Karen Cueva is a Peruvian-American violinist, educator, and arts administrator. She has performed on various stages, including Alice Tully Hall, David Geffin Hall, The Kennedy Center, and the Royal Opera House of Muscat (Oman, under the batons of renowned conductors such as James DePreist, Itzhak Perlman, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
An advocate for equitable access to high-quality musical instruction, Karen oversees professional development for hundreds of music educators in schools and comunity music programs across the country in her role as Assistant Director for Learning and Engagement Programs at Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. Karen is also a Knowledge and Strategy Associate at the Lewis Prize for Music, a foundation that partners with ambitious leaders who create positive change in their communities by investing in young people through music.
In 2015, Karen co-founded the Du Bois Orchestra with Kai Johannes Polzhofer to build authentic community in the greater boston area and foster inclusion of underrepresented composers in the classical music canon. Today, she continues supporting the orchestra's mission as an advisory board member. Karen also serves on the boards of The Dream Unfinished, an activist orchestra that promotes dialogues around social and racial justice, and Quinteto Latino, a wind quintet championing works by past and present Latinx composers. Karen is a graduate of The Juilliard School (B.M., M.M., Violing Performance) and Harvard University (Ed.M., Arts in Education).
Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Sanuja Goonetilleke holds a Master’s Degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor’s Degree (summa cum laude) in Flute Performance from Converse College, where she also completed Stanford University's Innovation Fellows program as the only performing arts major in the cohort. In Boston, she worked at the eminent arts and education research and consulting firm WolfBrown, was a Teaching Fellow at Harvard, a Boston Philharmonic Teaching Artist for the Conservatory Lab Charter School, and performed in the River Charles Ensemble. As a musician, she counts over nine years’ professional experience in concert programming, teaching, and performance, notably at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, NC, and the Saarburg Music Festival in Germany.
In addition to music, Sanuja currently works at the intersection of research and assessment, program design, quality assurance, and grant acquisition in the broad social impact sector(s) across South Asian Contexts.
During her time as a performing member of the Du Bois Orchestra, she also supported its audience engagement and evaluation efforts, and was a loyal attendee at Boathouse gatherings. Now, she is honored to continue to be a part of and contribute to the Du Bois Orchestra family as an Advisor.
Kai Johannes Polzhofer
Austrian-German conductor and composer Kai Johannes Polzhofer co-founded together with Karen Cueva in 2015 the DuBois Orchestra, while working on his Doctorate at Harvard University. Before taking up his studies in conducting at the prestigious Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory Saint Petersburg, he has been selected for classes with Daniele Gatti, Jorma Panula, as well Paavo and Neeme Järvi. As a conductor he worked among others with soloists of the Mariinsky Theatre, members of Deutsche Oper Berlin and Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, the Århus Symphony Orchestra, Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra. His music has been internationally broadcast (Austrian Broadcast Ö1, Bavarian Broadcast BR Klassik, Estonian National Radio, Radio Russia) and performed by leading ensembles of the contemporary music scene such as Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet, Ensemble Recherche, and the JACK Quartet, the “nation’s most important quartet” (The New York Times). Before coming to Boston, he graduated with honors both in composition and philosophy from University Leipzig and Musikhochschule Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Leipzig. This background inspires him to bring music and philosophy into dialogue and to publish regularly in these fields. Active in understanding music as a key to support change in society, Mr. Polzhofer has been throughout the years active in initiating and leading new cultural platforms not only like the DuBois Orchestra, but also forma Leipzig (fostering dialogue between contemporary music and literature), and most recently the Kandinsky Orchestra Petersburg (introducing marginalized repertoire to Russia). Kai Johannes Polzhofer received a.o. a National German Stipend (Deutschlandstipendium), and was awarded a full scholarship from Harvard University. Recently he has been selected for the National Soloist Program under the guidance of conductors Michael Schønwandt and Giordano Bellincampi in Copenhagen, Denmark. His compositions are published by Edition Gravis (Berlin).