About the Performers
A native of Damascus, Syria, Bassam studied with the late Isadore Tinkleman at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and subsequently with renowned professor Donald Weilerstein at the Cleveland Institute of Music earning Master of Music and Professional Studies degrees. After performing with the New World Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas, Mr. Nashawati joined the San Antonio Symphony’s first violin section in fall 1999 and held a position as an adjunct faculty at St. Philip’s College for several years. He particularly enjoys working with young students and performers, coaching and leading sectionals with the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio (YOSA). Mr. Nashawati has appeared many times as a recitalist and soloist with the Syrian National Symphony in his native country performing the Beethoven Violin Concerto, which took him on a tour to the US in 1998. Since 2004, Bassam has practically toured the world performing with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO) as Associate Concertmaster and Principal Second Violin. WEDO is an orchestra comprised of Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab musicians, founded by world-renowned conductor/pianist Daniel Barenboim and his friend the late Palestinian Edward Said, promoting peace and dialogue among its musicians. He rejoined the WEDO as recently as November of 2018 in another US tour that included a performance at Carnegie Hall, the Walt Disney Hall in L.A. among others (for more detailed information about Bassam’s experience with the WEDO please click here.)
Mr. Nashawati had the privilege to perform several chamber music concerts with Mr. Barenboim and members of Berlin Philharmonic including the concertmaster (at the time) Guy Braunstein, at the historic Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and at the Salzburg Music Festival in Austria. In addition to his involvement with WEDO, Mr. Nashawati has been part of the Palestinian National Orchestra since its founding year in 2011 and has toured with them in Indonesia, Jordan and the West Bank. Bassam has also pursued a theological degree in Orthodox Christian Studies and has been serving as a deacon since 2005 at St. Ephraim Orthodox Church in San Antonio of which he is a founding member.
Benjamin Westney received both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Music from The University of Texas at Austin, where he studied with Bion Tsang and Phyllis Young. He has held positions in the Austin Symphony and Waco Symphony, where he was Principal cello, and performed for several years with the San Antonio Symphony. Ben has also participated in many summer festivals, including the Victoria Bach Festival (TX), Sunriver Music Festival (OR), and Opera in the Ozarks. As a chamber musician Ben has performed throughout Central Texas on various concert series, and as a member of the Texas State University Faculty String Quartet, where he held the cello instructor position. He toured the world with recording artist David Byrne (formerly of The Talking Heads), and has performed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Austin City Limits. He can currently be heard at the Majestic Theater for Broadway Across America, and on internationally distributed and Grammy-nominated recordings on the Naxos, Capstone, Harmonia Mundi, Jagjaguwar, Bedlamb, and Merge labels. Ben earned an MBA from Texas Tech University in 2013 and he is now a wealth management advisor with Pensionmark Financial Group. Ben resides in San Antonio with his wife, Stephanie, a violinist in the San Antonio Symphony and lecturer at UTSA, their three young sons and two dogs, where he enjoys swimming, hiking, watching the Spurs, and cooking. Ben is the current Board Chair of Youth Orchestras of San Antonio and a proud member of AFM Local 23.
American pianist Jean (Huang) Park is an active performer, teacher, and collaborator. She has performed in many cities in the United States as well as abroad in Norway, Sweden, Poland, Austria and the Czech Republic. Jean Park has competed in the Schubert Club's Scholarship Competition while it was a national competition twice, winning second place in the college division in 2009, and returning in 2013 to win first place in the graduate division. She also received second place in the Bauru-Atlanta Piano Competition. Additionally, Jean Park has been the recipient of many scholarships to music festivals such as Icicle Creek Winter Piano Festival, Texas State International Piano Festival, Playing for the Gold 2015 in Stavanger, Norway as part of the international chamber festival, Aurora Chamber Music and Masterclasses in Trollhättan, Sweden, Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival, Round Top Music Festival, International Keyboard Institute and Festival, Hot Springs Music Festival and National Music Festival. Jean has performed a live solo performance that was broadcast on air on WSMR RADIO and a recording of her playing is in the soundtrack for the film Don't Let the Night End available on Amazon prime video. Jean Park has her Doctorate of Musical Arts from Stony Brook University, where she studied with Gilbert Kalish. She previously graduated from Manhattan School of Music completing the Master's in Music degree in Piano Performance studying with Daniel Epstein and Andre Michel Schub. Jean also completed double bachelor degrees from the University of Washington both in piano studying with Regina Yeh, and also in business. Jean's other principal teachers include Eteri Andjaparidze and Mary Toy. Jean Park is adjunct piano faculty at San Antonio College and University of Incarnate Word.