Megan Leigh Johnson, Founder/Owner & Lead Cellist
Megan began playing the cello as a young child in Atlanta, GA. After moving to the SC low-country in 2004, she studied with Damian Kremer and Natalia Khoma in Charleston, SC. Through her high school studies, she was an active part of the Beaufort, SC classical music scene, regularly performing with the Beaufort Chamber Orchestra. She was principal cellist of the Beaufort Youth Orchestra through grade school, eventually teaching cello students in the area. She began performing for weddings/special events over 10 years ago, and has since played/organized hundreds of events. She attended the University of North Carolina in Greensboro as a Cello Performance Major, then finished her studies with Natalia Khoma at the College of Charleston, completing her Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance.
Megan has been honored to share the stage with Yo-Yo Ma, Andres Cardenes, Bela Fleck, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, William Preucil, and many other world-renowned musicians. She attended the advanced division of Brevard Music Festival. Currently living in Asheville, NC, she enjoys performing with the Johnson City Symphony & STACE. She will be sure that your wedding/special event music is performed at the highest level of professionalism, only hiring the most talented musicians in the region.
Paul Stroebel- Lead Violinist, Violist, & Mandolin
Paul is originally from Augusta, GA, where he studied Suzuki Violin Method from age three until graduating high school from Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School. In middle school, he began playing in chamber music ensembles for weddings and similar events through his Suzuki & orchestra teachers. Paul graduated from UNCA’s Music Technology program in 2008 with distinction in music tech & music theory, playing in the University Scholarship Quartet & Symphony for all 8 semesters, jazz combos for 4, and extracurricular bluegrass throughout.
During his thirteen years in Asheville, he has played violin & sung in bluegrass, jazz, rock, and tango bands. In the classical realm, Paul is a regular member of the Asheville Symphony, Hendersonville Symphony, and Brevard Philharmonic as principal second violinist. He subs regularly with Johnson City Symphony, Symphony Orchestra Augusta, Western Piedmont Symphony, and Blue Ridge (Community) Orchestra. He has been teaching full-time since 2014, when he also took up viola, and in 2016 was certified by Mark O’Connor in the “O’Connor Method” books I & II for violin. When not playing weddings, he busks with his string quartets regularly in downtown Asheville, taking Beethoven, Dvorak, tangos, Radiohead, Michael Jackson, and Led Zeppelin to the streets.
Teresa Curran- Lead Violinist
Teresa is a freelance violinist who currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina. She has played professionally for over 25 years in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. She currently plays with the Asheville Symphony, South Carolina Philharmonic, & Greenville Symphony. She has also been part of small ensemble groups that specialize in weddings, receptions, and corporate events and most recently co-founded Cabaletta Strings.
Teresa earned her Bachelors degree in violin performance from Converse College where she was concert master. During her college days she was selected to play the Spoleto Festival in Italy with Sweelinck Conservatory of Amsterdam. She also spent summers studying at Brevard Music Center in Brevard N.C.
Some of Teresa’s musical highlights have been performing with Edwin McCain, Ray Charles, Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Mark O’Conner, Roberta flack, Moody Blues, and Seven Nations. During her free time, Teresa enjoys drawing her whimsical art, playing piano, volunteering at animal rescues, and spending time with her 2 dogs.
Rachael Kistler-Igo- Lead Violinist
Rachael began her violin studies at the age of two. She made her professional debut with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16, and continued her violin studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Rachael has held positions with the Asheville, Greenville, Charleston, and West Virginia symphonies, and most recently served as Performing and Visual Arts Coordinator at Chautauqua Institution, a nine-week summer festival in Western New York. During her time at Chautauqua Institution, she oversaw all of the institution's arts education and community engagement initiatives, including in-school residencies for students with disabilities made possible through grant funding from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to the standard classical repertoire, Rachael is deeply
committed to exploring musical diversity and the broader scope of the fine arts spectrum. Her work has been lauded for its diverse programming, thought-provoking subject matter and mission of social change through the power of music. Rachael lives in Morganton with her husband, and maintains an active Music Together® teaching schedule and private studio for gifted students.
Mariya Potapova, Lead Violinist
Mariya Potapova, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, grew up in a family of musicians. Mariya began studying violin at age 8 with professor Polonskaya at the Music Academy #16 of St. Petersburg. Upon graduation she began taking lessons with Vladimir Gentselt of St. Petersburg Philharmonic. Potapovamoved to the United States in 1999, where she started studying with world-renown professor Vadim Voyler. In 2006 she had taken the first place in Blue Ridge Concerto Competition and performed with Blue Ridge Civic Orchestra. Currently Mariyaholds two BA degrees from University of North Carolina, Asheville in Psychology and Music. She is a member of Asheville Symphony Orchestra, Greenville Symphony, SC, and also performs with Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Mariya is a faculty member of the Asheville Music School and Academy for the Arts and a member of the Opal String Quartet and Temple Trio, both located in Asheville,NC.
Jorge Ochoa, Lead Violinist
Marie Cole, Cellist
Marie Cole (Cello, Music Mind Games, and Early Childhood Music) has a B.M. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M.M. from the University of Connecticut, both with an emphasis in cello performance. She performs regularly with the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra (TN), Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra (NC), and the Brevard Philharmonic (NC). Mariehas taught cello, Music Mind Games, and early childhood music for over fifteen years in the various regions she has lived in. These places include Asheville, NC, Washington, DC, Rockville and Frederick, MD, Cumberland, PA, and Manchester, CT. During the summer Marie enjoys performing for many different kinds of events (especially weddings) as well as teaching at summer music camps. At the Blue Ridge Suzuki String Camp (VA), she teaches Music Mind Games, cello, chamber music and early childhood music classes. Other summer camp teaching experiences have included being the camp director for Joyful Noise’s Music and Arts’ day camp (NC), teaching Music Mind Games at the Alexandria Suzuki Guitar Institute (VA) as well as teaching cello and Music Mind Games at the Peaks to Plains Suzuki Institute (CO). She currently resides in Rutherford County in North Carolina on a beautiful farm overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. She teaches lessons and classes at her home studio and lessons online. For the past 6 years, she has been the music instructor for Central United Methodist Church’s preschool in downtown Asheville. She also performs around the area at such places like Lake Lure and the Biltmore Estate. Her greatest joys are taking care of her little girl and spending time with her family!
Nora Naughton, Cellist
Michelle Jamesson, Harpist
Mike Holstein, Guitarist & Bassist
Bassist/composer Mike Holstein has been playing music since early childhood. His first instruments were guitar, violin, piano and drums. It wasn’t until he was attending Western Carolina University that he discovered the bass. His affinity for the instrument was immediately apparent. Within a few years he was performing regularly and became one of the most sought after bassists in the Southeast. From the beginning he was writing his own music. He joined the creative young jazz group, the Taken Back Quartet. This ensemble soon became a fixture on the thriving Asheville music scene. They played to a loyal almost cult-like following.
In 2001, the members of the quartet along with Sharon LaMotte formed the Jazz Composers Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to the presentation and documentation of original, instrumental jazz. The Forum became a mainstay of the local music fabric as Mike and the Taken Back Quartet accompanied guest composers in concert presentations. Mike’s involvement grew with the forum whose activities now include workshops, presentations in grade schools and tours of venues throughout the region. He has presented his own music multiple times as leader and in the capacity of ‘Composer-in-Residence’. Since 2004, Mike has been a member of the band Cotangent, a New York based group led by pianist/composer Bill Gerhardt. He has played on two recordings with this band, “Stained Glass” and “Thrive”. He also appears on Tony Moreno’s “Trio Music” (Art of Life Records). He has performed with Joe Locke, Ingrid Jensen, Randy Brecker, Frank Kimbrough, Kendra Shank, Ron Horton, Marc Mommaas and Tim Horner among others. A truly gifted musician, Mike is finding himself more in demand than ever as he performs in jazz clubs in New York, throughout the Carolinas and continues to be a force with the Jazz Composers Forum.