Teo Benson, a Whidbey Island native, began playing violin at the age of five with Linda Good and Island Strings. He has won scholarships and concerto competitions in Washington State and Colorado and holds a Master of Music degree in Violin Performance from the University of Washington where he began studying with internationally-acclaimed violinist Ron Patterson. Mr. Benson is a member of Symphony Tacoma and frequently performs his original compositions with other classically-trained musicians as lead instrumentalist of the jazz/blues/funk fusion band, Stop, Thief! In recent years Mr. Benson has also performed as soloist with the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara Chamber Orchestra in Guadalajara, Mexico. As a teaching artist, Mr. Benson directs the Halcyon Music School in Ballard where he maintains a full studio of students. His passion for learning inspired his work in developing an innovative online instructional and practice tool which uses drone tones to improve intonation (www.dronetonetool.com). In 2006 he co-founded Young Strings Outreach (formerly Young Strings Project Outreach), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide classical instrument and orchestral instruction, without charge, to youth with limited means and/or access in the Seattle area. Most recently, he has collaborated with Paula Nava Madrigal, youth orchestra conductor, to create the Seattle World Youth Orchestra and the Ballard Civic Orchestra with the support of grants from the Office of Art & Culture in Seattle. The Ballard Civic Orchestra, launched in 2015, is a multi-cultural, multi-generational community orchestra, integrating talented amateur and experienced professional musicians who believe in the motto, “building community through music.” Its just-completed 2018-2019 concert series, funded by the Neighborhood Matching Fund, was entitled “Music as a Bridge to Intercultural Understanding.” He currently serves as Acting Executive Director of Orquesta Northwest.