Young Artists Program

Amy Sue Barston, Cello (New York, NY)

Praised as “passionate and elegant” by The New York Times, cellist Amy Sue Barston has performed as a soloist and chamber musician on stages all over the world, including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Ravinia, Bargemusic, Caramoor, Haan Hall (Jerusalem), The Banff Centre (Canada), The International Musicians Seminar (England), The Power House (Australia), and Chicago’s Symphony Center. Amy is also a devoted teacher: in her home, at the New York School for Strings, as a guest teacher at Juilliard, and at numerous summer music festivals. Several of her students commute for lessons from hundreds of miles away, some from as far away as Alaska and Japan. Amy’s upcoming schedule includes solo and chamber music performances in England, Sydney, New Zealand, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Salt Lake, Wisconsin, Rochester, Denver, Chicago, and Germany. Amy also has a brand new CD out and available, which she had the honor to record with Grammy Award-winning contemporary classical music producer, Judith Sherman.

Martin Chalifour, Violin (Los Angeles, CA)

Martin Chalifour began his tenure as Principal Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1995. The recipient of various grants and awards in his native Canada, he graduated with honors from the Montreal Conservatory at the age of 18 and then moved to Philadelphia to pursue studies at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Chalifour received a Certificate of Honor at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, and is also a laureate of the Montreal International Competition. Apart from his LA Phil duties he maintains an active solo career, playing a diverse repertoire of more than 60 concertos. Chalifour has appeared as soloist with conductors Pierre Boulez, Gustavo Dudamel, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Sir Neville Marriner, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Outside the U.S., he has played solos with the Auckland Philharmonia, the Montreal Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the National Orchestra of Taiwan, and the Malaysian Philharmonic, among others.

Chalifour began his orchestral career with the late Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony, playing as Associate Concertmaster for six years. Subsequently he occupied the same position for five years in the Cleveland Orchestra, where he also served as Acting Concertmaster under Christoph von Dohnányi. While in Cleveland, Chalifour taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music and was a founding member of the Cleveland Orchestra Piano Trio.

Chalifour is a frequent guest at several summer music festivals, including the Sarasota Festival, the Mainly Mozart Festival, and the Reno Chamber Music Festival. In December 2014 at the same Nevada festival, Chalifour was featured with his friend and colleague Noah Bendix-Balgley in a special program entitled “The Concertmasters of the Berlin Phil and the LA Phil.” Maintaining close ties with his native country, he has returned there often to teach and perform as soloist with various Canadian orchestras, most recently with the Vancouver Symphony and Bramwell Tovey. He will be featured in the Tchaikovsky concerto in the opening week of the Hamilton Symphony 2017/2018 season.

Martin Chalifour has recorded solo and chamber music for the Telarc, Northstar, and Yarlung labels. He teaches at the University of Southern California and Caltech.

Violin and Viola


Reagan Brasch (Farmington, CT)

Reagan Brasch grew up in the Suzuki method studying with Paula Woyton in Texas. She graduated with a bachelors of music in violin performance and received her masters in music with an emphasis in Suzuki Pedagogy from the University of Denver. After teaching with Denver Talent Education for five years with James Maurer, she moved to Chicago to teach at the Music Institute of Chicago (MIC) under the direction of Gilda Barston. She has had additional Suzuki training from Linda Fiore, Joanne Bath, Ann Smelser, Michele George, Doris Preucil, and Pat D’Ercole. Mrs. Brasch gives both private and group instruction in Suzuki. She also is the program director of the early childhood Musikgarten classes to toddlers and preschoolers, as well as Events Coordinator for MIC’s Suzuki Program. She was awarded Outstanding Teacher by the Alliance for Early Childhood and the Certificate of Achievement Award from the SAA. Mrs. Brasch has taught extensively at Suzuki institutes and workshops around the country.


Gaye Detzer (Vashon, WA)

Gaye Detzer has been a Suzuki teacher for more than 30 years and currently maintains a private studio. She has taught violin classes and chamber music at Suzuki institutes in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, as well as at Vivace! Chamber Players. Gaye plays violin and viola with the Arioso Ensemble and the Vashon-Maury Chamber Orchestra and is also the music director of the Vashon Youth String Orchestra and the Teen String Ensemble. Her family has four Suzuki children, one of whom graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music and is now making a career as a cellist. Another is part of a rock band that has toured the United States and Europe.


Daniel Gee Cordova (Austin, TX)

Daniel teaches for the Suzuki Strings of Austin, which offers private and group violin and viola instruction as well as a Suzuki Early Childhood Education class for newborn infants through age 3.  As an advocate for the Suzuki in the Schools movement, Daniel structures his school curriculum on Suzuki principles as Orchestra Director at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Round Rock ISD where he teaches 6th-8th grade violin, viola, cello, bass and harp students. Additionally, Mr. Gee has taken three stages of training of the Suzuki Early Childhood Program.  He teaches this class for children from birth to age three for the Suzuki Strings of Austin having previously directed this program at the University of Texas at Austin String Project. Daniel is an active member in professional organizations such as the American String Teachers’ Association, the Music Educators’ National Conference, Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Director’s Association, and the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA).  He has recently presented conference sessions at the TMEA (2014, 2016), TODA (2015, 2016), ASTA (2010) and SAA (2012, 2010) National Conferences. In May 2012, Mr. Gee was awarded the Suzuki Association of the America’s Certificate of Achievement, an award given to teachers that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to excellence in their teaching.


Helen Higa (Honolulu, HI)

Helen comes from a family of music teachers and was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. She studied with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki for two and a half years in Matsumoto, Japan, receiving her Teacher Certification from him in 1973. Other teachers include William Starr, Louise Behrend, and Gerald Beal. In 1983, Helen became a Certified Teacher of the Alexander Technique from the American Center for the Alexander Technique in New York City, and she taught in the Center’s Teacher Training Program until returning to Hawaii in 1987. In 1990 she began teaching with the late Hiroko Primrose, who founded the Suzuki program at the Punahou Music School. Helen is presently the head of this Suzuki program and has a private violin studio of over 40 students. Her other teaching positions have included the University of Tennessee’s Suzuki Program, New York’s School for Strings, and the Diller-Quaille School of Music. In recent years, Helen has enjoyed exploring how the Alexander Technique can offer insights and complement her students’ understanding of Dr. Suzuki’s violin pedagogy and philosophy. Helen serves as the president of Suzuki Talent Education of Hawaii, and is a part-time member of the Honolulu Symphony.



Mihoko Hirata (Bellevue, WA)

A native of Matsumoto, Japan, Mihoko Hirata received her teacher training under the personal guidance of Dr. Suzuki. In 1967, she was selected by Dr. Suzuki to be one of the first teachers to introduce his method in the United States. In addition to William Starr, Mihoko received a Creating a Learning Community Award from the SAA, recognizing her as the “Spirit of Suzuki in the Northwest.” Mihoko is a member of the National Registry of Suzuki Violin Teacher Trainers. She has established Suzuki programs in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington, and has presented workshops and master classes throughout the U.S. and Canada.


Cory Lee (New York, NY)

Described by The Epoch Times, “Corin Lee has that honesty—he plays the way he feels, and comfortably too.” He is an acoustic, electric, and baroque violinist who incorporates technology into all genres of music to push the limits of how music can be performed. He has performed his “musically marvelous” (Steve Reich) electronic arrangements in prestigious venues throughout the United States including Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium. As the winner of NTD-TV’s Chinese International Violin Competition, he has also soloed in Merkin Concert Hall, the University of Reno-Nevada, The Harvard Club of New York City, with the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra, and Oakland Civic Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Mr. Lee is currently a violinist in the string quartet ETHEL which is acclaimed as “unfailingly vital” (The New York Times), “brilliant,” “downtown’s reigning string quartet” (The New Yorker), and “one of the most exciting quartets around” (Strad Magazine). ETHEL invigorates the contemporary music scene with exuberance, intensity, imaginative multimedia programming, and exceptional artistry. Performances include Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Auditorium, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, FOX, and NBC News. Mr. Lee received his Masters of Music degree from Yale University with Ani Kavafian and received his Bachelor of Music degree at The Juilliard School where he studied with Hyo Kang and Naoko Tanaka. Other teachers include Baroque specialist Robert Mealy, Cathryn Lee, Wei-He, and Dame Camilla Wicks. Mr. Lee is currently under Baylin Artists Management. Outside of performing, Mr. Lee runs Liberated Performer, a program that helps musicians perform at their optimal level at auditions, competitions, and concerts.



Cathy Lee (San Francisco, CA)

San Francisco based violin teacher Cathryn S. Lee has taught families and teachers around the world since 1976. She is respected for teaching all ages and levels using her detailed and practical “best of both worlds” approach inspired by her studies with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and her “traditional” studies with concert artist Dame Camilla Wicks. As a teacher trainer, Cathryn has taught and lectured at SAA National conferences, Leadership Summits, Suzuki Method World Conferences, the first International Suzuki Teacher Trainer Conference in 2009 and most recently at the 16th World Conference.  She has given master classes and pedagogy classes in Australia, Canada, England, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and throughout the United States.  Cathryn is also a guest lecturer at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Cathryn is the author of Bow Exercises, Bow Strokes and the Bow Stroke Excerpt books. In 1977, Cathryn founded the Suzuki Music Studio of San Francisco where she continues to teach students and train teachers.  Her students have held titled chairs in numerous youth and school orchestras and placed in competitions including the Junior Bach Festival.  Cathryn has a B.A. in Performance and Composition, M. A. in Performance from San Francisco College for Women and a teaching certificate from the Talent Education Institute in Japan.  She and her husband raised their sons, Whitney an actor/singer/violinist in New York City and Corin, a violinist and graduate of Juilliard and Yale University.



Allen Lieb (New York, NY)

Allen Lieb received his M.M. in Performance from SIU/Edwardsville, studying Suzuki pedagogy with John Kendall. He holds a Teacher Training Certificate from the Talent Education Research Institute in Japan following several years’ instruction with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. A registered Teacher-Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas since 1981, Allen has taught at institutes, workshops and conferences across the US, Canada, Central America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. In July 2017, Allen will become CEO of the International Suzuki Association. He is Chair of the ISA and SAA Violin Committees, a member of the SAA Heritage Committee and a frequent contributor to the SAA Journal. Currently residing in New York City, Allen is Head of the Violin Department and Instructor for the Teacher-Training Seminar at The School for Strings. He is also a violin instructor at The Diller-Quaile School of Music where he was a recipient of the 2012 Clifford/Levy Creativity Grant. For 13 years Allen served as Curriculum Coordinator for the Newark Early Strings Program, a Suzuki-based violin program jointly sponsored by the Newark Public Schools and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, for which he was recognized with the 2008 Samuel Antek Award for Music Education.


Sandra Payton (Bellingham, WA)

Sandra Payton has been a life-long member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and has taught several generations of Suzuki violin students. She is a longtime faculty member at the Japan Seattle Suzuki Institute and has enjoyed seeing her grandchildren develop their musical talents as they participate at institute.


Erin Rushforth, Director (San Antonio, TX)

Erin Rushforth is a registered Suzuki violin teacher with an eye for detail and a penchant for planning. She grew up as a Suzuki kid in Rochester, MN, and studied in high school with Mary West of the MacPhail Center for Music. Erin earned her MA in French studies from Brigham Young University. She has studied Suzuki pedagogy with Liz Arbus, Linda Fiore, Cathy Lee, and Pat d’Ercole. When she isn’t at JSSI, you may find her supervising music practice with her children, running, researching airfares to France, reading, or otherwise avoiding the laundry.

Kristina Turner, Assistant Director (Bellingham, WA)

Kristina Turner is a registered Suzuki violin and viola teacher as well as a Suzuki mom. She studied violin at Western Washington University with Walter Schwede and has been a member of the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra for over a decade. Kris serves on the board of the Suzuki Association of Washington State and has been participating at JSSI since 2010. One of her lesser-known talents is competing with horses and training dogs in agility and obedience. In her downtime, you can find Kris spending time with her family and her dog Solo.