Su Yin Chan

Co-Artistic Director & Programming coordinator

Hi there, I'm Su Yin!  I'm a human being who loves sharing music with others!

I grew up in Malaysia, a tropical country and home to some of the most delicious food you’ll ever have in your life! Following in the footsteps of my cousins and a very strict music teacher (who is also my talented aunt), I began choir rehearsals and music lessons at a young age. Music was always a way for me to have fun and make new friends. Not much has changed, although being an adult makes things a bit more serious. I've been told that my laughter is constant, loud, and obnoxious, but mainly contagious. Life is too short not to appreciate every moment and fill it with giggles and positive thoughts.

This is my third year with Palaver and my eighth year in America. Half of that time was spent in Chicago and the other half in Boston. While pursuing my undergraduate degree at DePaul University, I had the exciting opportunity to play with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, working with great musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, Jaap van Zweden and Riccardo Muti. Fast-forward to awesome summers in Brevard Music Festival, Round Top Music Festival, Manchester Music Festival, and Garth Newel Music Festival, I find myself with a Masters degree from Boston University. I feel like there is still a whole lot more to explore in my musical journey. Palaver Strings is one of the most exciting endeavors I've been a part of!

In my spare time, I like traveling and finding new experiences (even if some of them scare me a little - what's life without a bit of risk, right?), cooking up a storm, and running from class to class for my Doctoral degree at Boston University.


Josie Davis

cO-Artistic Director & Community engagement Director

My name is Josie and I began taking violin lessons when I was six. I grew up on 100 acres in rural Maine and spent much of my childhood traipsing through the woods, sailing along the coastline, and playing music with my family. I went on to study violin and sociology at Oberlin College and Conservatory where I was a student of David Bowlin. I’ve performed in a wide-range of venues from Carnegie Hall to the Monte Music Festival in India and actively explore ways to share classical music in new contexts. Recent highlights include performing chamber music with Emanuel Ax in a taco shop and playing solo Bach for Chris Thile. As an educator, I am interested in how music can be used as a form of cultural empowerment to build bridges and strengthen communities. My teaching has brought me to Panama, India, and most recently Community MusicWorks in Rhode Island, where I completed a two-year fellowship. I am committed to creating more chamber music opportunities for young people and I am the co-founder and Program Director of Soundscapes Chamber Music Workshop in Connecticut and Envision Chamber Music Workshop in Maine. I will pursue graduate studies at Harvard University in the fall to further explore the intersection of arts education and community engagement. Outside of music, I love cooking, hiking, making pottery, and spending time in Maine. I'm honored to be joining Palaver and look forward to Season Four!


Maya French

Co-Artistic Director & Managing Director

I grew up in the vibrant and artsy city of Belfast, in midcoast Maine.  I grew up playing music, sailing, going to public school, running in fields, and falling out of trees.  There are not many classical music opportunities in Maine but I was lucky to be part of a small family of string students who grew up playing together in various ensembles.   I have studied and performed chamber music at Orford Music Academy, Bay Chamber Concerts, Kneisel Hall, the Interlochen String Quartet Seminar, Virginia String Quartet Seminar, Kinhaven Music School, and Manchester Music Festival. I currently work as a teaching artist at Bridge Boston Charter School’s El Sistema-inspired strings program, working with the K-fifth grade students, and am pursuing a Masters in Music at Boston University under the direction of Bayla Keyes.

Beyond music, I enjoy exploring new places, good conversation, cooking and growing things.  When I got to Boston in 2011 I was overwhelmed and enamored by the amount of music and art and learning around me but still wanted to find ways to musically connect with people on a small scale.  Palaver Strings formed from many ideas including social service, participating in an original and self-run ensemble, and playing new music, but most of all it was the concept of connecting with each other and our audience in a honest and open environment.  My formal education has taught me bountiful lessons but it is an ensemble like this that gives me hope and energy for a career in music.


Kiyoshi Hayashi

Co-Artistic Director

My name is Kiyoshi, I am twenty-four years old, I play the violin, and this is my second season  with Palaver Strings. I am incredibly grateful to be part of such a passionate, loving family of talented and awesome musicians. I grew up in Oak Park, IL and started violin when I was seven years old after attending one of my friend’s Suzuki recitals. Since then, I’ve been hooked on performing and making music. I began my musical endeavors at the Western Springs School of Talent Education where I studied first with Edward Kreitman and later with Thomas Wermuth. In high school, I played in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and attended the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy preparatory program where I worked under Almita and Roland Vamos. In 2016, I went on to get a BM in Classical Violin Performance at the New England Conservatory of Music where I was guided by the incredibly inspirational, knowledgeable, and overall amazing guy, Nicholas Kitchen. I thoroughly enjoy creating music with others and besides performing with Palaver Strings, I am a violinist in the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and numerous other performing ensembles throughout the Boston area. Furthermore, I enjoy challenging myself as a solo performer and have won prizes in numerous competitions around the US, including the Midwest Young Artists Walgreens National Concerto Competition, the Stanger Young Artists Audition, and most recently in May 2017, placed 2nd in The Philharmonic Society of Arlington’s Peter E. Tannenwald Concerto Competition. Some other cool things I’ve had the opportunity to do include performing with A Far Cry chamber orchestra and participating in the Pacific, Bowdoin, and Chautauqua Music Festivals.

I love to play music because everyone in the world can relate to it. It truly is a language without words and has the power to cultivate profound connections and emotions regardless of background, ethnicity, culture, age, or gender. My goal as a musician is to continue expanding my ability to bring individuals and communities together, to heal and positively uplift people’s lives, and to move and inspire others to follow their own passions.

Overall I’m a pretty simple dude. I’m pretty much down to do anything that makes me smile and laugh. I believe in maintaining balance in one’s life and truly pursuing all of your passions. Why limit yourself when there are so many unbelievable things to experience? I personally have interests in health, fitness, nutrition, sports, exploring the outdoors, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. More specifically, I am extremely passionate about teaching others how to live healthy, balanced, sustainable, awesome lives and am currently certified as a personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. When I’m not playing music, you’ll most likely find me going on a morning run, eating a massive spinach, kale, and tofu salad, playing pickup basketball or soccer, hanging out with my dog, Rusty, or just chilling with my friends and living the dream.


Jesse Macdonald

Co-Artistic Director & operations coordinator

My name is Jesse, and it is an extreme and humbling honor to join Palaver Strings for their journey into music and beyond! I was born in South Korea, adopted at a very early age and relocated to Bozeman, Montana until I graduated high school. I then moved on to the east coast, in a typical “country boy goes to the big city” scenario. I was immersed in such amazing culture, music, wisdom, and food as I traversed through a Bachelor’s degree from New England Conservatory, studying with Masuko Ushioda and Joanna Kurkowicz, and a Masters with honors from Manhattan School of Music in NYC, studying with Mark Steinberg of the Brentano Quartet. I made my way back to Boston in the fall of 2016 and have been there ever since. I have traveled the US, Europe and Canada as an orchestral and chamber musician, and have studied at the Mozarteum Salzburg, Madeline Island Chamber Music Festival, Banff Center for the Arts, Interlochen, Apple Hill Summer Music Festival, and the Orford Arts Academy. Within my chamber music studies, I have worked extensively with the Pacifica, American, Fry Street, Belcea, Emerson, Julliard, Brentano, and Parker Quartets. I have also found time to further my interests in other genres of music, including swing, bluegrass, blues, and folk, and I performed with the Contra and Swing dance band “The Broken String Band” in Montana for ten years. In my spare time, I’ve also dabbled in transcribing, composing, and arranging classical-folk fusion pieces for chamber groups and small orchestras.

On my own time, you’ll find me reading the literature of Jane Austen, J. R. R. Tolkien, Brian Jacques, Shakespeare, or any other good European classic, following up on sports (primarily the Minnesota Twins and Colorado Avalanche), out in the wilderness exploring, hiking, backpacking or fishing, or just taking a snooze whenever and wherever I can. Actually, when I am not with my violin, you’ll probably see me taking a snooze. I am so very excited to take this next step of my career with Palaver Strings! If you are ever around, drop in to listen and say hi!


Ryan Shannon

Co-Artistic Director

Ryan Shannon, 25, is enjoying his 4th season with Palaver Strings, seeing it as the logical conclusion to a journey of study that led him to see his music as a powerful force in the lives of those who listen. Ryan graduated from the New England Conservatory in Boston in 2014, where he earned a BM in Violin Performance under the tutelage of Lucy Chapman and the Borromeo Quartet’s Nicholas Kitchen. During his first year at NEC, Ryan was part of the inaugural class of From the Top’s Center for the Development of Arts Leaders training program, which, through a year-long partnership with the Astra-Zeneca Hope Lodge, gave him unprecedented learning opportunities in the world of Arts Community Action. Ryan also joined From the Top again for a week-long workshop residency, bringing artistic agency to students in Hazard, Kentucky. Ryan is also an avid chamber musician, seeing this instrumentation as the most intimate and inviting for listeners new and old. In 2010, his string quartet took 3rd place at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, Junior Division, marking the beginning in a long path that will lead him towards the professional chamber music world.




Brianna Fischler

Co-Artistic Director & education Coordinator

There has never been a time when music did not exist in my life. As I came from a long line of musicians and artists, you could even say that I had prenatal musical experiences. My grandmother was the first to introduce my twin sister and I to the violin. A few years later, my two younger twin brothers picked up the cello. This meant that if you were to walk into my house after school, there theoretically should have been four children practicing at once. Growing up with live-in “chamber music mates” was a luxury that positively enhanced my development as a human being. My official introduction to chamber music was also an early one. My sister, my best friend Jennie Brent, and I began playing in a trio at the age of eight at Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, Ct. We called ourselves The Annellies, and we were guided by the love and support of our coach, Jody Rowitsch. Although our rehearsals were most likely 80% laughter and 20% work, we learned about the bond that music can create between people. So fast-forward through local music school lessons, Kinhaven Music School, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Aspen Music Festival, Manhattan School of Music Pre-College, and a degree in violin performance at the College of Fine Arts at Boston University, and my friends and I found ourselves in an environment desperately in need of inspiring chamber music-making. After an incredible amount of planning and dedication, Palaver Strings came to be. It has been an absolute joy to see our ensemble grow and the process of learning through music will be one that I will continue to enjoy and love immensely.    



Lysander Jaffe

Co-Artistic Director & communications coordinator

Hello! My name is Lysander, and I play viola with Palaver Strings. I grew up in rural western Massachusetts, surrounded by farmers and artists happily doing their own thing. My parents, both jazz musicians, raised my siblings and I in a rich musical environment and encouraged me to start Suzuki violin at the age of five. In high school, I fell in love with the deep, introspective character of the viola, not to mention the viola jokes. Over the years I studied with Michelle Liechti, Delores Thayer, Gordon Dike, and Ahling Neu, and am deeply indebted to their wisdom and patience. Thanks to Penny Schultz and Village Harmony, I also discovered a love of East European folk music and singing in general.

After studying in Kazan in Russia and at Durham University (UK), I transferred to Williams College, where I continued my viola studies and graduated with a degree in Russian in 2014. Since then, I’ve traveled to the Balkans, Corsica, and the Republic of Georgia to study traditional music styles with amazing singers and players. These experiences cemented for me a commitment to folk traditions as nuanced, transcendent, and deeply alive in ways that we in the “classical” world can learn from.

I joined Palaver Strings in 2015 and I am grateful every day for this family of supportive friends and collaborators. Lots of musicians talk about transforming the role of classical music in society, but my Palaver colleagues constantly inspire me to change the way we work together and create a new creative culture of deep listening, good humor, and trust. In addition to Palaver, I perform and teach with Village Harmony/Northern Harmony, Balkan Mind Meld, Trio Culomba, and the Christmas Revels. I also love running, reading and writing, and hanging with my gecko, Milo.


Elizabeth Moore

Co-Artistic Director & programming director

Growing up in rural mid-coast Maine, I was fortunate to have been surrounded by music from an early age. I began studying violin at six, but have earlier memories still of hanging out in guitar cases along the back of the stage as my father played and called for contra dances, and of singing quite loudly wherever I was, much to the dismay of my younger sister. Whether playing fiddle music, participating in chamber music ensembles through Bay Chamber Concerts, or learning a thing or two about jazz singing at the local coffee shop, I was able to develop my musical interests in a small supportive community.

After discovering the seductive resonance of the viola while in high school, I went on to study viola performance with Sheila Browne and Karen Ritscher, graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a Bachelor’s of Music, and then Boston University College of Fine Arts with a Master’s of Music. In addition to my viola studies, I have had the opportunity to complete The Keenan Fellowship at Lincoln Center Education in New York City. While there, I worked with Teaching Artists in public schools and put on a collaborative performance at Lincoln Center Education's Clark Theatre. Now as a member of Palaver as it evolves and grows, I find myself constantly inspired by my supportive colleagues; we push each other to perform at a higher level, and to continually reexamine the ways in which we approach music itself and our role as musicians in the world. My other projects include teaching, freelancing, returning to my songwriting roots, and singing every chance I get.



Jennie Brent.jpg

Jennie Brent

Co-Artistic Director, marketing director & Education coordinator

Hi, I’m Jennie, and I’m so excited to be joining Palaver Strings this year! I grew up in New Haven, CT, where I began playing cello at the age of seven and immediately fell in love with the resonant, human sound of the instrument. I feel very lucky that for over a decade of my childhood, I was part of a string trio with my two best friends, Palaver’s Brianna Fischler and her twin sister, Gabrielle. It was through this special experience that I learned just how much beauty, depth, and joy music can add to life. The three of us attended Kinhaven Music School together, a wonderful music camp in Vermont. There my love for chamber music grew and I met many lifelong friends, including another Palaver member, Maya French. I have had some exceptional cello teachers throughout the years, including Ole Akahoshi, Peter Wiley, Luís García-Renart, and Julia Lichten. I attended Bard College, which gave me the opportunities to travel to China on tour with the Bard Orchestra, Venezuela, where I taught and performed at a small El Sistema music school, and St. Petersburg, where I studied my second major, Russian. I have taught cello privately for many years, as well as at the Harmony Program, an El Sistema-modeled organization in New York City. Teaching is a very meaningful part of my life as I find that it reconnects me with the things I value most: human communication, curiosity, and creative expression. In addition to music, I love to do yoga, write, and spend time in nature.


Matthew Smith

Co-Artistic Director & managing director of education

I'm Matt and I'm a cellist who loves making people excited about classical music. Originally from the sun-saturated desert of Arizona, I have always had a strong connection to classical music. However, none of the other members of my family are musicians so making classical music relatable and accessible to new audiences is a huge passion of mine. With Palaver, I help lead our Community Engagement activities including our partnership with the Boston Medical Center and the Boston University Arts Initiative. With BMC, Palaver works to open up classical music to patients, doctors and staff within that community.

Outside of Palaver, I am the Artistic Coordinator for Project STEP and a Teaching Artist for the Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program. In the past, I have served as a teaching assistant at The Boston Conservatory where I completed a Masters of Music and frequently visit Beijing, China as a teaching artist at the Verdi Arts School. 


Double Bass


Nate Martin

Co-Artistic Director & patreon director

I am a bassist, teacher, and curiosity seeker. When I am not acting as Co-Artistic Director of Palaver Strings in Boston, I am a freelancer and faculty at Bay Chamber Music School in Rockport. I also produce the Palaver Podcast, which investigates how and why Palaver does what it does (check it out on Patreon). Early in adulthood I experienced the mystical and humanizing power of large ensembles playing together, and it has been a source of joy and inspiration ever since. A graduate of Boston University and New England Conservatory, I am also an alum of the Institute of Orchestral Studies at the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa. While struggles with performance anxiety have loomed large in my musical life over the past few years, many fruitful conversations and investigations into the role of the musician in society have followed, much to my joy and benefit. I have continued my education in gardens and wilds of Swanville, Maine, and I am fascinated to see what comes next.