Meet our Members

Featured Member: Ligia Mie Sakurai

Ligia Mie SakuraiLigia plays piano and violin in QUO, and joined us in September of 2015.

How did you come to join QUO?
I heard of QUO through friends, some of them already playing with LGBAC and QUO. Being part of an orchestra sounded new and challenging because my experience as a pianist was either as a soloist or as part of a smaller chamber ensemble. I feel very excited and honoured to be playing with such great musicians.

How long have you been playing your instrument(s)?
I was maybe 6 when I started on the piano. My older sister was already taking lessons. Growing up I cannot remember a time when music wasn’t present. As a teenager, while my friends had Bon Jovi/U2 posters in their rooms, I had Seiji Ozawa and Martha Argerich, LOL. I played for over 15 years, all the way through dental school, then took a long break when I came to NYC. I started violin in 2013, around the same time I reconnected with the piano. I chose the violin because I wanted to be more versatile and explore different repertoire. Also to not be on the spotlight all the time. If you have an “oops” moment at the piano, there’s no one else to blame!

What musical symbol best describes you and why?
I would say rubato. I need things on my own pace. I am very sensitive and this flexibility of time and emotional freedom is important for me.

What is your favorite place to take friends visiting NYC?
I like the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, especially during the cherry blossom season. It is so beautiful and peaceful to just walk around in contact with nature.

Question from QUO Member Brian Shaw: What has been your favorite musical experience to date?
Playing with QUO for the first time was pretty awesome! (We did Villa Lobos Uirapuru) Actually something funny happened a while ago: I played a recital and closed the night with Liszt’s La Campanella. Although it’s a short piece (4:30-5min) I’d devoted so much time and effort preparing for that night that after the last chords I got a little teary…but nobody clapped…I got up to take a bow in silence. An eerie few seconds that felt like minutes. I was so confused, I didn’t realize people were tearing up too, in a standing ovation. I’ll never forget those few seconds of utter distress followed by fulfillment, lol. It’s so thrilling when you can touch people with music!

Featured Member: Brian Shaw

Brian ShawBrian plays oboe, saxophone, and percussion in QUO (and has also played flute, trombone, and also every other instrument), and joined us in October 2009.

How did you come to join QUO?
I was at a bar with some friends shortly after moving to NYC in 2009 when a couple people I didn’t know came to join us, both carrying instruments. I inquired, and found out they had just come from an orchestra rehearsal. Flash forward 1 week and I was at rehearsal with my oboe, for the first QUO season ever! I’ve been a member (on and off as time permits) ever since.

How long have you been playing your instrument(s)?
Being the son of a band teacher, I grew up with instruments around the house. My first formal training was on the piano, around age 8. I studied alto saxophone in middle school, and oboe in high school. The rest (I play all the woodwinds) I picked up on my own over the years, most recently starting to teach myself bassoon just this past summer. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! 😉

What musical symbol best describes you and why?
At this exact moment in life, I’m a portato (not to be confused with potato). A little confusing by outward appearances, still completely useful and dynamic, being full and yet slightly separated from my neighbors. I am at once living my life to the fullest and keeping my eyes on what’s coming next. Ever changing depending on the tempo of life. I love how portato stands alone, and yet is fully dependent on its peers. That’s me. 🙂

What is your favorite place to take friends visiting NYC?
For me, the magic of the city is in day-to-day life, so when family/friends visit, I take them to my favorite restaurants, open mic spots, and bars; show them the “chill” side of NYC. There’s a great Italian place in HK called Gallo Nero that I love, and a quaint bar in Astoria called Mosaic that has a fantastic beer menu.

Question from fellow QUO-member Christina: If you could live anywhere other than NYC, where would you live?
I attended college in Miami, FL, and often think about moving back, especially during the winter months. I just love a life where I never have to worry about wearing a coat. I would absolutely miss the joy of public transportation, though. As terrible as the MTA can sometimes be, I simply cannot imagine life without it.

Featured Member: Christian Smythe

Christian SmytheChristian plays oboe and English horn in QUO (and has also played piano and percussion, and sang, and arranged for QUOtets, and I think that’s everything) and is a founding member.

How did you come to join QUO?
I am a founding member of QUO! I’ve played with the Big Apple Corps band since 1998 (!). Rumbling about the need for an LGBT orchestra increased in the mid 2000s, and it finally happened. I joined as an oboist but have enjoyed broadening my contributions to include English horn, piano, percussion, and even voice.

What is your favorite place to take friends visiting NYC? (besides the High Line)
I actually don’t bring visitors to the High Line. As a Queens resident, I tend to promote the peace and cultural uniquenesses of my borough. A walk through Astoria Park, dinner at Agnanti, E Taverna, MP Taverna, or Mojave, drinks at Albatross.

What musical symbol best defines you and why?
Rubato. Life requires a little give and take, which I’m learning more and more as a teacher, musician, friend, and family member.

How long have you been playing your instrument?
I started playing piano by ear at 10 and took 2 or 3 years of lessons starting at 14. At around that same age, I picked up my sister’s flute and taught myself to play. I then got hold of a CD collection my sister received as a gift. Each CD included famous classical works that featured a particular instrument. The oboe collection left a deep impression, particularly the Tchaikovsky “Swan Lake” selections. My high school had no music program at all, so my parents found a summer music enrichment program in our town. I played a bit of flute and oboe in those programs and found that the instructors believed in me to the point that I moved rapidly into more advanced ensembles. Trial by fire! During my sophomore year of high school, while my interest in classical music was firing up, I was bitten by the theatre bug. The end result is that for a while, I was simultaneously taking piano, oboe, and voice lessons. I ended up focusing on voice for my undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Question from Adrienne: Christian, last spring I had the pleasure of performing with you (and lots of other QUO musicians) for a couple of weeks at La Mama in the East Village. For me, it felt like an incredible honor to be playing in a New York City venue that has so much rich history of experimental performing arts in this city. If you could play in any New York City venue, in any decade of time, and with any group or ensemble, what would that be?
Whoa…tough question! That La Mama experience was special, particularly as I used to live in that neighborhood. I suppose I would love to have played or sung under Leonard Bernstein, in any venue! Otherwise, I’d love to perform with a chamber group, or even my fellow singers at St. Bartholomew’s choir, in a space like the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in the West Village. I’m a fan of intimate settings.

Previously Featured Members

  • Álvaro Rodas

  • Adrienne Lloyd

  • Alan Hyde

  • Alix Raspé

  • Alva Bostick

  • Andre Gillard

  • Andrew Berman

  • Andy Holland

  • Bjorn Berkhout

  • Brooks Berg

  • Bryan Tallevi

  • Bryanne Pashley

  • Charlie Scatamacchia

  • Christina Rose Rahn

  • Clint Arndt

  • Craig Devereaux

  • Darcy Leon

  • David Lohman

  • Drew Acquaviva

  • Eric Hayslett

  • Erin Kulick

  • Fran Novak

  • Frederick Hodges

  • George Gehring

  • Holly Seefeldt

  • Ian Shafer

  • Jasmine Rault

  • Jason Svatek

  • Jay Varga

  • Jenn Forese

  • Jim Babcock

  • Jim Theobald

  • Joe Caldarise

  • Julie Desbordes

  • Laura Flanagan

  • Liann Wadewitz

  • Lisa LoFaso

  • Matthew Hadley

  • Michael Shattner

  • Navida Stein

  • Nick Johnson

  • Phong Ta

  • Rodney Azagra

  • Ron Nahass

  • Sam Nedel

  • Scott Oaks

  • Seth Bedford

  • Stephanie Stattel

  • Steven Petrucelli

  • Thomas Lai

  • Travis Fraser

  • Vasanth Subramaniam