Sybarite5 headlining Walla Walla festival

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerJanuary 18, 2013 

Sybarite5 headlines the Walla Walla Winter Chamber Music Festival at various Walla Walla-area venues from Jan. 18-20.

Also performing are violinists Maria Sampen, Julia Salerno and Timothy Christie and cellist Ben Gish.

"This festival features outstanding music matched with perfect wines," said David Mumm, with the chamber music festival. "All the featured musicians will converge on downtown Walla Walla for an open rehearsal from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 19 and it won't cost people anything to stop and listen."

That rehearsal includes the spicy flavor of Latin music as well as Baroque melodies, Mumm added.

Sybarite5 is a quintet of musicians who are flying high these days after making their debut in November at Carnegie Hall in New York City, playing to a sold-out audience.

The group plays all sorts of music, from Mozart to Radiohead and includes Laura Metcalf on cello, Sarah Whitney on violin, Angela Pickett on viola, Louis Levitt on double bass, and Sami Merdinian on violin.

Merdinian has been a guest soloist with the Montevideo Philharmonic, the Argentinean National Symphony, The Charlemagne Orchestra, Symphony Pro Musica, The Gagneung Philharmonic in South Korea and Philharmonic of the Nations in Amsterdam.

Levitt is the founding member of Sybarite5. He's been featured at the Aspen Music Festival and the Telluride Music Festival. He has performed with the Grammy-nominated quartet San Francisco, as well as multiple Grammy-winning composer Bob James. He's also performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Sarasota Orchestra, Orchestra of the S.E.M. and the New World Symphony.

Pickett holds a master's degree from The Julliard School and is a viola doctoral candidate at the Manhattan School of Music. She's performed with Wet Ink Music Continuum and the Argento Chamber Ensemble.

Whitney has performed in concert halls across Europe and Asia, as well as South America and North America. She also has been a guest artist with the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Cleveland Composer's Guild and the Memphis Chamber Music Society.

Metcalf won the 2011 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition and has performed in sold-out concerts at the Library of Congress and Lincoln Center. She holds a master's degree from Mannes College of Music, where she studied with Timothy Eddy and was awarded the James E. Hughes award for excellence in performance. She also is a graduate of Boston University's College of Fine Arts.

Christie is the founder and artistic director for the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival. He serves on the faculties of the University of Puget Sound and the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina.

Gish is the director of the Walla Walla Valley Academy String Orchestra, where he hones the musical talents of budding musicians, ages 4 to adult.

Salerno is a professor of violin and viola at Eastern Washington University. She was an overall winner at the 2000 Seattle Young Artists Music Festival and a national finalist for the string division of the 2001 Music Teachers National Association collegiate competition.

Sampen is the associate professor of violin at the University of Puget Sound and has performed all over the world as a guest soloist with various music organizations.

Here's the concert schedule:

-- Jan. 18: Sybarite5 at Charles Smith Wines, 35 S. Spokane St., Walla Walla. Doors open at 5 p.m. Music starts at 6 p.m. Admission is $15.

--Jan. 19: Sybarite5 at the Foundry Vineyard at 13th Avenue and Abadie Street in Walla Walla.

-- Jan. 20: All musicians perform at the Power House Theatre, corner of Sixth Avenue and Rose Street in Walla Walla. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults and $8 for students.

A family package for each concert also is available for $40 for two adults and four kids. Tickets can be purchased in advance at or at the door.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;

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