series, Festival Strasburg, Trinity Chamber Orchestra, Washington Symphony Orchestra, the German Embassy, The Arts Club of Washington, The National Flute Association, The Washington Consort of Instruments, and The Flute Society of Washington, D.C. Her chamber group, Trio Cantabile, includes performing artists Dawn Avery, cello, and Alfred Clark, piano. She performs regularly with the New England Symphonic Ensemble at Carnegie Hall with conductors John Rutter, Jonathan Griffith, Stanley Irwin, Janet Galvin, and Jonathan Wilcox. With John Rutter as guest conductor, the orchestra has performed at the Kennedy Center and area music festivals. As a young flutist, Vanita Jones played with the Foundry Methodist Orchestra, The Commerce Department Symphony Orchestra, The Richmond Symphony, and the Friday Morning Music Club. More recently, Ms. Jones was chosen to perform and conduct the Opening Gala concert at the National Flute Association Convention along with 26 nationally known flutists as a tribute to her teacher, Julius Baker.
For over 20 years, Ms. Jones has directed, conducted and performed concerts at the Julius Baker Master Classes at Western Connecticut University each summer giving workshops and ensemble classes. She is also an active adjudicator for local, regional, and national competitions and is the founder of The Musical Offering Flute Ensemble, which has performed extensively at major venues in the Washington, D.C. area.
David Jones was appointed Principal Clarinet of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra in 1998. He has also performed extensively with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. An active chamber musician, David has performed with the Smithsonian Chamber Players, the 21st Century Consort, and VERGE ensemble. Comfortable in many different musical situations, David has performed with a variety of artists from Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo, to Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, as well as numerous national tours of broadway shows including Hairspray, The Producers, Kiss Me Kate, and Wicked. David can also be heard on numerous radio and television commercials. While attending Northwestern University he studied with Robert Marcellus, former principal clarinet with the Cleveland Orchestra and Clark Brody, former Principal Clarinet with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. David teaches at the University of Maryland and Washington Adventist University.
Brandon Almagro began playing trumpet at age 12 in his hometown of New Berlin, WI. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in music performance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master of Music degree from the University of Maryland. Brandon has studied with Chris Gekker, Steven Hendrickson, and Dennis Najoom. Currently, Brandon is a member of the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C. With the band, he performs frequently at the White House, Pentagon, U.S. Capitol, and Arlington National Cemetery. He performed taps live on PBS at the 2009 National Memorial Day Concert on the National Mall. He has been featured in the National Geographic book, Where Valor Rests: Arlington National Cemetery. In addition to his duties with the Navy, he maintains an active free-lance career. Brandon performs frequently with the popular Philadelphia soul group, The O’Jays, and has also performed with the Washington Symphonic Brass, Delaware Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Annapolis Symphony, Annapolis Chorale and Chamber Orchestra, and nationally with Keith Brion’s New Sousa Band.