Where are they now?

Strathmore Artists in Residence Take Flight

The Strathmore Artist in Residence (AIR) program, part of our Institute for Artistic and Professional Development, is designed to help launch artistic careers. There is nothing more satisfying to us than seeing the amazing accomplishments of our alumni. While we can’t take all the credit for their achievements, we are so proud to have been a part of their journey.


Chris Urquiaga, Class of 2017

It is no secret that singer-songwriter Chris Urquiaga is in a lane of his own. Since graduating from the AIR program in 2017, this Latin Pop virtuoso has released two praise-worthy albums. The first, Complete, highlights original tunes in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The following year, he released a collection of velvety ballads and heartfelt lyrics on the album I’m Here. He even went on to celebrate the release of it at the historic Blues Alley in Washington, DC. 

Urquiaga’ achievements and accolades reach far beyond the bandstand. In 2017, he received the Montgomery County Hispanic Heritage Month Award for his achievements in the performing arts and for his work to help amplify and celebrate his Latinx culture. In 2019, he was the featured performer for the Hispanic Swearing-In Ceremony for the 116th US Congress. That same year, Chris graced the cover of Metro Weekly, being described as an artist with a “potent, sweet, and rich voice [with] songwriting skills to match.”

Chris Urquiaga

Invoke, Class of 2015

Described by SiriusXM’s David Srebnik as “not classical, but not not classical,” Invoke is always surprising us with new ways to view and interpret music. The 2015 AIR Alums have “successfully dodged even the most valiant attempts at genre classification” with their repertoire ranging from Appalachian fiddle music to jazz. Their list of collaborators is just as extensive and varied, as they have performed with artists like San Fermin, Ensō Quartet, and even fellow AIR alum Christylez Bacon. The ensemble’s musicianship earned them the coveted John Lad Prize in 2018, an award presented by Stanford University that honors exceptional emerging chamber ensembles.

Invoke’s success is also due to their educational contributions. In 2017, the not-so-typical quartet performed for TedX Talk, a platform known for its thought-provoking lectures and performances. In February 2020, Invoke journeyed back to their Strathmore roots for a memorable residency filled with concerts in the Mansion and nearby schools.

Chao Tian, Class of 2018

If you are a supporter of Strathmore, then you know there is nothing quite as captivating as Chao Tian playing the Chinese Dulcimer. Since graduating from the program in 2018, Chao’s mesmerizing sound has been featured everywhere from the Kennedy Center to the Maryland State Arts Council. She is the queen of intersecting genres, having collaborated with artists like Tom Teasley (world percussion), Josanne Francis (steelpan) and Christylez Bacon (progressive hip hop).

The secret to what makes Chao such a strong collaborator is her authenticity and allegiance to her own culture and heritage. Her musical colleagues aren’t the only ones who notice these attributes, as she is a current board member of the Beijing Association of China Traditional Music. Chao recently paid homage to her home country in her newest album The Girl From the East, which was recorded live at the Strathmore Mansion.

Past AIR Alumni Spotlights

2/13/18 — Chelsey Green, Ines Nassara, Patrick McAvinue

9/17/19 — Wytold, Rochelle Rice, Josanne Francis

1/28/20 — Christie Dashiell, Christylez Bacon, Mark G. Meadows

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