Upcoming Events

March 30
1:30 PM Masterclass with Amit Peled

4:00 PM Play-In with Amit Peled and the Peabody Cello Gang

Want to join the Play-In? Participation is free, but Email Us at info at cellospeak dot org  to give us an accurate headcount.

Events held at Providence Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, VA

March 31 at 4:00 PM
Peabody Peled Cello Gang

Amit Peled events are co-presented by the Fairfax Symphony

April 14 at 7:00 PM
Cellospeak Presents!
Tapestry Cello Ensemble in Concert

May 18
Weekend Workshop

July 21 – 27
Skill Builder Workshop

July 28 – August 3
Ensemble Workshop

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Honorary Chairman

Zuill Bailey

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2018 Cellospeak Faculty



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Robert Battey  studied with Bernard Greenhouse and Janos Starker, holds performance degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and S.U.N.Y.-Stony Brook, and did doctoral work at Indiana University.   Bob was a cello professor at the University of Missouri and S.U.N.Y.-Potsdam, before moving to the D.C. area, where he taught chamber music at the Levine School.   He has appeared as soloist or recitalist in Canada, Mexico, and throughout the U.S., including at Carnegie Recital Hall and the Phillips Collection.  In recent seasons he performed the Saint-Saëns, Haydn, Lalo, and Beethoven Triple concertos with various D.C.-area orchestras, and last year he performed the complete Bach Cello Suites in a single concert at four different venues.  He has served as principal cellist of the Kansas City Lyric Opera, the National Philharmonic, the Florida West Coast Symphony, the Kennedy Center Orchestra, and the Alexandria Symphony, and also performed with the New York City Opera and the National Symphony.  Bob is Music Director of the Gettysburg Chamber Music Workshop, writes articles and reviews for the Washington Post and STRINGSmagazine, and blogs at Cellobello.com.  



Nancy Baun  has performed in Carnegie's Weil Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, and Banff Centre for the Arts, as well as in Switzerland, France, Italy, Iceland, and the Netherlands.  She appears on numerous recordings, including the Naxos label.  A student of Orlando Cole in Philadelphia, she studied chamber music with Menahem Pressler, Timothy Eddy, and Jasha Brodsky and appeared in master classes for Lynn Harrell and Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg.  She was a fellow at both the Bach Aria Institute and the Aspen Music Festival.  Nancy has held faculty positions at the Bennington Chamber Music Conference, Gettysburg Chamber Music Workshop, and ASTA string camps, as well at Dickinson College, Messiah College, and SUNY Fredonia.  Now living in Buffalo, Nancy teaches music at an inner-city charter school and continues concertizing throughout the Mid Atlantic area with the Ravel Trio. With the help of Cellospeakers, she presents cello workshops in Washington State, Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Washington DC. She has also been an award winning record producer, director of a national interdisciplinary arts conference and an international guitar competition, arts consultant, and taught cooking classes!   



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Lynne Bratlie Beiler began playing the cello at age 13 in Houston, Texas, and won the Corpus Christi Young Artist’s competition five years later.  Coming to Philadelphia, Lynne studied with Orlando Cole and William Stokking at the New School of Music.  Post-graduate studies have been with Jeffrey Solow of Temple University.  Lynne has played with the Florida Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic and has been principal cellist and soloist with the Colorado Philharmonic and principal cello with the Princeton Symphony.  As a substitute, Lynne has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and recorded under Riccardo Muti and Wolfgang Sawallisch.  Free-lancing, Lynne plays regularly with the Philadelphia Opera orchestra, the Ballet, and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.  After many years of traditional cello teaching, Lynne became interested in the Talent Education Method (Suzuki) and subsequently became nationally certified at all levels.  Her students, ranging in ages from 5 to 95, play with civic and youth orchestras and perform with a variety of chamber groups.  They have won numerous concerto competitions, and have been chosen to perform in master classes for noted cellists such as David Finckel, Peter Wiley, Colin Carr, Carter Brey and Irene Sharpe.






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Louise Butler  began her early training on the cello with Founder Dorothy Amarandos, continuing at  Eastman School of Music's Preparatory Department where she studied cello and theory. Later Louise attended Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where she continued cello, piano, theory and quartet studies with the Guarneri Quartet.  Eugene Ormandy was her "school orchestra conductor" at Curtis.  She had such outstanding cello teachers as: Ronald Leonard, Alan Harris, Dodia Feldin, David Soyer, Benjamin Zander and Ana Dritelle. Before settling in Spokane, WA in 2000, Louise spent 23 years raising her two children while playing in Brussels' Radio and Television Orchestra, teaching in the Brussels' Conservatoire Royale and the American Community Schools in the UK while freelancing with her UK cello ensemble, Nightingale Cellos.  Currently she is a member of the Spokane Symphony and is a guest artist with Spokane's Allegro Baroque and Beyond; teaches privately, is on the faculty at Holy Names Music Center and Spokane Falls Community College. Louise performs with Selkirk String Quartet and Palouse Cello Babes (cello quartet), which she founded.   

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Amy Butler-Visscher  has been on the Cellospeak faculty since 2011.   A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, she studied with Orlando Cole, Paul Katz and Steven Doane and spent four intense summers at Tanglewood where she played in masterclasses for Yo-yo Ma and performed under such conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Kurt Masur and Leonard Bernstein. Ms. Butler-Visscher has been a member of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, the Mclean Orchestra and the IBIS Chamber Music Society and has performed in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Harrisburg Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, she has performed in the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center. Ms. Butler-Visscher is a member of Trio of Two, which performs an eclectic mix of duos and trios throughout New Jersey where she lives with her family and her dogs. She plays on a Rafael and Antonio Gagliano  cello  made in Napoli in 1807. 



Jihea Choi  serves as a principal for the Apollo Orchestra in addition to performing with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra as an associate principal. In addition, she performs regularly with the Maryland, Mid Atlantic and National Philharmonic Orchestras. She teaches as an adjunct cello faculty member at Landon School and Potomac School and is trained in Suzuki Method. She received her master of music degree from the University of Maryland, a performer's certificate from Northern Illinois University, and a bachelor of music degree from Catholic University studying with Robert Newkirk, David Teie and Marc Johnson.

Katlyn DeGraw  is an inspired performer and teacher. An active orchestral musician, Ms. DeGraw is the Associate Principal Cellist with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and appears frequently with the Richmond and Annapolis Symphonies. Her passion for orchestral playing has also led to performances with the Baltimore and Charleston Symphonies and the National Philharmonic. Aside from performing, Ms. DeGraw is a dedicated and enthusiastic teacher, maintaining a private studio of successful and engaged students. Ms. DeGraw has served on the faculty at the Hochstein School of Music & Dance, the Waldorf School of Baltimore, and the University of Rochester (adjunct).  Ms. DeGraw has spent her summers at the National Orchestral Institute, Le Domaine Forget, Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the Meadowmount School of Music.   She has studied under and performed in Master Classes for great artists and teachers, including Lynn Harrell, Steven Doane, and Hans J ø rgen Jensen.    Ms. DeGraw received her BM from the Peabody Conservatory of Music under the instruction of Amit Peled.   She then studied with David Ying at the Eastman School of Music where she earned her MM.    


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Carl Donakowski  was a finalist in the Mendelssohn Competition in Berlin early in his career. Since then his recital performances have been enjoyed at the Kennedy Center and Merkin Hall in New York City. As a founding member of the Arcos Trio, Mr. Donakowski has performed on four continents and was awarded an Artistic Excellence grant from the NEA to perform and record works by Latin American composers on the Centaur label. Donakowski is Professor of Cello at the James Madison University School of Music in Harrisonburg VA where he received the distinguished teaching award. He is a frequent presenter at the American String Teachers Association national conference and a contributor to American String Teacher and currently edits the Cello Forum for the Virginia String Teachers Association. Donakowski was a student of Janos Starker and counts Timothy Eddy and William Pleeth among his mentors.  

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Jorge Espinoza is Assistant Professor of Violoncello at New Mexico State University and cellist of La Catrina String Quartet.  Mr. Espinoza taught the Peabody Conservatory of Music undergraduate and graduate cello studio as an assistant teacher of Stephen Kates. He holds a Graduate Performance Diploma in Violoncello and a Graduate Performance Diploma in Chamber Music from Peabody Conservatory of Music.  He graduated with honors from Universidad Católica de Chile and received his Master's Degree in Music Performance on full scholarship from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Mr. Espinoza has presented masterclasses and workshops in the United States and abroad, including at Portuguesa-Acarigua, Venezuela, part of El Sistema. His orchestral experience has included performances at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony and orchestras and chamber ensembles in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Symphony Hall. He has been a featured soloist and chamber musician, performing concertos, solo and chamber music throughout South America, the United States, Europe and Mexico. Mr. Espinoza is a prize winner of international and national competitions and awards. An avid chamber musician, his interest in researching, performing and arranging folk music from Latin-America for string quartet and chamber ensembles has brought him to different cities in South America including Buenos Aires to pursue studies with great tango masters including Maestros Berlingieri, Marceli, Requena and Plaza. 



Alan Saul Saucedo Estrada  holds cello performance degrees from the Escuela Superior de Musica y Danza de Monterrey, Scola Municipal de Musica “Victoria dels Angels” in Barcelona, and Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA. He has been a prize winner in several music competitions, including the Second Yokohama International Music Competition in Japan. He has appeared in recitals in Paraguay, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the USA and given presentations at the Smithsonian museum, the Kennedy Center, and the White House. Dr. Saucedo recently published a book entitled  “The Influence of Carlos Prieto on Contemporary Cello Music” based on his investigation of Latin American classical cello music . This book is currently for sale in all major bookstores around the world. Dr. Saucedo’s commitment to education has brought him to different countries, including Mexico, Spain, Paraguay, and the U.S. Dr. Saucedo currently co-direct the strings program at the Highland School and teaches at the Shenandoah Conservatory Arts Academy and the Music School of the Piedmont. He is artistic director of the Middleburg Concert Series, plays in the Roanoke Symphony, and often collaborates with ensembles and orchestras in the D.C. area. A strong advocate of Latin American music, Dr. Saucedo often premieres and includes music by new Latin American composers in his lectures and presentations. He is also a member of the Mexican Vitali string quartet, a group dedicated to the performance and promotion of Latin American classical music.




Kristin Gilbert is a member of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and as a freelance cellist in the Washington DC area has performed in a variety of venues including with the Boston Opera at Wolf Trap for the Performing Arts, with the Folger Shakespeare Theater, and with many local orchestras and choral groups. For twenty years she has taught cello from her home studio, has been on the faculty of Cellospeak, a summer program for adult cello students, and she has coached sectionals for middle and high school students along with the permier DC area youth symphony (American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras.) As a faculty member of Cellospeak, she performs regularly during the summer workshops and in its “16Cellos” concerts in the DC area. She received a bachelor's degree from Mills College; began graduate studies at the University of Southern California's School of Music in cello performance, which she completed at The Catholic University in Washington, DC. Kristin has had additional studies at the Aspen Music Festival and in Suzuki pedagogy.






Ismar Gomes is a chamber musician, recitalist and orchestral player. Recent performance highlights include Duo recitals on distinguished concert series across the United States, as well as collaborations with members of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Emerson Quartet, and the Johannes Quartets. He is a member of the Virginia and Delaware Symphonies and frequently performs with the Charleston and Baltimore Symphonies. On faculty at several Universities in Maryland, Mr. Gomes spends his summers mentoring students in cello and chamber music at both the Rushmore Music Festival and the Baltimore International Piano Festival. Past faculty appointments include the Cleveland Institute of Music Summer Chamber Music Festival, StringFest at Merkin Hall, the Performing Arts Institute, and the Three Bridges Festival. Mr. Gomes also enjoys the process of commissioning and performing new compositions; he has worked with and recorded the works of William H. Weigel, Marc Neikrug, David Lang, and James Lee III. Ismar attended the Peabody Conservatory, studying with Alison Wells and Amit Peled. Previous teachers include Marc Johnson and Clive Greensmith of the Vermeer and Tokyo Quartets. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Stony Brook University, under the tutelage of Colin Carr.



Sean Neidlinger  enjoys an active career as a recitalist, chamber musician, orchestral musician, and teacher. After receiving a B.M. from the Cleveland Institute of Music under the tutelage of Richard Aaron, he pursued further studies at New England Conservatory with Paul Katz. Described as "fiery" and "impassioned" by the Washington Post, Sean has been featured as a soloist and chamber musician at the Korean, German, French, and Austrian embassies, the Phillips Collection, the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and Terrace Theatre, the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic and the Friday Morning Music Club orchestras. He also has performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, and has served as principal cellist of the Amadeus, Winchester, McLean Orchestras, and the New Orchestra of Washington. He is currently the principal cellist of the American Pops Orchestra. Sean has toured Europe as a chamber musician and as a soloist and performs frequently with the National Chamber Ensemble and IBIS Chamber Music Society. Recently, Sean also embarked on a four nation tour throughout the Caribbean on a program of cultural outreach sponsored by the United States Department of State. As an artist always intrigued by mixed art forms, Sean won a grant to create a performance installation featured alongside the Warhol exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. He currently serves as the cellist for the Chamber Dance Project, an organization focused on new interpretations of chamber music repertoire combined with dance.                                    


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Camilo Pérez-Mejía earned a Bachelor of Music from the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. At Shenandoah University he earned a Master of Music in Cello Performance, an Artist Diploma in String Quartet Studies and completed all courses in the Doctoral program.  He received soloist awards from the Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia, Universidad Javeriana and Shenandoah Conservatory. He has performed as a member of diverse ensembles in Colombia, Italy, Mexico, and Brazil; and throughout Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.  He teaches cello and strings at Saint James School, Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, Ellsworth Music and is adjunct cello faculty at Shepherd University. Currently he plays for a number of ensembles, including the Argot String Quartet, Temple Trio, Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra, Pro-Arte Chamber Orchestra of Greater Washington, National String Symphonia and conducts the Charles Wa shington Symphony Orchestra.


Daniel Shomper is an active performer and teacher in the Washington DC/Baltimore/Annapolis area.  The Baltimore Sun praised his ‘virtuoso playing’ and complimented his ‘masterful performance’ and ‘lyrical expression.’  He is a member of the Annapolis and Alexandria Symphony Orchestras, and has also performed with the National Philharmonic and Fairfax Symphony.  In addition to his work as an orchestral performer, he is an active chamber musician and recitalist.  He has performed at venues such as the Kennedy Center, the National Art Gallery, and the Washington Arts Club, among others.  Additionally, he has performed concerts and in prestigious music festivals in the United States and abroad, including venues in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Praugue, Budapest, Helsinki and Quebec. Mr. Shomper recently graduated from the University of Maryland where he completed a DMA in Cello Performance.  While at Maryland, Daniel studied with David Hardy, and also worked with Peter Wiley, Kenneth Slowik, Evelyn Elsing, and members of the Guarneri Quartet.  Daniel is currently on faculty at the Anne Arundel Community College .  



Natalie Spehar has made her mark in classical, rock, and folk music, performing most recently with artists including Cage the Elephant, 2 Cellos, Disturbed, Johnny Mathis, Michael Bublé and the Trans Siberian Orchestra. Natalie is a graduate of Eastman School of Music and the University of Maryland, and is the cellist of DC-based new music quartet, Rogue Collective. An avid supporter of new music, Natalie has presented 45 world premiere performances and has traveled to perform & lecture on her work in string performance with electronics. She is also an active composer and studio recording artist, and a current Adjunct Professor of Music at Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, MD.





Irina Tikhonova began playing the cello at the age of six. Her mother, Lydia, loved to sing and selected the instrument for Irina originally because the range of the cello is essentially the same as the range of the singing voice. The choice was obviously a good one as Irina went on to study at the Tchaikovsky Music Conservatory under Vladimir Panteleev. She graduated with her Bachelor of Music degree from the Music College in Kiev, USSR in 1981 and a Master of Music degree from the State Conservatory of Music in Kiev, USSR in 1986. Before coming to this country, Irina performed with the Harmony Philharmonic Ensemble of Soloists in Kiev, the Renaissance Chamber Orchestra, and was the assistant principal cellist in the State Symphony Orchestra. Since immigrating to the United States from the Ukraine in 1991, she has been Principal Cellist of the Saginaw Bay Symphony, the Saginaw Bay Symphony, the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra, and the Flint Symphony Orchestra. Irina also plays on occasion with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and has a private cello studio in Royal Oak, Michigan. She loves bicycling.              









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