Alumni Connections

Kneisel Hall enjoys a rich history of music, and a vast community of alumni. We’re excited to connect with you!

Class Notes

Russell Houston (Cello, Young Artist, 2014-2015), as a member of the Balourdet Quartet, is an Avery Fisher Prize recipient for 2024 and winner of the 2024 Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America. The Balourdet Quartet has also premiered Karim Al-Zand’s String Quartet No. 4, “Strange Machines,” commissioned through a grant from Chamber Music America, in Wigmore Hall, and we invite you to enjoy a video of their performance. Russell’s quartet is currently the graduate quartet in residence at the University of Indiana and has graduated from the New England Conservatory’s Professional String Quartet Program. In Russell’s own words: 

“I just wanted to share my gratitude for Kneisel for sharing the joy and spirit of chamber music with me. I’d never really been able to experience delving into the repertoire prior to my summers at Kneisel, and being able to share in the fun of music making really gave me ‘the bug.’ I think every day about the coachings and lessons I had at Kneisel and I wouldn’t be here without those experiences. Kneisel really meant a lot to me and completely changed how I think about music to this day!”

Published 4.11.24

credit: John Paul Henry

Hannah Collins (Cello, Young Artist, 2005-2007), a professor at the University of Kansas and, as a member of duo New Morse Code, grand prize winner of the Ariel Avant Impact Performance Prize for advancement of social justice through music and art collaborations, has released a solo album, Resonance Lines. Accompanying video features with Strings Magazine and The Strad include Benjamin Britten Suite for Solo Cello, Op. 72, and in manus tuas by Caroline Shaw, also an alum.

Additionally, Hannah collaborates frequently with fellow alum Clara Lyon on projects such as Correspondence, a multimedia installation with Antonia Contro exhibited at the Carrie Secrist Gallery in Chicago. Hannah and Clara will be performing works by Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn on April 27 & 28 in Muskegon and Grand Rapids, MI.

Published 4.11.24

Larry Stomberg (Cello, Young Artist Program  1989 & 1990). “I’ve been on the faculty at the University of Delaware School of Music since 2004, and am currently Professor of Cello and Associate Director for Performance Studies.

After 13 seasons as cellist of the Serafin String Quartet, I am now a member of the Philadelphia-based Halcyon Consort. I am a founding member of the Techne Music Festival in Pennsylvania and was named the 2018 Delaware Division of the Arts Established Artist.

I remain active as a recitalist and have recently commissioned and premiered works by composers Ketty Nez, David Osbon, Richard Prior, Mazz Swift, and Alisa Rose.

Published 4.11.24

image: Natalie Gaynor

Mary Grace Johnson (Violin, Young Artist Program 2017 & 2018) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Violin at West Virginia University

Published 3.1.2024


Julio Elizalde (Piano, Young Artist, 2004-2006) was recently appointed Associate Chair of Strings & Piano Chamber Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Published 3.1.2024

Formosa Quartet
image: Sam Zaucher Photo

The Formosa Quartet, (with Kneisel Hall alumni, Wayne Lee, Violin, Young Artist 2006-2009) is honored to be named Eastern Michigan University’s 2023-2024 M. Thelma McAndless Distinguished Professors in the Humanities where they will be presenting their American Mirror Project.

The American Mirror Project is a collaborative initiative that holds up mirrors to America and highlights personal reflections of what America means. Centered around dynamic musical performances with the potential for cross-disciplinary collaboration, the project seeks to mirror diverse points of view and investigate complex socio-cultural issues in a thought-provoking exploration of American music.

“From January 14-20, we will be exploring themes of our American Mirror Project with the EMU and Southeastern Michigan community by presenting a series of free open rehearsals, conversations, and lecture presentations, culminating in a concert on Saturday, January 20, “The American Mirror Project | An Ypsilanti Mirror.”

This specially curated concert will mirror the history and present of the city of Ypsilanti and Eastern Michigan University including a short film and World Premiere of Dana Wilson’s “Mirror” for String Quartet and Narration incorporating personal Mirror statements contributed and performed by EMU students and faculty. 

In addition to two residencies at EMU, the quartet is looking forward to a busy spring including returning to the University of Houston (where they are ensemble in residence) and tours in Chicago, Maui, Malaysia, and Taiwan, as well as an upcoming CD release of the complete works of George McKay.

Published 1.14.2024


Abi Fayette (Violin, Young Artist Program 2013 & 2014) has been appointed as the Artistic Director of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The ensemble, largely self-governed, consistently selects artistic directors from within its ranks.

As the youngest of four musical siblings, Abi Fayette entered The Juilliard School’s pre-college program early in her studies and received guidance from Shirley Givens. She further honed her skills alongside notable mentors such as Ann Setzer, Kyung-Wha Chung, and Joseph Silverstein. Abi continued her education at the Curtis Institute of Music under the tutelage of Ida Kavafian and later at the New England Conservatory with Soovin Kim. In addition to her role in the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Abi is a dedicated member of the Catalyst Quartet.

Published 10.21.23


Technical Sgt. Ethan Hoppe (Violin, Young Artist Program, 2013 & 2014) has just been elected the concertmaster of United States Air Force Strings

 “The Air Force strings is a much smaller group than a typical symphony orchestra. We’re actually more analogous to a group of chamber players as we most frequently perform in string quartets, trios, and a mixed ensemble with accordion and bass that we call strolling strings. We also give public concerts as a string orchestra and as a symphony orchestra when we join our colleagues in the concert band. Our most common performances are at ceremonies and events for military and political leaders in the DC area.
Playing so much chamber music for my job makes me think of my summers at Kneisel a lot. We wear a black shirt under our performance uniform, and I often wear the Kneisel summer t-shirt. Actually, on multiple occasions, a colleague of mine who is also a Kneisel alum (Atticus Mellor-Goldman) was wearing his T-shirt on the same days that I had mine on. We were there in different summers but connected over many nostalgic memories of the coaches and experiences.”
Published 10.21.23
Formosa Quartet
image: Sam Zaucher Photo

Wayne Lee (Violin, Young Artist, 2006-2009), currently in his 12th season with the Formosa Quartet, is performing at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society on December 3, in a program that culminates in Dvorak’s String Sextet with violist Hsin-Yun Huang and cellist Peter Wiley.


Published 10.21.23