Music at UT Arlington is rapidly emerging as one of the top programs in North Texas. Our recent curriculum expansion to include the Master of Music degree and the Certificate in Performance further extends opportunities for professional development. Led by a group of well-respected performers, the String Area is currently experiencing a period of unprecedented growth. The string faculty is committed to providing quality individual instruction and guidance to students in their pursuit of a music career.

Besides the individual instruction, opportunities to play in orchestra and chamber ensembles are available to both undergraduate and graduate students. The principal performing group is the UTA Symphony Orchestra, which presents a full season of concerts consisting of major works from the standard orchestral repertoire. Although a majority of its members are music majors, there are positions available for those majoring in other fields. In addition to the orchestral ensembles, selected students may participate in the chamber music program. These small ensembles explore string trio, quartet, and quintet literature, including works with piano and instruments from the brass and woodwind families.

UTA students not only benefit from the extraordinary facilities existing in the Music Department but also by its location. UTA is situated only at a short driving distance from the two large urban areas of Dallas and Fort Worth. Both of these cities, as well as Arlington itself, are known for cultural events, concerts, art museums, professional sports and entertainment activities. The benefits our students receive from this rich cultural environment extend beyond the opportunities to attend concerts. Indeed, during the current season, a number of UTA String Area students successfully auditioned or substituted with important area orchestras such as the Fort Worth Symphony, the New Arlington/Las Colinas Symphony, the San Angelo Symphony, the Irving Symphony, the Texas Chamber Orchestra, the Waco Symphony, and the East Texas Symphony.

The String Area offers merit-based scholarships to selected UTA Symphony members. Students may arrange to audition for scholarships by contacting Dr. Clifton Evans.


Dr. Clifton Evans, D.M.A. University of Houston

Department of Music

Associate Professor, Director of Orchestras, Strings Area Coordinator, Graduate Advisor

Area: Strings

Clifton Evans


Phone #: 817-272-5027

Office: FA 253-A

Bio: Dr. Clifton Evans currently serves as Director of Orchestras, Associate Professor of Music, and String Area Coordinator at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Evans has enjoyed a conducting career that has taken him to Hong Kong, England, China, Austria, the Czech Republic and throughout the United States. Highly sought after as a clinician and lecturer, Dr. Evans has conducted numerous Region Orchestras and Bands and given multiple lectures on conducting and rehearsal technique. His upcoming schedule includes a return engagement with the American Festival for the Arts Conservatory Orchestra in Houston in the summer of 2021. In addition to his duties as a professor at UTA, Dr. Evans maintains an active schedule at summer festivals, conventions, and workshops. For six years, he conducted the Fargason concerts for the Texas Music Teachers Association, which featured concerto competition winners selected from across the state of Texas. He has also conducted the prestigious American Festival for the Arts Conservatory Orchestra in Houston numerous times and has been invited back for the 2020 season. In the summers of 2010, 2013, and 2017, he presented conducting workshops and other lectures at the state convention for the Texas Orchestra Directors Association in San Antonio. Each summer at UTA, he serves as Executive Director and a faculty member of the Texas Conducting Workshop, a program he founded together with the string faculty, and Summer Strings, a camp that hosts roughly 400 students from throughout the Metroplex. Dr. Evans’ previous positions include Artistic Director of the Arlington Youth Symphony, Director of Orchestras and Chamber Music for the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Music Director for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Houston, Conductor for the Houston Youth Symphony, and Music Director and Conductor of the Houston Civic Symphony. He currently maintains professional memberships in TMEA, TODA, Conductors Guild, and Mu Omicron. He is an honorary member of the Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi chapters at UTA and also served as the faculty advisor to the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia chapter for 5 years. He resides in Arlington with his wife, Christy, and their children.

Dr. Martha Walvoord, D.M.A. University of Michigan

Department of Music

Chair of the Music Department and Professor

Area: Strings: Violin

Martha Walvoord


Phone #: 817-272-2439

Office: FA 252

Bio: Dr. Martha Walvoord is an active performer and educator. Described by American Record Guide as “an enthusiastic and expressive player,” performances have taken Walvoord to China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Spain, England, Costa Rica, and across the US. Her performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Qingdao Symphony Orchestra was described by the Qingdao Evening News as “very elegant, expressing well the music-king's style.” Walvoord is Principal Second Violin of the Dallas Chamber Symphony and performs regularly as part of the Spectrum Chamber Music series in Fort Worth, TX. Walvoord is committed to the commissioning, performing, and recording of new music. Her debut album, American Perspectives, is featured on Centaur records and is made up of new works by Matthew Tommasini. Walvoord’s latest album, The Diaries of Adam and Eve, a collection of duos for violin and double bass on Albany Records, features the works of Michael Daugherty, Tom Knific, Andrea Clearfield, Daniel M. Cavanagh, and George B. Chave. Fanfare Magazine describes the performance saying, “Walvoord and Unzicker, who commissioned this music, play it with precision and gusto, and the recording is excellent. This album…holds up well to repeated listening.” From 2016-2022, Walvoord served as President-Elect, President, and Past-President of TexASTA, the Texas chapter of the American String Teachers Association. During that time, she also served on the editorial board of the American String Teacher Journal. In 2019, Walvoord received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from the University of Texas at Arlington. Her former students hold teaching and orchestral positions across the US. In 2015, Walvoord was awarded a Faculty Development Leave to study baroque violin. Walvoord served on the first executive committee for the Women’s Faculty and Staff Network at UT Arlington and was the faculty co-chair from 2017-2019.Originally from Michigan, Walvoord was the Concertmaster of the West Shore Symphony Orchestra in Muskegon, MI and held the position of Artist-in-Residence at Hope College in Holland, MI. At UT Arlington, Walvoord is Professor of Violin and Chair of the Music Department. Walvoord performs on a violin by Francois Pique and a bow by Jules Fetique.

Dr. Jack Unzicker, D.M.A. University of North Texas

Department of Music

Associate Professor

Area: Double Bass

Jack Unzicker


Office: FA 254

Bio: Jack Unzicker is the Associate Professor of Double Bass at the University of Texas at Arlington and is a sought-after performer and educator. He has extensive and varied experience in all performance areas, from early music to contemporary, solo, chamber, and orchestral, as well as jazz and electric bass. He maintains an active performing schedule, over 500 performances since his appointment at UTA in 2012. Raised in Juneau, Alaska, he began his musical studies with piano, guitar, and percussion and began performing as a professional bassist and teaching private lessons at the age of fourteen. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the University of North Texas, where he studied solo and orchestral performance, orchestral conducting, jazz studies, and early music with Jeff Bradetich, Paul Sharpe, Bill Clay, Anshel Brusilow, Lynn Seaton, and Lenora McCroskey. Dr. Unzicker earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Western Washington University where he studied jazz studies, performance, and contemporary music with Chuck Israels, Anna Doak, and Roger Briggs. Dr. Unzicker continued his studies at the Henry Mancini Institute, working with Bertram Turetzky, Christian McBride, John Clayton, and Dave Carpenter, the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors, and the Pirastro Strings Elite Soloists Program. As a pedagogue, Dr. Unzicker serves on the board of the Bradetich Foundation, a double bass performance and education organization. He served as the Bass Forum Editor for the journal American String Teacher and has been featured in articles on playing and teaching the double bass in The Strad, Bass World, American String Teacher, and Strings Magazine. He frequently performs, adjudicates, and presents at the International Society of Bassists, American String Teachers Association, and Texas Music Educators Association Conventions.  In the summers, he performs and teaches as Artist Faculty and as the Assistant Director of the Annual Bradetich Double Bass Master Classes. Recent projects include a recording on Albany Records, The Diaries of Adam and Eve (2019), of five newly commissioned and premiered duos for violin and double bass. This duo project is in collaboration with Dr. Martha Walvoord, UTA violin professor, and contemporary composers, including six-time Grammy-award winner Michael Daugherty, Andrea Clearfield, Tom Knific, George Chave, and Daniel M. Cavanagh. The duo performed this new repertoire at the International Society of Bassists 2017 Convention at Ithaca College on June 10, 2017. Upcoming projects include several performances of Nino Rota’s Divertimento Concertante with U.S. orchestras in Fall 2021. Recent concerto performances include Bottesini’s Concerto No. 2 with the Midland-Odessa Symphony Orchestra and with the Dallas Chamber Symphony, performing his transcription of Hindemith’s Trauermusik. Dr. Unzicker’s chamber music performances include the Adams Chamber Symphony, Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, 2, 3, & 6, Beethoven Septet, Bruch Octet, Ginastera Variaciones Concertantes, Prokofiev Quintet, Stravinsky L’Histoire du soldat, and Brahms Sextet in B-flat Major, Svendsen Octet, Schubert Octet, and Piano Quintets by Goetz, Labor, Schubert, and Vaughan-Williams with members of the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera, Fort Worth Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, and professors from Rice University and the University of North Texas. As an orchestral musician, Dr. Unzicker has performed as Principal Double Bass of the AIMS Festival Orchestra (Austria), Caminos Del Inka, Dallas Chamber Orchestra, Dallas Chamber Symphony, Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Divertimento (Costa Rica), Plano Symphony Orchestra, Richardson Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with the Artosphere Festival Orchestra, Dallas Opera, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Fort Worth Opera, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Holland Symphony Orchestra, Waco Symphony Orchestra, and he has worked extensively with conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya, as well as Jaap Van Zweden, Fabio Luisi, Robert Spano, David Robertson, James Conlon, Otto Werner-Mueller, Leon Fleisher, Larry Rachleff, Brett Mitchell, Rossen Milanov, Teddy Abrams, Anshel Brusilow, and Gunther Schuller. Current and former students of Dr. Unzicker have been accepted to undergraduate, graduate, and summer programs at the Colburn School, Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, University of Southern California, Boston University, Indiana University, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, University of North Texas, Peabody Institute, DePaul University, Florida State University, University of Texas at Austin, North Carolina School of the Arts, New World Symphony, Curtis Institute of Music Summerfest, Aspen Music Festival and School, Domaine Forget, National Orchestral Institute, National Repertory Orchestra, Interlochen Arts Camp, Round Top Music Festival, Texas Chamber Music Institute, and the WaBass Institute. The double bass studio at the University of Texas at Arlington has proudly hosted many guest artists recently, including George Amorim (UTRGV), the Bassinova Quartet, Jeff Bradetich (UNT), Craig Butterfield (University of South Carolina), Bill Clay (Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra), Ira Gold (National Symphony/Peabody Institute), Artist-In-Residence Eddie Gomez (Jazz Legend), Aaro Heinonen (Indianapolis Symphony), Milton Masciadri (Univeristy of Georgia), Brandon McLean (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra), Brian Perry (Dallas Symphony/SMU), and Dennis Roy (Boston Symphony). Dr. Unzicker performs primarily on instruments by Daniel Hachez and Albert Jakstadt, and a bow by Reid Hudson.

Catherine Forbes, M.M. New England Conservatory

Department of Music


Area: Viola

Catherine Forbes


Office: FA 2122

Bio: Catherine Forbes is Viola Professor and Director of Chamber Music at The University of Texas at Arlington. She is Founding Director of the UTA Viola Recital Lecture Series, now in its 29th season. Renowned as a gifted teacher, her students have been prizewinners in local and national competitions, hold positions in major symphony orchestras, and continue to pursue education at major conservatories in the United States and abroad. Previous Artist Faculty appointments include the Heifetz International Music Institute, the Phillips Academy in Andover MA, and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico. As a recent guest of Vietnam Connection Music Festival, she presented chamber concerts and master classes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and performed as guest Principal Viola of the Hanoi Symphony. Catherine was Assistant Principal violist of the Boston Philharmonic and the Santa Fe Chamber Orchestra. She has performed as artist in residence for the Andover Chamber Players in Massachusetts for four seasons. She toured New England with Musica Nova, premiering newly commissioned chamber music pieces to the acclaim of the Boston Globe. She was a featured performing artist at the XXVII International Viola Congress in Canada. She held office as National Secretary of the American Viola Society for a four-year tenure, and was awarded the National Founder’s Award for excellence in performance, teaching and service. She is recipient of the University of Texas at Arlington College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Teaching Award. Most recently she was awarded the Phyllis Young Outstanding Studio Teacher Award for 2019 presented by the Texas American String Teachers Association. Catherine completed her graduate studies at the New England Conservatory where she served as teaching assistant to Heidi Castleman. She performs on a viola made by Vincenzo Panormo, c. 1790 and a bow made by Guillaume Maline in 1850.

Craig Leffer, M.M. Cleveland Institute of Music

Department of Music


Area: Cello

Craig Leffer


Office: FA 253-B

Bio: Leffer joined the faculty at UTA as Lecturer in Cello in 2016. Currently he performs as a member of the Dallas Opera Orchestra. He frequently plays with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Texas Winds Musical Outreach, and as artist-in-residence for the Baylor Scott & White healthcare system. A New York native, Leffer began his studies at the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music as a student of Steven Doane and a Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of Stephen Geber. Leffer has previously served as principal cellist and soloist with the Midland-Odessa Symphony and Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra. Festival appearances include Bravo! Vail with the Dallas Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, Kent Blossom, and as principal cellist of the New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall. Leffer plays on a modern Italian cello by Paolo de Barbieri from Genoa dated 1952.

Tyler Shepherd, M.M., Boston University

Department of Music

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Area: Strings, Double Bass

Tyler Shepherd

Bio: Tyler Shepherd has performed, recorded and toured across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States. Formerly Principal Double Bass of the Welsh National Opera, he has also appeared as Principal with many orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester, BBC Scottish Symphony and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Tyler has also performed with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Nashville and San Antonio. Prior to his appointment with WNO, Tyler served two seasons as Principal Bass of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. Tyler studied at Boston University, Boston Conservatory and Walnut Hill School for the Arts. His primary teachers were Edwin Barker, Dennis Roy and Steve Zeserman. During his time in Boston, he was a member of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra for three seasons, and a Tanglewood Music Center fellow for two summers, where he was awarded the Maurice Schwartz Prize. As a teacher he has been on faculty of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama since 2012, and has taught at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Royal Scottish Conservatoire, Trinity-Laban Conservatoire of Music and Drama, as well as Texas Christian University and James Madison University. He has also been a tutor the Britten-Pears Festival Orchestra in Snape, England. Recent chamber engagements include the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival, Fishguard Chamber Music Festival of Wales, and the Penarth Chamber Music Festival, alongside the Gould Trio and David Adams. He has appeared as a concerto soloist with the Chattanooga Symphony and the City of Cardiff Symphony Orchestra. Tyler has worked with artists such as Tan Dun, Jaap van Zweden, Bernard Haitink, Leonidas Kavakos, Donald Runnicles, Vadim Repin, Renée Fleming, Herbert Blomstedt, Valery Gergiev, Fabio Luisi, Midori, Ben Heppner, Carlo Rizzi, Lothar Koenigs, Rinaldo Alessandrini, and Tomáš Hanus.

Elizabeth Elsner, B.M. and M.M. Cleveland Institute of Music

Department of Music

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Area: Strings, Violin

Beth Elsner


Office: FA 235

Bio: Elizabeth Elsner is currently concertmaster of the Abilene Philharmonic and is an Adjunct Professor of Violin at The University of Texas at Arlington. Since her move to the Dallas area, she has performed with the Fort Worth Symphony, the Dallas Opera, the East Texas Symphony, the Arkansas Symphony and other various area orchestras. Previously, Elizabeth held the position of concertmaster of the Midland/Odessa Symphony, and was a member of the Permian Basin Sting Quartet. She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Cleveland Institute of Music studying violin with Linda Cerone, Stephen Majeske and Stephen Rose,and chamber music with Peter Salaff and the Cavani Quartet. She has been a member of the National Repertory Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival, Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and assistant concertmaster of the Peoria Symphony.