Artist Bios, April 2024

Singing is an essential part of life for Diane Althaus (Apr 16), and sharing it with others is a joy. She organized and sang in an opera ensemble program, including music from Simon Boccanegra, Cosi Fan Tutte, Martha, and Carmen. She and her husband, baritone Mike Dodaro, have sung duet programs of opera arias and art songs, and performed in various local venues, including Stage7. Diane sang in Puccini’s Butterfly in a local opera company, the Countess in a duet from The Marriage of Figaro and Desiree in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater” is her favorite sacred music.

Lin Chen (Apr 8) is a freelance vocalist, violinist and music educator in the Greater Seattle area. Growing up in Australia, she was fortunate to study music with esteemed teachers from the Griffith Conservatorium in Brisbane and the Sydney conservatorium. Her experience in vocal performance expands multiple genres including Classical, Musical theatre and Jazz. She currently studies voice with Dr Kari Ragan. Lin is also a violin coach for the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra (BYSO) and performs with a number of local ensembles including her own string quartet—Quartet Evolution. Her career highlights include performing at the Sydney Opera House, Westminster Abbey and Cologne Cathedral. She enjoys giving regular recitals in Seattle with the Ladies Musical Club.

Katie Hochman (Apr 8), soprano, can be heard regularly giving recitals with Ladies Musical Club of Seattle. She has also enjoyed singing opera and oratorio with Puget Sound Concert Opera (PSCO), Opera Theater Oregon, Portland Opera, Utah Opera, Columbia Chorale and Southwest Washington Symphony (SWS). Highlights include the title role of Massenet’s Cendrillon and Héro in Berlioz’s Beatrice et Bénédict performed with PSCO and Exultate, jubilate performed with SWS.

Emiko Hori (Apr 16), a native of Japan, graduated from the renowned Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Piano Performance. She studied with Shigeo Neriki, and performed at numerous places including Banff Centre, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Germany. Emiko became fascinated with and continued her study in Computer Science at Boston University. Busy working in technology companies such as CommerceHub and Microsoft, Emiko thought she would never play the piano again. She was wrong; Emiko became one of the newest performing members of Ladies Musical Club. Emiko enjoys dividing her time between performing concerts, teaching piano, and working at Starbucks HQ’s Digital Commerce team.

A native of Taiwan, pianist Michelle Huang (Apr 10) has a rewarding career as a dynamic soloist and chamber musician. She is equally at home performing music ranging from the esteemed masters to the novel voices. A devoted educator, she held teaching positions at Lincoln Memorial University, Edward Waters College, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Huang received a Doctor of Music in Piano Performance from Florida State University. Currently she resides in Seattle, WA with her husband and maintains a vibrant private teaching studio, where she works with a group of piano students with immense talent.

Ellyn Liu (Apr 8) is a classically trained violinist with a BA in Music from the University of Chicago. She has played with the Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, and most recently, with the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle. She is particularly fond of chamber and choral music and enjoys performing in an intimate atmosphere.

Joan Lundquist (Apr 8, 16, 20) has served as a collaborative pianist for Seattle area musicians and organizations for 30 years. Since moving to the area from Humboldt State University in northern California, where she was staff accompanist, Joan has worked with the Northwest Boychoir, Seattle Choral Company, has taught at Seattle University and Northwest University, and has worked with several area private music teachers. Currently, Ms. Lundquist is the Director of Music at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Seattle and rehearsal accompanist for the Seattle Choral Company.

Susan Payne O’Brien (Apr 8, 10) is a poet, performer and opera director living in Seattle. Her writing for theater has been seen on the stages of 2nd Story Chicago, Around the Coyote, Links Hall, The Piven Theatre Workshop and The International Puppetry Festival. She is the founding artistic director of Forte, an all-female improvisational comic opera troupe. In her teaching and work with theatrical and operatic ensembles she is committed to helping students and artists of all levels access authenticity of voice. Recently, she has worked with emerging operatic performers at The Santa Fe Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, DePaul University and The Chicago College of Performing Arts. She is a frequent soloist with Seattle Pro Musica and will be featured in their Spring performances of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Sea Symphony in conjunction with The Auburn Symphony.

Gail Perstein (Apr 20) has a Bachelor of Science from Springfield College, a Bachelor of Music from P.L.U., a Master of Music from U.W. (both in oboe performance) and a Master of Arts in Historical Musicology, also from U.W. She splits her time between teaching oboe privately, performing on oboe/English horn, and performing early music. She played in both early and classical music groups at P.L.U. and U.W., and continues performing in various settings, ranging from Tacoma Opera to local church services. Ms. Perstein performed for many years with her own medieval group, Chansonnier, using period instruments. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle for 22 years and chair of the Frances Walton Competition Committee for 23 years.

Emily Riesser’s (Apr 8) diverse experience encompasses opera, oratorio, theatre, and new works. She recently portrayed Missy Hart in 9 to 5: The Musical (Twelfth Night Productions), sang Dolcina in Suor Angelica (Puget Sound Concert Opera), and sang Frasquita in Carmen (Kitsap Opera). In concert, Emily is known for her interpretation of Bach cantatas, including Wedding Cantata, which she has sung in several venues. Favorite experiences include singing Iphigenie in Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride (Seattle Opera Guild), Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata (Kitsap Opera), Tamiri in Mozart’s Il re pastore (Off-Center Opera), and soprano chorus at Seattle Opera. Emily is a graduate of Goshen College (Goshen, IN) and past participant in Bel Canto Northwest (Portland State University).

Soprano Tiina Ritalahti (Apr 20) holds degrees in music and vocal performance from the University of Washington. She has performed throughout Washington with Northwest Opera in Schools Etcetera (NOISE), Puget Sound Opera, Ladies Musical Club and Puget Sound Concert Opera, as well as being a featured soloist for the Finlandia Foundation. She has sung such roles as the First Spirit and Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Despina in Cosi fan tutte, Lisa in Bellini’s La sonnambula, Änchen in Der Freischütz by Weber, Cis in Britten’s Albert Herring, and Olympia in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman. Further, she has performed in multiple operas by Menotti: Lucy in The Telephone, Monica in The Medium, and Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief. Her passion for singing also extends to art song repertoire, which she performs regularly in recitals around Western Washington. Tiina has created unique breathing classes for young singers that combine her knowledge and experience as a massage therapist, certified yoga teacher and singer.

Soprano Laurel Sprigg (Apr 8) has delighted audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years with her warm, vibrant singing as a concert soloist, recitalist, and chamber music soloist. In public performances, private events, and intimate gatherings, her artistry is communicated through her fresh, clear, and heartfelt singing. Laurel studied vocal performance and music theory at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Dance at Bennington College. An advocate of community engagement, Laurel has given recitals to benefit many community groups. She has recently moved to Poulsbo Washington, and has joined the Bremerton Symphony Chorale, Kitsap Opera outreach program, and the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle.

Susan Strick (Apr 10), soprano, has sung and taught in Seattle for many years. She has appeared with the Seattle Opera, Tacoma Opera, Village Theater (Maria in The Sound of Music) and as a soloist with the Seattle Bach Festival, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, and the Seattle Choral Company. Susan earned her B.A. in music from Stanford University, M.A. in music from UCLA, and an Opera Diploma from the University of Toronto’s Royal Conservatory. A regional finalist in both the Metropolitan and San Francisco Opera national auditions, she has performed leading roles with many small opera companies. Susan has been a faculty member of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, where she created and taught “Opera as Theater” in the Honors seminar program as well as teaching voice and being an active performer, music director, and coach in the theater department. Currently she teaches in Seattle and at Music Works Northwest in Bellevue.

An outstanding member of the Northwest musical community for over 20 years, Regina Thomas (Apr 8) has performed with a variety of companies including Kitsap Opera, Willamette Concert Opera, Bellevue Opera, Puget Sound Concert Opera, Seattle Opera, and the Seattle Opera Guild. Currently Artistic Director of Puget Sound Concert Opera, Regina has served as Seattle Opera Guild’s VP of Education and is a past President and trustee of concerts for LMC. Favorite operatic roles include Adriana Lecouvreur, Suor Angelica, Tosca, and Judith (Bluebeard’s Castle). Concert work includes Schumann’s Frauenleibe und-leben, Elgar’s Sea Pictures, and Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder; soprano solos in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Fauré Requiem, and Berio’s Folk Songs for voice and chamber ensemble.

Asta Vaičekonis (Apr 10, 20) holds her MM in Piano Performance from the University of Washington and her Bachelor’s degree from the Lithuanian Academy of Music. Asta was granted a diploma for best accompaniment in the International Competition of Chamber Music in Kaliningrad (Königsberg), Russia (1992). She was a soloist with the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra (2002), performed in the University of Washington Summer Arts Festival (2001, 2003), the Bach Fest (2001, 2002) in Lake Chelan, Washington, accompanist for Ladies Musical Club of Seattle’s Awards Tours (2000, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018), and the Bumbershoot Festival (1999) in Seattle. Asta served as an accompanist and coach in the Summer Chamber Music Seminars in Berlin, Germany (1992, 1993), and has performed with the Chamber Dance Company. She has played many recitals and chamber music programs in various cities of the United States, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, Russia, and Israel, and made several recordings for the Lithuanian Radio and Television (1993). She was the first solo pianist to play in Seattle’s own Benaroya Hall. Asta has been on the faculty at Music Works Northwest and staff accompanist at Western Washington University, and is currently on the faculty at Seattle Pacific University, while maintaining a private piano studio.