Meet our Members

Featured Member: George Nicholson & Seyed Safavynia

How did you come to join QUO?
George – After moving to the city four years ago for school, I was missing an outlet to play music with a group. A colleague at school told me about the group, but it took until this year for my schedule to free up on rehearsal nights. I was hooked after the first rehearsal, due in large part to the awesome bass section and the bad-ass conductor.
Seyed- George actually introduced me to the orchestra. I generally play chamber music, but he really enjoyed the orchestra and encouraged me to join. After watching a couple of concerts and seeing what a family the orchestra is, I couldn’t help but join in.
How long have you been playing your instrument(s)?
George – I began playing the bass in middle school, by way of saxophone and bassoon. My music teachers allowed me to explore any musical interests I had, but it was this particular instrument that I felt most connected to.
Seyed – I have been playing the violin since I was 3 years old. My grandfather used to play the violin, and my mother very much wanted me to play as well. I still remember starting Suzuki and getting my wooden blocks as a makeshift violin, and I still have my first 10th size violin!
What musical symbol/term best describes your partner?
Seyed – A whole rest! George is very patient and easy going. And although he is so relaxed, he is always watching and waiting for his moment to step in.
George –  7/8 time signature: Seyed has organizational structure that is a little sophisticated, slightly quirky, but is a constant support throughout.
What is your perfect NYC date night?
Seyed – Any place in the city with a patio, light food, and a glass of wine. All makes for great people watching and conversation. I could gladly do that all day.
George – Ditto! That sounds perfect. I wish I were doing that right now!
What piece always reminds you of your partner?
Seyed – Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 3.   George always loved that piece as a child, and I never took to it before I met him. I now have a new appreciation for that piece and cannot hear that piece in any other context.
George – Seyed’s own work has a voice that is uniquely him, so any of his pieces are the best answer to this question. I’m excited QUO will be playing ‘Discovery’ next season!
What celebrity would you want to march in Pride with?
George – Michelle Obama
Seyed – Why Oprah, of course!

Featured Member: Suzanne Lipkin

How did you come to join QUO?

A couple of years ago, I played in a piece for QUOtets written by my friend Seth Bedford, whose cabaret ensemble I had played with for many years. I was so impressed by the friendliness and creativity at QUO that it stayed with me ever since, and I decided to join this season!

How long have you been playing your instrument(s)?

I started playing violin in first grade when they sent us home from school with a flyer asking if anyone wanted to play a string instrument. It’s incredible how making a decision when you’re six can influence the rest of your life! I played very actively through high school and then not enough in college, so in my adult life I have tried – and been lucky – to be a part of some great groups that keep me busy, including the chamber pop band I’m in, Mappa Mundi.

What musical symbol best describes you and why?

I’d have to say a breath mark. I can often seem to be a very quiet person and I’d like to think that quietness, or a pause, still adds something meaningful to the whole.

What is your favorite place to take friends visiting NYC?

My husband is a licensed NYC tour guide and there is nothing better than spending a day in any unfamiliar corner of the five boroughs, encountering new and unbelievable things. But if my friends aren’t ready for a full-on immersive day, let’s get bagels and sit on the street and people-watch.

(From Kyle Payton) If your instrument had a name, what would it be and why?

I’ve never thought of a name for it, but the name that’s always closest to me when I play it is my great-uncle Dave, who played it into his 90s until he passed it on to me.

Featured Member: Kyle Thomas Payton

How did you come to join QUO?
I joined QUO in 2010 after a couple of years of searching online for a LGBT orchestra in the NYC area. Growing up in NC there were no such groups, and I always dreamed of being a part of something so special. I sent them an email request to join, thus beginning my journey with them. I started as a second violinist until Phong recruited me over to the dark side of the first violins, lol! I performed in as many concerts, collaborations, etc as I possibly could. Eventually I became the group’s librarian which was an awesome learning experience. Shortly before my hiatus from QUO in 2014, they even awarded me the Artist Director’s Service Award which I still display proudly in my home! A note to anyone thinking of joining…DO IT!
How long have you been playing your instrument(s)?
I’ve had an interest in the arts from a very early age as a way to express myself. I gravitated to drawing and painting first, then theatre shortly after. When I moved to North Carolina in 1996 and enrolled in school I was placed into orchestra as my elective, as there were no other options. I began with cello for about three years before switching to violin shortly after, and I have been playing off and on ever since. I immediately fell in love with this new form of expression and I’m thankful every day for my “accidental” introduction to it.
What musical symbol/term best describes you and why?
Hmm, never thought about this before to be honest. I think Con Brio (with spirit) best describes my personality. Fun, care- free, smiles, and usually tons of laughter. Plus I can be super silly, friends in and out of QUO would probably agree.
What is your favorite place to take friends visiting NYC?
Honestly I love taking my friends on a walking tour of the various neighborhoods in NYC, because that is how I discovered and fell in love with it when I moved back here! I’ve been known to stroll from one end to the other, finding new places and landmarks along the way.
From Aaron Patterson:
If you could meet any composer in history who would it be and what would you ask them?
This is an easy one, hands down I would love to meet Johann Sebastian Bach and I would love to ask him to confirm if in fact the Chaconne was written as a tribute to his late wife.





Previously Featured Members

  • Álvaro Rodas

  • Aaron Patterson

  • Adrienne Lloyd

  • Alan Hyde

  • Alix Raspé

  • Alva Bostick

  • Andre Gillard

  • Andrew Berman

  • Andy Holland

  • Bjorn Berkhout

  • Brian Harrington

  • Brian Shaw

  • Brooks Berg

  • Bryan Tallevi

  • Bryanne Pashley

  • Charlie Scatamacchia

  • Christian Smythe

  • 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

  • Ligia Mie Sakurai

  • 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