Clavier-Werke offers lessons with classically trained and degreed teachers. We are a family business and consider our teachers a part of the family as well. We welcome you to join our musical family too! Read more about our amazing teachers below.
Susan Allen, Director
Clavier-Werke School of Music grew out of the thriving home studio of Susan Allen in Austin, Texas in the mid-nineties. Susan holds degrees from North Texas State University and the University of Texas.
Over the years, Susan has developed a curriculum based on sightreading, technique, ear training, theory and improvisation. She believes these elements should be a regular part of every lesson. Susan encourages her students to learn many styles of music and to perform as often as possible. Through this comprehensive approach her students become dedicated, accomplished pianists who enjoy a lifetime of music.
“My task is to inspire my students to practice and to present every lesson as a model for how to practice. As an educator, I believe I can have a positive and meaningful impact on the lives of my students. There is nothing more rewarding than witnessing the musical growth of each one and to see the excitement and joy they experience through their music.”
Ms. Allen received the Top Teacher Award for outstanding instruction and leadership in piano education from Steinway & Sons for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Maggie Allen, Assistant Director
West Lake Location
Maggie Allen, the Assistant to the Director of the Clavier-Werke in West Lake Hills, works in her studio office Monday – Friday, 10:00 – 6:00. Maggie is available to take messages for teachers and answer questions either by phone or in person. You can also turn your tuition payments of cash or check in to Maggie’s office. Maggie can answer most of your general questions and requests such as directions and dates for festivals and signing up students for some events. Maggie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology with honors from the University of Texas at Austin.
Nathan Allen, Assistant Director
Nathan Allen, the Office Manager of Clavier-Werke South, works in his studio office Monday – Friday, 12:00 – 6:00. Nathan is available to take messages for teachers and answer general questions about lessons and scheduling either by phone or in person. Nathan lives in the Austin area with his wife Shauna and their daughters Riley and Colbie Rose.
Matt Abajian, Theory Lab and Composition
Matt Abajian is a composer and multi-instrumentalist based in Austin TX. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Composition degree at The University of Texas at Austin, where he’s studied composition with Russell Podgorsek and Yevgeniy Sharlat, as well as piano with Josh Straub and Patti Wolf. Matt is an active composer and performer in Austin’s classical, pop, and electronic music scenes where he operates under a number of monikers, primarily his indie-pop group Hover. Prior to joining the Clavier-Werke team, he taught music theory, guitar, drum set, and keyboard skills at music schools throughout his hometown of Houston, TX.
Matt believes that music theory can act as an interpretive tool for self-discovery, something that enables students to form a deeper understanding of their emotions and conceptual capabilities. With this in mind, he believes in a highly individualized teaching approach that caters to the needs of each unique student. Ultimately, a focus on fun and concept-to-creation application are the key factors in fostering retention and interest in the field of music theory.
Willie Casper, Vocalist
West Lake Location
William “Willie” Casper is a native, and now again, Austin-based tenor. He grew up surrounded by the art and music of his parents and sister. Though shy in his early years, Willie coincidentally opened up on the stage throughout his upbringing. During his time at the Boston Conservatory, Willie performed the roles of “Le Chevalier” in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, “Tenor” in Philip Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox, “Younger Thompson” in Cipullo’s Glory Denied, as well as “Prologue Tenor” in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. Willie attended Seagle Music Colony this past summer where he performed the roles of “Don Curzio” in Mozart’s, Le Nozze di Figaro, and “Andrew Hanley” in Kevin Putz’s, The Manchurian Candidate. Willie reprised the role of “Younger Thompson” in Painted Sky Opera’s production of Tom Cipullo’s, Glory Denied in January of 2020. That summer, Willie was contracted to sing at Opera Middlebury and Opera Maine, but both were canceled due to Covid-19. Willie most recently made his Austin debut in the role of Malcolm, in Opera for Earth’s production of “Macbeth,” by Verdi. Willie obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance at Mannes College of Music and his Master degree in Opera Performance at the Boston Conservatory.
Antonio Cevallos, Violinist
West Lake Location
Originally from Chicago, Antonio began his musical studies at age 3 and made his solo orchestral debut at 17 performing Saint Saens Violin Concerto #3. As a young performer, opportunities brought Antonio to Canada, Spain, Portugal, China, South Korea and Ecuador.
Antonio has performed on some of the worlds best stages including Chicago Symphony Hall and The Seoul Arts Center. Locally, Antonio has performed on Texas main stages such as the Long Center in Austin and the Tobin Center in San Antonio.
As a student, Antonio participated in several Young Artist programs such as The Meadowmount School and The Chamber Music Seminar at Virginia Tech. Internationally, Antonio participated in the Casalmaggiore Festival and the Cremona Academy in Italy. Additionally, Antonio was a Young Artist Fellow at The Colorado College Summer Music Festival and participated in the prestigious Kneisel Hall Summer Chamber Music Festival.
Currently, Antonio is a resident of Austin, TX and is an avid performer and recording artist. Antonio is a substitute musician with the Austin Symphony and Austin Lyric Opera and has been a contracted musician for the San Antonio Symphony since 2018. In 2022 Antonio joined the San Diego Symphony as substitute musician.
As a teacher, Antonio has worked and collaborated with many famous educators from around the world such as Roger Chase, Toby Apple and David Takeno. In Austin, Antonio learned and worked with Dr. Laurie Scott in the University of Texas String Project. In 2017 Antonio completed Suzuki Training with Dr. Laurie Scott and in 2018 graduated from the University of Texas, Austin with a minor in string pedagogy. In 2019, Antonio began working with the Austin Chamber Music Center teaching and coaching chamber music to middle school and high school students.
Antonio holds a Bachelors Degree in Violin Performance from The Chicago College of Performing Arts and a Masters Degree in Violin Performance with a Minor in String Pedagogy from The University of Texas, Austin . His Principal teachers include Lydia Monahan, Mark Zinger, Stefan Hersh and Daniel Ching.
Noah Chojnacki, Pianist
West Lake Location
Noah Chojnacki is a pianist, composer, and teacher who hails from the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Music has been a part of his life from the beginning, whether it was singing in church every Sunday, or hearing his brother and sisters practice piano at home one after the other. Noah began his own piano studies at the age of six, and studied at the prestigious Crocus Hill Studios in St. Paul under Dr. Joseph Zins. He proceeded to earn his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Houston studying with Nancy Weems, followed by his Master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music with Alexander Kobrin. He is currently studying to earn his Doctoral degree with Dr. Andrew Brownell at the University of Texas Austin.
Noah has earned prizes and received recognition at a number of competitions, including the Music Teachers’ National Association competition, the Texas Music Teachers’ Association competition, the e-Junior International Piano Competition, the National Lee Piano Competition, the Schubert Club Scholarship Competition, and the Minnesota Orchestra’s concerto competition. He has also played in master classes for a number of world-famous artists such as Eugene Pridonoff, Ann Schein, Roberto Plano, Alexander Kobrin, and Logan Skelton. He has collaborated with living composers and premiered works at the Midtown Arts and Theater Center of Houston.
Working frequently as a collaborative pianist, he was a staff accompanist at the Eastman School of Music. He has a particular affinity for art song, choral music (which he has conducted), and chamber music. His diverse musical background, which includes studying sacred music, organ music, as well as new music, has contributed to his development as a complete, well-rounded artist.
Noah has taught students of a variety of ages and backgrounds, ranging from very young children to adults. His experience with a variety of musical styles has given him the ability to teach many kinds of music with both rigor and a sense of excitement. Noah believes in a dynamic approach to playing the piano by conveying a sense of drama, and feeling that every performance is like rediscovering the magic of hearing a piece for the first time.
Matthew Eng, Pianist
Matthew Eng is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. A frequent participant in international competitions, he was the Grand Prize Winner in the Prima Artists International Music Competition, as well as first place winner in the International Young Artists Piano Competition in Washington, D.C., where he was given a performance on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Matthew also won first place in the 13th Osaka International Music Competition in Japan, and first place in the Concerto Competition. There, he also won the Feurich Piano prize, which resulted in a winner’s recital at the Kaisersaal Hall in Vienna, Austria.
He was selected as a competitor in the 2015 Hilton Head International Competition, where was a semifinalist he was chosen to receive a masterclass with Lori Sims of Western Michigan University. He has also appeared in masterclass with Yong Hi Moon of Peabody Conservatory, among others.
He has appeared in concert with the Bravura Philharmonic Orchestra, as a winner of their Young Artists Concerto Competition. Other accolades include wins in the Greater Princeton Steinway Society and Steinway Society of South Jersey competitions.
Most recently, he was a semi-finalist in the prestigious Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the summer of 2019, he was invited to perform in Dallas and Fort Worth with the Open Classical series, an organization dedicated to the performance of classical music in uncommon and unusual venues. His performances were alongside his close friend and studiomate Evan Ritter, in concerts featuring works for piano four-hands as well as two-piano repertoire.
Matt studied at Eastman with Professor Douglas Humpherys, and has studied previously with Emma Brailovsky and Veda Zuponcic of Rowan University.
Jessy Eubanks, Theory Lab, Composition
and Early Childhood Music Instructor
West Lake Location
Jessy Eubanks is a music teacher, multi-instrumentalist, audio engineer, and composer in the Austin area. She has enjoyed working with students of all ages and skill levels at Clavier-Werke since July of 2019. She earned her Bachelor of Music in composition (voice emphasis) and business minor from the University of Texas at Austin.
Jessy is a trained vocalist, percussionist, and composer, and now studies jazz piano. She performs classical, new music, and contemporary styles. She is active as an audio engineer with Austin Classical Guitar, Life in the City Church, the University of Texas Butler School of Music, and as a contractor. Her compositions and arrangements are featured in Golden Hornet’s MXTX Sample library, Apricity Magazine, and The Parkside Montessori School Songbook.
Jessy is always excited to share applied theory concepts and to foster creativity and thoughtful musicality in her students. Lessons and classes are held in a goal directed, adaptive, and encouraging environment, though they may feature the occasional bad pun.
David Fong, Theory Lab and Composition
West Lake Location
David Fong is a composer, oboist, pianist, and vocalist who recently graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. A student of composition professors Yevgeniy Sharlat, Donald Grantham, and Russell Podgorsek, David is the recipient of the 2019-2020 Rainwater Innovation Grant for his musical theater project Mothership: The Musical. He plans to return to school for a M.M. in composition and music theory after saving up and completing his musical. Before teaching at Clavier Werke, David worked as a teacher, arranger, and web engineer for the non-profit YouthCUE, which brings youth choirs across the nation together for choir tours and festivals, giving kids the opportunity to perform in concert with professional symphony orchestras. He is also active in the Austin music scene as the keyboardist of the alt rock band Valice.
David believes that music theory is the science of the emotional spectrum of music, and should be taught from a humanistic perspective. He likes to have fun with his students and encourage them to think creatively while reinforcing the fundamentals that will make music later in life even more enjoyable and intuitive.
Rachel Garner, Cellist
Rachel A. Garner, a San Antonio native, has been playing cello since she was 10 years old. She recently received her Bachelor’s of Music in Cello Performance from Texas State University. At Texas State she maintained the position of principal cellist of the Texas State University Symphony Orchestra for 4 years. Additionally, she participated in Texas State String Project as a private lessons teacher. Rachel is actively involved in the music community through her string quartet, as a sub for Laredo Philharmonic, and as a guest artist with several local music groups. Rachel is a guest artist on local Austin band The Antiques premier album “If you have to ask.” Currently Rachel teaches in San Antonio and Austin.
As a teacher, Rachel believes in cultivating all aspects of the young musician. While technique is the focal point of each lesson Rachel also incorporates music theory, aural skills, and music history. She believes these are all vital aspects of a well rounded musician. Her teaching style is best described as nurturing and adaptive to each student’s unique needs. Rachel enjoys teaching all ages and levels.
Matthew Gustafson, Cellist
West Lake Location
Originally hailing from Long Beach, CA, Matthew Gustafson has been a top prize-winner in the American Protégé International Piano & Strings Competition and has performed as a guest artist on NPR’s From the Top radio program and on stages across the nation, including Walt Disney and Reneé & Henry Segerstrom Concert Halls (California), Sosnoff Theater at the Fischer Center for the Performing Arts (Bard College) and Carnegie’s Stern Auditorium and Weill Recital Hall (New York). In lessons and masterclasses, he has worked with renowned pedagogues Richard Aaron, Darrett Adkins, Ron Leonard, Joel Krosnick, Clive Greensmith, Peter Bruns, Laurence Lesser, Anne Martindale Williams, Brinton Smith, Blaise Déjardin, and members of the Miró, Talich, Telegraph, Juilliard and Ébène Quartets.
Gustafson is a tenured member of the Austin Symphony, regularly performs with wedding contractors Terra Vista Strings & Barton Strings, and has seen engagements with Austin Camerata, Feverup’s Candlelight Concerts, the Central Texas Philharmonic, and at various churches throughout Central and Southeast Texas.
Mr. Gustafson received his Bachelor’s of Music in Cello Performance from Rice University in 2018, and his Master’s of Music in Cello Performance from the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin in 2021. He is a member of the American String Teachers’ Association and the Suzuki Association of the Americas.
Passionate about music education, he teaches with local non-profit Austin Soundwaves, serving historically under-funded school programs throughout Austin, and participated as an instructor with UT’s String Project. In March 2020, he traveled as part of a delegation of UT SP teachers to the American String Teachers’ Association National Conference in Orlando, FL, where he was also invited to participate in a conference masterclass. In lessons, he strongly believes in fostering a nurturing, holistic, and positive learning environment marked by a commitment by both teacher and student to mutual respect, seeing challenge through the lens of opportunity, and having fun!
When he’s not geeking out over his latest musical obsession (or consumed with the perpetual search for the best local coffee shop), Matthew enjoys spending time with his wife (pianist Katie Gustafson), cooking, hiking, and kayaking.
Jake Holtzman, Pianist
West Lake Location
Pianist Jake Holtzman grew up in San Rafael, California, and is currently pursuing a D.M.A. degree in piano performance at UT Austin. He received an M.M. and Advanced Certificate in piano performance and pedagogy from NYU Steinhardt, and completed his undergraduate studies at Oberlin College & Conservatory. His piano teachers have included Anton Nel, Eteri Andjaparidze, Peter Takács, John McCarthy, Peter Horvath, and Adam Domash.
In addition to teaching at ClavierWerke, Jake is a teaching assistant at UT Austin, and has previously taught at a number of schools in New York, including The Browning School, the Rubato Music School, and NYU.
Jake has performed throughout the United States with recent engagements in San Francisco’s Noontime Concerts, the Foundation for the Revival of Classical Culture’s “Bach to the Future” Concert Series, and Columbia University’s Music at St. Paul’s. He has garnered several awards recognizing his work, including Second Prize in Category A of the I Málaga International Piano Festival Competition, the NYU Walter Reinhold Scholarship, the Gilmore Master Class Fellowship, and the Oberlin Piano Faculty Prize in Accompanying. In Summers 2018 and 2019, Jake interned at the Castleman Quartet Program where he collaborated and performed with many of the festival students in addition to faculty members Csaba Erdélyi, Charles Castleman, and Tom Landschoot.
In addition to his experience as a classical pianist, Jake also plays jazz, having performed both as a solo jazz pianist and as a member of many jazz combos. While not playing the piano, Jake enjoys cooking, and devotes time to activism for various social justice causes.
Jeanne Hourez, Pianist
West Lake Location
Jeanne Hourez received her Bacherlor’s degree from the Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris where she studied with Frank Braley and a Master’s degree from the University of Montreal under the guidance of Professor Dang Thai Son. She is currently attending the University of Texas – Austin where she is pursuing a D.M.A. with Professor Anton Nel.
Jeanne has appeared as soloist with such orchestras as the Orchestre Symphonique de Cannes, the Orchestre Symphonique Azuréen and the Orchestre Philharmonique des Musiciens de Montréal. She also performed numerous recitals in Europe, North America and Asia. Awards have included three Gold Prizes at the London Young Musician Competition (2021, United Kingdom), the 5th Prize of Harmonium OnlinePlus International Music Competition (2020, Armenia), the 4th Prize at the Krystian Tkaczewski International Piano Competition (2020, USA/Poland), the Grand Prize and the Public Prize at the International Piano Competition Alain Marinaro (2015, France).
An active chamber musician, Jeanne co-founded the Ensemble Benzaiten, the repertoire of which uniquely includes the mandolin and emphasises this rare instrument. In June 2018, the ensemble released a recording dedicated to Franz Schubert and Julie Thériault, a Canadian composer. They performed at the French National Radio France Musique as well as performing in several European countries and North America.
As an educator, Jeanne has been teaching for twelve years to students age four to adult. She loves sharing her passion for music as she believes music should be accessible to everyone. Jeanne loves to be creative and to adapt to each student in a unique way.
Cody Ireland, Pianist
Cody Ireland was born in Austin, Texas. At the age of five, he showed the gift of music. He started playing piano using the Suzuki method when he performed his first recital. In the second grade, he transitioned into traditional methods that facilitated his music ability. In middle school, he joined the Austin Chamber Music Center, in which he had the opportunity to perform in many ensembles that included violins, violas, cellos, basses, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, trumpets, trombones and piano. In addition, he attended the Summer Arts Camp, Interlochen School of the Arts, piano program for three years.
Mr. Ireland graduated Baylor University with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Pedagogy. Currently, he is attending Texas State University to earn his Master’s Degree in Pedagogy/Performance. During his academia, he taught children ranging in ages from seven to nine.
Mr. Ireland’s ambition and goals are to teach music to anyone who has the desire to learn piano. He wants to have his students view music not only in a positive way but also in more creative ways. He seeks to bring forth the potential of each of his students to help them grow as individual musicians. He also hopes for his students to cherish their musicality for many years to come.
Timothy Jones, Pianist
West Lake Location
Award-winning American pianist and musician Timothy Jones has established himself as a versatile talent who possesses an abundance of creative and artistic energy. Timothy has performed in venues worldwide such as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and has been invited to study and perform at many top international music festivals (Aspen, Chautauqua, Bowdoin). After finishing his Bachelor’s degree at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University he went on to complete his Master’s at the University of Texas at Austin working with Anton Nel. Timothy is currently still a student at UT pursuing his Doctoral of Musical Arts degree.
On top of his performance credentials, Timothy is sought-after as an educator. In addition to teaching privately, he currently serves on the faculty of Sonata and Sonatina Piano Camps and Velocity Music Academy.
Identifying effective approaches and improved methods of piano pedagogy both motivate and drive him. His philosophy is that introducing genre-less perspectives and updated pedagogical techniques will allow students to evolve and grow not only as musicians, but also as human beings.
Some of his hobbies include cooking, running, or debating/discussing politics and current events.
Felicia Kim, Pianist
Felicia Kim holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance from the University of Maryland at College Park and M.M. and B.M. in Piano Performance from Baylor University in Texas (Pi Kappa Lambda). She has studied with Larissa Dedova, Krassimira Jordan, Andre Watts and Young Hi Moon. She worked with Guaneri String Quartet, YoYo Ma, Josheph Gingold and Rita Sloan for chamber music.
As a soloist and collaborative pianist Ms. Kim played throughout the United States including Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana and Texas. She performed at the Bösendorfer International music Festival in Vienna, Austria and Bathurst, Canada. Ms. Kim received recognition from national as well as international competitions including: Russell Wonderick Piano Competition, New Orleans International competition, Alabama International competition, Baylor University Piano Competition, etc.
Ms. Kim served as collaborative pianist at Sam Houston State University. She has taught piano for 20 years in a variety of teaching setting. She believes the best teachers tailor their teaching to the needs of the individual student, rather than being welded in all respects to a single approach.
Daniel Kopp, Cellist
West Lake Location
Cellist Daniel Kopp is an active performer and educator in the Austin area. As co-founder and artistic director of Austin Camerata, he performs collaborations of chamber music, dance, storytelling across the city. As an educator, Daniel is on faculty at Clavier-Werke School of Music, Austin Chamber Music Center, and the University of Texas String Project. Outside of Texas, Daniel has had the pleasure of performing at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, Aspen, Kneisel Hall, and Orchestra Hall of Minneapolis. Highlights include performances as principal cellist of the New York String Orchestra Seminar and the Colorado College Summer Festival. Daniel graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in cello performance from Rice University, and Masters Degree in cello performance from the University of Texas in Austin. His principal teachers were Norman Fischer, Bion Tsang, and Cathie Lehr.
Lan Kratzke, Pianist
West Lake Location
Lan Kratzke began her college studies as a piano student of Dr. Ray Luck on a Trustee Scholarship at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, where she became the music theory and ear training tutor and earned the Departmental Prize in Music. She transferred to The University of Texas at Austin and earned a Gilbert Scholarship to finish her BM in piano performance in 2005 under the direction of Dr. Betty Mallard. From Austin, she moved to Miami University of Ohio with a graduate assistantship and earned an MM in piano performance in 2007 under the direction of Dr. Siok Lian Tan. At MU, she taught two college courses in piano for non-pianist music majors, accompanied several string and vocal students, performed with the Miami University Graduate Piano Trio, accompanied the Adams Elementary Choirs, Talawanda High School Choirs, and Oxford Choral Ensemble, became the pianist at Faith Lutheran Church, earned the MTNA Student Achievement Recognition Award, and was recognized as a winner of the Miami University Concerto Competition. As an independent project related to her MM research in temperament, she built a clavichord. After graduating, Lan became certified in the Music for Young Children program and worked at the West Chester Academy of Music as a piano instructor for a few years before moving back to Austin, where she resumed teaching for Clavier-Werke School of Music, judged various ADMTA festivals, and worked on repairing pianos at Mollberg Piano Restoration in Blanco. She currently plays for Koenig Lane Christian Church and loves spending time with her two children, Drakeson and Millicent.
Sohee Kwon, Pianist
Ms.Kwon was born in Seoul , Korea and began playing the piano at the age of five. She graduated from Sunhwa Art middle school and high school there and after graduation, she studied at the Manhattan School of Music and Rutgers University under the tutelage of Daniel Epstein and Dr. Min Kwon. A recipient of Manhattan School of Music scholarship and Presidential Scholarship in Rutgers, Ms. Kwon was a semifinalist in the Heida Hermanns International Piano Competition and winner of both the concerto and chamber competitions at Rutgers. Upon graduation at Rutgers, she was awarded the Elizabeth Wyckoff Durham Award for excellence in Keyboard Studies. Recently, Ms. Kwon won third prize in the 2016 Ruth Barr piano competition.
Ms. Kwon graduated from Rice University in 2017 as a full scholarship holder under the tutelage of Dr. Jon Kimura Parker. An avid chamber musician, she has served as a member of the piano quintet in residence at Lincoln Center Stage. Recently, she was a semifinalist in both the Wideman International Piano Competition and the Ann & Charles Eisemann Young Artist Competition for Piano. Currently, Sohee is pursuing her Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree at the University of Texas at Austin with Dr. Andrew Brownell.
Ms. Kwon was a graduate teaching assistant at Rice University. She has taught piano to a diverse range of students of all ages and levels in Korea and USA. She finds that teaching has been the most rewarding part of her music career.
Karli Leal, Violist and Violinist
Originally from California, Karli Leal began her musical education in high school under a wide variety of Russian and Eastern European violin and viola teachers, participating in statewide CMEA competitions and the National High School Honors Orchestra inColumbus, OH while also serving as a section violist in the Tulare County Symphony. She attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she received her BM in Viola Performance with Professor Roger Myers. Karli continued her studies at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, completing her Masters in Music Performance with professors Masao Kawasaki and Dr. Catharine Carroll.
Since 2004 Karli has played in both the United States and across Europe in numerous international music festivals, and played in a variety of ensembles over the years. Her diverse background allows her to connect on multiple levels with her students and determine what pace is best for each individual.
She loves to share her enthusiasm for playing string instruments with a wide variety of ages, and advocates the fusion of classical music with rock, heavy metal and other popular genres. With her students she ensures that all aspects of music education are brought together, so that the function of music theory, music history and technique can be applied to the performance side of playing. Through this she hopes that all her students gain knowledge of and appreciation for classical music that stays with them, no matter what direction their life may take.
David Lester, Guitarist
West Lake Location
David Lester is a guitar performer and teacher in the Austin area. He holds a Master of Music in Music Theory and Classical Guitar Performance from Texas State University and a Bachelor of Music in Classical Guitar Performance from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. David has studied under notable guitarists Philip Hii, Mark Cruz, and Chad Ibison. A native Texan, David has performed around the Victoria, Corpus Christi, and Austin area for private and public events since 2007. Such performances include: guest artist for the Corpus Christi Lichenstein Quartet, a solo recital for the Portland Concerts Across the Bay series, in-house guitarist for the Corpus Christi Aurora Arts Theatre (Cabaret, Rocky Horror Show, and Footloose), and guest artist for Austin’s SoCo Women’s Chorus.
David began teaching guitar in 2008 and has taught at his own private studio, Victoria College, and Texas State University. Through the course of his teaching, it is his goal to instill in his students the competency to utilize the guitar as a means for their artistic expression. Students who follow his teaching will not only learn to hear music as a form of expression, but will also learn to be proficient enough with a guitar to treat it as one.
Rebecca Lester, Violist and Violinist
Rebecca Lester is an active performer and educator, originally from Los Angeles, CA. She holds a Master’s degree in Viola Performance from the University of Texas at Austin, and she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Viola Performance from Azusa Pacific University in California.
Rebecca has a passion for teaching all ages violin and viola, and believes strongly in creating a positive teaching environment that also challenges the student to reach their highest potential. Each student is unique, and so Rebecca works to tailor the lesson environment for each student’s needs and goals. From 2017-2019 she was on faculty with the UT Strings Project, and has remained actively teaching in Austin since then. Rebecca has taken violin and viola Suzuki teacher training courses (violin books 1-3 and viola overview 1-3), as a part of furthering her education as a teacher.
She currently keeps a busy teaching schedule, working also with Clavier-Werke, Austin Chamber Music Center, and Akins High School, as well as being an active performer in the Austin area.
Giovanni Mera, Guitarist
Giovanni Mera was born in New York City, and started playing the guitar when he was 8 years old. He holds a guitar performance Degree from the Crane School of Music, where he studied with Dr. Douglas Rubio and Dr. Lynn Mcgrath. While at The Crane School of Music Giovanni studied abroad in Madrid, Spain where he supplemented his musical studies under guitarist Astur Kirichian. He graduated with honors in 2007. In 2011 Mr. Mera received his Master of Music Degree in Classical Guitar from the University of Texas at Austin, under Professor Adam Holzman. He has had master classes with William Kanengiser, David Tannenbaum, Dr. Andrew Zohn, Bruce Holzman, The Miro Quartet and DuoMelis. Mr. Mera is currently residing in Austin, Texas where he has been teaching for over 10 years.
Mr. Mera is closely associated with the Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra programs. He has prepared multiple students for entry into the ensembles and the UT Guitar Project. Giovanni is at home teaching all styles of guitar ranging from classical to electric. He is a passionate educator and seeks to bring out the best in all of his students.
Celeste Morales, Vocalist
West Lake Location
Celeste Morales is a Masters graduate of Manhattan School of Music majoring in Vocal Performance. Before moving to New York City, she graduated from Texas State University with her bachelors in Music Education and a minor in Business Administration. During her undergraduate career, she taught piano and voice in surrounding schools across the South Texas Region. Upon receiving her degree, she became the Assistant Entertainment Director for the Texas State Choir Camp. It was through her undergraduate career that she discovered her passion of teaching and developing a private voice studio. She has sung in professional church choirs and ensembles including a tour to Beijing, China where she performed Mozart’s Requiem with the Texas State Chorale and the Shanghai Conservatory. She recorded an album in 2016 called OneVoice with Vocalibre, a hybrid a-cappella ensemble that fuses together Pop, R&B, choral and South African freedom songs. Before returning to graduate school, she was chosen to be a Resident Artist with Opera San Antonio for their upcoming 2016 season.
In 2018, she performed in Germany with the Musiktheater Bavaria Opera Scenes Program and showcased a new off-broadway musical written by Chard Harden called SIX with Shoreline Theatrical Arts. Her most recent engagements included a South African tour performing the role of Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme with the Lowveld Chamber Music Association. In 2019, she debuted the role of Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme with the Lowveld Chamber Music Association in Lowveld, South Africa. Recently, she was chosen to be an Emerging Artist with the Living Music Institute and will hopefully perform with the Mississippi University Orchestra as their featured Aria Competition Winner. In 2021, she will perform with the prestigious Merola Opera Program in San Francisco, California.
“Every child I teach has a story and it’s my job to help them grow, develop and learn through the basic and humanistic foundation that is music literacy. Music can be a part of their story.”
Alex Ngo, Pianist
Alexander Ngo is a native Austinite holding a Bachelors Degree in piano performance from Huston-Tillotson University. Alex holds an Associate of Arts in Music Degree from Austin Community College, Austin, Texas. His former piano teachers are Carlos Fernandez and Dr Leslie Spotz.
He is an enthusiastic music educator with experience teaching many ages and levels of students. In addition to teaching piano, he enjoys teaching sight reading, music theory, composition and improvisation. He believes that learning piano should be fun and likes to teach in a creative and lighthearted way. He also enjoys animals, tennis, working with jewelry and trying new recipes.
Milla Nyaga, Pianist
West Lake Location
Milla Nyaga is an accomplished pianist and experienced piano and music teacher. She has over 15 years of successful teaching experience with children and adults and over 10 years of performing experience in classical music. Her performances include a series of solo, concerto and chamber music concerts in Russia and the US. Milla has collaborated with many other instrumentalists and singers throughout her years of performing and teaching. Also, she assisted at universities and various venues as a guest pianist.
Ms. Nyaga graduated from Professional Music High School in 1999 in Tyumen, Russia, then in 2004 from Tyumen Music College. In 2008, she earned a Masters Degree in Instrumental Music Performance at Tyumen State Academy of Fine Arts where she also qualified as a Concert Performer, a Chamber Ensemble Performing Artist, an accompanist and a K-12 music teacher. In 2017 she earned a Masters Degree in Education with Specialization in Curriculum and Instruction with All-Level Certification in Music from Houston Baptist University.
When not teaching music, Ms. Nyaga enjoys reading, surfing, hiking, running and spending time with family and friends. She looks forward to working with prospective students and providing them with an enriching musical experience
Rhiannon O’Brien, Vocalist
Rhiannon O’Brien is a Coloratura Soprano currently working under the teachings of Cheryl Parrish. She is in her fifth year of her college studies working towards her Bachelor of Music in Vocal performance at Texas State University. Ms. O’Brien has been studying music and vocal technique since she began private vocal lessons at age 13 and has since committed her attention and skills to mastering her use of the voice. She has trained with many diverse private teachers and directors, giving her a variety of learned teaching methods and forms of communication with potential students.
Throughout her college experience, Ms. O’Brien participated in the TMEA Two Year All State Choirs in 2018 and 2019. In her year at the University of North Texas, she participated as a Soprano 1 in Dr. Allen Hightower’s A Capella choir, which featured a guest performance at the TMEA convention in 2020. Once arriving at Texas State University, she has been a valued vocalist not only in the choral department, but also as a performer in the Opera program, having performed in the role of Laetitia in the Spring 2021 production of The Old Maid and the Thief, and is currently in the rehearsal process of the Fall 2021 Opera Production. Through her time thus far within Professor Parrish’s studio, Ms. O’Brien and her fellow students have been encouraged to develop their skills not only as solo vocalists, but also in their ability to give constructive and encouraging feedback and instructions to their fellow studio members. She is delighted at any opportunity she is given to share her love and passion for music and voice, with goals that are not simply focused on performance alone. After achieving her bachelor’s degree, she intends to continue her studies into a master’s program and has high aspirations to help guide and train the vocalists of the future. Her teaching philosophy centers around healthy and emotive singing. By building a strong foundation and connection to the voice, a singer can strengthen their confidence and understanding of what exactly it is that they are doing. A major philosophy for Ms. O’Brien also includes loving your art and having fun when crafting it. Her goal is to create an environment that not only structures the voice, but is inclusive, understanding, and fun for all her students.
Sean Riley, Violinist
West Lake Location
Violinist Sean Riley maintains a career throughout the United States, Europe and Asia as a performer, entrepreneur and educator. As a solo artist he was given the honor to perform for Charles, the Prince of Wales at his 65th birthday celebration and the Sultan of Oman in a special evening performance in London.
Sean’s interest in innovative methods of communication has led him to creating performance programs with social media at the Royal College of Music, using Critical Response Process to teach communication and leadership at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and winning an innovation grant to 3D print a six-string electric violin to perform John Adam’s The Dharma at Big Sur. These entrepreneurial practices have led him to a professorship at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London.
Sean holds both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in violin performance from The Juilliard School as well as an artist diploma and Master in Philosophy on the subject of performance training and peer communication in higher music education from the Royal College of Music, London. His teachers have included Radu Blidar, Kyung-Wha Chung, Hyo Kang, Roland and Almita Vamos and Brian Lewis. Sean the recipient of the Williamson Foundation of Music annual grant, Rayne Foundation grant, Donald Paterson Award and the Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal and the Rainwater Innovation Grant.
Evan Ritter, Pianist
Evan Ritter is a pianist, composer, and pedagogue based in Austin, Texas. A recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Evan received his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance as well as Master’s Degrees in both Piano Performance and Literature and Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music. In Fall 2021, Evan will begin an Artist Diploma at the UT Austin Butler School of Music. He will be studying with Anton Nel, and is the first pianist to have been admitted to the program. In earlier years, Evan studied violin and piano at the Suzuki Music Institute of Dallas with Nicolette Solomon and Dr. Bret Serrin.
Since his debut with orchestra in 2006, Evan has performed with the Plano and Fort Worth Symphonies under the batons of Hector Guzman and Andres Franco, respectively. He has received top prizes in competitions including the Sixth International Chopin Youth Piano Competition, WRR Young Artist Piano Competition, Juanita Miller Concerto Competition, Hubbard Chamber Music Competition, Lynn Harrell Concerto Competition and the Fort Worth Symphony Young Artists Competition.
A passionate chamber musician as well as soloist, Evan is a founding member of the Windsor Piano Trio. In 2017, the group claimed first prize at the National MTNA Competition and were finalists at the Coltman Chamber Music Competition in 2016. The Windsor Trio was closely mentored by Professors Elinor Freer and David Ying at the Eastman School of Music. There, they also performed in masterclasses for Trio Cleonice and the Kalichstein Laredo-Robinson Trio.
Outside of performance, Evan has taught students of all ages and levels for the past eight years. In 2015 and 2016, he was a faculty member and director of the Southeast Asia Music Festival. There, he worked with a studio of students from the Philippines, teaching private lessons, masterclasses, and group classes. As part of his position, he performed in cities in the Philippines including Valencia City, Manila, and Bukidnon. Inspired by his own Filipino heritage, Evan is driven to foster a love of music in other young Filipino students. From 2018 to 2021 he was a piano faculty intern at the Eastman Community Music School.
When not practicing or teaching, Evan loves video games, reading, and making visual art! https://www.evanritterpiano.com/
Kimberly Sandoval, Vocalist
West Lake Location
Kimberly Sandoval, from McAllen Texas, is a graduate from Texas State University with a Bachelors Degree in Music Studies and a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance. She has performed such roles as Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Mother Marie from Dialogues of the Carmelites, Dido in Dido and Aneas, and premiered the title role of the newly commissioned opera Lady Bird, First Lady of the Land, which premiered in the Spring of 2016. Ms. Sandoval also performed 2nd Lady from The Magic Flute with Landesbühnen Sachsen Opera Company during their 2016 season in Germany. Branching outside opera, she worked with the Texas State Chorale where she sang as a member and as a soloist – performing and premiering works such as Peterson’s Shadows and Lights, Bach’s Magnificat and Bernstein’s Songfest – working in conjunction with Texas State University’s biannual Art Song Symposium. Ms. Sandoval has worked with students from K-12 at schools such as Boone Elementary, Dahlstrom Middle School, and Weiss High School. She worked as a clinician and adjudicator at local and regional choir festivals, and she was an active mentor working with young choirs and vocalists at Texas State Choir Camp and in other festivals such as the Tejada All-Star festival.
Ms. Sandoval’s teaching goals are to build a healthy vocal approach to singing and a solid foundation in breath support. Learning to sing is a journey of enjoyment, and she wants to help her students discover themselves through music. “Relax, breathe, love and enjoy the process,” is what she lives by.
Noah Simon, Pianist
Noah Simon is a pianist, composer, and teacher from Austin. He started playing piano when he was six, and he currently studies with Professor Sophia Gilmson at the UT Butler School of Music, where he taught in the UT Piano Project. He enjoys playing all sorts of piano music, but is especially partial to Bach and Prokofiev. He grew up playing in chamber music groups, and he now also accompanies opera, art song, and instrumental music. He is also an active performer of new music, having premiered new works by composers such as Nathan Nokes, Akshaya Avril Tucker, and Jessy Eubanks, as well as his own music. He served on the board for the Golden Hornet Project, a local nonprofit dedicated to commissioning new music by composer-performers.
As a teacher, Noah believes that music is a wonderful way for kids to explore and strengthen their imagination, and that it instills a sense of effort, discipline, and perseverance in students.
Scott Simon, Guitarist
West Lake Location
Scott is a professional guitarist and educator located in Austin, Texas . He studied with guitarists for Miles Davis, Bobby McFerrin, Pat Metheny and more while earning his PhD in Music & Technology at the University of North Texas. After graduating, he extended his music studies with post-doctoral work at the University of South Florida.
Simon has served on the faculty of the University of South Florida (2006 – 2011) and earned degrees from Northern Oklahoma College (1990, A.A.), and the University of North Texas (2000, B.A., 2002, M.S., 2005, Ph.D.).
Highlights in his diverse career in music education include the publication of his dissertation on improvisation (ProQuest 2006), and his featured presentation at the UNESCO International Music Council World Forum on Music (Tunis, Tunisia 2009).
In addition to his extensive teaching and performing schedule, Scott is deeply committed to community service and is an active member and devoted volunteer with the Austin Classical Guitar Society (ACG).
As a soloist, Scott has a versatile range of capabilities and is fluent in jazz, classical, and contemporary styles. He teaches all ages and levels from beginner to advanced, and has a pragmatic teaching philosophy based on the goals of the student. His method focuses on building strong fundamentals while learning the style(s) of choice.
Noah Sonderling, Pianist
West Lake Location
Noah Sonderling was born in Los Angeles, where he studied piano and violin and sang with the L.A. Children’s Chorus. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in piano performance at the University of Texas-Austin with Anton Nel. Previously, he earned master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Indiana University, where he studied with Menahem Pressler and Norman Krieger. Other teachers include Junko Ueno Garrett, Asaf Zohar, Christopher Harding, and Elisabeth Wright.
In demand as a chamber musician, Noah has collaborated with artists including Norman Krieger, Eric Kim, Brandon Vamos, and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A champion of both classic and modern music, he was a member of the Indiana University New Music Ensemble from 2015 to 2020 and appeared twice as a concerto soloist with the ensemble. He has worked extensively with both student composers and recognized modern masters such as Krzysztof Penderecki, Augusta Read Thomas, Andrew Norman, Dai Fujikura, and Georg Friedrich Haas.
Noah received awards in the 2013 Edith Knox Concerto Competition (Torrance, California) and 2015 Brevard Music Center Piano Competition and won the 2018 Ligeti Concerto Competition at IU. He has participated in the Brevard Music Festival, Orford Musique Académie, and Montecito International Music Festival, and in 2018 was one of three pianists chosen to be young artists in residence at the Manchester Music Festival. In 2019 and 2021, he received the Orchestral Keyboard Fellowship from the Aspen Music Festival, an offer that was renewed for the upcoming 2022 season. He has also appeared as a substitute with the New World Symphony, Owensboro Symphony, and American Youth Symphony.
Noah served as an Associate Instructor of piano at Indiana University during his master’s studies, where he taught beginning class piano for non-music majors and private secondary piano lessons for music majors, preparing them for their proficiency exams. Since 2020, he has been an instructor with the University of Texas Piano Project. At the Piano Project, he works on both piano and musicianship with students ages eight to fourteen, preparing them for a recital at the end of each semester.
Andres Vargas, Pianist and Early Childhood Music Director
Andres Vargas was born in Chile, where he began his piano studies at the age of 3. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Piano Performance from the Universidad Austral de Chile where he studied with Ximena Cabello. In 2004, he became a private student of Krassimira Jordan, artist-in-residence at Baylor University. In the fall of 2008, Andres relocated to the United States in order to pursue a Masters Degree in Piano Pedagogy and Performance at Baylor University. He has performed in several cities in Chile, as well as Europe, and the USA.
Prior to coming to the US, Andres taught in two Chilean music Conservatories. He has been teaching piano as a private teacher for more than twenty years. Andres is currently a piano teacher and also the director of the Early Childhood Program at Clavier-Werke school of Music in Austin. As a teacher he enjoys having fun with his students and likes to communicate to them his love for music. Andres is fluent in English, Spanish and German.
James Ximenez, Violist and Violinist
A native of south-central Texas, James Ximenez was born and raised in San Antonio, where he began his viola studies in the sixth-grade public school system. Finding a true passion in the beautiful complexities of the instrument, he continued studying viola and violin throughout high school and through the completion of both an undergraduate and graduate music degree.
James has played with both local and state-wide ensembles, such as the Laredo Philharmonic, Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, Starlight Symphony Orchestra, the Lux Musicae Orchestra in San Antonio, and the Density 512 ensemble in Austin. In addition to his performance career, James has also instructed violin and viola for over a decade, aiding students into top leadership positions in the all-region and all-state ensembles, as well as acceptance into competitive university music programs and festivals.
Aside from performing and instructing, James also enjoys studying languages (currently French and Korean), reading classic books, art collecting, and exercising. He believes the best way to become a great musician is to practice being a well-rounded and well-educated individual!
James received his Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance from Texas State University-San Marcos and his Masters of Music in Viola Performance from The University of Texas at Austin.