Thomas Mesa, Cuban-American cellist, has established himself as one of the most charismatic, innovative, and engaging performers of his generation. He was the winner of the $50,000 First Prize in the 2016 Sphinx Competition; the Thaviu Competition for String Performance (Chicago, 2013); The Astral Artists 2017 National Auditions; and the Alhambra Orchestra Concerto Competition. He has appeared as soloist with major orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, The Cleveland Orchestra, Santa Barbara Symphony, and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Highlights for the 2021/2022 Season include the world premiere of Jessie Montgomery’s Divided for solo cello and orchestra (on tour) at major venues across the U.S., a concerto premiere by Andrea Casarrubios with Indianapolis Symphony, premieres in recital by Carlos Simon and Stephanie Ann Boyd, and multiple recording projects released on all streaming platforms. Recently, Thomas was featured as the cover story of the September/October, 2020 issue of Strings Magazine.
As a recitalist, Thomas has been featured at the Mainly Mozart Festival in Miami, The Academy of Arts and Letters, Bargemusic, University of Miami’s Signature Series, Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, Columbia University, Flagler Museum, Carnegie Hall, two appearances at the U.S. Supreme Court, guest artist at The Heifetz Institute, California Center for the Arts, Meadowmount School of Music, Strad for Lunch Series, International Beethoven Project, Perlman Music Program Alumni Recital, and major universities across the United States.
As a recording artist, Thomas has multiple projects in collaboration with PARMA Recordings, including an album called Division of Memory to be released in 2021 on all streaming platforms. Thomas was featured on the GRAMMY-nominated album, “Bonhoeffer,” with the multiple GRAMMY winning group, The Crossing Choir. He has appeared with them as soloist at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, Longwood Gardens, The Winter Garden, and the Theological Seminary in NYC. Thomas and The Crossing Choir have also collaborated on the U.S. premiere of “Astralis” for choir and solo cello by renowned composer Wolfgang Rihm and have more collaborations/premieres scheduled for future seasons.
Praised by the critics for her “technically fluid, dramatically convincing, and sonically full-bodied supportive collaborations” (Boston Globe) - Milana Strezeva is a Moldovan-American pianist. At the age of 11 she began playing chamber music with her clarinetist father and her mother, a renowned soprano. Milana's love for family collaboration eventually grew into a passionate advocacy of vocal and instrumental chamber music.
A founding member of the award-winning Manhattan Piano Trio, one of the most creative and dynamic young ensembles in America, Milana has performed with them in over 30 American states, in Australia, South Africa and Italy, and in venues such as Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, and the Ravinia Festival. The Washington Post described the Trio as "impressive" and "outstanding", while the Sarasota Herald Tribune said "one seldom is privileged to enjoy music of such a wide range of styles performed with self-effacing skill and relaxed assurance." A CD of Schumann and Chopin trios in honor of the composers bicentennials, was successfully released on the Marquis Classics label in 2009.
Milana is a recipient of Grand Prizes at the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition; Australian Broadcasting Corporation Listeners Choice Award in Melbourne, IBLA International Competition as a vocal collaborator, and Arts Recognition and Talent Search Award. Among the prominent venues in which she has performed are - Carnegie Hall (New York), Jordan Hall (Boston), Kravis Center (West Palm Beach), Gusman Hall (Miami); Shenzhen Concert Hall (China), South Melbourne Town Hall (Australia), Linder Auditorium (South Africa).
Milana's most enduring and treasured collaboration is with her mother, the renowned Soprano, Svetlana Strezeva (a.k.a. "The Russian Nightingale" and winner of the 1982 Tchaikovsky Competition). With programs that reflect their love of Russian vocal literature, they have given recitals across the US as well as in Italy, Denmark, Germany, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, and China.
A consummate vocal coach, Milana has been part of several opera productions including Dicapo Opera (NYC), Sorg Opera (OH), and American Opera Company (NYC). She has collaborated with conductors Paul Nadler, Bruno Rigacci, Enrique Carreón-Robledo, Curtis Tucker, Elaine Rinaldi, and Luis Salemno. While leaving in NY, Milana has worked in voice studios of Anna Moffo, Dody Protero, Joshua Hecht, Doris Yarrick – Cross, Richard Cross, Antonia Lavan, Patricia McAffrey and played for voice lessons at the Juilliard School, Mannes College, Brooklyn College, and Hofstra University.
Having studied piano with Bella Davidovich, Julian Martin, Boris Lvov, and Tatiana Gershfeld, Milana has also studied chamber music with Bruce Brubacker, Felix Galimir, Jonathan Feldman, Seymour Lipkin, Joseph Kalichstein, Joel Krosnik, Jacob Lateiner, Charles Neidich, Toby Appel, and song repertoire with Brian Zeger and Thomas Grubb. Milana received her Bachelor and Master degrees from The Juilliard School on a full scholarship.
Currently, Milana lives in Naples, FL and is a Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Grand Piano Series.