BFO Principal Winds
Ji Weon Ryu, Principal Flute
Ji Weon Ryu is the Principal Flute of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra since 2019 and is the First Asian to join the orchestra’s wind section.
She has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, and the Verbier Festival Orchestra and has been a soloist with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Seoul Chamber Orchestra, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. As a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician, she has performed in venues including Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall, Dvorak Hall (Prague), The John F. Kennedy Center, Musikverein (Vienna), and Seoul Arts Center.
With her unparalleled control of tonal palette, Ji Weon has won First Prize at the 2017 Artur Balsam Duo Competition, the 2016 New York Flute Club Competition, and the 38th National Flute Association Soloist Competition along with the Best Performance of Newly Commissioned Piece Award, and has received the 2017 Young Artist Award from the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation in South Korea. Read More
Ji Weon has performed extensively as a recitalist and a chamber musician all over the US and South Korea. She regularly tours with the Frisson, an "explosive" New York City-based chamber ensemble as a founding member, and is a co-founder and the artistic committee of the Ensemble Blank, a contemporary group based in Seoul that strives to push boundaries of classical music repertoire and searches for unconventional concert venues.
In addition to her appearance on stage, Ji Weon is also committed to teaching. She has given guest teaching and masterclasses at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Berklee College of Music, Louisiana State University, Loyola University, Tulane University, and the University of Kansas. Currently, she is a visiting Flute Instructor at Louisiana State University.
Ji Weon holds a Master of Music degree in orchestral performance from the Manhattan School of Music and both a Bachelor of Music degree and an Accelerated Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School. Her principal teachers include Robert Langevin, Carol Wincenc, and Young Ji Song.
Principal Oboe, Alex Kinmonth
Alex Kinmonth was appointed Principal Oboe of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra by Leonard Slatkin in 2015 at the age of twenty-one, at the time making him one of the youngest Principal musicians in a major American orchestra. He can be heard on the DSO’s most recent “Live from Orchestra Hall” recordings of Copland’s Third Symphony, the Brahms Symphonies and Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies 1, 2, 4, and 6. He also makes regular solo appearances with the DSO and other orchestras across the country, most recently performing the Strauss, Mozart, and John Williams concertos. Alex earned his Bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Nathan Hughes of the Metropolitan Opera and graduated with the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music.
Mr. Kinmonth is also Principal Oboe of the Britt Festival Orchestra which he joined in 2019, and has recently played as Guest Principal with the New York Philharmonic, the Grant Park Festival Orchestra, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, and the Bellingham Festival Orchestra. He has also substituted in the Metropolitan Opera on both oboe and English horn, and in the Charleston (SC) Symphony Orchestra. Read More
Now deeply involved in Detroit’s classical music scene, Alex enjoys performing with local chamber groups including the Chamber Soloist of Detroit and the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, where he is a core member. His interest in chamber music has also brought him around the country, performing with groups such as the Olmos Society in San Antonio. He has also found a love for teaching and coaching, starting a private studio and leading orchestral sectionals for local orchestras such as the DSO’s Civic Youth Ensembles and the Detroit Medical Orchestra. Mr. Kinmonth has held masterclasses for several schools including Interlochen, Bowling Green State University, the University of Alabama, Saginaw Valley State University, and the Cranbrook School. Growing into the digital age, Alex has participated in virtual festivals and masterclasses for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Summer Institute and the Juilliard Summer Winds series, and teaches reed making online by video.
Alex grew up in a musical household in Carlisle, MA, choosing to play violin at age 5 and oboe at age 9. From a young age, he has pursued orchestral, solo, and chamber music interests, playing with the Boston Youth Symphony, the New York Youth Symphony, and winning awards from the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association, Philharmonic Society of Arlington, and Concord (MA) Orchestra. His former teachers include John Ferrillo and Laura Ahlbeck. Although music is the main focus of Alex’s life, he also enjoys a balance of athletic, social, and academic interests. He participated in the 2010 National Junior Olympics for fencing, and enjoys soccer, rock climbing, and downhill mountain biking. He is also the winner of a National Gold Key Award in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards’ Short Story category.
Jay Shankar, Principal Clarinet
Jay Shankar is a clarinetist pursuing his Master of Music degree at the Colburn Conservatory of Music, where he studies with Yehuda Gilad. Recently, he was named the winner of the prestigious international Vandoren Clarinet competition and a semifinalist at the International Crusell Competition in Finland, the only American clarinetist to be invited. Jay is also an avid chamber musician, recently being invited to perform at La Jolla Music Society where he collaborated with musicians such as Anthony Mcgill, Paul Huang, Geoff Nuttall, Inon Barnatan, and the Attaca Quartet to name a few. In addition, he has been invited to perform as a guest artist and solo Eb Clarinetist with orchestras such as The Cleveland Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and Pacific Symphony. He has performed as the Principal Clarinetist in orchestras including the National Youth Orchestra of Carnegie Hall in 2016 (conductors: Valery Gergiev & Christoph Eschenbach, The Colburn Orchestra, and Marin Alsop’s Conductors Orchestra in Baltimore. He has participated in prestigious music festivals such as the Music Academy of the West and the Immanuel and Olshan Texas Music Festival where he won a prize in the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition.
Erich Heckscher, Principal Bassoon
Erich Heckscher is Principal Bassoon of the National Philharmonic and Maryland Symphony Orchestras and the Maryland Lyric Opera Orchestra. He served as Acting Second Bassoon with the National Symphony Orchestra for the 2011/2012 season and guest Principal Bassoon with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in 2000, and previously held positions with the Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet and Alabama Symphony Orchestras. Mr. Heckscher has performed with the Baltimore, Dallas, Oregon, Richmond, Virginia and Charleston Symphony Orchestras, and locally with the Smithsonian Chamber Players, Eclipse Chamber Orchestra and Washington National Opera. Solo appearances include the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and the Britt Festival Orchestra, where he has been Principal Bassoon since 2000. He has participated in the Sarasota, Kent/Blossom, Chautauqua, National Orchestral Institute and National Repertory Orchestra summer festivals.
Mr. Heckscher holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Southern Methodist University, studying with K. David Van Hoesen, John Hunt and Wilfred Roberts. He was on the bassoon faculty at the University of Maryland from 2012 to 2021, and at Texas A&M University at Commerce from 1997-1999.
2023 BFO Winds
Leslie Fagan, Principal*
Ji Weon Ryu, Principal
Sarah Banker, Extra
Lea Baumert-Patterson, Extra
Alex Kinmonth, Principal
Liam Boisset, Extra
Andrea Levine, Principal*
Jay Shankar, Principal
Ilya Shterenberg, Extra
Erich Heckscher, Principal+
Kai Rocke, Extra
+ Orchestra Member for 20 or more years
* On leave for 2023