Performing Artists, April 2023

Dora Barnes (Apr 10) 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.

Born in Taiwan, Jonas Chen (guest artist, Apr 10) 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.

Sandra Heinke’s (Apr 12) earliest piano memories begin in the years of her childhood in Oakland, California, where at the age of 8 she was accepted as the only child pupil of Alexander Libermann, faculty member at Mills College. Upon graduation, she then went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree at Pomona College (studying under the guidance of Karl Kohn, composer and pianist) and a Master of Fine Arts degree at Western Washington University — with her teacher and mentor, Ford Hill. Upon admitting her to graduate study at Western, the Music Department invited Sandra to join the staff as an accompanist, which role she happily fulfilled even after obtaining her Master’s degree. In addition to her life as an accompanist, Sandra also performs as a soloist and last year presented a full length recital.

Emiko Hori (Apr 12), 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.

Inspired by his grandmother and singing “The Sound of Music” in middle school choir, Michael Housley (Apr 15) 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.

Luke Raffanti (Apr 10) 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.

Valentina Rodov (Apr 10) was born and raised in Moscow, Russia, and received her music education as a concert pianist from the famous Moscow Conservatory. She performed solo and in chamber groups prior to emigrating to the United States. Once in the USA, Valentina decided to become a lawyer, which she successfully accomplished upon graduating from law school in Los Angeles and passing the California Bar. Valentina practiced law as business litigator in Southern California for over twenty years until she and her husband moved to Seattle. With great support and encouragement from the Seattle music community, Valentina came back to piano playing, and soon became a frequent and critically acclaimed recitalist and chamber music performer at various venues in the Seattle area.

Susan Strick (Apr 12) holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford and a Master of Arts degree from UCLA, and spent a year at the Opera School of the University of Toronto. Although a specialist in classical vocal performance, she “moonlighted” in folk music and musical comedy, with occasional forays into composition and arranging. After several years as a professional singer and voice teacher, she encountered the Celtic harp. Since then, she has become active as a harper, primarily as a member of the ensemble “Labyrinth,” which is based in Seattle, Washington, and has performed throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Melet Whinston (Apr 15) 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.