May 20, 2010

Creative Strings Workshop Faculty

2017 Creative Strings Workshop Faculty

Christian Howes, Violin 
As an educator, performer and composer, Christian Howes has gained respect from critics and musicians alike. Recently voted #1 in the Downbeat Critics Poll (“Rising Stars/Violin”), the Minneapolis Tribune called Christian “arguably the most intriguing young violinist in jazz.” A former Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music, he performs and conducts master classes around the world, and is the founder of Creative Strings, a 501 (c) (3) organization with a mission to expand music education through online curriculum, outreach in schools, and this annual summer conference.  “I select our faculty based on my experiences learning on the gig from great bandleaders. We design the ensemble experience at CSW so that participants have the opportunity to get inside the heads of composer-bandleaders through intensive rehearsing and performing. The faculty below are bandleaders handpicked by me to guide you through their music. There’s no experience more worthwhile for a musician.”

Joel HarrisonGuitarist/Composer

Named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2010, Joel Harrison is one of the first composer/bandleaders to have bridged the worlds of jazz, classical, Americana, and traditions from India and Africa. Harrison is a two-time winner of the Jazz Composer’s Alliance Composition Competition, and has received support and awards from Chamber Music America, Meet the Composer, the Flagler Cary Trust, NYSCA, New Music USA, and the Jerome Foundation.  He has released 17 cds since 1995. Much of Joel’s music has featured top improvising string players, and we are thrilled to have him bring his diverse body of work this year for participants to study, interpret, and perform.

Jason Anick, Violin and Mandolin 

jazz mandolinist, jason anickBased in Boston, Jason Anick is a music instructor at Berklee College of Music who is rapidly making a name for himself in the world of jazz violin and mandolin. In 2007, he won top honors for improvisation in the ASTA Alternative Styles competition. In 2008, while still a senior at the prestigious Hartt Conservatory, Jason began touring internationally with Grammy award-winning Nashville guitar virtuoso John Jorgenson.  2011 marked the release of Jason’s debut solo album “Sleepless,” which was cited by as “…a must have for any jazz violin/mandolin fans.” His group,  the “Rhythm Future Quartet” has been taking U.S. audiences by storm the past 2 years.

Mike Barnett, FiddleMike Barnett2

Mike is a “burning” multi-styles fiddle player, and one of the most in-demand players in the bluegrass world, currently working with the Ricky Skaggs band and other luminaries. Born and raised in Nashville,  since graduating from Berklee College of Music a few years ago, he has played with everyone that is anyone in the fiddle world, including recently on the Colbert show. Mike first attended CSW as a student at the age of 14.

Diana Ladio, Fiddle

Diana Ladio 2

A studied 5-string fiddler, composer, and classical violist, Diana Ladio co-founded the instrumental fusion trio, The Moxie Strings. In 2015, Diana joined the ranks of legendary Celtic rock outfit, The Elders. You can also find her as the face for long-respected bow-maker, Codabow International, as well as Shar Music’s new non-classical campaign.

Diana has dedicated her career to introducing young players to the excitement and fulfillment found in learning many genres and exploring musical creativity. With The Moxie Strings, Diana has taught clinics in over 100 schools throughout the United States, and has presented sessions at many music education conferences.


Diana will be working with the students of the Youth Program.

Jennifer Vincent- cello and bass

jennifer vincent jazz cellist

(Quoting Monika Herzig)- “Jennifer started out as a classical cellist. A common story for jazz women is the transition from a traditionally non-jazz instrument and classical training to jazz. It takes passion and drive to take the leap and build a successful career – Jennifer has certainly achieved all of the above and is now a driving force in the New York music scene. In fact, she has toured the world over with the legendary Duke Ellington orchestra over the last few years. In addition, she is equally at home in Latin styles”.




Cedric Easton, Drums

From the moment Cedric Easton could walk, he was playing the drums. At the age of 4, Easton began playing in church and won his first regional music competition at age 8 through the FOX KIDS television network.

He has performed with internationally recognized jazz musicians such as Wess Anderson, WyCliff Gordon, and Kenny Banks, Sr., and has played in Christian Howes’ band for over ten years.

While Cedric has been immersed in the music of jazz, he has always stuck with his roots — gospel music. After serving for years as musical director of the New Covenant Believer’s Church and as a faculty member of Jazz Arts Group’s Jazz Academy in Columbus, he now resides in NYC and works for Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Mike Forfia, Bass


Mike Forfia is a native of Akron, Ohio and currently resides in NYC, after recently completing his masters degree from the Eastman School of Music.

Equally at home on upright and electric bass, he regularly performs in settings from free-jazz improvisation to classical sight-reading.

Mike Forfia was the 1st prize winner of the 2015 International Society of Bassists Scott LaFaro Jazz Bass competition, and a finalist in the 2013 Airmen of Note jazz bass audition. He currently free lances in NYC while working for St Peter’s aka The Jazz Church.

Nicole Yarling, Fiddle and Vocals

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 10.43.15 AMMiami-based Nicole Yarling defies description – performing on voice, violin and fiddle with technical skill and personality to boot. According to the Miami Sun Sentinel, “Every musical hat fits Nicole Yarling. ..working in jazz, rock, R and B, experimental music, et al.” Nicole’s musical excursions have brought about stints with Dizzy Gillespie and three years on tour as a featured soloist with Jimmy Buffet. Her chosen instruments are voice, violin and fiddle (in that order).

Greg Byers, Cello and Bass

Cross6 Greg Byers is an idiosyncratic performer, composer, educator, and producer. After beginning the undergraduate program at University of Miami, he ultimately earned the designation of being the first person to graduate as a jazz cellist.

As a performer, Greg enjoys working in the studio as much as playing shows. As a composer, he strives for melodies that reach the layman, and harmonies that challenge the stereotypes of Western popular music. As an educator, Greg is passionate about helping students avoid the pitfalls of traditional music instruction, with the student truncated from any sort of creativity or expression. Rather, Greg works to bring out the creative potential residing in every student by integrating improvisation, theory, and ear training into his pedagogy.

Micah Thomas, Piano/Composition/Arranging


Micah Thomas is a jazz pianist based in New York City. Born in 1997 and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Micah started taking piano lessons when he was two years old.

Micah was a member of the 2013 Vail Jazz Workshop and the 2014 Brubeck Jazz Colony.

Micah recently moved from Ohio to New York to pursue a BM in Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School, and is already performing with world-class musicians in venues across the world.

Gabe Valle, Violin / Piano / Bass

He has performed/recorded with artists such as Anne Hampton Calloway, Sherrie Maricle, John Feeny, Adam Nussbaum, Christa Benion, Steven Reineke, Robert Sabin, Jermaine Paul, Tao Seeger-Rodriguez and Barrage. He is currently the Minister of Music at Harriman United Methodist Church and piano/violin/voice teacher at Shamrock School of Music, as well as an in-demand free lancer (on three instruments) on the NYC scene.

Paul Brown, Guitar/Composition


Paul Brown has been active in the Columbus jazz scene for decades. He was an integral mentor in Christian Howes’ development as jazz fusion player and composer.

Paul Brown was awarded “Best Unsigned Guitarist, 1990” and 2nd place in the “Ultimate Guitar Competition 1992” by Guitar Player Magazine. In addition he was Capital University’s Featured Composer at their New Music Festivals in 1999 and 2003 and Denison University’s featured guitarist at their 2004 Jazz Guitar Festival. Paul has been a professional musician most of his life and is well versed in all American guitar styles, including Rock, Pop, Folk, Blues, Country and Jazz. Paul’s 40+ years of teaching experience include seminars at Capital University, Denison University and Fort Hayes High School for the Arts as well as an adjunct professorship of guitar at Kenyon College.

Kris Keith, Flute /Saxophone

cmr-kris-keithKris’s reputation as a strong woodwind doubler and his ability to perform a wide range of musical styles from jazz to classical, from Cuban to Brazilian, from rock to funk, has kept him in demand as a sideman and session player.

His woodwind doubles include flute, alto flute, piccolo, recorder, penny whistle, and clarinet as well as soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. Kris has worked with major artists including Billy Taylor, Lew Tabackin, Diane Schuur,  Rosemary Clooney, Aretha Franklin, John Clayton, Andrea Bocelli, Hubert Laws,  Rufus Reid, and Dr. John.

His own projects, which he draws from in his ensemble coaching at CSW, include:

  • La Charanga Tres, a ten-piece orchestra celebrating the music of Cuba
  • Trio Classique, featuring classical and baroque chamber music for flute, violin and cello
  • Minan-Dya, a jazz ensemble featuring Kris’ original compositions with a focus on American/Latin jazz

Kristopher Keith is the director of The Ohio State University Jazz Ensemble and the Latin Jazz Combo.


George Delancey  Bass/Composition/Arranging

“George DeLancey understands the entire scope and history of the bass, his playing reflects this and looks towards the future. As a composer, he is without a doubt, one of the most creative melodists of his generation.” 
Todd Stoll, Jazz at Lincoln Center – Education, Vice President 

George Delancey bassist