Music Active Strings Instructors
Westmont Strings Instructors
An internationally recognized double bass soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist, Nico Abondolo was appointed principal double bass of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra during the 2011-12 season. He made his debut at age 14 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and in 1983 became the first double bassist to win first place in the International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva, Switzerland. He has since appeared with orchestras and in recital throughout the United States and Europe.
Mr. Abondolo regularly performs chamber music at the La Jolla Music Society SummerFest and the Ojai and St. Barts festivals, and with the experimental chamber ensemble Concert Nova. Recent highlights include performances of Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat under Esa-Pekka Salonen, Schubert’s Trout Quintet with the Brentano String Quartet, John Adams’ Shaker Loops, and Tan Dun’s Quintet, the latter two with the composers conducting. He has appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and has toured with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Claudio Abbado, Sir Georg Solti, and Lorin Maazel.
Mr. Abondolo has premiered solo works by Sofia Gubaidulina and Henry Brant, and has received composition commissions from Concert Nova and Chamber Music Unbound. He was the double bassist for the New York-based ensemble Continuum and for eight seasons served as principal bass for San Francisco’s Grammy-nominated New Century Chamber Orchestra. He has composed for several New York and West Coast dance companies, performing with them at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Merce Cunningham Studio, and the La MaMa Experimental Theatre (New York). He was the composer for two PBS documentaries, “Half the Sky”, and “A Path Appears”. He has also served as principal bass for many motion picture composers, including John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Alan Silvestri, and Thomas Newman.
Maintaining a busy schedule of masterclasses at music schools throughout the country, Mr. Abondolo is currently on the faculty of Westmont College, and previously was a faculty member at the USC Thornton School of Music and UC Santa Barbara. He studied with Dennis Trembly, Peter Mercurio, and Gábor Rejt at USC; David Walter and Albert Fuller at Juilliard; and Franco Petracchi in Italy.
A native of Los Angeles, Christopher Ahn has appeared in solo and chamber music performances across the U.S. as well as abroad in Europe, Australia, South Korea, South Africa, Canada and Central America. Recent performances include solo recitals at the Brand Library and Art Center, UCLA, California State University, Dominguez Hills, and Santa Monica College. He has also performed chamber music on the Dilijan, L’Ermitage Foundation, Music Guild, Trinity Lutheran, and Chapman University concert series, and has performed numerous times for live radio broadcasts on the Sundays Live recital series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Chris has enjoyed frequent collaboration with the Lineage Dance Company, most recently presenting a performance of the Bach Cello Suites with dance choreography on the Brand Library and Art Center Dance Performance series. He has also worked closely with several Los Angeles based composers, premiering new works for solo cello and chamber ensemble on new music series throughout the Los Angeles area.
Chris has been invited to summer programs at the Aspen Music Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Banff Centre Masterclasses, Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, and the Rencontres Musicales Camerata Lysy in Montepulciano, Italy. He has collaborated with members of the St. Lawrence, Ysaye, and Amar string quartets, and has performed in masterclasses for such distinguished musicians as Anner Bylsma, Ralph Kirshbaum, Lynn Harrell, Rohan de Saram, Paul Katz, Raphael Wallfisch, Matt Haimovitz, Ani Kavafian, Ida Kavafian, and members of the Takacs, Cleveland and Borodin string quartets. Chris pursued his studies at UCLA, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the University of Michigan, where his principal teachers included Antonio Lysy, Richard Aaron, Stephen Geber, and Colin Carr. He resides in Los Angeles, where he maintains an active and varied freelance career playing with orchestras, chamber ensembles, and recording for film and television. He was appointed Principal Cello of Opera Santa Barbara in 2018, and he currently serves as a member of the string faculty at Westmont College.
Jim Connolly, string bass instructor, is a composer and performer living in Santa Barbara, California. He writes music for The Gove County Philharmonic, The Gove County String Quartet and Lit Moon Theatre. He has composed for choir, musical saw, five string violin, string quartet and various chamber ensembles. He plays the double bass, saw, banjo, piano and sings. He attended New England Conservatory. Jim has received nine Independent Theater Awards, numerous commissions, grants, ASCAP Plus Awards and in 2001 was listed as one of the twenty-five most intriguing people in Santa Barbara. He has collaborated or performed with Nate Birkey, Gilles Apap, Jeff Kaiser, Brad Dutz, Headless Household, Jeff Bridges, Vinny Golia, Eugene Chadbourne, Cougar Estrada, Anna Abbey and his brother Kevin Connolly.
Marcia Dickstein, renowned harpist, is enticing new audiences to harp in chamber music and harp solo with orchestra, and inspiring composers to write new works in classical and jazz genres. As founder/artistic director of the Debussy Trio, she has performed worldwide in the United States, Canada, Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan, over NPR radio and on commercial and PBS television.
Adjunct professor of harp at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Marcia holds master classes throughout the United States and maintains a private studio in Los Angeles. Her transcriptions and scholarly editions of solo and chamber music for professional and student harpists are published by Fatrock Ink.
Marcia has been featured as solo and chamber music harpist at festivals, in film and television, and as a recording artist. Her most recent recordings are “Look Ahead” and “Three by Three” (Klavier label), which feature 10 new works especially written for the Debussy Trio (Klavier label) and “Chill Dog” (Pupsnap Music).
Angela Miller, viola B.M. in Viola Performance BYU, M.M. and D.M.A. in Viola Performance UCSB, residency with the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France, free lance musician and educator. Angela has soloed with various West Coast orchestras, performing a standard classical repertoire. She recently recorded her first solo album, produced by acclaimed soloist Helen Callus, with whom she performs a duet. In January 2016, she recorded her first solo album of hymn transcriptions, arrangements and new compositions by herself and contemporary composers. It’s being edited for commercial release. Her chamber music specialization has included residencies with the Young Artists String Quartet at UC Santa Barbara as well as the European American Musical Alliance in Paris. As a member of the Young Artist’s String Quartet (2012-14), she performed for musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, Kronos Quartet, Brian Chen and the Silk Road Ensemble.
Born and raised in Alaska, Ira moved to Southern California in 1998. Currently he freelances in the Los Angeles area and regularly performs with Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, and Long Beach Symphony, among others. An avid chamber musician, Ira has worked and performed with members of the St. Petersburg, Lyris, Calder, Peterson and Manhattan string quartets. Ira has also performed and recorded with artists such as Placido Domingo, John Williams, Audra McDonald, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow, Peter Gabriel, Josh Groban, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and has been seen on the Grammies, American Music Awards, America's Got Talent, The Ellen Show, and The Tonight Show. He also is active in LA's recording scene, having played on numerous motion picture soundtracks and albums. From 2011 to 2013, Ira was the cellist for the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary National Tour, performing over 600 shows in 62 cities.
Emily Sommermann, violinist, received her Master of Music Degree in violin performance from SUNY Stony Brook under the tutelage of Isidore Cohen of the Beaux Arts Trio. She has been a member of orchestras in Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, and Germany. In Santa Barbara she has performed as section violinist with the SB Symphony and SB Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Sommermann is the musical director and principal violinist with the Santa Barbara String Quartet performing frequently for private events. Pursuing excellence as a teacher, Emily has received training through the Suzuki Association of the Americas and attended conferences in Orff and Kodaly. She has been on the faculty of Laguna Blanca School, SB Music and Arts Conservatory, and Westmont College. Ms. Sommermann maintains her private violin studio at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara mentoring the next generation of musicians in the art of violin playing.
Anthony Ybarra is an active, sought out soloist and recording artist in many styles. He has recorded 5 albums under his own name with his last album entitled "Flamenco Latino" (2009) which contains 12 original Flamenco Latino pieces. His music has been featured on documentaries, film, and television such as Turner Classic Movies, Showtime's original series "Dexter", and the film "Species". In 2008, Anthony was asked to perform for then, Presidential candidate, Barack Obama at Oprah Winfrey's estate in Santa Barbara. Anthony is a graduate of the University of Southern California's studio guitar department where he holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in guitar performance.
Bio and Photo coming soon!