String Project Faculty

The University of Arizona String Project is directed by Dr. Theodore Buchholz.

Katie Baird is a violist and arts advocate based in Tucson, AZ. She was recently named the Presser Scholar at the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree under the tutelage of Dr. Molly Gebrian. Katie is an active member of the Arizona Symphony Orchestra and the Desert Violas Ensemble. During her studies, she has performed in masterclasses for renowned musical artists including Kim Kashkashian, Carol Rodland, Jeffrey Irvine, Lynne Ramsey, Susan Dubois, Sheila Browne, and Hank Dutt.

Passionate about equity in the arts, she has collaborated with professors and librarians across the nation to launch the Underrepresented Composers Database. Housed on the American Viola Society website, this database contains 1,500+ works for viola written by BIPOC and women composers, 800+ of which Katie contributed through volunteer research.

As a continuation of that project, Katie started a podcast called Behind the Score where she interviews composers that she discovered through the database. Upon completion of her current studies, she hopes to pursue graduate degrees in Viola Performance and Pedagogy. Katie currently plays on a viola generously loaned to her by the AVS Viola Bank.

Gabby Cioca is an active performer, educator, and arts advocate based in sunny Tucson, Arizona. She has performed in masterclasses for Daniel Foster of the National Symphony Orchestra, John Sherba of the Kronos Quartet, and the Juilliard String Quartet. Her other performing highlights include participating in the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute at the Kennedy Center, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and the Arizona Symphony Orchestra.

An advocate for new music, Gabby recently commissioned a work for solo viola titled “The Space Between Lovers”, written by Colin I. Nossek, an LGBTQ+ composer and clarinetist. She also enjoys volunteering as a researcher for the American Viola Society’s Underrepresented Composer Database.

Gabby has recently presented for the National String Project Consortium on “How to Teach an Online String Class”. Her other teaching highlights have been coaching for the Southwest String Quartet Camp, teaching for Empowering Communities Through Art, and teaching for the University of Arizona’s String Project, where she teaches viola and violin lessons as well as group violin classes. She also maintains a private viola and violin studio outside of String Project.

Gabby is currently pursuing her B.M. in viola performance and music education with a minor in arts administration at the University of Arizona. Bear Down! Gabby plays on a 2019 viola made by Alastair Brown.

Lilly Cottam is in her senior year as a Music Education student with the University of Arizona, and has studied with Suzuki teacher trainers in Dallas, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah to gain training through Book Three of the Suzuki curriculum. Her performance experience includes participation in both the Arizona Symphony and the University of Arizona Philharmonic Orchestras, and a solo opening for the Moscow Ballet Company during high school as part of the Wunderkind program.

She has explored her passion for composition and improvisation through the cello and piano and uses this to create exercises for herself and her students, as well as encouraging her students to consider their instruments in a similar manner and explore the possibilities of improvisation.

Helena Hadlock is a junior violin performance major from Denver, Colorado, studying with Professor Lauren Roth. Helena has performed solo repertoire in multiple masterclasses with guest artists like Alex Woods, Noah Geller, and Ronald Patterson. Helena also has performed solo repertoire in competitions such as the University of Arizona Concerto Competition and the Eastern Music Festival Concerto Competition.

Helena currently participates in the Arizona Symphony Orchestra at the University of the Arizona. Helena served as the concertmaster of multiple orchestras, such as of the Arizona Philharmonic Orchestra and the Carnegie Mellon Millennium Symphony Orchestra. Outside of the University of Arizona, Helena participated in the 2021 Eastern Music Festival, where she studied with Dr. Courtney LeBauer.

An avid musician and teacher, Carissa Powe started playing the violin when she was three years old and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Arts in Violin Performance at the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music. She has won multiple awards locally and nationally for her solo and chamber performances, and she made her debut solo performance with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra when she was 12 years old. Teaching is a passion she has been pursuing for the past 5 years, and in her free time she enjoys discovering contemporary classical artists and hiking.



Faculty members Mr. El, Mr. Jayden, and Ms. Maria perform Auld Lang Syne for three cellos.