Formed in 2012, Classical Blast has continued their journey to explore and combine musical genre to create new and exciting sounds. With growing popularity throughout the Midwest region and beyond, the band has opened concerts for numerous national acts, as well as headlined in intimate 100-seat to 1000-seat concert venues. Band members have impressive recording and performance street creds, including 3 albums of their own on the Toucan Cove/Universal label.
Greg Hirte, violin, mandolin, vocals
Greg Hirte is a violinist, actor and composer. He has performed in Lookingglass Theater’s hit production of Hans Christian Anderson’s “Steadfast Tin Solder," as well as 20 seasons with the Goodman Theatre’s popular production of "A Christmas Carol.” Other theatre credits include the role of Luther in "Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash," and Leon in "Hank Williams: Lost Highway" (American Blues Theater). Greg has performed and composed music for Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Court Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater & Piven Theatre Workshop, as well as several international music festivals. He has also performed with bands, Mucca Pazza, The Flashbulb, Gin Palace Jesters, Can.Ky.Ree, Mojo & The Bayou Gypsies and the Golden Horse Ranch Band.
David Kelly, drums & vocals
Drummer-vocalist David Kelly studied jazz performance at the University of North Texas and California Institute of the Arts. He played drums professionally in Los Angeles for 10 years. Dave toured for 5 yrs with The Drew Davis Band, a country band with a top 100 hit on the Billboard charts, opening for Hootie and the Blowfish on their final tour. The band also appeared on an episode of Gene Simmons Family Jewels in 2009. Dave also has a background in sound engineering. He currently lives in Chicago’s western suburbs. He teaches teaches drums, performs and records with other music projects when not working with Classical Blast.
Stephanie Koklys, lead vocals, guitar, piano
Stephanie Koklys grew up in South Florida, moving to the Chicago area as a teen. She attended Chicago Academy for the Arts and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in composition and music arranging from Belmont University in Nashville, TN. She recorded her first original EP at the famed Oceanway Studio in Nashville, known for recordings by Sheryl Crow, Paul Simon, Garth Brooks, Amy Grant, George Strait, Keith Urban and many others. Her a cappella vocal group performed for country singer Trisha Yearwood's TV Christmas special. Throughout her music career Stephanie has worked as a songwriting coach, music theory teacher and vocal, guitar, & piano instructor. She regularly leads musical worship at local churches & nursing homes, weddings & funerals and often performs with her songwriting partner and husband, John Arthur. She’s mother to two young boys and, when not working on music, enjoys running. She’s always in training for the next marathon. Prior to joining Classical Blast full time, she performed live with the band on WGN-TV and as a guest vocalist on live shows as well as on two of our albums.
Bill Syniar, bass guitar
Longtime bass player, Bill Syniar, is a familiar figure on the Chicago music scene. In 1978 Bill co-founded the band Tantrum, producing 3 LP's on the Ovation label and touring cross country with them. Bill later toured throughout Europe and the states as bass player for CBS/Scotti Bros. recording artists Survivor. He appears on Survivor's "Too Hot to Sleep" and "Greatest Hits" LPs. He has performed live at major arenas across the U.S. Bill later founded the popular Chicago R&B band, R-Gang, which he still performs with when not with Classical Blast. He has written music for the Doobie Bros., as well as for solo albums for Kansas vocalist Steve Walsh, members of the band Toto and countless other recording artists. He pens many of the original songs on Classical Blast's albums.
Hannah K Watson, violins & vocals
Hannah is a well-rounded violin & vocal performer with tons of experience on stage and in the studio. She's fluent in a plethora of genres from country to classical to rock. Hannah has been rockin’ the violin since the age of ten and singing since 2004. She was classically trained on violin throughout her youth, but always had a deep curiosity for other styles. She was able to dip her fingers in musical worlds like bluegrass, metal, and jazz while training at Columbia College Chicago, where she earned her Bachelors in Music Composition. She still nurtures her classical roots through The Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, with whom she's been a member since 2008. She embraced her inner cowgirl as fiddler and lead singer for local country cover band, Suburban Cowboys, as well as for Trippin Billies, a well known Dave Matthews cover band. She's also co-founder of local string group, Chicago Street Strings, and performs with a myriad of other bands, which now includes Classical Blast! In addition to her exemplary ear, she is proficient at sight reading and fluent in a wide scope of genres and has written and arranged music for numerous independent theatre productions in Chicago.
“You guys are phenomenal, so talented.
I enjoyed your music immensely... so much energy!”
— Classical Blast in Kilts show attendee