About Us

Melissa Holtmeier

Violin

Melissa (née Tatreau) Holtmeier is a founding member, 1st violinist and manager of the Mahr String Quartet. She contracts about 60 engagements each year for the group. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Master’s Degree in Violin Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Melissa studied pedagogy with Darcy Drexler through the String Academy of Wisconsin. She has studied violin with Dr. Paul Todd, Dr. Laura Kobayashi, Ms. Anne Nagosky and Dr. Myron Kartman. She has registered training in Suzuki books 1-4 with Susan Kempter and has attended Mark O’Connor’s fiddle camps in San Diego and New York City. She was in the very first teacher certification class of the Mark O’Connor Violin Method, books 1 and 2, in 2009.

Since 2005, Melissa has been a full-time Artist-Faculty member at the Omaha Conservatory of Music (OCM) where she serves as the String Department Chair. Melissa is also in her 2nd year as the music teacher for grades 6-8 at Phoenix Academy. She also has her 200 RYT in yoga and in addition to teaching at the OCM summer institute, she has presented “Yoga for Musicians” at the American String Teachers’ Association national conventions in Louisville (2014), Tampa (2016), Atlanta (2018) and Albuquerque (2019). She is a member of the American String Teachers’ Association and the Omaha Musicians’ Union.

As a performing artist on both violin and viola, Melissa has played with Mary J. Blige, Bobby Vinton, Frank Sinatra Jr., Rod Stewart, Josh Groban, Pam Tillis, The Lettermen, Michael W. Smith, Johnny Mathis, Michael Bublé, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Melissa can be seen playing with the Mannheim Steamroller Orchestra in several midwest cities on their annual Christmas tour as well as on their 30/40 LIVE! album and PBS special. Melissa has toured China and the USA with the Mantovani Orchestra. She is regular sub with the Omaha and Lincoln Symphonies and also performed the Salute to Vienna New Year’s 2010 concert tour in Southern Florida. Melissa has played as a local with Broadway shows: Little House on the Prairie, Westside Story, The Lion King, The Book of Mormon (3x), Kinky Boots, Newsies, Cinderella, The Sound of Music, Something Rotten, The Little Mermaid, The King and I and The Phantom of the Opera (2x).

Melissa lives in Omaha with her photographer husband, Chris (she runs the business end of things), their 2nd grader, Ella (obsessed with horses) and 10 year old Siberian cat, Sergei.

Melissa Holtmeier

Erin Birkestrand Aguirre

Violin

Erin Birkestrand Aguirre

Erin Birkestrand Aguirre began playing the violin at age three through a Suzuki program near her hometown of Luverne, Minnesota. She earned a bachelor of arts in music education from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Erin is currently the Director of Orchestras at Millard Central Middle School, as well as three elementary schools. She has taught violin at the Omaha Conservatory of Music and served as district orchestra director in the Great Bend (Kansas) school district.

Erin performs with Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra and the Mahr String Quartet. She has played in symphony orchestras in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. As a freelance violinist, she has performed with Mannheim Steamroller, Josh Groban, Mary J. Blige, Johnny Mathis, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Erin also performs regularly with her church’s praise band. She lives in Omaha with her husband and two daughters.

Debbie Martinez

Viola

Debbie has served as Orchestra Director for Millard North High School and Millard North Middle School since 2001. Her students have performed in Omaha, Lincoln, Chicago, and New York City. She has also worked as an elementary string specialist for the Omaha and Westside Public School Districts.

Mrs. Martinez holds degrees in Music Education and String Education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Florida State University. She is currently on the board of the Nebraska chapter of the American String Teachers Association. In 2005, she was honored with the “Outstanding School Music Educator” award from the Nebraska ASTA chapter.

A product of public schools, Martinez has played the viola since fourth grade, and currently performs with the MAHR string quartet. She has also appeared with the Omaha, Lincoln, and Sioux City Symphony Orchestras, and has performed with orchestras in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia.

Debbie Martinez

Rachael Means

Cello

Rachael Means

Rachael Means is a member of the Des Moines Symphony and substitutes with the Omaha and Lincoln symphonies. She holds a Master of Music degree in Cello Performance from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she graduated with honors. She is a founding member of the Mahr String Quartet, which she enjoys arranging music for. Ms. Means was on faculty at Grace University and New Bright Future in Omaha, NE for several years, and currently runs a successful private cello studio from her home. She has soloed with the Heartland Philharmonic, has collaborated on several CDs for the Christian Worldwide Worship organization, and has performed in concerts in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou with the Mantovani Orchestra. She recently took part in performing and teaching at McMillan Magnet Middle School and Bryan Middle School in Omaha as part of a grant through the Omaha Chamber Music Society. Rachael resides in Omaha with her husband and two sons.