Known for her “bold and dramatically characterized playing” (Dallas Morning News), “great artistic sense” and “tone that draws in one’s ear with sounds and ideas that simply cannot be resisted,” (Philadelphia Inquirer) Julietta Curenton has established herself as an educator, soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. Ms. Curenton is the newly appointed Assistant Professor of Flute at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia.
Curenton’s keen interest in the intersection of the Classical, Jazz and Gospel genres won her the prestigious Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia Career Advancement Award. Additional awards include Premiere Prix at the Journées de les Harpes Competition in Arles, France and prizes in the National Flute Association young artist competition, New York Flute Club young artist competition and Astral Artists’ national auditions.
Ms. Curenton has made several solo guest appearances with The National Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Temple University Orchestra, The Kennedy Center Institute Orchestra and the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra and has participated in music festivals spanning the globe including the Shanghai Contemporary Music Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Chamber Music Northwest, Dallas Chamber Music Society, Mostly Mozart Festival of Lincoln Center, among others.
Ms. Curenton’s solo pursuits include commissioning women and African American composers to write new, innovative and accessible works for the flute some of which have been featured on New York's WQXR Young Artists Showcase and Philadelphia's WRTI's Performance Studio. Curenton's highly anticipated debut album entitled "Harambee: The Power of Sisterhood” was released in 2021.
Featured Performer and Wind/Brass Coach
Stephen Nicholas Key is the adjunct assistant professor of oboe at Shenandoah Conservatory and principal oboist for The New Orchestra of Washington. A native of Oklahoma, he had his first solo appearance at the Kennedy Center at fifteen, and has since performed throughout Europe and Russia.
As a soloist, he has performed with the Washington Chamber Orchestra, Washington Master Chorale, University of Texas Symphony Orchestra and Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra as part of the school’s Pulitzer Prize Composer Festival, performing Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto for Oboe. Recently, he performed the Strauss Oboe Concerto with the Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jan Wagner about which critics said, “I’ve never seen an oboe played like that… dynamics and phrasing were incredible… truly [bringing] the piece to life!” The New Orchestra of Washington premiered Key’s arrangement of Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin” in fall 2018; New York Critic, Oberon’s Grove, said of Stephen’s playing, “gorgeous performance… terrific, notable solos… rich, warm tone.”
Professionally, Key has played with the National Symphony Orchestra, Austin Symphony, Fairfax Symphony, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, Virginia Opera, the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio and the New World Symphony. Also, he has recorded with the Centaur Label and Albany Records. He attended the Kennedy Center Summer Music Institute, Aspen Music Festival and The International Festival-Institute at Round Top where he won the chamber music competition. He serves as faculty and performer for the NOWsummer Festival, and faculty for the Bocal Majority/Operation O.B.O.E. annual double reed camp.
In addition to his university engagements, Key also maintains a private studio based in northern Virginia. His students have successfully placed in the top chairs of the American Youth Philharmonic, Virginia All-State, and summer festival orchestras. His students have been accepted to competitive undergraduate and graduate programs with scholarships at schools such as The Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, McGill School of Music, Yale University, University of Michigan, University of Texas at Austin, University of New Mexico, University of Maryland, Hart School of Music and University of South Carolina at Greensboro.
Key studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Texas at Austin where he won the Butler School of Music Concerto Competition. His principal teachers include Rebecca Henderson, James Caldwell, Rudolf Vrbsky, Carol Stephenson and James Moseley. Also, he has been professionally coached by Elaine Douvas (the Met and The Juilliard School) and Katherine Needleman (Baltimore Symphony). Additionally, Key has composed works that have been performed at Oberlin Conservatory and The Juilliard School.
Featured Performer and Wind/Brass Coach
Dr. Ina Mirtcheva Blevins is a May 2014 graduate of George Mason University with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance. She has been a piano student of Dr. Anna Balakerskaia for many years. Her doctoral dissertation research focused on the life and music of Isaac Mikhnovsky; Dr. Linda Monson served as her dissertation advisor and mentor. Having earned her Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees in Piano Performance from George Mason University, she subsequently earned a Master in Instrumental Collaborative Piano at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she studied piano and chamber music with James Tocco and Sandra Rivers. She has performed in numerous recitals as a soloist and with chamber music ensembles at venues including The Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Institution, Werner Recital Hall, Prosels Castle, and The Lyceum. She has also performed internationally in Italy, Holland, Poland, Bulgaria, and Canada. In 2003, Ms. Mirtcheva was a Mason Concerto Competition winner and performed with the George Mason Symphony Orchestra. She has also participated in the Interharmony International Music Festivals in Soesterberg, Netherlands, in their 2003 and 2004 seasons, and in The Berkshires in 2007. In August 2009, she won the Schlern International Competition. In the summer of 2010, she performed in Poland as part of the Mozart Plus Festival, and in Vipiteno, Italy, at the Orfeo International Music Festival. Dr. Mirtcheva is a member of the applied piano faculty at Mason, as well as a Teaching Artist at the Mason Community Arts Academy where she teaches private lessons as well as piano classes for 55+.
Dr. Ina Mirtcheva Blevins
Jennene Estes studied cello with Dr. Robert Ashby and voice with Dr. John Little at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia where she graduated in 1989. From there, Jennene settled in Northern Virginia and began teaching private music lessons and performing with the Prince William Symphony and the Alexandria Symphony. In 1998, Jennene graduated from Shenandoah University with an MBA and subsequently earned an Ed.S. in Higher Education Administration at The George Washington University. Jennene continues to teach strings, voice, music theory/composition and piano students in her current studio. Jennene is also a certified Music Together Teacher. Jennene and her husband Wayne, also a musician/teacher, reside in downtown Leesburg Virginia where they own The Catoctin School of Music and freelance as musicians doing symphony, pit orchestra work, weddings and a variety of other musical performances, including Sunday worship services at various local churches. Currently Jennene is a member of the Loudoun Symphony and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra. Jennene is deeply passionate about music and its ability to cross cultures and create community wherever it’s practiced. She lives this out each Friday morning as she teaches via Zoom in Accra, Ghana. Jennene believes that musical inspiration is a right, an integral part of society, and a practice to which every individual should have access. Thoughts and ideas, expressed through music, build connection and understanding that words alone cannot.
Viola, Cello, and Bass Sectional Coach
Matthew Gattuso is an avid teacher and performer on violin, viola, and piano in the Northern Virginia area. Mr. Gattuso holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the College of William and Mary along with a Master of Music in String Pedagogy from George Mason University. While maintaining a full private teaching studio, Mr. Gattuso enjoys performing with local professional and community groups and currently sits principal 2nd violin with the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra. Other recent appearances include performances with the National String Symphonia, Main Street Chamber Orchestra, and Barns of Rose Hill Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Gattuso also enjoys significant freelance work for weddings and other special events. When he isn’t performing or inspiring the next generation of musicians, Mr. Gattuso enjoys outdoor recreation, gardening, his cat, and practicing meditation.
Viola Sectional Coach
Ms. Sarah Geiger's musical journey began at the age of 3 when she started violin with the Buffalo Suzuki Strings. Through the years she pursued a variety of musical opportunities at the local, regional, and state levels, and upon graduating high school attended Ithaca College for Music Education, graduating in 2005. Ms. Geiger returned to Ithaca College in the summers from 2018-2020 and earned a Master's in Music Education as well.
Currently, Ms. Geiger teaches for Loudoun County at Farmwell Station Middle School in Ashburn, VA working with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade orchestras. Additionally, she coaches Chamber Orchestra – an after school club for students that desire extra performance opportunities. She enjoys bringing students into the community for real-world music experiences, and collaborating with other schools. Ms. Geiger is currently on the board of directors as secretary for The Capitol Symphonic Youth Orchestra (TCSYO). Ms. Geiger is a violinist with the Maestra Ensemble and also teaches private lessons at The Music Loft.
Conductor, Summer Orchestral Institute Beginning String Orchestra
Violist Stephanie Knutsen has had a busy performing career in the Washington D.C. area for the past 20+ years. She is a native of Montgomery County, MD and currently lives in Sterling, VA with her husband and two daughters. Ms Knutsen performs regularly with several area orchestras including the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, National Philharmonic, Maryland Symphony Orchestra, Harrisburg Symphony, and the American Pops Orchestra, as well as various live and televised performances with amazing artists such as Patti LaBelle, Kristen Chenoweth, the Eagles, Midori, Joshua Bell and Andrea Bocelli. She also co-hosts the popular ViolaCentric Podcast with her colleague and friend, Elizabeth O'Hara. Ms Knutsen is a passionate performer and educator with a degree in Music Education from James Madison University.
Huyen MacMichael is a Virginia-based artist, art instructor, and art therapist who has focused on realistic watercolor painting and playful functional ceramics over the past several years. She loves drawing, pastels, watercolors, and building and sculpting with clay. She has exhibited in several local juried shows, participated in national and international art mail exchanges, painted murals at local schools, and has been commissioned for pet portraits. She has taken and taught ceramics workshops and classes at The Clay and Metal Loft, is a member of the Loudoun Sketch Club, has co-chaired local and district Reflections Art Contests for school students, and is the Director of Visual Arts for the DaVinci Art Studio, Arts For All, Loudoun.
Huyen has over 20 years experience in facilitating art and art therapy groups for various ages and with a variety of media including drawing, painting, clay, and photography. She has worked and volunteered in community homeschool groups, preschools, elementary schools, residential facilities, hospitals, community programs and private residences. She won the Jim “Doc” Wiley Leadership in the Arts Award in 2021 and was also selected as a Loudoun 100 Honoree. The DaVinci Art Studio program that she manages was nominated for 2023 Best of Loudoun for Art Instruction. Her education consists of a BA in Fine Arts from Mary Washington, an MA in art therapy from George Washington, and learning all the time at workshops and in the studio. She was a clarinetist in award winning high school marching, symphonic, and all district bands in Southwest Virginia and still keeps in touch with her high school band director.
TJ Maistros is a versale percussionist and drum set player based out of the D.C. and N.Y.C. areas. In 2018 he graduated from New York University with a Masters in Percussion Performance, and in 2016 he graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelors in Percussion Performance.
T.J. began taking private lessons with David Goiser in 2003 and Marc Collier in 2010. T.J. performed
across N.Y.C. with Mulberry Music’s Brian Choper, private events at the French Embassy, the U.N. Buildings for the I.C.C., and opened for Dave Mason with former band mates Tyler and Ryan Lindsay on David Webb’s Live on Sirius XM Radio broadcast on the U.S.S. Wasp, as well as performances at other political events. Collegiate honors include NYU Steel Pan Ensemble performances at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival with the New York Theatre Ballet and Drum Boogie Festival, and scholarship with the GMU Green Machine, as well as summer music festivals. Today, he performs and records up and down the East Coast, and teaches with the Catoctin School of Music, and Stone Bridge H.S. and Loudoun Country Day School band programs. T.J. continues to grow in his studies with jazz legend, Tony Moreno, and MIDI drum performance applications.
Stephen Matthie is currently the Director of Orchestras at Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly, VA, where he is also the chairperson of the Faculty Advisory Council. Prior to this, Mr. Matthie held orchestra directing positions at Robinson Secondary School, Rachel Carson Middle School, and Greenbriar West Elementary School. His orchestras consistently receive “Superior” ratings at festivals and assessments and are praised for their great musicianship and energy. In addition, the Rocky Run Chamber Orchestra was only one of two middle school orchestras chosen to perform at the 2013 Virginia Music Educators Association State Conference. In 2015, the Rocky Run Chamber Orchestra was also chosen as “Commended Winner” for The Foundation of Music Education’s Mark of Excellence Orchestra Festival, based out of Texas. Under Mr. Matthie’s direction, the Rocky Run orchestra program has grown from 88 students in 2006 to 295 students at its peak.
Mr. Matthie was the recipient of the Virginia Chapter of the American Strings Teachers Association’s 2010 New Strings Teacher of The Year Award, given to a teacher each year in their first 6 years of teaching. Recently, Mr. Matthie is also a sought after guest conductor, adjudicator, and clinician for several honors orchestras, assessments, and solo competitons throughout Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina.
Mr. Matthie is originally from Kingston, Jamaica and moved to the United States when he was five years old. He is a graduate of Chantilly High School, part of Fairfax County Public Schools, in Chantilly, VA. He earned his B.M. in Music Education from James Madison University where he studied violin with Dr. Wanchi Huang and conducting with Dr. Robert McCashin. Mr. Matthie is a member of American Strings Teachers Association and National Association for Music Education.
Apart from teaching in the public schools, Mr. Matthie spent 15 seasons as a violinist with the Tysons McLean Orchestra in McLean, VA, runs a violin studio of 5 students out of his home in Fairfax, VA, and is the second violinist for the BASH Quartet, an ensemble made up of fellow orchestra directors.
Violin Sectional Coach
Quentin Walston is an active pianist, composer, and music educator in the Washington DC area. He composes for piano, his jazz trio, and large ensembles, blending memorable melodies, striking rhythms, and adventurous improvisations. As a music and jazz educator, Quentin spreads the joy of learning and playing music to individuals of all ages.
Quentin Walston was introduced to improvisation surprisingly through bluegrass and folk music. As the harmonica player in the folk band Jake and the Burtones, Quentin fostered a passion for improvising solos while appreciating the musicianship of others around him. Once that budding interest crossed over to his enthusiasm for piano, Quentin shortly began playing and learning jazz. Quentin went on to study jazz and piano at James Madison University, focusing on improvisation, composition, and arranging.
Quentin Walston released his first jazz EP, “Introduction”, in 2017. This debut recording of jazz standards, performed solo and trio, displayed his arranging and improvisation style. In 2019, Quentin released his first full-length LP “Play“. The album matches its namesake by excitedly playing with different combinations of piano, bass, drum set, saxophone, trumpet, organ, and guitar. From the funky bass line of “Fox Talks Voice Box“, to the blending harmonies of sax and trumpet in “Atmosphere“, to bright and spirited rhythms of “Off Menu” or the tender melody of “Love Is A Smile“, the eight compositions and one arrangement of this album showcase Quentin’s full compositional voice.
"The Good Book Suite" is Quentin Walston's newest album, composed entirely for his trio. Inspired by his faith and Scripture, the suite covers a huge musical landscape. Wonderful builds and interplay between the jazz trio are found in the biggest and boldest moments to the most quietly intimate passages. "The Good Book Suite" is available now everywhere.