Viola and Violin
Emma Strohbusch is a Chicago area native, passionate about performance and music pedagogy. She has been teaching actively since 2014. She began her training as a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, and later earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Viola Performance at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Roosevelt University. Emma has studied Suzuki teaching methods at the Chicago Suzuki Institute in Deerfield, and string pedagogy at the IU Summer Strings Camp run by Mimi Zweig (Faculty, Indiana University). Emma works with private students of all ages on viola and violin. Emma’s performance experience currently includes Peoria Symphony, Rockford Symphony, and Chicago Composers Orchestra, as well as various chamber music performances throughout Chicago.
Where is your hometown? Glen Ellyn, IL
How long have you been teaching? I've been teaching since 2014.
What ages do you prefer to teach? I love teaching students of all ages. I work with violin and viola beginner and intermediate students, and advanced viola students.
Who are your favorite performers on your instrument? On viola, I love to listen to Tabea Zimmermann, Lillian Fuchs, and William Primrose.
And, NOT on your instrument? I also love listening to cellists including Anner Bylsma, Leonard Rose, and Jacqueline Du Pré.
Who are your favorite composers? Some of my favorites in no particular order - Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Saint-Saens, Debussy, Beethoven, Glass.
Tell us about a particularly strange or interesting gig. One of the strangest gigs I ever played was for a company party that was somehow also a wedding. One of the most enjoyable was performing Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 4 with Rockford Symphony.
What would you be if you weren't a musician? If I were not a musician, I might be a ballroom dancer or a designer.
Favorite books or movies? One of my favorite books is The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. I also love watching unusual independent films, and exciting action and thriller movies.
Anything else you think potential students or parents would be interested in knowing? I believe that anyone can learn to play a string instrument, with hard work and careful instruction. I make sure my students learn good setup, technique, and musicality so that each of them can perform their best and enjoy making music. I encourage students to study classical music and explore other genres that they may be interested in.
Violin and Viola
Rebecca, a native of Berkeley, California, took up the violin at age 10. She received a Bachelor of Music in violin performance from Oberlin Conservatory in 2006 where she studied under Kyung Sun Lee and Milan Vitek. While in school, she was introduced to an eclectic range of musical styles and eagerly cultivated these interests, engaging in viola studies with Roger Chase and Karen Ritscher, baroque performance on period instruments (Marilyn MacDonald), East Indian violin (Hasu Patel), contemporary music, rock, jazz and steel drums!
In 2007, Rebecca chose to begin her postgraduate life in Chicago, Il, where she has been living and performing ever since. Performance highlights include string ensemble for Rod Stewart, Iron & Wine (US/Europe tours and televised appearances on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Conan” with Conan O’Brien), Umphrey’s McGee, Deltron and The Jim Becker Group (with direct support for Wilco). She has accompanied classical soloists such as David Schifrin, Robert Chen, Rachel Barton Pine, Ilya Kaler &
Wendy Warner. Rebecca performs regularly with the New Millennium Orchestra, Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra, Highland Park Strings, and holds the position of principal viola with the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra. She is an avid chamber musician and an active faculty member at First Conservatory in LaGrange, IL and also The French School of Chicago.
Rebecca's flexibility, both as performer and collaborator, has made her a much cherished and sought after addition to the region’s ever-flourishing contemporary, art-music movement. She can be contacted through FC or directly: 510-996-8747,
Where is your hometown? Berkeley, CA
How long have you been teaching? I've been teaching for 10 years, 8 years at First Conservatory.
What ages do you prefer to teach? I love teaching all ages! There's something new and exciting to gain from music at any level of training and at any age.
Tell us about a particularly strange or interesting gig. There are too many strange gig experiences to share...One of them I recall really vividly in which a small orchestra was asked to perform a re-mixed David Bowie song for a wealthy real estate mogul's birthday celebration. It was over the top--an entire warehouse decked out in an ornate fantasy theme. There were Cirque du Soleil style acrobats and trapeze artists. The musicians were all dressed in crazy costumes resembling mad scientists with huge puffy wigs. I didn't think the event could escalate in its drama, but then the hit band Fleetwood Mac arrived and started playing...
Favorite books or movies? My favorite books are: The Odyssey, for its adventurous spirit and mystical vibrance, and any works by Dr. Seuss because his stories evoke a playful childlike imagination through its whimsical rhyme.
Is there anything else you think potential students or parents would be interested in knowing? I think that studying music can be applicable to growth in many other aspects of one's life. The discovery of learning, the practice of discipline, coordination and multitasking are all wonderful skills that learning a musical instrument can help to develop. And the pride of achievement after working hard towards something is immeasurable.The best thing about the world of music is its vast horizons. Though I was classically trained on violin and viola, I'm constantly finding new opportunities to learn other diverse methods of playing, from traditional fiddle to pop rock! I try to impart this enthusiasm to my students, as my teachers have to me.
Kamen Vachev has studied at the National Music Academy of Bulgaria, won First Prize and Special Diploma from the Bulgarian National Competition for Chamber Music and performed for four seasons in the first violin section of the Sofia Philharmonic. He has performed with the Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Ballet and the Woodstock Mozart Festival. Currently Mr. Vachev is 4th chair in Northwest Indiana Symphony and Assistant Principal Second Violin with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Vatchev was appointed Concertmaster of Whiting Festival Orchestra in 2003 and South Shore Orchestra, Valparaiso in 2010.
Mr. Vatchev is also a very active teacher. He has taught violin at Valparaiso University, Hinsdale Center for the Arts and the Birch Creek Music Festival and currently teaches at both the Northwest Indiana Suzuki School, Merrillville and Portage High Schools, First Conservatory of La Grange, IL and also has a private studio. Many of his students have won awards and competitions and some of his students have graduated or are studying in such prestigious schools like Northwestern, Indiana, Boston, Valparaiso, Illinois and Butler Universities.
Where is your hometown? Varna, Bulgaria
How long have you been teaching? I've been teaching for 30 years, and at First Conservatory since 2012
What ages do you prefer to teach? From 10 to 99!
Who are your favorite performers on your instrument? My favorite violinists are Perlman, Seidel and Szering.
And, NOT on your instrument? Pianist Valdimir Horowitz and cellist Pablo Casals.
Who are your favorite composers? Mozart, Bach and Mendelssohn.
Tell us about a particularly strange or interesting gig. Playing classical music for a bunch of pug dogs.
What would you be if you weren't a musician? If I were not a musician, I might be a lawyer or mathematician.
Favorite books or movies? Amadeus is a favorite movie.
Tell us about a particularly strange or interesting gig. I played classical music for a bunch of pug dogs.
Is there anything else you think potential students or parents would be interested in knowing? I think students should have a serious desire to learn, improve and develop good practicing habits and discipline.
Ingrid Krizan received her Bachelor's and Master's of Music in Cello Performance from Oberlin Conservatory & the Setzer School of Music at Syracuse University. She has been the soloist in concerti by Shostakovich, Tchaikovski, Saint-Saens, Haydn, and Boccherini and most recently the Elgar concerto w/Whiting Park Festival Orchestra). She has performed the Kodaly Unaccompanied Sonata, including at the Illinois Weslyan Cello Symposium and Chicago H.S. for the Arts. Her past and current principal and section cellist positions include the Illinois Philharmonic, Northwest Indiana Symphony, Illinois Symphony, and Chicago Chamber Orchestra.
Her students have been members of CYSO, Midwest Young Artists, WSYSO, and have pursued music degrees at Indiana University, Northwestern University, Illinois Weslyan, Cleveland Institute, Antioch, and others.
To learn more about Ingrid: ikyellowcello @MySpace.com
Where is your hometown? I grew up mostly in northern Vermont and now live in Homewood, IL
How long have you been teaching? 38 yrs At First Conservatory? 22 years
What ages do you prefer to teach? I like the variety of teaching all ages & ability levels
Who are your favorite performers on your instrument? Stephen Isserlis & Truls Mork
And, NOT on your instrument? Jordi Savall (violin), Edgar Meyer (bass), k.d. lang (voice)
Who would you like to play a duet with, dead or alive? My other half, J.P. Romane. (or any of the above)
Who are your favorite composers? Marin Marais, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Kodaly, Bartok, Stravinsky...
Tell us about a particularly strange or interesting gig. So many odd gigs from which to choose! But...one day in Italy, performing "Magic Flute" in a courtyard. First we endured blistering sun, covering instruments w/our white shirts. Then we dodged relays of gravel thrown over the gate by passing school boys. No food available between rehearsal & concert. Evening--lead tenor ran off in a huff. No stand lights, and then--thunderstorms. Orchestra crammed under the rickety stage, sets keeling over in pelting rain, stage lights hissing and exploding, and conductor swearing in english at Italian stagehands!!!!!
Julian Pat Romane is a graduate of Indiana University Jacob School of Music and recieved his Masters in Performance from Depaul University. His students have been members of CYSO, MYA and some have gone on to attend Indiana University, Depaul University,and Northern Illinois University among others. He is also Professor of String Bass at Bradley university in Peoria, Illinois. Julian performs or has performed with many ensembles including Memphis Symphony, Elgin Symphony, Lake Forest Symphony, Ars Viva Symphony, and the Northwestern Indiana Symphony. He has worked with many performers including Peter Gabriel, Tony Bennett, Itzhak Perlman, and James Galway. He is married to cellist Ingrid J Krizan. They live with their daughter in Homewood, IL.
Where is your hometown? I grew up in Deerfield. Now living in Homewood
How long have you been teaching? 20+ years At First Conservatory? 16 years
What ages do you prefer to teach? I enjoy teaching all ages and skill levels.
Who are your favorite performers on your instrument? Edgar Meyer, Gary Karr
And, NOT on your instrument? Renee Fleming (soprano), Jascha Heifetz (violin)
Who would you like to perform a duet with, dead or alive? See above, and my other half Ingrid too!
Who are your favorite composers? Saint-Saens, J S Bach, Stravinsky
Tell us about a particularly strange or interesting gig. Fireworks concerts are always bizzarre. After performing in the middle of a field or by the nearest large body of water, I usually end up packing up in the half dark, lit up by explosions, and trying to get loaded into my car before the show ends to avoid the mass of humanity.
What would you be if you weren't a musician? Scientist
Favorite books or movies? Books...Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter Movies... Star Wars