The Musicians of Ma'alwyck

Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz


Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz attended Boston University, where she studied with Roger Shermont and received a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance. From 1982-1997 she was a member of the first violin section of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and currently performs with the Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra. She is director and violinist of Musicians of Ma’alwyck. She received her Master’s degree in American History from the University at Albany (New York), where she specialized in research of music in America during the 1700s and 1800s. A Cunningham Research Resident at the New York State Library, she worked on early 19th-century musical activities in Albany, culminating in a production in 2009 of George Washington’s favorite opera The Poor Soldier by William Shield and John O’Keefe.  Ms. Schwartz was a producer for Dorian Recordings, and continues in that capacity for the award-winning Baroque ensemble REBEL. Their last recording, devoted to music of Telemann, was in the 2014 Grammy pool.   Ms. Schwartz has taught music history at the University at Albany and Siena College.  She is the adjunct professor of violin and viola at Schenectady County Community College (SCCC) and at Union College.




Sten Yngvar Isachsen


Sten Isachsen has been a member of Musicians of Ma’alwyck since 2001, and commissioned a new work for the ensemble by mandolist Bob Bates, which was premiered in 2005. An Assistant Professor of Music at Schenectady County Community College, he oversees an outstanding undergraduate Music Audio Technology program as well as a Guitar Performance program.

Isachsen is a founding member of the Finger Lakes Guitar Quartet, which has commissioned works from composers Anthony Holland and Brett Wery. Isachsen has also performed with The Albany Symphony, Albany Pro Musica, Capital Region Wind Ensemble and the Empire Jazz Orchestra.

In addition to his work as a classical guitarist, Isachsen is endorsed by Martin Guitars, Eastman String Instruments, D’Addario Strings and performs regularly on a variety of instruments, working with Country Music Hall of Famers Charlie Louvin, The Haggar Twins and many upstate New York musicians including Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys, Caroline MotherJudge, and GX3+.

Isachsen is owner of North Albany Studios, a rehearsal studio complex and recording facility. He is also engineer and producer at Bender Studios, a recording facility in Delmar, NY. Clients include Gibson-endorsed mandolinist Skip Gorman, jazz guitarist George Muscatello, jazz saxophonist Brian Patneaude, the Empire Jazz Orchestra, Caroline MotherJudge, The Lustre Kings, and Full Circle.



Petia Kassarova


Cellist Petia Kassarova enjoys an active career as a chamber musician, orchestra player and a teacher. She began playing at the age of ten in her native Bulgaria. She is a prizewinner of many national competitions in Bulgaria and a concerto competition winner at the University of Massachusetts. She was a member of the Vidin philharmonic and toured with the orchestra in Western Europe. Prior to her arrival to America, Ms.Kassarova was a principal cellist of the Orquestra Simfonica de Ribeirao Preto Brazil and appeared with Bulgarian Chamber ensemble on the Brazilian national television program “Primeiro Movimento” channel Globo. She was professor of cello at the Musical Academy of Ribeirao Preto, Brazil. Ms.Kassarova studied at Bulgarian National Music Academy and holds an Artist Diploma from Duquesne University. She received her Master’s Degree in Music from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Ms. Kassarova is a member of the Albany Symphony Orchestra and assistant principal cellist of the Berkshire Opera Festival orchestra and as an active musician she has performed with the Festival Orchestra of Brazil, Syracuse Symphony, Ohio Light Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Key West Symphony, Manchester Festival Orchestra, Berkshire Bach Society and other regional orchestras. Ms. Kassarova is a founding member of “Musicians of Ma’alwyck” and is on the faculty of Schenectady County Community College.




Norman Thibodeau


Norman Thibodeau has been a member of Musicians of Ma'alwyck since 2006. He also performs with the wind quintet Fünf and Vermont Virtuosi, and has performed with the Maverick Chamber Players. He was assistant principal flutist of the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México, and has played with almost all the professional orchestras in and near the Capital Region of New York State. In 2008, he was guest solo artist for the Skidmore College Flute Festival. He has recorded solo flute works of Anthony Holland for Albany Records, and has had both live and recorded performances broadcast on NPR.

He embraces variety and versatility in his performing life, having performed on a range of flutes from baroque traverso to contrabass flute, plus a quarter-tone flute including a sliding headjoint.

Also a composer, Norman has works published and recorded by ALRY Publications and Albany Records. Norman was trained at Peabody Conservatory and the University at Albany. His teachers include Irvin Gilman, Robert Dick, Stephen Preston, and Britton Johnson.

Norman teaches flute at Schenectady Community College and the Berkshire Music School. He also teaches extended flute techniques each summer at the Wildacres Flute Retreat, and has taught flute at Colgate University, the College of St. Rose, and the University at Albany.

Additionally, Norman is a trained practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method, an approach to movement education that musicians in particular have found highly beneficial to their performance level and comfort.