We are an ensemble that consist of the following instrumentation: flute, 2 clarinets, saxophone, trumpet, tenor trombone, bass trombone, piano, percussion, violin, viola, and cello. If you would like to write for that specific instrumentation or something similar please contact us.
Michelle Perrin Blair – conductor
Rose Bishop – piccolo and flute
Lisa Moore Wissenberg – clarinets
Christine Bellomy – clarinets
Ryan Smith – saxophones
Aren Van Houzen – trumpet
Matthew Driscoll – trombone
Matthew Halbert – bass trombone
Abbie Brewer – piano
Jeremiah de la Peña – percussion
Alan Kiser – percussion
Jessica Altfillisch – violin
Mike Peiffer – viola
James Ellis – cello
Victoria Rose Bishop holds the position of Adjunct Instructor of Flute at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri and plays piccolo with the Oneota Valley Orchestra. An active freelance musician in the region, she also regularly performs with the Southeast Iowa Symphony, the Muscatine Symphony and the Ottumwa Symphony and will appear as a soloist with the Monmouth College Wind Ensemble. Ms. Bishop is a passionate educator and her students have won positions in prominent youth orchestras, attended prestigious summer programs and have placed well at state contests and competitions.
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Victoria Rose Bishop received her Master of Arts Degree in Flute Performance from the University of Iowa and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Georgia State University. At both institutions Rose played principal flute and piccolo in the University Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Wind Ensembles. She has participated in master classes in the United States and abroad with several prominent flutists including Sarah Jackson, Walfrid Kujala, Angela Jones-Reus, Michel Bellavance, and Leone Buyse, among others. Her principal teachers include Nicole Esposito and Sarah Kruser Ambrose, with additional study with Jim Walker.
Lisa Wissenberg is a clarinetist and currently performs with Orchestra Iowa and wcf symphony as the bass clarinetist and with the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band on clarinet. She received her MA in clarinet performance from the
University of Iowa and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the same institution. In 2012, she was awarded a fellowship to study chamber music with the European-American Musical Alliance in Paris, France. In addition to being a busy soloist and chamber musician, she is adjunct clarinet instructor at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids and maintains a large private studio.
Christine Bellomy completed doctoral studies in clarinet at the University of Iowa in 2005. She holds positions in several Iowa ensembles, including principal clarinet in the Orchestra Iowa, second clarinet in the Quad City Symphony, and principal clarinet in the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band.
In February 2018, Christine was a featured guest artist with Red Cedar Chamber Music on a program called “A Little Klezmer with Friends.” In 2016, Christine was a finalist in the International Clarinet Association’s Orchestral Excerpt Competition, and she performed the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Iowa City Community String Orchestra. Christine performs solos regularly with the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band, and in July 2013, she was a featured soloist with the Washington Municipal Band. In August 2006, Christine performed a recital and taught masterclasses at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil. In July 1995, Christine was a semifinalist in the International Clarinet Association’s Young Artist competition.
Christine enjoys chamber music, and performs in a variety of venues, including the Orchestra Iowa Woodwind Quintet, the Iowa Composers’ Forum, the University of Iowa Center for New Music, and a number of ad hoc groups. Christine organizes Clarinotes, a clarinet quartet that performs in area hospitals, retirement homes, and other locales.
Christine teaches private clarinet lessons, masterclasses, band and orchestra clarinet sectionals, and occasionally offers presentations on specialized topics, most recently about practicing more effectively and understanding the altissimo register. She and students from her studio, Crazy Christine’s Clarinets, perform quartets and studio recitals regularly.
When not performing, teaching, or working as a cataloger in the University of Iowa Libraries, Christine enjoys reading, creative writing, Spider solitaire, and playing pinochle with her family.
Ryan Smith holds a Bachelor of Music from Western Oregon University, a Master of Music from the University of New Mexico, and a Master of Arts in Jazz Studies from the University of Iowa. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in saxophone performance from the University of Iowa while teaching saxophone at Cornell College and working as a regular pit musician for Theater Cedar Rapids. A frequent performer of classical, jazz, popular music, and musical theater, Smith has been involved in a wide variety of musical activities. Some noteworthy performances include concerts with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, the Santa Fe Symphony, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra, the Temptations, and the Four Tops. Smith regularly performs and records with his jazz-rock quartet, Laranja, which has released four albums and played at several jazz festivals throughout the Midwest. He has toured extensively in Brazil, Italy, and the United States and released two albums with the Américo Project – a samba-jazz quintet that came together in São Paulo for the first time in 2012. His most recent international performances took p
lace in Honk Kong and Chéngdū, China, during the summer of 2016.
Aren Van Houzen works as an educator and freelance performer throughout eastern Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. He performs with Quincy Symphony Orchestra and 2nd Trumpet with Orchestra Iowa. Aren also teaches at Quincy University and Culver-Stockton College.
In addition to performing and teaching, Aren is a founding owner and operator of Van Houzen Brewing Company, LLC, a native Iowa brewery located in Tiffin, Iowa. He has been a featured soloist with several Midwest performing organizations and continues to pursue a modest soloing schedule. Further activity in the music industry has included such diversity as Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra to the Clyde Beatty Cole Brothers Circus and all things in between. He has also apprenticed with mouthpiece, mute manufacturers and offered custom trumpet alterations in the late 1990’s. Aren began soloing at age 17, having been selected to perform Haydn’s trumpet concerto with the Holland Youth Symphony, and playing trumpet continues to be as thrilling to this very day.
Dr. Matthew Driscoll is currently the adjunct, low brass professor at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA, trombone instructor at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, IA and the elementary band director for Bennett Elementary School. He also maintains a private studio with brass players ranging from beginning to advanced and maintains an active performing schedule in various ensembles including the musical theatre in Coralville and Cedar Rapids, Eastern Iowa Brass Band, and Cedar Rapids Municipal Band. Currently, Matt performs with BTA-Brass Transit Authority throughout eastern and northern Iowa. Additionally, he serves as a substitute musician with the Des Moines, Peoria, and Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphonies.
Commissioning new works has become a mission of Dr. Driscoll’s. In the spring of 2015 he premiered two new works for trombone and piano and one for unaccompanied trombone in conjunction with Salty Cricket Composer’s Collective out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Driscoll enjoys being a part of the creative process from the onset and allowing lesser known composers to be heard in various concert settings.
Matt completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA) in trombone performance and pedagogy at the University of Iowa, a Masters in Music from East Carolina University in trombone performance, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Jacksonville State University.
Originally from Lambertville Michigan, bass trombonist Matthew Halbert is an active freelance performer throughout the Midwest, and is completing his DMA at the University of Iowa. He is currently serving as Bass Trombonist of the Des Moines Symphony. His other affiliations include Symphoria (formerly Syracuse Symphony), Rochester Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Quad Cities Symphony, Orchestra Iowa, Toledo Symphony, Detroit Chamber Winds, the Durward Contemporary Music Ensemble, and the Tri-Cities Opera. In 2011, he won 1st Place at the American Trombone Workshop’s Bass Trombone Solo Competition for his performance of David Gillingham’s Sonata, composed by his former instructor at Central Michigan University. As a member of the RAF Quartet, Matthew received two Honorable Mentions in the International Trombone Association’s Trombone Quartet Competition. He was also a member of the Eastman Trombone Choir when it received 1st Place honors in the Emory Remington Trombone Choir Competition at the 2012 International Trombone Festival in Nashville, TN. Matthew holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, the University of Michigan, and Central Michigan University. His teachers include Jonathan Allen, David Jackson, David Gier, Mark Kellogg, and Robert Lindahl.
Jeremiah de la Peña
Alan Kiser is a Percussion Instructor at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, IA. At Cornell, he co-directs 3 Steel Pan Ensembles: Pandemonium, Toucan and Panic and also coaches the percussion sections for Cornell’s Wind Ensemble, Orchestra and Jazz Band. Alan is the Drum-line instructor for Marion High School and Clear Creek Amana High School and his students have earned several best drum-line trophies over the last few years. Kiser is the principal percussionist with Eastern Iowa Brass Band and enjoys organizing many of the behind the scenes logistics of the group. He is currently the EIBB Booking Manager.
Alan has taught band in the public schools in Illinois and Iowa for 11 years. He is currently in his 10th year directing his hometown community band, “The Maple City Band” of Geneseo, IL. Alan earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Drake University, Des Moines, IA and his Bachelor of Music Education degree from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.
Dr. Abbie Brewer is an active teacher, pianist, and travel enthusiast based in Cedar Rapids, IA. She began studying the piano at the age of 8 in Nebraska. After moving to Iowa in junior high, she began a love affair with collaborative performance after accompanying her junior high choir. She was an active member of the music department, participating in everything from show choir to concert band to the annual musical.Abbie teaches piano and performs as a collaborative pianist at Coe College. She has been praised for her thoughtful playing as well as for her confident, direct approach to teaching. Abbie is in demand as an accompanist in the Cedar Rapids area and maintains a private piano studio.
Jessica Altfillisch violist and violinist living and working in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In addition to her position as Executive Director and Teacher at Harmony School, she teaches viola at Kirkwood Community College and performs regularly throughout the midwest.
Jessica is a doctoral candidate at the University of Iowa. In addition to her studies there, she served as violist for the graduate piano quartet and Center for New Music Ensemble. She has appeared as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia and all across the United States. In addition to solo recitals, she has performed regularly with the Des Moines Symphony, and has most recently played with the Gershwin’s Broadway company.
In addition to her work as a performer, Jessica is a trained Suzuki educator, Iowa licensed teacher, and has 20 years of teaching experience with all ages. While a student of the Teacher Education Program at the University of Iowa, Jessica’s research focused on teaching music notation to students with dyslexia. During her tenure at the Cedar Rapids Symphony School she directed the Suzuki program, created the Ceolas Irish Ensemble for advanced students and adults, trained teachers in the use of Music Mind Games music theory curriculum, and taught students of all ages to play the violin and viola in classroom and studio settings. Jessica has also worked with educators in many public and private schools in east-central Iowa.
Mike Peiffer is an active freelance violist who has performed throughout the Midwest and abroad. Recent engagements include: Revival Theatre Company, Theatre Cedar Rapids, the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, and of course the Durward Ensemble. Mike received his M.M. from the University of Missouri and his Bachelor’s from CSB|SJU. Since 2013, Mike has worked in various capacities for the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra, and is currently their operations manager.
James Ellis is a cellist from St. Clair Shores, Michigan and has received three music degrees. A Bachelor from Western Michigan University, studying with Bruce Uchimura; a Masters from the University of Georgia, studying with David Starkweather; and a Doctorate from the University of Iowa, studying with Charles Wendt. James has played with 17 professional symphonies in Michigan, Georgia, South Carolina and Iowa. He currently maintains a private studio in Iowa City and teaches at Cornell College. He has served as principal cellist with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, Orchestra Iowa, the Southeast Iowa Symphony, the Waverly Community Orchestra, and the Quad-Cities Symphony. James also plays regularly with the Iowa City Community Orchestra and the Iowa City Chamber Singers.