Dr. Marion Judish is currently Professor of Violin and Viola at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota. She received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Violin Performance at the University of Colorado Music School in Boulder, Colorado. She earned her Masters of Music and Doctoral of Music Degrees at the University of Minnesota's School of Music in Minneapolis.
Dr. Judish has been concertmaster of the St. Cloud Symphony for the past twenty-seven years. She also serves as concertmaster for the Amadeus Chamber Symphony and the Wayzata Symphony in the Twin Cities. She has been the featured soloist with both groups as well as with the Denver Symphony (now Colorado Philharmonic), Grand Forks Symphony, Heartland Symphony, North Minneapolis Symphony and St. Cloud State University Orchestra, among others.
Before coming to Minnesota, Marion was an active studio musician for several recording companies throughout the metro Denver area. She was concertmaster of the Brico Symphony in Denver. She founded the Boulder String Quartet, the St. Cloud String Quartet, the Tresca String Quartet and most recently, the Rosamunde String Quartet.
As an avid supporter of new music, she has performed for the Composer's Forum in Minneapolis on several occasions. She presented the premiere performance of the "Ghost Opera" for Pipa (Chinese Harp) and string chamber orchestra. She also recently performed “Dead Elvis” with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony, "Three Mysteries" for Violin and Percussion by Daniel Dorff, "Journey" by Melissa Krause, “Lex” for violin and percussion by Michael Daugherty, “Hi Mozart” by Hartmust Hochmair, and “Chimera II” by Dr. Scott Miller.
Jeanie Schoephoerster auditioned for the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra in 1982 and so has been playing violin with the orchestra for about 30 years. She has been married to her husband, George for over 30 years and they have 2 adopted children, Tony & Sarah, and 1 grandson. Jeanie has earned degrees in Psychology, Health Education, and Music, and she books numerous gigs and weddings at her website: www.freewebs.com/fiddlin_around She also plays in the Amadeus Chamber Symphony and plays for as much live theater as she can where she plays violin, viola, bass, and piano. Hobbies include being a sport pilot, motorcycling, and raising and guest lecturing about tarantula spiders, snakes, dogs, and cats.
Kara Mather studied music at St. Olaf College and at St. Cloud State University where she received her B.S. in Music Education. She has been an orchestra teacher for the St. Cloud School District since 2009 where she is the Director of Orchestras at Technical Senior High School and at Oak Hill Community School. She has studied violin with Carol Ferkalo in Westland, Michigan, James Berg of G.T.C.Y.S. in Minnesota, Lucinda Marvin at St. Olaf College, and with Dr. Marion Judish at St. Cloud State University. Kara has been playing violin with the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra since 2001, along with performing in various ensembles in the Central Minnesota area. Kara is also the Founding Director of the Monticello Community Strings Orchestra, an ensemble that made their debut concert in the summer of 2001. Kara has enjoyed working with and conducting other area youth orchestras and camps. She has been teaching privately and free-lancing for over 20 years, working with students of all musical abilities and ages. In her free time, Kara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, playing piano, traveling, fishing, and attending concerts.
Grace Mertz has played the violin- along with her older sister, Rachel- since she was seven years old. This journey began when the Mertz family moved to St. Cloud…Grace begged for violin lessons, shed a few tears, and voila! Dad and Mom made Rachel take lessons so Grace would have encouragement in her playing- and now, Rachel and Grace have spent many happy hours playing together.
Grace’s orchestral experiences began with the St. Cloud Symphony YOUTH Orchestra, of which she was a founding member. Since then, she has had the opportunity to participate in several different orchestral venues, and was excited to join the St. Cloud Symphony in 2009.
Music is a significant part of Grace’s life: she enjoys attending concerts, jamming with her siblings, playing for her church, participating in pit bands for musicals, and playing backup violin on anything and everything! In addition to playing violin, Grace has played piano for more than ten years, and is currently learning to play guitar. One of her newly discovered interests is arranging songs for piano (or pit band!). Grace enjoys many musical styles, including Celtic, bluegrass, and jazz.
Grace’s other interests include writing, horseback riding, participating in musicals, and discussing legal and political perplexities with friends.
“A musician must have the heart of a gypsy and the discipline of a soldier.” – Ludwig van Beethoven
Rhonda Johnson has been a violin section member with the SCSO for past 23 seasons. Rhonda started playing violin at the age of 10 in the Anoka, MN school district, participated in the Minnesota Youth Symphony, and was selected to All-State Orchestra. Rhonda attended St. Cloud State University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and holds a current teaching license issued by the Minnesota Department of Education. While in college, she was selected to be a part of numerous honors orchestras, was President of the SCSU Orchestra, held the positions of Treasurer, Secretary and Vice-President of the Collegiate Chapter MENC.
For the past several years Rhonda has attended the American Suzuki Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point and received certifications in the Suzuki Method of Talent Education from the Suzuki Association of the Americas.
Rhonda and her husband, John, opened their own music store, Johnsons’ Violins, in St. Cloud, MN in 2009 to keep string playing alive in Central Minnesota. Currently, she performs with the SCSO and Bethlehem Chamber Orchestra, teaches in her own private studio and with the St. Cloud Suzuki Studio, at St. John’s Preparatory School giving middle school string lessons, and is an instructor/conductor with the Crow River Area Youth Orchestra.
Coca Bochonko is a freelance musician living in St. Cloud, Minnesota. She is currently a member of the Music St. Croix chamber music ensemble, principal violist of the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra and the Loehrke-Bochonko duo. She has also performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Vocal Essence, Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony and Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. In 2008 and 2009, Ms. Bochonko toured with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in support of soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian and percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, respectively. An avid collaborator and soloist, Ms. Bochonko has performed numerous solo and chamber music recitals throughout the Midwest and Canada, in addition to solo appearances with the Long Prairie Chamber Orchestra, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra and Heartland Symphony Orchestra. As half of the Loehrke-Bochonko duo, she has presented recitals around Minnesota, in Texas and Manitoba. Coca studied viola at McGill University and Southern Methodist University. Her teachers include Sabina Thatcher, Ellen Rose, Heidi Castlemann, Victoria Chiang, Douglas McNabney and Joanne Martin. She has also participated in the summer programs at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Aspen Music Festival.
John D. Johnson
Laura Lydia Dahl has played in the St. Cloud Symphony since 2001 as well as other ensembles which has allowed her to explore orchestral, pit theatre, chamber groups, and solo events. She is active with the Amadeus Chamber Symphony, St. John’s Boys’ Choir orchestra, Bethlehem Chamber Orchestra, and the GREAT Theatre pit orchestra. The formation of the L’unica Quartet in 2003 has also been important to her career, as she began playing viola or violin in the group for public and private events. Laura has participated in the SCSO’s Educational Outreach program since its inception, and also played viola in a trio for MPR’s Class Notes Artists program in the Spring of 2015.
During her music studies with Dr. Marion Judish, Laura also had the honor of playing for master classes taught by the violinists, Midori, Chloe Fedor, and Jesse Mills. She then was accepted into the Lake Tahoe Music Festival in August 2016, a chamber orchestra that performs professionally at parks and resorts around Tahoe, CA. The renowned musicians, Nathan Hughes (oboist) and Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir (cellist), were featured soloists and they coached the orchestra throughout the festival.
Laura received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in May of 2016 from St. Cloud State University. Besides music, Laura was interested in American Sign Language, and earned a certificate in Deaf Studies in 2008 at St. Paul College. Personally, Laura is an avid vegan for animals, environment, and health.
Michael Zellgert attended University of Wisconsin-Superior where he studied violin performance and conducting, including both choral and orchestral technique under Diane Balko and Dr David Scott. In addition, he received conducting mentoring with Maestro Markand Thakar and Yong-Yan Hu.
Mr. Zellgert has appeared as a soloist with community and university orchestras throughout Minnesota and part of Wisconsin including Gustavus Adolphus College and University of Wisconsin - Superior. He has served as concertmaster and performer of the Itasca Symphony Orchestra, UW-Superior Chamber Orchestra, and the Heartland Symphony Orchestra along with performing with the Minnesota Ballet and the Duluth Festival Opera.
Throughout his career as a violinist, he has performed with small ensembles including the Dynamic String Quartet, Highland Quartet, Saint Benedicta Trio, Pastiche, and Music Saint Croix. Michael has served as the music director of the Woodland Community Orchestra and Long Prairie Chamber Orchestra and is a guest conductor with regional orchestras. His interest in music education has led him to conduct string sectionals for the College of St. Benedict/St John's University Orchestra, clinics for high school orchestras, and has adjudicated auditions for solo/ensembles and camps including Interlochen Camp for the Arts.
Michael maintains a private studio, a member with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, St. Cloud String Quartet, 2nd violin principal with the St Cloud Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Crow River Area Youth Orchestra and the Central Minnesota Youth Orchestra.
Expert at fiddling and jazz improvisation, Cristina holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in jazz violin performance from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and a Masters in Conducting for Orchestra, from St. Cloud State University. She has produced an instructional video for fiddling through Mel Bay’s entitled Anyone Can Play Country Fiddle, CDs entitled Inside the Heart of a Musician, Spirit Wind, Seaborn Breeze, and The Day the Squirrel Went Berserk. Her many arrangements for string orchestra of fiddle music including jazz, Celtic, Scandinavian, Cajun, and original. Cristina is a violinist and fiddler with over thirty years of experience. In symphonies, quartets, jazz ensembles, and folk/rock bands, her musical background includes influences in classical, jazz, Celtic, bluegrass, and Texas swing fiddle.
Lynnea Skeate has played the violin since 2001, and since then, music has become her passion. Lynnea has been a member of the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra since 2012, and joined the Bethlehem Chamber Orchestra in 2015. She has studied violin with Lois Weeks, Cristina Seaborn, and Dr. Marion Judish. In 2011 she began a private studio, The Master’s String Studio, where she enjoys sharing her love of music with students. In addition to violin, she plays piano and learned viola and cello along the way.
Early on, the orchestra became a favorite performance venue. A member of numerous youth orchestras and a participant in many string camps, Lynnea went on to play in the SCSU Orchestra for six years, holding positions as both the Assistant Section Leader and Section Leader of the second violins. She has been a String Assistant at Cathedral High School, as well as Assistant Conductor both at Cathedral High School and with the SCSU Youth Orchestra under Dr. Daniel O’Bryant.
Lynnea holds an Associate of Science degree in Business Administration from North Hennepin Community College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from St. Cloud State University.
Other musical venues include playing for pit orchestras, nursing homes, church, and weddings. She enjoys classical, fiddle, Celtic, Scandinavian, and hymns.
Outside of music, Lynnea works part-time, and enjoys spending time with her family, visiting state parks, biking, ice skating, and letterboxing.
The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. ~ J.S. Bach
Joshua Pierskalla is spending his first season with the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra. Starting viola at the age of 9, Joshua instantly fell in love with music and performing. Joshua was a very active musician in his school string orchestra program in Willmar, MN. Along with the school orchestra program, Joshua also was very active in competitions throughout his time in grade school. Later in life, Joshua was a part of many different organizations throughout the state of Minnesota. Joshua was a member of the Crow River Area Youth Orchestra located in Hutchinson, MN for two years where he played in the chamber orchestra, symphony orchestra, and summer string camp when he was younger. When he was older, he was a part of the MMEA Middle Levels Honors Orchestra for three years when he was in Junior High. When Joshua reached high school, he played in the Minnesota All-State Orchestra for two years, CLC Honors Orchestra for three years, and was a part of the pit orchestra during his high school musicals. Joshua is on the journey to receiving his Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at St. Cloud State University. Currently, Joshua studies viola privately with Dr. Marion Judish who teaches at St. Cloud State University. Joshua’s past private instructors include Dr. David Arnott, St. John’s/ St. Benedict University, and Dr. Natalia Moiseeva, University of Minnesota. Besides playing with the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra, Joshua plays with the St. Cloud State Orchestra and is also the principal violist of the Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra back in his hometown which he is performing his tenth season with this year. For fun, Joshua plays in the Prairie Lakes String Quartet where they perform weddings and other gigs around the central part of the state. He also loves performing for services in area churches in Willmar and Litchfield. He also works part time at a pharmacy in his hometown of Willmar, MN where he is employed as a pharmacy technician. Joshua also teaches private violin/viola lessons on the side. Joshua loves spending time with his parents and three younger brothers along with his friends. Being social is Joshua’s form of entertainment.
Back in the mid 50's I was watching the Ed Sullivan Show on a Sunday night with my family as always. They had a 13 year old violinist on the show. His name was Itzhak Perlman. From that moment on I was hooked. I wanted to play the violin. When I was in the fifth grade my cousin brought me her gorgeous violin to play until I had my own. It had pearl inlay on the fingerboard and I showed it off to my colleagues and teacher in my grade school orchestra. So began my music career. In eighth grade I got my own violin. We had full orchestra everyday from 7th grade on. After high school I studied with Marilyn Boss at Mankato State College and earned a B.S degree in Music and Music education with a mathematics minor.
Performances have included orchestras in Minnesota and South Dakota. I also have had the opportunity to go on tour with Northwestern College, Roseville, MN for their Rhapsody in Praise tours including a tour with Bill Pierce for a Christian radio station. A few of my music colleagues and I co-founded the Lindenberg String Quartet. Other experiences have involved playing and directing solo and ensemble appearances. While involved with the Little Symphony Orchestra of Minneapolis I bought and started playing viola.
Teaching experiences have involved students and a small ensemble for all ages and levels of performance. I have arranged and transposed several compositions, popular, sacred, and classical, for strings with piano accompaniment as well as string quartet and other ensembles.
In 1997 my husband and I moved to St. Cloud. I became a member of the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra in 1997 and Amadeus Chamber Orchestra shortly after. I am currently retired from St. Cloud University.