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Musicians - Jan. 2019

Craig Reiss - violin


Craig Reiss grew up in Sacramento and became a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in 1993. He also holds the position of Associate Principal Second Violin with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.

Mr. Reiss has been a featured soloist with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Central Massachusetts Symphony, the National Repertory Orchestra, and the Vallejo Symphony. 

Mr. Reiss earned his Bachelor of Music degree while working with Rafael Druian at Boston University, and in 1987 became an Associate of the Royal College of Music in London where he studied with Trevor Williams. He has participated in the Tanglewood, Spoleto, and Colorado Music Festivals.


Craig is the founding member of the Eos Ensemble, a chamber group comprised of Opera and Ballet musicians, whose goal is to present concerts of wide ranging musical styles and instrumental combinations. The San Francisco Classical Voice wrote of them recently: "they performed with depth and power."Craig enjoys skiing, running and cycling when he’s not enjoying time with his wife Cheryl and kids Alana and Julian.

Julie McKenzie - flute


is Principal Flutist of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and Piccoloist of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, positions that she has held since 1991. She is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she was a student of Lloyd Gowen. Other teachers and mentors have included Paul Renzi, Julius Baker, Peter Lloyd and Keith Underwood.

In her earlier career, Julie participated as an orchestral fellow in the Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood, and she was featured in a CBC television documentary with Jean Pierre Rampal.  For many years Julie was a member of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the San Francisco Chamber Symphony and the Anchor Chamber Players. As a soloist, she has appeared at the Carmel Bach and Mendocino Music Festivals, and with the New Century Chamber Orchestra. She has recorded for New Albion and Teldec Records, among others.

In addition to orchestral playing, Julie enjoys collaborating with colleagues in chamber music settings. She has appeared with many Bay Area ensembles, including the Gold Coast Chamber Players, Eos Ensemble, Master Guild Series and the Sierra Chamber Players. Julie has also performed in concert with Renee Fleming, Susan Graham and Frederica von Stade.

When not playing the flute, Julie enjoys being active at the gym, the yoga studio, on her bike or on hiking trails. Julie resides in San Francisco with her husband, bassist Ken Miller.

Ken Miller - Contrabass

Bassist Kenneth Miller, a San Francisco native, is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His bass teachers have included Charles Siani, Jean-Marc Rollez, and Franco Petracchi. 

In the classical music world, he is currently performing with the San Francisco Symphony, and has played and recorded with the San Francisco Opera, San Jose Symphony, and Philharmonia Baroque orchestras, as well as the Kronos and Turtle Island String Quartets.

In the realm of jazz, Ken has played with many leading musicians including saxophonists Branford Marsalis, Pharoh Sanders, Gary Foster, guitarists Bruce Forman, Mimi Fox, and pianists Marion McPartland, George Cables, Al Plank, Mark Levine, and George Gaffney.

Ken’s most recent interest is in the music of Brazil. In addition to playing bass in this context, he is also studying guitar and percussion in order to more fully immerse himself in this music.

John Churchwell - piano

One of the leading collaborative pianists of his generation, John Churchwell enjoys a career on the concert stage as well as in the nation’s leading opera houses.

In August 2011, Mr. Churchwell was named Head of Music for San Francisco Opera.


Previously, Mr. Churchwell was an assistant conductor for both the Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Opera for 14 years.  He has assisted on more than 100 productions and has collaborated with some of the world’s leading conductors including James Levine, Nello Santi, Nicola Luisotti, James Conlon, Donald Runnicles, Sir Charles Mackerras, Marco Armiliato, and Fabio Luisi.

A champion of American music, John was involved in the world premieres of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby and Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. In recent seasons, Mr. Churchwell has prepared the world premieres of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Christopher Theofanidis’ Heart of a Soldier, as well as

the Philip Glass opera Appomattox, the Stewart Wallace/Amy Tan collaboration The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne, and the recent world premiere of Girls of the Golden West by John Adams, all for San Francisco Opera. From 2005-2008 Mr. Churchwell was the official accompanist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.

On the recital stage, Mr. Churchwell has partnered some of today’s most sought-after vocalists. Recent appearances include San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall and the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis, CA with tenor Michael Fabiano and the Hollywood Bowl for Prairie Home Companion with soprano Ellie Dehn. In addition to song recitals, Mr. Churchwell is an active chamber musician and has appeared regularly with members of the Metropolitan and San Francisco’s Opera Orchestras.


A native of Knoxville, TN, Mr. Churchwell studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and Tufts University where he earned a Bachelor of Music in Piano and a Bachelor of Arts in French, respectively. Mr. Churchwell continued his studies at the University of Minnesota where he earned a Master of Music and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Accompanying. Mr. Churchwell studied song literature at the Banff Centre for the Arts and remains the only pianist to be invited for three summers as a Tanglewood Fellow. Mr. Churchwell is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program.