Strings in the Spring Performers

violincello (James Connors)
JAMES CONNORS (violincello) is a native of Boston, Massachusetts and assumed the principal ‘cello chair of The Florida Orchestra in 1988. He has studied with such renowned teachers as Janos Starker, Gary Hoffman, Leopold Teraspulsky and Wolfgang Laufer. In the past, he was featured as soloist with the orchestra in the Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and ‘Cello, the Haydn Concerto in C Major and the Schumann Cello Concerto in 2007. Prior to coming to the Tampa Bay area, Connors was co-principal ‘cellist of the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. From 1985 to 1987, he served as the principal ‘cellist of the South Dakota Symphony in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and as a member of the Dakota String Quartet. He received his bachelor’s of arts in music cum laude from Amherst College in 1980 and his master’s degree in 1983 from Indiana University. Subsequently, his ensemble, The Van Eyck Piano Trio, was awarded a two-year residency at the Chamber Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee under the direction of Leonard Sorkin and The Fine Arts Quartet. They performed frequently for live broadcasts on the Chicago classical station WFMT. An avid proponent of chamber music, Connors is a member of the Bayside String Quartet and appears frequently on the chamber music series at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg and Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church. In addition, he participated in the Aspen Music Festival, Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds (South Carolina and Italy) and Taos Chamber Music Festival. Connors lives in Tampa with his wife, Emily, and son Joshua. He plays a modern Bulgarian instrument by the maker Apostol Kaloferov.
piano (Franz Mantini)
FRANZ MANTINI (piano) has maintained an active schedule of solo and chamber music performances in the Tampa Bay area and beyond for nearly thirty years. Mr. Mantini studied with renowned artist Jacques Abram at the University of South Florida where he appeared numerous times in solo recitals and as soloist with the USF Symphony Orchestra as winner of the annual Concerto Competition. His local credits include a combined thirty solo and chamber performances at what is now the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. He has collaborated with many current and former principal members of the Florida Orchestra as well as members of the Houston Symphony and Formosa String Quartet and has appeared in concerts with the Lafayette String Quartet and as concerto soloist with various community orchestras. Mr. Mantini has been a regular at the Carrollwood Cultural Center since its inception where he created the Strings in the Spring series, which has featured both local and international artists annually for over a decade. Guests have included former and current Florida Orchestra Concertmasters Amy Schwartz Moretti and Jeffrey Multer, TFO Principal Cellist James Connors, Internationally acclaimed violist Che Yen Chen and many more. In addition to his musical endeavors, Mr. Mantini earned a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a master’s degree in Engineering Management from the University of South Florida and has applied his training at a variety of companies in the area. He resides in Tampa with his wife Julie and sons Gabriel and Gianni.