David Littrell came to K-State in 1987 as a professor of cello and bass, became the K-State Orchestra conductor in 1990, and was awarded the title of university distinguished professor in 2001. He took the K-State Chamber Orchestra to England/Scotland in 2008 and Ireland in 2011 and 2017. He founded the youth Gold Orchestra in 1988-1989, which has influenced over 600 students through the years. Dr. Littrell was the director of K-State's String Fling for 31 years, an event that welcomed over 600 young string students to K-State every January. He was the national president of the American String Teachers Association in 2002-2004 and the CASE Kansas Professor of the Year in 2007. He retired as the Gold Orchestra conductor in November 2015 after serving for 27 years. After a five-year hiatus, Dr. Littrell became the Gold Orchestra conductor in Fall 2021.
An avid freelance and chamber musician, Laura Eakman has performed throughout the United States and internationally. As a chamber musician, Dr. Eakman has collaborated with the assistant concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, Michelle Kim, as well as renowned soloist, Elizabeth Pitcairn. She has worked with the Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Company, regularly performs with new music ensembles and was a founding member of Camus Quartet which toured the Netherlands in 2009. Most recently, she cofounded a chamber performance ensemble, The Midwest Music Collective which works to create dynamic concert experiences in Manhattan, Kansas.
Laura currently serves as founder and director of Suzuki Strings of Manhattan. In this role she runs a Suzuki Program and Chamber Music Summer Camp. Prior to her work with Suzuki Strings of Manhattan, Laura was a Teaching Artist with El Sistema Colorado which serves primarily disadvantaged students in the Denver Area.
Laura received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder where she served as Erika Eckert’s teaching assistant and studied chamber music with members of the Takacs Quartet. Her doctoral thesis, Teaching the Violin with Purpose: strategies designed to foster musical, cognitive, and social development in low-income students, has been a resource for educators through workshops and articles.