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 is a native Houstonian, and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Church Music and Music Performance from Baylor University. He studied voice with Jack Coldiron and conducting with Donald Bailey and Robert H. Young. Mark is the recipient of the Baylor Church Music Award. He has had a great career in vocal teaching, conducting, and lecturing. He is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Mark is a frequent soloist, conductor, teacher, and adjudicator in the Houston community. Most recently, he directed the Houston Christian High School choral division to win top honors at the Heritage Festival in New Orleans, winning an invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall, as well as 1st place at TAPPS All State Competitions. His students have also won Tommy Tune nominations and awards.
Mark loves to help students develop their music potential, foster a deep and lasting love of music, and grow in relationship with God. He and his family belong to Tallowood Baptist Church.
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.
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.
Sarah Bouse – Piano
Sarah Bouse started teaching piano when she was 14 years old under the direction of her private piano teacher in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her love for teaching and performing encouraged her to attend Belmont University, where she was able to double major in piano performance and piano pedagogy. She also completed a Spanish language minor. Her diverse background in these three areas of study prepared her well for graduate school. Sarah graduated magna cum laude from Belmont University in 2013, after which she moved to Houston, Texas to attend Rice University. Sarah completed a Master of Music in Vocal Coaching degree at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in May 2016. She was privileged to study under Thomas Jaber, who continues to influence her teaching and performing. This unique program is designed to teach pianists how to coach opera singers in their diction, musicality, and acting. She loved her time at Rice and was fortunate to perform in over twenty recitals and productions during her time there. Sarah was privileged to represent Rice University and make her Kennedy Center debut in the Conservatory Project concert in Washington, D.C. in February 2016. She joined the adjunct faculty of Houston Community College in January 2017, where she continues to teach as an adjunct faculty member. In Spring 2018, she developed the curriculum for Music Literature, a course she will continue to teach in Fall 2018.
Sarah had the opportunity to work at Interlochen Center for the Arts in northern Michigan for three summers as a Piano Teaching Assistant. This prestigious fine arts camp provided a wonderful opportunity for Sarah to put her pedagogy knowledge to good use. She worked with students ranging in age from eight to eighteen years old and was able to teach group classes, coach ensembles, and supervise practice hours. Not only was this great teaching experience, but Sarah also loved spending time on the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and enjoyed getting to know other musicians from around the world.
Sarah’s interests are not confined to music study. Through the language department at Rice University, she was able to study Italian in Genoa, Italy, for a month in summer 2014. She was thrilled to return to Italy in the summer of 2015 for three months to continue to refine her language skills through two different study abroad programs and travel. In the summers of 2016 and 2017, Sarah was both staff pianist and assistant director at an opera program in Lucca, Italy. She will return this summer as assistant director of the same program and is looking forward to enjoying all the beautiful parts of Italian culture – coffee, art, and delicious food!
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 5.
Emory Daniel – Bass
Emory Daniel began studying double bass at the age of twelve with the former principal bassist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He earned both his Bachelors of Music in Double Bass Performance and Music Education at the University of Georgia-Hugh Hodgson School of Music. While studying at UGA he was the principal bassist of the Athens Symphony Orchestra and a substitute member of the Atlanta and Augusta Symphony Orchestras. He was also an interim principal bassist for both the Orquesta Sinfonica de La Salta in Argentina and the Conservatorio A. Vivaldi Alessandria in Italy. Emory has been a member of the Brevard Music Festival and the Interlochen Arts Camp. He taught privately at UGA Community Music School, UGA String Project, UGA Summer Music Camp, and free-lanced where his students have received All-Region/All-State Honors. Emory has studied under Ralph Jones, Jack Budrow, Lawrence Hurst, Bruce Bransby, Kurt Muroki, Craig Brown, and Milton Masciadri.
Emory began a Master of Music degree program studying performance at Indiana University-Jacobs School of Music. During this time, he became a member of both the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra. While pursuing a performance degree, he worked closely with Dr. Brenda Brenner, Associate Professor of Music Education at IU and President of the American String Teachers Association. Under her mentorship, he trained extensively in the Suzuki method and worked as an assistant teacher for the IU Fairview Project and the IU Summer String Academy before moving to Houston to become the head orchestra director at T.H. McDonald Junior High in Katy ISD. While teaching in Katy, his students have received Outstanding Awards in both group performance and solo competitions. They have also received Superior Ratings at UIL competition. Emory has been teaching privately and leading sectionals for over 10 years. He has grown to love performing and teaching equally. He believes that music is a gift to be shared as it connects people and helps them grow as individuals.
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.
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.
Hyeok Kwon – Cello
Hyeok Kwon recently graduated from Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music with a Masters of Music degree and a Performer’s Diploma where he studied under Eric Kim. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of David Ying, from the Grammy award winning ensemble- The Ying Quartet. He has participated in numerous prestigious music festivals such as Sarasota Music Festival, The New York String Orchestra Seminar, ENCORE: School for Strings, National Orchestra Summer Institute and Aspen Music Fesival where he served as Assistant Principal Cello for the Festival Orchestra. Hyeok has been awarded first prize in multiple competitions including the Fort Bend Symphony Competition, Houston Civic Symphony Competition, Houston Youth Symphony Competition, and High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Concerto Competition, and was a finalist in the Houston Symphony League Concerto Competition, the George and Peggy Schmidbauer International String Competition, and the Eastman Cello Concerto Competition.
Not only is he a gifted performer but he is also gifted in teaching. During his time at Indiana University, he taught cello as Associate Instructor at Jacobs School of Music. Prior to his time in Indiana Hyeok has taught privately at the Tallowood Academy of Fine Arts.
Hyeok began studying cello at age 11 with Donna Rogers in Houston, TX. Other instructors include distinguished pedagogues such as Timothy Eddy, Ronald Leonard, Clive Greensmith and has performed master classes for Steven Isserlis, Desmond Hoebig, the Ying Quartet, and the Kopelman Quartet. His latest achievement was to perform at the 2013 U.S. Presidential Inauguration as member of The Eastman School String Quartet. Hyeok has been a member of Tallowood since 2000.
Sunjung Lee – Piano
Sunjung Lee is a Korean-born pianist who is actively performing solo and ensemble. She brings to TAFA over fifteen years of teaching experience of all ages from beginners to advanced (college level). She enjoys teaching private and group piano classes. Her favorite part of teaching is to share the joy of playing the piano and learning music with her students, and to help students understand the principal of music. Sunjung received her Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance from the University of Kansas. Previously, she received her Master of Music from the University of Houston as a student of Tali Morgulis, and earned a Performer’s Diploma from Indiana University-Bloomington while studying with Karen Shaw. She also earned a Bachelor of Music degree at Hansei University. Dr. Lee has performed with several orchestras as featured soloist including the Kansas University Orchestra, Hansei University Orchestra, and Korean Philharmonic Orchestra. She also was involved in the AURA contemporary ensemble. She performed at many music festivals including Busan International Music Festival, Music Fest Perugia, Atlantic Music Festival, Beijing International Music Festival and Academy, and Winter Euro Music Festival. As a collaborative pianist, she has performed many chamber concerts, including with the Borromeo Quartet, and attended the Atlantic Music Festival as a fellow pianist. She recorded duo piano music with Tali Morgurlis on a CD released by American Recording. She has also performed on KUHF Houston Public Radio on 87.9.
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.
Alisa Pederson – Violin, Viola
Alisa Pederson graduated from the University of Houston in 1984 with a Bachelor of Music degree in music education. She taught for 15 years on the elementary and junior high levels as a choral director which allowed her to perform as a professional violinist on the weekends. During this time she trained in Kodaly and Orff teaching methods and was widely sought after as a workshop presenter in vocal music techniques for children.
In 1998 she left the choral position to teach junior high orchestra. Her orchestras excelled at the state and national level – placing in the top six in honor orchestra competition and were invited to the Midwest Clinic in Chicago. After seven years on the junior high level, Mrs. Pederson moved to high school orchestra and remained as an orchestra director at the high school level until she retired after 30 years in public education in June of 2013.
Throughout her career as an educator she also performed professionally as a violinist, vocalist and pianist. Her group, Encore Strings, is well-known in the Houston area and she performs each weekend in various capacities – with area orchestras, at private parties, weddings, etc. She is a full time contract musician at Houston’s First Baptist Church where she also serves as the organist. In addition she is sought after to clinic orchestras and judge UIL orchestral competitions throughout the state. In January of 2016, Mrs. Pederson began teaching as Adjunct Professor of Violin at the CyFair campus of Lone Star College. Alisa Pederson currently resides in Meadows Place, Texas with her husband of 33 years, Vaughan, and her dog Angel.
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.
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.
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.
Leah Williams Solis – Oboe
Oboist, Leah Williams, developed a passion for playing music at a very young age and has fostered it through maintaining private teaching studios in the Houston and Dallas-Ft. Worth areas as well as performing as a freelance musician. She considers teaching private students her biggest passion in life. She hopes to instill in her students the same passion and effect music has on her.
She has private teaching experience in the Houston area in the Cyfair, Katy, and Fort Bend Independent School Districts as well as Birdville ISD in the Dallas area where she taught master classes on the TMEA All State Literature.
Leah studied oboe performance as an undergraduate at the University of North Texas, graduating magna cum laude, under James Ryon of the Baton Rouge Symphony. She obtained her Master’s degree from the University of Houston under Jonathan Fischer of the Houston Symphony. Leah is intent on giving her students a well-rounded education, encompassing important areas of study including music theory and history as well as performance practice. She is a member of the International Double Reed Society and Texas Music Educators Association.
Leah also enjoys several hobbies outside the realm of music including photography, yoga, health and fitness, and exploring the outdoors. Leah has the honor of playing in the Tallowood Orchestra each week.
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 beperforming 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.