Peter Bay, music director & conductor

Peter Bay

Peter Bay became Music Director and Conductor of the Austin Symphony Orchestra in 1998. He is also Music Director of the Hot Springs Music Festival in Arkansas, and Conductor of the Big Sky Festival Orchestra in Montana.

Maestro Bay has appeared with seventy-five different orchestras including the National, Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Dallas, Baltimore, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Carolina, Syracuse, Tucson, Virginia, West Virginia, Colorado, Hawaii, Jacksonville, Richmond, Sarasota, Alabama, Arkansas, Canton, Eugene, Fort Worth, Springfield, Chattanooga, Bochum (Germany), Carinthian (Austria), Lithuanian National, and Ecuador National Symphonies, the Minnesota and Algarve (Portugal) Orchestras, the Louisiana, Buffalo, Rhode Island, Tulsa, Fort Wayne, Reno and Las Vegas Philharmonics, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Eastman (Argento’s Postcard from Morocco) and Aspen (Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe) Opera Theaters, and the Theater Chamber Players of the Kennedy Center. Summer music festival appearances have included Aspen (CO), Music in the Mountains (CO), Grant Park and Ravinia (IL), Round Top (TX), OK Mozart (OK) and Skaneateles (NY).

Peter is the primary conductor for the ASO’s performances with Ballet Austin. He made his Austin Opera debut in January 2002 with André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, and conducted La Traviata in November 2002, Turandot in November 2003, and The Marriage of Figaro in April 2005.

Other positions held by Mr. Bay have included Music Director of the Erie Philharmonic, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival (CO), Britt Festival Orchestra (OR), and four different conducting posts with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Richmond Symphony in Virginia. Bay and the Austin Symphony Orchestra with pianist Anton Nel have released a critically acclaimed CD of Edward Burlingame Hill’s music on the Bridge label. Gramophone magazine states “The performances advocate brilliantly for Hill. Bay and his Austin players are crisp and warm in the symphony, and they collaborate with pinpoint vitality with pianist Anton Nel.” With the Richmond Symphony he recorded the US premiere performance of Britten’s The Sword in the Stone for Opus One Records. Voices, featuring the percussion ensemble NEXUS and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, is available on the Nexus label.

A native of Washington, DC, Mr. Bay is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the Peabody Institute of Music. In 1994, he was one of two conductors selected to participate in the Leonard Bernstein American Conductors Program. He was also the first prize winner of the 1980 Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Young Conductors Competition and a prize winner of the 1987 Leopold Stokowski Competition sponsored by the American Symphony Orchestra in New York. In July 2012 he appeared in Solo Symphony, a choreographic work created for him by Allison Orr of Forklift Danceworks. He is the conductor of Hanan Townshend’s score to the motion picture The Vessel scheduled for release in 2015.

Peter is married to soprano Mela Dailey and they have a son Colin.

Jessica Mathaes, concertmaster

Jessica Mathaes

Hailed by critics as “a master of the Khachaturian violin concerto” (Austin Chronicle) and “a violinist like no other” (The New York Times), award-winning violinist Jessica Mathaes enjoys a multifaceted career as a soloist, recording artist, educator and concertmaster. She has appeared as a soloist throughout the United States and internationally in Europe and Asia, and has been broadcast live on Performance Today, Chicago Public Radio, and ARTE, the French-German cultural television channel. She has been featured with numerous orchestras including the Austin, Victoria, Bismarck-Mandan, Round Rock, and Northwest Iowa Symphonies, and the Masterworks and National Music Festival Orchestras among others. She has also served as a musical ambassador for the US, travelling to Singapore on a solo and masterclass tour throughout the country in conjunction with the US Embassy.

At the age of 25, Ms. Mathaes became both the youngest and first female concertmaster of the Austin Symphony, a post she has held since 2005. She has premiered works by many American composers, and has served on the faculties of the Hot Springs Music Festival, the National Music Festival, the Credo Music Festival, the Masterworks Festival and the International Festival-Institute at Round Top. Her debut solo CD, Suites and Sweets, was released on the Centaur label in 2009 to critical acclaim in Fanfare magazine, and her second CD, Seven Deadly Sins: Violin Works of Paul Reale, was released on the Naxos label in May of 2014. Ms. Mathaes holds performance degrees from Rice University, where she graduated magna cum laude. She lives in Austin with her husband Matthias and their children. For more information, please visit

Patrice Calixte, Associate Concertmaster

Patrice Calixte

Canadian violinist Patrice Calixte began playing the violin at the age of eight and went on to participate in a highly competitive high school music program in Montreal, Quebec, where he studied with Francine Pépin. He then earned his undergraduate degree and master’s degree in music performance from the Université de Montréal, studying under Claude Richard. An experienced orchestral musician, Calixte has worked with many orchestras in Québec and Ontario, including the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra. More recently, he was hired to the first violin section of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, where he stayed for two years. Leaving Calgary in search for even more personal development, Calixte is now working towards an artist diploma from The University of Texas at Austin in the studio of Daniel Ching. He has played in numerous master classes from luminaries such as Maxim Vengerov and Regis Pasquier. Calixte has also performed as a concertist with various orchestras in Montreal and recently won The University of Texas Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition.

Molly Emerman, violin

Molly Emerman

Alaska born violinist Molly Emerman leads a varied career as a performer and educator. She has performed as a chamber musician, soloist, and orchestral musician throughout the US, Europe, South America, and Asia, and is a winner of the Young Alaskan Artist Award. Orchestral highlights include performing with conductors Pierre Boulez, Fabio Luisi, and Krzysztof Urbański with orchestras such as the Malaysian Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Charleston Symphony, and the Delaware Symphony. Molly currently spends her summers with the Artosphere Festival Orchestra, and spent past summers at the Spoleto Festival, Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Pacific Music Festival (Japan) and Beijing International Music Festival, among others. In Austin she also enjoys performing for commercial studio recordings for records, movies, and TV, and at festivals such as SXSW and ACL Live.

Devoted to teaching and outreach, Molly previously worked as a Teaching Artist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, teaching and presenting concerts and workshops throughout the region. In Austin she regularly engages in outreach for the Austin Symphony and the Austin Chamber Music Center, and maintains a private violin studio.

Molly holds performance degrees from Rice University, Northwestern University, and Interlochen Arts Academy. Her principal teachers were Kathleen Winkler, Almita and Roland Vamos, and Julia Bushkova.

Paula Bird, violin

Paula Bird

Paula E. Bird, an accomplished violinist and pianist, received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, her M.M. from Texas State University, and is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio. She also studied music performance (violin and piano) at Temple University in Philadelphia with Helen Kwalwasser and Marian Filar, where Bird received the Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award. A former member of the San Antonio Symphony and the Austin Lyric Opera, Bird has been a member of numerous professional symphony orchestras in Pennsylvania and Texas, including the Harrisburg, Waco, Victoria, and Corpus Christi Symphonies. Bird has also played with the Winters Chamber Orchestra (Soloist and Assistant Concertmaster) and the Laredo Philharmonic. Bird has performed in numerous master classes as a violinist and pianist with Jaime Laredo, Elmar Oliveira, Leonard Rosen, Franco Gulli, and Eugene Fodor. Bird currently plays first violin with the Austin Symphony Orchestra and serves as Associate Concertmaster and Master Class Clinician with the Sunriver Music Festival in Oregon. She was also a principal player, soloist, and chamber player with the Conspirare Choir and the Victoria Bach Festival under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson. Bird currently teaches applied violin and chamber music at Texas State University. She is also a certified teacher of Dr. Suzuki’s Talent Education Method and maintains an extensive private studio in Wimberley, TX. In addition to her responsibilities with Texas State University, including the University Summer Strings Camp, Bird was a former faculty member of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio summer camp and the Director of the former Texas State University Suzuki String Institute. As a pianist, Bird has accompanied recitalists at UTSA and SAC in San Antonio, Indiana University, Des Moines Metro Opera, Texas Lutheran College, and the Rome Festival Orchestra. Bird was also the accompanist for the San Antonio Symphony’s Operation Opera and for Richard Stoltzman (clarinet) in school concerts for the Austin Symphony. Bird was a founding member of the Artisan Quartet, which made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2012.

Paula also has a passion for mini long-haired dachshunds and has raised them along with her chickens, alpacas, and donkeys.

Robin Burwell, violin

Robin A. Burwell

A native of Toledo, Ohio, Ms. Burwell began her violin studies at the age of 10. She attended the University of Toledo and graduated with a degree in Music Performance at Toledo University. While attending the university, Ms. Burwell was the featured soloist with the university orchestra performing, Havanese by C. Saint Saens. Her musical development has been influence by studying with the concertmaster of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Austin Symphony, private instructors, the late Betty Foster and the late Lorene Gunderson. Ms. Burwell continued her studies at Penn State University and performed with the graduate chamber orchestra which toured in Poland. Ms. Burwell returned to Ohio and was the concertmaster of the Lima Symphony Orchestra and a violinist with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra for 4 years.

Upon moving to San Antonio, Texas in 1983, Ms. Burwell taught orchestra in the Alamo Heights School District, and the San Antonio Independent School District along with performing with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. In 1987, Ms. Burwell moved to Austin where she excelled as an orchestra teacher in the Austin Independent School District. Ms. Burwell holds a Master of Education degree in Educational Administration from Texas State University. Currently, Ms. Burwell is a 8th grade assistant principal at Running Brushy Middle School in Leander Independent School District. In prior years she was an elementary assistant principal in Pflugerville Independent School District for thirteen years. Ms. Burwell has also taught third and fifth grade at Sims Elementary School in Austin Independent School District.

Pflugerville ISD has benefited from Ms. Burwell’s skill as a musician. In 2000 a district youth orchestra was formed under her leadership. The youth orchestra was such an early success that the orchestra received a resolution from State Representative Jack Stick for their orchestral accomplishments at their first competition. As a result of Ms. Burwell efforts of establishing an orchestra program in PISD she received the Administrator’s Excellence Award from the Texas Chapter of the American String Teachers Association at the 2009 Texas Music Educators Convention held in San Antonio, Texas. This award is given to an administrator who has made a significant contribution to a school orchestra program either by imitating a string program or expanding an existing string orchestra program. Currently, Ms. Burwell is an Assistant Principal at a Middle School in Leander ISD.

Ms. Burwell continues to perform extensively with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Due to her dedication in motivating and inspiring students to excel in music, Ms. Burwell performs with the Austin Symphony Orchestra each spring for high schools along with the young peoples concerts held in the Austin area.

In the spring of 2010, Ms. Burwell was honored with the Connie Yerwood-Conner African American Women’s Profile of Prominence award in the area of Arts/Music. This award is given to outstanding African American women in the Austin Metroplex area.

Ms.Burwell professional affiliations include the Texas Secondary Principals and Superviosrs Association, American String Teachers Organization, TexASTA, The Women’s Symphony League of Austin, and has recently joined the Texas Music Administrators Conference along with serving on the Austin Chamber Music Board.

Bruce Colson, violin

Bruce Colson

With a strictly classical upbringing, Colson started playing violin at age 7, performing professionally by 16, and by college was a member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Bruce holds a degree in music from the University of Texas. He also enjoys musical theater, playing with Zachary Scott, Austin Musical Theater, Zilker Summer Musical, and the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Austin. He is a member of the Austin Lyric Opera and the Victoria Symphony Orchestra and performs with choral groups around Austin as well as the Golden Arm Trio and the Golden Hornet Project. Hear him on soundtracks for both Hollywood and local productions and on stage with the likes of Red Skelton, Ray Price, Rod Stewart and Garth Brooks to name a few.

Ashley Cooper, violin

Ashley Cooper

Ashley Cooper is a tenured member of the First Violin sections in the Austin Symphony and Austin Lyric Opera orchestras. Mrs. Cooper received a Master of Music degree from Rice University, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Michigan. Her principal teachers include Aaron Berofsky, Yehonatan Berick, Sergiu Luca, and Kenneth Goldsmith.She enjoys a multifaceted career that allows her to share her passion for music with children and adults alike.

An active chamber musician, she has collaborated with Austin Eurythmy Ensemble, Austin Chamber Ensemble, Austin Chamber Music Center, Artisan String Quartet, Classical Music for the World, Round Rock Symphony Chamber Music, and Da Camera of Houston. Some of the recording projects Ashley has been a part of include: Film Soundtracks to The Vessel and The Knight of the Cups, Austin Stone Church’s “The Reveille Vol. II”, Kensington Community Church’s “Open Wide”, Son of Adam’s “Waiting for the Radio”, and the Grammy Award Winning CD: William Bolcom’s “Songs of Innocence and of Experience.”

Ashley Cooper previously held positions as Instructor of Violin at Texas Lutheran University and Adjunct Professor of Violin at Concordia University. She has taught and performed at numerous music festivals, including Austin City Limits, SXSW, Victoria Bach Festival (TX), Mozart Festival (TX), Grand Teton Music Festival (WY), Garth Newel Chamber Music Festival (VA), Belvoir Terrace Performing Arts Camp (MA), and PhoenixPhest Chamber Music Festival (MI).

When she’s not playing or teaching, Ashley enjoys family time with her husband, Joe and their daughter, Abigail.

David Denizon, violin

David Denizon

David Denizon was born in Paris, France, where he received his early education. He moved to the US in 1984 to study at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee under Efim Boico. He then moved to Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts, while studying under Arkady Fomin. Upon graduating, he joined the New American Chamber Orchestra, an eleven member conductorless string ensemble. With that group he toured extensively throughout Europe, and performed in many of Europe’s prestigious concert halls like Salle Pleyel in Paris and Herkulessaal in Munich, and Chamber Music Festivals, such as the Nortaljee(Sweden), Santander,Granada, Deia(Spain),Vence and Val-de-Charentes(France) Festivals. He then returned to the US to become Assistant Principal Second of the Knoxville Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. While in Knoxville he performed several times as soloist with the Knoxville Chamber Orchestra and was active as a chamber musician. Later he became a member of the New World Symphony and participated in their Japan and U.K tours and in their Grammy Nominated recording of Latin American Music, “ Tangazo“. Currently, David is a member of the of the lst violin section of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, and as well as bring a member of the San Antonio Symphony. He has played with the River City Consort, and Soli, both local chamber ensembles. In March 1997, David was invited to perform at the Festival Musical de Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. David was a founding member of the Sierra Grande String Quartet and the Sierra Grande Chamber Music Festival in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. David has soloed with the Laredo Philharmonic in 2007 and 2010, and will again in 2013.

Eun-Mi Lee, violin

Eun-Mi Lee

Bio coming soon!

Eugene Gratovich, violin

Eugene Gratovich

Eugene Gratovich, Associate Professor of Violin/Chamber Music, made his successful debut in London’s Wigmore Hall in 1974 and in Carnegie Hall in l976. He has appeared as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony among others. He also performs as a member of the Gratovich-Golmon Duo. The Duo has performed extensively in the US including in New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Los Angels, San Francisco, and throughout Europe including London, Amsterdam, Cologne, Milan, Ljubljana, among others and throughout Latin America. The Duo has recently released a CD “Music of Spain and Italy” on Wildwood Productions. Eugene Gratovich studied with some of the greatest performers of the 20th century including the late Jascha Heifetz, Max Rostal, and Roman Totenberg. They were all child prodigies and Gratovich observed the ease and comfort of their exquisite performances. Gratovich also studied with renowned violin pedagogues including Ivan Galamian, Paul Rolland, Raphael Bronstein. These master teachers had the ability to explain the intricacies of violin technique and coordination. It is this combination of ease, comfort, and confidence that guides the teaching philosophy Eugene Gratovich in his violin studio at The University of Texas at Austin. He has also consulted with David Oistrakh to better understand the so-called “New Russian Violin School,” of Odessa, Ukraine, and with George Neikrug to study the teachings of D.C. Dounis. Dr. Gratovich was invited to the Odessa Conservatory and to the Staliarsky Special Music School to observe violin teaching in Ukraine and to listen to their students. His violin studio includes students from across the US and from the European Union, Russian Federation, Latin America, and Asia. He stays in touch with his current and former students through his webpage ( and through his blog offering both professional mentoring and musical suggestions. Students can hear his performances at the Butler School on (Gratovich Nin). His many students enjoy successful careers as soloists under management, principal players of major orchestras, chamber musicians of touring ensembles, and professors across the world. Eugene Gratovich performs both the standard classical repertory and contemporary music. As a performer of contemporary music, Eugene Gratovich has performed with many celebrated composers including Aaron Copland, Ralph Shapey, John Cage, George Flynn, Virko Baley, and Sidney Knowlton among others. Many composers have written solo and chamber compositions for him. He has presented world-premier performances of these compositions at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Wigmore Hall among others. He has commissioned 16 original etudes, funded by the American String Teacher Assoc., which he recorded on “20th Century Concert Etudes for Solo Violin” with Titanic Records (Ti-199), funded by The National Endowment for the Arts. This recording is available online. He has served as concertmaster for the San Jose (CA) Symphony Orchestra, San Gabriel (CA) Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, and Acting Concertmaster of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Austin Lyric Opera Orchestra. He has toured extensively with the Boston “Pops” Orchestra under the late Arthur Fiedler, John Williams, the late Erich Kunzel, among others. He has also worked with legendary conductors including Gunther Wand, Istvan Kertez, Sara Caldwell, Richard Burgin, George Cleve, among others. An active chamber musician, he was the founding member of “The Chicago Soundings Ensemble,” the Esterhazy String Quartet, and the Arcturis String Quartet. He has also performed with the Boston New Festival Quartet. A published author, he is a leading authority on the violin sonatas of Charles Ives and has contributed to the book, “An Ives Celebration.” He has written articles for The Strad Magazine, American Teacher, American String Teacher, Instrumentalist, among other publications. His article on the violin music of J.S. Bach has appeared in the journal, “International Violin Symposium,” (Gorizia, Italy). Gratovich has taught on the faculties of Cleveland Institute of Music (Head of Graduate Violin Department), DePaul University School of Music (Head of the String Dept.) University of California, San Diego, San Francisco State University, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Summer), and currently at The University of Texas at Austin-Butler School of Music. In the summers, he has been invited to participate in music festivals in California (Strawberry Creek, Batequitos, Mendocino), Maine (Kneisel Hall, Down East), in Europe in St.Petersburg, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and in Italy. Eugene Gratovich received his musical education at the Boston Conservatory with Frank Kneisel, his B.M. degree from Boston Univeristy School of Music, Master of Music from University of Illinois-Urbana, and his Doctor of Musical Arts from Boston University. He also holds an Artist Diploma from the Cologne Hochschule of Musik and a Post-Doctorate Certificate from USC-Los Angeles. Born in Ukraine during the Second Word War, his family emigrated to the U.S. with the help of the Tolstoy Foundation. He was able to continue his musical studies with the financial help from the Springfield (MA) Symphony Orchestra Music Talent Fellowship. He won numerous music competitions and appeared on national and local television. He has recorded “Sonatas of Arthur Foote and J.A.Carpenter for Orion, “Music of Cage, Ives, Messiaen, and Flynn” for Atlantic, “Romantic Violin from Ukraine,” for Yevshan, “Music of Respighi and Nin” for Musical Heritage, “20TH CENTURY VIOLIN ETUDES FOR SOLO VIOLIN, on Titanic, “20th CENTURY UKRAINIAN VIOLIN MUSIC,” on Orion. He is currently recording music by Willaim Grant Still and by Henry Burleigh. He has been awarded the Fulbright Grant, the National Endowment Grant, and the Ducleux Grant at UT. In celebrating the 300 anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg in Russia, Dr. Gratovich was invited to present a Lecture-Recital on Jascha Heifetz in the same studio where Heifetz studied with Leopold Auer. To celebrate the US Bicentennial, Eugene Gratovich was invited to play a program of American music at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. This special program ended with a performance of “At the River,” by Charles Ives. Dr.Gratovich has adjudicated national and international violin competitions. He serves on the board of the Jascha Heifetz Society and is the Vice-President of the Macfarlane Music Foundation. He has been invited toserved as a nominator for the MacArthur Foundation in awarding the “Genius” awards. His studio is always open to interested students for further musical growth and for professional advising.

Changming Li, violin

Changming Li

Changming Li is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in University of Texas at Austin, where he studies with Brian Lewis. He joined the Austin Symphony Orchestra in 2018.

Originally from China, after graduated from Renmin University (China), Changming received his Master Degree in University of Cincinnati as a full scholarship recipient, where he studied with Kurt Sassmannshaus and Piotr Milewski. In 2016, Changming began his Doctoral program in University of Texas at Austin.

As an orchestra musician, Changming has performed with China National Symphony Orchestra, National Theater Orchestra (China), Xi’an Symphony Orchestra (China) and Guiyang Symphony Orchestra (China). He also had numerous solo and chamber recitals in China and U.S. In 2012, he won a prize in the Chamber Music Festival competition in Central Conservatory of Music in China, and was invited as soloist to perform with Renmin University Orchestra. He was also s quarter-finalist of 2017 Shlomo Mintz International Violin Competition and a fellowship recipient of the Miami Music Festival. Changming also has performed in many master classes include the Dover String Quartet, Giora Schmidt and Isabel Trautwein, his chamber and orchestra coaches also include Alexander String Quartet, Ariel String Quartet, Miro String Quartet, and Timothy Lees. In his spare time, Changming enjoys playing basketball, and he is also a fan of soccer.

Esther Sanders, violin

Esther Sanders

Esther Sanders is an active performer and teacher currently living in Austin, Texas. She was appointed Principal Second Violin of Austin Opera in 2013 and joined the First Violin section of the Austin Symphony in 2015. She gives regular recitals and house concerts as a soloist and chamber musician, including performances with Tetractys, a new music concert series based in Austin.

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Esther has performed as a soloist with the Richmond Symphony and Petersburg Symphony. She has also given chamber music performances in Vienna and southern France as part of the Aix Festival.

She received a Bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University where she studied with Christian Teal. While in Nashville, she performed with the Nashville Symphony and Chattanooga Symphony, taught at Belmont University’s Belmont Academy, and was an active studio musician playing on several soundtracks for Sony Playstation, Sega, and Warner Brothers. She has performed with artists such as Michael Buble, Il Volo, and Michael W. Smith.

Esther received a Master’s degree in violin performance from UT Austin where she studied with Sandy Yamamoto. She also worked with the Miro Quartet and David Kim.
An avid teacher of all ages and levels, she maintains a private violin studio and is on faculty at Concordia University, Austin Community College, Texas Strings Camp, and Austin Chamber Music Center.

Karen Stiles, violin

Karen Stiles

Karen Stiles was born in Rochester, New York and began studying the violin at age 5. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin College where she studied violin with Stephen Clapp and Gregory Fulkerson. She went on to earn a Master of Music degree at Indiana University and New England Conservatory where she studied violin with James Buswell and baroque violin with Stanley Ritchie. She toured throughout Europe and Scandinavia as a member of the New American Chamber Orchestra, an eleven member string ensemble, performing at many of the major European music festivals including the Korsholm Music Festival in Finland and the Uppsala Festival in Sweden.

Karen was Principal Second Violin of the Knoxville Symphony and Chamber Orchestra for two seasons. She joined the San Antonio Symphony in 1991 and is currently Assistant Principal Second Violin. Karen has appeared as a soloist with the Knoxville Chamber Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony and the Laredo Philharmonic. She was a member of the Sierra Grande String Quartet and a founding member of the Sierra Grande Chamber Music Festival in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico . She has performed with several local chamber ensembles including the River City Consort, Olmos Ensemble, Soli Chamber Ensemble and Camerata San Antonio.

Sophie Verhaeghe, violin

Sophie Verhaeghe

A native of Colorado, Sophie Verhaeghe began playing the violin at age 3 and made her solo debut at the age of 12. She has performed in Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center. Sophie has been a fellow at the Colorado College Summer Music Festival, Talis Festival and Academy in Switzerland, and the National Repertory Orchestra, where she was a featured soloist.

As a chamber musician, Sophie has collaborated with members of the Met Opera Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Firelands Symphony Orchestra, Cordova Quartet, and Latitude 49, as well as clarinetist Dimitri Ashkenazy and pianist Anton Nel. A passionate educator as well as performer, Sophie is on the faculty of Texas Lutheran University and maintains her own private studio in Austin. Sophie is also a co-founder of and Director of Operations for Austin Camerata, a chamber music festival that seeks to stretch the boundaries of artistic collaborations.

Sophie holds degrees from the University of Michigan, Boston University, and the University of Texas at Austin. Her previous teachers include Aaron Berofsky, Bayla Keyes, and William Fedkenheuer. In her spare time, Sophie enjoys cooking, yoga, running, and watching college football.

Megan Zapfe, violin

Megan Zapfe

Originally from Cleveland, Megan Zapfe began playing the violin at age 4. She received her Bachelor’s degree in violin performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where she studied with Grigory Kalinovksy and Kevork Mardirossian. Prior to college, Megan studied with Peter Slowik and Marilyn McDonald at the Oberlin Conservatory.

Megan teaches in the Round Rock School District as well as regularly performs with the Austin Lyric Opera.

When not playing the violin, Megan enjoys exploring the city, yoga, and living vicariously through all the dog owners she comes across at patio bars.

Richard Kilmer, violin

Richard Kilmer

Richard Kilmer began playing the violin at the age of four in Tulsa, Oklahoma and quickly became an accomplished young violinist under the early tutelage of Mazie Kilmer, Richard’s mother and first violin teacher. Richard performed on many recitals as a young man in Tulsa and decided to attend the Eastman School of Music where he was Concertmaster during an historic University Orchestra tour to the USSR in 1960. After achieving the Artist Diploma from Eastman, he moved overseas to study with Authur Grumiaux at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, and with Szymon Goldberg in Amsterdam where he performed in the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. Richard lived in Amsterdam for fifteen years as a member of the famed Amati Quartet and the Mendelssohn Trio, performing worldwide with these ensembles. In addition, he has appeared as soloist with the Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Michoacan (Mexico) and with the Sinfonica Nacional de El Salvador. He is currently Principal Second Violin with the Austin Symphony and maintains a busy teaching schedule of private violin students and chamber music ensembles.

Shana Bey, violin

Shana Bey

Shana Bey has been playing the violin since the age of six. A native of Houston, TX, she attended some of the premiere performing arts schools, including The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. After graduating from high school, Bey continued to Loyola University New Orleans where she studied with Valerie Poullette and received a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance. While at Loyola, Shana won the School of Music’s Concerto Competition and soloed with the Loyola University Symphony Orchestra. She was also the Concertmaster of the Loyola Symphony and Chamber Orchestras her Junior and Senior years. In 2009, Bey received a Masters in Violin Performance at the University of Texas at Austin where she studied with Eugene Gratovich. Over the course of her career, she has performed in several masterclasses given by world-renowned musicians including Brian Lewis, Robert McDuffie, Roland and Almita Vamos, Donald Weilerstein and the Miro’ Quartet. She has also been fortunate to perform with numerous major symphonies and ensembles including, the Houston Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Corpus Christi Symphony, Austin Pops Orchestra, and The Hollywood Concert Orchestra. In 2008, Bey auditioned for the Round Rock Symphony and was appointed the Symphony’s first Concertmaster. In August 2010 Shana auditioned for the Austin Symphony and won a violin position, joining the group in its Centennial Season!

Helen Cooper, violin

Helen Bravenec

A native of Texas, Helen began her violin studies at age 2 with the Suzuki method. She gave her first solo performance at the age of 3 in Monterrey, Mexico and performed several years later at the Round Top Festival in Round Top, Texas. Helen spent several summers in Europe and studied with Edouard Grach and members of the Vienna Philharmonic. She received her Bachelors in Violin Performance from the University of Texas at Austin with Vincent Fritelli, where she was also coached by members of the Cavani String Quartet, Sylvia Rosenberg and Don Weilerstein. While at the University of Texas, Helen was asked to perform a solo at the Bartok Congress in 2000. Helen completed her Masters in Music in 2006 at the Eastman School of Music, studying with Lynn Blakeslee and Charles Castleman. Helen has been a member of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, the Binghamton Symphony Orchestra and the former Assistant Principal Second of the Austin Lyric Opera Orchestra.

Joan Ely Carlson, violin

Joan Ely Carlson

Joan Ely Carlson is a tenured violinist in the Austin Symphony Orchestra and also a member of the Victoria Bach Festival Orchestra. She performs on baroque violin regularly with La Follia Austin Baroque and has performed with the Texas Early Music Project and as part of the St. Cecilia Series’ Baroque Festival at First Presbyterian Church in Austin. Also a singer, she has been a member of Conspirare since 1998 and sings in the Compline Choir of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin, often serving as cantor for the short, meditative service of ancient evening prayer. In the civilian world, Joan is a recovering lawyer and a Crossfitter who can deadlift her body weight and then some. This keeps her in shape for doing her main thing: joyfully doing the bidding of her two daughters: Clara, four, and Emma, seven.

Elizabeth Girko, violin

Elizabeth Stoppels Girko

Presently Beth performs with the San Antonio Symphony, the San Antonio Opera and the Austin Symphony. Her past affiliations include associate principal second violin with the Jacksonville Symphony and principal second violin with the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Opera. She is an active teacher of violin and an adjunct faculty member at San Antonio College and Our Lady of the Lake University. Beth received her degrees from Eastman School of Music (MM) and Oberlin Conservatory (BM).

Steven Hakel, violin

Steven Hakel

Originally from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Steven Hakel began playing the violin at age 5. After receiving his Bachelors Degree in Music from Loyola University in New Orleans, Steven spent a year in the violin section with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra before being awarded a fellowship with the New World Symphony in 2001. After two years there, he accepted a position with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, where he spent 10 seasons in the violin section, serving as Assistant Principal Second Violin for one of them. In 2013, he and his family began a new adventure in Houston, TX where he currently a teacher and freelance musician. When his violin is not tucked under his chin, he is enjoying life with his wife, Teresa, and his two children, Thea and Eric!

Caleb Polashek, violin

Caleb Polashek

Caleb is excited to return to the ASO for his fifth season as a member of the string section in Dell Hall! Caleb Hans Polashek has also joined the Artisan String Quartet as a full time member starting this season and will be performing all around the central Texas area with the ensemble. His solo compositions continue to excite audiences on stages from Austin to Columbus and coast to coast. Caleb is actively working on completing more recordings and videos, and the debut album is coming soon. He is a double graduate of the Butler School of Music at UT Austin where he often served in leadership roles. Caleb enjoys playing many styles of music in venues large and small all around the Austin area. Performances run the gamut from symphony, opera, and ballet to rock, jazz, and others on festival stages from Austin to Utopia. Caleb is looking forward to another great season performing with talented musicians of the Austin Symphony Orchestra in 2016/2017!

Tracy Seeger, violin

Tracy Seeger

Tracy Seeger has called Austin home for the last 20 years. At the age of 17 she became a tenured violinist of the Austin Symphony and went on to receive her Master of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Maintaining a busy life as a professional musician Tracy performs regularly with numerous chamber ensembles. She has toured the world extensively as a violinist for David Byrne of the Talking Heads and has much studio work to her acclaim. Tracy is now the primary contact for our clients and will handle all of your needs including booking the Barton Strings and helping with all the music selections. In her free time, Tracy works on her home and plays with her Catahoula Leopard dog, Cooper.

Georgeann DuBell Shockley, violin

Georgeann DuBell Shockley

Georgeann DuBell-Shockley, originally from New Jersey, earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Houghton College in Houghton, New York, and did graduate studies in Violin Pedagogy and Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. Her teachers include Eldon Basney, Stephen Clapp, Fredell Lack, Max Rabinovitzj.

She has been a member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra for 37 years and a member of the Austin Opera Orchestra since its beginning.

Georgeann is the Assistant Orchestra Director at McCallum High School Fine Arts Academy, where in 2015, the music programs at McCallum won the National Signature High School Grammy Award. Her orchestras at McCallum have always earned superior ratings at UIL contests, and in June of 2015, they performed at Carnegie Hall. She has taught in the Austin ISD for 26 years.

Georgeann is also the inventor of the Fedget®. The Fedget® is a tool for teaching the bow hold to beginning violin, viola, cello, and bass students. It can also be used to reconfigure a student’s hand to the correct bow hold.

Georgeann is the wife of Clark Shockley, RN, and has two daughters and two step-daughters and 13 grand-children.

Joseph Smith, violin

Joseph D. Smith

Violinist Joseph D. Smith is Concertmaster of the Austin Lyric Opera Orchestra and a violinist with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with the Key West Symphony, the Charlotte Symphony, the New World Symphony, and served as Principal Second Violin with the National Repertory Orchestra, where he also performed as a concert soloist. In alternative styles, Joseph has recorded with such artists as Christopher Cross, Kat Edmonson, and Okkervile River, in addition to touring with numerous other ensembles including the Austin Eurythmy Ensemble and the Trans Siberian Orchestra. Some of his greatest influences are conductors Andrew Litton and JoAnn Falletta, violinist Andres Cardenes, and the members of the Miro Quartet. Joseph is currently on faculty with the Austin Chamber Music Center and maintains a small private violin studio. He received his BM in Violin Performance from the UT Butler School of Music. When not playing violin, Joseph is also an avid ashtanga yoga practitioner and enjoys spending time with his church.

Sha Zhu, violin

Sha Zhu

Violinist Sha Zhu joined the Austin Symphony Orchestra in 1988 and two years later joined the Austin Lyric Opera Orchestra with tenure from both orchestras. Ms. Zhu, originally from China, graduated with a B.A. degree at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music with honors (China), with a graduate study of music performance at University of Montreal with fall scholarship (Canada), and with a M.A. degree at the University of Texas at Austin.

Ms. Zhu’s orchestra appearances have included the Beijing Opera Orchestra (China), Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra (China), and Laval Symphony Orchestra (Canada). She has performed solo and chamber music in China, Canada, and the United States. In the fall of 1987, Ms. Zhu was honored with the Honorary Citizenship Award by the Governor of the State of Texas. This award was given to ten outstanding Chinese students at the University of Texas at Austin.

She is also the proud mother and the violin teacher to her only son and best student—Charles Yang, born a month after she joined the ASO. Charles Yang is a scholarship student at the Juilliard School in New York City. His numerous awards include the ASO’s Youth Award when he was 12, followed by his performance of the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto with the ASO. His many honors include “Cultural Leader Young Master” in Texas and official proclamation of June 9th, 2005 as “Charles Yang Day” by the Mayor of Austin. Charles Yang was also a featured violinist in “From the Top”: Live from Carnegie Hall, a showcase of the nation’s top young classical musicians, which came to PBS in April 2007.

Ms. Zhu has been invited as mother and teacher with her son’s study and performance nationwide and worldwide including Interlochen (MI), Aspen (CO), Boston (MA), Cincinnati (OH), Juilliard (NY), ShenZhen (China), Beijing (China), Taibei (Taiwan), Hannover (Germany), Munich (Germany), Vienna (Austria), and St. Petersburg (Russia). She seen and learned much from such experiences. Ms. Zhu has been a faculty member at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School since 2005. She also has a private studio at her home in Austin’s Westlake area. She has donated her talents to the church and community. She loves the young people and likes to share her love for music with her students.

Bruce Williams, viola

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams began his professional career at age fifteen and four years later won a position with the Fort Worth Symphony. In 1983, he traveled to Israel to become principal violist of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Haifa Clarinet Trio, performing all over Israel and Europe. Upon returning to the United States, he became a member of The Orchestra of Santa Fe as assistant principal. During that time, he was in great demand as a free-lance player as well, traveling all over Texas performing with various musical organizations. He was also a member of the Allegro Chamber Trio with Flutist Megan Meisenbach and harpist Mary Golden. This group toured the United States for years and was featured on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today”. They recorded on Centaur records as The Meisenbach / Golden Duo. In 2003, he won the Austin Critics Table award for Outstanding Instrumentalist for his performance with the Austin Symphony of “Harold in Italy” by Hector Berlioz.

Currently Mr. Williams is a founding member and manager of the Artisan Quartet presenting the “Artisan Quartet Series” since 2012 in Austin – the Quartet performed at Carnegie Hall presented by MidAmerica Productions the same year. The AQ was recently named Quartet in Residence both with the Mozart Festival Texas in San Antonio and also the newly-formed Mason County Chamber Music Festival where Mr. Williams will serve as Artistic Director. He is a guest artist on the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio and the Fayetteville Chamber Music Festival in Fayetteville, Texas and has been invited to chamber music festivals in California and Colorado. He is the principal violist in the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Victoria Bach Festival where he often appears as chamber musician and soloist. Mr. Williams has recorded on Harmonia Mundi recordings with the Grammy Award winning choral group Conspirare lead by Craig Hella Johnson.

Blake Turner, viola

Blake Turner

A native of San Antonio, Texas, violist Blake Turner has appeared in a wide range of venues around the world, including performances in China, at New York’s Carnegie Hall, the World Trade Center in Curaçao, Netherland Antilles, and Miami’s New World Center. Blake is an accomplished orchestral musician, performing regularly as a member of the Austin Symphony and as a substitute with the Houston and New World Symphonies. He also performed with the San Antonio Symphony after winning the American Viola Society’s Orchestral Excerpt Competition. He has been invited to appear at music festivals in Aspen, Colorado, and Madeline Island, Wisconsin, and developed a winter concert series in collaboration with the Aspen Music Festival to bring chamber music to Aspen during ski season.

Blake is an active music educator. He has coached chamber music ensembles at the Austin Chamber Music Center and Rice University’s Preparatory Program, and is currently assisting the Austin Symphony in redesigning their education programming.Beyond classical music, Blake explores improvisation, jazz, and pop music as a member of the Alkali Ensemble. He has won first prize in regional fiddling competitions in the Texas Hill Country and particularly enjoys impromptu jam sessions with his brothers.

Blake received his Bachelor’s degree in viola perfomance at Rice University, where he studied with Ivo van der Werff and James Dunham. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Texas, studying with John Largess of the Miró Quartet. When he isn’t performing, Blake finds the time to swing dance and has blogged for the American Viola Society about topics ranging from fiddling to orchestral etiquette. He also loves to play basketball and is a passionate fan of the San Antonio Spurs.

Ames Asbell, viola

Ames Asbell

A native of Columbus, GA, Ames Asbell completed viola performance degrees at Furman and East Carolina universities before relocating to Texas. In 2001, she received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a teaching assistant to Roger Myers during the 25th International Viola Congress, and worked with renowned Bartók scholar Elliott Antokoletz on her treatise, An Analysis and Performance Guide for the Bartók Viola Concerto.

A founding member of the Austin-based Tosca String Quartet, Ames performs and records in many musical genres. Most recently, she and the Tosca Strings accompanied rock legend David Byrne on two world tours and his album, Grown Backwards, on the prestigious Nonesuch label. These performances took the group to nearly 30 countries and venues such as Carnegie Hall, Town Hall and the Apollo Theater in New York, and Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles. An ongoing collaboration with tango composer/arranger Glover Gill has resulted in concerts in Argentina, California, and throughout Texas, as well as recording the soundtrack to Richard Linklater’s film Waking Life. A fixture in Austin’s contemporary classical music scene, the quartet specializes in premiering new works by local composers. Their performance of Bartók’s Fifth String Quartet was a highlight of the International Bartók Congress 2000. A seasoned studio musician, Ames has recorded on over 40 CDs, including the Dixie Chicks’ Grammy-winning album, Home.

In addition to her activities with Tosca, Ames is Assistant Principal of the Austin Lyric Opera orchestra, maintains a private studio, and performs frequently with the Austin Symphony, Barbwire Music Project, Golden Hornet Project, and various chamber music series in Austin. Past performing engagements include the San Antonio Symphony, Conspirare, Victoria Bach Festival, North Carolina Symphony, Breckenridge Music Institute, and National Repertory Orchestra. Ames recently co-founded and serves as the first President of the Central Texas Viola Society, a local chapter of the American Viola Society, which promotes viola performance and research.

Stephen Buckles, viola

Stephen J. Buckles

Upon seeing his older brother’s violin for the first time, Stephen J. Buckles knew what he wanted to do with his life, play the violin. Five years later, at age 10, he would get a chance to start in his public school’s beginning orchestra program in Abilene, TX, under Paul Kelly. During High School, Mr. Buckles studied with Walter Olivares and performed in both the Hardin-Simmons University Symphony Orchestra as well as the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra.

At his parent’s insistence though, Mr. Buckles left music and pursued a Pre-Pharmacy degree at The University of Texas. After years of putting himself through school, Mr. Buckles returned to his lifelong love of music. By this time however, he had lost most of his skills on the violin. Through the help of Donald Wright, Mr. Buckles successfully auditioned for The University of Texas School of Music.

Mr. Buckles began his UT studies on the violin with Max Rabinovitz. After a year into study, Mr. Rabinovitz encouraged Mr. Buckles to switch to the viola, feeling it was a better fit. Mr. Buckles took his advice and after another semester of study with Mr. Rabinovitz on viola, he returned to study with Mr. Wright on Viola.

In 1982, Mr. Buckles auditioned for the Austin Symphony for the first time. He did not get in but did well enough to sub for the orchestra which he did until earning a spot in the orchestra in 1989. While in college, he also taught in the UT String Project where he met his wife, Austin Symphony Cellist, Erna Rumney Buckles. They married in 1983, shortly after he graduated from UT.

For nearly 40 years, Mr. Buckles freelanced as a musician in Central Texas, playing in community orchestras and ensembles and as a strolling violinist. He also founded and played in the Encore String Ensembles. In addition to his performance career, Mr. Buckles also taught orchestra in the public and private schools in the Austin area as well as private lessons on violin and viola.

Mr. Buckles is now retired from his career as an orchestra teacher. He currently limits most of his performances to the Austin Symphony and enjoys playing with his wife Erna in church. When not playing in the symphony, Mr. Buckles enjoys fly fishing. At Christmas, he also enjoys being Santa and playing at area hospitals. Mr. and Mrs. Buckles also enjoy the blessings of 3 children and 2 grandchildren.

Martha Carapetyan, viola

Martha Carapetyan

Martha Carapetyan grew up in a musical family. There were always rehearsals and concerts to attend and her love of music grew from those early years. In high school, she was accepted into the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and learned the art of practice and performance from many great musical masters. Her studies took her to North Texas State University and Indiana University to earn her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees, respectfully. Her most significant passion, other than raising her children, has been to spend her life as a professional violist and teacher.

Martha’s symphonic career began after she won a position in the New World Symphony in Miami, the nations most distinguished training orchestra. Over the last couple decades, Martha has had the good fortune to be able to perform with the Houston and San Antonio Symphonies, as well as the Austin Opera (formerly the Austin Lyric Opera). She is currently a tenured member of the Austin Symphony and spends the rest of her time engaging students in her viola studio.

Martha co-founded the Central Texas Viola Society, a chapter of the American Viola Society and has helped organize many events in the areas of both teaching and performing. Her extensive teaching background ranges from beginning level orchestral students at the Austin Waldorf School and as an adjunct viola professor at Baylor University.

It is important for Martha to impress upon her students the importance of mastering the viola repertoire and doing so in a way which promotes comfort and wellness for the whole musician.

Alejandro Duque, viola

Alejandro Duque

Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, Alejandro Duque is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree at the University of Texas at Austin under the mentorship of Roger Myers.

Musical activities include performances at international music festivals such as the Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, New York String Orchestra Seminar, Dartington Summer School, and Franco-Americaine Recontre de Musique de Chambre. He has also enjoyed performances with contemporary music ensembles at UT and USC, and the LA-based ensemble What’s Next?.

He has also had the privilege to study with a number of illustrious artists in masterclasses and coachings, such as Peter Salaff, Peter Stumpf, Donald Weilerstein, Pamela Frank, Christoph Eschenbach, Kim Kashkashian, Carrie Dennis, and the Miro, Takacs, and Tokyo quartets. Alejandro received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Southern California under the guidance of Donald McInnes.

Eugénie Edmonds, viola

Eugenie Edmonds

Eugénie Marie Edmonds has been teaching Orchestra in AISD since 1983. Her teaching is most influenced by Shinichi Suzuki. Eugénie has registered all ten violin books with the Suzuki Association of the Americas. For the gift of music, Eugénie would like to thank her teachers: Carol Schaub the orchestra director at ACS in Beirut, Lebanon, Raymond Harvey the choir director at Northfield Mt. Hermon, Hazel Cheilek, viola instructor for Catholic University and Leonard Posner, violin professor at UT Austin. She hopes to pass their gift on to her own students for many years to come.

Lana Harris, viola

Lana Harris

Lana Harris is a native Texan with family roots in Austin dating back to the 1800’s. She attended the University of Texas for her Bachelor’s degree in Plan II Liberal Arts, and also for her Doctor of Jurisprudence, graduating with highest honors, and honors respectively. As the daughter of a music educator, music has been an integral part of her life since birth. She began playing at the age of 5 in the UT String Project, switching from violin to viola as soon as it was allowed (since the family already had a violinist and a cellist in the form of her two older sisters). She had her first lesson with then professor of viola at UT, Donald Wright, in 6th grade as part of the Longhorn Music Camp’s first year of operation. She then studied with Mr. Wright on a year-round basis while in high school and college. Ms. Harris has been a member of the Austin Symphony since she won her first audition with them in the Fall of 1984; subsequently choosing to stay in Austin close to family with her husband, Scott Duff, and (eventually) 3 children. During her music career, she has played in a country band, done some recording for soundtracks and other projects, and participated in many performances with choral groups and symphonies throughout Texas. She also was privileged to attend the Aspen Music School in the 1980’s, where she studied with Karen Tuttle. In her spare time she is an active high school band mom (Go McNeil Mavericks!), Scout mom, and she enjoys outdoor activities and SCUBA diving.

Emma Martin, viola

Emma Martin

Bio coming soon.

Jill Van Gee, viola

Jill Van Gee

Jill Van Gee, violist, is happy to be making music in her home state of Texas. In addition to being a member of the Austin Symphony, Ms. Van Gee is Assistant Principal Viola of the Santa Cruz Symphony (CA), and a former member of the San Antonio Symphony. She was Principal Violist with the Juilliard Orchestra for a summer residency in Spoleto, Italy, and during years spent in Canada, played with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Ms. Van Gee has toured extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, and while playing with the avant-garde Canadian ballet company La La La Human Steps, she recorded original music by David Lang and Gavin Bryars. A winner of the Canadian Music Competition, she was privileged to perform at the 2006 International Viola Congress.

Ms. Van Gee holds a Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School, a Master of Music from the Université de Montréal, and enjoys working with the next generation of musicians through her private studio and with local youth orchestras.

Douglas Harvey, cello

Douglas Harvey

Douglas Harvey performed his first concert as a member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra at the age of seventeen. At the age of eighteen, he won an audition to become the Orchestra’s Acting Principal cellist and performed his first concert in that position shortly after. In 2002 the position became his, following a national audition, thus making him the youngest Principal Cellist in the almost 100 year history of the Orchestra. In 2003 Harvey shared the stage as soloist with celebrated news anchor Hugh Downs, Peter Bay, and the Austin Symphony, in a performance of Dan Welcher’s massive oratorio, “JFK: The Voice of Peace,” for solo cello, narrator, symphony orchestra, and choir. The Austin-American Statesman said, “ASO principal cellist Douglas Harvey, in his first solo appearance with the orchestra, provided a strong and expressive musical representation of JFK, choosing to emphasize the more inward, sensitive aspects of the man.” The success of his performances led to the presentation of a J.B. Vuillaume cello, the JFK Award, presented by the Amatius Foundation, and the world premieres of two additional works, one of which written for him by the composer (Welcher), in New York’s Steinway Hall.

Harvey began playing the cello at the age of 9 in the fourth grade public school program in San Antonio, Texas. Two years later he began private study with Mrs. Annette DiGiosia, cellist with the San Antonio Symphony, and over the next several years he won numerous first place awards in every local competition that he entered. He began further study at age thirteen with Emeritus Professor Paul Olefsky of the University of Texas at Austin.

Douglas performed his first concerto as solo cellist with the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio at the age of 13, and made his debut as soloist with the San Antonio Symphony at the age of 15. At the age of 15, he began study of the Kodaly Sonata for Solo Cello Op. 8, which he has performed at two World Cello Congress events in College Park, Maryland. At age 16 he was the youngest cellist in history to be invited by the University of Texas at Austin to perform a full recital on its campus. He won first place awards in the 2000 William C. Byrd International Competition, the Idyllwild International Young Artists Competition, and the Corpus Christi International Competition, as well as two first place solo Bach prizes awarded at the Corpus Christi and Kingsville International Competitions.

Since then, Mr. Harvey has performed almost 20 different works for cello and orchestra including works by: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Boccherini, Dvorak, Elgar, Faure, Haydn, Lalo, Saint-Saens, Schumann, Vivaldi, and others. In 2007, Douglas gave the Texas premiere of the Concertino for Cello and String Orchestra by Irving Schlein in the presence of the composer’s son, the late Dr. Peter Schlein, with conductor Anthony Corrora and the Austin Symphony during the Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park series. Last summer he performed the Brahms Double Concerto in Bear Valley, California, with violinist Larry Shapiro, and conductor Carter Nice.

He has given performances for St. Austin’s Catholic Church, the Austin Chamber Music Center, the Amatius Chamber Music Series at the Dell Jewish Community Center, Austin’s Classical Guitar Society, Into the Light Live, the University of Texas at Austin Jessen Series, the UT PAC at Bates, Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas State University in San Marcos, and performs regularly with the Chamber Soloists of Austin, and in intimate chamber music concerts with the Salon Concert Series. Harvey has also been the Principal Cellist of the Austin Lyric Opera Orchestra since 2005.

Douglas Harvey, as a member of the Tosca Strings, has twice toured through America and abroad with David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. Live broadcasts from the tours have included, David Letterman (CBS), On the Record with Bob Costas (HBO), Later with Jools Holland, London BBC, and Live at the Union Chapel, London BBC DVD. The tour featured performances at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Concertgebouw, Royal Festival Hall, The Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Hollywood Bowl and many others and was named in the top-ten of live touring shows by Rolling Stones Magazine, and the number one live show from the Dallas Morning News. Harvey has also recorded and worked locally with Ray Benson (Beyond Time), David Byrne (Grown Backwards), Matt Morris and Justin Timberlake (When Everything Breaks Open), Andrew Heller (Christmas Wonder, Places), Disney’s (Merry Little Christmas), and others.

Douglas plays on the Grand Prize winning “Emperor” cello made c. 1860 in Paris by Gand Freres, commissioned by the Emperor Napoleon III.

Anna Park, cello

Anna Park

Coming soon

Matthew Armbruster, cello

Matthew Armbruster

Matt Armbruster, cellist, has performed across the United States and Europe. He has appeared with the National Repertory Orchestra, Castleton Festival Orchestra, Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival, and the Penderecki Academy Orchestra as principal cellist, where he collaborated closely with renowned composer and conductor Kryztof Penderecki. He was previously a member of the 2013 San Francisco Academy Orchestra, where he was featured as a soloist in the second performance of Mark Volkert’s Pandora along with principal members of the San Francisco Symphony.

Matt is a member of the cello section in the Austin Symphony. He has made his Austin recital debut at Heller Hall and has been a featured artist at the Blanton Museum of Art on their Midday Music Series and Beat the Rush series. He is the co-founder and co-director of Tetractys New Music, an Austin-based concert series dedicated to commissioning and performing the music of living composers. He has additionally been a featured artist presented by the Wiscasset Salon Series and has performed a number of times at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. He has also appeared as a soloist with the University of Tennessee Chamber Orchestra, Old Dominion Symphony, and the Landon Symphonette.

Matt is currently pursuing his Masters of Music at UT Austin under the tutelage of Bion Tsang. His previous teachers have included Amos Yang, Anthony Elliott, Janos Starker, and John Kaboff.

Carolyn Blubaugh-Hagler, cello

Carolyn Blubaugh-Hagler

Carolyn Hagler moved from California to Austin to begin studies on a Master of Music degree at the University of Texas. After completing her degree, she won a position with the New World Symphony in Miami Florida, where she worked with Michael Tilson-Thomas and Leonard Bernstein. As a performer, Carolyn is the founder and director of the Barton Strings, a tenured member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and tours internationally with the acclaimed world ensemble, Mundi. As a teacher, Carolyn has taught strings to individuals from 4 years old to 64 years old! She was a cello professor at Texas Lutheran University, Austin Community College and the Armstrong Community School. Carolyn has taught in both the Eanes School District as well as the Austin School District, most recently at Mendez Middle School. Carolyn is a member of the Texas Orchestra Directors Association, Texas Music Educators Association, American String Teachers Association and the American Federation of Musicians.

Erna Rumney Buckles, cello

Erna Rumney Buckles

Bio coming soon.

Margaret Coltman, cello

Margaret Coltman

Margaret has performed as recitalist and chamber musician throughout Europe and North America. After making her solo debut with the San Antonio Symphony at 17, she earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin as a student of Paul Olefsky. She studied with Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi at Indiana University, Pierre Fournier in Geneva, and Antonio Janigro at the Mozarteum International Summer Academy in Salzburg. Margaret lived in London for two years, free-lancing with numerous ensembles, and is currently a member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra. She also performs with the San Antonio Symphony, San Antonio Camerato and the Houston Ballet Orchestra and has recorded for Pierian Records. She manages the Arundel Ensemble, a group of varied instruments that performs for weddings and other functions in the Austin area.

Sara Nelson, cello

Sara Nelson

Sara Nelson is a native of Houston, Texas, where she graduated from the prestigious High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. In 1990, she moved to Austin where she completed her Bachelor of Cello Performance degree with Paul Olefsky at the University of Texas.

In 1997 she became a founding member of the Tosca String Quartet, which has garnered an international reputation by collaborating with renowned artists from a variety of genres, including David Byrne, Bob Schneider, the Dixie Chicks and Spoon. In 2001 Sara and the Tosca Strings joined Mr. Byrne on two world tours and his album, Grown Backwards. A continuing collaboration with local pianist/accordionist/composer Glover Gill has led to Tosca’s fluency in Argentine tango, as well as concerts in Buenos Aires, California and Texas, and appearances in the movie and soundtrack of Waking Life.

Sara is currently a member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Austin Lyric Opera Orchestra.

Charles Prewitt, cello

Charles Prewitt

Charles Prewitt, cellist, has been a member of the Austin Symphony since 1997. At age 13 he was a member of the Baylor Symphony at Baylor University. In 1981 he was accepted into the studio of Janos Starker at I. U. in Bloomington, IN. He earned a B.M. in Cello Performance from U. of Illinois – Urbana in 1996 studying with Nathaniel Rosen. In 2005 he was awarded a Performer’s Certificate at Purchase College, S.U.N.Y. A former student of Paul Ross and the Portland String Quartet he went on to appear as a Guest Artist on their Concert Series, and has served as Acting Cellist of the P.S.Q. He has appeared as soloist with University of Southern Maine Chamber Orchestra, University of Illinois Chamber Symphony and the Waco Symphony. In 1985 he was featured on a Maine Public Radio broadcast performing Bach’s Suite No. 1 at “St. Luke’s Celebration of Bach’s 300th Birthday” in Portland, Maine. In May of 1985 a consortium of investors led by Joel Martin, past President of the Portland Symphony Board of Directors, helped acquire the “Prague Cello” (circa 1850). They began a corporation he directs through annual solo recitals and public performances. A member of “Strings Attached” for two seasons, he recorded on a song with Willie Nelson written by Sara Hickman. He is currently playing cello with Austin Global Orchestra and serving as founder and Artistic Director of New Prague Concert Society since 2012 collaborating with pianist, Lyova Rosanoff. In 2010 he released his first CD “J.S. Bach to the Future,” Vol. I of Bach’s “Six Suites for Solo Cello” This Fall 2015 Vol. II will release and a performance tour of “Six Suites for Solo Cello,” by J. S. Bach/ Charles Prewitt, Cello while celebrating “The 30th and Final Year of the Prague Cello Corp.” This Fall on Sept. 27 at 5 PM he is in concert performing Bach, Kodaly and Shostakovich.

Muriel Beth Sanders, cello

Muriel Beth Sanders

Cellist Betsy Sanders grew up in Minnesota part of a very musical family. She studied piano and cello from an early age, and taught piano while still in high school. Interlochen Michigan became her second home, first for summer camp and then the illustrious Arts Academy for high school. She attended DePauw University in Indiana, where she was a Concerto Competition winner four years in a row. The University of Texas drew her to Austin for graduate school, and she completed her Masters and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in cello performance with Paul Olefsky. After an injury early in her career, she became interested in the field of music medicine, and regularly advises fellow musicians who struggle with injuries.

Betsy has played with the Austin Symphony since 1984, and the Austin Opera since its inception in 1986. Some highlights have included performances with Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Stevie Wonder, Luciano Pavarotti, Itzhak Perlman and Yo Yo Ma. Freelancing has also included being part of the pit orchestra for The Lion King, backing up Johnny Mathis, Kristen Chenoweth and Natalie Cole, soundtrack to the movie Spy Kids 2, and wedding music for Jessica Simpson. She contracts orchestras for local organizations including Panoramic Voices, and plays regularly at Riverbend Church.

Her experience as a teacher in the UT String Project ignited a passion for teaching, and her reputation as a successful teacher and adjudicator is known throughout the state. Betsy has a large private studio, and is a member of the American String Teachers and Suzuki Associations.

Jonathan Rouse, bass

Jonathan Rouse

Jonathan Rouse hails from Atlanta, Georgia, where he first expressed interest in the double bass and began his musical studies at the age of eleven. At age seventeen he was accepted into the private studio of the late Ralph Jones and began playing with Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. In 2004 he went on to study at the Manhattan School of Music with Tim Cobb, principal bassist of the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. In 2008, Jonathan was awarded the Irene Diamond Fellowship to join the studio of Albert Laszlo in the graduate program at the Juilliard School.

In 2009 while still a student, Jonathan won a section position with L’Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec. He was awarded a Graduate Diploma from Juilliard and relocated to Quebec City, where he was granted tenure after one season.

Jonathan’s intensive and diverse career has allowed him to play under the baton of the world’s most pre-emanate conductors, including Valery Gergiev, Kurt Masur, Robert Spano, Christoph Eschenbach, Paavo Järvi, Charles Dutoit, Alan Gilbert, Franz Welser-Möst, Raphael Frühbeck de Burgos, Gianandrea Noseda and Yoav Talmi. He has performed with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra in Germany, as well as the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland.

He has been awarded many orchestral positions over his career, including assistant principal bass of the South Carolina Philharmonic, Symphony Orchestra Augusta in Georgia and the Winston-Salem Symphony, as well as section bassist with the Greenville Symphony in South Carolina. He has also performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Chattanooga Symphony and Atlanta Opera.

In 2016, Jonathan was appointed to the position of Principal Bass of the Austin Symphony in Austin, Texas, where he currently resides. He likes running and hiking on the many amazing and gorgeous trails around Austin and the hill country. He lives with his beautiful girlfriend and their three hilarious dogs.

David Dawson, double bass

David Dawson

David Dawson began his career performing with the Ft. Worth Symphony and Dallas Symphony while still in high school. He has since been a member of the San Antonio Symphony and the Orchestra of Santa Fe. He has participated in numerous summer festivals including the Colorado Music Festival at Boulder, the Spoletto Festival of Italy and the Victoria Bach Festival. He is currently engaged as the Assistant Principal Bassist for the Austin Lyric Opera. He is also a frequent guest on numerous chamber music series such as the Chamber Soloists of Austin and Camerata San Antonio. Mr. Dawson has performed with many jazz/popular music groups and in 1988, he won a Grammy Award for his recording with the Texas Swing Group Asleep at the Wheel. He has performed on numerous television and radio broadcasts including Austin City Limits and Lonesome Pine Special. He has played Baroque Double-Bass with the Texas Baroque Orchestra, the Handel-Haydn Society of Austin, and Cappricio Stravagante at the Longy Baroque Institute of Boston. He is also a frequent performer of the Kirtan styles of India and has undertaken studies of the classical music of North India on the sitar.

Paul Determan, double bass

Paul Determan

Bio coming soon.

Christopher Flores, double bass

Christopher Flores

Christopher Flores began his musical studies on double bass at age 11 in the McAllen, Texas public school system. By age 17 while studying with Mr. Dustin Williams he had won a finalist spot in the Valley Symphony Orchestra’s 1994 concerto competition that included a solo appearance with the orchestra. He was a member of the Valley Symphony Orchestra (from 1993-1996) as both a bassist and cellist. In 1995 he won the assistant principal position with the National High School Honor Orchestra that performed in Kansas City, Kansas. In 1996 he received a Golden Achievement award from the city of McAllen for four years (1992-1996) of participation in the T.M.E.A. All-State Orchestras. In the summer of 1997 he was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Eastern Music Festival of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Mr. Flores pursued his musical studies with Professor Jeffrey Bradetich and completed his bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of North Texas in 2001. While studying he performed with the Richardson Symphony, Irving Symphony, Sherman Symphony and Abilene Philharmonic in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Mr. Flores later continued performing and studying in Chicago, Illinois. Overseen by Daniel Barenboim and Cliff Colnot, he was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago from 2003-2007. He studied at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois with Professor Robert Kassinger after being awarded a full scholarship and completed his masters’ degree in 2005 with distinction in Music Performance. While living in Chicago he also performed with the Elgin Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta and Camerata Chamber orchestras of Chicago; Racine Symphony, Waukesha Symphony and the Rockford Symphony. He was principal bassist of the Advent Chamber Orchestra and The Oistrach Ensemble from 2004-2007. Furthermore he was co-principal of the New Millennium Chamber Orchestra and the DePaul Symphony Orchestra from 2003-2005.

In 2008 he began performing with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. In the summer of 2009 he performed with the Victoria Bach Festival and in 2010 he won a position with the orchestra. Earlier that year he had previously won a position with the Austin Lyric Opera Orchestra. Today Christopher Flores actively performs as an orchestral musician, chamber musician, concert recitalist, clinician and private studio instructor.

Bebo Shiu, double bass

Bebo Shiu

Bebo Shiu is currently pursuing his doctoral degree to become the first DMA Double Bass student under Edwin Barker at Boston University. Bebo will be making his solo debut in Panama in association with the sixth annual Alfredo Saint Malo Music Festival while teaching lessons and coaching chamber groups. He won first place in the 2010 Bass Coalition Solo Competition and was the String Division winner in the 2006 Entergy Young Texas Artists Competition. He maintains his tenured member status with the Austin Symphony Orchestra while freelancing and teaching in Boston. Bebo has performed with the New World Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. He has been awarded numerous fellowships to attend the Aspen Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival, and the Tanglewood Music Center. Mr. Shiu currently serves as the principal bass with the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra.

P. Kellach Waddle, double bass

P. Kellach Waddle

P.Kellach Waddle begins his 25th year as a member of The Austin Symphony with the 2017-18 season. He is also is an extremely active and lauded composer, soloist, and conductor. His composition opus numbers have just passed the 600 mark and his accolades include: an Austin Critics’ Table Award ( for his String Quartet #2 commissioned by The Miro Quartet) , three nominations as possible finalist for The Pulitzer Prize, four nominations as State of Texas Musician of The Year, and four as a semifinalist for The American Prize. Quotes about his music and output include: “ ..with all of these luxurious harmonies and melodies, ( Waddle) may be the American Rachmaninoff “ and “…the sheer volume of wonderfully effective music he composes.. borders on the inhuman.” As a soloist, citations include: (after one of his many ISB convention performances) ISB convention officials stated “(Waddle) is obviously now one of the most creatively thrilling solo bassists in the world!” His busy guest conducting schedule has taken him to venues such as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and he also served as director of The Austin Philharmonic for 2 1/2 seasons. Recordings/videos of his performances can be found at

Rebecca Powell Garfield, principal flute

Rebecca Garfield

Rebecca Powell Garfield is the Principal Flutist of the Austin Symphony. She has also performed as guest Principal Flutist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, Houston Ballet Orchestra, and Houston’s River Oaks Chamber Orchestra and is a regular substitute with the Houston Symphony. During the summers, she travels to Iowa to play with the Des Moines Metro Opera Orchestra. Her performances have been heard on NPR’s Performance Today, the soundtrack for Spy Kids 2, and Houston Grand Opera’s world premiere recording of Carlisle Floyd’s opera Of Mice and Men. An avid competitor, she won First Prize in the 2007 Myrna Brown Artist Competition of the Texas Flute Society, was a Semifinalist in the National Flute Association’s 2007 Young Artist Competition, and has won First Prize in several other competitions, including the National Flute Association Orchestral Audition Competition, the Mid-South Flute Society Young Artist Competition, and the San Francisco Conservatory Concerto Competition. Rebecca divides her time between Austin and Houston, where she lives with her husband, Simon, and son, Oliver. She maintains a large teaching studio in Houston and is President of the Houston Flute Club. Rebecca began her flute studies with Ruth Ann McClain in Memphis, Tennessee. She holds degrees from Indiana University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she studied under Jacques Zoon, Thomas Robertello, and Timothy Day, respectively.

Rachel Lopez, flute

Rachel Lopez

Rachel Lopez has been a member of the Austin Symphony since 2006 & has been heard frequently as principal flutist. Prior to moving to Austin, she was a season member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago (2005-2006) & has been piccoloist of the Ann Arbor Symphony in Michigan since 2005. Originally from Houston, TX, she started playing the flute at age 11. She received a Bachelor of Music in flute performance from the University of Houston, Master of Music from the University of North Texas, and an Orchestral Studies Diploma from Roosevelt University in Chicago. Her teachers include Claire Johnson, Catherine LeGrand, Terri Sundberg, Leslie Fagan, Jean Berkenstock, and Donald Peck. Honors include prize winner for the National Flute Association Orchestral Audition Competition, Mid-South Flute Society Young Artist Competition, and finalist for the Myrna Brown Artist Competition. She has also performed with the Dubuque Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, & the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio. In the summers, she has performed with the Texas Music Festival, Henry Mancini Institute (CA), International Festival-Institute at Round-Top (Texas), & the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. She enjoys private teaching & currently has many talented students in the Austin area. In her free time, she enjoys listening to 80s & 90s alternative-rock/dance music, playing guitar & bass guitar, writing rock music, singing karaoke, & practicing pilates/yoga. She can be heard performing co-lead vocals with the shoegaze/noise rock band Echodrone on the album Five, which was released on Saint Marie Records in 2015. She completed Yoga Teacher Training in 2015 & is a 200 hour RYT certified yoga teacher.

Julianne Webner, oboe

Julianne Webner

Oboist Julianne Webner has performed in a wide variety of ensembles across the United States. In August 2016, she was appointed Principal Oboist of the Austin Symphony, and is also Assistant Principal Oboe and English Horn with the Austin Opera.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Mrs. Webner is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where she studied with Liang Wang, Robert Botti, and Joseph Robinson. She has also studied with musicians in the Chicago Symphony as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. While living in Chicago, Mrs. Webner was also soloist on WMFT radio, a founding member of the chamber ensemble Tempest Winds, and was Principal Oboist with the Dubuque Symphony, the Battle Creek Symphony and the Heartland Festival Orchestra.

She is a sought-after performer and teacher, and has played with the San Antonio Symphony, Elgin Symphony, Illinois Symphony, Quad City Symphony, New Philharmonic Orchestra, Northwest Indiana Symphony, and the Peoria Symphony.

Mrs. Webner has performed in concert with popular artists such as Gloria Estefan, Dennis DeYoung, Yo-Yo Ma, and Kenny G. Her musical travels have taken her across the United States, Europe, and Mexico, including appearances with the Castleton, AIMS Graz, and Bellingham festival orchestras.

Mrs. Webner lives in Austin and loves reading, teaching, and playing with her good-natured Lab, Pretty.

Ian Davidson, oboe

Ian Davidson

Solo English Horn and Associate Principal Oboe, Ian Davidson, has appeared as soloist and chamber musician across six continents as part of forty-three international concert tours. He is Regents’ and University Distinguished Professor of Music and Humanities at Texas State University, a GRAMMY nominee, United States State Department Fulbright Senior Specialist, and Principal Oboe of the Austin Opera Orchestra. This season, in addition to concerts in the US, international concert tours will take him to Equador, Brazil, Mexico, England, France and India. His recording credits include radio, television, film, and eleven compact disks with the Wild Basin Winds. Dr. Davidson holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and DePauw University. In 2015 he was honored by DePauw with a citation as the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award for Creative and Performing Arts. And in 2018 was appointed to DePauw’s Centers Co-Curricular Advisory Board.

Stanley Chyi, oboe

Stanley Chyi

Stanley Chyi, oboist, is thrilled to join the Austin Symphony Orchestra. He has been a member of the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony (TX), Sarasota Opera, and Central City Opera. He has also performed with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and Seraphic Fire.

Mr. Chyi’s passion for music extends into the community. He has performed with outreach groups affiliated with the Civic Orchestra (MusiCorps) and Rice University (JUMP!). Mr. Chyi has served on the faculty of Rice University’s Shepherd School Preparatory Division and also taught oboe lessons to Rice University students. He has coached members of Houston Youth Symphony and also maintained a private teaching studio.

Mr. Chyi completed his master’s degree in oboe performance at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He graduated cum laude from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Bachelor of Music in Oboe Performance. In past summers he has attended the Music Academy of the West as well as the AIMS, Artosphere, Aspen, Spoleto, and Texas Music Festivals. His primary teachers have been Robert Atherholt and Scott Hostetler.

Stephen Girko, clarinet

Stephen Girko

Presently principal clarinetist with the Austin Symphony, Stephen Girko was appointed as principal clarinetist with the San Antonio Symphony for the 1999-2000 season. Prior to that, he was the principal clarinetist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 1975 through 1998. He made his debut appearance with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra by performing the Clarinet Concerto of Aaron Copland, with the composer conducting. Since then Mr. Girko has appeared as soloist performing the concertos of Mozart, Nielsen, & Weber, as well as the Introduction, Theme & Variations of Rossini & the Premiere Rhapsodie of Debussy.

Stephen Girko was born in New York City. He attended the State University College of New York at Potsdam, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in music education in 1965. The following year, he received his Master of Music degree in performance from The Manhattan School of Music. After a year of teaching, Mr. Girko fulfilled his military obligation by performing with the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, N.Y. While at West Point, he also played principal clarinet with both the Albany Symphony Orchestra and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra. Upon leaving the military, Stephen was appointed principal clarinetist with the Oklahoma City Symphony, a position he held for four years. He subsequently served as associate principal clarinetist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra for a year before coming to Dallas.

Mr. Girko has also enjoyed an active career as a teacher, having taught at Oklahoma University for four years as well as Southern Methodist University for 18 years. His students are represented in orchestras and colleges throughout the United States. Mr. Girko is a frequent soloist and clinician at various clarinet symposia, as well as having been a member of Music in the Mountains, a summer chamber orchestra festival held in southwestern Colorado and The Carmel Bach Festival.

Mr. Girko is presently on the faculty of San Antonio College, Our Lady of the Lake University, The University Of The Incarnate Word and Saint Mary’s University as well as teaching clarinet in the San Antonio public schools.

Mr. Girko, a skilled cook, owns and operates a small catering company called “Eat My Pizza!” Steve takes to his client’s home the ingredients with which to make New York style pizzas as well as an incredibly delicious salad. After the guests have observed his culinary skills and have filled themselves with the fruits of his labor, he will then entertain them by performing both classical and popular music on his clarinet.

Hilary Scop, clarinet

Hilary Scop

Hilary Scop was appointed 2nd clarinetist of the Austin Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2005. Prior to moving to Texas, she was an active freelancer in the New York City area, performing with Orchestra New England, the New Haven Symphony, the Queens Symphony, and DiCapo Opera. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Michigan, where she was a recipient of the Albert Stanley medal.

She also holds graduate degrees from Yale University and Manhattan School of Music. Ms. Scop has been awarded fellowships with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Tanglewood Music Center, the Pacific Music Festival and Music Academy of the West. She has also appeared as soloist with the Ann Arbor Symphony and the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra.

She teaches at the Manhattan School of Music Summer Camp and also teaches in the Austin public schools. Ms. Scop currently resides in Austin with her husband Evan and son Alexander.

Andrew Leonard, clarinet

Andrew Leonard

In the fifth grade Andrew Leonard told his parents, “All I need in college is a decent place to be noisy and play clarinet.” A graduate of Juilliard’s Pre-College Division and USC’s Thornton School of Music, he’s won the Torrance, Redlands, and Peninsula Music Festival concerto competitions in California, was a semi-finalist in the Midland-Odessa competition in Texas, and was awarded a grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation. Andrew can be heard on soundtracks for Lionsgate, Sony, Starz, Showtime, StudioCanal, UbiSoft, and National Geographic. He’s also performed with the International Bachakademie, New York String Seminar, the symphonies of San Bernardino, Burbank, Santa Monica, and the Long Beach Opera.

Andrew expresses his passion for music through his teaching practice. He has written programs and curriculum for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Harmony Project, Education Through Music, USC Thornton School of Music, The Orchestras of Pasadena, the Music Center of Los Angeles County, and The DaCamera Society.

William D. Lewis, bassoon

William D. Lewis

William Lewis, Principal Bassoon, joined the Austin Symphony in 1986. He is a native of Indiana and attended Ball State University. He is also Principal Bassoon of The Austin Lyric Opera, was instructor in bassoon at Southwest Texas State University and now teaches public school in Elgin, TX. He is an active performer and clinician in bassoon throughout central Texas.

Daris Word Hale, bassoon

Daris Word Hale

One bassoon, 11 orchestras, 7 countries, 47 world premieres, TV, film, commercials, DVD’s, CD’s; life long learner with one heart, one soul, one loving husband, two sweet kids, hundreds of brilliant students, or rather teachers; 7 billion friends; always manifesting music and art. Her hat is currently hanging at Texas State University.

Daniel Chrisman, contrabassoon

Daniel Chrisman

Growing up in the hills of central Kentucky amidst a family of musicians, Daniel developed an appreciation for a variety of musical genres as well as for natural, cultural, and social phenomena which continue to inspire his playing. He dabbled in piano, voice, and trumpet studies until he attended the University of Kentucky where he began studies on the instrument he always wanted to play, the bassoon. After four years of demanding yet supportive instruction from Professor Peter Simpson, Chrisman graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2003. He continued his studies at the University of Louisville for one year with Matthew Karr before relocating to Philadelphia to study with the principal bassoonist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Daniel Matsukawa. Mr. Chrisman received his Master’s degree in music performance from Temple University in 2006. Daniel has soloed with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, playing the Concerto in F Major by Carl Maria von Weber. He has also soloed with the Temple University Symphony Orchestra, performing von Weber’s Andante and Hungarian Rondo. In September of 2005, Daniel attained the contrabassoon position in the Haddonfield Symphony (now Symphony in C) in New Jersey. In September of 2008, Daniel moved to Austin, Texas where he is the contrabassoonist/3rd bassoonist in the Austin Symphony Orchestra. He also has been a member of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston, TX since October of 2008.

Thomas Hale, french horn

Thomas Hale

Tom Hale is principal horn of the Austin Symphony and the Austin Lyric Opera. He has been a member of the Bear Valley Music Festival and the Spoleto (Italy) Festival Orchestra since 1987 and has appeared at the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. as both performer and conductor. Tom has served on the faculties of Southwest Texas State University, the University of Texas, and at Southwestern University in Georgetown. He is a founding member of the Pinnacle Brass Quintet as well as the Wild Basin Winds. Tom was educated at Texas Tech University (B.M., M.M.) and the University of Texas (D.M.A.).

Kurt Moede, french horn

Kurt Moede

Associate Principal Hornist, Kurt Moede, is the son of missionary parents and was born in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa. He was raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. Kurt studied horn as a scholarship student of Ranier DeIntinis at The Juilliard School of Music. At the University of Texas, Kurt earned his master’s degree as a student of Wayne Barrington. For the past thirty-two years, Kurt has been a member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra serving as Principal Horn, Third Horn, and currently as Associate Principal Horn. In addition to performing actively as a freelance musician in the Austin area, Kurt is a Lecturer of Instructional Music Education and Student Teaching University Mentor at Texas State University.

Ed Tschoepe, french horn

Ed Tschoepe

Ed Tschoepe has degrees in Physics and Horn Performance from the University of Texas at Austin. After spending 3 years in Miami playing in the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, Ed moved to Valladolid, Spain where he performed for 7 years with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León. He’s been back in Austin since 1998, freelancing on the horn and developing web-based interactions for HCI Training. He is currently Third Horn in the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

Margaret Ayer, french horn

Margaret Ayer

Originally from Denton, Texas, Margaret came to UT Austin to study with Wayne Barrington. After completing studies with this great teacher, including four years of playing next to him in Austin symphony, she left to play for seven years in the Mexico City Philharmonic. Returning to the US to play in the Houston Ballet Orchestra, she also played with Houston Grand Opera, extra with Houston Symphony, and in the Cimarron Woodwind Quintet. Currently, she holds positions in the Austin Symphony and Lyric Opera and is a member of the Mundi Ensemble. She coaches for Austin Chamber Music Center and teaches in the Eanes school district. Her favorite activities include swimming year round at Barton Springs and Kundalini Yoga.

Bob Cannon, trumpet

Robert Cannon

Robert Cannon is Principal Trumpet with the Austin Symphony, Austin Opera Orchestra and performs with the Pinnacle Brass of Austin. He teaches trumpet at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. Robert has also performed with the San Antonio Symphony, Conspirare, Chorus Austin, the Louisville Orchestra, the Mid-Texas Symphony, the Laredo Philharmonic, and Summer Stock Austin among others. Educated at the University of Texas at Austin (D.M.A.), the University of Southern Mississippi (M.M.) and the University of Louisville( B.M. and B.M.Ed.), he has also studied trumpet privately with James Wilt of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Richard Giangiulio of the Dallas Symphony and Philip Collins of the Cincinnati Symphony.

Kyle Koronka, trumpet

Kyle Koronka

Kyle Koronka joined the Austin Symphony Orchestra trumpet section in 2014. He has previously performed with the Round Rock Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Waco Symphony and Brazos Valley Symphony.

Kyle holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Baylor University, where he received the Donald I. Moore Award for Outstanding Senior Instrumentalist. He completed a Master of Music degree from Rice University, where he was the recipient of the Armando Ghitalla Memorial Scholarship. In 2010, Kyle completed a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he served as graduate teaching assistant for the trumpet studio. His principal teachers include Wiff Rudd, Michael Ewald, Marie Speziale and Ray Sasaki.

Kyle serves on the faculty of Southwestern University as Part-Time Assistant Professor of Applied Music and previously served as Adjunct Instructor of Trumpet at Trinity University in San Antonio. He also maintains a large teaching studio with students from all over the Austin area. Kyle is a Yamaha Performing Artist.

For more information, please visit

Timothy Shaffer, trumpet

Timothy Shaffer

Bio coming soon!

Brenda Sansig-Salas, trombone

Brenda Sansig Salas

Brenda Sansig Salas has been a member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra since 2005 by auditioning and filling the position of second trombone. In 2007 she subsequently auditioned for principal trombone and has been playing this position ever since.

She has been playing trombone with the Austin Lyric Opera since 1998, where she has continued to play principal trombone for many years.

For seven years in the past, she has played principal trombone for the now defunct San Antonio Opera, and has served as professor of low brass at Texas Lutheran University and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

She had studied with the eminent Donald Knaub (a student of Remington himself), and Allen Barnhill (Principal Trombone, Houston Symphony) during her Bachelor and Master degree studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a certified Texas school teacher and has directed bands and taught music classes for three years.

As a student, she won the University of Texas concerto competition as a freshman, the International Trombone Association Donald Beyer Incentive Award, the International Women’s Brass Conference solo competition (3rd place),and participated in the Disney All-American Band at the Orlando resort.

An Army veteran, she had served in the bands at Ft. Knox, Kentucky and Ft. Clayton, Republic of Panama.

She has been playing professionally since 1983 and teaching since 1993.

R. Ben Osborne, trombone

R. Ben Osborne

Ben Osborne began his studies in music with the piano at age five and moving to trombone at the age of 12. He grew up in Lubbock, TX, where he also received his bachelor’s degree in music performance from Texas Tech University in 2002 studying under Don Lucas.

After one year of urban ministry in Chicago, he completed two years of full-time study at Dallas Theological Seminary, earning a certificate of graduate studies. Ben holds a master’s degree in trombone performance (2007) from Southern Methodist University where he studied with John Kitzman.

Ben serves as second trombone with the Austin Symphony Orchestra, joining in 2008. He performs frequently with the Houston Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, and San Antonio Symphony Orchestras, and is on faculty at the MasterWorks Festival in Spartanburg, SC. In 2010 Ben received an appointment as Lecturer of Trombone at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

As a soloist Ben has performed with the Metropolitan Winds in the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX, the Sam Houston State Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band, and in recital as a guest artist at Baylor University, the University of Central Arkansas, Southern Methodist University, Texas State University, and Sam Houston State University.

Ben is an artist and clinician with the Edwards Instrument Company.

He currently resides in Conroe, TX with his wife, Rachel, and their son, Zeke Samuel.

Philip Arno, bass trombone

J. Philip Arno

Before Mr. Arno began his current position with the Austin Symphony (1978), Austin Lyric Opera (1987) and the Victoria Bach Festival (1984), he was a member of the Mobile Symphony (1968-70), Pensacola Symphony (1969-71), American Wind Symphony (1973), and the Calgary Philharmonic (1973-75). Along with his duties as a bass trombonist, since 1971 he have been heard at rare moments playing bass sackbut, which is a trombone from the Renaissance and Baroque Eras.

He studied with Peter Reichlin at the University of South Alabama and Terry Cravens at the University of Texas.

In tandem with his performing, from 1970-88 he was a piano technician, but he replaced that career with technology when he earned an associate’s degree in electronics in 1988. He retired in March 2014 from his position at Travis County as a customer support analyst.

He is a freelance photographer, has been a triathlete since 2001 and practices yoga and Pilates.

Philip is married to the retired principal oboist, Beth Sanders.

Steven Curtis, Principal Tuba

Steven Curtis

Steve Curtis, a native Houstonian, holds the positions of principal tuba with the Austin Symphony and the Shreveport Symphony. Steve has studied with Dave Kirk, and is a graduate of the University of Houston, where he studied with Mark Barton and William Rose. He also holds a Masters in Educational Leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University. Steve is a member of the Paragon Brass Ensemble, ROCO Brass Quintet and Texas Brass, and frequently performs with the Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, and as a freelance musician. He serves on faculty of the AFA Summer Music Festival, as well as maintaining an extensive private teaching studio.

Tony Edwards, timpani

Tony Edwards

Tony Edwards is currently the Principal Timpanist for the Austin Symphony Orchestra,Principal Percussionist for the Britt Music Festival, Assistant Principal Percussionist for the Austin Lyric Opera, and Principal Percussionist/ Timpanist for the Texas Philharmonic. From 1991-2003 he served as Co-Principal Percussionist for the Austin Symphony Orchestra. In addition he performs regularly with the San Antonio Symphony, Conspirare Orchestra, and Austin Chamber Music Center.

Tony received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Henderson State University, Master of Music in Percussion Performance degree from the University of Texas and a Professional Studies Cerfificate from Temple University. His recordings include Bartok’s Sonata for “Two Pianos and Percussion” with the Southwestern University Chamber Soloist, “Music of Donald Grantham” with Voices of Change (Centaur Records, Inc.) His most recent recording includes the movie soundtrack to Spy Kids 2 (Dimension Motion Pictures). He can also be seen perfoming the movie “Waiting for Guffman” (Castle Rock Productions). Tony currently teaches at the Round Top Music Festival and is adjunct professor at The University of Texas at Austin.

Genaro Gonzalez, percussion

Genaro Gonzalez

ASO Principal Percussionist, Genaro Gonzalez, is currently Professor of Music and Coordinator of Percussion at Texas State University. Under his direction, Texas State percussion groups have presented clinics and performances at various state music conventions and international festivals including the Texas Music Educators Association Convention, the Texas Bandmasters Association Convention, the Montreux Jazz and World Music Festival, the Berklee World Percussion Festival, and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. The Texas State University Panorama Steel Band has also toured Mexico twice and performed at Euro-Disney in Paris, France.

In addition to his teaching duties at Texas State, Mr. Gonzalez is a very active performer, clinician, and adjudicator. He currently serves as Principal Percussionist with the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Austin Lyric Opera, and he frequently performs with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Gonzalez has presented clinics in conjunction with the Yamaha Corporation of America, Sabian Cymbals, Mike Baler Mallets, and Ellie Mannette Steel Drums. Mr. Gonzalez has also served on the Educational Advisory Board for the Pro-Mark Corporation, an internationally known manufacturer of drumsticks and percussion mallets.

Mr. Gonzalez is also very active in the commercial music arena, having performed with Lena Horne, Robert Goulet, Johnny Mathis, Mickey Rooney, Carol Channing, Liberace, Barbara Eden, Tommy Tune, Juliet Prowse, Debby Boone, Rich Little, Joan Rivers, and Jerry Lewis among others.

Mr. Gonzalez is very active in the Percussive Arts Society, the international association of percussionists. He served as Host for the Society’s international convention held in San Antonio in 1988, served on the Society’s Board of Directors from 1989 to present, served in the offices of Secretary from 1991-92, Vice-President from 1993-96, and President from 1997-98. Mr. Gonzalez currently serves on the Council of Past Presidents of the Percussive Arts Society.

Richard Berkley, percussion

Richard W. Berkley

Richard Berkley joined the Austin Symphony while a student at the University of Texas in 1969 studying with George Frock, then Timpanist and Principal Percussionist for ASO. His percussion teachers in addition to George Frock were F. Michael Combs and Ron Dyer at the University of Missouri / Columbia. After completing graduate studies at UT, Richard, joined the band directing staff for the Round Rock Independent School District where he served from 1974 until his retirement in 1999. During the 2016-17 season, Richard will complete his 45th season with the ASO.

Blake Taylor, percussion

Blake Taylor

Percussionist, Blake Taylor, is a native of Groves, TX. Blake completed his Bachelors of Music degree in Percussion performance at the University of Houston, and his Masters of Music degree in Orchestral Percussion Performance at the Chicago College of Performing Arts in Roosevelt University. He has studied with Dr. Blake Wilkins at the University of Houston, Vadim Karpinos of the Chicago Symphony, Ed Harrison of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Matt Strauss of the Houston Symphony, and Brian Del Signore of the Houston Symphony.

He maintains an active and varied career as an orchestral musician, solo recitalist, chamber musician, clinician, and teacher, with performing and teaching experience throughout Illinois, Indiana, Texas, and Arkansas. He has performed with many groups including the Houston Symphony, Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Classical Symphony Orchestra, the Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale, and the Chicago New Music Composers Symposium.

In addition to his position with the Austin Symphony Orchestra, he currently holds the principle percussion position with the Arkansas Symphony, principal timpanist position with the Texarkana Symphony, and the third section percussion position with the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also the percussion instructor at the Lonestar College North Harris campus and the Lonestar College Montgomery campus. Blake is proud to be a Grover Pro Percussion and Salyers Percussion endorsed artist.

Elaine Barber, harp

Elaine Barber

Elaine Barber began playing the harp at the age of ten, and began playing professionally in her native Mississippi four years later. She earned her master’s degree at the Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, studying with Beatrice Rose, and has been Austin Symphony Principal Harpist since 1992. Also an early music specialist, she plays baroque and renaissance harp with Texas Early Music Project, Austin Baroque Orchestra, Istanpitta and on the St. Cecelia Music Series. She has been featured soloist at the American Harp Society National Conference, and with Austin Symphony, Mississippi Symphony, Shepherd Symphony, and Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra. As an orchestral musician she has performed with Spoleto USA, San Antonio Symphony, Houston Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Mississippi Symphony and Mississippi Opera. She has performed with Ray Charles and Renee Fleming, for the King of Norway and the Governor of Mississippi, on movie and video game soundtracks and children’s TV shows. She plays with central Texas chamber music groups such as REVEL, Austin Chamber Music Festival, Cactus Pear Music Festival, Musical Offerings, and Victoria Bach Festival. She has recorded for the Naxos, Nonesuch and Matador labels, and has premiered solo and chamber works by James Sclater, Peter Stopschinski, Gordon Jones, and P. Kellach Waddle. Ms. Barber maintains a private teaching studio in Austin and has been on the faculty of Austin Chamber Music Center, Sewanee Summer Music Festival, Abilene Summer Music Festival, University of Texas Harp Camp, and Mississippi College. She is artistic director of the Girl Scout Harp Ensemble, probably the only Girl Scout troop anywhere made up entirely of harpists. She has two nicely grown children and a sweet old dog.

Alex Maynegre-Torra, keyboard

Alex Maynegre-Torra

Recently appointed Principal Keyboard in the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Alex Maynegre-Torra enjoys a versatile career as collaborative pianist, solo performer and music editor. Maynegre-Torra has been working as collaborative pianist at the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music at the University of Texas in Austin since 2010.

Active also in summer music festivals, he has been on the piano accompanying staff of the renowned Meadowmount School of Music in NY from 2008 to 2013. He has also held positions at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the Hartt School in Hartford, CT.
Prizewinner in several competitions in the United States and Spain, Maynegre-Torra has appeared in concert with violinist Joseph Silverstein, cellist Lynn Harrell, violist Sheila Browne, flutist Tadeu Coelho, saxophonist Harvey Pittel, trumpeter Nathaniel Mayfield and the Emerson String Quartet, among others. As soloist he appeared with the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut.

Maynegre-Torra also has a deep interest in revising standard piano reductions for instrumental concerto scores. In 2013 OvationPress published his piano reduction of Schelomo by Ernest Bloch. The original reduction of this piece is known in the field as one of the most impractical scores to read and to play.

Maynegre-Torra holds degrees from the “Conservatori del Liceu” in Barcelona, the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, CT, and the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he completed his DMA in Collaborative Piano under the tutelage of Anne Epperson. His other teachers include Enric Torra, Luiz de Moura Castro and Dr. David Westfall.

He currently lives in Austin with his wife Beth and sons Òscar and Fèlix.

Alison Mrowka Spaeth, librarian

Alison Mrowka

Alison Mrowka Spaeth was appointed Principal Librarian of the Austin Symphony in 2012.
Prior to that she was Assistant Librarian of the Cincinnati Symphony where she prepared music for the Symphony, Pops, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Ballet, and May Festival. She has also held library posts with the Brevard Music Center, the National Repertory Orchestra, and the contemporary chamber ensemble Concert:Nova. In 2011 she was elected Secretary of the international Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association. Alison holds a degree in clarinet performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.


Jessica Alberthal, librarian

Jessica Alberthal

Bio coming soon!