Elizabeth Oakes, Viola

Program Director

Victoria Chiang, Viola

Denise Djokic , Cello

Jesse Holstein, Viola/Violin

Andrew Janss, Cello

Salley Koo, Violin

Elizabeth Oakes, Violin

Elizabeth Oakes, violist, is an active chamber musician, teacher and performer and currently serves as the director of the University of Iowa String Quartet Residency Program (UISQRP). For twenty-two years, Ms. Oakes was the violist of the Maia Quartet and as a member of the Quartet, she performed throughout the United States, Asia, Canada, and Europe and concertized in major venues including Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, the 92nd Street Y and Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. Collaborations with other artists included Maia Quartet performances with Daniel Avshalomov, Joel Krosnick, Helen Callus, Andre-Michel Schub and Robert Kapilow. Ms. Oakes has taught at numerous summer music festivals including the Interlochen Advanced String Quartet Program, the Great Wall International Music Academy in Beijing, China and the Rocky Mountain Summer Conservatory in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She currently directs the Green Lake Festival Chamber Music Institute—a two-week summer chamber music institute located in central Wisconsin.

Ms. Oakes programming and interdisciplinary interests have led her to coordinate and program many large-scale projects. In 1997, Ms. Oakes co-founded and then subsequently served for nine years as a co-artistic director of the Foothills Music Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In her current role as the director of UISQRP, Ms. Oakes has created multi-dimensional artist-residencies with quartets from across the US and abroad, including the Brentano Quartet, JACK Quartet, the Cavani Quartet, the Parker Quartet, the Elias Quartet, the Dalí Quartet, the Daedalus Quartet, the Spektral Quartet, the Ariel Quartet, the Jupiter Quartet, the Jasper Quartet, the Pacifica Quartet, the Miró Quartet and the Castalian Quartet. During her tenure at the University of Iowa, Ms. Oakes has coordinated several large events, including Scandinavian/NordicFest—a month-long festival with chamber music at the heart of all events, which included film, theater, dance, lectures, recitals and outreach. Ms. Oakes also teamed up with the University of Iowa Music Therapy department to present Music, Healthcare and Well-Being, programming focused on the relationship between music and health. She has been the recipient of numerous grants from major granting organizations, such as Chamber Music America, the Iowa Arts Council, Humanities Iowa, the University of Iowa’s Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Professorship Program and the John and Anna Hanes Foundation.

A devoted teacher, Ms. Oakes has received repeated recognition for her work at the University of Iowa. In 2016, she was awarded the Dean’s Distinguished Lecturer award in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and most recently, she was awarded the President & Provost Award for Teaching Excellence for 2020-21. She has given numerous master classes and presentations across the country including Peabody Conservatory of Music, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Harvard University, Arizona State University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and most recently at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.

Ms. Oakes is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, where she received a Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance as a student of Jeffrey Irvine. She continued with a Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music with Heidi Castleman and a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. At the Juilliard School, she served as a teaching assistant to Sam Rhodes of the Juilliard Quartet. As part of the Maia Quartet, she worked intensively with the Cavani Quartet, the Juilliard Quartet, the Tokyo Quartet and Earl Carlyss.

Victoria Chiang, Viola

Victoria Chiang has performed as soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician across North America, Europe and Asia. Her most recent recording of the viola concertos of Stamitz and Hoffmeister was released by Naxos to critical acclaim. Other recordings include Pleyel Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola also on Naxos as well as a recording of Shostakovich and Roslavets Viola sonatas. She has performed as soloist with the National Philharmonic Orchestra, The National Gallery of Art Orchestra, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the Romanian State Philharmonics of Constantsa and Tirgu Muresh, the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, the Acadiana Symphony (Lafayette, LA) and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Chiang has collaborated as guest artist with Guarneri, Takacs, Tokyo, American, Arianna and Pro Arte String Quartets, and with members of the Emerson, Cleveland, and Juilliard String Quartets. She has been a regular guest artist at the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, a frequent guest on the Bargemusic series, and has given solo performances in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and at the XXV, XXXVIII and XL International Viola Congresses.

Ms. Chiang is a founding member of The Aspen String Trio. The group concertizes internationally, and was Ensemble in Residence at the University of Baltimore for six seasons. In addition to being on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Music and the Aspen Music Festival, Ms. Chiang has recently joined the viola faculty at the McDuffie Center at Mercer University. Formerly onthe faculty of The Juilliard School and the Hartt School of Music, and a former member of the board of the American Viola Society, her students hold significant positions in orchestras, in string quartets, and on conservatory faculties across the US and in Europe. Additionally, Ms. Chiang has taught at the Perlman Music Program: Winter Residency in Sarasota, Madeline Island Chamber Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, Domaine Forget, Great Wall Festival (Beijing) among others.

Ms. Chiang earned the Master of Music degree and Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, and the Bachelor of Music degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Her principal teachers include Heidi Castleman and Masao Kawasaki, viola; and Dorothy DeLay and Kurt Sassmannshaus, violin.

Denise Djokic , Cello

Instantly recognized by her “arrestingly beautiful tone colour” (The Strad), Canadian-American cellist Denise Djokic captivates audiences with her instinctive artistry and natural combination of strength and sensitivity. Acclaim for her powerful interpretations and command of her instrument has earned her world-wide recognition and appearances in some of the most venerable concert halls.

As a soloist, Denise has performed with most of Canada’s major orchestras, including the Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec, Calgary, and Edmonton Symphonies, as well as Montreal’s Orchestre Metropolitain and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Internationally, she has performed with the North Carolina Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Portland Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, Charlottesville Symphony, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, Orquesta Filharmónica de la UNAM (Mexico), Sinfonieorchester Aachen (Germany) The Academic Orchestra of Zürich (Switzerland), Amazonas Philharmonic (Brazil), among others.

Denise has received numerous distinctions and accolades over the course of her versatile career. A recipient of various grants and prizes from the Canada Council for the Arts, she was recently nominated for the Oskar Morawetz Award for Excellence in Music Performance by the Ontario Arts Council. Denise has been named one of the top “25 Canadians Who Are Changing Our World” by Maclean’s Magazine, one of “Canada’s Most Powerful Women” by Elle Magazine, and won first prize at the Irving M. Klein International String Competition. A natural leader and advocate for classical music, Denise is equally at home on the podium as a keynote speaker, having presented at forums such as IdeaCity in Toronto and the Women In Leadership Conference at Queen’s University. Denise was a featured performer at the 2002 GRAMMY Awards, where she opened for pop rock band Train with solo Bach and then joined the group in a performance of their hit song, “Drops of Jupiter”.

Denise is deeply committed to exploring music of our time and representing different perspectives and voices on the stage. Her Lincoln Center debut featured Arturo Marquez’s “Espejos en la Arena” with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas and Alondra de la Parra conducting. Her Carnegie Hall debut featured a performance of John Estacio’s Triple Concerto with pianist Angela Cheng and violinist Juliette Kang, and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra with William Eddins conducting. Denise joined cellists Paul Marleyn and Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi for the premiere performance of Vincent Ho’s “3 Warriors” Concerto for Cello Trio and String Orchestra at the International Cello Festival of Canada. Recent collaborations have showcased works of Texu Kim (Pali-Pali!!), Augusta Read Thomas (Cantos for Slava at the 2022 Bowdoin International Music Festival), and Steven Mackey (Through Your Fingers, Bowdoin 2019). During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, Denise recorded a video performance of the first movement of composer Robert Rival’s Sonata for Cello and Piano with pianist David Jalbert (a work they co-commissioned with Scotia Festival of Music), which was funded by the Canada Council through a “Digital Originals” grant awarded to Rival.

Denise enjoys multi-disciplinary work and is a member of Ensembl’Arts, founded by her brother, Marc, and sister in-law, Avery Zhao-Djokic: Canada’s first cultural organization with the mission of bringing together music, dance and visual arts on stage. In 2010, she performed all of Benjamin Britten’s Cello Suites in Seattle with Seattle’s Spectrum Dance in a production of Donald Byrd’s LOVE. The Seattle Times commended her playing, declaring that her performance itself was “reason enough to go”. She performed a segment of LOVE again in 2021 with the University of Illinois Department of Dance at the Krannert Center in Urbana, IL. Denise has collaborated with Ballet Victoria and the Atlantic Ballet Theatre, and has made several performance videos for Mécénat Musica, featuring projects with dancers and visual artists.

Denise’s award-winning discography features a disc of Chopin and Rachmaninov sonatas with her long-time recital partner, pianist David Jalbert (ATMA), the complete Britten Solo Suites for Cello also for ATMA which has received consistent accolades: “young Canadian cellist Denise Djokic does them proud here with breathtaking technique and a wide dynamic sweep” (Toronto Star). Her debut CD, featuring works by Barber, Martinu and Britten received the 2002 East Coast Music Award and her subsequent album Folklore (Allegro/Endeavor) received a JUNO nomination as well as an East Coast Music Award, hit the Billboard Chart’s top 15 Classical CD’s and was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered”. Denise was recently appointed to the faculty of music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she enjoys the opportunity to mentor a diverse group of young cellists and instrumentalists. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa and spends her summers teaching and coaching chamber music at festivals and institutes such as the Emerald Coast Chamber Music Festival, Scotia Festival of Music, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and Bowdoin International Festival of Music.

Denise comes from a large musical family and began her early training in her hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia with Olive Shaw and Shimon Walt. She moved to Cleveland, Ohio, during her high school years to study at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Richard Aaron and is a graduate of its Young Artist Program. Denise furthered her training at the New England Conservatory, where she completed her Undergraduate Diploma with Laurence Lesser and Paul Katz. She now resides in Urbana, Illinois, with her family.

Jesse Holstein, Viola/Violin

Jesse Holstein graduated from Oberlin where he studied with Marilyn McDonald and then received his Master’s with James Buswell at the New England Conservatory. Prior to Oberlin, he studied violin with Philipp Naegele in Northampton, Massachusetts. Jesse would be remiss if he did not send a huge thank you to his wonderful Suzuki teacher Diana Peelle who started him at age 5 and was extremely patient with his slouching posture for years.

An active recitalist, orchestral and chamber musician, Jesse is currently concertmaster of the New Bedford Symphony. In recent summers, he has performed at the Bravo! Festival in Vail Colorado, the Montana Chamber Music Festival in Bozeman, the Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine, the Apple Hill Festival in Sullivan, New Hampshire, the South Coast Chamber Music Series, among others.

While an undergraduate, Jesse taught for the Oberlin Preparatory Program in the Lorain, Ohio public schools. Also at Oberlin, he served as Assistant Concertmaster and later as Music Director of the Royal Farfissa Disco Juggernaut, the premier disco orchestra in the greater-Cleveland area in the mid-1990s.

Currently, Jesse is a teacher and resident musician for Community MusicWorks and was a founding member of the Providence String Quartet. Jesse performed with the Muir, Borromeo, Miro, Apple Hill, Orion, Turtle Island, and St. Lawrence Quartets, as well as pianists Jonathan Biss and Emanuel Ax, cellist Matt Haimovitz; Cleveland Orchestra Principal Oboe, Frank Rosenwein, and violist Kim Kashkashian, among many others. Jesse also has attended the Violin Craftsmanship Institute in Durham, New Hampshire, where he learned about instrument repair. He manages all of the instruments at Community MusicWorks and the program’s 150 students.

Jesse has been a Violin Professeur at L’Ecole de Musique, Dessaix Baptiste in Jacmel, Haiti and is currently on the faculty at Brown University. Some of his life forces are mindfulness, running, animals, and visiting Donegal, Ireland with his wife, violinist Ealaín McMullin.

He has a cat, Lord Nelson who is an ordained on-line minister (this is true) and is available for weddings and services (this is probably not true).

Andrew Janss, Cello

The New York Times has hailed cellist Andrew Janss for his “glowing tone”, “insightful musicianship”, and “sumptuous elegance”. Andrew began his career as founding cellist of the Escher Quartet, winning the 2010-12 Bowers residency at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Since then, Janss has performed and recorded around the world alongside legendary classical artists including Leon Fleisher, Richard Goode, Itzhak Perlman, and Pinchas Zukerman; as well as chart-topping artists Norah Jones, Paul McCartney, Lana del Rey, and Bruce Springsteen. His principal teachers include Andrew Cook, David Geber, Clive Greensmith, and David Soyer. 

As a non-profit arts leader for nearly two decades, Janss has spearheaded and launched multiple ground-breaking music education and music medicine initiatives, most recently while Executive and Co-Artistic Director of the non-profit organization Project: Music Heals Us. These initiatives include Music For The Future, a college-accredited music composition program for incarcerated individuals; and the Vital Sounds Initiative, a 1-on-1 virtual bedside concert (VBC) program for isolated hospital patients, the first iteration of produced over 15,000 individual VBC concerts across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic (for which he was nominated by Yo-Yo Ma for a prestigious Emerson Collective Fellowship). He continues to develop VBC work in his dual roles as President of the Amplify Foundation, and Music Advisor to the Stanford School of Medicine. 

Finally, in an effort to combat deforestation issues created by the flood of cheap, single-use bows in music education (bows that can’t be re-haired, and have to be thrown out after a single school year), Janss teamed up with a New York City bowmaker and a Stanford University engineer to launch the world first viable self-rehairable bow, utilizing a cartridge-based re-hair system that allows a player or teacher to change out old hair for new in under 60 seconds. To learn how you can get these into your local schools, visit

Salley Koo, Violin

A violinist of great range and energy, Salley Koo has performed internationally as a solo, chamber, and orchestral musician.  Recent performances include appearances at the Musikverein in Vienna, Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Central Park, Music from Salem, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the National Cathedral and National Gallery in Washington D.C., Columbia Museum of Art, the Harris Theater in Chicago, the Nasher Series in Dallas, the Peoples Symphony Concerts, the Ojai, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Skaneateles, and Caramoor Festivals, and on tour alongside artists ranging from Bela Fleck to Dawn Upshaw to Gil Shaham.  Salley soloed with the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra and recently returned a third time to Lebanon as artist in residence with the IMAGINE Workshop and Concert Series at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon.  She is regularly invited as a guest artist with groups such as the Minnesota Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, East Coast Chamber Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and the Knights. 

Dr. Koo’s engagement with the chamber music community in particular has yielded collaborations with world-renowned musicians including Peter Frankl, Yo Yo Ma, and Colin Carr, as well as with members of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Peabody Trio, Emerson Quartet, and Takacs Quartet.  Her expansive musical interests range from early music to contemporary compositions.  In the former vein, she has performed in period groups and recorded for Centaur; in the latter, she has worked closely with composers like Julia Wolf, Mario Davidovsky, Steven Mackey, Osvoldo Golijov, as well as members of the So Percussion Quartet.  Salley is also a familiar face at numerous festivals including the Chamber Music Silicon Valley, Yellow Barn Music Festival, Taos School of Music, the Tanglewood Music Center, Pacific Music Festival, and Thy Chamber Festival in Denmark.  

Despite a performance itinerary that has covered North America, Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, Dr. Koo has established a thriving teaching career.  She is currently the violin professor at both Adelphi University in NY and Montclair State University in NJ, and is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana this year.  Previously, Dr. Koo has served as the violin professor and coordinator of chamber music at the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, CT; other faculty appointments include the Green Lake Chamber Music Festival in WI, Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in New Hampshire, Dwight-Englewood String Society in New Jersey, Vermont’s Young Artist Program at Yellow Barn, the Opus 118 We Want Music! program in East Harlem, New York, Elm City ChamberFest, and the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, Connecticut.  Salley also maintains a limited private studio in New York City.   

Hailing from Chicago, where she studied with Almita and Roland Vamos at the Music Center of the North Shore (now Music Institute of Chicago), Salley then earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University in English and American Literature, continuing her violin studies with Lynn Chang.  She subsequently received a Master of Music and pursued Artist Diploma work from the Yale School of Music under the tutelage of Peter Oundjian.  She completed her Doctor of Musical Arts in violin performance at Stony Brook University under Pamela Frank and Philip Setzer.  Over the course of her extensive training, Dr. Koo has studied with numerous other luminaries, including David Taylor, Sylvie Koval, and Dorothy Kitchen.  

Salley currently performs on a violin made for her by Mario Miralles.  When she’s not playing the violin, she’s likely to be found cooking or planning where to eat next with her husband, Alex, or playing with their dogs in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.