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Music Academy Strings Faculty
STRINGS COORDINATOR, VIOLIN, VIOLA
Stacia Spencer is a senior lecturer in string pedagogy at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music and strings coordinator for the Northwestern Music Academy. She also has been on the faculty of the Northwestern National High School Music Institute teaching violin, viola and chamber music. Prior to moving to the Chicago area, Ms. Spencer was an assistant professor of music at Indiana University School of Music where she taught classes in violin and viola pedagogy and was the assistant to Mimi Zweig at the IU String Academy. Ms. Spencer has a special interest in contemporary music, working with composers and performing new pieces. An eclectic musican and performer, she has been a vocalist and jazz singer in the Jon Eaton Pocket Opera Company in Chicago and New York. As a singer and electric violist she has also performed and recorded in the rock genre. She received her bachelors and masters degrees in viola from Indiana University School of Music, where she studied with Mimi Zweig, Kim Kashkashian and George Janzer. Ms. Spencer’s students have won many competitions and have been featured on “From the Top”. They also participate in their school orchestras as well as the Chicago Youth Orchestras and the Midwest Young Artists Orchestras.
Dr. Kate Carter is a versatile violinist who is proud to claim Chicago as her adopted hometown. A California native, her musical education spans from the Eastman School of Music to Northwestern University, where she earned the Doctorate of Music in Violin Performance. She frequently appears as soloist with the Elmhurst Symphony, where she serves as Assistant Concertmaster. She also collaborates in recital with pianist Louise Chan, with whom she has performed on the “Dame Myra Hess” series, broadcast live on WFMT. She has performed internationally as a member of Camerata Chicago and with the Lucerne Festival Academy in Switzerland. She has recorded as a member of ensembles including Camerata Chicago, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and Ensemble Nouvelle Epoque. In addition to teaching at the Academy, she is on the artist/teaching faculty of Lake Forest College, and she coaches chamber music at Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. She is passionate about helping students to overcome stage fright, and has lectured at the ASTA National Conference and ISMTA State Conference, among others.
Amy Goldberg joined the string faculty in 1999, teaching private and group violin lessons. She has taught at Southwest Missouri State and the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, and has an extensive background in orchestra performance, including serving as concertmaster of the Chicago Civic and the Elgin Symphony Orchestras. She is active as a studio musician, having recorded for numerous national television/radio commercials, documentaries, and record albums. Goldberg holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and Northwestern, where she completed a doctoral degree in violin performance.
Paula Kosower is an active performer and teacher currently residing in Chicago. She frequently performs for the Chicago Philharmonic Chamber Music Series, the University of Illinois Tuesdays-at-One Series, North Park University Faculty Concerts, Bach Week Festival Concerts, for events at the Music Institute of Chicago, and for live performances on WFMT 98.7. She enjoys contemporary music and has played consistently for the Fulcrum Point New Music Project. In addition to recital and chamber music performances Ms. Kosower regularly performs as a cello substitute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. For the past three seasons, 2012-2015, she has served in the cello section for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Ms. Kosower completed her B.M. and M.M. degrees at Indiana University and her D.M. degree at Northwestern University, where she studied with Hans Jorgen-Jensen and during this time also served as principal cello of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
In addition to teaching guitar at the Northwestern University Music Academy, Mark Maxwell has served as the Coordinator of Classical Guitar Studies at the DePaul University School of Music since 1986. He also works with young guitarists at DePaul, MIC and the Northwestern Summer Guitar Workshop. Mark has performed with his wife and NU guitar faculty member, Anne Waller, as the Waller and Maxwell Guitar Duo since 1981, performing in the U.S. and abroad. They are featured regularly on WFMT, WBEZ and have been guests on the “Studs Terkel Show.” Mark is also an active soloist and chamber player in the Chicago area. Waller and Maxwell have served on international juries as well as adjudicating local competitions. Their students have won and placed in numerous events, including the Guitar Foundation of America’s Youth Division, all levels of the Society of American Musicians, and the New England Conservatory Guitar Competitions among others. Mr. Maxwell regularly arranges works for his students, for two and more guitars, and for large guitar ensembles. He serves on the board of the Chicago Classical Guitar Society and works to coordinate participatory and collaborative guitar events in the city and surrounding area for guitar students and the general public.
Valentina Guillen MeneselloClose
Valentina Guillen Menesello is a Venezuelan violinist currently in Chicago. Valentina graduated from Northwestern University with a Master of Music degree in Violin Performance, where she studied with Gerardo Ribeiro. During her time at Northwestern, she completed pedagogy coursework under the guidance of Stacia Spencer and served as Ms.Spencer’s assistant.
Valentina has performed throughout the United States and Venezuela, and in masterclasses for Itzhak Rashkovsky, Simon Gollo, the Dover Quartet, Ani Schnarch, Blair Milton, Robert Hanford and others. During her summers, Valentina has participated in International Music Festivals like the Bowdoin School of Music and the Meadowmount School of Music, a place that feels like her musical home.
Valentina attended DePaul University in Chicago, where she studied with renowned Violinist and Pedagogue Olga D Kaler. Valentina was a member of El Sistema, in Venezuela, where she performed under conductors such as Cesar Ivan Lares, Dietrich Paredes and Gustavo Dudamel and studied with Semaias Botello and Maria Alejandra Guerrero. She discovered her passion for teaching and Orchestral playing at a very early age, and obtained the support from her family to study in the United States. In addition to teaching, Valentina is currently a member of the Civic Orchestra in Chicago and is pursuing her Certificate in Performance at DePaul University studying with Ann Setzer.
Violin and Viola
Min Park graduated from Northwestern University with a Master of Music degree in Violin Performance and Pedagogy under the guidance of Almita Vamos and Stacia Spencer. She received a BM in Violin from University of Texas at Austin under Brian Lewis and the Miro Quartet. Passionate as a teacher, Min has been teaching since she was a high school student. In addition to pedagogy coursework at NU, she completed additional teacher training under Mimi Zweig and Nancy Locken. In addition to teaching, Min is active as a chamber musician, founding the Aoide Quartet at NU and the Houndstooth String Quartet – a group that collaborates with living composers. She has participated in masterclasses with the St. Lawrence Quartet, Lynn Harrell, Philharmonia Quartett Berlin, and Shmuel Ashkenasi to name a few. In her spare time, you can find her in bikram yoga classes.
Cornelia Watkins has taught cello for forty years, many of those in Houston TX, where she was preparatory instructor and Lecturer in Music at the Shepherd School of Music Rice University, as well as an active freelance cellist, section coach, and adjudicator. Her Houston cello students frequently won seats in the highly competitive All-State Festival, and many of them went on to attend top-rated music conservatories.
In addition to teaching lessons for children in the Academy, Ms Watkins teaches pedagogy classes in the Bienen School. Her passion for pedagogy leads her to present teaching clinics at the State and National level across the country. She is a member of the Wisconsin CMP committee as well as a long-time member of American String Teacher Association, and was the featured Pre-College Master Class clinician at the 2019 ASTA National Conference in Albuquerque, NM.
Ms Watkins is the author of several articles and reviews for American String Teacher, Wisconsin School Musician, and The Strad, as well as two books: Rosindust: Teaching, Learning and Life from a Cellist’s Perspective, and, with co-author Laurie Scott, From the Stage to the Studio: How Fine Musicians Become Great Teachers, published by Oxford University Press.
An active educator, Iris Wei teaches students of all ages. Iris believes in building people: her greatest source of pride comes from guiding her students to become happy and healthy human beings—high-level musicians who are kind, know how to deal with adversity, and excel at whatever endeavors they pursue.
In her pedagogical training, Iris has had the privilege of learning from Michele George, Ed Kreitman, Nancy Jackson, Ann Montzka-Smelser, and Tom Wermuth. As a performer, Iris has performed with groups such as the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, New Philharmonic, Rockford Symphony, and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Also a pianist, Iris switched her main focus to violin after being accepted as a scholarship student at Roosevelt University’s College of Performing Arts in Chicago, Illinois. Aside from making music and teaching, Iris is an avid runner, eater, and dog lover.
A native of Bulgaria, violinist Kristina Zlatareva is building a multifaceted career as a performer, educator and arts entrepreneur. She has appeared on the international stage alongside artists Sarah Chang, Ray Chen, James Ehnes and Rohan de Silva, and her performances have been broadcasted on NPR and Los Angeles’ KUSC. She has given recitals across the United States and Europe, including a 2016 performance at the Supreme Court of the United States.
Ms. Zlatareva’s students have been accepted into prestigious institutions such as University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Indiana University, The Oberlin Conservatory, University of Texas at Austin, String Academy at Indiana University, Center Stage Strings and Credo Festival at Oberlin. During the summer seasons, Ms. Zlatareva teaches at Center Stage Strings at UM’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance and at the Anchorage Chamber Music Festival in Alaska. She has also served on the faculty at the Sphinx Organization’s Overture Program in Detroit and Flint, MI.
Ms. Zlatareva currently pursues a doctoral degree in Violin Performance at Northwestern under the tutelage of Blair Milton. In fall 2023, she will begin teaching Aural Skills at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern.