Laura Ouimette, BA, MM
Cascade Piano Studio was founded in 2009 by Laura Ouimette, an experienced performer of both piano and organ.
Laura earned her Masters of Musical Arts in organ performance from the University of Washington under professors Carole Terry and Douglas Cleveland and her B.A in Music from Wesleyan University, where she studied organ with Professor Ronald Ebrecht and jazz piano with Professor Fred Simmons.
Laura began teaching music lessons as an undergraduate at Wesleyan and launched Cascade Piano Studio after moving to Seattle for graduate school. In addition to teaching, she has performed all over the world, including at the International Diapason Festival in Ukraine, on tour in Mexico premiering new works by Raul de Zaldo Fabila, and in many venues throughout the United States.
Locally, she is the organist for First Congregational Church in Bellevue WA, a member of Puget Sound Strings and works as an accompanist for several string studios in greater Seattle. She also directs the choir at BF Day Elementary School through the support of Ladies Musical Club of Seattle. She is a member of the American Guild of Organists and the National Federation of Music Clubs.
For more information about Laura's teaching and performance experience, please download her complete resume (pdf).
Yiyi Chen, BA, MM
Yiyi Chen is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington studying with Robin McCabe. Born in Beijing, she began studying piano at age four and performed annually at the Beijing Concert Hall, Concert Hall of Central Conservatory of Music, and Forbidden City Concert Hall. She received her bachelor's degree in piano performance at NYU Steinhardt and her Masters of Music in piano performance from the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University. While in Chicago she taught pre-college and college students at Northwestern University and presented for the MTNA in Illinois. She currently works teaching non-majors at the University of Washington.
While completing her studies she has continued to perform both domestically and abroad, including at the Gijon International Piano Festival in Spain, Amalfi Coast Music & Arts Festival in Italy and the International Holland Music Sessions. In addition to performing, she has participated in many competitions, winning Fourth Prize in the third KAWAI Asia Piano Competition, Third Prize in the fourteenth Hong Kong-Asia Piano Open Competition, Golden Prize in the Macau International Youth Music Competition, and an Excellence Award in the Fourth International Chopin Piano Competition in Asia.
Yiyi Chen has also been involved with the world of traditional Chinese painting since the age of six. Traditional Chinese is a science of stillness, with every stroke the result of a reasoning process that freezes history; analogously, piano is a game of emotion with every touch an expression of feeling. The combination of music and art, the West and East, and sound and light, has fostered her evolution as a musician and an artist.
Tong Liu, BA, MM
Tong Liu is currently a Doctoral candidate at the University of Washington studying with Craig Sheppard. He began his piano studies at seven years of age while living in China and was admitted to The Middle School of the Shenyang Conservatory of Music in 2003. He won prizes at the 2003 Schumann International Piano Competition and was chosen in 2014 as a fellow of the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. He has performed collaboratively at the Bach Keyboard Festival in Chicago and for various MTNA events.
Liu first began teaching as a TA for piano minor students at Roosevelt University and has continued to teach in Seattle both for non-major pianists at UW and privately. Liu received his Masters degree in Piano Performance from Roosevelt University in Chicago in 2016, during which he toured the Chicago area on behalf of the Chicago College of the Performing Arts.
Luke Raffanti, BM, BA
Luke graduated from the internationally renowned Oberlin College and Conservatory after simultaneously earning degrees in piano performance and environmental studies. His musical studies included several years of both French and Russian schools of piano performance, of orchestral conducting, and of work on historical instruments (e.g. the fortepianos). An avid performer, he won the gold medal in the 2018 Chopin Northwest Competition (performance here). He is also in demand as a collaborator with local classical singers and instrumentalists and also performs with the NOISE Opera Company, as well as the Seattle Modern Opera Company. Always looking for ways to use music as a platform for his social and environmental interests, Luke has produced and performed in numerous benefit concerts in California, where he grew up. He was a regular prizewinner in the Valencia Piano Competition, as well as the Auburn Youth Symphony Competition. A passionate performer of music by living composers, Luke has performed new music at the Forfest Music Festival in the Archbishop's Chateau in Kroměřiž, Czech Republic (performance), as well as in venues such as the 3rd Practice Electroacoustic Festival, the Banff Centre, and the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Luke has been teaching piano for seven years, and focuses on creating a positive, nurturing experience, meeting each student where they are and gently encouraging them through any challenges. With beginning students, Luke will sing and conduct along with the student in order to reinforce an intuitive approach to melody and rhythm. Upright posture, relaxed technique, and proficient note-reading, will be developed early on. At the advanced level, Luke focuses on developing efficient practice strategies while refining listening, technique, and pedaling. He strives to give students imaginative and analytical tools they'll need to produce satisfying and confident interpretations of beloved music from Bach through Debussy.
Outside of musical pursuits, Luke enjoys running, reading, and cooking.