About

It was with both respect for the past and excitement for the future that I took ownership of MKI Artists. Our roster is stronger than it has ever been, with many of the world’s great chamber ensembles and a growing number of the world’s notable soloists. I’m proud and honored to be at the helm of this outstanding group of artists and look forward to our continued work with the leading presenting series and orchestras throughout North America and around the world. As we transition slowly from the past – Melvin Kaplan Inc. – to the future – MKI Artists – I look forward to wonderful collaborations and many more thrilling moments with all of you.

– John Zion, Managing Director

Our Team

John Zion

Managing Director

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John Zion became the Managing Director of MKI after taking ownership of the firm in September 2015. He serves on the board of Chamber Music America and has been invited to speak at the Manhattan School of Music, University at Buffalo, and APAP. He has been named one of the “Rising Stars in the Performing Arts” by Musical America.

Before coming to MKI, he performed regularly as a violinist with orchestras throughout New England and toured Vietnam with his string quartet. Originally from Chicago, John studied violin performance and history at the Hartt School of Music and Lawrence University.

Katie Backus

Booking Representative
Eastern U.S.

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Katie joined MKI in 2013. She studied violin and viola at the University of Rhode Island, graduating with a degree in music education, and taught strings in public schools and privately for fifteen years before moving to Vermont.

In her free time Katie coaches a running group, gardens, skis, and loves to travel. An avid hiker she is attempting to climb all of the 4,000’+ mountains in New England.

Kate Barnes

Booking Representative
Western U.S. & Canada

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Kate joined MKI in 2006, after returning home to Vermont from San Francisco. A graduate of Deerfield Academy and Brown University, where she studied history and creative writing, Kate spends her free time with her three young children, her husband, their large, exuberant dog, and their three-legged cat.

Kate serves on her local school board, is learning to skateboard, and loves reading, cooking, running, and things that make her laugh. Trained as a pianist, she is enjoying the opportunity to pass on her love of all kinds of music to her kids.

Julie Gaitens

Booking Representative
Orchestras

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Julie (B&W)

Julie joined MKI in 2016. She brings 25 years’ experience as an artist manager and booking representative at Herbert Barrett Management, IMG and Frank Salomon Associates. Originally from New Mexico Julie now works from, and lives in, North Carolina with her husband, high-school aged son and slightly neurotic cat.

In her free time Julie enjoys baking, listening to podcasts and spending time with family.

Jessica Shook

Concert Logistics & Travel

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Jessica first came to MKI as a booking agent immediately after graduating from Syracuse University’s Setnor School of Music. After nearly a decade in that position, she welcomed her son Quinn to the world and shortly thereafter changed her focus to travel and logistics, taking a position with a Group Tour Operator planning international tours for choral groups.

She is thrilled to be back at MKI, combining her knowledge and love of classical music with a deep background in logistics planning.   Outside the office Jessica enjoys traveling, gardening, seeing live music, brewing her own beer, and striving to put together the perfect cheese plate.

Lori Hobart

Business Manager

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Lori joined MKI in 2014. Originally from the Finger Lakes region of New York, Lori graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA with a BS in Business Administration and an MBA in International Business. Lori moved to Vermont to be with her husband.