Violinist Kaila Graef has performed with a diverse range of groups, including a swing band in Baltimore, the Springfield Symphony, and Washington D.C.’s Inscape Chamber Music Project. As a member of the Wistaria String Quartet, Kaila has performed in Plainfield’s Concerts at 7 series, the Wistaria Chamber Music Society, the Amherst Schubert Project, and numerous recitals in collaboration with Amherst College.
Kaila was born in Rochester, NY. She began violin lessons with Amy Fletcher at age six soon after hearing Ms. Fletcher perform at the Rochester Zen Center. When her family moved to Vermont a couple years later, Kaila continued lessons with Carolyn Long, who introduced her to the wonderful Vermont Youth Orchestra Association. Through the VYO, Kaila had her first experiences playing not only in an orchestra, but also playing string quartets. She quickly fell in love with chamber music. In high school, Kaila studied with Evelyn Read, the Principal Second Violinist of the Vermont Symphony.
Kaila holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from Peabody Conservatory, where she was a student of Shirley Givens and studied chamber music with Earl Carlyss of the Juilliard Quartet. She earned her M.M. in violin performance from UMass Amherst, studying with Marylou Speaker Churchill, the late Principal Second Violinist of the Boston Symphony. As a member of the Graduate String Quartet, Kaila studied chamber music with members of the Lark Quartet and performed in master classes with the Pacifica Quartet, Talich Quartet, St. Lawrence Quartet, and Miró Quartet.
At Peabody, a pedagogy course taught by Rebecca Henry sparked Kaila’s interest in teaching. After completing her masters, she followed up with Suzuki teacher training, taking courses with Ronda Cole, Edmund Sprunger, Edward Kreitman, and Martha Shackford. Kaila has served on the faculty of the Vermont Youth Orchestra’s summer music camp, the Northampton Community Music Center, and Strings at Amherst. Kaila opened her private studio in 2005. Her current students range from young beginners to adult amateurs to advanced high school students. Kaila lives in Amherst with her husband Michael Lewis and their dog Barley.