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Our Classical String performers get ready to present their 2014 Spring Concert.

Huffington Post has published M.M. violin performance major, Briana Murphy’s March 26, 2014 article, A Russian-American Love Story

Current students Rose Rodgers, viola, and Cassie Shudak, M.M. violin performance, as well as 2013 graduate, Kevin Terry, cello, and 2012 graduate Shawn Williams, violin,  joined Martina McBride on her 2013 Christmas tour as the onstage string quartet. 

Cassie Shudak is also serving as a regular sub with the Huntsville Symphony for the 2013-2014 season.

Emily Kohavi, M.M. violin performance, toured over Christmas on the Trace Adkins Christmas tour and was part of the string section for the CMA awards, which aired on CBS. 

Jonathan Warren, Senior Commercial violin major, was commissioned to write the string arrangement performed by a vocalist and the University of Miami String Orchestra.


Current students Kate Gurnow, Junior Commercial Violin; William Jones, Junior Classical Viola; Emily Kohavi, M.M. violin, and alumni, Melanie Parobek, violin, and Rebecca Bradley, cello, were all part of the string section for CMA Christmas which was aired on ABC.

 Kate Gurnow and Emily Kohavi joined top country star Jake Owens in a singing, fiddling, dancing rendition of the Hawaiian Christmas song Mele Kalikimaka on CMA Christmas as well.


Kate Gurnow, has also recently made a debut at the Bluebird Café accompanied by Benjamin Johnson, Senior Commercial Cello, and Lauren Conklin, Senior Commercial Violin.


Jessica Emery and Celine DuTemple, Junior Classical violin undergraduates were selected to be part of the National Music Festival in Maryland this past summer. They were collectively part of the orchestra for a recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, which airs on NPR.


Betsey Karako, Sophomore Classical violin undergraduate, served as a counselor at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and played in the Blue Lake Festival Orchestra which was broadcast in live performances over Blue Lake Public Radio in the west Michigan area. 

Summer of 2013, Tim Hayes, Sophomore Commercial violin major, played fiddle on Drake Bell's new record with Brian Setzer, and produced by Peter Collins, which is due to release in late 2013. Additionally, he opened for Steel Magnolia, Kellie Pickler, and Justin Moore. Currently, he is performing and recording with his own band, Ben Whisler, and others.


Spring of 2014, the Belmont Jazz String Quartet will be featured at the National ASTA conference in Louisville, KY. The players include Kyle Pudenz, Junior Commercial violin; Tim Hayes, Sophomore Commercial violin; Jonathan Warren, Senior Commercial violin; and Tim Kampen, Sophomore Commercial cello.


In the Fall of 2013, Belmont University approved our new ASTA Student Chapter with president, Lacey Thurman, a Senior Music Education violin major and president-elect, Maddie McIntyre, Sophomore Music Education violin major. The chapter will be attending the National ASTA Conference that will be held in Louisville, Kentucky in the Spring of 2014.


Partnering with Moves & Grooves and director Emerald Mitchell,  Elyse Burke, Ruby Chandler, Shelby Nichols, and Lacy Thurman provided after-school string instruction to 10 students as part of a service learning project initiated in the Spring of 2013 as part of a class, Technique and Literature II for the Violin.  The project continues in Spring 2014, involving the ASTA Student Chapter. The project culminates with the young students performing in the Nashville After-Zone Alliance concert for the Nashville Mayor Carl Dean. With the help of a START grant, SGA awarded the Belmont ASTA chapter funds in Fall 2013 to provide background checks and materials for Moves & Grooves as well as for the national ASTA Conference.

Soloists Jessica Emery and Aria Stiles perform Vivaldi Double Violin Concerto with the Belmont String Chamber Orchestra at Cheekwood Fine Arts Center Harvest Festival Drawing Room Series, October 6, 2013

Strings at Cheekwood

String Students preparing for juries. It's almost time!


Music Education majors from the String Department volunteer in local schools - January 2013.

String Students volunteer


Strings at Christmas at Belmont

Belmont Strings perform at the 2012 Christmas at Belmont (above).

Graduate violin pedagogy major, Ryan Ogrodny was selected to play fiddle, mandolin and do vocals with country music singer Alan Jackson. This is not Ryan’s first experience with a notable artist. He has previously played fiddle for Craig Morgan, Billy Ray Cyrus and Laura Bell Bundy.

Senior Classical Violin major Maggie Estes has toured nationally each Christmas with Peter Mayer (lead guitarist for Jimmy Buffett) since she was 16 years old. Keith and Kristyn Getty have invited Maggie to join them for their 2012 Joy and Irish Christmas tour of 20 cities across the United States.

Above, Maggie Estes and Kate Gurnow are members of the Belmont Bluegrass Ensemble, which was included as a featured band at the the 2012 International Bluegrass Music Association Fanfest.

Kate Lee Gurnow, Junior Commercial violin major, 2012 activities include working on a new EP produced by Kris Wilkinson funded by PledgeMusic. Bryan Sutton, Viktor Krauss, Tim Lauer, and John Gardner are performers on the EP with songs written by Kate and co-written with Pat Alger. Other activities in  include playing violin in the string section for Kelly Clarkson and Vince Gill at the 2012  Country Music Awards,  for the 2012 CMA Christmas show and in the string section for Rod Stewart in the 2012 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena performance of the Heart & SoulRod Stewart and Stevie Nicks tour.

Jessica Emery, Sophomore Classical violin major played in the National Music Festival in June 2012 in Chestertown, Maryland.

In March 2012, Senior Commercial violin major, Travis Patton was the Grand Champion of the ASTA Eclectic Strings Festival playing his custom six string electric violin.  He released his first 12 track album entitled "Blessings" in June of 2012.  Travis enjoys sharing music with young kids hoping to open their eyes to the possibilities of music in their life. His outlet for this is leading worship at Lifeway's CentriKid camps in the summers. Travis also has made over 10 visits to student orchestras around the South and Midwest giving clinics and performing with students.

Senior Commercial violin major, Shawn Williams, Senior Classical cello major, Kevin Terry and Graduate violin major, Emily Kohavi will perform with Martina McBride for her 2012 Joy of Christmas Tour in eleven states and in Ontario.

Junior Music Education students, Ruby Chandler and Shelby Nichols have found ways to get involved in the community by utilizing their teaching skills. Ruby voluntarily teaches at the W.O. Smith School in Downtown Nashville. Summer 2012, Shelby taught at the Landes School of Music in Woodlands, TX reaching out to kids from 2nd-6th grade.

In September, 2012, Freshman Commercial violin major, Aria Stiles won the Minnessota State Fair Talent Show and was awarded a cash prize of $10,000. Winning this talent show has been her goal for 10 years and she was very glad to have accomplished it at the beginning of her freshman year at Belmont.

Melodie Morris, Senior Commercial cello major’s recent actities include playing for NBC's Smash, and performing/recording with Natalie Royal, Cody Fry, and Humming House. For several years she serves as the cellist for the Monomoy Theatre in Chatham, Cape Cod. She backed up Eric Church on the CMT Artists of the Year.

Samuel Damewood, Junior Commercial violin major is playing with Universal Recording artist Drake White & The Fire, opening for Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and many others, touring coast to coast. Also, Samuel is in the studio with Grammy Award winning producer John Hill recording an EP of original music.

Graduate Commercial Violin major, Avery Bright has recently played with Graham Colton, Ray Price, Mike Hicks, Transiberian Orchestra, Ragdoll, Chad Harris, Wiley Chandler, Marvin Etzioni, Paper Route and Katie Kendall. He has played in the Paducah Symphony (KY), Hunstville Symphony (AL), Bowling Green Symphony (KY) and Murfreesboro Symphony (TN). Avery also teaches Suzuki at the Belmont Academy and serves as reading orchestra director of the Williamson County Youth Orchestra.

Junior Commercial violin major, Lauren Conklin played on the TV show Nashville this fall. She opened for Kix Brooks with Marla Morris this past summer and is touring with Will Stoltz. She played South by Southwest with Uncle Skeleton in Spring 2012.

Junior Commercial violin major, Emily Scalici toured throughout the Southeast this past summer with the Alex Michael Band.

Jonathan Warren, Junior Commercial violin major, performed with Emily Summers at the 25th annul Alive Festival in Ohio. Also he performed with Mark Wood at a Music and Arts Center in Midlothian and soloed with him on “Eleanor Rigby” at one of his concerts in Virginia. He was hired by Chesterfield County Public School System to teach a four-week rock orchestra summer camp. A few of his other accomplishments include playing in the pit orchestra as a solo violinist for the "Cocoanuts" (a musical) and sitting first violin in the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra for a patriotic concert with the Fort Lee Army Band.

Kyle Pudenz, Sophomore Commercial violin major, played the Hot Summer Nights concert series with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Kirk Trevor. The season featured soloists including pianist Joshua Pierce, violinist Irina Muresanu, and the Broadway cast of Porgy and Bess, while the orchestra's performances included the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony, Ravel's La Valse, and more. For years he has played with Columbia-based rock band Man in the Ring, opening for Nashville country artists Bryan Davis and Jason Jones at a concert in Hermann, MO. He also performed at a CD Release show with Nashville-based R&B artist Chris Hatfield. The album features a track ("Man in My Reflection") that I arranged and co-produced.

Rebecca Bradley, Senior Commercial cello major played at the 2010 Dove Awards, the 2011 CMA Awards, and the 2011&2012 CMA Country Christmas with artists including Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Keith Urban, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum, John Legend and more. She follows her passion for leading worship by regularly singing and playing cello in the worship band at her church, Slow Burn Nashville. Rebecca will be touring in 2012 with Christian artist, Ronnie Freeman.

Graduate Commercial violin major, Melanie Parobek is currently touring nationally with Peter Mayer’s Christmas show and recently served as interim conductor of the Music City Youth Orchestra.

Doug Fleener, a Senior Commercial violin major received 6th place at the 2012 National Old-Time Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho this past summer. This fall, he placed 7th at the Grand Master Fiddling Championship in Nashville.

Timothy Hayes, Freshman Commercial violin major, played fiddle with Nicole Frechette and opened for Kelly Pickler at the Durham Fair in Connecticut in September, 2012.

Junior Classical violin major, Clint Hutchison currently teaches violin at Nashville Violins, teaching classical and fiddle styles. He is a Belmont Strings Crossing Camp counselor during the summer and appears with several local bands at the CMA music festival.

Sarah Yingst, Sophomore Commercial violin major, performed with the South Shore Orchestra, Indiana in May 2012. Sarah is also performing with the Shoals Symphony in Florence, Alabama in December 2012, along with classmates, Sophomore Classical violin majors Celine DuTemple and Jessica Emery, Erin Meid, Graduate violin major, and Joey DeVille, Senior Classical bass major.

Class of 2012, Classical violin major, Angelica Hilst signed a contract to teach Suzuki violin lessons at Marshall Elementary School in Flagstaff, Arizona as a graduate student at Northern Arizona University. She currently holds the position as Concertmaster with the Northern Arizona University Symphony and chamber ensembles and plays in the 1st violin section in the Flagstaff Symphony.

Class of 2012 Graduate performance major Michael O’Gieblyn won section violin positions in the Huntsville (AL) and the Memphis Symphony Orchestras. He was recently a finalist for the Knoxville Symphony and the Atlanta Opera Orchestra auditions and he subs regularly with the Chattanooga Symphony.

Class of 2012 Classical violin major, Danika Lukasiewicz played Principal Second violin with the Huntsville Symphony, played for the 2012 Dove Awards, and records regularly for Reach Records including hip hop artists such as LeCrea.

Belmont students learn Old Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes at workshop with John Harrod - October 3, 2011


Columbia State Hosts Belmont University Student String Quartets Performance - November 15, 2010

Belmont Strings Performers 2010

Music Ed majors Brianne Wheeler and Brock Ownby assist at Nashville Symphony Pied Piper Concerts Instrument Petting Zoo this season.

Brianne Wheeler - Belmont Strings   Brock Ownby - Belmont Strings

Congratulations to recent graduate, Daniel Pentecost (Undergraduate Class of 2010). He is the newest member of Barrage.

Tammy Rogers King, along with the other members of the SteelDrivers made an appearance in the major motion picture, Get Low starring Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray. The SteelDrivers contributed four songs to the soundtrack.

The Belmont Strings perform at Christmas at Belmont 2009 in the Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Belmont Strings 09