Nina Bledsoe Knight enjoys a versatile career as a performer, pedagogue, and lecturer. Performance and teaching opportunities have taken her to concert halls and universities in the United States, Europe, and Asia. In Houston, Texas, Dr. Knight maintains an active performance schedule. In recent years she has performed with the Kolonneh String Quartet, the Axiom Quartet (2015-2018), Aperio, and the Texas New Music Ensemble. As an ardent supporter of new music, she has premiered new works for string quartet, solo viola, viola and cello, and viola and dance. In addition to performing, Dr. Knight enjoys opportunities as a guest clinician and lecturer at schools and festivals. She frequently presents sessions for the SHSU Summer Pedagogy Workshop and the Houston Viola Society. In 2020 Dr. Knight was invited to present a lecture recital at the American Viola Society Festival. Dr. Knight studied violin and viola. She has been the recipient of fellowships to the Aspen Music Festival and School and to the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival. In 2007, she won the FSU Young Artists Concerto Competition, and since then has appeared as a soloist with orchestra on violin and viola. Currently, Dr. Knight serves as the Adjunct Instructor of Viola at Sam Houston State University and the Secretary of the Houston Viola Society. She also operates a teaching studio in Houston, TX. Her influential teachers include Wayne Brooks, Tania Maxwell Clements, Laurie Carney, and Beth Newdome. She plays on a viola made by Marengo Romanus Rinaldi (Turin,1897). Her website is: www.ninabledsoeviola.com
Rachel Shepard is the Assistant Concertmaster of the Houston Ballet Orchestra and also performs with Houston Grand Opera, Mercury Houston, and works as a substitute violinist for the Houston Symphony and River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. Rachel is a devoted teacher, with over ten years teaching experience. She has worked as a violin and viola instructor for the Houston Youth Symphony Melody and Coda programs since 2013, teaching individual lessons and group classes. Rachel has also worked as a chamber music coach and sectional coach for AFA’s Chamber Music Academy and Summer Music Festival since 2014, serving as acting String Department Head in the summer of 2019. Rachel completed her Masters of Music degree from Rice University, studying with Kenneth Goldsmith, and her Bachelor of Music degree from Florida State University, where she studied under Eliot Chapo.
Laura Cividino was born in 1983 and received her violin diploma in 2004 with prof. Diego Masutti and piano diploma in 2005 with prof. Ugo Cividino, both at the J. Tomadini Conservatory of Music in Udine, Italy. She continued her studies in Klagenfurt, Austria, with Professor Helfried Fister and in March 2008 received a violin diploma from that school. She graduated with a Masters in Violin Performance with Professor Andrzey Grabiec at the University of Houston, Moores School of Music in May 2012. In February 2014 she received her viola diploma with Luca Morassutti at the G. Tartini Conservatory of Music in Trieste, Italy. During her career she has performed in various cities in Italy, Austria, France, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, China, Colombia, Chile and the United States. She has been a member of the OAO (Orchester Akademie Ossiach), and of the SFK (Slovenia, Friuli, Kaerntner) in Austria, the Piccola Accademia in Italy, Clear Lake Symphony, Houston Sinfonietta, the Moores School of Music Orchestras, YOA (Youth Orchestra of the Americas) in 2012, Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, “Mercury – the orchestra redefined,” Bach Society Houston, Austin Baroque Orchestra and the Symphony of SouthEast Texas in the United States. She took part at the masterclasses of Gustav Mayer, Helfried Fister, Rainer Kussmaul, Igor Ozim, Andrzej Grabiec, Giovanni Guglielmo, Lorenzo Fava, Isabelle Ballot, Rainer Honeck, Joseph Silverstein, Stephen Shipps, Lucie Robert and, for chamber music, Alois Posch, Sean Y. Wang, Domenico Nordio, Alberto Vianello, James Dunham, the Debussy Quartet, and Timothy Hester. She is currently teaching and freelancing in Houston as a violinist and a violist. She is also a founding member of the Houston-based Carya String Quartet, a group dedicated to creating community through chamber music concerts and educational programs, which is in its third season.
A native Texan violist, Eliseo Rene Salazar, has served as Principal Viola with the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet Orchestra since January 2004. Mr. Salazar attended the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with Mark Jackobs of the Cleveland Orchestra and received his Bachelor’s Degree. He began his graduate studies at Southern Methodist University with Barbara Sudweeks and continued at Indiana University with Atar Arad where he received his Master’s Degree. Mr. Salazar has also studied with Robert Vernon, Donald McInnis, Alan DeVeritch, and Ronald Neal. He is an avid chamber musician and has played with many groups around the Houston area, including St Cecilia Chamber Players, Musiqa, Camerata Ventapane, Texas New Music Ensemble, and Aperio. Mr. Salazar has attended numerous summer festivals including the Taos Summer Chamber Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and Spoleto USA Festival. He currently spends his summers in southern Oregon where he plays with the Britt Festival Orchestra.
An active and versatile performer, violist Rainey Weber is based in Houston, Texas, where she is currently the violist of the Carya String Quartet, the Terra Nostra Ensemble, and St. Andrew’s Strings. Committed to chamber music and community engagement, Ms. Weber is currently a Da Camera Young Artist, and has been named a Young Artist Fellow for the 2018-2019 season. Highlights from recent seasons include performing five of Beethoven’s String Quartets as part of the 2017-2018 Beethoven For All Series with Da Camera Chamber Music and Jazz, a tour with the Calliope Quartet of Italy and Austria (July of 2017), and recording string tracks for Robert Ellis’ most recent album, Robert Ellis (2016, New West Records). Ms. Weber has been a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival and School, and as a founding member of the Judson String Quartet, she served as the violist for the 2014 Quartet-in-Residence Program at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, where she performed, taught privately, and mentored for the Advanced String Quartet Institute.
Dedicated to teaching and sharing music with underserved audiences, Ms. Weber has collaborated extensively on the development of educational outreach programs for preschoolers, elementary school students, middle school students, and adults. She also serves on the board of the Houston Viola Society, is a sectional coach and teaching artist for the Houston Youth Symphony and Mercury, and maintains a private studio of viola and violin students. Ms. Weber has a Masters of Music in viola performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she was a student of Lynne Ramsey. She earned her bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) at Rice University, under the study of James Dunham.