We have an amazing team of music professionals here at Vivace! Read the bios below to get to know our directors and coaches.
Ryan Murphy (guest conductor and Vivace Singers) was appointed associate music director of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square on March 27, 2009. In this capacity, he is responsible to assist Mack Wilberg, music director, with The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in rehearsals, concerts, tours, and the weekly broadcast of Music & the Spoken Word. He also serves as the conductor of the Temple Square Chorale, the preparatory ensemble for new singers in Choir service.
Dr. Murphy has extensive choral conducting and professional musical theater experience. Prior to his appointment, he conducted six choirs in the Boston area, including two choirs at the prestigious New England Conservatory Preparatory School. He served for four years as the choral director at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, an internationally recognized secondary school affiliated with the New England Conservatory. He was the music director of the Tuacahn Center for the Arts in the St. George, Utah, area from 2005 to 2007 following five seasons as music director at the Sundance Institute in Provo, Utah. While in Boston, he maintained an active performing schedule, including collaborations at the Tanglewood Summer Festival.
Dr. Murphy graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in piano and organ performance and pedagogy. He holds a master’s degree in choral conducting from Brigham Young University and a doctorate in choral conducting from Boston University, where he studied with Dr. Ann Howard Jones.
Ryan and his wife, Jennifer, have four children.
Denise Willey (founder and artistic director of VIVACE Youth Orchestra Program and Vivace Orchestra Camp,) was named Utah Music Teacher of the Year by the American String Teachers Association, and was awarded Best of State (Children’s Orchestra and Camp) in 2018. An enthusiast of teaching Suzuki students to read music, she authored the I LOVE To Read Music! ™ literacy program and Easy Steps to Music Reading. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Utah and is completing graduate work at Brigham Young University. Mrs. Willey has directed hundreds of young musicians from across the country at the Vivace Orchestra Program, Mountains & Strings camps, the Intermountain Suzuki String Institute, and in school and after-school orchestra programs. She maintains a thriving private studio, is a registered Suzuki Teacher Trainer, and has served on the Suzuki Association of Utah board of directors for over thirty years. Mrs. Willey is the mother of six grown children—all of whom have received national recognition for their music—and the busy grandmother of nearly fifteen, nearly all of whom play a stringed instrument. She teaches orchestra at Willow Creek Middle School.
Suanne Bowcut (Vivace Youth Choir) has been teaching and leading children’s choirs for over twenty-five years. She is currently the Administrative Director of the Utah Valley Children’s Choir and has been closely involved with this remarkable organization her entire career. Each summer the Children’s choir tours under the direction of Suanne and her husband Carl and has performed extensively across the United states as well as Mexico and Canada. She has taught music in public and private schools across Utah County and has been active in community art programs as well. She attended Brigham Young University and BYU Hawaii and is a licensed instructor for the “Let’s Play Music” music instruction system. Suanne is also a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and LOVES IT! She is a mother of six children and 12 grandchildren and is married to her best friend and biggest fan Carl Bowcut.
Elizabeth W. Marsh is the happy mother of seven young children. She and her husband, Gregory, are excitedly expecting their eighth, and they are thrilled to be teaching their children music. Elizabeth recently earned her master’s degree in cello performance from the University of Michigan where she studied with Richard Aaron, Amir Eldan, and Kenneth Kiesler. She is attending her second year of the Conductors Retreat at Medomak this summer, and has rekindled a past love with conducting symphonic music. She also has a bachelor’s degree in cello performance from the University of Southern California, where she studied with Eleonore Schoenfeld and Peter Stumpf. She has enjoyed a full career as a cellist, performing in orchestras, and as a soloist, chamber, and freelance musician. She has also taught hundreds of cellists of all ages over the past twenty years. She has spent many years working to publish Scale Trail Challenge and Up to the Bridge for young cellists, and these have been picked up by cello teachers nationally and internationally. One of her favorite musical experiences has been to perform in the Orchestra at Temple Square. She has played in the cello section and as principal at times, but she especially loves combining her spiritual conviction with her love of music.
Kristi Geddes Jenkins (violin), from Ogden, Utah, has been performing on the violin for over 25 years. As a violinist she has toured throughout the United States and Europe as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral musician, and part of the rock band, Room 102. She was the first violinist in the Aquarelle String Quartet that was chosen as a resident string quartet at both the Deer Valley, and Yehudi Menuhin String Festivals, working extensively with the Muir and Alexander String Quartets, violist, Toby Appel, and cellist, Lynn Harrell. She was a founding member of the professional Kronberg Ensemble located in Omaha, Nebraska. She graduated with a B.A. in Violin Performance from Utah State University in 2008 where she studied with Will Fedkenheuer and the Fry Street Quartet. While there she won the 2007 Concerto Competition, where she then soloed with the USU symphony. She then went on to complete her Masters of Music degree at University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2010, where she studied with Rebecca Fischer and Julie Yoon of the Chiara String Quartet. Kristi joined the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra in 2012, where she is currently the Concert Master. Kristi has been a mentor and coach throughout her various chamber experiences and has taught private students since age 16, teaching ages 3 to collegiate. She is currently teaching violin out of her home and raising her four beautiful children.
BekaLara Larrucea (violin) is a senior at Utah Valley University, where she has served as concert master of the UVU Symphony. Her teacher is Donna Fairbanks. Beka is double majoring in Violin Performance and Commercial Music (Film Scoring.) Rebekah has soloed with the Utah Symphony a record five times, along with the Debut Orchestra in Beverly Hills, Utah Valley Symphony, with UVU Symphony among others. She was concert master of Utah’s All-State Orchestra, and performed in National High School Honors Orchestra. Rebekah started violin at 12 months with her mother, and also studied with Deborah Moench, Barbara Williams, and Katherine Eberly. She played her first full symphony at age 7, and solo violin in “Fiddler in the Roof” at 12. She won the Utah Prize in the first Stradivarius International Violin Competition, first prize in the Utah Baroque Competition, 2nd place in the Grand Junction Symphony Competition. Teacher-trained in the Suzuki method, Rebekah maintains a studio of young violinists/violists, is assoc. director of Vivace Orchestra Program, and has been the string coach since its inception for the Vivace Orchestra Camp, also Mountains and Strings, and Bryce Canyon Music Camp. She holds a blue belt in kickboxing.
Royce Lassley (violin) continues to impress audiences with seasoned, inspired performances since he started playing the violin at the late age of 13 with Elaine Clyatt. Within three years of starting violin lessons, he received a full scholarship to the Credo Chamber Music Festival at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Within four years, he was accepted to Aspen Music Festival on scholarship, yet he attended Interlochen Summer Festival as a distinguished Emerson Scholar (only one scholar is chosen from each state). While at Interlochen, Lassley was concertmaster of the World Youth Symphony Orchestra. With the Orchestra, he performed the world preview performance of Chris Thile’s Mandolin Concerto. Lassley’s quartet was also the first group to win both Interlochen chamber competitions in one summer. During the same year, Lassley was 1st place winner of the Anderson Concerto Competition, performing Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole with the Hutchinson Symphony Orchestra.
Lassley began his undergraduate studies at the Lamont School of Music, studying with Yumi Hwang-Williams. He then studied in Vienna, Austria, as a Cherrington Global Scholar with Polish concert violinist Barbara Górzyńska. Following a service mission in Germany, he completed his Bachelor of Music at Brigham Young University, studying Dr. LeeAnn Morgan and Monte Belknap. Royce has since received a Master of Music and an Artist Diploma from the University of Miami, Frost School of Music. There, he was a Henry Mancini Institute Fellow studying with Bettina Mussumeli, Charles Castleman, Scott Flavin, and viola with Jodi Levitz. Recently, he was a winner of the concerto competition on viola, performing Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with the Frost Symphony Orchestra. In the Fall (21’), Royce will begin doctoral studies at Frost, studying violin with Bettina Mussumeli and viola with Jodi Levitz.
Royce was personally invited by Maestro Gerard Schwarz to be one of 12 string fellows at Eastern Music Festival this summer (21’). He regularly performs as a violin section member with Florida Grand Opera and Palm Beach Symphony. He has also performed with such artists as Renée Fleming, José Feliciano, Jon Secada, Kirk Whales (saxophonist for Whitney Houston), David Archuleta, Romanza, Kevin Olusola (from Pentatonix), Chris Thile, among many others. In addition to performing, Lassley is a violin faculty member of Miami’s after-school Community Arts Program (CAP).
Lassley is a two-time grant recipient of the Koch Cultural Trust Foundation. He has also been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
William Vernon (violin and fiddling) just started learning how to play the violin 27 years ago. He squeezed a 4 year major into 6 years at BYU where he studied violin performance, then Chinese, then Music Education. You’ll most likely see William cruising around on a motorcycle, skiing/snowshoeing, or exploring the outdoors with his wife and two little dudes. He learns something new every day and loves working with middle/high school age students because they aren’t boring. He currently teaches at Lone Peak High School, Mountain Ridge Jr. High, and his own private violin/fiddle students.
Dr. Kristina Horrocks (viola) has been teaching viola for 20 years and is currently professor of viola and music theory at Brigham Young University-Idaho. Her past mentors include Dr. David Dalton, Dr. R. Kevin Call, Dr. Claudine Bigelow, Che-Yen Chen at the University of Southern California, Yizhak Schotten, and Caroline Coade. She has been a member of several professional orchestras, including as a tenured member of the Flint Symphony Orchestra, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra where she frequently served as principal violist, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, and the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra. She has a masters in viola performance from Brigham Young University and a Bachelors from BYU-Idaho. Ms. Horrocks has toured with music groups across the U.S., China, and Europe, performing with esteemed conductors Simon Rattle, Christoph Eschenbach and Manfred Honeck, as well as composers Mathias Pintscher and Tan Dun. She has taught viola privately at BYU, USC, and U-M. A trained Suzuki teacher, she maintains a private violin and viola studio. Ms Horrocks enjoys running, baking, reading, and learning alongside her one-year-old.
Miriam Wagstaff (viola and advanced fiddling) began studying violin at the age of six, adding viola at age eleven. Highlights include performing as All-Star Evening soloist with the Utah Symphony 2016, serving as concertmaster of the Utah All-State Orchestra 2018, and participating as first violinist in the BYU Honors Quartet 2019-2020 season. Miriam has soloed with several orchestras across the state including the Utah Valley Symphony, Orchestra of Southern Utah, Southwest Symphony, and Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra. She has participated in masterclasses with William Hagen, Stephanie Chase, Paul Coletti, Patricia McCarty, James Dunham, and Natalie MacMaster. Currently Miriam receives periodic coachings from Madeline Adkins and Bradley Ottesen. Previous teachers include Prof. Monte Belknap, Dr. David Dalton, Denise Willey, and Megan Cottam. Miriam is an award winning fiddler with a particular interest in Irish/Celtic and other ethnic fiddling styles. She was awarded the Utah State Open Championship in 2015 and has fiddled at various venues, including the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and live radio show “Life Under the Horseshoe.” In addition to her love of music, Miriam enjoys reading, visiting with friends and family, and spending time in the great outdoors. Miriam is currently studying herbalism and apprenticing to become a midwife.
Catherine Anne Schulzke (cello) has played cello since she was a Suzuki toddler. She has completed all levels of Suzuki cello teacher training and has been teaching privately since 2005. Catherine has soloed with many orchestras, including multiple times with the Utah Symphony. She also serves regularly in the Orchestra at Temple Square as co-principal cellist. She has been a guest clinician at several camps and workshops in Utah and Idaho, including Bryce Canyon Music Camp, Cedar City Suzuki Regional Workshop, LMFY, and Mountains and Strings Chamber Music Retreat. In 2016, Catherine received a degree from BYU. She lives in American Fork with her husband, Nathan, and their two children, Daniel and Meg. In addition to her family and her faith, she loves reading, running, popcorn, and chamber music.
Sarah Arnesen (cello) has been playing music since age 5. She has a B.A in Cello Performance from Brigham Young University-Idaho and a M.M in Cello Performance from the University of Utah. She studied with Karin Hendricks, Robert Tueller, Elliott Cheney and Pegsoon Whang. Sarah is the Director of Music at Paradigm High School’s in South Jordan and runs a private Suzuki cello studio. Sarah has played with the Orchestra at Temple Square for 9 years and enjoys performing with the Canyon String Quartet. Sarah enjoys traveling and has toured the United States, Canada and Europe with various orchestras. When not making music Sarah loves to run, go to the theater, and spend time with her family.
Alexander Willey (bass) served four years in the U.S. Army as a combat medic in Kosovo. Prior to that, he won First Place in the entire country in the National ASTA String Competition in Atlanta, and full academic and music scholarships at Brigham Young University. Alex was guest soloist twice with the Utah Symphony along with many other orchestras. He has served as a missionary in the Orchestra at Temple Square from the time he was age 13 in 7th grade to the present, the youngest music missionary in the history of the church. Alex was principal bass in All-State Orchestra for a record five years. He has won many national prizes in Ballroom Dance competitions. He was a five-palm Eagle Scout in the Order of the Arrow. Since retiring from the service, he attends BYU with a major in Bass Performance and ROTC, has a thriving studio of bass and violin students, is a busy free-lance musician.
Anthony Willey (bass) began music at a young age. Though he started as a Suzuki violinist, he later saw the light and switched to the bass. He attended BYU from 2006 to 2012, completing his undergraduate with a double-major in physics and chemistry, and earning a master’s degree in physics. Meanwhile he played in the Orchestra at Temple Square for 8 years and taught Suzuki bass to students aged 8-18. Anthony now lives in Washington State where he plays bass with the Ensign Symphony & Chorus. He is a stay-at-home dad, a registered piano technician, and the developer of PianoMeter, an app for tuning pianos.