Who we are

Bob Barnes

Bob Barnes was born in Frankfurt, Germany and was raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Bob attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he earned degrees in music composition and computer science. He moved to Minneapolis in 1994 to study computer science and biology at the University of Minnesota. He dropped out a few years later to devote himself to music and menial computer jobs. Bob started playing tango in 1987 after hearing a recording of the Argentine composer and bandoneonist Astor Piazzolla. Bob nursed his tango addiction in private until 2001, when he sought out fellow tangophiles and founded Mandrágora Tango, a quartet of guitar, bass, and violin with Bob on the Bandoneon (tango accordion). Mandrágora traveled the country playing milongas (tango dance parties) in 45 cities as well as playing a regular Sunday night milonga for 12 years. By 2015, Bob had become a passionate tango dancer and he founded the Hiawatha Tango Orchestra to play traditional tango specifically for social dance.

Lara Bolton

Lara Bolton is a collaborative pianist, vocal coach, and arranger. Her work spans many different genres, including classical, rock, jazz, and musical theatre, and she is particularly drawn towards socially relevant projects. She is on faculty at the University of Minnesota as a vocal coach, is head of music for Mill City Summer Opera, music director of Arbeit Opera, and a master coach for Minnesota Opera. She also maintains an active recording and concert career. Other opera and theater affiliations include the Guthrie Theater, Jungle Theater, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, Out of the Box Opera, San Diego Opera, Seattle Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Santa Barbara, West Bay Opera, Opera Colorado, and Amarillo Opera.

Ms. Bolton is a former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and has been a Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist for the Washington National Opera. She also helped develop a Young Artist Program for Opera Santa Barbara. In addition to having been a pianist for the Merola Opera Program, she has also worked at the Music Academy of the West, Brevard Music Festival, and Interlochen Arts Camp. As an alumna of Interlochen Arts Academy, she received a Bachelor of Music Theory degree from the University of Michigan and a Master of Music in Collaborative Piano from the University of Maryland-College Park.

Dave Carbonara

Dave performed full time for about 20 years with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in New Orleans.  He has also performed with orchestras such as Exultate Chamber Choir & Orchestra (principal bass), Duluth Symphony (principal bass), Rochester Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Virginia Symphony(principal bass), New World Symphony and Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra among others.  Dave recently toured South Korea with three of the original Canadian tenors called “Romanza” and frequently plays around the Twin Cities with his wife in their wedding/event ensemble Arioso Strings.

Wendy Tangen Foster

Wendy Tangen-Foster, former president of the Suzuki Association of Minnesota, currently directs the Suzuki Strings Program at the Saint Paul Conservatory of Music (SPCM). Wendy’s teaching style is characterized by her animated, enthusiastic and relentlessly positive approach with students and parents. Wendy’s rigorous attention to technical detail and her ability to balance high artistic standards with creativity, humor, fun and excitement has made her a sought-after guest clinician at Suzuki institutes and workshops across the United States. Wendy began her Suzuki teacher-training in high school with LeRoy Bauer, Deborah Goolsby and Craig Timmerman, and furthered her studies with Jacqueline Maurer, Carol Smith, Pat D’Ercole, Kathleen Spring, Joanne Bath, Edmund Sprunger, Joseph Kaminsky, Nancy Lokken, Alice Joy Lewis and Ronda Cole. Wendy developed her passion for chamber music after studying with the Philadelphia String Quartet, the Lafayette Quartet and the Apple Hill Quartet. While studying at the Lionel Hampton School of Music, she fell in love with jazz and improvisation and went on to study with jazz-violinist Randy Sabien. She joined his swing band Rhythm and Bows achieving acclaim in the Midwest and performing as an invited guest artist at the International Jazz Educators Conference in 2012. Wendy has toured nationally with rock/blues bands, and performs and records as a freelance musician in the Twin Cities. She incorporates “alternative” violin styles into her Suzuki curriculum. Currently, she performs with Charanga Tropical and Rogue Tango, bands that play a blend of tango, jazz, rumba, and flamenco music.

Natalie VanBurkleo Carbonara

Natalie VanBurkleo-Carbonara is currently on faculty at the Hastings Arts Center, maintains private studio locations in Minneapolis and Bloomington, co-directs the Nova Classical Academy Orchestra and is the founder/director of both the Summit Music Series and the Twin Cities Violin Choir.  Natalie is a member of the Rochester Symphony, freelances throughout the Twin Cities and manages Arioso Strings.  Performing has included touring with the original Three Canadian Tenors, performances at Chanhassen Dinner Theater and Artistry Theater, Thursday Musical concerts and concerts with choral groups such as Exultate, Kantorei, Twin Cities Masters Chorale and The Singers.  Prior to living in MN, Natalie performed with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in New Orleans, directed the violin preparatory division at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and taught at the Acadiana Symphony Conservatory.  Extensive orchestra work has included positions with Music in the Mountains-Durango, CO, Baton Rouge Symphony, Louisiana Sinfonietta, Gulf Coast Symphony, Mobile Symphony, Acadiana Symphony, Duluth Symphony and Rochester Symphony.  Natalie has been a soloist with the Louisiana Sinfonietta and Minnesota Sinfonia (Young Artist Competition Winner- Senior Division). Natalie has performed on stage with renowned artists such as 2Cellos, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Itzak Perlman, Midori, Placido Domingo, Regina Carter and pop artists including Randy Newman, Regis Philbin, Susan Lucci, Kelly Clarkson and Davy Jones.  Studio recordings have included commercial jingles for Ochsner Health, movie soundtrack for Madea’s Family Reunion, French singer Dany Brillant’s album Histoire d’un amour, NACCUSA composer recordings and collaborations with several singers and bands.