Metropolitan Strings Academy
Natasha Kwapich (violin, viola) played violin with the St. Louis Philharmonic and the Webster University Chamber Orchestra. After moving to Kansas City, she studied with renowned violinist Benny Kim at the University of Missouri Kansas City. She performed frequently with “Musica Nova” an ensemble devoted to premiering the work of new composers and served as Principal Second in the first Kansas City Puccini Festival. She played fiddle with "ROBE" and won Q104’s Battle of the Bands in 2009. She and ROBE opened at Yallapalooza in 2009 and 2010. While Natasha enjoys performing, her true passion is teaching. She believes in every student’s potential to excel and carefully adapts her teaching methods to suit the age, personality, and special gifts of the individual student. Whether a student has dreams of becoming a professional musician, a doctor, or an astronaut, Natasha will nurture a lifelong love of music, an appreciation for artistic expression, and a spirit of perseverance that will help the student to shine in whatever career path he or she chooses. Natasha is also particularly sensitive to the needs of adult students, approaching all lessons with respect, patience, and enthusiasm. Natasha is a member of the Olathe Music Teachers Association, the Kansas City Music Teachers Association, the Kansas Music Teachers Association, the Music Teachers National Association, and the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association. Natasha has served as orchestra director at KC Strings since 2005. She has taught private lessons and directed strings ensembles since 1999.
B.A.- University of Missouri, Kansas City J.D.- University of Kansas
Kenton Lanier (viola, violin) has held a private teaching studiobased in Leavenworth, Kansas since 2009. His teaching approach is a blended style, combining elements from his own training and teaching experience. He strives to give students a balanced knowledge of music and their instrument, concentrating on proper technique and note-reading ability, enabling students to play any piece of music put in front of them.
Kenton plays viola in the St. Joseph Symphony and the Kinnor Philharmonic, and is the assistant conductor/principal second violin of the Benedictine College/Atchison Community Orchestra. He also teaches Music History and Instrumental Arranging at the NoteWorthy Music summer camp in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kenton is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in Viola Performance at the UMKC Conservatory, under the tutelage of Scott Lee. Kenton holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory and Composition from Thomas Edison State College.
Steven Smith (viola, violin) holds a Master’s degree in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and a Bachelor’s degree in music education from Washburn University of Topeka. Steven served as the assistant conductor for the Orquesta Mexicana de la Juventud in Mexico City in 1982 and has led the Olathe Community Orchestra since 1985. Steven received the 1997 founders award for his conducting work at Theatre-in-the-Park in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, where he has appeared in at least one production per summer since 1985. Steven performs frequently around Kansas City as a saxophonist, violist and arranger with such groups as the Silverwood Quartet (classical), Annalee and the Lucky So-n-Sos (swing), The Brian McCarty Band (polka), and the rhythm-and-and-blues band Loosenz with the Tighten-Up Horns. He is founder and leader of the Sunflower Ragtime Orchestra, an authentic early-Twentieth Century music ensemble. An experienced classroom teacher, Steven recently retired from his long-time position as director of orchestras and instructor of music theory at Paseo Academy, Kansas City’s high school for the performing arts, and he is currently working as a substitute music teacher for several area school districts, including Olathe. Steven’s goal in teaching is to help students discover and develop the innate talent that everyone has for making music. Steven Smith accepts students ages 9 through adults.
Nicholas Jarrett (violin, viola, piano, voice) has been a musician for over 27 years, starting violin at the age of four. He studied violin, piano, and voice at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Conservatory of Music.
Nick maintains studios for private lessons and directs string ensembles in Leavenworth/Lansing, Prairie Village, Olathe, and Merriam, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri. In addition to private lessons, he has worked with students with cochlear implants at St. Joseph's Institute for the Deaf in Lenexa, Kansas and was director for the summer school music program at St. Monica's elementary school in Kansas City, Missouri. Currently, Nick is chairman of the KCMTA Concerto Competition in partnership with the Heritage Philharmonic, co-founder of Strings For Uganda in partnership with "Change The Truth", annually adjudicates for MAMA and is a contributor to the Gemini Project. He also performs as a freelance musician for all events. Nick is a member of the Kansas City Music Teachers Association, the Missouri Music Teachers Association, and the Music Teachers National Association.
Dr. Michalis Koutsoupides (viola, violin) holds a Doctoral degree in viola performance from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master’s degree in violin performance from the University of Kansas and piano Diplomas from the National Conservatory of Cyprus and the Royal Schools of Music. He participated in music festivals across the US as well as the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Greece and England. Michalis recorded with groups in Texas, Kansas, Missouri and New York, and regularly performs with the St. Joseph Symphony, Lawrence Chamber Orchestra, Kansas City Chamber Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony. He is an Artis in Residence at Avila University and has taught in the public system and privately since 2007. He enjoys playing in the orchestra pit and conducting for shows at the New Theater, KC Rep, The Barn, Jewish Community Center, JCCC, Unicorn, American Heartland Theatre, Musical Theatre Heritage and other venues around town. Originally a native of Cyprus, Michalis became a United States citizen in June, 2017 and is proud to call Kansas City home.
Boris Vayner (viola, violin, conducting) was born in Novosibirsk, Russia. His professional background includes Novosibirsk Music College and St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he studied with Aleksey Lyudevig. While studying, Mr.Vayner played recitals in St. Petersburg(Russia), Drammen (Norway), Berlin(Germany), and took part in the Schleswig Holstein Music Festival.
Mr.Vayner was a founding member of the Krasny String Quartet, which received 1st prize at the Gartow Fund Chamber Music Competition in St. Petersburg in 1999, and recorded all the quartets of Vissarion Shebalin for Olympia label. As a soloist Mr.Vayner appeared with St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonie. He also received 2nd prize in the Gartow Fund Solo Competition in St. Petersburg in 2002.
Mr.Vayner was an assistant principal viola of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and a principle viola of the Novosibirsk Youth Orchestra.
Mr.Vayner moved to the US in 2003 to study at the New England Conservatory, in the class of Carol Rodland, and he earned Master of Music in 2005. He has attended master classes by Kim Kashkashian and Karen Tuttle, and played with Boston Symphony.
Since 2005 Boris Vayner has been a viola player of the St. Petersburg String Quartet, intensively touring in US, Europe and Asia.
B.M.A., M.M.A. St. Petersburg Conservatory, Russia
M.M.A. New England Conservatory, Boston, MA