Biography

 

 

The Duo Francois combines the extraordinary gifts of Canadian Violinist Ronald Francois and Mexican Pianist Silvana Santinelli.  The energetic ensemble has quickly become well known and sought after for their dynamic performances.  The Duo brings together two internationally acclaimed soloists and chamber musicians, who combine charisma, musical command, synchronicity and virtuosity.

 

Ron Francois has performed in venues across the United States, Canada, Europe and Mexico as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. His performances have consistently won the acclaim of notable musicians.  "...A fantastic violinist...a big talent" quoted Abram Shtern -concertmaster of the Kiev State Opera and Professor at the Kiev Conservatory.  Francois' playing is "...extremely musical. Francois plays with great sensitivity and warmth" quoted concert violinist Daniel Heifetz"....A wonderful musician...sensitive ensemble player and a brilliant violinist" said Michael Tree from the Guarneri String Quartet. 

Founder of the Duo Francois with pianist Silvana Santinelli, the duo was recently awarded the Silver Medal in the ‘Duo’ and ‘Emerging Artists’ categories at the Global Music Awards. This prize was awarded for the 2017 release of the Duo Francois’ first CD entitled “Mexico City Blues” on the Itinerant Classics label.

Most recently, the Mexico city Blues CD was nominated as a Semi-Finalist at the American Prize Music Awards in the category of Chamber Music- Professional Division. The finals take place in the spring of 2019.

From 2008-2012, Ron Francois served as the violinist for the Mendelssohn Trio and performed numerous concerts in Europe and the United States with this group. In 2010, the Denver post named the Mendelssohn Trio one of Colorado’s top chamber music groups. As a member of the Canadian chamber orchestra "IMusici de Montreal", Francois toured extensively in Canada and the USA. Francois appears on two CD’s with this group on the Chandos Label.

Ron François has also collaborated with some of the world’s finest musicians including Boris Garlitsky- former concertmaster of the London Philharmonic orchestra, Martin Chalifour- Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra, Arkady Fomin of the Dallas Symphony and the Borromeo String Quartet to name a few.

Ron Francois’ most influential mentors were, concert violinist Daniel Heifetz, Arnold Steinhardt and John Dalley from the Guarneri String Quartet, Elizabeth Adkins- former concertmaster of the National Symphony, David Salness of the Audubon Quartet, Svi Zeitlin and Charles Castleman from the Eastman School of Music.

As a teacher and pedagogue, Ron Francois has been in demand since 2004. He has presented numerous masterclasses in Canada, the United States, Mexico and China. In 2013, he won the "Outstanding Service Award for Teaching" from the "American String Teacher Association"  Colorado chapter.

Since 2002, Ron Francois has served as the head of the string division and is the main violin professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Silvana Santinelli has performed in Russia, Czech Republic, France, Canada, China and Switzerland, in addition to the United States and her native Mexico.  Santinelli’s many accomplishments include being the winner of the “XI Juegos Culturales para la niñez” in Mexico City; the “Young Artist Award” in San Antonio Texas; the “Ulrich Piano Competition”, in Maryland; the “French International Piano Festival Competition” in Paris; the “Josef Hoffman International Piano Competition”.  She has won important prizes at the “Corpus Christi International Concerto and Piano Solo Contest”;  “Kingsville International Young Performers Competition”; “Mid-Texas Symphony Society Young Artist Contest”; and “Five Towns Music and Art Foundation”.  Santinelli was a semifinalist at the International Competitions in Missouri, San Antonio and New Orleans.

 

Silvana Santinelli has performed as a soloist with important orchestras around the world including the San Antonio Symphony, the Ohio Valley Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and most recently with the “Orquesta Sinfónica de Guanajuato”.  Among other venues, Silvana Santinelli has performed at the “Kennedy Center” in Washington DC;  Palacio de Bellas Artes, in Mexico City; “Festival Sala Beethoven” in Monterrey Mexico; University of Xalapa, in Xalapa Veracruz, Mexico; Festival “El Paseo” in South Padre Island Texas; Tuesday Music Club in San Antonio, Texas; Instituto Cultural Mexicano en Washington, D.C; Phillips Collection in Washington, DC; “Arts Club” en Washington, D.C.; Teatro Juárez, in Guanajuato México.

Santinelli has a Bachelor of Arts from  St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas; a Master of Music from the University of Texas, San Antonio Texas; a Doctoral of Music Arts from the University of Maryland, College Park Maryland. Her main instructors include: Santiago Rodríguez, Andre Watts, Alexander Alexandrov, Emmett Vokes, Pauline Glickman, Valeri Grokovski and Robert Avalon.

The former winner of the prestigious Fulbright Garcia-Robles, has two CD’s with the piano music of Mexican composer Rodolfo Halffter.  Those are available under “Centaur Records” label.  At the end of this year  the recording of the Piano Concerto by Carlos Chávez will be available under “Itinerant Classics”.  

 

In addition to her extensive career as a soloist, Dr. Santinelli is a member of the “Duo Francois” with violinist Ronald Francois.   The duo was recently awarded the prestigious Mexican FONCA grant and the Duo's first CD entitled "Mexico City Blues" is being released  on the  “Itinerant Classics” label in September of 2017. The CD features compositions for violin and piano written by Juno award winning Canadian composer Andrew Paul MacDonald, ASCAP award winning American Composer Jim David, and Pulitzer nominated Mexican composer, Juan Trigos.

Newly commissioned works for the Duo Francois are in the preparation stages and a recording of CD number two is in the planning stages.

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