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Ellen Francisco, AFS Director, has been an avid chamber musician since she was very young. She grew up in a musical family, where making music together was a regular occurrence. Mrs. Francisco earned her Bachelors of Music Education, violin emphasis, from Southern Adventist University, She attended Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts for her Masters in viola performance, with an emphasis in Chamber Music. While there, she studied with Raphael Hillyer, founding member of the Juilliard String Quartet, and with members of the Van Swieten String Quartet. She has organized and directed Chamber Music Weekend for sixteen years, sharing with others the opportunity to make music with friends. She, her husband and young son have recently moved from Denver, Colorado, where Mrs. Francisco played and performed frequently with chamber ensembles.  She was teacher and developer of a unique and dynamic Suzuki violin program in one of the area schools.
Jeremy Francisco, Conductor holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Southern Adventist University, Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Belmont University (Nashville, TN), and has done graduate work in Choral Conducting from the University of Northern Colorado. For the past several years Mr. Francisco has served as a frequent clinician at music festivals in Nashville, Boston, New York City and throughout Oklahoma and Colorado. Mr. Francisco has been Music Director of Chamber Music Weekend since its beginning sixteen years ago, and served as the founding Music Director of the Cumberland Youth Ensemble and Madison Vocal Ensemble, in Nashville, TN. Mr. Francisco’s performing ensembles have toured Jamaica, Canada, Mexico, Germany and throughout the United States.
Tamara Powers (Tami) King, Violinist and Violist from Spartanburg, South Carolina, holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Southern Adventist University and a Master of Music degree from Converse College. Mrs. King has played professionally with the Spartanburg Symphony Orchestra, Greenville Symphony Orchestra and the Greater Spartanburg Philharmonic. She is an active performer in area churches, chamber music ensembles and colleges. She is a member of the American String Teachers Association; Music Educators National Conference; Rho Chapter, Pi Kappa Lambda; South Carolina Music Educators Association and the Spartanburg Philharmonic Music Club. Mrs. King is currently director of the strings programs at Chapman High School, T. E. Mabry Middle School, and Holly Springs-Motlow Elementary School as well as director of the District 1 Symphony Orchestra in Spartanburg County Schools.
Laurie Redmer Minner, Violinist, Violist, and Conductor, holds a bachelor's degree in music education from Atlantic Union College and M.Mus. degrees in viola performance and conducting from the New England Conservatory of Music. She has extensive experience as a conductor of instrumental and vocal ensembles. She is currently head of the string deparment at Southern Adventist University, and conductor of the SAU Symphony Orchestra.Prior to joining the music faculty at Southern in 2000, Professor Minner taught at Columbia Union College, Takoma Academy, Greater Boston Academy, the New England Conservatory Extension Division, South Lancaster Academy, the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and the Thayer Conservatory of Music. Her performance experience includes concert tours of Europe, Australia, Asia, Russia, and the United States as violinist, violist, vocalist, and conductor.
Amy Tyson, Violinist. Oregon born Amy Lozano Tyson received a full scholarship to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she earned her Bachelors of Music. Her mentors included Alexander Schneider and Paul Hersh. In 1979, she won first prize in the Coleman Chamber Music Competition in Paseden, CA. While in San Francisco, she was a member of the Aurora String Quartet for ten years. With them she played much of the major string quartet literature, performing in a variety of venues including London, Tokyo, and Carnegie Hall, New York City. She had numerous recordings during her twelve years in the San Francisco Symphony before moving to Colorado for a life style change. She joined the CSO in 1989. Mozart gets the nod as her favorite classical composer and she also enjoys jazz. Her non-musical interests include golf, scuba-diving, underwater photography and gardening. She lives in the mountains with her husband and daughter.
Dr. Jared Ballance holds performance and education degrees from Cleveland Institute of Music and the Eastman School of Music and the Dalcroze certificate from Juilliard. He studied cello with Richard Aaron, Desmond Hoebig, and Alan Harris, viola with Jeffery Irvine, plus studies in violin, piano, and viola da gamba. He has performed chamber music with members of the Cleveland Orchestra, was the cellist of the Samford String Quartet and the Brandywine Trio, and currently performs as a member of the Ballance Duo.
Dr. Ballance has taught Dalcroze workshops at Eastman, ENCORE, Hochstein School of Music and Dance, and Oakwood University. He studied Dalcroze and pedagogy with David Brown at CIM, with Dr. Robert Abramson and Daniel Cataneo at Juilliard, and with Anne Farber and Lisa Parker at Longy. He has taught cello at ENCORE School for Strings, the University of Rochester, Samford University, and Oakwood University, He currently lives and teaches in the Seattle, WA area.
Marla Majett, Cellist, has been teaching music since 1994. Her students have appeared in such venues as Spivey Hall and Carnegie Hall.  As a child, Ms. Majett began her Suzuki cello lessons with Dr. Elizabeth Cantrell. She pursued her studies in cello earning a bachelor degree in music from Furman University. Afterwards Ms. Majett attended Western Illinois University studying cello performance and Suzuki teacher training under Dr. Tanya Carey. Among her most influential teachers is also cello pedagogue Martha Gercshefski. As an advocate of the Suzuki Method, Ms. Majett was one of the founding members of the Suzuki Association of Georgia (SAGa) and served as vice president for several terms. She has also taught orchestra and cello at various schools including Trinity School of Atlanta, Atlanta International School and the Lovett School. She currently holds a large cello studio in the Midtown Atlanta area and teaches orchestra at the Waldorf School of Atlanta.  Next to teaching, her passion is performing chamber music. She previously was the principal cellist for the Da Salo Solisti Chamber Orchestra and has appeared in numerous professional orchestras around Georgia including Albany Symphony Orchestra, Carroll Symphony and Macon Symphony. 

Dr. Lana Teko-Ahatefou, Violist, Dr. Lana Teko-Ahatefou is a freelance violist and teacher in the metropolitan Atlanta area.  She is in demand for adjudication, clinics and master classes in Metro Atlanta, at Valdosta State University and for the Alabama chapter of the American String Teachers Association.  An avid chamber musician and enthusiast, Lana performs with Sage String Quartet.  Upon completion of her Bachelor's Degree in Music Education at Florida State University, she taught orchestra in the Cobb County School System for four years, completed a Masters of Music in Viola Performance at Georgia State University and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Viola Performance at the University of Alabama. Dr. Lana has maintained a private teaching studio and performed in regional symphony orchestras since 1998. She currently resides in Pine Lake, GA with her husband and Shadow the cat.  When not teaching, performing or doing research, she enjoys running, recreational soccer, Yoga and Pilates.

Dr. J. Bruce Ashton, Pianist, Composer, and professor emeritus, recently retired from teaching at Southern Adventist University. He holds degrees in piano performance from Capital University (Columbus, Ohio), American Conservatory of Music (Chicago), and the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.  His teachers include Rudolph Reuter, Leon Fleisher, and Raymond Dudley. For 42 years Dr. Ashton taught piano, music theory, and music history at the collegiate level. With Southern's fine symphony, he has played many of the standard piano concerti, including Beethoven's Fourth and Rachmaninoff's Third. Dr. Ashton gets involved with chamber music at every opportunity, either as pianist, violist, or coach. Most of his musical compositions and/or arrangements are done for a particular situation, often involving a slightly unusual mix of instruments.  One of his more recent works, “Variations on a Theme of Mendelssohn” was written for cello and woodwind quintet.
Ted Ashton, Cellist, holds a doctorate in math from the University of Georgia. A fine cellist, his love for chamber music is intense, which is very obvious to anyone who has enjoyed being a part of his groups. A sensitive and creative teacher, he also brings leadership, enthusiasm, and years of experience with chamber music to his coaching sessions, ensuring both success and achievement for those who work with him.

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