2019 Artists

Anna Reider, violin

Anna Reider, violin, is first violinist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and concert mistress of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. Her first solo orchestra performance was at age seven, and has since had a highly acclaimed career. Full Bio.

Helen Hwaya Kim, violin

Helen Hwaya Kim, vioiln, made her orchestral debut with the Calgary Philharmonic at the age of six, and has gone on to become a respected and sought-after artist. She is the full violin professor at Kennesaw State University. Full Bio.

Ashley Sidon, cello,

Ashley Sandor Sidon, cello, is the Artistic Director of Zenith Chamber Music Festival and the Brigg’s Endowed Professor of Cello at Drake University. Full Bio.

Sheldon Person, viola

Sheldon Person, viola, is a member of the Houston Symphony. Full Bio.

Paula Kosower, cello

Paula Kosower, cello, is an active performer and teacher, and is a faculty member at North Park University, Northeastern Illinois University, and University of Illinois-Chicago. Full Bio.

Kelly Kuo, piano

Kelly Kuo, piano, was the recipient of a 2009 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award for young conductors. Full Bio.

Amit Peled, cello

Israeli cellist Amit Peled, a musician of profound artistry and charismatic stage presence, is acclaimed worldwide as one of the most exciting and virtuosic instrumentalists on the concert stage today. At 6’5” tall, Peled started life as a basketball player and was called “larger than life” and “Jacqueline du Pré in a farmer’s body” when he enveloped his cello. Peled strives to break down the barriers of the concert hall, about which The Baltimore Sun wrote, “His amiable and inviting personality is exactly the type everyone says we’ll need more of if classical music is to survive.” From 2012 through 2018, Peled performed on the Pablo Casals 1733 Goffriller cello, which was loaned to him personally by Casals’ widow, Marta Casals Istomin.

Local Artists

Acacia Scott, harp

Starting her music career at the early age of three, Acacia Scott has always thrived on sharing her love of music through performance. She continued her studies at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) where she was principal harpist of the UNI Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, and Opera from 2009-2014. She also performed with the UNI Concert Chorale, Concert Band, Flute Ensemble, and the Waterloo Cedar Falls (wcf) Symphony Orchestra, where she became principal in 2011. After graduating with a Bachelor of Music Performance in Harp and Pipe Organ, a specialization in Performing Arts Management, and a Business Concepts minor, Acacia returned to Des Moines where she continues to perform across the state.

Rene Lecouna, piano

Dr. Lecuona is professor of piano at The University of Iowa. A devoted teacher, Réne has prepared students for admission and scholarship in performance programs at prestigious institutions such as the New England Conservatory, the University of Michigan, Florida State University, the Manhattan School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, Peabody Conservatory, and Aspen Music Festival. Her former students hold teaching posts in Germany and Brazil as well as in the U.S.

Phil Peters, bass

Phil Peters has been the director of the Valley High School orchestra program since August 1995 after teaching in Baltimore for ten years.  Mr. Peters earned his Bachelor’s degree in music education from Towson University in Maryland and a Master of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University. He has performed as a double bassist with the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra and in many other local ensembles.  Mr. Peters was the director of the orchestra program at the National High School Music Institute at Northwestern University from 1998-2010. Mr. Peters received National Board Certification, received a Japan Fulbright Scholarship to study the culture and educational system of Japan, and participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities program in Vienna, Austria studying the operas of Mozart. 

Damani Phillips, saxophone

Dr. Damani Philips is a native of Pontiac, MI, where he began playing saxophone at the age of 10. He currently serves as associate professor of jazz Studies and African-American studies at the University of Iowa, where he teaches applied jazz saxophone, directs jazz combos and teaches courses in African-American music, African-American Culture, jazz education and improvisation. He earned Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from DePaul University (Chicago) and The University of Kentucky in classical saxophone; and a second Master of Music degree in jazz studies from Wayne State University (Detroit).