Su Yin Chan     /     Violin



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 was 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. It was not until much later that I felt that I really connected with the music, and that it was something I could not live without. 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 and Riccardo Muti. Not only did I learn so much from a musical perspective, but their continued commitment to education and community engagement inspires me to keep pushing the boundaries of bringing art to my community. I have spent some great summers performing at Brevard Music Festival, Round Top Music Festival, Manchester Music Festival, and Garth Newel Music Festival and also internationally at Tokyo Opera City and Seoul Arts Center. Since moving to Boston, I have been fortunate to be featured on the Norfolk Chamber Music series as well as performing on Faculty Chamber Music Recitals at Boston University. I think there is still a whole lot more to explore on my musical journey and Palaver Strings is one of the most exciting endeavors I've been a part of! In my spare time, I like traveling, cooking, BBC animal documentaries, all while running from class to class for my Doctoral degree at Boston University.


Josie Davis     /     Violin

CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, Marketing Director & Community Engagement Coordinator

I grew up on one hundred 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, and recently received an Ed.M from Harvard University. 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 Community MusicWorks in Rhode Island. I am committed to creating more chamber music opportunities for young people and am the founder and director of summer programs in Maine and Connecticut. I am thrilled to have recently moved back to Maine where I split my time between playing in Palaver and Halcyon String Quartet and working at Bay Chamber Concerts & Music School.


Maya French     /     Violin


I grew up in Midcoast Maine and was lucky to have a childhood full of outdoor adventure and lots of music. I’ve studied and performed at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Orford Music Academy, Manchester Music Festival, Kneisel Hall, Interlochen String Quartet Seminar, Virginia String Quartet Seminar, and Kinhaven Music School. I received my BM in Violin Performance from Boston University in 2015 under the direction of Bayla Keyes. As an educator, I’ve taught at Bridge Boston Charter School’s El-Sistema-inspired strings program with students ages pre-K-6th grade, and was recently in the first class of Music Educator and Teaching Artist Fellows through the Massachusetts Cultural Council. I am currently a faculty member at the Bay Chamber Concerts Music School, the Education Director for Chamber Music Now in Portland, Oregon, and am certified to teach Suzuki Violin as well as the early-childhood music method, Music Learning Theory. When I co-founded Palaver Strings, I had many goals in mind, such as promoting social service, participating in a self-conducted ensemble, and playing new music, but most of all in order to connect with our audience in an honest and open environment. I am excited to continue exploring the ways that people in all stages of life can learn to better communicate and support one another. In addition to music, I love traveling, gardening, cooking family-style meals, running, and the ocean.


Kiyoshi Hayashi     /     Violin


I grew up in Oak Park, IL and started playing violin when I was seven. As a child I was extremely shy, but found that when I played violin, all of my introverted reservations would vanish. Playing music gave me a voice and allowed me to feel more comfortable expressing my personality. As I discovered how powerful music was and how happy it made me feel, I immediately began pursuing it as a career. Throughout my studies, I’ve had the privilege of working with some incredible teachers, including Almita Vamos and Nicholas Kitchen of the Borromeo String Quartet. After receiving my BM from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2016, I decided to stay in Boston for its vibrant musical culture and small-city feel. Aside from playing with Palaver Strings, I regularly perform with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Juventas New Music Ensemble, A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra, and other local ensembles. 

 I’m incredibly grateful to be a member of Palaver Strings because it is such a supportive family of like-minded musicians and has been instrumental in rejuvenating my passion for music. Palaver has provided me a medium that allows me to perform music at a high level, and use it to make a substantial impact on the lives of others. It has reconnected me to the joys I experienced playing violin as a child and has helped me develop my personal goals as a musician: to cultivate profound connections with others, bring individuals and communities together, heal and positively uplift people’s lives, and inspire others to follow their respective passions. Outside of music, I am a certified personal trainer and integrative health coach and am the founder of my personal business, Train From Within. When I’m not playing music or coaching my clients, you’ll most likely find me going on a morning run, playing basketball or soccer, doing some sun salutations, hanging out with my dog, Rusty, chilling with my friends, or exploring the outdoors.


Jesse Macdonald     /     Violin


I was adopted from South Korea at a very early age, and I lived in Bozeman, Montana until I graduated high school. I then moved on to the East Coast for college, in a typical “country boy in the big city” scenario. I was immersed in 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 Master’s with Honors from Manhattan School of Music, studying with Mark Steinberg of the Brentano Quartet. I made my way back to the New England area in the fall of 2016 and have been there ever since. I have also found time to further my interests in other genres of music including swing, bluegrass, blues, and folk, and I’ve dabbled in transcribing, composing, and arranging classical-folk fusion pieces for chamber groups and small orchestras. In my free time, I can be found sampling new craft beers, reading the literature of Jane Austen following up on the Minnesota Twins, or out in the wilderness exploring, hiking, backpacking, hunting and fishing.


Ryan Shannon    /     Violin


My musical journey began in the mountains of Colorado at five years old when my father, an amateur pianist, gave me my first violin.  Sensing my love of music, my parents made it possible for me to attend the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. I continued my studies at the New England Conservatory, where I studied with Lucy Chapman and Nicholas Kitchen, graduating in 2014.  As a student, I had the life-changing opportunity to attend the Center for the Development of Arts Leaders program at From The Top. Through this year-long partnership with the Hope Lodge, a residence for cancer patients, I learned that music can bring together those who are struggling through difficult circumstances.  In recent years I have worked to bring this love to as many people as possible. I do this as an educator through the Boston Philharmonic’s Crescendo! program, as an explorer of new music through the Boston New Music Initiative, and as a member of Palaver Strings, an ensemble whose vivacious energy creates a powerful connection between music and the hearts of those who listen.


Brianna Fischler    /     Viola


For as long as I can remember, music has been a central part of my life. As I came from a long line of musicians and artists, you could even say I had prenatal musical experiences. My grandmother, a violinist herself, first introduced my twin sister and I to the instrument. A few years later, my two younger twin brothers picked up the cello. If you were to walk into my house after school, in theory all four of us would have been practicing at once. Growing up with live-in “chamber music mates” was a luxury that positively enhanced my development as a human being. 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. Though our rehearsals were most likely 80% laughter and 20% work, we learned about the strong bond that can be formed through music. After a whirlwind musical education including local music school lessons, Kinhaven Music School, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the Aspen Music Festival, Manhattan School of Music Pre-college and a bachelors degree in violin performance from Boston University, my friends and I found ourselves in an environment desperately in need of inspiring chamber music-making. Due to 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     /      Viola


I grew up in rural western Massachusetts, where my parents, both jazz musicians, raised my siblings and I in a rich musical environment. I started Suzuki violin at the age of five and 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 (Russia) and at Durham University (UK), I transferred to Williams College, where I continued my viola studies and graduated with a BA 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, but my Palaver colleagues constantly inspire me by “walking the walk,” striving to create a new 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     /      Viola


Growing up in mid-coast Maine, I was surrounded by music at 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. Whether playing folk music, participating in ensembles through Bay Chamber Concerts, or learning a thing or two about singing at local jazz jams, I developed my musical interests in a small yet supportive community. After discovering the beautiful resonance of the viola, I went on to study at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with Sheila Browne, and at Boston University College of Fine Arts with Karen Ritscher. In addition to my viola studies, I 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 integrating classical and traditional music with dance at Lincoln Center Education's Clark Theatre. As Palaver evolves, I am constantly inspired by my 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. As Programming Director for the ensemble, I am thrilled by the range of ideas we collectively bring; it’s fulfilling to develop these into concrete programs, partnerships, and collaborations. In addition to my work with Palaver, I teach privately in Portland, ME as well as at the Portland Conservatory of Music, and at Bay Chamber Concerts Music School in Rockport, ME.


Matthew Smith     /     Cello


Originally from the sun-saturated desert of Arizona, I’ve loved classical music as long as I can remember. However, as the only musician in my family I enjoy making classical music relatable and accessible to new audiences. I help lead the Palaver Music Center and it’s programs including our partnership with The Opportunity Alliance: Head Start programs, Youth and Family Outreach, the Jewish Community Alliance and the Immigrant Welcome Center of Greater Portland. Through these organizations, Palaver aims to provide a holistic music education for families from birth through high school. Outside of Palaver, I perform in a duo with my long-term musical partner, pianist Pei Pei Song, where we are regular guest artists at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, China.


Nate Martin     /     Double Bass


I have remained mostly silent regarding the instrument hierarchy debate, but I’ll take this opportunity to say that the bass is both bigger and older than any others in the string family. I am a freelancer, teacher, producer and host of The Palaver Podcast, featured our Patreon site. I love hosting the podcast because it focuses on the stories and perspectives of Palaver’s members and collaborators. We talk about what makes Palaver unique, as well as discuss the role of a musician in the modern era. I started taking private bass lessons at 13, but my musical education really began from birth, listening to my mom, a fiddler and teacher, playing music from the Irish tradition. I grew up with music around the kitchen table and a part of me is always trying to recreate that experience. I was blessed to grow up in a suburb of Boston with a thriving musical culture. I joined the Boston Youth Symphony in my junior year of high school and was inspired by my peers and the amazing music we made there to attend Boston University, where I studied bass with Edwin Barker. I pursued a Master’s at New England Conservatory with Todd Seeber, followed by an Orchestral Fellowship with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. I now live in Swanville Maine, where I delight in delicious locally grown food, abundant access to the natural world, and the humbleness I have acquired discovering the ins, outs, and challenges of life in a rural community.

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Roland Robitaille    /     Staff

Performance manager

Music and performing arts have been a part of Roland's life since he was a young boy in Midcoast Maine, where his mother is a dance instructor and his father is an active guitar player in rock bands. He began singing in a youth choir when he was about seven years old, and began playing the electric guitar a few years later, largely teaching himself the instrument. Later, he obtained a Bachelors Degree in business management from the University of Maine at Augusta, where he also minored in music and studied audio recording, with the intent of using it to further his own musical endeavors. After years of growing ever closer with the amazing members of Palaver, he assisted them on their first Southern California tour, and has now joined the team as their concert manager. When he's not working with Palaver, you might find him playing guitar, picking heavy things up and putting them down, attempting to cook things above his skill level, or hunting for old and new music of nearly any genre to be inspired by.