About Us

Bärbel Pafford

Cellist • Teacher • Manager

Bärbel Pafford is a cellist, a Bozeman native and the manager of Big Sky Strings. She completed her undergraduate music education degree at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. She was also a member of the Columbia Philharmonic, the Myrtle Beach Symphony and the Charlotte Symphony, and founded and managed the Palmetto String Trio. After moving to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she started the Cedar River String Trio, home schooled her children and taught with a String Outreach Program. Bärbel returned to Bozeman in 2009 and began teaching with the Bozeman Public Schools. She currently manages Big Sky Strings, teaches privately at home and performs with the Bozeman Symphony. She also co-manages the Bozeman Summer String Jam, a camp for 5th through 12th grade string students.

Cindy Stone

Violist • Teacher

Cindy Stone hails from Tennessee. She became enamored with Montana after visiting her grandparents in Bozeman and decided to raise her family here. She is a violist who has studied with James Batts, Tanya Solomon, Rebecca Janda, and Anna Jesiatis. Cindy graduated from James Madison University with a bachelor degree in Music Education and from the University of Georgia with a Master Degree in Music Education. She taught orchestra for 7 years in the Atlanta area, influencing many young students to become lifelong lovers of music. Cindy is now fulfilling her dream by starting an Orchestra program in Belgrade and has established Montana's first Rock Orchestra. She performs regularly with the Bozeman Symphony and has performed with various orchestras in Europe and across the Southeast. Cindy is passionate about performance and music education and passes that passion on to her students.

Kayla Mallory

Violinist • Teacher

Kayla began studying violin in high school and continued her training at Montana State University in Bozeman, attaining her undergraduate degree in Music Education. She had the privilege of studying under esteemed teachers throughout her scholastic career including Johan Jonsson, Carrie Krause, Stephen Cepeda and Angella Ahn. Native to Bozeman, Kayla has performed as both section player and section leader in many of the area's local performing groups such as the Bozeman Symphony, Intermountain Opera Orchestra, and Montana Ballet Company Orchestra. She has also performed with Ellen Theater productions and Black Box Theater productions. Currently, she can be found raising her children and building her private studio where she endeavors to instill her love of music and learning in future generations.

Michael Mleko

Violinist • Teacher

Michael is a graduate of Montana State University with a Bachelors in Music Education and a Masters in Education with a Special Emphasis in Music. Michael has studied violin with Linda Meuret, Stephen Cepeda, Carrie Krause, and Angella Ahn. Having developed a passion for performance at a young age, he continues to pursue an active performance career. In addition, Michael works as an orchestra director with the Billings Public Schools. He has performed with ensembles around the state of Montana for 16 years as a conductor, principal player, and section player. These ensembles include Helena Symphony, Bozeman Symphony, Billings Symphony, Great Falls Symphony, Butte Symphony, Big Sky Strings, Big Sky Classical Music Festival Orchestra, and Montana Ballet Company Orchestra. He currently serves as a violinist in the Big Sky String Ensemble, Associate Concertmaster & Principal 2nd Violin of the Helena Symphony, and the Helena Symphony Orchestra Assistant Conductor.

Michael Certalic

Violinist • Teacher

Michael Certalic is the Director of the regionally and nationally recognized orchestra program of the Bozeman Public Schools where he directs six high school orchestras, a middle school Honor Orchestra, and a chamber music program. The Bozeman High orchestras have performed at the All Northwest Convention, ASTA's National Conference, and twice on tour in Europe. As a performer, Michael has extensive experience as a soloist, studio musician, chamber musician, and section leader. He has held the Concertmaster positions in the MSU Chamber Orchestra, the Gallatin Chamber Orchestra, Montana Ballet Orchestra, and the Montana Theaterworks orchestra. He lives in Bozeman, Montana with his wife Kimberly and their son Noah.