Carole Bestvater, Director & Founder
Carole Bestvater founded the Strong Harbour Strings program after spending a long time thinking about and experiencing how music and community are connected. After completing undergraduate studies at Brandon University in music, Carole moved to Providence, RI to participate in a unique Fellowship at Community Music Works. CMW is an after school program hailed for its innovative approaches to music education and performance, and being part of the Fellowship inevitably steered Carole to initiate a project based on similar values and philosophies about music, education, and social change.
When Carole moved to St. John’s in 2011 to pursue graduate studies at Memorial University, the idea to start a community music program was already starting to develop. As was always her vision, Carole created the Strong Harbour Strings Program, a program modeled closely after CMW. Strong Harbour Strings is a mentoring artist program based in the belief that communities in need can be strengthened through the learning and sharing of music. Strong Harbour Strings endeavors to create equal access to music enrichment for children and youth, providing experiences that will inspire and impact the lives of everyone involved.
Arlan Vriens, Violinist/Violist
Arlan Vriens is a violin and viola performer and teacher based in St. John’s, NL. He performs regularly as the Associate Concertmaster of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. Since 2014, he has been a violin and viola teaching artist with the Strong Harbour Strings Program, a particularly rewarding part of a busy schedule.
Arlan holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in violin performance from the University of Alberta and Memorial University, respectively. Currently, he conducts ongoing research into historical violin pedagogy as a federally-funded student researcher at Memorial University.
Despite the notorious weather of St. John’s, Arlan’s upbringing in icy Edmonton, AB toughened him up enough not to complain. Most of the time.
Peter Ko, Cellist
As one might assume, perhaps, Peter Ko is a cellist (and not a “big-violin-ist”). He performs as the cellist of the Strataphoria String Quartet, a member of the NSO, and as a soloist. Hailing from the opposite corner of the continent, Peter made the move from San Diego to St. John’s to study at Memorial University with Dr. Vernon Regehr. Prior to this, Peter has had the unique opportunity to study at UCSD, one of the world’s forefront contemporary music institutions. There, he had the privilege of studying with pioneering cellists Ashley Walters, and the legendary Charles Curtis.