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School of Music

Viola Day

Katherine Lewis
Guest Artist

Violist Katherine Lewis enjoys a multifaceted career as a teacher, and as a chamber, solo, and orchestral musician. Since 2006 she has taught courses on viola performance and technique, viola pedagogy, string pedagogy, and chamber music at Illinois State University where she is Associate Professor of Viola and Master Teacher for the ISU String Project. As a performer, she is a member of the ISU Faculty String Quartet and principal viola in the Peoria Symphony and Peoria Bach Festival Orchestras and gives numerous solo performances each year throughout the U.S. During the summer she is an Artist-Faculty member at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Dr. Lewis is active in the viola community at both a local and national level. As an elected member of the American Viola Society Executive Board, she serves as chair of the Education Committee, working to broaden educational offerings through media and programming. She also hosts annual Viola Days at Illinois State in order to provide students of all ages with opportunities to work with nationally recognized artists and teachers. Additionally, Dr. Lewis is in her second term as Secretary of the Illinois chapter of the American String Teacher’s Association.

As a performer, Dr. Lewis has recently appeared as soloist with the Peoria Symphony, the Peoria Bach Festival Orchestra, and the ISU Symphony Orchestra. She premiered Libby Larsen’s viola duo “In Such a Night,” written for her and violist James Dunham for a performance at the 38th International Viola Congress. She has also recorded chamber music by composers Karim Al-Zand and John Allemeier for recordings on the Naxos Record Label. As an orchestral musician, her previous orchestral experience includes appointments in the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston, TX and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago as well as frequent work with the Houston and New World Symphonies.

Dr. Lewis is a recipient of several awards and grants for her teaching, research, and service including the ISU College of Fine Arts Outstanding Teaching Award, the ISU College of Fine Arts Research Initiative Award, and the ISU University Service Initiative Award.  She has given recitals, presentations, and master classes at venues throughout the country.  She has presented sessions at several conferences including the Primrose International Viola Festival, the International Double Reed Society Conference, the American String Teacher’s Association National Conference, the College Music Society Great Lakes Conference, and the Chicago Viola Festival. Recent recital and master class highlights include appearances at the University of Tennessee Viola Celebration, Indiana University, Oberlin Conservatory, Kansas State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Lawrence University, and Valdosta State University.

Dr. Lewis earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where she was a Brown Foundation Scholar.  She holds a Bachelor degree from Lawrence University and a Master’s degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music. Her principal teachers include Jeffrey Irvine, James Dunham, Karen Ritscher, and Matthew Michelic.

Lauren Burns Hodges
University of Florida

Violist Lauren Burns Hodges enjoys a varied career as a teacher and performer throughout the United States and abroad.  She is currently Assistant Professor of Viola at the University of Florida where she also coordinates and teaches Music Appreciation classes.  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. 

Dr. Hodges has performed as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player across the United States, Europe and Asia.  She recently toured China with pianist Doug Jurs, performing a new commission by Paul Richards and lesser-known works by American composers Alan Shulman and Libby Larsen.  She expects to release a CD in 2020 containing the first commercial recordings of two sonatas for viola and piano by American composers Gustav Strube and Arthur Foote.  This fall, she plans to tour the Chicago area with a program featuring American composers Jennifer Higdon, Augusta Read Thomas, and Perry Goldstein.

Lauren Hodges enjoys performing chamber music with colleagues and premiered a bass quintet by Frank Proto at the ISB Convention in Fort Collins, CO.  A founding member of the Hausmann Quartet, she completed residencies on the Lyrica Boston Chamber Music series and at Kent State University as a teaching assistant to the Miami String Quartet.  While a member of the quartet, she was a fellow at Norfolk and Kent/Blossom summer music festivals, coaching with Claude Frank and members of the Keller, Tokyo, and Vermeer quartets.  As an orchestral player, Dr. Hodges performs as section or substitute viola in the Jacksonville, Savannah Philharmonic, and Coastal Georgia Symphonies and was Principal Viola in the Valdosta Symphony for six years.  She has spent summers performing in the Eastern Music Festival Faculty Orchestra and in Périgueux (France) and Graz (Austria).

A dedicated teacher, Dr. Hodges has twice been invited to teach masterclasses at the Primrose International Viola Competition and Festival held at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, CA, and she presented pedagogical ideas from her DMA document entitled Coordinated Action in String Playing: A Comparative Study of the Teachings of Paul Rolland and Karen Tuttle at the national AVS festival held at Oberlin Conservatory in 2015.  Dr. Hodges teaches students to use natural weight and leverage to produce a resonant sound free from excessive tension and pain, and she leads body awareness workshops that fuse together ideas from Rolland and Tuttle with elements from Alexander Technique, physical therapy and yoga. 

Lauren Hodges has performed guest artist recitals or taught masterclasses at viola day events in Morgantown (WV), Birmingham (AL), Atlanta, Valdosta (GA) and Miami and at universities throughout the United States including Virginia Commonwealth University, Florida State University, the University of South Carolina, the University of Georgia, and the University of Southern Mississippi, among others.  Formerly, she taught viola at Valdosta State University and served as Principal Viola of the Valdosta Symphony, violist of the Azalea String Quartet, and Director and Master Teacher of the South Georgia String Project.  Summer teaching includes the Schlern International Music Festival (Italy), the Premiere Orchestral Institute (Jackson, MS), Golden Isles Youth Orchestra Camp (Brunswisk, GA), and the Gator Chamber Music Institute (Gainesville, FL).

Dr. Hodges is a graduate of the University of Alabama, Peabody Conservatory, and the University of South Carolina.  She was the recipient of the Narramore Fellowship at Alabama and won the prestigious Jacob K. Javits national fellowship for graduate studies at Peabody.  Primary viola teachers include Daniel Sweaney, Victoria Chiang, and Frits DeJonge.  Her pedagogy training is from Rebecca Henry (Peabody Preparatory Division) and Suzuki certification from teacher trainer Mary Cay Neal. 

Dr. Hodges plays on a copy of the Primrose Amati viola made for her by Gabrielle Kundert in 2015.  When not teaching or performing, she enjoys outdoor activities, cooking, and spending time with her husband and two little boys.

Jorge Peña
Jacksonville Symphony

Jorge Peña began his professional career with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, after being assistant viola for the Maryland and Annapolis Symphony Orchestras. He then went on to win a position with the Jacksonville Symphony, which has been the center stage of his tenure, as well as spending some summers at the Grand Tetons Music Festival.

Mr. Peña has performed and collaborated with some of the most notable conductors and performers of our era, including; Leonard Bernstein, Roger Norrington, Seiji Osawa, Ray Charles, John Denver, Itzhak Perlman, Mstislav Rostropovich.

However, having a large passion for classical music, he has also branched out into other facets of the classical music world. He feels equally at home playing symphonic and chamber music, as a soloist, and at the podium conducting

Chamber music holds a special place in Jorge’s career. Together with his wife: Korean cellist, Jin Kim-Peña, they founded the St. Augustine Music Festival. The largest free chamber music festival in the US, celebrating its 13th anniversary in the summer of 2019. (

As Artistic Director of SAMF, Jorge leads its chamber orchestra as clinician and director to present, conductor-less concerts, with a goal of making classical music accessible to everyone. Along with many collaborations with musicians around the world, he also often performs with his wife and their daughter: violinist, Gabriela as the Trio Peña.

Mr. Peña’s 2014 appointment as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Golden Isles Youth Orchestra marked his transition into the educational/conducting field. Under his leadership the organization has grown into two youth orchestra ensembles, two chamber orchestra ensembles and several educational initiatives, including the purchase of high quality instruments for the entire top orchestra.

As the General Manager of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia he has been instrumental in making the CSG the premier regional orchestra of Southeast GA. Which has continued a sold-out concert record that started with his appointment.

Laurel S. Yu

Dr. Laurel Yu is Assistant Professor of Viola at Valdosta State University, where he performs as Principal Viola with the Valdosta Symphony and performs with the Azalea String Quartet along with working as Administrator for the South Georgia String Project. Dr. Yu earned his Doctor of Music from Florida State University, where he was a graduate teaching assistant and assistant chamber music coordinator. A graduate of Boston University and the Interlochen Arts Academy, former teachers and mentors include Dr. Pamela Ryan, Corinne Stillwell, Eliot Chapo, Ed Gazouleas, Michelle LaCourse, and Dr. Marilyn Seelman. Dr. Yu has appeared as soloist with the Florida State University Philharmonia Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Alexander Jimenez, and has worked with conductors such as Matthias Bamert, Robert Spano, Donald Runnicles, Andrew Litton, Scott Speck, JoAnn Falletta, and Bernard Haitink to name a few. As a chamber musician, Dr. Yu has worked with the Muir String Quartet, Raphael Hillyer, George Neikrug, Beth Newdome, Carolyn Bridger, and Deloise Lima. Current chamber music activities include violist for the Anon Ensemble, comprised of bassoonist Shannon Lowe and flutist Jessica Sherer and violist for the Sinfonia Chamber Players, an ensemble which he helped start in 2016. His summers have been spent at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, Indiana University String Academy, and the Brevard Music Center, where he worked as the viola teaching assistant. While in Tallahassee, Florida, Dr. Yu started an educational violin program at The Character Center, an afterschool enrichment program for grade school students.

Dr. Yu is currently Principal Viola and Artistic Administrator for Sinfonia Gulf Coast based in Destin, Florida. He is former Principal Viola for the Mobile Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Naples Philharmonic, Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Naples. As an active advocate for music and music education, Dr. Yu sits on the board for the Artist Series of Tallahassee and works with Sinfonia Gulf Coast’s education programs to develop community engagement programs in the public school systems in Northwest Florida’s Okaloosa and Walton counties. In high demand as a clinician, Dr. Yu frequently gives viola audition and performance preparation workshops, violin and viola setup clinics, and chamber music pedagogy workshops around Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Dr. Yu currently resides in Valdosta, Georgia with his wife, violinist Dr. Kristin Pfeifer Yu. 

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