Project Artistic Director
Sunnat Ibrahim has established himself as an artist of creativity, passion and technical command. He is one of the most prominent cellists to emerge from the Central Asian republics and has studied with many of the top artists of our time. He has performed live and on radio with major soloists, chamber musicians, orchestras and conductors. He performed with orchestras (“Soloists of Uzbekistan,” Uzbek National Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Des Moines Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Shenyang Symphony, Hays Symphony, Southeast Kansas Symphony), chamber musicians (Shmuel Ashkenasi, Borromeo String Quartet); festivals (the Orford Music Festival in Montreal, Aspen Music Festival) and has worked under such prominent conductors as Carl St. Clair, Gerard Schwarz , John Nelson, Hugh Wolff and Robert Spano.
Born in Tashkent, he began the cello at 7 and studied at the Glière State Music School and the Uzbek State Conservatory. Ibragimov earned a Bachelor of Music from Park University’s International Center for Music, where he studied with Martin Storey and Daniel Veis, and he continued, also on full scholarship, at the University of Southern California with Andrew Shulman and Ben Hong. He completed his Masters degree at the University of Kansas under the tutelage of Hannah Collins and Mark Gibbs while serving on the faculty at Pittsburg State University. Sunnat regularly performs with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and recently started a position as cello teacher for the Preparatory Peabody program at John Hopkins University.
Dana Rath is a first year Masters of Music student at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, studying under Professor Desmond Hoebig. She previously received a Bachelors of Music from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance where she was awarded the Artistic Leadership Award Scholarship to attend. She has been playing the cello since she was four years old, and has studied with Richard Aaron, Daniel Veis, Martin Storey, and Julian Boren. She has received fellowships to National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, Center Stage Strings, Aspen Music Festival, and Bowdoin Summer Music Festival. In 2015, Rath won First Prize and Audience Favorite in the Kansas City Symphony’s Young Artist Competition, and in 2021 she was awarded the Eugene Bossart Prize as a winner of the University of Michigan’s Undergraduate Concerto Competition.
Benjamin Cline is an American cellist who has performed in dozens of venues in the United States, Europe, Middle East, and the Far East. He has appeared as soloist with many orchestras, including the Kaohsuing City Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan, was featured in performance on Public Radio's WXXI "Live from Hochstein" in Rochester, and has collaborated with many noted musicians, including Yumi Hwang-Williams, Jun Iwasaki, Theodor Kuchar, Richard Fuchs, and Tali Morgulis. He is a highly versatile musician, performing as recitalist, soloist, orchestral principal, and chamber musician. His repertoire is equally diverse, spanning from the 17th century works of Gabrielli to 21st century electroacoustic works for cello.
Mr. Cline currently teaches Fort Hays State University as Professor of Music and serves as Department Chair. He studied with Alan Harris at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Jim Fittz at the University of Northern Colorado. Master classes and additional studies were undertaken with Norman Fischer, Gordon Epperson, Anne Epperson, and members of the Cleveland and Juilliard String Quartets.
Maria Begacheva is a new Adjunct Lecturer of Lower Strings at Pittsburg State University. Maria has received her Master’s degree in Cello Performance in 2020 and is currently working on her Graduate Certificate in Cello Performance under the direction of Daniel Veis at Park University, International Center for Music. In 2017 - 2018 she was a teaching assistant at the University of Illinois under the direction of Dmitry Kouzov. Maria received her Bachelor’s in Music Performance from the Wichita State University where she studied with Leonid Shukaev and worked as a teaching assistant at the Wichita State University School of Music. In Russia, Maria studied in the St. Petersburg State Conservatory under Alexey Massarsky, attended 2010-2012. Under Olga Rudneva, in 2010 Maria received her degree in Music Performance and Education from the Rimsky-Korsakov Music Academy.
In 2010 Maria participated in a Chamber Musical Festival in Bayreuth, Germany, where she took master classes from the members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. That same year her quartet was selected to participate in the musical series ”News of Shostakovich” at the Society of Composers in St. Petersburg where they performed the Eighth quartet of Shostakovich. Maria is a winner of several music competitions in the United States and Russia, including second place at the International Youth Festival-Competition “Window to Europe,” numerous awards at the Wolff-Bing chamber music competition at Wichita State University, and the alternate award at the Music Teachers National Association Competition for Kansas. In summer 2017 Maria was invited to work at Opera in the Ozarks, Arkansas. In September 2017 she received a position of an Associate Principal at the Sinfonia da Camera Chamber Orchestra. Maria Begacheva is a devoted teacher, an experienced chamber musician, looking forward to continuing her education, and pursuing her goal to become a professional musician.
Turkish cellist, Ezgi Karakus began her cello education at the age of eleven with Prof. Caglayan Unal SUMER, and attended Dokuz Eylul University State Conservatory in her native Izmir, Turkey. While attending the conservatory she thrice won the concerto competition and before arriving in the U.S., joined several festivals including the Bremen Youth Symphony Orchestra in Bremen, Germany.
Ezgi completed her Master of Arts at Marshall University under Dr. Solen Dikener’s mentorship, where she was awarded first price in the Belle and Lynum Jackson Balshaw Music Competition, and the Marshall University Concerto Competition.
She gave the world premiere of the Suite for Violoncello and Live Electronics by Mark Zanter and performed for the Society of Composers, Inc. 2013 National Conference at the Ohio State University School of Music. She also performed with several orchestras including Dokuz Eylul Symphony, Ohio Valley Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, Medical Arts Symphony (acted principal), Spire Chamber Ensemble, Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Topeka Symphony, The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, Saint Joseph Symphony, Tulsa Symphony, and Kansas City Symphony.
Ezgi completed her Doctor of Musical Arts in Cello Performance at the University of Missouri - Kansas City Conservatory of Music & Dance under Prof. Carter Enyeart, Mark Gibbs, and Micheal Mermagen. Additionally, she was chosen to perform for Yo-Yo Ma’s Master Class at the Kauffman Center of the Performing Arts on March 22, 2018. At this performance, Ezgi gave the world premiere of Dok Zulfunu Meydana Gel, a Turkish folk song which she arranged with composer Anil Altinsoy.
Ezgi is currently co-director of Soundwave Academy, a Professor of Cello at Missouri Western State University, Emporia State University, a teaching artist at the Harmony Project Kansas City.