The Director: Paul Manulik
Director Paul Manulik founded Princeton String Academy in 2005 after several years of running a private teaching studio in the Princeton area. In addition to directing the Academy, Mr. Manulik enjoys a diverse career as orchestral player, chamber musician, teacher and recitalist. He teaches both violin and viola using the Suzuki Method of Talent Education. One of his principal teachers of this method was Doris Preucil, who is internationally recognized for establishing one of the first US Suzuki schools, and from John Kendall, another highly respected founder of the Suzuki Method in the U.S. Mr. Manulik also conducts master classes for high school orchestras and serves as guest clinician at summer festivals.
Mr. Manulik has studied with Evalina Chao, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra associate principal violist, and with Jerry Horner and William Preucil. He holds a master’s degree in viola performance from the University of Iowa and has taken additional teacher training from Mimi Zweig, professor of violin and viola at Indiana University and Director of the Indiana String Academy.
James Keene – Violin
James Keene is a versatile soloist, chamber musician, and music pedagogue. He became co-concertmaster of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra after playing the violin for only three years. Later, he attended Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, received his B.M. from Rutgers University under the instruction of Todd Phillips, and later pursued graduate studies at San Francisco Conservatory studying with Wei He. Starting in high school, he has played solo, chamber, and orchestral performances for audiences throughout China, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and the USA. Most recently, James won first prize in the Russel Johnson String Competition and shared the Carnegie Hall stage with Dionne Warwick. James has been teaching strings for over a decade and emphasizes correct technique coupled with efficiency and relaxation.
Wan-Yi Pan – Cello
Wan-Yi Pan joined Princeton String Academy cello faculty in 2020. A native of Taiwan, Ms. Pan excels in both orchestral and chamber performances. She attended the Interlochen Arts academy for high school and earned her bachelor degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. After her graduate school study at SUNY Purchase College where she was granted chamber music honors all two years of attendance, Ms. Pan was accepted as a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University, State University of New Jersey with a fellowship grant and is currently finishing this program.
Her orchestral and chamber music performances include the Erie Youth Orchestra, Mansfield Symphony, Cleveland Institute Orchestra, Rutgers Symphony Orchestra and Kaohsiung Philharmonic. She has also participated in the Kneisel Hall Summer Chamber Music Program and the Quartet Summer Program. Her teachers have included Peter Wiley of the distinguished Guarneri String Quartet, Richard Weiss of the Cleveland Orchestra, Jonathan Spitz, principle of the New Jersey Symphony, Merry Peckham of the Cavani Quartet and Allan Harris. She has also taken master classes with The Tokyo String Quartet, The Juilliard String Quartet, Fred Sherry, and David Finckel.
Dr. Even Ma – Cello
Dr. Even Ma has joined Princeton String Academy cello staff starting in September, 2022. Born in China, Dr. Ma first came to the USA as a scholarship student at the Idyllwild Arts Academy in California before finishing high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy. She received her bachelor and master’s degrees at the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of Cleveland Orchestra Principal Cellist, Mark Kosower. She received her Doctor of Musical Arts in cello performance at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music where she studied with Professor Alan Rafferty.
As an avid educator, Dr. Ma is totally committed to teaching. She is a fully trained Suzuki cello teacher and Dalcroze Eurythmics instructor having completed her training at the Cleveland Institute of Music Suzuki Pedagogy Program. She currently holds a teaching position at Queens College and is the annual judge for the NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) Festival Competition.
As an active performer, Dr. Ma is a top-prize winner of numerous competitions, including first prize winner of the 2018 “Golden Classical Music Awards’ ‘ International Competition, first prize winner of 2021 “ItalkbbTV” instrumental competition with the prize of a Yamaha piano, and first prize of 2021 Grand Prize Virtuoso. As an orchestral musician, she was the cello principal for the Cleveland Women Orchestra, Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra and Central Conservatory of Music Chamber Orchestra.
Myles McKnight – Violin
Myles McKnight has joined the violin teaching faculty Princeton String Academy, starting September 2023. He is a recent graduate of Princeton University, where he studied violin with Professor Eric Wyrick, concertmaster of the New Jersey Symphony.. Originally from Asheville, North Carolina, he is an alumnus of the Brevard Music Center, where he led the Brevard Concert Orchestra through several seasons as concertmaster. In 2019, he led the National Youth Orchestra of the United States as concertmaster on a highly publicized tour that included performances at the BBC Proms, the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Konzerthaus Berlin, and the Edinburgh International Festival. Among his numerous solo and chamber-music appearances include collaborations with Midori Goto, Bill Preucil, and others.
Celeste Belknap – Violin
Celeste Belknap joined the Princeton String Academy as a violin teacher in 2023. She is a current PhD student in Musicology at Princeton University. Before coming to Princeton, Celeste completed a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance at Pennsylvania State University, and a Master of Arts degree in musicology, also at Penn State.
Celeste studied violin under Professor James Lyon, and was a member of the Penn State Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras led by Gerardo Edelstein. During her time at Penn State she was involved in local orchestras including Penn’s Woods Music Festival orchestra, the Williamsport Symphony, and the Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra. She has also been a member of the Princeton University orchestra.
In addition to teaching violin at the Academy, Celeste teaches beginning and non-music-major undergraduate students at Princeton University. She loves watching her students of all ages improve each week!
Kevin Maa – Cello
Kevin Maa is a passionate performer and music educator. He holds a Bachelor’s in Cello Performance from Montclair State University and a Master’s degree in Cello Performance from Mannes School of Music. As a cellist, he has performed in internationally famous concert halls such as Lincoln Center, The Kimmel Center, Carnegie Hall, Congress Graz Stefaniensaal in Graz, Austria. During his undergraduate time at Montclair State University, he won the 2018 Concerto Competition with a complete live performance of Elgar Cello Concerto in 2019.
Mr. Maa has studied with great cellists such as Jonathan Spitz, Nicholas Tzavaras, Jeffrey Zeigler, and Yehuda Hanini. He has performed in Masterclasses with Robert DeMaine, Yumi Kendall, David Finckel, Peter Stumpf, and Lawrence Stomberg.