Skip to Main Content


Nick Curry, Associate Professor, Cello, Area Coordinator

Nick Curry headshotDr. Nick Curry is the Associate Professor of Cello at the University of North Florida. At UNF, he also serves as the coordinator of scholarships and admissions for the music department and as the area coordinator for strings. He is a founding member of Trio Florida with violinist Simon Shiao and pianist Gary Smart, featuring new compositions as well as timeless classics.  In early 2015, he joined fellow Jacksonville musicians Aurica Duca, violinist, and Clinton Dewing, violinist/violist, as founders of the Lawson Ensemble to play and promote chamber music in the region. From 2004-2007, he served as the assistant professor of cello and the cellist in the Rawlins Piano Trio at the University of South Dakota.  

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from The Westminster Schools, where his chamber music coaches included Martha Gerschefski and Allan Sandlin. Nick received his Bachelor of Music, cum laude, from Vanderbilt, where he studied with Grace Mihi Bahng. While at Vanderbilt, he served as Professor Bahng’s teaching assistant and was the recipient of the Jean Keller Heard Award for Excellence in string performance. Nick then served as Hans Jorgen Jensen’s teaching assistant for five years at Northwestern University, earning both his Master and Doctor of Music degrees. He also was the teaching assistant to Professor Jensen at the Meadowmount School of Music for four summers. At Northwestern, Nick performed as soloist with the Northwestern Philharmonic Orchestra and won the Northwestern Chamber Music Competition.

Nick’s chamber training includes master classes with the Emerson String Quartet, the Pacifica String Quartet, and the Blair String Quartet. Private studies also included summers in Canada and Italy studying with Harvey Shapiro of Julliard fame. Nick has played concerts in Austria, France, Italy, England, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Taiwan and Turkey, and throughout the United States.  In April of 2006, he performed as a soloist on National Public Radio (USA) Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion on the King Amati (ca. 1538) cello. The performance was heard by over 4,000 people live and by approximately four million on radio and can be found on the Prairie Home Companion website archives.

In the summers of 2012 and 2013, Dr. Curry was visiting faculty at the Meadowmount School of Music and was full-time faculty at the Tennessee Valley Music Festival.  In 2016, he joined the faculty of the ARIA International Summer Music Academy.  He has presented at national conferences; is a sought after clinician and adjudicator; and active with the Florida Chapter of the American String Teachers Association.  His research has been printed in the ASTA journal.  In 2017 he founded the first annual Jacksonville Cello Workshop


Contact: (904) 620-3837 -

Melissa Barrett, Adjunct Professor, Violin

Melissa BarrattMelissa Barrett is the Associate Concertmaster of the Jacksonville Symphony. She holds degrees in violin performance from Michigan State University and the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Walter Verdehr and Sylvia Rosenberg. Her chamber music coaches include the Juilliard Quartet, Franco Gulli, Raphael Druian, Gyorgy Sebok, and Gunther Schuller. Prior to her tenure with the Jacksonville Symphony, Melissa spent one season performing in the Savannah Symphony. She was also on the full time faculty at Sam Houston State University for five years, where she performed in the faculty piano trio and the Houston Grand Opera orchestra. She has performed in numerous summer festivals, including Aspen, Boulder, Lake George Opera, Sandpoint, Banff, and Sarasota. Melissa was a member of Chamber music Hilton head for eight seasons, and founded the Lantana Piano trio. As an adjunct faculty member at the University of North Florida, she enjoys mentoring students on violin, chamber music, and orchestral repertoire.


Contact: (904) 620-2961 -

Grace Bahng Gavin, Adjunct Professor, Cello

Faculty - Grace Gavin2

Grace Bahng Gavin was a scholarship student of Leonard Rose and Channing Robbins at the Juilliard School  where she received her B.M. and M.M. degrees. She was a member of the Blair String Quartet and Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University from 1984-1999. Widely acclaimed in concert performances across the country, she has appeared in recital at the Library of Congress, Kennedy Center, 92nd St. Y in New York, Alice Tully Hall and on National Public Radio and Television. She has been in residence at the Aspen, Marlboro, Sunflower, Sewanee, Buzzard's Bay and the Crested Butte Chamber Music Festivals, the El Paso Pro Musica International Chamber Music Festival, the Sedona Chamber Music Festival, the Highlands/Cashiers Chamber Music Festival, the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, and the St. Barths Music Festival. Ms. Bahng has performed with a wide array of musicians, including: Edgar Meyer, Robert McDuffie, Donald McInnes,  Joseph Silverstein, Bela Fleck,Nigel Kennedy, Mark O'connor,  Vince Gill, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Andrea Bocelli and has played on numerous movie soundtracks.


Contact: (904) 620-2961 -

Renate Falkner, Adjunct Professor, Viola

Renate FalknerPraised for her versatility and creativity, American violist Renate Falkner enjoys an active career as an orchestral and chamber musician, performing across the U.S. and abroad. Equally at home on both modern and baroque viola, she is a former member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and performs regularly with groups such as Boston Baroque, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra New England, and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. In Florida, she performs regularly with the Jacksonville Symphony and the Naples Philharmonic, as well as with Opera Tampa and the St. Petersburg Opera Company. 

As a chamber musician, she frequently collaborates with internationally renowned flutist Sergio Pallottelli in diverse chamber ensembles with guitar (Trio Tropicale) and harp (Anthos Trio and Trio Salzedo) and is a frequent guest artist with the Fontenay Chamber Players in NY, and the Westminster Trio in Baltimore. Renate has also performed alongside such artists as violinist Erick Friedman, violist Jesse Levine, harpist Rita Costanzi and oboist Joe Robinson. She has been heard in chamber collaborations in venues as diverse as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book Library, in orchestras at Carnegie Hall and Boston’s Jordan Hall, as well as such forums as the American Harp Society and the National Association of Composers, U.S.A.

Summer appearances abroad have included the Verbier Festival, Switzerland, the Spoleto Festival, Italy, and a faculty appointment at the Carvalho Festival of Music in Fortaleza, Brazil. In the U.S., she has appeared or taught at the Quartz Mountain Music Festival, OK, Chautauqua Festival, NY, and the Weathersfiled Festival, VT. Currently, she is a member of the orchestra at the prestigious Bellingham Festival of Music in Washington state every summer. She has recorded for the Chandos, Nimbus and Rezound music labels. 

An accomplished educator, Dr. Falkner received her undergraduate training at the Oberlin College and Conservatory, earning degrees in both viola and Ancient Greek, studying with Roland Vamos. She completed her graduate studies at Yale University as a scholarship student of the late violist Jesse Levine. She has performed and given masterclasses and presentations at schools and universities throughout Florida, Valdosta State University (GA), Bowling Green State University (OH), Ball State University (IN), and the College of Wooster (OH). She is also a co-founder, along with her sister Dr. Annegret Falkner, of Project Left Brain/Right Brain, a new initiative designed to illuminate the complementary relationship between Music and the Brain through education integrating both S.T.E.M. fields and the Fine Arts. Most recently, she earned a doctoral degree in viola from the Florida State University, studying the viola music of English composer York Bowen. She currently serves as Prof. of Viola, Adjunct at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.


Contact: (904) 620-2961 -

Simon Shiao, Associate Professor, Vioin/Viola

Simon Shiao posing with violinDr. Simon Shiao is a versatile performer who holds the distinction of having performed at Carnegie Hall in three different capacities, as a recitalist and with both string quartet and orchestra.


Dr. Shiao has appeared around the world in concert, as well as on broadcasts of CNN's Science and Technology program and on Public Radio's Live on WGBH Radio. Highlights of his performances include concerts at the Museum of Oceanography in Monte Carlo, the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston, and as soloist with the New World Symphony in Miami. He has also appeared at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, A Winter Festival in Jerusalem, and the Heidelberg Schloss Festspiele in Germany. As co-concertmaster of the New World Symphony, Dr. Shiao led that orchestra at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas and John Adams.

Dr. Shiao currently performs with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and with the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra in Wyoming. At the University of North Florida he teaches violin and viola and is the Director of Orchestral Studies. He has adjudicated the Music Teachers' National Association Young Artist Competitions and the UNF String Competition, and has presented lecture-recitals and master classes at numerous universities and conservatories in the U.S., Belize, Taiwan, and China. He is currently the chair of the solo competition for the Florida Chapter of the American String Teachers Association.

Dr. Shiao holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and Master and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.    


Contact: (904) 620-3835 -

John Wieland, Adjunct Professor, Bass

John Wieland headshotJohn Wieland has been principal bass for the Jacksonville Symphony since 1989. He is also an Assistant Conductor for the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra.


Prior to joining the Jacksonville Symphony, Mr. Wieland was principal bass of the Virginia and Oklahoma Symphonies, as well as the Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria in Mexico City. For many summers, he was also a member of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra in Boulder Colorado as well as the National Repertory Orchestra, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Eastern Music Festival.

His bachelor’s degree is from the New School of Music in Philadelphia (now part of Temple University) and included studies with Michael Shahan (Associate Principal Bass/Philadelphia Orchestra) and (the late) William Smith (Assistant Conductor/Keyboard/Philadelphia Orchestra). Additional teachers include Eugene Levinson (Principal/New York Philharmonic) and (the late) H. Stevens Brewster (Principal of the National Symphony).


An avid educator, he has taught students from age three up to the university level. He has held faculty positions at the University of Central Oklahoma, Langston University, Bethune-Cookman University, as well as teaching bass at Stetson University for over sixteen years. Many of Mr. Wieland’s former students now teach all over North and Central America and play professionally around the world. 


Contact: (904) 620-2961 -