Violin & Viola Faculty
Barbara began Suzuki violin lessons at the age of five at her local elementary school and decided soon after that music would be her life’s passion. A native Texan, Barbara holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University and a Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
As a professional orchestral musician, she performs actively with many Bay Area ensembles and is a member of the Fresno Philharmonic and the Santa Rosa Symphony. Barbara began her pedagogy studies with Mimi Zweig and Brenda Brenner at the Indiana University String Academy. While at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, she also studied the Paul Rolland method, the Orff Approach, and Alexander technique.
Barbara received her registered Suzuki training from David Strom and Ann Montzka Smelser. Barbara fosters a collaborative approach, where the student is involved in the learning process and is able to become self aware and independent in their practicing and performing. Her teaching philosophy is to develop a solid technical foundation through a well-balanced body, with fluid movements to create ease of playing without tension. An avid baker, she enjoys sharing her scones, cakes, and other creations with friends and family.
A native of Poland, Agnieszka Victoria Peszko, is an active recitalist and a devoted teacher residing in the United States. She has appeared as a soloist at renowned venues in her home country, such as the President’s Gallery, the Warsaw Music Society, and the Warsaw Philharmonic. In Europe she has performed in Poland, Finland, Germany, and in the United States she has given concerts in New York, New Jersey, and Colorado. In addition to performing solo repertoire, Ms. Peszko is particularly fond of chamber music. She has been a founding member of The Cali Piano Trio.
Ms. Peszko won several prizes at national and international competitions, including second prize at the Concerto Competition at Montclair State University, second prize at the J. Garscia International Competition, the First International Young Violinist Competition, the First Regional Chamber Music Competition, fourth prize at the G.F. Telemann Competition, and first distinction at the G. Bacewicz Competition.
Ms. Peszko believes that every student has the ability to grow musically and technically and it is teacher’s responsibility to inspire, encourage and provide professional guidance to each student individually. As a teacher, she enjoys working with all her students and she takes great pride in her students’ success. Many of her pupils has participated and received First Class Honors at the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program as well as performed in seasonal concerts and recitals.
In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as camping and rock climbing.
Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Chuan-Li Ko recently graduated from Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX) where he obtained his DMA in Piano Performance. He also holds the Associate, Licentiate and Fellowship (special candidate award) Diplomas in Piano Performance, awarded by the Trinity College of London. He was also a recipient of scholarships and graduate teaching assistantships awarded by several institutions, in which he was appointed to teach Keyboard Skills, Music Theory, and Ear-Training. Chuan-Li picked up the violin during high school and had 4 years of both private and studio violin teaching experience in Malaysia. His violin students all received good grades (strong merit and distinction) in practical exams offered by ABRSM and Trinity College of London.
Chuan-Li has performed extensively as a soloist and vocal and instrumental collaborative pianist at various setting such as recitals and competitions. His most recent collaborations in the past five years include “Around the World in 6 Hands and 88 Keys” at National Taichung Theater (Taiwan), “A Feast of Pianistic Wonders” where he shared the stage with another 3 pianists alongside the KLPAC orchestra, “Connecting the Dots” - a percussion-piano duo recital at DPAC (Malaysia), “Music of the Night” in which he was featured as a soloist presenting Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, “Rach’d” - a joint recital featuring only Rachmaninov’s piano works and art songs at Esplanade Recital Studio (Singapore),
“Mikado" with James Madison University Opera, and Saint-Saëns's Organ Symphony with Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.
In spite of the global pandemic, Chuan-Li has been ardently involved in many projects and music competitions nationally and internationally. His recent achievements and contributions to the field include winning the Best Student Essay for 2021 Global Music Summit and emerging as the 1st runner-up of Charleston Music Festival 2020. Also, he virtually premiered Pump#5 for Percussion and Piano Duo at Music by Women Festival and Hot Air Music Festival respectively, written by Professor Dana Kaufman from University California at Riverside. In addition to that, Chuan-Li was also invited to present several topics in webinars, one of them being the ‘Emotional Expression in Classical Music’ hosted by
Discussion et Rationalité. The presentation revolved around the importance of logicality in music performance. He discussed substantially how critical thinking and planning facilitate the process of emotional expression from the theoretical and performance perspectives, which is one of the aspects he highly values in piano teaching.
Chuan Li is also a member of the Debonair Malaysia, a four-piano ensemble group, as well
as Klaviercussion, a percussion-piano duo ensemble. He founded the duo group
Klaviercussion with the aim of elevating public interest and appreciation for percussion-piano
ensemble literature and modern music. Through this distinctive instrumentation, Chuan-Li
and his collaborative partner seek to present some of the most innovative musical ideas and
elements that contemporary composers intended to deliver in their compositions.
Sarah is a recent graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received both her Master of Music as well as her Bachelor of Music degrees in violin performance, both studying with Joan Kwuon. She has received coachings and masterclasses from many renowned musicians, notably the Cavani Quartet, Peter Salaff, Keith Robinson, the Dover Quartet and the Juilliard Quartet. An avid chamber player as well as orchestral player, she has played with orchestras such as the Erie Philharmonic, Canton Symphony, the Cleveland Opera Theatre, and the inaugural Cuban American Youth Orchestra. In the fall of 2021, she will be participating in the San Francisco Academy Orchestra.
A native of California, Sarah was born and raised in Los Angeles and has been surrounded by musicians her whole life. With both her parents and her brother playing the cello, Sarah has always found passion and love for music and the community built by musicians. She started playing piano at a young age and after a few years transferred to violin which she then grew into her career and passion. Sarah believes that music can be learned and loved by everyone from young children to adults and from all walks of life. Through her teaching, she strives to convey this universal passion in every student while simultaneously providing the appropriate solid foundation that they can take with them into their daily lives.
As a native of Berkeley, Renata took violin and viola lessons from Edmund Weingart and chamber music with Anne Crowden. She loved all-day chamber music on Saturdays and Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra on Sundays and taught piano a couple of years from home. It was highly inspirational, motivating, and exciting to be surrounded by such passionate musicians in the Bay Area that like many of them she wound up also going to NY.
After studying with Rafael Bronstein (a student of Leopold Auer) at Manhattan School of Music receiving a Bachelor's degree, she freelanced while studying and later played on Broadway with jobs/tours in Fl, VA, and CT and did some substitute teaching as well.
Renata then moved to Amsterdam and from there toured the world for 3 years with Heidelberger and Köln chamber orchestras. Later freelanced in orchestras all over Holland. She then moved to Stockholm and played in almost all the Swedish orchestras, while living there also freelanced in Norway then moved to Oslo. In Norway, Renata continued freelancing but mainly began teaching violin and viola again(a little piano too) at Vestby and Hobøl Cultural schools for 21 years and has finally moved back to the Bay Area.
Renata loves motivating her students of all ages, watching them grow both musically and as individuals, bringing out their creativity and expression. She believes that they can apply the same discipline learned playing combined with their passion to other aspects of their lives as well.