Guest Artists


Felicia Besan, viola, was born in Moldova in a family of musicians. Felicia’s passion for music and the arts was nurtured from a young age. Upon deciding to pursue a professional music career, she attended the George Enescu Music High School in Bucharest, Romania. She has participated in and won numerous national and international competitions in Romania. Felicia was one of the 15 Young Artists studying and performing chamber music at the Manchester Music Festival in 2014 and 2015. A graduate of Lynn University class of 2011, Felicia received her Professional Performance Certificate (2013) and Master’s Degree (2015) also from Lynn University under the guidance of Professor Ralph Fielding. An avid chamber music player, Felicia’s string quartet was one of the winners of the Lynn Conservatory Chamber Music Competition and presented a full chamber music concert as part of the Mainly Mozart Festival in May 2015. This is Ms. Besan’s 1st season with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival.

Janet Clippard, bass, is currently the Principal Bass of the Miami City Ballet Orchestra and Orchestra Miami. Previously, she spent 18 years as the Assistant Principal Bass of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. Ms. Clippard was a founding member of the American Sinfonietta with which, for a decade, she toured annually playing in the great concert halls of Europe. The American Sinfonietta also served as the summer orchestra of the Bellingham Festival of Music in Washington. She also performs occasionally with the Florida Orchestra and the Jacksonville Symphony. In chamber music performance Ms.Clippard has collaborated with such groups as the Austrian String Quartet, the Delray String Quartet, the Miami String Quartet, and the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival.

Matt Corey, bassoon, earned both his Bachelor and Master of Music degree in Bassoon Performance at the University of Miami and currently performs in the Boca Raton Symphonia. He is also the resident sound designer for GableStage and a member of Mad Cat Theatre Company. He has earned Carbonell Awards for his sound designs of The Mountaintop, The Pillowman, Talk Radio, Broadsword, Blasted and The Birds. By day, Matt is the CEO of Insight for the Blind in Fort Lauderdale, a 38-year-old charity devoted to recording books and magazines for the blind and physically handicapped. This is Mr. Corey’s 9th season with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival.

Scott Ellington, clarinet, is a member of the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra and the Southwest Florida Symphony.  He studied with Stanley Hasty at the Eastman School of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree in 1982. He was also awarded the Performer’s Certificate and while at Eastman was involved in numerous tours. Mr. Ellington played Principal Clarinet on an Eastman Wind Ensemble commercial recording, attended the Aspen Music Festival on a full scholarship and has also held the position of Associate Instructor of Clarinet at the Indiana University School of Music. This is Scott’s 10th season with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival.

Erin Gittelsohn (DMA), oboe, performs throughout the South Florida area and instructs young musicians from the elementary through college level. After participating in the Juilliard School Pre-College Program, she received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music. She continued her education, receiving a Master of Music degree at the University of Maryland and a Doctoral degree at the Catholic University of America. She has served as Principal Oboe of the United States Air Force Band in Washington D.C. and Oboe Instructor at Shenandoah University. Dr. Gittelsohn is currently Principal Oboe of the Miami City Ballet’s Opus One Orchestra, Oboe Instructor at Florida Atlantic University, and actively performs in various chamber ensembles. This is her 2nd season with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival.

Chris Jackson, horn, is originally from DeLand, Florida. Chris performs with Palm Beach Opera, Miami City Ballet and Atlantic Classical Orchestra. A graduate of University of Michigan and Yale University, Chris has performed in orchestras around the country including Naples Philharmonic, Florida Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra and the New World Symphony.  A fellow of Tanglewood Music Center and Music Academy of the West, Mr. Jackson has also performed chamber music at the Norfolk, Sarasota and Lancaster Music Festivals.  Although this is his first summer performing in the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival, Chris has participated in a number of performances with Palm Beach Festival musicians at Bethesda-by-the Sea and St. Andrew’s Episcopal during the winter season.

José R. López (DMA), piano, is Coordinator of the Keyboard Department at Florida International University in Miami and President of the South Florida Chapter of the American Liszt Society.  He is a founding member of the Deering Estate Chamber Ensemble and co-founder of the chamber music series at the Estate, which just completed its ninth season. A versatile pianist and enthusiastic performer of chamber music, López’s interest in contemporary music has resulted in frequent world premieres and collaborations with composers along with the keen pursuit of resurrecting rarely heard works by Romantic and Classical composers.   He received his MM and DMA from the University of Miami School of Music, where he studied with Dr. Rosalina Sackstein, a former pupil of Claudio Arrau and Rafael de Silva.  He has recorded for the SNE, Albany, Innova and Toccata Classics record labels.  His recent, critically-reviewed releases on Toccata Classics presented the complete piano music by Riccardo Malipiero and transcriptions of Mozart by Charles V. Alkan. After a 17 year absence this marks José’s 6th season with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival.

Yaroslava Poletaeva, violin, hails from Saint Petersburg, Russia. A graduate of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory she has concertized in the United States, Russia and several countries in Europe. This season, she will be touring around the United States and Southeast Asia a s a member of the Contrasts Duo. As a soloist, Yasa has appeared several times with the Lynn Philharmonia, UST Symphony (Philippines), High Peak Festival Orchestra, Saint Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, Wagner Festival Orchestra and World International Youth Orchestra. She is a winner of several international Competitions and has been a finalist in the Coleman, Fischoff and Arriaga Chamber Music Competitions. Ms. Poletaeva is the recipient of the Boca West scholarship fund for her studies at Lynn Conservatory of Music. This is Yasa’s 1st summer performing with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival.

Roberta Rust (DMA), piano, has concertized to critical acclaim around the globe since her debut as soloist with the Houston Symphony at age sixteen and as recitalist at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Her many remarkable recordings feature music of Debussy, Haydn, Villa-Lobos, Prokofiev, and contemporary American composers. She has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras including the New Philharmonic, Philippine Philharmonic, Redlands Symphony, Boca Raton Symphonia, the New World Symphony, and orchestras in Latin America. In chamber music she has performed with the Ying, Lark, and Amernet string quartets and in the Mainly Mozart Festival and this is her 2nd appearance with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival. Rust serves as Artist Faculty-Piano/Professor at the Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton, Florida. For more information please visit

Maria Serkin (DMA), horn, is the Assistant Professor of Horn at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Prior to teaching at UNCSA, she was the Lecturer of Horn at the University of Virginia. Dr. Serkin has also served as Principal Horn with the Florida Grand Opera, Palm Beach Symphony, and the Sarasota Orchestra, Horn Professor of the New World School of the Arts, and was a fellow with the New World Symphony in Miami Beach. Dr. Serkin earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Eastman School of Music and New England Conservatory, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the Manhattan School of Music. She has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Palm Beach Opera, Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, and the Virginia Sinfonietta. This marks Maria’s 3rd season with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival.

Michelle Skinner, violin, is the Principal Second Violinist and Guest Concertmaster of the Amarillo Symphony (Amarillo, TX) and member of the Nu Deco Ensemble (Miami, FL). She is Associate Concertmaster and featured soloist in the Southern Illinois Music Festival, and regular guest musician with the Charleston Symphony, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and Annapolis Symphony. She serves as Concertmaster for such conductors as Leon Fleisher, Gustav Meier and Marin Alsop. A fellow at the Aspen Music Festival for four years, she served as Principal Second Violin and Assistant Concertmaster. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and earned both a Master of Music and Graduate Performance Diploma in Violin Performance from the Peabody Institute where she studied with Herbert Greenberg.