Gail A. Acosta, violin, viola, a native of Indiana, began her musical studies at the age of 8. Coming from a family of violinists, she was awarded scholarships to Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, University of Illinois String Festival, Miami University in Ohio, Bay View Chamber Music Festival, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and the University of Southern California. A B.M. was awarded from UNC-Greensboro where she studied with Marla Mutschler and performed with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Acosta was also awarded the Tom J. Stone Award for performance excellence and was winner of the University Concerto Competition. The University of Southern California granted her a teaching assistantship to study with Eudice Shapiro and perform with the USC Graduate String Quartet coached by Gabor Rejto. Her M.M. summa cum laude was completed in 1981 and she was honored the String Chamber Music Ensemble Award for 1981. As an active performer, Ms. Acosta has performed with the Santa Barbara Symphony, The Orchestra of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Mozart Camerata, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella Series, the Ernest Bloch Music Festival, Oregon, the Ojai Music Festival, California, Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra, Gold Coast Chamber Music Festival, California and La Folia Chamber Ensemble.
An avid teacher and supporter of music education for young students, Ms. Acosta has taught across the United States at many major string workshops and universities.
She is a member of the American String Teachers Association, Suzuki Music Association of California-
Los Angeles Branch, Suzuki Association of the Americas and Musician’s Union Local 47. Gail lives in Valley Village, CA, where she is Suzuki String Coordinator at Evergreen Music Conservatory, maintains a private studio of violin and viola students, coordinates and teaches the Kindergarten/1st Grade Suzuki String Program at Colfax Charter Elementary (180 little violinists!) and is an Adjunct Violin/Viola Professor at Glendale Community College. Her home in Valley Village, CA with her husband, Jerry and son, Michael is filled with music!
Violin, Teacher Training
Clarisse Atcherson joined the Oregon Symphony in 1985, and served on the faculty at the Community Music Center in Portland from 1986 to 2015. She combines an active performing career with a full teaching roster of students of all ages; over the years, a number of her students have won national competitions, attended major conservatories, and have become professional violinists themselves.
Clarisse received a B.M. summa cum laude from the Eastman School of Music, where she was also valedictorian. At Eastman, Clarisse studied with Charles Castleman, members of the Cleveland Quartet, and Abram Loft. She later earned an M.M. from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. While there, she studied pedagogy with John Kendall and was certified through the Suzuki Association of the Americas to teach all ten Suzuki books.
As a teacher, Clarisse combines the pedagogical techniques of Galamian/DeLay with the Suzuki approach. She has taught and presented lectures at many Suzuki Institutes, including Oregon Suzuki, the Advanced Suzuki Institute at Stanford, and at Suzuki programs in Korea. Clarisse has also taught at the Montecito International Music Festival in California, and serves on the board of the Oregon Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Her main project with OR-ASTA involves organizing master classes with prominent teachers, such as William Preucil, David Russell, Yizhak Schotten, and others.
Cello Teacher Training
Well known as a Suzuki cello workshop and institute clinician, Avi Friedlander teaches a variety of methods from classical to jazz and rock. Mr. Friedlander is the director of the Barston Suzuki Center at the Music Institute of Chicago, a Suzuki teacher trainer, teaches Suzuki Pedagogy faculty at RooseveltUniversity/Music Institute of Chicago and teaches string pedagogy at the University of North Florida and founder of the Suzuki Talent Education Program of Birmingham. He holds Masters and Bachelors degrees in cello performance from The University of Michigan, and pursued his professional studies degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music. Mr. Friedlander is the former Assistant Principal cellist of the Atlanta Opera, former member of The New World Symphony and former professor of Cello at Emory University in Atlanta. His primary teachers have included Anthony Elliott, Stephen Geber, Irene Sharp, Tanya Carey and David Premo and he has also worked with Richard Aaron, Hans Jensen, Janos Starker and Bernard Greenhouse. Mr. Friedlander has studied improvisation methods with Eugene Friesen from the Berkley College, Stephan Braun from Berlin and Tim Kliphuis from Amsterdam. In addition to his own compositions, Mr. Friedlander writes his own arrangements for solo cello of rock tunes from Jimi Hendrix to Pearl Jam and is the author of his method books, “chopping around” and “pizzing around”, which introduce alternative styles to cellist.
Beth Goldstein-McKee brings her extensive performing and teaching experience to her work with students and teachers at institutes and workshops across the United States and in her studio. A registered Suzuki Association of the Americas Cello Teacher Trainer, she has had the honor of teaching students from around the world at the 16th World Convention in Matsumoto, Japan and training teachers from South and Central America at the 24th International Suzuki Festival in Lima, Peru. She served on the Board of Directors of the SAA, and as Cello Coordinator and Assistant Cello Coordinator for SAA Conferences. She has given presentations at both the American String Teachers’ Association and the SAA conferences. Beth has recently moved to Western PA where she is starting a new generation of students.
Beth maintained thriving studios on the west coast for over thirty years, first in Berkeley, CA and then in Ashland, OR. In Ashland, she coached sectionals and chamber music for the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon (YSSO). In California, she was also on the faculty of Holy Names College Suzuki Program and East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, and was the Director of EBCPA’s Outreach Program for the Berkeley/Albany Schools.
Beth performed with the Rogue Valley Symphony, the Rogue Opera and other chamber orchestras in Ashland, OR. As the cellist in contemporary music ensembles in Boston, NYC and London, Beth premiered cello and chamber music works, and received the National Endowment for the Humanities Youth Grant for bringing new music to wider audiences. In addition, she was awarded the Sachar International Fellowship for study in England. A native of NYC, she graduated from Brandeis University. Her training as a teacher of the Suzuki method began with Yvonne Tait and continued at School for Strings, NYC.
Collaborative Artist, Piano Accompanist
Patricia Grimm is a faculty member at University of the Pacific where she teaches sight singing and collaborative piano, and serves as a collaborative pianist with students, faculty, and guest artists. She is also the organist at Fremont Presbyterian Church in Sacramento.
As a collaborative pianist, Ms. Grimm has performed at the Edinburgh International Music Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Trinity Wall Street Music Series in New York City, and chamber music concerts at the Musica no Museu Festival of Winds, Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, and Universidade Federal Do Estado Do Rio De Janeiro – Unirio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
She regularly performs throughout the United States as a collaborative pianist and chamber musician. Prior to moving to Sacramento in 2013, she was a freelance collaborative pianist in the New York City metropolitan area and staff accompanist at Central Connecticut State University, in addition to maintaining an active private teaching studio.
Ms. Grimm holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Sacred Music with organ concentration from Duquesne University, a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Kent State University, and a Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano from the Hartt School of Music. She also studied piano with Jonathan Feldman at the Juilliard School.
Shane Kalbach is a freelance performer (violin/viola) and music educator. He teaches orchestra at Lincoln High School, Sierra Middle School and Don Riggio School in Stockton CA. He has directed the Central Valley Youth Symphony’s Preparatory Orchestra since 2006. He is also involved with the San Joaquin County Honor Orchestra program. Shane often works for music camps during the summer months and gives private lessons throughout the year. Shane enjoys working with students of all ages and is interested in a diverse array of musical genres, including but not limited to; classical, bluegrass and jazz. Shane believes that making music should always be joyful and that music is one of the great gifts we can all access.
Violin, Guest Performer
One of the most versatile and charismatic violinists on the current scene, Brian Lewis is an exceptionally dedicated and gifted performer whose passionate artistry has been heard and embraced around the world. “There are a lot of fine violinists on the concert stage today, but few can match Lewis for an honest virtuosity that supremely serves the music,” reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. Acclaimed performances include concerto debuts in both New York’s Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall, as well as performances with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Berlin (Germany), Louisiana, Kansas City, Syracuse, Odense (Denmark), Wichita, Hartford, Eugene, Spokane, and American Symphony orchestras, among others. He has recorded six CDs, most recently for Delos as soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra of music by Leonard Bernstein and Hollywood composer Michael McLean.
Mr. Lewis has won numerous young artists’ competitions, including the grand prize in the Mid-America Violin Competition. In addition to the Waldo Mayo Talent Award, he holds both the Peter Mennin Prize and William Schuman Prize awarded by Juilliard for outstanding achievement and leadership in the field of music. Mr. Lewis was one of the first recipients of the Sony ES Award for Musical Excellence, and he has received two Elizabeth B. Koch Fellowships from the Kansas Cultural Trust. In 2005-06, Mr. Lewis received both the Texas Exes Teaching Award and The University of Texas School of Music Teaching Excellence Award.
Known for his variety in programming and ability to communicate with audiences of all ages, Mr. Lewis has performed frequently as a member of the Kansas Arts Commission Touring Program and the Mid-America Arts Alliance Regional Touring Program.
Radio and television appearances include performances on WNYC, WFMT (Chicago), National Public Radio, and CBS “Sunday Morning.” An advocate for music education in the schools, Mr. Lewis frequently presents concerts, workshops, and master classes for Young Audiences of Houston. Named National Artist of the Year in 1998 by Young Audiences, Inc., he was also presented the 2003 Fredell Lack Award by YAH for having performed for more than 165,000 young people in the Houston area.
As a student of Eleanor Allen, Mr. Lewis began his violin studies at the age of four and participated in the Ottawa Suzuki Strings program under the direction of his mother, Alice Joy Lewis. He later studied with Tiberius Klausner, and twice traveled to Japan where he studied with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki at the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto. He holds both the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School where he was a student of Dorothy DeLay, Masao Kawasaki, and Hyo Kang. Mr. Lewis holds the David and Mary Winton Green Chair in String Performance and Pedagogy at The University of Texas at Austin. He is also Artistic Director of the Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies at The Juilliard School in New York City, concertmaster of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston, founding member of the Texas Piano Quartet, and Artistic Director of the Starling Distinguished Violinist Series at UT.
Guitar, Teacher Training
Guitarist Joseph Pecoraro is recognized as a highly-accomplished concert and recording artist, teacher and author. As a recitalist he appears as soloist, chamber musician, and with orchestra across the United States and abroad. Recent seasons’ schedules feature performances in France, Italy, Switzerland, Mexico, and across the U.S., including solo recitals at the Kennedy Center, the Washington Library, and the Chicago Cultural Center. These include appearances in Houston, Denver, Raleigh, Minneapolis, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Charleston, Washington D.C., Paris, Geneva, and Bologna. He has performed as featured soloist with the Roanoke Symphony, Wintergreen Music Festival, and Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestras, numerous vocal ensembles, and collaborated with dozens of prominent singers and instrumentalists.
Pecoraro’s commercial recordings present stylistically diverse repertoire from around the globe. His most-recent releases include ‘Perennials’, which features world-premiere solo guitar works by noted American Composers, as well as the holiday recording ‘This Little Light’ with multi-Grammy-winning tenor Anthony Dean Griffey. He is also author of the widely-acclaimed music-reading text “Read this First”. In addition to his recital career, Pecoraro performs traditional Celtic-inspired music with violinist Katherine Wiley as well as jazz and fingerstyle guitar.
Mr. Pecoraro joined the artist-faculty of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 1998 as a full-time professor of guitar-teaching graduate, college and high school guitar majors. Previous higher-education teaching positions include Salem College, Indiana University, and the University of Colorado. He is in frequent demand as a guest clinician, and has served on the regular faculties of renowned summer music festivals in Colorado, Virginia, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, where he directs the ‘Nothing but Nylon’ Summer Guitar Workshop.
Following his long-standing interest in excellent music-making at the community level, Mr. Pecoraro has been involved with teaching guitar students using the Suzuki approach for the past 25 years. He is a registered Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas, offering courses in guitar pedagogy to teachers across the Americas. He is also long-time student and trained teacher of the Alexander Technique – helping students use their thoughts to balance, move, and perform with greater coordination and ease. His UNCSA students have won top prizes in competitions sponsored by the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts, American String Teachers Association, Guitar Foundation of America and numerous regional solo and concerto competitions, and alumni have distinguished themselves as active performers, teachers and recording artists. View performances, recordings, programs and more at JosephPecoraro.com
Megan Shung often described as ‘the 21st Century violinist’, is an international violinist, recording artist, composer, contractor, and educator based in Los Angeles, California. She is adept at multiple genres and styles. She has performed with artists including Anthony Kiedis, Michael Bublé, Jhene Aiko, Kimbra, George Watsky, Billy Childs, and Louis Cole. She is currently the newest member of Acoustic Asylum, an LA-based supergroup.
In addition to being an active performer, Megan is also a passionate educator. She is an active SAA member and a Suzuki/jazz faculty at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music. Her primary mission as an educator is to create a strong technical foundation for her students to be able to foster creativity and experimentation beyond the boundaries of ordinary musicianship. She has appeared as a guest clinician at institutes across the USA and internationally with a specialty in teaching improvisation to string players.
Megan was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up in Taipei, Taiwan. She attended the LA County High School for the Arts, continued her education at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she earned a Bachelor of Music in violin performance with academic honors studying under David Updegraff, and received her long-term Suzuki training with Kimberly Meier-Sims. Upon graduation, she continued her studies with Paul Kantor in Houston, Texas.