The Zara Strings
Edwin Orion Brownell's Chamber Music Ensemble
"The Zara Strings" is Edwin's chamber music group based around the husband and wife team of Flaviu and Loredana Zanca. He formed this chamber music orchestra to perform the arrangements for his 2012 album “Songs of Love and Marriage," and the same team forms the basis of the string section featured on his 2014 release “Forever Laughter,” his 2016 CD “The Inside Track,” his 2017 release “Songs for Canada” (2017) and his upcoming album “Romance” (2020). The group has performed at Place des Arts (Montreal), the National Arts Centre (Ottawa) and at many other churches and concert halls throughout Ontario and Quebec.
Flaviu Zanca: First Violin
The leader of the Zara Strings, Flaviu started violin when he was seven, and today holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in violin performance from the “Gheorghe Dima” Music Academy, Romania. With professional experience in many orchestras, (including Sinfonia de Lanaudiere, the Sherbrooke Symphony Orchestra, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, and most recently with the Orchestre Métropolitain under Yannick Nézet-Séguin) he is outstanding as a soloist, orchestral player, chamber musician and section leader.
Loredana Zanca: Cello
Loredana began her cello studies at age eight. Since then, she has performed extensively as a soloist, and as an orchestral and chamber player. Loredana also holds her Bachelor’s and Master’s in cello performance and appeared as soloist with the “Transilania” State Philharmonic, the “Dinu Lipatti” State Philharmonic, and the Sibiu State Philharmonic. She won the audition for Principal Cello with the “Dinu Lipatti” Philharmonic just before coming to Canada. Today she teaches and plays with The Zara Strings besides working as a full time mom of David and Joshua.
Veronica Ungureanu: Second Violin
After performing at Edwin Orion Brownell's 2014 Place des Arts concert, Veronica Ungureanu has been the Zara Strings' regular second violin on “The Inside Track” (2015) and "Songs of Canada" (2017). As a child, she began piano lessons at four, and violin lessons two years later. Developing a passion for traditional Romanian music, she began studying the works of Ciprian Porumbescu. Later enrolled in the University of Montreal, she began teaching in the Eleonara Turovsky class, and shortly after joining the New Generation Orchestra in 2010, she became part of the Turovsky Quartet, named in honour of the late maestro. Today she has finished her Masters in violin performance and is active in the Bolero Trio as well as in the Zara Strings.
Stéphanie Caplette: Second Violin
The original second violin of The Zara Strings, Stéphanie Caplette appears on the groups's first two albums; "Songs of Love and Marriage" (2012) and "Forever Laughter" (2014). After picking up the piano as a child, she completed her master’s degree in violin performance at the Conservatory of Montreal with Anne Robert in 2011. As a professional, she passed the audition in September 2012 fpr the Symphonic orchestra of Drummondville (OSD) in Quebec. At this time she also worked for the Symphonic Orchestra of Trois-Rvière (OSTR), of Sherbrooke (OSS), of Saguenay-lac-St-Jean (OSSLSJ) and Lachine. A year later, she was runner up for assistant concert master with the Thunder Bay Symphonic Orchestra (TBSO), and since then won the appointment of principal second for the 2014 season. Now a core member of the Thunder Bay Symphonic Orchestra, she is also a member of the Halifax based Trio Ciel and the Consortium Aurora Borealis, Most recently, she has been active with the Orchestra of the Americas, and recently completed a tour of the Baltic States.
Xavier Lepage-Brault: Viola
The violist on “Songs of Love and Marriage” (2012), "Forever Laughter" (2014) and "Songs for Canada" (2017), Xavier Lepage-Brault is a consummate professional of the first-rank. He earned his Maîtrise en interprétation de l’Université de Montréal with Jutta Puchhammer-Sédillot and achieved his Baccalauréat en composition instrumentale with José Evangelista, Anna Sokolovic et Hugues Leclair. Besides his work with The Zara Strings, Xavier has performed with Kent Nagano, Jean-François Rivest, Lorraine Vaillancourt, Franz-Paul Decker, Jean-Philippe Tremblay, Julian Kuerti, Alain Trudel and Daniele Callegari. He currently plays in Les Petits Violons and under Yannick Nézet-Séguin in the Orchestre Métropolitain of Montreal.
Lilian Belknap: Viola
Montreal based violist Lilian Belknap has appeared with The Zara Strings at their 2014 Place des Arts concert as well as on their 2015 release "The Inside Track." She holds degrees from the Schulich School of Music at McGill University as well as from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and today maintains a versatile career, playing in styles ranging from classical, popular and world music, to contemporary avant-garde composition. When not performing, she is active as a music educator, in community outreach, and as an arts advocate.
Linda Rand: Flute / Bassoon
The newest member of the ensemble, flautist / bassoonist Linda Rand performs on The Zara Strings 2017 release "Songs for Canada," and on Edwin Orion Brownell's upcoming 2020 CD "Romance." As of the present writing she is managing several orchestras, and has performed in many professional ensembles locally and around the world. She has degrees from McGill University and the Université de Montréal, and is an active advocate for the arts in Israel and Canada. Her generous nature has helped many musicians find work in the local classical music scene.