The Newport String Project is led by directors and violinists EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks and Ealain McMullin. They are joined by Associate Musicians, Gillian Gallagher (viola) and Zan Berry (cello). Together they perform and teach as the resident string quartet of the Newport String Project.
EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks, Director/Violinist
EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks grew up on an organic farm where as a young girl she presented her first violin performances to a very attentive audience—her flock of merino sheep. As that violin grew from quarter- to a full-size, EmmaLee, with that expressive instrument in hand, made her way onto the stage as soloist with symphonies and then on to Carnegie Hall as a member of the Pangea String Quartet. Armed with a performance degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a doctoral degree from SUNY Stony Brook, EmmaLee serves as principal second violinist of the New Bedford Symphony and as a busy chamber player, on stage in venues on the East Coast, as well as the Midwest. She is on faculty at the University of Massachussetts, Dartmouth and the Birch Creek Summer Performance Center.
A firm believer that music can move people, quite literally, EmmaLee takes the lead in string bands across New England and in the Midwest where her lively fiddle music drives the spirited old-time dancing. She has played fiddle with the Rusty Pickup String Band since she was ten years old and she has taken many a championship prize at fiddle competitions.
Ealain McMullin, Director/Violinist
Ealaín was first introduced to chamber music though concerts given by the Apple Hill Chamber Players near her home in Donegal, Ireland. This led to many happy summers studying at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in New Hampshire and since 2014, Ealaín has served on the faculty at Apple Hill’s summer festival. She studied at the Boston Conservatory, where she was a member of the Bricolage String Quartet, the Conservatory’s honors ensemble. She has performed with members of the Apple Hill, Brooklyn Rider, Lydian and Miro String Quartets and has performed at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival (Ireland) and Music From Salem (New York). A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the Boston Conservatory, Ealaín’s teachers have included Michael D’Arcy, Elise Kuder, Mike Kelley and Lenny Matczynski.
Gillian Gallagher, Associate Musician/Violist
Violist Gillian Gallagher grew up in Saratoga Springs, NY, and attended the Juilliard School where she received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees studying with Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory, and Hsin-Yun Huang. Gillian made her Weill Recital Hall debut in 2007 as founding violist of the Attacca Quartet, with whom she was awarded the Alice Coleman Grand Prize in the 60th annual Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition in 2006. Gillian performed with the Attacca Quartet for six years, during which time the quartet studied with the Guarneri, Juilliard, Emerson, Vermeer, Tokyo, and St. Lawrence string quartets. She went on to tour the United States from 2007 to 2014 with violinist and composer Mark O'Connor and cellist Mike Block as violist of the Appalachia Waltz Trio and, later, the O'Connor Quartet. Deeply committed to music education, Gillian has been on the faculty of Boston University's Tanglewood Institute, the Berklee College of Music Summer String Program, Mark O'Connor's Fiddle Camps, Point Counterpoint Chamber Music Camp and New York's Center for Arts Education. Highlights from recent seasons include performances at Carnegie Hall and the NY Phil Biennial as violist of the new music ensemble Hotel Elefant, fiddling in Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music, and performing the music of composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone as a member of the house band for the dance company BalletCollective. This season’s concerts include performances with the Newport String Project, the Cardamom Quartet, and a premiere of a new work by composer Mary Kouyoumdjian at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with string trio Triune.
Zan Berry, Associate Musician/Cellist
Zan Berry, is a passionate and creative musician who weaves together diverse musical interests in his work as a performer and teacher. While he enjoys playing different genres of music, one of Zan’s main focuses is contemporary classical music, and he tries to perform the works of living composers as much as possible.
Zan performs regularly with Verdant Vibes, a new music collective in Providence that brings together artists and musicians creating new work in a variety of genres, acoustic and electronic. He has participated in music festivals, including Bang on a Can, New Music on the Point, and Fresh Inc and has played with members of the JACK Quartet, Bang on a Can All Stars, and Fifth House Ensemble. Additionally, Zan enjoys exploring new sound worlds and mixing genres through experimental folk songs that he writes for cello and voice.
Zan’s creative journey as a performer has also informed his teaching philosophy, making the cultivation of a student’s creative voice a top priority. He has designed several experimental music and improvisation classes for kids and was a featured artist and workshop presenter at the 2018 SPIKE Alternative Cello Festival in Dublin, Ireland. Zan recently completed the Urban Musical Fellowship at Community MusicWorks, a community based non-profit organization in Providence, RI and he is excited to get to know the community at the Newport String Project this fall!
Hannah Leheny, Project Administrator
Hannah Leheny was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. After studying journalism for two years at the University of Connecticut, Hannah came to realize her true passion was in social justice, community building and anti-racist work. Hannah then decided to finish her undergraduate studies at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, earning a degree in Sociology and Social Change. During this time, Hannah interned at several non-profit organizations that serve homeless and low-income individuals in the Greater Boston area. Connecting with clients, as well as working behind the scenes in administrative roles, were areas in which Hannah thrived, and set the stage for the type of work she would aspire to do for the rest of her life. Moving back to Rhode Island post-grad,Hannah also believes in the importance of being immersed in ones community. She is persistent in keeping tabs on the art, music, grassroots and non-profit organizations in her area. As the newest staff member of the Newport String Project, Hannah is excited and hopeful about her role as Administrator, and looks forward to becoming a part of this invaluable network.