Austin Chamber Ensemble Artists For Season 2018-2019


Martha Mortensen Ahern, Artistic Director And Pianist

Martha Mortensen Ahern, an educator and pianist/collaborative artist, has performed in Europe and throughout the United States. In addition to performing and teaching, Martha also serves as Artistic Director for the Austin Chamber Ensemble.  'Marti' has been heard live in interviews and performances on local FM radio stations KMFA and KUT.  She holds leadership positions with Music Teachers National Association (State and Local), American Guild of Organists, and is a member of Mu Phi Epsilon.  As an educator, her students continue to receive Superior ratings in contests and festivals, as well as scholarships to attend colleges and universities as music majors and solos with the Austin Lyric Opera. She presented a Grammy Foundation ProSession piano master class in June 2006. For more information, see Martha's website.


Katherine Altobello, Mezzo-Soprano

Katherine Altobello has been hailed a “spitfire…having the energy, concentration, and stamina to make it look easy.” Katherine’s musical versatility and dramatic ability allow her to perform in a vast array of musical styles and genres. She has performed with New York City Ballet, the National Chorale at Lincoln Center, San Diego Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Tulsa Opera, Ash-Lawn Opera, Brevard Music Center, Wildwood Opera, Opera in the Heights, Lexington Music Theatre Company, Bloomington Music Works, the Knoxville Symphony, and many others. In addition to singing, Katherine has been fortunate to do variety of commercial voice-over work for TV and radio.  Katherine enjoys teaching voice lessons to people of all ages and skill levels. For more information, see Katherine's website.


James Anderson, violinist

A Fort Collins, Colorado native, violinist James Anderson has been hailed by critics as a violinist "who bucks tradition," a "world class violinist, improviser, and composer," and "the most swinging violinist in Colorado." James is at home in a number of musical arenas including classical, jazz, tango, bluegrass, and rock. As a graduate student, James studied at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England. While in England, James became a regular on the vibrant London jazz scene while studying alongside some of the world's finest classical performers such as the Belcea String Quartet and the London Symphony Orchestra. James has been featured in concert halls around the globe including London's Wigmore and Barbican Halls, and the Sala Mozart in Zaragosa, Spain. After seven years on the renown Austin, Texas music scene,  James is now based in Charleston, South Carolina and is an in-demand violinist and teacher on the vibrant music scene. For more information, see James's website.


Stephen Burnaman, Pianist

Stephen Burnaman, pianist, has performed throughout the United States and abroad in such major musical centers as Boston, New York, Chicago, Rome, Warsaw, Taipei and Hong Kong.  He is currently Professor of Piano and University Organist at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, where he also chairs the Department of Humanities and Fine Arts.  He is former president of the Austin District Music Teachers Association, and he has received both the Teacher of the Year and Collegiate Teacher of the Year awards from that oragnization.  Burnaman completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a Master of Music degree in piano performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Stephen F. Austin State University. For more information, see Stephen's webpage.



Karla Hamelin, Cellist

Cellist Karla Hamelin is a dynamic soloist, educator and interdisciplinary performer known for her innovative teaching style and distinctive collaborations. On faculty at Texas State University since 2011, Karla enjoys an active and varied career as a solo, chamber and orchestral music performer. She is a frequent recitalist that appears regularly as a collaborative artist. Karla has also worked with numerous artists in other disciplines including composers, dancers, choreographers, visual artists, poets, authors, actors, and internationally renownwned bands in Austin’s SXSW and ACL festivals, as well as studio musicians. Her ability to play a broad and diverse spectrum of repertoire has made her in demand as a performer of new works, a sought after chamber musician, as well as a featured artist in the Blanton Museum Baroque Cantata series. Recent performances and masterclasses have been presented in Mexico, Budapest, Vienna and Prague. Dr. Hamelin received her Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Texas at Austin, a Masters in Music from The University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Music degree from The University of Manitoba. For more information, see Karla's webpage.


Brennan Howell, Percussionist

Brennan Howell is a performer and educator based in Austin, Texas, and has appeared in festivals and on stages in Toronto, Spain, London, Italy, and around the United States. He is known as a dynamic and versatile drummer, playing a wide variety of musical styles including jazz, rock, pop, and country. Brennan studied percussion at the University of Northern Colorado and earned a bachelor of music degree. Soon after, he traveled the world performing on cruise ships, where he later served as musical director. Brennan enjoys sharing his knowledge with his private students, several of whom have received superior ratings in AISD and UIL competitions. He has proudly called Austin his home since 2015.


Jeffrey Jones-Ragona, tenor

Jeffrey Jones-Ragona serves as Musical  Director of Gilbert and Sullivan Austin, Director of Music at the Cathedral of Saint Mary, and is Conductor of the Makheilah at Congregation Beth Israel. He has taught on the music faculties of Drake University, St. Edward’s University, and Southwestern University, and served as Director of the Capital City Men’s Chorus. He performs regularly with Texas Early Music Project and La Follia Austin Baroque. He has performed with Austin Baroque Orchestra since 2013 as a chorister, featured soloist, and harpsichordist. Jeffrey received his DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of Texas at Austin 2006. He is the 2003 recipient of the Austin Circle of Theatre’s B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Musical Direction of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera The Pirates of Penzance.


June Julian, Soprano

June Julian has appeared in numerous productions throughout Central Texas, and has received accolades for her rich, warm and inviting lyrical soprano voice. She has most recently appeared as Mrs. Segstrom in A Little Night Music at the Alamo City Opera, and will be playing the role of Madame de la Grande Bouche at ZACH Theatre’s Beauty & the Beast. Her engaging stage presence has been the highlight of some delightful productions, with Gilbert & Sullivan Austin (Iolanthe, The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance), as well as Spotlight on Opera (Suor Angelica, Little Women, Abu Hassan). Other ZACH Theatre credits include the featured ensemble in Evita, and Lady Thiang in The King & I. She has also sung with Austin Opera, Austin Theatre Project, Austin Chamber Ensemble, among others.


Patryce King, Pianist

Patryce King is Artistic Director of her own private piano business, King Studios. Her students have been accepted to the Oberlin Conservatory and to other prestigious music schools in Austin, Texas, including the collaborative piano program at McCallum Fine Arts High School. Patryce is proud to offer her ongoing Full Moon Satellite Series, one designed to welcome those who would not ordinarily attend a classical music program.  Patryce is Grande Prize winner of the Socrates Teaching Grant from the Acton Academy, a private school honoring project-based teaching styles. Her formal education began under the tutelage of Juilliard-trained James Sifferman. She subsequently studied with Mia Hines, esteemed student of Menahem Pressler, for her Master’s in piano pedagogy. She has served as First Vice President for the Austin District Music Teachers Association, is Coordinator for the Primary Division of the Austin Chamber Music Center, and is a performing teacher for PianoTexas, a workshop closely informed by adjudicators of the Van Cliburn Competition. Betty Mallard, University of Texas retired piano professor, is Patryce’s piano instructor. Martha MacDonald and Tim Woolsey serve as her artistic music mentors. For more information, see Patryce's webiste.

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Phillip Spencer, Bass

Phillip Spencer is a professional freelance bassist living and working in Austin since 2013.  With a degree in classical performance from the University of Northern Colorado, he has gone on to perform internationally with groups that perform in genres ranging from jazz, country, rock, classical, and tango music.  Phil can be found playing in and around Austin, in most of the area's most prominent music venues, any night of the week, with a large variety of ensembles and styles.  He has been referred to as the swiss army knife of bass players.  Whatever it is, he'll get the job done. For more information, see Phil's website.