Performing Artists, January 2023

Sydney Belden (Jan 8) is a student at the University of Washington School of Music training as a coloratura soprano under the accomplished Dr. Thomas Harper and sings in the University of Washington Chamber Singers directed by Dr. Geoffery Boers. Sydney is also appearing in the UW opera production of Philemon und Baucis as a chorister and covering roles in January. In the Summer of 2022, she was cast with the Puget Sound Concert Opera as a chorister in their concert production of Falstaff. At the same time, she also was accepted as an active performing member for the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle for the 2022-2023 season, and a Public Concerts summer intern. In May she was selected as 1 of 10 finalists in the Seattle Opera Guild’s Singer’s Development Awards. She was the youngest singer in the competition and got the incredible opportunity to sing in the Tagney Jones Hall at the Seattle Opera with other talented vocalists. Sydney loves to share her talent with others and hopes that it brings her audiences as much joy as it brings her to be singing!

Lawrence Chu (Jan 8,21,26) 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 8,21,26) 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.

Diana Gao (Jan 17) 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.

Joan Lundquist (Jan 11) 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.

Gail Perstein (Jan 21,26) 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.

Ann Rackl (Jan 8,21,26), 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.

Luke Raffanti (Jan 8) 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 (Jan 11) 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).

Eliza Siracusan (Jan 17) holds a BM in clarinet performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Originally from Edmonds, WA, she played with the SYSO and CYSO organizations and completed her final year of high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Her college years were stuffed completely full of wonderful chamber music with friends. After graduating from CIM in 2005, Eliza returned to the Seattle area and took a complete break from playing to pursue other interests and activities. After 12 years away, Eliza picked up her horn and joined a community orchestra in the fall of 2017. She now plays with the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra, directed by Dr. Anna Edwards, and is excited to be a new member of the Ladies Musical Club.

Asta Vaičekonis (Jan 21,26) 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.

Carolyn Wyman (Jan 17) studied viola at the Cornish College of the Arts, UW, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and finally in Oxford, England where she received her diploma L.G.S.M. (Licentiate of the Guildhall School of Music) in London. She has performed internationally in Europe and Canada as well as locally. She plays professionally with the Lake Washington Symphony Orchestra and performs with the Ambrosia String Quartet. Before becoming the director of the Beaux Arts Suzuki Academy of Music, she was a faculty member of the University of Puget Sound Community Music Program. She has been a performing member of LMC since 1989.