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.
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.
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.
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.
Rohan Joshi, Violist and Violinist
Rohan Joshi is a violist originally from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and currently teaches in the Austin Texas area. Previously, he was a graduate assistant to Prof. Katherine Murdock at the University of Maryland, and resided in College Park, Maryland. He has been twice awarded fellowships to the National Orchestral Institute (2018/2022), and was in residence at the Scotia Festival of Music as a founding member of the Hugo Quartet. He has performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, was a member of the New England Philharmonic, and regularly performs in Boston, Detroit, and Washington DC.
Rohan graduated with a BM/BA in Viola Performance/Political Science from Boston University, and an MM in Viola Performance from the University of Maryland. Principal teachers include Daniel Dona, Katherine Murdock, Michelle LaCourse, Hye Mye Choi, and Nenad Djordjevic.
Believing that everyone deserves musical creativity and expression, Rohan’s past teaching experiences have helped develop an approach which increases accessibility and diversity. His teaching style is flexible, individual and holistic, with a focus on technique, appreciation, and interpretation. Rohan’s pedagogical style is strongly aligned with Paolo Freire’s “problem-posing” method. In his spare time, Rohan enjoys reading and writing about all music on his newsletter, Highway 61. You can also catch him playing disc golf, drinking fancy coffee, reading books, and playing duets with his partner (flutist Heather Havens).
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.
Maggie King, Violinist
West Lake Location
Maggie King is a Santa Fe native, and a Masters 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 selected for multiple opportunities. She 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. Currently, King is finishing her Masters degree in Violin Performance at The Butler School of Music at Austin, under the direction of Sandy Yamamoto.
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 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.
Benjamin Kronk, Violinist
West Lake Location
Austin-based violinist Benjamin Kronk enjoys an active career as a soloist, chamber musician and artistic director. In the Summer of 2021 Mr. Kronk performed as Concertmaster for the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado and performed Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor with conductor Michael Stern. Recent solo engagements include appearances with the Toccoa Symphony and the Caroga Lake Music Festival. In addition to performing Mr. Kronk founded and serves as the artistic director for the South Eastern Young Artists (SEYA), a chamber music festival in Georgia hosting more than 20 artists from the United States and Canada performing over 20 concerts in venues including theaters, churches and private homes. Most recently he was the top-prize winner of the 2022 American Opera Society of Chicago’s Scholarship Competition. Working with other festivals including the Caroga Arts Collective, he was part of the team which wrote and won the Consolidated Funding Application grant of New York which awarded $82,000 to the collective.
During his time in the Midwest Mr. Kronk performed with the Iris Orchestra, the Chicago Philharmonic Society, the Wisconsin Philharmonic, and actively performed throughout the area including with the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, Oistrakh Symphony, Northbrook Symphony and Folks’ Operetta. An avid chamber musician and recording artist, Mr. Kronk performs regularly with Cloud Gate Quartet and on projects including the 2017 GRAMMY-nominated album “American Classics” with the National Orchestra Institute directed by David Allan Miller. He also performed on the world premiere recording of Leo Sowerby’s work for the Leo Sowerby Foundation. Formerly an Associate Member with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago under Ken-David Masur, previously he was awarded contracts with the Lincoln Center Stage, for which he auditioned and won in 2019, and was a regular substitute for Symphoria, the Syracuse-based orchestra in 2016.
Deeply passionate about teaching, Benjamin developed his pedagogical approach while at the Académie de Musique Vivaldi in Montréal where he taught a studio with students of all ages and abilities. Previously he has taught in Suwon, South Korea, and at the Paul Nigra Center in upstate New York as a teaching artist. He continued to be engaged as a teacher in Chicago while also serving as the teaching assistant for Janet Sung.
Currently Benjamin is pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin. Previously, he earned his Bachelor of Music at the Eastman School of Music ‘17 under the guidance of Juliana Athayde, his Master of Music from Mcgill University ‘19 under Alexander Read, and his Post-Master’s from Depaul University ‘22 under Janet Sung. He has studied and worked in masterclasses with some of the most renown violin pedagogues of the 21st century, including Midori, Pinchas Zuckerman, Charles Castlemann, Ivan Zenaty, Steve Rose, Axel Strauss, Andrew Wan, Jinjoo Cho, Gilles Henry, and Joseph Spacek.
Sohee Kwon, Pianist
West Lake Location
Ms.Sohee Kwon has been rapidly advancing her career throughout the U.S.A hailed for her gorgeous pianism, enormous sensitivity, and complete devotion to music itself. She has performed extensively as both soloist and an avid chamber musician in prestigious venues around the World such as Carnegie hall, The Gordon K. and Harriet Greenfield Hall, Nicholas Music center, Duncan Recital Hall, Murchison Performing Arts Center, Bates Concert Hall and Homer Rainey Hall, University Arts Center, etc.
She has won top major international competitions including winning the First prize of 2020 MTNA Chamber Competition, the Second prize of 2020 Fischoff National Chamber Competition, the First prize of UNT SSI concerto competition, the First prize of Mason Gross School of the Arts Concerto and Chamber music competition as well as the Third prize of Ruth Barr Piano competition.
As a devoted chamber musician and founding member of Trio En, formally known as Trio Rouge, she has appeared in many chamber music conerts across the country and has been featured on many radio stations and in local newspapers including “Listen and Local” and “From the Butler School” on KMFA, Austin’s Classical Music Radio Station.
She has recently earned her doctorate degree in piano performance at University of Texas at Austin under the tutelage of Dr. Andrew Brownell. Before Butler, She did attend Manhattan School of Music and Rutgers for her undergraduate with Pf. Daniel Epstein and Dr. Min Kwon on a presidential scholarship, garnering Elizabeth Wyckoff Durham award for excellence in Keyboard at graduation. Afterwards, she earned her Master degree with Pf. Jon Kimura Parker as a full scholarship recipient at Rice University.
She has been invited to many summer music festivals including Sarasota Music Festival, International Keyboard Institute and Festival, University of North Texas String Summer Institute to name a few, and has participated in numerous masterclasses given by international renowned musicians including Robert Levin (Harvard), Klaus Hellwig (UDK -Berlin), Pascal Godart (HEMU-Lausanne), Alexander Kobrin (NYU), Massimiliano Ferrati (Agostino Steffan, Italy), Emanuel Krasovsky (Tel-Aviv University, Israel), Jacques Ammon (Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Leipzig, Germany), and etc.
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 is currently completing her master’s degree in Vocal Performance at The University of Texas at Austin at the Butler School of Music. Also at UT, she earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance (2021) with 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 experience in English, French, German, and Italian diction. She has twenty-three credit hours in music theory from both her undergraduate and graduate studies, including the courses: 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. Additionally, Kristine has taught private voice 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 that the beautiful city of Austin has to offer. With her education and experience, Kristine will continue to give back to the artist 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
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.
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.
Evan Ritter, Pianist and Event Coordinator
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.
Shayna Sands, Guitarist
West Lake Location
Shayna Sands began playing guitar at age 12, and started writing and performing her own songs by age 17. Her interest in folk and blues music brought her to New York City where she studied the work of local and international legends such as SaRon Crenshaw, Jerry Dugger and Bill Sims Jr. When she wasn’t soaking in the inspiring music all around her, she was performing her original work on stages all over NYC and surrounding areas. Shayna returned to Texas to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Composition from Texas A&M Corpus Christi where she studied classical guitar performance with Philip Hii. While studying to get her degree, Shayna founded HeartBeats Music Fundamentals For Young Children, and gained several years of experience teaching children of all ages.
In 2020, she joined forces with Austin Sanctuary Network and Austin Classical Guitar to provide private guitar lessons to help an immigrant family living in sanctuary find an emotional outlet for their struggles. Since then, her passion for using the healing power of music to help people has led her to work as a composer at Austin Classical Guitar’s Healing and Music program.
Currently, Shayna is actively involved in the Austin music community as a musical artist and teacher. She performs regularly and is committed to her songwriting craft that started it all.
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.
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 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.