MaryGrace Bender-Waggoner

Cello Teacher

MaryGrace Bender-Waggoner

SAA Member


Huntsville, AL
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Cellist MaryGrace Bender pursues a multi-faceted career in performance, recording, and music education.  As a Suzuki teacher, Bender seeks to reach every child through music and enjoys leading a full studio of students in the Nashville area.  As an avid collaborative and chamber musician, Bender founded the Nashville Chamber Music Society, and performs on a regular basis with NCMS.  As cellist of the Zimri Quartet, Bender has the honor of collaborating with violinists Sarah Page and Charissa Leung, and violist Tim Richardson.  Most recently, Bender taught and performed at Lincoln Center’s Restart Stages series as a faculty member for BridgeMusik in NYC.  

Bender is currently on faculty at Union University, regularly records for local studios such as Oceanway and Darkhorse, enjoys touring with local groups such as Harvest Arts and Eric Genuis, and performs with nearby orchestras such as the Huntsville Symphony, the Jackson Symphony, the Charlotte Symphony, and the Nashville Symphony.  

This past summer, Bender performed with Robert McDuffie at the Spring Hill Arts Gathering in New Preston, CT, and has performed with artists such as Amy Schwartz-Moretti, Julie Albers, Lawrence Dutton, Annie Fullard, Frank Cohen, and Mark Kosower.  

As a recording artist,  Bender recorded with studios/labels such as Sony, OceanWay, and Orange Mountain Music.  She orchestrally recorded Mike Mill’s Violin Concerto and Philip Glass’ Symphony no. 3 under the Orange Mountain Music label which The Wall Street Journal reviewed as, “impeccably polished.”  

Bender’s extensive studies include a master’s degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music in Cello Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy, and an undergraduate degree from The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University.  She has spent summers at The National Repertory Orchestra, Meadowmount School of Music, The Rome Chamber Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, Chautauqua Summer Institute, and the Aspen Music Festival and School as a New Horizon’s fellow.  Past influential teachers include Dr. Melissa Kraut, Hans Jørgen Jensen, Julie Albers, Anne Hall Williams, and Dr. Felix Wang.  A recipient of the James T. McAfee, Jr. Endowed Vision and Leadership Scholarship, Bender passionately promotes the arts at a grassroots level by teaching and performing in schools, retirement homes, homeless shelters, and concert halls alongside her professional performances and recording projects.  Outside of cello playing, Bender enjoys playing with her dog, Sunny, riding horses, spending an evening playing chamber music with friends, and anything outdoors.