Academy Faculty

Below is a list of the faculty of the Tallowood Academy of Fine Arts:

Debbie Barker – Director

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 – Cellolaurie-arnold-cropped

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.

Paula BlackmonPaula 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.

Rachel CarltonRachel 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.

1001171147_HDR.jpgEmory 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-newLindsey 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.

Jessica Emery- photo 2017Jessica Emery – Violin

Violinist, Jessica Emery, recently graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX with a Masters of Music in Violin Performance where she studied with Diane Kitzman, Principal First Violinist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. While in Dallas, Jessica regularly performed with regional orchestras such as the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, Sherman Symphony, and Longview Symphony. Ms. Emery also taught in privately for the Plano Independent School District, while maintaining a private studio in Dallas.

Prior to her studies at SMU, Jessica graduated magna cum laude from Belmont University in Nashville, TN with a Bachelor of Music in Classical Violin Performance. She studied with Elisabeth Small, former Associate Concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony and pupil of Dorothy DeLay, as well as Alison Gooding Hoffman, First Violinist of the Nashville Symphony and founding member of the Grammy nominated Alias Chamber Ensemble. While studying at Belmont University, Jessica received multiple solo opportunities to perform with university ensembles, and had the opportunity to participate in major festivals in the United States, including the National Orchestral Institute and the National Music Festival. Through Belmont University and these summer festivals, she had a great deal of orchestral recording experience on NPR and Naxos Records, national televised broadcasts on PBS, and many other recording projects in Nashville.

Jessica teaches Suzuki and traditional methods of violin to students of all ages. Her studio is focused on healthy playing habits through balanced posture and technique. The mission of Jessica’s studio is to develop each student’s highest individual potential of violin playing, musicianship, and character through a balanced understanding of technique, music theory, musicality, and importance of music in the world.

Jun GuoJun 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 musiKelly Hearnc 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.

kwon celloHyeok 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.

LLisa McCarrollisa 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 – Piano

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 NiemanPriscilla 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 2015 Web PicMauricio 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/ViolaAimee Peterson

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 ReaderAnnamarie 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 SmithYvonne 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.

TAFA bio picture- Jillian (3)Jillian Storey – Flute

Jillian Storey recently returned from Kent, England, where she was a second-time member of Trevor Wye’s Flute Studio. She received her Master of Music from Baylor University and her Bachelor of Music Performance degree from Tennessee Technological University.

A passionate teacher, Jillian has teaching experience in Tennessee and Texas as a private flute instructor, woodwind specialist, a chamber music coach, and has been on faculty with the Baylor University High School Summer Band and Orchestra Camp. In the summer of 2016 she also travelled to Malaysia and spent two weeks teaching music reading and fundamentals. She believes in enabling her students to understand all aspects of music while being a positive impact on their lives, incorporating music history and theory into her teaching, as well as body awareness, stage and professional presence, and an appreciation for all areas of the arts.

Jillian is an avid chamber musician and is the flutist of Coloratura Winds, the Alternate of MTNA’s Southeast Chamber Division in 2016. She’s also been the finalist in the Baylor University Concerto Competition in 2016, a Winner of the Marcel Moyse Society’s 2015 Essay Contest, has twice been invited to the live rounds of the Young Texas Music Artist’s Competition, and was named the Winner of both the Joan Derryberry Memorial Concerto Competition and the Tennessee MTNA Young Artist Solo Competition in 2011. Professional playing experience includes three years with the Bryan Symphony Orchestra in Cookeville, Tennessee, and with the Waco Symphony Orchestra.

She currently resides in Houston, TX where she is building a private studio, teaching music fundamentals, serving on the National Flute Association’s Oral History Committee, and spending time with her cats and fiancé, a percussionist and elementary music teacher.

Hannah Watson

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-newBeth 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 (, 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,, and on Facebook Beth A. Wiehe.

Leah Williams -photo- 2017Leah Williams – 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.

Hanqing ZhouHanQing 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.