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, Executive 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, 2018 and 2020.
Maggie Allen, Associate 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, Associate 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 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.
Andrés Carrero, Violinist
Andrés Carrero is a passionate performer and educator from Austin, Texas, and the Chicagoland area. As a recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Andrés had the privilege of studying with YooJin Jang. At Eastman, he was a founding member of Quartet Java, a group that made it to the semi-finals of the Coltman Chamber Music Competition and the finals of the MTNA Chamber Music Competition. The group received mentorship from members of the Ying Quartet, Horszowski Trio, and cellist and professor Mimi Hwang. Andrés’s teaching engagements led to work at the Eastman Community Music School, volunteer at the Rochester local music organization, RocMusic, work as a faculty member at the Asociación Nacional de Conciertos in Panamá, and teach residents at a correctional institution in Grafton, Ohio. Andrés has spent summers at the Encore Summer Academy, Aspen Music Festival, and as a fellow at the Dalí Quartet International Music Festival.
Noah Chojnacki, Pianist
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.
Willem de Beer, Pianist
Willem de Beer is a concert pianist who originally hails from Bethlehem, South Africa. Described as “mature beyond his age” and a “…bright and shining star in the firmament of the South African music scene,” by newspaper Beeld, Willem is quickly gaining recognition as one of the foremost South African concert pianists. Throughout his career, Willem has been a main prize winner at various international and national piano competitions (such as the Olga Kern International Competition and the UNISA National Piano Competition). He has performed as soloist with all South Africa’s professional orchestras on multiple occasions, working with conductors such as Daniel Boico, Jonas Alber, Arjan Tien, Gerben Grooten, Alex Fokkens, and Richard Cock. Willem completed his BMus (cum laude) with Professor Joseph Stanford and a master’s degree (cum laude) with Dr Bryan Wallick at the University of Pretoria. Hereafter, Willem completed a second master’s degree with Prof. Anton Nel at the University of Texas at Austin. More recently, Willem graduated with a Doctor of the Musical Arts degree from UT Austin under the continued guidance of Prof. Anton Nel. During his five years at UT Austin, Willem held a full teaching assistantship where he taught piano in group settings, and individual lessons. For the past two years, he was also the Program Coordinator and Theory Teacher for UT’s Piano Project pedagogy lab. He is married to Renée de Beer and together they have two wonderful children, Rebekah, and Noah.
Jessy Eubanks, Theory Lab Director and Composition
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.
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.
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.
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 and Collaborative Artist in Residence
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.
Maggie King, Violinist
West Lake Location
Maggie King is a Santa Fe native, and a Doctorate student at the UT Butler School of Music. As a winner of the Jackie McGehee Young Artists’ Competition, King has soloed with both the New Mexico Philharmonic and Santa Fe Symphony. During her undergrad at Oberlin Conservatory, King was selected to perform in numerous masterclasses with esteemed artists such as: Jennifer Cho, Jesse McDonald, Tessa Lark, Milan Vitek, Jinjoo Cho as well as the Brentano, Szymanowski, Emerson, Apple Hill and Orford Quartets. In 2019, King was chosen to perform in Carnegie Hall as part of a select orchestra, “Oberlin in New York,” and received an Oberlin Fellowship to teach violin students in Panama.
Ms. King has been teaching violin lessons since 2015 and has been playing for over two decades. In Spring 2020, King completed her Bachelor of Music degree at Oberlin Conservatory studying under Grammy Award Winner, Sibbi Bernhardsson. In Fall 2022 King finished her Masters of Music at the Butler School of Music and is now thrilled to be pursuing her Doctorate degree under the incredible 2nd violinist of the Miro Quartet, Will Fedkenheuer.
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.
Dmitriy Krasny, Pianist
Dmitriy Krasny was born near Tashkent, Uzbekistan, USSR, and immigrated with his family to the US at age seven. He began piano studies at age eleven with Miron Galperin, going on to study with Eva Zinger and Michael Salmirs. He completed a dual Bachelor’s degree in Recording and Piano Performance at the Peabody Conservatory, studying piano with Alexander Shtarkman. He has since appeared on WQXR radio in New York, detailing his endeavor to visit every street piano in the city in the summer of 2010, and to present a one hour special on the music of Alexander Scriabin in January, 2011. He has also spent over a decade in the wine industry in New York as a wine consultant and Sommelier.
In addition to his work in wine and music, Dmitriy is a competitive runner (though most of the time, his main competition is himself), with numerous marathons, half-marathons and a handful of more unusual races (such as the Mount Washington road race) to his credit. He feels that music and sport are both powerful mediums for self-expression, and that the parallels don’t stop there. Only a select few will rise to the top of their sport, but many will experience joy and meaningful growth by engaging in it. So too in music – perhaps only a select few will go on to win competitions, but, in Dmitriy’s view, everyone who genuinely loves music will have something meaningful and unique to contribute through their music making. He looks forward to sharing his love of Classical Music with his students.
Lan Kratzke, Pianist
West Lake Location
Lan Kratzke first took an interest in music as a child. She studied beginning piano and violin in elementary school and played the cello in her high school orchestra. She began her college studies as a piano student of Dr. Ray Luck on a Trustee Scholarship at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, where she soon became their music theory and ear training tutor and earned the Departmental Prize in Music.
When her professor retired, she transferred to The University of Texas at Austin and earned a Gilbert Scholarship. She taught piano through the UT piano project headed by Sophia Gilmson and finished her BM in piano performance in 2005 under the direction of Dr. Betty Mallard.
From Austin, she moved to Oxford, Ohio to attend Miami University with a graduate assistantship, and earned an MM in piano performance in 2007 studying under Dr. Siok Lian Tan. At Miami, she taught two college courses in piano for non-pianist music majors, accompanied several string and vocal students, and performed with the Miami University Graduate Piano Trio. In addition to her graduate studies, she held a regular church job, taught private lessons, and accompanied the Adams Elementary Choirs, the Talawanda High School Choirs, and the Oxford Choral Ensemble. She 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 private and group piano instructor for a few years. She then moved back to Austin, where she resumed teaching piano at Clavier-Werke School of Music, started playing for Koenig Lane Christian Church, and occasionally judged various ADMTA festivals.
In 2011, she began working at Mollberg Piano Restoration in Blanco, TX. Though she loves shop work, she closed that chapter when she became a mom in 2013. In 2021, she opened her own home bakery. The following year, she debuted her first composition, a song cycle for alto and piano, with Rebecca Frazier-Smith. She currently performs as a member of the Austin Civic Orchestra and specializes in teaching adult piano students. She adores her two children, Drakeson and Millicent, who study piano with director Susan Allen.
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.
Michael Lenahan, Pianist
West Lake Location
Michael Lenahan is a pianist originally from Toledo, Ohio. Michael received his Bachelors of Music from The Juilliard School where he studied with Jerome Lowenthal, and his Masters of Music from Rice University, studying with Robert Roux. He is currently studying in the Artist Diploma program at The University of Texas at Austin with Anton Nel. Other teachers include Robert Satterlee and Logan Skelton.
Michael has over a decade of teaching experience and has had over 100 private students across his lifetime. His past positions have included piano faculty at Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program in New York City, Brazosport Community College in Lake Jackson TX, and the Moosic School and AWTY International School in Houston TX. Michael served as a Teaching Fellow at the Juilliard School teaching both Ear Training and Secondary Piano. Michael served as collaborative pianist for the Shepherd School of Music Preparatory Program at Rice University.
Lenahan has won prizes in the Toledo Symphony Young Artists Concerto Competition, the International Zimmerli Piano Competition, the Toledo Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition, the Graves Piano Competition, Art of the Piano Enlight Scholarship, and in the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition. He was selected as a young artist in Houston’s Da Camera organization and regularly performed all over the Houston area. He was chosen as a member of the Shepherd Piano Trio to perform concerts in Germany as part of an exchange program between Rice University and the HMT in Leipzig.
Michael loves to cook, swim, play scrabble, and sing karaoke (poorly).
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.
Kristine Mazziotti, Theory and Vocalist
West Lake Location
Kristine Mazziotti is a mezzo-soprano in Austin, Texas. She holds a Master of Music and a Bachelor of Music, both specializing in Vocal Performance at The Sarah & Ernest Butler School of Music within The University of Texas at Austin. During her undergraduate, she earned a minor in Educational Psychology and University Honors. Kristine began her private studies in voice and piano at age seven, which facilitated her acceptance at The Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) in her hometown of Houston, Texas. Kristine has mastered vocal technique and pedagogy, with extensive training and experience in English, French, German, and Italian diction. She has twenty-three credit hours in music theory, including Analytical Techniques, Structure of Tonal Music, 20th Century Musical Analysis, Ear Training & Sight-singing, and Musicianship. Kristine has sung with The Houston Grand Opera, The Houston Symphony, and studied abroad in Angers, France, at the Franco-American Vocal Academy (now the William Lewis School of Opera). Additionally, Kristine teaches private vocal lessons and was a camp counselor in Houston Grand Opera’s Art of Opera Camp and at UT’s Longhorn Music Camp. Outside of music, Kristine loves to cook, practice yoga, and other activities the beautiful city of Austin has to offer. With her education and experience, Kristine will continue to give back to the music community through teaching and performance.
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.
John Mercurio, Theory and Composition
West Lake Location
John Mercurio is a teacher and writer based in the Austin area. He received a degree in music theory from the Eastman School of Music and a master’s in composition from NYU.
For over twenty years, he has been a professional composer and lyricist. His musical theater work has been produced at regional and community theatres and high schools around the country. His musical Academy inspired by Goethe’s Faust, was presented at the New York Musical Theatre Festival where it won the DIMF Award, honoring it with a production in South Korea where it won the award for Best Musical. His musical Glimpses of the Moon premiered at the Algonquin Hotel in NYC and is available for licensing through Concord Theatricals. John has received awards from the Jonathan Larson Musical Theatre Foundation, the Gilman-Gonzalez Foundation, the O’Neill Musical Theater Conference (Holof Award for Lyric Writing) and from ASCAP (the Cole Porter Award for music and lyrics.) Recordings for Glimpses of the Moon and his youth musical, Through the Looking Glass are available on iTunes.
In addition to the theatre, John has written music for chamber orchestra, the ballet and most recently, three circuses. When he’s not teaching and writing, John enjoys volunteering at Austin Pets Alive, fostering kittens, drawing cartoons, oh, and knitting. www.johnmercurio.com
Rhiannon O’Brien, Vocalist
Rhiannon O’Brien is a recent graduate of Texas State University, having received her Bachelor of Music in Music Performance. She has been studying vocal technique since she began private 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 undergraduate career, Rhiannon performed extensively, participating in, and performing principal roles in summer opera programs through Lone Star College-Kingwood, and in several of the operas held at Texas State University including the role of Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief, Beatriz in Rewritten, and most recently Atalanta in the 2022 spring production of Xerxes. Directly after receiving her degree, Rhiannon traveled and studied in Novafeltria, Italy for five weeks with the opera program La Musica Lirica, where she performed in the role of una novizia in Suor Angelica and in the chorus of La Boheme. Following this program, Rhiannon traveled to Chicago where she performed the role of Queen of the Night in a production of Die Zaubeflüte at a five-day vocal intensive program at Northwestern University. Throughout both programs, Rhiannon was able to learn from several directors, native Italian coaches, and voice teachers from around the United States and was able to take many techniques with her that she is excited to teach to her students.
Rhiannon’s 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 their instrument. A major philosophy for Rhiannon 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.
Hunter Prueger, Theory and Composition
West Lake Location
Hunter Prueger is a composer, songwriter, saxophonist. Hailing from Ames, Iowa, Hunter moved to Austin in 2018 to pursue a master’s degree in music composition from the University of Texas at Austin, which he completed in 2020. In 2021 he joined the Flying Carpet Festival in Mardin, Turkey as a saxophonist, and in 2022 he studied harmony and counterpoint at the Conservatoir Américain de Fontainebleau. Hunter is also the vocalist and guitarist of the Austin-based folk band Middle Sattre.
Hunter embraces all kinds of music and musicians. He loves helping others use music theory as a tool to better understand and appreciate the music that they practice, perform, and listen to.
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.
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 studied with Dr. Andrew Brownell and Professor Sophia Gilmson at the UT Butler School of Music, where he also taught in the UT Piano Project. He plays a wide variety of baroque and classical music, specializing in the music of J.S. Bach and F.J. Haydn. He grew up playing in chamber music groups, and he now also accompanies opera, art song, and instrumental music. He is an active performer of new music, having performed dozens of works by living composers in the UT New Music Ensemble, as well as his own compositions. He served on the board of 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.
Ellen Sirower, Pianist
West Lake Location
Pianist Ellen Sirower is a versatile soloist, chamber musician, and educator currently based in Austin, Texas. She has made concert appearances at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Manhattan School of Music, Colorado State University, Steinway Hall, Hill Auditorium, and New York’s Tenri Cultural Center. She recently was a gold medalist in the International Keyboard Odyssiad Competition, and was a finalist in the University of Michigan Undergraduate Concerto Competition with Liszt’s Totentanz. Festival participation includes the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the Colorado College Summer Music Festival, and the PianoTexas International Festival and Academy.
Ellen has devoted much of her time presenting and performing accessible classical music with a focus on music by living composers. She has collaborated with members of the Fifth House Ensemble, the Boston-based Callithumpian Consort, and the Talea Ensemble. In the 2019-2020 school year, Ellen helped launch the commissioning project “New Music from the Mitten”; At Central Michigan and Michigan State Universities, she and cellist Joshua DeVries performed recitals that programmed brand new repertoire by Michigan-based student composers and led reading workshops with the composition studios. Ellen currently plays with UT Austin’s acclaimed New Music Ensemble.
Ellen graduated with high honors from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor with bachelor’s degrees in piano performance and philosophy. Her primary teacher was Amy I-Lin Cheng. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in piano performance at the University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music, where she is studying under Gregory Allen and working as a keyboard Teaching Assistant. Energized by her teaching experience and philosophical education, Ellen pursues research in the intersection between philosophy and piano pedagogy. She has recently presented her scholarly work through the Music Teachers National Association and the Eastern Michigan University Undergraduate Conference in Philosophy. Her current interests lie particularly in how topics in aesthetics and philosophy of language—in practice—can facilitate effective and informed teaching with regards to performance practice, interpretation, and expressivity at every level.
Andres Vargas, Pianist, Director of Piano Studies
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.
Chloe Yofan, Violinist
West Lake Location
Chloe Yofan, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Violin Performance at the University of Texas at Austin, studying with Sandy Yamamoto. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance from the Eastman School of Music under Oleh Krysa. She also earned a Certificate of Achievement in Chamber Music from Eastman and a minor in Journalism from the University of Rochester. In 2023, Ms. Yofan received the Peter Salaff Award for Excellence in Chamber Music and was inducted into the Society of Pi Kappa Lambda. During her time at Eastman, she held principal positions of the Eastman Philharmonia, most notably performing as concertmaster for their 2022 performance of Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben.
Ms. Yofan has been teaching since 2017. She enjoys working with students of all ages and connecting with members of her community through music. In April of 2023, Chloe’s string quartet at Eastman completed their chamber music capstone project, in which they commissioned two pieces by composer Clayton Trumbull based on children’s novels, with funding from Eastman’s Institute for Music Leadership Mentorship Grant. The quartet also designed a month-long educational project and interactive performance in collaboration with students at the Children’s School of Rochester No. 15 and the Rochester Public Library. In the summers, Chloe has attended the Encore Chamber Music Institute, Castleman Quartet Program, and the Aspen Music Festival and School, where she was a 2022 Instrumental Fellow. Outside of music, Chloe enjoys hiking, reading, and playing with her fluffy cat, Nadia.
Andrei Zimbalist, Pianist
Andrei Zimbalist is a talented virtuoso pianist who began studying music professionally at the age of 6 and received his Master’s degree from legendary Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory in 2013. His teacher was a Prof. Zinaida Ignatieva, a prizewinner of the very prestigious International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (1960) and a student of the outstanding Russian pianist and composer Samuil Feinberg.
Andrei is a prizewinner at the following international piano competitions: Classical Legacy in Moscow (1st prize); Frédéric Chopin Competition in Petrozavodsk (Russia, grand prix); Jeunes Talents in Montrond-les-Bains (France, 1st prize); Carl Filtsch Competition in Sibiu (Romania, 1st prize); the competitions in Königs Wusterhausen (Young Piano Stars) and in Troisdorf (Germany, 1st prizes at both), as well as the competitions in Milan (Piano Talents) and in Ischia (Italy, 3rd and 2nd prizes respectively). He is also a diploma winner at the competitions in Lagny-sur-Marne, Lyon and Valence (France); special prize at the competition in Valence (Teresa Llacuna) for the performance of Liszt’s transcription of Schubert’s Erlkönig.
Andrei performs solo recitals regularly and has taught master classes in Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain and other countries. He has performed with the Kaluga Youth Symphony Orchestra (Russia) and the Obninsk Municipal Chamber Orchestra (Kaluga Region). He participates at various international music festivals and serves as a jury member at international piano competitions. He prefers to perform the repertoire of Western European Romanticism, especially pieces by Chopin, Schumann and Liszt.
Like many representatives of the famous Russian school of solo piano performance, Andrei successfully combines performing on stage and teaching in his creative and professional activities. He believes that these two aspects of being a musician are inextricably linked and complement each other. Andrei passes on to his students the best techniques and secrets of the Russian school of piano playing, the founders of which were the great pianists Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Medtner and the Rubinstein brothers. One of the outstanding achievements of Andrei’s career is his work at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory as an Assistant Professor of the Faculty of Solo Piano Performance.
Andrei works equally effectively with students of all ages and levels. He believes that anyone who likes music can play the piano as long as he is led by a professional. Andrei requires his students to practice regularly and put in effort to learn, but at the same time he has a friendly, warm and cheerful attitude toward his students, to each of whom he finds an individual approach. Music should bring pleasure and positivity. The better we play the instrument, the more warmth and joy we bring to the world.