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Artists

Sarah Jane McMahon

Praised by The New York Times as “bright, active, and fastidiously musical” and by Opera News as having “a golden sound,” New Orleans native Sarah Jane McMahon performs with the world’s top opera companies and symphony orchestras. Recent highlights include appearances this past summer at the prestigious Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires as Stella in André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Micaela in Carmen with New Orleans Opera, and concert performances with the Colorado Symphony, Shreveport Symphony, and Midland Odessa Symphony. She has appeared with the Los Angeles Opera, Dallas Opera, Arizona Opera, Virginia Opera, and the Washington Concert Opera, among many others. With the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, she performed as Galatea in Acis and Galatea, earning her the coveted Kolozsvár Award, in Purcell’s King Arthur, and as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance for which The New York Times called her “the most polished and flexible singer in the cast.” Other roles performed include Marguerite (Faust), Violetta (La Traviata), Fiordiligi (Cosí fan tutte), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Musetta (La Bohème), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Maria (West Side Story), Maria (The Sound of Music), Clara (The Light in the Piazza), Gilda (Rigoletto), and Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro). Her concert credits include performances with The San Francisco Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Santo Domingo Festival, the Vienna Konzerthaus, Carnegie Hall, Canadian Opera Orchestra, the Cleveland Pops, the Portland Symphony, the Jacksonville Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and concerts opposite Placido Domingo. She is a summa cum laude graduate of both Loyola and Yale Universities, performs frequently with Lyrica Baroque, and serves as a principal cantor at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. She has recorded three albums available on iTunes, Amazon, and www.sarahjanemcmahon.com

Christopher Pell

Christopher Pell is the Principal Clarinetist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Second Clarinetist of The Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and the former Principal Clarinetist of The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Christopher has performed as Principal Clarinetist with The Toronto Symphony, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, The Knights, The Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería (Mexico City), The Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, second clarinet with The Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and a variety of positions with The American Ballet Theatre. He appeared as a soloist with The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, The U.S. Army Band at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fischer Hall, and The Long Island Sound Symphony. He has also won first prize in the Vandoren Emerging Artists Competition. As a chamber musician, Christopher has performed with the Linton Chamber Music Series, the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Twickenham Fest, The Orlando Chamber Soloists, the Luzerne Chamber Music Festival, NOLA 360, and the Lake George Music Festival. Christopher teaches at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, has taught at the Interlochen Arts Camp and the University of New Orleans. Christopher graduated from The Juilliard School in 2013 and has twice been a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. Christopher is a Buffet Crampon artist and a Vandoren artist.

Elena Lacheva

Bulgarian-born Ms. Lacheva holds the Professional-in-Residence position at Louisiana State University and continues to serve as the Program Director of the Collaborative Piano Institute – the summer program for current and potential collaborative pianists she co-created in 2017.

Ms. Lacheva is a member of the International Keyboard Collaborative Arts Society (IKCAS) and was a presenter at CollabFest 2020, the Society’s annual conference. In 2019 she joined the New Orleans Opera production team for the productions of Rigoletto and Carmen, and will return for La Bohème in the spring of 2022.

Before joining the LSU faculty in 2017, Ms. Lacheva was a vocal coach for the Moores Opera Center at the University of Houston, and assisted with several productions at Opera in the Heights.

As a Studio Artist of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, she was involved in the rehearsal process and performances of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Weinberg’s The Passenger (in Houston, and at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York) among others, and performed extensively with the Studio singers in recitals in Texas and Louisiana.

Ms. Lacheva completed her collaborative piano studies with Martin Katz at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance in 2012 and that summer she was an apprentice coach in the Merola Program at the San Francisco Opera Center. The previous summer she was a Fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center where she helped prepare Stravinsky’s Renard for the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Ms. Lacheva has performed internationally as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and a member of the Aelia Piano Duo in Vienna, Orvieto, Prague, Berlin, and Reykjavík, and maintains an active recital schedule.

Maureen Nelson

Violinist Maureen Nelson led the Grammy-nominated Enso String Quartet for nearly two decades, captivating audiences from major concert stages of the world, regularly concertizing throughout North America and abroad. Founded at Yale University in 1999, the quartet has been described by Strad magazine as “thrilling” and praised by the Washington Post for its “glorious sonorities…half honey, half molten lava.” The quartet quickly went on to win top prizes at the Concert Artists Guild competition and the Banff International String Quartet Competition. Classical Voice praised the ensemble as “one of the eminent string quartets of our era.” Along with a busy touring and teaching schedule, Maureen made numerous critically acclaimed recordings on the Naxos label with the Enso. 

While studying in Germany, she was concertmaster of the Detmolder Kammerochester and has been a member of the Houston-based River Oaks Chamber Orchestra since 2010. A native of Pennsylvania, Maureen was enrolled in Temple University’s Center for Gifted Young Musicians at the age of 12, and began attending the Curtis Institute of Music shortly thereafter. As a winner of the Greenfield Competition, Maureen appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra when she was 16. Currently, Maureen lives in Minnesota and has been a member of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra since 2016.

Amber Archibald Sešek

Amber Archibald has been praised for her bold and vivacious playing that matches her personality. ARTS! Houston Magazine exclaimed that her technique was “seemingly effortless…precise,” and that she was “a natural in every sense.” As a soloist, her career highlights include performances at the Gewandhaus with the Leipzig Academic Orchestra in Germany and with the Seattle Symphony in a series of community concerts. Her collaborative career has allowed her to perform at major venues and festivals throughout the United States and Europe such as Benaroya Hall, Kimmel Center, University of Washington World Series, Raleigh Chamber Music Guild Series, Caroga Lake Arts Collective, the Arizona Bach Society, Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival, and the Russian Chamber Music Foundation of Seattle. Dr. Archibald was a member of the Young Eight string octet, an all Afro heritage ensemble devoted to spreading a positive message through classical and hip-hop music to underserved communities. Her 2017-18 season included performances and workshops at the University of Arizona, and performances of the Hoffmeister Viola Concerto and Ralph Vaughan Williams exquisite work, “Flos Campi,” for solo viola, orchestra and choir. 

In demand as a teacher and pedagogue, Dr. Archibald is the Adjunct Professor of Viola at Seattle Pacific University and works with the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s National Take A Stand Festival as the Junior Orchestra’s viola coach. She previously held the position of Instructor of Viola at Seattle University and was on the faculty of the Burgos International Music Festival in Burgos, Spain. Her university and private studio students have been accepted to and attended prestigious schools of music and festivals such as the Rice University, Northwestern University, Peabody Conservatory, Boston Conservatory, Boston University, the University of North Texas, Aspen Music Festival, Meadowmount, Domaine Forget, and Green Mountain Music Festival just to name a few.

During her tenure at Seattle University, the viola studio was one of two collegiate ensembles in the United States selected to perform at the 2016 American Viola Society Festival at the Oberlin Conservatory. As the largest conference in the world for the instrument, this was a tremendous honor. In addition to her highly successful studios, Dr. Archibald is regularly asked to coach with several organizations in the greater Seattle area

Dr. Archibald was born and raised in Houston, Texas to parents from the Dominican Republic and Panama. An avid interest in her heritage has fueled her continuing research and performance of music by African American, Afro-Latino and Spanish composers. Dr. Archibald earned her Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Washington. She holds her Master of Music from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and her Bachelor from Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music. Her principal teachers include Melia Watras, Karen Ritscher, and Mimi Zweig.

Dr. Archibald is married to violinist, Ervin Luka Sešek. Together, they are the chamber music force CernaBella and the founders and instructors of the Sešek String Studio. In her down time, she enjoys cooking, watching documentaries, cheering for the Dallas Mavericks and playing with her intrepid Standard Poodles, Fanny and Felix.

Robyn Quinnett

Born on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean, Robyn Quinnett began playing violin at eight years old. She has won several competitions including the National Mariam Hayes and Ruth Kern Competitions.

Robyn earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School studying with Naoko Tanaka and the late Stephen Clapp. In 2019, Robyn completed her DMA from Stony Brook University studying with Hagai Shaham. She has attended the Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, Colorado College Music Festival, and Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão in Brazil. She has performed with ensembles such as the Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony, Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Princeton Symphony, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, New Haven Symphony, American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, Opera Philadelphia, and toured as Principal Second of the Sphinx Virtuosi.

Robyn is dedicated to community engagement and pedagogy. She is a teaching artist and board member of Living Arts Collaborative, an organization of performing artists who aim to bring an accessible and interactive approach to the musical arts in schools. She founded The Montserrat Music Festival, a summer festival, bringing music education and live chamber music to her home island of Montserrat. She has also served as a Violin Faculty at the Sphinx Performance Academy and enjoys her position as Violin Teacher at The Chapin School in New York City.

Jacob Fowler

New Orleans-based cellist Jacob Fowler is the Founding Director of the Surf and Sounds Chamber Music Series (Outer Banks, North Carolina) which will celebrate its 8th season in August 2022. Mr. Fowler is a former tenured member of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and former Principal Cellist of the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra, with which he travelled throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Mr. Fowler has also toured throughout China as a Principal Cellist of the Manhattan Symphonie. Along with these appointments, he was an adjunct cello professor at Virginia Wesleyan College, the Fei Tian Academy and Fei Tian College, and served as coach for Hampton Roads Chamber players for 5 years. As a chamber musician he has performed with the Harlem Quartet and the Manhattan Chamber Players and is also a Festival Artist at the Crescent City Chamber Music Festival in New Orleans, where he has performed with members of Dover and Escher Quartets and the Lysander Trio. He performs regularly with Fever’s Candlelight Concert Series in venues throughout New Orleans. Mr. Fowler was also a regular performer with the Norfolk Chamber Consort and the Hampton Roads Chamber Players, and a founding member of the New Commonwealth String Quartet while in Virginia. He has performed at Bargemusic in Brooklyn and has been a Festival Artist at the Festival de Febrero in Ajijic, Mexico in addition to Grand Canyon Music Festival in Arizona. In March of 2019, Mr. Fowler was a featured artist at the SXSW Festival performing in the HBO/Games of Thrones and American Red Cross production Bleed for the Throne, which received national coverage. Mr. Fowler can also be heard on the 2019 soundtrack recording of the Alley Theater production Constellations. Mr. Fowler has collaborated with Todd Rosenlieb Dance Company to perform the Suite for Solo Cello by Gaspar Cassadó with choreography by Ricardo Melendez, which opened with great success and was hailed by M.D. Ridge of Norfolk’s WHRO as “the pièce de résistance. [Mr. Fowler] sang sweetly…and the result was spectacular.

Benjamin Atherholt

Noted for playing the bassoon “so gently, with such a smooth tone…that it reached the ears like a gentle summer breeze while enjoying a perfect little pastry on the patio.” Twin Cities Arts Reader. Grammy Award winning bassoonist Benjamin Atherholt enjoys a vastly versatile musical career. Ben is Programming Director for Lyrica Baroque and has performed Contrabassoon and Assistant Principal Bassoon with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra since 2006. He is also the Contrabassoonist with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and has performed with orchestras including the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra and Houston Symphony. In 2022 Ben had the privilege to perform Françaix’s Divertissement with the Harlem Quartet and Jonathan Colbert. A passionate educator, Ben is the Instructor of Bassoon at Tulane University and frequently teaches as a featured guest artist in masterclasses and residencies across the country. Ben grew up in Houston, Texas and holds a B.M. in performance and composition from Oberlin Conservatory studying under the tutelage of George Sakakeeny and Jeffrey Mumford respectively. You can contact Ben at ben@lyricabaroque.com

Jaren Atherholt

The founder of Lyrica Baroque, Jaren Atherholt is the newly appointed Assistant Professor of Oboe at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She previously served as principal oboist of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra for eleven seasons. A native of Alaska, Jaren has performed to stellar reviews as a featured concerto soloist and has been guest principal oboist with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Detroit Symphony and International Chamber Orchestra of Puerto Rico, as well as guest associate principal oboist with the Pittsburgh and Atlanta Symphonies. Jaren spent four summers at the Marlboro Music Festival and currently performs each summer with the Grand Teton Music Festival. She has served on the faculty of John Mack Oboe Camp, Interlochen Arts Camp, the Wintergreen Music Academy, and the Vianden International Music School. Jaren plays Loree oboes.

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