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Faculty & Staff Bios

Jeanette Adams – Camp Director/Bass

Jeanette is from Escanaba, MI and began playing the double bass in 5th grade. Having been coming to camp first as a camper and later on as a staff member, Jeanette is very excited to be back yet again for another awesome summer at SSA!

Almost done with her studies at Lawrence University, Jeanette will be graduating in 2019 with a degree in Music Performance  the double bass. She often performs with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, the LU Jazz Band, Fiddlers of Lawrence University, and the Marquette Symphony Orchestra.

Says Jeanette: “Camp is such a special place to me. I just love coming back every year and sharing that with all the campers and staff, helping create the tightly knit camp culture and community.”

Teri Abler Diekfuss – Viola, Violin

Teri recently graduated from Lawrence University in 2014, receiving a Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Besides keeping a busy schedule as a performer and teacher, Teri’s academic area of focus is the psychological and sociological impact music plays in media, film, and society. Teri has been the Assistant Principal Violist of the Fox Valley Symphony for the past five years and is very involved in the FVS Partners in Education program, which sets out to demonstrate musical concepts to elementary school children through the use of a traveling string quartet. Teri is also the co-founder of the Fox Valley Symphony’s Operation Overture – a program that aims to place small ensembles from the symphony in unexpected venues (Boys and Girls Club, Cranky Pats Bar, etc).

Having received her Suzuki Teacher Certification from the Stevens Point American Suzuki Institute, Teri has held positions as Violin/Viola Instructor at the White House of Music in Brookfield, WI and for the Neenah Joint School District after-school Suzuki program in Neenah, WI. For fun, Teri likes to do puzzles and loves to play with her Labrador, Jax and Great Dane, Jackpot.

Adam Hall – Cello

Adam Hall was born in Seattle, Washington where he began his cello studies at the age of four. He currently attends the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow where he is studying with Alison Wells. Until his departure from DePaul, Adam was a founding member of the Pavo String Quartet which was the quartet-in-residence at the Upper Peninsula Chamber Music Festival this past winter.


His primary teachers include Peter Williams, Rajan Krisnaswami, and Stephen Balderston. This will be Adam’s second year at SSA Summer Music Camp.


Joe Harmsen – Viola

Mr. Harmsen grew up in Jenison, a suburb of Grand Rapids. He began playing viola in 5th Grade, and quickly found his calling. Mr. Harmsen played viola, guitar, and saxophone through High School, and went on to earn his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Grand Valley State University in 2015. He has spent the past three years as the Director of Orchestras for Escanaba Area Public Schools, and has enjoyed sharing his passion for strings with his students. He also performs regularly with the Bay de Noc Chamber Strings and the Marquette Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Harmsen is excited to return to SSA Camp for his second summer as a Teacher & Counselor!




Madeline Herdeman – Cello


Madeline enjoys a diverse music career. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance from Lawrence University in 2010 and she is currently an Orchestra Director at KIPP SHARP Fine Arts Elementary school in Houston, TX. She writes music and performs regularly with her band, Mystery Loves Company, throughout Texas and is touring this summer for the 2nd year in a row, this time hitting 18 cities. 

Madeline is thrilled to be back for her fourth summer as a faculty member at the SSA Summer Music Camp, and honored to be invited back to join the exceptionally fun and rigorousSSA family. 


Ria Hodgson – Viola

A native of central Texas, violist Ria Hodgson began violin lessons at the age of 6 through the Suzuki Method and continued through her undergraduate degree at Arizona State University where she studied violin and viola. In 2015 she earned a Master of Music degree in viola performance from DePaul University in Chicago, IL. After graduation Ria stayed in Chicago where she performed frequently with the Civic orchestra, as well as the Dubuque, Rockford, and Quad City symphonies. In addition to her career as a performer, Ria is a Suzuki-certified violin and viola teacher. Now a resident of Madison, WI, Ria is a faculty member at WYSO Music Makers; a non-profit organization that works to provide equal access to music education. This is Ria’s third year at camp and she can’t wait to get started!

April Hickey – Camp Director/Viola

April just finished her third year studying Music Therapy at Eastern Michigan University, with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. She grew up in Manistique, Michigan, started taking private violin lessons when she was 13, and eventually switched over to viola as her principal instrument before beginning university. She has played viola with the EMU Symphony Orchestra for three years, and has also taken beginner/intermediate lessons for piano, guitar, and cello. April’s favorite camp hobbies include: making friendship bracelets, the 60’s party song, and being outrun by campers during capture the flag.

Says April: “SSA is one of my favorite things I do all summer, and I absolutely love working with the rest of the staff, and spending time with all of our amazing campers. My favorite thing about working at SSA is the camper talent show; I love all of the goofy talents and the original songs/skits that our camp community comes up with.”


Kai Kanda – Cello

Kai is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music where he earned his bachelor’s degree in cello performance and his master’s degree in cello performance and Suzuki pedagogy.  He is currently a Suzuki cello teacher with Noteworthy Music Studios in Stevens Point WI. Before that he taught in the Lakewood public school system and the Cleveland School of the Arts where he enjoyed working with middle and high school students.  Kai has been coming to the UP every summer since he was born and loves the people, nature and music that can only be found in this part of the country. His primary performance teachers include Melissa Kraut, Mark Kosower and Judith Glyde. He received Suzuki teacher training from Melissa Kraut, Pamela Devenport and Abbey Hansen.


Megan Karls – Violin

Megan performs in Montana as a violinist in the renowned Cascade String Quartet and Principal Second Violin of the Great Falls Symphony. She has also held positions with the Green Bay, Des Moines, Helena, Bozeman, National Music Festival, Bard Summer Festival, Fox Valley, and Waterloo-Cedar Falls symphony orchestras, as well as leading the conductorless String Orchestra of the Rockies. A passionate advocate for contemporary chamber music, Megan is a founding member of the ground-breaking new music ensemble, the Enid Trio. The Enids have commissioned over 25 works for their unique instrumentation (violin, viola and bassoon) and have been guest artists and clinicians at Oberlin Conservatory, Lawrence University, Wichita State University, Emporia State University, and Roundtop

Megan holds degrees from Lawrence University and the University of Iowa. Being a member of the SSA faculty is particularly special to Megan, because it’s an opportunity to be back near her hometown, Land O Lakes, WI.

Lauren Perala – Viola, Violin

Originally from Marquette, Michigan, Lauren Perala is currently pursuing a Master of Music Degree in Viola Performance from The Hartt School where she studies with Rita Porfiris. She received her Bachelor of Music Degree in Viola Performance from Butler University’s Jordan College of the Arts where she studied with Richard Auldon Clark and Davis Brooks. Lauren performs regularly as a solo, chamber, and ensemble musician. She has performed with the Marquette Symphony Orchestra, Delos String Quartet, Butler Symphony Orchestra, and Butler Ballet Orchestra. 

In addition to performing, Lauren teaches violin and viola lessons and was a teaching fellow at the Butler Community Arts School in Indianapolis. During the summer she teaches at the Superior String Alliance Summer Music Camp in Michigamme, Michigan. Her favorite thing about working at SSA is being a cabin counselor and seeing how much everyone improves at camp!

Lauren Pulcipher – Violin

Lauren Pulcipher is an Ann Arbor-based performer and teacher. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Music from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and two Masters Degrees from the University of Michigan in Violin Performance and Chamber Music. Lauren believes strongly in the power of collaboration between players in all forms in order to teach problem solving skills, encourage cooperation and build new relationships, things that can be carried through all of life. As a teacher she has also been a part of the Lawrence University String Project, which taught groups of children violin after school, and the Ann Arbor based El Sistema inspired program at Mitchell Elementary. As a performer, Lauren has been a part of the Khemia ensemble, a contemporary music ensemble dedicated to diversifying and sharing the music of living composers as well as a faculty performer for Superior String Alliance, performing music all through Marquette and for students during the camp sessions.

Lauren is so excited to be back at camp for her second summer and looks forward to paint tag, meeting the campers and being back in the yoop!

Kelly Quesada – Cello

Kelly is relatively new to the SSA scene, having joined in summer 2017. She hails from the Chicago area where she teaches both cello lessons at South Side Suzuki Cooperative as well as group violin and cello classes at El Sistema Ravinia. She is currently principal cello of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, where she is lucky to share the stage with Yo-Yo Ma, Riccardo Muti, members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the future leaders of the music world. Although very new to the camp scene, Kelly already feels welcomed into the SSA family and loves the creative energy and joyful music-making that happens every summer

David Rubin – Violin

David comes to SSA from Providence, RI, where he splits his time between two non-profit organizations – Community MusicWorks (Fellow, 2017-2019) and musiConnects (Resident Musician, 2016-). Before joining the CMW community, David was based in Boston, where he served on the teaching faculty of the Community Music Center of Boston and the Boston Youth Symphony’s Intensive Community Program. As a performer, he has worked with the orchestras of the Lucerne Festival Academy, Spoleto Festival USA, and Boston Modern Orchestra Project; and collaborated with mentors from Music from Salem, Emmanuel Music, and the Lawrence Chamber Players. David holds degrees from Lawrence University and Boston Conservatory, and pursued additional study at the Amsterdam Conservatory and Banff Centre. His favorite things include playing chamber music with friends, being “too competitive” (read: field games, ga-ga ball, ping pong), and reuniting with his SSA colleagues every summer.

Danielle Simandl – Music Director

This will be Dani’s 8th summer as the Music Director of the SSA Summer Music Camp. In addition to having the privilege of waving a conductor’s baton at a room full of talented string kids clad in tie-dye T-shirts, Danielle is now the Executive Director of Superior String Alliance.

Danielle performs as Principal Second Violin of the Fox Valley Symphony in Appleton, Wisconsin. She also performs with many other orchestras in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan.

Danielle began her violin studies with Connie Weiner at the age of 7. Danielle holds a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance and a Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies from Lawrence University, and a Master of Music in Violin Performance and a Performance Certificate from DePaul University.

Harry South – Bass

Originally from Columbiaville, MI, Harry’s musical education began on wind instruments. Harry found his true calling when he started playing the electric bass in jazz band and in local rock bands while he was in high school. He soon became attracted to the sound of the upright bass and decided that he wanted to dedicate his time to learning to play with a bow and learning to read music well. He also became very interested in improvised styles of music. Harry received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education (summa cum laude) from Northern Michigan University in May 2013. Harry currently maintains a very successful private studio in Marquette, where he teaches lessons to bass, violin, and cello students.

An avid performer, Harry plays with many different musical groups in Marquette: Eclettico, Marquette Symphony Orchestra, Milestones Jazz Trio, and the blues and soul group, Travis Swanson and the Midnight Movers, just to name a few. This will be Harry’s 3rd summer working at the SSA Summer Music Camp, and it is always one of his favorite times of the year because for him it’s a time to improve his teaching chops, be creative, and inspire the campers. 


Piersan Suriano – Nurse/Violin

Piersan first came to SSA as a camper and was invited back to work as a junior counselor after her first year of college. That summer, she received the biggest promotion in the history of SSA, when it was revealed that her certification as a Wilderness First Responder fulfilled the requirements of a camp nurse. Since then, she continues to return to SSA each summer as a full counselor and camp nurse, now utilizing her Emergency Medical Technician licensure. Summer after summer, she is ecstatic to welcome the returning campers after a year of being away and overjoyed to make acquaintance with the newcomers. SSA, for so many reasons, has always been one of the highlights of her summer.

Outside of camp, Piersan attends Michigan Technological University working towards a bachelors in Biological Sciences with a biochemistry focus and an International French minor. Unlike most SSA staff, she does not study music, but continues to allow playing the violin to play a major role in her life. She plays with the Marquette Symphony Orchestra as well as the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and always loves a random jam session with roommates and friends at college. She loves mountain biking and triathlon, along with skiing and being outdoors in every season. Whilst at MTU, she volunteers as an EMT with Michigan Tech Emergency Medical Services.

Hudson Webber – Cello

Hudson is a cellist, originally from Rockford, Illinois. A Superior String Alliance Alum, he attended camp for four years as a camper, before becoming a junior counselor. He has since become a counselor/teacher. Hudson recently graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, IA with a bachelor’s degree in cello performance, where he was principal cellist in the Drake Symphony Orchestra for his senior year. He has had multiple students in the past, and is excited to be moving to Chicago this fall to start his own studio. Hudson’s favorite part of camp is the musical atmosphere that is created by everyone through playing, talking about, and enjoying music all together.