Reiko & Friends
Music & Arts Community Center
2020-2021 Season Sponsor: Gunterberg Charitable Foundation – Culliton Family
Dr. Andrew M. Kurtz
Sunday Night Chamber Music Concerts are sponsored by Douglas and Linda Garde.
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
I. Praeludium (Allegro vivace)
Serenade for Strings
I. Pezzo in forma di sonatina
I. Allegro moderato ma con fuoco
Artistic Director, Reiko and Friends
Reiko Niiya launched a new 9-piece String ensemble “Reiko and Friends” in October 2020 after she played with the Southwest Florida Symphony as its Concertmaster for 37 years.
In 1982, Reiko moved to Fort Myers, Florida, and began her career as the Concertmaster of the Southwest Florida Symphony. In 1988 she moved to Washington DC to test the waters there while still remaining Concertmaster of the Southwest Florida Symphony. Over the course of ten years, commuting from Washington DC to Fort Myers for each concert, Reiko missed only one performance. While living in the Greater Washington DC area, Reiko served as Concertmaster for six orchestras, and became one of the most prominent freelance violinists in the country. In addition to the orchestras for which she served as Concertmaster, Reiko also played with the National Symphony, the Washington Opera Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, and the Wolf Trap Opera Orchestra. In DC, Reiko broadened her interests from classical symphonic music to include opera and pops as well. During that time, Reiko worked with such popular entertainers as Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole, Michael Jackson, and Sarah Brightman, to name a few. Reiko still continues to play the Wolf Trap Opera Orchestra as one of its concertmasters.
In 1993, Reiko played for Bill Clinton at his first Inauguration Gala Concert, and again for his second inauguration in 1997. She has since played many presidential concerts, including A Christmas in Washington, and the Ford Theater Celebration Concert, for which she was the concertmaster.
In 2011, Reiko was invited to play on ABC’s popular show “Dancing With The Stars” along with 35 Los Angeles local musicians.
Reiko is also a dedicated violin teacher and chamber music coach for young musicians. Her students have won many competitions, have been featured on radio shows such as National Public Radio’s From the Top, and are highly ranked in Florida as well as in Virginia.
Andrew M. Kurtz
Music & Executive Director, Gulf Coast Symphony
Gulf Coast Symphony founder Dr. Andrew M. Kurtz enters his twenty-sixth season as the Symphony’s Music & Executive Director, and conductor. His deep rooted commitment to new work, community and education, combined with a vibrant artistic vision has led to creating and nurturing one of the most dynamic arts organizations in the region. His conducting has been called “passionate, expansive, expert, and musical.” He was named the 2007 Performing Artist of the Year at Lee County’s Angel of the Arts Awards. Kurtz’s repertoire encompasses a wide range of music styles from baroque to contemporary, and multiple genres including symphonic, opera, ballet, musical theater, jazz, cantorial, and symphonic pops.
An avid arts educator, Maestro Kurtz was Resident Music Director at the Luzerne Music Center. Kurtz is a past-president of the board of the Lee County Alliance for the Arts. In 2001, he won First Prize in the Dell’Arte di Firenze International Conducting Competition, and made his European conducting debut in Florence. In 1995, Kurtz made his international operatic debut in Tel Aviv while working as a staff conductor at the Israel Vocal Arts Institute. In 1997, he conducted the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s educational tour production of The Best of Puccini. He was a scholarship conducting student at the prestigious Aspen Music Festival, and boasts numerous other conducting credits, including the Pennsylvania Opera Theater, the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Charlotte Symphony, Gonzaga Symphony, and the Ocean City Pops.
Kurtz completed his doctoral studies in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia where he received his master’s degree in music history and a bachelor of arts in music and drama. A native of Philadelphia, Kurtz has called Southwest Florida home for more than 28 years, where he currently resides with his wife, Julie, and their son, Benjamin.