Past Seasons Featured Artists

Michael Samis, cello

Michael Samis Cello

Michael Samis

In a recent review, Fanfare Magazine (Nov./Dec. 2014) stated that Michael Samis’s playing places him “in the very highest echelon of the world’s living cellists.” He is recognized for his “golden tone and commanding technique (Nashville Scene), “haunting” tone (The Cincinnati Post) and “shining and expressive” playing (The Tennessean). In 2013, he gave what was likely the U.S. premiere of Carl Reinecke’s Romantic-era Cello Concerto with the Gateway Chamber Orchestra, which set the stage for his debut solo album on the Delos label, released in 2014.

Samis performed Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at age 17. Other solo performances have included Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major with the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra, Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Bryan Symphony and Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestras, and Lalo’s Cello Concerto with the Blue Ash Symphony Orchestra.

He has given solo recitals around the U.S. He recently performed on Stopping By, a Delos Productions’ CD recorded with tenor Kyle Bielfield and pianist Lachlan Glen. In 2007, he recorded a CD with soprano Karen Parks, Nobody Knows: Songs of Harry T. Burleigh. He frequently performs on National Public Radio affiliate WPLN’s Live in Studio C program.

Currently Principal Cellist with the Nashville Opera Orchestra, he was a member of the Nashville Symphony for 15 years Samis is Co-Principal Cellist of the Grammy®-nominated Gateway Chamber Orchestra, with whom he has recorded on Summit Records (Chamber Symphonies, released in 2012).

He has performed in music festivals around the world, including the Pacific Music Festival in Japan, where he sat Principal Cello under the baton of Michael Tilson-Thomas.  Samis graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1999 with the Ellis A. Feiman Award in Cello. In Cleveland, Samis studied with the Cleveland Orchestra’s longtime Principal Cellist, Stephen Geber. He has also studied with Desmond Hoebig, Jerry Grossman (Principal Cellist, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) and Geraldine Sutyak.

Samis was awarded a 2013 Tennessee Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship in Music for Solo Instrumental Performance. In his parallel career in clinical social work, Samis uses the evocative voice of the cello in psychotherapy to help people connect with their inner path toward healing. He plays an Italian cello made in Naples circa 1850.

John T. Posadas, Violist

John Posadas Violin

John Posadas

John T. Posadas is a resident artist at the University of South Florida’s School of Music, where he is adjunct professor of viola and chamber music. Recitals have taken him across the country and abroad with appearances at the Kennedy Center, Severance Hall, Tanglewood, Aspen, Interlochen, the Juilliard School, Chautauqua, Canada, Germany and Mexico. He has been seen on PBS/KET’s Live at the Governor’s Mansion and Aspen’s Plum TV network and his performances have been heard on NPR stations across the country, including appearances on New York’s WQXR and multiple appearances on ‘The Front Row’ on Houston’s KUHF. John has also recorded for Sony Masterworks, Albany Records, and Higher Step Records. Most recently, he has served as co-coordinator of the Rutenberg Chamber Music Festival, co-director of USF ChamberFest, and artistic director of the Heath Recital Series.

As a chamber musician, he has won top prizes at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and the Chamber Music International Competition and has collaborated with many of the world’s leading artists including Edgar Meyer, Alex Kerr, James Ehnes, Joseph Silverstein, and members of the Cleveland, Turtle Island, Muir, Pro Arte, Concord, and Fry Street Quartets. He has performed extensively as violist with the Tokai Quartet, the Vinca Quartet, and the Kailas Quartet. He is currently the violist for the Baumer Quartet ( and the Ars Nova String Trio (

As an orchestral musician, Posadas has performed under the baton of such luminaries as Seiji Ozawa, Kurt Masur, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Rafael Fruebeck de Burgos and Charles Dutoit with the Houston Symphony, Houston Chamber Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, and the New World Symphony. He has served as principal or assistant principal viola with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Western Piedmont Symphony, Woodlands Symphony, and the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra. He has toured with Harry Connick Jr. and the Transiberian Orchestra, and John recently recorded for Gloria Estefan’s most recent album for Sony Masterworks.

An advocate for contemporary music, John has worked closely with many of today’s leading composers including Joan Tower, Augusta Read Thomas, Elliott Carter, Baljinder Sekhon, Sydney Hodkinson, and many more. In 2007, John, as a member of the Kailas Quartet, gave the world premiere of the Sydney Hodkinson’s Sixth String Quartet at the Aspen Music Festival. For three years, he played an active role at the Festival of Contemporary Music at the Tanglewood Music festival, and in 2009 he gave the premiere of Conor Brown’s ‘Caldera Blossoms’ at the Deer Valley Music Festival. Most recently, John has given the premieres of Charles Krenner’s String Quartet (2012) at the Monterey Chamber Music Workshop and Baljinder Sekhon’s “Four-Sided Life” at the Florida State Music Teacher’s Association Conference.

A sought-after clinician and teacher, Posadas has taught masterclasses and lessons at institutions across America, including the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the Colorado Suzuki Institute, Music at Port Milford, organized a two week outreach residency in Hickory, NC in conjunction with Chamber Music America and the Western Piedmont Symphony and he has joined the faculties at Chamber Music of the Rockies in Beaver Creek, CO, the Brevard Chamber Music Seminar, the Crowden Music Center Chamber Music Workshop, the Sequoia Chamber Music Workshop, and the Monterrey Chamber Music Workshop. Raised in Kentucky, he received his B.M. degree in violin/viola at the University of Kentucky and continued his graduate studies at Rice University and the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Season highlights include an upcoming recording for Albany Records and appearances at the 2013 Rutenberg Chamber Music Festival, the Big Arts Classical Afternoon Series, a visual arts collaboration at the von Liebig Arts Center, USF ChamberFest, the Mainly Mozart Festival (Miami), the Sundays at Four Chamber Music Series in Berkely, CA, and the Masterguild Chamber Music Series in Oakland, CA. Many of these concerts include collaborations wtih the Baumer String Quartet, the Ars Nova String Trio, pianist Roy Bogas, Musicians from Beyond the Chamber, the Russian Cultural Center of Naples, members of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, visual artist Tammra Sigler, and many more.

Dickie Fleisher, Harpist

To Perform in Season Finale

Dickie Fleischer Harp

Dickie Fleischer

Dickie Fleisher, Naples Philharmonic’ principal harp, began studying the harp at the age of 10. His first teacher was his grandmother, Nettie Druzinsky, who was the accompanist for fan dancer Sally Rand.

After graduating from the University of Miami, Fleisher joined the Naples Philharmonic and the Miami City Ballet orchestra. Fleisher was the principal harpist with the Nagoya (Japan) Symphony and the Orchestra of the Mineria (Mexico). He is the son of pianist Leon Fleisher and nephew of Edward Druzinsky, former principal harpist with the Chicago Symphony. Fleisher’s two sisters are harpists in Miami and Washington and his wife, Kayo Ishimaru, is the harpist with the Jacksonville Symphony and the Grant Park Symphony. Fleisher’s latest recording is entitled The Enchanted Oboe with Andrew Snedeker, oboe, and James Cochran, keyboard.

In his spare time he enjoys playing with his three German Shepherds, Rodan, Gedora and Momo, and tries to corner the world market on harps. Fleisher has been a member of the Naples Philharmonic since 1983.

Luciano Marsalli

To Perform in Season Finale

 Luciano Marsalli Vocalist

Luciano Marsalli

Luciano Marsalli is just 15 years old and an 11th grade Naples student. He has been an active vocalist, performing with several opera companies in over 20 professional productions including La Boheme, Il Trovatore, and Carmen. He has been section leader and leading soloist in The Barber of Seville and Nabucco, and Hansel and Gretel and Amahl and the Night Visitors, respectively.

Luciano has studied voice with Steffanie Pearce for eight years. He competitive awards include four 1st place prizes (including 2015), in the Naples Music Club Competition, and 1st place in the junior vocal category of the Jillian Prescott Awards. Most recently, Luciano attended the prestigious vocal program at the 2015 Brevard Summer Institute, where he studied with the widely acclaimed Joseph Evans.

Luciano has also played violin since age three and studies with Patrick Neal, assistant principal violinist of the Naples Philharmonic. He is also a member of the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and has been accepted into the Florida Allstate Orchestra for three consecutive years. In addition, he is second violin in the Kapella Quartette which is coached primarily by Glenn Basham, concertmaster of the Naples Philharmonic.

Kelly Utterback

Kelly Utterback
Chorus Accompanist

Kelly Utterback graduated from Western Michigan University in 2003 with a degree in Music Education. While at Western, she studied piano under Dr. David Gross and Dr. Lori Sims. She performed in solo recitals, chamber groups, and was the accompanist for several of her fellow students. She also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Joe Miller and WMU’s Grand Chorus.

Since moving to Naples in 2009, Kelly has collaborated with several local schools and studio instructors. She is the current accompanist for Barron Collier High School’s Choral Program and toured in Italy with their concert choir in the spring of 2012. She has also accompanied the Collier County Honors Choir, rehearsed with Opera Naples, and worked with several of the private teachers of Artis—Naples. She absolutely loves working with students of all ages and can often be found accompanying at Solo & Ensemble festivals, the Naples Music Club Competition, and student recitals.

In her spare time, Kelly enjoys walking the beach and watching the sunsets with her husband, Larry.