Staff & Instructors – Years Past


Brynn Albanese

Brynn Albanese

Gypsy fiddle, violin technique

Brynn Albanese is a classical violinist who is a fearless musician unrestrained by a single discipline. As a member of Cafe Musique, a popular Central California band, she moves easily and exuberantly from her classical mode into gypsy, swing and folk styles. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, she has served as concertmaster and soloist for the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic, and has been principal second and soloist with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. After seven years of living in the Netherlands and performing with various Dutch Orchestras, Brynn returned to California and settled on the Central Coast. She currently teaches violin and is an orchestral coach for the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Symphony.

Suzanne Botha


Music has been an inspirational force in Suzanne’s life from the time she started playing violin at age eight. Upon moving to Tehachapi at age ten, Suzanne quickly became involved in the local classical and traditional music scene. She played in the Tehachapi Symphony, was the first concertmaster of TPOPS (The Tehachapi Pops Orchestra), and a member of several traditional music groups. She holds a bachelors in Music Education from CSU Bakersfield, and has been teaching violin, viola and piano in Tehachapi and Fresno to students of all ages and skill levels for 12 years. With an open mind to learning, Suzanne loves to share music with the world.

William Coulter

Guitar (Classical and Celtic), whistle, bodhran

William Coulter has been performing and recording traditional music for 20 years. He has a classical guitar studio at UC Santa Cruz, and is a sought-after teacher at many summer music camps. William is a Grammy-winning artist who enjoys collaborations with other musicians and has toured internationally. He holds, among other degrees, a Masters in ethnomusicology from UCSC, with an emphasis on traditional Irish music and song.

Duane Inglish

duane inglish


Duane’s musical education began at the age of six under the tutelage of master accordionists Frank Umbro and Ray Gibson. He has lived in San Luis Obispo since 1971. In addition to being an original member of San Luis Obispo’s  popular gypsy band, Cafe Musique, he was a founding member and director of the Live Oak Music Festival in Santa Barbara. He has owned an acoustic music venue, helped produce countless shows and concerts featuring folk, blues and bluegrass music, and hosted “Basically Bluegrass” at KCBX Public Radio in San Luis Obispo for the last sixteen years.  Duane has also been involved in musical productions at Cuesta College, and was the music director in Philip Valle’s multi-disciplinary performance,“CQD/SOS”, which premiered at the 2008 Sound Symposium in St. John’s, Newfoundland.


Michael Gutin

Accordion “From Scratch” to advanced

Accordion firebrand Michael Gutin hails from Santa Barbara, CA, where he is in demand for contra dances and all manner of events and festivities. It might seem unusual for the accordion to be such a popular attraction at a fiddle camp, but Michael can play anything on the squeeze box, from “Light My Fire” to fiddle tunes. He will again teach a workshop on playing music for contra dances, as well as giving everyone a “hands-on” opportunity to tickle the accordion keys.

 Ann JonesAnn Jones

Beginning Mountain Dulcimer

Ann was in the last class of local Mountain Dulcimer Guru Al Crisalli Jr., who was a student of Janita Baker. Al passed on in 2013, and Ann, along with Jon Hammond and Deborah Hand, are maintaining his legacy in Tehachapi.


Andrea Beaton

Cape Breton Fiddling and Step-dancing

Andrea Beaton is one of a long line of outstanding Cape Breton fiddlers and is in the forefront of her generation. In fact, the Beaton name is one of the names synonomous with Cape Breton fiddling, along with that of her uncle and cousin, Buddy and Natalie MacMaster. Like her father and grandfather, she is a composer in the tradition, adding fine new music to the repertoire. Andrea will bring this traditional style of Cape Breton fiddling to Camp Kiya. As an added bonus, she has also agreed to teach a class in Cape Breton step-dancing.

Ashley Broder


Ashley Broder is an in-demand mandolinist, violinist and cellist from Ventura, California. Ashley toured as a duo with fiddler Jamie Laval, playing traditional Celtic music, and is now a member of the Syncopaths, a popular contra dance band that stretches the genre to include vocalist Christa Burch, as well as keyboard, mandolin, fiddle and bodhran. When Ashley is not touring, she teaches private lessons. She is also working on her first solo album featuring her own compositions.

Christa Burch

Singing, bodhran

 Singer and bodhrán player Christa Burch’s expressive voice is fresh, powerful, and instantly recognizable. Christa marries a gift for storytelling with her intuitive musicianship, bringing to vivid life the songs from the Celtic tradition. Part of a vibrant new generation of American folk singers, Christa has lent her distinctive voice to many West Coast projects, working with keepers of the tradition such as master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser, as well as updating the tradition with red-hot contra band The Syncopaths. She works with experimental projects like the a capella duet Lintie and nouveau-Celtic band Blackwaterside, and makes guest appearances with many other fine artists and Celtic bands.

Howard Chu

Donegal Fiddle Style

Howard Chu has been singing and playing fiddle for most of his life, and has been a devotee of the fiddle music of Donegal for the past two decades. He is the founder of the band Highland Sun, a founding member of Everything Celtic Dance and Music Troupe, and has also performed with the Scottish Fiddlers of LA. Formerly a Los Angeles local, Howard now resides in Co. Donegal, Ireland.

William Coulter

Guitar, whistle, bodhran

William Coulter has been performing and recording traditional music for 20 years. He has a classical guitar studio at UC Santa Cruz, and is a sought-after teacher at many summer music camps. William is a Grammy-winning artist who enjoys collaborations with other musicians and has toured internationally. He holds, among other degrees, a Masters in ethnomusicology from UCSC, with an emphasis on traditional Irish music and song.

Aria Curzon

Irish dancing

Aria Curzon has been in the entertainment industry since the age of 6, and has acted in many stage, commercial, television and film productions over the years. Also an avid musician and dancer throughout her life, she particularly enjoyed the form of Irish Dance, and studied and competed for over 6 years with the Aniar Academy of Irish dance in Laguna Niguel, CA. She loves sharing this wonderful, energetic dance with dancers of all levels, and can’t wait to return to Camp Kiya for her third year.

Diane Grotjohn

Beginning/intermediate Irish WhistleDiane Grotjohn

Diane Grotjohn has been a professional educator for 30 years. She is the founder of Pint of Irish, a non-profit organization in the High Desert area around Victorville formed in 2011 to promote Celtic music. The organization provides music lessons and workshops, gives concerts and holds jam sessions for High Desert Celtic musicians. Diane also plays the Irish whistle in a local band and in sessions around Southern California.  She has  taught whistle classes in schools and in a variety of camps, including Lark Camp, for several years.

Sharon Martinson

Clawhammer Banjo

Hailing from the mountains of Wyoming, Sharon was classically trained on the French horn. A gift from her grandfather twisted her musical career. The old Washburn banjo sat under her bed in a cardboard box for over five years while she pursued her graduate ecology degree. In the last year of her PhD, she heard Bruce Molskey play clawhammer style banjo and was inspired to pick up the instrument and teach herself a few songs. Sharon now performs as a guest with several local bands, in Santa Cruz and Mammoth.

Miguel Martinez


Miguel Martinez fell in love with the low rumbling sounds of the upright bass while studying music at Mount Sac University. Miguel currently lives in Southern California but is in such high demand for his musical skills that he gigs everywhere. He teaches private lessons for guitar and bass, as well as coaches teen bands at Mike’s Guitar World in Glendora. He also teaches and coaches at other music camps throughout the year. Miguel plays in a number of different bands including Squared U, a dance band  with fellow Camp Kiya instructor Erin Esses.

Chika (Arthur) Nagata


Chika Nagata was born in Hilo, Hawaii, and learned to play ukulele when he was 10 years old. He received formal music training by playing in the Hilo County Band in his youth. In 1990, he formed a quintet in Los Angeles that entertained for weddings, birthdays and other events, and played for Hula dancers in several Hula Halau’s. Chika later formed Na Mele Kakou, a duo with a bass player. They perform at local venues noted for Hawaiian entertainment and at private events. For the past 12 years, Chika has been teaching ukulele lessons at JCI center in Gardena, Ca. He also gives lessons at home, and at Los Angeles Community College.

Harriet Nagata


Harriet Nagata was born in Tappen, North Dakota, east of Fargo and grew up as a farm girl. After leaving home “to find a better life,” she met Chika and they married. He introduced her to Hawaiian culture and music. In 1993, she learned her first hula and fell in love with the culture. Harriet joined a hula class at the Torrance Recreation center and I took hula lessons for two years. She then joined a hula halau to further her understanding of the culture and the meaning of Hula, and performed in several Hula competitons. Harriet has been teaching Hula since 2003, both at home and at JCI Community Center in Gardena. CA.


Dave Ogden

Guitar, bouzouki, Irish flute, whistle

Dave Ogden grew up in a musical family and has played guitar since he was 10, eventually adding wooden flute, whistle, bouzouki, clawhammer banjo and bodhran to his repertoire. He currently plays with the Sunday Drivers and specializes in the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland, as well as American old time. His album “And Why Not” came out last year and he’s currently at work on his next release in his studio, Clear Creek Recording, based near Tehachapi.

Jeffrey Spero


Jeffrey Spero is one of the premiere dance pianists on the West Coast. Known for his energetic style and creative arrangements, Jeff has brought his talents to dances and festivals throughout the nation. His accompaniments bring a fresh perspective to traditional forms. Through performances with The Syncopaths along with renowned fiddlers such as Richard Greene, Laura Light, and Tom Sauber, Jeff’s reputation as a highly sought-after pianist has been well established. Jeff is also in demand as a contradance caller and composer.


Phil Salazar

Bluegrass Fiddle

 Phil Salazar

Phil Salazar has become an icon of the California Bluegrass scene. Coming from a classical music family, Phil is the anomaly. His father was the conductor of Ventura County Symphony, and Phil started on classical violin at the age of 5, studying with the concert master of his father’s symphony. When he was 16, he heard Vassar Clemons on the Will The Circle Be Unbroken album, and “I’ve been fiddling ever since, ” he says. Phil can be heard on recordings by his own bands, including The Acousticats and The Kinfolk,  and playing for other prominent musicians, such as Kenny Loggins, John McEuen, Bob Weir, and others. Whether it’s bluegrass, country, rock,  jazz,  Cajun, Zydeco, Irish, old time or blues, Phil is a fiddle master.

Jodi Stauffer

Youth Activities Counselor


Jodi Stauffer has worked with children, in various capacities, her entire adult life. She has been a Nature and Folklore Specialist at a Girl Scout Camp, an English Teacher in Korea, a Kayak Instructor, a Youth Manager at Junior Olympic Training Camp for Kayakers, and a swim instructor. Currently she works as a credentialed K-8 teacher at home-school charter where her favorite responsibility is meeting with all her students weekly to lead them in a fun, social, educational activity. Here at Camp Kiya, Jodi will combine her experience with children and her life-long love of music and the outdoors to enhance the experience of all the young (and young-at-heart) campers.

Joe Craven


Swing Fiddle, Mandolin, Percussion, General Musical Mayhem

Joe Craven is a madman who can turn anything – bedpan, umbrella stand, cookie tin, squeeze toy, his face – into a musical instrument. He is well-known to music festival-goers throughout the country as an emcee, performer, educator, storyteller and artist. Joe gets people up off their feet playing whatever is at hand – keys, chairs, the silverware, you name it!

Topher Gayle

“Party Guitar”, songwriting, funny songs

Topher Gayle plays a variety of string instruments and hand percussion, and enjoys many styles of music. He’s especially fond of funny songs, and what he calls “genre abuse.” He plays with a number of bands in the San Francisco area, and is in demand as an accompanist for singer/songwriters. He gives private lessons in San Jose, has published several instructional books, and is a skilled luthier. For Topher Gayle, the musical emphasis is on fun.

Candace Semasek

Voice, “So You Think You Can’t Sing!”

Candice Semasek has been a local voice teacher at Mountain Music since she moved to Southern California in 2009. Although her vocal training is in opera and art songs, her students sing everything from Broadway to standard pop. Candice has a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance, appears on recital programs in Tehachapi and the Antelope Valley, and was the Vocal Director for Desert Opera Theatre’s production of Jekyll & Hyde at the Palmdale Playhouse last fall. She recently appeared with the Tehachapi T-Pops during their Christmas 2010 concert to a standing ovation. Candice resides locally with her fiance’, their Boston Terrier, Stanley, and is an aspiring pastry chef in her spare time.


Korinza ShalantaKorinza Elaine Shlanta

Belly Dancing, Vocal Technique

Korinza has been with Camp Kiya since the beginning — first as a camper and two years ago as a teacher. She is an accomplished cellist, opera singer, actor and dancer from Ridgecrest. Her belly dancing, or free movement, class was a hit at last year’s Camp Kiya.

Eric Williams

eric williams

Guitar Styles

Eric is a multi-instrumentalist who has mastered the guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele and bouzouki. Eric has been a recording artist and album producer on more than one-hundred albums.  He has performed and toured with Tori Amos, Taj Mahal, Tracy Ullman, and Russian Balalaika Orchestras, and he has recorded with Rita Coolidge. He currently plays bass and sings with singer-songwriter, Jill Knight, and has recently joined the San Luis Obispo gypsy band, Cafe Musique, with Brynn Albanese and Duane Inglish. Eric resides in Cambria, California.



Maria Weir Werth

Office Manager

Maria Weir Werth grew up in Los Angeles and San Diego where she was the bass player in her family band. She was the office manager for Mountain Music for several years and played a several local bands. She tours with her sister, Tracy Barns in the Grace Angel Band. Maria teaches special education in Lone Pine and commutes to Tehachapi twice a month.


Maria Weir Werth