Who We Are!

Adam Phillips, Founder/Music Director, vocals, Scottish smallpipes, whistles, acoustic guitar

   Music Director/Founder Adam Phillips has had an extremely varied career as a vocal, instrumental, and stage performer as well as a voice teacher and music director. Adam received his  undergraduate training at the State University of New York at Fredonia,  earning a BFA in Musical Theatre while making the Dean’s List and performing in a variety of theater and opera productions, recording  several vocal albums, and receiving numerous awards and honors including a Voice Faculty Scholarship and a nomination for Best Actor in Musical Theatre in Buffalo, New York. Since moving to Santa Barbara, Adam has sung with Quire of Voyces, with Opera Santa Barbara, with the Adelfos Ensemble, and as a cantor at Old Santa Barbara Mission. He has served as a Theater Specialist with the Montessori Center School, as Assistant Drama and Music Director for Stage Left Theatre Company, Worship Leader at El Montecito Presbyterian Church’s Tapestry, and as a voice teacher. He was the Music Director for the Santa Barbara Revels for three seasons.
  Currently, Adam is the Director of Music and Worship at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Goleta and teaches voice lessons at his home studio. As a multi-instrumentalist he frequently  performs with guitar, mandolin family, whistles, various other string  instruments, and Scottish smallpipes (bagpipes). 

Nicole McKenzie, Concertmaster

NICOLE MCKENZIE has performed widely as soloist and chamber musician. The Santa Barbara Independent declared, "McKenzie made a splash in the luscious and exciting music - she performed with gorgeous musicality."

Winner of the Sutton Chamber Music Award, she graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy, earned a BM Degree from Oberlin Conservatory, an MM Degree from Florida State University, and studied with Gary Kosloski at the Music Academy of the West. Ms. McKenzie maintains a private

violin studio, co-directs and teaches for Sandcastle Music Together, Coaches chamber music at Santa Barbara

Strings, is a member of the duo, Continental Cafe, directs and teaches at Allegro Violin Camp, was a founding member of

the Nicole McKenzie Improv Group (an improvising group of dancers and musicians), was a long time member of the Klezmer/Jazz group, Kalinka, and regularly concertizes with renowned pianist, Betty Oberacker. She performs on a violin created for her by Michel Eggimann of Rome, Italy.



Kirstine Pacheco, violin 1

  Violinist Kristine Pacheco, a California native, is a highly sought after performer and music educator. She appears regularly with the Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale Orchestra, and local chamber groups. Kristine has performed in many great concert spaces like Carnegie Hall and Disney’s REDCAT, but also in less likely places for music: at the center of a rodeo ring, on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean, and in an airplane hangar. When not performing Kristine devotes much of her time to teaching young musicians. She is a principal instructor with the Santa Barbara Symphony Education Center, musical director of Mariachi Monarcas de Goleta, and a staff violin teacher at the Cate School. Kristine has three years of experience teaching in the El Sistema style and has maintained a private violin studio for over eight years. Equally at home with contemporary, classical, and early music repertoire, Kristine studied at UC Berkeley earning a bachelors in Music and Premedical Studies and holds a masters in Violin Performance from San Francisco State University.  

Marie Hébert, violin 1

Marie Hébert was born and raised in Santa Barbara and has played the violin since she was nine years old. She attended UCSB where she studied with Yuval Yaron, earning her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in violin performance. Marie has toured in China with the Young Musicians’ Foundation’s Debut Orchestra and also performed with them many times in Los Angeles. Ensembles closer to home include the Santa Maria Philharmonic, Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale, and local chamber groups. 

Marie is dedicated to her students and enjoys guiding them as they discover the joys and challenges of playing an instrument. In addition to offering private lessons, Marie has worked as a chamber music coach at Santa Barbara Strings and is currently an instructor and coach for the Santa Barbara Symphony Education Center. She teaches violin/viola classes in various elementary schools and coaches at the Junior Orchestra, and is also a teaching artist with BRAVO!.

Lalia Mangione, violin 1

Lalia Mangione recently graduated from Westmont College with a BA in Music Performance. Lalia grew up in Grand Rapidsds, MI and has been playing violin for over 13 years. She has participated in and won several string competitions, including the Guild Music Scholarship Competition and the Westmont Concerto Competition. Additionally. Lalia has worked as a musical mentor with iCAN (Incredible children’s Art network), tutored violin students at Cold Springs Elementary School, and worked as a TA for the Westmont Academy for Young Artists summer camp. Currently, Lalia works as the Strings teacher for the Waldorf School of Santa Barbara, a teaching artist with BRAVO!, a chamber coach with Santa Barbara Strings and has her own private violin studio. 

Kristi Holstein, violin 2*

Kristi Holstein is a violinist/violist from Charleston, West Virginia. She received her Bachelor of Music in Violin performance Summa Cum Laude from West Virginia University in 2014 and earned her Master of Music in Violin Performance from University of Texas at Arlington in May 2016. She has been playing music since the age of 7 and has been active member of orchestras, marching, and concert bands throughout her educational career. She moved to Santa Barbara to relax while preparing audition material to return to school for her Doctorate of Musical Arts. She currently lives in Downtown Santa Barbara and is eager to teach and be an active performer in the area!

Carmalisa Jorquia, violin 2

Carmalisa Jorquia moved to Santa Barbara from Milwaukee, WI. Passionate about music, the move to the west coast was a natural fit. She proceeded to work in a fast, upscale environment, assuring client delight in music business. With encouragement from friends and colleagues, Carmalisa and her husband Joveth established one of Santa Barbara's newest sound recording studios in 2015. At DMXO Records, they also love hosting live performances, where local musicians can intertwine. Grateful for an amazing group of neighborhood instrumentalists, Carmalisa makes sure that new residents are welcomed in a way that has become customary in Santa Barbara. In her free time, Carmalisa enjoys camping, tree climbing, and playing in local orchestras, including Adam's folk orchestra.

Zela Goettler, violin 2

Zela’s desire to play violin began when she was very young, compelling her to take her first lesson at age five and within a few years she was fiddling Celtic tunes. Zela’s love for music has inspired her to learn other instruments as well, including the piano, guitar and ukulele. When she was ten years old, Zela began writing songs with the help of her guitar, and at thirteen she self-recorded her first album of original songs. As a singer-songwriter, Zela has performed at many local festivals including Earth Day, Summer Solstice, and Live Oak Music Festival and has had the honor of being invited to sing at the Oregon Country Fair for the past two years. In addition to playing music, Zela enjoys dancing and performing in musicals. She is currently sixteen years old and is excited to be a member of the Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara.  

DeeDee Nussmeier, violin 2

Recently returning to the violin after a long break, DeeDee has played with the SBCC Symphony Orchestra and now with the Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara . She has sung with numerous choirs including Canticle and the Quire of Voyces.  A  bicoastal musician, DeeDee also took part in recording violin tracks and performing in the world premiere of the rock musical Legend of the Bunnyman in the Washington DC area.  DeeDee enjoys musical improvisation and is down to jam anytime!

Laury Woods, violin 2

Attended CSUN, studied Viola with Milton Thomas and Myron Sandler. Played viola in studios from 1973 to 2000. Worked with various recording artists: Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight, Prince, Madonna, Gloria Gaynor, etc. Movies include Close Encounters, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Color Purple and many others. Live performances include leader of a small ensemble playing Persian Music in a night club (1979-1980). Appeared on Midnight Special backing up Wolfman Jack. Moved to Santa Barbara in 2000. Currently plays with Santa Barbara Symphony (since 1973) and Santa Barbara Choral Society. Teaches violin and viola. 

Angela Miller, viola*

Dr. Angela Miller is an active musician both in the classical and folk music worlds.  She holds a bachelors of music in Viola performance from Brigham Young University and her Masters and Doctorate were obtained while studying with Helen Callus at University of California, Santa Barbara.

Angela is the Viola instructor at Westmont College as well as a teaching artist in violin, viola, and cello for Santa Barbara Strings and Santa Barbara Symphony's education programs. She also maintains a private strings studio.

Angela performs regularly for regional orchestras, the Santa Barbara String Quartet, and in folk music groups including Dansair and the Santa Barbara Revels, and in worship bands for various church services.  She also performs  regularly for drama productions.  She has appeared on national TV as well as performed on stages in Europe with various chamber and orchestral groups.

Angela can regularly be found out enjoying Santa Barbara's nature when not confined indoors. Her next upcoming adventure/challenge is to ride across the country on a bicycle in less than a month.  

Jimmy Chen, viola

Jimmy hails from Roseville, Minnesota by way of Guangzhou, China, and is currently a graduate student in experimental physics at UCSB. A member of the SBCC Symphony's viola section, Jimmy also enjoys playing the piano, cooking, and traveling.

Esther Frankel, viola

Esther Frankel teaches information technology at SBCC. She started playing the piano at an early age. In elementary school, one of the teachers wanted to start an orchestra, and recruited every student who could read music to play violin. She switched to viola in junior high. Esther attended the High School of Music and Art in NYC, and played in the NYC All-City Orchestra. She has a Master's degree in Music History and Theory and taught in that field for several years. After a long hiatus, she took up the viola again a while ago, and currently plays in the SBCC Symphony.

Helena McGahagan, viola

Helena began playing viola in elementary school, and continued through college, while pursuing degrees in science and math. Since moving to Santa Barbara, she has been active in the music community, playing in the SBCC orchestra and chamber groups. Professionally, she is working as an iOS/Android developer at a startup in town. She loves all sorts of music, from classical to modern, and folk to punk!

Jeannot Maha'a, cello*

Originally from Honolulu, cellist and bassist Jeannot Maha'a, has called Santa Barbara home for the past ten years. Active throughout the Central Coast music scene, he also teaches privately, dedicating much of his attention to beginning students of all ages. While at home in a variety of musical settings from Bach to bossa nova, he has a special interest in 17th and 18th century music, including the use of original instruments. This specialization figures prominently in his role as editor-in-chief at Editions Violone, the Santa Barbara-based music publishing firm through which he leads an international team of music scholars in the discovery and publication of unknown and forgotten music from centuries past. 


Laura Hemenway, cello

Laura Hemenway was professor of music at Antelope Valley College from 1978 until her retirement in 2009. She is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara (BA in piano performance, MA in Instrumental Conducting). She was music director and conductor of the Antelope Valley Symphony for 15 years, and served as advisor for the Commercial Music certificate program at Antelope Valley College for ten years. She was cofounder of the Antelope Valley College Musical Theatre Institute, and has served as music director for many Antelope Valley productions, including “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Evita”, “The Goodbye Girl, “Assassins”, “Hair” and “Rocky Horror Show”. Laura is the recipient of 18 “Shining Stars” awards, presented annually by the Antelope Valley theatre community for achievement in local musical productions. She has also written incidental music for theatre productions and 2 ballets, all produced in the Antelope Valley. 

Since her return to Santa Barbara, she teaches piano privately, has served as music director for Out of the Box Theater Company, plays cello in the SBCC Symphony Orchestra, and

frequently accompanies her husband, singer-songwriter Dennis Russell, on accordion. She is excited to join the cello section of the Santa Barbara Folk Orchestra!

Karen Spechler, cello

  Karen Spechler has lived in Santa Barbara all of her life and has had a very successful ongoing real estate career since she was 20 yrs old. Karen majored in real estate and law in college but her passion has always been the arts. She started piano and cello lessons after her 2 sons were in school and now plays cello with the Santa Barbara City College Symphony Orchestra and just recently joined the Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara. Karen also is a an avid hiker in our local mountains and has done many treks in Europe and the Sierras. She also enjoys oil painting when time allows. Karen’s motto is that “we only have a short spin on this little blue ball and we must make the most of it!”  


Gerrie Fausett, cello

  Gerrie, a long time Santa Barbara resident, served as an educator here in the County for 30+ years. Born in Kansas, she began playing cello in elementary school and now participates locally in chamber music groups as well as workshops across California. She has a B.A in Secondary/Elementary Education from Wichita State University and an M.A. from Cal State University, Northridge. Gerrie continues to serve education communities through consulting and superintendent searches.  

Rob Moreno, bass

Rob Moreno is a guitarist and bassist from Santa Barbara, CA. In 20 years of playing, Rob has primarily focused on jazz studies and is proficient in all styles of American music. Rob has toured internationally, performing at notable festivals such as the Montreux Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz festival and the Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles. Rob currently teaches privately and freelances in the Santa Barbara area. 

Santino Tafarella, bass*

Santino is primarily a jazz bassist who has toured with some of the finest names in jazz including the grammy award winning “Bob Mintzer Big Band” as well as with Los Angeles based hard bop guitarist Bruce Forman. He was also the bassist of USC’s Thornton Jazz Orchestra, which won first place at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Santino hones his skills as a composer, arranger and instrumentalist at the USC Thornton School of Music and is completing his last semester for his bachelor’s degree in music. Although Santino primarily spends his time in the "jazz" world, his musicianship is rooted in classical music.
With the inspiration and training from amazing community teachers like Jeff Peterson, Nancy Chase, John Douglas, Randy Tico, Jim Mooy, Les Rose and many others, Santino was able pursue whatever direction of music he wanted. Understanding the value of music education and classical music, Santino is passionate about playing music for the community. He performs regularly between the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara area as an in demand bassist, and is excited to be part of such a unique and special orchestra.

Erin McKibben, flute*

Erin McKibben is an active performer and teacher currently residing in Southern California. Erin is principal flutist for the Los Angeles-based experimental classical ensemble, wild Up. 

As a soloist, Erin has given acclaimed performances with several orchestras across the country. She has also appeared as a soloist at the National Flute Association Convention as a prize-winner of the Orchestral Excerpt Competition in New York City and in 2015, performed as a soloist with Claire Chase at UCLA in a project for 104 flutists. 

Erin has performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West, Colburn's Zipper Hall, Warner Brothers Studios and as soloist at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. wild Up has performed alongside the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

She holds a BM from the University of Puget Sound and a Masters Degree from the University of Michigan, where she studied with Amy Porter as a fellow.

She is the Owner and Director of the Santa Barbara School of Music.


Alan Wood, bagpipes, whistle, and bodhran*

Alan Wood is a bagpiper and drummer.  His interest in traditional music from around the world, particularly from Scotland and Ireland, has influenced his focus on the Scottish bagpipes and the Irish bodhrán.  He appreciates the raw sound and power of the Scottish pipes and the unique tonal qualities, rhythmic potential, and overall versatility that the bodhrán offers.  Alan enjoys connecting with audiences, and seeks to involve and transport listeners through the vast range of emotion of this music.  Alan plays with the local group, Shepherd’s Pie, and with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. Pipe and Drum Corps.  He can also be found competing at Highland Games and Scottish Festivals throughout California.

Laurie Rasmussen, harp*

Laurie Rasmussen has been a musician since childhood but her destiny was made clear when she discovered the Celtic harp in 1986 and she built her own instrument from a kit. This piqued her interest in the building and design aspect of the instrument and she consequently spent two years working as a luthier. Then she grew tired of breathing all that sawdust and discovered that she gained more enjoyment from playing harps rather than building them. Time spent traveling in the British Isles and studying with traditional players instilled in her a love of the traditional Celtic genre and set her on her professional path.

An award winner in both the US and Europe, she brings a graceful touch and unique interpretation to traditional Celtic repertoire. As a performer Laurie has been a featured guest at major festivals in the US, Canada and Europe, both as a soloist and in ensemble. Her career has led to a wide variety of performance adventures: She appeared in Reno as Music Director and cast member in the Irish dance show Spirit of the Dance; while living in Italy she performed regularly in Renaissance castles, Baroque churches, public piazzas, German villages, folk clubs in Sicily, Milan, Frankfurt and Heidelberg and on a mountain top in the Apennines with Galician bagpipers. Laurie currently lives in Santa Barbara, CA where she plays with symphony orchestras, jazz bands and folk ensembles. An enthusiastic instructor with a passion for sharing the beauty of her instrument, she is the harp instructor at Santa Barbara City College and also teaches children and adults in her private studio. She is the owner of Harps by the Sea, a showroom of harps and accessories in downtown Santa Barbara.


James Watson, guitar

James is an SBCC faculty member, where he teaches technology and music fundamentals. He primarily plays trumpet in a few jazz big bands, small brass groups, and various other ensembles. He can also occasionally be found playing trombone, even more occasionally playing guitar, and on a rare windy night with a blue moon, singing in a choir. 

Andrew Manos, guitar

Andrew Manos is a young music professional with a degree in Music Composition from UCSB. He began playing the piano as a kid and picked up guitar and drums along the way. Andrew released an album in 2014 titled “Hope for Happiness” and has since recorded music for film, and personal compositions which can all be found at  Andrew has had musical experience in a diverse collection of ensembles including rock/jazz bands, orchestras, percussion chamber ensembles, and as a piano soloist. Andrew teaches a variety of music styles for piano, guitar, and drums for students seeking to find the happy medium between proper musical training, and fun creative music playing.  Andrew also provides “piano ambiance” to any social function playing beautiful piano versions of today's and yesterday's pop/jazz music. Andrew is still writing music and always down to jam! 


Neil Newton, mandolin*

Neil plays a variety of fretted musical instruments and is originally from New Zealand, coming to Santa Barbara by way of United Kingdom and Pittsburgh. He has performed as a member of the Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra, the Balalaika and Domra Orchestra of Pittsburgh, as well as playing in numerous bands. Currently, Neil is a Lecturer in Music Theory at UCSB, where he specializes in teaching counterpoint and musical form.

Ian Martyn, mandolin

Ian has been playing music since he was young, inspired by both his parents' love for music and his elementary school music teacher, an ethnomusicologist. He has since learned several other instruments over the years including bass guitar, bodhrán, bouzouki, smallpipes, mandolin, guitar, and concertina. He has spent a large part of his life studying and appreciating Irish traditional music as well as the folk music traditions of Scotland and England.  More recent musical interests include Nordic Folk, Ethiopop, and Gamelan.  He has always had a fondness for video game music.

Ian is a member of the Materia Collective and The Travelers VGM, online recordings groups, in which he produces, arranges, and plays video game music in various folk and metal styles. He is also a composer who has composed for video games. He is also a club DJ who has performed in a number of venues throughout the country.  He is also a member of Gamelan Sinar Surya, Santa Barbara's community gamelan ensemble. He received his M.A. in Ethnomusicology from UC Davis in 2013 following a B.A. in Linguistics and Anthropology from UCLA.

When he is not making music, Ian is a web developer and database administrator who enjoys learning languages, computer programming, and travel.



Twitter: @IanMartynMusic



Pat Hackney, mandolin

Pat Hackney is a Santa Barbara based professional musician who plays the mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and sings. He performs in a variety of musical ensembles in blues, bluegrass, British Isles fiddle, rock, rhythm and blues, gospel, and classical styles, does studio recording sessions, and teaches group and private music lessons.