FEATURED ARTISTS AND ALUMNI
Leah Gastler Mabbun: VIOLA
Leah Gastler Mabbun is an energetic and enthusiastic violist, with a love of music that spans contemporary and classical repertoires. A passionate chamber musician, Leah greatly enjoys the collaborative process, especially working with living composers.
Leah was fortunate to receive a liberal arts education in addition to her musical pursuit at the Bard College Conservatory, where she studied with Steve Tenenbom and Michael Tree.
While pursuing her Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School, Leah honed her soloistic capabilities and performance skills under the tutelage of Heidi Castleman and Hsin-yun Huang. Leah earned an Artist Diploma at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, where she focused on chamber music studies with James Dunham.
She is the founder and Artistic Director of Kalmia Garden.
Leah lives in Houston where she teaches violin and viola and freelances with such ensembles as KINETIC, Mercury Houston, and the Houston Grand Opera.
Max Geissler: CELLO
Praised for his “superb artistry and beautiful sound”, cellist Max Geissler helped co-found Kalmia Garden and launch the concert series here at Gastler Farms.
Under the tutelage of Desmond Hoebig, Max is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Rice University. Max has studied with Richard Aaron, Catherine Lehr-Ramos of the St. Louis Symphony and Michel Strauss in Paris. As featured soloist, he has performed with numerous orchestras.
Devoted to the chamber music literature,
Max will take any opportunity to better acquaint himself with the repertory, working closely with chamber artists James Dunham, Norman Fischer, Joel Krosnick, Ronald Copes, and Laurie Smukler.
As former principal cellist/project manager of KINETIC, Max helped build and advocate for the nonprofit orchestra from its inception.
A sought-after new music collaborator,
Max premieres many solo and ensemble pieces for KINETIC. He is a regular with Houston's MUSIQA and performed with
Brian Connelly for Music in Context.
Tim Krippner: PIANO
Resident pianist at Kalmia Garden, Tim Krippner is praised as "a true artist" by Aldo Ciccolini and a pianist of technical brilliance, imagination, and a special communicative skill. Extremely versatile, Tim embraces the solo and chamber repertoire with equal enthusiasm. He is pursuing his Master's degree at Rice University with Dr. Robert Roux.
Tim has top awards at the Seattle International Piano Competition, Seattle Bach Festival, Northwest Chopin Festival, Musicfest Northwest, and the University of Michigan concerto competition.
He's soloed with the University of Michigan and Spokane Symphonies and at numerous festivals, including Pianofest in the Hamptons; PianoSummer at SUNY New Paltz; Beethoven Institute, Mannes; Amalfi Coast Music & Arts Festival, Italy; and the Bösendorfer Piano Academy, Vienna.
Tim studied at the University of Michigan with Dr. Logan Skelton. He's also studied with Peter Mack, Frank Henegan and Christopher Harding and had masterclasses with Aldo Ciccolini, Benedetto Lupo, Jonathan Biss, and John Perry.
William Overcash: VIOLIN (2017)
William Overcash is a violinist with a keen eye towards the development of music. A recent graduate from the Masters program at the Shepherd School of Music, Will studied with Kathleen Winkler.
William embraces new and old music alike. He's performed at Carnegie Hall, the DiMenna Center, Suntory Hall in Tokyo; and Jesse H. Jones Hall in Houston. He's participated in master classes with Almita Vamos, Jennifer Koh, Paul Kantor, Jorja Fleezanis, and members of the Emerson, Pacifica, and Dover Quartets. Other highlights include winning the Grand Prize at the Tuesday Musical Association Competition of Akron, and performing the American premiere of Helmut Lachenmann’s dystopic opera Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern as part of the solo octet.
When not practicing or rehearsing, William enjoys different ways of making coffee, experimental cooking, and spending time with his two lovely dogs, Rosie and Nina. Future plans include furthering relationships with living composers.
Natalie Lin: VIOLIN (2016)
New Zealand violinist Natalie Lin won 6th Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the 2013 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, and 4th Prize at the 2012 Klein International Strings Competition.
She has performed as soloist with the New Zealand Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia and Erie Philharmonic. As a chamber musician, she has toured extensively in New Zealand as a member of the Turnovsky Jubilee and CLiK ensembles, and in the UK with the Scottish Ensemble.
She is the founder and leader of KINETIC, a Houston-based conductorless ensemble that unites the intimacy of chamber music with the full force of the orchestra. As an educator, Ms. Lin has served as teaching assistant to Paul Kantor, both at the Aspen Music Festival and the Cleveland institute of Music. She now maintains a private teaching studio in Houston, also teaching undergraduate music theory at Rice University.
Ms. Lin is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and is in the doctoral program at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music.
Eric Wong VIOLA (2014)
Celebrated for a “tone like toasted caramel” (Musical Toronto), Eric Wong is the violist of the Cavani Quartet, ensemble-in-residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He was also a member of the JUNO-nominated Afiara Quartet and the Linden String Quartet.
Mr. Wong is a
frequent guest educator of masterclasses and lectures in numerous North American and European schools, including Yale, American University, the University of Iowa, the Royal Academy of Music of Århus, Middlesex University, and the University of Toronto.
Eric actively collaborates with directors of up-and-coming chamber music festivals including the Geneva Music Festival (link) and the humanitarian initiative “Music Feeds Us” (link). Eric has also collaborated with The Tokyo Quartet, Sharon Isbin, Itzhak Perlman, Richard Stoltzman, Donald Weilerstein, and pianist and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Mr. Wong has performed on the most iconic
stages in the world: Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, MOMA, Severance Hall, Kings Place,
Koerner Hall, and as a featured guest artist at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
He received both his Bachelor's and Master's from the CIM, studying violin with Paul Kantor and viola with Kirsten Docter and Lynne Ramsey. Other coaches and mentors include Peter Salaff and the Cavani Quartet.
Ling Ling Huang VIOLIN (2015)
Ling Ling Huang started violin at the age of 4 with her mother Lilan Z. Huang. Ling Ling studied with Fredell Lack until her admission into the undergraduate program at the Cleveland Institute of Music at the age of 15. There, while studying with Paul Kantor, she won the concerto competition and performed Stravinsky.
An active chamber musician, Ling Ling won the Milhaud Prize with her trio and participated in the Intensive Quartet Seminar at CIM as a member of the Ariadne String Quartet, winning the bronze medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the Barstowe String Prize.
She currently plays as a substitute in the Houston Symphony and the Houston Grand Opera and has served as guest concert-master of the Houston Ballet Orchestra.
Ling Ling enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to music, and writing about these things on her website linglinghuang.com.
Dorothy Ro VIOLIN (2014)
Canadian violinist Dorothy Ro is pursuing an Artist Diploma at the Juilliard School as a member of the acclaimed Verona Quartet.
Previously, she studied with Alexander Kerr and the Pacifica Quartet. A graduate of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University under Paul Kantor, Ms. Ro is a recipient of the Michael P. Hammond Prize. Dorothy has a Bachelor's from Cleveland Institute of Music through a Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Scholarship.
As a member of the Verona Quartet,
Dorothy won the 2015 Concert Artists
Guild Elmaleh Competition, as well as top prizes at the Wigmore Hall International
String Quartet Competition and the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition.
Upcoming projects include concerts at La Jolla SummerFest, Kneisel Hall Music Festival, performances at the Indiana University String Academy, as well as her Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall debuts.
Alex Gonzalez VIOLIN (2015)
Alex Gonzalez has performed across the United States and abroad as a chamber musician, soloist, and ensemble player. He has appeared at: the National Gallery of Art, Carnegie Hall, Detroit Orchestra Hall, Ordway Center, Smith Center, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Suntory Hall (Tokyo), Snape Maltings at the Aldeburgh Festival (UK), and Chicago's Harris Theater and Orchestra Hall.
Alex has participated in: the Sarasota, Bowdoin, and Pacific Music Festivals, The Castleman Quartet Program, Britten-Pears Young Artist Program, Aspen Music Festival and School as a two time fellowship recipient, and Interlochen Arts Camp as an Emerson Scholar and concertmaster of the World Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Recipient of the Achievement Award at the 16th annual Sphinx Competition, Alex also received the John Celentano Award for excellence in chamber music upon graduation from Eastman School of Music. He's received awards and support from the Links and Dorothy Richard Starling Foundations, the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians, the MPower Artist Grant from the Sphinx Organization.
Alex has had the good fortune of working with many leading artists and pedagogues. including Robert Mann, Pamela Frank, David Takeno, William Preucil, Kathleen Winkler, Steven Doane, Joseph Kalichstein, and the Takacs, Cavani, and Pacifica Quartets.
He's also worked with composers
Gunther Schuller and William Bolcom,
and performed under the batons of
Oliver Knussen, Joseph Silverstein, and Valery Gergiev.
Alex completed post graduate studies at Rice and Carnegie Mellon. His principle teachers include Shakeh Ghoukasian, Oleh Krysa, Paul Kantor, and Cyrus Forough. Primary chamber music studies were under Carol Rodland, Mimi Hwang, Norman Fischer, James Dunham, and the Ying Quartet.
Alex is a fellow at the New World Symphony in Miami, having joined in 2016. He also performs regularly as a member of the Sphinx Virtuosi.
He plays on a violin and bow generously on loan from the Maestro Foundation.