Benjamin Davis is an artist seeking to expand the possibilities and alter modern perceptions of classical music. He does this as a performer, educator, and administrator of musical activities across the midwest.
As a performer, Davis is the acting principal violist with the Des Moines Symphony for the ’17-’18 season, violist of Lux String Quartet (named 2015-16 Classical MPR Class-Notes Artist), section violist with the Quad City Symphony, an improviser in Improvestra, a travel-blogging, busking, improvising street artist and wannabe poet in the viola/cello duo Wormwood, and a frequent collaborative soloist with composers and artists both locally and nationally. He is currently serving as interim violist of the Belin Quartet’s 2017 season. He has also enjoyed substitute orchestral engagements with Orchestra Iowa, Mankato Symphony, and the South Dakota Symphony.
As an educator, he maintains an active studio of violin and viola students strongly influenced by Suzuki pedagogy. Administratively, Davis is the founder and artistic director of the Oskaloosa Music Festival and a previous organizer of events for Classical Revolution Twin Cities.
When not busy with his viola, you might be able to find Benjamin hiking off in some remote mountain range, canoeing through a chain of Northern lakes, or trying to be as Zen as possible on his yoga mat
Michael Van Ryn is Principal Double Bass with the Des Moines Symphony. He holds degrees in music performance from the University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, and the University of Southern California. He has also held principal positions with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles.
BM – Rice University
Northeast Iowa native Kayla Burggraf is the Principal Flute of the Des Moines Symphony. Ms. Burggraf has quickly established herself as a young orchestral, solo, and chamber flutist. As a soloist she has performed with the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra and the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra as a result of winning their respective concerto competitions. She has placed in several national competitions including the Young Texas Artist Competition, the Houston Flute Club’s Byron Hester Competition and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition.
Ms. Burggraf has performed with the New York Philharmonic, New World Symphony, and Des Moines Metro Opera, among others.
As a founding member of the Noctua Wind Quintet, Ms. Burggraf has performed in the Kennedy Center’s Conservatory Project. The ensemble has garnered prizes at virtually every major chamber music competition in the United States including the Fischoff, Coleman, JC Arriaga, and Chamber Music Yellow Springs competitions.
In 2016, Ms. Burggraf graduated with her Master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music’s Orchestral Performance Program. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Rice University where she graduated with Distinction in Research and Creative Works. Her principal teachers are Leone Buyse, Robert Langevin, and Nicole Esposito.
MM – Rice University
BM – University of Iowa
Kevin Judge is a bassoonist committed to bringing a variety of experiences to artistically engaged audiences. Mr. Judge’s work as a performer and teacher has led him to establish an international presence; his orchestral experience has given him the opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall, Brazil, and France. In addition, he has performed with various orchestras across the country under the direction of Lorin Maazel, Leonard Slatkin, and Larry Rachleff. He is the principal bassoonist of the Des Moines Symphony and performs regularly with the Quad Cities Symphony, Orchestra Iowa, and the Waterloo Cedar Falls Symphony. He has attended distinguished classical music summer programs, including Music Academy of the West, Castleton, and the Sarasota Music Festival.
Mr. Judge’s passion for teaching has led him to serve on the faculty at Iowa State University. Prior to his appointment at Iowa State, he was awarded the William Akers Endowed Scholarship to pursue a Master of Music degree at Rice University under the tutelage of Benjamin Kamins. While attending the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, he was the Education Outreach Coordinator for the music program, helping elementary students in the Greater Houston Area to better understand classical music in an interactive environment. In 2008, Mr. Judge won first prize in the Iowa Center for the Arts Scholarship Competition at the University of Iowa, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree under the instruction of Benjamin Coelho.
BM – University of Kansas
MM-University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Ravil “Bo” Atlas is Principal Tubist with the Des Moines Symphony.
He served as Principal Tubist with the Topeka Symphony Orchestra for three seasons while ﬁnishing his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Kansas. He has also been active as a freelance musician performing with groups such as the Lincoln Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Kansas Brass Quintet, Blackhouse Improviser’s Collective, Kansas City Brassworks, and the Fountain City Brass Band.
An avid supporter of new music, Mr. Atlas commissioned a new work “Hybrid Entities” by composer Ben McMillan, and has been a member of the North American Tuba Repertoire Initiative for multiple years. Mr. Atlas, himself a burgeoning composer, has had multiple performances of his tuba ensemble works “Remembrance,” “Finding the Silver Lining,” and the Bass Trombone solo “Soliloquy.”
Bo is a much sought after soloist and has received many accolades for his solo work including Semi-ﬁnalist at the International Tuba Euphonium Conference in 2010, Finalist at the Arapahoe Philharmonic Concerto Competition in 2011, winner of the University of Kansas Symphony Concerto Competition in 2012, winner of the Great Plains Regional Tuba Conference solo competition in 2009, and winner of the US Army Band Mock Audition in 2012.
Bo has studied tuba with Craig Fuller, Scott Watson, Patrick Stuckemeyer, Tony Clements, Peter Warhaftig, Sam Pilaﬁan, and Christian Carichner.
MM – Cleveland State University
BM – Oberlin Conservatory of Music
HS Diploma – Interlochen Arts Academy
Aaron Williams serves as Principal Percussionist with the Des Moines Symphony and the Quad City Symphony. He has also held the positions of Principal Percussionist with the Mansfield Symphony (Mansfield, OH) and Section Percussionist with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony.
Concurrently, Aaron is also an active freelance percussionist. He has performed with the Kansas City Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Wichita Symphony, Orchestra Iowa (Cedar Rapids, IA), Buffalo Philharmonic, Toledo Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, West Virginia Symphony, and the New World Symphony, among others.
Additional orchestral engagements have lead Aaron to performances on three other continents. He performed with the Rome Festival Orchestra in Rome, Italy. He toured China with the Oberlin Orchestra, giving concerts in Beijing and Shanghai, among other cities. He also performed with the Orquestra de Professores at the Festival de Música de Santa Catarina in Jaraguá do Sul, Brazil.
As a soloist, Aaron has performed David Gillingham’s Marimba Concerto No. 2 with the Des Moines Symphony, Áskell Másson’s Konzertstück for Snare Drum and Orchestra with the Firelands Symphony (Sandusky, OH), and Paul Creston’s Concertino for Marimba and Orchestra with the Quincy Symphony (Quincy, IL). During the summer, Aaron performs on the steps of the Iowa State Capitol with the Des Moines Metro Concert Band and has been featured as a soloist with the band.
Having great enthusiasm for contemporary chamber music, Aaron served as Artistic Director and percussionist for “Rhythm Unleashed: The Music of Marc Mellits”, a concert on the Quad City Symphony’s Signature Series. In Des Moines, he collaborated with organist Tin-Shi Tam to perform the U.S. premieres of Phaikon 493 by Leander Kaiser and The Shining City by JacobTV.
Aaron resides in Des Moines, IA where he maintains a private teaching studio and is on the faculty of the Des Moines Symphony Academy. He is also the Director of Operations for the Des Moines Symphony. He has a Master of Music degree from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He received his high school diploma from the Interlochen Arts Academy. His former teachers include Tom Freer, Michael Rosen, John Alfieri, Keith Aleo, and Dr. Donna Bohn.
Aaron is a Performing Artist for the Pearl Corporation and Adams Musical Instruments.