James Zabawa-Martinez was born in Austin, Texas and had a strong desire to play the violin since early childhood. He began his studies at the age of 12 in his middle school orchestra. When James was 14, he met violinist Jennifer Bourianoff from the Austin Symphony and began to study with her. Shortly after, he moved to Faribault, Minn. to attend Shattuck-St. Mary’s Pre-Conservatory Program, where he studied with Sally O’Reilly.
He continued his studies with her through earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. James has performed in various master classes for teachers including Joseph Silverstein, Pamela Frank, Ani Kavafian, Angie Fuller, Yair Kless, Jonathan Magness, Vijay Gupta, Bruce Coppock, and many more. James has performed throughout Europe and North America as a soloist and chamber musician, and has participated in competitions such as the Sphinx Competition, Saint Paul Chamber Competition, Music Teachers National Association. He received his master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin with professor Brian Lewis, and maintained a teaching studio at Orpheus Academy of Music. He is currently working on his Doctoral degree with Sally O’Reilly and works as her teaching assistant.
Dr. Luke Williams has been described in performance as “masterfully communicative”, “powerful”, and “menacing and moving”. A versatile singing actor of classical and contemporary repertoire, Dr. Williams has performed with Skylark Opera, Out of the Box Opera, LOON opera, and Lyric Opera of the North in Minnesota, in addition to serving as a visiting assistant professor on the voice faculty of St. Olaf College for the 2018-2019 academic year. In 2017, while on faculty at the University of Central Missouri where Dr. Williams served as the director of opera and member of the voice faculty, he completed his doctorate in vocal pedagogy and performance from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
While completing his prior course work in Colorado he performed professionally with the Colorado Symphony in productions of Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man and Puccini’s Tosca. Other professional highlights include performances with Opera Delaware, Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater, Middle America Freedom Band, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Boulder Chamber Orchestra, and the Delaware Valley Chorale.
Students of Dr. Williams have placed in and won numerous competitions, including district solo competitions, NATS competitions and the Petri Scholarship in Portland, Oregon. Outside of teaching students how to use their voices in a healthy and sustainable way, Dr. Williams enjoys playing ice hockey, barbecuing, woodworking, and backpacking with his wife.