PhD – Princeton University
Kevin Amidon cannot remember a time in his life when he did not play the violin. He began in 1974 at age three, and studied with Kathryn Siegel, Eleanor Allen, and Shigetoshi Yamada. He also began viola studies at the age of six. He has performed ever since as a soloist, chamber musician, and symphonic and opera player around the world. Particular performance highlights include the first-ever concert tour in 1983 of the People’s Republic of China by American and Japanese students of the Suzuki Method; participation with the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra in the conducting seminar of the Salzburg Mozarteum music school with Michael Gielen in 1989; a concert tour of Eastern Europe with the Princeton University Orchestra in 1996; and performances with members of the Berlin Philharmonic in Germany and Italy in 2003 and 2004. He currently performs regularly in Iowa with the Des Moines Symphony and as concertmaster of the Central Iowa Symphony, and in Michigan with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra.
Music is nonetheless not his primary vocation. He studied German, history, musicology, art history, and economics in Ann Arbor, Princeton, Freiburg im Breisgau, Frankfurt am Main, and Berlin, and earned his Ph.D. in German Studies at Princeton University in 2001 with a thesis on the German opera economy of the 1920s. He currently holds the position of Associate Professor of German Studies at Iowa State University. He teaches and publishes regularly about history, music, science, and literature in the German-speaking world of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
BA – Luther College
Leah Kolner was born and raised in Ames, Iowa. She earned a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from Luther College in Decorah. She started Suzuki violin lessons at the age of four and also took many other music lessons throughout her early education including piano, oboe and voice. In high school, she was a three-year member of the Iowa All-State program in both the orchestral and vocal divisions. After graduating from Ames High School, she attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where she studied violin with Dr. Virginia Strauss. In January 2003, she studied in Vienna with the Luther College Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Daniel Baldwin.
MM – University of Akron
BM – University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music
Danna Pins received a bachelor of music degree in violin performance from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music and a master of music degree in violin performance from the University of Akron.
She has studied with Allen Ohmes, David Russell, Won Bin Yim, Alan Bodman, and Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio. Danna Pins has had extensive training in Suzuki pedagogy and teaches with the Des Moines Area Suzuki Institute.
Linda Pfund Swanson began her career with the Des Moines Symphony as First Violinist of the Pioneer String Quartet in 1993. As a finalist for the position of Langroise Trio Fellow and Concertmaster, she served as Guest Concertmaster of Boise Philharmonic. Mrs. Swanson also performed in the 40th Anniversary Season of the Brittt Music Festival as Acting Principal Second Violin. In addition to the Des Moines Symphony, Mrs. Swanson was a member of the first violin section of Des Moines Metro Opera from 1993 until 2007. She has performed with the Vredenberg Trio as a faculty member of Graceland University. In addition, she taught violin at Drake University in 2002 and 2005. She has participated in Keystone, Blossom, and Sarasota Music Festivals. Mrs. Swanson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in violin performance from University of Northern Colorado and a Master’s degree in violin performance from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University where she studied with Concertmaster Herbert Greenberg.
Seaeun Lee has a bachelor of music degree in violin performance from Ewha University, Seoul, Korea and a master of art degree in violin performance and education from Iowa State University.
After starting violin lessons at the age of three, Sara Goplin took time away from music after high school. After trying several different careers, she realized what she really loved was music and picked the violin back up. She has played with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Symphony, the Boston Conservatory Symphony, and recorded with a bluegrass/gospel band in Boston. She teaches privately and currently sits as Principal Second violin with the Central Iowa Symphony. She joined the Des Moines Symphony as a sub in 2010, and as a contracted player in 2011.
Julie Fox Henson is the Assistant Concertmaster of the Des Moines Symphony, in addition to performing as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the area. Ms. Henson enjoys a successful teaching studio in the Ames/Des Moines area, and was voted the 2010 Leopold LaFosse Studio Teacher of the Year by the Iowa String Teachers Association. Since the summer of 2001, she has been a member of the Belin String Quartet, which had started as a summer concert series inDes Moines and now also performs concerts and educational programs throughout the year. Ms. Henson performed throughout the U.S. and parts of Europe and South America from 1982 to 1992 as first violinist of the Montclaire String Quartet. The ensemble won first place in the Coleman and Monterey Chamber Music Competitions in California, and a prize at the Evian String Quartet Competition in France.