Karis Crawford was born in the USA and began violin lessons at the age of six. She has a Bachelor's in Music Performance from Cornerstone University and is working towards a Master’s in Music Education at Boston University. Karis is also a certified Suzuki teacher for violin, viola and cello.
Karis moved to Kenya in 2007 to work at an international school as director of music. She performs with the Kenya Conservatoire of Music Orchestra and the Nairobi Orchestra and founded Zeze, a chamber strings group. In 2009, Karis taught for Ghetto Classics, an El Sistema inspired program in Korogocho, a slum in Nairobi. She was also one of the founding teachers for the Kenya National Youth Orchestra, working as their director of strings.
Seeing the need for social change, especially in the slums of Kenya, she began to extensively research how to bring El Sistema to Kenya. She founded El Sistema Kenya in 2014 and currently leads the teaching program as well as training future music teachers of Kenya. She loves working with children and is looking forward to seeing the lasting impact that music will have on their lives.
Bernadette Muthoni has a degree in Environmental Conservation and Natural Resource Management from the University of Nairobi, but music has always been a part of her life. Her first instrument was percussion, and she started playing the violin in 2011. She is a current member of the Kenya Conservatoire of Music Orchestra, the Nairobi Orchestra, the Nakuru Chamber Orchestra, and the Kenya National Youth Orchestra.
Bernadette also loves spending time in nature and always enjoys a good read. She loves to write as well and would love to travel the world to experience the beautiful music, people, and places that abound outside of the borders of East Africa.
Bernadette believes that playing the violin is the one way she can express all that words cannot. Music, for her, soothes the soul in ways that nothing else quite can. The joy of discovering and making music is a most exciting journey because each day as a musician is different than the last. This experience continues to open her eyes to the endless opportunities that abound in music making as well as the potential that music has to be an instrument of social change.
Mumbi Mbugua has a Bachelor’s of Business Science degree in Financial Economics from Strathmore University, but music has always been a significant part of her life. For Mumbi, music is more than a discipline or a means of entertainment. It is a lifestyle. Mumbi has been singing as a soloist and in choirs since childhood and began learning the violin in 2011.
She plays with the Kenya Conservatoire of Music Orchestra, the Nairobi Orchestra and the Kenya National Youth Orchestra. She also sings with the Nairobi Music Society.
Apart from music, Mumbi is a self-proclaimed bookworm and is also passionate about socio-economic development issues in her country and the world in general. She is a strong believer of the use of music in poverty alleviation as well as its healing power and as a universal language of the human spirit.
She looks forward to seeing the impact in the lives of the children and the community which will be taking part in the El Sistema Kenya program and hopes that it will last for generations to come.
A lover of all things music, Brenda Moraa started out as an actress and singer before learning the violin in 2010. She later joined the Kenya Conservatoire of Music Orchestra, the Nairobi Music Society, and the Kenya National Youth Orchestra.
El Sistema Kenya has since been an avenue for her to give back the gift of music that she has so greatly benefitted from. Not only does it share her ideals of helping eradicate poverty and the effects it has in the community through art, but it also builds the self, an issue very close to her heart. There is no way one can claim to build the community and those around them without understanding themselves, building their confidence, selfesteem, discipline and selfawareness.
Brenda is excited to work with El Sistema, and the progress with the kids continually gives her motivation to keep being part of the programme.
Faith Syovata is a graduate of Starehe Girls School and has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Aviation Management from Moi University. She is an avid pianist and violinist and also plays for the Kenya Conservatoire of Music Orchestra.
Her first introduction to music was listening to classical music on the Sunday radio programs on KBC (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation) as a young child. She started piano lessons in 2007 and also sings and plays the alto recorder. She began violin lessons in 2013 and has been an active member and soloist of the Kenya National Music Festivals.
As well as teaching for El Sistema Kenya, Faith also travels around Nairobi teaching violin and piano for Wynton Music School. She loves sharing her passion for music through El Sistema Kenya with young children in underprivileged areas and seeing them grow in their skills as instrumentalists and young citizens and leaders of Kenya.