Siskiyou Violins of Southern Oregon, World Class Violin Ensemble

Member Biographies


The students of Faina Podolnaya have reached high levels of accomplishment ever since a private ensemble of her best students began to perform under the name of Siskiyou Violins for recitals and other occasional concerts.

Ms. Podolnaya's dream of bringing her private student ensemble to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City became a reality in 2005. She submitted a videotape of Siskiyou Violins to World Projects, the most respected producer of International Youth Music Festivals and special events, and was thrilled to receive their invitation to participate in their 2005 New York Youth Orchestra Festival at Carnegie Hall.

World Projects, established in 1984, has achieved its reputation as the leading producer of youth music events by arranging performances in world-class music halls and employing outstanding teams of international faculty fully focused on all aspects music education and its importance to developing young musicians.. The Siskiyou Violins' unique all violin ensemble was awarded a Gold Medal for that performance, and they were issued a standing invitation to participate in all World Projects events without the usual audition requirement.

In June, 2008, Ms. Podlolnaya took her Siskiyou Violins students to another World Projects event, this time at the International Youth Music Festival in Los Angeles. They performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall , designed by world famous architect Frank Gehry at an estimated cost of $274 million. Gehry's original design in 1987 called for an ambitious plan to create the most acoustically superior concert hall ever constructed in the world, as well as a structure of unique and stunning visual beauty.

From design to completion and inauguration in 2003, it took 16 years to build this incredible facility. The magnificent structure has exceeded the highest expectations of performers and audience alike in providing an unforgettable and unequalled musical experience. Walt Disney Concert Hall is the newest addition to the 11 acre Music Center at the Performing Arts Center of downtown Los Angeles and is also the newest home of the historic Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra who first performed in the Trinity Auditorium in 1919.

The World Projects 2008 International Youth Music Festival in Los Angeles included several music groups from all over the world, including as far away as Taiwan. Judges and officials there once more awarded the Siskiyou Violins a Gold Medal for their performance, and urged Ms. Podolnaya to make this exceptional group more available to the public.

To attain that goal, many challenges had to be addressed. Much work and expense is required to arrange for performing concerts at this level, let alone traveling with a large group of students. Many talented students could not afford such trips, and it was difficult for some even to afford regular lessons. Ms. Podolnaya wanted to make this opportunity available to all talented students who wanted to participate, but she could not afford to take time from her teaching practice, or by herself manage to do the work of creating some sort of official group that would have this ability, so she asked for help.

From this came the idea of creating a nonprofit group which would be expanded to include talented students of other local teachers. A nonprofit group would be able to apply for grants and sponsorships, and accept tax-deductible donations to help provide funding for the group to be able to perform in concerts locally, nationally, and abroad, and to establish scholarships to assist students who need help with the cost of music lessons and travel to be able to participate in such trips. A Board of Directors was formed, which has been laying the groundwork for the organization 501(c)(3) Non-profit status was achieved in 2009.

Several years of expansion and evolvement have followed, and the group now includes both an Advanced Ensemble and a Junior Ensemble, ranging in age from as young as 3 years old through college age. Siskiyou Violins has performed at many churches, synagogues, and other community events around Southern Oregon and Northern California. They have performed numerous times at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Green Show, at the Britt Music Festival, Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, and have also performed with the highly respected Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. In 2010, they were one of only two groups selected from hundreds of applicants nationwide to be invited to perform at the American String Teacher’s Association’s National Conference held in Santa Clara California. They were also twice invited to perform at the Oregon Music Educators Association Annual Conference in Eugene. The group returned to Carnegie Hall in 2012, earning another Gold Medal, and is planning a trip to Europe for 2014.