MICA announces Brown Bag Concert Series in partnership with Pianos in the Park

July 20, 2015 | by Louise Kincaid

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Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) is pleased to announce the inaugural series of Brown Bag Concerts beginning Wednesday, July 22, at noon on the Mercerdale Park Plaza.

“Mercer Island is a special community that is known for its beauty, its parks, and its love of the arts. As part of this summer’s Pianos in the Parks, MICA is excited to present the Brown Bag Concert Series at Mercerdale Park Plaza and showcase the amazing talent of our community. With the building of MICA, we look forward to growing and expanding this concert series and other special performances and arts educational opportunities for years to come,” said Louise Kincaid, MICA Executive Director. “We invite people to bring a brown bag lunch and enjoy beautiful music, in a beautiful setting at the Mercerdale Park Plaza.”

Contributed photo: 908 Chickering Baby Grand Piano in Mercerdale Park

Contributed photo: 1908 Chickering Baby Grand Piano in Mercerdale Park

The Brown Bag Concert Series at the Mercerdale Park Plaza is presented by MICA. The performances will take place at noon on Wednesdays for four consecutive weeks beginning July 22.

July 22 – Concert pianist Natalya Ageyeva and her piano students. Ageyeva has dazzled audiences throughout the United States and internationally, including Italy, Austria and Israel, as well as on tour in her native Russia. Her performances have also been broadcast several times locally on Classical KING FM 98.1, and televised in Moscow and Chicago. She has appeared at a broad range of venues, including Benaroya Hall, the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia, Carnegie Hall in New York and the Rachmaninoff Hall in Moscow. Her pianism prompted one reviewer to write “Immediately apparent was a tremendous technique at the command of a sharp musical intelligence and fingers of steel.” An artist of great versatility, Ageyeva has performed as a recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with orchestras internationally. She has also been an active participant in many music festivals. While at the Moscow Conservatory, Ageyeva was offered extensive solo and orchestra appearances throughout the former Soviet Union. She completed her doctoral degree at the University of Washington with distinguished pianists Bela Siki and Robin McCabe. Ageyeva previously taught at Moscow Conservatory and University of Washington, and has adjudicated piano competitions in Chicago and Seattle. Ageyeva is the founder and artistic director of the Russian Chamber Music Foundation of Seattle.

July 29Musicians Ellen Zahniser and Shaudi.   Originally from Mercer Island, Ms. Zahniser is a musician, writer and performer based in Boston. She discovered a love for theatre at Youth Theatre Northwest (YTN) where she began taking classes at the age of three, learning and performing throughout elementary, middle and high school on the YTN stage.  A recent graduate of Brown University, Ms. Zahniser continues to focus on development of original work, both musically and for the theatre.

Shaudi is a Seattle-based, PNW-raised theatre artist and musician. She most recently appeared in Washington Ensemble Theatre’s Sprawl and The Horse in Motion’s Attempts on Her Life and Crazed, a workshop with the On The Boards Open Studios program. Shaudi is also a composer, performing and recording locally. She is a founding member of local non-traditional theater ensemble The Horse in Motion, and the development director for Washington Ensemble Theatre. Shaudi is a graduate of the University of Washington Schools of Drama and Music. Upcoming projects include Left, an EP to be released this summer. Her music is available on Spotify, iTunes and online: facebook.com/shaudibianca

Shaudi and Ellen Zahniser have performed together many times since they first met in a production of Godspell at YTN more than 10 years ago, and they are excited to perform together again on Mercer Island.  They will play both covers and original songs.

August 5Pianist Andrew Barnwell will be a senior this fall at Mercer Island High School. Andrew is a promising piano protégé who has won many competitions and awards.  He began piano studies at the age of seven, and currently studies with Dainius Vaičekonis and Robin McCabe in Seattle. Mr. Barnwell accompanied his school’s choir for three years and currently plays in Mercer Island’s selective wind ensemble. He works with a non-profit organization, Instruments for Change, which promotes music in the community, and also tutored an elementary school student with Seattle Music Partners. Barnwell has participated in local festivals and has won many awards and competitions locally and regionally.

August 12 – Pianists Connie Wible and Suzanne Zahniser will perform tangos by Piazzollo in this final  Brown Bag Concert of the Pianos in the Park 2015.  Also performing will be Ms. Wible’s students and her eight-hand piano group.

Founder of Musical Minds Studio, Ms. Wible is a performer, teacher, adjudicator and public speaker.  Ms. Wible specializes in autism and music, music wellness for all, and single parenting issues.  She is the owner of Musical Mind Piano Studio and the Founder of Mercer Island Music Technology Camp and has worked with young musicians for over 35 years, teaching, accompanying and performing and composing.

She began changing her teaching methodology in the late 1980’s by observing the mannerisms of her students.  As a single parent with four children, three were diagnosed with forms of learning challenges.  As she learned how to help her own children, she decided to open up her studio to include some of the students that did not do well in other studios due to ADD and behavioral issues, and later Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.  She now teaches according to the student’s learning style and has developed adapted piano and keyboard instruction for children with Autism Spectrum and Asperger’s Syndrome along with ADD, dyslexia and behavior disorders.  She also specializes in teaching pianists who need accompanying skills, composing and improvisation and mentors music teachers in starting their own studios.

Ms. Zahniser is an attorney and the corporate secretary at Laird Norton Wealth Management.  She currently serves on the MICA Board of Directors.


MICA is a $25 million multi-theatre complex and arts education center for the arts located on city-owned property adjacent to the northwest corner of Mercerdale Park across from the Mercer Island Town Center. Not just a performing arts venue, it is also an educational resource center for young and old.  The proposed design of the 38,000 sq. ft. venue will house three theatres that range in size from a 300-seat Main Stage, a 100-seat Recital Studio and a 100-seat Theatre Lab. MICA will also house studios and classrooms for music, dance, theatre and the visual arts and be the new, permanent home for Youth Theatre Northwest and several other arts organizations.

Louise Kincaid is MICA’s Executive Director. You can contact her at 206-715-7671 or at [email protected].