Artistic Director

Chamber Music Madness Artistic Director The Skyros Quartet, brings a bright and inventive style to the performance stage. Passionate about the education of future generations of musicians, Skyros musicians provide coaching for students in schools through the ECCHO program, for the summer student festival, Tuned In!, and for the adult amateur members of the Chamber Music Guild. Skyros musicians offer private lessons and perform as principal players in the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra. Beyond their work in the Pacific Northwest, Skyros has concertized across the US, Canada, and China. Founded in 2010 at the University of Texas at Austin during their Masters studies, Skyros members completed a doctoral quartet residency at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This dynamic quartet released their debut album, INTROSPECTIVE ODYSSEY, to great international acclaim in August 2015. It can be heard on the Navona label of Parma Recordings.

Sara PizzichemiDr. Sarah Pizzichemi {DMA, MM, BM} has distinguished herself as a versatile and passionate artist with international performances as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician. She is the 1st violinist of the Skyros Quartet, entering their 10th professional season together in 2019-2020. Sarah is concertmaster of the Saratoga Orchestra, and co-concertmaster of Seattle Collaborative Orchestra. She is also co-concertmaster of the Pacific Northwest Conducting Institute during the summer. Sarah is an artistic director and coach for the non-profit organization Chamber Music Madness. She is also an active private teacher, and manages the award winning Pizzichemi Violin Studio. Sarah participated in Chamber Music Madness programs as a young musician.

Brandon VanceBrandon Vance holds a B.M. and M.M. in Violin Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, having studied with Mr. Paul Kantor as well as the Cavani Quartet. He is a two-time U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, winning this title for the first time at age 14. Vance has performed and taught at the University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy and University of Oregon. He has also composed and performed his original composition “Gael Storm” for Fiddle and Orchestra with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra at Severance Hall, and has had the honor of performing his own “Kantor Caprice” for Quartet, with the Skyros Quartet.

Justin Kurys

Dr. Justin Kurys is a founding member and violist of the Skyros Quartet. As a member of Skyros he performs nationally, with tours to California, Connecticut, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Texas, Nebraska, and throughout Washington State; as well as internationally with tours to Canada and China. Recent highlights include performances with Skyros at Benaroya Hall for the Seattle Chamber Music Society Winter Festival, several performances at SOMA towers for their Resonance Concert Series, multiple performances at Harris Hall for the Aspen Music Festival and School, and at the Moscow Music Festival, in Moscow Idaho. Dr. Kurys is on faculty at Seattle University as well as Artistic Director for Chamber Music Madness with his quartet colleagues. With Skyros, he can be heard on their debut recording “Introspective Odyssey” which was received with critical acclaim. Dr. Kurys maintains a private teaching studio in Lynnwood.

Willie Braun

The founding cellist of the Skyros Quartet, Dr. Willie Braun is an active performer and teacher in the Seattle area. He is currently the cello instructor at Seattle University. In addition to teaching a private cello studio, Willie is a co-Artistic Director of Chamber Music Madness, a Seattle-area organization dedicated to bringing collaborative music to students and adults. As a member of the Skyros Quartet, currently in its tenth season, he has performed across the US, Canada, and China.

Willie earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Chamber Music Performance at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His doctoral document, “The History of the Cello Endpin and Its Effect on Technique and Repertoire,” is the first publication in over twenty years dedicated to this specific topic. Willie also holds music performance degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and Arizona State University. He has studied under the direction of Gregory Beaver, Joshua Gindele, Thomas Landschoot, and the Miro and Chiara String Quartets.

Guest Artists and Coaches

Tim Betts
Tessa Lark
Thane Lewis
Quinton Morris
Shaunyce Omar
Tim Pizzichemi
Stephen Rose
Andrew Velizon
Bion Tsang
Jeffrey Wang
Laurie Wells

Icicle Creek Adult Weekend Retreat

Cecilia ArchuletaCecelia Archuleta, violinist, has performed internationally as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician. She has toured in North and South America with the Orquestra de la Juventud and the Toluca Symphony Orchestra.  She was also Concertmaster and featured soloist for several concerts. By special request of the First Lady of Mexico, Cecilia has performed before the President of Mexico, José López Portillo. Cecilia’s career in Los Angeles, her birthplace, brought numerous engagements, including a concert for Princess Grace of Monaco with American harpsichordist, Igor Kipnis, and a performance of the Bach Double Concerto with Jack Benny. She has also performed with Pacific Symphony Orchestra, and the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra.

In the Pacific Northwest, Cecilia is one of the most sought-after violinist for chamber music. She was the founding member of the Onyx Chamber Players, soloist with Octava Chamber Orchestra, and has performed with the Philadelphia String Quartet for 12 seasons at the Olympic Music Festival, and will be performing her third season this summer with the Friday Harbor Chamber Music Festival.  Cecilia is a member of Northwest Sinfonietta, and Concertmaster with Philharmonia Northwest. She has also performed with Seattle Symphony, Auburn Symphony, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. On period violin, Cecilia performs with Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Gallery Concerts, Intimate Baroque Series, and is a member of the Opus 20 String Quartet.

Miriam ShamesMiriam Shames, cellist, earned a BA in Literature from Yale University and a Masters degree in Cello Performance from Juilliard. She spent 12 years in arts administration, as a classical music publicist for Shuman Associates and Young Concert Artists, and then for five years as Executive Director of the Piatigorsky Foundation in New York City. As a freelance performer in Seattle since 2000, she has served as Principal cellist of Philharmonia Northwest, Assistant Principal of the Tacoma Symphony, and has played with Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Northwest Sinfonietta and Seattle Choral Company, among many other area ensembles. Currently, Miriam maintains a busy private teaching studio and is director of Carlsen Cello Foundation, a non-profit that loans fine cellos to deserving and talented students who cannot afford their own instrument. She and her husband Michael Cole, a photographer, live on Queen Anne.

Charles EnlowCharles Enlow, pianist, has been richly praised throughout the United States and in Europe for his sensitive and virtuosic recital performances. In the Pacific Northwest, he has appeared frequently as a solo recitalist and with chamber music ensembles. Charles Enlow’s performance repertoire spans over three centuries, from Bach, Scarlatti, and Mozart to Rachmaninov, Mompou, and contemporary works by American composers. Charles has a special passion for piano music of Spain and France, with a particular interest in the solo piano music of Gabriel Fauré. A native of Idaho, Dr. Enlow pursued his musical studies at the Juilliard School and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Dr. Enlow attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. He has taught at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University, and is currently a member of the music faculty at Shoreline College, where he teaches collaborative piano, vocal ensemble performance, and produces Shoreline Community College’s opera and Musical Theater productions.

Leslie Faye Johnson, violist, received much of her performance training at The Juilliard School, completing both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees; her Doctorate is from the University of Washington. Leslie’s doctoral dissertation on the Shostakovich Viola Sonata, published by Bärenreiter, is often used in scholarly research. Leslie performed for many years as Principal Violist/Solo Violist of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra in Seattle, the Northwest Sinfonietta, and as a substitute with the Seattle Symphony. Leslie has appeared as guest artist on many prominent Northwest chamber music series including the Olympic Music Festival, Chamber Music San Juans, and the Second City Chamber Music Series and co-founded the Bellingham Chamber Music Society. Leslie’s CD recording of the Six Bach Suites was released in 2013, and she continues to tour performing memorized programs of the consecutive six suites. In addition to maintaining a large private viola studio, Leslie coaches Seattle Youth Symphony viola sections, is summer faculty for Marrowstone-in-the-City and the Birch Bay String Teachers’ Workshop, and gives symposiums on teaching for the local chapter of ASTA. She currently performs with the chamber group a piacere da camera.

Justin KurysJustin Kurys, violist, is a doctoral candidate in Musical performance at the Glen Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska. He received a Masters in Chamber Music Performance from the University of Texas at Austin 2012 and his Bachelors in Music with Honours at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada in 2010. Justin also grew up on Ontario, Canada.

Sara PizzichemiSarah Pizzichemi, violinist, received her Doctorate in Musical Performance from the Glen Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska. She has a Bachelors degree in Violin Performance and a Masters degree in Chamber Music Performance from the University of Texas at Austin. Sarah was an enthusiastic Chamber Music Madness student in her youth and made her solo violin debut with the Seattle Symphony in 2004.