The River Charles Ensemble (RCE) is pleased to announce the appointments of two distinguished RCE musicians to the Executive Director and Artistic Director positions for the ensemble's 2014-15 season. Bassist Sam Wattrus '16 and violinist Lily Tsai '17 will be leading RCE in their new Executive Director and Artistic Director capacities respectively.
Sam Wattrus, an American bassist, is a third-year student at Harvard University pursuing a degree in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology. Born in 1994, Wattrus is from Duluth, Minnesota and a graduate of Duluth East high school. He started playing bass when he was 11 years old and has studied with teachers including Tim Churchill, Nixon Bustos, and Vince Osborn. In the past, Wattrus has played and toured internationally with various orchestras including the Duluth Superior Youth Orchestra, the Minnesota Music Educators All-State Orchestra, the Duluth Chamber Sterling Strings, the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, and the River Charles Ensemble.
In addition to playing Classical music, Wattrus has sought to incorporate the arts into his life in a variety of other ways. At Harvard, Wattrus frequently plays for Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club productions. In Minnesota, Wattrus helped spearhead the development of a music resource center for underprivileged youth in the area to receive music lessons and record songs for free. Notably, at age 14, he formed a pop band with co-collaborator, Jack Campbell. The group, Excuse Me, Princess, signed to Minneapolis record label SO-TM records and produced 3 albums that were sold locally and internationally. The group toured within the US for 4 years until going on hiatus for the members to attend various universities.
When not playing music, Wattrus is often found working in the lab researching protein homeostasis and cell senescence. In 2013, he joined the Wagers lab at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and has since decided to focus his academic career in stem cell biology. This summer, Wattrus is a researcher in Cambridge, UK, where is working under the world-renowned stem cell biologist and pioneer John Gurdon.
Lily Tsai, class of 2017 at Harvard University, and recent graduate from Henry Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA, was a merit scholarship student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Preparatory Division where she studied violin with Li Lin for twelve years. Currently, she studies with Lynn Chang and continues to pursue music through participation in the River Charles Ensemble, the Brattle Street Chamber Players, and various chamber music groups at Harvard.
In the summer of 2013, Lily toured as Concertmistress of the inaugural National Youth Orchestra of the USA sponsored by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, performing in Washington DC, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and London under the baton of Maestro Valery Gergiev. Previously, Lily had played in the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra from 2008 to 2012 and was Concertmistress of the Gunn High School Orchestra for the duration of high school. From 2010-2013, Lily participated in the Young Chamber Musicians program as part of the Elara Quartet coached by Susan Bates.
In June 2011, Lily performed Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Peninsula Symphony as the winner of the orchestra's Young Musician's Competition. In March 2011, Lily won first prize in the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) National Solo Competition, Junior Violin category. The same year, she won first prize in the 2011 MTAC VOCE Competition in the Intermediate Strings Division. Previously, Lily had won first prize in the 2010 MTAC VOCE Intermediate Ensemble Division as a member of the Tsai Duo with her cellist sister, Stephanie. Lily has performed in the 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009 Junior Bach Festivals in Northern California. She also participated in the Music@Menlo Chamber Music Institute during the summers of 2010, 2009, and 2008 in its Young Performers Program.
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