Artist Bios, March 2024

Dora Barnes (Mar 5) was born and raised in Yakima Washington and now resides in Seattle. She is a classically trained vocalist, pianist, and saxophonist, and is currently studying with Davida Kagen. Dora attended Yakima Valley Community College and Central Washington University with a focus on vocal performance. Dora has performed with the Seattle Art Song Society, Ladies Musical Club, and the Puget Sound Concert Opera, among others. Notably, she has performed as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, placed 1st in the PAFE Opera division, placed 3rd in the Seattle Opera Guild’s Singer Development Awards, and was an honorable mention in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Awards. When not singing opera, Dora is the lead singer and plays saxophone in two Motown/Oldies bands, and also composes her own music.

Beth Ann Bonnecroy (Mar 13) is in demand as a conductor, singer and teacher of voice. She has performed as a soloist with the Seattle Men’s Chorus and Seattle Women’s Chorus. She has sung with the Seattle Opera Chorus and Lyric Opera Theatre of Tempe, AZ as well as on several movie and video game soundtracks. In 2013, Beth Ann joined the music faculty of Seattle Pacific University where she teaches voice and conducts the SPU Treble Choir. She is also a member of the music staff of Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church in Seattle where she conducts the Chancel Choir and Handbell Choirs. With colleague, Dori Baunsgard, Beth Ann founded and co-conducts Wanderlust Women’s Choir, a choir dedicated to sharing music through travel. In 2023, they will sing their way from Barcelona to Bordeaux! Beth Ann holds a Bachelor of Music degree in church music/voice from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN and a Master of Music degree in voice performance from Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ.

Born in Taiwan, Jonas Chen (Mar 16) started learning piano at the age of five. After moving to Seattle in 2005, he picked up the cello at the age of ten. He started his studies in piano and Alexander technique with Richard Asher in 2010, and cello with Page Smith in 2013. While obtaining a degree in finance and accounting at the University of Washington, he performed with various ensembles, such as the UW Symphony Orchestra led by David Alexander Rahbee and Ludovic Morlot, both as a cellist and pianist. He was also principal cellist of the UW Campus Philharmonic for their performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade with Mario Alejandro Torres. He also played in the Seattle Philharmonic Strings, led by Adam Stern and Allion Salvador. After graduating, Jonas continues his playing in orchestras such as the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra, Northwest Mahler Festival, and the Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra. He frequently performs at house concerts, weddings, and churches. Jonas performs on a 2013 cello made by Leo Goujard Spiga in Cremona.

Lin Chen (Mar 16) 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.

Diana Gao (Mar 5) began studying piano at age 4. She moved to the U.S. from China in 2013 to pursue her MBA at the University of Washington (UW), and she’s currently a Senior Marketing Manager at Microsoft. Although she has pursued a career outside of music, the piano has remained a significant mainstay in her life. She has consistently cultivated her passion through regular lessons and performances. She’s been studying with Dr. Robin McCabe from UW and is a prizewinner in many competitions, including Gold Medalist of the Seattle International Competition and First Prize of the “Golden Classical Music Awards” International Competition. She also performed at the prestigious Piano Texas International Festival. Since 2020, she has presented annual fundraising recitals through the Microsoft Give campaign, raising thousands of dollars in support of local organizations. Those events reinforced her belief that music has the power to inspire change and make the world a better place.

Joyce Gibb (Mar 13) was born in Sri Lanka and started her early piano studies with the admired, but feared music critic Elmer DeHaan. After surviving his rigorous training, she moved to London for further studies with Swiss pianist Albert Ferber, whose teachers included Rachmaninoff. Studying both piano and cello, she was awarded a gold medal for performance by the Royal Schools of Music. Joyce teaches and performs regularly and has been the concerto soloist with the Cascade Symphony, Seattle Philharmonic, Rainier Symphony, Port Angeles, Thalia, and Philharmonia Northwest Orchestras. Her performances have included concertos by Beethoven, Poulenc, Grieg, Addinsell, and Chopin, and the 1st and 2nd piano concertos by Rachmaninoff.

Stephanie Guasch (Mar 10) is a classically trained singer and educator with over 10 years of experience in formal singing. She earned her Master’s Degree at the Mannes School of Music (New York, NY) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico (San Germán, P.R.). During her time at Mannes she studied with Ruth Falcon, and performed in multiple master classes, opera workshops, outreach programs, and recitals. Back in her native Puerto Rico, and an active performer, she was a member of the San Juan Philharmonic Chorale as well as Coralia, the renowned concert choir of the University of Puerto Rico led by the distinguished conductor Carmen Acevedo Lucío. Since relocating to Seattle in 2020 Ms. Guasch has been an active freelance vocalist performing in a wide variety of genres including classical music, bossa nova, jazz, Latin jazz, as well as backup singer for local Latin music ensembles.

Katie Hochman (Mar 10), 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 (Mar 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.

Violinist Adrianna Hulscher (Mar 16) began her studies at the age of 6, inspired by a gift from her parents—a record of Mozart’s delightful opera, The Magic Flute. She is currently a freelance violinist in the Seattle area, and a member of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra. She developed her musical skills at the New England Conservatory and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Adrianna is a member of the St. Helens String Quartet, and has also performed with Seattle Opera and the Seattle Symphony. As a soloist, she has performed Bartok’s 1st violin Concerto with the University of Texas Symphony and The Lark Ascending by Vaughn Williams with the Lake Sammamish Symphony. Adrianna lives in Seattle with her husband and six-year-old daughter, Amelia.

Composer Eldon Leuning (Mar 10) has lived his entire life in Washington, growing up on a fruit orchard east of Yakima near Zillah. He earned a BA in English from Whitworth College in Spokane where he also studied music. He subsequently became a high school English teacher before eventually turning to teaching music in the Lake Washington School District. It is the combination of these two interests and studies, poetry and music, that led to and define his current work composing Art Song. His training and passion for both of these are apparent in his musical settings, combining the two into a singular statement of meaning. Music is a passion Eldon shares with his son, Mark, who is a trained tenor and French teacher. Art and artistic expression are central to his life, and are infused with the rigor learned on the end of a shovel, making sure that the irrigation water got all the way to the end of every row of pear trees. He has most recently studied with John Muehleisen.

Karin McCullough (Mar 10, 16) is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music who gives piano lessons in her Ballard studio & performs often in the Seattle area. She co-led two music history tours of Vienna in the early 2000s. She’s the Principal Organizer in Puget Sound for the international movement Bach in the Subways (this year on March 23 & 24) and is the Acting Librarian for Seattle Music Teachers Association. She has frequently played on KING FM’s show NW Focus Live; her most recent radio performance there was recorded & is available on NPR (https://livesessions.npr.org/videos/brandi-birdsong-karin-mccullough-h-leslie-adams-branch-by-branch-from-five-millay-songs)

Luke Raffanti (Mar 5) has been a frequent piano performer around Seattle since moving here in 2017. Before the pandemic, he performed frequently at house concerts, retirement homes, and for benefit concerts. In 2018, he earned the top prize in the Chopin Northwest solo piano competition and in 2019 he was featured as vocal accompanist and solo pianist on Classical KING FM. He has enjoyed collaborating with several professional opera companies: Seattle Opera, Seattle Modern Opera Company, and Northwest Opera in Schools, as well as numerous individual professional vocalists. Luke teaches roughly 40 students of all ages at Cascade Piano Studio in Ravenna, and is the collaborative pianist and organist at Richmond Beach Congregational United Church of Christ in Shoreline. Lately Luke has been taking voice lessons with Davida Kagen and singing with Seattle Pro Musica. He earned a BM in classical piano performance and a BA in environmental studies from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music.

Emily Riesser’s (Mar 16) 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 (Mar 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.

Bernard Shapiro (Mar 16) 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.

Asta Vaičekonis (Mar 13) 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.

Sharon Wong (Mar 10) 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.

Artist Bios, February 2024

Violinist Dr. Emily Acri (Feb 9) 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.

Janet Anderson (guest artist, Feb 1) grew up in Kent, Ohio, and studied music and philosophy at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Since moving to Seattle in 1992, she has been active as both a pianist and composer. Her compositions have been featured locally on the Ladies Musical Club series and on Classical KING FM. Janet is the music director at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church, and teaches piano students of all ages at her home in north Seattle, where she lives with her husband, the painter Jeffrey Simmons, and their daughter Mary. Please visit her website, www.janetandersonpiano.com

Dora Barnes (Feb 1) was born and raised in Yakima Washington and now resides in Seattle. She is a classically trained vocalist, pianist, and saxophonist, and is currently studying with Davida Kagen. Dora attended Yakima Valley Community College and Central Washington University with a focus on vocal performance. Dora has performed with the Seattle Art Song Society, Ladies Musical Club, and the Puget Sound Concert Opera, among others. Notably, she has performed as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, placed 1st in the PAFE Opera division, placed 3rd in the Seattle Opera Guild’s Singer Development Awards, and was an honorable mention in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Awards. When not singing opera, Dora is the lead singer and plays saxophone in two Motown/Oldies bands, and also composes her own music.

Silas Berlin (Feb 1) 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.

Ana Isabel Frías (Feb 12) is a Spanish clarinetist and pedagogue based in Seattle. Classically trained, she graduated from the Conservatorio Superior de Música de Navarra in Pamplona (Spain), obtaining two Bachelor’s degrees in Clarinet Performance and Clarinet Pedagogy. She holds a Master of Music in Clarinet Performance from Centro Superior de Enseñanza Musical Katarina Gurska in Madrid (Spain). Ana performs on chamber music and orchestral projects on a regular basis and enjoys appearances in Arts in Education Conferences. Her passion about early childhood has taken her to complete her education obtaining certifications as an Early Childhood Music Educator from Musica in Culla (Italy), The Gordon Institute for Music Learning (U.S.) and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). As part of her professional development, Ana works as a music educator in diverse schools and continues developing a music program for young children based on E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory and the Montessori approach.

Stephanie Guasch (Feb 12) is a classically trained singer and educator with over 10 years of experience in formal singing. She earned her Master’s Degree at the Mannes School of Music (New York, NY) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico (San Germán, P.R.). During her time at Mannes she studied with Ruth Falcon, and performed in multiple master classes, opera workshops, outreach programs, and recitals. Back in her native Puerto Rico, and an active performer, she was a member of the San Juan Philharmonic Chorale as well as Coralia, the renowned concert choir of the University of Puerto Rico led by the distinguished conductor Carmen Acevedo Lucío. Since relocating to Seattle in 2020 Ms. Guasch has been an active freelance vocalist performing in a wide variety of genres including classical music, bossa nova, jazz, Latin jazz, as well as back up singer for local latin music ensembles.

Katie Hochman (Feb 1, 9), 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.

A native of Taiwan, Li-Cheng Hung (Feb 9) 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.

An emerging lyric tenor in the Seattle opera scene, Cary Lee (guest artist, Feb 9) has been recently featured by upnext arts in their Opera on the Hill concert and as a returning Studio Artist with Puget Sound Concert Opera. Cary is a regular soloist at First UMC Seattle and frequently appears as a professional chorister with groups such as Kirkland Choral Society, Sound City Singers, Radiance, and others. Originally from Orlando, he holds a degree in voice from Northwestern University and is a student of Stephen Wall.

Composer Eldon Leuning (Feb 9) has lived his entire life in Washington, growing up on a fruit orchard east of Yakima near Zillah. He earned a BA in English from Whitworth College in Spokane where he also studied music. He subsequently became a high school English teacher before eventually turning to teaching music in the Lake Washington School District. It is the combination of these two interests and studies, poetry and music, that led to and define his current work composing Art Song. His training and passion for both of these are apparent in his musical settings, combining the two into a singular statement of meaning. Music is a passion Eldon shares with his son, Mark, who is a trained tenor and French teacher. Art and artistic expression are central to his life, and are infused with the rigor learned on the end of a shovel, making sure that the irrigation water got all the way to the end of every row of pear trees. He has most recently studied with John Muehleisen.

Joan Lundquist (Feb 12) 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 (Feb 9, 20) is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music who gives piano lessons in her Ballard studio & performs often in the Seattle area. She co-led two music history tours of Vienna in the early 2000s. She’s the Principal Organizer in Puget Sound for the international movement Bach in the Subways (this year on March 23 & 24) and is the Acting Librarian for Seattle Music Teachers Association. She has frequently played on KING FM’s show NW Focus Live; her most recent radio performance there was recorded & is available on NPR (https://livesessions.npr.org/videos/brandi-birdsong-karin-mccullough-h-leslie-adams-branch-by-branch-from-five-millay-songs)

Rachel Anne Moore (guest artist, Feb 1) is a Seattle-born coloratura soprano who has traveled the U.S. and Europe singing musical theater and opera professionally. She trained at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, receiving a Bachelor of Music. After undergraduate studies, she went on to pursue her Master of Music degree at the University of Tennessee Knoxville as the 2008/2009 Spivey Humanities Fellowship recipient. During her time at UTK, Ms. Moore understudied and performed roles with the Knoxville Opera. After graduating, Moore relocated to Germany, where she had a successful musical theater career performing the role of Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera and Christine in its sequel Love Never Dies. Upon returning to the U.S., she toured with Love Never Dies and eventually debuted on Broadway in The Phantom of the Opera. In 2020, Moore opened her private voice studio, “Moore Than Music,” teaching budding musical and opera singers.

Peter Nelson-King (guest artist, Feb 14) is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and writer based on the Eastside. Born and raised in King County, they earned performance degrees from University of Puget Sound and Boston University before setting here. They are a regular member of Lake Washington Symphony, Brass Band Northwest, Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra and the experimental improvisation group Scrambler, and freelance with many other groups in the area. They also teach private lessons, host solo and chamber recitals, and collaborate with Seattle’s poetry scene.

Patrick O’Keefe (Feb 9) retired from a decidedly non-musical career (computer programmer/analyst) in 2010, providing time to pursue his life-long interest in classical music. Since 2011 he has been studying music theory and composition with instructor, composer, and bass player Brian Cobb, D.M.A. His compositional style tends to be modal with somewhat nontraditional harmonies. Most of his works are for small chamber ensembles but he occasionally writes for orchestra. In addition to classical music, he also has a deep interest in Balkan folk music and recreational Balkan folkdance.

Known for her expressive and passionate performances, Jensina Oliver (Feb 20) has delighted audiences as 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.

Luke Raffanti (Feb 1) has been a frequent piano performer around Seattle since moving here in 2017. Before the pandemic, he performed frequently at house concerts, retirement homes, and for benefit concerts. In 2018, he earned the top prize in the Chopin Northwest solo piano competition and in 2019 he was featured as vocal accompanist and solo pianist on Classical KING FM. He has enjoyed collaborating with several professional opera companies: Seattle Opera, Seattle Modern Opera Company, and Northwest Opera in Schools, as well as numerous individual professional vocalists. Luke teaches roughly 40 students of all ages at Cascade Piano Studio in Ravenna, and is the collaborative pianist and organist at Richmond Beach Congregational United Church of Christ in Shoreline. Lately Luke has been taking voice lessons with Davida Kagen and singing with Seattle Pro Musica. He earned a BM in classical piano performance and a BA in environmental studies from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music.

Emily Riesser’s (Feb 9, 12) 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).

Mary Riles (Feb 9, 14), cello, received her BA in Classics and BM in Cello Performance from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Andor Toth, Jr., and her Master of Music from the Ester Boyer College of Music at Temple University, where she studied with Jeffrey Solow, whom she met as an award student at the Chautauqua Music Festival. She then relocated to Seattle, Washington, where she provides private cello instruction and chamber coaching. Mary has performed with a variety of Seattle area ensembles, including NOCCO, Seattle Modern Orchestra, the Sound Ensemble, and Thalia Symphony Orchestra. She is currently principal cellist of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra. She has additionally been involved in many performances of both solo and chamber works in St. Louis, Ohio, Texas, New York, Philadelphia, and Juneau.

Katherine Roberts (Feb 9) has pursued an avocation in music primarily as a pianist and composer since 1983. An at-large member of the Ladies Musical Club, she is honored to have these pieces performed for the first time. Her compositions vary in genre from classical to blues and secular to sacred. She graduated from Indiana University with a degree in physics and earned her M.S. in space technology from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. In 2009 she retired from the US Air Force as a Brigadier General. Subsequently she owned her own business for over 10 years and is now a caregiver for family members. At some point she hopes to find more time to dedicate to music. Although originally arriving and settling in Seattle after her Air Force career, Kathy and her husband now reside in Lacey, WA.

Eric Shankland (Feb 9, 17) 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 (Feb 9, 17) 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.

Caroline Swanson (Feb 17) has her master’s degree in viola performance from the Southern Methodist University, having studied with Barbara Sudweeks. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan with Yizhak Schotten. She has performed often with many professional orchestras and chamber ensembles, in concerts with music of various styles. She has studied music composition throughout her career, with a focus on expanding the solo viola repertoire, and has premiered several new works by other composers for solo viola, string quartet, and orchestra. Caroline currently resides in Lakewood, Washington.

Rob Toren (guest artist, Feb 1) has been a professional singer for most of his musical life, including most recently undertaking several small roles at Seattle Opera 1998-2014. After retiring from both singing and as a non-profit executive, he has returned to his first love, the piano. Because of his background as a singer and his earlier career days in NYC, he now gravitates towards the art song literature, with programs focusing on both the French (Debussy and Faure) and German traditions (Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Strauss). He most recently studied with Joyce Gibb.

Dhanushi Wijeyakulasuriya (Feb 1), 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.

Guitarist and composer Mark Hilliard Wilson (guest artist, Feb 12) has an engaging approach to teaching and programming concerts that draws from the deep well of history and a desire to relate contemporary interests to universal themes. Wilson is the founder and director of the 24-year-old Seattle Guitar Orchestra. He performs concerts once a month at St James Cathedral, where he is Cathedral guitarist, a position he has held for the last 12 years. Wilson has taught at Whatcom Community College, Bellevue College, and the Rosewood Guitar, and is currently at the Holy Names Academy. His compositions are published by Seconda Prattica and are performed widely. Wilson recently premiered a concerto written for him by the Ukrainian composer Oleg Boyko; directed Guitar ensembles at the 2023 Northwest Guitar Festival in Bellingham; and released The Music of Taiwo Adegoke, changing the canon of the classical guitar with music from Nigeria. https://markhilliardwilson.com/

Sharon Wong (Feb 12) 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.

Artist Bios, January 2024

Madeline Beery (Jan 10), M.Ed., was a music major, and worked as a Music Therapist for several years before pursuing public health professionally. Since moving to Seattle in 1985, she has studied with Zart Dambourian-Eby, SSO, Wendy Wilhelmi, Vancouver Symphony and Pam Mooney, SSO. She has played in the Dubuque, Alexandria, and Kuala Lumpur Symphonies, and now plays in the Rain City Symphony. She was the co-founder and President of AIDS Impact for 20 years that educated health professionals on AIDS, prevention, and infection control in over 42 countries. Her final public health project for WA State was to lead the planning for a pandemic.

Jane Hoyt Buckner, M.D. (Jan 10) studied clarinet under Joseph Longo, principal Clarinetist at the Minnesota Orchestra and was a member of the Minnesota Youth Symphony during her middle and high school years. She attended Carleton College she was principal clarinetist in the Carleton Orchestra, studied voice and was a member of the Carleton Choir. While attending the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine she was a member of the JHU Chamber Music Society, she continued to play chamber music throughout her Residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Jane moved to Seattle 30 years ago and has been a member of Rain City Symphony for over 15 years. She is a practicing rheumatologist at Virginia Mason and the President of the Benaroya Research Institute. As a physician and immunologist, she works to understand and treat autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. She is a scientific co-founder of Gentibio, a company developing cell-based therapies to treat autoimmunity.

Lawrence Chu (Jan 14) is a native of the Seattle area, and currently resides in Bellevue with his family. His former instructors include Phyllis Allport, Frances Walton and Eva Heinitz. After completing 34 years of practice in Emergency Medicine locally, he has begun to reexplore the cello under the guidance of Nathan Chan. He is delighted to have been accepted as an official member of the Ladies Musical Club.

Selina Chu (Jan 14) has been a part of the music community in the Pacific Northwest for almost 40 years, as a master teacher and performer. She has served as an adjudicator and visiting artist as well as Board member for such organizations as Washington State Music Teachers Association, National Federation of Music Clubs, and LMC’s Frances Walton Competition. Selina holds advanced degrees in piano performance, from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Washington, as well as national certification as a teacher of music through MTNA. Thirteen years of experience as Alaska Dance Theatre’s Principal Accompanist taught her to play well with others, and she has a special place in her heart for all types of ensembles. She is known for her sense of humor and unfortunate ability to carry a tune.

Inspired by his grandmother and singing “The Sound of Music” in middle school choir, Michael Housley (Jan 16) began teaching himself piano before studying with Dr. David Brunell at the University of Tennessee. Since moving to Seattle to pursue a career in Architecture, Michael collaborates regularly with Melet Whinston (cellist), accompanies the Seattle University Chapel of St. Ignatius Choir and has participated in several Chamber Music Madness retreats with various chamber ensembles.

Andrew Kam (Jan 20) received his BM in Music Education from the University of Miami and an MM in Violin Performance from the University of Oregon. Mr. Kam currently serves as the Orchestra Director at Bellevue High School and conductor for the Cadet String Orchestra with Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Kam regularly adjudicates for both small and large ensemble festivals and has served as guest conductor for honors orchestras in the Puget Sound region. As a professional violinist, Mr. Kam is a violinist with Symphony Tacoma. He is one of the recording violinists heard on Kesha’s 2018 Grammy nominated single “Praying,” and has performed on other movie and popular music productions. Each year, Mr. Kam and his wife Angie (violin) tour with Trans-Siberian Orchestra during the band’s stops in Seattle and Portland. Mr. Kam is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii. He enjoys rock climbing, skiing, cooking, and traveling. Mr. Kam also loves hiking with his dog Burt.

Violinist Angie Kam (Jan 20) is an established teacher and performer in the Seattle area. As an orchestral musician, Angie plays with the Auburn Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Tacoma, and the Tacoma City Ballet. As a pop violinist, Angie has performed with many artists including the Eagles, Andrea Bocelli, the Trans Siberian Orchestra, The Who, Ramin Djalwadi, Amy Grant, Il Divo, Idina Menzel, Evanesance, Lindsey Stirling, Sarah Brightman, and Michael Buble. She is also an active studio-recording musician for movies and video games. Angie maintains a successful violin studio of over 30 wonderful students in Bellevue. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Violin Performance from the University of Oregon, and a Master’s Degree in Violin Performance and String Pedagogy from the Boston Conservatory. In her spare time Angie enjoys mountaineering, skiing, trail running, yoga, and eating.

Mia HyeYeon Kim (Jan 10) 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.

Monica Kessler (Jan 16) earned her BM in piano performance from Western Washington University and MM in piano performance from Central Washington University. She has extensive teaching and accompanying experience, having taught on faculty at Wenatchee Valley College, Woods House Conservatory, Northshore Christian Academy as well as her own private teaching studio. While continuing to perform she also has a career as a full-time real estate broker.

Peter Klein (Jan 10) grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts. He earned a BFA in Theater and Music from Emerson College in Boston, also studying at the Longy School of Music. His bassoon teachers include Louise Cavalieri Goni, Dan Welcher and Francine Peterson. He currently plays in the Rain City Symphony and in several informal chamber groups. Peter has composed several chamber and choral pieces, incidental music for theatrical productions, and musicals for children. Now retired from a career in information technology, he also announced classical music at public radio stations and wrote about music for newspapers and magazines.

Clarinetist Dallas Neustel (guest artist, Jan 14) is a principal teaching artist of the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra, a founding member of the Agermos Chamber Music Project, and a former US Air Force clarinetist. Dallas has performed with the Saratoga Orchestra of Whidbey Island, the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, the North Corner Chamber Orchestra, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra. In 2018, his children’s composition “Incidental Music to the Tale of Peter Rabbit” was performed in the Seattle Chamber Music Society’s Summer Festival Family Concert. Dallas holds the Master of Music degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Washington State University. He has toured in concert throughout Europe and the United States, has appeared as a guest-clinician in 65 university master-classes, and has maintained a private clarinet studio for over 20 years.

Erika Pierson (Jan 20) earned her bachelor’s in Cello Performance from Indiana University and her master’s in Performance from the University of Michigan. Between her degrees, Erika studied in Berlin, at the Hochschule der Kunste, and in London under Eileen Croxford, FRCM. Her other teachers included Richard Aaron, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Markus Nyikos, and Erling Blondal Bengtsson. Erika has given solo recitals in England, Germany, Spain, and in the United States, and has soloed with orchestras in Berlin, Ann Arbor, and Everett, WA. On the less classical side of things, she has also performed with Mannheim Steamroller, Rod Stewart, The Walkmen, and Deltron 3030. Currently Erika performs regularly as the cellist in NOCCO Chamber Orchestra, and freelances and teaches in the Seattle area.

Ann Rackl (Jan 14), violinist, is the former assistant concertmaster of Philharmonia Northwest chamber orchestra, where she has been a member since 1976. She holds a Master of Music Education degree from the University of Montana, and has studied violin with Emanuel Zetlin and Martin Friedmann in Seattle. Formerly a private violin instructor, these days she especially enjoys playing chamber music.

Rob Toren (guest artist, Jan 14) has been a professional singer for most of his musical life, including most recently undertaking several small roles at Seattle Opera 1998-2014. After retiring from both singing and as a non-profit executive, he has returned to his first love, the piano. Because of his background as a singer and his earlier career days in NYC, he now gravitates towards the art song literature, with programs focusing on both the French (Debussy and Faure) and German traditions (Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Strauss). He most recently studied with Joyce Gibb.

Melet Whinston (Jan 16) studied under Maria DeRungs, and was first chair in the Portland Junior Symphony and Princeton University Orchestra. She has presented school performances as a member of the Leschi Trio and as a duo with Michael Housley, pianist. She has many years of experience as a chamber musician and solo performer, and performs regularly at St Andrew Presbyterian Church and local recitals.

Dhanushi Wijeyakulasuriya (Jan 14), 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.

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 (https://livesessions.npr.org/videos).

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.

Performing Artists, November 2023

Praised for her musical elegance and passion, soprano Clarice Alfonso (Nov 16, 18) recently made her Chicago Orchestra Hall debut as the soloist in the North American premiere of Jacob TV’s Mountaintop. Recent engagements include Pamina with Northwest Opera in Schools, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with Engage Opera, and Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 at the Seattle Art Museum. Past feats include Rosina in The Barber of Seville with Northwest Opera in Schools, Sister Genovieffa in Suor Angelica with Puget Sound Concert Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Seattle Operamuse, First Lady in Die Zauberflöte with Chicago Chamber Opera, Julia Jellicoe in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Grand Duke, and Silvia in the world premiere of Philip Seward’s Sincerely Yours. An avid singer of not just classical music, Clarice is one of the founders of Forte! Chicago, an all-women’s opera improv ensemble, and frequently performs concerts consisting of art song, jazz, and cabaret.

Dora Barnes (Nov 16, 18) was born and raised in Yakima Washington and now resides in Seattle. She is a classically trained vocalist, pianist, and saxophonist, and is currently studying with Davida Kagen. Dora attended Yakima Valley Community College and Central Washington University with a focus on vocal performance. Dora has performed with the Seattle Art Song Society, Ladies Musical Club, and the Puget Sound Concert Opera, among others. Notably, she has performed as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, placed 1st in the PAFE Opera division, placed 3rd in the Seattle Opera Guild’s Singer Development Awards, and was an honorable mention in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Awards. When not singing opera, Dora is the lead singer and plays saxophone in two Motown/Oldies bands, and also composes her own music.

Silas Berlin (Nov 12) 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.

Inspired by his grandmother and singing “The Sound of Music” in middle school choir, Michael Housley (Nov 8) began teaching himself piano before studying with Dr. David Brunell at the University of Tennessee. Since moving to Seattle to pursue a career in Architecture, Michael collaborates regularly with Melet Whinston (cellist), accompanies the Seattle University Chapel of St. Ignatius Choir and has participated in several Chamber Music Madness retreats with various chamber ensembles.

Joan Lundquist (Nov 16, 18) 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.

Known for her expressive and passionate performances, Jensina Oliver (Nov 14) has delighted audiences as 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.

Luke Raffanti (Nov 16, 18) has been a frequent piano performer around Seattle since moving here in 2017. Before the pandemic, he performed frequently at house concerts, retirement homes, and for benefit concerts. In 2018, he earned the top prize in the Chopin Northwest solo piano competition and in 2019 he was featured as vocal accompanist and solo pianist on Classical KING FM. He has enjoyed collaborating with several professional opera companies: Seattle Opera, Seattle Modern Opera Company, and Northwest Opera in Schools, as well as numerous individual professional vocalists. Luke teaches roughly 40 students of all ages at Cascade Piano Studio in Ravenna, and is the collaborative pianist and organist at Richmond Beach Congregational United Church of Christ in Shoreline. Lately Luke has been taking voice lessons with Davida Kagen and singing with Seattle Pro Musica. He earned a BM in classical piano performance and a BA in environmental studies from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music.

Emily Riesser’s (Nov 16, 18) 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).

Eric Shankland (Nov 12) 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 (Nov 12) 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.

Mezzo-soprano Katie Stevenson (Nov 16, 18) has recently performed with Pacific Northwest Opera as Flora in La Traviata. She has also been seen performing art songs and arias in livestream concerts with the Ladies Musical Club and Epiphany Parish of Seattle’s “Music in Our Community” concert series. Since moving to Seattle she has performed roles and concerts with the Seattle Opera Guild, Puget Sound Concert Opera, N.O.I.S.E., and Seattle Modern Opera Company. While living in NYC Katie worked with Dicapo Opera, Amato Opera, and Riverside Opera performing roles such as Romeo in I Capuleti e I Montecchi, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, and Henrichetta in I Puritani. In Philadelphia she performed the title role in Carmen and as Emilia in Otello. While living in Europe, she performed in concerts and festivals in Germany, Ireland, and England. In addition to performing, Katie teaches piano and voice lessons in the Seattle area.

An outstanding member of the Northwest musical community for over 20 years, Regina Thomas (Nov 16, 18) 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.

Colin Ward (Nov 16, 18) has been studying voice for about six years. He is a graduate of Western Washington University with a major in Political Science and a minor in Music. Colin has appeared in many concerts and operas including The Ballad of Baby Doe as Bushy, Le Nozze di Figaro as Count Almaviva, and I Pagliacci as Beppe. Colin sings regularly with Puget Sound Concert Opera and also performs with the Seattle Opera Chorus.

Melet Whinston (Nov 8) studied under Maria DeRungs, and was first chair in the Portland Junior Symphony and Princeton University Orchestra. She has presented school performances as a member of the Leschi Trio and as a duo with Michael Housley, pianist. She has many years of experience as a chamber musician and solo performer, and performs regularly at St Andrew Presbyterian Church and local recitals.

Dhanushi Wijeyakulasuriya (Nov 16, 18) 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.