Music and the other arts are the most potent demonstration that, in the heart, we are all one community.
~ Jan Swafford
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Vahan Sargsyan holds graduate and post graduate degrees from the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatoire, where he studied with honorary teacher of Armenia, Elza Tandilyan, and his father, renowned Armenian pianist Villi Sargsyan. Vahan’s honors include 1991 Laureate of the International Piano Competition in Rio-de-Janeiro, Brazil, and multiple awards in solo and chamber music categories from the Pittsburgh Concert Society. His recordings are released by Alanna, Aerophon, and Ablaze Records. His most recent compact disc recording, The Elements, is with his duet ensemble, Duo Astralis. The Elements is available through cdbaby.com.
As a member of Duo Astralis (with Angela Massey, flute) and as a soloist, Vahan has performed in Armenia, Georgia, Italy, Russia, Austria, Argentina, Brazil, USA and Canada. He travels across the country and around the world to perform, conduct masterclasses, and participate in collaborative work at festivals, colleges, and subscription concert series. His solo concerto performance in 2004 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra led to regular appearances at the orchestra’s keyboards.
Vahan has worked in higher education institutions since 1988. He has held positions as assistant professor at the Yerevan State Conservatoire in Armenia and as faculty and staff pianist at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh for over a decade. Currently, he is a collaborative pianist and chamber music coach at Carnegie Mellon University.
Amy is a native of Augusta, GA. She has studied cello with Ruth Berry, Douglas Graves and David Starkweather. She is a certified Kindermusik instructor and holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University in music performance. She is currently working on a degree in Nursing.
Amy has been performing and teaching in the Augusta area for the past 5 years, and is employed at both Augusta State University and Carolina Music Academy. When she has spare time, she likes to spend time with her family and play with her dogs.
Debra currently performs violin and viola with the Atlanta Opera Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Pops, Augusta Opera, and Augusta Choral Society, and the Lyra Vivace Chamber Orchestra. She is on the Athens Academy music faculty and teaches orchestra for grades ranging from 2 through 12. In addition to her position at the Academy, she has an active private studio of over 50 violinists and violists.
Prior to her work at the Academy, Debra was fifth grade orchestra teacher in Clarke County. She has taught Suzuki violin for over 22 years (receiving extensive Suzuki training from Alice Joy Lewis, Kay Sloan and Almita Vamo), including work as the director of Suzuki programs at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, and Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, and is currently on faculty of the Morningside College Suzuki Institute and Advanced String Camp in Sioux City, Iowa.
She is often a clinician for Suzuki workshops in a region that expands from Georgia to Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, Illinois and Iowa. Debra was a violinist in the Savannah Symphony Orchestra for over 10 years and while living in Savannah, served on the educational staff of the Savannah Symphony and directed the Savannah Symphony’s Junior String Ensemble.
She also taught violin, string methods/pedagogy and directed the Suzuki Program at Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia, and at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. Prior to her faculty positions in Athens GA, Debra had time to perform with the Hilton Head Chamber Orchestra, Augusta, Charleston and Greenville Symphonies. Debra received her Master’s degree in violin performance from Western Illinois University and Bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Karl Schab founded and directed the Athens String Ensemble from 1996-2000 and was appointed the first Music Director of the Athens Youth Symphony in November, 2000. He has been a member of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra since 1984 and travels to Colorado during the summers, where he works as Principal Violist of the Crested Butte Music Festival. Karl also travels to perform with various orchestras in the South East, including the Augusta Opera, Augusta Choral Society, Lyra Vivace Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Augusta, Charleston and Savannah Symphonies.
Following his undergraduate studies at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and completion as Master’s degree in viola performance from Indiana University, Karl took positions with the Venezuelan National Symphony and the Pro-Arte Quartet of Caracas, touring extensively in Latin America and performing the entire cycle of Beethoven string quartets.
Settling in the Atlanta area in 1980, he continued his chamber music work with the Atlanta Virtuosi and became Principal violist of the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra and Chattanooga Symphony. Karl studied viola and violin with Abraham Skernick, Richard Young, and Dorothy Mauney.
Karl and his wife, Debra, a violinist, share their home in Athens, GA with eight cats and countless students. His hobbies include building and restoring harpsichords and golfing.
Angela regularly performs with the Augusta Opera, Lyra Vivace Chamber Orchestra, and Augusta Choral Society. She is often guest violinist and violist with the Magellan String Quartet and the Kiokee Quintet. Angela teaches private violin/viola lessons at the Carolina String Academy in Aiken and the Augusta State University Conservatory Program.
She attended Augusta State University, where she received a Bachelor in Music Education. She was violin pupil of Dr. Angela Morgan, and studied viola with Carl Purdy. Angela is an Augusta, Georgia, native. Angela lives in Augusta with her husband, double bassist Travis Shaw, and their daughter Caeden.
double bass, guitar
Travis Shaw is an Augusta, Georgia, native. Travis is well-versed in many styles of music, including jazz, rock, bluegrass, and classical styles. Travis is an active teacher in Augusta (Southeast Music Academy) and Aiken (Carolina Music Academy) and is in special demand as a performer in the jazz genre. Some of his notable collaborations have been with Ravi Coltrane, Rob Foster, Wycliff Gordon, Pulsar, A Step Up, and The Jazz Collective. Travis is often featured with Carl Purdy’s groups, including the In Praise of Music ensemble Event Horizons.
Travis has studied at the Atlanta Institute of Music, where he studied bass guitar under the well known virtuoso, Adam Nitti, and local working musicians, Alan Barnes and Gary Wilkins, and at Augusta State University, where he studied double bass with Barry Garman.
Travis has also spent time in the flourishing music scene of Athens, GA, where he studied jazz bass with Chris Enghauser of UGA, and performed in master classes with John Clayton and Rufus Reid. He currently lives in Augusta doing freelance work and teaching guitar and bass at The Carolina String Academy and The Southeast Music Academy.
Debra is in her 6th season as a core member of Chamber Music Charleston. In addition, she maintains an active teaching studio and performs frequently with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, the Augusta Choral Society, the Savannah Philharmonic, the Greenville Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Syracuse Symphony and the Colorado Symphony.
During the summers, she is a participant with the Endless Mountain Music Festival, Loon Lake Live, the St. Augustine Music Festival and the Mozart in the South Festival. Before moving to the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she held the positions of Associate Principal Horn of the Barcelona (Spain) Symphony and Principal Horn of the South Dakota Symphony.
Debra has studied with Roger Collins at Western Illinois University, Erik Ralske at Manhattan School of Music, and Jerome Ashby at the Juilliard School. Outside of playing her horn, Debra’s hobbies include traveling, karate, hiking, kayaking, scuba diving and she is an avid birder. Originally from Danville, Illinois, Debra currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina.
violin, viola, conductor
Laurin Smith’s distinguished music background includes two higher education degrees in both violin and viola, studies with Itzhak Perlman, Masao Kawasaki, Dorothy Delay, and Andrew Galos, and experiences performing as a violinist, violist and conductor in Europe, Asia, and across the U.S.A. (including orchestra director and chamber music coach along with the Colorado String Quartet at Soundfest in Falmouth, MA)
Laurin makes his home in northern Georgia, is the music director and conductor of the North Georgia Chamber Symphony, and works as adjunct professor of violin, viola, and string division director at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville, GA.
Additionally, Laurin regularly travels to perform with several southeastern professional music ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestra Augusta, Augusta Choral Society, Lyra Vivace Chamber Orchestra, and the Augusta Opera. He also serves the southeastern professional music culture by performing with and leading various regional chamber music and educational organizations, including work as both performer and teacher at the Laurel Ridge Music Camp.
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