THIS YEAR AT NCF cdn_helper cdn_helper

THIS YEAR AT NCF cdn_helper cdn_helper


NOLA Chamber Fest is an annual chamber music festival and competition presented collaboratively by Lyrica Baroque, the New Orleans Friends of Music and the University of New Orleans. The festival aims to inspire and motivate musicians through the unique experience of tight-knit collaboration and artistic independence that only chamber music can offer. NCF offers aspiring musicians access, opportunity, and exposure to perform, compete, and learn alongside their peers.

NCF _About -23

Our five-day festival includes performances by world-renowned chamber ensembles, an online competition, masterclasses, and Creativity Day for local musicians.





Decoda Ensemble

As an artist-led collective, Decoda seeks to create a more compassionate and connected world through music – thoughtfully curating outstanding performances of live chamber music, facilitating creative community projects, and inspiring the next generation of musical artists to rethink and reimagine their role in society. 

Decoda continues to deepen its commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in the performing arts. The ensemble is a proud founding member of the Cross-Country Chamber Consortium, created in partnership with Atlanta Chamber Players (Atlanta), Fifth House Ensemble (Chicago), Musiqa (Houston), and SOLI Chamber Ensemble (San Antonio), which aims at increasing diversity in modern chamber music repertoire – continuing its first annual “Black, Latinx, and Indigenous Emerging Composer Commission.” Music for Transformation, a long-standing partnership with the community of incarcerated musicians at Lee Correctional Institute in Bishopville, SC, has resulted in the creation of hundreds of original songs and pieces of new music. The Obama administration honored this initiative with an invitation “Innovation & the Arts” at the White House. Music for Transformation has also been recognized by major outlets including CNN, the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post.

Decoda was founded in 2012 by musicians who first collaborated as members of Ensemble Connect, a two-year fellowship program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the NYC Department of Education. Its work as an ensemble has grown out of this collective training, which focused on developing skills as exemplary performers, dedicated teachers, and passionate advocates for music in communities around the world. As alumni of Ensemble Connect and in recognition of its members’ ongoing success as artists, educators, and advocates for music, Decoda is the only independent ensemble to be
recognized as an affiliate ensemble of Carnegie Hall. To learn more about Decoda, visit

Jerusalem Quartet

Alexander Pavlovsky, violin
Sergei Bresler, violin

Ori Kam, viola

Kyril Zlotnikov, cello

“An absolute triumph. Their playing has everything you could possibly wish for.” —BBC Music Magazine

“Passion, precision, warmth, a gold blend: these are the trademarks of this excellent Israeli string quartet.”

Such was the New York Times’ impression of the Jerusalem Quartet. Since the ensemble’s founding in 1993 and subsequent 1996 debut, the four Israeli musicians have embarked on a journey of growth and maturation. This experience has resulted in a wide repertoire and stunning depth of expression, which carries on the string quartet tradition in a unique manner. The ensemble has found its core in a warm, full, human sound and an egalitarian balance between high and low voices. This approach allows the Quartet to maintain a healthy relationship between individual expression and a transparent and respectful presentation of the composer’s work. It is also the drive and motivation for the continuing refinement of its interpretations of the classical repertoire as well as exploration of new epochs.

The Jerusalem Quartet is a regular and beloved guest on the world’s great concert stages. Recent appearances include a Beethoven quartet cycle at Wigmore Hall in London; a Bartok cycle at the Salzburg Festival; their annual String Quartet seminar in Crans Montana Switzerland, and a residency at the Jerusalem Academy of Music.

Highlights of the upcoming 2023/2024 season include tours of Sweden, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland; and appearances in the quartet Biennales in Paris, Lisbon, and Amsterdam. Alongside the quartet’s regular programs, they will bring back the “Yiddish Cabaret,” and will perform a Bartok Cycle in the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Their upcoming North American tours include concerts in Montreal, Pittsburgh, Providence, Portland (Maine), Houston, Tucson, Palm Beach, Miami, New Orleans, Denver, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York, and other locations. In Ann Arbor, they will be joined by pianist Inon Barnaton. 

The Jerusalem Quartet’s recordings have been honored with numerous awards, including the Diapason d’Or and the BBC Music Magazine Award for chamber music. They have recorded the string quartets of Haydn; Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden”; an album of Dvorak’s String Quintet Op.97 and Sextet Op.48, and the quartets by Ravel and Debussy.

In 2019, the Quartet released a unique album exploring Jewish music in Central Europe between the wars and its far-reaching influence, featuring a collection of Yiddish Cabaret songs from 1920s Warsaw, as well as works by Schulhoff and Korngold. The second installment of their Bartok quartet recording was released in 2020.

Benjamin Atherholt

Benjamin Atherholt is the Programming 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.

Mia Rotondo

Mia Rotondo is an activist educator with 20 years of experience in the classroom serving students whose needs are often not met in the general education setting. Mia works closely with fellow radical educators, students, and community members to build and facilitate flexible, child-led learning spaces. In 2007, she co-developed an award-winning theater education program in Philadelphia focused on elevating neurodiverse perspectives. Over the past several years she has partnered with KID smART and The Kennedy Center to develop and provide professional development around creating more joyful and just spaces that provide arts-integrated experiences for ALL learners. 

Loki Karuna

A proud native of Memphis, TN, Loki Karuna (formerly Garrett McQueen) is a bassoonist who has performed with ensembles including the South Arkansas Symphony, Jackson Symphony, American Youth Symphony, Memphis Repertory Orchestra, the Eroica Ensemble, and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the Southeast Symphony, the Artosphere and Gateways Festival Orchestras, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Loki has been featured as both a performer and host on “Performance Today” and “Music Through the Night” from American Public Media, and has appeared in a wide array of television programs, including Oxygen’s “Snapped: Killer Couples,” TV One’s “Fatal Attraction,” and Fox’s “Glee.” 
In addition to remaining active in performance spaces, Loki is the host and producer of local and nationally-syndicated radio programs including “The Sound of 13,” “Noteworthy,” “Gateways Radio,” and “The Sounds of Kwanzaa.” Away from the airwaves, Loki offers guest lectures, presentations, and trainings at the intersections of race, culture, Black liberation, and classical music, with past collaborators including the Gateways Music Festival, the Sphinx Organization, the Kennedy Center, the Apollo Theater, Black Music Experience, the Minnesota Music Teachers Association, New Music Gathering, and the MacPhail Center for Music. In the press, Loki has been noted as not only a “classical agitator,” but also “a Black talent in public media that you may not know, but should.” In 2021, the New York Times noted his weekly podcast, TRILLOQUY, as a standout and one that is “required listening for industry leaders and listeners alike.”
Loki holds a Bachelor of Music in Bassoon Performance from the University of Memphis, where he studied with Lecolion Washington, and a Master of Music in Bassoon Performance from the University of Southern California, where he studied with Judith Farmer. Alongside working as a performer, the Executive Producer and co-host of the TRILLOQUY podcast and President of TrillWerks Media, Loki is the Director of Artist Equity for the American Composers Orchestra. He serves on the board of directors for the American Composers Forum, the Beethoven Festival Orchestra, Lyrica Baroque, and the Cedar Cultural Center, and maintains leadership and artistic advisory positions with the Black Opera Alliance, the Gateways Music Festival, the Lakes Area Music Festival, and Soka Gakkai International.

Aizuri Quartet

Miho Saugusa & Emma Frucht, violins
Ayane Kozasa, viola
Karen Ouzounian, cello

The Aizuri Quartet has established a unique position within today’s musical landscape, infusing all of its music-making with infectious energy, joy and warmth, cultivating curiosity in listeners, and inviting audiences into the concert experience through its innovative programming, and the depth and fire of its performances.

Praised by The Washington Post for “astounding” and “captivating” performances that draw from its notable “meld of intellect, technique and emotions,” the Aizuri Quartet was named the recipient of the 2022 Cleveland Quartet Award by Chamber Music America, and since its inception in 2012 has received major chamber music prizes on three continents and been in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Quartet’s debut album, Blueprinting, featuring new works written for the Aizuri Quartet by five American composers, was released by New Amsterdam Records to critical acclaim (“In a word, stunning” —I Care If You Listen), nominated
for a 2019 GRAMMY Award, and named one of NPR Music’s Best Classical Albums of 2018. 

In 2022, the Aizuri Quartet makes its major concerto debut with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in performances of John Adams’s Absolute Jest, open for and perform with the legendary indie band Wilco in 5 performances at New York City’s United Palace, and are featured with Wilco on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Throughout 2022 the Aizuri Quartet is a fellow of the Artist Propulsion Lab at WQXR, New York City’s classical music station.

Roadmap Quartet
1st Prize 

Zachary Tucker, soprano saxophone
Connor Cyrus, alto saxophone
Sheridan Mackey, tenor saxophone
Jackson Fussell, baritone saxophone
Johnny Salinas, coach