MIKE BLOCK is a pioneering multi-style cellist, singer, composer, and educator, hailed by Yo-Yo Ma as the "ideal musician of the 21st-Century", and acclaimed by the NY Times for his "vital rich-hued solo playing". While still studying at the Juilliard School, Mike joined Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, with which he has toured extensively throughout the world, and won a 2017 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album. Mike is also an active recording artist of original material, folk music, cross-cultural collaborations, and he has an ongoing project to record all of the Bach cello suites in acoustically glorious bathrooms of famous concert halls, via BachInTheBathroom.com. As one of the first wave of cellists to adopt a strap in order to stand and move while playing, Mike was the first standing cellist to perform at Carnegie Hall, using a cello strap of his own design, called the Block Strap, a performance which the NY Times called "Breathless ... Half dance, half dare."
As a music educator, Mike is passionate about emphasizing creativity and collaboration, leading to the founding of the Mike Block String Camp in 2010. MBSC provides players of all backgrounds the opportunity to learn from a world-class faculty in a variety of styles, and supports the exploration and development of the artistic voice of each student. Mike is also the founding Director of the Silkroad Global Musician Workshop, bringing together musicians from around the globe, and he created the online Multi-Style Cello School at ArtistWorks.com, with an extensive library of instructional videos. In 2012, Mike was appointed Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music. Mike lives in Boston with his wife, fiddler Hanneke Cassel.
Mike has collaborated with a variety of diverse musicians and groups, such as Mark OConnor, Bobby McFerrin, The New York Philharmonic, Will.i.am, Edgar Meyer, Stevie Wonder, Darol Anger, Allison Krauss, Mike Marshall, Zakir Hussain, The National, Bon Iver, My Brightest Diamond, The Illinois Symphony, Rachel Barton Pine, Marcel Khaliffe, Goran Bregovic, Simone Dinnerstein, Dawn Upshaw, Julian Lage, Aoife ODonovan, Lake Street Dive, Sarah Jarosz, Anthony McGill, Tony Trishcka, Lenny Kravitz, Shakira, Joe Zawinul, Alasdair Fraser, Shujaat Khan, and many others.
Mike’s television and radio credits include "Late Night with Conan O’Brian", "Regis and Kelly", NBC’s 30 Rock, NPR’s "St. Paul Sunday Morning", WNYC’s "Soundcheck", APM’s "Performance Today", WNBC 4’s Chuck Scarborough Show, VH1, The Disney Channel, and the CBS "Early Show". When still living in New York City, Mike regularly subbed on Broadway as on-stage cellist for the Pulitzer Prize winning musical, "Next to Normal", and he also worked as Music Consultant on the 2012 film, "A Late Quartet". Mike was the subject of a 2011 feature article in the Wall Street Journal for his Artistic Directorship of the GALA BROOKLYN Music Festival, featuring cross-cultural collaborations among locally-based musicians.
Mike attended college at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied cello with Richard Aaron, and received the Jim Hall Prize for Undergraduate Achievement. Mike also earned a Master’s Degree from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Darrett Adkins and Joel Krosnick. These days, Mike plays on a modern cello made in 2014 by Fabienne Gauchet, a Yamaha electric cello, D’Addario strings, a David Gage Realist pickup, and the patented cello strap of his own design, The Block Strap.
Mario Gotoh is a Grammy Award-winning musician who has distinguished herself in dual roles as an innovative violinist and a violist with a remarkably versatile performance style in all genres of music. Mario has been invited to perform worldwide, including: The White House, Elbphilharmonie, Dresden Musikfestspiele, Cologne Philharmonie, Madison Square Garden, Palace Het Loo, Beijing “The Egg”, Taipei National Theater, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Banff, Aspen Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, International Computer Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, Met Museum, MoMA (NY), Beacon Theatre, Town Hall, United Palace Theatre, Webster Hall, Caramoor. Mario is the original violinist-violist in the Broadway hit and original soundtrack for ”Hamilton: An American Musical.” She is a member of The Knights (chamber ensemble), performs and tours with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silkroad Ensemble, and also toured with Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion. She has performed chamber music and recorded with many, including: Emerson String Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, Nobuko Imai, Frans Helmerson, Leon Fleisher, Anton Kurt, Philippe Graffin, Paul O’Dette, Kristian Bezuidenhout. Mario has performed on The Grammys, SNL, Late Show with Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, The Today Show, CBS Morning, and performs and records regularly with many stars including Stevie Wonder, Roger Waters, Katy Perry, Adele, Sting, Sufjan Stevens, Jim James, Brian Wilson, Twenty-One Pilots, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, Maria Schneider, Michael Bublé, Aimee Mann, Norah Jones, Zulu Nation, Goldfrapp, Joshua Redman, Escort. She frequently collaborates with visual artists and dance, including: William Kentridge, Mark Morris Dance Group, and BalletCollective. Mario holds two Doctorates in violin and viola performance from Stony Brook University, and is a passionate teacher. Mario is inspired by her interests in the visual arts, writing, literature, swimming, cooking, and exploring cultures worldwide (www.mariogotoh.com).