TEAM OF EDUCATORS
Director of Toccata Orchestra
Director of Early Strings Training Program (ESTP)
Violinist and violist Sara Bashore received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Violin Performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017 and 2019, respectively. While at UCSB, she studied under the tutelage of Yuval Yaron, Ambroise Aubrun, Ertan Torgul, and violist Jonathan Moerschel. As a graduate student, she was selected to receive the prestigious Young Artist String Quartet fellowship. Sara served as the concertmistress of both the UCSB Chamber Orchestra and the UCSB Pops Orchestra, and is now a first violinist in the Santa Maria Philharmonic and Orchestra Novo, as well as principal violist of the SB Folk Orchestra. She is an advocate for contemporary classical music, and has recently premiered several new works, ranging from solo pieces to orchestral compositions.
Sara has performed in the Gold Coast Chamber Music Festival, the Young Musician Foundation’s Debut Orchestra, the Colburn School's Orchestra da Camera under the baton of Maxim Eshkenazy, and at Luzerne Music Festival in New York. She has performed in solo and chamber master classes with the Juilliard Quartet, Danish String Quartet, Calidore Quartet, Felice Quartet, Leonidas Kavakos, Martin Beaver, Jennifer Koh, Aimee Kreston, Joyce Osborne, Danielle Belen, and Tereza Stanislav. The fiercely competitive Sara has participated in several local and international competitions as well. Her piano trio, formed at the Ed and Mari Edelmen Chamber Music Institute at Colburn, was a grand prize winner in two competitions. In 2018, she was selected to be an international guest artist at the KotorArt Music Festival in Kotor, Montenegro, where her performances were met with high acclaim.
In the summer months, Sara teaches at the world renowned Interlochen Summer Arts Camp. Her private studio welcomes violin, viola, and chamber students of all ages. When she is not playing violin, Sara enjoys mathematics, art, and being outdoors.
Violinist Isaac Kay is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, Westmont College, and the Cleveland Institute of Music Preparatory College. Indebted to his instructors for their commitment and care in his musical training, Mr. Kay was fortunate to study under Rebecca Ensworth, Eugenia Poustyreva, Yue Deng, Thierry Stoeckel, Dr. Han Soo Kim, Linda Wang, Ian Swensen, Alexander Barantschik, David Halen, and Bing Wang.
Recently completing a project with Lincoln Center and Holland America Line, Mr. Kay has traveled to over 20 countries and performed over 300 concerts in 5 months onboard the MS Rotterdam bringing quality classical music to the open seas. In addition, he has performed throughout Italy, the Czech Republic, Austria, and extensively in the U.S.A., in renowned halls such as the Mozarteum (Salzburg), Dvorak Hall (Prague) Harvard University, Severance Hall, Mechanics Hall, among others.
In 2019, Mr. Kay was selected as one of nine students to receive the Center for Orchestral Leadership Training Fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival and School. He has served in principal positions in the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Aspen Opera Center Orchestra, and the Aspen Chamber Symphony. In addition, Mr. Kay has attended the Credo Chamber Music Festival at Oberlin College, the Brevard Music Festival, and the Stringendo School for Strings.
Violinist Nicole McKenzie has performed widely as soloist and chamber musician. The Santa Barbara Independent declared, "McKenzie made a splash... she performed with gorgeous musicality.
Winner of the Sutton Chamber Music Award, she graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy, earned a BM Degree from Oberlin Conservatory, an MM Degree from Florida State University, and studied with Gary Kosloski at the Music Academy of the West.
Ms. McKenzie is Concertmaster of the Santa Barbara Folk Orchestra, teaches music for dancers at UCSB, directs and teaches for Sandcastle Music Together, coaches chamber music at Santa Barbara Strings, is a member of the duo, Continental Cafe, directs and teaches at Allegro Violin Camp, was a founding member of the Nicole McKenzie Improv Group (an improvising group of dancers and musicians), was a founding member of the Klezmer/Jazz group, Kalinka, regularly concertizes with renown pianist, Betty Oberacker, and maintains a private violin and viola studio. She performs on a violin created for her by Michel Eggimann of Rome, Italy.
Pianist Robert Cassidy has received critical acclaim for his performances and recordings of both solo piano repertoire and chamber music. He received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Solomon Mikowsky, Constance Keene, and Marc Silverman. Subsequent studies followed with the legendary pianist Menahem Pressler at Indiana University. Dr. Cassidy holds a Doctor of Arts degree in Piano Chamber Music and Accompanying/ Piano Performance from Ball State University, where he studied with Robert Palmer.
Dr. Cassidy often appears as a soloist and chamber musician. He has also been presented on radio stations WFMT in Chicago (Dame Myra Hess Series), WRUW, WCLV and WCPN in Cleveland, WKSU in Kent, Ohio, and WNYC in New York (Around New York). Dr. Cassidy has premiered solo piano works by the American composers David Noon and Keith Fitch. He is the pianist in the Cleveland-based, Almeda Trio (www.almedatrio.com) and regularly performs chamber music with members of The Cleveland Orchestra.
A extremely active and highly sought-after teacher and chamber music coach, Dr. Cassidy is in demand for master classes, workshops and lectures, private teaching, and adjudication. He maintains a private studio at The Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA.
Other Faculty Members
Junia Work, violinist, Westmont College Music graduate
Sean Riddle, double bass, professional musician, bass teacher
GUEST Faculty Members
Alita Rhodes, cellist, strings teacher, retired from Santa Barbara Symphony
Gerrie Fausett, cellist, public school administrator/ consultant
Logan Hodgson, cellist, Westmont Music graduate
Carson Rick, violist, professional musician
Moon Man Whitehead, violist, Westmont Music student, also plays bagpipes and bells.
Miller Wrenn, double bass, professional musician, bass teacher