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School of Music

Viola Day

Milan Milisavljevic

Milan Milisavljevic is currently Principal Viola with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He is considered one of the leading violists of today. The Strad magazine described his playing as "very imaginative, with a fine, cultured tone," with Milan's recording of A. Khachaturian's Solo Viola Sonata hailed as "definitive." Milan has studied with James Dunham at Rice University, as well as with Atar Arad, Nobuko Imai, Samuel Rhodes and Jutta Puchhammer. He has appeared as soloist with the Munich Chamber Orchestra, the Aspen Sinfonia, the Belgrade Philharmonic and others. As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with members of the Guarneri, Mendelssohn, St. Petersburg and Brentano String Quartets. Milan is a member of the viola faculty at the Mannes School of Music in New York and is a Larsen Strings artist. He's given masterclasses all over the world and has been Artist in Residence with the American Viola Society. 

Mujan Hosseinzadeh

Based in New York City, violist Mujan Hosseinzadeh is an active chamber musician, orchestra performer and soloist. She is the winner of various competitions in Italy and has performed throughout United States, Europe and Asia.  Her expansive musical interests range from early music to contemporary compositions. She has worked closely with composers such as: Richard Danielpour, Mark Applebaum, Cindy Cox, Daniel Weymouth and Andrea Portera, premiering dozens of works. 

Dr. Hosseinzadeh has performed as a soloist with New York Symphonic Ensemble at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and with Orchestra da Camera di Genova in Laeiszhall (Germany) and has served as a principal viola with Orchestra dell'Accademia Teatro alla Scala, Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra and many other Italian orchestras. The greatest conductors and musicians she has collaborated with include: Riccardo Muti, Daniele Gatti, David Gilbert, George Manahan, Jeffrey Milarsky, Boris Belkin, Leonidas Kavakos, members of the Emerson String Quartet and Trio di Trieste. 

Dr. Hosseinzadeh has appeared in international festivals such as Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Accademia Musicale di Portogruaro, Virginia Arts festival and with Lyric Chamber Music Society of New York, to name a few. 

Mujan has appeared in Master classes for eminent violists including Yuri Bashmet, Bruno Giuranna and Ettore Causa. She moved to New York City in 2011 to continue her studies at Manhattan School of Music. Mujan holds a Doctorate from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Passionately committed to music education, Dr. Hosseinzadeh maintains a teaching studio in New York City and currently is a faculty at the Dwight Conservatory of Music.

Lauren Burns Hodges

Lauren Burns Hodges is currently Assistant 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.

Bill Johnston

William Johnston leads a varied career as a violist and educator. Praised for his "richly lyrical tone and expressive playing" (, his recent performance highlights include his solo debut with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, an appearance at the Primrose International Viola Festival, and recitals in Florida, Georgia, and West Virginia. He is also heard frequently chamber musician in Atlanta, performing at the Molly Blank Jewish Concert Series, Fringe, Sonic Generator, Kennesaw State University, Emory University, and Eddie's Attic. William is principal violist of The Atlanta Opera and regularly performs with the viola sections of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, and Sarasota Orchestra. He has appeared at many summer festivals, including Aspen, Kent/Blossom, Sarasota, and as principal violist of the Utah Festival Opera.

A devoted teacher, "Dr. Bill" maintains a private viola studio in Atlanta. His students have been accepted as performance majors at institutions such as the Peabody Institute and Indiana University, and regularly win chairs in area youth orchestras and Georgia All-State orchestras. He has presented masterclasses at the Primrose International Viola Festival and at numerous colleges and universities, and during the Fall of 2018 served as visiting faculty at the University of Florida. He is a faculty member of Franklin Pond Chamber Music, coaching chamber music and performing with the Franklin Pond Chamber Players. William is also a Licensed Body Mapping Educator, and teaches musicians a method of preventing injury and enhancing performance by providing accurate information about the body in movement.

William is a native of Sarasota, Florida. Beginning music lessons with the piano at age four, he later studied the viola with Dorothy Stahler, Alison Heydt, Victoria Chiang, James Dunham, and Robert Vernon. William received licensure training in Body Mapping from Jennifer Johnson, and studied Suzuki Pedagogy with Kimberly Meier-Sims. He is a graduate of the Peabody Institute and Rice University, and is the first violist to receive the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Travis Maril

Praised for his “persuasive, stylish ardor,” (San Diego Reader) violist Travis Maril’s career centers around chamber music and teaching.  His chamber music partners have included principal players of the Cleveland Orchestra, LA Phil, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and San Diego Symphonies and members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.  With the Hyperion Quartet, Travis was a top prizewinner at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and had performances broadcast on “Performance Today.” He has recorded for Naxos and New World Records.

Outside of the classical realm, Travis also performs and records with the jazz group the Danny Green Trio, and is the featured violin and viola soloist on many of the film and television scores written by Joel P. West, including the recent film Just Mercy, starring Brie Larson, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. 

Travis heads San Diego State University’s string department, where he also directs their String Academy for pre-college students.  He is a graduate of the Thorton School of Music at the University of Southern California, where he was a Trustee Scholar and Outstanding Graduate, and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

Brenton Caldwell

Praised by critics for his “attractive and memorable sound” and a “fluid command of the fingerboard”, violist Brenton Caldwell has performed throughout the world as soloist, chamber, orchestral musician and pedagogue. He was an inaugural fellow of New York City's Ensemble Connect program and won prizes in the National Young Artist Competition and Watson Forbes International Viola Competition. Brenton has performed in the viola sections of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. He has performed and participated in the festivals of Amelia Island, Banff, Music@Menlo, Music from Angel Fire, Pacific Music Festival, Perlman Music Program, Ravinia’s Steans Institute, and Verbier’s Academy. A devoted chamber musician, Mr. Caldwell has performed alongside artists such as Toby Appel, Roberto Díaz, Ida Kavafian, Menahem Pressler, Steven Tenenbom, Donald Weilerstein, and Eugenia Zukerman.

Brenton began viola studies at the age of 12 and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, artist diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, and master’s degree from the Lynn University Conservatory. Brenton has been fortunate to study with luminaries such as Misha Amory, Roberto Díaz, Susan Dubois, Ralph Fielding, Kim Kashkashian, Jeffrey Irvine, Lynne Ramsey, and Karen Tuttle, to whom he served as a teaching assistant. A dedicated teacher, Mr. Caldwell has served on the faculties of Texas Strings Camp and the Curtis Summerfest Young Artists Summer Program. Based in Dallas, he frequently performs with the Dallas Opera Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. He currently teaches at Richland College and Texas Music Institute in Dallas.

Susan Russo

Susan Russo is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she began her musical studies in public school at age 8. Her love of music soon brought her to Temple University in Philadelphia, where she studied viola with Evelyn Jacobs Luise, piano with David Pasbrig, and voice with In Young Lee. Fascinated with the learning process, she became a certified teacher of music to infants and young children and taught in the Early Childhood Music division of Temple Music Prep. After completing a degree in music education, she taught vocal and string music in a public school. She became a mentor for young teachers and a graduate assistant at Temple University, where she also earned her master’s. Meanwhile, she served as teacher and coordinator of Tenth Presbyterian Church’s Schola Cantorum, a music education ministry of the church. While in Philadelphia, Mrs. Russo performed with the Temple University Symphony orchestra, the Cairn University Symphony Orchestra, the Tenth Chamber Players, and numerous other groups. 

Mrs. Russo now lives near Washington, DC, where she homeschools her three young sons, all of whom play the violin. She performs as a soloist with the Friday Morning Music Club, as a violist with the Avanti orchestra, and as principal violist of the DC Concert Orchestra. She is an active chamber musician and frequently appears on the programs for Classical Musicians of Metro DC. She continues her musical studies with violist Daniel Foster and at the David Kim Orchestral Institute. Mrs. Russo is a member of Cheverly Baptist Church, where she serves as a children’s ministry teacher and piano accompanist. 

Laurel Yu

Dr. Laurel Yu is Assistant Professor of Viola at Valdosta State University. Dr. Yu is an active lecturer, chamber musician, performer, and teaching artist. At VSU, he currently performs with VSU’s Quartet in Residence, the Azalea String Quartet, and is Principal Viola with the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Yu currently teaches some of VSU’s most popular music courses including Music in Film and the Development of Rock and Roll. His other duties include Administrator of the South Georgia String Project and Personnel Manager for the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Yu earned his Doctor of Music and college teaching certificate from Florida State University, where he was graduate teaching assistant and assistant chamber music coordinator. A graduate of Boston University and the Interlochen Arts Academy, his former teachers and mentors include Dr. Pamela Ryan, Corinne Stillwell, Eliot Chapo, Ed Gazouleas, Michelle LaCourse, and David Holland. As a chamber musician, Dr. Yu has had the privilege to work with the Muir String Quartet, Raphael Hillyer, George Neikrug, Beth Newdome, Carolyn Bridger, and Deloise Lima.

With diverse performance activities, Dr. Yu is currently violist with the Sinfonia Gulf Coast Chamber Players, violist for the Anon Ensemble, Principal Viola and Artistic Administrator for Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Principal Viola of the Albany Symphony Orchestra (GA), and member of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra. As a collaborative performer, he has performed chamber recitals at multiple national conferences such as the National Flute Association, the International Double Reed Society, and the International Society of Bassists convention. Most recently, Dr. Yu recorded an album of strings and bassoon chamber music with bassoonist and colleague Shannon Lowe. Dr. Yu’s summers have been spent at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, Indiana University String Academy, the Brevard Music Center, and the Florida State University String Orchestra Camp.

As an active advocate for music and music education, Dr. Yu is on the board for the Artist Series of Tallahassee and works with Sinfonia Gulf Coast’s education programs to development community engagement opportunities in the public school systems of Northwest Florida. As a teacher, Dr. Yu’s students have been accepted into undergraduate and graduate programs across the country. He is regularly invited to present lectures across the Southeast, including multiple presentations at the American String Teachers Association conferences, the Florida Orchestra Association’s annual conference, Florida Music Education Association’s annual conference, and was the key presenter at the Florida Chapter of the American String Teachers Association conference. In high demand as a clinician, Dr. Yu frequently gives audition workshops, violin/viola set-up clinics, master classes, All-State clinics, and chamber music pedagogy workshops around Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.

Molly Sharp

A native of Fayetteville, AR, Molly Sharp received a Bachelor’s Degree from Vanderbilt University/Blair School of Music, studying with Kathryn Plummer.  She received her Master’s Degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Heidi Castleman and apprenticed with the Cavanni Quartet.  In addition to playing with the Richmond Symphony, Molly has also been a member of the Nashville Symphony and the Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra.  Molly has played chamber music with many different groups and festivals, including the Chamber Music Festival of Central Virginia, Richmond Chamber Players, ACE (Atlantic Chamber Ensemble), the Fulbright Summer Chamber Music Series (Fayetteville, AR), the Cascade Music Festival (Bend, OR), and the Santa Fe Symphony Summer Series.

As the principal violist with the Richmond Symphony, Molly has been a featured soloist with the Richmond Symphony in works such as Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, Vaughn-Williams’ Flos Campi, Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade,  Rebecca Clarke’s Sonata, and Strauss’ Don Quixote.

Other solo performances include Berlioz’s Harold in Italy and Bloch’s Suite for Viola and Orchestra with the Richmond Philharmonic. 

A dedicated and experienced teacher, Molly is on the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University, where she teaches Viola Performance majors, gives sectionals for the VCU University Orchestra, and teaches a weekly studio class.  She has given Masterclasses at University of Virginia, Violapalooza at VCU, and Texas Tech, as well as many public schools in the Central Virginia area. Molly started a chamber music program through the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra program to provide a chamber music experience and coachings to serious high school students.  As a Faculty member at the String Odyssey, a camp administered by the Richmond Symphony and Virginia Commonwealth University, Molly regularly provides sectionals, private lessons, masterclasses, and chamber music coachings to all levels of students. Molly is also involved in providing viola sectionals for the student violists in the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra program. 

As a way to bring the love of chamber music to the layman, Molly has created and led experiential workshops for adults, to give those who don’t play an instrument the experience of playing chamber music. 

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