About Us

Here you can find more information about violists from the Greater Philadelphia and Delaware region!

If you would like to be featured on this page, contact us at philviolasociety@gmail.com

Maria Rusu, president of PhilaDELphia Viola Society

A native of Romania, born in Brasov, Maria Rusu comes from a family of musicians. She began her musical studies at the age of six with her mother, Teodora Rusu who taught her violin and later on viola. Maria attended a music school for twelve years in Brasov before coming to the U.S. to continue her musical studies on viola.


Miss Rusu has recently graduated from University of Delaware in Newark DE with a Masters degree in Viola Performance studying with Sheila Browne. Since the Spring of 2016 Maria has had the pleasure of conducting the University Strings Ensemble, a non-music major group for three semesters.

Miss Rusu received a Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance from Bowling Green State University, College of Musical Arts in Bowling Green, Ohio where she studied with Professor Matthew Daline-McBride. She has played in orchestras around Ohio and Michigan as principal violist and section violist, some of them being Lima Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Philharmonic, Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra. Maria also had the opportunity to be a mentor for the Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra. 

Miss Rusu had the honor to play in master classes for Ivo-Jan van Der Werff, Nokuthula Ngwenyama, Sheila Browne, Roberto Diaz, Daniel Strba, Michael Larco, Anne Lanzilotti, and Christopher Luther.

In July of 2016 at the California Summer Music festival at Sonoma State University, Maria was selected to play in a masterclass for Ivo-Jan van Der Werff where she performed the third movement of Hindemith's Viola Sonata op. 11 no. 4.

In Delaware Maria teaches violin, viola, jazz voice, individual and group piano lessons for the Community Music School part of UD, as well as being a house manager for the events in the Department of Music. 

During her masters, Maria has been part of the UD Jazz Singers, and she also had the pleasure of being a soloist with the UD Jazz Ensemble I and several jazz combos lead by Tom Palmer.

Sheila Browne


Hailed by the New York Times as a "stylish player” for a concerto performance Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, violist Sheila Browne is an accomplished international soloist, chamber musician and professor.

Honored to be named the William Primrose Memorial

Recitalist of 2016, Ms. Browne has performed in major halls on six continents, including solo performances with the Juilliard Orchestra,

Kiev Philharmonic, New World Symphony, in Carnegie Hall with the

New York Women's Ensemble, South African International Viola Congress Festival Orchestra, and the Viva Vivaldi!, Reina Sofia and German-French chamber orchestras, and with the Highland Mountain  Correctional Center Women’s String Orchestra in Alaska. She was the only viola finalist in the 2004 International Pro Musicis Solo Awards at Carnegie Hall.

          A proponent of new music, she has premiered a concerto written for her by Kenneth Jacobs at the international viola congresses in Australia and South Africa, which was recently released on CD, recorded with the Kiev Philharmonic. She has worked on solo and chamber works with living composers William Bolcom, Krystof Penderecki, Joan Tower, Judith Shatin, and Gabriella Lena Frank, among others.

          She has performed with Shmuel Ashkenazy, Aretha Franklin, Miriam Fried, Matt Haimowitz, Gilbert Kalish, Paul Katz, David Krakauer, Anton Kuerti, Ruth Laredo, Joseph Robinson, Arnold Steinhardt, Richard Stolzman, and members of Guarneri, Vermeer, Brentano, Audubon and Calidore quartets, Diaz Trio, and has recorded with Fire Pink Trio, Audra MacDonald, Natalie Cole and Lisa Loeb, on Sony, Bridge, MSR, Albany, Centaur, and Rising with Carol Wincenc was chosen as Minnesota Public Radio’s CD of the Month.

          A devoted and sought- after teacher and clinician, Ms. Browne has given masterclasses around the world, including at Seoul National, Luebeck Musik Hochschule, Leopold Mozart Academy, Eastman, Oberlin, Rice University, Lynn, U. of Michigan, Boston University, among many others. As the first viola professor ever to teach in Iraqi Kurdistan at the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq’s inaugural year, she is featured in a recent book about the group, UPBEAT. She is Director of the January Karen Tuttle workshops, and is also on faculty at the annual NYU Tuttle Workshops in New York City and in Prague, and at several other summer festivals.

          Ms. Browne received a Naumburg scholarship and earned a Bachelor of Music degree at the Juilliard School, where she was Karen Tuttle's teaching assistant for four years. She was awarded a DAAD scholarship to study with soloist Kim Kashkashian, and was Karen Ritscher’s teaching assistant at Rice University while earning a Master’s degree in Paul Katz’s String Quartet program. She serves as viola professor at the University of Delaware, in conjunction with a residency as the violist in the Serafin String Quartet, and has served on the faculties of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, University of St Louis- Missouri, and New York, Duke and Tennessee universities. She has had both a viola and bow made for her, by Maarten Cornelissen and MacArthur Genius Grant winner Benoit Rolland, and also plays a Testore viola, on generous loan from Dr. William Stegeman.  www.violasheilabrowne.com

Kirsten Johnson

Kirsten Johnson joined The Philadelphia Orchestra as associate principal viola at the start of the 2007-08 season. She made her solo debut with the Chicago Symphony at the age of 17 and has since performed with many orchestras, including the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, the Concertante Chamber Ensemble, and the Juilliard, Jackson, Kalamazoo, and Peninsula symphonies. 

Ms. Johnson has participated in chamber music festivals nationwide, performing at Bargemusic, the Caramoor International Music Festival, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, the Cape & Islands Chamber Music Festival, the Pensacola Chamber Music Festival, the Spoleto Festival, and Bay Chamber concerts. She participated at the Marlboro Music Festival for three summers and continues to perform on Music from Marlboro tours. As a chamber musician she has appeared in performances with the Orion, Vermeer, St. Lawrence, and Colorado string quartets. 

A first-prize winner of the 1997 Washington International Competition, Ms. Johnson has recently appeared in recital engagements on the Kohl Mansion Chamber Music Series near San Francisco, the concert series at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts series in Chicago, and the St. Croix Concert Series in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Ms. Johnson received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Michael Tree. She pursued further studies with Samuel Rhodes at the Juilliard School. Her other teachers include Almita and Roland Vamos and James Dunham.

Che-Hung Chen

Violist Che-Hung Chen has been a member of The Philadelphia Orchestra since the spring of 2001, when he was hired by then Music Director Wolfgang Sawallisch, becoming the first Taiwanese citizen ever to join the Orchestra. He has also served as acting associate principal viola under former Music Director Christoph Eschenbach. 

Mr. Chen was the first-prize winner at the Seventh Banff International String Quartet Competition as the founding member of the Daedalus Quartet; he was also awarded the Pièce de concert prize for the best performance of the commissioned work and the Székely Prize for the best performance of a Beethoven quartet. A three-time top-prize winner at the Taiwan National Instrumental Competition, Mr. Chen began his studies at the age of six with Ben Lin in his native Taipei, and he later entered the Curtis Institute of Music at age 14, where he studied with Joseph dePasquale, retired Philadelphia Orchestra principal viola. Mr. Chen has served as principal viola of the Curtis Symphony and has recently appeared as guest principal viola with the San Diego Symphony and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

As a vivid chamber musician, Mr. Chen was a participant at the Marlboro Music Festival, performed on its 50th anniversary concerts in Boston and New York’s Carnegie Hall, and took part in several Musicians from Marlboro tours throughout the United States. He has collaborated in chamber music settings with members of the Guarneri, Orion, Miami, Tokyo, and Ying string quartets, and artists such as Martha Argerich, Yefim Bronfman, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Lang Lang, Leonidas Kavakos, and Hilary Hahn. Performing annually at the Kingston Chamber Music Festival in Rhode Island, where his wife, pianist Natalie Zhu is the artistic director, Mr. Chen has also participated in such festivals as Ravinia, Caramoor, Saratoga, and Bridgehampton, and Music from Angel Fire. 

Mr. Chen currently serves on the faculty of Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music and its Preparatory Division, and he has given master classes at the Philadelphia International Music Festival and the Luzern Music Center. He performs on a viola made by Carlo Antonio Testore in Milan, Italy, c. 1756.

Kerri Ryan

Assistant Principal Viola Kerri Ryan joined The Philadelphia Orchestra at the beginning of the 2007-08 season. She came to Philadelphia from the Minnesota Orchestra, where she was assistant principal viola for seven seasons. Following her graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music in 1998 she served as associate concertmaster of the Charleston Symphony. Ms. Ryan and her husband, violinist William Polk, are founding members of the award-winning Minneapolis Quartet. 

In Philadelphia, while pursuing a violin performance degree at Curtis, Ms. Ryan began studying viola with Karen Tuttle. Ms. Ryan also studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music as a member of its Young Artist Program. Her violin teachers include Lee Snyder, Jascha Brodsky, Rafael Druian, and Arnold Steinhardt.

Timothy Deighton

Timothy Deighton is professor of viola at Penn State, where he teaches viola, chamber music, viola literature and pedagogy, and orchestral excerpts classes, and directs the Penn State Viola Ensemble. He also serves as the coordinator of the Professional Performance Certificate (PPC) program and is the faculty advisor of the Penn State Viola Society.

A committed teacher, Deighton has received several teaching awards, including the Pennsylvania-Delaware String Teachers Association’s String Teacher of the Year, and the Outstanding Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Architecture at Penn State. He was honored to receive the American Viola Society’s 2016 Maurice W. Riley Award.  His former students hold positions in professional orchestras and on the faculties of music schools in the United States and overseas. Recent teaching engagements include master classes throughout the United States, Europe, and in South and Central America. His articles have appeared in such publications as Strings, the American String Teacher, Journal of the American Viola Society, the New York Violist, and the Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Viola Society. He is a board member of New York Viola Society and formerly served on the board of the American Viola Society. “ViolaFest,” an event he directed at Penn State, involved more than 200 violists from across North America and abroad. The Penn State Viola Ensemble, which he directs, performs on and off campus, and has been regularly featured on New York Viola Society concerts, where they have presented several world premieres.

Deighton enjoys a wide variety of performance opportunities. He has appeared at four International Viola Congresses as recitalist, chamber musician, and soloist with orchestra, and as master class presenter and panelist. In 2014, he presented the prestigious William Primrose Memorial Concert at Brigham Young University. Having long held a fascination for new music, he has performed premieres of more than fifty new works for viola, most of which were commissioned by or written for him. His solo CD, Viola Aotearoa, featuring music for viola by New Zealand composers, was released in 2002 on the Atoll label. His playing on this disc was described in The Strad as “brilliant and differentiated.” As a member of the contemporary music duo The Irrelevants, he and saxophonist Carrie Koffman have commissioned and premiered many new works. Their "excellent playing" of several new works in a recent New York recital was noted in The Strad, and their CD, Dialogues, is available at CD Baby. The Chihara Trio, with Anthony Costa, clarinet, and Enrico Elisi, piano, performed its New York debut recital at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in March 2010, in which, according to the New York Concert Review, "Deighton's technical aplomb and precision were very impressive."

Other chamber music collaborations include those with the American String Quartet, Quartet Accorda, and the New Zealand String Quartet, and with musicians outside the traditional classical field such as the Mäori (Taongo Puoro) instrumentalist Richard Nunns. Many of Deighton’s solo and chamber music performances have been broadcast on U.S., European, and Australasian radio. He is a National Recording Artist for Radio New Zealand, and former member of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He performs regularly with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, with whom he also recorded and toured, and has also worked with the Boston-based chamber orchestra, A Far Cry. He also appears in recital with his wife, pianist Ann Deighton.

He has been associated with a number of music festivals, including most recently, the Halcyon Music Festival in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and the International Musical Arts Institute in Fryeburg, Maine which he served for a time as artistic director. Other festivals at which he has appeared include the Killington Music Festival (VT), the Pierre Monteux Festival (ME), the Gold Coast Music Festival (CA), Music at Penn’s Woods (PA), the Dublin International Symphonic Festival (Ireland), the Adam New Zealand Festival of Chamber Music, the ASM Festival (Panama), and Rencontres Musicales Internationales des Graves (France).

Julia DiGaetani

Julia DiGaetani is a graduate of the Philadelphia Musical Academy. She has played with the Bethlehem Bach choir and Mostly Mozart in NYC. After years of being associate principal with the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra, and a member of the Opera Philadelphia as well as the Academy of Vocal Arts, she became the principal violist of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. Along with her symphonic duties, she plays with the Symphony's Chamber music series. Her time is split between working in Delaware and working with many musical organizations in the Philadelphia area including the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.

Jonathan Kim

Jonathan Kim is Principal Violist of Opera Philadelphia. He was most recently a member of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and has performed with the San Diego Symphony, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Jonathan completed his Bachelor of Music at the Cleveland Institute of Music under the tutelage of Cleveland Orchestra Principal Violist, Robert Vernon. He began his viola studies with Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Violist, Choong Jin Chang. While a student in the Cleveland area, Jonathan served as Principal Violist of the Canton Symphony and was a featured soloist with the orchestra. Jonathan has served as Principal Violist with the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and the National Repertory Orchestra with which he was also featured as soloist. He has studied the violin with Michael Ludwig, Yong Ku Ahn, Martin Beaver, Misha Rosenker, and Keng-Yuen Tseng. During summers, Jonathan has also participated in the Encore School for Strings, the Itzhak Perlman Chamber Music Workshop, the Pacific Music Festival, and the Tanglewood Music Center. Jonathan is a recipient of the Robert Vernon Prize in Viola Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Carol Briselli

Carol Briselli is a very active free-lance musician in the Philadelphia area. Currently, she is assistant principal violist with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and also performs with the Orchestra 2001, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic and the Pennsylvania Ballet. She was principal violist of the Pennsylvania Sinfonia until 1997. Ms. Briselli is founding member of the Arioso Quartet, a professional string quartet with frequent engagements in the region.

Past summer festivals include the Spoleto (Charleston, SC and Italy) and Taos (NM) Festivals, and the AIMS Institute at Graz, Austria.

Ms. Briselli studied with Toby Appel, Sol Greitzer (former principal violist of the New York Philharmonic) and Evelyn Jacobs Luise. She also maintains a private studio for both violin and viola students.

Choong-Jin Chang

A native of Seoul, Korea, Choong-Jin (C.J.) Chang became principal viola of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2006 after having joined the Orchestra in 1994. He made his performance debut as a 12-year-old violinist with the Seoul Philharmonic as winner of the grand prize in Korea’s Yook Young National Competition. In 1981, at the age of 13, he moved to the United States to attend the Juilliard School of Music. He subsequently studied in Philadelphia at the Esther Boyer College of Music of Temple University and at the Curtis Institute of Music, from which he received degrees in both violin and viola. His primary teachers were Jascha Brodsky and retired Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Viola Joseph dePasquale.

Mr. Chang made a successful solo debut recital at Carnegie Hall in 2007 and since then has appeared in numerous recitals in the United States and South Korea. In 2008 he was featured as a soloist with The Philadelphia Orchestra during its Asian Tour, performing in Seoul and Shanghai, and its summer residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. He made his Philadelphia Orchestra subscription solo debut in 2009 and since then has been a frequent soloist with the ensemble. In 2013 Mr. Chang planned the Bach and Hindemith Project, which included all 19 pieces from both composers and was performed in four recitals over a year at the Kuhmo Arts Hall in Seoul. As a chamber musician, he performs with the world’s great musicians at many prestigious festivals throughout the United States and Asia.

Mr. Chang is a founding member of the Johannes Quartet, whose debut performances at Philadelphia’s Ethical Society and at Carnegie Hall in New York City received glowing reviews. Since 1997 the Quartet has performed to audience and critical acclaim throughout the United States. The Quartet recently premiered Esa-Pekka Salonen’s new quartet, Homunculus, and William Bolcom’s new octet, Double Quartet, with the Guarneri Quartet.

Alongside his extensive performing activities, Mr. Chang is a respected teacher on both violin and viola. Among his former pupils are current members of The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra, as well as many winners of major competitions. He currently serves as the viola professor at John Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory of Music.

Hi Philadelphia violists!


Greetings from Lansdale, PA. 


My name is Adriana Linares, I am a violist originally from Venezuela, living in Philadelphia since 2001. I am honored to be invited to talk a little about what I do here in Philadelphia as a violist, conductor, administrator, and Pedagogue.


I moved to the area in 2001 to study with violist Roberto Diaz, and after finishing my masters at Temple Univ., I started a string quartet in 2004 (the Dali String Quartet), and a Nonprofit organization in 2012 (ArCoNet), with innovative music programs for local, regional, and international students.


The name of the non-profit ArCoNet is an acronym for the Arts and Community Network. it was a hard decision to come up with a name for the organization, as I didn't want to use the term school, program, youth orchestra, or camp. After many years here, having met so many people, wonderful colleagues, and teaching so much, I felt I was  embracing more of a network of people coming together with the common goal to provide and enjoy the ARTS. ArCoNet focuses on community, diversity, performance and education, and the way we do it is through programs for our community and beyond! Some of the programs that we host are:


-A string Academy with 150 students and 12 teachers (we have students from as little as 4 years old, to college/international students from Ecuador, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico)

-A College preparatory program (with students that have moved onto schools such as the Curtis Institute of Music, Indiana University, CIM, Bard, Lynn, Univ. Of Michigan)  

-Bi-Annual winter and summer Intensive String Boot Camps (great for students preparing for college auditions, competitions, or just wanting to improve practice skills)

-Year round Youth and Chamber orchestras (in session now, with a full season of concerts, rehearsals and collaborations)

-Community outreach initiatives with several organizations including the Kensington Library, Aclamo Family Center, North Penn Commons, retirement homes, etc

-Dali Quartet International Music Festival (which we are holding auditions in March, April and May)



You can find more information about ArCoNet at:



Aside from being the founder, president, and artistic director of this wonderful organization ArCoNet, I am the founder of the Dali String Quartet. Our mission is to promote Latin American and classical music and we tour around the US, Canada and Latin America. This year we are excited to be the Lehigh University Quartet in residence and last year we were the quartet in residence at West Chester University. We also host our own International music festival in North Wales PA in collaboration with ArCoNet. This program has a QUARTET FELLOWSHIP, Assistantships, and we accommodate students from ages 10, to professional quartets. 


More info about the quartet and the festival at: www.daliquartet.com


Aside from those two jobs, I am also an adjunct professor at Kutztown University, and guest professor at the summer studies program at the University of the Arts, where I dictate yearly courses on string techniques, music pedagogy, and psychology, ensemble techniques and more!



My job is fun, versatile, entertaining, and I do have to wear several hats, between practicing, performing, teaching, writing, advertising, conducting and being a mom! 


I live in Lansdale PA with my husband, Alfredo Perez, and I have a 20-year-old cellist son, Andres, who attends the Curtis Institute of music, and a 15-year-old, Danny, who is at the Penndale Middle School. 

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