Gustavo Romero, piano
Concert pianist Gustavo Romero is internationally renowned for his exceptional technical brilliance and interpretive depth and has gained acclaim for his commitment to in-depth exploration of a wide variety of composers.
A native of San Diego with a heritage in Guadalajara, Mexico, Romero discovered his love and gift for the piano at the age of 5 and gave his first public performances at the age of 10, when he also won his first piano competition. By age 13 he was performing with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta. Rudolf Serkin recognized his exceptional talent, and at age 14 he began attending The Juilliard School.
Romero has won many prizes, including first prize in the prestigious Clara Haskil International Piano Competition in Switzerland, the Avery Fisher Career Grant, and Musical America’s Young Artist Award. He has performed with the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Boston Pops Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, New World Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, Radio France Orchestra, Philharmonia Hungarica, New Japan Philharmonic, Shanghai Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic, Russian Symphony Orchestra, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Liège Philharmonic, a concert internationally televised from the United Nations.
Romero is a professor of piano at the University of North Texas.
Massimo Somenzi, piano
Massimo Somenzi, a native of Venice, studied piano with Maria Italia Biagi, the celebrated student of Rio Nardi and Alfredo Casella, and received his degree at the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory of Music in Venice with the highest honors. He has studied chamber music with Sergio Lorenzi, Franco Rossi, and Antonio Janigro, and attended courses at the Salzburg Mozarteum and the Association Musicale de Paris, where he was awarded first place in chamber music. Somenzi works internationally with renowned instrumentalists in the most prestigious concert venues. Beginning in 1980, he performed widely with cellist Mario Brunello, first-prize winner in the International Tchaikovsky Competition, and since 1990 has performed piano duos with recording partner Emanuela Bellio. His recordings include the complete piano works for four hands of Dvořák and Brahms; a live recital performance, with Stefano Canuti, of pieces for bassoon and piano by Saint-Saëns, Hindemith, Dutilleux, Mompou, De Falla, and Piazzolla; the violin and piano sonatas of Franck, Ravel, and Debussy, performed with Domenico Nordio; the cello and piano sonatas of Grieg and Richard Strauss, performed with Mario Brunello; and Rossini's Petite messe solennelle, recorded with Asolo’s Reale Corte Armonica, and forthcoming from Sony Germany. From 1991 through 2003, Somenzi served in Castelfranco Veneto as director of the Agostino Steffani Conservatory of Music. In late 2003, he returned to the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory in Venice as a professor of piano performance. Somenzi began 2005 in a concert tour of the United States with pianist Gustavo Romero, performing Mozart's complete works for four hands and two pianos.
Gregory Cohen, percussion
Gregory Cohen joined the San Diego Symphony Orchestra as Principal Percussionist in October 2008 after serving as acting principal for the previous season. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Cohen received his BM from Boston University and his MM from the New England Conservatory, both in percussion performance. Prior to his work with the SDSO, Cohen trained and worked at several music festivals, including those at Tanglewood Music Center, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, and the National Orchestral Institute. Orchestras he has performed with include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the LA Philharmonic, and the St. Louis Symphony.
In addition to his work at the SDSO, Cohen is a lecturer at San Diego State University, where he also directs the school’s percussion ensemble; he has recorded on Telarc, Reference Recordings, Albany Records and Mode Records labels.
Andrew Watkins, percussion
A native of Monticello, Illinois, Andrew Watkins has served as a percussionist and assistant principal timpanist for the San Diego Symphony since February 2010. He also teaches percussion at Cal State University, Long Beach and Point Loma Nazarene University.
Watkins performs frequently with a variety of ensembles in Southern California, including Art of Elan, Luscious Noise, and The Modern Appliances. Over the years he has played extensively with many well-known orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, Chicago Lyric Opera, New World Symphony, and the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra. He has also appeared at the Tanglewood Music Festival, and Pacific Music Festival, among others.
Andrew began his formal percussion studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. He earned an MM at Chicago College of Performing Arts. He furthered his studies at New England Conservatory in Boston. and had just begun studies at Lynn Conservatory in Boca Raton when he won his job with the San Diego Symphony. He has been taught by some of the most highly regarded percussionists in the world, including William Moersch, Ed Harrison, Vadim Karpinos, Will Hudgins, and Ted Atkatz.