CSA Biographies

Linc Smelser, cello, string and orchestral ensembles

Linc Smelser (faculty), a native of Arizona, began his piano studies at age 8 with John Akin and cello studies at the age of 10 with Marguerite Rork. He received his bachelor’s degree in cello performance from the University of Arizona, where he studied with Gordon Epperson. His master’s degree and performer’s certificate in cello performance and pedagogy are from NIU, where he studied with renowned cellist and pedagogue Raya Garbousova. Advanced study included work with cellists Marc Johnson, Ron Leonard, Gabor and Peter Rejto, Heinrich Schiff, the Vermeer Quartet, and pianists Richard Faith and Jerome Lowenthal.

Mr. Smelser recently appeared as a soloist with Chicago Camerata, performing the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto. He has also appeared as a soloist with Kishwaukee Symphony, the Illinois Valley Symphony and the Rockford Symphony and has twice appeared in recital on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts Series in Chicago, which is broadcast live on over 44 stations across the United States. He has won several awards, including first prize of the National Society of Arts and Letters Chapter Competition, top prize of the National Federation of Music Clubs Regional Competition and first prize at the International Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Competition.

Mr. Smelser has played cello with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra for 19 years and has been an active substitute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 17 years. He continues to perform in northern Illinois with fellow cellists Stephen Balderston and Brant Taylor in the chamber ensemble The Three Celli.

Mr. Smelser is currently in his sixth year as professor of cello at the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music. He is also a faculty member in the NIU School of Music. Mr. Smelser is also on the faculty of the Chicago Suzuki Institute and the Intermountain Suzuki Strings Institute in Utah. In 2003, Mr. Smelser was appointed conductor/music director of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra in DeKalb. In 2009 he was awarded Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Arts Council. He has guest conducted the Rockford Area Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Northern Illinois University Philharmonic and the Skokie Valley Community Orchestra.

He has been teaching private cello lessons with the NIU Community School of the Arts since 1988. He is also conductor of two youth orchestras for the community school: CSA Symponette, a junior string orchestra that he founded; and CSA Sinfonia, an ensemble that began as CMS Strings under the direction of Arthur Montzka and became a full orchestra when Mr. Smelser took over as conductor. Both groups attract students from the northern Illinois area. He is also pianist/accompanist for the Suzuki program at NIU Community School of the Arts.

Note: Fees for Linc Smelser are listed under Faculty on the Music Lesson page.