Meet The Team
Violin Faculty | VISM
Native to Poland, Julia Tondera is a professional violinist and teacher recognized in her home country as well as internationally. She received numerous awards for her violin performance in both solo and chamber music competitions, from which the most recent ones include First Prize in The International Best Bach Performance Competition in 2020 and Finalist of The Moores Concerto Competition in 2019.
Julia started her performing career at age of 8 when she has won The National Mlynarski’s Concerto Competition, receiving the top award and performing with a professional orchestra. From then on, Julia received awards in both solo and chamber music competitions every year, always being among top three finalists. At age of 11, she had her first tour in Poland performing J. S. Bach’s Concerto in A Minor along with other pieces accompanied by a chamber orchestra. She performed in the many prestigious halls around the world as well as participated in many significant music festivals in Poland and abroad, receiving recognition from many famous violinists and conductors.
Julia was born into a musical family. Her father is a prominent accompanist and mother is a recognized composer who also teaches improvisation. Originally from Warsaw, Julia started her journey with music at the age of 3 when encouraged by her parents she started playing piano. When she began her elementary music education at age of 7, she picked up the violin as the main instrument but has never stopped playing piano.
Julia has worked with many globally distinguished artists such as Kristof Barati, Paul Kantor, William Preucil, Simon James, Yuri Bashmet, and Rollo Kovac. Julia holds Bachelor degree from Moores School of Music where she was awarded merit-based scholarships, including Moores School of Music Scholarships and Fredell Lack Scholarship. During her Bachelor education, she held concertmaster position in symphonic, ballet and opera productions.
Julia has been teaching violin privately both in Poland and the United States. She enjoys the journey of discovering wonderful art of violin playing with children as young as 4 or 5 y.o., as well as incredibly important preparation of high school students for their auditions to college. As a teacher, she is very successful with both the little ones as well as with the teenagers who, with Julia’s help and instructions, can make their dreams come true- she loves sharing her passion to music and violin with students of all ages!
HIMC Artistic Advisor
First Violin | Houston Symphony
A winner of international competitions, Tong has claimed first prize at the International Music Competition of Union Francaise des Artistes Musiciens in Paris, International Violin Competition in Kazakhstan, International Chinese Violin Competition in New York, and string winner at the Gisborne International Orchestral Instruments Competition in New Zealand. She has also placed in the top three at the Andrea Postacchini International Violin Competition in Italy and the Brahms International Violin Competition in Austria. Tong has had many recitals and solo performances with orchestras in Austria, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, China, Canada, and the United States.
Tong is currently an active chamber musician and has participated in festivals such as the Summer Strings Academy in Australia, Canada’s Morningside Music Bridge, Colorado College Summer Music Festival, Bar Harbor Music Festival in Maine, Pacific Music Festival in Japan, Spoleto Music Festival in South Carolina, Britt Music Festival in Oregon, and the Meadowmount Summer School in New York.
Tong joined the Houston Symphony in 2012 while pursuing her Graduate Diploma at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Donald Weilerstein. She also holds a Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory, and a split bachelor’s degree from the Vienna University of Fine Arts, Joseph Haydn Conservatory, and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Her teachers include Elisabeth Kropfitsch, Klaus Maetzl, and Marilyn McDonald. Tong founded Vivace International School of Music in 2017.
Daniel Ma is a sophomore at Memorial High School in Houston, Texas. He has played piano since kindergarten, but dropped it for the clarinet when he got to middle school. In middle school, Daniel achieved region for the last two years, getting second chair in 8th grade. In the middle school UIL Solo & Ensemble Contest, Daniel made 1's and OP's for both events in the two years he competed. This year, Daniel made high school region and was a few chairs away from advancing to area.
This year, Daniel helped host virtual recitals and other events with the Vivace International School of Music.
Outside of music, Daniel enjoys playing tennis with friends.
Social Media Manager
Jerry Zhang is a sophomore at The St. John’s School in Houston, Texas. He started playing the violin at the age of 6 and currently studies under Tong Yan.
Jerry has been selected in TMEA Region for the past 3 years, and received second chair in the first violin section in 8th grade. He also participated in TPSMEA All-State in his freshman year, receiving a chair in the first violin section. Aside from these organizations, Jerry is also the Co-President of the Spread the Music Association Memorial Branch, a student organized music program dedicated to performing for the greater Houston community. In addition, he is also a volunteer for the Vivace International School of Music, where he often hosts events and performances.
Outside of music, Jerry is an avid golfer, playing for his school's varsity team and competing in tournaments around texas.
Alex Wang is going into his Sophomore year at Memorial High School in Houston, Texas. He started off playing the piano but soon found a passion in violin instead. He has been playing the violin since the age of 8 and is currently under the teachings of Tong Yan.
Alex has participated in the TMEA region orchestra for four straight years since the beginning of middle school to his freshman high school year. In 6th grade, he was placed in the Philharmonic Orchestra, but for the next three years, he was able to make the Symphony Orchestra as well as being the top few chairs in his last two middle school years. Alex has also participated in the middle school UIL Solo & Ensemble and has earned three outstanding performance awards from different judges along with 1’s from group performances.
Throughout his high school years, Alex has hosted numerous virtual recitals for Vivace International School of Music as well as volunteering in other events for them such as live concerts. Besides playing the violin, Alex also enjoys playing basketball, exercising, and solving different kinds of Rubik’s cubes.
Andrew Yang is a freshman at Memorial High school in Houston, Texas. He started playing violin at the age of 8 and is currently studying under Bo Yu.
In 6th grade, Andrew was a member of the Spring Branch Middle School Camerata Orchestra before moving to Chamber in 7th grade. He participated in the TMEA region in 7th grade as a 2nd violin in the Symphony Orchestra. Andrew has shown exponential growth since then meeting great players who he says “inspire him to improve and surpass them”. Currently, Andrew is a first violin in the TMEA High School Symphony Orchestra and hopes to improve in the coming years.
Besides playing violin, Andrew is a member of the MHS varsity tennis team which continuously goes to state each year. He enjoys cooking, reading, watching Youtube, practicing, and procrastinating about practicing.
Humphrey Xu is a junior at Memorial High School in Houston, Texas. He started playing the piano at the age of six, and studies under Dr. Matthew Loudermilk.
Humphrey has won First Prize with Special Honors at the Sonatina and Sonata competition in 2019. He also won first place at the Texas State Piano Competition, and was invited on a full scholarship to the Texas State International Piano Festival. In 2019, Humphrey won the Clear Lake Concerto Competition, and performed Shostakovich’s second concerto with the Clear Lake symphony orchestra. Humphrey has also competed in the TMTA Performance Contest four times, qualifying to the state round twice and the regional round twice. He has performed in Carnegie Hall, MATCH Concert Hall, and the Houston Hobby Center. As a member of IMA Virtuosi, Humphrey has also performed in master classes taught by Dr. Robert Roux and Nancy Weems.
Outside of piano, Humphrey enjoys reading, playing tennis, and participating in programming competitions.