Marianne Breneman, Artistic Director and Clarinet
Marianne Breneman, a native of the Detroit area, is an active freelancer, recitalist and chamber musician. She is a founding member of Conundrum, a chamber ensemble of soprano, flute, clarinet, and piano. Conundrum has been a headlining ensemble at the Fresno New Music Festival (CA) three times and also at the New Norse Now Music Festival where they premiered music written for them by American composers. In 2013, they were featured performers at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC. Albany Records released from the Diamond Grid Conundrum’s latest CD, in December 2014. Absolute Sound magazine described the offerings as “rewarding and varied” while citing Marianne’s playing as “beyond reproach.”
As an orchestral musician, she has performed across the Midwest and Southeast with the Cincinnati Symphony, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Richmond Symphony (IN), Kentucky Symphony, Dearborn Symphony (MI), Sinfonia Gulf Coast, the Gwinnett Ballet Orchestra, the North Carolina Opera Orchestra, and the World Piano Competition Orchestra. She has been a featured soloist with the CCM Repertory Orchestra performing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto and was the faculty soloist with the University of West Georgia Symphonic Band on their 2013 Spring Tour.
Summer festivals include the Aspen Music Festival and School, The Banff Centre for the Arts, The Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, Le Domaine Forget, the Scotia Festival of Music, the ARIA Academy, and the Grandin Chamber Music Festival.
A dedicated music educator, Marianne has been on the faculty at the University of West Georgia, Northern Kentucky University, The College of Mount St. Joseph, Wake Tech Community College, and Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts - the country's only K-12 arts magnet school.
Marianne holds music degrees from Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). She has also completed the Core Certificate in Arts Management from UMass-Amherst. Marianne lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband Brian and their exuberant golden retriever, Oliver.
caROL CHUNG, VIOLIN
Lauded for her “heartfelt delicacy” (Raleigh News & Observer) and for performances that “pack an emotional wallop” (CVNC.org), violinist Carol Chung enjoys an active, freelance career as a concertmaster, recitalist, chamber musician, coach and teacher. Since 2010, she has served as the concertmaster of North Carolina Opera. She has also served as a guest concertmaster for the Choral Society of Durham (Haydn Creation, Verdi Requiem), and for the North Carolina Master Chorale (Beethoven Missa Solemnis.) She has performed regularly with the North Carolina Symphony since the fall of 2000. In addition, she is a founding member of the piano quartet Quercus as well as the Triangle Chamber Music Collective. Season highlights have included performances on the chamber music series at the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Weymouth Center of the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines, The Cedars in Chapel Hill, and Fearrington Village in Pittsboro. She also maintains a private violin teaching studio, and serves as a chamber music coach with both the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute and the Lamar Stringfield Music Camp at Meredith College. In the summers, she performs with the Colorado Music Festival, a professional summer orchestra based in Boulder.
Ms. Chung began studies on both the violin and piano at the age of five, and at eighteen, chose violin for her major instrument. She holds both the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with violin department head David Updegraff and Bernhard Goldschmidt, then Principal Second Violin of the Cleveland Orchestra. She has also performed and coached with members of the Tokyo, Vermeer, Cavani and Juilliard Quartets. After suffering a playing injury that nearly ended her career in the 1999-2000 season, she became a student of the Alexander Technique, earning her Alexander Technique teaching certification in 2012. Formerly a member of the faculties of Meredith College and Duke University, and a member of the Canton (Ohio) and Virginia Symphonies, she resides in Raleigh with her math teacher husband, Jason Wilson.
Laura thomas, Violin
Like many musicians, Laura’s journey to professional violinist took many twists and turns along the way. She started on piano (then quit), started violin, then added trumpet and french horn, all while being a competitive swimmer. When she started college at UNC-CH, she dropped everything else to focus on violin. Severe tendonitis and many doctors later, she accepted her degree in Psychology and set about getting her music plans back on track. Laura moved to Wichita, Kansas to study with a violin teacher there, won a position with the Wichita Symphony where she played for 10 years, met and married her husband, and had 2 kids before returning to Chapel Hill. Laura enjoys the many playing opportunities in this area, and has added more as her kids have grown into delightful young adults. She has been a member of The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle since 2007, and has performed with the NC Opera, Carolina Ballet, NC Master Chorale, and the Choral Society of Durham, among others. She plays in several bands and has recorded lots of different types of music for various groups. When not playing, Laura enjoys attending concerts, spending time with friends and family, and the occasional yoga class!
Dana Friedli, Violin
Dana Friedli was educated at Eastman and Mannes, receiving her MM from Mannes in1990. Teachers included Fredell Lack, Sally Thomas, Ani Kavafian, Felix Galimir and Stuart Canin. Dana lived and freelanced in New York for 12 years, playing music ranging from Bach to Xenakis and everything in between!
In 1998 Dana and her violin restorer husband Jerry Pasewicz relocated to Raleigh to open Triangle Strings. Dana taught at Meredith College for 12 years and at UNC-Chapel Hill for 7 years. She is a dedicated teacher of 24 years with a thriving Suzuki Studio. Dana is a founding member of Suzuki of the Triangle, which sponsors TCI, a summer chamber music institute, and also a prep workshop for local youth orchestra auditions. In keeping with her dedication to teaching young children, she founded two Montessori Pre-Twinkle programs for 3-6 year-olds, now in its 5th year.
Dana has performed extensively with the North Carolina Symphony, Music-on-the-Hill series at UNC's Memorial Hall, NC Opera, all things choral at Duke Chapel, and numerous other area groups. Triangle Strings presents a yearly instrument exhibition called "Meritage", in which Dana performs on fabulous instruments alongside her favorite colleagues.
Dana loves to run, do yoga and make silver and dichroic glass jewelry in her "spare time".
Tasi Matthews, Violin
Tasi Matthews, violinist originally from Charlotte, NC, has been active as a chamber, orchestral, and freelance musician in the Triangle area since 1997. She is currently the Concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle and also plays frequently as a pit musician for the Broadway Series at the Durham Performing Arts Center. In the past, she has performed with the Greensboro, Durham and Raleigh Symphonies. She served as the concertmaster of the Raleigh Symphony for 15 years. Other groups she has performed with include the Chapel Hill Chamber Orchestra, Oleander Chamber Orchestra, Opera Company of NC and Capital Opera. In addition to classical music, Tasi has had the opportunity to perform with some well-known artists including Josh Groban, Clay Aiken, Mary J. Blige, Harry Connick Jr., Mannheim Steamroller and the Tran Siberian Orchestra.
From 1997-2003, Tasi served on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and now teaches violin lessons for all ages at her private studio in Apex. She began her musical studies at the age of four with Mary Jane Kirkendol and continued her musical education at UNC, earning her Bachelor of Music degree while studying with Richard Luby. She also earned her Masters of Music from the NC School of the Arts in Winston Salem, where she studied with Kevin Lawrence. In addition to teaching and performing, Tasi enjoys spending time with her husband, Jason, and their three children.
Lyda Cruden, Violin/Viola
Lyda attended the Eastman School of Music, Occidental College, and University of Missouri - Kansas City, and has played with the Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities, and Des Moines Symphonies (Iowa), and the Charleston Symphony (SC). She now teaches Suzuki students at Meredith College and plays with the North Carolina Symphony.
When she's not teaching violin or viola, she loves traveling, hiking, running, working in the yard or baking. . . or planning, thinking and dreaming about the above.
Katie Miller, Violin/Viola
Katie Miller is a freelance violist and violinist in Raleigh, NC. She performs with the North Carolina Opera Orchestra and the Orchestra Pro Cantores at Duke Chapel, and is a substitute violist with the North Carolina Symphony. She’s a founding member of the Triangle String Quartet, for which she often writes arrangements of popular music, and she performs with Arioso Strings. Katie earned a Master of Music degree in viola performance from East Carolina University in 2006, and a Bachelor of Music in viola performance from the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 2004. She also earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree from San José State University in 2011.
Prior to returning to her home state of North Carolina in 2011, Katie lived in California, where she played with the Dolanc String Quartet, taught viola lessons, and worked as a freelance musician in the so-called “Freeway Philharmonic,” commuting to various cities to play in orchestras including the Sacramento Philharmonic, Sacramento Opera Orchestra, Modesto Symphony, Napa Valley Symphony, North Bay Opera, and other ensembles.
Katie lives in Raleigh with her husband and their two children. She teaches violin and viola lessons, and directs the Canterbury Girls Choir at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. She is currently training in Taekwondo at Elite Fire Taekwondo in Raleigh. She competed in the Yong In University Presidential Cup International Taekwondo Championship in July 2017, placing third for her division in Poomsae.
Matthew Chicurel, Viola
American violist, Matthew Chicurel, has performed in the U.S. and Europe in such halls as New York’s Carnegie, Merkin, Alice Tully and Lincoln Center. Mr. Chicurel has performed with the Carolina Chamber Symphony, North Carolina Opera, Carolina Ballet, Capitol Opera, The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, The Carolina Phil., Greensboro Symphony, The Manhattan Chamber Symphonee, The West Side Chamber Orchestra and The Symphony of the Mountains. He has been a member of Juniper String Quartet, Burnished Trio and BarHop Quartet. He attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, under Ulrich Eichenauer, and received a Masters Degree from Mannes College of Music, The New School in New York, under Daniel Panner. Mr. Chicurel maintains a strong commitment to arts education, teaching privately and helped found a children’s violin program at the Richard Rogers School of Arts and Technology (PS166) in NYC. His former students have been or are currently enrolled in some of the world’s finest institutions including The Juilliard School, Cleveland Institute of Music, The Kaufman Center’s Special Music School (P.S. 859) in New York, and The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, in Winston Salem. Mr. Chicurel resides in Chapel Hill North Carolina, where he is a freelance performer, teacher, formerly the director of the Strings and Orchestral Studies program at the Emerson Waldorf School, a conductor with the Piedmont Youth Orchestra, founder and conductor of the SidexSide chamber program, and Vice-President of the non-profit group, Music For Children.
Jake Wenger, Cello
Cellist Jake Wenger is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina. He has performed with the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, North Carolina Opera, Carolina Ballet, Tar River Philharmonic, and the North Carolina Symphony. Jake is also an instructor of cello at UNC- Wilmington as well as the Assistant Conductor of the Triangle Youth Orchestra. In addition to his work in the classical realm, he performs in national tours of Broadway productions at the Durham Performing Arts Center. He is co-owns the North Raleigh School of Music with his wife, Erin. Jake and Erin live in Clayton, NC with their dog George.
Sonny Enslen, cello
Sonny Enslen is a versatile cellist, performing classical, jazz and popular music. Currently living in Cary, he performs with the Durham Symphony, Raleigh Civic Symphony and Triangle Chamber Music Collective, and maintains a large studio of students.
After obtaining an undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Sonny moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he went to graduate school and received an M.M. After completing the program he free-lanced as a musician, performing with a number of orchestras including the Green Bay, Dubuque, Beloit/Janesville, and Racine Symphonies.
Since returning to North Carolina, Sonny has toured around the state with the Open Dream Ensemble (through a partnership between the National Endowment of the Arts and NASA), and has worked with No Rules Theatre in Winston-Salem.
When not teaching or performing Sonny enjoys spending time with his kids and wife, cooking, doing capoeira and kayaking.
Debbie Davis, Cello
Deborah Davis studied with some of the great 20th century cello teachers, Milly Rosner, Andre Navarra, Bernard Greenhouse, Raya Garbousova and Fritz Magg. She graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a Master’s in Music and a Performer’s Certificate award.
Ms Davis began to work as a cellist in high school, playing in the Winston-Salem Symphony as a student at the North Carolina School of the Arts. In college she played in the Hartford Symphony, and later in the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. She taught cello at the Reykjavik Conservatory, was on the music faculty at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, was a tenured member of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, was Principal Cellist of the Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra (for 25 years), was and still is a member of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem Festival Orchestra. Additionally, Ms Davis is a committed chamber musician, recitalist and teacher.
As a newcomer to Chapel Hill, NC in 2015, she soon became involved in performing, teaching and organizing, helping to found the North Carolina Cello Society which is thriving in its second year of existence.
Erin Munnelly, flute
Erin Munnelly earned her Master of Music degree in flute performance from the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and her Bachelor of Music degree in flute performance from East Carolina University. She is a freelance flutist in Raleigh, NC, performing as Principal Flute with the Durham Symphony Orchestra, substitute with the North Carolina Symphony on both flute and piccolo, playing for church services, and teaching privately.
Carla Copeland-Burns, flute
Education: Univ. of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, New England Conservatory, Florida State University.
Favorites: Love to travel, obsess over how to travel more, dream about more travel.
When I'm not teaching or playing I like to eat good food and chill out in front of BBC television shows with my husband, our two cats, and our super entertaining foster-turned-forever shepherd mix. I explored becoming a music major when my NFL dreams never quite panned out.
Kimberly Potter, oboe
Kimberly Potter graduated from the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music after earning her high school diploma from the NC School of the Arts. From there she earned an MM from the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied with the world-renowned John Mack. Her first orchestral post was with the Filarmónica de Querétaro in Mexico for several years, followed by principal oboe for Arizona Opera and first sub for the Tucson Symphony. Since her move back to Raleigh, Kimberly has been a favored sub with the Durham Symphony, NC Symphony, Charlotte Symphony and the Winston-Salem Symphony. Her talents are not only in music as she will earn her bachelors degree in nursing May 2016.
erica yeager thomas, bassoon
Education: BM from UNC-Greensboro, MM from University of Maryland College Park.
Fun Facts: Erica has 2 lab mixes named Luke and Leia and she loves to cook and bake. She has traveled to all 50 states as well as Austria, Czech Republic, The Galapagos Islands, South Africa, Italy, and Germany. Erica discovered the bassoon while playing a game of musical bingo in second grade! She pestered her parents to let her play until they finally gave in and let her join the band in 6th grade.
Michael Burns, bassoon
Michael Burns is hailed as a dynamic performer and teacher of bassoon. He is Professor of Bassoon at UNC-Greensboro and is a Yamaha Performing Artist. His critically acclaimed CD Primavera: Music for Bassoon and Piano by Bassoonists was released by Mark Masters. A new CD Glass Ghosts is due to be released in 2017. Burns plays principal bassoon with the Asheville Symphony and North Carolina Opera and is a frequent performer with the Eastern Music Festival and the Charlotte, North Carolina and Greensboro Symphonies. He is active as a solo and chamber musician in the EastWind and Blue Mountain Ensembles performing recitals and master classes throughout North America, Germany, China and the South Pacific. Burns has an extensive discography and is an active composer with many pieces published by TrevCo Music. He is archivist for the IDRS and was co-host for the IDRS 2003 Conference in Greensboro, NC. When not bassooning or professoring he enjoys spending time with his wife, dog and two cats and travelling.
Jacob Medlin, horn
A North Carolina native, Jacob began playing horn in middle school because his clarinet playing, according to his middle school band director, was “some of the worse she’d ever heard”. Thankfully, his dad was a horn player (after not being allowed to play drums by his middle school band director) and helped him make the switch and then fall in love with the instrument. After attending the University of North Carolina, Jacob ended up at Indiana University where he not only received an excellent music education, he met Rick Seraphinoff and apprenticed for two years to be a horn builder. After another three years of working under Rick’s guidance Jacob moved his shop to North Carolina. He is now an active freelance horn player and a respected builder in the international horn community. Each horn is built by hand and many are played in professional orchestras around the world. In addition to his professional life, Jacob is an avid baker and wood worker. He lives in Greensboro with his wife Jen (a very good clarinet player of all things) and their cadre of cats.
wayne leechford, Saxophone
Wayne Leechford is a multi-instrumental performer and educator from Raleigh, NC. He is musical chameleon and you never know where he will show up. He was classically trained at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in saxophone performance. Since then, he has performed all over the country with bands, orchestras, Broadway shows, and as a solo performer. He owns a teaching studio and music store in Cary, NC, Leechford Music. He also contracts musicians for touring Broadway shows and other nationally touring artists. When he is not working, he enjoys traveling with his wife, Julie, and their Boston Terrier, Stella, taking pictures, and playing disc golf. You can learn more at: wayneleechford.com
Brian Breneman, trumpet
Trumpeter Brian Breneman studied music at the University of Rochester and Michigan State University. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati. He is currently principal trumpet of the Raleigh Civic Symphony Orchestra and solo cornet of the Triangle Brass Band. Comfortable in both classical and jazz mediums, Brian has played with the Durham Symphony, the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra, and the MSU Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Band I.
Brian is a partner and Chief Technology Officer of Eagle Software Corp, specializing in clinical decision-support applications. He lives in Raleigh with his wife Marianne and exuberant golden retriever Oliver. He enjoys music, travel, cooking, running, yoga, bourbon, and hopes that one day his budget catches up with his passion for sports cars and audiophile Hi-Fi equipment.
Emi Nakajima, Piano
Dr. Emi Nakajima is a pianist and teacher who has been winning audiences worldwide with her passion, charm and beauty for decades. A child prodigy, Emi began her musical journey at age two. By age 9, she won her first international piano competition, and by age 11, had her solo debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra. She has performed on numerous occasions at NYC's Carnegie hall and in major concert halls around the world. Her performances have been aired live on radio stations throughout the Northeast much to the delight of her listeners!
Dr. Nakajima studied at Curtis Institute of Music, Yale University and Rutgers University, where she earned a Doctorate in Music. She currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and has recently opened a private teaching studio for students who are determined to learn exceptional skills at the piano. Her concerts celebrate life and are designed to create compassion and culture for the world. She has always amazed audiences with her fiery spirit, but it is her gentle soul that continues to capture their hearts.
Caring for the well being of others, she continues to research the effect of music, its health benefits and healing properties. She invests her heart in all she puts her mind to and her gift with the piano allows her to help people most through the music she plays, writes, and teaches. When away from the piano, her creative mind and business savvy leads her to other ventures as an entrepreneur. Most recently, she’s been busy on Etsy for Emi Nakajima Design. On a more personal note, she enjoys her coffee strong, finding moments to relax, and loves salsa dancing with her friends.
Phil Amalong, Piano
Chapel Hill-based pianist Philip Amalong has a multi-faceted musical career as a performer, composer, music technologist and producer. Highlight performances include solo appearances at the Newport Music Festival and at top festivals across the U.S. with the chamber ensemble Conundrum. His recording Touch: The Toccata Project released on Albany Records has succeeded in captivating reviewers and listeners worldwide. He is co-founder of The ZOEN, a live online music lesson platform and was on the core team at Zenph Sound Innovations, both now part of Steinway & Sons. Learn more at www.amalong.com/bio.
Toothpaste: baking soda
Clothing item: socks
Distraction: tire tread patterns
General product: scratch-n-sniff wallpaper
Clara Yang, Piano
“A first-rate pianist who isn’t afraid of challenges,” (Fanfare) Chinese-American pianist Clara Yang is currently Associate Professor of Piano at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has performed in notable venues and major conservatories/universities throughout the United States and in London, Barcelona, Moscow, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney, and Bergen. She has performed as a soloist with renowned conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Grant Llewellyn, Jeff Tyzik, and Carl St. Clair. She has performed numerous concerts as a soloist with the North Carolina Symphony since 2011. Her solo album Folding Time (Albany Records, July 2015) won Global Music Awards Gold Medal. Her cello-piano duo album Grieg and Prokofiev (Albany Records) was released in 2014. She recorded Lee Weisert’s Érard, which was written for her, for Weisert’s album Wild Arc on the New Focus label. These recordings have received highly positive reviews from major publications such as Fanfare, American Record Guide, New York Arts, and Chicago Reader. In the current season, she will perform a world premiere of Chen Yi’s piano concerto with the China Philharmonic Orchestra in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing and a US premiere of the work in the Carolina Performing Arts series. She will also perform Philip Glass etudes along with the composer himself and other renowned artists in the Glass at 80 festival.