Graduate and Undergraduate Students from
Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University
led by Assistant Professor Nicole Vilkner
Nicole is an Assistant Professor of Music who studies the ways that architecture and the built environment affect music-making, particularly focusing on urban changes in 18th- and 19th-century Paris. Her recent research has been published in the Journal of Musicology, Cambridge Opera Journal, and Journal of the Royal Musical Association. Her research received awards from the American Musicology Society, the Society for American Music, as well as the Nineteenth Century Studies Association. She is a soprano who appeared regularly with the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York, premiered works for the American Composers Association, and performed chamber music in the US and Europe. In 2021, Nicole led a group of students to create the first Duquesne SoundWalk comprising 15 exhibits installed around campus.
Katherine Araya Riffo
Katherine is originally from Chile. She started to play the violin when she was nine years old. In 2016, she got her bachelor’s degree in music performance in violin from the Universidad de Chile. After that, she attended many music festivals in Chile and Brazil. In 2019, she moved to the United States to study for her artist’s diploma at Duquesne. Currently, she is continuing her violin study in the master's program in music performance. She plays in Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra and Butler County Symphony Orchestra . In her free time, Katherine likes building with Legos, reading books, and swimming.
Lizzie is a junior majoring in music technology with a focus on sound recording and a performance concentration on classical guitar. She began playing guitar at a young age, eventually joining the North Hills Guitar Ensemble in high school. She graduated from Community College of Allegheny County in 2021, earning her associate degree in music technology, and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She is currently a member of the Duquesne Classical Guitar Ensemble and The National Society of Leadership and Success. In the future, Lizzie hopes to pursue a career as an audio engineer and work in a recording studio.
Danielle started her violin studies at the age of eleven at one of the most prestigious conservatories in Latin America, Conservatório Dramático e Musical de Tatuí. In 2020, she earned her bachelor’s degree in violin performance from São Paulo University. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in violin performance at Duquesne in the studio of Charles Stegeman. Throughout her career, she has participated in festivals and masterclasses where she worked with renowned teachers, including Rachel Stegeman, Emanuelle Baldini, Elisa Fukuda, Cláudio Micheletti, and Elisabeth Chang. Danielle is the first violin of the Westmoreland Symphony orchestra and she has been invited to play in different orchestras in the USA, such as the Canton Symphony, Youngstown Symphony, Wheeling Symphony, and Washington Symphony.
Johann Díaz Ramirez
Johann is a graduate student studying for a master's degree in music performance in the viola studio of Pittsburgh Symphony player Marylene Gingras-Roy. He has extensive experience playing the viola and violin, as well as teaching in Venezuela, Peru, and Chile. He has held the position of Principal Viola in orchestras such as The Francisco de Miranda Symphony Orchestra, Vicente Emilio Sojo Symphony Orchestra, Municipal Symphony Orchestra of Caracas, and Carlos Raul Villanueva University Symphony Orchestra, and has participated in international orchestral festivals like Campos do Jordao in Brazil. Johann also has extensive experience performing chamber music on tours in countries including Japan, Singapore, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Denmark, Latvia, Russia, Finland, Estonia, Sweden and Norway. Johann began his musical journey in his hometown of Guarenas, then the Mozarteum of Caracas and the Simón Bolívar Music Conservatory, taking lessons with Santiago Garmendia, Luis Borges and Albín Álvarez Adriana Virgüez.
Steve is a performer and educator native to the Pittsburgh area, set to complete his undergraduate degree in violin performance under the tutelage of Rachel Stegeman. He has freelanced throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, having been contracted by several regional orchestras. Steve has also won an audition to play first violin with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra in the 2022-2023 season. He is also an enthusiastic teacher, with a growing studio of violinists and violists of all different age levels and experience.
Carson is a Pittsburgh resident and a Junior at Duquesne University earning his Bachelor of Arts in Music with a minor in Creative Writing. Carson plays the guitar and has also been studying Jazz Guitar repertoire during his time at Duquesne. He is a member of the Jazz Guitar Ensemble and Sigma Nu Fraternity at Duquesne. In his free time he enjoys hiking, sports, writing and listening to new music.
Michelle is currently a senior at Duquesne University studying violin performance with a minor in philosophy. As a native of Butler, Michelle has spent her life in and around the Pittsburgh area. Her musical interests include everything from traditional Baroque music to Broadway hits. When she is not practicing or performing with various orchestras in the Pittsburgh region, you will most likely find her enjoying everything the Pittsburgh arts scene has to offer. After her time at Duquesne, Michelle intends on pursuing a master’s degree in violin performance and achieving her lifelong dream of playing on Broadway as a pit musician.
A Pennsylvania native, Jake is originally from Bethel Park in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. Jake is currently in the final year of his graduate studies, pursuing a Master of Music in performance with a jazz emphasis. Prior to his graduate work, Jake received his Bachelor of Science in music education in the spring of 2021 from Duquesne University. Jake’s primary instrument is the tenor saxophone; however, he is also proficient on both the clarinet and flute. He has performed with notable musicians such as Wycliffe Gordon, Jeff Watts, Jeff Bush, Hugo Cruz, and Mike Tomaro. Being a jazz musician, Jake uses improvisation as an outlet for creativity and creative expression. Outside of music, Jake is one of the most avid Pittsburgh sports fans you will find—Go Steelers!
Abril is a Venezuelan-born violinist in the Master of Music program. She began her musical journey in “El Sistema”, where she gained extensive experience in orchestral performance, teaching, and chamber music. She has participated in several international festivals and seminars, including the San Diego Youth Orchestra International Festival, International Winter Festival Campus do Jordao, and she toured several countries with the Caracas Municipal Symphony Orchestra on the “Peace Boat,” a Japan-based international NGO Ship. She is currently a section violin in Canton Symphony Orchestra, Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, and collaborates as a violin substitute in other orchestras around the area. After finishing her studies at Duquesne, Abril aspires to join a professional orchestra, to form a string quartet, and to do a Doctor of Musical Arts degree.
Soojin is originally from South Korea and moved to the U.S. in 2016 to pursue her undergraduate degree at the Berklee College of Music, majoring in drum set performance. In 2021, she entered the graduate program in music at Duquesne, with an emphasis in jazz. Soojin is now in her last semester of the program. Not only spending a lot of time performing in school, she is also playing at unique venues, such as Con Alma and Liberty Magic, with her mentors and up-and-coming, young jazz musicians. When she is not playing the drums, Soojin likes to walk, bake cookies, and watch live shows.
Julia is originally from Pittsburgh and is a graduate student studying violin performance. She began her studies on the violin in 1997. Julia performs regularly with the West Virginia Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, Canton Symphony, Wheeling Symphony, Youngstown Symphony, and Westmoreland Symphony orchestras. Julia has appeared with artists such as Michael Bublé, Andrea Bocelli, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Il Volo. In her undergraduate studies, Julia had a strong focus on painting and had the opportunity to showcase her work in a gallery showing at Tula Organic Salon in Squirrel Hill. Julia is excited to combine her experience with musical and visual arts for this collaboration with the Frick museum.
Christian is currently an undergraduate majoring in music composition for media. Christian developed his love for music when he misused his brother’s guitar pedals to make the worst sounds imaginable. He is passionate about exploring sound, ranging from his interest in film and television sound design to his current internship as a live music engineer. Learning about sound in an academic context is the natural continuation of his work. Christian dedicates his free time to building papier-mâché mouses for his friends and to working tirelessly in his experimental pop music and art outlet, Hotdog Water.
Henry is a 20-year-old artist from Pittsburgh. He’s a junior at Duquesne, studying recording technology. He began composing music on iMovie at the age of eight and showcased this music at Art All Night. In his first foray into documentary film composition, Henry won a 2021 Regional Emmy in the category of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion – Long Form Content for the film "Olympic Oak: The Story of John Woodruff.” Henry’s primary instrument is the piano, which he plays in his jazz fusion band, Fusion Illusion, as well as other local bands. He also makes solo music in the alternative genre.
Yu-Chen was born in Taiwan. He started to play the cello when he was seven years old. His first teacher was Zong-Hui Chen at Hou De primary school. After he graduated, he continued to New Taipei Municipal Chong Qing Junior High School to study cello with Ya-Ru Lian until starting at Taipei Municipal Fuxing Senior High School. In 2014, he immigrated to the United States and started at Gateway High School. During this period, he studied with Mr. Mikhail Istomin and Mr. Adam Liu (Assistant Principal Cello) from Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Yu-Chen completed his undergraduate degree in music performance at Duquesne University and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in music performance. He is a member of the Believe String Quartet and is on the substitute list for the Akron Symphony, Altoona Symphony, Washington Symphony, and Johnstown Symphony. After graduation, Yu-Chen is planning to pursue a career in a professional orchestra or to continue his studies in a doctoral program for music performance.
Originally from Canonsburg, PA, Dominique is a senior in the Bachelor of Arts program in music. A soprano vocalist, Dominique is a member of Voices of Spirit, Duquesne University’s touring choral ensemble, and is a member of the Duquesne University Opera Workshop, where she has performed in scenes from Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She is currently preparing to perform in scenes from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Massenet’s Manon. Dominique is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, Pennsylvania Music Educators Association and National Association for Music Education. She is a Choral Scholar at Saint Paul’s Episcopal and is a Teaching Artist with Pittsburgh Festival Opera. After graduation, Dominique will be teaching early music education.
A native of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, Jared performs on saxophone as a classical soloist, chamber musician, and ensemble player, and on piano as a collaborative pianist and chamber musician. Jared is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in classical saxophone performance at Duquesne where he is principal saxophonist with the Wind Symphony Orchestra. While at Duquesne, Jared won the Women’s Advisory Board Competition as well as the Duquesne Concerto Competition. He is also assistant to the director and a staff pianist for the Bologna International Opera Academy. Next year, he will begin a Master of Music in saxophone performance at the Royal Northern College of Music in England. In his spare time, Jared enjoys baking bread and reading the novels of Jane Austen.
Originally from Wenzhou, China, Yishi is in the master’s program studying piano performance in the studio of David Allen Wehr. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in 2022 studying under Kenneth Burky. Yishi is a member of the Pappert Chorale, directed by Caron Daley. She has experience in piano pedagogy, collaborative piano, and conducting. After graduation, Yishi hopes to return to China and open her own music studio.