Cellist Jake Saunders and composer David Biedenbender recently founded the 208 Ensemble — a classical music group dedicated to playing the works of living composers — with a special focus on Idaho established and emerging composers.
Saunders grew up in Boise. He went to Timberline High School, where his mother, Phyllis, teaches orchestra. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and served as principal cellist at Michigan's University Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2012, he returned to Boise as part of an alliance between the Boise Philharmonic and the Boise State University Music Department that supports a graduate quartet.
Saunders received his master’s degree and decided to stay in Boise and see what he could get going. He founded the Cello Collective, a loose group of young cellists who play in coffeehouses and on street corners. He plays with Classical Revolution, Boise Baroque and Sam Smith’s Cello Choir.
It turns out an old friend from Michigan — Biedenbender — showed up in Boise as the new assistant professor of music composition and theory at BSU. The two decided to found this group, and they will make their debut this fall.
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Saunders and Biedenbender are pulling together musicians and seeking venues — mostly nontraditional ones like the Visual Arts Collective in Garden City.
“Part of our mission is to take classical music out of the stuffiness that people can feel in a concert hall or a church,” Saunders says.
Here’s a list of the group’s core musicians:
Takuya Yamamoto, violin
Geoffrey Hill, violin
Linda Kline Lamar, viola
Emily Jones, viola
Jake Saunders, cello
Betsi Hodges, piano
Jeffrey Barker, flute
Chia-Li Ho, violin
Lindsay Bohl, viola