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The Catalyst Quartet Playing in Mendocino


The Catalyst Quartet Playing on March 16, 2014

 The Catalyst Quartet has played Carnegie Hall and were also prize winners of the Gianni Bergamo Classical Music Award in 2012 in Switzerland, which is comprised of top laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition. 

The Catalyst Quartet has held residencies and given master classes both domestically and abroad at the University of Michigan, Rice University, Cincinnatti Conservatory of Music, In Harmony Project; London, UK and the University of South Africa to name a few. They also serve as principal Quartet members at the Sphinx Performance Academy at Oberlin College and Northwestern University. The Catalyst Quartet members are visiting teaching artists at the Sphinx Preparatory Music Institute, hosted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

The Catalyst Quartet has also participated in the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar, Grand Canyon Music Festival, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and been featured in The Strad and Strings magazines including multiple radio and television broadcasts on American Public Media’s Performance Today as well as Chicago (WFMT) Houston (KUHF) Public Radio and Detroit Public Radio and Television.

The Quartet maintains a busy performing schedule and completed a national tour in the fall leading the Sphinx Virtuosi. Highlights of the tour included concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., opening the 10th anniversary season of the Harris Theater in Chicago, sold out performances at Miami’s Frank Gehry designed New World Center, and New York’s Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium) with members of the legendary Guarneri Quartet. They can also be heard this season on the Cafe Series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The Catalyst Quartet players are: 

Karla Donehew-Perez


Born in Puerto Rico, Karla began playing the violin at age three. By age nine she had performed as a soloist with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, and shortly after that was featured on a national television show about young gifted Latin American children. She was the youngest member of Festival Orchestra Juvenil de Las Americas during the Casals Festival.  At age twelve, Karla moved to California and entered The Crowden School, a middle school with a focus on string chamber music. She continued her studies with Anne Crowden, Director and founder of The Crowden School.
Karla has been able to attend celebrated music festivals, such as the Aspen Music Festival and School, Music Academy of the West, The Banff Music Centre, Perlman Chamber Music Program, Encore School for Strings and New York Strings Seminar. She has given solo performances with the Classical Philharmonic Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Sphinx Chamber Orchestra, Prometheus Symphony Orchestra, and with renowned artists such as Gary Karr and Frederica von Stade.
Karla completed her Bachelors and Masters degrees at the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying performance with the heralded violin teachers Paul Kantor, David Cerone, and William Preucil. As a student at CIM, Karla participated in numerous Master Classes with distinguished artists, and served as the CIM Orchestra’s concertmaster. As a member of the WO-MEN String Quartet, she was awarded 1st place at the Ohio String Teachers Association Competition, and Honorable Mention at the Plowman Chamber Music Competition. The quartet was also chosen to represent CIM for the Conservatory Project at the Kennedy Center for the Arts and was selected to play a recital for the Cleveland Chamber Music Society. In her junior year, Karla was a recipient of the prestigious Dr. Jerome Gross Award in violin. Karla was also awarded second place at the Sphinx Competition. Karla was featured on the Young Artist Series for the Festival del Sole, in Napa Valley, California, and was guest concertmaster of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Recently, Karla was a fellow at the New World Symphony, where she often sat concertmaster or principal second violin and performed as a soloist.

Karla performs on a fine violin by Charles and Samuel Thompson, London 1774, on generous loan from Patricia Press Nissen in memory of Alvera and Dudley Warner- Press, and a fine violin bow by Victor Fetique, from the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation.


Jessie Montgomery


A New York native violinist, composer and music educator Jessie is a composer and performer of film, theater and concert music, performing regularly among New York’s classical and new music scenes.

An avid chamber musician and collaborator, Jessie was a founding member of PUBLIQuartet, an ensemble made up of composers and arrangers, featuring their own music as well as that of other New York based composers. She was also a core member of the Providence String Quartet from 2004 – 2009, quartet in residence of Community Music Works.   Ensemble experiences have lead to collaborations with The Orion String Quartet, The Miro String Quartet, and The Knights.  Jessie has also collaborated with several avante-garde greats such as clarinetist Don Byron, Butch Morris.

Since 1999, Jessie has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports the accomplishments of young African-American and Latino string players. Since her involvement with Sphinx, Jessie has been a two-time laureate in their annual competition, was Concertmaster of their 2009 national tour, served on the faculty of the Sphinx Performance Academy, and is a member of the Catalyst Quartet.

In 2011-2012, Jessie was the Van Lier Composer Fellow at the American Composers Orchestra, with performances of her works for small ensemble showcased throughout New York City in the SONiC Festival, and the Composers OutFront! Series.  She was in Residence at the Deer Valley Music Festival under the direction of American composer Joan Tower in 2008, and was also the two-time recipient of the Composer’s Apprentice Award given by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.  She has served as resident composer for the Providence String Quartet, with performances throughout the Providence and Boston areas.  Her music has been premiered by the Vinca Quartet, Providence String Quartet, JACK Quartet, Catalyst Quartet, and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble.

Jessie holds a Bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School in violin performance and a Master’s Degree in Composition and Film Scoring from New York University.  Primary violin teachers have been Sally Thomas and Ann Setzer; composition teachers and mentors include Hollywood film composer Ira Newborn, Joan Tower and Derek Bermel.


Paul Laraia


A premiere talent of his generation, violist Paul Laraia has appeared in recent seasons as soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Nashville Symphony, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.  He regularly performs solo recitals and chamber music throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Born in Sewell New Jersey, Paul began viola with Brynina Socolofsky, the disciple of viola pedagogue Leonard Mogill. He continued his studies with Choon-jin Chang, and Che-hung Chen of the Philadelphia Orchestra under scholarship through Temple University’s Center for Talented Youth and the Settlement Music School in South Philadelphia. In 2007, he entered the New England Conservatory of Music under Kim Kashkashian with full scholarship and in 2008 he became the recipient of the Clara May Friedlaender Scholarship.

In 2010, Paul competed at the Sphinx Competition and received second prize for his performance of Bartok’s Viola Concerto with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall. In 2011, Paul returned to the Sphinx Competition and was unanimously awarded first prize. He performed the Walton Viola concerto to a captured audience at the finals concert where he formally accepted his award.

Since 2011, Mr. Laraia has been appearing as a member and principal of the highly acclaimed Sejong Soloists ensemble, based in New York city and Seoul, South Korea.  With Sejong Paul has performed and recorded chamber music and String Orchestra masterpieces with some of today’s brightest emerging and established soloists such as Paul Huang, Stephan Milenkovich, Gil Shaham, Vadim Repin, and Cho-liang Lin.

In addition Paul has performed at the Sarasota Music Festival, National Orchestral Institute, Banff Center for Music, and Yellow Barn Festival.  He has been awarded top chamber music prizes at the Fischoff Competition, the New England Conservatory Honors Ensemble Competition, and the Glenn Gould School Chamber Music Competition. He has been privileged to have collaborated with such artists as Donald Weilerstien, Daniel Phillips, William Vermeulen, Roger Tapping, Anthony Marwood, Michael Kannen, Maria Lambros, Natasha Brofsky, and Mark Hill.

Paul regularly performs with his two younger siblings Steven and Tiffany who also play viola.  Steven studies with Kim Kashkashian at the New England Conservatory, and Tiffany studies at The Juilliard School of Music under Toby Appel.

Paul performs on a large 17 ¼ viola in the style of Gaspar da Salo, made by Douglas Cox in 2002.

Karlos Rodriguez


Cellist Karlos Rodriguez made his orchestral debut at the age of thirteen to great audience and critical acclaim. And has since been an avid soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician appearing at many of our important musical venues including Carnegie Hall (Isaac Stern Auditorium), Merkin concert hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Philadelphia’s Kimmel center, and Radio City Music Hall, to name a few. Mr. Rodriguez has also had the honor of working with distinguished artists such as the Beaux Arts Trio, American, Cavani, Cleveland, Emerson, Guarneri, Juilliard, Miami, Orion, Tokyo, and Vermeer String Quartets; Janos Starker, Lynn Harrell, and Steven Isserlis. His teachers have included Richard Aaron, Peter Wiley, and David Soyer. A love of modern dance paired with live music has led to collaborations with the Thomas/Ortiz Dance Company, Freefall, Mark Morris Dance Group, and Chita Rivera. Karlos has attended and been a guest artist at the ENCORE School for Strings, Sarasota, Aspen, and Kneisel Hall chamber music festivals, Cleveland Chamber Music Society, and the Philadelphia Orchestra Chamber Music Society. As a teacher he is on the faculty at Summertrios and the Sphinx Performance Academy. Mr. Rodriguez has worked on various Broadway musicals and Pop albums, most recently with Shakira and Marc Anthony. In addition to these musical activities he is former Principal Cellist of the Florida Grand Opera Orchestra in Miami and cellist of the Catalyst Quartet.

Location: Mark your calendars for March 16, 2014 for a one day engagement, here in Fort Bragg at the Presbyterian Church, at 367 S. Sanderson Street at 3 pm.

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Click here to order tickets online.

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