Our Conference Presenters Bios and session descriptions

Jacob Wright portrait


Dr. Karen Allred, pianist, NCTM, has appeared in solo and collaborative performances all over the US. She gave an all-Chopin solo program on a Pleyel-Wolff (1859) grand piano at the Ivan Tourgeniev Museum in Bougival, France, outside of Paris in 2008. Allred was a semi-finalist and an alternate in the National Beethoven Piano Sonata Competition, and was awarded an Emerging Artist Grant in the area of piano performance from the City of Raleigh Arts Commission. Dr. Allred served on the faculty of Meredith College for 22 years. She currently maintains a private studio in Chapel Hill where she enjoys teaching students of all ages how to play with ease, coordination, and musicality. Her students have received awards at state, regional, and international levels, and many have also won youth concerto competitions and played as soloist with orchestra. A recent endeavor includes arranging 5 Christmas Carols for solo piano for the Hallmark Network’s Christmas movie, “Chateau Christmas”, which aired in Oct. 2020 and was filmed in Whistler, British Columbia. Her hands appear in one of the last scenes as she was the hand double for the main actress. Additional new ventures in 2020 include starting an Advanced Professional Certificate in Orchestration for Film and Television through Berklee Online, and in 2021, Dr. Allred began work as a collaborative pianist at St. Mary’s School in Raleigh, NC. Allred is an active festival and master class clinician, adjudicator, and recitalist; past solo and collaborative performances include Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra, and has been a clinician for the Wilmington Piano Teachers Association, the Charlotte Piano Teachers Forum, the Raleigh Piano Teachers Association, and the High-Point Piano Teachers Association. Dr. Allred has served in the past on the Board of Directors of the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild, the Mallarmé Youth Chamber Orchestra, and The North Carolina Music Teachers Association. She is a teacher and a coach for the Triangle Chamber Academy and SCORE in Chapel Hill, NC. Dr. Allred resides on a small farm in Chapel Hill, NC, with her husband, Dr. Jack Griffith, three horses, five rescue cats, and two dogs.

Dr. Carol Ann Barry holds degrees from Old Dominion University, the University of Louisville, and a DMA from James Madison University. A Rotary Fellow, she studied at the Göethe Institute and the Hochschule fur Musik in Hamburg, Germany. Her major teachers have included Lee Luvisi, Dr. Eric Ruple, Brian Ganz, Dr. James Litzelman, and Sophia Rosoff. She is the recipient of both the 2010 PTG Grant and the MTNA Foundation Teachers Grant. Dr. Barry has presented numerous lectures and pedagogy workshops and is passionate about the field of piano pedagogy. Her private studio is located in Cary, N.C, and she was a collaborative pianist for the vocal department at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 3 years prior to focusing on lecturing and writing. In 2017, Dr. Barry founded Piano Pedagogues Key International, an educational piano pedagogy video and teaching materials company. Dr. Barry  currently serves as President of the Cary-Apex Piano Teachers Association. She is also the coordinator of the Ruggero Fall Course and the Fourth Friday Concert Series. Her current project on behalf of NCMTA is as an archivist for the NCMTA historical archives housed at UNC Chapel Hill.  

Dr. Kevin Chance serves as Associate Professor of Piano at the University of Alabama where he coordinates the Gloria Narramore Moody Piano Area. As soloist and collaborator, Kevin has performed throughout the United States and abroad, and recent orchestral appearances have included Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety, Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, and Saint-Saëns’s Le Carnaval des animaux. Performing regularly as a chamber musician, Kevin has been a member of the Semplice Duo with flutist Cristina Ballatori for the past 20 years, and their performances have included world premiers at the National Flute Association Conference as well as recitals in Wisconsin, Texas, Colorado, Virginia, Alabama, New York, and Europe. Kevin has recently received a number of accolades for his teaching. Most recently, he was named a 2020-2022 Leadership Board Faculty Fellow for the University of Alabama College of Arts and Sciences, recognizing excellence in teaching and research. In 2019, he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Steinway and Sons Music Teacher Hall of Fame in New York City and was named 2019 Music Educator of the Year by the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa. Additionally, he was named the 2015-2017 Teacher of the Year by the Alabama Music Teachers Association. Kevin maintains an award-winning studio of college and pre-college students, and his students have garnered awards at the state, regional, and national levels. In demand as a clinician and adjudicator, he frequently presents at the MTNA National Conference as well as state and local music teacher organizations throughout the country. In January 2021, Kevin served as the headliner clinician for the University of Georgia Piano Symposium, and each summer, he serves on the faculty of the New Orleans Piano Institute each summer. Kevin holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Louisiana State University, and Birmingham-Southern College, and his former teachers include Barry Snyder, Constance Knox Carroll, Anne Koscielny, Ann Schein, William DeVan, and Betty Sue Shepherd. Kevin currently serves as President of the American Matthay Association for Piano and recently finished his term as Vice President of MTNA.

Lynne Craige Cox has enjoyed being a music educator, composer, and performer for many years in NC. A native of Marion, SC, and Charleston, SC, she moved to NC in 1964 when she married. Their two grown sons have provided them with a lovely daughter-in-law and three wonderful grandchildren. Earning her Bachelor of Music degree from ECU in Piano Performance in 1966, she enjoyed her music teaching career in Beaufort and Craven Counties (NC), teaching private piano lessons and later elementary public school music. No longer teaching, she enjoys being with her family, performing, presenting workshops, judging piano auditions, and composing music for children. She is a published composer with Alfred Publishing as well as her own small music publishing company, Lynne Cox Publications. Lynne’s award-winning piano solos have been chosen for national, state, and local various music teachers’ organizations. Her company is devoted to delivering quality music education products to supplement and enhance pedagogical methods of piano instruction or for just plain enjoyment. She can be contacted directly from her website, www.lynnecoxpublications.com or simply lynnecox@seazoo.com. To purchase her music simply contact your favorite distributor, many of whom have a link on her website. Credentials include: Fulbright Scholar 2007, Recipient of the 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award, School of Music, ECU; Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance, ECU; Certification in Public School Music, ECU; State Finalist for the Sarah Belk Gambrell Award 2003 for Excellence in Public School Music; over 45 years music teaching experience; formerly State and National certification in MTNA; listed in Hall of Fame w/Nat. Guild of Piano Teachers; church musician 43 yrs; Teacher Scholar at NC Center for Advancement of Teaching; and member of various music teachers’ organizations.

Dr. Elizabeth Davis is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where she completed the Doctor of Music Arts in Piano Pedagogy with Dr. Scott Price, and is a graduate of UNC-Greensboro with a MM in Piano Pedagogy under Dr. Paul Stewart. Her dissertation, “Approaches for Teaching Music Reading to Piano Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” is the first published document of its kind in the field, and strives to introduce practical pedagogy for teachers who are working with students who have ASD or special needs. Elizabeth is an active presenter, adjudicator and performer, and has established a blog on Instagram/Facebook, “Creative Piano Pedagogy,” where she hosts mentor groups for teachers, started the Piano Teachers Book Club, and shares teaching tips. Elizabeth is the Secretary of the NCMTA Piano Section Committee and has a vibrant virtual and in-person studio of students with exceptional and special needs.

Eden Esters Brown

Dr. Victoria Fischer Faw, Professor Emerita at Elon University was recognized as the 2021 NC Music Teachers Association and 2022 National Music Teachers Association Teacher Of The Year. Vicky is a pianist, teacher, scholar, and avid music advocate whose passions include playing and teaching a wide range of piano solo and collaborative repertoire, mentoring young teachers and scholars, and sharing her expertise and ideas through performance, lectures and teaching. Vicky is in demand as a performer, master clinician, scholar and adjudicator of piano competitions across the country and around the globe, including Greece, Italy, Germany, Austria, Serbia, England, Puerto Rico and Belize. She is an acknowledged expert on the music of Béla Bartók, having won first prize at the International Bartók-Kabalevsky Competition in 1990, authored several publications, and presented many lecture-recitals on Bartók’s music. She is currently creating a pedagogical edition of Bartók’s “For Children.” Vicky received her musical education, with degrees in piano performance and musicology, from Centenary College of Louisiana, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Vienna Conservatory. She began teaching piano beginners in high school at the urging of her own piano teacher, and she’s been teaching ever since—-as a graduate student teaching assistant at UT, and as co-founder of the Crawford-Fischer School of Music in Austin, Texas. After completion of her DMA in Piano Performance at UT, Vicky began her collegiate teaching career at Bucknell University, followed by a 30-plus year career at Elon University. At Elon she taught undergraduate piano, mentored student research and created a piano pedagogy program that evolved into an undergraduate music minor. Vicky recently retired from Elon. She is excited about her next chapter of professional life, which includes developing her own private studio and advocating for music teachers and students in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Diane W. Higgins is an Independent Piano and Composition Instructor. As a promoter of teaching composition in the studio, Diane has been invited to present composition sessions to the 2012 MTNA National Conference (NYC), State MTA Conferences, pedagogy classes at universities, local associations, private music schools, and independent teacher’s studios. Diane has received Steinway’s 2021 Top Teacher Award, the 2012 NCMTA Teacher of the Year Award, the 2012 UNCG Summer Music Camp Hall of Fame Award, and the 2007 MTNA Foundation Fellow Award. Diane has served on the MTNA National Board of Directors, the MTNA National Nominating Committee, and as National Chair of the MTNA Local Associations Forum. Diane served as both President and Director of MTNA Southern Division. She is past President of NCMTA. Diane holds national certification from MTNA, and her articles and nine book reviews are published in the American Music Teacher national magazine.

Dr. Annie Jeng (anniejeng.com) has performed at the Brancaleoni International Music Festival in Italy, the Gijón International Piano Festival in Spain, the Kennedy Center, Interlochen Arts Academy, and throughout China. She is the founder of A Seat at the Piano (aseatatthepiano.com) and is a founding member of the Khemia Ensemble (khemiaensemble.com).

Dr. Douglas Jurs is proud to serve as Associate Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy at Elon University as of August 2022. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at Allegheny College in northwestern Pennsylvania, receiving tenure in Spring ’22. A committed teacher, Dr. Jurs’s piano students have had success in numerous competitions, including a Gold Medal winner in the 2022 World Piano Teacher’s Association Finland International Competition, First Prize winner in the 2021 Pittsburgh International Competition (resulting in a 2022 Carnegie Hall debut), and several others. He frequently guides college students in summer research projects, including one who won the award for the top student research presentation at the College Music Society 2022 Northeast Regional Conference. This year, Dr. Jurs is recording and concertizing with the complete keyboard works of Joseph Bologne, as well as preparing a program with soprano Jennifer Lien entitled “Juxtapositions: European Orientalism, Asian America, and Asia.

Dr. Olga Kleiankina is the Teaching Professor and the Director of the Piano Program at NC State University. She is the recipient of the NC State University’s 2016 Outstanding Teacher Award and 2020 Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Award. An internationally acclaimed pianist, she has presented numerous lectures, recitals, master classes and workshops, including National CMS, ATMI, and MTNA Conferences.

Dr. Leonidas Lagrimas, NCTM, serves as Assistant Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy at Western Carolina University. His duties include coordinating the Class Piano program and teaching Applied Piano.  Leonidas has served as a presenter/clinician at numerous local, state, regional, and national music conferences, including MTNA, GP3, NCKP, and College Music Society. He has been a featured clinician for the Frances Clark Center’s webinar research series and a contributor for their online pedagogy courses. Dr. Lagrimas holds a Ph.D. in Music Education and Piano Pedagogy from Florida State University.  He serves as a state board member and journal editor for NCMTA.  His previous full-time faculty appointments include SUNY-Fredonia and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, and prior to his doctoral studies he served as a music teacher in the New York City public schools for ten years.

David Lane is a composer for concert and film music, a private instructor with over 22 years experience, the current chair of the NCMTA Composition and Theory division, a board member for the Winston-Salem Piano Teachers Association, and the creator and host of the podcast “Life in the Pit”, a series devoted to instrumental musicians who play for theatre. The podcast has been active since June 2020, was included in Welp Magazine’s 20 Best Musical Theatre Podcasts of 2021 list, and twice mentioned in Broadway World.

Tom L. Lohr has been an Instructor of Piano and Composition at Meredith College since 1979, where he teaches piano, both in the college’s music department and within the College’s Community School of Music. As a composer, Mr. Lohr has written works for performers of various media including piano and piano four-hands, a one-act opera, works for organ, works for string orchestra and full orchestra, song cycles, a concertino for piano and orchestra and choral works including two full settings of the Ordinary of the Mass.  Many of these works are available through Shelkins Music Publishing Company.*  Several of Mr. Lohr’s piano pieces have been on the NCMTA Contest-Festival list. Mr. Lohr is active in both the Raleigh Piano Teachers Association (RPTA) and the North Carolina Music Teachers Association (NCMTA).  He has served as an officer in both organizations and as a presenter in several Fall Conferences of NCMTA.  Mr. Lohr, a long-time member and former president of the Gamma Mu chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda, is also an honorary member of the Beta Zeta chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota. 

Edwin McLean is a composer living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Krzysztof Penderecki and Jacob Druckman. He also holds a master’s degree in music theory and a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from the University of Colorado. Mr. McLean has authored over 200 publications for The FJH Music Company, ranging from The FJH Classic Music Dictionary to original works for pianists from beginner to advanced. His highly-acclaimed works for harpsichord have been performed internationally and are available on the Miami Bach Society recording, Edwin McLean: Sonatas for 1, 2, and 3 Harpsichords. His 2011 solo jazz piano album Don’t Say Goodbye includes many of his advanced works for piano published by FJH. Edwin McLean began his career as a professional arranger. Currently, he divides his time between editing, composing, and painting.

Dr. Elena Nezhdanova

Chrissy Ricker, NCTM, is a pianist, teacher, and composer from Fuquay-Varina. A North Carolina native, she received her BM and MM degrees in piano performance and pedagogy from Meredith College in Raleigh. Chrissy specializes in creating engaging original music and arrangements for pianists of all ages and skill levels. She has published over 40 collections of piano solo and duet music for students, and her works are featured regularly on the contest lists of teaching associations across the United States. A prolific arranger, Chrissy is also a Signature Artist for the digital music retailer Musicnotes, where she has a growing catalog of over 700 popular titles for pianists at all levels. Read more about Chrissy at her website, chrissyricker.com.

Dr. John Salmon (johnsalmon.com) has recorded four CDs of Dave Brubeck’s piano music. His recital appearances include six tours of China and multiple performances throughout Europe including at the Ernst Barlach Haus in Germany, the International Bartók Festival in Hungary, and the Festival Internacional de Música del Mediterráneo in Spain.

Leda Scearce, MM, MS, CCC-SLP: Soprano, Speech-Language Pathologist, Clinical Singing Voice Specialist; Clinical Associate Faculty, Duke University School of Medicine; Director of Community Engagement, Duke Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences; Director of Performing Voice Programs and Development, Duke Voice Care Center. Leda Scearce provides voice evaluation and rehabilitation therapy to singers, actors, and other vocal performers with voice injuries. A voice teacher for over 30 years, Ms.Scearce has served on the artist faculties of five colleges and universities, and has been featured as leading soprano and soloist with opera companies, orchestras, and music festivals across the US. She is a graduate of Indiana University with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in vocal performance and received a master’s degree in speech pathology from Boston University. Scearce is a frequent speaker at national and international voice conferences. She is the author of Manual of Singing Voice Rehabilitation: A Practical Approach to Vocal Health and Wellness.

Celeste Watson (MM, MS, NCTM) helps musicians achieve artistry through well-coordinated use of the body. She holds credentials in performing arts medicine, piano performance, and music education and is an certified instructor of the Lister-Sink Method of Injury-Preventative Keyboard Technique and. Recent performances and speaking engagements include the Beethoven International Piano Festival, Health and Wellness at the Piano, and The International Ahmet Symposium. She teaches and coaches online and in-person from her home in North Carolina. Playing the piano continues to challenge and grow her both as an artist and as a human being, and she works to help each of her students experience that same joy and growth.

Dr. Andrew Willis, known as a performer on pianos of all periods, holds degrees from Curtis, Temple, and Cornell and is a Professor at UNC Greensboro, where he teaches piano and historical keyboard instruments. A frequent performer at festivals and conferences, his discography ranges from the Baroque to the contemporary. andrewwillispianist.com

Jacob Wright is currently pursuing a M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Next spring, Jacob will complete an internship specializing in voice and upper airway disorders under the tutelage of Edie Hapner at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. An accomplished tenor, he has performed on opera and concert stages nationwide including Dayton Opera, Dayton Philharmonic, Santa Fe Symphony, Teatro Nuovo, Opera Saratoga, Opera San Jose, Piedmont Opera, North Carolina Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Greensboro Opera. Most recently, Jacob was seen as Younger Brother in Piedmont Opera’s production of Ragtime. Jacob holds a B.M. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a M.M. from the University of Michigan, and a Performance Certificate from the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute.