Musical Discovery Chamber Players is proud to employ only the finest musicians. Our quality of sound can only be produced by musicians that play on the highest quality instruments, who have years of experience and have a passion for sharing music.
Jill Dalley – Violin
Jill has been a member of the Musical Discovery for eight years.She has combined her business skills and musical ability to develop Musical Discovery Chamber Players into one of the most in-demand ensemble groups in the Austin area. As an orchestra musician she has performed with the Temple Symphony, Waco Symphony, the Austin Civic Orchestra, the Starlight Symphony, the Richardson Symphony, and the Lakewood Chamber Orchestra in Dallas. Jill is a certified Suzuki teacher and a member of the American String Teachers Association. She teaches violin and viola privately. Jill’s Bachelor of Science degree is from Texas Woman’s University in Mass Communications, Magna Cum Laude. Jill is a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
What I like about playing in weddings “I love being a part of the happiest day of the wedding couple’s life. It’s a happy day for me too because, the love I witness between the bride and groom always reminds me of my love for my husband.”
My most memorable performance “…was playing in the Richardson Symphony with Dave Brubeck. The music was thrilling. Brubeck’s energy was contagious. It showed me how a musician’s expression of energy can enliven a room full of people.”
Pat Surguy – Violin
Pat is a founding member of the Musical Discovery Chamber Players. She is active in the Austin Civic Orchestra and has been a member for the past eleven years. Pat is also a founding member of the Starlight Symphony Orchestra. SSO depends on pat who serves Concert Master, personnel manager, librarian and Concert Master. As an orchestra musician she has performed with the Central Oregon Symphony, UTSA Symphony Orchestra, Portland State University Symphony Orchestra, and the Chehalem Symphony Orchestra. Pat earned her Bachelor of Science, Music Education from Portland State University. Pat is a native of Bend Oregon.
What I like about playing in weddings “I enjoy being able to play with a small group of musicians to make a wedding extra special. It’s that moment when you start playing the ceremony music when the excitement and anticipation are in the air. It’s easy for a musician to feel as though he is helping to make the magic happen for a wedding. Music touches the soul as much or more than any other aspect of a wedding. It’s an honor and privilege to be able to give couples and their families that connection.”
My most memorable performance “I’ve always had a love of orchestral music. Playing in numerous community orchestras has been wonderful: I’ve enjoyed them all: Central Oregon Symphony, Chehalem Symphony Orchestra, Austin Civic Orchestra and the Starlight Symphony Orchestra. Playing in pit orchestras for the Mikado, Candide, Fiddler on the Roof and Les Miserable has been great fun as well. In one memorable performance I was playing as concertmaster with the Starlight Symphony Orchestra with my son, Derek – as one of the Young Artist Award Winners. It was such a great feeling to play together on stage.”
Tom Strauch – Viola
Tom is a founding member of the Musical Discovery Chamber Players. Tom is the music arranger for the MDCP as well. He is also a founding member of the Starlight Symphony Orchestra. His membership with the Starlight Symphony began in 2003. Tom has led the SSO as Principal Violist. For seven years he was Assistant Principal Violist of the Austin Civic Orchestra. Tom’s orchestral experience includes performances with the University of Texas San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, the Pasadena Philharmonic, the Campanile Orchestra, and the Oakland Lyric Opera. Tom holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and a minor in Music. Tom is a native of San Antonio.
What I like about playing in weddings “To me, what makes each and every wedding unique are the details. Things like the colors chosen for the flowers and decorations and the lovely outfits worn by the bridal party. But the best detail is the one I am directly involved with, and that’s the music, getting to play great music is a thrill for me.
Knowing I am doing something that makes the wedding special and unique keeps my work meaningful. Sometimes, I get to do something even more special; arranging a song that has a heartfelt meaning for the wedding party. When I can bring a special song to life I know I have contributed to the details that makes me feel as though I have made a difference.”
Cecile Morgan – Cello
Cecile is a founding member of the Musical Discovery Chamber Players. She is from a musical family and has played the cello almost her entire life. Other musical interests for Cecile are playing the bass viola da gamba and recorder. Cecile joined the Austin Civic Orchestra in 1992 and will celebrate her 20th year with them in 2012. She also performs with the Starlight Symphony Orchestra. Cecile holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Radio Television Film from the University of Texas at Austin. Cecile is a native of Austin.
What I like about playing in weddings “Making music is one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life; being part of a bride’s special day and contributing music to an already joyful occasion makes playing the cello even more gratifying.”
Andrew Grainger – Pianist
Andrew has been playing piano for over forty years. He began playing professionally in the mid 1980’s, enjoying successful stints at several of the most distinguished hotels in his native London. These have included the London Hilton, London Marriott and The Dorchester. He also performed for enthusiastic crowds at nightclubs and other venues in downtown Soho.
In June 2007 he moved to Austin, where he has already established himself as one of the premier pianists in the area. Playing many weddings and parties at all the well known venues around Austin, including appearances at Chez Zee, Rocco’s Grill, and the Vince Young Steakhouse, he has become a familiar face around town. His friendly and relaxed manner compliments a broad and accomplished repertoire. Andrew is a native of London, England.
What I like about playing in weddings “I love playing for people on their special wedding days. It gives me so much pleasure to see happy faces enjoying the music. I’ve experienced so many wonderful events, and getting great feedback is always very satisfying.”
My most memorable performance “…was at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where I played for dignitaries and revelers alike.”
Amy Harris – Violin
Amy Harris is the orchestra director at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, and teaches private violin students in the Austin area using Suzuki Talent Education. She received her Doctor of Violin Performance at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin studying with Vincent Frittelli, and was awarded a Masters degree at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Northern Colorado. She has been awarded the Angie Southard Convocation Award, the CCM Chamber Music Award, and Best Instrumental Performance at the Sydney M. Wright Competition. She has attended music festivals such as National Repertory Orchestra, Round Top, the Henry Mancini Institute, and the Brevard Music Festival. She is a member of the Suzuki Institute of the Americas, American Federation of Musicians, Pi Kappa Lambda honorary music fraternity, and the Delta Omicron music fraternity, which invited her to play at the 2006 triennial conference as a guest soloist.
What I like about playing in weddings “A wedding is such a special day, and it is so heartwarming to add the extra touch of elegance (and sometimes rock out afterward) to one of the most important days in any couple’s life.”
My most memorable performance “My most memorable musical moment occurred when I was 15, and I found out that I had been accepted into the violin section of the most prestigious youth orchestra in Denver as a Freshman in high school. I knew from that moment on I was going to pursue a career as a professional violin player. I have played in many orchestras, and with lots of different incredible conductors, soloists, and peers – all these moments stem from my decision the day I got the news of my acceptance into the Denver Young Artists Orchestra that I would spend the rest of my life pursuing the violin.”
Annette Eicker – Cello
A native Chapel Hill North Carolina Annette has spent most of her life in Freiburg and Dortmund Germany. Annette started her music lessons on piano at age five then added cello at age 13. She studied at the Music University of Dortmund. She received diplomas for Teaching and Orchestral Musicianship. Annette’s professional experience includes seventeen years with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Freiburg and three years as principal cellist in the Orchestra of the Theater Luneburg. She moved to Austin in 2007 and has a thriving studio of violin, cello and piano students. Annette plays with various orchestras including the Brazos Valley Symphony, Round Rock Symphony, Starlight Symphony Orchestra and various chamber groups.
What I like about playing in weddings “Music at a wedding gives room for love and feelings, it can unite the couple and bring memories up or even calm things down. Accompanying two people on their most important day and trying to give that special moment to every wedding is what I love to do.”
My most memorable performance “There were many highlights throughout all these years as a professional cellist, I can’t pick only one. Playing and doing music is essential in my life and I can’t imagine being without it.”
Byron Gifford – Flute, Clarinet
Byron graduated from Ohio State holds a Bachelor degree in Music Theory. Byron is proficient on Flute, Clarinet, piccolo, alto flute, and bass clarinet. He has performed on flute since 1974, playing with ensembles in Columbus, Indianapolis, Denver, Dallas, St. Louis, and Austin. Byron is a native of Ohio.
What I like about playing in weddings “I enjoy playing weddings because it is a behind-the-scenes job, where I am involved in the scheduling of the wedding production and how it ultimately comes off. It is very much like an on-stage experience to me.”
My most memorable performance “…was my performance with Flutes Unlimited in Dallas. We performed a South American piece with the flutists all standing around the perimeter of the beautiful Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall. The audience was mesmerized by the performance.”
Chad McAlester – Tenor
Chad has an expansive vocal range enabling him to perform a diverse repertoire of classics and sacred works as well as Broadway favorites. For five years Chad performed with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He holds a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Stephen F. Austin State University and a Masters of Music in vocal performance at the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Music. Chad is a native of Mt. Pleasant,TX.
What I like about playing in weddings “I love seeing the joy and happiness that emanate from weddings. I still get misty-eyed at nearly every wedding I attend. It may sound corny to some, but I am blessed by participating in the ceremony with my singing.”
My most memorable performance “I’ll never forget playing Rodolfo in “La Boheme” at the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Music. The story of on-again, off-again lovers. Coincidentally, I played opposite my future wife. Playing the part of being in love with her solidified my feelings toward her, we were later married and still are to this day.”
Claudia Joachim – Viola
Claudia studied viola at Arizona State University and the University of North Texas. Her professional experience includes membership in the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, The Bruce Nehring Consort, the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, and the Orquesta Sinfonica de la UACJ, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Claudia moved to Austin in September of 2010 where she works as a professional contract violist – playing with traveling and local groups as a string player on the weekends and evenings. Outside of her musical career, she has a B.B.A in Economics from the University of Texas at El Paso with graduate work toward a Master of Science in Economics. Claudia is a native of El Paso.
What I like about playing in weddings “I enjoy weddings because of the love involved! Music is a perfect touch to any occasion but for weddings it seems unnatural not to have it. Love, like music is something you cannot touch but moves you in powerful ways nonetheless. Playing in beautiful wedding venues for happy couples and their families makes it almost impossible for me not to shed a tear or two. It’s joyful and I always feel lucky to be a part of these special moments.”
My most memorable performance “My two most memorable performances have been playing in the orchestra behind Rod Stewart and also playing with the Transiberian Orchestra. Both of those performances took me away from the normal theater orchestra persona and turned me into a rock star for an evening.”
Colin Ferguson – Cello
Colin is a professional cellist in the Austin area and hails from Chicago. Colin holds a B.A in cello performance from Michigan State University, and an M.M in cello performance from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of the Austin Lyric Opera Orchestra, and performs regularly in the Austin Symphony. He is the cellist of the Anderson Piano quintet, and regularly performs in Europe. Colin has taught at Valparaiso University in Indiana, and currently teaches cello students of all ages and levels in Austin at Blackerby Violin Shop.
What I like about playing in weddings “There are so many breathtaking venues in the Austin area, it is great to see them. Most importantly is the excitement I see in the bride and groom. Regardless of age, the love and excitement that each other has when reciting their vows, to spend the rest of their lives with each other, is endearing.”
My most memorable performance “The most memorable musical experience I’ve been in was in thanks to the horrible weather. The venue is this beautiful outdoor wooden shell that is at the bottom of this grassy hill. The patrons bring lawn chairs and have a perfect view of the stage. We were performing with Austin’s own pianist Anton Nel. Just as he was to go onstage, the heavens opened up and it poured rain and lightning streaked across the sky.
The audience was forced to take shelter on the stage. It was cramped! We decided to give the concert a go. So with 80 musicians, soloist and over 100 patrons on stage we gave the most heartfelt, sincere and energetic concert I’ve ever been a part of. It is one thing to give a concert for an audience who is sitting 50 feet away, but it’s magical to play for an audience that is sitting next to you and behind you. The audience could feel and see up close our energy, our breathing and the physical effort it took for us to execute the music, and we wanted to give them more and more. It was such a magical musical bonding experience I’ll never forget.”
Deb Weltzer – Viola
A native of Denver, Colorado, Debbie has moved a great deal giving her a variety of orchestral experience. She has performed as a member of professional or community orchestras in Colorado, Idaho, California, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and London, England. For many of these she served as principal or assistant principal viola or was a utility player on violin or viola as needed. Recently Debbie has also taken up string bass. She has a degree in Music Education from the University of Colorado and a master’s in Mathematics for Middle School.
What I like about playing in weddings “To me weddings are like spring. As flowers bloom and trees bud there is a promise of a bright and beautiful future. That same promise is what weddings are all about. I love watching the joy in the eyes of the bride and groom as they face each other and knowing that I am helping to make their day as special as that joy.”
My most memorable performance “While playing with Benny Goodman and Jim Nabors were highlights, my favorite performances were the twelve years I played the Messiah at the Air Force Academy Chapel. The performance begins with the cadet choir entering the Chapel in complete silence with the late sunlight coming in through the stained glass. The combination of beauty and serenity was always inspirational.”
Elise Winters Huete – Violin
Elise has been a member the Austin Symphony Orchestra for 12 years. She began her studies at the age of four and was featured as soloist with the Frederick Symphony Orchestra and Millbrook Symphony Orchestra at the age of 14. She performed in the Kennedy Center as a finalist in the National Symphony Young Artists competition at the age of 17. She performs with groups including the Austin Chamber Music Center, Chamber Soloists of Austin, Salon Concerts, and Conspirare. A graduate summa cum laude of Rice University and a University of Texas Presidential Scholar, Ms. Winters is a co-author of Buzz to Brilliance: A Beginning and Intermediate Guide to Trumpet Playing (Oxford University Press, 2012), and is the author of Kaleidoscopes, a violin method book which synthesizes the best elements of the Suzuki, Kodaly and Rolland traditions. Elise is a native of Maryland.
What I like about playing in weddings “Weddings are a different experience from concerts — we have the privilege of contributing to and witnessing one of the life-changing moments of someone’s life. It is a unique opportunity for my colleagues and me to give the gift of music in a very personal way.”
My most memorable performance “Itzhak Perlman was a legend to me when I was a young girl. He contracted polio as a child and his legs were paralyzed, but he overcame this challenge to become one of the greatest violinists of all time. He came to Austin to perform with the symphony for our centennial celebration. As he worked with the orchestra he was generous, warm and very, very funny. I felt tears welling up in my eyes as he walked onto stage for the concert with his crutches, touched by the greatness of his soul and the honor of sharing a stage with him.”
Giovanna Cruz – Cello
Giovanna earned her Bachelor of Education at the Universidad Metropolitana, Caracas, Venezuela. She went on to receive her Master of Arts degree from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA. The culmination of her education was her Doctor of Musical Arts in cello performance. As an orchestral member, she has performed with the Cedar Rapids Symphony (IA) and the Quad Cities Symphony (IL). Currently, Giovanna is the Director of Orchestras a Bowie Middle School, Austin, TX. Giovanna is a native of Caracas, Venezuela.
What I like about playing in weddings “I like playing at weddings because of the joy of the weddings – I get to be a part of that joy. I love playing music and helping make the day memorable for the groom and the bride.”
My most memorable performance “There are three performances that I truly cherish, my master’s recital, where I played Bach’s Suite #5 for cello solo, Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 5 No. 2 and Piazzola’s Le Grand Tango. I felt that I was “in the zone” experience that rush of adrenaline. It felt fantastic. The second was performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Quad Cities Symphony. This performance was memorable because the 9th is universally recognized as a stunning work of music. The third was Bach’s B minor Mass. I was serving as principal cellist in the University of Iowa Symphony orchestra and got to play the continuo part and the many solos in the piece. It was an incredible experience.”
Jen Mulhern – Cello
Jen has been performing in Austin and the surrounding Central Texas area for the past 15 years as both a classical and improvisational artist. She received her Bachelor degree in Music Performance from Texas State University-San Marcos in 2003 after performing with the Texas State Symphony as principal cellist for four years. Currently Jen also performs regularly with the Color of Sound Ensemble and the Laredo, Victoria, and Corpus Christi Symphonies.
It was during this period in San Marcos that Jen began to experiment with alternative styles, performing and touring with both the Salsa Del Rio and Austin Music award-winning Matson Belle (Best New Band in 2003, Best Electronic Band from 2003-2004). Since then, she has also recorded with a long list of singers and songwriters including Michael Martin Murphey, Ryan Turner, Victoria Love, Ear to Anon, and Omar Lopez. Jen is a native of San Antonio.
What I like about playing in weddings “What I love most about playing weddings and events is the ability to make a moment perfect. For any event there are hundreds of possibilities for perfection. So many of these variables are beyond anyone’s control…the weather, the sound of a plane flying overhead, or even the flower girl running the wrong direction! But every time I’m adding music to someone’s big day, it is in my power to make everyone in the room come together, to add fuel to the feeling of celebration. There’s nothing that can ruin the beauty of it or interrupt it so long as my colleagues and I continue to move our bows and fingers. The music is what adds that extra shimmer to a one-of-a-kind moment, and I love being the one helping to create that addition.”
Jennifer Teague – Violin
Jennifer has been involved in the music scene her entire life. She grew up with formal violin, piano, and voice training. Jennifer is currently a member of the Austin Pro-Musica Chamber Orchestra and the Starlight Symphony of Wimberley. As an orchestral musician, she has performed with the Ardmore Civic Orchestra, University of Denver Symphony Orchestra, the Texas State University Symphony Orchestra, and the Texas State University Chamber Orchestra. In addition to performing, Jennifer’s passion is teaching – having taught violin, piano, cello, and voice for over 20 years in three states. She has received extensive training in the Suzuki method and is an active member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and the Texas Music Educators Association. Jennifer has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Texas State University with an emphasis in violin performance under the direction of Dr. Lynn Ledbetter and a minor in Theatre. A native of NM, Jennifer spent most of her life in Ardmore, OK.
What I like about playing in weddings “It brings my great pleasure to see the faces of those who are enjoying the personal, intimate music that comes from a small ensemble. Stringed instruments have a deep capacity for emotions, and I feel they capture the magic and romance of a wedding like no other instrument.”
My most memorable performance “…is a difficult choice! Besides my own personal recitals, and performing epic works like Carmina Burana under the brilliant direction of Dr. Jonathan Babcock, I would have to say playing the Prokofiev Classical Symphony with the Texas State University Chamber Orchestra in an amazing church in Florence, Italy. Beautiful music, beautiful building, beautiful city: it was a breathtaking evening!”
John Holguin – Viola
John grew up in El Paso, TX and received a B.M. in Music Education, cum laude in 2005. During his time at the University of Texas at El Paso, John spent four years as a member of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and performed occasionally with the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra in New Mexico and the Symphony Orchestra in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
John completed his Masters of Music degree from Boston University, where he worked as a graduate assistant and orchestra manager while performing around the New England area.
In addition to being a classically trained violist, John began performing with Mariachi Los Pasajeros of El Paso in 2001, and in 2007 helped form and co-direct Mariachi Boston of Massachusetts. John was also a member of Mariachi Tamazula of Austin, TX until 2010.
John now calls Austin home and continues to perform with symphony orchestras around the Austin area and teaches privately.
What I like about playing in weddings “What I enjoy most is the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful day. It’s amazing to know that I helped make this day an even more memorable occasion for the new couple and their family. It’s always an honor to witness the amount of love and happiness at a wedding, and it’s personally a privilege to be a part of it all.”
My most memorable performance “One of the most memorable moments I’ve had was when I performed with a star studded cast of Jesus Christ Superstar. I have performed quite a few shows and musicals but this concert performance was the greatest. Members of the original Broadway cast and movie performed, and it was fantastic. And what an honor it was to meet Yvonne Elliman, Barry Dennen, Chuck Wagner and the incomparable Sir Tim Rice. ”
Jonathan Carbin – Cello
Jonathan is an adventurous and versatile professional cellist based in Austin, Texas. An experienced and in-demand chamber musician, Carbin has served on the faculty of the Austin Chamber Music Center and is a founding member of KLUDGE, an innovative duo that explores the possibilities of cello, trumpet, and electronic media. As an orchestral player, he has performed with the symphonies of Austin, Corpus Christi, and Victoria. Among his former teachers and mentors are world-class artists Joshua Gindele (of the Miró Quartet), Carter Enyeart, and Gregory Sauer.
Equally comfortable outside of traditional classical settings, Carbin has composed for and performed with Quixotic Fusion, a Kansas City, Missouri based group of artists from many disciplines that creates unique, multi-sensory performance experiences. In his latest collaboration, Carbin has joined forces with Rolling Stone acclaimed songwriter Jesse Woods, performing at some of the most important clubs and listening rooms from Austin to Hollywood.
What I like about playing in weddings “I really enjoy getting to share the sound of live classical music with people that don’t go to hear classical concerts on a regular basis. To see people’s faces light up when they are moved by our music in ways they did not expect is so rewarding!”
My most memorable performance “I once performed on a high rise rooftop in downtown Austin during South By Southwest.”
Joseph Shuffield – Violin
Joseph knew he wanted to be a musician when his second grade music teacher played his class a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. He began taking violin lessons at age 9, Joseph earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music Theory from Baylor University. Joseph has also done doctoral work at Washington University in St. Louis, and at UT Austin
He has performed in the Memphis and Austin symphonies, as well as several regional symphonies throughout Texas. You can hear Joseph on the soundtrack of Richard Linklater’s film, A Scanner Darkly, Grupo Fantasma’s Grammy-winning El Existential, and Fastball’s Little White Lies. Joseph is a native of Midland, TX.
What I like about playing in weddings “I love seeing the joy in the bride’s face when she hears the quartet begin her processional music. The bridal entrance is the most beautiful moment in the wedding, and I am delighted that our music helps make it so special. “
My most memorable performance “It may have been virtually unknown, but The Hill Country Strings Halloween 2006 concert, in which several of my arrangements and a radio play I created were performed, has to be my most memorable performance. I loved participating in bringing something I conceived from the ground up to fruition.“
Kathryn Orr – Violin, Viola
Kathryn has performed in various concert venues such as the opening of ACL’s Moody Theater with Willie Nelson. Other venues have included Houston’s Toyota Center and San Antonio’s AT&T with major touring acts such as Il Divo, Mannheim Steamroller, and Mexican pop-icon Marco Antonio Solis.
Kathryn is a member of the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra. She has also played with The Round Top Festival Orchestra, La Orquesta Centroamericana, L’Orchestre de Tunis (Tunisia). Kathryn is a native of Costa Rica.
What I like about playing in weddings “What I like looking at the most is the chic dresses that the guests wear. It’s fun to be included in a wedding celebration, everyone is so excited. It is a very beautiful environment, with the decorations and the flowers. Most of all I enjoy feeling responsible for making someone’s wedding day music truly exceptional.”
My most memorable performance “As far as concerts are concerned, no one will ever top the concerts I played with Willie Nelson. It is the biggest adrenalin rush to play in front of something so huge: so many people and so much great music. It makes me play better in general to be close to someone as inspiring as Willie.”
Lani Cobb – Violin
Lani began her violin studies at the age of three. She was awarded the Constance Weldon Scholarship to attend the University of Miami where she graduated with honors. Lani later attended the University of Texas at Austin where she earned her Master Degree in Violin Performance, and continued her studies in Music and Human Learning. Before moving to Austin for her graduate work, Lani was a member of the Southwest Florida Symphony and served as principle second violin with Opera Naples. An avid teacher, Lani maintains an active violin studio in addition to performing. She is currently the Suzuki Violin Coordinator at Austin Montessori Sunset Trail Campus and teaches strings at Manor and Decker Middle Schools and with Austin Chamber Music Center. She also teaches with the University of Texas String Project, and serves as the UT Elementary School Outreach Coordinator. Lani is a native of Fort Myers, FL.
What I like about playing in weddings “I love working with brides and grooms to make their wedding ceremony as unique as they are. No two weddings are ever the same, and I enjoy contributing to that special personal touch.”
Most memorable experience “Most memorable for me was playing with the Count Basie Orchestra. I have always loved Basie style jazz music, and it was fun to see the audience connect with the band and get up out of their chairs to dance.”
Naomi Fausto – Violin
Naomi is an accomplished and diverse violinist. Her professional career began at the age of 15 when she started performing with mariachi groups in El Paso. Her mariachi career spanned twenty years and included performances in Nice, France, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mex., Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mex., as well as throughout the United States. A highlight from her mariachi years was performing on stage with legendary Mexican film star and “Queen of Ranchera Music”, Lola Beltran.
Naomi is also a dedicated music educator working closely with school orchestra programs throughout the Austin area, and the Austin Youth Orchestra. She serves as an instructor at the Texas State Strings Camp, is co-founder of the Lake Travis String Camp and is currently on the faculty at the Armstrong Community Music School.
Following her devotion to mariachi music, Naomi has been a guest clinician at mariachi conferences throughout the Southwest. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Texas at El Paso, and her educator’s certification with the Texas Education Agency. Naomi continues to maintain her private violin/viola studio and perform with the Temple Symphony Orchestra and other area symphonies.
What I like about playing in weddings “After years of playing weddings, I’ve witnessed happiness in many different forms. I’ve seen the excitement in the wedding party before the ceremony, the love in the couple’s faces when they first take each other’s hands at the altar, and the hope and joy brimming from their family and friends! How can you not love being a part of that occasion?”
My most memorable performance “One of my most memorable performances comes from my days as in mariachi. I was performing in Guadalajara, Mexico, and I was singing to a massive crowd in the beautiful Plaza de Armas. It was drizzling that night, but the crowd packed the plaza and the sound of that many voices singing along to me was truly magical!”
Nick Kunkle – Trumpet
A native of Cordova, Maryland, Dr. Nicholas Kunkle began his trumpet studies at the age of 9. From this beginning, music has taken him to New York, Michigan, and Texas. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from Ithaca College in 2007, and a Master of Music degree from Michigan State University in 2009. While at MSU, Dr. Kunkle performed with many regional orchestras, including Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra, Jackson Symphony Orchestra, and Midland Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Kunkle completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Texas at Austin in May of 2013. He is currently second trumpet with the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, and teaches privately in Austin and Leander Area schools.
What I like about playing in weddings “As a trumpet player, it is a great privilege and honor to announce the arrival of the bride at weddings, and share in the nerves and excitement as the ceremony begins. I enjoy experiencing and being a part of the happiness that is apparent on everyone’s face on this special occasion.”
My most memorable performance “Playing for commencements and basketball games at MSU and UT have been some of the most memorable for me. The audience and crowd reacts with applause and excitement at these venues because of the fight songs and other music played by the wind ensemble. Such a response showed me the immediate impact our music had on them, and formed a personal connection between the ensemble and the audience that I have sometimes missed in traditional orchestra concerts.”
Tony Rogers – Cello
Tony returned to Austin in 2010 and is an avid performer in the Hill Country Area. He performs over 130 public concerts a year and keeps a busy schedule with his many performance ensembles– The Waterloo Trio, The Austin Piazzolla Quintet, with Jenifer Jackson, and world music band Mundi, and occasionally with the rock band Quiet Company. He started the cello in the 4th grade in the public school system and studied the instrument through college at the University of North Texas with Carter Enyeart. He has lived in several cities across the United States and has contributed to a long list of bands in recording and performance throughout the past decade.
What I like about playing in weddings “I like to play weddings because I like to witness the love between the couple, their family, and friends.”
My most memorable performance “My most memorable musical experiences involve traveling and performing. I just returned from an outstanding 8 concert tour across Spain with “Mundi”, but I have traveled in performance with several concert ensembles to France, Croatia, and all across the United States.”
Valerie Klatt Fischer – Cello
Valerie graduated with a degree in music performance from the University of Texas. In addition to her performing interest she is a private cello instructor in Austin and Georgetown. She has been a faculty member of the Armstrong Community Music School of the Austin Lyric Opera for ten years. Valerie has become involved in the variety of music in Austin. Her interests have expanded from classical to include avant-garde classical, music for theater and improvisational music. She has performed with the Kevin McCormick Ensemble, Oliver Rajamani with Rosetta Strings, and Hill Country Strings as well as numerous rock bands and the Golden Hornet Project. Her orchestral experience includes the Round Rock Symphony Orchestra, the Temple Symphony Orchestra and the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra. Valerie is a native of Austin.
What I like about playing in weddings “I have been playing for weddings for over a decade and I still love to see the joy felt by family and friends as they celebrate the love and union of a couple at their ceremony. Whether sentimental, fun, traditional, or specialized, I love that we get to create a mood with our music to make the day extra special for the bride and groom.”
My most memorable performance “…was the first concert I played as a freshman with the UT Symphony orchestra. The guest soloist was the amazing and legendary Itzak Perlman. I had worked really hard to get the opportunity to play in the section for this concert and it solidified that I had made the right decision to pursue the career of being a cellist.”