The Stringphonics Lineup: Get to Know the Ensemble

We welcome you to learn about each of our musician’s backgrounds and experiences that led them to the emergence of The Stringphonics. Together we have over two hundred years of experience in the music industry.

Tomas Verastegui

-Bachelor of Music Education 
University of Texas at Brownsville 

Mr. Verastegui started his musical studies at age sixteen with classical guitar and at the age of eighteen started his professional studies on cello under the teaching of Prof. Patricia Eugenia Lopez. He continued his studies in music education with a concentration in Cello and Piano at the University of Texas at Brownsville. Besides his orchestral experience, he has participated in many recitals as a soloist and in chamber music (piano trio, string quartet, soloist with choruses, etc.) in Mexico and in The US.

Tomas has a vast experience in education, being a tutor for more than three years for ear training, solfege, music history, and music theory at The University of Texas at Brownsville. He has been teaching lessons in cello and piano privately at different levels for over a decade. He has also worked as a private cello teacher in the Mercedes, San Benito, and Harlingen School Districts. 
He was the founder and director of The Brownsville Youth Community Orchestra and the RGV Youth Orchestra. Tomas is also the founder and artistic director of The Stringphonics, a music ensemble based in Edinburg, Texas.
Under Tomas’ guidance, leadership and tenacity, The Stringphonics was formed and now is becoming one of the leading music ensembles in The US.

Maria Ochoa

-Bachelor of Music Education
University of Texas at Río Grande Valley

Maria Ochoa earned her Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley under the tutelage of Dr. Diana Seitz. She has gained knowledge from university music professors in Texas such as professors: Dr. Lynn Ledbetter (TSU), Dr. Brendan Townsend (TAMIU), and Mr. William Buhidar (STC). She has attended several music festivals, including Iguazu en Concierto (Iguazu, Argentina), and the Spectacular de Albuquerque (New Mexico). In addition to the Valley Symphony Orchestra, she has also performed with the Laredo Philharmonic, Pasion RGV, Camille Lightner Playhouse, Harlingen Community Theatre, San Benito CISD, Brownsville ISD, Harlingen CISD, Brownsville All-City Choir, Region XV Choir, and the Opus Chamber Orchestra. 

She has been a Violin Consultant for Edinburg CISD (2019) as well as a guest violin instructor at Vanguard Beethoven Academy (2022). She currently teaches Piano, Violin, Viola, as well as Ukelele privately to students of all ages from McAllen to Brownsville. In addition, Maria teaches K-5 music at an elementary school in McAllen. 

Maria’s unique tone and musical intelligence make The Stringphonics a better ensemble of which she is also an active member.

Penny Tong

-Doctorate of Music Performance
University of North Texas
-Master of Music Performance
Cleveland Institute of Music
-Bachelor of Music Performance
Chinese University of Hong Kong

Ms. Tong is an active orchestral player. She is a section violist in the Valley Symphony Orchestra since 2022. Before moving to the U.S., she was appointed to be the Principal of the 2nd Violin at Chung Chi Orchestra and the Principal Viola at the HKFW Six Arts Orchestra. She was the Guest Section Violist of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta between 2010-2016. She participated in different international music festivals, including the Asian Youth Orchestra; the Orford Music Academy in Montreal, Canada; the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine, U.S.; the Sommermusik und Meister Klaus in Nagold, Germany; the 3rd Marvo International Music Festival in Marvo, Portugal; the nuits romantiques du Lac du Bourget in Aix les Bains, France; and the La Folle Journée au Japon in Tokyo, Japan.

The Stringphonics is honored to have Penny as an active member, with her knowledge and orchestral background.

Victor Flores

-Bachelor of Music Education 
University of Texas at Brownsville 
Victor Flores, was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. He graduated from The University of Texas at Brownsville with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. 
In his earlier years, Victor had the honor of performing with symphony orchestras around the United States and Europe. He was also invited to perform and participate in Masterclasses at The Juilliard School in New York City as well as for the Music in the Mountains Festival in Colorado. He currently performs violin for a variety of ensembles in varying styles ranging from string trios/quartets, symphony orchestras, and musical pit orchestras.
Aside from performing, he loves teaching his orchestra students and helping them be successful on their instruments. 
Victor is an important and active member of The Stringphonics, always willing to help and support the ensemble.

Natalie Haugeberg

-Master of Music Performance
Florida State University
-Bachelor of Music Education
The University of South Carolina
Natalie Haugeberg earned her Master’s Degree in Cello Performance at Florida State University where she was a member of the Eppes String Quartet. She earned her Bachelor of Music Education at the University of South Carolina where she was a part of the String Project. Natalie was born in Alabama but has lived all over the US as well as in Hong Kong. She currently calls Brownsville, TX her home and teaches middle school orchestra in Harlingen, TX.
Natalie is an active member and fine cellist of The Stringphonics.

Angelica Martinez

-Bachelor of Music Performance 
University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley
As of 2023, Angelica will finish her 6th season playing in the first violin section of the Valley Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, Angelica has performed with several ensembles throughout the valley such as the UTRGV Symphony Orchestra, the Rio Grande Valley’s Professional Chorus (Pasion RGV), the South Texas College OPUS Chamber Orchestra, and the Rio Grande Valley Ballet Orchestra. In 2021, Angelica graduated with a Bachelor’s in Violin Performance from the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley in which she studied under Diana Seitz. During her time at university, Angelica received additional chamber music coaching from Joel Pagan, Brendan Kinsella, and Tido Janssen.
Being an active member of The Stringphonics, Angelica shares her passion for violin playing at every rehearsal and concert. 

Pedro Vera

-Bachelor of Music Performance 
National Conservatory of Music of Peru 
Born in Lima, Peru, Mr. Vera started to play violin when he was five years old. After studying at the National Conservatory of Music, he played with the National Symphony of Lima. Around this time, he had the opportunity to travel to Xalapa, Mexico to join the Symphony Orchestra of Xalapa under the direction of Luis Herrera de la Fuente.
In 1986, Mr. Vera traveled to Spain to play with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid and with the Bellas Artes chamber orchestra. Besides his vast experience in South America and Europe, Pedro started his career in The US by participating in the Florida summer music festival in Miami. This music festival gave him the opportunity to perform with more orchestras such as Baltimore Opera, The National Chamber Orchestra in Washington D.C., Springfield Symphony in Illinois, Savannah Orchestra Symphony in Georgia, Florida Symphony Orchestra in Orlando, Naples Symphony in Florida, West Palm Beach Symphony in Florida, and many other symphonies.  He currently resides in Texas and regularly performs with Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Laredo Philarmonic Orchestra, Valley Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, and the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra to name just a few.
Pedro is an active member of The Stringphonics, bringing quality with his experience to the ensemble.

Robert Zuñiga

-Bachelors of Music Education 
University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley
Robert Zuniga Jr. was born in Weslaco TX. He is currently a student at The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley and will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education later this year.
In high school, he was consecutively awarded 1st chair in the Region Philharmonic Orchestra and 2nd chair in the Region Symphonic Orchestra. He attributes these accomplishments to his former private instructor and dear friend, Richard Clark, who devoted countless hours to his musical development over the course of two years.
He also studied under Tido Janssen for four years at UTRGV. There, he was given the opportunity to perform for prolific cellists such as Bonnie Hampton, Julian Schwarz, David Starkweather, Walter Gray, Leonid Gorokhov, and others. 
He currently works as a low-string specialist instructional consultant at Economedes High School, Harwell Middle School, and Memorial Middle School in Edinburg.
Robert is an active member of The Stringphonics, his freshness and talent adds value to the ensemble.

Diane Taylor

-Bachelor of Music Performance 
Capital University Conservatory of Music,
Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University
Diane Taylor, described as a “clear, beautifully colored soprano” (Broad Street Review) and “sweetly endearing” (Music in Cincinnati), is an artist based in Brownsville, Texas.  A specialist in collaborative music and frequent soloist, Diane has sung with ensembles across the country and in Europe including The Crossing, Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble, Alium Spiritum, Chorosynthesis, RedShift, The Union, Taylor Festival Choir, Weimar Bach Cantata Academy, Berwick Chorus of the Oregon Bach Festival, Dallas Choral Festival, and JSB Ensemble of the International Bachakademie Stuttgart. She can be heard on several commercial recordings including the 2022 GRAMMY® nominated recording Rising w/The Crossing. Diane is on the voice faculty at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.  She holds degrees from the Capital University Conservatory of Music and the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University. 
She enjoys knitting, cooking, and spending time with her husband, Sean, and daughter, Cecilia.    
Diane is an active member of The Stringphonics, enlightening our music ensemble with her voice and love for singing sacred and art music.

Lolis Flores

-Bachelor of Engineering 
University of Texas at Brownsville 
Maria Dolores Flores, better known as Lolis, is a Catholic born in Brownsville, Texas, United States in 1995. From a very young age, she was passionate about art and music. At the age of 16, she discovered her love for singing. In 2014 she served in youth retreats and in the choir at Sunday masses, this kept inspiring her to become a catholic singer.
In 2022 she released her first Album “En lo Profundo” which was born from her life experiences and invites us to delve deeper into the encounter, power, and love of God.
She lives in Olmito, Texas, with her family. She loves to serve the Lord and share God’s mercy and love through music. Her favorite hobbies are playing the guitar, exercising, writing songs, and reading.
Lolis is also an active member of The Stringphonics, she delights everyone with her voice at every ceremony.

Marilú de Santelmo

Bachelor of Music Performance 
Colegio San Juan S. XXI
Marilú is a Mexican-American soprano born in Seattle, Washington. She moved to Mexico where she graduated from the Colegio de San Juan Siglo XXI with a Bachelor’s degree in Music, specializing in singing. In her early years, Marilú had the opportunity to sing in numerous projects with different choirs, vocal ensembles, and as a soloist. These opportunities have led her to perform at multiple stages around both countries such as in Monterrey, Durango, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Mexico City, and Texas. Currently, aside from performing, she enjoys teaching and works in this field for the government of the state of Tamaulipas.
Marilú is an active member of The Stringphonics, her determination, and pure talent when singing is worth listening to.