Danbury Chamber Music Intensive

Save the Dates! August 6-12, 2018

Registration and more information coming soon!  


Featuring graduates of the Juilliard School and other major conservatories as Artists-Faculty

 This program has been made possible, in part, with support from

ACMP Associated Chamber Music Players.


<The Danbury Chamber Music Intensive is open to all string players, pianists, woodwind players, percussionists, composers, and conductors of any age who have a driven passion for music and are committed to the pursuit of a high level of music performance.Throughout the week, participants will work extensively with Artist-faculty in a unique and inspiring artistic environment to develop their artistry and musicianship.New in 2017: CMI is divided into a youth division for participants 21 and under and an adult division for participants 18 and over. Upon admission, participants aged 18-21 can choose, in consultation with CMI Artist-faculty, which division they will participate it in. Participants will only perform with other participants in their divisions.


General CMI Information:

  • The Intensive begins 
  • Each instrumental participant will perform in two different chamber music groups (i.e. one piano trio and one string quartet). Each group will rehearse every day and perform its work on the final participant concert. Additionally, each group will include at least one Artist-faculty member who will lead all rehearsals throughout the week.
  • Participants will be featured on a Charles Ives Concert Series concert during the week of CMI.
  • Participants will attend daily master classes led by the Artist-Faculty. Participants will have the opportunity to perform solo or assigned group works and receive feedback and instruction.
  • Each participant can expect to receive at least one private lesson from an Artist-faculty member.
  •  Participants will form a third “reading group” during CMI, which will involve reading repertoire with other participants. Participants may form their own groups and select their own repertoire. The goal of this portion of the program is to facilitate the formation of chamber music groups to continue performing after CMI.
  • Participants are strongly encouraged to attend a series of concerts – now known as the Charles Ives Concert Series – performed by the CMI Artist-Faculty and Guest Artists, at Danbury community venues on specific nights throughout the week.
  • Auditors are welcome (see below).


CMI Youth Division Information:

  •  Youth Division participants may opt to attend CMI as conductors or composers as their primary focus. Those interested should consult the attached page detailing these programs.
  •  Youth Division participants will attend various interactive elective sessions, which will include subjects such as fiddling, improvisation, choir and a seminar discussing how to prepare for college and conservatory auditions.
  • Tuition for the participation in the Intensive is $435.00. Both need-based and merit-based full and partial scholarship opportunities are available

CMI Adult Division Information:

  • Adult Division participants may opt to attend CMI as composers as their primary focus. Those interested should consult the attached page detailing this program.
  • Adult Division participants will receive specialized master classes and elective sessions geared specifically toward their interests.
  • Tuition for the participation in the Intensive is $435.00. Both need-based and merit-based full and partial scholarship opportunities are available. Please contact us with any questions at CMI@danburymusiccentre.org or (203) 748-1716.

Application Procedures for CMI 2017:

  • Apply online here OR download the application form here and send the completed application form to CMI@danburymusiccentre.org or mail to the following address: Danbury Music Centre 256 Main St. Danbury, CT 06810
  • Admitted Participants to either of the CMI Mini-Intensives do not need to submit a separate application to the summer CMI program. Their participation in the mini-intensives will serve as their auditions. Those who are not granted admission to a Mini-Intensive, but still wish to audition for summer CMI will not need to fill out a separate application and will automatically be scheduled for an audition (May 5th-6th) for summer CMI at no extra fee.
  •  All other returning CMI participants auditioning for summer CMI must submit an application fee of $15.00 USD online via PayPal or as a check or money order made out the “Danbury Music Centre” if application is submitted on or before Monday, March 20th , 2017 at 11:59 PM EST. Applications submitted after March 20th, 2017 will be subject to a $30.00 USD fee.
  •  All other NEW CMI applicants to summer CMI must submit an application fee of $20.00 USD online via PayPal or as a check or money order made out to the “Danbury Music Centre” if submitted on or before March 20th , 2017 at 11:59 PM EST. Applications submitted after March 20th , 2017 will be subject to a $30.00 USD fee.
  • Optional: Applicants may submit a recommendation letter from a private teacher, band director, or orchestra director. This may arrive under separate cover directly from the recommender. If by e-mail, recommendations should be sent to CMI@danburymusiccentre.org
  •  All summer CMI Admissions decisions will be made on or before Monday, May 15th.



  • Auditions will take place at the Danbury Music Centre, 256 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810
  • Please indicate on the application which dates you prefer. If none of these dates work for you, we will work with you to find an alternative date and time.
  • Upon receipt of your application, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with your specific audition date and time.

Instrumental Audition Requirements:

  • Any two contrasting solo works. Please keep in mind we cannot provide a piano accompanist. If you wish to perform a piece that requires piano accompaniment, you must provide your own accompanist. A piano will be available.
  •  All Major scales and arpeggios.
  • Sight-reading, please note: Percussionists should prepare only works written for marimba. It is encouraged that one of these works demonstrate four mallet marimba technique. We will provide a five-octave Yamaha marimba at the audition. Please do NOT prepare solo snare drum or other non-mallet percussion.

For Auditors:

  • Auditors will be admitted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Simply e-mail the DMC at CMI@danburymusiccentre.org with your request. No application or audition is necessary.
  • Auditors will be permitted to attend any four chamber music rehearsals throughout the week, all master classes, studio classes, and elective sessions.
  • Auditors will potentially be invited to participate in large group performances.
  • The fee for auditing the Intensive is $200.
  • Private lessons with CMI Artist-faculty are available at an additional fee.

Conducting participants will:

1. Conduct one participant chamber group.

2. Perform in a second group on a secondary instrument.

3. Receive guidance from CMI conducting artist-faculty during rehearsals throughout the week.

4. Receive one private conducting lesson with Yuga Cohler during the week.

Conducting Audition Requirements:

1. Submit with your application a one-page statement detailing your desire to explore conducting and if applicable, describe any conducting experience.

2. Live instrumental audition (see details above)

Composition participants will:

1. Work with a participant group, led by an Artist-faculty member, on a new or recently composed work.

2. Perform in a second group on a secondary instrument.

3. Receive a reading and professional recording (and possible performance) of a second new or recently composed work, performed by the Artist-faculty.

4. Receive private lessons with Charles Ives Concert Series Distinguished Guest Composer Justin Dello Joio, Featured Emerging Composer, and CMI Artistic Director Paul Frucht.

5. Participate in composition seminar and discussion.

Composition Audition Requirements:

1. Scores and recordings (MIDI is acceptable) of 1-3 works composed since January 1st, 2014. It is strongly recommended at least one of these be a chamber work that could be performed at CMI.

2. Complete works list of all compositions including names of pieces, instrumentation, dates of completion, and any details of performances.

3. Live instrumental audition (see details on general auditions above )***Scores and recordings should be sent to CMI@danburymusiccentre.org with all scores in PDF format and recordings in MP3 format.


CMI 2017 Artist Roster


Paul Frucht CMI headshot (2) Paul Frucht CMI headshot (2)Paul Frucht, Artistic Director

Originally from Danbury, CT, Paul Frucht is an emerging American composer whose music has been hailed for its “sense of lyricism, driving pulse, and great urgency” (WQXR). His music has recently been performed by the San Diego Symphony, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Weill-Cornell Music and Medicine Orchestra, American Modern Ensemble, Ensemble dal Niente, the Les Deux Violin Duo, the LONGLEASH Trio, at the New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute, at the Utah Arts Festival, and at the pianoSonoma Music Festival, where he was composer-in-residence from 2014-2015. Highlights of 2016 include a world premiere of a new work for cellist Julian Schwarz and pianist Marika Bournaki, commissions from the Resonant Grounds Initiative and the Kyoto International Music Festival in Japan, and the premiere of his orchestral work, Dawn, by the Chelsea Symphony in New York. Paul is the recipient of numerous honors and awards in composition. In the spring of 2015, Paul was awarded a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is also the recipient of three of the most prestigious prizes awarded to composition students by the Juilliard School: the Gena Raps Chamber Music Prize, the Arthur Friedman Award for outstanding orchestral composition, and the Palmer Dixon Prize for the most outstanding work by a student composer in an academic year. He has also received recognition from Periapsis Music and Dance, the American Modern Ensemble, and the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, and the American Composers Orchestra. He is the recipient of several scholarships from the Juilliard School, including the C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellowship, the Arlene J. Smith Scholarship, and the Marvin Hamlisch Scholarship in Composition. In 2013, Paul graduated with Master of Music Degree in Composition from the Juilliard School, where he is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate. In 2011, he graduated Magna Cum Laude earning a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Theory and Composition from New York University’s Steinhardt School. His principal teachers have been Robert Beaser and Justin Dello Joio. An enthusiastic educator himself, Paul is an adjunct faculty member at New York University’s Steinhardt School. He has also been a music theory teaching fellow at Juilliard since 2012, and was a music theory instructor at the Juilliard Pre-College Division from 2013-2015. Paul is passionate about writing music that reflects the world and contemporary American culture. In response to the Sandy Hook tragedy, Paul composed a piece for a small chamber ensemble entitled Dawn, which is dedicated to Dawn Hochsprung, the other 25 victims of the shooting, and their families. Paul attended Rogers Park Middle School from 2000 to 2003, where Dawn was an assistant principal. Dawn was premiered at Juilliard in April 2013 and has since received numerous performances in and around Connecticut since, most notably at a tribute ceremony to Dawn at Rogers Park in June 2013. Danbury CMI Artistic Advisors.


Jacob Shack, viola

Appointed Fourth Chair Viola of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2016, Massachusetts native Jacob Shack earned his Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School as a student of Misha Amory and Heidi Castleman and frequently performed as co-principal of the Juilliard Orchestra. As an undergraduate at Harvard College, Jacob enjoyed playing with the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra as principal violist, including on their tours to Cuba and the Middle East. He has toured the world as a chamber and orchestral musician, performing on four continents, most recently in Hong Kong at Bright Sheng’s Intimacy of Creativity Festival and in Colombia at the Medellín International Music Festival. He has performed at several other music festivals, including the Aspen Music Festival, the Sarasota Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and the Tanglewood Music Center, where he was the recipient of the Maurice Schwarz Prize in 2013. In addition, he was selected to participate in Jaime Laredo’s New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall in both 2010 and 2012. In addition to his dedication to orchestral playing, Jacob has been recognized in solo and chamber music competitions, including the Washington International Competition for Strings and the Stulberg International String Competition. He has collaborated in performance with such world-renowned artists as James Buswell, Steven Doane, James Dunham, Joseph Kalichstein, Robert Levin, and Joseph Silverstein, and has received numerous awards and scholarships from Harvard University, as well as from his alma mater Phillips Academy. In the summer of 2015, Jacob served as the violist of the New Fromm Players, an ensemble-in-residence at the Tanglewood Music Center devoted to contemporary music performance.

IsabelHagen_headshotIsabel Hagen, viola

Isabel Hagen is a highly sought-out violist and enjoys an active performance career as a chamber musician and orchestral player. She has performed with ensembles such as Alarm Will Sound, American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), Ensemble Signal, Talea Ensemble, and the Wordless Music Orchestra. She has worked with various composers including Unsuk Chin, Michael Gordon, Hilda Paredes, Steve Reich, and Charles Wuorinen. Isabel has played in master classes given by Kim Kashkashian, Robert Mann, Robert Vernon, and Barbara Westphal, to name a few. A violist who enjoys crossing genres, Isabel has performed alongside Björk, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, and Medeski Martin and Wood. She has appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and has been in the orchestra for various productions on Broadway. She holds a Bachelor and Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School where she studied with Heidi Castleman, Hsin-Yun Huang, and Masao Kawasaki. While at Juilliard, Isabel served as co-principal of the orchestra and performed with AXIOM and the New Juilliard Ensemble; the school’s contemporary music groups. She has taken part in festivals such as Bang on a Can Summer Festival, Big Ears Festival, the Ecstatic Music Festival, June in Buffalo, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, the Lucerne Festival Academy, the Robert Mann String Quartet Institute, the Sarasota Music Festival, and the Tully Scope Festival. Isabel attended the Pre-College division of the Juilliard School from 2004 to 2009, where she studied with Kenji Bunch and from where she graduated with honors. A native New Yorker, she is also a stand-up comedian and performs around the city.



 Hannah Ji, violin and viola

Violinist Hannah Ji has performed as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician across North America, Europe and Asia. Her 2015-2016 season features a non-profit organization “the Art of Giving Back” performance with the famous concert pianist Jeremy Denk, and a spring performance with Ensemble 39, featuring new commissioned works from composers from Philadelphia and New York City. Ms. Ji’s appearances include Canada Day Concerts with Maestro Pinchas Zukerman in National Arts Centre in Canada, and  gala concert with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble at the Lincoln Center and Manhattan School of Music. Ms. Ji has performed in venues including National Arts Centre in Ottawa, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall, and A. Mickiewicz University Hall in Poland. Her performances have been presented on NPR’s “From the Top” with pianist Christopher O’Riley, Philadelphia’s WHYY, Taos’s KTAOS Solar Radio, and “Live from Lincoln Center” by PBS, where she was broadcasted widely throughout North America. Her latest performance venues include the United States Embassy of Canada, Symphony in C with Mo. Rossen Milanov, and the Henryk Wieniawski International Competition in Poznan, Poland.

Ms. Ji has performed in numerous solo and chamber masterclasses with world-renowned artists such as Jaime Laredo, Donald Weilerstein, Ida Haendel, Joseph Silverstein, Steven Tenenbom and Pavel Vernikov. She received top prizes and honors from the Davidson Fellowship Award scholarship program, the Jack Kent Cooke Award program, Manhattan School of Music Competition, Summit Music Festival Competition, Greenwich Symphony Orchestra Competition, and New Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra Competition. Ms. Ji is a recipient of the Juilliard School’s M&A Ajemian Scholarship, Irene Diamond Graduate scholarship, and Gluck Community Service Fellowship; she is also a recipient of Curtis Institute’s Edwin B. Guerrigues Fellowship, Joseph and Carol Shanis Fellowship, and Richard and Mica Hadar Foundation Scholarship.

An avid classical as well as contemporary chamber musician, Ms. Ji recently participated in a performance with the Borromeo Quartet, and “Curtis on Tour” in New England, performing with violist Roberto Díaz and Time for Three. She has worked with members of Borromeo, Brentano, Shanghai, Emerson, Guarneri and Orion String Quartets. Ms. Ji has been an active participant of The Juilliard School’s annual ChamberFest and Focus! Festivals featuring US and world premier works by composers around the world. Her orchestral leadership positions include Concertmaster at The Juilliard School Orchestra, associate concertmaster of Symphony in C and principal 2nd violin of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.

During the summer, she participated as faculty and Artist-in-Residence at Danbury Music Centre Chamber Music Intensive, Manhattan in the Mountains, and Curtis Institute’s SummerFest Young Artists Program. She also has been participated at the Sarasota Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, Artosphere Festival Orchestra, Taos School of Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Summit Music Festival and the National Arts Centre Young Artist Programme.

Ms. Ji is a recent Master of Music graduate of The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Ida Kavafian. Ms. Ji holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Curtis Institute of Music where she studied with Aaron Rosand, and also has attended Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege division under the tutelage of Grigory Kalinovsky and Pinchas Zukerman.

benBen Laude, piano

Originally from Austin, Texas, pianist Benjamin Laude holds both master’s and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School, as well as a bachelor’s degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He has appeared as a soloist in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York City, and has performed in both solo and ensemble settings across the country, including recent engagements in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Grand Rapids, Washington, D.C., Austin, and Miami. A frequent collaborator with dancers, his performance with Ballet Next at the Joyce Theater in 2012 was hailed by Alastair Macaulay of the New York Times as “beautiful” and “superb in pace, tone and eloquence.” Laude is the recipient of numerous distinctions and awards, and in 2008 was named the national Yamaha Young Performing Artist competition award winner in piano. A distinguished writer, Laude received the 2010 Juilliard Journal award for his contributions to the school’s official newspaper, and in 2012 founded The Yard, the first independent, student-run publication of its kind at Juilliard. His concert reviews have been published in International Piano magazine and Jacobin magazine. An avid educator, Laude is an ear-training instructor at Bard College/Conservatory and holds a faculty position in music theory at School for Strings in New York City.




 Mitchell Lyon, cello

Cellist Mitchell Lyon approaches music making with a zeal for harnessing the unique power of musical experience. At home with audiences of all types, he has performed in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to intimate private homes.

An accomplished chamber musician, Mitch specializes in ensemble collaborations that run the gamut from classical piano trios, to crossover string quartets, to jazz combos, to dance and theater collaborations.

A native of Philadelphia, Mitch has performed extensively as a soloist, chamber musician, and in orchestras throughout the United States, France and the United Kingdom. As a recipient of Juilliard’s Gluck Community Service Fellowship, he brought music to new and underserved audiences, including patients in New York area hospitals, nursing homes and alternative care facilities.  Mitch arranges, organizes and performs house concerts at private residences throughout the boroughs of New York City and in other locations by arrangement.

Passionate in his quest to spread the joy of music to young performers, Mitch has taught the children of New York through various Juilliard-funded fellowship programs at schools including Children’s Promise Zone and Harlem Promise Academy II. As a director of Juilliard’s student-run outreach organization, ARTreach, Mitch led several Juilliard teams to New Orleans, reaching out to children displaced by Hurricane Katrina and doing hands-on labor with Habitat for Humanity. Mitch continues his educational outreach mission in his current role as Teaching Artist Faculty for the New York Philharmonic School Partnership Program.

Mitch earned his MM degree with Timothy Eddy at the Juilliard School in May of 2014 as a Margaret J. & Roy H. Pollack and William R. Hearst Scholar. He earned his BM degree from the Juilliard School in May of 2012 as a student of Bonnie Hampton, where he held scholarships from the foundations of the Juilliard Alumni, Ruth Katzman, Presser, J & B Werter, and Stephen E. Somers. His former teachers include Jeffrey Solow and Deborah Reeder. For four years, Mitch held the Myer-Schwartz Piano Trio cello scholarship at Settlement Music School. His awards include the Ambler Symphony Menges Scholarship, the Bach Atonement Scholarship, and others. The summer of 2016 will find Mitch performing from the Finger Lakes region to California.  During past summers, Mitch has performed as a fellow of the Fontainebleau School in France, as a visiting artist at the Finchcocks Museum of Keyboard Instruments in Kent, UK, at Music in the Mountains in Eagles Mere, PA, as a fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and at the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School in Santa Cruz, CA. Mitch spent four summers as a counselor at the Meadowmount School of Music, studying with Melissa Kraut and Hans Jorgen Jensen. During previous summers he studied at the Castleman Quartet Program, the Montecito Summer Music Festival, and Music in the Mountains. He has performed in master classes for Mark Kosower, Steven Isserlis, Christopher Rex, Andres Diaz, Timothy Eddy, Ko Iwasaki and Anne Martindale-Williams. He has worked privately with Gary Hoffman and Clive Greensmith.

Mitch plays on a Jules Grandjon cello dating from 1880, except when he is rocking out, when he uses a Quintus carbon-fiber cello built by Tony Cook of GraceStrings with an Acoustic Combo Amp, model AG120S and a ceramic under-bridge pickup.


Ariana Nelson, cello

Cellist Ariana Nelson recently completed her Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School, studying with Darrett Adkins. A proud member of the performing community in New York City, she is a recent member of the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra, performing at the Fort Washington Collegiate Church. Her eclectic tastes have led her to unexpected appearances at Jazz at Lincoln Center, featured performances for patients recovering in Mount Sinai Hospital’s transplant ward, to the recent Concert Across America to End Gun Violence in Danbury, Connecticut. In 2015 Ariana was invited to perform in a small chamber orchestra to accompany Yo-Yo Ma at the Kennedy Center as part of the Kennedy Center Honors event, attended by President Obama and the First Lady. Ariana has received many honors as a soloist, most recently winning third prize at the 2016 Eisemann Young Artists Competition in Dallas, Texas.

A native of Seattle, Washington, Ariana grew up with a musical family and was exposed to  chamber music at a very young age. Forming her first string quartet at age eight, Ariana has been a member of numerous groups. During her undergraduate studies she co-founded the Azure Quartet, which over two years was cultivated into a prize winning chamber ensemble, winning second prize at the Music Teachers National Association 2014 chamber music competition. Her extensive chamber music experience has included coaching with renowned musicians such as Emanuel Ax, James Dunham, David Finckel, John Harbison, Desmond Hoebig, Jon Kimura-Parker, Joseph Lin, and Roger Tapping.

In recent years Ariana has attended the Aspen Music Festival and School, Le Domaine Forget Chamber Music Festival, the Olympic Music Festival and the Zephyr International Chamber Music Festival in Italy. She spent the summers of 2015 and 2016 at the Tanglewood Music Center as the recipient of the James Taylor Fellowship. Her interest in improvisation and international music inspired her to take part in the the Silk Road Ensemble’s Global Musican Workshop at Tanglewood, which included performing in concert with the Silk Road Ensemble at the Koussevitsky Music Shed.

A fierce proponent of new music, Ariana has championed the works of many contemporary composers. She has played in a number of student composer concerts at the Juilliard School and the Shepherd School of Music. Her interest has led her to perform with the AXIOM contemporary ensemble, directed by Jeffrey Milarsky, in which she performed works by George Benjamin and Thomas Adès. During Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music she performed chamber music and orchestral music by composers including Dallapicolla, Druckman, and Messaien. Most recently she commissioned a cello and piano work entitled “Responses” by Juilliard DMA candidate Jonathan Cziner, which she premiered on her Master of Music degree recital.

Ariana received her Bachelor of Music degree at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where she graduated cum laude in May of 2015. There she had the privilege of studying cello with Norman Fischer of the Concord Quartet.



Mika Sasaki, piano

Pianist Mika Sasaki has established herself as a sought-after chamber musician, soloist, and emerging educator. Since her solo debut with the Sinfonia of Cambridge at age seven, she appeared twice with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and more recently with the 92Y Orchestra in New York City. Mika has performed frequently in the U.S., Europe and Japan, at venues including the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie, Steinway Hall, Alice Tully Hall, 92nd Street Y, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Palazzo Chigi Saracini (Italy), Minatomirai Hall (Japan), Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (Japan), Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, and live on WQXR radio. Most recently, her solo debut CD album “Obsidian” was released on Yarlung Records, highly acclaimed by the Online Merker as “illuminat[ing] the artistic inspiration and creative exchange between these three Romantic souls,” Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms.

A versatile pianist praised for her musicianship, Mika recently began a two-year fellowship with Ensemble Connect (formerly Ensemble ACJW), a program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School and the Weill Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, performing and teaching chamber music around the city, focusing on audience engagement, advocacy, and entrepreneurship. Her love for chamber music and curiosity in exploring repertoire both new and old have led her to collaborate in diverse ensembles, sometimes serving as score-reader for conductors’ classes, rehearsal pianist for choruses, vocal coach, instrumental collaborator, or as toy pianist, celesta player or harpsichordist in small ensembles and orchestras.

As an accomplished chamber musician, she was invited to Music@Menlo as an international program artist, as well as the Tanglewood Music Center as a Leonard Bernstein Fellow, where her interpretation of Schubert’s Grand Duo for four-hands was hailed as a “colorful reading of the work … [with] nuance and sensitivity to Schubert’s music.” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). Other festival appearances include the Estherwood Music Festival (U.K.), Aspen Music Festival, Yellow Barn Young Artists Program, Mannes Beethoven Institute, Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival, Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Italy), Taos School of Music, ChamberFest at Juilliard, and the Focus! Festival at Lincoln Center. In 2016, she performed and taught as Artist in Residence at the pianoSonoma at Juilliard winter workshop in New York City, as well as its summer festival in Sonoma County, California, working with adult participants of all ages.

Born in Atlanta, Mika grew up in Demarest, New Jersey, and began her studies with Olegna Fuschi at the Juilliard Pre-College division at the age of seven. Moving to Tokyo, Japan, in 2001, she returned to the U.S. to pursue her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at the Peabody Conservatory under the tutelage of Benjamin Pasternack. A recipient of several awards in piano and chamber music during her studies at Peabody, she received the Tony & Tina Guilder Scholarship Award in Piano, William H. Kaltenbach Jr. Endowed Scholarship, Clara Asherfeld Award for Accompanying, Peggy & Yale Gordon Accompanist Recognition Prize, Sidney Friedberg Prize in Chamber Music, and was invited to join the U.S. national music honor society, Pi Kappa Lambda, upon graduation.

Mika is currently completing her doctoral studies at the Juilliard School, where she studied with Joseph Kalichstein as a recipient of the Isidore Kleppel Scholarship, Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship, Celia and Joseph Ascher Fund for Piano, and the C. V. Starr Doctoral Fellowship. At Juilliard, she held several teaching fellowships and faculty assistantships in Piano Literature, Sight-Reading, Secondary Piano and Music Theory, and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Keyboard Skills and Piano Topics as a part-time faculty member. She currently teaches piano and keyboard skills in the Juilliard Evening Division, and works with middle school students at I.S. 025 in Queens as part of her fellowship with Ensemble Connect.
For more information, or any inquiries, please access mikasasaki.com.


Caeli Smith headshot

Caeli Smith, violin and viola

Caeli Smith made her concerto debut at age ten with the Philadelphia Classical Symphony and has since appeared as a soloist with the Bach Festival Orchestra, Ocean City Pops, Ambler Symphony, and others.

In 2015, Caeli was a top prizewinner in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Hugo Kauder Society Viola Competitions. She was the winner of the Juilliard concerto competition, and appeared as soloist with the Juilliard Orchestra.

Caeli has been featured multiple times on NPR’s From The Top, where she also served for three years as a cast member in the role of Roving Reporter. In 2004 she starred in Robert Downey Sr.’s feature documentary Rittenhouse Square. An avid writer, Caeli’s articles have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Strings, Teen Strings, and Symphony magazines.

In the summer of 2015, Caeli served as a principal viola of the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland. She is also a member of Symphony in C, a professional training orchestra based in New Jersey.

In May 2016, Caeli received a Master of Music degree at Juilliard, where she was co-principal viola of the Juilliard Orchestra. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from Juilliard. 



 chelseastarbuckChelsea Starbuck Smith, violin

Acclaimed as a violinist of “compelling presence, fearless attack, and technical aplomb and bravado” (New London’s The Day), Chelsea Starbuck Smith, 25, is a young artist becoming recognized for her infectious enthusiasm for the violin.  She has performed as solo and chamber artist in venues across the United States and abroad, including Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, Palais de Fontainebleau in France, and Centre National des Arts in Ottawa.  Ms. Smith made her solo debut in 2016 with both the Spoleto Festival USA Chamber Orchestra in Charleston, SC, and the Southern Finger Lakes Orchestra in Corning, NY.


As a chamber musician, Ms. Smith embraces contemporary as well as classical forms.  Recent collaborators include The Knights Chamber Orchestra and Debbie Harry & Blondie. She has participated in the acclaimed Music Academy of the West 2014 String Quartet Seminar led by the Takács Quartet, and the annual Juilliard ChamberFest concert series.  Ms. Smith recently appeared on the 20thCentury Fox Television series Glee, NYU Langone’s national television ad Fresh Thinking, WMNR Fine Arts Radio and Connecticut Public Radio, and is the featured violinist on The String Fingers Band’s debut bluegrass album Don’t Forget.


Ms. Smith just completed her studies at The Juilliard School, receiving a Master of Music degree under the tutelage of David Chan and Laurie Smukler, while also graduating with the Norman Benzaquen Career Advancement Grant for “talent, promise, creativity, and potential to make a significant impact in the performing arts.”  She also holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Juilliard where she studied with Sally Thomas.