Four musicians endlessly passionate about their art.
Beo exists as a 21st century quartet by directing the future of the art through original music and projects; engaging listeners through entertainment and thoughtful demonstration; performing live, in any venue, the masterpieces of the string quartet literature; collaborating with living composers to showcase the music of our time; and participating in our modern global culture through a strong social media presence. Now in its fourth season, Beo has performed over 80 concert works in the US and Europe--including over 30 world premieres--and produced dozens of recordings.
In addition to its many recordings, music videos, and arrangements of covers, Beo regularly performs original works and projects--repertoire that you cannot hear any other ensemble perform. One of its most unique original projects, 'Projection1: Triple Quartet', was composed by Beo's violist, Sean Neukom, and premiered at Virginia Tech University in late 2017. The work is essentially written for three string quartets—one live and two digital—the live Beo quartet being flanked by two pre-recorded projections of Beo! In addition to a rich aural texture, the performance experience engages visual and spatial senses of the listener. Other projects include genre-mixing albums and full length shows that seamlessly bridge the old with the new. Beo's most recent project is a set of rhythmically-charged songs called [Qtet+Drms]. The project explores the possibilities of a forward-looking take on various rock and pop genres, but each song is composed using classical devices such as development, counterpoint, and the full virtuosity of the string quartet.
As educators, Beo has earned a reputation for its thoughtfully-crafted presentations--disguised as entertainment--each designed to teach chamber music skills and a love for classical music to students ranging from complete beginners to pre-professionals alike. Through its educational tours of elementary, middle, and high schools, its short-term residencies at colleges and universities, and its annual residency at Dakota Chamber Music, Beo has shared these unique, engaging experiences with more than 3,000 students to date.
Beo is very involved in the contemporary music scene and holds an annual residency with the Charlotte New Music Festival each summer. In partnership with the festival, Beo hosts an annual Composition Competition, where one piece is selected from a large pool of submissions, performed throughout Beo's season, and recorded. Recordings of the winning works, alongside other contemporary works, can be found on Beo's website.
With several new projects always in the works, be sure to stay in touch with all things Beo by subscribing to the handle @beostringquartet on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and SoundCloud.
Jason Neukom, violin
Jason Neukom is a founding member and violinist of the Beo String Quartet and has dedicated the majority of his career to chamber music both in performance and in education. An avid supporter of new music, he has given over one hundred chamber music world premieres and considers it very important to perform the music of today.
Jason's passion for chamber music began while studying with the Ying Quartet at Dakota Chamber Music, a festival where he is now faculty. Prior to forming Beo, Jason was the first violinist of the Freya String Quartet from 2009-2015.
For Jason, music is a family affair, as he grew up playing music with both parents and his brother, Sean Neukom. Whether it was playing as a family string quartet for social functions or reading through one of his father's recent compositions in the living room, music has always been a daily activity that was a major part in forming strong bonds to both his family and to sharing music. This has carried into Jason's professional life, as he frequently performs the music of both Richard and Sean Neukom. Some of Jason's proudest musical moments include recording an encore-style album of string quartet works with Freya written for him by both Richard and Sean Neukom (called 'Snapshots'), and recording violin parts for two of Sean Neukom's visionary albums ('The Ghost and Mr. Able' and 'Dead Reckoning').
Mr. Neukom enjoys playing a variety of music genres and has performed live shows with Bruce Springsteen, Evanescence, Barry Manilow, Josh Groban, Lee Greenwood, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Pink Martini, Belle and Sebastian, Mannheim Steamroller, Tony Orlando, and other notable artists. In addition to live shows, Jason is an experienced studio violinist and you can hear him on several albums in a variety of styles.
Jason studied at Minot State University, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Carnegie Mellon University School of Music, under the guidance of Dr. Jon Rumney, Piotr Milewski, and Professor Cyrus Forough, respectively. He has been awarded fellowships to programs such as the National Repertory Orchestra, the National Orchestral Institute, the Opera Theater and Music Festival of Lucca, Italy, the Britten Pears Festival Orchestra in England, and has held teaching positions and assistantships at programs such as the Cincinnati Starling Project and the New York Summer Music Festival. As a soloist, he has made several appearances with orchestra.
Mr. Neukom currently resides in Pittsburgh and serves as a concertmaster for Pittsburgh Festival Opera, as associate concertmaster of the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, regularly performs with the West Virginia Symphony, the Wheeling Symphony, and has also performed with the Vancouver Symphony and Sarasota Orchestra. In addition to his frequent concerts, Jason maintains an active violin studio and enjoys working on media projects for Beo.
Sean Neukom, viola
Composer and instrumentalist Sean Neukom began his violin studies at the age of three at joint lessons with his brother, Jason. These lessons, taught by their father, laid the foundation for an intense love, respect, and appreciation for music and for making music as brothers. This love of music took Sean to Minot State University where he received a Bachelor in Music degree, under Dr. Jon Rumney. While at MSU Sean's musical curiosity lead to the start of compositions in the form of exercises. Following Minot, Sean went on to the Cleveland Institute of Music to earn a Master of Music degree in violin performance under the violin division head at the time, David Updegraff.
Sean's mainstay as a performer is as the violist, and as a founding member, of Beo String Quartet. Prior to Beo String Quartet, Sean played violin in the Milhaud Trio for three years. (In 2007 the Milhaud Trio gave one of the few American performances of Darius Milhaud's only piano trio with the composer's wife in attendance.) Additionally, Sean studied the inner workings of chamber music extensively with members of the Ying Quartet and with Peter Salaff of the Cleveland Quartet. When not performing with Beo String Quartet, Sean is the principal 2nd violin with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Leading up to the winning of this post, Sean played violin in many top ensembles including the Nashville Symphony and the New Zealand based Southern Sinfonia.
As a composer, Sean's works cover a wide range of styles. His concert works have been commissioned by organizations such as the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Charlotte-based Fresh Ink new music series, the innovative multi-media music and dance group Cadence Collective out of Milwaukee, and most recently by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO). The DPO commissioned Sean to write a violin concerto for their illustrious concertmaster, Jessica Hung Calligan, and will be premiering the work in May 2018. Sean's pop-art works are self produced and are approached through the same creative means as his concert works, but with the goal of reaching ears both in and out of a concert hall. Such albums include The Ghost & Mr. Able, Dead Reckoning, and a yet to be named new album currently being composed. Beo String Quartet, being joined by two other stunning musicians, will be starting to perform these albums live in 2017 under the name of “The Beo Plug-In”.
An awareness of the changing ways in which music is consumed and produced in the 21st century has lead Sean to really consider how music groups and organizations are managed. His first step into such waters was with the organization named Symbiotic Collusion that ran from 2011 to 2014. This group was run as a for-profit outfit and with the notion that by having products and services to sell one could finance their own artistic projects. Elements of this have been brought to Beo String Quartet but with the necessary tweaks all endeavors require. Sean believes that music is one of the most enriching elements for humankind and that the modern musician needs to know how to market and illicit a call to action just as well as play their instrument. This combination of an intense love for chamber music, a desire to connect different audiences through like music, and a practiced sense of entrepreneurship through music has shaped Sean's early and developing career.
Ryan Ash, cello
Ryan Ash, cellist, began his musical studies on the piano at the age of six. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying cello with Brandon Vamos (of the Grammy-winning Pacifica Quartet) and piano with Dr. Yu-Chi Tai, and his Master of Music degree at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University with Dr. Tanya Carey, former president of the SAA and with whom he continues long-term teacher training every summer. Ryan has also taken teacher training with Dr. Louis Bergonzi and Dr. Karen Hendricks (cello), Caroline Fraser (piano), and Melanie Ron (early childhood music). He has performed in masterclasses for Steven Doane, Richard Aaron, David Halen, Amit Peled, John Sharp, Wendy Warner, the Arianna, Biava, and Shanghai String Quartets, and has spent summers studying at the Meadowmount School, Innsbrook Institute, Madeline Island Music Camp, Britt Festival, and the Astona International Festival in Leysin, Switzerland.
Before relocating to Pittsburgh, Ryan performed frequently as a member of the Sinfonia da Camera, the Champaign-Urbana, Eastern Illinois, and Decatur Symphony Orchestras, and the Lyria Piano Trio. His performance of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Trio for Two Cellos and Piano was also featured on Chicago’s classical radio station 98.7 WFMT. Ryan has since performed recitals of solo and chamber music on the Holy Trinity Concert Series, OvreArts, Music on the Edge, Living Room Chamber Music Project, and appeared with Ripieno Pittsburgh as well as the Westmoreland, Butler County, Huntington, and Ohio Valley symphonies. He maintains a teaching studio at the Center for Young Musicians.
Sandro Leal-Santiesteban, violin
Sandro Leal-Santiesteban began his musical journey in Havana, Cuba. While living in Cuba, he performed with many orchestras in the Americas including the Oakland Youth Symphony Orchestra, the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler Youth Symphony Orchestra, and throughout Europe with the Cuban Dance Company of Lizt Alfonso and the Sinfónica de Matanzas. At age sixteen, Sandro was selected to perform Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen” for Claudio Abbado and was featured with the Sinfónica de Matanzas, performing Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto under the baton of his mother, Lourdes Santiesteban.
After immigrating to the U.S. in 2001, Sandro studied for a year at the preparatory school of New England Conservatory with former Boston Symphony principal second violin Marylou Churchill. Sandro continued his studies at the Eastman School of Music with Mikhail Kopelman, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in violin performance and then subsequently studying with Cyrus Forough at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music where he obtained both his Master’s degree in Violin Performance and a certificate from the Performance Residency Program. Sandro has received fellowships to notable festivals such as Musicorda String Summer Camp; the Manchester Music Festival; Round Top Festival Institute; the Spoleto Festival as assistant concertmaster; and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, where he toured throughout Europe and South America. Mr. Leal has studied with the Shanghai String Quartet, the Ying Quartet, the Brentano Quartet, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the Miami String Quartet, and with violinists Elmira Darvarova, Ilya Kaler, Jorja Fleezanis, and Ian Swensen.
Memorable performances for Sandro include the Mendelssohn String Octet alongside former concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Andrés Cárdenes, Behzad Ranjbaran’s Violin Concerto with the Carnegie Mellon University Philharmonic as first prize winner of the Carnegie Mellon University concerto competition, and an American tour with the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra following a semi-finalist award for the 2006 Sphinx Competition. Other notable concerts include playing under the direction of Plácido Domingo, Kent Nagano, and Carlos Miguel Prieto.
Sandro is currently a member of the first violin section of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Erie Philharmonic, the Erie Chamber Orchestra, and is concertmaster of Resonance Works. Additionally, Sandro has a private violin studio in the Pittsburgh area. Sandro is currently a member of the Beo String Quartet taking him as far as Charlotte New Music Festival, NC, and a tour in North Dakota this year. Sandro has been winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society for two years in a row; the first time as a soloist and the second time in chamber music (with Beo). One of Sandro's current projects is a studio solo album featuring Sean Neukom's Solo Violin Sonatas, the fourth of which is dedicated to him.