Tulsa Honors Orchestra

     Jody Naifeh, founder of the Tulsa Honors Orchestra 38 years ago, is an accomplished violinist and private Suzuki violin teacher. Jody maintains a full studio, is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Violin, is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Hyechka, Wednesday Morning Musicale and  Tulsa Accredited Music Teachers Association. Jody has a Bachelors in Violin Performance from the University of Tulsa and is a former member of the Tulsa Philharmonic. Jody performs with Larkin, the Four Fiddlers of the Apocalypse and formerly with the Brady Orchestra. Jody has trained with Mark O'Connor in his new American Method of String Teaching in NYC summer of 2009. 
    Jody has most recently won the Bart Betow Memorial Music Education Harweldon Award in March of 2017. Jody received this award for her excellence in supporting the arts in her community for over 38 years in string youth education through the Tulsa Honors Orchestra. With her award she was inspired to begin an outreach program, HOOT: Honors Orchestra Outreach of Tulsa. Members of the Tulsa Honors Orchestra went with Jody to Liberty Elementary school to teach strings to students as part of this awesome outreach. To date, 48 students were taught violin and cello and Jody plans to continue this outreach program next year as the results and feedback were positive. The impact of this string instruction will be great for the students excellence in education.

Jody founded "Woodystock": the Naifeh family’s annual music festival,  in which all proceeds go to science and engineering scholarships to Sapulpa high school students in memory of late husband, Woody Naifeh, given over forty thousand dollars in scholarship money in the past twelve years. Jody also  organizes performance tours with her daughter, Karen. Past performance tours: Italy in 2002, Ireland in 2005, Austria in 2008, including performances at Schoennbrunn Palace in Vienna, the Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg and Reichenstein Hall in Poysdorf. A performance tour of Argentina including Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls took place in June of 2011 and our Ireland performance tour took place in 2015. Our next performance tour is planned for Quebec City, Canada in the summer of 2017.

    Jody also has received a Governor's Arts Award for Community Service  in November of 2011. Our family and many students and parents went to the Oklahoma Capitol for the amazing ceremony - we are all so amazed and proud of Jody Naifeh!


     Austin Pendergrass was born and raised in Tulsa, living for a short time in Nashville where he began
playing violin and cello. After moving back to Tulsa—to attend Barthelmes Conservatory
summer programs—he stayed and finished high school, graduating from Tulsa Central where
he received the Great Spirit Award. He attended Tulsa Community College and University of
Tulsa where his focus was music, and is a graduate of Leadership Arts of the Oklahoma Arts
Council, class 5.

     From 2011 to 2012 Austin was Education Assistant of the Tulsa Symphony Education Department.
During this time he assisted with TSO Education Outreach classes at Tulsa Public Schools
Burroughs, Emerson, and Chouteau, as well as leading his own class at Academy Central for
the full 2011/2012 school year. As part of working for TSO Education he also covered master
music teacher outreach programs as a substitute in Claremore, Broken Arrow, and Jenks. While
at TSO he was also IT assistant, handling in house IT problems and website updates.

     Since 2012 Austin has facilitated events at Living Arts while being a member of the New
Music Committee and Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. In 2014 and 2015 he helped bring Ulrich
Ellison to the Jazz Hall for concert and fundraiser for Tulsa Honors Orchestra. In 2015 he also
curated a showcase of Tulsa musicians, composers and performers of Portico Dans Theatre as a
fundraiser for Living Arts New Music Committee. Aside from performing publicly and
privately, Austin composes, arranges, and transcribes music, has coached the cello section of
the Tulsa Honors Orchestra since 2009, and keeps a private studio of beginning and
intermediate cello and violin students.

     Austin believes education is never complete and that when someone is ready to learn there will be
a teacher ready to help. Being a teacher is an opportunity to observe others learn and grow, and
certainly is an educational experience in itself. Educating is as much a learning experience as it
is a teaching experience, as some students learn very easily, some students learn differently,
some of them actually show the teacher a new approach. In summer 2016 he performed in
Legend of Darkness at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, after which he has been planning
continuing his education by pursuing additional arranging and composition certificates through the 
Berklee College of Music

     Missy Townsend is a native Tulsan, a graduate of Will Rogers High School and Th University of Tulsa. She has degrees in Music Education and French. She taught for five years in Rogers, AR and for 15 years in Tulsa Public Schools. She has performed with Northwest Arkansas Symphony, Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra, and she is currently performing with Tulsa Symphony and Signature Symphony.

     Missy's many awards include: Oklahoma Department of Education Master Teacher,  2010-2011, National Board Certified Teacher,  2009, Fund For Teachers Grant Recipient,  2004, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers,  2000, Teacher of the Month, October 1996, Kappa Delta Pi educational honor society, initiated January 1996, SAI Patroness Scholarship, 1994, All-American Scholar, 1994, Lantern and Scroll Honors Societies, 1992-1993, University Band, Orchestra, and Academic Scholarships, 1990-1995.

     Missy has participated in many summer festivals, including five years at Opera in the Ozarks where she was principal viola for two seasons, International Workshop in Graz, Austria, where she was assistant principal viola, and International Music Acadamy in the Czech Republic, where she was assigned to two chamber groups. She is currently very busy teaching maintaining a private studio and she loves being the Viola coach for Tulsa Honors Orchestra!

1979-2018, 39 Years of Excellence

     Karen  Naifeh Harmon is a Composer & Violinist who is known for writing  Classical music fused with a twist of World Music Composition styles  including Gypsy, Arabic, Latin and Irish fiddling influences. The World Premiere of "Cataput" by Tulsa's Signature Symphony on July 3, 2018 also included the Tulsa Honors Chamber Orchestra students for a Side by Side Concert. Her compositions have been performed by members of the New York  Philharmonic, Tulsa Signature Symphony Quartet, Tulsa Modern Movement,  Portico Dans Theatre, the Electric Rag Band, the Tulsa Honors Orchestra,  Larkin & the Tulsa Signature Symphony Orchestra.

     Karen Harmon performs with the Folk Irish Band, Larkin, "Les Femmes Des Fetes" String Trio, Simpatico Trio, and formerly with the Four Fiddlers of the Apocalypse and  The Electric Rag Band. She has opened up for Loretta Lynn, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Bugs Henderson, the Hot Club of Cowtown, the Paladins, Split Lip Rayfield, Deke Dickerson, Southern Culture on the Skids and has performed with Wayne Newton, Meredith Monk, the Red Dirt Rangers & the Red Alert amongst others. Karen's composition "Tanko Bushi Blues" was performed by members of the New York Philharmonic in April of 2013 through a Vox Novus composition competition performance honoring victims of the Japan tsunami of 2011. This piece was  choreographed by and performed with the Portico Dans Theatre's production of "Mob Mental.ity" in July of 2014 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Karen's newest two string quartet compositions will be performed by the Signature Symphony Quartet in January & April of 2017. 

    A Nationally Certified Teacher of Violin, Karen has recently earned a Master  Certificate in Composition for Film and TV through the prestigious Berklee College of Music, also receiving a Berklee Celebrity Scholarship in the name of Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Fall 2015.  Karen is listed as a composer with the Sydney Contemporary Orchestra as her suite "The Red Velvet Suite of Dances" for full symphonic orchestra will be programmed in the near future.  Karen is a member of the American Composers Forum, the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Hyechka Music Club, Wednesday Morning Musicale, Living Arts New Music Committee, National Federation of Music Educators, Tulsa Accredited Music Teachers Association & Oklahoma Music Teachers Association through National Music Teachers Association. Karen has taught private violin lessons for the past 25 years and conducts  the Chamber Orchestra of the Tulsa Honors Orchestra. Karen teaches the String Ensemble Class at Bishop Kelley High School which she started in October of 2013.
    Karen organizes performance tours with her Mom, Jody, to enrich the lives of her violin students. Past performance tours: Italy in 2002, Ireland in 2005, Austria in 2008, including performances at Schoennbrunn Palace in Vienna, (was Mozart’s favorite place to perform), the Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg and Reichenstein Hall in Poysdorf. A performance tour of Argentina including Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls took place in June of 2011.  Karen and Jody's students performed three joint concerts with students from the Manuel De Falla Conservatory of Music in Buenos Aires. A performance tour of Ireland took place in the summer of 2015. Karen  performed with string students in Ireland in Dublin, Killarney, Limerick and Galway. A Quebec City, Canada tour is being planned for the summer of 2017. 


    Music is life, and this is the philosophy I enjoy to remind others about. Even more, how humble I am to play Contrabass and Piano as a mentor in the best Orchestra in Tulsa. Plato I believe says it best: “Music is a moral law; it gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

     Music for me began at an early age, where the foundation began to take root as I developed an ear for music playing on an old church practice organ. In a lot of ways I am a musical prodigy. I can hear notes before they are even played, and understand the woven sounds with in a piece of music. Many influential musicians and musical minded people have molded me into the musician I am today. I was given many pianos from A.J. Shields during my youth in Tulsa, and have studied bass under Doug Scott at Wilson Middle School, and under Kathy Rad at Central High School, where I was known as the Central Theater Organist. Thereafter, I was invited back to play with Roberta Guaspari in a master class who is a world renowned violinist a movie was produced about her life called: Music from the Heart. Somewhere in the midst, I have also played alongside professional musicians’ in a production called Savior put on by Asbury United Methodist church. I played alongside Robin Smith who said: “If I keep this up, I’ll be a professional bass player” she was right! Because of her, I have taken lessons from her for a brief period, and from Rob Katz.

     I was a part of a master class on piano, and I am now a proud professional for the world’s greatest orchestra. I have had many teachers molding and shaping me from my lessons on organ from the Asbury United Methodist Organist Rosanna Corrales, my piano teacher Karen Bentley, Carl B. Curtis, and now Isaac Spengler. I have had many influential string professionals shape what I know today Heidi Rigert at TCC, where I am slowly working on a degree in music. All this has led to a career where I was the music director at the First United Methodist Church in Coweta from 2010-2015. I am a part of a huge music production every year for the Claremore Festival of Lights as a pianist, and on bass. I also share my gift of music at Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church singing in the choir under the direction of Steven Law, and playing special music on occasions.

     In conclusion, Music is our future and is a vital part of the education process. I am blessed, and fortunate to simply be a part of the greatest orchestra for many years to come, enriching students with the joy of music for generations to come.