About NOLA Chamber Fest
NOLA Chamber Fest was established to promote chamber music in New Orleans and the Gulf South region. Our mission is to inspire and motivate classical musicians through the experience of true collaboration and artistic independence that only chamber music can offer.
Presented by Lyrica Baroque, New Orleans Friends of Music and the University of New Orleans, NOLA Chamber Fest is proud to annually host New Orleans’ very own chamber music competition and festival. The competition consists of six divisions: Junior, High School, College, Graduate, Community and Emerging Ensemble. Awards include medals, cash prizes, masterclasses with world-renowned artists and performance opportunities.
“Profound thanks for offering my students the opportunity and motivation to take their artistic skills to a higher level. They now have a much deeper understanding of the value of thoughtful, consistent, and rigorous preparation. At the same time, they know instinctively that their carefully crafted, enthusiastic performance deeply moves their audience.”
“We enjoyed this experience tremendously, and look forward to future encounters with the absolutely lovely people we met [at NOLA Chamber Fest].”
“I want to send a big thank you to Nola Chamber Fest staff! The kids had terrific coaching sessions, and we are so thankful for these opportunities! For my son’s group, it was the perfect ‘first’ master class! We all appreciate the work you do for the music students in our community! Thank you, thank you!!”
“I loved the masterclass! It was good for the group to get the reinforcement on issues that we can improve and it was great to get validation from such an acclaimed group of musicians.”
“For a group such as ours, taking part and doing well represents a significant step forward for us and all of my members were proud and appreciative. The prize money will help me to add to our music library significantly, and the experience at the masterclass was just as valuable and enjoyable.”
“NOLA Chamber Fest provides an outstanding platform for my students of varying ages to grow such skills as independence, deep listening, collaboration, and disciplined preparation. The chance to work in masterclass with world-renowned musicians is also invaluable. I’m very grateful this festival exists in New Orleans, and I see the potential for NCF to serve as a model and leader for fostering youth chamber music across the country.”
Jaren Atherholt, Executive Director
Jaren Atherholt is the Assistant Professor of Oboe at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She previously served as Principal Oboist of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra from 2007 – 2018. Originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, Jaren left home at the age of sixteen to pursue oboe study at the Interlochen Arts Academy with Daniel Stolper. After graduating from Interlochen, she earned her bachelor’s degree in music performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied with John Mack and a master’s degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University where she studied with Robert Atherholt. Prior to obtaining her position with the LPO, Jaren spent two seasons as Principal Oboist of the Sarasota Opera Orchestra. She has performed as guest Principal Oboist with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony and Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería in Mexico City. She has also performed as guest Associate Principal Oboist with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Jaren has been a featured concerto soloist with the LPO, Tulane University Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, Washington Chamber Symphony at the Kennedy Center, and the Fairbanks Symphony.
Jaren spends her summers performing in the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and has participated in the Aspen Music Festival, Verbier Festival Orchestra, Music Academy of the West, and Spoleto Festival USA. She also previously served on the faculty of the John Mack Oboe Camp for two years, Wintergreen Music Festival and four summers as a member of the Interlochen Oboe Institutes faculty, teaching with Linda Strommen, Elaine Douvas and Daniel Stolper.
An active chamber musician, Jaren spent four summers performing in the Marlboro Music Festival. She has also performed for the Grand Teton Music Festival Winter Chamber Series, A Far Cry, and is the founder and Executive Director of Lyrica Baroque, a chamber ensemble and non profit organization based in New Orleans. Jaren enjoys practicing Ashtanga yoga in her free time under the guidance and instruction of Melanie Fawer. She is married to Ben Atherholt, whom she met at Rice University. Jaren and Ben enjoy spending time with their dogs, Jessie and Bes.
Benjamin Atherholt, NCF Director
Benjamin Atherholt is the Music Coordinator and NOLA Chamber Fest Director with Lyrica Baroque, and the Contrabassoonist and Assistant Principal Bassoonist of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also the Contrabassoonist with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra performing each summer in upstate New York. His specialty as a Contrabassoonist has engaged him in performances with orchestras including the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra and Houston Symphony, where he is featured on the 2013 Grammy Award winning recording of Berg’s Wozzeck. A passionate educator, Ben is the Instructor of Bassoon at Tulane University and frequently teaches as a featured guest artist in masterclasses and residencies across the country. Ben grew up in Houston, Texas and holds a B.M. in performance and composition from Oberlin Conservatory studying under the tutelage of George Sakakeeny and Jeffrey Mumford respectively.
For questions about NOLA Chamber Fest please contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jane Koelsch, Administrative Assistant
Jane Koelsch is a current graduate student at the Eastman School of Music, pursuing a master’s degree in Music Leadership. She previously studied clarinet performance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and during her undergraduate studies became involved in several community engagement initiatives. Her passion for the intersectionality of music, community, and social justice led her to study arts administration and leadership.
During her studies at Eastman, Jane worked for Buffalo String Works, an organization that provides instruments and instruction freely to the refugee community in Buffalo, New York. Jane currently works as an administrative assistant for Lyrica Baroque and its annual music festival, NOLA Chamber Fest, which brings chamber music and education to the city of New Orleans.
In addition to her administrative work, Jane is an active performer and teacher. She understands the significance of having access to the arts from a young age, and seeks to create ways to make the arts more equitable and accessible. After graduation, she plans to start a non-profit organization that provides young woodwind students with the tools and resources needed for a successful start in music.