MUSICIANS

The White Spruce Chamber Players aim to provide the region with approachable, high-quality chamber music, explore underperformed repertoire, collaborate with other local artists through combined projects, and provide outreach to local schools by showcasing the musical qualities of each instrument.

 

Named after the State Tree of South Dakota, the White Spruce Chamber Players came together out of cellist Laura Cooper’s master’s degree recital, which required a chamber music piece on the program. Rehearsals of a few movements of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet were so rewarding and the fellowship following rehearsals was so enjoyable that the five musicians involved enthusiastically agreed to continue their music-making as an ongoing collaboration.

 

Future programs plan to include chamber music in a variety of combinations and styles in order to showcase each instrument as a valuable part of the ensemble.  The White Spruce Chamber Players are fiscally sponsored by the Sioux Falls Arts Council.

JENNY ATKINSON, VIOLIN

Jenny Atkinson began her violin studies at the age of 3 just outside of Vancouver, Canada.  As a teenager, Ms. Atkinson twice won the Western Board of Music's Silver Medal for the highest exam marks in all of western Canada.  Following that, she earned her Bachelor of Music in violin performance from the University of British Columbia and her Master of Music in violin performance and literature from the University of Western Ontario.  A highlight of her education was spending two summers at the prestigious Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada attending both their Masterclass and Festival Orchestra programs.

Prior to moving to Sioux Falls, SD, Ms. Atkinson was a member of the Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra, Consonance Piano Quintet, Clarion Piano Trio, and freelanced with orchestras throughout British Columbia and Ontario.

When she doesn't have a bow in her hand, you'll find her at home with her musician husband, rambunctious son, and two senior dogs.

CHRISTINE EGAN, VIOLIN

Christine Egan is a violinist in the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra. She began her tenure with the SDSO in 1998. Egan teaches private violin and viola lessons at the Case School of Music.  She taught instrumental music at Sioux Falls Christian Schools for 8 years before deciding to stay at home during the day to take care of her children. 

Christine studied violin performance with Dr. Walter May, Dr. Doosook Kim (concertmaster of the South Dakota Symphony), and Magdalena Modzelewska (principal second violin of the South Dakota Symphony). 

Christine graduated magna cum laude from Augustana College in Sioux Falls with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Instrumental Music Education in 2003.

Over the years, several of Christine’s private students have been selected to perform in the South Dakota All-State Orchestra.

During her years in the South Dakota Symphony, Christine has performed with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Branford Marsalis, Emmanuel Ax, Joseph Alessi, Dionne Warwick, and many others. She has performed at the Premier Center with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. Christine has appeared in televised performaces with Glen Campbell, the South Dakota Symphony, and the widely popular Christmas at the Cathedral. She has also performed with the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra.

Christine is regularly contracted to perform for weddings, funerals, and special events at various churches. She is also an active member of her church worship team as a singer and violinist.

Christine is married to Ryan and they have three children.

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MARJORIE GARRY, VIOLIN

Marjorie received her B.M. from University of Iowa and M.M. from University of South Dakota.  She has performed with the South Dakota Symphony and community orchestras in the area for over 20 years. She regularly performs with several chamber groups, but has to admit that White Spruce Chamber Players is her favorite because of their musicianship, enthusiasm and the excellent food at the end of each rehearsal!

 

Marjorie’s passion for teaching has led her to teach elementary orchestra in the Sioux Falls Public Schools for 23 years.   Her goal is to provide each student with quality orchestra education so they have a solid start with good technique on a string instrument.

 

Marjorie lives in Sioux Falls with her husband and three teenagers.  In her free time she enjoys crocheting potholders and coloring.

BETH NEITZERT, VIOLIN

Neitzert is the director of elementary and middle school orchestras in Huron, SD, where she conducts 5th- 8th grade orchestras, the Huron Middle School Honors Orchestra, and private string lessons. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Huron University and a Master of Music in Music Education from Boston University. She is currently in the Doctorate of Musical Arts in Music Education program at Boston University.

Before coming to Huron, Neitzert taught 6-8 orchestra with the Aberdeen School District, 5-12 band and vocal with Wolsey/Wessington Schools, and taught private violin and piano lessons at her privately owned Noteworthy Music Studio in Huron, S.D. Neitzert is a member of ASTA, SDSTA, NAfME, and SDMEA. She is an active clinician and adjudicator, and performs regularly as concertmaster of the LyricWood Orchestra at Dakota Wesleyan University.

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ELIZABETH SOLADAY, VIOLA

Elizabeth Soladay was born and raised in South Dakota, and she received her B.A. and M.Ed. degrees in music from South Dakota State University.  She has also studied in Los Angeles with Myra Kestenbaum, Lawrence Sonderling, and Joel Lish, and with Giovanni Lucchi in Cremona, Italy.  During her years in Los Angeles, Ms. Soladay worked as a freelance violist in various orchestras and recording studios, and her string ensemble was, for a number of years, the “house band” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Ms. Soladay has enjoyed a long association with the family of Arnold Schoenberg, having worked as the Belmont Music Publishers manager for a decade in the late 1990’s.

 

Ms. Soladay is currently adjunct professor of keyboard and strings at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, SD, and directs the LyricWood string orchestra. She is active as a freelance violist throughout the state.  She is also the organist and director of choirs at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Alexandria, SD, and is active in the South Dakota Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.  Soladay has administered the SDAGO’s scholarship academy for many years, and is in her second year as South Dakota Convener for the North Central Region of the AGO.  She teaches private piano and string lessons, and, along with her sister, Mary, owns and operates Con Brio Studio Bow Restoration and Rehairing.  Ms. Soladay is the violist with the White Spruce Chamber Players.

KORTNEY TEMPLE, VIOLA

Kortney teaches viola and violin with Harmony South Dakota, a Sistema-based after-school music program in the heart of Sioux Falls. Through Harmony, she shares her love of music and passion for teaching with students from all backgrounds. Kortney also teaches private lessons through her studio and serves as Orchestra Chair for the South Dakota Music Education Association. 

 

Kortney previously taught 4-6 grade Orchestra with the Sioux Falls Catholic Schools, where she raised the program to a new level of excellence and advanced opportunities for Orchestra students through creating chamber ensembles and summer camp. In her free time, Kortney enjoys spending time outdoors, watching reruns of The Office, and embarking on road trips with her husband, Max.

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LAURA COOPER, CELLO

Committed to excellence in both musicianship and teaching, Laura Cooper enjoys a busy career as a cellist and educator in the area.  Mrs. Cooper teaches orchestra at John Harris Elementary School and Patrick Henry Middle School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, striving to make learning an instrument accessible to all students and to provide young players with a solid technical foundation that will enable them to grow as musicians throughout their playing careers.  Prior to returning to her hometown of Sioux Falls, Laura taught orchestra to students in grades 5-12 in Fort Dodge, Iowa.  Both programs enjoyed rapid growth under Mrs. Cooper’s direction.  A strong advocate for music education, Mrs. Cooper is a member of the American String Teachers' Association and the National Association for Music Education, serves on the board of directors for the South Dakota Symphony Youth Orchestra and the South Dakota Music Education Association, and is a sought-after mentor teacher.

 

Mrs. Cooper holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Luther College, where she performed with the Emmy Award-winning Luther College Symphony Orchestra, and a Master of Music in Cello Performance from the University of South Dakota.  Her primary teachers include Marie-Elaine Gagnon, Eric Kutz, and Karren Melik-Stepanov and she has appeared in numerous master classes, including those with cellists Matt Haimovitz and Norman Fischer.  When she is not teaching, Mrs. Cooper runs a small private studio, is in demand as a clinician and adjudicator, and frequently performs as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral cellist throughout the region.  She is currently serving as the principal cellist for the Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra and is a founding member of the White Spruce Chamber Players, a South Dakota ensemble committed to providing the region with high-quality, accessible chamber music.  When not involved in music, Mrs. Cooper enjoys gardening, cooking, and practicing yoga.

KATHRYN MATHEWS, DOUBLE BASS
Kate was born and raised in Rapid City, where she was lucky enough to play with the Black Hills Symphony before heading to the University of South Dakota for her B.M. in Music Education. Ms. Mathews serves as Director of Orchestras at Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls and enjoys a busy playing career.  She has spent the last six years performing with the Sioux City Symphony and other area orchestras, as well as judging and conducting regional string festivals and contests.  Ms. Mathews is also a strong advocate for string education in the state of South Dakota and is an active board member for several organizations, as well as a highly sought mentor teacher.

 

Her favorite performances to date are with the White Spruce Chamber Players, and anytime she has shared the stage with her father and brother, both low brass players. When she's not playing bass, she likes to lounge with her greyhounds or go disc golfing.

BRETT COOPER, PIANO

A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Brett Cooper is the Volunteer Coordinator and Grant Writer at the Washington Pavilion of Arts & Science. He is a pianist & organist at Westminster Presbyterian Church and is an active collaborative pianist in the area.

Mr. Cooper is a graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and is an enthusiastic partner with ensembles and soloists at the University of South Dakota, Augustana University, and O'Gorman High School. ​

 

He and his wife Laura reside in Sioux Falls with their dogs Stella and Stanley. When not involved in music, Brett enjoys painting, golf, board games, and travel.