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.
Dr. James Dennihan, Piano
James Dennihan is a native of Kansas City, Missouri where he studied with Joanne Baker from the age of seven through his Bachelor’s degree. During that time, he was a national finalist in the MTNA High School Auditions and appeared as soloist with several Kansas City area orchestras, including the Kansas City Philharmonic. In New York and Boston,he studied with Martin Canin and Leonard Shure. He was pianist for the New Amsterdam Chamber Ensemble and a member of the faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. He received his doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music where his teachers were John Browning and Constance Keene.
Since moving to the St. Cloud area, Dr. Dennihan has appeared frequently in solo and chamber recitals and in concerto performances with the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra, the Heartland Symphony Orchestra and the Willmar Symphony Orchestra. In addition to teaching at the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts, Dr. Dennihan is an adjunct faculty member at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, St. Cloud State University and teaches music appreciation at the College of St. Scholastica/St. Cloud Campus.
Christopher Goering, 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.
Jessica Heim, Piano
Jessica Heim graduated with high honors from the College of St. Benedict in 2009 with a B.A. in Music and Environmental Studies where she studied under Dr. Edward Turley. Her musical interests began with piano lessons at the age of 7 and she studied with Dr. Paul Wirth throughout high school, attending the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts’ (formerly Central Minnesota Music School) Young Artist Piano Camp for 7 years and passing Levels 1-5 of MMTA theory. She continues her studies with Dr. Wirth.
Jessica has been a piano accompanist for ballet classes at the St. Paul City Ballet and WCPA since 2002. She also accompanies services at the St. Cloud Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. In 2008, she performed the first movement of Ravel’s G Major Piano Concerto with the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra as the grand prizewinner of their Young Performer’s Competition. During June, 2009, she participated in Webster University’s Chamber Music Vienna program directed by Dr. Daniel Rieppel.
Outside of music, Jessica’s interests include hiking, nature photography, and bird watching. She has taken biology and ecology classes in the mountains of Montana and on the Oregon coast. She also spent a May Term in Sweden and Denmark, where she studied ways in which these countries have become more environmentally and socially sustainable.
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
Alison Anderson Holland, Adult Ballet
Alison Holland has been dancing since 1988 when she began her training at Central Performing Arts in Mora, MN at age three. Though not in her original plans, she completed a B.A. in Dance from Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, MN in 2005 and continued her dance training with classes at Zenon and Ballet Arts Minnesota, both in Minneapolis, MN. Alison hasn’t been able to stop dancing since. Enjoying teaching most of all, she has worked with students ages two through adult with classes, workshops, and private lessons in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, poms, preschool, parent-child, ballet technique for gymnasts, tumbling, modern dance, improvisation, and yoga in Isanti, Isle, Eagan, and Mora, MN, as well as in West-central WI. She is also a musical choreographer and arts-integrated teaching artist working in elementary classrooms and beyond. In the fall of 2013, Alison looks forward to the opportunity to teach adult ballet classes for The Wirth Center in St. Cloud. She is also a new addition to The Cowles Center’s roster of Teaching Artists in Minneapolis, and continues to teach a variety of classes at Central Performing Arts in Mora. When she’s not teaching, Alison is busy keeping up with her daughters Evie (4) and Maura (2). She and her family live in her hometown of Mora.
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...
Lori McNamara, Executive Director
In December, 2005, Lori McNamara agreed to assist the school with payroll and accounting for a few months while the school looked for a permanent bookkeeper. Those few months have turned into a few years after she was invited to stay on and serve as Executive Director in March, 2006. Lori enjoys working with the dedicated and professional faculty and managing the many aspects of the business side of the school as well as meeting the wonderful families that form the larger “WCPA family”.
Lori attended the
In 1991, with four children in tow, the McNamaras decided to relocate to
“When my son began taking lessons with Dr. Wirth in 2004, I never realized the depth and breadth of the offerings at WCPA. From our exciting Early Childhood Music and Movement programs led by the energetic Kathy Kampa, to classic ballet with Julia Tehven-Sutton, and our many dedicated and professional private music instructors to the top-notch summer camps of both the School of Rock and the Young Artist Piano Camp, and our fabulous concert series, Salon se Lève, this school definitely adds to the cultural fabric of the central Minnesota region and beyond!”