The Diamond Strings Quartet

The Diamond Strings Quartet Picture

Nicole Walton Megan Nielsen Jillene Smith Tamra Baca

Nicole Walton

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Nicole Walton is a classical violinist from Salt Lake City, UT where she began her violin studies at the age of four. Her natural musical talent enabled her to study with some of the finest teachers in the valley, as well as having the rare opportunity of being accepted to and attending Interlochen Arts Academy, one of the elite fine arts high schools in the country. She has received multiple scholarships throughout her high school and university education.

She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Utah Valley University in 2017 with bachelor degrees in violin performance and commercial music. While at UVU Nicole studied violin performance with Dr. Donna Fairbanks. While there she was also a member of Utah Valley University's Honors Quartet. They were frequently sought after to provide music for many VIP and exclusive UVU functions. Additional teachers of hers includes Rebecca McFaul (Fry Street Quartet and faculty at Utah State University), Leonard Brause, Paul Sommers, Julia Bushkova, Jack Ashton, and Debbie Moench. Nicole has also held many key seats in orchestras including Concertmistress, Assistant Concertmaster, and Principal Second. She has played in many of the best youth orchestras including the World Youth Symphony Orchestra where she had the opportunity to play with world renowned artists such as Andres Watts. In 2015 Nicole was invited to perform in the string section for Christian Howes' concert at the national ASTA convention. She is currently a member of both the Utah Valley Symphony and the Diamond Strings Quartet.

She currently resides in Orem, UT with her husband and three children.

Megan Nielsen

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Megan has an impressive background in violin studies and performance. Youth recognitions included: SCMS Honors String Orchestra, SCHS Concert Mistress, All-County & All-State Orchestra, and Regional Music Sterling Scholar Runner-Up (twice performing as a Soloist with the SW Symphony Orchestra, at age 14 and 16). Subsequently, she performed as a member of the DSU (Dixie State University) Orchestra, followed by further distinction as the Concert Mistress of the UVU (Utah Valley University) Symphony Orchestra. [Megan was mentored principally by her Grandfather, the late Dr. Percy Kalt (recognized both nationally and internationally for his violin artistry and teaching expertise.] She has also been active in noted String Quartets, including: Founder, Ambrosia String Quartet; Member, Snow Canyon String Quartet; and currently performs as 2nd violinist with the Diamond Strings Quartet. Besides a wide array of public and private recitals and gratuitous performances, Megan also remains active as an accompanist and violin instructor. Her love of the violin, her artistry, and her exemplary character, and her musical gifts are all reflected in the music that she willingly shares.

Jillene Smith

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Jillene Smith majored in Music at Dixie State University of St. George, Utah, where she studied viola primarily under the direction of Dr. Paul Abegg. She has been the principal and first stand violist in the Dixie State University Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with the Southwest Symphony Orchestra and Salt Lake Symphony Orchestra. Jillene has performed internationally in parts of the East coast of China with Raging Red, private recitals in Bremen Germany, and performs regularly in local churches and community residences. She enjoyed working with youth musicians as a supervisor and counselor at Dixie State's annual Castle Rock Music Camp for the camp's first two seasons and is currently a viola, piano, and violin teacher; founder and violist of Salt Lake City's Diamond Strings Quartet; violist with the Millenial Choirs and Orchestra; and best of all, a wife and a mother.

Tamra Baca

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Tamra Baca is a cellist from Salt Lake City, UT. She began the cello at the age of 12. Her passion for music led her to Utah State Univeristy where she studied under Anne Francis of the Fry Street Quartet in addition to quartet studies under the purview of all members of the Fry Street Quartet. She also played in the Musica Viva chamber music group. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Music with an emphasis in performance.

After a short break, Tamra resumed her music studies at the University of Utah with Amy Leung and John Eckstein. While at the U, she performed as the cellist for the Graduate String Quartet and held the principal seat in the Utah Philharmonia. In 2010, she graduated with a Master's Degree in Music with an emphasis in performance.

Always having had an affinity for chamber music, she participated in several chamber music camps and festivals to include Apple Hill, Dakota Chamber Music, and the Aspen Music Festival where she studied with teachers Richard Aaron and Alan Harris.

Currently, Tamra is the cellist of the Diamond Strings Quartet, a member of the Salt Lake Symphony, and teaches private cello lessons. She has been teaching private cello lessons for 12 years to adults and children of all ages.