Staff & Teachers

The String Project is under the direction of Dr. Michael Palumbo

In 2001, Michael founded the Weber State University String Project, and served as one of the original members of the Board of Trustees of the National String Project Consortium. For his work with the String Project he received the Exemplary Collaboration Award from Weber State University in 2004, and in 2010 he received the Empowering Educational Partnerships Award from the Ogden School District.  He retired from WSU in 2013 but has been asked to return to again take over as the Project Director.

Michael completed his Doctor of Arts in Orchestral Conducting at Ball State University as a conducting student of the late Robert Hargreaves, and a viola student of the late Robert Slaughter.  He has dedicated his life to being a university orchestra conductor and viola teacher. 

In the spring of 2011 Michael formed Chamber Orchestra Ogden (COO), which he continues to conduct.  In 2017 he retired from his position as principal violist of the Ballet West Orchestra.

For recreation he likes to take motorcycle trips with his wife, travel, see family, make wine and beer, and play jazz and blues at several local clubs.  He also spends a lot of time writing grant proposals to help pay the members of Chamber Orchestra Ogden.

String Project Master Teacher Kathy Edgel

Kathy has had a lifelong love of music and has been playing piano since the age of 6 and the violin since the age of 12. Through high school, she knew she would become a music teacher. While studying for her Bachelor of Music Education degree at Weber State, she worked as a String Project teacher. After graduating in 2006, she worked as an orchestra director in public schools for the next 13 years, teaching 6th to 12th grade.

Kathy went on to receive a Master of Music Education degree with an emphasis in Conducting from Colorado State University in 2018. Kathy loves teaching and seeing her students excel in their musical endeavors. She is super excited to be back again with the Weber State String Project as the Master Teacher to help mentor and guide future music teachers.

When she's not teaching, Kathy loves having adventures with her husband and son, traveling, spending time outdoors spotting wildlife, and playing video games.

String Project Teachers and Private Instructors

Alaina Cullison

Alaina started on the piano, eager to have lessons at 6 years old. She switched to viola in 7th grade, and has now played for 7 years. For 6 of those years, she studied under Rebecca Iverson, and is now studying under Dr. Michael Palumbo. She is a freshman at Weber State. Alaina has experience teaching private lessons, and is excited to bring those skills to group lessons!

In Alaina's free time, she enjoys reading, learning new skills, and hanging out with family and friends.


Oscar Gonzales-Mejia

Oscar is a 3rd-year student at Weber State University working on his degree in Music Education. He has been playing music for over 10 years and has been playing cello for 5 years studying with Dr. Viktor Uzur.  He has also played upright bass for 4 years. He currently plays with The Weber State Symphony Orchestra and Skyward Symphony. He has previously played with the Weber State Chamber Orchestra, Wasatch Mountain Camerata, and the West High School Orchestra and Band.

During Oscar's free time, he likes to relax and binge-watch TV shows.  He also likes to bake when he gets the chance.


Philip Loertscher

Philip has been playing the cello for 11 years.   He studied under Austin Packer for five of those years, and now is working on a Bachelor of Music Education with an instrumental emphasis and studies under Dr. Viktor Uzur. He also plays the piano, guitar, and ukulele, and he likes to arrange and record music in his spare time. 

When he's not making music, Philip enjoys hiking, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, and baking.

Isabelle Lowe

Isabelle Lowe is a senior at Weber State studying String Pedagogy for her Bachelor of Music degree. Isabelle has been studying the violin for 12 years, and the viola for 5 years.  Over the course of her learning, she had the opportunity to study under the guidance of Martha Thompson for 6 years and Jack Ashton for 4 years. She is now studying the viola under Dr. Michael Palumbo. She has always enjoyed being a part of various orchestras including The Philharmonic Orchestra of Woods Cross High School, The Utah Youth Symphony, and The Young Artist Chamber Players. Isabelle is thrilled to be conducting and teaching the students of String Project. She loves to see the progress from day one of sight reading a piece, to performing it. 

When she is not practicing her viola or doing homework, Isabelle loves to try new foods and build Legos with her husband Jake, binge watch new Netflix shows, and spend time with her family and in-laws.


Ade Pfunder

Ade is a freshman at Weber State working towards her Bachelor's degree in Instrumental Music Education!  She has played the violin for 12 years and the viola for just a few months! Before her college education, Ade was able to study under Linda-Ghidossi DeLuca for 4 years and Bonnie Romkey for 6+ years.  Ade loves teaching, and has been so lucky to be able to be teaching strings both privately and in a public school setting for over three years! 

When she's not busy attempting to get 24 hours of practice a day, you can find Ade hanging out with her friends or her dogs!




Sam Spencer

Sam is a freshman at Weber State University working towards a degree in violin performance.  She has been playing violin for 13 years and is currently studying under Gleice Uzur at WSU! Sam has experience in teaching private lessons, and she’s excited to get more experience with group lessons. Sam loves teaching and always tries her best to make learning fun and exciting! She loves watching and hearing how her students progress with the violin. 

When she’s not practicing 40 hours a day she usually hangs out with friends and eats lots of delicious food!



Alyssa Topham

Alyssa is a sophomore at Weber State just beginning her studies into the music education program.  She is a violist and has studied the viola for 8 years.  She has also played the piano for about ten years, though the viola has stolen her heart and has been labeled her primary instrument.  Alyssa began studying music at the age of 7 when she started learning the piano.  When she was 10 years old, the orchestra program came to her elementary school and convinced her to join the 5th grade orchestra.  Since then, Alyssa has participated in school orchestra programs each year of her schooling and has even had the opportunity to teach a Junior High School class alongside her orchestra teacher for a semester.  She has also had the opportunity to receive private instruction from various teachers, including Helen Watts, Jillene Smith, and Dr. Michael Palumbo. 

When Alyssa is not busy with her instruments, she enjoys singing with her siblings, drawing, reading, and spending quiet time outside.