A virtuoso violinist, violist, pianist, conductor, and composer, Mark Menzies enjoys an active international career in several capacities as a performer, facilitator, and educator. Averse to being called a specialist, Menzies has embraced many periods and styles of music, from medieval to contemporary works, including various crossover projects. Menzies made his debut in 1988 at the International Festival of the Arts in Wellington, New Zealand, performing Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor on television with Maxim Shostakovich conducting the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Since the late 1990s, Menzies has played less of the standard repertoire, devoting his energies instead to performing chamber music with the Formalist Quartet as violinist and violist, and playing challenging contemporary works by Rand Steiger, Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Finissy, Sofia Gubaidulina, Sylvano Bussotti, Helmut Lachenmann, Peter Maxwell Davies, Elliott Carter, and Roger Reynolds, among others. From 1999 to 2016, Menzies was professor of violin and viola, and the coordinator of conducting studies and ensembles at the California Institute of the Arts. He became a professor of music at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand in 2016. Honored as an associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2014, Menzies divides his time between New Zealand and the United States.
Gayle Blankenburg has performed extensively to great critical acclaim as a solo pianist, chamber musician, and vocal accompanist. She was a roster artist with Southwest Chamber Music from 1996-2003 and is currently a member of the Los Angeles-based ensembles "inauthentica," "the feHmEnbuRg trio," "the mEnbuRg duo," and "pierrotplus+." She has recorded over a dozen commercially-available CDs, including song cycles with famed sopranos Phyllis Bryn-Julson and Lucy Shelton, and a solo piano recording of Carlos Chavez's Invention I on a Grammy-winning Southwest Chamber Music CD.