Catherine Stewart, Director, Violin and Viola maintains a large private teaching studio in Olney, Maryland. She has been brightening the lives of area children as a Suzuki Method violin teacher since 1981 and has been teaching “Traditional” violin methods since 1972. Additionally she is certified in the O’Connor Method and the “Sassmannshaus Tradition” Method. Ms. Stewart is adjunct faculty at University of Maryland College Park, teaching string methods to Music Education Majors. She has been a faculty member of Columbia Union College, St. Mary's College and the D.C. Youth Orchestra Program and was adjunct faculty at Olney Adventist Preparatory School. In addition, Ms. Stewart has presented Pedagogy Classes at Florida State University and Towson University.
She is director of Stewarts Stellar Strings Scale and Sight-Reading Camp which she founded in 2006. Ms. Stewart was Education Director of the National Philharmonic (formerly National Chamber Orchestra) Middle School Institute in 2001 and Education Director of the National Philharmonic High School Institute in 2002. She was Administrative Director of the Modern Early Music Institute 2009-2010.
Ms. Stewart is the 2012 recipient of “Service to Strings” award from American String Teachers Association MD/DC Chapter. The Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra presented the 2011 Chester J. Petranek Award to The American String Teachers Association and Catherine Stewart for Outstanding Community Service in Enriching the Musical Life of the Washington Metropolitan Area. In 1998 the American String Teachers Association MD/DC Chapter awarded Ms. Stewart “Outstanding Teacher of the Year”.
Ms. Stewart is active in numerous professional organizations. She served in the leadership positions for The American String Teachers Association MD/DC Chapter, as President Elect, 2008-2010, President, 2010-2012 and Past President, 2012-2014. She chaired the MSMTA Strings Plus Festival for many years, as well as the Gretchen Hood competition. She has adjudicated many competitions and exams in the Washington area.
Ms. Stewart's prize winning students have won auditions for Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras, Potomac Valley Youth Orchestras, St. Cecilia Orchestras and Maryland All County and All State Orchestras. Her students have attended the prestigious Great Wall program in Beijing China, studying with Kurt Sassmannshaus, Green Lake Chamber Music Camp, Interlochen Music Camp; Philadelphia Orchestra Camp; Suwannee Music Camp; Eastern Music Festival; National Philharmonic Summer String Institute; Stewart’s Stellar Strings Scale Camp.
Ms. Stewart’s students continuing in music have attended, Eastman School of Music, Catholic University (Music School), San Francisco Conservatory, Indiana University (Music School) University of Maryland, Peabody Conservatory, Moscow Conservatory, and Interlochen Music Academy.
Her students have performed on Master Classes for Brian Lewis, Soovin Kim, Stefan Jackiw, Roy Sonne, Mark Wood, Rebecca Henry, Nurit Bar Joseph, Ann Akiko Meyers, Jody Gatwood, Chee Yun Kim and Jeffrey Howard.
Ms. Stewart has been a violinist with the National Philharmonic since 1999. In addition to the National Philharmonic, Ms. Stewart has been a member of The Nashville Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic, and the Virginia Beach Pops. Her freelance work has included performances with Ella Fitzgerald, Mannheim Steamroller, Yanni, Ray Charles, Benny Carter and Bob Hope, as well as entertaining Presidents Clinton, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr.
Ms. Stewart regularly attends various workshops and institutes such as the biannual Starling DeLay Symposium at Juilliard, annual American String Teachers Association conferences, Modern Early Music Institute; exploring Baroque performance practice and Baroque dance, Sound Encounters with Brian Lewis, Mark Wood’s Rock Violin workshops, Kurt Sassmannshaus Tradition training, Mark O’Connor Method training, and Jazz in July with the Turtle Island Quartet.
Dr. Jeffrey Howard, Violin, has distinguished himself nationally and internationally as an "excellent virtuoso ...(with) a deep understanding of different musical styles, and a remarkable power of communication." Born in New York, Dr. Howard has appeared as soloist with many orchestras including the Boston Virtuosi, and the Yonkers, Indiana University, Concord, UT Arlington, Towson University and WPI Symphony Orchestras. A frequent soloist and guest artist, he has performed at Jordan Hall in Boston, Federal Hall in New York, the Bastille Opera House in Paris, Khachaturian Hall in Montreal and at Syracuse University, the University of Texas at Arlington, the Longy School of Music and Oberlin College. Dr. Howard has appeared internationally in Canada and in Central and Western Europe, including the countries of Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary and Italy. A devoted performer of chamber music, he has performed at the the Orfeo International Music Festival (Italy), the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Winter Institute for String Quartets and the Lydian String Quartet Seminar and studied with members of the Tokyo, Mendelssohn, Juilliard and Cleveland String Quartets. He has also performed as a section substitute with the Baltimore Symphony, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Metamorphosen Chamber Ensemble. Dr. Howard received degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and Indiana University where he completed the Doctorate of Music degree in Violin. His teachers included Stephen Clapp, Franco Gulli, Paul Biss and Josef Gingold. He has served on the faculties of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the University of Texas at Arlington, Bridgewater State College and Westfield State College and he performs regularly with his wife, pianist Anna Soukiassian, in the Kassian-Howard Duo. Dr. Howard currently teaches at Towson University where he also coaches chamber music and performs regularly in the Baltimore Piano Trio. He lives in the Baltimore area with his wife and their two daughters Michelle and Ani.
Isaiah Johnson, Movement class, came to the Washington, DC metropolitan area in 1971 and studied piano performance with Thomas Schumacher at the University of Maryland. He joined the Department of Dance at the University of Maryland over 30 years ago where he teaches Rhythmic Training, accompanies modern and ballet classes, performs and composes. Isiah performs nationally and internationally, is a piano teacher of students of all ages and teaches rhythmic training for individuals, studios and organizations. He is also a church music director, organist, composer, arranger and accompanist. Mr. Johnson's approach in teaching rhythmic training is the result of his decades of studies of music and dance in cultures from around the world and various methodologies in rhythmic training.
Matthew Ivon Tifford, Cello, is founder and owner of the Tifford Cello Studio in North Bethesda, Maryland and President-Elect of the MD/DC Chapter of the American String Teachers Association.Over the years, his students have won acclaim in local and state-wide competitions, and have been a constant presence in both the Maryland All-State Orchestras and the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra for over a decade.An accomplished performer, Mr. Tifford has been featured as a soloist for Pope John Paul II in Vatican City, and has recorded and performed live on stage with rock musician Dave Matthews.Mr. Tifford’s most recent work can be heard on the soundtracks for National Geographic films “24 Hours after Hiroshima”, and “Canyonlands”, a collaboration with Emmy award-winning composer Christopher Biondo.Matthew has also performed at The Birchmere, The Barns at Wolf Trap, New York City’s Irving Plaza, and on National Public Radio’s “Mountain Stage” radio program.Matthew Tifford has taught Cello at the Salisbury University, the Selma M. Levine School of Music, and the D.C. Youth Orchestra Program.Mr. Tifford received his Master of Music in Cello from the Peabody Conservatory and his Bachelor of Music at the Catholic University of America.In the course of his training Mr. Tifford has been fortunate to have studied with many great cellists including Stephen Kates, Robert Newkirk, Christopher Von Baeyer, and Jeffrey Solow.He has also studied chamber music with Earl Carlyss of the Juilliard String Quartet.Matthew lives in the wonderful community of Randolph Hills with his wife and four children.
Mari Carlson, Fiddle, has no memories from before playing violin.That's how long she's had to play Twinkle 10 zillion times, followed by Bach and Vivaldi and orchestral music, as well as lots of ethnic folk music, taught to her by ear by fiddlers from around the globe.Her favorite tunes are Scandinavian dance tunes. She has led a youth band, called Fiddles on Fire, performing these tunes for dances, festivals and farmer's markets. Lately,with a band of adults who've been playing this music for longer than she's been alive, she's been accompanying Danish dances. Now it's your turn to get a taste for these lively melodies!