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Our Faculty

Monique Mead -

Founding Director

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Inspired and mentored by Leonard Bernstein, Monique Mead has been a lifelong ambassador for classical music as a violinist, educator and innovator. Performing as a soloist, chamber musician, and presenter, Mead has devoted her performing career to nurturing new audiences and deepening the musical experience for seasoned concertgoers. Since 1998, she has reached millions on German television and radio featuring her innovative youth concerts with prestigious German orchestras in Berlin, Munich, Düssedorf, and Cologne, among others. In the U.S. she has collaborated with the Pittsburgh Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Port Angeles Symphony and other organizations to create engaging concert experiences for young people. She currently serves as Board Chair of Chamber Music Pittsburgh and directs the Music Entrepreneurship program she created at Carnegie Mellon School of Music. Her passion for Music and Wellness has led her to recent appointment as Artistic Director of a Festival at Rancho la Puerta, a top wellness resort in Mexico.

Dr. James Ray -

Music Director

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Dr. James Ray maintains an active and varied career as an educator, conductor, and violinist in the Pacific Northwest.  A former director of award-winning orchestras in the Port Angeles School District, he is currently an associate professor of music at Western Washington University, teaching coursework in instrumental music education and music theory, and directing the WWU String Sinfonia. Dr. Ray is highly sought after as a guest conductor of student honor orchestras, a chamber music coach with organizations such as Bellingham Youth Chamber Players and WWU Chamber Days, and as an adjudicator of student performances throughout the Pacific northwest and beyond. Additional engagements have included repeated appearances as a guest artist with the Bellingham and Port Angeles Symphonies, and prior service as a musician in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Within the community of music educators, Dr. Ray has led professional presentations at the local, state, and national levels; and has served on various committees with the Washington Music Educators Association and the American String Teachers Association. He has also authored and co-authored peer-reviewed papers in nationally recognized publications.

 Dr. Ray holds a bachelor's degree in violin performance from Central Washington University, a master's in secondary teaching from Western Oregon University, and a DMA in music education from Boston University.  

Erin Hennessey -

Artistic Director

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Erin Hennessey is a Port Angeles native who now performs as a soloist, orchestral, and chamber musician across the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland. As a freelance violinist, she works with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, RTE Concert Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, and Irish National Opera, and is an avid chamber musician. In 2021, she received the Gaiety Bursary to typeset, perform, and record Ina Boyle’s Phantasy for violin and chamber orchestra, which she premiered in November 2021. She is also passionate about a student-centred and compassionate approach to excellence in music education and co-developed the group violin pedagogy now used by the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Erin lives in London where she is a PhD researcher at the Royal Academy of Music, studying and performing the music of Irish composer Mary Dickenson-Auner. She previously taught violin and chamber music at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, where she is a graduate, and studied with Marilyn McDonald, Ida Haendel, Sarah Sew, and Mia Cooper.

Guest Faculty 2024 Coming Soon

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We are thrilled to partner with Music on the Strait Artistic Directors, James Garlick and Richard O-Neill to offer masterclasses and performance opportunities for our students.

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