Viola Studio Alumni

Alumni 2017


Dominique Archambeau started studying the viola at a young age. She was a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras and the CYSO viola quintet. In Summer 2014, Dominique made her solo debut at the Chicago Symphony Center and was privileged to be a featured musician in the Grant Park Music Festival’s Young Artist Showcase. Since then, Dominique has performed with the Gabrovo Chamber Orchestra in Bulgaria and she performs regularly at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet. Dominique is currently a junior pursuing a degree in viola performance at Western Illinois University and plays in the WIU Symphony Orchestra and WIU Chamber Orchestra. Dominique is also a member of the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra and the Quincy Symphony Orchestra. Dominique continues her viola studies with Dr. Istvan Szabo.


Albert Magcalas Jr. finished his undergraduate degree on viola performance at the University of the Philippines College of Music and is now currently a second year graduate student in Western Illinois University under the tutelage of Dr. Istvan Szabo. During his undergraduate days, he would go on to win second prize in the Philippine National Music Competitions for Young Artists in Category B and fourth prize in Category C. Albert also joined music festivals such as the Southeast Asian Orchestra held in Bangkok, Thailand from year 2005 until 2008 and the Idyllwild Music Festival in Idyllwild, California USA in the year 2012. He also had masterclasses with Christoph Wyneken, Gareth Lubbe, Maiya Papach, Andrew Ling, and Joanna Rosalie Mendoza. Currently, he teaches viola and orchestra music at the Muscatine Highschool and plays with the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra as well.


Heidi Maier is currently a junior studying music education with a minor in History and Spanish and an endorsement in secondary and middle school social studies with an emphasis in history. Her primary instrument is the flute. She has been taking viola lessons for the past three semesters to further her string education. Heidi has participated in Concert band, University Band, and Marching Band. For the Fall 2016 Marching Band season, Heidi was named as one of the Marching Leatherneck Drum Majors. She is actively involved in both SAI and NAfME serving as the SAI chapter’s treasurer and the NAfME vice president.


My name's Sabrina Ruelas and I went to Dunlap High School. I've been playing viola about 10 years and I've been playing in my schools orchestra that entire time. I participated in the Central Illinois Youth Symphony for two years and I currently play in the Western Illinois University Symphony and the Chamber Orchestra. I'm also majoring in music therapy here at Western.


Alex Cleveland is from Wheaton, IL. He is a Junior with a major in Law Enforcement. Alex has been a musician for 14 years and played the viola for 12. While at Wheaton North High School, he played in both the Concert and Chamber orchestras. After high school, Alex played for the College of Dupage as well as the Dupage Symphony Orchestra. In addition to viola, he also plays the piano and the guitar.


My name is Hermes Mejia and I started playing the violin in my home town of Guadalajara, Mexico when I was 9 years old. I have bachelor’s degree in Music and currently I am a graduate student in Viola Performance at Western Illinois University. I am also a Suzuki teacher and enjoy it very much. Before coming to WIU, I performed in the “Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional” in Santo Domingo. Besides playing and teaching I have four musical children.


My name is Kayla Herndon and I am a Senior Music Therapy Major. I am from Alton, Illinois and have been playing viola for nearly 13 years. I also play guitar, piano, and sing. I hope to have my internship in January of 2015 and from there become a Board Certified Music Therapist. In my free time I like to read fiction novels, spend time with my friends and family, and listen to my favorite music. I have enjoyed my time at Western Illinois University and will always look back on the many great experiences I had and will have.


My name is Megan Urbonas I am a Music Education major at Western Illinois University. I have been at WIU for four and a half years and I will be student teaching in the Spring of 2014. I have been taking viola lessons for two semesters. I have had a wonderful time in Prof. Szabo’s viola studio and have learned so much in this past year. As a future string educator I am very glad that I have been able to acquire knowledge on the instrument that I can pass on to my future students.


Mila Gallardo started her viola studies at F.O.S.J.E (Fundacion Orquesta Sinfonica Juvenil del Ecuador) where she was member of the Youth Symphony of Ecuador for five years. She studied with Manuel Moreno (former student of Prof. Szabo), Simon Gangotena and Javier Alarcon. Mila has taken masterclasses with Brett Deubner (Temple University), Ivan Martin Mateu (Breton Quartet), Andrea Kim (Germany), Julia Dinerstein (Netherlands). In 2012 she won the "International Viola Scholarship" offered by Western Illinois University, to be part of the "President's International String Quartet". Today she is a sophomore of the viola studio of Prof. Istvan Szabo.


My name is Nick Emory and I am a Freshman here at WIU. I come from Davenport Iowa, where I have lived my entire life. I started playing the viola in the fourth grade, and since then, I have never looked back. I played throughout middle school and high school, taking private lessons on the side, always trying to improve my skill. Some of my accomplishments include sitting Principal Violist of the Quad Cities Youth Symphony Orchestra (QCYSO) for 5 semesters, as well as being accepted into the Iowa All-State Orchestra in 2011 and 2012. The best part of playing the Viola at WIU is getting to work with Dr. Szabo, and working on technical aspects that I had never even thought were possible.

Recently Graduated Students of the Viola Studio



Aiveen Gallagher began her music studies at an early age in her home-town of Cork, in southern Ireland. She graduated with a BMus (Hons) degree and distinction in performance in 2009 from the Cork School of Music. Aiveen also studied on full scholarship at the Royal College of Music (RCM) London, with Ivo-Jan van der Werff. She has taken masterclasses with renowned performers and pedagogues Bruno Giuranna, Lawrence Power and Simon Rowland-Jones.


My name is Amanda Ridnour, and I am a Music Therapy major. I love music and I love to be outside doing sports or reading a book. When I need a break from homework I'm playing on my DSI. I love trying to find new technology that is compatible with my instruments. As a person I try to live as care free as possible but sometimes I forget that "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift.


Grazzia Sagastume was born in Honduras. At the age of 19 she acquired a scholarship to attend the University of Southern Mississippi where she studied with Dr. Hsiaopei Lee. In the Spring of 2009 she won first place in the Freshman/Sophomore category in the MMTA Collegiate Competition. In the Fall of 2009 she acquired one of the International String Quartet Scholarships at Western Illinois University, and is currently studying with Dr. Istvan Szabo. Grazzia is starting her Senior year as a Bachelor in Music Performance.


Hi! I am Rebekah Byrnes, from Bettendorf, Iowa. I started playing viola in my freshman year of high school. I also play an awesome Chinese instrument called the erhu, which I started last March. Outside of music, I enjoy reading and connecting with God. I am a Christian. My hobbies include, but are not limited to, reading, writing, knitting, and making hard candy. Because I have a fascination with foreign languages, though I don't speak one well, I love to collect dictionaries.


My name is Victoria Moore and I am a senior in viola performance at Western Illinois University. I am 24 years old and have been playing the viola since the age of eight. I recently became a resident of Carbondale Illinois, but was born and raised in Chicago, IL. I started my musical journey at the Merit School of Music and graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy. I studied viola with Jerzy Kosmala, David Holland, Rudolf Haken, Masumi Rostad, and recently, Istvan Szabo.


My name is Sarah Lambach , and I am from Moline, IL. I have been playing viola for 8 years. I am a freshman Music Education major and hope to inspire young students with music just as my teachers inspired me. Outside of music, my hobbies include hoop dance and reading.


Zachary Bakalyar started playing violin at a young age and transitioned to the viola during high school. As a music major, Zack is considering pursuing a minor in computer science. Zack is from Delano Minnesota, and holds his current residence in Quincy Illinois.