As a Topanga resident, you probably have seen the Topanga Symphony Quartet playing around town—at the Topanga Library opening, the Topanga Film Festival opening, the Sages Holiday Senior Dinner every year, for former Senator Fran Pavley and the annual Topanga Symphony Fundraiser.
The Topanga Symphony’s first concert was in August 1982. It is truly a community orchestra comprised of professional musicians, as well as community members and students.
The Quartet is made up of five of the Topanga Symphony musicians who alternate members depending on availability and repertoire. Kathrine Shaw, violin, Barry Brisk, viola, Gavin Koon, cello represent the core players with Margreet Ray, oboe and Robert Ryemon, violin sharing the fourth position. These musicians have chosen to extend their music making experiences to include chamber music endeavors.
WHEN IS FIVE REALLY FOUR?
The Quartet is actually comprised of five Topanga Symphony musicians who alternate depending on availability and repertoire: Kathrine Shaw, violin; Barry Brisk, viol; and Gavin Koon, cello, represent the core players with Margreet Ray, oboe; and Robert Ryemon, violin, sharing the fourth position. These musicians have chosen to extend their music-making experiences to include chamber music endeavors, as well as volunteer their time and talents and any personal compensation to promote and support the Topanga Symphony.
To introduce the Topanga community to the members of the Topanga Symphony, the Quartet, a small but powerful group of musicians with a cumulative history of musicianship, is an excellent place to start.
Kathrine Shaw has been the Topanga Symphony Assistant Concertmaster for 26 years and is an ardent fan of the Symphony. Kathrine began playing violin at age nine in an elementary school music program in San Diego. She continued her studies with Isaac Malkin, Joseph Genualdi and Michael Ferril, spending time outside of the country studying music in Mexico City and Costa Rica. She is a graduate of Cal State Northridge and holds a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance.
For many years she was the violin and cello teacher at Topanga Elementary School teaching several generations of Topanga children. Two years ago, she joined the Arts Education Branch of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), expanding her reach to the youngest students as an itinerant instrumental music teacher at five inner city elementary schools. She works with 300 students each week teaching trumpet, trombone, clarinet, flute, violin and cello.
Kathrine is a Topanga resident, who enjoys this beautiful small town with her husband, Neil and their two children Murray and Susannah. When she is not playing music, you might see her out on the hiking trails. As the manager of the Topanga Symphony Quartet, Kathrine organizes their rehearsal schedule and fields inquiries about performance opportunities. She also teaches private violin and cello lessons.
Barry Brisk has been playing viola with the Topanga Symphony since 1992. He is a composer, the Conductor of the Beach Cities Symphony and a frequent guest conductor with the Topanga Symphony. He is retired as an elementary instrumental music teacher with LAUSD and resides in Woodland Hills with his wife Cathy He is the proud grandfather of Philip Anderson born to his son Phillip and daughter-in-law Marilyn. The Topanga Symphony has performed three of his compositions, among them a piece entitled “Topanga Quartet for Oboe/English Horn and Strings.” It was filmed last May and can be seen on YouTube at Barry Brisk, along with many of his other compositions.
Gavin Koon has played cello with the Topanga Symphony since 2002. He studied cello at Pepperdine University and UCLA. Gavin also plays in the L.A. Lawyers Philharmonic Orchestra that regularly perform at the Disney Concert Hall and other locations. He is the Membership Chairperson on the Topanga Symphony Board of Directors and is determined to increase the number of people who follow the orchestra’s schedule, donate, support and attend the concerts of the Topanga Symphony. Gavin is a Topanga resident with his wife Mary, and has raised his son Anthony as a Topanga kid. Gavin’s day job is as a Union Labor Contract Negotiator and Contract Adherence.
Margreet Ray started playing with the Topanga Symphony in 1987 and has been the Principal oboe player since 1996. She started playing the oboe when she was 13 and has recently expanded her instruments to include the English horn. She also plays oboe with the Santa Monica Symphony. In 2015, she was a soloist with the Topanga Symphony playing “The Fugal Concerto” by Gustav Holst, with principal flute Paulie Davis. Originally from The Netherlands, she has been living in Topanga since 1987 with her husband Steve. They have raised their three children, Kirsten, Michael and Ellen in Topanga. Margreet works as a physical therapist at Kaiser Permanente.
Robert Ryemon has been a violinist with the Topanga Symphony since 2013. He lives in Oak Park and works as a violin teacher and freelance musician. He studied violin with Jan Wolonick of the Buffalo Symphony and David Chasow of the Chicago Symphony. He also plays violin with The Moorpark Symphony, The Michael Anthony Perna Band and The Steel Cut Band.
Now that you’ve met the talented musicians of the Topanga Symphony Quartet, meet them in person on August 27, talk to them and realize how lucky this community is to have such a wealth of talent that has provided these free concerts for 35 years.
The 36th season begins Sunday, August 27 at 7:30 p.m., with Music Director and Conductor Jerome Kessler leading the musicians in another free concert performed at the Topanga Community House. The approximately 50 musicians of the orchestra represent a wide range of backgrounds but all possess the passion for the art of classical music.
The next time to hear the Topanga Symphony Quartet will be at the Topanga Symphony Fundraiser that will be held on October 1, at Tuscali Mountain Inn.
BECOME A FRIEND
The Topanga Symphony is able to present free concerts only with the support of the community through donations to “Friends of the Topanga Symphony.” Additional support comes from local businesses through donations, placing ads in the concert program, and the Board of Directors that pursues grants and organizes an annual Fundraiser.
For more information or to make a donation: topangasymphony.com
The Topanga Community Center is located at 1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, CA 90290.