Past Guest Artists and Faculty

Dr. Clay Christiansen

Dr. Clay Christiansen was appointed Tabernacle organist in 1982. He served for 10 years as organist and choirmaster at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, where he became well-known for his New Year’s Eve Bach recitals and weekly half-hour radio concerts. He also served as organist for five years at Utah’s only Jewish synagogue, Congregation Kol Ami.

In 1988 Christiansen completed a doctorate in composition at the University of Utah. He also holds a master of music degree from that institution, as well as a bachelor of music degree from Brigham Young University. Christiansen’s solo performances have taken him across the United States, Canada, and England. He has been a featured artist for groups such as the United States Air Force Band and Singing Sergeants, Canadian Brass, and Danish Radio Choir. His published organ compositions are included in the catalogues of several major U.S. music publishers. Compositions also include works for chorus, string quartet, woodwind trio, and chamber and symphony orchestra.

Dr. Christiansen and his wife, Diane, are the parents of 13 children and have over 50 grandchildren. They welcomed the birth of their first great-grandchild during the summer of 2013.

John Pew

John Pew is the founder and conductor of the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra (TSO). A fine musician in his own right, John performed the piano concertos of Grieg and Mendelssohn as a high school student and won a place in the piano studio of the famed Reid Nibley at Brigham Young University before choosing a more pragmatic path. He ultimately graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from San Jose State University and took a job with Ariba, Inc., in Sunnyvale, California. He has kept the job in Sunnyvale, to which he telecommutes from his home here in American Fork, and he has likewise kept music, if not for his vocation, then for his avocation.

In 1998 and 2000, while living in California, John directed the orchestra and chorus for the Oakland (LDS) Temple Pageant. In 2002, he accepted the baton of the (Oakland) Temple Hill Symphony Orchestra, then a struggling organization, and built for it a vibrant reputation that attracted great soloists such as Jenny Oaks Baker. After moving to American Fork in 2005, John kept his position with Temple Hill, scheduling rehearsals to coincide with visits to the work place.

In 2007, Pew became the first and founding chair of the Arts Council’s governing board. In his three years of service he accomplished much in building the arts. In 2010, he formed the  Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra, a profound musical voice in the north county, where he continues to conduct today.

Elizabeth Marsh

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Elizabeth W. Marsh (cello) began her music study at the age of two and has been performing ever since. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Cello Performance from the University of Southern California where she studied with Eleonore Schoenfeld and Peter Stumpf. Elizabeth has also toured, collaborated and performed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe in various ensembles, and has been a featured soloist with several orchestras including the Utah Symphony, YMF Debut Orchestra, USC Symphony, and Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra. Mrs. Marsh has taught private music lessons for nearly 20 years, and occasionally enjoys guest conducting youth orchestras and cello choirs. She recently published a cello scale book for young students, The Scale Trail Challenge for the Young Cellist, and is soon publishing books in the same series for violin and viola. Elizabeth and her husband Gregory love bringing their growing family to concerts and singing together with their children. They spend their date nights rehearsing and performing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, and enjoyed performing together with them last summer at Carnegie Hall.

Christopher Luther

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Christopher Luther has established himself as a uniquely gifted teacher through his diverse musical background and uncanny ability to reach and inspire youth. He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts in viola performance from the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas as the teaching assistant of Roger Myers. He received his Masters Degree from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in violin performance studying with Eudice Shapiro and Martin Chalifour. Born in Denver, he began his performance career at the age of eight fiddling at the Colorado Renaissance Festival. He has continued his diverse musical training with an undergraduate degree in Violin Performance and Jazz Studies from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. During the end of his undergraduate degree Luther produced his first CD entitled Personality, consisting of virtuosic bluegrass music supported by jazz concepts and original compositions. In Los Angeles Luther played in soundtracks with a few on-screen performances, most notably in The Soloist. He collaborated with artists including Burt Bacharach, Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole, Patti Austin, Ruben Studdard, James Moody, Jon Faddis, Nancy Wilson, Richard Green and many others, including a performance on the Jay Leno Show with Sarah Barrielles. Equally comfortable teaching and inspiring all ages and abilities, Luther held teaching positions at the Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles and Gustavo Dudamel’s Youth Orchestra LA where he has been a guest conductor for all three orchestras. Christopher co-founded, co-directs and teaches alternative styles at the Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp with his father and sister, now entering its 16th successful season. He has completed certification for the entire Suzuki violin method, along with the upcoming Volume 9 for viola through the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

Cosima Luther

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Cosima Luther has been playing the violin since the young age of 5.  She began performing only two years later at the Colorado Renaissance Festival which she continued doing for seven seasons. A versatile musician, Luther has intensely studied Scottish, Irish, Cape Breton, Shetland, Appalachian, Swing, Country and Bluegrass music from a young age in conjunction with her classical training.  In addition to performing in the United States, Luther has performed in Canada, France and Germany.

Luther went to high school at the Denver School of the Arts where she was concertmistress of the DSA Orchestra.  She also gave countless performances in other acclaimed orchestras including the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, and the Colorado Youth Sinfonia.  During the summers of 2002 and 2003 she was a student at the Aspen Music Festival under the tutelage of Carol Cowan.  In the summer of 2004, Luther studied abroad with the Pepperdine Chamber Music Program in Heidelberg, Germany.

In 1999, along with her father and brother, Luther founded Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp (RMFC), a popular summer music festival where students and artists are drawn from around the world. Luther continues to help in the management of RMFC, along with teaching there as well.  RMFC is now entering its ninth successful season.

Luther studied violin with Mitchell Newman for her four years at Pepperdine.  As an active performer at Pepperdine, Luther has been concertmistress of the Pepperdine Symphony Orchestra. She participated in other campus-wide organizations including the Student Government Association and the Pi Beta Phi sorority.  She graduated in Spring 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in violin performance.  She would like to thank her most influential music instructors at Pepperdine who are Mitchell Newman, Sara Banta, Lisa Dondlinger, and Tony Cason.

Luther is continuing her studies on the violin at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California accepted under the tutelage of Eudice Shapiro and currently studying with Suli Xue.  Luther is also studying conducting at the Thornton School with Larry Livingston.

Timothy McMurray

Timothy McMurray  (violin) is an avid educator, performer, writer, and arranger. Always engaged in a project, Tim seeks to share his passion for music to everyone he can reach. Filled with enthusiasm, he works with a wide variety of students in crafting and sharing their love for music. Tim believes each and every one of us has an inner voice and something to share. Currently Tim is the Assistant Director of the University of Utah String Preparatory Division and Director of Orchestras at Olympus High School. In addition to these positions, he maintains an active violin studio and frequently appears as a clinician. As a performer, Tim appears across Utah as a studio artist, soloist, and chamber musician. From a young age, Tim began studying the violin with his mother Denise McMurray, former president of the Utah Suzuki Association. While growing up in Maryland, he continued his music studies in the greater Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas. From a young age Tim developed a great love for chamber music. He has had the opportunity to study and perform with a variety of world class chamber musicians throughout his career including the extensive work with the Cypress String Quartet, Amadi Azikiwe, Hasse Borup, and the Colorado String Quartet. Tim holds a Masters degree in String Performance and Pedagogy Emphasis from the University
of Utah and a B.M. In Music Education from Brigham Young University. He currently lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and their two children.

Kaitlin Rackham

Kaitlin Rackham (violin) graduated with a Master of Music in Violin Performance from Brigham Young University in April of 2015, studying under Professor Alexander Woods. While in attendance Kaitlin placed 2nd in the 2014 Collegiate Level of the UMTA Concerto Competition, was a member of the Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras, and BYU’s Baroque Ensemble. Kaitlin was formerly the Concertmaster of the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra, and is currently a member of the Orchestra at Temple Square. Kaitlin has gained excellent experience in performance with high caliber ensembles and exceptional conductors.

Beginning in her undergraduate career, Kaitlin has taught students from the ages of 5 to 21, with varying ranges of ability and skill. Additionally she has worked as a Chamber Coach for BYU’s SummerFest music program and as a sectional coach for several LYCEUM Orchestras and Summer LMFY. She teaches students of all ages in Saratoga Springs and emphasizes the importance of sound quality and efficacy in practicing.

As an advocate for the arts, Kaitlin was the committee chair of the 2013 Aspiring Musicians Competition for the TSO where she coordinated students, teachers and adjudicators to the great success of the competition’s first year. Through private lessons, Kaitlin is building a community of violinists in Saratoga Springs and surrounding areas that will propagate for years to come.

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