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Grand Valley Winds

Grand Valley Winds members




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Grand Valley Winds

The Grand Valley State University faculty chamber music ensemble's mission is to:

  • enrich Grand Valley State University and its community by performing concerts of varied repertoire
  • promote chamber music in the region
  • serve the state by offering free public school clinics and recitals
  • host instrument days for middle school and high school students (Clarinet Day Double Reed Day)


To listen to excerpts click HERE


Christopher Kantner - flute

Christopher Kantner received his musical training at the Peabody Conservatory, the University of Michigan and S.U.N.Y. Stonybrook where his teachers were Bonnie Lake, Keith Bryan, Clement Borone, Samuel Baron and Albert Tipton. He studied most recently with Jacques Zoon of the Boston Symphony, working with him on reintroducing the wooden flute as a solo and orchestral medium. Since joining the Grand Rapids Symphony as Principal Flutist in 1976, Mr. Kantner has made numerous solo appearances with the orchestra, playing works of Bach, Mozart, Lucas Foss, Nielsen, Martin and Schoenfeld. His work as a soloist and chamber player is well known to Michigan audiences through his association with the Fontana Ensemble and as a charter member of Baroque and Beyond, the Mackinac Trio, and the Hartwick Duo. A Naumburg finalist, Mr. Kantner has been a fellow of the Aspen and Bach Aria Festivals. He has appeared with the Bach Aria Group in a cycle of the complete Brandenburg Concertos and as Principal Flutist and soloist with the Colorado Music Festival. Mr. Kantner's other solo appearances within Michigan include the Ann Arbor Symphony and Lansing's Renault Chamber Orchestra. He has held appointments on the faculties of Interlochen, Grand Valley State University and Michigan State University.


Marlen Vavrikova - oboe

With a doctorate from the University of Illinois, Marlen Vavrikova has performed in Sarasota, Hot Springs, Banff, and Ostrava New Music festivals, the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music and International Double Reed Society conferences, and has been a soloist with the University of Illinois New Music Ensemble, the Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana, and the Janacek Chamber Orchestra. Besides receiving a stipend from the Czech Musical Fund and travel grants from the Ostrava City Council and the Civic Foundation, Marlen won the Presser Musical Award and the Kate Neal Kinley Musical Fellowship, and was awarded the Fellowship for the Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Illinois. A member of the Sarasota Opera Orchestra 2005, she has taught chamber music and oboe at the AMEROPA international festival in Prague and the Illinois Summer Youth Music Festival. Her primary teachers include Nancy Ambrose King, Richard Killmer, Daniel Stolper, and Josef Zidek. For a more detailed bio, you may visit her website at


Joel Schekman - clarinet

Joel Schekman is a California native who joined the Clarinet section of the Grand Rapids Symphony in 2006. He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Clarinet Performance from Indiana University and the University of Southern California, respectively. He has participated in the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Green Umbrella Series, the Spoleto Festival, and the Sarasota Chamber Music Festival. As an active teacher and educator, Joel teaches privately at Grand Valley State University, Hope College, and Aquinas College. Although trained as a clarinetist, Joel has also maintained an interest in composing and has benefited from working with some of the world's great conductors, soloists, and composers including John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mason Bates, Wayne Shorter, and Roberto Sierra.


Vincent Karamanov - bassoon

Vincent Karamanov is currently 3rd Bassoon/Contrabassoon with the Grand Rapids Symphony and Principal Bassoon with West Michigan Symphony. He has also performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra under maestro Edo de Waart, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. He studied under Professor Michael Kroth at Michigan State University where he earned his Master of Music degree in bassoon performance. Previously, he studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Ball State University. His teachers have included John Clouser of the Cleveland Orchestra, Dr. Keith Sweger, and Kenneth Pasmanick of the National Symphony Orchestra (retired). In the summer of 2011, he was a guest faculty artist at the Ball State Summer Bassoon Camp. Currently, he is the Bassoon Instructor at Acquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Vincent lives in the Westside neighborhood of Grand Rapids with his wife, Kelly. He enjoys micro-brews and collecting LP records.


Richard Britsch - horn

Richard Britsch teaches French Horn at Grand Valley State University and is the Principal Horn of the Grand Rapids Symphony, a position he has held since 1990. Formerly with the Florida Orchestra and the Southwest Florida Symphony, he has appeared as soloist numerous times with the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Peninsula Music Festival on the scenic Door County peninsula on Green Bay in Wisconsin, where he has also been Principal Horn since 1992. He performs regularly with the Detroit Symphony and has performed as guest Principal Horn with the Milwaukee Symphony and the Taegu City Symphony in Korea. In addition to being a founding member of the Florida Wind Quintet, he was a member of the Emerald Brass, which won first prize in both the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and the Yamaha/Summit Brass International Brass Competition. He holds a BA from the University of South Florida in Tampa where his principal teacher was Ralph Froelich and participated in such festivals as the Southern Illinois Music Festival, the Florida Music Festival and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Austria. He has taught horn at Calvin College, Grand Rapids Community College, and Manatee Community College in Bradenton, Florida, as well as horn and brass ensembles at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and the Luzerne Music Center in New York's Adirondack Park. He is a member of Beyond Classical and Ensemble Montage, two music groups dedicated to introducing great music to new audiences.


To book a HS/MS clinic, contact Dr. Marlen Vavrikova at (616) 331-2999, or email