Mission Statement


Strings Woodwinds

Brass and Percussion

• Concertmaster: Brynn Albanese
• Principal Second Violin: Pamela Sheffler
• Principal Viola: Karen Loewi Jones
• Principal Cello: Jeanne Shumway
• Principal Bass: Clifton Swanson
• Principal Flute:  Suzanne Duffy
• Principal Oboe:  Jessica Hoffman
• Principal Clarinet:  Caroline Tobin
• Principal Bassoon:  Lisa Nauful
• Principal Horn:  Steve Gross
• Principal Trumpet:  Rich Ward
• Principal Trombone:  David Landers
• Percussion:  Marshall Granger
• Horn: Jane Swanson
Bass Keyboard  
Ken Hustad Katya Gotsdiner-McMahan  
Symphony of the Vines - Principal Strings
James Riccardo

Brynn Albanese ~ Concertmaster

Brynn Albanese made her solo debut at the age of 10 with the Carson Symphony Orchestra in Los Angeles, California. Growing up in Los Angeles within a family of professional musicians, she was exposed to music from infancy. Her mother is a cellist, father a clarinetist and her grandfather a Concert pianist. She studied from the age of 4 until 17 with Elizabeth Ivanoff Holborn. During this period Ms. Albanese was the recipient of many first place awards. Some of them include the 6-year consecutive winner of the California Bach Festival, VOCE regional and state competitions and the Etude competition. She has served as Concertmaster of the California State Honors Orchestra and Principal Second of the National Honors Orchestra under James DuPriest. She spent her teenage years and early twenties performing and studying at summer festivals such as Interlochen National Music Camp, Ivan Galamians’ Meadowmount School, Blossom Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival and various European Schools as well.

Pamela Sheffler

Pamela Sheffler ~ Principal Second Violin

Pamela Sheffler was born and raised in San Luis Obispo County. She began studying the violin at the age of 8 with Sharon Holland of Atascadero. At age 12, Pamela joined the SLO Youth Symphony and performed with them for 6 years. During her two years as concertmaster of the SLO Youth Symphony, Pamela was fortunate enough to be a soloist under the baton of Kent Nagano, performing the Bach Double Concerto for two violins. In January of 2009, Pamela won the Youth Symphony Concerto Competition and performed the 1st mvt. of the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto #3.

Karen Jones

Karen Jones ~ Principal Viola

Karen began studying violin at the age of 10 and received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory, where she studied with violinist Andor Toth. Ten years later, she made the switch to viola, and studied with James Dunham of the Cleveland Quartet at Cal State Long Beach, where she received her Master’s degree. Karen was a violist with the Long Beach Symphony for 20 years and also played with the Los Angeles Opera and Los Angeles Master Chorale. She also freelanced in the Los Angeles area. During her tenure as a violinist in Reno, NV, she had the opportunity to play with performers such as Cher, Sammy Davis Jr., Ben Vereen and Loretta Lynn. Karen now lives with her husband and yellow lab, Bravo, in Atascadero. She is a violist with the San Luis Obispo Symphony.

Jeanne Shumway

Jeanne Shumway ~ Principal Cello

Growing up in a musical family in which both parents and sister played the violin, Jeanne Shumway began musical studies on the violin at age three with her parents, but discovered the cello along the way, and eventually the cello won her allegiance at the age of 10. She has studied performance and chamber music with many notable musicians such as Alice and Eleanor Schoenfeld, Joseph and Lillian Fuchs, David Wells, Joel Krosnick, Raphael Bronstein and Artur Balsam. Jeanne is Principal Cellist for Opera of Santa Barbara and was Assistant Principal with Santa Barbara Symphony for many years.

Karen Jones

Amber Burdick ~ Harp

Amber Burdick has the beautiful ability to make the harp sing and is known for her grace and musicality.  Performing harp professionally for nearly two decades, Burdick has charmed audiences in both the national and international scenes. She often appears as a soloist, and notably performed Claude Debussy’s Dances sacreé et profane at the Haugh Performing Arts Center.  Burdick was honored to work with maestros Arthur Rubinstein, Jorge Mester and Eduard Topchjan. At Azusa Pacific University (APU), Burdick was the principal harpist for the Symphony Orchestra, as well as principal harpist for all five performing groups at the school.  

An accomplished harpist, Burdick holds both a Bachelor (summa cum laude) and a Master of Music in Harp Performance (APU), as well as an Artist Certificate. Honors include: Valerie Finzi Scholarship Winner, Senior Performance Major of the Year, Alpha Chi Honors, and Concerto Competition winner.

Katya Gotsdiner-McMahan

Katya Gotsdiner-McMahan, harpsichord

Katya Gotsdiner-McMahan, born in Russia, holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in organ and musicology from the Moscow Conservatory, including Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance, and a Master of Music degree in church music with organ emphasis from the University of Kansas.

Symphony of the Vines Principal Woodwinds
Suzanne Duffy

Suzanne Duffy ~ Principal Flute

Suzanne is new to the San Luis Obispo County area, having served as guest Principal Flute for Opera San Luis Obispo’s Nutcracker performances in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara in December 2012. Currently Second Flute/Piccolo for the Opera Santa Barbara orchestra, she has also performed with Palm Beach Opera, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra and Symphony, Florida West Coast Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Florida Philharmonic and Indianapolis Symphony. She was also a four-season member of the Miami-based New World Symphony, Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas. Ms. Duffy has participated in a variety of festivals, including the Music Academy of the West, the Festival-Institute at Round Top, the Conservatoire-Americaine at Fontainbleau and the Bach Aria Institute.

Jessica Hoffman

Carol Houchens ~ Flute

Carol Houchens grew up on the central coast of California, playing in the Santa Maria Symphony and Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts while in high school. She moved south to attend the University of California at Riverside, where she completed a BA in Music. After starting a career in computer programming, she decided to continue her music education at USC, where she earned a Master of Music degree in Flute Performance. Her primary teachers and coaches included Roger Stevens, Camille Churchfield, Mitchell Lurie, and Daniel Lewis.

Jessica Hoffman

Jessica Hoffman ~ Principal Oboe

Oboist Jessica Hoffman recently relocated to the Central Coast, having moved to the region in 2010 as a mechanical engineer for Atlas Copco Mafi-Trench. Barbara Northcutt and David Weiss served as her primary teachers; she has also participated in master classes with Carolyn Hove and concertized with world-class musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma, Emmanuel Axe and Zubin Mehta. Jessica has also played with numerous groups in the Los Angeles area: Los Angeles Music Center Opera, American Youth Symphony, Long Beach Ballet and Los Angeles Symphony to name but a few. The Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and Santa Barbara’s Grenada Theatre stand as a few of the prestigious venues in which she has performed.

Jessica Hoffman

Caroline Tobin ~ Principal Clarinet

Caroline Tobin began studying the clarinet at age 13 her freshman year in high school.  Not satisfied with learning one instrument, the violin soon followed the next year and it was the violin that became her instrument throughout her undergraduate years at UCLA. A decade later she returned to the clarinet as a Master’s student at CSUN studying with Dominick Fera and Jim Kanter.  Following her Master’s degree she pursued further study with Mitchell Lurie and Leon Russianoff, both of whom greatly influenced not only her playing, but her teaching as well.

Lisa Nauful

Lisa Nauful ~ Principal Bassoon

Lisa Nauful was a member of the Dallas Ballet and Opera Orchestras for several seasons before moving to California. Accepted at both The Eastman School of Music and The Juilliard School, Lisa chose to study with David Van Hoesen at Eastman. She received a Bachelor of Music from there and a Master of Music from Southern Methodist University.  She continued with postgraduate study in Vienna, Austria.  Lisa has also studied with Bernard Garfield, Wilfred Roberts, and Karl Ohlberger and has performed with the American Symphony Orchestra, Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, the New York Pops and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Clifton Swanson

Clifton Swanson ~ Principal Bass

A resident of San Luis Obispo since 1967, with music degrees from Pomona College and the University of Texas,  Clifton Swanson recently retired from Cal Poly after 40 years of teaching in the music department where he served as department chair for 19 years.  He is a recipient of the university’s President’s Award for Contributions to the Arts of San Luis Obispo.  He conducted the San Luis Obispo Symphony between 1971 and 1983 and was the music director of the Mozart Festival which he conducted between 1971 and 2005.

Ken Hustad

Ken Hustad

Bassist Ken Hustad of Morro Bay is co-principal bassist with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, in addition to playing with the Festival Mozaic Orchestra, Cuesta Master Chorale, Pacific Reparatory Opera, San Luis Obispo Vocal Arts Ensemble, Cal Poly Baroque Orchestra, and the Tolosa Strings quintet. He is a string coach for the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony and an applied music instructor at Cuesta College and Cal Poly. Also an active jazz and blues musician, Ken plays with the Cuesta College Faculty Jazz Ensemble, the Royal Garden Swing Orchestra, San Luis Jazz Band, BarFlyz and Mystery Trees blues bands, and the Central Coast Jazz Quartet.

Brass and Percussion
Christopher Woodruff

Christopher Woodruff ~ Trumpet

A graduate of Louisiana State University and Northwestern University, Christopher Woodruff joined the faculty at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo as Associate Director of Bands in the fall of 2006. In addition to his responsibilities with the concert and athletic bands, he teaches courses in music theory and music appreciation. As Instructor of Trumpet he also coaches the Cal Poly Brass Choir and teaches courses in brass pedagogy. He has studied trumpet with James West, Timothy Morrison, and Jose Sibaja and taken seminars in brass ensemble performance with the Empire Brass Quintet and at Humboldt State University.

Jennifer Dodson

Jennifer Dodson ~ Horn

MM with horn performance emphasis, University of Boulder-Colorado. Majored in music education and music performance at California State University Fresno. Studied horn with David Pinkow, Michael Thornton, Thomas Hiebert, James Winter, Vince De Rosa, David Wakefield, and Andrew Hardin. Active as a performer with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Santa Maria Philharmonic, Central City Opera, Pacific Repertory Opera, Summerwinds, Burnished Brass, PCPA and Cuesta Master Chorale. Dodson has performed with numerous other groups including the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Opera, Boulder Philharmonic and Fresno Philharmonic.

David Landers

David Landers ~ Principal Trombone

David Landers first visited the Central Coast as part of a Nashville-based touring show performing at the Cohan Center in 1998. The area made such an impression on him that he moved here in 2002. David starting playing the trombone at age 11 in Nashville. He received his BM in Music Education from Middle Tennessee State University in 1993 and is pursuing his MM in Conducting at Southern Oregon University. He has performed with The Temptations, Larry Gatlin, Lee Greenwood, Red Buttons, Patrick Sheridan, Allen Vizzutti and others.

Steven Gross

Steven Gross ~ Principal Horn

Steven Gross is Professor of Horn and Director of the Wind, Brass, and Percussion Program at the University of California–Santa Barbara. Dr. Gross is also a former member of the Atlanta Symphony, National Symphony, Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. His international solo appearances include the Orchester der Stadt Vöcklabruck in Austria, Moscow Conservatory, L'Abri International Arts Festival in Switzerland, Nairobi Symphony in Kenya, NTUA Wind Ensemble in Taiwan, and the Camerata Filarmonia Bohemia of Prague. His Carnegie Hall debut was described by the New York Concert Review as, "offering some of the cleanest articulation and purest musicality.”

Jane Swanson

Jane Swanson

Jane Swanson studied French horn with Ralph Pyle, Fred Fox, Wendell Hoss, Sinclair Lott and James Decker in Southern California, and with Phillip Yaeger in Austin, Texas. She also received extensive coaching in chamber music from Mitchell Lurie, both at the Music Academy of the West and at UCLA. She attended Pomona College and the University of Texas in Austin, completing a degree in music performance from UCLA. She was a winner of the Coleman Chamber Music Competition in 1966. A resident of San Luis Obispo since 1967, Jane has long been active as a performer with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Cuesta Master Chorale, and Opera San Luis Obispo. From 1971 to 2010 she performed with the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival. Since 2005, she has been Brass Coach and Assistant to the Orchestra Conductor with the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony. Jane also teaches private lessons on French horn.

Marshall Granger

Marshall Granger ~ Percussion

Marshall Granger received his percussion instruction from San Francisco Bay area percussionist Martha Spore. He served as Principal Percussionist with the Berkeley Opera and has played with the North Bay Opera, San Francisco Concerto Orchestra, Pacific Coast Chamber Orchestra, Marin Music Festival Orchestra, Tahoe Music Festival Orchestra and the North Tahoe Symphony. He has performed locally with the Coastal Valley Symphony, Cuesta Master Chorale and Opera San Luis Obispo.

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