River Town Duo

Biographie River Town Duo

Philip Alejo
is the Associate Professor of Music, Double Bass at the University of Arizona and Artist Faculty at the Bay View Music Festival. Previously he served as Associate Principal Bass of the Quad City Symphony and Visiting Professor of Bass at the University of Michigan. A former member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Philip has additionally performed with the Tucson Symphony, Arizona Opera, Ensemble Dal Niente, Flint Symphony, and Ann Arbor Symphony. As a chamber musician, Philip collaborates regularly with harpist Claire Happel Ashe in River Town Duo, which has premiered many newly commissioned works by living composers, including Caroline Shaw, Stephen Andrew Taylor, and Hannah Lash. His numerous music festivals and residencies include Spoleto Festival USA, Lucerne Festival, Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival, Mackinac Island Music Festival, Oaxaca Instrumenta, Aldeburgh Festival, Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival, and Aspen Music Festival. Philip teaches at the Arizona ASTA Bass Jams and the Richard Davis Bass Conference at the University of Wisconsin. He was recently named Guest Professor at the Wuhan Conservatory of Music and MusAid Teaching Artist at El Sistema, El Salvador. Philip holds degrees from Oberlin College (BA, BM), Yale University (MM), and the University of Michigan (DMA), where his principal teachers included Diana Gannett, Donald Palma, Peter Dominguez, and Thomas Sperl.

Claire Happel Ashe
is a versatile performer known for integrating diverse aspects of movement and music. As a harpist, she has appeared with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional of the Dominican Republic, and the Newberry Consort among many other ensembles. She regularly collaborates in chamber music performances with bassist Philip Alejo (River Town Duo), oboist Karisa Werdon (Immer Neu), and guitarist James Moore and mandolin player Jeremy Harting (Noble Fowl Trio). An advocate of new music, she has performed with contemporary ensembles such as the Chicago Composers Orchestra, International Ensemble Modern Academy, and the Pulitzer Series of St. Louis, and commissioned new works with grants from the Urbana Public Arts Program, City of Chicago Cultural Affairs, American Harp Society, and the Illinois Arts Council. In the summers, she has performed at the Midwest Harp Festival, American Harp Society Conferences and Institutes in Chicago, Logan (UT), and Tacoma (WA), and presented at the World Harp Congress in Dublin and Alexander Technique Congress in Chicago. In addition to performances on the modern pedal harp, Claire has performed on the Baroque triple harp since 2016 mentored by artists such as Cheryl Ann Fulton, Charlotte Mattax Moersch, and Christa Patton at the Madison Early Music Festival and Queens College Early Opera Workshop. She holds degrees in music performance from Yale University and the University of Illinois, where she also received a BFA in Dance, and was a 2007-08 Fulbright Scholar in Prague. She has served on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, Illinois Summer Youth Music, and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and as a teaching assistant at Yale University, the University of Illinois, and the Music in the Mountains Festival. She currently teaches harp, Alexander Technique, and movement at the Music Institute of Chicago, Valparaiso University, Olivet Nazarene University, and the James Hart Harp Program in the Homewood Public Schools.

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