District Strings is a collective of classically trained musicians providing versatile live entertainment for any event. Since 2013, our ensembles have played weddings, receptions, corporate events, award ceremonies, and curated concerts in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
Erin Murphy Snedecor, cello
Erin Murphy Snedecor is a collaborative cellist who strives to forge new paths for interdisciplinary and multi genre art. Her work spans the realms of classical, contemporary, pop, rock, electroacoustic, and folk, and she would be hard pressed to pick a favorite.
Erin founded District Strings along with fellow University of Maryland graduate students in 2013, and has since grown the business into a collaborative endeavor, encompassing a large network of DC area professional musicians.
Erin is a founding member, cellist, and music director of Balance Campaign, a contemporary sextet dedicated to the collaboration, commissioning, performance of works by new and lesser heard voices modern music. She also performs with earspace, a North Carolina-based ensemble that curates multi-sensory programs in unexpected venues.
n addition to her work in composed music, Erin is known for her ability to perform with any ensemble of rock, folk, pop, bluegrass, and whatever-you-can-think-of in between. In 2009, Erin joined forces with Annapolis indie rock band Pompeii Graffiti, appearing on 3 studio albums and performing in local and touring performances. She is also half of the indie/folk duo Black Rhinoceros, and a writer and performer of classical electronica quartet DoubleSpeak.
Most recently, Erin collaborated with Glade Dance Collective as part of the 2019 Fringe Festival under her solo moniker, Zooxanthellae, to compose and perform the music for their work, “Oizys in the Waiting Room”.
Erin is a 2023 Strathmore Artist in Residence, as well as a proud graduate of Ithaca College and University of Maryland, College Park. She lives in a little blue house in Brentwood, Maryland with her husband, Matt, their dog, Arthur, and far too many house plants.
Rebecca Hannigan, violin
Rebecca has played the violin since the age of seven. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance from Belmont University in 2009, and immediately got a job performing in a string quartet aboard a cruise ship. In 2011, she graduated at the top of her class from luthier school in Red Wing, MN, and returned to Nashville, TN to repair bows and instruments at a violin shop.
Since then, she has continued performing both on land and at sea. She has traveled to and performed in over 20 countries, in chamber groups, orchestras, and solo recitals. Her luthier career took her to Chicago for two years, and now she owns and operates Annapolis Bows & Violins in downtown Annapolis.
Natalia Merezhuk, violin
Natalia Merezhuk is a violinist from Moscow, Russia, who explores many cultures and genres of music and performs in the greater Washington D.C. area. After studying at the Moscow State Conservatory for several years she transferred to the Peabody Conservatory and received her Bachelor in Music Performance diploma in the spring of 2017.
Currently Natalia is an active performer who plays with such ensembles as the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Maryland Symphony Orchestra and many other chamber ensembles in the area. She also steps outside the classical canon and frequently works as an improvising studio musician, as well as performs in styles such as bluegrass and jazz.
Kimia Hesabi, viola
Dr. Kimia Hesabi is a violist and teaching artist based in the Washington D.C. area. She is an active performer in the USA and has performed in various prestigious concert halls across the country as well as her home country Iran.
She has recently released her album entitled Nemāno Gaona featuring works for viola by composers of the Iranian Diaspora under New Focus Recordings. Hesabi’s research and performances have been featured at the the American Viola Society Festival, in June 2021 and her article titled “Viola Repertoire from the Iranian Diaspora” has been published by the Journal of the American Viola Society.
Hesabi in collaboration with violinist/kamancheh player/composer Sarvin Hazin, are among the recipients of the Creator Development Fund from New Music USA in 2022 for a project entitled Neera. This multimedia project is set to be recorded in Summer of 2022 and to be released in 2023.
An active chamber musician, Dr. Hesabi is the founder of Yasna Ensemble. This ensemble performs contemporary compositions and arrangements that are inspired by Middle Eastern classical and folk music. Hesabi has performed with several orchestras and ensembles in the Middle East such as the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, Iranian National Orchestra, and the Tehran Philharmonic, and is an active performer in the USA as both a concert violist, and chamber musician.
In addition to performing, Hesabi is an active teacher and clinician in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and is currently on the string faculty at the International School of Music in Bethesda, Maryland. Recent clinics include a workshop, masterclass and performance at the American University, Katzen Art Center as well as appearing as guest lecturer at University of Maryland,Towson University, and Lebanon Valley College.
Dr. Hesabi is the recipient of the prestigious Thomas Fellowship from the University of Tennessee, the Dean’s Fellowship for Academic Excellence, and the M-Cubator grant from the University of Maryland.
Sandy Choi, violin
Born and raised in Chicago, violinist Sandy Choi has been praised by the Washington Post for her "assured, sinuous" playing, and by local critics for her "dazzling brilliance." An active freelance artist, she has performed with a wide range of ensembles including the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Emmanuel Music, Inscape Chamber Orchestra, the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Southwest Florida Symphony, Urban Arias, Washington Concert Opera, and the Wolf Trap Orchestra.
Comfortable in many genres, she has shared the stage with artists ranging from virtuoso violinist Rachel Barton Pine to jazz pianist Diana Krall, beloved operatic singer Andrea Bocelli, and legendary rock band, The Who. She has had the privilege of performing in some of the world's greatest concert halls including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Chicago Symphony Center, Boston Symphony Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, and the Teatro Communale di Firenze in Italy.
Sophie Chang, cello
Sophie Chang bridges the worlds of the concert hall and the dance hall in her active career as a performer, collaborator, songwriter, and teacher. Both a classically trained cellist and an avid improviser, Sophie specializes in American folk music and has played contra dances and English country dances throughout the mid-atlantic region. She is a founding member of bands Petrichord and Tea and Honey, which have fast become local favorites for their blend of Old Time, French Canadian, and Scottish fiddling. Sophie’s creative skills can also be heard in her more recent work as a songwriter. Drawing inspiration from American fiddle tunes, pop songs, and church hymns, Sophie’s original solo compositions reflect a sincere desire to build connection and community while speaking out about current political realities.
Sophie holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Ithaca College where she studied with Elizabeth Simkin, and a master’s degree in music performance from the University of Tennessee where she studied with Wesley Baldwin. She has attended the Brevard Music Center Summer Institute, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the Nief Norf Summer Festival. In the DC area, she plays with the Apollo Orchestra, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, and the Tysons McLean Orchestra.
Daniel Frankhuizen, cello
Daniel Frankhuizen has performed throughout the United States and abroad as a soloist, chamber musician, and in several pop groups. He has performed in venues from Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall, to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and Storm King Art Center. He has served as principal cellist for the Empire Chamber Orchestra and Opera in the Ozarks Festival Orchestra and section cellist with the Binghamton Philharmonic and Hudson Valley Philharmonic.
Daniel is a founding member of the Orvieto Piano Trio. A group that, over the last ten years, has performed classical piano trio literature throughout the United States, Canada, and Italy. In 2014, the Orvieto Piano Trio released a recording of works by Mendelssohn, Smetana, and Piazzolla. In 2018, Daniel was Artist-in-Residence at the Chinquapin Arts Center in Oregon with the Chinquapin String Quartet, where they premiered an electro-acoustic opera by composer Alex Vassos.
Daniel is equally comfortable performing jazz and popular music. In 2008, his cello playing was recorded with John Brown’s Body on their album “Amplify”, which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Reggae Chart. Daniel has recorded with and performed alongside a wide array of artists including Roger Daltrey and The Who, Rubblebucket, Miracles of Modern Science, and Stefon Harris. Daniel is also a member of third stream groups Bobby Previte's Blueprints Ensemble and Neil Alexander’s X Ensemble. His work as a film composer has been shown at South by Southwest and was recently nominated for Best Soundtrack at the Washington DC 48 Hour Film Project.
Kristin Bakkegard, violin
Kristin Bakkegard is an active freelance violinist and teacher in the Washington, D.C. area, and serves as Associate Principal 2nd Violin of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. She also performs regularly with many other ensembles including the Richmond Symphony, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, National Philharmonic, Maryland Symphony, and Delaware Symphony. Kristin also enjoys chamber music, and performs with the Annapolis Chamber Players and Shepherd Trio. She has performed on multiple NPR Tiny Desk concerts, including one with the British band alt-J, and another with Billy Corgan, the lead singer of The Smashing Pumpkins.
Kristin has performed internationally in Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Canada, and attended festivals including the National Repertory Orchestra and National Orchestral Institute. Kristin received her BM and MM in violin performance from Ithaca College and the University of Maryland, College Park, respectively.
Paul Bagley, violin and viola
Paul Bagley is a freelance violinist and violist based in College Park, MD. He performs with a wide variety of groups in the greater D.C. area and beyond, including as concertmaster and soloist. Regular engagements include the Annapolis Symphony, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Annapolis Chamber Players, and, in the summer, the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra.
Outside of the classical scene, you might see Paul popping up in the Peacherine Ragtime Orchestra, or playing electric violin with a jazz band. He has also appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series with British indie band Alt-J as well as with Billy Corgan, former leader of the Smashing Pumpkins.
Originally from Duluth, MN, Paul received a BM in violin from the University of Wisconsin, Superior, and his MM from the main University of Wisconsin in Madison. He holds a doctorate from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Celaya Kirchner, violin
Celaya Kirchner currently resides in Northern Virginia after receiving her Masters in Violin Performance from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst under the tutelage of renowned pedagogue Elizabeth Chang. There, she received a string quartet fellowship, performing four chamber music recitals and playing in masterclasses for members of the Cleveland Quartet, Ying Quartet, and Dover Quartet as well as many others.
For her undergraduate degree, Ms. Kirchner studied with David Salness of the Left Bank Quartet, at the University of Maryland. She also attended numerous summer chamber music festivals, including Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Meadowmount School of Music, and Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music. In the summer of 2018, Ms. Kirchner travelled to Piobbico, Italy to participate in the Brancaleoni International Music Festival, performing in a 13th century castle as well as in other venues in the Marche region.
Ms. Kirchner also enjoys orchestral playing, regularly performing with the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra as well as participating in the National Orchestral Institute and Festival. In January 2019, Ms. Kirchner formed the Milo Trio along with cellist Emma Hays Johnson and pianist Carl Banner. The Milo Trio play regularly in the D.C. metro area, performing works from every period of music.
Nicole Boguslaw, cello
Nicole Boguslaw has been playing cello since she was eight years old. Her teachers have included Diana Fish, Paul York, and Evelyn Elsing. She performed on the premier of “Ballad for cello and seven cellos” by Aaron Kernis, and performed on its first recording, “Cello Vision” in 2008. She has performed at the Aspen Summer Music Festival for three summers, and AIMS Festival in Graz.
She recently completed an artist's diploma in orchestral studies at the San Francisco Academy Orchestra, where she studied with Amos Yang of the San Francisco Symphony.
Nicole currently resides in the Washington, DC area, where she is a DMA candidate at University of Maryland and section cellist of Annapolis Symphony.
Ahren Buchheister, guitar
Ahren Buchheister is an Annapolis based guitarist and multi instrumentalist. He received his formal music training at Towson University where he studied Classical Guitar with Michael Decker (BSO, NSO) and Jazz Guitar with Steve Herberman.
He is an sought after freelance musician, session player, and teacher in the DMV, performing with various ensembles across genres.
Mark Schuppener, violin
Mark Schuppener is a DC-based violinist, educator, arts administrator, and orchestral conductor. Mark embraces all facets of musical expression and collaboration and has garnered acclaim as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and conductor throughout the United States and Europe. Mark held long-term appointments as concertmaster of the Michigan Philharmonic, Dearborn Symphony, Orchestra Miami, Las Cruces Symphony, El Paso Opera Orchestra, and Associate Concertmaster of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Other orchestral positions include serving as a violinist in the genre-bending NuDeco Ensemble based in Miami, Florida, Apollo Chamber Orchestra, and serving as the founding Artistic Director of the Ann Arbor Camerata. He was honored as a semi-finalist in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, served on the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival, was Director of Chamber Music at the Philadelphia International Music Festival, and is an alumnus of the Aspen Music Festival and School.
Mark made his New York City recital debut as an invited guest of the Argentinian Consulate of NYC in collaboration with International Steinway Artist, Oscar Macchioni, with dignitaries in attendance. As a soloist, Mark has played concertos of Barber, Beethoven, and Mozart and presented extensive recitals throughout the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest regions of the United States. As a recording artist, Schuppener released a CD under contract with Centaur Records, performed as a violinist with Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees on Columbia Records, Aretha Franklin live in concert, and was a violinist on tour with Mannheim Steamroller. Schuppener has a Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Music in violin performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Emily Doveala, cello
Long Island native Emily Doveala is a dedicated chamber musician who is passionate about curating unique concert experiences. In a lecture recital project on the music of jazz-classical composer Nikolai Kapustin, Emily performed with pianist Ria Yang for both the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Balcony Bar at Home series and for a recital at the Baltimore venue An Die Musik LIVE. In 2020, Emily and her fellow graduate music students at the University of Maryland founded Arco, an unconducted string orchestra dedicated to bringing interesting and diverse programming to audiences in the DMV area. Emily also had the opportunity to join the spring 2019 tour of the cutting-edge chamber music group Cordis, playing five-string electric cello. As an orchestral musician, she has played with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, Annapolis Opera Company, Binghamton Philharmonic, Washington City Choir, Avanti Orchestra, Northern Tier Orchestra, and the Southold Opera.
Ms. Doveala has participated in the National Orchestral Institute, Domaine Forget International Music Academy, The Silk Road Ensemble Workshop, The Next Festival of Emerging Artists, New Directions Cello Festival, and the Garth Newel Emerging Artist Fellowship. She has performed in famous venues such as Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, Alice Tully Hall, the Mozarteum “Great Hall” in Salzburg, and National Sawdust.
Ms. Doveala began studying the cello at age nine. She started her formal musical training at Mannes Prep, studying with Dorothy Lawson of the ETHEL Quartet. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance at Ithaca College, (studying with Elizabeth Simkin) and a Master’s Degree in Cello Performance from Stony Brook University, (studying with Colin Carr). In 2022, Emily completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Maryland, studying with Dr. Eric Kutz. Currently, Emily is an active freelance musician and music educator in the Washington, D.C. area. In addition to teaching private lessons, Emily teaches at the Mclean School, the International School of Music, and the College of Southern Maryland.
Tong Li, violin
Violinist Tong Li is an active chamber and orchestral musician in the DMV area. She regularly plays with Symphoria in Syracuse, Annapolis Symphony, Mount Vernon Virtuosi, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Williamsburg Symphony, and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Tong is a substitute with the New World Symphony and was an associate member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra. She was recently the concertmaster of the National Orchestral Institute + Festival, and has participated in other festivals such as Interlochen, Brevard, AIMs in Graz, Maine Chamber Music Seminar, and Detroit Symphony Orchestra Institute, where she held principal positions.
Tong has soloed with the Lakeland Civic Orchestra and the St. Petersburg summer festival orchestra playing Mozart’s violin concerto no.4 and Wieniawski’s violin concerto no.2, and was a concerto competition finalist at the University of Maryland. She was also the recipient of scholarships from the Cleveland Orchestra Women’s Club and CPEA talent scholarship competition. An advocate for music composed by minority and female composers, Tong received the M-cubator grant from the University of Maryland and curated an Asian-American Composers concert featuring artists and composers of diverse backgrounds. Tong is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the Eastman School of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music preparatory division. Her principal teachers include Renee Jolles and James Stern.
Yuna Kim, violin
Violinist Yuna Kim was born in Seoul, Korea. She started playing Violin at age 3 and studied violin performance at Yewon Arts School and Seoul Arts High School. Kim moved to the United States and continued studying at the New England Conservatory of Music with James Buswell and Nicholas Kitchen and then at the University of Maryland with David Salness. She received a half scholarship at New England Conservatory and was an honor student in the string department at University of Maryland by the faculty members of which only one in the department is selected per year.
Kim has performed as a soloist with orchestras such as Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra and Seoul Symphony Orchestra. She also performed with John Gibbons in his baroque music recital at New England Conservatory. Recently, Kim has performed as the first violin section player in the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and performed at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall as a violinist with Philharmonia Boston.
Rachel Riese, viola
Rachel Riese is a Baltimore-based violist eager to collaborate with contemporary composers and to perform and expand upon the standard classical canon. She regularly performs and teaches around the greater Washington, D.C. area and is a substitute musician for the New World Symphony based in Miami Beach, Florida. She has performed in masterclasses for renowned violists such as Nobuko Imai, Samuel Rhodes, and Hans Peter Ochsenhofer and has spent summers at festivals including the Aspen Music Festival and School, Mimir Chamber Music Festival, Vienna Summer Music Festival, and the Wintergreen Music Festival. A recent testament to her commitment to contemporary music, Rachel can be heard on Elegy for an Undiscovered Species, composer and pianist Johannes Wallmann’s album of original compositions for jazz quintet and 14-piece string orchestra released in June 2021.
Currently, Rachel is pursuing a Master of Music degree at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where she studies viola with Choong-Jin Chang and violin/viola pedagogy with Rebecca Henry. She received her Bachelor of Arts with Distinction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied with violist Sally Chisholm and received additional degrees in linguistics and German.