Masterclass Al-Andalus

David Russell, Director

Masterclass Al-Andalus


David Russell, Violin 

Violinist David Russell is one of the most celebrated violin pedagogues of his generation.  Mr. Russell served on the Violin Faculty at The Cleveland Institute of Music for 24 years, and was also Visiting Violin Faculty at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. He has been a member of the faculty of some of the world's most prestigious violin schools, including Ivan Galamian's Meadowmount School of Music, the ENCORE School for Strings, Keshet Eilon International Violin Mastercourse (Israel), ARIA International Summer Music Academy, Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, and Language and Music for Life courses in Llandovery, Wales, Bristol, England, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and Valbonne, Cote d'Azure, France. He also directs the annual Mountaintop Mastercourse for Violin in Keene, NY, a program that attracts students from around the globe. 

He has been a Distinguished Member of the Jury at international competitions such as the Sion-Valais International Violin Competition (Switzerland), and the International Violin Competition of Buenos Aires (Argentina), as well as at several important U.S. national competitions.

Mr. Russell's former students include IMG Artist Chad Hoopes, members of orchestras such as The Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Symphony,  Minnesota Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, and others. Several are members of noted string quartets and still others are noted University and Conservatory teachers.

He has presented recitals and masterclasses across North and South America, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, and was the featured guest artist in the "World String Masters" performance and masterclass series in Lisbon, Portugal, as well as the featured teacher for the Guest Masterclass series at the Conservatorio Superior di Musica of Córdoba, Spain and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China. 

Mr. Russell served as Artistic Director for the North American Premier of "Violins of Hope", a two-week series of concerts, lectures, films and museum exhibitions featuring 18 violins restored from the Jewish Holocaust by Israeli violin maker Amnon Weinstein.

Currently, Mr. Russell is the Anne R. Belk Distinguished Professor of Violin at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. 

Andrés Cárdenes, Violin

Recognized worldwide as a musical phenomenon, Grammy-nominated Andrés Cárdenes parlays his myriad talents into one of classical music's most versatile careers. An intensely passionate and personally charismatic artist, Cuban-born Cárdenes has garnered international acclaim from critics and audiences alike for his compelling performances as a violinist, conductor, violist, chamber musician, concertmaster, and recording artist.

Since capturing Second Prize in the 1982 Tchaikovsky International Violin Competition in Moscow, Mr. Cárdenes has appeared as a soloist on four continents with over 100 orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Moscow Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony, Sinfonica Nacional de Caracas, Sinfonica de Barcelona, and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra. He has collaborated with many of the world's greatest conductors, including Lorin Maazel, Rafael Frubeck de Burgos, Mariss Jansons, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Sir Andre Previn, Leonard Slatkin, Jaap van Zweden, David Zinman and Manfred Honeck.

As an ambassador for music of our time, Mr. Cárdenes has commissioned and premiered over 70 works by American, Turkish and Latin American composers such as David Stock, Mike Garson, Erberk Eriylmaz, Leonardo Balada, Ricardo Lorenz, Eduardo Alonso-Crespo, Roberto Sierra, and Marilyn Taft Thomas.His concerto repertoire includes over 100 works, ranging from the Baroque era to the present.

Mr. Cárdenes has thrice served as President of the Jury of the Stradivarius International Violin Competition and in 2011 joined the jury of the Tchaikovsky International Violin Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia.

A Cultural Ambassador for UNICEF from 1980-1991 and an indefatigable spokesperson for the arts, Mr. Cárdenes has received numerous awards for his teaching, performances, recordings and humanitarian efforts, most notably from the Mexican Red Cross and the cities of Los Angeles and Shanghai.  He was named Pittsburgh Magazine's 1997 Classical Artist of the Year and received the 2001 Shalom Award from Kollells International Jewish Center and the 2013 Chesed-Kindness Award from the Chabad Foundation for promoting world harmony and peace through music.

Mr. Cárdenes was appointed Concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra by Maestro Lorin Maazel in 1989 and departed after the 2010 season to concentrate on his conducting, solo and chamber music careers.

he is currently the Starling Distinguished Professor of Violin at Carnegie Mellon Uiversity.


Irina Muresanu, Violin

Romanian violinist Irina Muresanu has won the hearts of audiences and critics alike with her “irresistible,” (Boston Globe) exciting, elegant and heartfelt performances of the classic, romantic and modern repertoire. The Globe has also praised her as “not just a virtuoso, but an artist” and the Los Angeles Times has written that her “musical luster, melting lyricism and colorful conception made Irina Muresanu’s performance especially admirable”. Her performances have been frequently cited as among the Best of Classical Music Performances by the Boston Globe, most recently for a recital program with pianist Roberto Plano titled “Rorem, Ravel, and Rags.”

Muresanu has performed in renowned concert halls throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Her solo engagements include concerts with the Boston Pops, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, the Williamsburg Symphonia, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Geneva), the Metropolitan Orchestra (Montreal), the Transvaal Philharmonic (Pretoria, S. Africa), the Romanian National Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Radio Flamande (Brussels), the Boston Philharmonic, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, and Symphony New Hampshire, amongst others.

An active chamber musician and recitalist, Ms. Muresanu is a member of the Boston Trio. She has also appeared as guest artist in such festivals and venues as Newport Festival in Rhode Island, Bargemusic in New York, the Rockport Festival in Massachusetts, Bay Chambers concert series and Bowdoin Festival in Maine, the Strings in the Mountains and San Juan Music Festival in Colorado, Maui Chamber Music Festival in Hawaii, Reizend Music Festival in Netherlands, Festival van de Leie in Belgium, and the Rencontres des Musiciennes Festival in France and Guadeloupe islands.

A few seasons ago, Muresanu introduced her “Four Strings Around the World” project, a solo violin program of global resonance, featuring works of composers inspired by various musical cultures around the world. Winning the Creative and Performing Arts Award at the University of Maryland allowed her to commission new works for this project from Indian composer Shirish Korde and Native American composer Jerod ‘Impichchaachaaha’ Tate. Critic Keith Powers noticed the formidable virtuosic stamina and originality of this program in the Cape Cod Times:

Four Strings Around the World” not only extends the superbly talented Muresanu in new directions, but offers a glimpse into variations of violin technique and approach that would only be gleaned by attending different concerts in various country fairs, Irish pubs,campfire gatherings and parlors.

In 2018, the album “Four Strings Around the World” was released on the Grammy-nominated Sono Luminus label to immediate acclaim and also won a prestigious NewMusicUSA grant. Terry Robins of Canada’s “The Whole Note” called it “…one of the best solo CDs I’ve ever heard,” while other reviews note Muresanu’s “extraordinary sonic palette and “beautifully engineered CD” by an “extraordinary artist.”

“Four Strings Around the World” sparked an orchestral project called “Strings Across Europe,” a program in which Muresanu performs the double role of soloist and conductor. She premiered this program with longtime collaborators at Symphony New Hampshire.

Irina Muresanu is an avid performer of new music, especially by American composers. Her recent recording releases include the Thomas Oboe Lee’s Violin Concerto (dedicated to Ms. Muresanu) on the BMOP label, and works of Elena Ruehr on Avie Records. Ruehr’s aforementioned album “Lift” was included on Keith Powers’ 13 Best Classical Music Recordings of 2016. She has also recorded the complete William Bolcom sonatas on the Centaur label with pianist Michael Lewin, funded by the Copland Recording Grant. In Europe, her recording of the Guillaume Lekeu and Alberic Magnard late Romantic Violin and Piano Sonatas with pianist Dana Ciocarlie for the AR RE-SE French label has sparked enthusiasm. Fanfare noted the recording with“singing and soaring…[a] sizzling performance.” Among numerous additional recordings, Ms. Muresanu has also recorded the world premiere recording of Marion Bauer’s Sonata for Violin and Piano with pianist Virginia Eskin on Albany Records.

Early on Muresanu achieved international acclaim as an outstanding young soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. She is a laureate and winner of top prizes in several prestigious international violin competitions including the Montreal International, Queen Elizabeth International, UNISA International String, Washington International, and the Schadt String Competition. Muresanu is the winner of the Pro Musicis International Award, the Presser Music Award, the Kate Kinley Fellowship Award from the University of Illinois and the Arthur Foote Award from the Harvard Musical Association.

Irina Muresanu currently serves on the faculty the University of Maryland and has taught at Boston Conservatory and in the Harvard and MIT Music Departments. She received the prestigious Artist Diploma degree and a Doctor in Musical Arts degree from the New England Conservatory.  She plays an 1849 Giuseppe Rocca violin and an Etienne Pajeot bow.

Rosie Bennet, classical guitar

Born in London in 1996, Rosie Bennet started playing guitar at age seven, receiving her early musical education at The Yehudi Menuhin School of Music on a scholarship funded by The Rolling Stones.
She went on to study with Zoran Dukic (The Hague, NL), Johan Fostier (Tilburg, NL), Rene Izquierdo (Milwaukee, USA) and Raphaella Smits (Leuven, BE). She has performed in festivals all over Europe including Open Guitar Festival in Křivoklát, Czech Republic, Glasgow's Big Guitar Weekend, Scotland, Porziano Music Festival, Italy and the West Dean Guitar Festival, UK. Highlights of her concert career include performances of solo and chamber music at Wigmore Hall, London, The North Wall, Oxford and concerts given on El Camino De Santiago.
Rosie is a self confessed fan of ‘the hustle’, aside from concert engagements she helps coordinate charity activities, ghost writes novels and articles, has a regular feature as a writer for Tonebase and works as a social media influencer and marketer.
Rosie currently lives in Belgium.

Eric Malson, piano

Eric Malson is an active soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician whose activities have taken him throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. As soloist, he has appeared with the North Carolina Symphony, Columbus (Ohio) Symphony, Manhattan Mozart Orchestra, Orquestra da Fundação Gulbenkian, Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa, Oak Ridge Symphony, and Prince William Symphony orchestras. As a collaborating pianist with the Steans Institute for Young Artists, he has appeared frequently at the Ravinia Festival, as well as the Tanglewood, Norfolk (Conn.), Wexford (Ireland), Caramoor (N.Y.), Scotia (Halifax), Chautauqua, Évora (Portugal), Semana Grande de Santander (Spain), and Verso il Millennio (Riva del Garda, Italy), and Mt. Angel (Oregon) Bach festivals. He has appeared in concert with members of the Hagen, Vogler, Alexander, Lark, Cavani, and Chester quartets, New York Philharmonic tubist Alan Baer, and trombonist Alain Trudel.

Mr. Malson has served on the opera faculties of the Juilliard School of Music and the Mannes College of Music, as well as the accompanying staff of the Curtis Institute of Music, and the accompanying and chamber music faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has served as official accompanist for various competitions, including the Eurovision Young Musicians Competition, Carnegie Hall International American Music Competition, William Primrose International Viola Competition, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions.

Mr. Malson resided for several years in Portugal, where he concertized throughout the country, as well as serving on the faculties of the Academia Nacional de Orquestra and the Escola Superior de Musica de Lisboa. He participated in the Portuguese premieres of numerous works, including the Piano Concerto in A-flat Major, Op. 113 of Hummel, Roger Sessions’ First Piano Sonata, Dohnanyi’s Sextet, Op. 37, and Wolfgang Rihm’s La Lugubre Gondola/Das Eismeer (Musik in memoriam Luigi Nono, for double orchestra and 2 pianos). He holds degrees from Indiana University and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where his teachers included Menahem Pressler, Gilbert Kalish, and John Wustman.

Maria del Carmen Garcia




Director of Cultural Education

Maria del Carmen Garcia Montañés, born in Alcalá la Real, (Jaén), Spain, graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music Victoria Eugenia of Granada with a degree in Piano. She also studied piano in Switzerland at the Hochschüle für Musik, Basel.  She currently teaches phonetics and translation into several languages for singers at the Conservatorio Superior de Musica "Rafael Orozco" in Córdoba, Spain. Her interest, curiosity, and enthusiasm in understanding different cultures led her to combine her musical activities with the field of International Relations.

In 2015, she began a professional collaboration with American violinist and pedagogue David Russell.  Together they have developed the educational components of Masterclass al-Andalus, and have presented them in lectures in the United States (Duke University, Georgia State University, and Davidson College), and collaborated in the creation of the Inaugural Masterclass Al-Andalus in Spain.