Category: 2008 CD Legends, Ceremonials, and Prayer

01: Canto in Memoriam for solo violin

This work was composed for Gwyneth Rollin, the composer’s wife. It is in four continuous sections and was written in reaction to the World Trade Center tragedy of 9/11/01. When Rollin lived
in New York City, he had first-hand experience observing a Manhattan fire on Amsterdam Avenue across from his apartment. The firemen risked life and limb amidst the falling steel girders of a burning skyscraper. He knew immediately when he saw the broadcast of the towers collapsing that hundreds of firefighters had lost their lives while trying to save others, and that many families would be deprived of mothers and fathers. The Canto’s more serene lyrical sections are a tribute to a close family member who passed away just before the Twin Towers tragedy.


Micah Howard joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Bass section in 1996. He received his Bachelors from Youngstown State University and his Masters from Duquesne University. He has studied with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra members Jeffrey Turner and Rodney Van Sickle. Howard served in the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra Bass section as well as Acting Principal Bass for the Youngstown Symphony. He has also played in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra. Howard has won numerous awards including first place in the International Society of Bassists Competition (1995) and first place in Youngstown State University’s Concerto/Aria and Mozart Concerto Competitions. He recently performed the Koussevitzky Bass Concerto (as soloist) with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Jennifer Johnstone studied at Youngstown State University in Ohio, where she earned a Masters Degree in piano performance. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Musicology-Ethnomusicology at Kent State University, having completed a Masters Degree in Ethnomusicology there. Jennifer is an active contemporary music pianist and has taught Music Theory, Ear Training, and Ethnomusicology at the college level.

John Wilcox, a Louisiana native, trained at Florida State University; he is currently Professor of Violin/Viola studies and Director of the Dana Symphony, Chamber, and Opera Orchestras at Youngstown State University. Wilcox is the Music Director of the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Youth Orchestra. He is a past member of the first violin section of the National Symphony in Washington D.C., serving under conductors Antal Dorati and Mstislav Rostropovich. He is Concertmaster of the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, former Concertmaster of the Youngstown Symphony, and Primarius of the Youngstown Symphony String Quartet.

Michal George was born in Cape Town, South Africa and began his classical guitar studies with Ganiefa van der Schyff at the University of Cape Town. He holds degrees from the University of Witwatersrand and the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has won numerous prizes, most notably the 1994 First Prize of the National Classical Guitar Competition of South Africa, the Rosilia Alban Prize in Guitar, and the Alumni Association Valedictorian Award — the latter two at the Cleveland Institute. He is active as a soloist, chamber and concerto performer, and has taught in the Preparatory Division of the Cleveland Institute.

James Johnson studied piano extensively with the late Robert Hopkins at the Dana School of Music. An active accompanist, he has also served as choir director in churches in the Youngstown area.

Julia Ann Scott is a summa cum laude graduate of Duquesne and Indiana Universities. She serves as Principal Harpist with the Westmoreland and Butler Symphonies, has played harp in the Pittsburgh Symphony and Pittsburgh Opera, and teaches Harp at Grove City College. She was Principal Harpist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ecuador (Quito) under Fulbright Scholarship support, toured as soloist under American Embassy sponsorship, and taught at the National Symphony School. She is currently Secretary of the American Harp Society, Pittsburgh Chapter, and also maintains a private teaching studio.

Suzanne Levinson, flutist, is a free-lance performer and teacher who has played professionally in metropolitan Pittsburgh for the past 25 years. She embraces the challenges of unfamiliar, unexplored, and rarely-heard solo and chamber repertoire. Her 2004 recital was recorded and broadcast by WQED-FM on Performance in Pittsburgh. A graduate of Duquesne University, Levinson studied with Bernard Goldberg and Julius Baker. She has been a private flute, piccolo, and piano teacher for the past 30 years. In addition to having written free-lance music and theatre reviews, she is an avid arranger, transcriber, copyist, and chamber music composer. She has performed with the Pittsburgh Savoyards and Undercroft Opera for the past four years.

[Note: this CD-jacket bio was written in 2008 before Walter Mony’s passing. Visit for more information on this deeply-missed musician and educator.]

Walter Mony was born in Winnipeg, Canada, and began violin with George Bornoff and John Waterhouse. As a scholarship student at the Royal College in London he studied under Albert Sammons, Henry Hoist, and Max Rostal, soon becoming Assistant Principal of the London Symphony and a member of the Royal Philharmonic under Sir Thomas Beecham.

Touring with the Nederburg Trio, with which he recorded extensively on major labels, he moved to South Africa, becoming Chair of Music at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He is beloved as a concert soloist, having performed the South African premieres of the concertos of Stravinsky, Walton, Suk, Shostakovich, and Bartók, as well as world premieres of South African Composers Graham Newcater and Carl van Wyk. He is equally versatile on violin and viola.

Mony is active worldwide as a conductor of professional and youth orchestras, a string clinician and adjudicator, and also as a lecturer. The University of the Witwatersrand has conferred on him the titles of Professor Emeritus and Honorary Professorial Research Fellow for his meritorious service.

Many of his students hold prominent international playing and teaching positions. In recent years he has been involved in outreach programs for the disadvantaged children of the South African townships.

As of January 2005, Walter Mony was appointed Head of Strings at the renowned Victoria Conservatory of Music, British Columbia, Canada. He is the Artistic Director of the Summer String Academy, which functions at the VCM with a prestigious international Faculty during August of each year.