Ellen Ashton Francisco
Ellen Francisco, violinist and violist, has been active as a soloist and orchestral and chamber music player from her earliest years. She is also a successful teacher of strings and classroom music, and has directed ensembles in several elementary school music programs.
Daughter of Leila and Bruce Ashton, music teachers and performers, Ellen was raised in a musical family in which making music was a way of life. From her earliest years, she was deeply involved in chamber music activity, an experience that led to a passion for that intimate style of playing. While still a teenager, she taught violin privately in her own studio and in the Creative Arts Guild in Dalton, Georgia.
She graduated magna cum laude from Southern Adventist University in 1993, with a B.Mus. in music education and violin as her performance area. A member of the SAU symphony orchestra starting in her grade school years, Ellen served as concertmaster during her last two years at SAU. Additionally, beginning in her high school years, she also played in the first violin section of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra until 1994, when her husband, Jeremy Francisco, graduated from SAU.
From 1994 to 1997, Ellen was the music teacher at Madison Campus Elementary school, where she taught classroom music to over 145 students and directed two choirs, a band, and hand-chime ensemble and ran a string program that included lessons, a beginning string class, and a string orchestra. During this time and continuing until 1998, she maintained a private studio for an average of 35 violin and viola students.
In their last year in Madison, the Franciscos planned and started the Chamber Music Program, a four-day activity held in the summer on the SAU campus. She serves as director of CMP, which continues as a popular annual event. When they moved to Massachusetts that fall, where her husband would be teaching at South Lancaster Academy, she taught violin in the Atlantic Union College Thayer Performing Arts Center and string methods at AUC in the 2000-2001 school year.
While living there, she completed an M.Mus. in viola performance with an emphasis in chamber music at Longy School of Music in Cambridge. She studied with Raphael Hillyer, founding member of the Juilliard String Quartet and the Van Swieten String Quartet.
In 2001, they accepted teaching positions at Mile High Academy in Denver, Colorado, where she taught classroom music in grades K-4, conducted the grade-school choir, and also served as chamber music coach in the academy. The Franciscos and their young son now live in Greeley, Colorado, where Jeremy is completing a doctorate in choral conducting at the University of Northern Colorado and she performs frequently with chamber groups in the Greeley and Denver area.
Sources: Ellen Francisco vita, online sources.