The CSUN Honors String Quartet gratefully acknowledges substantial support from David and Gita Kronen. Additional scholarship funds are generously provided by the Richard Wiegand ‘66 Scholarship Endowment, the Arts Council for CSUN, and the Music Department Scholarship Fund.
(left to right) Benz Marston Duglio, Greg Von Notias, Pedram Pourghazi, and Alisa Luera
Alisa Luera, Co-1st Violin: A native of Seattle, Washington, Alisa is a very active violinist and chamber musician, Ms. Alisa Luera has performed widely in Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Italy, and the US, and has appeared as concertmaster with LAYO's Symphony Orchestra (Los Angeles Youth Orchestra) from 2011-2017. In 2014, she joined JCM (Junior Chamber Music). She was accepted in their Debut Artists Program and selected for JCM's Honors Tours to perform in masterclasses at Longy's School of Music, New England Conservatory, Juilliard School of Music, and has performed in Carnegie Hall Weill Recital. Alisa began playing the violin at the age of four, and was raised in Los Angeles. Her mother is a piano instructor who helped her by applying her knowledge and practicing methods to her learning, including playing alongside her for many years. Prior to her studies with Prof. Gamma, Alisa took violin lessons for twelve years under the Suzuki Music Program of Los Angeles with former Director Emeritus, Idell. This is Alisa’s second year in the CSUN Honors String Quartet. She and the members took masterclasses with Arnaud Sussmann of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Bin Huang of China Conservatory, Yuan Sheng of Beijing Central Conservatory of Music, and the Calder Quartet. Since attending CSUN’s Department of Music, she was co-concertmaster in Symphony Orchestra the past three semesters and chosen to perform chamber music with Dr. Lorenz Gamma, Dr. Julia Heinen, Dr. Robert Berg, Ben Hong of USC and the LA Philharmonic, and Jonathan Moerschel of the Calder Quartet in faculty concerts in the school. Outside of school, she took part in projects and performances with Debut Orchestra, Disney XD, Shari Sutcliffe, David Grohl, the Foo Fighters, and Tony Visconti. Alisa is a Junior pursuing her B.M. in Violin Performance, studying with Lorenz Gamma.
Pedram Pourghazi, Co-1st Violin: A native of Esfahan, Iran, Pedram started learning the violin with his uncle at the age of 7. He continued taking lessons with his uncle and cousin until he was 18 when he started his bachelor’s studies in Violin Performance at the Art University of Tehran. During this time, he played with multiple chamber and symphony orchestras in Iran and Turkey where he was honored to perform under the baton of maestros Alexander Rahbari, Aram Talalian, Nader Mashayekhi, and Manouchehr Sahbaei. Pedram continued his music education as a graduate student at the same music school in the field of World Music. During that period, he focused more on other Music genres including the Middle-Eastern music in general, and specifically Persian music. He plays SETAR and KAMANCHEH, Persian Musical Instruments, alongside with the violin and viola. He achieved the first place in the nationwide Music Performance Competition among 254 participants. He graduated from Tehran University of Art as an Honored student. Pedram moved to the United States in 2014, and soon after, started playing with the San Fernando valley symphony and Santa Monica symphony orchestras. He also got to play string quartets with CSUN former music students Thomas Lovasz and Ramon Osa and that was how he heard about and loved the CSUN Music School and its Music Performance program. Pedram started taking lessons with Dr. Lorenz Gamma around a year ago. He is a first year graduate student pursuing his M.M in Violin Performance, studying with Lorenz Gamma.
Greg Von Notias, Viola: A native of Houston, Texas, Greg was born into a family with wide-ranging musical tastes. He started learning the viola when he was eleven years old and the violin when he was eighteen. He fell in love with California when he attended the Idyllwild Arts Academy, a boarding school in Southern California. He has a wide-ranging love of music - orchestral, opera, chamber and solo viola and violin, all of which are his musical passions. Greg is also a composer and has written in many mediums from solo instrumental to opera. He moved to Los Angeles in 2010 and was married a year later to Elizabeth Von Blum. In Texas, Greg performed regularly in two professional orchestras and now performs regularly in orchestras in Santa Monica, Pasadena, and Glendale and accepts work as a freelance studio musician and teaches privately. Music and music history are true passions in his life and he is pursuing a graduate degree at CSUN to teach at the highest level the music that has inspired him. He has performed at festivals from coast to coast and in venues across North America. This is Greg’s third year in the Honors String Quartet. Greg is a second year graduate student pursuing a M.M. in Viola Performance, studying with Lorenz Gamma.
Benz Marston Duglio, ‘Cello: A native of Lima, Peru, at the age of eight Benz moved to Washington, DC accompanied by his family with aspirations of creating a more enriching life filled with endless opportunities. Soon after, Benz discovered his love for the cello at the Sitar Arts Center through an outreach program that engages local youth across the diverse cultural, economic, and racial spectrum. Just a year later, he was accepted to The Washington Conservatory of Music, where he studied cello under Nancy Jo Snider. In 2004, he enrolled into the Duke Ellington High school of Arts where he realized that music was his true calling. In the summer of that year, Benz was granted a full scholarship to attend the Sphinx Performance Academy. In his junior year, he auditioned and was accepted to the National Symphony Orchestra fellowship program. The rigorous and prestigious program provided him with masterclasses, performances in the Kennedy Center, and lessons from NSO cellist David Teie. After continuing lessons with David Teie at George Mason University, adverse life events and struggles compelled Benz to suppress his passion for music. After eight long years, Benz realized that he was not honoring his true calling in life. Despite the struggles, Benz moved to Los Angeles to reconnect with his music endeavors. He enrolled at Pierce College, where he was accepted into the Applied Music Program. During this time, he also studied with Joseph Mendoes at the Colburn School. Benz wanted to be challenged and be exposed to music beyond Pierce College, so he reached out to John Roscigno and joined the CSUN Symphony Orchestra in 2016-2017. Benz remains active, performing on various occasions with the San Fernando Valley Symphony, recording in studio projects, playing in various live performances, and teaching. Benz is currently a student advisor and administrative assistant with the LA Phil’s Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. In the summer of 2019 he has been taking lessons from Associate principal cellist Ben Hong of LA Phil. Benz is honored to be part of the CSUN family where he continues to mature as a professional artist and develop his new found passion for chamber music under the guidance and motivation from Professor Roscetti. Last year as cellist in the string quartet Benz had the privilege of performing in CSUN’s Chamber Fest and taking masterclasses from accomplished artists Calder Quartet, Arnaud Sussmann, Bin Huang, and Yuan Sheng. Benz looks forward to emerging as an educator and leader in the future, and aims to diversify symphony orchestras and bring the joy of classical music and cello to underserved minority communities. Benz is currently a member of the CSUN Symphony Orchestra and a Senior pursuing his B.M. in Cello Performance, studying with Diane Roscetti.