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gRANT o'bRIEN, artistic Director

GRANT O'BRIEN is a conductor, composer and arranger, brought up in Houston, Texas. Having studied tuba performance and conducting at the Eastman School of Music, Grant has developed a deep passion for bringing innovative performances to communities. Grant conducts and arranges for many ensembles in the Rochester area including the Eastman Tuba Mirum, and Upstate Brass Band and Empire Film and Media Ensemble. As a media music composer, Grant has worked written for 3 senior thesis films at the University of Texas, Chapman University and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

During his academic career at Eastman he studied conducting under Oliver Hagen and Lee Wright. Grant received a Performers Certificate from Eastman School of Music, premiered Andre Previn's Music for Wind Ensemble (No Strings Attached) with the Eastman Wind Ensemble, and has performed Daugherty's Reflections on the Mississippi (For solo tuba) with the Eastman Wind Orchestra all during his time at Eastman. He joined the Empire Film and Media Ensemble in August of 2016 as Personnel Manager at which time he began conducting arranging for the ensemble.

His recent accomplishments include producing, conducting and arranging for Songs of the Valiant, a benefit concert for the Wounded Warrior Project and RIT: LIVE TO PICTURE, a performance of student and independent films with live orchestral accompaniment.


Max berlin, music Director

Born and raised in the metro-Detroit area, MAX BERLIN (Head Composer 2018-- ) has performed and written professionally for several kinds of ensembles and musical genres, orchestras and quartets alike. As a pianist, he has led three piano trios and regularly performs with professional and touring jazz orchestras.  As a composer, he has also scored several films and live-stage productions, including the award-winning RIT short film, Into the Microscope (2015). Most recently, Max received an IMDb credit in 2017 for his work as contractor and guest composer on the award-winning web series Star Trek Continues produced by Vic Mignogna. Max is currently studying under Bill Dobbins and Gary Versace at the Eastman School of Music as a jazz pianist with an emphasis in composition.



Brett Copeland, Webmaster and Marketing Manager

Brett Copeland is a multi-faceted musician who is actively performing, composing, teaching, and exploring new musical possibilities with music technology. He maintains a freelance career as a performer, composer, and educator of tuba and music technology. He is currently based in Rochester, NY.

Brett is currently attending the Eastman School of Music as a D.M.A candidate in Tuba Performance and Literature where he is a Teaching Assistant for both the tuba studio and EARS (Eastman Audio Research Studio). He holds a M.M. in Tuba Performance with additional studies in Electro-acoustic Composition from the University of South Florida and a B.A. in Music Technology from the University of Northern Iowa. His teachers include Don Harry, Jay Hunsberger, Baljinder Sekhon, Jeff Funderburk, and James Grant.

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RICK CARL is an engineer, music artist, and pianist currently studying Audio & Music Engineering at the University of Rochester. Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Rick has worked as a freelance recording engineer producing five albums by various artists in the past three years. In addition to music, Rick has worked with independent filmmaking studios BCFilmstrip and Writing Well Productions as a sound editor, sound designer, and composer on three feature-length films and one award-winning short film titled Girls’ Night. In his spare time, Rick performs as a vocalist in the University of Rochester Chamber Singers and as a lead actor in theater productions such as Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and Harold Pinter’s The Collection & The Lover. He joined the Empire Film Music Ensemble in 2017 and organized and operated projections for The Music of Bernard Herrmann concert in January 2018.


Annie Chen, administrative assistant

Annie Chen is a violinist, arranger, and vocalist born and raised in Iowa City, Iowa. Annie is currently a first year violin performance major student at the Eastman School of Music studying under Federico Agostini.She is currently taking secondary voice lessons and sings in a non degree jazz combo group, Zounds. Her other musical involvements include directing and arranging for an acapella group, and performing the role of Sandra Dee from Grease. Annie’s passion for community outreach and music was  combined in 2016, when she founded an organization to restore funds to her hometown’s public school music programs called Music Playathon, raising a total of about $8,000 in two years. Music Playathon was a winner in 21 CM’s Doing Good Competition in 2017. During the summer of 2018, Annie was also an intern for Red Cedar Chamber Music, a non profit chamber group based in Iowa City. She hopes to combine her love of music and community outreach by getting a degree in business at the University of Rochester and pursuing a career in a non profit music organization.



From New York City, Luisa Hidalgo is a Junior at the Eastman School of Music where she studies Voice Performance with Ruth Hennessey. Recent performances include her solo recitals in Ithaca College at the Hangar Theatre and Roundtop Texas in the 2018 season. She has participated in BU’s Tanglewood Institute where she performed as a soloist under the direction of Andris Nelsons in Mahler's 8th Symphony, under Paul Haus in Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and Michael Tilson Thomas in Charles Ives's New England Holidays Symphony, and was the 2017 winner of the Youngarts competition.  She has had the privilege of performing the roles of Ms. Pinkerton in Menotti's Old Maid and the Thief, Mercedes in Carmen, Sophie from Werther, Marcellina and Cherubino from Le Nozze di Figaro, Alcina from Alcina, Lucy from The Medium Gretel from Hansel and Gretel, Nero from L'incoronazione di Poppea, Almirena from Rinaldo and more. Luisa joined Empire Film and Media Ensemble in September of 2018. Aside from her classical training, Luisa regularly performs jazz and contemporary music in New York City and Rochester, and participates in Composers Concerts for her love of new music. 


From Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Danielle Romano is currently a Junior at the Eastman School of Music where she studies vocal performance with Anthony Dean Griffey. Danielle has participated in Eastman Opera Theater’s production of L’incoronazione di Poppea, Orfeo ed Euridice, and will be making an appearance in this years spring production of Don Giovanni. In Philadelphia, Danielle has sung under the baton of maestro Yannick Nézet Séguin. Danielle has performed in Spain with Umbrian Serenades, and throughout Italy with Philadelphia International Opera Theater and the Philadelphia All City Orchestra. In addition to singing, Danielle is passionate about playing both piano and viola. Danielle joined the EFAME team in 2018, and she is very excited to for this upcoming season!