Dismantling Dissonance

Bailey Poesnecker

Disrupting the status quo for 21st century performers and educators, "Dismantling Dissonance" is a platform for honest conversations about how we can incorporate new ideas into projects in order to create content and connect in a more meaningful way.

Natalie Hagwood
Oct 13 2022
Natalie Hagwood
Natalie Hagwood may be the changing face of the modern cellist.Unbridled by past conventions of what her instrument could and should do, the 28-year-old Sacramento transplant, who began formal cello training at age seven, continues to blossom, as do her fellow musical bandmates, heralded Sacramento trio Dear Darling. As her ascent with Dear Darling continues, her desire to explore new horizons and expand the changing role of cello in contemporary music continues with solo releases that have helped find her “true voice” and quench her self-professed “hunger for creativity.”Encouraged by her parents, Natalie decided to further her music education. She fell in love with youth symphony in her jr. high years, and during her high school years took cello lessons from a University of Nevada Reno teacher who encouraged her to pursue a degree in Classical Cello Performance, a degree she received from the University of Nevada in 2017.A brief post-graduate stint at the University of Washington allowed her to study with UW Professor Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir and Dr. Kevin Krentz while teaching privately with the Seattle Cello Academy. During her time in Seattle, she won the University of Washington Concerto Competition, soloing with the UW Symphony in 2018. She has performed with piano-cello Duo Libra and Los Angeles Philharmonic Concertmaster Martin Chalifour and held benefit concertsin Los Angeles to raise funds for the Paradise Campfire victims.Finding herself locked into a narrow “classical vortex,” she left the university and began ravenously listening to non-classical music and exploring her folk and singer-songwriter roots. Collaborations with Celtic, Americana and jazz bands eventually brought her together with like-minded bandmates Dear Darling, recently selected to perform as one of three opening acts for the 14th annual Cayamo Sixth Man Soundcheck Festival, a 7-day Caribbean cruise featuring Americana artists Emmy Lou Harris, Punch Brothers, the Indigo Girls, and Grace Potter. Additionally, Ms. Hagwood performs as a member of Solabel, a Sacramento-based ensemble of established jazz, folk, and Broadway talents whose message of joy, hope and community crosses musical boundaries. Her first solo release, “Steady Love,” co-written with a college friend, is a luscious ballad built on intricate polyrhythms and beautifully layered harmonies. Admittedly, one of her many coming-of-age tunes, the track chronicles a particularly rocky time during her marriage when she realized that the institution wasn’t always going to be “shiny and new.” The heartfelt “Mama” speaks to the changing dynamics with her mother over time, while “Spider Song” addresses her frustration with fear cycles controlling her actions. The latter two tracks, performed pizzicato with solo cello and Hagwood’s ethereal mezzo-soprano voice continue to expand the evolving role of the instrument in contemporary music, while helping shape her own unique musical voice.“It’s like quenching a thirst,” Natalie says. “The more that I prioritize my new music, the better I can show up for my other ensembles, and I’ve got to keep chipping away at expressing myself.” Expressing herself also includes time mentoring others through her Concert-Ready Cellist Program. Natalie’s unique curriculum confronts the isolation and stage fright inherent in traditional private lesson models, opting instead for a community-based model inspired by team sports that encourages the sharing of one's gifts. Students in The Concert-Ready Cellist Program perform together regularly, playing free concerts in the Sacramento area in senior homes and farmer’s markets. Twice-a-week, virtual supervised practice lessons allow studentsto meet and share their experiences, while monthly masterclasses featuring guest cellists keep things fresh and exciting.
Greg Childress
Oct 6 2022
Greg Childress
Gregory Childress (he/him) is Lynchburg, Virginia native violist and violinist who began playing at the age of five in the Lynchburg City Schools Suzuki string program. Greg graduated Cum Laude from James Madison University in May 2019 with a B.M. in viola performance. He discovered his love for teaching during his time at JMU; Greg served as president of the JMU American String Teacher Association Collegiate Chapter. He taught after school group violin classes with Rockingham County Schools and launched a small private violin and viola studio. After graduating, Greg moved back home where he taught in the LCS Suzuki strings program from 2019 to 2022.Greg runs a thriving Suzuki violin and viola studio in Lynchburg with over 35 students enrolled. Additionally, Greg is the string chamber ensemble director at Virginia Episcopal School. As a member and registered teacher with the Suzuki Association of Americas, Greg frequently participates in workshops, institutes, and teacher trainings. Greg has studied pedagogy with Dr. Wanchi Huang, Elizabeth Faidley, David Strom, Oscar Soler, Joanne Martin, Cathryn Lee, and Charles Krigbaum. With over 12,000 followers on Instagram, Greg uses his platform to showcase student progress, achievements, and also provide free tips and educational resources to teachers.Greg is the principal violist of the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra and frequently performs for weddings and events across Virginia. When he is not teaching or performing, Greg enjoys vegan cooking, yoga, house projects, and traveling to new and inspiring places.To learn more about Greg, check out his website at www.gregorychildress.com and follow him on Instagram @violagreg.
Ben Plotnick
Sep 29 2022
Ben Plotnick
From the day Ben Plotnick was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada his life has revolvedalmost entirely around music. Since his early start playing classical violin, he has foundhimself as a bit of a musical chameleon in musical worlds such as Folk, Country, Celtic, Jazz,Rock, and many areas of world music as well. Ben’s involved musical adolescence includedperformances with several groups & organizations for notable audiences (such as Her RoyalHighness Queen Elizabeth the 2nd) across four continents, from an early age.As a freelance performer and session musician with stints in Calgary, Toronto and nowNashville, Ben has recorded on upwards of 100 professional albums and performed onthousands of stages ranging anywhere from house concerts to arenas. His list of creditsincludes countless high-level acts largely in (but not limited to) the worlds of folk, Americanaand country music. These days, Ben spends the bulk of his time touring, writing andrecording with creative projects The Fretless (2017 Juno award winner and 3-time nominee, 6 Canadian Folk Music Awards) and Oliver the Crow (ensemble of the year nominee at the 2020 Canadian Folk Music Awards, called ‘exquisite’ and an ‘inspired collaboration’ by NPR).Amidst performances around the world, he continues to work as a session musician andstring arranger in Nashville. His arrangements for strings, winds and in some casessymphony orchestras feature on a vast array of professional albums, stages and hallsaround the world.His improvisation method book was released in 2015. “Vio Lingo: A comprehensive guide tolearning the language of violin improvisation”, is now on its 5th printing and has been highlysought after in fiddle communities across the continent. Exclaim.ca writes of his 2016 solo record ‘Greenland’: “(Plotnick’s) instrumental wizardry,paired with danceable rhythm, will have half the audience listening intently while the rest tears up the floorboards”. 2021 saw the release of ‘Madison Archives’ with banjo player Frank Evans (of The Slocan Ramblers), a duo album named “Instrumental Album of the Year” at the Canadian Folk Music Awards and nominated at the Juno Awards.Whether he’s performing for 30 or 30,000 people, with a country band, folk string quartet ora bluegrass group, in a bar or on a festival stage, Ben continues to define himself as one offolk music’s elite fiddle players.InstagramBen's websiteFretlessOliver The Crow
Episode 32: Curtis J. Stewart
Sep 15 2022
Episode 32: Curtis J. Stewart
CURTIS STEWART is a multi Grammy-nominated violinist/composer who enjoys bouncing between MTV specials with Wyclef Jean and sold out shows at Madison Square Garden with Stevie Wonder to stints at the Kennedy Center with the Jimmy Heath Big Band and runs at the Guggenheim, MoMA and Whitney Museums in NYC. Curtis has performed as a classical soloist at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic Bandwagon, as well as held chamber music residencies at Carnegie Hall, the MET Museum and National Sawdust. His work realizes a vision to find personal and powerful connections between styles, cultures, and music. Curtis teaches at The Juilliard School, Perlman Music Program, has been commissioned to write works for the Royal Conservatory of music, The Virginia Symphony, The Eastman Cello Institute, New York Festival of Song, PUBLIQuartet, and Carnegie Hall: Play/USA.  www.curtisjstewart.com"I have always grappled between being an educator, a creator/composer, a writer of verse, an improviser, quartet-mate, band-mate, administrator.   I can’t seem to sit still in one role, and I have never seen myself as such - both because I am trying to survive as an artist, and because my passions for each one of the above vie for attention at all times.  I left teaching highschool for 10 years because the NYC Department of Ed was totally inflexible with me taking off days for performance.  I began creating my recent album OF POWER in my living room because I couldn't get together with my friends in PUBLIQuartet. In the end, it all balances on supporting myself just enough to be able to express and create from a place of authenticity, vulnerability and invention." ~ CJS
Episode 29: Gabe Bolkosky and Education for Happiness
May 7 2021
Episode 29: Gabe Bolkosky and Education for Happiness
Violinist and violist Gabe Bolkosky has been praised for the way he "takes audiences into his confidence and includes them" and described as having "the serenity of a master without a hint of coldness." He has performed and taught across the United States, abroad, working with all ages of musicians.  He recently pioneered an online approach to music-making and collaboration from home. His organization, Education for Happiness, recently launched PhoenixPhest Virtual Online Chamber Music Immersive, culminating a 20 year in-person program.  His focus educationally has been to help musicians in all developmental stages and levels of interest with a focus on inclusion.Primarily a violinist, he performs a diverse repertoire of classical and contemporary works with different collaborative artists from many musical genres in many of the great concert halls.  As a violist, Gabe helped found the Bayberry String Quartet in 2018 and continues to play in this group with his wife Steffani. To date, Gabe has released seven recordings that show his breadth as a musician focused in the areas of contemporary music, jazz, and nuevo tango as well as traditional classical music, with plans to expand into the world of DAW and BandLab. Over the last two decades, Gabe served as the executive director of The Phoenix Ensemble, a nonprofit organization dedicated to warm hearted and compassionate arts education. Education for HappinessGabe's Website
Episode 28: Rita Porfiris and the "Uncertainty of Fate" Festival
Apr 30 2021
Episode 28: Rita Porfiris and the "Uncertainty of Fate" Festival
American violist Rita Porfiris  has performed in major concert halls and music festivals worldwide as a chamber musician, orchestral musician, and as a soloist.Currently the Associate Professor of Viola and Director of Chamber Music at The Hartt School, she has also been on the faculties of New York University, the University of Houston Moores’ School of Music, Florida International University, and the Harlem School for the Arts in New York. She has given master classes, lectures and clinics across the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Iceland, Taiwan, and the Dominican Republic.Ms. Porfiris is a member of the Miller-Porfiris Duo and the Hartt Quartet. As a founding member of the Plymouth Quartet, she was in-residence at the Ojai Festival, Mainly Mozart, Point Counterpoint, and the Internationale Quartettakademie Prag-Wien-Budapest. She was the recipient of Austria’s prestigious Prix Mercure, a prize winner in the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and the Primrose International Viola Competition, and a laureate of the Paolo Borciani International Quartet Competition.In her 20 year-long career as an orchestral musician, 15 years of which were spent with the Houston Symphony, she worked under some of the most recognized conductors of the 20-21 Centuries, including Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Celibidache, Kurt Masur, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Christoph Eschenbach. Equally at home in a wide variety of genres, Rita has shared the stage with Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Bernadette Peters, Lyle Lovett, Rod Stewart, and Tony Bennett, to name a few.Highlights of recent seasons include chamber concerts with Lynn Harrell, Joseph Kalichstein, and Jamie Laredo; tours to Israel, Europe, and Taiwan; sold-out concerto appearances at the historic Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany; Baltimore, Maryland and Lincoln, Nebraska; and a performance of the rarely played Romantic Rhapsody for Violin, Viola and Orchestra by Arthur Benjamin as part of the Miller-Porfiris Duo. In May 2016, the Baltimore Sun declared "Rita Porfiris proved an ideal soloist, as much for her richness of tone and impeccable articulation as for the warmth and subtlety of her phrasing."Rita’s transcriptions for the viola of both classical music staples and pop favorites have been enjoyed worldwide by audiences and performers. Gramophone Magazine called her  transcription of Gliere’s Eight Pieces Op. 39, recorded on the Miller-Porfiris Duo’s second CD “Eight Pieces,”  "satisfying" and "sung with beautiful warmth." Recent acclaim from Fanfare for the Duo's third CD, entitled "Divertimenti" declares their playing "a lightning bolt" and speaks to the "color, fire, and passion."Ms. Porfiris received both her BM and MM in Viola Performance from The Juilliard School, studying with William Lincer. Other teachers and mentors included Paul Doktor, Norbert Brainin, and Harvey Shapiro.WebsiteUncertainty of Fate Festival
Episode 26: Kenji Bunch
Mar 18 2021
Episode 26: Kenji Bunch
Kenji Bunch is one of America’s most engaging, influential, and prolific composers. Through an expansive blend of classical and vernacular styles, Bunch makes music that’s “clearly modern but deeply respectful of tradition and instantly enjoyable.” (The Washington Post) Deemed “emotional Americana,” (Oregon ArtsWatch) and infused with folk and roots influences, Bunch’s work has inspired a new genre classification: “Call it neo-American: casual on the outside, complex underneath, immediate and accessible to first-time listeners… Bunch’s music is shiningly original.” (The Oregonian) Hailed by The New York Times as “A Composer To Watch” and cited by Alex Ross in his seminal book The Rest Is Noise, Bunch’s wit, lyricism, unpredictability, and exquisite craftsmanship earn acclaim from audiences, performers, and critics alike. His interests in history, philosophy, and intergenerational and cross-cultural sharing of the arts reflect in his work. Varied style references in Bunch's writing mirror the diversity of global influence on American culture and reveal his deft ability to integrate bluegrass, hip hop, jazz, and funk idioms. Rich, tonal harmonies and drawn-out, satisfying builds characterize Bunch’s work and easily lend themselves to dance and film. Over sixty American orchestras have performed Bunch’s music, which “reache(s) into every section of the orchestra to create an intriguing mixture of sonic colors.” (NW Reverb) Recent works include commissions and premieres from the Seattle Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the Lark Quartet, the Britt Festival, Music From Angel Fire, Chamber Music Northwest, the Eugene Ballet, and the Grant Park Music Festival. His extensive discography includes recordings on Sony/BMG, EMI Classics, Koch, RCA, and Naxos labels among others. Also an outstanding violist, Bunch was the first student ever to receive dual Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in viola and composition from The Juilliard School and was a founding member of the highly acclaimed ensembles Flux Quartet (1996-2002) and Ne(x)tworks (2003-2011). Bunch currently serves as Artistic Director of Fear No Music, and teaches viola, composition, and music theory at Portland State University, Reed College, and for the Portland Youth Philharmonic.Website:
Episode 25: Brian Kavolius-Matherne (Brian KM)
Mar 13 2021
Episode 25: Brian Kavolius-Matherne (Brian KM)
Performer-Composer Brian Kavolius-Matherne is a horn and electronics soloist withprojects as varied as the medium is unique. With influences including Tchaikovsky, Strauss,Broadway, French-Acoustic-Folk, David Maslanka, and Julia Kent, it is no wonder that hetook to composition to synthesize all the music he hears!Brian developed a taste for new music early in his career, performing with the EDGE NewMusic Ensemble at Shenandoah Conservatory during his early training. Since then, he hascommissioned multiple new works for solo horn and various chamber groups and hasserved as principal horn for world premieres of works for orchestra and band. Acollaborator at heart, common theme of a recital organized by Brian is a connection toanother art form, such as winemaking, brewing, oration, photography, or writing. As aperformer-composer, he has performed his works for audiences across the USand Canada, ranging from Hawaiʻi to the east coast, including a recent appearance at theSanta Clara Universities Music@Noon series.In addition to horn and electronics life, Brian has had a full career as a solo, chamber,  andorchestral musician. He served as principal horn in performances with the University ofMaryland Symphony Orchestra, the University of Maryland Wind Orchestra, theShenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, Shenandoah Summer Music TheaterCompany, the Plainville Wind Ensemble, the Rapidan Orchestra, the Miami Summer MusicFestival Symphony Orchestra, and the Miami Summer Music Festival Opera Orchestra. Heis an active participant in the chamber music community wherever he lives and has been aregular member of many groups. After his collegiate training, Brian was appointed the Principal Horn of the USNavy’s “U.S. Pacific Fleet Band” in Pearl Harbor, Hawaiʻi and served under the baton ofFleet Bandmaster Lieutenant Commander Kelly Cartwright. While serving in the Navy, hewas a featured soloist and regular horn player for the organization’s premiere brassquintet, “Harbor Brass” and wind quintet, “Trade Winds”. During his service in the US Navy, Brian completed multiple international and domestic tours, providing musicalsupport for hundreds of diplomatic, military, and outreach events. He participated in theOʻahu Joint Military Service Band Concert in 2019, serving as principal horn for militarymembers in the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Army, and National Guard. In 2018, he wasselected to perform at the Midwest Band Conference as a member of a Navy-widechamber ensemble. He received the National Medal of Arts “for personifying excellence inmusic and service to country”. As a fierce advocate for musical outreach in educational settings, Brian contributedhundreds of hours of volunteer teaching for local high schools during his military service.He served as the head of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band’s Music Education Outreach Programand was the initiating agent for key programs, including multiple joint programs withthe University of Hawaiʻi Department of Music and the Navy’s first online outreachprogram during COVID-19. He is committed to education and maintains an activehorn studio and stays in touch with a network of band directors, providing educationaloutreach as a soloist.Brian received his undergraduate degree in Music Therapy along with a performancecertificate from Shenandoah Conservatory and his MM in Horn Performancefrom the University of Maryland. He maintains an MT-BC credential with the CertificationBoard for Music Therapists. His principal teachers are Janelle Ellis, WilliamZsembery, Joseph Lovinsky, and Gregory Miller.