Artists in Residence Program

Through the SCFPA Artist in Residence Program, gifted performers are invited to explore their talent, develop their performance skills, build their reputations and connect with other artists. SCFPA supports future generations of performers by offering these burgeoning musicians guest living quarters,and the use of the Benderly-Kendall Opera house for practice and public concerts.


In return, the artist in residence is expected to offer master classes, accept students and present several concerts during the performance season at the new Benderly-Kendall Opera House in Patagonia.

Mari Tomizuka: 2023 – 2024 Artist in Residence

Mari Tomizuka is the Artist-in-Residence for Santa Cruz Foundation for Performing Arts, and will be spotlighted in chamber music concerts throughout the season at the Benderly-Kendall Opera House in Patagonia, AZ. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona. As a student of Eugene Pridonoff, she received a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Arizona State University. After a year studying and teaching undergraduate piano at the University of Miami, Florida, she accepted a teaching assistantship at New England Conservatory in Boston. Following the completion of her “modern piano” studies and Master’s Degree at NEC, she migrated to Europe to study with Stanley Hoogland for specialization in performance on historical instruments.


Since completing a post-graduate Certificate in Fortepiano at the Royal  Conservatory of The Hague, Netherlands, Ms. Tomizuka has appeared as both a soloist and in chamber music with principal players from the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic of Flanders, Opera Orchestra of Antwerp, Stavanger Symphony of Norway, Amsterdam Ballet Orchestra, Residentie Orchestra of the Hague, and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century. She has been invited as a soloist to appear in festivals such as York Early Music (England), the Holland Festival of Early Music, Festival of Flanders (Belgium), and the International Music Festival of Granollers (Spain). Ms. Tomizuka was featured in countless recital series in Holland, and after 17 years of living abroad in the Netherlands, she returned to her native Tucson. As a member of the Tucson Music Teachers Association, she owns and manages the 17th Street Ear Palace – a space dedicated to soirees, lessons and masterclasses, sound recordings, recitals, and explorations of all genres of music.


Ms. Tomizuka has been on the faculty of Rocky Ridge Music Center in Colorado for the past two summers. Current projects include commissioning new works for cello, piano and voice and promoting music by Haitian composers. Last February she traveled to Haiti to play concerts and coach students under the auspices of BLUME Haiti, an NGO committed to promoting leadership for young Haitians through music education.

Emily Chao: 2021 – 2022 Artist in Residence
Elaine Chao

Violinist Emily Chao joined the Tucson Symphony Orchestra in 2017, and also performs regularly with Tucson Pops Orchestra and True Concord Voices & Orchestra. As a founding member of Chamberhood, she works to collaborate with local venues, commission new works from local composers, and make classical music more accessible to the Tucson community. She also volunteers as personnel manager and secretary of the board for Tucson Repertory Orchestra.


Emily graduated in 2013 with a DMA from Boston University, where she studied with Lynn Chang and completed a dissertation on Karol Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto, op 35. She holds BM and MM degrees from New England Conservatory, where she studied with James Buswell.

Juan David Mejia: 2021 – 2022 Artist in Residence
Juan David Mejia

Cellist Juan Mejia hails from the city of Medellín, Colombia. His early musical studies were completed at Universidad Javeriana under the tutelage of Mintcho Badev. Upon moving to the United States at the age of seventeen, he was accepted into the prestigious preparatory program at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan before matriculating to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to complete his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees under the guidance of Jean Michel Fonteneau.


As a performing artist, Mejia is extremely versatile and experienced in playing with different types of ensembles. From 2014 to 2016, he performed with the San Francisco Symphony’s outreach program Adventures in Music (AIM), providing concerts to the most vulnerable communities in San Francisco. He serves as a substitute cellist with the Grammy Award-winning ensemble True Concord Voices & Orchestra, as well as the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. He often performs chamber music concerts at the Benderly-Kendall Opera House for the Santa Cruz Foundation for the Arts in Patagonia, Arizona, where he serves as an artist in residence.

As an avid chamber music player, Mejia has had the privilege to work with Mark Sokol, Bonnie Hampton, Ian Swensen, and Jennifer Culp, as well as playing and participating in masterclasses with Menahem Pressler, Donald Weilerstein, Robert Mann, and Norman Fischer. He sits on the board of Arizona Friends of Chamber Music (AFCM) where he co-directs multiple programs including the Tucson Adult Chamber Players (TACP) and the Chamberhood ensemble.


In 2016, he was the recipient of one of the prestigious graduate Fellowship awards at The University of Arizona. In 2020, He received a DMA from The University of Arizona where he studied with Dr. Theodore Buchholz. Dr. Mejia joined the music faculty at Pima Community College in 2021. He plays a Montagnana model cello made by Croatian luthier Zoran Stilin

Evan Kory: 2017 – 2018 Artist in Residence
Evan Kory

Originally from Nogales, Arizona, historical keyboardist and modern pianist Evan Kory has a vivid repertoire ranging from the renaissance and baroque to the present.


A recent graduate of The Juilliard School’s historical performance program, Evan is passionate about exploring the vast keyboard repertoire of the last four centuries on the various keyboard instruments for which the music was composed.


Evan studied at the Manhattan School of Music for his bachelors and masters degrees and received his Doctor of Musical Arts in May 2017. His dissertation investigates performance practices in the piano works of Johannes Brahms through the historical recordings of Brahms’s students. Evan’s primary teachers have been Phillip Kawin, Peter Sykes, Richard Egarr, and Béatrice Martin.


His first recording, a collection of J.S. Bach keyboard works was recorded by the Master Performers label in Australia. Evan is a former faculty member of the Interlochen Arts Academy and Camp in Michigan and is a board member of The Santa Cruz Foundation for the Performing Arts.