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Sandy Yamamoto

Recipient of the 2016 Butler School of Music Teaching Excellence Award Violinist Sandy Yamamoto has dazzled audiences in concert performances around the globe for the past three decades as a soloist and as a member of the Miró Quartet.

Ms. Yamamoto began her violin studies at the age of 4.  At 11, she made her solo debut with the North Carolina Symphony and has since appeared with orchestras throughout the US and Europe to critical acclaim.

With the Miró Quartet, she performed on the major concert stages of the world, regularly concertizing in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.  As a member of the Quartet, she was a recipient of the Naumburg Chamber Music and Cleveland Quartet Awards, won First Prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition and was one of the first chamber musicians to be awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant.  She has shared the stage with many prominent musicians including Leif Ove Andsnes, Joshua Bell, Eliot Fisk, Lynn Harrell, Midori, Jon Kimura Parker and Pinchas Zukerman.

Since leaving the Quartet in May 2011, she has been appointed Senior Lecturer of Violin at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin.  She also founded the Butler Trio with Miró Quartet cellist, Joshua Gindele and pianist, Colette Valentine.  She has since been enjoying a versatile performing career, playing concertos and recitals as well as leading noted chamber orchestras throughout the United States.

Ms. Yamamoto was invited as a guest speaker and role model for the winners of the 2003 Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women Award in New York City.  In the past two years, she has given a lecture titled the “Juror’s Ear” for the Menuhin International Violin Competition as well as adjudicated for the Coleman International Chamber Music Competition.

When she is not busy teaching and performing, Ms. Yamamoto enjoys spending time with her husband, Daniel, her two sons, Adrian and Brian, and her cat, Poko.


Elise winters

Elise Winters performs with the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Austin Lyric Opera, and with critically acclaimed Forklift DanceWorks and Grammy Award-winning Conspirare. She has been featured as guest concertmistress, soloist, and chamber musician with La Follia Austin Baroque, Victoria Bach Festival, Salon Concerts, and Austin Chamber Music Center; and enjoyed a rich collaboration with the principals of the Austin Symphony as a member of the Austin String Quartet.

A graduate summa cum laude of Rice University, Elise holds a Master of Social Work from University of Texas, with coursework in psychology, linguistics, neurolinguistics, and cognition. She served Education Director of Salon Concerts for two years, and has been on faculty at the Austin Chamber Music Center for 20 years.  In addition to her busy performing schedule she supports a thriving violin studio; her students have gone on to music schools including Texas State University, University of North Texas, Boston Conservatory, New England Conservatory, and Yale University School of Music, and held positions with the Boston Philharmonia, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Verbier Festival Orchestra, and the Pacific Symphony. 

Elise is a published author with Oxford University Press, and author of Kaleidoscopes for Violin, a violin method which integrates Suzuki and Montessori principles. During the past several years teachers have flown in from around the country to attend her comprehensive, three-day training on teaching violin to young children. She has been a multi-year returning presenter at the American String Teachers Association national conference, including the presentations "Sandbox to Schradieck: Achieving Excellence with Very Young Students" (2015), "Guiding the Brain: Psychological Tools for Technical Control and Musical Expression" (2017), and “Dancing with Words: Purposeful Communication in the Private Lesson to Connect, Transform, and Inspire” (2018).

Elise performs on an French violin made by Gustave Bernadel in 1892.



Bruce Williams began his professional career as a violist at the age of fifteen and four years later won a position with the Fort Worth Symphony. In 1983, he won the principal violist position with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra in Israel and was also a member of the Haifa Clarinet Trio; they performed throughout Israel and Europe. In 1985, upon his return to the U.S., he accepted the assistant principal violist position with the The Orchestra of Santa Fe. He also was invited to concertize throughout the U.S. as a member of the Allegro Chamber Trio (ACT) with flutist Megan Meisenbach and harpist Mary Golden. This trio performed together for many years and was featured on National Public Radio's Performance Today. ACT recorded on Centaur records as The Meisenbach/Golden Duo. In 2003, he won the Austin Critics Table award for Outstanding Instrumentalist for his performance of Hector Berlioz' Harold in Italy with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Williams is the manager, as well as a founding member, of the Artisan Quartet (AQ). The AQ began their Artisan Quartet Series in 2012 in Austin, Texas. This popular string quartet performed at Carnegie Hall in 2012; they were presented by MidAmerica Productions. The AQ was recently named Quartet in Residence both with Mozart Festival Texas in San Antonio and the newly-formed Mason County Chamber Music Festival (MCCMF) in Mason, Texas. Mr. Williams is the Artistic Director of the MCCMF. Mr. Williams is a guest artist with the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio and the Fayetteville Chamber Music Festival in Fayetteville, Texas and has been invited to perform in chamber music festivals in California and Colorado. He is the principal violist with the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Victoria Bach Festival (VBF). He often appears with chamber ensembles and as a soloist during the VBF. Mr. Williams has recorded on Harmonia Mundi recordings with the Grammy Award winning choral group Conspirare under the artistic direction of Craig Hella Johnson.

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martha carapetyan

Martha Carapetyan grew up in a musical family.  There were always rehearsals and concerts to attend and her love of music grew from those early years. In high school, she was accepted into the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and learned the art of practice and performance from many great musical masters.  Her studies took her to North Texas State University and Indiana University to earn her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees, respectively. Her most significant passion, other than raising her children, has been to spend her life as a professional violist and teacher.  

Martha’s symphonic career began after she won a position in the New World Symphony in Miami, the nation’s most distinguished training orchestra. Over the last three decades, Martha has had the good fortune to be able to perform with the Houston and San Antonio Symphonies, as well as the Austin Opera (formerly the Austin Lyric Opera).  She is currently a tenured member of the Austin Symphony and spends the rest of her time engaging students in her viola studio.  

Martha co-founded the Central Texas Viola Society, a chapter of the American Viola Society and has helped organize many events in the areas of both teaching and performing. Her extensive teaching background ranges from beginning level orchestral students at the Austin Waldorf School to adjunct lecturer in viola at Baylor University.

Eager to share her love of good viola playing with high school students, Martha co-founded the Austin Viola Workshop with Dr. Ames Asbell.  The Workshop is a weekly class which explores fundamentals of viola playing, viola repertoire and the ever-expanding literature for viola ensembles, all in a collegial and supportive atmosphere.

It is important for Martha to impress upon her students the importance of mastering the viola repertoire and doing so in a way which promotes comfort and wellness for the whole musician. She is always seeking to deepen her knowledge of healthy movement and good physical habits, whether through Alexander Technique, The Feldenkrais Method, yoga, or any other disciplines which have as their basis good use and posture.

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Douglas Harvey

Douglas Harvey joined the cello section of the Austin Symphony at age 17, and in 2002 became the youngest principal cellist in the history of the Orchestra. In 2005, he became the principal cellist of the Austin Opera Orchestra. Douglas performed his first concerto as solo cellist with the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio at the age of 13, and made his debut as soloist with the San Antonio Symphony at the age of 15. At age 16 he was the youngest cellist in history to be invited by the University of Texas at Austin to perform a full recital on its campus. He won first place awards in the 2000 William C. Byrd International Competition, the Idyllwild International Young Artists Competition, and the Corpus Christi International Competition, as well as two first place solo Bach prizes awarded at the Corpus Christi and Kingsville International Competitions. Since then, Mr. Harvey has performed almost 20 different works for cello and orchestra. Douglas plays on the Grand Prize winning “Emperor” cello made c. 1860 in Paris by Gand Freres, commissioned by the Emperor Napoleon III.


sara nelson

Cellist Sara Nelson is a native of Houston, Texas, where she graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She received her Bachelor of Cello Performance degree with Paul Olefsky at the University of Texas at Austin.

In 1997 she became a founding member of the Tosca String Quartet, which has garnered an international reputation by collaborating with renowned artists from a variety of genres, including David Byrne, Bob Schneider, the Dixie Chicks and Spoon. From 2001-2005 Sara and the Tosca Strings joined Mr. Byrne on two world tours and his album, Grown Backwards.  A collaboration with local pianist/accordionist/composer Glover Gill led to Tosca's fluency in Argentine tango, as well as concerts in Buenos Aires, California and Texas, and appearances in the movie and soundtrack of Waking Life.

Sara is currently a member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Austin Opera Orchestra, and the Montopolis Chamber Ensemble.



steve girko

Presently principal clarinetist with the Austin Symphony, Stephen Girko was appointed as principal clarinetist with the San Antonio Symphony for the 1999-2000 season. Prior to that, he was the principal clarinetist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 1975 through 1998. He made his debut appearance with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra by performing the Clarinet Concerto of Aaron Copland, with the composer conducting. Since then Mr. Girko has appeared as soloist performing the concertos of Mozart, Nielsen, & Weber, as well as the Introduction, Theme & Variations of Rossini & the Premiere Rhapsodie of Debussy.

Stephen Girko was born in New York City. He attended the State University College of New York at Potsdam, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in music education in 1965. The following year, he received his Master of Music degree in performance from The Manhattan School of Music. After a year of teaching, Mr. Girko fulfilled his military obligation by performing with the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, N.Y. While at West Point, he also played principal clarinet with both the Albany Symphony Orchestra and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra. Upon leaving the military, Stephen was appointed principal clarinetist with the Oklahoma City Symphony, a position he held for four years. He subsequently served as associate principal clarinetist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra for a year before coming to Dallas.

Mr. Girko has also enjoyed an active career as a teacher, having taught at Oklahoma University for four years as well as Southern Methodist University for 18 years. His students are represented in orchestras and colleges throughout the United States. Mr. Girko is a frequent soloist and clinician at various clarinet symposia, as well as having been a member of Music in the Mountains, a summer chamber orchestra festival held in southwestern Colorado and The Carmel Bach Festival.

Mr. Girko is presently on the faculty of Texas State University as well as teaching clarinet in the San Antonio public schools. He also a member of Wild Basin Winds, a woodwind quintet based in Austin Texas.

Mr. Girko, a skilled cook, owns and operates a small catering company called “EAT MY PIZZA!” He takes to his client’s home the ingredients with which to make New York style pizzas as well as an incredibly delicious salad.  After the guests have observed his culinary skills and have filled themselves with the fruits of his labor, he will then entertain them by performing both classical and popular music on his clarinet.

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Kathryn Mishell

Kathryn Mishell was born in Los Angeles, where she received her early musical training. Her college and graduate work were done at Pomona College, The University of Kansas, and the University of Southern California. During these years she was a piano student of John Perry and a composition student of John Pozdro and then Ingolf Dahl.

Ms. Mishell’s works include over a hundred piano pieces, ensemble and orchestral works, and music for chorus, dance and theatre. Her published collections of pieces for piano students have sold thousands of copies nationwide. She is the recipient of the 2011 Sylvia Glickman Prize from the International Alliance of Women in Music for her Piano Quartet. She is one of two women composers honored by the National League of American Pen Women in 1996. She was the 1997 commissioned composer of the Texas Music Teachers Association, and has received ASCAP awards for the past several years. Her commissions include chamber works for Trio Contraste, Chamber Soloists of Austin, the Arundel Trio, Pacific Serenades of Los Angeles, Musiques en Euroreígion, and Austin Lyric Opera’s Armstrong Community Music School, for which she is composer-in-residence. Mishell has participated in the Women’s Philharmonic New Music Reading Sessions, the Society of Composers National Conference, and has been guest composer at the UT at Austin.

Ms. Mishell produced and hosted Into the Light, a weekly radio program devoted to the music of women composers, for ten and a half years. Produced at KMFA, the fine arts station in Austin, it won three Gracie awards for outstanding work in biography for public radio, as well as two international Communicator Awards of Distinction for excellence in broadcasting. This project extended into the concert world as Ms. Mishell produced, lectured, and performed Into the Light, live for audiences. The hundreds of hours of broadcasts of the work of women composers with Ms. Mishell’s commentary are available for broadcast throughout the world.

As pianist, Ms. Mishell has performed extensively in the U.S. and Mexico as a soloist and in chamber music. She has been touring pianist for the Sharir Dance Company, and for the music dramas Paganini! and Heroes and Lovers, for which she wrote the incidental music.
A teacher of many award-winning young pianists, Ms. Mishell has taught at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and has acted as clinician, adjudicator, and as consultant in the use of computers in music instruction. She maintains a class of private piano students in Austin, where she has twice been awarded the Outstanding Pre-collegiate Teaching Award.