Wirth Center for the Performing Arts Faculty
Piano Faculty, Saint Cloud
Dr. Paul Wirth - Artistic Director, Piano - Teacher of Young Artists
Artistic Director, Dr. Paul Wirth, is a prominent figure in our national piano teaching community. His unique combination of masterful performing and teaching, along with a sense of humor and unassuming personality have made him a much sought-after featured artist in concerts, master classes, fundraisers, conventions, special events, and lecture series.
With his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Temple University, and his Master and Doctorate degrees in Piano Performance from Indiana University, he co-founded and is now the Artistic Director of the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts (formerly Central Minnesota Music School) in St. Cloud, MN, a bustling performing arts center with over 300 students taught by a faculty of twenty.
Chosen as the 2004-05 Teacher of the Year by Thursday Musical, he has taught numerous first prize-winning students of regional, national and international competitions - with thirty of his pre-college students having performed over seventy solo performances with orchestra, including numerous appearances with the Minnesota and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestras. In addition to his presentations at conventions and conferences, including the 2007 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy and statewide conventions in Minnesota, Iowa and Texas, Dr. Wirth’s GRAVI-DVD - a cutting edge DVD on teaching piano technique to children - is now being distributed nationally and internationally. His masterclasses, most recently at the Cleveland Institute of Music Preparatory Division, are always well received, and his presentations, drawing upon 30 years as a pre-college specialist teaching advanced concepts to 4 -18 year olds, often elicit further engagements. He is also an avid supporter of young performers, having co-founded the Salon se Lève concert series in Minneapolis and the nationally recognized Young Artist World Piano Festival at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN.
Dr. Wirth maintains three studios: at the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts in St. Cloud, MN, at the Schmitt Music Center in Roseville, MN, and at his home in St. Joseph, MN where he lives with his wife and greatest support, Kathy Wirth.
Ashley Brown, Piano
Ashley began studying the piano at the age of 3 through the Suzuki method, and at 7 started taking lessons from Dr. Paul Wirth. She played all through high school and obtained her B.A. in music from St. Cloud State University. She has taught private lessons on piano, violin/fiddle, guitar, and songwriting for ten years in various locations. Ashley has also been an active performer in various bands across the country, living and touring out of Nashville for two years, and has shared stages with National artists! She brings a fun approach to teaching, as she believes if it’s not fun for the student, it’s not worth doing, so she makes that a priority, along with learning the elements!
Christopher Goering, Executive Director, Piano and Composition/Theory
Christopher Goering received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Theory and Composition and Master of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He is continuously composing new solo and duet music for the piano. He encourages musical experimentation and creativity in his students and often incorporates composition and improvisation in the lessons.
Christopher began piano lessons at age 6 with his mother, Maria Goering. He has also studied with Ann DuHamel, Dr. James Dennihan, and Dr. Paul Wirth. Christopher and his wife, Jacinta, currently live in St. Cloud.
Nicole Millner, Piano and Flute
Nicole began studying music at a young age, starting piano at 4 and flute at 6. She explored the technique of these instruments in various environments, from formal competitions and examinations to playing in chamber groups and orchestras. Her love of the flute and orchestral music lead her to pursue degrees in Flute Performance from Boston University (BM) and Boston Conservatory (MM). Nicole has worked as a church musician for 15 years, playing flute, piano and organ, and sharing her passion for music with children in her church's children's choir as an accompanist and coach. Over the past 3 years, she has become more involved in music education, serving as a judge for MMTA events and teaching piano lessons as a visiting consultant. While Nicole has taught privately as well in the Twin Cities area, she now looks forward to teaching flute and piano in the St. Cloud area. She enjoys sharing the beautiful traditions of western music with others as well as helping them find and develop their own musical voice, ideas and expression.
Raised in a family who values and surrounds themselves in music, Angela began taking piano lessons at age 7. Her musical aptitude was quickly evident and she began taking lessons with Dr. Paul Wirth at age 12. Three years later, she had her first encounter with Dr. Wirth's Piano Camp. Angela fell in love with the camaraderie and support of being surrounded by music-making peers. She attended the camp through age 18, and the following two summers, helped run the camp as they transitioned to a new location at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. In the summer of 2008, Angela returned to camp as a counselor to a new generation of musicians and found much joy in this experience.
Angela also enjoyed participating in the Music Listening Contest, put on by Minnesota Public Radio, for three years in high school. Her team advanced to the state level each year, winning second place in 2000. She participated in various piano performance competitions, winning the St Cloud Symphony Orchestra's competition and playing the 2nd and 3rd movements of Grieg's Piano Concerto with the orchestra. Angela served as a piano teacher at WCPA from 2000-2002, and again since January 2008. While living and working in Ecuador during the 2005-2006 school year, she taught music and keyboarding skills to students. Angela is (again) studying with Dr. Wirth and finding an ever-increasing appreciation for his passion and skill in music. She has a passion for working with young musicians, and hopes to instill in them a love for music and a firm grounding in technique and music-making ability.
Tanya Rupp, Piano
Tanya Rupp received her B.A. in Music and Classics at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. She has always had a passion for teaching and playing music. Tanya began studying piano at the age of 7 and saxophone at the age of 10. She has studied with Carlotta Ohm at Martin Luther College, Esther Wang and Yumiko Oshima-Ryan at Gustavus, and with Dr. Paul Wirth at the Wirth Center. While at Gustavus, she was a member of the Gustavus Saxophone Quartet and the Gustavus Wind Orchestra and had the opportunity to tour nationally and internationally.
Tanya has experience accompanying for choirs, vocal soloists, and instrumentalists. She has taught piano in Madelia and Mankato, MN as well as in the Piano Lab at Gustavus. She joined the Wirth Center community in 2011 and is also Assistant to the Executive and Artistic Directors.
Piano Faculty, Twin Cities
June Chang, Piano
June Chang received her undergraduate degree at National Taiwan Normal University in music performance and education. After teaching music class in middle school for one year, she came to the United States studying her master’s degree with Antonio Pompa-Baldi at Cleveland Institute of Music. Then she went on to attend University of Minnesota for her doctoral degree with Alexander Braginsky. At this time, she was awarded the Teaching Assistantship to teach class piano at the college level.
June has won several piano competitions in Taiwan including Kawai Piano Competition, Taichung City Piano Competition, and Vienna Piano Competition. Her recent performances including recitals at the University of Minnesota, Schumann Concerto for the Schumann Festival in Sundin Music Hall, and Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” for Minnesota Public Radio. With the passion for music and teaching, June is pleased to join the faculty and will be continuing her study with Dr. Paul Wirth.
Kim Lange, Piano
Kim Lange received the B.A and M.M. degrees with an emphasis in Piano Pedagogy from the University of Minnesota where she studied with Paul Freed. She has 26 years of teaching experience, including teaching at the Crystal Free Church School of Music, the Northwestern College Academy of Music and the Northwestern College Piano Institutes.
Kim has studied the Suzuki approach with Maria Rantapaa and the Taubman Technique with Teresa Dybvig. She also has had extensive training in early childhood music, including the Yamaha, Musikgarten and Musical Trolley programs. Her teaching experience has included students of all ages, including both gifted students and students with disabilities.
She is an active member of the Minnesota Music Teachers Association, the St. Paul Piano Teachers Association and Minnesota Music Teachers Forum, and has attended numerous workshops, master classes and institutes. A lifelong learner, she continues her piano studies with Dr. Paul Wirth. Kim resides in Crystal, MN with her husband who is her greatest support, Dr. Richard Lange.
Dance Faculty, Saint Cloud
Alexandra Hawkins, Dance
Alexandra Hawkins, a resident of St Cloud, trains at North Ballet Academy in Rogers. She is in level 5 of the professional division of their complete classical ballet program. This program teaches the Vaganova method and includes, pilates, modern, and character. She is considered a full time student dancing 6 days a week.
Alexandra has performed in several Nutcracker performances. She has also performed variations from Le Corsaire, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Raymonda. Alexandra enjoys choreographing her own pieces and her dances have been selected to be performed twice, once in the Fine Arts council of St Michael-Albertville Spring Variety Show. She aspires someday to attend the Royal Winnipeg Ballet or Kansas City Ballet after completing her training.
Alexandra has had the privilege of training under many talented professionals including Mr. Alexander Smirnov, principal dancer at the Saint Petersburg Ballet; Ms. Karen Paulson-Rivet from Saint Paul City Ballet: Ms. Breanna Dvorak, who trained at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia; Ms.Maylu Pena who has a diploma in classical ballet, currently dances with Saint Paul City Ballet and trained under Nina Novak, prima for Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo. In addition, she participated in training by the following guest artists: Ms. Stephanie Heston, principal dancer, Eglevsky Ballet, New York and Ms. Carol Roderick, instructor, coach and trainer for professional ballet companies in the United States, Japan , and Europe.
It is Alexandra’s wish to encourage others in their love of ballet.
Danielle Moriarty, Dance, Early Childhood Education
Photo and bio coming soon!
Early Childhood Music and Movement, Saint Cloud
Heidi Hansen, Early Childhood Education
Heidi A. Hansen, NCTM, holds an MM degree in Piano Pedagogy and Performance from the University of St. Thomas, and a BS degree in Vocal Music Education from St. Cloud State University. She taught classroom music for 5 years and in 1990 left her school position to become an independent music teacher, teaching piano, flute and voice in her own private studio. In 2010 she underwent training to become a licensed Musikgarten teacher and began teaching classes to preschoolers in the fall of 2010. She currently teaches at Hansen House of Music in Becker, Minnesota, and at the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Ms. Hansen is an active member of the Minnesota Music Teachers Association, the Central Minnesota Music Teachers Association and the National Federation of Music Clubs. She is also a frequent adjudicator and clinician for MMTA events in Central Minnesota. She has done extensive research in the field of learning styles, in particular, the Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic Learning Styles as they apply to the field of piano pedagogy and has written her Master’s Thesis, “Learning Styles: Implications for the Private Piano Teacher” on this subject. In addition to her teaching, Ms. Hansen is the church pianist and Adult Choir Director for South Santiago Lutheran Church in Clear Lake, Minnesota.
Guitar, Saint Cloud
Mark Hasbrouck, Guitar, School of Rock
Mark Hasbrouck (Hazzy) was born in 1963, in
Hazzy started playing music as a youngster on his gr
One of Hazzy's favorite things about teaching is when he sees the excitement on a student's face when they "get it" for the first time
One of the highlights of Mark’s summers for the past three years has been working as an instructor at the School of Rock camp sponsored by the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts in cooperation with District 742 Community Education, Hazzy plays in a few local b
Ben Poorker, Guitar, Bass Guitar
Central Minnesota native Ben Poorker has had a life long passion for music, which shines through whenever he is playing or teaching. Ben started playing guitar at the age of 8, and bass guitar at the age of 15. He also has 10 plus years live performing experience. Ben loves all types of music including rock, blues, funk, pop, and jazz.
His easy going, high energy personality along with his patience and sense of humor make him a natural teacher. Ben believes that learning should be challenging, rewarding, and above all, fun! Ben teaches his students to be well rounded musicians, focusing on fundamentals, improvisation, theory, practice discipline, ear training, as well as basic guitar care and maintenance.
Percussion, Saint Cloud
Karin Rau Snare drum, Xylophone, 2 and 4 mallet Marimba, Drumset, and Djembe
Karin grew up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota as the second oldest of six children. Playing piano, drums, marimba, singing, dancing, and acting in musicals are some of her fondest memories. She attended Concordia College in Moorhead, MN where she studied percussion with Dr. David Eyler and played in the band, percussion ensemble, marimba choir, Javanese gamelan ensemble, West African drumming ensemble, and was principal timpanist in the orchestra. She also swam on the swim team and taught piano, percussion, and swim lessons while majoring in Music Education.
Karin taught classroom music, directed choir, elementary percussion ensemble, and African drumming for 4 years in Minnesota public schools before joining the Wirth Center. She is completing her Masters of Ethnomusicology at Liberty University which allows her to study musics from all cultures in the world. She has studied drumming and dance in Ghana and Guinea and plays djembe with Duniya Drum and Dance of Minneapolis.
At the Wirth Center, Karin teaches the percussion instruments of snare drum, xylophone, 2 and 4 mallet marimba, drumset, and djembe. Students also learn about mallet choice and proper techniques for other concert percussion instruments like bass drum, cymbals, tambourine, triangle, claves, guiro, cabasa, maracas, and more.
Violin/Viola, Saint Cloud
Sarah Dahl, Violin, Viola
Photo and bio coming soon!
Lauri Koenig, Violin, Viola
An extremely dedicated artist, Lauri is exceptionally passionate about teaching. She studied music and pedagogy extensively through multiple venues, including a long term internship led by world class violinist, Dr. John Thomson of New Zealand, as well as specialized training at the Juilliard School of Music. Lauri delights in taking this instruction to the next level by developing creative, individualized strategies to develop the artist within each student.
Realizing that her students’ development is based greatly on her own, she is committed to her growth as a musician. Her love for performing, as well as delving into the history of the music, personality of the artists, and the stories behind the compositions, provides students a wellspring of exciting discoveries within their lessons.
Lauri’s journey with the violin began at the age of seven, but her passion for its voice was discovered at the early age of three, when upon hearing a violin performance on public radio, she cried – and desired to one day be a master of the instrument. She began private lessons, joined a Suzuki School, and in her teen years developed the need to pursue her lessons over 400 miles away from her home town. She has attended the Master Works Festival, received master classes from world class artists including members of the NSO, won auditions, and has performed in several symphony orchestras. She is also the leader and founder of her family chamber group, String Silhouettes.
Dedicated to offering a complete and nurturing mentorship for her students, Lauri equips them with the technical and musical skills for fine music making, along with assisting them with all of the problems life throws at musicians.
With over 10 years of teaching experience, Lauri has taught Kindermusik classes, Suzuki violin in the Headstart program, and continues to develop her private studio program. Past students have won competitions, played in master classes, performed in Carnegie hall, and have gone on to pursue music as a career.
Voice, Saint Cloud
Dr. Marcie Givens
Marcie Hagen Givens, soprano, is an active recitalist and concert performer and has appeared on the operatic stage. Her concert appearances include the Minnesota Center Chorale, the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra and Deo Cantamus (Plymouth, MN). Her concert credits also include J.S. Bach's Passion according to St. John with Weston Noble and the Luther College Symphony, Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University Symphony, the premiere performances of David Evan Thomas' Seasons of the Spirit with the Pastiche ensemble, and Libby Larsen's Songs from Letters with the SCSU Wind Ensemble as a featured performance for the CBDNA convention, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. In March 2007 she performed the world premiere of Libby Larsen's Within the Circles of Our Lives with the SCSU Wind Ensemble at the American Bandmasters Association Convention at Cal Poly University and at UCLA. She has performed with such regional opera companies as the Pine Mountain Music Festival (Michigan), the Dorian Opera Theatre (Iowa) and the Illinois Opera Theatre. Read more...