Blue Mountain Ensemble is a flexible chamber group performing music from diverse style periods. Our members have been guest artist-teachers in numerous settings throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and China performing programs spanning hundreds of years and inspired by many cultures. Known for adapting repertoire to our colorful instrumentation, we actively explore and develop new works that include other instruments, artforms and voices.
NEWS: We are excited to announce that in 2017 Blue Mountain joined forces with Forecast Music in presenting contemporary programs and an annual International Call for Scores under the series Blue Mountain/Forecast. Each of the two organizations brings over a decade of history and we look forward to many more of these energetic and adventurous programs and working with interesting and talented composers!
Our musicians are based in central North Carolina and are members of area university faculties as well as orchestras across the state. The name is taken from natural areas worldwide carrying the name Blue Mountain.
John R. Beck, percussion
John R. Beck is the Professor of Percussion at University of North Carolina School of the Arts and serves on the music faculty at Wake Forest University. He is a member of the Winston-Salem and Greensboro Symphony Orchestras, Brass Band of Battle Creek, Blue Mountain Ensemble, and the Philidor Percussion Group. Beck is a former soloist with the United States Marine Band and is a Past President of the Percussive Arts Society. He presents clinics endorsing Yamaha percussion instruments, Zildjian cymbals, and Innovative mallets, and is a Remo HealthRHYTHMS facilitator involved in hospital research using group drumming with adult cancer patients.
Michael Burns, bassoon
Michael Burns has an active career as a teacher, composer and performer. He is Professor of bassoon at the University of NC-Greensboro, and a Yamaha Performing Artist. He has recorded extensively and his solo CD Primavera: Music for Bassoon and Piano by Bassoonists was released on the Mark Masters label to critical acclaim. He currently performs as a soloist, in chamber groups, and orchestrally with numerous recent performances at International Double Reed Society conventions, recitals and masterclasses throughout North America, Germany, China and the South Pacific. He serves as principal bassoon with the Asheville Symphony and the North Carolina Opera and as bassoonist in the EastWind and Blue Mountain Ensembles, and Forecast Music. He also performs regularly with the North Carolina, and Greensboro Symphonies and as a guest with the Ciompi Quartet and Mallarme Chamber Players.
Jacqui Carrasco, violin
Violinist Jacqui Carrasco has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Mexico and Russia, including solo appearances at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and at the Library of Congress. She has recorded contemporary chamber music for the Nonesuch, Koch, Albany, Mode, CRI and Braxton House record labels, and has also been active in the worlds of Argentine tango and jazz in performances with groups such as the New York-Buenos Aires Connection and with musicians such as Anthony Braxton and pianist Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus. In North Carolina, Ms. Carrasco has been featured in solo and chamber music performances at Duke University; the UNC campuses in Chapel Hill, Greensboro, and Wilmington; Chamber Music at St. Peter’s and the Bechtler’s Music and Museum Series in Charlotte; the North Carolina Museum of Art’s “Sights and Sounds” series; the American Dance Festival; and with the Mallarmé Chamber Players, the Tallis Chamber Orchestra and the Salisbury Symphony. From 2008-2017, she was the co-director of the Music Carolina SummerFest in Winston-Salem. A Professor of Music at Wake Forest University, she currently performs with Blue Mountain/Forecast Music and the Lorena Guillén Tango Ensemble.
Carla Copeland-Burns, flute
Flutist Carla Copeland-Burns enjoys an active teaching and performing career based in North Carolina. Noted as a flexible and versatile player, Carla currently performs with the Greensboro, North Carolina, and Salisbury Symphonies as well as the North Carolina Opera, Carolina Ballet, Blue Mountain Ensemble, Flute4, Mallarmé Chamber Players, and with the performer-composer collective Forecast Music. Carla currently teaches at Duke University and Meredith College and through her home studio. She recently served on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro after eight years as Instructor of flute at Radford University. She has been a guest artist-teacher at universities nationally and internationally, and a featured performer at National Flute Association Conventions and International Double Reed Society Conferences in the US, Canada, and Australia. In summers she is on the faculty Clazz International Music Festival in Arcidosso, Italy. Carla's students have successfully auditioned into festivals, competitions, and music schools throughout the US and abroad with many currently working as music educators, music therapists, arts administrators, and performers. Carla is a Yamaha Performing Artist.
James Douglass, piano
James Douglass, UNC-Greensboro Associate Professor of collaborative piano, has been involved in diverse genres including chamber music, vocal arts, opera, choral arts, symphonic repertoire, jazz, cabaret, and musical theater. He holds degrees in piano performance from the University of Alabama and the DMA in collaborative piano from the University of Southern California. While at USC he received a Koldofsky Fellowship and the Outstanding Keyboard Collaborative Arts award. Douglass has served on the faculties of Mississippi College, Occidental College LA, USC, and Middle Tennessee State University and in 2003 he began teaching in the summer study program AIMS (American Institute of Musical Studies) in Graz, Austria. Performances as a collaborative pianist have included recitals and television/radio broadcasts across the United States and in Europe (France, Germany, Austria, Hungary); in master classes given by artists Dawn Upshaw, Carol Vaness, Vladimir Chernov, Norman Luboff, Paul Salamunovich, Natalie Hinderas, Leon Bates. Douglass is a member of Forecast Music and Blue Mountain/Forecast based in central North Carolina.
Susan Fancher, saxophone
Susan Fancher is an internationally-recognized concert saxophonist known for her deep, poetic musical interpretations. Her career has featured hundreds of concerts internationally as a soloist and as the member of chamber music ensembles, including the Red Clay, Amherst, Vienna, and Rollin’ Phones saxophone quartets. She has performed in many of the world’s leading venues including Sala São Paulo, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Filharmonia Hall in Warsaw, and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, just to name a few. Tours have taken her to Albania, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and throughout the US. Susan Fancher an artist clinician for the Selmer and Vandoren companies, and teaches saxophone at Wake Forest and Duke Universities.
Eric Schwartz, composer
Eric Schwartz has studied composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music, New York University, and both the Interlochen and Aspen Summer Music Festivals. Past teachers have included Margaret Brouwer, Donald Erb, George Tsontakis, and Randy Woolf. Formative influences include an amalgamation of the glam metal of the late 80’s, and the baroque intellectualism of Arnold Schoenberg. His music has been performed on five continents, at venues ranging from Merkin Concert Hall in NYC and the BMW Edge Theatre in Melbourne, Australia to universities, coffee shops, gas stations, and bars of all shapes and sizes. He has received awards and grants from Meet the Composer, ASCAP, The Society for New Music, The Puffin Foundation, The Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and The Ohio Federation of College Music Clubs.
Schwartz has served on the faculties of New York University, Hunter College, the Lucy Moses Music School, and most recently the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and is composer-curator of the NC based experimental music group Blue Mountain/forecast. He was formerly a Resident Composer for the Los Angeles based Tonoi contemporary music ensemble, the Minnesota based Renegade Ensemble, and NYC’s Vox Novus. His debut CD 24 Ways of Looking at a Piano, named one of the top classical CDs of 2005 by All Music Guide, is available from Centaur Records. His second solo album, OYOU is available now from CD Baby. His music is also available on Signum Classics, Capstone Records, Trace Label, and a host of others, and is published by Murphy Music Press and Lovebird Music . Schwartz currently serves as Music Director for the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School for the Arts. He, his wife, and his two daughters live in lovely Winston-Salem, NC.
Ināra Zandmane, piano
Ināra Zandmane has performed with such artists as Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Augustin Hadelich, Ray Chen, Sergei Antonov, Yura Lee, Martin Storey, Paul Coletti, Vincent David, Ian Clarke, and Branford Marsalis. She is a member of the Blue Mountain Ensemble and also performs in duos with saxophonist Susan Fancher and violinist Fabián López. Ināra performs across the US with frequent invitations to serve as an official accompanist at national and international conferences, symposiums, and competitions and recently appeared at the Kennedy Center and the Aspen Music festival. Ms. Zandmane is the staff accompanist at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she performs more than fifty different programs per year with students and faculty. Additionally, she serves as accompanist for the MTNA National competition, and is accompanist in residence for the annual Southeastern Piano Festival that takes place in Columbia, SC every June. Ināra’s solo recordings can be heard on the Conifer Classics, Navona Records, Mark Masters and Centaur Records labels.