Below is a list of the faculty of the Tallowood Academy of Fine Arts:
Debbie Barker brings a wide array of musical and administrative skills to the Tallowood Academy of Fine Arts. She has been active in church music ministry for the past 30 years. With her organization skills, she has been the orchestra manager/librarian for 26 years at Houston’s First Baptist Church and currently serving in that same capacity at Tallowood. Being involved in the education world, Debbie has 34 years of music education experience in the public schools in the role of Orchestra Director of grades 6-12. She is involved throughout the state as a clinician in orchestra and string pedagogy workshops, and is also active as an adjudicator and consultant for various school districts.
Debbie studied violin at the University of Houston where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. She continues to perform as a freelance musician in orchestral and chamber settings. Being a native Houstonian, she is highly respected in the music community as a contractor of musical services. She has served in leadership roles in the TMEA Region and State organizations. The professional organizations she is affiliated with are: Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association and Mu Omicron, an elected music honor society.
Her students have won numerous awards such as consistent Sweepstakes Awards at UIL Competitions and Texas Music Educators Association All Region and All State Orchestra placement. Her Junior High String Orchestra was awarded by her peers the most prestigious award in the state: TMEA Junior High Honor Orchestra. With her successful track record in the classroom, she frequently mentors teachers new to the profession.
Debbie has been actively involved with several youth community groups: Houston Youth Symphony- clinician, Virtuosi of Houston- volunteer, Bay Area Youth Symphony- Advisory Board, and Boys Scouts of America- Committee Member.
Laurie Arnold – Cello
Laurie Arnold began playing cello at the age of 8 in her hometown of Philadelphia, studying with Philadelphia Orchestra members Deborah Reeder and Lloyd Smith. She received Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance, Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degrees from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX where she studied with Lev Aronson and Christopher Adkins. After graduating in 1994, Ms. Arnold free-lanced, taught, and played with several local orchestras including substituting with the Dallas and Fort Worth Symphonies. She participated in many festivals including the Dallas Symphony 1987 European Tour, American-Soviet Youth Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute, Tanglewood Institute, and Music in the Mountains in Durango, Colorado. Ms. Arnold joined the ‘cello section of the San Antonio Symphony in 1998. While in San Antonio, she was a coach for the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio and an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s University. In 2003, she moved to Houston to teach at Space Center Intermediate School in Clear Creek ISD. From 2004 to 2016, she was the Assistant Orchestra Director at Klein Forest High School. During her tenure at Klein Forest High School, the orchestra students played at Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Hall, and the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. She has been in the Who’s Who of Teachers three times, was given the Klein Forest Red Apple teaching award three times, and was a Klein ISD Outstanding Teacher five times. Ms. Arnold now enjoys teaching private lessons and giving clinics to local schools. Her favorite things to do are to travel to the East Coast to see family and to spend time with the love of her life–her cat Boo.
Mark Berry – Voice
Mark Berry, voice, has many years of training and experience in the choral arena. Along with a license in Ministry, he earned both a Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Baylor University. Recently Mark graduated from Tulane University with a Master of Business Administration degree. He has had experience teaching an award-winning 150 voice chorus at Houston Christian High School. Under his direction, this choir was twice awarded the TAPPS 5A Choir State Championship. He had the privilege to travel to Europe, Hawaii, and NY City with this outstanding group. He is excited to teach students from high school age to senior adults. Mark has a heart for ministry and serves as frequently as a supply worship leader for various churches in the Houston area.
Paula Blackmon – Voice
Paula Acord Blackmon is a native Houstonian. She has studied at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey where she was the Thompson Vocal Scholar winner and where she studied choral conducting with renowned conductor and choral scholar, Dr. Dennis Shrock; she completed her undergraduate studies at Houston Baptist University and earned her Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from Rice University, where she studied with the late Virgina Babikian. While attending Rice she was the winner of numerous awards including National Finalist of the Nation Opera Association Audition; Texoma Singer of the Year (SOTY) with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS); The Rice Concerto Competition; and the winner of the Shepherd School Award.
Paula has performed as vocal soloist, pianist, organist and conductor in numerous schools, churches and choral organizations throughout Texas, Louisiana and Alabama; she has been soloist for numerous Oratorio works and has sung in many of Houston’s professional choral organizations. She has served as Organist and Choir Director of Houston’s First Baptist Church; Organist, First United Methodist Church; and is currently the Organist at Tallowood Baptist Church where she and her husband are members. In addition to her multi-talents, Paula is also an elementary school music educator and is presently Music Specialist K-5 in the Spring Branch Independent School District. Paula is a member of Houston Masterworks Chorus where she is currently serving as its Interim Conductor.
Stephanie Bork – Violin
Stephanie Bork, violin, fell in love with the violin at the age of three and has been studying violin ever since. She studied most recently at the University of Michigan, where she received Masters of Music in violin under the teaching of Aaron Berofsky. Prior to that, she received her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Piotr Milewski. Stephanie has enjoyed extensive orchestral experience, including the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. She has also been a finalist in an audition for the Toledo Symphony, a semi-finalist for the Houston Grand Opera, and won a position in the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. She currently plays as a freelancer in the Houston area and subs with the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Symphony.
Stephanie has been teaching both private and group violin lessons for over ten years, with students ranging from three years old to adult. A number of Stephanie’s students have won competitions and auditions. Her goal in teaching is to give her students the tools they need to be the best violinists they can be, and to instill a love of music into each of them.
Janene Bostwick – Violin
Janene Bostwick, violin, a former, long time, Tallowood member, is excited to return to the Houston area to be a part of the Tallowood Academy of Fine Arts. Janene brings to the Academy 35 years of successful teaching in the areas of violin. She received her Bachelor and Master’s of Music Education degrees from the University of Houston studying under the world acclaimed violinist, Fredell Lack and later under Josephine Boudreaux. She has had training in the Suzuki method of instruction as well as additional studies in conducting. Studying voice under Pat Alexander of Eastman School of Music opened the doors to additional performance opportunities for Janene. She is a former member of the Opera Delaware Chorus, Rochester Opera Chorus, Houston Symphony Chorus, and Tanglewood Festival Chorus performing with the Boston Symphony and POPS Orchestra. Janene holds teaching certifications in Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, South Carolina, and Massachusetts. She continues to be active in professional organizations including Texas Orchestra Directors Association and National Association for Music Educations (formally MENC), to name a few.
Janene has taught students from elementary through high school age. Her students have won many awards at the District, Region and State levels and her school orchestras have won superior ratings in competitions. She has initiated many extracurricular music activities, festivals, and camps in various communities. Janene has served as a mentor to student teachers and trained future professional musicians.
Church music has always been an important part of Janene’s life with participation as choir member, soloist, and violinist in various Baptist and Presbyterian churches throughout the country.
Zach Bridges – Tuba
Zach Bridges received his Bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in tuba performance at Rice University. In the summer of 2014, Zach was named the winner of the Rafael Mendez Mock Orchestral Tuba Audition and also competed as a semi-finalist in both the Arnold Jacobs Mock Orchestral Tuba audition and the Artist Tuba Solo Competition at the 2014 International Tuba- Euphonium Conference in Bloomington, IN.
In 2011, Zach was awarded 1st place in the student division at the International Leonard Falcone solo competition in Blue Lake, Michigan. In addition, Zach has participated in the Brevard Music Center, National Music Festival, Texas Music Festival and Sewanee Summer Music Festival orchestras.
Zach teaches private lessons and gives master classes in the Houston area. His students have had success in region, area and ATSSB All-State auditions as well as State Solo and Ensemble competitions.
His Primary teachers include: David Kirk, Dr. Kent Eshelman, David Graves and Mark Finley.
Padua Canty – Violin
Padua Canty, a certified violin and viola Suzuki teacher, brings her love of music and strong conservatory background to her teaching. Padua has experience teaching the Suzuki Method as well as traditional pedagogical approaches and has been teaching students of all ages and abilities in Houston since her arrival in 2009. She is currently the Frostwood Fiddlers Director at Frostwood Elementary and maintains a bustling private studio of violin and viola students.
Padua graduated from The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University where she earned her Master of Music degree and held a Teaching Assistant position under Professor Ivo-Jan van der Werff. She earned her Bachelors of Music, summa cum laude, from Arizona State University, where she studied with Nancy Buck.
Padua attended many prestigious summer festivals including Tanglewood Music Center, International Festival Institute at Round Top, Rocky Mountain Summer Conservatory, ARIA International Summer Academy, and Musikalische Sommerkurse Leutkirch. Her orchestral experience has awarded her the opportunity to work under many esteemed conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, Kurt Masur, Jaap van Zweden, Larry Rachleff, and Christoph Campestrini, An avid chamber musician, Padua has worked with members of The Julliard String Quartet, Tokyo String Quartet, Brentano String Quartet, Saint Lawrence String Quartet, Medici String Quartet, Cleveland Quartet, and Concord String Quartet.
Padua’s first and foremost passion in music is teaching. She is looking forward to working with students at Tallowood Academy of Fine Arts.
Rachel Carlton, Violin/Viola
Grew up in southeast Texas and began playing the violin at the age of 11 in the public schools in Beaumont. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Violin Performance and Music Education from Lamar University.
While at Lamar Rachel studied with Dr. Eduard Schmieder, a Russian immigrant at the time, and performed with the Beaumont Symphony. Professor Schmieder is an imminent violin teacher who has since taught at Rice, SMU, UCLA and is currently teaching at Brown University.
After graduation Rachel went on to teach in the public schools and remained there for 31 years. Being involved with music in the community, she worked as a section coach for the Houston Youth Symphony and has performed with the Symphony of Southeast Texas and other community orchestras.
While in public schools her orchestras received many UIL sweepstakes awards and Outstanding Orchestra awards in many festivals. And her students consistently received top ratings with their individual competitions. She has had many TMEA All-State string players and currently has former students that are teaching orchestra and private lessons in the Houston area. Rachel has experience teaching students from 4 years old through high school. She is also a sought- after orchestra clinician and solo and ensemble judge. Rachel is a member of the Texas Music Adjudicators Association, Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, Suzuki Association of the Americas, and Southeast Texas Suzuki Association.
Rachel is Suzuki trained through Book 4.
Lindsey Day – Voice
Lindsey Day, voice, is a graduate of Sam Houston State University where she received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. She is a long-time Tallowood member, growing up in the youth choirs and progressing into the Adult Choir. Lindsey has sung in professional choral groups in the Houston area comprised of music majors and choral teachers. She is currently the Head Choir Director at Memorial Middle School in Spring Branch ISD where her choirs have earned Division 1 Sweepstakes ratings and a number of her students have won solo singing competitions. Lindsey is thrilled to be sharing her passion for music with her voice students in hopes that they will find their own passion in singing.
Jun Guo – Piano
Jun Guo, Chinese pianist, began studying piano at the age of six. In Mr. Guo’s study, he experienced a multi-cultural education with many different teaching methods. He has over 10 years of teaching experiences from the beginning to the advanced level.
Mr. Guo performs solo recitals, chamber concerts, and has performance with Shenyang Conservatory of Music Youth Symphony Orchestra and University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra. He recently worked as accompanist with the Concert Women’s Chorus at the Moores School of Music performing at the Moores Opera House. Also, he has been awarded the first prize in competitions including the Snowy Range Piano Competition in 2010, the Dorothy Jacoby Student Soloist Concerto Competition in 2011, and the MTNA Wyoming State Young Artist Performance Competition in 2012.
Mr. Guo received his Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from the Shenyang Conservatory of Music and his Master of Music degree in piano performance along with a Performance Certificate from the University of Wyoming. He is currently pursuing his Doctoral degree (Doctor of Musical Arts) in piano performance under piano professor Nancy Weems at the Moores School of Music, University of Houston. He also serves as a piano teaching assistant and teaches class piano at the university.
Kelly Hearn – Violin/Viola
Kelly Hearn, Violin, began her love for music 32 years ago. She is continually active as a freelance musician in the Houston area, something she has enjoyed for the past 20 years. Kelly has maintained a private violin studio for the last 20 years coupled with teaching orchestra at Northland Christian School for the last six years. Kelly attended Peabody Preparatory School followed by Ithaca College in New York where she earned her Bachelor of Music in Performance and Education degrees. She is a certified Suzuki teacher of Book 1-3 as well as holding a Texas teacher certification. Kelly’s goal is to instill a love and appreciation of music, while teaching a solid foundation of technique and theory, meeting the student’s needs and helping them reach their full potential. Her hobbies include photography, scrapbooking, and being a mom. Kelly serves as concertmaster of the Tallowood Baptist Church Orchestra.
Todd Hearn – Clarinet and Saxophone
Todd Hearn, clarinet, is a graduate of Ithaca College in New York where he earned his Master of Music degree in clarinet performance, as well as a graduate of the University of Delaware where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree with a minor in music management studies, saxophone, and jazz studies. Todd has been in the field of music education since 1994 with experience in teaching all levels from middle school to the university level. He is currently the band director at Hopper Middle School in Cypress Fairbanks ISD where his bands have received the highest awards in the UIL competitions.
Todd’s performance experience began on the East Coast with multiple performances in the field of musical theater as a pit musician, jazz band, ballet orchestra, chamber orchestra, and guest soloist on several recordings. He studied clarinet under David Weber of Julliard, NY City Ballet Orchestra, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Other instructors include Maichael Galvan of Ithaca College, Frank Kowalsky of Florida State University, and Charles Salinger of University of Delaware, Philadelphia Ballet, and Delaware Symphony.
Some of Todd’s musical awards include clarinet finalists for the President’s Own US Marine Band Finalist, Pershing’s Own US Army Band Finalist, US Army Field Band, and the US Navy Band. He won the concerto competitions at Ithaca College and University of Delaware. He was a named a member of Pi Kappa Lambda Honor Society, was awarded multiple merit scholarships at the university level, and served in leadership roles as school of music representative while studying at Ithaca.
Lisa McCarroll – Piano
Northern Irish pianist Lisa McCarroll began her studies in her home town of Derry at the age of six. It was not long before she started performing locally in Derry, Donegal and other parts of Northern Ireland. Before she reached her teens, a chance meeting at a music summer school led her to study in Dublin with world renowned piano pedagogue Dr. Frank Heneghan. This proved to be an extremely successful partnership, resulting in performances at the R.D.S. in Dublin and the John Field Room in the National Concert Hall, as well as annual first prizes in piano competitions throughout England and Ireland. She most recently won the Betty Clarke medal in 2009 at Ireland’s prestigious Feis Ceoil (founded in 1896), where noted piano scholar and critic Bryce Morrison described her playing as “a technique that disguises technique, and an art that disguises art.”
Throughout her career Lisa has worked with distinguished artists such as Jan Cap, Reamonn Keary, Martin Jones, Fanny Watermann (founder of the Leeds International Piano Competition), Colin Stone, Aaron Shorr, Petras Geniusas, Patsy Toh, Daniel Sher and Anne Epperson. She holds a Bachelors degree and LRAM (Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music) from The Royal Academy of Music in London where she worked with Diana Ketler, Michael Young, Michael Dussek, and Andrew West. She began her teaching career in 2004 at the Royal Academy of Music.
She recently graduated with her Doctorate degree in piano performance under the tutelage of renowned piano professor Nancy Weems. She currently teaches class piano at Moore’s School of Music and maintains a private studio at the St. Andrews School of Fine Arts in Houston.
Nicole Niederer is a collaborative pianist and vocalist based in the Houston area. She maintains a busy schedule as a freelance coach/accompanist for professional musicians, educators at all levels, and music students. She is also currently a staff accompanist at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, serves as a pianist and vocalist at Tallowood Baptist Church, and subs as a soprano for the Houston Bach Society. She has coached for many years at Sam Houston State University and was staff pianist at Lone Star College Montgomery from 20052013. Previous church positions include Founders Baptist Church in Spring, The Woodlands United Methodist Church, Faith Bible Church in The Woodlands, and Calvary Church in Charlotte, NC. Her work has taken her all over the United States, as well as Europe and the Middle East.
Ms. Niederer is also a member of Cypress Creek Music Teachers Association and the American College of Musicians. She maintains a small private piano teaching studio in The Woodlands, in addition to serving on the faculty of the Tallowood Fine Arts Academy in Houston. Her formal music studies began at age 5, and she graduated with a vocal performance degree from the Wheaton Conservatory of Music in 1988.
Priscilla Niermann – Piano/Organ
Priscilla Niermann earned her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. While there, she assisted and studied under Manahem Pressler of the world famed Beaux Arts Trio. She did post-graduate study at the Moores School of Music, University of Houston as an organ student of the late Dr. Robert Jones. Priscilla served there as a studio accompanist for Henry Rubin, violin, Steven Smith, voice, and Ruth Tromforde as well as coaching the organ studio of Dr. Joyce Jones at Baylor University.
Priscilla is a member of the honorary Mu Phi Epsilon, The American Guild of Organists, the Music Teachers National Association and the Texas Music Teachers Association. She has served on the board of the Houston Music Teachers Association as well as the board of the Houston Symphony League as Chairman of The Festival of Schools. She has been involved with the American College of Musicians / National Guild of Piano Teachers.
She is versatile in a wide range of musical styles including classical, contemporary praise, gospel, blues and jazz. The Contemporary Singers Church Choir was founded and directed by Priscilla. She most recently served on the music staff of St Martin’s Lutheran Church in Sugarland, Texas as the choral director, pianist, organist music arranger and children’s choir director.
Mauricio Oliveros – Violin
Mauricio Oliveros, a native of Colombia, attained his Doctor of Musical Arts in Violin Performance from the University of Houston, under the mentorship of Andrzej Grabiec. He also holds a Graduate Artist Certificate in Violin Performance from the studio of Julia Bushkova at the University of North Texas, and a Masters in both Violin Performance and Music Theory at Texas Christian University. He has given violin masterclasses in Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, and recently in Cuba, where he was invited by the Mozarteum Salzburg to teach undergrad students from the Lyceum Mozartiano Habana. Dr. Oliveros currently holds an adjunct faculty position at Houston Baptist University, as well as violin faculty positions at Tallowood Academy of Fine Arts and The Kinkaid School.
He has attended important music festivals, including the Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA), the Texas Music Festival, and the Mimir Chamber Music Festival, among others. As a member of the YOA string quartet he had the opportunity to work and perform concerts alongside famous Jazz musician Paquito D’Rivera. He has been a member of the Valle Symphony Orchestra (Colombia), San Angelo Symphony Orchestra, Irving Symphony Orchestra, Midland-Odessa Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Vista. Currently, he is the Associate Concertmaster of the Symphony of Southeast Texas.
An avid lover of chamber music, he co-founded the Fuzion String Quartet, which was featured as the guest quartet in the 2010 Hot Springs Music Festival. Most recently the quartet performed at the “Cali de Camara 2012” International Chamber Music Festival in Colombia, performing concerts with internationally acclaimed guitarist Ricardo Cobo. He is also an active recitalist performing regularly throughout the American continent.
Aimee Peterson – Violin/Viola
Aimee Petersen began the study of the violin at the age of six but her musical education started as a baby when her father would play a recording of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik whenever he gave her a bottle. Her first experiences with the violin were through the Suzuki method. One of the highlights of her Suzuki studies was getting to perform on stage with Dr. Suzuki, the founder of the method, at a Suzuki conference when she was in the second grade. Ms. Petersen went on to major in music in college and graduated from the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. Some of her former teachers include: Borivoj Martinic-Jercic, Andor Toth and Albert Muenzer.
While still attending the University of Houston, Ms. Petersen began teaching private lessons for the Katy Independent School District. She has over 20 years of experience teaching privately and 15 years of experience teaching junior high orchestra in the Houston area. As a junior high orchestra director, her students consistently earned superior ratings in competition and a few have even gone on to study music with the goal of becoming music teachers themselves. She has also worked with both the Greater Houston Youth Orchestra and the Houston Youth Symphony as a violin section coach and has spent her summers teaching at various string camps in Texas. She is also Suzuki certified and is a member of the Houston Area Suzuki Strings Association and the Suzuki Association of America. Other professional memberships include Texas Music Educators Association and Texas Orchestra Directors Association.
Ms. Petersen currently spends her time raising her young daughter, teaching violin and viola privately and as a freelance violinist. She is the concertmaster of the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra, a member of Third Floor Strings and also performs with Encore Strings. She has performed with recording artists like Michael Bolton, Ray Price and Christopher Cross to name a few. On Sunday mornings, she can be found using her talents to praise God through music with the orchestra at Houston’s First Baptist and has made several recordings with the group.
Larry Guinn Pitts – Trumpet
Larry Guinn Pitts, a retired high school band director with 34 years of experience, began playing trumpet in the fourth grade. He studied the trumpet with two members of the Houston Symphony and attended The University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor of Music, Master of Education in curriculum and instruction and a Masters in Music Theory, graduating summa cum laude. In his teaching career Mr. Pitts has produced numerous District, Region, Area and All-State trumpeters as well as members of professional orchestras and bands. He currently teaches private trumpet lessons for Pearland I.S.D. and Deer Park I.S.D. and is a member of Texas Music Educators Association and Texas Bandmasters Association. Mr. Pitts enjoys teaching young musicians and is proud to be a member of Tallowood Church Orchestra and Music Academy.
Deborah Rathke – Horn
Deborah Rathke, a successful horn performer and teacher, has always had a passion for instilling a love for music and performance in her students and has extensive experience developing top talent. A native of Alberta, Canada, Deborah moved to Houston to complete her Masters of Performance at the prestigious Rice University Shepherd School of Music. Deborah graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy and then received her Bachelor in Performance from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinios.
A member of the Houston Musicians Union and Texas Music Educators Association, Deborah is well known for the success of her studios. Under her tutelage, her students have won numerous solo chamber competitions, Texas Band and Orchestra competitions. With Deborah’s guidance, her students are consistently all-state level players, recently having the top two seats in 2012. Her students are accepted into top ranked music schools and conservatories such as the Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, and many more. She is frequently asked to coach area horn sections and has been the Houston Youth Symphony horn section coach for seven years.
Deborah is an active free-lancer in the Houston Area. She has had performances with the Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Opera in the Heights, and River Oaks Chamber Orchestras. She also performs with HITS and Theatre under the Stars. In the Chicago area she performed with the Elgin and Illinois Symphonies, the Millar Brass Ensemble and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
Annamarie Reader – Cello
A native of Kansas, Annamarie began her musical studies on the violin and piano at an early age. Growing up as one of eight children who all played instruments, she was constantly surrounded by music. At age 13, Annamarie switched to the cello, having always been drawn in particular to the instrument and its timbre. Annamarie has enjoyed performing within small and large ensembles around Houston including River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Mercury Baroque Orchestra and the Houston Symphony. In addition to her extensive performance experience, Annamarie has received Suzuki cello teacher training through Book 10 from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Having received training from some of the most skilled and inspiring teachers in the country, she feels the desire to pass on the best of what she has learned to others. She loves working with all ages and has noticed that the process of learning a musical instrument provides a unique opportunity for people to grow not only as musicians, but also as human beings. Annamarie has attended numerous music festivals, the most recent including the Tanglewood Music Center in 2011 and 2012. She completed her undergraduate degree in Cello Performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2010 studying with Melissa Kraut and her Masters Degree in Cello Performance from Rice University in 2013, studying with Desmond Hoebig.
Karen Slotter – Percussion
Karen Slotter received her Master of Music degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. Currently, she is a member of the Houston Ballet Orchestra as well as performing with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Houston, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and a freelance musician with other area musical groups. Karen has had experience teaching elementary general music, music and movement for preschoolers, and has maintained a private studio of many years. Sharing her love for music with others is important to her. She is very excited to join the faculty of TAFA and working with students of all ages.
Yvonne Smith – Violin/Viola
Yvonne Smith attended Rice University where she earned a Bachelor of Music Performance and Master of Music Performance in Viola degrees. She has experience as a guest soloist with Dubuque Strings. She has been a finalist at the Coleman Competition and a semifinalist at the Sphinx and Fischoff Competitions.
Her private teaching experience has been with Klein ISD, and Conroe ISD, the Melody Program for the Houston Youth Symphony as well as her own private studio. Besides teaching Yvonne enjoys performing. She has performed with the New World Symphony has spent summers performing at the Tanglewood Music Festival, Aspen, Banff Centre and Grant Park Orchestra of Chicago. In Houston, Yvonne performs regularly in the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Mercury: the orchestra redefined.
Yvonne began her musical studies on the piano under her mother’s tutelage. She began studying the viola at age 9 in her elementary school. Her primary teachers include James Dunham, Joan DerHovsepian, and Alice Young.
Hannah Watson – Violin
Hannah Watson grew up in central Illinois, and moved to Houston to attend Rice University for her undergraduate degree in violin performance. After completing her degree studying with Kathleen Winkler, Hannah went to Indiana University’s Jacobs School of music where she studied with Jorja Fleezanis, former concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra. Upon graduating with highest honors, Hannah moved back to Houston, where she currently teaches violin privately and freelances in and around Houston. This season, Hannah will be performing with the Houston Grand Opera, the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the Austin Lyric Opera, and the Symphony of Southeast Texas.
Beth Wiehe – Flute
Beth Wiehe, a native Houstonian, recently moved back to Houston after several years teaching at St. Mary’s University, Texas Lutheran University and Texas State University. She was flute professor and conductor of the Flute Ensemble at each university. She has also been on the faculty of Sam Houston State University and San Jacinto College in Pasadena and Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She has taught private flute lessons at a number of High Schools and Middle Schools and often contracted by the schools to teach master classes and section rehearsals. She has given presentations at The National Flute Association, The Texas Bandmasters Association and The Houston Flute Club. She has been adjudicator for The Texas Flute Club (Dallas area), The Houston Flute Club and U.I.L. solo contests and all levels of All State Competitions. She was a National Flute Association Chamber Music Competition Winner and on the roster the Young Audiences of Houston with The Houston Flute Quartet. Beth has played principle flute with the Pasadena Symphony, and Beaumont Symphony and 2nd flute with Mid Texas Symphony, San Antonio Symphony and Victoria Bach Festival. She was a featured soloist in the Victoria Bach Festival in 2015. She is on the faculty of FlootFire (flootfire.com), a flute camp held at Tallowood Baptist in the summers. In 2014, she released a CD of flute, panpipes, alto flute and piccolo with pianist Marvin Gaspard called Tis So Sweet. It can be found on iTunes, Spotify, bethwiehe.com, and on Facebook Beth A. Wiehe.
HanQing Zhou – Piano
HanQing Zhou, piano, was born in Chengdu, a southern city of China, HanQing and attended the precollege program of Sichuan Conservatory of Music where he studied with Professor Huang Jing and Zheng DaXin. He came to United States for his Bachelor’s Degree of Piano performance at Oberlin conservatory of music with Professor Peter Takacs. He completed his Master Degree at Rice University, Shepherd School of Music, with Dr. Robert Roux. Now he is pursuing his Doctoral degree in University of Houston under the tutelage of Nancy Weems. He has also participated to many music festivals and master classes including working with Leon Fleisher, Paul Badura-Skoda, John Lill, Nalita True, Yoheved Kaplinsky, Tomas Ungar, Vladimir Fletsman，Angela Hewitt and so on.
HanQing is a rising figure of the 80’s generation pianist who is committed to connect to today’s audiences by offering strong interpretations of the historical and contemporary repertoire.
He received the international award and Dean’s scholarship from Oberlin Conservatory and is a recipient of the Dr. Margaret Ann Goldstein Prize from Rice University and C.W fellowship from University of Houston. He is also a prize winner of many competitions including DCS international piano competition, Ruth Burr Piano Competition, Firelands Symphony Orchestra Concerto Completion, the Hong Kong Mozart Piano Competition, Gu Lang Yu National Competition.
He has fourteen years of teaching experience with all ages and abilities from beginners to the university level.