Jay Smith has extensive experience as a private lesson instructor and director of various ensembles. Smith began teaching professionally during his senior year in high school and has continued full time for the past 17 years. In addition to teaching independently and at Music Starz Studios, Smith has also taught at the university level. He spent 5 years teaching at the University of North Texas in Denton, where he gave private lessons and directed the UNT Classical Guitar Ensemble. Smith also served on the faculty of the Community Music Program while at UNT.
Smith earned his Bachelor of Music degree with a double major in guitar performance and music education from the University of Wisconsin. He completed his Master of Music degree at UNT, focusing on guitar performance and musicology. In 2006, Smith became Dr. Jay when he graduated with a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree at UNT. His area of study was again guitar performance and musicology. Smith's doctoral dissertation consisted of an analysis and performance guide for Mexican composer Manuel Ponce's Guitar Sonata III.
In addition to teaching, Smith has stayed active as a performer by playing in numerous solo and ensemble settings. Smith grew up playing in many local rock and pop bands, while studying jazz and classical music privately. In addition to performing with Serenata Strings, I Virtuosi and giving numerous solo classical guitar recitals, Smith has performed with The Tulsa Opera, playing the guitar solo on their production of the Barber of Seville. He has performed for Christopher Parkening, Stephen Robinson, Stanley Yates and Javier Calderon. In a jazz setting, Smith has performed on bass and guitar with such artists as Frank Mantooth and Neil Harmon. Throughout his career, Smith has always strived to be versatile in his approach to teaching as well as performing. As a result, he has a varied background that has enabled him to teach and perform a wide variety of musical styles.
Karen Lim-Smith started playing the piano by ear at 2. Five years later, she went on to win her first piano competition. At 8, she had also picked up the violin. At 12, she was the youngest member to tour with the Penang Symphony Orchestra to Adelaide and Melbourne for the Adelaide Music Festival. That same year, she was the youngest musician selected to represent her country Malaysia with the ASEAN Symphony Orchestra in Thailand.
At age 14, she went on to win her first major violin competition. Not only did she win the coveted first prize at the Mozart National String Competition, but also a free round-trip to Amsterdam to study with Theo Olof, the former concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
At 17 years of age, she won her first full scholarship abroad to study with Alice Waten at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. After graduating with a Diploma in Music with Distinction, she followed Waten to Australia, where she won another full scholarship to undertake her Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance at the Canberra School of Music, which is affiliated with the Australian National University. Three years later, she moved to Sydney to complete her Bachelor of Music degree with Honors at the Australian Institute of Music.
While a student at the Canberra School of music, she was selected as the only Malaysian delegate to participate with the World Youth Orchestra. The orchestra toured the Philippines, South Korea, and Malaysia as well as Denmark and Germany.
She graduated in 2003 with a Master of Journalism degree from the University of North Texas (UNT). Still a student then, Lim-Smith studied the violin with Igor Borodin. Over the years, she has also studied with Amadeus Heutling (member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra), Emanuel Borok (former concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra) and Susan Demetris (former concertmaster of the Dallas Opera).
Lim-Smith is a very active performer and teacher. Lim-Smith has toured with Andrea Bocelli and Diana Ross and the Supremes throughout the United States. She also appears frequently with The Dallas Opera Orchestra and The Tulsa Opera Orchestra during the operatic seasons. She also performs on baroque instruments with the Fort Worth Early Music and the Orchestra of New Spain.
She strives for versatility in her playing as well as in her students’ playing. While a student at UNT, she picked up jazz violin, and was a founding member of UNT’s Swing Strings. She has also appeared with UNT’s Repertory Jazz Ensemble in a series of performances commemorating the indefatigable Duke Ellington.
Lim-Smith has also performed as a soloist during the 2008 National Association of Composers USA (NACUSA) National Concert at the Eisemann Center in Dallas / Richardson, TX. In February 2009, Lim-Smith presented the world premiere performance of “Wayang” for solo violin, composed by Wieslaw V. Rentowski at the NACUSA Texas Conference at the Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. In February 2010, Lim-Smith presented the world premiere performance of “Appassionato” for violin and piano composed by Rentowski at the NACUSA Texas Conference at the University of San Marcos, Texas. In 2012, Lim-Smith presented works by Rentowski and Stephen Ip at the NACUSA - Texas Chapter concert at the Richardson Public Library. In October 2013, Lim-Smith will be presenting Rentowski's "Wayang" at the Louisiana State University.
She has been teaching professionally for the past 20 years. She has served in the violin faculty at the Canberra Youth Orchestra Society in Australia and the Community Music Program at UNT. She has also taught young students for the Australian Institute of Music. Her violin students were members of the Texas All-State Orchestras, All-Region 2, All-Region 20 and All-Region 24 Middle and High School Orchestras, Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, Greater Fort Worth Youth Orchestra and Lone Star Youth Orchestra, and have won gold medals at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest (TSSEC). Lim-Smith is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association as well as the Denton Music Teachers Association, which is affiliated with the Texas Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association.
Karen and Jay Smith released six CD's featuring the violin and guitar. They released a Jazz Christmas CD to benefit the orphans in the care of Buckner International and Shoes For Orphan Souls. They will be releasing another CD at the end of 2013.
Jason Lim received his formal training in viola performance when he won a music scholarship to study at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts with Alice Waten. The following year, Lim commenced his studies at the Australian National University and earned his Bachelor of Music degree with honors from the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney. While in Canberra, he began his conducting studies as an apprentice with the Canberra Youth Orchestra and served as assistant conductor with the Ku Ring Gai Philharmonic Orchestra in Sydney. Lim added to his awards and achievements the New South Wales Ministry of Arts Conducting Scholarship, the South Carolina Conductor’s Institute Fellowship Award, and the Australian Opera and Arts Scholarship Award. Lim has also attended the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Maine. While pursuing a Master of Music degree in conducting at the University of North Texas, Lim led the NOVA Ensemble in its first commercial recording in 2000.
Under the auspices of the “Equilibrum” label, Lim conducted the world premier performance of Brian Bavelander’s Distant Visions for orchestra and pre recorded tape. Lim held the position of music director and conductor of NOVA for two years. Lim dedicates a majority of his time conducting new music and has been invited to conduct in conventions such as the SEAMUS Y2K (the acousma tex conference) and the North American Saxophone Alliance. In 2004, Lim conducted the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra Classical subscription concert and conducted the Abilene premier of Michael Remson’s opera, Sibanda. Lim also conducted Seymour Barab’s Little Red Riding Hood with the Hardin-Simmons University Opera.
In recent years, Lim has dedicated his talents to working with young musicians, conducting orchestra workshops in Asia and the United States. He served as conductor and educator for three years at the Abilene Summer Music Festival in affiliation with Hardin-Simmons University. Lim remains an active performing violist. Lim has performed with the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony of Malaysia, Australian National Opera Orchestra and the Texas Baroque Ensemble. Lim was a member of the University of North Texas Graduate String Quartet, under the sponsorship of the Liberace Foundation Scholarship.
Lauren Hall is pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in music theory from the University of North Texas with a concentration in violin. She is a member of the UNT Symphony Orchestra and is a student of Dr. Rossitza Goza. A native Texan, Hall began playing piano at the age of 6 and violin at the age of 10, and has studied with such prominent violinists in the North Texas area as Dr. Kurt Sprenger , Loren Laing, and Dr. Igor Borodin. She has participated in numerous music festivals over the years, including the Music in the Mountains Festival in Durango, Colorado. Prior to enrollment at UNT, Hall was concertmaster of the Martin High School Symphony orchestra where she frequently directed sectionals and served as a representative for the orchestra as a part of Martin’s in demand string quartet. Hall was a recipient of the National School Orchestra Award for her leadership and devotion in her high school orchestra program, and was selected her junior and senior years as an All-State Orchestra violinist at the Texas Music Educators Association Conference.
A native of Hong Kong, Benson Lee began studying the violin at an early age with Mr. Frankie Hui and Prof. Wai-Ming Wong (former Concertmaster of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra) before moving to the U.S. to continue his studies with Dr. Igor Borodin, Dr. Matson Topper, Dr. Martha Walvoord, Dr. Katrin Meidell and studies viola with Ms. Amber Sander. A prize winning soloist and chamber music specialist, Benson has been granted the distinguished Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (LRSM) for Violin Performance from the U.K. Mr. Lee continues to collaborate with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (Canada) and the Hong Kong Symphony Orchestra, as well as other national and international orchestras and ensembles. Mr. Lee has served as concertmaster and assistant conductor of the Brookhaven String Ensemble. In 2004, Benson began focusing his creative and artistic energies as a conductor by studying with Dr. Jerome Hoberman (Hong Kong Bach Choir and Orchestra), Mr. K. K. Chiu (SAR Philharmonic Orchestra) and Prof. Wang Jia Yang (HKAPA String Orchestra). After receiving critical acclaim as the music director of the Hong Kong Youth Musicians Philharmonic Orchestra from 2004-2007, Benson is now a favorite guest conductor of many fine orchestras and ensembles, including the Grandmaster Youth Chamber Orchestra (HK) and the DEI String Ensemble (HK). Benson studied conducting with world renowned conductors Maestro Miguel Harth- Bedoya (director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra) , Dr. Clifton Evans (director of orchestral and string studies at UT Arlington). Benson has been appointed as assistant conductor of the Sinfonietta of Fort Worth, Texas and conductor of the North Texas Chinese Church Youth Ensemble. A passionate musician whether holding a violin or baton, Mr. Lee brings unparalleled artistry to all of his musical endeavors both at home and abroad.
A native of Taiwan, Jenny Lin began her piano studies at the age of 5 and her viola studies at the age of 10. After earning her Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance from National Kaohisung Normal University in 2007, Lin came to the United States to pursue her graduate studies at the University of North Texas. Lin has extensive experience in chamber and orchestra playing. She participated in Manchester Music Festival, International String Festival, The Rhythm in Sunshine Music Festival. Also, she was the principal violist of National Kaohsiung Normal Univeristy Orchestra, Tainan City Youth Orchestra, playing with Tainan City Symphony Orchestra and Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra. She served as assistant viola principal at UNT Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Lin was winner of many competitions, which included the Tainan City Viola Competition, National Sun-Fu-Long Competition and the National Chamber Music Competition in Taiwan. Lin won second place at the Kaohsiung City Viola Competition. She studied with Dr. Susan Dubois, Mr. Ralph Fielding. Currently, she studies with Dr. Misha Galaganov at Texas Christian University.
Chloe Park started playing the violin at the age of 6. She earned both her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees at the Indiana University. Chloe is currently working on her Artist Certificate at the Southern Methodist University with Chee-Yun.
Marina Dichenko earned her Master of Master degree in violin performance and is now working on her Artist Certificate at the Texas Christian University.
Native of Taoyuan, Taiwan, Ai-Wei Chang started learning the piano at the age of 5. Since picking up the violin at age 8, she has fully immersed herself in chamber music; winning the 2nd and 3rd places in the 1998 and 1999 Taiwanese Chamber Music Competition. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in 2005 from the Taipei Municipal Teachers College in Taiwan, majoring in violin and minoring in piano and voice. She loves playing in orchestra, and has traveled with a few orchestras to Japan in 1998 and to the west coast of the United States in 1999. She has had opportunities to play with some of the most renowned performers such as Jonathan Liu, Mstislav Rostropovich and Christina Long. She earned her Master of Music degree in 2008, and is now pursuing her Doctoral of Musical Arts degree at the University Of North Texas under the instruction of Felix Olschofka. She studied with Philip Lewis and Yan-Hua Wang in violin, and Cheng-Yao Lee and Christine Long in piano. Ai-Wei also teachers music in Coppell and Plano.
Born in Urumqi, China, Zubaida Azezi started playing the violin at the age of 5. In 2001, Zubaida moved to Canada with her family and began studying with Arkady Yanivker. Since 2002, she has been participating in numerous Canadian festivals and competitions and has won many top prizes including first place at Kiwanis and Peel Music Festivals and second prize at the National Canadian Music Competition in 2006. Zubaida made her solo debut with orchestra at the age of 14 and in 2005 she was invited to play in the Spivakov International Gala Concert as one of the three Canadian guest soloists. In the summer of 2007, Zubaida performed the Brahms' Double Concerto for Violin and Cello under the baton of Alain Trudel. In November 2007, she performed five concerts with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as guest soloist. In the summer of 2006, she was invited along with her accompanist Irina Klimova to China where she performed three recitals in Urumqi and Karmay, China. She was also featured as soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Alain Trudel. In 2008, Zubaida was the winner of the Columbus State University's Concerto Competition and was featured as soloist with the Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra. Zubaida has attended master classes from distinguished artists such as Christian Tetzlaff, James Ehnes, Krzysztof Wegrzyn and Pinchas Zukerman. She has attended chamber group master classes with members of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Ying String Quartet, Szymanowski Quartet and the Shanghai String Quartet. Zubaida was a member of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. In the summers of 2004 and 2005 she was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. And during the summer of 2007, she was a member of the L'orchestre de la francophonie Canadienne under the direction of Jean-Philippe Tremblay. Zubaida was a member of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra from 2003 - 2008 and served as concertmasterZubaida graduated from the Columbus State University-Schwob School Of Music with Honors and is pursuing her Master of Music degree at the Southern Methodist University with Emanuel Borok. Her previous teachers include Huang XiaoZhi, Lin YaoJi, Arkady Yanivker and Sergui Schwartz.
James Burch earned his Master of Music degree from the Southern Methodist University. He is currently working on his Artist Certificate at SMU. In 2012, Burch presented works Stephen Ip at the NACUSA - Texas Chapter concert at the Richardson Public Library.
Benjamin Katzen has performed in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Israel, and in such esteemed venues in the United States as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He has been a concerto soloist with several orchestras in his home state of New Jersey, and was a featured soloist at the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival at the age of 18. As a member of the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, he participated in a tribute to the legendary pianist/conductor Leon Fleisher at the 44th Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, attended by President George W. Bush and nationally televised on CBS. Well-versed in jazz, rock, folk and world music styles, he can be heard around the Dallas-Fort Worth area performing with various orchestras, singer-songwriters, jazz and world music ensembles. Additionally, he teaches cello and violin lessons in the Greenville (TX) ISD Suzuki Strings program. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, where he was a student of Amit Peled.
Adam Pratt is a junior at Texas Wesleyan University double majoring in music education and music performance. He has played in various ensembles throughout the state of Texas including the Austin Youth Orchestra, the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra, the University of North Texas Orchestra, and he currently serves as the principal cellist of the Wesleyan Wind Ensemble. In 2012, Adam was selected to present his lecture on Brahms' Piano and Violoncello Sonata in e minor at Texas Wesleyan's University College Day. Adam is a Dean's List student at TWU and is a recent recipient of the Irene Clark Scholarship recognizing achievement in music. He studies with Dr. Hsinyi Wang.
A native Texan, trumpeter Joel Adair graduated summa cum laude in trumpet performance at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana where he studied with Galindo Rodriguez, and completed a Master of Music degree in trumpet performance at Illinois State University studying with Dr. Amy Gilreath.
Adair has performed across the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex with Serenata Strings, Celebration Jazz Orchestra, as lead trumpet with the Bill Tillman Band, and subbed with Crosswinds Jazz Band, First Baptist Church Euless Big Band, and Brookhaven College Lab Band. He has performed across the country with numerous groups including the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, Shreveport Symphony Brass Ensemble, Rapides Symphony Orchestra, Brass Band of Central Illinois, Illinois State University and Bands of America Summer Symposium Faculty Brass Quintets, Ron Scott Jazz Orchestra, Peoria Municipal Band, and the Northwestern State University Baroque Trumpet Ensemble. Musicals and operettas performed include Bernstein’s West Side Story, Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, and Les Misérables.
Adair performed as principal trumpet in ensembles accompanying: Kyle Engler, international mezzo soprano soloist and McDaniel College faculty; Nikita Fitenko, internationally acclaimed pianist, Yamaha Artist, and Associate Professor of Piano at the Catholic University of America; Jeff Snider, international baritone soloist and Chair of Vocal Studies at The University of North Texas; Carolyn and Stephen Warner, The Cleveland Duo, pianist and violinist with the Cleveland Orchestra; and Julian Dawson, Adjunct Piano Professor at Northwestern University. Adair has also played in big bands accompanying jazz trumpet virtuoso Byron Stripling, trumpet soloist with the Army Blues jazz ensemble Graham Breedlove, and tenor saxophonist with Astral Project and Professor of Saxophone at Loyola University, Tony Dagradi. Likewise, he has also performed with numerous faculty members at both Northwestern State and Illinois State Universities.
Adair has recorded with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra and with the Illinois State University Wind Symphony, and has performed on 13 world premiere performances. Additionally, he has performed with the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) Louisiana Intercollegiate Band, and with various ensembles at the Texas Music Educator’s Association conference, Louisiana Music Educator’s Association conference, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and the 2008 National Association of Composers USA (NACUSA) concert at the Eisemann Center.
Adair was co-winner of the 2005 Natchitoches-Northwestern Concerto Competition while Principal Trumpet with that ensemble, an alternate for the 2006 International Trumpet Guild Mock Orchestral Audition, Runner-Up at the 2006 ISU Wind Symphony Concerto Competition, and a finalist in the 2007 ISU Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. He has also appeared as a soloist with the Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band, and played both feature and improvisational solos with the NSU Jazz Orchestra and the ISU Jazz Ensemble.
As a teacher/clinician, Adair has served as head counselor for the NSU Honors Band Camp, ISU Jr. High Band Camp, and trumpet instructor for band camps/retreats in Texas, Louisiana, and Illinois. He was also trumpet instructor for the Illinois State University Community School for the Arts, and currently teaches private trumpet lessons in the Duncanville, DeSoto, and Mesquite school districts.
Scott Sheffler performs regularly with The Dallas Opera Orchestra and is currently touring with the “Star Wars” Musical Production.
Sara Sclamberg, a native Texan, is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in flute performance at the University of North Texas with a minor in Early Music Performance on the Baroque flute. As part of her teaching fellowship at UNT, she has taught private lessons to undergraduate and graduate students, coached chamber music, and conducted the UNT flute choir. Sclamberg regularly plays with the San Angelo Symphony and Serenata Strings/I Virtuosi. She has been section leader of the UNT Wind Symphony and Summer Collegium for three years under the direction of Eugene Corporon, where she can be heard on GIA WindWorks recordings and DVDs. She has been co-principal of the UNT Chamber Orchestra with whom she performed Samuel Barber’s Capricorn Concerto. She has also played principal Baroque flute with the UNT Baroque orchestra for three years where she was a featured soloist in a performance of Georg Phillip Telemann’s Concerto in A Major from Tafelmusik. Sclamberg recently won the prestigious 2010-2011 Perry R. Bass Fellowship- an award that recognizes graduate music students who demonstrate excellent skills in musicianship and performance, and who have career aspirations of teaching music. Other awards include winning the National Flute Association’s Baroque flute masterclass competition, quarter-finalist in the National Flute Association’s Young Artist Competition, second place at the national level of the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition. Sclamberg won first place at the Louisiana State University Dean’s Concerto Competition and first place at the Rapides Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition in 2006 and 2005 respectively. She is a member of the prestigious Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society. In addition to her love for Baroque music, she enjoys playing and commissioning modern works for flute. She has recently commissioned two works from the Texan composer, Charles Fitts: Fantasie Scherzo for flute, horn, and piano and Divertimento Serio for flute, alto saxophone, and synthesized tape, which she premiered at the North American Saxophone Alliance National Convention at the University of South Carolina in April, 2008. Her performance was made possible through grants from the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies and the School of Music at UNT. She is a clinician for the Northwest Independent School District and the Texas Flute Society. Her other degrees include a Master of Music degree from Louisiana State University and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. Her principal professors have included Terri Sundberg, Katherine Kemler, Michel Debost, and Kathleen Chastain.
Chris Aucoin is comfortable performing all genres of music, and has performed countless performances in all venues, ranging from local night clubs, churches, hotel ballrooms and symphony halls. In addition to Serenata Strings, he has performed as a member of the Dallas Civic Wind Ensemble, the nationally known Bill Tillman Band, Soul Tsunami (12 years), Celebration Orchestra (big band), Professor D, MAXX, The G-Men, Midnight Snack, All Saints Brass, Rock Bottom, Mariachi Adonai, and Souled Out. In addition, as a freelance musician, he has played with many other local groups including Bulletproof Brass, King Creole, Robert Lee Kobb, Groove Posse, Ken Savage and the Best Kept Secret, and Lindy and the Look. Aucoin has performed as a soloist at hundreds of weddings, and his performances have been heard on TV commercials in several states. In addition to performing, Aucoin is an accomplished arranger, having written and transcribed hundreds of horn arrangements for numerous horn sections in the DFW area. This was a natural progression in his career, and just another aspect to his musical career that he finds very fulfilling.
Hyung Gu Kim is working on his piano performance degree at the Southern Methodist University.
Liza Ivlela is working on her piano performance degree at the Southern Methodist University.
Mikhail Berestnev is working on his Artist Certificate at the Texas Christian University.
Edmundo Gonzalez is working on his Master of Music degree in piano performance at the Southern Methodist University.
Tony Spiro was born in Los Angeles, California and began playing drums at the age 9 with a youth symphony. After studying privately and playing in the jazz band in high school, he was awarded a competitive music scholarship to study at The University of North Texas. There he studied with the world-renowned music faculty at UNT in Denton, TX. Spiro graduated with honors from UNT with a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies in 2007. Spiro currently plays in multiple bands and teaches privately in the DFW area.