2015 Young Artists Festival Judges

Piano Judges

Laura Klein

Laura Klein, M.M.,NCTM, began her piano training at the age of five; since then she has performed in recitals, festivals, adjudications, and competitions, receiving highest honors. She received her Master of Music degree (with honors) in Piano Pedagogy & Performance from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, Princeton, NJ, and her Bachelor of Music degree (summa cum laude) in Piano Performance from Mars Hill University, Mars Hill, NC; she also attended Brevard Music Center during her undergraduate studies. Her teachers include Phyllis Lehrer, Andrew Cooperstock, Cathy Adkins, and Robin Garner; she studied pedagogy under Ingrid Clarfield, James Goldsworthy, and Phyllis Lehrer. A solo and collaborative pianist, she has given performances throughout the US, as well as in Canada, Austria, and the Czech Republic. She has served extensively as an accompanist, including the Chapel and Chamber Choirs of Mars Hill University; Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre and Asheville Lyric Opera (NC); Walla Walla University’s choirs, string orchestra, and wind symphony (WA); and the Training Choir of the American Boychoir School (NJ).

A Nationally Certified Teacher of Music through Music Teachers National Association, Ms. Klein actively participates in state and national conferences and serves as president of the Music Teachers Association-Suburban Northwest chapter. She has maintained a private studio, Appassionata Piano, since 2001. Prior to her recent move to Denver, she served on faculty at Walla Walla University and Westminster Choir College and Conservatory of Music. While music is her favorite hobby, Ms. Klein also enjoys photography, literature, graphic design, traveling, DIY projects, and spending time with her husband and small daughter. She currently resides and teaches in Northwest Denver.

Danita Richter

Danita Richter has been a piano and voice teacher in the Arvada area for the last 18 years. She has directed many Music Theater shows and revues, as well as many children’s church choirs. She has performed throughout Colorado, Wyoming, and Kansas, both on the piano and with her voice. She was the Music Teachers Association Suburban Northwest President for the past 4 years, and was on the State Board for the Music Teachers Association as their Vice President for Membership for the past two years. Originally from Limon, CO, she earned a Music Therapy degree from Colorado State University. She lives in Arvada with her husband and 3 dogs.

Willem Van Schalkwyk : UNC Music Faculty

Applauded by the Salt Lake City Tribune for “maturity beyond his years” and “dizzying technical facility,” Namibian pianist Willem van Schalkwyk made his debut with the Namibia National Symphony Orchestra at age fourteen, and by the time he was sixteen he won his first international piano competition in France.

Dr. Van Schalkwyk has appeared in concert throughout the United States, Europe and Southern Africa. Recent appearances with orchestra include Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto in Namibia, as well as Mozart’s Concertos for two and three pianos in Utah. A regular recitalist, recent highlights include performing at the Greyton Music Festival in South Africa, and presenting a solo recital as part of the National Theatre of Namibia’s 25-year anniversary. As collaborative artist Dr. Van Schalkwyk has performed with many esteemed artists, including instrumentalists from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Utah Symphony Orchestra. He has also played for master classes presented by notable singers like Joyce DiDonato, Gabriele Lechner and Bo Skovhus.

Dr. Van Schalkwyk holds a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from Brigham Young University, and he graduated from the University of North Texas with his Doctorate in Piano Performance in 2009. At UNT his primary instructors were Joseph Banowetz, Elvia Puccinelli, and Adam Wodnicki. While pursuing his graduate degrees he was the First Prize winner of the Scionti Piano Competition, and was awarded the Audience Prize at the Louisiana International Piano Competition. As a vocal coach and pianist Dr. Van Schalkwyk has served on the music staff of the Santa Fe Opera, the Arizona Opera, the American Institute of Musical Studies’ summer program for singers in Austria, the Utah Opera, and the Opera in the Ozarks. Prior to joining the faculty of the University of Northern Colorado he was an instructor, coach, and collaborative artist at Southern Utah University.

Justin Krawitz: UNC Music Faculty

South African pianist Justin Krawitz joined the University of Northern Colorado in the Fall of 2014 as Assistant Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy. Previously, Dr. Krawitz has served on the faculties of the University of Cape Town, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Luther College (Iowa), and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (Michigan). Following his performance of Karel Husa’s First Piano Sonata, the Pulitzer prize-winning composer wrote, “the level of his artistry and commitment is extraordinary.”  Krawitz has performed with orchestras in his native South Africa and in the US, and has recorded for Czech Radio.

Dr. Krawitz is an active clinician, with regular invitations to give masterclasses at music schools from North Carolina to Serbia. He has presented lectures and workshops in the US and abroad, such as at the 32nd International EPTA Conference (Ljubljana), the 2010 ISMTA Conference (DeKalb, IL) and the 2nd World Piano Conference (Novi Sad). His research interests include finger substitution on the piano and Czech piano music of the 20th century. He has been published in the EPTA Piano Journal and the ISSTIP Journal Tension in Performance, and he is an editor of the periodical Martinů Revue. Krawitz is an external collaborator of the Bohuslav Martinů Institute in Prague and a board member of the International Martinů Circle. Dr. Krawitz was a Paul Collins Fellow at UW-Madison from 2006-2009, a Donald Gordon Creative Arts Fellow at the University of Cape Town in 2011, and a URC Postdoctoral Fellow at UCT’s South African College of Music from 2012-2014.

Ballet Judges

Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti

Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti began her training at Chapel Hill Ballet School in North Carolina and continued at the Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet under the direction of Hortensia Fonseca and Michelle Lees. As one of 20 dancers picked form across the country she spent three summers at the Chautauqua Institute studying with Jean Piere Bonnefoux, Patricia McBride and Violette Verdy. At 17, Phyllis was accepted on full scholarship to the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet and performed with Pennsylvania Ballet in company roles. She has danced for Southern Ballet Theatre and as a principal at Charleston Ballet Theatre, Eugene Ballet and now Ballet Idaho. Her most noted roles include Giselle, Cinderella, Carmen, Juliet, Kitri, Odette, Aurora, Sugar Plum, contemporary works including a collaboration with Eugene Ballet and “Pink Martini” and principal roles in Balanchine’s “Serenade,” “Tarantella,” “ Who Cares?”, and ”Allegro Brilliante.” She is currently on staff at Ballet Idaho and the co-artistic director of Boise Dance Co-op.

Staci Kinkead-Fox

Staci Kinkead-Fox is originally from Martinsburg, WV and received her formal training from Inwood Performing Arts Company in Inwood, WV. While there she was trained in the Royal Academy style of ballet, completing all exams from Pre-Primary to Advanced, as well as, jazz, modern and Broadway tap. At the age of 14, Ms. Fox was accepted as a full scholarship student to the prestigious Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC. There she was trained in the Vaganova method under the instruction of Ludmilla Morkovina, Nikolai Morozov, Alla Sizova and Rudolph Kharatian. Ms. Fox also attended many Summer Intensive programs on full scholarship including, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, The School of American Ballet and The Royal Academy of Ballet.

Upon graduation, Ms. Fox joined Colorado Ballet as an apprentice and was then invited to join as a corps de ballet member one year later. In 2003 she was promoted to a soloist. Ms. Fox’s roles with Colorado Ballet include “Myrtha” in Giselle, “Fleur de Farine” and “Diamond Fairy” in Sleeping Beauty, “Mercedes” and “Anita” in Don Quixote, “Fortune” in Carmina Burana and “The Cowgirl” in Agnes de Mille’s “Rodeo”. Ms. Fox has also danced featured roles with many contemporary choreographers including Michael Pink, Peter Pucci, Donald McKayle, Toru Shimazaki, Septime Webber and Doug Varone. Ms. Fox retired from Colorado Ballet after the 2004 season to pursue career opportunities in veterinary medicine all the while staying true to her roots in the dance world by teaching, coaching and performance staging at many dance facilities in Colorado, West Virginia and Maryland. Many of Ms. Fox’s past students have been accepted to a variety of prestigious dance schools and universities across the United States.

Kevin Gael Thomas

Originally from France, Kevin Gael Thomas grew up as a student of the French Conservatory of Music and the renowned Rosella Hightower’s International Ballet School. It is in 2004 that the Canada’s National Ballet School invited him to pursue his training as a full scholarship student.
Upon graduation in 2006, he received his first contract with the Houston Ballet II. The following season the Colorado Ballet invited him to join them. Since then, Mr. Thomas has danced numerous roles such as ‘Peter Pan’ in Michael Pink’s version, ‘Blue Bird’ in ‘The Sleeping Beauty’, ‘The Whip Boy’ in Glen Tetley’s ‘Rite of Spring’, ‘The Jester’ in Ben Stevenson’s ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Puck’ in Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Famous Choreographers such as Mathew Neenan, Jodie Gates, Eddie Liang, and Val Caniparoli have picked him to be in their World Premieres. Aside from performing, Mr. Thomas has been teaching and choreographing in Europe and in the States.

String Judges

Brandon Matthews

Brandon serves as Director of Orchestras at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Besides teaching conducting and leading the University’s two orchestral ensembles, Dr. Matthews also he serves as music director for MSU Denver’s Opera Ensemble, which presents Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in the fall 2014 season. Dr. Matthews is also an active adjudicator and clinician for competitions and honor orchestras, and regularly collaborates with orchestras and arts organizations in Colorado including the Arapahoe Philharmonic, Longmont Dance Theatre, the Boulder Symphony, and the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra.

Matthews obtained a doctor of musical arts degree in orchestral conducting at Arizona State University, studying with Timothy Russell and William Reber. While at ASU, he was co-music director of the ASU Sinfonietta and served as an assistant conductor for the ASU Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. He also conducted operatic performances of Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, Don Pasquale, Luisa Fernanda, as well as the musical Nunsense II while working in the ASU Lyric Opera TheatreMatthews received a master of music degree in orchestral conducting at Brigham Young University under the direction of Kory Katseanes. Other conducting mentors include Kenneth Kiesler, Larry Rachleff, and Harold Farberman.

Raised in Spokane, Washington, he began his musical studies as a pianist at age five and later began the viola in the public school system. His musical training continued during summers spent at the Brevard Music Center and the Marrowstone Summer Festival. He received a bachelor of music degree in piano performance at BYU, and continues to perform on piano, viola as well as the violin. Dr. Matthews resides in Denver with his wife, Meghan, and their four children. 

Barbara Hamiliton

Barbara is currently Artistic Director and Violist with the Colorado Chamber Players, a position she has held for 21 years. She served as principal violist with the Eastern Music Festival from 1990-2005. Barbara has played as principal violist and soloist with the Colorado Symphony, the Orquesta Ciudad de Barcelona, and the Orquesta de Valencia (Spain). She was a member of the New York Philharmonic for one season. Dr. Hamilton received the DMA from Yale School of Music in 1992, where she completed a dissertation on the Alexander Technique and Musicians. She was a prize winner in the Fischoff, Aspen Festival and Woolsey Hall Competitions, as well as the Young Artists of YM-YWHA (New Jersey).

While living in Spain, she played with the acclaimed “Cuarteto Martin y Soler”, including tours of Mexico, Scandinavia, and Europe. The quartet played on numerous occasions for the Royal Family of Spain. Dr. Hamilton has performed frequently as a soloist, the Valencia premiere of Penderecki’s Viola Concerto, with Maestro Penderecki conducting. She taught viola, chamber music and Alexander Technique for 7 years with the National Youth Orchestra of Catalunya, Spain (JONDE). Dr. Hamilton currently teaches, coaches and adjudicates with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra and Denver School of the Arts.

Barbara studied with Jesse Levine and Karen Tuttle. She gives master classes and seminars throughout the USA, Asia and Europe. In the 1990’s, she toured Europe with the Orquesta Ciudad de Barcelona, the NY Virtuosi and the American Sinfonietta, including concerts in the Grosse Saal/Vienna, the Concertgebauw, Leipzig Gewandhaus, and the Tonhalle. Dr. Hamilton returned to teach at the Yale School of Music in 1998, and taught on the faculty of University of Colorado/Boulder in 2003. She has served as president and founding member of the Rocky Mountain Viola Society, and served 2 terms on the board of the American Viola Society.

Some of Barbara’s esteemed chamber music partners have been Franco Gulli, Julia Fischer, Dmitri Sitkovetsky, David Krakauer, Sharon Isbin, Jesse Levine, Jeffrey Kahane, Larry Combs, Patricia McCarty, Charles Castleman, and Daniel Damiano (Berlin Philharmonic).  She has participated in summer festivals as performer and teacher, including the Aspen Festival, Grand Tetons, Yale at Norfolk, Garth Newell, Rocky Ridge, and June in Buffalo. In August 2004, Barbara traveled to Beijing, China, where she participated in the 1st International Summer Music Academy, under the auspices of the Central Conservatory.

Allison Kellis

A native of Mesa, AZ, Allison Kellis began her musical journey at a very young age. She absolutely loved participating in the various orchestras she was a part of. Her persistent mother was her teacher up to the age of 11, when she began her studies with Patricia Cosand. It was then, when Mrs. Cosand assigned her the piece Praeludium and Allegro by Fritz Kreisler that her love for playing the violin began. In her junior year of high school, she began studying with Dr. Jonathan Swartz, faculty violin professor at Arizona State University, where she continued her studies in violin performance for two years under his tutelage. It was at ASU that Ms. Kellis also found a love and proficiency for the viola. Ms. Kellis has won various awards throughout her musical career and has been able to play with ensembles such as the Salt Lake Symphony, Aurora Symphony, and the Phoenix Symphony. In addition to Dr Swartz, Ms. Kellis has had the privilege of studying with Dr. Katie McLin, Nancy Buck, Dr. Linda Lamar, the Juilliard string Quartet and St. Lawrence string Quartet. Ms. Kellis currently resides in the Boulder area and works as a Public Health Nurse, and looks forward to the time she has to perform with friends. She wishes all of the young performers best of luck in tonight’s competition!