Born in Los Angeles, bassist Mark Drury headed north to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1976. There he studied with esteemed teacher and San Francisco Opera Orchestra principal bassist, S. Charles Siani.
In 1980 Mark joined the Oakland Symphony under conductor Calvin Simmons, eventually becoming principal bass. He joined the San Francisco Opera Orchestra as a full-time member in 1990 and shortly thereafter became a member of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. Mr. Drury has also enjoyed performing with other Bay Area ensembles including the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.
Mr. Drury has participated in many summer festivals, including Music Academy of the West, Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds, Colorado Music Festival, Cabrillo Music Festival, Carmel Bach Festival, and the Mendocino Music Festival.
When not playing music, Mark composes, follows Giants baseball and enjoys spending time with his family, including wife Patty, a violinist and music teacher, son Colin, an aspiring drummer, and daughter Eileen, a guitarist with a passion for country music.
Co-Principal Horn ‡
Mark Almond joined the San Francisco Opera Orchestra as Co-Principal French Horn in 2016. Mark grew up in Bolton, England and was taught primarily by Christopher Wormald, his local high school music teacher. After becoming principal horn of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the European Union Youth Orchestra he studied medicine at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. During this time he performed in the televised finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition and the Shell London Symphony Orchestra Scholarship, winning the Silver medal. He has also been a finalist in the Paxman International Horn and Philip Jones International Brass competitions.
Whilst at medical school he made his professional debut with the London Symphony Orchestra (aged 19) and was later appointed 3rd Horn with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London. He has since played guest principal with the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Highlights have included playing guest principal horn with the Philharmonia in Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony at Carnegie Hall under Christoph von Dohnanyi.
Mark is active as a soloist and chamber musician and has performed the Franz Strauss Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra, Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4 with the Hallé Orchestra and Richard Strauss' Concerto No.2 with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He can be heard on numerous movie soundtracks, including ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, ‘Antman’, ‘Chicago’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ amongst others. In addition to playing the horn Mark is an experienced pulmonologist and general internal medicine physician and has recently been awarded a PhD in immunology and virology from Imperial College, London.
‡ leave of absence
San Francisco Opera Orchestra’s Principal Harpist Olga Ortenberg-Rakitchenkov was born in Russia into a family rich in musical tradition. Her mother was an editor of Musica, a major Russian publishing company, and her granduncle was a member of the Budapest Quartet. The former Associate Concertmaster of the San Francisco Opera, Adolf Bruk, is her uncle. Olga started piano lessons at seven at Moscow’s Gnesin School for Musically Gifted Children. At eleven, she began to study harp in the class of Mark Rubin, making it her primary instrument. She graduated with Highest Honors from Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory, studying with Professor Vera Dulova.
Olga won the position of Associate Principal Harp in the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra in 1973 and was promoted to Principal. In 1989, after immigration to the United States, she won the position of Principal Harp for the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.
Olga performs much contemporary chamber music, and she has premiered works by Schnittke, Denisov, and Smirnov.
Olga has participated in international festivals and congresses and was the first prize winner of the 1974 International Competition of Harpists in Geneva. She toured as a soloist with the Orchestra de la Suisse Romaine and with orchestras in Melhause, Basel, and Schauffhausen. Her performances were broadcast on radio and television in Russia, France and Switzerland.
"...harpist Olga Ortenberg Rakitchenkov rose with distinction to what must be her biggest assignment in the standard operatic repertoire." - Joshua Kosman, S.F. Chronicle
"Only with words of the greatest admiration and enthusiasm can one report about the harpist from Moscow, Olga Ortenberg, who returns to the USSR from Geneva with the first prize. With inimitable grace, sensitivity, and with astonishingly rich dynamics, the Russian presented a masterful performance." - Basler Nachrichten.
"She performs the most difficult pieces with amazing ease." - Journal de Génève
"Her music is very earnest, very rich in soul ... she is a real artistic discovery." - La Suisse
An active Bay Area violist, Elizabeth Prior is the Principal Violist with the Santa Rosa Symphony and is also a season substitute with the San Francisco Ballet. She recently joined the New Century Chamber Orchestra. Elizabeth is the Associate Principal with the Marin Symphony and performs regularly with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Skywalker Symphony, and the Farallon Quintet. Other orchestral positions include the Freiburg Philharmonic (Associate Principal) and the Cape Town Symphony. She has toured and worked with Südwestfunk, Stuttgart Radio, Basel Symphony, and the Mannheim Opera Orchestras.
A native of South Africa, she was a prizewinner in the International String Competition in Pretoria and gave her debut at Carnegie Hall with the Russian Chamber Orchestra. Other engagements include: Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival; Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Grand Tetons Music Festival, Chamber Ensemble Cologne, Grass Valley and Mendocino summer festivals, Midsummer Mozart and Chamber Music San Francisco. She performed regular viola recitals for 13 years with Maestro Donald Runnicles on piano. She recently released her new CD Viola Romance with Miles Graber on Piano.
Associate Principal Violist Sergey Rakitchenkov was born in Moscow and attended the Central School for Musically Gifted Children. He graduated with honors from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music in Moscow, where he studied with Fyodor Druzhinin. For fifteen years he performed with the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, rising to become Principal of the viola section. In 1980 he won the prestigious All-Union Musical Competition. His playing was broadcast on a major Soviet Union radio station.
In 1987, soon after arriving in the United States with his wife Olga and daughter Liza, he won a position in the viola section of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, where he currently serves in the Associate Principal chair. He also performs at special events around the San Francisco Bay Area and in Europe.
A native of South Korea, Heeguen has been a seasonal substitute with the SF Opera Orchestra since 2017. Heeguen is the Associate Concertmaster with the SF Ballet Orchestra and has held positions in the Santa Rosa, Oakland, and Berkeley Symphony Orchestras. She performs regularly in South Korea and throughout the Bay Area in venues such as Seoul Arts Center, Sejong Arts Center, Old First Concerts, Herbst Theater, Bing Concert Hall, and many more.
Heeguen is an active chamber musician and is a member of Beaubliss Quartet and Ensemble Ari. She has performed at Yale Chamber Music Society, Yellowbarn Music Festival, Taos Music Festival, and Banff Chamber Music Residency.
Heeguen was invited to play at Osaka City Hall, Daejeon Chamber Music Festival, Mannes Beethoven Institute at The New School, and City University of NY. Additionally Heeguen gave a solo debut recital at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and has had solo appearances with many orchestras such as SF Ballet Orchestra, Oberlin Orchestra, Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble 212, and Camerata Academica de Merida.
Heeguen is a prize winner at the Henryk Szeryng International Competition, Irving M Klein Competition, and Kingsville International Competition among others. She has studied at Oberlin Conservatory, the Juilliard School, Yale School of Music and Rutgers University under the direction of Almita Vamos, Masao Kawasaki, Peter Oundjian, and Arnold Steinhardt.
Heeguen resides in Albany with her husband Sugwoo Shin and their two children. She likes doing art projects such as origami and water painting with her children. She also likes to explore traditional Korean cooking.
Janet Popesco Archibald
Oboe & English Horn ‡
A San Francisco native, Janet grew up with a love of music and melody that developed from her exposure to the vibrant folk, rock & pop music so prevalent in the City in the 1960’s.
Though folk rock was her first love, Janet crossed over to Classical music when she began to play the oboe in jr. high school, adding the English Horn in high school. In college she attended the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Marc Lifschey and Adrian Gnam were her principal oboe instructors.
Janet was a fellowship participant at the Yale at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and the Tanglewood Music Festival and has also participated in the Aspen Music Festival and the Elkhorn at Sun Valley, Idaho music festivals. For 12 summers, she was Co-Principal Oboe of the Lake Tahoe Summer Music Festival Orchestra.
Prior to winning her position of Third Oboe/Solo English Horn with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Janet toured the United States for 5 national tours as Principal Oboe of the Western Opera Theater Orchestra, the touring affiliate of the San Francisco Opera, visiting and/or performing in all but four states. For 22 years she was a member of the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Preparatory/Adult Extension (now Pre College) department and she has also been a member of the music faculty at both San Francisco State University and the University of CA, Santa Cruz.
Janet’s recording credits include the film soundtracks for Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Ricochet, the TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the Grammy-nominated CD of Gluck’s Orphee & Eurydice with the San Francisco Opera.
When not chained to her reed making desk, Janet likes to run and enjoys the outdoors and supporting the John Muir Land Trust. Her chamber music group, the Lowell Ensemble (formerly the Lowell Trio) features a rotating group of notable Bay Area musicians performing an eclectic mix of Classical, Folk and Film music. The Lowell Ensemble performs regularly throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in venues ranging from formal concert halls to funky music clubs.
‡ leave of absence
Assistant Principal Bass
Steve D’Amico is Assistant Principal Double Bass with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, a position he has held since 1980. Until his 2019 retirement, he also served forty-four seasons as Principal Double Bass with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. Steve was a member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and whenever possible, enjoys playing with various chamber music ensembles throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to performing, he has had a long history of active involvement and leadership on both the Opera and Ballet Orchestras' Players' Committees.
A native of San Mateo, California, Steve graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1975 and was awarded a fellowship at the Tanglewood Music Festival in 1976 and 1977, where he performed as a member of the Tanglewood Fellowship Orchestra.
Steve is a 20-year member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and can be heard on many recordings with the San Francisco Opera and Ballet Orchestras. His other performances in the recording studio at Skywalker Sound include soundtracks for numerous films and video/computer games.
When he is not playing the bass, he is known for showing many members of the Orchestra the joys (and the occasional sorrows) of salmon fishing on the Pacific Ocean. He is a regular practitioner of meditation and Kriya Yoga. His extensive musical career has also fostered a deep appreciation for the therapeutic properties of sound. He now actively studies sound healing as it is applied for helping individuals with Alzheimer's disease and those in palliative care.
Steve is married to former San Francisco Ballet dancer, Dr. Yolonda Jordan D’Amico.
A fixture in the musical landscape of the Bay Area, Lev Rankov has been a member of first violin sections of both the San Francisco Ballet and Opera Orchestras since 1979 and 1980, respectively. Prior to these appointments and his move to the United States, Lev was concertmaster of the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra in St. Petersburg, Russia. With this esteemed ensemble, he performed as soloist various baroque and classical concerti by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, as well as modern repertoire such as Richard Strauss’s “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme” and Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat” and the Pulchinella Suite.
In addition to being a member of the San Francisco Opera and Ballet Orchestras, Lev also has had extensive leadership experience in various Bay Area ensembles. He has served as concertmaster of the Carmel Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, principal second of the Monterey Symphony Orchestra, and was acting principal second of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.
Lev started studying the violin in his native city of St. Petersburg, where he was enrolled in the Special Music School of the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music during his formative years. He was later a student in the class of Professor Boris Gutnikov at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he graduated with distinction in solo performance.