Alira Strings founder and native Los Angeles violinist Michelle Kim graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music receiving her Master of Music degree under the tutelage of Axel Strauss, where she was the recipient of the Paul L. and Phyllis Wattis Foundation Scholarship. In addition to performing with numerous orchestras and groups throughout Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, Michelle has shared the stage with Mike Patton at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, with rock band Chicago as a part of San Francisco’s Magik*Magik Orchestra, and has performed under the baton of Daniel Tosh for Comedy Central’s television show Tosh.0. A passionate chamber musician, Michelle was a full scholarship recipient at the Colorado College Summer Music Festival, Orvieto Musica Chamber Music Festival in Orvieto, Italy and the Mendocino Music Festival’s Emerging Artists Program. Her earlier studies include long-time teacher Michael Ferril at California State University, Northridge and Muneko Otani, first violinist of the Cassatt String Quartet. Throughout her musical education, Michelle has been fortunate enough to receive guidance from eminent musicians and pedagogues including Sir Simon Rattle, Eugene Drucker, Ian Swensen, Roy Malan, Bruce Dukov, Lewis Kaplan, and Mark Sokol.
Born in South Korea, cellist Suji Kang began her cello studies at age ten in Los Angeles. She received her Master of Music degree at University of California, Los Angeles, studying with Antonio Lysy, and her Bachelor of Music degree at California State University, Northridge. During her time at UCLA, Suji performed as a soloist with the UCLA Philharmonia as a winner of the UCLA All-Star Concerto Competition. While attending CSUN, she was principal cellist of the University Symphony for three consecutive years, and was a member of the prestigious Goldberg Honors String Quartet. Summer festivals include the ARIA International Summer Academy as a full-scholarship recipient, and the California Summer Music Festival. She has had the privilege to play in master classes with renowned artists including the Alexander, Boromeo, Rossetti, Vilnius and Henschel string quartets and Trio di Parma. Past teachers have included Diane Roscetti, Irene Sharp, Mihai Tetel, Richard Andaya, David Aks, Ben Wyatt, and Timothy Loo. In addition to classical music, Suji has performed in many jazz festivals with big bands and combos and has won several soloist awards. Suji is passionate about teaching and maintains a private studio in Los Angeles.
Bryan Gonzalez is an active freelance violist in Los Angeles. He was recently appointed Principal Violist of the San Fernando Valley Symphony (2010) and has for several seasons been a member of two of the nation’s leading youth orchestras, the American Youth Symphony and the YMF Debut Orchestra. Bryan is also an enthusiastic and frequent performer of chamber music. He recently participated in the Arte Senza Confini concert series in Florence, Italy through the auspices of the CSU Summer Arts program. In addition to a strong classical background, Bryan has styles that vary from Broadway (Betty Buckley, Lisa Vroman), to Pops (Marvin Hamlisch), and rock (Foo Fighters, Grammy Awards 2008). He has also worked with guests artists in concert such as John Williams, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Alan Silvestri, Sarah Chang, Andre Watts, and many others. Bryan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance from the California State University, Northridge where he was the recipient of a full scholarship. His primary teachers there included Andrew Duckles, Karolina Naziemiec, and Keith Greene.
Award-winning and critically acclaimed, Cameron O’Connor is among the most exciting and versatile of the new generation of American classical guitarists. Recent highlights include an invitation to play at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, performing as a guest artist at the Aspen Music Festival, and a performance under the baton of Chinese composer Tan Dun in his Concerto for Six, for which the New York Times noted that “O’Connor fluttered on his guitar strings in a manner reminiscent of a pipa player’s technique.” A strong believer in the importance of the accessibility of arts for the public, Cameron has spearheaded several events, such as free concerts at libraries and the Royal High School Band Alumni Concert Fundraiser (the funds of which benefit music students of the school), which have brought classical music to new audiences. Additionally, O’Connor has been a top prizewinner in the Indiana, Appalachian, Sierra Nevada, and Portland International Competitions. Cameron recently received his Master of Music Degree at the Juilliard School, where he participated in three educational outreach fellowships for New York City school children, under Sharon Isbin.