The Margaritas is a music ensemble featuring a standard string quartet formed by core members - violinists: Kari Lin, Natalie Wong; violist Fanny Tang; and cellist Mahsa Madahian. Previously known as the ANFA String Quartet, which was formed in 1997 in Markham, Ontario with members and co-founders Natalie and Fanny. Since then they have been performing in weddings, receptions, ceremonies, and other public, corporate, community and charity fundraising events. Events such as the Elvis Stojko Gala Show and the Kiwanis Festivals. They have made a major public appearance in the grand opening of the Remenyi House of Music in Richmond Hill. They acquired the new name, The Margaritas Ensemble, in November, 2005.
Made up of all formally, classically trained musicians, The Margaritas are confident as qualified professionals. Each individual player is enthusiastic about music, especially in chamber music. The group is now serving the Metro and Greater Toronto Areas, including York, Durham and Peel Regions. Regular collaborations with the Cantabile Chamber Singers can be heard in Spring, and with the Blessed Trinity Choir at Christmas.


Margarita #1: Natalie Wong (1st Violin)

Natalie was born in Hong Kong and raised in Toronto. She learned to play the piano at the age of 3, continued on switching to violin at the age of 7. In her formative years, Natalie was involved in many collaborative musical projects including musical and dance theatres. She took part in the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, the U of T symphony orchestra, string ensembles and the vocal of a rock band inspired by Japanese visual rock music.
Classical violin is Natalie's expertise, having completed her ARCT in performance at the RCM, and her degree in violin performance at University of Toronto. She studied with Professor Scott St. John, recently a member of the St. Lawrence Quartet, and also with Annalee Patipatanakoon, violinist of the Gryphon Trio. Natalie is active in various music festivals such as the Scotia Music Festival and SOCMI, provided the opportunity to learn from great musicians such as Mark Fewer, The Lafayette String Quartet, Tokai String Quartet, The Penderecski String Quartet, and many more. Meanwhile, she is active in the musical scene in Toronto, performing in numerous productions for Hart House Theatre, Markham Youth Theatre, Theatre at Trinity College, The Scarborough Playhouse, just to name a few. Recently, she has expanded her horizons by playing bass guitar for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and became involved in the critically acclaimed premiere of Reefer Madness playing both violin and jazz keyboard. She excels also in theory and composition, and have studied with Abigail Richardson and Sasha Rapaport.
In the future, she wishes to further her music studies and collaborate with the Margaritas Ensemble, co-founded with colleague and friend Fanny Tang. Currently the ensemble is working towards promotion through different strategies, exposing the group to a larger market, promoting the power of music in every way.




Margarita #2: Elena Spanu (2nd Violin)

Photo in courtesy of Jonathan Chung @ RJC photography

Elena Spanu started playing the violin at the age of three. She began her studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music where she studied with Katharine Rapoport. Her formative training was done in the Suzuki Method and the RCM method. She then attended Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts where she was a strings major and played in all of their strings ensembles. After graduating, she attended the University of Western Ontario where she studied with Robert Skelton, Virginia Baron and Mel Martin. Upon graduating, she received her Bachelor of Musical Arts. It is at Western where she discovered Baroque violin and moved on to complete an Artists Diploma in Baroque violin at the University of Toronto. There she studied with Jeanne Lamon and various other members of Tafelmusik. Elena has also studied with such notable teachers as Kelly Parkins and Mark Skazinetsky.
Elena has had the opportunity to travel with her violin. She has gone to France to participate in the Saintes Music Festival with the Jeune Orchestre Atlantique and to Powell River, British Columbia to participate in the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific program. She also frequents Magic Mountain Music Farm in the Catskills region of upstate New York, where she enjoys expanding her musical knowledge through the guidance of Burton Kaplan.
Elena also enjoys teaching the violin. She is a trained Suzuki teacher and loves to teach people of all ages- from 3 years old to adults. She believes that anyone can learn to play the violin- age is no limit.
On her spare time Elena likes to knit, put together puzzles, play with her cute little dog and fantasize about one day becoming a ballerina.
Elena is thrilled to be joining the Margaritas ensemble and is looking forwards to creating beautiful and exciting musical experiences with them.




Margarita #3: Fanny Tang (Viola)

Fanny began her music studies on the violin at age 6 in Hong Kong, switching to viola at age 13 under the guidance of Mr. Tak-Ng Lai, violin-viola pedagogue and conductor in Toronto, Canada. From 1994 to 2001, Fanny was section member, assistant principal, and principal of orchestras such as the Toronto Chinese Youth Orchestra, Toronto Chinese Philharmonic Orchestra, and Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra.
She attended the University of Toronto in the Performance programme, receiving extensive viola instructions from Mr. Scott St. John. She also performed in the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra, both under the baton of Maestro Raffi Armenian, as section principal and assistant principal. In 2002, she won the Jon Dan Scholarship, and in 2003 she received her Bachelor of Music degree specialized in Viola Performance with Distinction. During her undergrad years, she had private lessons and coachings with visiting guests including Ms. Rivka Golani, the Tokyo String Quartet, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, and many more.
And in 2005, she obtained her Master of Music degree, specializing in Chamber Music Performance from McGill University (now also the Schulich School of Music), guided by Mr. André Roy, former viola member of l'Orchestre Symphonie de Montréal. Her chamber music coaches include Mr. Matt Haimovitz, Ms. Kyoko Hashimoto, and Mr. Douglas McNabney. Fanny was a regular member of the McGill Baroque Orchestra directed by Prof. Hank Knox, playing on a copy of an authentic Baroque viola. As well the modern viola in the McGill Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Alexis Hauser.
Fanny plays regularly as an orchestral member in various orchestras including Orchestra London, Peterborough Symphony Orchestra, Kingston Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Toronto, Toronto Sinfonietta, Sneak Peak Orchestra, and many others. Fanny plays on a modern viola custom made for her by Canadian luthier Mr. David Prentice in 2004.
A member and co-founder of The Margaritas Ensemble (formerly ANFA SQ), Fanny is enthusiastic about chamber music in its original settings and its interaction with live audience. Fanny is the acting officer for the ensemble in advertising, marketing, public relations, and website management.
Aside from her performing role, Fanny is also a music engraver and music arranger. She enjoys the first hand experience of digitizing exciting new music scores for Toronto composer Larysa Kuzmenko. Fanny arranged over 80% of the popular and non-Classical repertoire for The Margaritas.




Margarita #4: Mahsa Madahian (Cello)

Mahsa Ghassemi started playing cello at the age of 12 and pursued a music degree, obtaining a diploma from the only official music school in Tehran, at the age of 18. During the same time she was performing with Bahman Symphony orchestra, The Iranian-Austrian Chamber Orchestra and also won the "Youngest Instrumentalist" competition in Iran at the age of 16. She also played with Tehran Symphony and the national Television & Radio orchestra. She has also recorded in several of Tehran well known studios for many movies and TV series all before the age of 18.
She decided to further enhance her musical technique and knowledge and got acceptance to the Komitas State Conservatory Masters program in Armenia and trained with internationally recognized cellist Maestro Zareh Sarkisian. While studying she played in various symphonies and chamber ensembles including The Yerevan Philharmonic orchestra as her reward from the University for graduating with honours. She was one of a chosen few to play for world renowned cellist, Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich. she also played with Demis Roussos's band while in Yerevan, Armenia.
After Completing her Master's Degree in Yerevan, She moved back to Iran and became the Youngest teacher at The University of Art, faculty of music in Tehran at the age of 22. She was also a soloist with Tehran Symphony, Armenian Virtuosi string orhestra conducted by Loris Tcheknavorian and made many recordings before moving to Canada with well known Iranian composers.
While In Canada, she received her second Masters degree in Cello Performance, Played with Toronto Philharmonia, Sudbury Symphony, Toronto sinfonietta and has been the Principal Cellist for the Koffler Chamber orchestra and the Helliconian Orchestra. She has also Played non-classical groups such as playing for an audience of 15000 with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Air Canada Centre. She has worked with many well known contemporary Iranian composers and performers such as Loris Tcheknavorian, Ahmad Pejman, Karen Homayunfar, Saeed Shanbezadeh, Habib Meftah Booshehri, Khachik Babayan, Iman Vaziri, and Babak Amini.