“An evening of musical perfection”  The Royal Gazette

Thomas Gallant, Artistic Director
Caeli Smith, Associate Director

Frisson is explosive!


Frisson features the best and brightest of classical music's stars and the group showcases emerging young artists as well as seasoned professionals.  In just a few seasons the group has skyrocketed to become one of the leading classical music groups in the field.  The members of Frisson all have impressive biographies and many have performed at such prestigious venues as the Verbier Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Marlboro Festival, and Ravinia Festivals as well as in New York City at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall.  Many of the musicians are graduates of Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect program which trains the best young musicians for a chamber music career. 

Frisson is the rare group that does it all - the group expands and contracts into a variety of ensembles including quintets, sextets, and nonets, as well as a small chamber orchestra.  Frisson performs engaging programs for winds, piano trio and piano quartet programs, as well as popular programs featuring music by such composers as Gershwin and Piazzolla.   The ensemble performs in over 25 cities annually including appearances in such diverse venues as the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City, for the Da Camera Society in Los Angeles and at the Bermuda Festival. Frisson comes from the French word meaning “a shiver or a thrill, a sudden feeling of excitement.”

“An evening of musical perfection”  The Royal Gazette

Adelya Nartadjieva, violin

Caeli Smith, viola 

Julian Schwarz, cello

Sam Suggs, double bass

Ji Weon Ryuflute

Thomas Gallant, oboe 

Bixby Kennedy, clarinet

Rémy Taghavi, bassoon

Marika Bournaki, piano

Tom Gallant, oboe and Artistic Director 

Considered by many to be the most difficult of all the musical instruments, the oboe is often called the “ill wind that no one blows good.”   Tom is a First Prize Winner of the Concert Artists Guild International New York Competition and one of very few musicians ever to win this competition as an oboe soloist. His solo and chamber music performances have taken him to David Geffen Hall, Weill Recital Hall and the Frick Collection in New York City, to Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, to the Spoleto Festival in Italy, and to the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center.  He has appeared as guest soloist with the Kronos Quartet at the Ravinia Festival and has collaborated with flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, with Cuarteto Casals from Spain, the Calder, Tesla and Lark Quartets, Cuarteto Latinoamericano from Mexico and with the Adaskin String Trio.  Notable performances include a concert of solo and chamber music works for the oboe at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and tours across the United States as soloist with Camerata Bariloche from Argentina and the String Orchestra of New York City performing concerti by Bach and Vaughan-Williams.

Tom Gallant was born into a large working class family to a Portuguese mother and French father outside of Boston.   When he first brought home an oboe from the local band program his family was rather disappointed as they did not know what an oboe was and asked him to “go back to school and return it for an instrument like all the other kids play such as the trumpet or clarinet”. After initial successes at a young age he stopped performing for many years and only in recent years has he returned to performing on “the ill wind that no one blows good.” 

Tom Gallant has always worn many hats as a professional musician, concert producer, host and as an artist manager. Over the years he has been involved in managing several summer music festivals and produced concerts in a wide variety of places from Carnegie Hall in New York City to Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Tom produced his first concerts in his backyard as a child at the age of 12. He lives in New York City and keeps busy doing stand-up comedy, waiting in line at airport security, and traveling to exotic places.

“Mr. Gallant was the superb soloist”  - Cleveland Plain Dealer


Caeli Smith, viola and Associate Director

Violist Caeli Smith was born in Philadelphia and made her solo debut at age ten with the Philadelphia Classical Symphony. She holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Juilliard, where she was a principal violist of the Juilliard Orchestra, and received the William Schuman Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. Caeli was a prizewinner of Juilliard’s Concerto Competition and appeared as a soloist with the Juilliard Orchestra in Alice Tully Hall. 

She has collaborated with many distinguished performers in chamber music settings, including Leon Fleisher, Ani Kavafian, Roger Tapping, Catherine Cho, and André Watts. Caeli was a prizewinner of the Juilliard Concerto Competition and appeared as a soloist with the Juilliard Orchestra in Alice Tully Hall. 
Caeli has performed at Ravinia's Steans Music Institute, the Perlman Music Program's Chamber Music Workshop, the Verbier Academy, and has served as a principal violist of the Verbier Festival Orchestra. Caeli is a teaching assistant for the ACHT studio at Juilliard; a faculty member of the HeifetzPEG program of the Heifetz International Music Institute; and a Teaching Artist of the New York Philharmonic. As a teenager, she was a frequent performer and recurring cast member on NPR’s From The Top. Her print articles have appeared in Strings, Teen Strings, and Symphony magazines. Caeli was a fellow with Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect for the 2018-2020 seasons.