© 2020 The Woodlands Chamberfest. 

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Faculty

Marie Daniels

Marie Daniels is a violist devoted to sharing her passion for music as a performer, teacher and entrepreneur. Currently Marie holds the position of Assistant Principal (Vorspieler) of the Bremer Philharmoniker in Bremen, Germany.

With a passion for teaching, in 2012 Marie founded The Woodlands ChamberFest, an annual week-long workshop teaching young students communication, collaboration and leadership through chamber music. The Woodlands ChamberFest continues to grow in size and is sponsored as an educational program of The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. From 2016-17 Marie taught  as a Teaching Artist for the New York Philharmonic.  In addition to private instruction, Marie enjoys sharing her expertise through her Viola Tips with Violamad  videos on YouTube, which continue to inspire viola fans around the world.

​An advocate for historical performance, Marie has performed often with period-instrument ensembles such as Trinity Baroque Orchestra, New York Baroque Incorporated & Juilliard415. From 2015-2017 she was a member of Quartet Resound and New York Classical Quartet, highlighting the performance of early string quartets by playing on instruments of the era.

Marie was a 2015 recipient of Juilliard's Benzaquen Career Advancement Grant for demonstrating outstanding artistry and achievement in leadership, entrepreneurship, and breadth of engagement.  

​Marie holds a Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School and currently resides in Bremen. She enjoys biking and running, having completed nine marathons including Boston and New York, and loves everything pink.

 

Luke Fleming

Praised by The Philadelphia Inquirer for his “glowing refinement,” violist Luke Fleming's performances have been described by The Strad as “confident and expressive...playing with uncanny precision," and lauded by Gramophone for their "superlative technical and artistic execution.”   Festival appearances include the Marlboro Music School and Festival, the Steans Institute at Ravinia, Perlman Music Program, the Norfolk and Great Lakes Chamber Music Festivals, the Melbourne Festival, Bravo!Vail, and Festival Mozaic.  Formerly the violist of the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet, he has served as Artist-in-Residence for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and received the National Federation of Music Clubs Centennial Chamber Music Award.  He was awarded First Prize at the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and top prizes at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition.

 

In 2015, Mr. Fleming became the Founding Artistic Director of both the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based chamber music collective, and the Crescent City Chamber Music Festival.  He is also a founding member of the Delaware-based Serafin Ensemble.  He has performed as a guest artist with the Escher, Pacifica, Serafin, and Solera String Quartets, the Eroica, Lysander, and Gryphon Piano Trios, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Decoda, Ensemble Connect, Sejong Soloists, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the New York Classical Players, and has given masterclasses at UCLA, Louisiana State University, Ithaca College, Columbus State University, Syracuse University, Melbourne University, and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, among others.  Mr. Fleming has served on the faculties of the Innsbrook Institute, Renova Music Festival, Festival del Lago, and Houston ChamberFest, and Fei Tian College and is Lecturer-in-Residence for the concert series Project: Music Heals Us. 

 

Mr. Fleming holds the degrees of Doctor of Musical Arts, Artist Diploma, and Master of Music from the Juilliard School, a Postgraduate Diploma with Distinction from the Royal Academy of Music in London, and a Bachelor of Music summa cum laude from Louisiana State University.  He is represented with the Manhattan Chamber Players by Arts Management Group.

 

lukefleming.com

Photo credit: Sarah Fleming

 

Francis Liu

Violinist Francis Liu specializes in period performances spanning from the Baroque through the Romantic. He lives in New York City, where he performs with New York Baroque, Inc. and the Sebastians. Francis travels frequently, and appears regularly with groups in Boston (Boston Baroque, Handel & Haydn Society), Philadelphia (Tempesta di Mare) and Washington, DC (National Cathedral).
 

In performances of later Classical and Romantic repertoire, Francis has appeared with the Smithsonian Chamber Players, Teatro Nuovo, and the Transforming 19th Century (TCHIP) research project at the University of Oxford. He holds degrees from Rice University, the University of Maryland, and the Juilliard School.

 

Mitchell Lyon

Cellist Mitchell Lyon approaches music making with a zest for harnessing the unique power of musical experience.  At home with audiences of all types, he has performed in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to intimate house concerts. 

 

A native of Philadelphia, Mitch has performed extensively as a soloist, chamber musician, and in orchestras throughout the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. This past season he performed concerts on both coasts with his cello and piano duo, the Lyon-Sasaki duo, performing ‘Landscapes’, a program exploring the power of nature and the threat of climate change. He also explores in an interest in a wide variety of styles - his crossover trio Empire Wild released their EP ‘Paper Seasons’ in the spring of 2019, and performed at The University of Iowa’s Cello Dayz festival in the fall.

 

Passionate in his quest to spread the joy of music to young performers, Mitch has taught the children of New York through various Juilliard-funded fellowship programs at schools including Children’s Promise Zone and Harlem Promise Academy II. As a director of Juilliard’s student-run outreach organization, ARTreach, Mitch led several Juilliard teams to New Orleans, reaching out to children displaced by Hurricane Katrina and doing hands-on labor with Habitat for Humanity. Mitch continues his educational outreach mission in his current role as Teaching Artist Faculty for the New York Philharmonic School Partnership Program. 

 

He holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School where he studied with Bonnie Hampton and Timothy Eddy. More at www.mitchlyoncello.com

 

Zachary Montasser

A native of Bethesda, Maryland, violinist Zachary Montasser fell in love with the violin in preschool and shortly thereafter inquired about taking violin lessons. His teachers include Mary Findley, Robert Cole, Sylvia Ouelette, Oleg Sulyga, Andrzej Grabiec, and Janet Sung. Mr. Montasser’s passion for music was a driving force through a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Violin Performance under the tutelage of prize-winning violinist Andrzej Grabiec. During his Masters, Mr. Montasser developed a love for the String Quartet genre. Subsequently, he co-founded the Fuzion String Quartet, which was later featured at classical music festivals such as the Hot Springs Music Festival in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and the Cali De Camara in Colombia, South America.

Mr. Montasser completed a Performance Certificate at DePaul University under the guidance of concertizing violinist Janet Sung. While at DePaul, Mr. Montasser co-founded Clark Street Quartet, whose activities included classical concerts as well as collaborations with choreographer Lin Kahn, and Hip-Hop/Jazz Fusion group Sidewalk Chalk. In 2015 Mr. Montasser moved to Houston to pursue a career as a freelance musician. Mr. Montasser is a core member of the Symphony of Southeast Texas. As well, Mr. Montasser performs as a musical theater musician. He is frequently contracted by Stages Repertoire Theater and has performed with Theater Under the Stars.
He is currently a member of the Westheimer String Quartet, whose focus is to bring classical music to the community by performing at churches, elementary schools, high schools, and colleges in Texas and Oklahoma.

Mr. Montasser has a passion for table tennis. He plays whenever he can, with whoever has the patience to play with him.

 

Valeri Speights

Ms. Speights specializes in performing chamber music while teaching violin privately. She has performed in various recitals in Germany through the Saarburg International Chamber Music Festival and was a founding member of the Chateau String Quartet. An alumni of the Dylana Jenson Workshop and the MasterWorks Festival, Valeri exclusively teaches private lessons and has been a teacher for the Huntsville Youth Orchestra and the Art of Music Studio.

 

For the last three years she has taught for the Woodlands Chamberfest at the Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion and is now opening her own studio serving the Woodlands/Conroe area. Having just graduated with a performance degree from Sam Houston State University, she is currently a member of the Conroe Symphony, the Woodlands Symphony, and Legacy Baroque. As she prepares for a master's degree in violin, she is currently exploring historically informed performance and continuing to develop her skills as a conductor. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, photography, and playing with her dachshund mix, Oliver.

 

Sarah Stone

A curiosity in the cultural background behind the music she plays led Sarah Stone to baroque cello and viola da gamba. This season, Sarah performs around the country with Seraphic Fire, Washington National Cathedral, House of Time, Repast Baroque, Trinity Baroque Orchestra, and New York Baroque Incorporated. In September she returned to Montreal’s Bourgie Concert Hall with Trinity Wall Street to perform Bach Cantatas and in June, travels to Germany to perform in the Leipzig Bach Festival. Throughout 2020, Sarah brought chamber music into the classroom, sharing music of Vivaldi and Bach in over 60 New York City and Connecticut public schools through the outreach program of The American Classical Orchestra. She thinks bringing chamber music to unexpected places is important; she is an active board member of Bitterroot Baroque, a presenting organization in Hamilton, Montana that brings in chamber ensembles and musicians to perform and work with locals in early music workshops. In her home-base of Long Island City, Queens, she curates a free monthly series, Communitea Chamber Music in her local coffee shop. Sarah holds a Masters in Historical Performance from the Juilliard School, a Masters from San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a Bachelors of Music from Rice University. www.sarahabigaelstone.com