Faculty

Our award winning faculty is eager to help our attendees grow as cellists and as musicians. Click on their name to learn more.

Richard L. Aaron

aaron.richardRichard L. Aaron presently serves as professor of cello at the University of Michigan and The Juilliard School. Previously he taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory.
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Aaron has given master classes in Spain, Germany, France, Korea, Japan, China and Australia, as well as at many of the leading music schools in North America, including Rice University, Oberlin Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, Mannes, the Hartt School and The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Since 2003, Aaron has been on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and has taught at many other summer music institutes including the Indiana University String Academy, Calgary Music Bridge, Peter the Great Music Festival (Groningen, Holland), Aria International Summer Academy (Massachusetts), Innsbruck Summer Music Academy (Missouri), Chautauqua Institution (New York), the Idyllwild Summer Program (California), Heifetz International Music Institute (Virginia), Marrowstone Music Festival (Port Townsend, Washington), and Encore (Ohio).

Many of Aaron’s students have won prestigious prizes at competitions around the world, including the Naumburg, Washington International, Johanson in Washington, Isan Yun in Korea, Cassado in Japan and Klein in San Francisco. Aaron himself is a frequent competition judge, having recently served the Beijing International Competition, Isan Yun Competition (Korea), Cassado (Japan), Amsterdam Cello Biennale Competition, Schadt String Competition, and The Stulberg Competition.

Former Aaron students have occupied principal positions in major orchestras such as Chicago, Saint Louis, Seattle, Portland, and the Metropolitan Opera to name just a few, as well as playing among award-winning ensembles, such as the Biava, Fry Street, American, Pandereski, Linden, Escher and Aeolus string quartets.

Aaron was a member of the Elysian Piano Trio at Baldwin Wallace College for 14 years; he continues an active chamber music performance schedule.appearances with the Danish Radio Orchestra, the Basel Symphony Orchestra, the Copenhagen Symphony and the Irish Radio Orchestra. He has given numerous workshops and master clMr. Jensen has performed as a soloist and recitalist in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan including solo asses across the United States, Canada, and Japan including those at the University of Cincinnati, the Royal College of Music in Calgary, the Music Bridge Festival in Calgary, the Glenn Gould Professional School in Toronto, the University of British Columbia, the International Banff Center, Southern Methodist University School of Music, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, the University of New Mexico, the Texas Music Festival, the University of Colorado, the National Suzuki Convention, the Midwest Orchestra and Band Convention, and Indiana University School of Music.

His former students are members of major orchestras throughout the United States and Canada. His students are first prize winners in the MTNA National Competition, the ASTA National Competition, the Sphinx Competition, the Stulberg International Competition, the Madison Symphony Young Artist Competition, the Corpus Christi International Competition, the Chicago Symphony Young Artist Competition and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. They are also prize winners in the WAMSO Young Artist Competition, the Klein International Competition, and the Lutoslavski International Cello Competition.

Nick Curry

NickCellophotoDr. Nick Curry is the Associate Professor of Cello at the University of North Florida. At UNF, he also serves as the coordinator of scholarships and admissions for the music department and as the area coordinator for strings. He is a founding member of Trio Florida with violinist Simon Shiao and pianist Gary Smart, featuring new compositions as well as timeless classics. In early 2015, he joined fellow Jacksonville musicians Aurica Duca, violinist, and Clinton Dewing, violinist/violist, as founders of the Lawson Ensemble to play and promote chamber music in the region. From 2004-2007, he served as the assistant professor of cello and the cellist in the Rawlins Piano Trio at the University of South Dakota.

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from The Westminster Schools, where his chamber music coaches included Martha Gerschefski and Allan Sandlin. Nick received his Bachelor of Music, cum laude, from Vanderbilt, where he studied with Grace Mihi Bahng. While at Vanderbilt, he served as Professor Bahng’s teaching assistant and was the recipient of the Jean Keller Heard Award for Excellence in string performance. Nick then served as Hans Jorgen Jensen’s teaching assistant for five years at Northwestern University, earning both his Master and Doctor of Music degrees. He also was the teaching assistant to Professor Jensen at the Meadowmount School of Music for four summers. At Northwestern, Nick performed as soloist with the Northwestern Philharmonic Orchestra and won the Northwestern Chamber Music Competition.

Nick’s chamber training includes master classes with the Emerson String Quartet, the Pacifica String Quartet, and the Blair String Quartet. Private studies also included summers in Canada and Italy studying with Harvey Shapiro of Julliard fame. Nick has played concerts in Austria, France, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Taiwan and Turkey, and throughout the United States. In April of 2006, he performed as a soloist on National Public Radio (USA) Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion on the King Amati (ca. 1538) cello. The performance was heard by over 4,000 people live and by approximately four million on radio and can be found on the Prairie Home Companion website archives.

In the summers of 2012 and 2013, Dr. Curry was visiting faculty at the Meadowmount School of Music and was full-time faculty at the Tennessee Valley Music Festival. He has presented at national conferences; is a sought after clinician and adjudicator; and active with the Florida Chapter of the American String Teachers Association.

From his undergraduate days, Nick knew he wanted to teach cello and perform chamber music and is grateful to UNF for helping that ambition be realized. He is married to fellow faculty member, Dr. Cara Tasher, and they are the parents of Mia, age one.

Mary Beth Bryant

mary beth bryantMary Beth Bryant studied with Martha Gerschefski and later went to graduate school at the University of Hartford to study with Mihai Tetel where she served as principal cello of the university orchestra. She has performed in master classes for Timothy Eddy, Hans Jorgen Jensen and Amit Peled.

Her students have served as principal of MYSO and EYSO in Atlanta as well as attended All-State Orchestra in Georgia. Mary Beth presented “How to Make your Cellists Yo YO Ma-Velous” for the past two years at the ASTA conference. She loves teaching and finds great joy in seeing her students quickly progress!

Grace Bahng Gavin

Grace Bhang PhotoGrace Bahng Gavin was a scholarship student of Leonard Rose and Channing Robbins at the Juilliard School where she received her B.M. and M.M. degrees. She was a member of the Blair String Quartet and Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University from 1984-1999. Widely acclaimed in concert performances across the country, she has appeared in recital at the Library of Congress, Kennedy Center, 92nd St. Y in New York, Alice Tully Hall and on National Public Radio and Television. She has been in residence at the Aspen, Marlboro, Sunflower, Sewanee, Buzzard’s Bay and the Crested Butte Chamber Music Festivals, the El Paso Pro Musica International Chamber Music Festival, the Sedona Chamber Music Festival, the Highlands/Cashiers Chamber Music Festival, the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and the St. Barths Music Festival.

Ms. Bahng has performed with a wide array of musicians, including: Edgar Meyer, Robert McDuffie, Donald McInnes, Joseph Silverstein, Bela Fleck, Nigel Kennedy, Mark O’Connor, Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride and has played on numerous movie soundtracks. Grace lives in Orlando, Florida, where she lives with her husband, Kip, and enjoys competitive tennis and cooking.

Avi Friedlander

Avi_Friedlander-Pic-200x300Avi Friedlander, Cello, is the director of the Barston Suzuki Center at the Music Institute of Chicago, a teacher trainer candidate and founder and former director of Suzuki Talent Education Program of Birmingham. He received his Master’s and Bachelor’s of Music performance degrees from The University of Michigan, and pursued his professional studies degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music.

Mr. Friedlander is the former Assistant Principal cellist of the Atlanta Opera, former member of The New World Symphony and former Adjunct Professor of Cello at Emory University in Atlanta. He has been trained in Suzuki Methods with Dr. Tanya Carey, Pam Devenport, Rick Mooney and Gilda Barston. Mr. Friedlander has also been trained in cello pedagogy with Irene Sharp and teaching group classes with Carey Beth Hockett and Terry Durbin. His primary teachers have included Anthony Elliott, Stephen Geber, Tanya Carey and David Premo and has also studied with Richard Aaron and Hans Jensen. Mr. Friedlander has studied improvisation methods with Eugene Friesen from the Berkley College and performs and records music from classical to rock. Mr. Friedlander currently performs with the String Theory Birmingham and Sunday Jazz Night and writes his own arrangements for solo cello of rock tunes from Jimi Hendrix to Pearl Jam.