About Our Team
Our leadership is passionate about building a community of musicians and audience members who love sharing classical music experiences. If you think you have any particular skills that might help us reach those goals better, please feel free to get in touch with us below.
Alyssa Tong studied violin under Nelson Lee of the Jupiter String Quartet as a full scholarship student, recipient of the Doris Vance Harmon Music Scholarship, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Music.
She graduated in May 2020 as a Bronze Tablet Scholar (top 3% of her graduating class) with Highest Honors and a Business minor.
An avid chamber musician, she has performed in chamber masterclasses with Yo-Yo Ma, the Cavani Quartet, Mathieu Herzog, the Vienna Piano Trio, Sibbi Bernhardsson, the Parker, Eybler and JACK, Jupiter, Jasper, Cavani, Ariel, and Argus String Quartets and pianist Michael Brown. Additionally, she has studied under Paul Kantor, Charles Castleman, and Laura Bossert. Past festivals include the Banff Center String Quartet Program, Encore Chamber Music, LyricaFest and the Castleman Quartet Program.
While recovering from a serious arm and wrist injury, during Summer 2019, Alyssa created a free online conference for advanced string players called the Strings Virtual Summit. Just under 30 professional, world-class musicians participated as guest speakers, panelists and promoters, including Elmar Oliveira, Soovin Kim, Nathan Cole, Tessa Lark, Matthew Lipman, and more. The event garnered over 1,200 unique viewers. She hosted a second Summit in August 2020, which received over 1,000 viewers.
When she’s not practicing, you will likely find her hanging with one of her six siblings or working on String Insiders. During the pandemic, she has been studying with Jan Sloman and planning new programs and festivals including the Online Solo Strings Intensive. You can find more info about her work at stringinsiders.com.
Cellist Lydia Rhea is quickly garnering international recognition as a skilled soloist and chamber musician while currently pursuing a BM in Cello Performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music studying under Dr. Melissa Kraut. Formerly a scholarship recipient Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy, Lydia studied with artist faculty member Hans Jørgen Jensen for four years. As a soloist, Lydia has performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and appeared on NPR’s From the Top with renowned jazz pianist Fred Hersch, where she performed one of his original compositions in Jordan Hall, Boston. Most recently, she was named the Gold Medalist and received the Agnew Prize for Bach at the 2020 Cleveland Cello Society Scholarship Competition.
An accomplished chamber musician, Lydia won the Gold Medal in the Junior Division of the 2018 Fischoff National Chamber Competition and First Prize in the Junior String Division of the 2018 M-Prize International Chamber Arts Competition as the cellist in the Kairos String Quartet. Kairos was featured on a live broadcast of WFMT’s Introductionsand appeared on NPR’s From the Top. Lydia is currently the cellist of the Almas Quartet, which is part of the Advanced String Quartet program at the Cleveland Institute of Music coached by Si-Yan Darren Li.
Lydia has performed throughout the US and Europe and earned numerous international prizes, and you can find more information and current events at www.lydia-rhea.com.
Director of Artistic Media Development
Sumina Studer is an award-winning violinist with a passion for cultural communication. A native of Switzerland, she was first introduced to the world of classical music by her family of professional musicians, then ventured into exploring her communicative skills both on the violin and through her social media platforms during her music studies in Berlin and New York.
At Quest Concerts, one of Sumina’s favorite features is that various individuals of different backgrounds get to connect & be enchanted through the powerful complexity of music. Music really is the universal language, as she likes to say!
Director of Public Relations
Gallia Kastner is a Masters Degree candidate at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles where she studies with Robert Lipsett. She is the concertmaster of the American Youth Symphony and has won prizes locally, nationally and internationally. She has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, the Colburn Orchestra, the American Youth Symphony, and many more. She was part of Quartet Lumiére that won first prize at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.
In addition, Gallia was awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Scholarship and the Jerome and Elaine Nerenberg Foundation Scholarship from The Musicians Club of Women in Chicago.
has participated in master classes with Augustin Hadelich, Rachel Barton Pine, Vadim Gluzman, Arkady Fomin, James Ehnes, Joseph Silverstein, Ida Kavafian, Ani Kavafian, Ben Beilman, Ilya Kaler, Milan Vitek, Ivry Gitlis, the Cavani Quartet, the Pacifica Quartet, the Calder Quartet, the Calidore Quartet, the Dover Quartet, and the Ying Quartet. She has shared the stage with artists such as Lynn Harrell, Gil Shaham, Robert Chen, Jean-Yves Thibauldet, Clive Greensmith, Martin Beaver, Scott St. John, and many others.
Kastner performs on an 1843 Giovanni Francesco Pressenda Violin on generous loan from the Mandell Collection of Southern California.
Natalie Vargas Nedvetsky is a pianist, poet, and communicator dedicated to the intertwining of words and music through creative mediums. Originally from Chicago, she studied piano performance at The Juilliard School and creative writing at Columbia University in the City of New York and is now obtaining her master’s degree at The Johns Hopkins University/Peabody Institute. She has been a laureate of several international piano competitions, and has performed across the US and Europe in halls such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Concert Noble Brussels, and more. An avid chamber musician, she performed in Aspen Music Festival, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, Musica Mundi International Festival, and others. She has studied closely and collaborated with such pedagogues as Menahem Pressler, Joseph Kailchstein, Ivri Gitlis, and Yo-Yo Ma, to name a few. In each of her solo piano performances, she combines poems and piano repertoire, creating a rich and surprising artistic journey for her audience.
Natalie is the founder and artistic director of Literary Music Series, a performing arts organization that champions the intertwining of art forms through live-streamed weekly performances/discussions and promotes their integration into the way we think and live our lives. As part of this organization, she authors a newsletter entitled Literary Thoughts: a series of monthly essays pertaining to works of art.
Her first poetry collection, “I quiet the world”, was published in August of 2020.
Gracie Carney is highly sought after as a contemporary musician. One of her first experiences with new music was in 2016 when she led the world premiere of Marcos Balter’s Codex Seraphinius, “Imagined Worlds” as concertmaster. Since 2018, she has played in and lead IU’s New Music Ensemble where she was also featured as a soloist in 2019 with David Ludwig’s violin concerto, Paganiniana. Earlier that year, Ms. Carney premiered Wake Up Gracie, a violin concerto written for her by Miggy Torres.
She has studied violin under the tutelage of Mauricio Fuks and Grigory Kalinovsky as well as baroque violin with Stanley Ritchie. As a student of the Pacifica Quartet, Ms. Carney’s string quartet later went on to win the Music in the Vineyards Competition in 2019 and performed alongside the Dover Quartet and the Pacifica Quartet in Napa Valley, California as the quartet in residence.
In addition to being a violinist, Gracie Carney is founder and Artistic Director of the charity organization, ARTivism: Arts for a Cause.