Our Current and Past Members



Sharon Lawrence has played professionally with a number of symphony orchestras: Virginia Symphony, Roanoke Symphony, Opera Roanoke, Richmond Symphony, Hendersonville Symphony, Brevard Philharmonic, Asheville Symphony, Charlotte Philharmonic, and the Rome Festival Orchestra in Rome, Italy.
Currently, she is playing with Greenville Symphony, Spartanburg Philharmonic, Western Piedmont Symphony, and is on adjunct faculty at Gardner-Webb University and Montreat College. For twelve years, she taught at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, teaching applied strings, music education classes and directing the Liberty University orchestra. She has also directed the Southside Strings Community Orchestra hosted by Hampden-Sydney College.
Mrs. Lawrence holds BM and MM degrees in violin performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University. She did further graduate study in Chamber Music with Joseph Fuchs of the Juilliard School.
Mrs. Lawrence is founder and artistic director of the Rutherford Chamber Consort, an ensemble of classically trained professional musicians, which perform great chamber music for the citizens of Rutherford County and throughout the Carolinas.
Susan Blumberg has been a member of the Charlotte Symphony violin section since 1987. She grew up in the DC area and is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland. She was a recipient of the full tuition Liberace Scholarship in 1981-1982. Her principal teacher was Charles Libove. Other teachers included Felix Galimir, Herbie Greenberg, Jacques Israelievitch, and Karen Lawrence. Her chamber music coaches have included Berl Senofsky, American String Quartet, Alexander and Mischa Schneider and Jaime Laredo. Susan has participated in music festivals such as the Schneider Seminar and Spoleto in Charleston, South Carolina and in Italy. She has played with the Baltimore, National and North Carolina Symphonies. Earlier in her career, she played in the OFUNAM Orchestra in Mexico City. She has been a member of Carolina Chamber Players since 1988 and teaches privately.
Since 1993, Susan has been designing a program to teach violin to special needs children and works with the students at the Metro School in Charlotte. Her favorite pastimes include reading, knitting and reading chamber music with friends. She loves spending time with her friends, playing with her dogs Skyler and Libby.
Simon Ertz (viola) is principal viola of the Winston Salem Symphony and also a member of the Greensboro Symphony. He plays as a regular substitute in Charlotte Symphony and is also a member of the Sarasota Opera Orchestra. Simon joined the Degas Quartet in June 2002; before that he was pursuing a doctoral degree in viola performance at Michigan State University where he was also a teaching assistant. Simon grew up in the north west of Scotland and moved to Manchester to study at Chethams and to have regular lessons at the age of seventeen. After two years there he studied viola at the Royal Northern College of Music with Roger Raphael and Simon Rowland-Jones. Simon was a member of several chamber music groups, which won prizes including the Terrence Weil and Leonard Hirsch competitions. He was also awarded the Thomas Barret memorial prize for viola. By the time Simon graduated from the RNCM he was working with orchestras such as the BBC Philharmonic, Northern Chamber, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. After two years working in the UK, Simon moved to Michigan to continue his education. As well as completing his Master's degree at Michigan State University, he served as assistant principal viola of the Greater Lansing Symphony and played in the orchestra's string quartet. During his time in Syracuse, Simon was a member of the Syracuse Symphony and played at Carnegie Hall with them in April 2003. He has also made chamber music appearances with members of the orchestra including concerts for the 2003 Geneva festival. As a member of the Degas Quartet Simon has performed in venues across the country including appearing as guest artists at the Aspen Music festival, the Chicago Chamber Music Society and at the Library of Congress where he performed on the Tuscan Medici Stradivarius. Simon Ertz plays a viola made by his brother, Neil Ertz.
Principal Violist of the Asheville Symphony, Kara Poorbaugh performs extensively across our region as an orchestral and chamber musician. Principal Violist of the Hendersonville Symphony, and performs regularly with the Greenville Symphony (SC), Asheville Lyric Opera, and Symphony of the Mountains (TN). Kara has been featured as a soloist with the Ballantyne Chamber Orchestra, Blue Ridge Orchestra, and Raleigh Symphony in recent years. Kara is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music (BMus-viola performance and music education) where she studied with John Graham and the Ying Quartet. While at Eastman, Kara performed and recorded with the new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound and was a core member of Gamelan Lila Muni, a Balinese music ensemble.
Kara started playing the viola at age eleven at the Duke University String School with Dorothy Kitchen. As a young adult, she served as principal violist in several youth orchestras, won concerto competitions, and attended summer festivals at Interlochen, Musicorda, and Brevard Music Center.
In addition to her extensive performance schedule, Kara is a faculty member at the Joyful Noise Community Music and Arts Center, a nonprofit organization based in Weaverville, where she serves as Director of Chamber Music and maintains a full private studio of violin, viola, and chamber music students.
Brenda Leonard is principal cellist of the Spartanburg Philharmonic and the GAMAC Chamber Orchestra in Anderson. She performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician with "Cello Times Two," a duo with cellist Benjamin Smith of Montreat College, and as a member of the North Greenville Chamber Players. She teaches cello at North Greenville University and the Lawson Academy of the Arts in Spartanburg. Dr. Leonard received her DMA in cello performance from the University of South Carolina where she worked with Dr. Robert Jesselson. Her BA and MM are from Northern Illinois University, where she studied with Raya Garbousova and Marc Johnson, and received coaching from the Vermeer Quartet. She has taught at Clemson University, Anderson University, Converse College and Frankfurt International School and maintains a busy private studio.
Carlos Tarazona (violin) was born and grew up in Guajaguil, Ecuador, where he first learned to play the violin. At the age of fifteen, Carlos came to the United States to further his musical studies. He studied violin with Michel Samson at the University of Louisville, where he earned  a Bachelors degree in Music. After graduating, Carlos earned a position playing in the New World Symphony in Miami under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas. Carlos came to the Charlotte Symphony in 2003 and plays now as a regular extra on the CSO's Classics  series concerts. Carlos enjoys soccer and many other sporting activities.
Tatiana Karpova (violin) has been with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra since 1999. She was born in Yekaterinburg, Russia. She studied violin at the Ural State conservatory with Vladimir Milstein and earned a DMA degree from the Moscow Gnessin Institute of Music. She has participated in a number of international competitions and won second prize in the 1988 Ostrach competition. Tatiana taught violin in conservatories in Russia and Yugoslavia and continues to teach in Charlotte. She is an avid Chamber Musician with several groups around the Charlotte area.
Kathleen Foster (cello) received her B.S. in music from Indiana University in 1969 where she studied with Janos Starker and Fritz Magg. She received her MM from Bowling Green State University working with Peter Howard. More recently she spent four years studying with master teacher and performer, George Neikrug. She lived in Maine for almost 20 years where she was on the faculty as cello teacher at Bates and Bowdoin Colleges. She also taught at the Merriconeag Waldorf School. As a free lance musician, she was principal cellist of the Maine State Ballet Orchestra, the Maine Chamber Ensemble and PORT opera company. She has been a member of the Portland Symphony since 1990. In 2007 Kathleen relocated to Rutherfordton, NC. She now teaches for the Lawson Academy at Converse College. She is a member of the Lawson Trio and performs regularly on the series at Converse College. She is a member of the Asheville Symphony and the Spartanburg Philharmonic. Kathleen maintains her position in the Portland Symphony and commutes to play at least 4 classical concerts a season. Kathleen is a dedicated teacher for students of all ages and at all levels. She has studied both the Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais. She incorporates this knowledge in her teaching where she helps the student find ease in playing. She has hosted several Feldenkrais workshops since moving to NC to help her students gain greater insight into good body use and awareness.
Franklin Keel (cello) began taking violin lessons when he was three years old and switched to the cello when he was six, but his interest in string music wasn't really cultivated until he began orchestra classes in middle and high school.  After winning Principal Cello in the Asheville Youth Orchestra, he began formal training with cellist and composer Ron Clearfield.  By the time he graduated high school, he had played several concerts in the Asheville Symphony Orchestra's cello section, he had appeared as a soloist with the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra, and he had earned a scholarship to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Upon graduation from Eastman, he returned to Asheville, resuming his post in the Asheville Symphony Orchestra and co-founding the Opal String Quartet, a group that has become active across Western North Carolina both as performers and as educators.  He also began work on a Master of Music with a double major in performance and music education at Appalachian State University.  His work in education ultimately brought him to Hendersonville, NC, where he first began to teach cello, chamber music, and improvisation at the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra's Summer String Camp.  He also taught a chamber music unit as a volunteer during the fall semester of 2007 at North Henderson High School, and eventually completed his student teaching internship in Henderson County with Margery Kowal and Tiffany King.  Mr. Keel attended the Brevard Music Center for five summers. He was a chamber music fellow for three of those summers and was a finalist in the Jan and Beattie Wood Concerto Competition in 2005.  He is now Associate Principal Cello in the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, Principal Cello in the Brevard Philharmonic Orchestra and is an active private teacher in Asheville and Hendersonville.  He currently lives in Fairview with his wife and son.
Matthew Levin (cello) is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who came to Charlotte eleven years ago to play under the baton of Christof Perick. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory and was one of the founding members of the award-winning Sausalito Quartet, a group that held summer residencies at Aspen, Tanglewood, and Banff music festivals. They toured North America extensively during their four years. Mr. Lavin continues to cultivate his love of chamber music by playing it whenever he can. He has toured in country/Christian artist John Berry's band as well as Harry Connick Jr.'s band. He remains a freelancer in Charlotte, playing with the Charlotte Symphony and Carolina Chamber Players as time allows.
Martha Geissler (violin/viola) A native of Michigan City, IN, Martha Geissler began studying violin and piano thru the public school system.  She attended Valparaiso University (Valparaiso, IN), where she studied with Betty Gehring and received a Bachelor of Music degree in 1976.  From there, she went on to the Savannah Symphony (1976 - 79); Augusta, GA, Symphony (concertmaster, 1979 - 81) and, since 1981, section violin with the Charlotte Symphony. Ms. Geissler, also a violist, currently plays as an extra musician with SC Philharmonic:, Greenville, SC, Symphony; Asheville Symphony and North Carolina Symphony in addition to her work with the CSO. She is an avid chamber music player and in addition to her musical career, also is a licensed massage therapist, having received her degree from Southeastern School of Neuromuscular and Massage Therapy in Charlotte in 1999.
Jane Hart Brendle (violin) has appeared regionally in concerts of avant garde and standard jazz, most recently in concert collaboration with members of the Charlotte Symphony and Charlotte's A Sign of the Times Big Band, directed by Tyrone Jefferson.  She has appeared as a guest artist with the Charlotte-based group Big Octave and the Asheville-based Jazz Composers Forum group Petri Dish, and in recital with renowned bluegrass mandolinist Darin Aldridge.  In recent years, Jane served on the music faculties of Davidson College and Winthrop University, teaching applied violin, viola, and chamber music.  Jane has been a member of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra since 1995. Many of Jane's violin solos and arrangements have been recorded with area performers and composers. Recent CD releases include: Bunky Moon’s Schtuff We Like; Claire Ritter's Waltzing the Splendor; Walk a Different Line with Tesser; A Queen City Christmas with Carolina Strings; Rick Spreitzer's From the Bottom; and Anne Trenning's All One World and Waiting for Rain. An article spotlighting Jane's diverse musicianship was published in Today's Charlotte Woman Magazine. Jane holds Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees in violin performance from UNC-Greensboro, where she studied with David Moskovitz.
Jan Daugherty (viola) is currently associate principal violist with the Asheville Symphony and the Charlotte Symphony. Daugherty received her training at the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music. She lives in Saluda, where she is the proprietor of Top Of The Mornin’ Music, which specializes in fine musical instruments, both classical and traditional. The shop features locally crafted instruments and Celtic specialty items, and instruction lessons are offered in violin, fiddle, banjo, dulcimer and guitar. Daugherty has recorded and performs regularly with several area Celtic music groups and is a passionate advocate and volunteer for area animal rescue groups.
Nick Lampo (cello) Formerly with the Charlotte Symphony, Nick Lampo has performed as principal cellist with the Jacksonville, Fla. Symphony and the Orlando Fla. Symphony. In addition, he has performed internationally with various orchestras and chamber ensembles. For the past twenty six years Nick has pursued a career in information technology management while maintaining a private teaching studio at Queens University in Charlotte. Nick continues to perform in chamber music and orchestral concerts and founded the Blue Ridge Chamber Players in 2005. He serves on the board of the Charlotte Children's Choir and is board chair of the Friends of Music At Queens University. Nick is a member of the leadership team at Bank of America.
Christopher Tavernier (piano) made his debut as a concert pianist with the Tar River Philharmonic Orchestra last year in North Carolina at the age of thirteen, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in B Flat Minor, Opus 23. As the guest soloist, Christopher opened the Tar River Philharmonic Orchestra’s Fall 2013 Season at the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts at Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. This year, Christopher won the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition and the Symphony Orchestra of Augusta Georgia’s junior division.
Christopher began his piano studies at the age of six. His favorite composer is Franz Liszt, of whom he is proud to be a direct musical descendant. Christopher’s repertoire contains many works by Franz Liszt. His teacher, Dr. John Cobb, a semifinalist in the Third International Van Cliburn Piano Competition, is an international performer and recording artist. Dr. Cobb studied with Claudio Arrau, whose teacher was a pupil of Franz Liszt. Throughout his career, Claudio Arrau was renowned throughout the world as one of the supreme keyboard masters of the century. Franz Liszt was a student of Czerny, who in turn was a pupil of Beethoven. Hence the musical lineage actually extends from Ludwig van Beethoven to Christopher Tavernier.

Guest Artists

Rachael Kistler (violin) began her violin studies at the age of two in Hickory, NC with Suzuki teacher, Paula Zimmerman. At eight years of age, Rachael began her studies outside of the Suzuki method with North Carolina Symphony Concertmaster, Brian Reagin. Miss Kistler has also studied with Jacques Israelievitch, Xiaoqing Yu, and has participated in numerous master-classes with artists and teachers such as Evan Wilson, Aaron Berofsky, Vivian Hornik-Weilerstein, Charles Castleman, Almita Vamos, and Ilya Kaler. While at the Cleveland Institute, Rachael studied with David Updegraff and participated in chamber music coachings with Peter Saliff and the Cavani Quartet. Miss Kistler has attended the Chautauqua Music Festival as a full-scholarship recipient for three summers, and made her professional debut with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra as a winner of the Symphony's concerto competition in 2005. She is currently the Assistant Concertmaster of the Western Piedmont Symphony, a member of the Asheville Symphony, and performs regularly with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. Miss Kistler currently resides in Asheville, NC.
Courtney Sharp (cello) was born in Chicago, IL and began cello lessons at age 8. She recently graduated with her Bachelor’s of Music in Cello Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where her teachers were Richard Aaron and Melissa Kraut. In March of 2011, she advanced to the National Round as one of seven finalists in the MTNA competition in Milwaukee, WI. Currently, she is pursuing an Artist’s Diploma at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, studying under Ukrainian cellist Dr. Natalia Khoma. In Charleston, Courtney is very active as a chamber musician, orchestral player, soloist, and teacher. She is principal of the College of Charleston Chamber Orchestra, and she is a substitute in the Charleston Symphony. This past year, she has been a frequent guest at Unedited: A concert series at the Library Society in historic Charleston. On April 6, 2011, she was part of a string trio that premiered a new composition about the Civil War. Courtney also enjoys playing different types of music besides classical, and has done four tours totaling fifteen shows with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra from December 2009 to April 2011.
Violinist Tara Fensom grew up in Rochester, New York and began playing violin at the tender age of three. This was largely due to the influence of her mother, a performing pianist and teacher. She went on to study at the renowned Juilliard School of music in New York City where she earned both bachelors and Masters of Music degrees. At Juilliard she studied with Dorothy Delay and with Hyo Kang. She began playing with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2003. She is currently also a regular "sub" with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Before that, Tara was a member of the New World Symphony and the Virginia Symphony. In her leisure time, Tara enjoys reading, swimming, studying Art History, golfing (which she says she "needs to practice more!") watching movies and spending time with her husband Chris, who is a trumpet player.
Originally from Lima, Peru, cellist Marlene Ballena travelled to the U.S. in 2003 to study with Paul York at the University of Louisville then went on to the Cleveland Institute of Music to study with Stephen Geber, former principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra. She pursued her Masters in Chamber Music Performance at Kent State University, under Miami String Quartet artist-in-residence Keith Robinson, and was also a member of the prominent Aidan String Quartet. Marlene currently plays with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.
Matthew Waid is a classically trained Double Bass player from Spartanburg, SC. He received his high school diploma from the SC Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, SC, and went on to earn his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Double Bass Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland, OH. He completed these degrees in 2006 and 2007 respectively. He has performed with over a dozen orchestras all across the Southeast and currently performs with the Hendersonville Symphony where he serves as the Principal of the Double Bass section. He also performs regularly in Double Bass sections of the Greenville Symphony, the Savannah Philharmonic, and the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra to name a few. He has been teaching private lessons to middle school and high school students in the Spartanburg area for over six years and has taught with the Lawson Academy for four years in the past. Mr. Waid also works as a LMBT, licensed massage bodywork therapist, in downtown Greenville at Pure on Main. He currently resides in Duncan, SC, and is an instructor at Converse College.
Violist Jessica Ronnevik originally hails from Queens, New York. Currently, she is pursuing a D.M.A. in Viola Performance at UNCG. Since moving to North Carolina in 2013, she has performed in many orchestras around the state including the Greensboro Symphony and the North Carolina Symphony. In 2014 she also became a member of the Winston-Salem Symphony viola section. She holds degrees from Bob Jones University and the Peabody Conservatory, where she was a full-scholarship student. She has also been awarded fellowships to numerous festivals including Domaine Forget, Brevard, Wintergreen, Hot Springs, C.W. Post, as well as the Crescendo Institute in Hungary. In 2012 she also worked on a CD project with the Ridgefield Symphony for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for the Danbury Hospital in Connecticut. Jessica currently lives in Greensboro, NC with her husband, cellist Karl Ronnevik and son Peter.
Eben Mann (violin/oboe) is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he studied oboe with John Ellis and violin with the late Elaine Richey. He has toured internationally with Broadway shows, including: Brigadoon, Phantom, Big River, and The Music Man. Eben has played with regional orchestras such as the Asheville Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, Charleston Symphony, South Carolina Philharmonic, and was a member of the American Youth Symphony (Los Angeles) under the direction of Mehli Mehta. Currently, Eben is the orchestra director and bagpipe instructor at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, and the director of the Wild Roots Fine Arts Center in Rutherford County, NC. Mr. Mann is also a music composer/arranger, and has had his work published through Shawnee Press. In addition to music, Eben runs an all-natural/organic farm in Ellenboro, NC raising chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep, and goats.
Brittany Roach (French horn) received her Bachelor of Music from the North Carolina School of the Arts where she studied with David Jolley. She received her Master of Music in Orchestral Performance from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Erik Ralske and R. Allen Spanjer. Ms. Roach was a founding member of the Triad Chamber Woodwind Quintet of the North Carolina School of the Arts. She was also a founding member of the Foothills Brass Quintet of Tryon, NC. Ms. Roach has played professionally with the Winston-Salem and Greensboro symphonies and most recently held a position with the Florida Grand Opera. Ms. Roach also remains a substitute member of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic where she has played under the baton of Jose Molina. While at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Ms. Roach was selected as a member of the Sarasota Music Festival. She played principal horn in the pit orchestra for the North Carolina School of the Arts 50th year anniversary celebration of the Broadway hit musical, West Side Story, then later traveled to perform at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. In New York, Ms. Roach had the privilege of performing under the baton of Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel, and Pinchas Zukerman. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2008 with the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Sinfonia. She has participated in numerous master-classes with artists and teachers such as Gail Williams, William Purvis, Stefan Jezierski, Froydis Wekre, and Greg Hustis. Ms. Roach was invited to attend the Castleton Music Festival with Lorin Maazel in the summer of 2009 and studied with Philip Meyers, principal horn of the New York Philharmonic. Ms. Roach currently maintains an active freelance career and enjoys traveling and relaxing with her Yorkshire Terrier, Bella. She currently resides in Forest City, NC.
Amy Brucksch (guitar) is an active performer in the SC Upstate as a soloist and chamber musician, most recently a featured performer on the 2005 Keowee Chamber Music Festival. An honors graduate in performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, she has a Master’s in Music Education from Bowling Green State University.  Formerly classical guitar professor at the University of Toledo (Ohio). Amy has performed across the country as a soloist and with Duo Ami, flute/guitar duo and Ohio Arts Council Touring Artists. She has appeared with the Toledo Symphony, Toledo Opera, TSO Chamber Players, and Prism, a classical/jazz ensemble, and released several CDs with the Masterworks Chorale.
Barbara Tilly (flute) received a B.A. in music performance and education from the University of South Carolina - Columbia. She then was awarded a rotary foundation graduate fellowship for study at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, Belgium, where she received the premier prix in flute and chamber music in 1980. Barbara has studied with Constance G. Lane and William Alexander and has participated in Master classes given by Robert Delaney, Julius Baker, and Ransom Wilson. She has performed with the All-American College Marching and Show Band at Disney World, The Augusta Symphony in Georgia, the Columbia Philharmonic in South Carolina and as soloist with the Greenville Concert Band.
Alison Moore (piano) received both her Bachelor's and Master's of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Maine. While a student and then instructor there, Alison accompanied many choral festivals, chamber groups, and musicians in and around the state of Maine, including nine years with the University Singers touring choir, the Bangor Area Children's Choir and Youth Chorale, and Maine Allstate choirs from 1999-2002. Alison moved to Rutherfordton, NC with her husband and son in 2005, but continues to accompany the chorus and musical theater at Maine Summer Youth Music in Orono, Maine every year. She has held this position since 1991.
Sarah Daugherty Montero (harp)
Matthew Hanna (clarinet) studied with Dr. Robert Chesebro of Furman University. He has performed with the Carolina Youth Symphony, the Furman Symphonic Band, Orchestra, and Clarinet Choir, and the Fab Four Clarinet Quartet. Matthew has also been active as a competitor, placing as finalist in the National MTNA High School Woodwind competition and the Southeastern Clarinet/Saxophone Competition.  He now performs with the Foothills Philharmonic as principal clarinet and with various other organizations as a freelance musician.