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About Washington National Opera

Washington National Opera Orchestra

As the resident opera company of the Kennedy Center, Washington National Opera (WNO) draws on a rich history to offer high-quality grand opera featuring internationally acclaimed artists and productions. Under the directorship of WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin, the Washington National Opera Orchestra is the musical heartbeat of the company, playing for all WNO productions in the Kennedy Center Opera House.

Comprised of 61 musicians from around the nation and the world, the Orchestra has played under the baton of such famed conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Valery Gergiev, James Levine and Mstislav Rostropovich, as well as WNO Music Director Emeritus Heinz Fricke and former WNO General Director Plácido Domingo. Highlights of the Orchestra's history include performances of the world premiere of Menotti's Goya (1986), accompanying WNO on its tour to Japan (2002); and numerous recordings and broadcasts which have introduced WNO to audiences around the globe.

Orchestra members hail from China, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine, New Zealand, South Korea, and Spain, and all regions of North America. Orchestra members and have trained at the leading conservatories in Europe and the United States, including Juilliard, Eastman, and the Curtis Institute, among others, and most hold advanced degrees in their field. Members earn their positions through a highly competitive audition process, and many remain with the company for years and decades, resulting in a cohesive group of artists keenly attuned to the nuances of making music with world-class opera artists.

The Orchestra's roots date back to the company's founding in 1956 as the Opera Society of Washington. As the small but intrepid group of opera lovers grew into an internationally recognized opera company, the musicians grew with it, and the orchestra was officially established as a professional orchestra in 1978. Today, the same musicians also constitute the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, the Center's resident orchestra which provides the music for most musicals and ballets in the Center's nine theaters and performance spaces, as well as the CBS television broadcast of the Emmy® Award-winning Kennedy Center Honors.

Last updated October 2012

Philippe Auguin, Music Director

Heinz Fricke, Music Director Emeritus

Violin I
Oleg Rylatko, Concertmaster
Eric Lee, Associate Concertmaster
Ko Sugiyama, Assistant Concertmaster
Zino Bogachek+
Joan Cataldo
Jennifer Kim
Michelle Kim
Karen Lowry-Tucker
Susan Midkiff
Margaret Thomas

Violin II
Julia Grueninger, Principal
Najin Kim, Assistant Principal
Richard Chang+
Xi Chen
Jessica Dan Fan
Martha Kaufman
Timothy Macek
Victoria Noyes

Shelley Coss, Principal
Chair open, Assistant Principal
Philippe Chao+
Leon Neal
Elizabeth Pulju-Owen
Uri Wassertzug

Amy Frost Baumgarten, Principal
Elizabeth Davis, Assistant Principal
Ignacio Alcover+
Timothy H. Butler
Kristen Wojcik
Igor Zubkovsky

Robert D'Imperio, Principal
Francis Carnovale, Assistant Principal
Chair open

Adria Sternstein Foster, Principal
Stephani Stang, Assistant Principal
John Lagerquist

John Lagerquist

Igor Leschishin, Principal
Carole Libelo, Assistant Principal
Kathleen Golding

English Horn
Carole Libelo

David Jones, Principal
Lora Ferguson, Assistant Principal
Ashley Booher

Bass Clarinet
Ashley Booher

Donald Shore, Principal
Christopher Jewell, Assistant Principal
Samuel Blair

Samuel Blair

John Peiffer, Assistant Principal
Robert Odmark
Peter de Boor
Geoffrey Pilkington
Chair Open

Tim White, Principal
Christopher Tranchitella, Assistant Principal
Michael Rossi

Lee Rogers, Principal
Douglas Rosenthal, Assistant Principal
Stephen Dunkel

Bass Trombone
Stephen Dunkel

Michael Bunn, Principal

Jonathan Rance, Principal
Greg Akagi, Assistant Principal

John Spirtas, Principal
Greg Akagi

Susan Robinson, Principal


Orchestra Personnel & Operations Manager
Aaron Doty

Orchestra Librarian
Shelley Friedman

+ Starts rotation in alphabetical order
** On leave