Su Yin Chan / Violin
CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & PROGRAMMING COORDINATOR
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. Although being an adult makes things a bit more serious, not much has changed. 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. I spent some awesome summers at music festivals including Brevard Music Festival, Round Top Music Festival, Manchester Music Festival, and Garth Newel Music Festival, and I hold a Master’s degree from 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 up a storm, and running from class to class for my Doctoral degree at Boston University.
Josie Davis / Violin
CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT DIRECTOR
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, 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. Outside of music, I love cooking, hiking, making pottery, and spending time in Maine.
Maya French / Violin
CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & MANAGING DIRECTOR
I grew up in Midcoast Maine and began my violin studies with Suzuki teacher Janet Ciano and later Gilda Joffe through Bay Chamber Concerts. I’ve studied and performed chamber music 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 and Envision Chamber Music Workshop, 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 large 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 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 began to pursue it as a career. Throughout my studies, I’ve had the privilege of working with some incredible musicians, including Almita Vamos and Nicholas Kitchen of the Borromeo String Quartet. After receiving my BM from New England Conservatory in 2016, I decided to stay in Boston for its vibrant musical culture and small-city feel. Aside from playing with Palaver, I regularly perform with the Boston Philharmonic, Atlantic Symphony, A Far Cry, 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 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, positively uplift people’s lives, and inspire others to follow their respective passions. Outside of music, I am a Certified Personal Trainer and Health/Nutrition Coach. When I’m not playing music or coaching my clients, you’ll most likely find me going on a morning run, playing basketball, doing sun salutations, hanging out with my dog, Rusty, or exploring the outdoors.
Jesse Macdonald / Violin
CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & OPERATIONS COORDINATOR
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
CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & EDUCATION COORDINATOR
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
CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
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
CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & PROGRAMMING DIRECTOR
Growing up in Midcoast Maine, I was surrounded by music from an early age. I began studying violin at six, but I have even earlier memories of hanging out in guitar cases along the back of the stage as my father played and calledfor contra dances, singing wherever I was, much to my sister’s dismay. Whether playing fiddle 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 supportive community. After discovering the viola’s seductive resonance, I went on to study with Sheila Browne at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and with Karen Ritscher at Boston University College of Fine Arts. In addition to my viola studies, I completed 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. As Palaver evolves, I find myself 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 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 very fulfilling to develop these into concrete programs, partnerships, and collaborations. I still sing every chance I get and am returning to songwriting - I’m excited to come full circle and begin teaching at the Bay Chamber Concerts Music School where I studied as a child.
Jennie Brent / Cello
I began playing cello at the age of seven and quickly fell in love with the resonant, human sound of the instrument. I feel very grateful that for over a decade of my childhood I was the cellist of a string trio with my two best friends, Palaver’s own Brianna Fischler and her twin sister, Gabrielle. It was through this experience that I learned just how much beauty, depth, and joy music can provide. I have had some wonderful cello teachers including Ole Akahoshi, Peter Wiley, Luís García-Renart, and Julia Lichten. I am a certified Suzuki cello teacher and have taught at Festival Música in San Juán de Colón, Venezuela, Harmony Program in New York City, and Bridge Boston Charter School in Roxbury, MA. I am also certified in the early childhood method, Music Learning Theory, which I have used to co-lead classes at Horizons for Homeless Children. Teaching is a very important part of my life as I find that it reconnects me with the things I value most: human connection, curiosity, and expression. In addition to music, I am a yoga teacher and have found that practicing body awareness has greatly impacted my musicianship, something I often discuss during educational workshops. I feel so lucky to have found Palaver; it is rare and beautiful to be part of a group of people who are all committed to making the world a better place through music.
Matthew Smith / Cello
CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & MANAGING DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION
Originally from the sun-saturated desert of Arizona, I have always had a strong connection to classical music and love sharing it with others. I am the only musician in my family, so making classical music relatable and accessible to new audiences is a huge passion of mine. I help lead Palaver’s education activities, including our partnership with The Opportunity Alliance: Head Start programs and Youth and Family Outreach in Portland, Maine. Through these organizations, Palaver aims to make music education accessible for young children and families. Outside of Palaver, I am the Artistic Coordinator for Project STEP, a string training program dedicated to creating diversity in the classical music profession. I have served as a graduate assistant at The Boston Conservatory, where I completed my Master of Music, and I frequently visit Beijing, China as a teacher at the Verdi Arts School.
Nate Martin / Double Bass
CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & PATREON DIRECTOR
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.
Johnny Corson / Staff
Johnny Corson is a public relations coordinator at Tufts University, where his work has centered around reputation analysis and the execution of media relations strategy. Johnny graduated from Boston University with a BS in Mass Communication - Public Relations. A longtime friend and supporter of Palaver, Johnny is excited about this new partnership.
Roland Robitaille / Staff
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.