School of Music

Viola Day

Elias Goldstein

Norwegian-American violist Elias Goldstein has been praised by the Chicago Tribune for his "incredible performance" and by the Seattle Times as “ravishing”. Goldstein has distinguished himself as one of the great instrumentalists of his generation, frequently appearing as a soloist and chamber musician. Second prize winner of the 2011 Primrose & Bashmet International Viola Competitions, and a top prize-winner in the TertisInternational Competition, he has achieved recognition and critical acclaim as a champion of his instrument. In 2016 he made his Carnegie Hall debut as the first violist invited to perform all 24 Caprices by Paganini, a program that later toured the United States and Europe. 

As a recitalist he has performed in many of the greatest halls of the world including Alice Tully, David Geffen, Seattle Symphony’s Benaroya Hall, the Kennedy Center, Salle Cortot, George Enescu Philharmonic, MusikiitaloHelsinki. He frequently collaborates with the world’s foremost musicians including Noah Bendix-Balgley, Nobuko Imai, Eli Eban, Ilya Kaler, the Pro Arte, Shanghai, Latin American, Arianna, Calidore, and CavaniQuartets,. His solo and orchestral appearances have brought collaborations with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic and festival appearances include Valdres, Aspen Festival, Beijing International Music Festival, and Chautauqua Festival. 

Dedicated to the expand the repertoire for viola, he has commissioned and premiered works by Jennifer Higdonand William Bolcom. In 2019 he gave the world premiere of Grammy Award Wining composer Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Songs and in 2018 was personally invited by William Bolcom to perform for the composer’s 80th anniversary concert at Merkin Hall in New York. 

Melanconicohis 2019 release on Centaur Records was praised by the American Record Guide as “a most impressive debut” while Goldstein was praised as a “superb violist who does not merely get around on his instrument but commands it”. The album marks the world premiere recording of George Enescu’s third violin sonata in a minor, Clara Schuman’s Romances Op. 23 and Robert Schuman’s Violin Sonata in a minor, all special transcriptions made by the artist. 

Serving on the Executive Board of the American Viola Society, Goldstein is currently on Faculty at University of Delaware.  He was featured on the Violin Channel performing with members of the Berlin Philharmonic, and pianist Angela Draghicescu. He performs on a beautiful and rare Saint Cecille Vuillaume viola made in 1850.

Lauren Burns Hodges

Lauren Burns Hodges, "a distinguished violist with a refined, mellow tone" (American Record Guide), is currently Associate Professor of Viola at the University of Florida where she also coordinates and teaches Music Appreciation classes. For six years prior, she was Lecturer in Viola at Valdosta State University, Principal Viola of the Valdosta Symphony, violist of the Azalea String Quartet, and Director of the South Georgia String Project. She has performed and taught abroad in Italy, Austria, and France and recently presented recitals, masterclasses, and a body awareness workshop in Shanghai and WuHan, China. She has given masterclasses, clinics, and performances at universities and music schools throughout the country, including Illinois State University, Western Illinois University, the University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Georgia, the University of South Carolina and at Viola Day events in Morgantown (WV), Birmingham (AL), Valdosta (GA), Atlanta (GA) and Miami (FL). Dr. Hodges has twice been invited to teach masterclasses at the Primrose International Viola Competition and Festival held at the Colburn School, and she has presented at national AVS festivals in Oberlin (OH) and Knoxville (TN). Passionate about promoting the viola and engaging with the community, she hosts an annual viola day at UF and serves as a board member-at-large for the American Viola Society. Originally from South Carolina, Lauren studied at the University of South Carolina, Peabody Conservatory, and the University of Alabama.

Tiffany Lu

Conductor Tiffany Lu is Assistant Professor and Director of Orchestra at the University of Florida, and also serves as Interim Music Director of the Pierre Monteux School and Music Festival in Hancock, Maine. In the 2022-2023 concert season, she will guest conduct with Symphony New Hampshire and Elgin Symphony Orchestra. From 2020-2022, she was Director of the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra and Assistant Professor of Orchestral Conducting at Sewanee University of the South. Prior to her current appointment, Lu served for five seasons as Associate Conductor of the Pierre Monteux Music Festival. 

Over seven years, Lu developed a diverse portfolio of work in the D.C. region and Delaware. She held the position of Assistant Conductor with the Prince Georges’ Philharmonic (MD) from ‘19-’22, was Music Director of the Wilmington Community Orchestra for five seasons, and also Assistant and then Associate Conductor with Washington, D.C.’s Capital City Symphony from ‘15-’22, creating groundbreaking and creative programming. She was also selected as Conducting Fellow for the Allentown Symphony in 2019 and 2020. Other positions have included Music Director of the University of Maryland Repertoire Orchestra, cover conductor and principal librarian at the 2016 and 2017 National Orchestral Institute, and conductor with the DC Youth Orchestra Program and Annapolis Symphony Academy. Lu has guest-conducted the Symphony New Hampshire as well as the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra; and acted as cover conductor with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Symphony New Hampshire, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Georgetown University Orchestra, and Cornell University Orchestra. She also served as lead producer on two recordings by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as well as one with the Smithsonian Chamber Players. 

Lu maintains an active performing profile as an orchestral violinist, chamber music collaborator, and private violin teacher. Her doctoral research focused on new models in the orchestral education of undergraduate string players. Her primary conducting mentors have included Michael Jinbo, Jim Ross, and Jeffery Meyer. Lu grew up in Tampa, FL and holds degrees from Princeton University, Ithaca College, and the University of Maryland.

Peijun "June" Xu

Born in Shanghai, China, Peijun started her musical education at the age of four by taking violin lessons from Ms. Yao Shimei, a first violin member retired from Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

In 2018, Peijun earned a master’s degree of Music Education (M.M. Instrumental Emphasis) from Azusa Pacific University (APU) under the guidance of Dr. John Burdett.

With attending violin and viola classes from the studio of Dr. Alex Russell, Peijun received the first Artist Certificate in Combined Violin and Viola Performance in APU’s history and Artist Certificate in Viola Performance in 2022. She was also the principal viola of APU Symphony Orchestra.

Since Fall 2022, Peijun became the first DMA candidate in Viola Performance with a full scholarship and an appointed graduate assistantship position at the University of Florida.

In Summer 2020, Peijun was awarded the Apprenticeship position in viola for the MasterWorks Festival 2020 Program, which is regarded as “the most well-qualified and responsible applicants with significant education, performance and leadership experience.”

During the MasterWorks Festival 2020, under the tutelage of Ms. Lisa Boyko, a violist member of the Cleveland Orchestra, Peijun was selected to perform Dvorak Piano Quintet in A Major for a masterclass lectured by Ken-David Masur, the world-renowned conductor.

In Spring 2021, Peijun won the only one 1st Place of Viola, Group G (age 23 and up), at the King’s Peak International Music Competition, two 1st Prize at the Charleston International Music Competition (age 25 and up). In Spring 2022, Peijun received the Award as the 3rd Place Winner at the American Prize in Instrumental Performance, 2022 (college/university division)

As a co-founder of MAP (a non-profit organization named MARKER AND PIONEER International Culture Exchange Center), Peijun is the executive director of MAP International Music Competition, which received 1100 preliminary round applications and 692 selected finalists represented over 66 countries from the global area.

Yaniv Cohen

Yaniv M. Cohen has an extensive background in performance and pedagogy as well as more than a decade of practical experience as a luthier. He spent several years working under the tutelage and mentorship of the late Saul Charles Cornell and was also trained by Allen Gatchell, Lynn Hannings, Paul Wiessmeyer, and Francis Morris. He brings his wealth of experience as a performer to his luthier work, understanding in a very personal way exactly what the most demanding of clients desire and expect from their tools and all associated services thereof. Cohen Violins operates by appointment only.

Yaniv has performed with Johnny Mathis, Sting, Adam Levine, Josh Groban, Kansas, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), Mannheim Steamroller, the Trans Siberian Orchestra, Andrea Bocelli, Yes, Alan Parsons Project, Jackie Evancho, Cirque Musica, Indigo Girls, Natalie Merchant, Video Games Live, the Irish Tenors, the Little River Band, Hanson, Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses, and others. 

He also maintains an active performance schedule with several Florida orchestras and has performed with The Florida Orchestra, Sarasota Orchestra, The Venice Symphony, Gulf Shore Opera, Lakeland Symphony, South West Florida Symphony, North West Florida Symphony, The Bach Festival of Winter Park, The Villages Philharmonic, Punta Gorda Symphony, Florida Lakes Symphony, Space Coast Symphony, Brevard Symphony, the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra, Space Coast Pops, the Craig Turley Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, Atlantic Classical Orchestra, New Score Chamber Orchestra, Symphony of the Americas, South Florida Symphony Orchestra, the Paducah Symphony in Kentucky, the Pennsylvania Philharmonic, and Lancaster Symphony in PA, the Bay Atlantic Symphony in NJ, and the Orchestra Filarmonica di Benevento in Italy.

Evan Mitchell

Pianist Evan Mitchell's recent highlights include solo performances on the prestigious Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts series (Chicago), at Merkin Concert Hall (NYC), and at several major venues in Shanghai; concerti with the symphony orchestras of Dallas and Fort Worth; and recitals with such major figures as double bassist Gary Karr, flutists Leone Buyse and Jim Walker, and clarinetist Corrado Giuffredi. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Florida School of Music.

Dr. Mitchell received the DMA degree from Texas Christian University, and MM and BM degrees from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. His principal teachers have included John Owings, Arnaldo Cohen, and the late José Feghali. He has served on the faculty of Tarrant County College, as President of the Fort Worth Music Teachers Association, and in 2021 was inducted into the Steinway & Sons Teacher Hall of Fame.

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