Salon Concerts Leadership

Kathryn Mishell - Leah Nelson - Toby Blumenthal-Phillips


kathryn mishell                                 

Artistic Director


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 was 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. She is a regular performer on Salon Concerts in Austin, for which she is Artistic Director. Salon Concerts offers a four-concert subscription series of chamber music in private homes, and supports a nationally recognized program of chamber music education in public schools.

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.

Kathryn Mishell’s Website: Into the light radio



leah nelson

Executive Director


An engaging performer and inspired educator, Austin native Leah Nelson has become a highly sought after violist. Leah has performed throughout the United States including Carnegie Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall. As a chamber musician she performs and collaborates regularly with other artists in the Austin Texas area and was a founding member of the Left Coast String Quartet and Felix Quartet.  Leah enjoys working with a wide variety of musicians. Not only has she had the pleasure of sharing the stage with musicians such as Yo Yo Ma, Sarah Chang and Anne Akiko Myers, but she has toured with Andrea Bocelli and Trans Siberian Orchestra. Having the chance to perform with Barry Manilow, Willie Nelson, and recording with the Grammy nominated band Devotchka have been highlights of her career. Here in Austin Leah works frequently with composer Graham Reynolds.  She can be heard on the newest commissioned work by Ballet Austin, Exit Wounds, as well as on the sound track to the movie Bernie, directed by Richard Linklater. In November, Leah had the opportunity to work with composer Catherine Davis as a featured violist on the Illusory Impressions Project. As an orchestral musician, Leah has performed regularly with the Austin Symphony, Austin Lyric Opera, the New West Symphony and the American Youth Symphony.

Leah began her professional studies at the University of Texas at Austin where she received a Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance under the tutelage of Roger Myers. Ms. Nelson holds a Master of Music degree as well from the University of Southern California where she studied with the world-renowned performer and pedagogue Donald McInnes. In addition Leah has also studied at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena Italy under the great Russian violist Yuri Bashmet.

Leah is passionate about serving young people with access to high quality music education. She believes in the power of music study to deepen young people's artistic skills, minds and hearts. Growing up in Austin she attended Austin High School and had the opportunity to work with Robert Rudié, the founder of Salon Concerts as her string quartet coach in 11th and 12th grade. It was during those years that Leah developed a deep love for chamber music and small ensemble playing. While in Los Angeles, Leah was Director of the American Youth Symphony Educational Outreach Program and on faculty with Education through Music Los Angeles. In addition to being Executive Director for Salon Concerts and the CHAMPS program Leah continues to coach chamber music ensembles and has held a thriving private studio for over a decade. 



toby blumenthal

Education Director - CHAMPS

Toby 11-15-1.jpg

Toby Blumenthal, has been Director of CHAMPS since 2010, and Artistic Director and Pianist for Classical Chamber Concerts in Round Rock and Georgetown since 2011. 

A native of Chicago, Ms. Blumenthal is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Music and has a Master of Music in performance degree from the University of Houston. Toby studied chamber music with Rudolph Serkin at Marlboro Chamber Music Institute in Vermont, and did post-graduate studies with Leonard Shure at the University of Texas. She has appeared as soloist with many orchestras including the Chicago and Houston Symphony Orchestras and is a Steinway Artist. 

She and her late husband, Philadelphia Orchestra cellist Bert Phillips, founded the Luzerne Music Center and Luzerne Chamber Music Festival in Lake Luzerne, NY, in 1980. She developed the Piano Program, was co-executive and co-artistic director until 2012, and piano teacher, chamber music coach and performing pianist until 2015. Toby now lives in Round Rock, Texas. She has played for the past six Georgetown Festivals of the Arts and has appeared in numerous performances with the Artisan Quartet, and Aeolus Quartet for Classic Chamber Concerts and the Mozart Festival in San Antonio, TX at Incarnate Word University. She will be piano soloist with the Austin Civic Orchestra in February, and will appear in the Georgetown Bach Festival in July, and the Luzerne Chamber Music Festival in August.

For more information please visit Luzerne Music.