Executive Director, Violin/Viola
Jessica Altfillisch is an accomplished performer, passionate educator, and active leader in arts education for social change. After twenty years of Suzuki violin and viola teaching, she founded the Harmony School of Music to bring high-quality music education to families with the greatest need. In addition to her work teaching and developing intensive music programs for under-served youth in Cedar Rapids, she maintains an active private lesson studio, teaching violin and viola students ages 4 through adult.
A strong advocate for creative community partnerships, Jessica has led collaboration efforts between Harmony School and other community organizations, including the National Czech/Slovak Museum and Library, Johnson STEAM Academy, The Academy for Academic and Personal Success, and other area music organizations. She is a facilitator for the El Sistema USA Small and Emerging Program Network and was a featured speaker in the National Guild for Community Arts Education Small Schools Network webinar series. She is an avid performer, and has appeared as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia and across the United States. In addition to solo recitals and chamber recitals, she has performed regularly with the Des Moines Symphony, Orchestra Iowa, and Waterloo/Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestras, as well as appearing with many other regional performing organizations.
Teaching Artist, Violin
Andrew Gentzsch, a native of Iowa City, is the violin instructor at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa and Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Mr. Gentzsch has led the University of Delaware Chamber Orchestra and the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra. Previously, Mr. Gentzsch received music degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying with David Perry and the University of Delaware studying with Xiang Gao. While at the University of Delaware, Mr. Gentzsch performed the Bach Concerto for Two Violins with Professor Gao, both performing on violins from the Boorse Collection of Contemporary Violins. Mr. Gentzsch enjoys performing new music, usually premiering multiple pieces a year. Currently, Mr. Gentzsch is pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Iowa studying with Scott Conklin. Mr. Gentzsch, a founding member of Concerts in the Shed, actively performs multiple solo recitals a year as well as chamber concerts.
Teaching Artist, Cello
A passionate and accomplished young musician and performer, cellist Julie Sonne has toured worldwide and performed as soloist with the Buffalo Suzuki Strings Advanced Performance Ensemble. She held the position of principle cellist with the University of Florida Orchestra for two years and has played with the Amherst Symphony Orchestra.
At the age of 3, Julie began her Suzuki cello training. She has since studied with Arie Lipsky, former principle cellist of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Julia Lichten of Purchase Conservatory and the Manhattan School of Music, Dr. Steven Thomas at the University of Florida, Alan Harris of Eastman School of Music, and Yehuda Hanani of the Mannes School of Music.
In the spring of 2016 Julie graduated from Purchase College Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance. In May of 2018 she graduated with a Master of Music in Cello Performance from the University of Florida, studying with Dr. Steven Thomas. Julie is a dedicated Suzuki cello teacher who sees the potential of children and the prospect of what they can accomplish. Julie is Suzuki certified books 1-7 an has trained with Sally Gross, Annette Constanzi, and Pamela Davenport.
Teaching Artist, Cello
Kelly Vieth received her bachelor degree in Instrumental Music Education from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. After graduating in 2004, she began her career in education as the assistant orchestra director at Bettendorf Middle School. During the summer of 2005, Kelly served on the string faculty and the counseling staff at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan. Kelly joined the orchestra staff at Linn-Mar Community Schools in 2005 and is in her fourteenth year of teaching strings. She currently teaches 5th Grade Orchestra at Bowman Woods, Indian Creek, Linn Grove, Novak, and Wilkins Elementary Schools.
In past years, she has enjoyed performing with community ensembles such as the Iowa City Chamber Orchestra and the Coe College Symphony. Kelly has been a member of the American String Teacher Association (ASTA), the Iowa String Teacher Association (ISTA), and the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA). During the summer of 2014, she completed her Master’s Degree at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago and recently completed the first level of training for Suzuki Cello Book 1.
In her spare time, Kelly enjoys spending time with her children, Ellie and Gregory. Other hobbies include cooking, gardening, and playing cello with other ensembles within the community.
Teaching Artist, Double Bass
Dr. Patricia Weitzel enjoys an active career as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral performer, and teaching clinician, and has appeared in these roles throughout the United States and internationally. At Augustana College and St. Ambrose University, Dr. Weitzel oversees the instruction of applied double bass, chamber music, in addition to String Methods classes. She is also a member of the Des Moines and Quad City Symphonies.
In addition to being a performing artist and educator, Dr. Weitzel continually receives recognition for her leadership and advocacy of diversity, excellency and inclusion in the Arts. Recent engagements include involvement with the Sphinx Organization, Gateways Music Festival, and the League of American Orchestras. As a member of the 2019 Global Leaders Program Cohort, she is researching the development of initiatives that offer opportunities of music education to underserved youth in the state of Iowa.
Dr. Patricia Weitzel is the Membership Chair of the International Society of Bassists, an organization with approximately 2300 members in over 40 countries whose goal is to connect those who teach, study, play, repair, build and enjoy the double bass. She is excited to be a part of the double bass program at Harmony School is looking forward to share some bass love with the community.