Artist Bios, December 2023

Violinist Dr. Emily Acri (Dec 11) was born and raised in Winnetka, IL. Her collegiate studies spanned from 2011-2020 at Indiana University (BM ‘15), University of Michigan (MM ‘17) and University of Washington (DMA ‘20). After earning her doctorate, she worked for AmeriCorps as an ArtistYear Fellow (Colorado). There, she worked as music educator at Crystal River Elementary School and Aspen Music Festival and School’s Beginning Strings program. She was concertmaster of the High Country Sinfonia and co-founded the Sopris Quartet. Currently, Emily is based in Seattle, working as a violin and viola teacher and freelance performer. Emily coaches violinists in the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra and performs with ensembles including Puget Sound Strings, Symphony Tacoma, Federal Way Symphony, Sound Ensemble (Pacific Northwest), Juliani Ensemble (Chicago, IL) and MahlerFest (Boulder, CO). Emily attributes her musical inspiration to her late Grandfather, Robert Acri, a legendary Chicago pianist.

Silas Berlin (Dec 11) is a 2021 graduate of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Silas enjoys performing for communities in the Seattle area as well as for private events and parties. He was awarded the silver medal for both the 2020 Seattle Bach festival and Russian Music Competition. He has his own private teaching practice and teaches an adult extension course at Cornish College of the Arts.

Julia Bezems (Dec 11) is excited to join the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle this year as a performing member. Hailing from Allentown, PA, Julia holds Bachelors degrees in voice performance and computer science from the University of Michigan, and she is now active as a singer and choral conductor in the Seattle area. While at the University of Michigan, she performed frequently as a soprano with the Chamber Choir and as a soloist with the University Baroque Orchestra. Since moving to the Seattle area in 2022, she has sung with Seattle Pro Musica, Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble, and the Northwest Symphony Orchestra; and she will join Radiance vocal ensemble as a soprano this season. She serves as the Student Assistant Conductor of the Bellevue Chamber Chorus for the 2023-2024 season, and she is co-leader of the Seattle branch of Crescendo North America, an international organization for Christian musicians. Julia works as a software engineer at Microsoft, and she enjoys hiking and studying theology.

Katie Hochman (Dec 16), 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 (Dec 13), 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, Li-Cheng Hung (Dec 11) holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance from the University of Washington, under the tutelage of Dr. Robin McCabe. A recipient of numerous awards, Li-Cheng was the 1st-prize winner of the 2014 Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition, which led to a solo performance in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. She was a top-prize winner at the UW Concerto Competition and has performed with the UW Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed with the Burmese Orchestra at the National Concert Hall in Taiwan and received a scholarship from the American Taiwanese Charity and Education Association in Washington, D.C. Recent highlights have included an invitation as the guest pianist from the LA Taiwan Academy for the multimedia concert “Whispers of Trees” on a U.S. tour with the Seattle Symphony String members in Seattle and Los Angeles; a chamber music concert for the Hubbard-Males Piano Competition in Oklahoma City. Ms. Hung is currently a rehearsal pianist and teaching artist at the Seattle Opera and maintains her private piano studio in the greater Seattle area.

Sharon Jung (Dec 11) was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She is a nurse practitioner, and works in a neurology practice in Tacoma, Washington. She freelances for numerous ensembles in the local area. She has been an LMC member since 1999. She is a former student of LMC member Gail Perstein and is also a former student of Bernard Shapiro.

HyeYeon Kim (Dec 16) is a doctoral student in piano performance at the University of Washington under the guidance of Craig Sheppard. She received her Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory under Victor Rosenbaum, then the Artist Diploma on full scholarship at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music under Soyeon Kate Lee. Kim won many competitions including the Metropolitan International Piano Competition, Texas International Piano Competition, Memphis International Piano Competition, Seoul Philharmonic Competition, and the UW Concerto Competition. Also, she presented at masterclasses for Richard Goode, John Perry, Julian Martin, and Gary Graffman. She is an avid performer within her community. In 2021, she performed as a collaborative pianist for Lowbrow Opera Collective’s successful production of Dana Kaufman’s opera, the Diary of a Madman in Seattle. Also, she has done volunteer performances at University House Wallingford and she will be doing an additional volunteer performance at Empress Senior Living.

Dr. Jennifer Li (Dec 13) completed her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music in 2001. In that same year, she was awarded the Special Presentation Award by Artists International, which presented her solo debut recital at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. Jennifer has performed in master classes for renowned concert pianists including John Perry, Lazar Berman, John O’Conor, and Roslyn Tureck, among others. She has given solo recitals in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, and the Netherlands. Since returning to her hometown of Seattle in 2003, Jennifer has established a successful private teaching studio and continues to perform as a soloist and chamber musician.

Joan Lundquist (Dec 16) 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.

Karin McCullough (Dec 13) is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in Piano who gives private lessons in her Ballard studio and performs frequently in Greater Seattle. She co-led two music history tours in Vienna in the early 2000s, is an active volunteer and acting librarian for Seattle Music Teachers Association, plays for church services every Sunday, and has often performed on KING FM radio on Sean Maclean’s program, Northwest Focus Live. Her most recent performance there—accompanying Brandi Birdsong in songs by H. Leslie Adams—is available on NPR (

Known for her expressive and passionate performances, Jensina Oliver (Dec 13) has delighted audiences as a soloist and chamber musician in the United States, China, Canada, Costa Rica, Israel, and throughout Europe. Her performances with orchestra include appearances with the Hubei Provincial Orchestra of Wuhan, China, and the Utah Philharmonia. She was a national finalist of the MTNA Chamber Music Competition, a resident artist at the Banff Chamber Music Festival, and has won several solo and concerto competitions throughout the United States. Dr. Oliver is in high demand as guest performer, clinician, and adjudicator at events, conferences, and competitions throughout the Pacific Northwest. She has taught at Shoreline Community College since 1998 and has a thriving piano studio with students of all ages. Dr. Oliver currently resides with her family in Shoreline, WA, where she loves to enjoy all of the beautiful outdoor opportunities that the Pacific Northwest provides.

Gail Perstein (Dec 11) 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.

Soprano Tiina Ritalahti (Dec 16) 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.

Eric Shankland (Dec 11) has been playing bassoon since age 15. He played in the NCR band and the Youth Philharmonic in Dayton, Ohio. He studied with Arthur Grossman and played in the University Symphony at the University of Washington, and currently studies with Paul Rafanelli of the Seattle Symphony. He was principal bassoon in the Eastside Symphony (Redmond) for fifteen years. Eric is a research scientist at the University of Washington.

Julie Shankland (Dec 11) has played clarinet since marching band in the Ohio snow. Since moving to Washington, Julie has played in the UW Concert Band, Eastside Symphony, West Seattle Community Orchestras, Rain City Symphony, and various chamber music camps. Julie is an adult student of Jennifer Nelson and recently learned to play bass clarinet. Julie works in the Office of General Counsel at the Washington State Bar Association.

Bernard Shapiro (Dec 11) was principal oboe of the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Opera from 1961-2004, participating in over 80 Seattle Symphony recordings. He appeared as soloist with the Seattle Symphony, Philadelphia Quartet, Balamian Quartet, Seoul Symphony, Korean Broadcast Symphony, and Bellevue Symphony. He was co-founder of the New York Baroque Quintet, English horn with the Royal Ballet Touring Orchestra (London), and received the Fromm foundation Fellowship for Contemporary Music Performance at Princeton University and Tanglewood (1960). Mr. Shapiro has been a member of the faculty at University of Washington, Cornish School, Pacific Lutheran University, Western Washington University, and Seattle Pacific University. At PLU, he participated in many programs as a member of the faculty wind quintet, the Camas Quintet. He graduated from the Music and Art High School of New York City, and holds both a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music Education from Manhattan School of Music. In addition to oboe, he also enjoys playing cello.

An outstanding member of the Northwest musical community for over 20 years, Regina Thomas (Dec 16) 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.

Dhanushi Wijeyakulasuriya (Dec 16), originally from Sri Lanka, holds a Licentiate Diploma in Singing from Trinity College of Music, London. She began voice lessons in 2004, in Sri Lanka with Menaka Sahabandu and also studied with Asitha Tennekoon. At age 17, she made her debut with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka, performing selections from operas and operettas. Dhanushi has performed extensively in Sri Lanka. Some highlights include soprano soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria with the Chamber Music Society of Colombo, scenes from The Marriage of Figaro (Susanna) and The Barber of Seville (Rosina) with the Menaka Singers Opera Ensemble and The Phantom of the Opera (Christine Daae) by the Workshop Players. After moving to the U.S. in 2015 she studied voice with Timothi Williams and Dr. Rachel Copeland at Penn State. Dhanushi has since presented several solo recitals in the U.S. She currently continues her vocal studies with Rachel Anne Moore and Barbara Bonney. In addition to her musical pursuits, she holds a Ph.D. in Statistics from Penn State and works as a Senior Data Scientist at Microsoft.

Sharon Wong (Dec 16) is a pianist passionate about playing chamber music with instrumentalists and singers. She began her collaborative piano journey during high school while serving as the organist and choir accompanist for her church. During her university years Sharon studied with Margaret Fabrizio on an 1812 fortepiano (twin to the piano Broadwood sent to Beethoven) while gratifying her inner nerd, earning a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering. Recently retired after serving as a technology executive at multiple startups and major software companies, Sharon now happily plays with many chamber ensembles and subs at various churches around Seattle.