Faculty

Preparatory & Continuing Studies Faculty

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Rhona Brink
Faculty, Kodály Institute of Houston

Rhona Brink has 26 years of experience in music education, serving 23 of those years in the elementary music classroom. She has provided many staff development workshops for various Texas school districts and has presented workshops on early childhood and elementary music for several regional, state and national conferences for music teachers. A contributing writer for the Macmillan/McGraw-Hill series, Spotlight on Music, Ms. Brink holds a BM from the University of Houston, and an MM from Sam Houston State University. In conjunction with PCS at the Moores School of Music, she is currently working in early childhood music programs at the University of Houston Child Care Center.

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Julie Richards Carlson
Suzuki violin/traditional violin (professional)

BA, MidAmerica Nazarene University; MM Wichita State University; DMA Violin Performance UH. While at Wichita State, she was a member of the Graduate String Quartet and was a winner in WSU's Concerto-Aria Competition in 1998. She was the Instrumental Award winner in the Naftzger Young Artist Competition in 1999. Ms. Carlson was a member of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and maintained an active private studio in Wichita from 1997 to 2005.

Currently, Ms. Carlson is an active member of HASSA (Houston Area Suzuki Strings Association) for which she has chaired a Chamber Music Workshop for the past 2 years.  She is concertmaster of the Clear Lake Symphony, and teaches at San Jacinto College, South Campus.

Chien-Jung Chen
Piano Faculty, Honors Piano Program

BM, Piano Performance, Oberlin Conservatory; MM Piano Performance, New England Conservatory; DMA (in progress) Piano Performance, UH. Ms. Chen has performed several solo recitals, chamber pieces and concertos with such organizations in South Africa as the Gauteng Youth Symphony Orchestra, the National, and the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestras. Ms. Chen is currently a Teaching Assistant at the Moores School of Music, and is a member of the Forum Music Teacher's Association.

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Michael Clark
Piano (student)

Michael Clark is a pianist, teacher, and scholar currently pursuing a master’s degree in piano performance and pedagogy at the University of Houston in the studio of Nancy Weems. Clark earned his bachelor’s degree in piano performance at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. While at Ithaca, Clark was the recipient of the Peggy Ryan Williams Award for Academic and Community Leadership and the James J. Whalen Talented Young Artist Award, a full-tuition scholarship given to the incoming freshman with the highest academic and musical rating. His primary teachers include Jennifer Hayghe, Craig Nies, and Melinda Smashey Jones. Clark is a native of Bolivar, Missouri, and began studying piano at the age of 7. Clark has appeared as a concerto soloist with the Ozarks Festival Orchestra and the May Day Orchestra. His music research has been published in Nota Bene: Canadian Undergraduate Journal of Musicology. Clark is an active member of Music Teachers National Association. He served as the president of the Ithaca College Chapter of MTNA for two years and recently presented at the New York State Music Teachers Association Conference.

Andrew Fortson
Acoustic\electric jazz guitar theory (student)

BA, Music from the University of Houston. Originally a self-taught pianist and singer, Andrew began formal music training in trumpet and percussion performance. Though admitted to the UH music program as a trumpet player, the self-taught guitarist switched his focus solely to the study of guitar in 2001. He was fortunate to be accepted into the UH Jazz Ensemble and Orchestra program, and receive his first private guitar instruction from Houston great, Mike Wheeler. He has since received guidance from numerous professional guitar players from Georgia Bluegrass Guitarist Brian Stephens, to former Louisiana based performing artist Chris Cortez. Locally Mr. Fortson has sought and received guidance from some of Houston’s finest guitarists’ including John Calderon, Asle Roe, Brennan Nase, and ‘the Patriarch of Houston Jazz Guitarists’ Mike Nase. His continual pursuit and application of knowledge pertaining to both the technical aspects of playing and the application of music theory to guitar have allowed Mr. Fortson to provide instruction for people at various levels of playing. He can instruct beginners in the foundations of music and playing the guitar, help those who have already taken guitar lessons improve technically and develop a better understanding of music theory and of the instrument, as well as provide more advanced players with an increased knowledge of jazz theory, chords and further the application and development of their abilities.

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Jennifer Lee Gutierrez
Piano (professional)

B.M. in piano performance (including honors program), summa cum laude, University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa under Amanda Penick; M.M. in piano, University of Houston. Jennifer has worked extensively as both an accompanist and piano instructor, and is currently a graduate teaching assistant in music theory, as well as the Music director at St. Matthias Catholic Church, Magnolia, TX. Previous piano awards include Winner of the Alabama State National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) Winner of the Southeast Region NFMC, competitor in the NFMC national competition (spring 2009), 2nd place in the Birmingham, AL Music Club auditions (2007), Annie Lou Ellis Award (2nd place) in the Alabama Federation of Music Clubs piano auditions (spring 2007), Outstanding Senior of the Year (2010, University of Alabama School of Music). She has attended the Montecito Music Festival (Santa Barbara, CA) and the New Orleans Piano Institute, in which she performed in a masterclass for Nelita True. Jennifer has also studied organ after receiving the Les Johnson Scholarship for organ study, as well as violin, and has performed on Educational Television.

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George Heathco
Theory (professional)

George Heathco composes music for a variety of ensembles in a wide range of styles. His music blends elements of contemporary concert music with rock, jazz, and various other pop genres. He has taught guitar and music theory privately in the Houston area and has taught music fundamentals at the University of Houston. Mr. Heathco has performed all over Texas with various musicians, ensembles, and bands; playing classical, jazz, rock, hip-hop, blues, funk, and free-improvisation. He is currently the guitarist for progressive/math metal band, The Pant Factory. He received a B.M. in music business from the University of Houston in 2006, and is currently completing graduate work at U.H. for an M.M. in composition. Some of the musicians he has studied with include: Robert Nelson, James Bishop, Jim Vassallo, Noe Marmolejo, Dennis Dotson, and Mike Wheeler.

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Cecile Johnson
Faculty, Kodály Institute of Houston

Cecile Johnson is a retired Kodály Specialist with 37 years of teaching experience in elementary, junior high, and college. Her education includes a Bachelor of Music degree from Lowell State College and a Master of Music degree from University of Northern Iowa. Ms. Johnson has an OAKE-endorsed Kodály Certification from University of North Texas, and has served as an OAKE Board member, past KET President, current Southern Division President and current OAKE 2010 National Conference Program Chair. Ms. Johnson is a frequent clinician at OAKE, TMEA, local, state and national in-services and serves as Kodály teacher trainer in several Texas Kodály programs.

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Maria Kurchevskaya
Piano (student)

Full Music Degree in Piano Performance, The Russian Gnesin's Academy of Music, Moscow, Russia; MM in Piano Performance (in progress), UH Moores School of Music.  Maria has received a very strong musical education as a student of the world famous Gnesin's Academy of Music in Moscow, Russia.  Her teacher, Honored Artist of Russia, Profeesor Maria Gambarian, is the representative of the Old Russian School, who was fortunate to be a student of legendary Professors Konstantin Igumnov, Heinrich Neuhaus, and Lev Oborin.  Maria's current instructor is Madison Endowed Professor of Music and head of the UH Piano Department, Nancy Weems.  Maria has been an active piano performer, instructor, chamber artist and accompanist for more than 10 years.  She is a regular participant of the International Music Festivals and Master Classes at the University of Houston and in Russia.  Maria has multiple awards as a winner of various piano competitions as well as honors for excellent academic achievements.

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Wesley Landry
Baritone (professional)

Wesley Landry, baritone, has been a Studio Artist with Opera New Jersey for the past three summers, understudying Cascada in The Merry Widow, Pooh-Bah in The Mikado, Masetto in Don Giovanni, and appearing on the mainstage this past summer as the Notary in Don Pasquale. Mr. Landry received his Masters degree studying with Joseph Evans at the University of Houston where he took on the roles of Starveling (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus), and Mr. Beebe (A Room with a View). His portrayal of Mr. Beebe in Robert Nelson's opera is available on DVD from Newport Classics. An active musician in the Houston area, Wes made his solo debut at Houston Grand Opera in 2006 as the Customs Guard in La bohème. Most recently, he created the role of Trevor in Houston Grand Opera's world premiere of Courtside. He has sung with the HGO Chorus since 2005. Stepping in on one week's notice, Wes sang the role of Bob in Kingwood College's production of The Old Maid and the Thief. Concert appearances include performances of Mozart's Requiem and Solemn Vespers with Chorale Acadienne in Lafayette, Louisiana. Mr. Landry is a soloist at St. Mark's UMC in Houston's historic Heights neighborhood.

Kisa Parker
Voice (professional)

BM, Vocal Performance, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; MM, Vocal Performance, Moores School of Music, University of Houston. Ms. Parker is a creative and talented performer and teacher in the Houston area. Her operatic performing credits include leading roles with Stoughton Opera Company, Atlantic Coast Opera Festival, and Moores School of Music. Upcoming performances include Jo in Little Women with Orlando Opera. Also active in sacred music and oratorio, she has performed in numerous Houston venues and is currently a soloist at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church. An enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, her studio includes talented high school students in the top choral programs in the area, musical theatre professionals, local opera singers, and adults looking for performing success or musical fulfillment.

Gengyun Qiu
Cello (professional)

B.A., Cello Performance, Renmin University of China, School of Arts, Beijing, China; M.A., Cello Performance, Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, China; M.M., Cello Pedagogy, University of Houston Moores School of Music; DMA, Cello Performance, University of Houston, Moores School of Music (in progress). Ms. Qiu has extensive teaching experience, having taught privately for 6+ years. Shes is a member of the AURA Comtemporary Ensemble and is the principal cello for the symphony orchestra at the Moores School of Music.

Christian Restrepo
Piano (professional)

BM, Piano Performance, Bellas Artes Institute, Medellin-Colombia; MM Piano Performance, Sam Houston state University; DMA (in progress) in piano Collaborative, University of Houston. Mr. Restrepo has worked for 13 years in different musical fields such as piano teaching, music theory, music composition, among others. He worked for 7 years in Bellas Artes Institute (Medellin-Colombia) teaching piano, 2 years in Antioquia university (Medellin-Colombia) where he made part of the piano collaborative faculty and piano teaching department, and class piano in Sam Houston State University and University of Houston from next fall on. Additionally, Mr. Restepo has offered master classes in different cities of his native country and Bolivia.

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Mary Neeley Stevens
Faculty, Kodály Institute of Houston

Mrs. Stevens has been an Elementary Music Specialist in Aldine ISD for 29 years. She is currently a Music Specialist at Carter Academy for the Performing Arts in Aldine ISD. Ms. Stevens received her Bachelor of Music Education from Morningside College, and her Master of Music in Music Education with Kodály Emphasis from Holy Names University.

Kris Walters
Piano Faculty, Honors Piano Program

MM and BM, University of Houston, Moores School of Music; Kris Walters, a native of South Carolina, has been an active pianist in the Houston area for several years. Mr. Walters was attracted to Houston by the Moores School of Music where he studied with Nancy Weems; his other teachers have included Sasha Starcevich of Vancouver, BC and James Lent of Los Angeles, CA. He has been seen in recitals and performances throughout the Houston area, including UH’s Dudley Hall and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Mr. Walters has successfully taught piano students privately and at the University of Houston as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and through the Preparatory and Continuing Studies Division. In addition to piano, he takes great interest in the pipe organ and choral conducting and has enjoyed working in that milieu throughout the area. Mr. Walters is a member of the Forum Music Teachers Association, the MTNA, and the American Guild of Organists.

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Michelle Wong
Piano (student)

Graduated with Summa Cum Laude from Missouri State University (BM in Piano Performance), Michelle Wong is currently a full scholar master’s candidate (MM in Piano Performance) at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, studying with renowned pedagogue Nancy Weems. A well-rounded musician, Miss Wong started playing the piano at the age of four under the Yamaha Junior Music Course in her native Malaysia. She has countless experience in both solo and orchestral performances as a pianist and violinist in Malaysia and the United States, and has been actively involved in chamber ensembles. Miss Wong is currently a teaching assistant teaching class piano and accompanying at the Moores School of Music. She is also actively involved in teaching students of all ages. She has an extensive six years of teaching experience, including teaching privately and group piano, violin, ear training, improvisation, composition, as well as giving master classes in Malaysia. She has a strong passion for music and her appreciation for music education especially for the young. Her past principal piano teachers include Dr. Wei-Han Su, Chong Lim Ng, Jun Lin Yeoh, and Katherine Kok. She has also won several awards and competitions, including placing as alternate winner in the 2012 Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Young Artist Piano Competition in the West Central Division, winner of the 72-Hour composition challenge, and completed Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (LRSM) in piano performance. She strives to continue to work hard and keep an open mind to the path of learning in order to get closer to her greatest goals—enjoying music more fully, teaching others music, and becoming an outstanding teacher and musician. 

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