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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.”

— Marta Jurjevich, String Program Director and Music Department Chair, Lusher Charter School

“We enjoyed this experience tremendously, and look forward to future encounters with the absolutely lovely people we met [at NOLA Chamber Fest].”

— The Vella Quartet (2019 Participants)

“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!!”

— NOLA Chamber Fest 2020 Parent

“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.”

— 2017 Participant

“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.”

— 2017 Participant

“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.”

— Joel Bein, Conservatory Symphonic Band Director, Lusher Charter School

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Our Team

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
Interim NCF Director

Benjamin Atherholt is Music Coordinator and Bassoonist with Lyrica Baroque, Instructor of Bassoon at Tulane University, and Contrabassoonist and Assistant Principal Bassoonist of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. For over a decade Ben’s arrangements have been premiered by Lyrica Baroque around the city of New Orleans including performances at the Historic New Orleans Collection, St. Louis Cathedral, and New Orleans Museum of Art. Ben’s compositions have been performed at Boston University, University of Texas, and the Interlochen Arts Academy. Ben is also the Contrabassoonist with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and has performed as guest Principal Bassoon with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony, and North Carolina Opera. 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 their 2013 Grammy Award winning recording of Berg’s Wozzeck. Ben plays a Heckel bassoon and a Mollenhauer contrabassoon 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 nolachamberfest@lyricabaroque.com.

Christian Aldridge
NOLA Chamber Fest Program Manager

Violinist Christian Aldridge currently resides in New Orleans where he is a regular substitute with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, he is a section member of the Baton Rouge Symphony, the Pensacola Symphony, the Acadiana Symphony, the Rapides Symphony, the Gulf Coast Symphony, and performs frequently as a freelancer in the greater New Orleans area. Christian also works actively as an arts administrator, helping local arts organizations in a variety of capacities.. Most recently in the summer of 2018, Christian returned to the Round Top Festival Institute in Round Top, Texas, where he served as Orchestra Manager. During the six week festival he oversaw orchestral operations, personnel, and concert production, for over 50 orchestra concerts and recitals. Originally from Fredericksburg, VA, Christian completed his undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina with Dr. William Terwilliger, graduating Summa Cum Laude with Honors from the South Carolina Honors College. Subsequently, he earned a Master of Music in Performance degree from Louisiana State University, where he studied with Dr. Lin He and served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.

For questions about NOLA Chamber Fest please contact Christian at christian@lyricabaroque.com or nolachamberfest@lyricabaroque.com.


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