|The string quartet is named in recognition of the Samuel Goldberg Foundation for their generous, on-going support of CSUN Music Department programs, including the string quartet.
Tamara Gyulnazarova, First Violin: A native of Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, Soviet Union, Tamara began playing violin at the age of 8 under the tutelage of her mother. By 12, she had won prizes in local MTAC competitions including the Contemporary Music Festival, Scholarship Competition, and Bach Festival, among others. She completed the Certificate of Merit program with honors at the age of 16 and was annually selected for the Honors Recital and Convention. As a freshman, she won the CSUN Concerto Competition and performed with the CSUN Symphony Orchestra. The following year, she performed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with David Newman at CSUN. She has performed as soloist and concertmaster at venues such as the Shrine Auditorium and Disney Hall and was the first place winner of the 2010 Gail Newby Concerto Competition, which gave her the opportunity to appear as a soloist with the Antelope Valley Symphony. She has been a member of the San Fernando Valley Symphony under the baton of Maestro James Domine for several years now and regularly performs as a soloist with the orchestra. Tamara is a graduate student pursuing her MM in Violin Performance, studying with Mike Ferril.
Ben Thomason, Second Violin: A native of Boulder, Colorado, Ben grew up playing violin from the age of 3 with the Suzuki Method. He earned a B.A. in Violin Performance from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where he studied with Dr. Susan Pickett and Dr. Amy N.S. Dodds. He was a member of the Walla Walla Symphony for four years and, as a winner of the Whitman College Concerto/Aria Competition, performed as soloist with the Whitman College Symphony on a tour throughout the Northwest. In Los Angeles, Ben teaches Suzuki Violin privately and at Cornerstone Music Conservatory in West L.A., and has performed with the CalTech/Occidental College Symphony, The UCLA Philharmonia, and the Santa Monica Symphony, including collaborations with Tavis Smiley and jazz guitar legend Kenny Burrell. He has over six years of experience performing chamber music, and has worked under the direction of both the Cavani and Pacifica String Quartets. Ben is a graduate student pursuing his MM in Violin Performance, studying with Mike Ferril.
Robin Ross, Viola: A native of Pasadena, California, Robin is a professional freelance musician in the Los Angeles recording, television, film and theatre industries. She is a founding/tenured member of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, 1989 to present, and has performed with the Los Angeles Opera, the Pasadena and Long Beach Symphonies, and the Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra. She has worked with such major artists as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Peobo Bryson, Roberta Flack, Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, Kenny Rogers, Smokey Robinson, and Earth, Wind and Fire. Robin has toured Europe, Asia and Africa with various ensembles, and she is a member of the Composers Ensemble of Los Angeles (CELA) and Ellington Quartet. She has many musical theatre credits, as well as performances with major ballet companies. Robin has feature film credits on over 340 movies, with composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, John Williams and James Horner, to name a few. Robin is a senior pursuing her BM in Viola Performance, studying with Robert Berg.
Billy Tobenkin, ‘Cello: A native of Pacific Palisades, California, Billy earned a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Cornell University. His interest in literature led him to classical music and eventually to the cello, which he began learning at age 25. He has played with the symphonies at CSUN and Santa Monica College, with the San Fernando Valley, West Coast, and Topanga Symphonies, the Los Angeles Dream Orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Brentwood Westwood Symphony Orchestra, of which he is the youngest member on the Board of Directors. This past summer (2012), he also participated in the S.O.A.P. music festival in British Columbia, Canada. Aside from orchestral performing, Billy also teaches cello and enjoys performing at schools, churches, and retirement homes as community service. Billy is a senior pursuing his second bachelor’s degree as a BM in Cello Performance, studying with David Aks.