Violinist Carol Cole Headshot

Carol Cole

Violinist Carol Cole has appeared at major music centers in twenty-two countries and over twenty-five US States as soloist, chamber musician and orchestra leader, with critical praise for her musical artistry. "She knows how to capture the hearts of her listeners"; Il Messaggero, Italy. She has performed in many prestigious music festivals including the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds, Italy; Jeunesses Musicales, Belgrade; Grand Teton, Wyoming; Festival Miami; Philadelphia's Mozart on the Square; and the String Seminar at Carnegie Hall. Carol has collaborated with the most distinguished artists of our time, including: Leon Fleisher, Rudolf and Peter Serkin, Andre Watts, Yehudi Menuhin, Pinchas Zukerman, Isaac Stern, Henryk Szeryng, Elmar Oliveira, Ida Haendel, Mstislav Rostropovich, Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas ,Cecilia Bartoli, Pierre Rampal, Maurice Andre, Myron Bloom, Ricardo Morales, Claudio Abbado, Pablo Casals, Ricardo Muti, Pierre Boulez, Sir Neville Marriner, Daniel Barenboim and Leonard Bernstein.

Violinist Melanie Riordan

Melanie Riordan

Violinist Melanie Riordan is a unique performer and passionate educator currently based in South Florida. For the last decade she has devoted her time and energy into spreading the joy of music and art through her versatile performances and strong educational efforts. A native of New Rochelle, NY, Melanie began taking violin lessons at the age of 10. She received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and her Master’s degree at McGill University. Since then she has had the privilege of performing in some of the worlds most prestigious concert halls and teaching hundreds of students across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Violist Stacia Spencer

Stacia Spencer

Stacia Spencer is Senior Lecturer in Violin & Viola Pedagogy at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, String Coordinator of the Northwestern Music Academy and Director of the Northwestern Virtuosi Strings. She has also served as faculty member of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and the Summer String Academy. Ms. Spencer created “Teaching the Violin: Creating a Healthy Foundation”, the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) dedicated to teaching the early stages of violin pedagogy.

Violinist Kirsten Yon

Kirsten Yon

Dr. Kirsten Yon is Associate Professor of Violin and Head of the String Division at the University of Houston Moores School of Music. Former faculty at Texas Tech University, Yon received her DMA from Rice University, MM from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and BM from the University of Michigan. Her career includes recital engagements, concerto performances, and masterclasses throughout the United States (including Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall), Brazil, Czech Republic, England, South Korea, Honduras, Mexico, Germany, France, Iceland, and Norway. She has taught at summer festivals including Interlochen, ARIA International Summer Summer Academy, Texas Music Festival, International Music Academy Pilsen (Czech Republic), Nathan Schwartzman String Festival (Brazil), Naolinco (Mexico), and the Cambridge International String Academy (England).

Viola

Violist Diane Phoenix-Neal

Diane Phoenix-Neal

Violist Diane Phoenix-Neal performs nationally and internationally as a collaborative chamber musician and as a soloist. She also enjoys her roles as a clinician and educator nationwide. Her performances have taken her to concert venues and festivals throughout the world, most recently to France and Poland. In France, she served as both the principal solo violist of l'Orchestre de Picardie and as violist of Quatuor Joachim, finalists at Banff International String Quartet competition. Her sound is described as “rich and sumptuous” (Classical Voice of North Carolina) with “an admirable combination of precision and fire” (The New York Times). She is a longstanding performing faculty member (and alumna) of Eastern Music Festival, a premiere summer festival in North Carolina, and currently holds the position of principal violist with the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival.

Violist Renee Skerik

Renee Skerik

Renee Skerik serves as Instructor of Viola and Chamber Music, and Chair of Strings at the Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan. She performs regularly with her string colleagues, Ara Sarkissian and Patrick Owen, in the Interlochen String Trio and serves as Principal Violist of the Traverse City Symphony. Formerly Professor of Viola at Texas Tech University School of Music and violist of the Botticelli String Quartet, she toured throughout the United States, Europe, Central America, and Brazil, including performances at the 33rd International Viola Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. She has given numerous presentations and performances at the Texas Music Educators Convention, American String Teacher Association (ASTA) national conferences and American Viola Society Conventions.

Violist Kim Sparr

Kim Sparr

Equally skilled as a soloist, chamber and orchestral violist, Kimberly Sparr has garnered praise for her versatility and virtuosity across the United States and beyond. She is the Associate Professor of Viola at Louisiana State University, a founding member of Atlantic Chamber Ensemble and is the assistant principal viola of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra.

As an orchestral violist, Sparr was the assistant principal violist of Virginia’s Richmond Symphony from 2008-13 and has performed with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and the Washington National Opera, among others. Her festival participation includes New Hampshire Music Festival; Tanglewood Music Center; the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland; the Festival Mozaic and Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California; Sarasota Music Festival; and the Lake George Music Festival in New York.

Cello

Cellist Amy Frost Baumgarten

Amy Frost Baumgarten

Amy Frost Baumgarten was appointed principal cellist the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra in 2000, and has garnered praise there for "lovely solo turns from the cello” (Tim Page, Washington Post). She has been a featured soloist with the orchestra, and is also active in chamber music and teaching.

Cellist Christine Lamprea

Christine Lamprea

Christine Lamprea is a dynamic artist with a reputation as a firebrand cellist with a “commitment to the highest standards” (Palm Beach Daily News). Upon her Carnegie Hall debut as soloist in 2013, she has since returned to Carnegie, as well as performed with orchestras such Costa Rica National Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, National Symphony of Michoacan, New Jersey Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and toured with the Sphinx Virtuosi across the U.S.

Cellist Rhonda Rider

Rhonda Rider

For over two decades, cellist Rhonda Rider was a member of the Naumburg Award-winning Lydian Quartet and Triple Helix Piano Trio. An advocate of contemporary music, Rider has premiered and recorded works by composers including John Harbison, Lee Hyla, Yu-Hui Chang and Elliott Carter. Her interest in bringing classical music to unusual places, has lead her to artist residencies at Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks. She has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America and adjudicated at the Fischoff, Stulberg and Concert Artists Guild Competitions. Recently, she has performed with Shelter Music Boston, Castle of Our Skins and the New Gallery Series.

Double Bass

Bassist Nina Decesare

Nina Decesare

Nina began playing the bass at the age of eight studying with George Vance, the renowned young bassist pedagogue. Through Vance, Nina worked closely with the virtuosic François Rabbath throughout the beginning of her bass studies. Other early influences include Ali Yazdanfar, Ira Gold, and Hal Robinson. As a young bassist, Nina competed in the International Society of Bassists' competitions, winning first place in both the Under-14 and 15-18 age divisions.

Bassist Tracy Rowell

Tracy Rowell

Currently on the faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory and at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Tracy Rowell is the former Assistant Principal Bass of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, a major Canadian ensemble. She is an active performer on modern and historical double bass. Currently the principal bassist of Citymusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, she also performs with Apollo’s Fire, Cleveland’s Baroque Orchestra. She may be heard as a soloist with Apollo’s Fire, on their recording of Telemann’s Grillen Sinfonie.