At First Sight staff members playing for students at the AFS orientation session for 2022.
At First Sight staff members playing for students at the orientation session.
Meet Our Faculty
Ellen Francisco, AFS director, violin and viola 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 Bachelor 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 since its inception, sharing with others the opportunity to make music with friends. She currently teaches violin, viola, and chamber music as an adjunct professor at Southern Adventist University, and also teaches many younger violin students, from the local area.
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 twenty years ago, and has 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 (Tami) Powers King, violin and viola, has recently moved from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to Collegedale, TN. She 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. An active performer in area churches, chamber music ensembles and colleges, she is a member of the Music Educators National Conference; Rho Chapter, Pi Kappa Lambda; South Carolina Music Educators Association and the Spartanburg Philharmonic Music Club. Mrs. King now teaches violin and orchestra at Collegedale Middle School.
Suzanne Sims, cello, is a native of Atlanta, GA and has played cello since the fourth grade. While growing up in Atlanta, she played in numerous orchestras, All-State Festivals, and attended the GA Governor’s Honors Program. Ms. Sims holds a Bachelor of Music in performance from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She has a private studio and is in demand as a cellist in many area groups, performing regularly with the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra. She and her husband Paul live in historic St. Elmo with their five children.
William Navalon, violin and viola, began his musical training in the conservatory of Vall d’Uxo, Spain, then in the conservatory at Saint-Remy, France. From there he came to the USA to continue his studies in music at Columbia Union College, where he earned a BA in Music, in both violin and viola. His violin teacher and mentor was Dr. Virginia Gene Rittenhouse, and his viola teacher Dr. Victor Yusefovich. William was a member of the New England Symphonic Ensemble for 8 years, performing 20 concerts a season in Carnegie Hall, tours around the USA, and international tours to England, Scotland, Ireland, Russia, South Africa, Jamaica, Canada, Mexico, France, to name a few. William has a deep love for sharing beautiful music in the community with local chamber groups and orchestras, and his studio of students.
Michael Tompkins, cello, received his Bachelor of Science in Music degree from Southern Adventist University (2000), where he studied cello under Dr. James Stroud. He earned his Master of Music Education degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2002), where he studied cello under Dr. Wesley Baldwin. He has worked with numerous string camps including the Shiloh String workshop, which he founded and directed in 2007. Mr. Tompkins is currently on staff as Director and cello clinician at the East Cobb Upbeat Strings! Camp. Mr. Tompkins and his wife, Shawnte Scott-Tompkins (6th Grade Social Studies teacher at Hightower Trail Middle School), live in Marietta with their 13-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, who is an aspiring cellist and percussionist!
Laurie Redmer Cadwallader, violin, viola, 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.
Dr. Lana Teko-Ahatefou, viola, 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.
Nicholas Emanuel Wheeler, viola, bass and composer, is a music educator with experience in band, chorus, general music, and orchestra. He teaches orchestra, guitar, and piano for grades 5 through 12 at Mount Pisgah Christian School in Johns Creek, GA. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Columbus State University in Columbus, GA. He also studied music composition at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA for graduate studies. Nicholas made his American debut as a symphonic composer with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra in 2018 with a performance of his Moonlight Waltz from his six-movement programmatic, symphonic work A Pirate’s Journal. He will make his international debut as a symphonic composer at the 2022 São Paulo Contemporary Composers Festival in São Paulo, Brazil with the premiere of the first movement of his Piano Concerto in E Minor.
Marla Majett, cello, 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’s degree in music from Furman University. Afterwards Ms. Majett attended Western Illinois University studying cello performance and Suzuki teacher training under Dr. Tanya Carey. 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 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.
Andrew Kang, viola, is a native of Smyrna, Georgia. He began his string education on violin at Nash Middle School with Chris Doemel. He studied viola and violin at Georgia State University and received a Bachelor of Music with emphasis in music education. Mr. Kang has extensively toured throughout the U.S., China, and Japan, and has performed with numerous ensembles and famous artists. He actively performs with Capitol City Opera and has subbed for a myriad of orchestras throughout Georgia. Mr. Kang is also an avid chamber musician with an unquenchable thirst for chamber music. He currently resides in Marietta, Georgia, with his Calico named Bea and silver-spotted Bengal named Beau.
Dr. J. Bruce Ashton, piano, 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.
Nathan Francisco, cello, originally from Collegedale Tennessee, is currently pursuing a double degree in cello performance and German studies at Bard College and Conservatory, where he studies cello with Peter Wiley and Raman Ramakrishnan. His musical background also includes extensive training in cello with Wesley Baldwin, organ and historical keyboards with Judy Glass, and viola da gamba with Martha Bishop. In addition to his studies, Nathan is an active chamber musician in both the Chattanooga and Bard communities, having collaborated with and been coached by musicians such as Joan Tower, Gilles Vonsattel, Marka Gustavsson, and many others. Nathan has been an active part of the At First Sight community since its inception in 2009. In his recreational time, Nathan enjoys playing disc golf, jazz bass, and sight reading chamber music with friends.
Dr. Ted Ashton, cello, 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.
Emilly Drexler, violin has played the violin since age 4 and now holds performance degrees from Chattanooga State Community College (viola) and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (violin). Emily’s primary passion is playing in symphonies. She is currently a member of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra and a substitute in Chattanooga, Knoxville, and other orchestras throughout the region. Emily enjoys teaching violin and viola lessons, and has completed Suzuki Teacher Training books 1-3.
Janelle Glass,violin, is a violin teacher in the Chattanooga area. She graduated from Southern Adventist University with a degree in Music Education. In addition to teaching private lessons, she participates in chamber music ensembles, volunteers at summer music camps, and enjoys all things out of doors.
She has worked on the staff of At First Sight Chamber Music Weekend on the campus of Southern Adventist University. Her experiences as a music educator were enhanced at various Suzuki summer sessions in Dallas and in Portland, Oregon. She firmly believes that music can be used to strengthen relationships between people, especially parents with children, often saying “what I love most about music is that is has tremendous power to connect people.”
Christy Reichenbach, violin, holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Wheaton College and a Master of Music Education from VanderCook College of Music. Mrs. Reichenbach has been teaching private piano and violin lessons for over 20 years. She taught elementary and middle school orchestras in Chicagoland for over 10 years, before focusing on her growing family and her Suzuki teacher training with Mark Mutter, Michele Higa George and Rebecca Sandrok. As a Suzuki parent, and sometimes teacher of her four violin-playing children, she has experienced firsthand the joys, challenges, and triumphs of musical development and family music-making.