Extension Division Administration
Marla Meissner has been awarded degrees from Ithaca College (BMus), Montclair State University (MA) and New York University (PhD). Her training includes electronic music composition studies with Peter Rothbart; acoustic music composition with Ting Ho and Ruth Schonthal; saxophone studies with David Henderson, Steven Mauk, and Daniel Trimboli; music theory and analysis studies with Lawrence Ferrara, John Gilbert and Marc Holland. She recently completed an extensive study of the music of the Delaware or Lenape Indian. Her compositional output includes an eclectic variety of electronic, electroacoustic and traditional compositions for various types of instrumental ensembles as well as film soundtracks, theater music, and rock and jazz compositions. Her music has been performed in various venues including Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and New York City’s Angelika Film Center. Her first CD, Selections from the Kaleidoscope, was released in 1999.
Lou Kosma received his degree in music education with applied double bass from Temple University. He has taught in Philadelphia, PA and Belleville, NJ and served as orchestra and musical show conductor at Holy Family Academy in Bayonne, NJ. He teaches privately and is an adjunct double bass instructor at New Jersey City University. He is a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He has also performed as principal bassist for the American Ballet Theatre, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic and acting principal for the New Jersey Symphony. He was a member of the Chautauqua Symphony for 17 years and continues to play radio and television jingles and industrials. He has organized and participated in chamber music concerts and recordings with Music Amici and Alborada Latina. He is music director and conductor of the Junior Orchestra of the Youth Orchestras of Essex County and has guest conducted several district, regional and all-state festival concerts in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Vermont. He is also the music director of the Vermont Philharmonic. Lou was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Thurnauer Symphony Orchestra in Tenafly, NJ in May of 2003. Mr. Kosma conducts the Festival Orchestra at Stokes Forest Music Camp and Festival in Sussex County, NJ.
Letitia Stancu is a pianist, keyboardist, educator and administrator. Ms. Stancu has served as an administrator for the Cali School Extension Division (formerly Preparatory Center for the Arts) and the Stokes Forest Music Camp since 2005. She has previously worked for both programs as a piano teacher and accompanist. Ms. Stancu has been a Cali School collaborative pianist since 2006, working with instrumental and vocal students. She has performed with the MSU Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band as well as in the pit orchestras for the MSU Musical Theater productions of Side Show and The Producers. In addition, Ms. Stancu has also performed as a keyboardist and backing vocalist with various cover and original bands of rock/pop genres. Performance venues include the Hard Rock Café in Atlantic City, Webster Hall in New York City, Seacrets in Ocean City, MD and Rainbow Room in Los Angeles. Ms. Stancu joined the Cali School of Music Faculty in 2008 as an Adjunct Professor of Keyboard Musicianship. She holds a BMus degree from Oberlin Conservatory.
Adrienne Baker, Coordinator, Chamber Music, Flute
A socially conscious artist, Adrienne strives to use her voice to help others find theirs. As Chamber Music Coordinator, Adrienne currently works to support the Extension Division including building their budding chamber music program, which welcomes all ages and levels to hone their chamber and musicianship skills. A dedicated educator, Adrienne teaches privately – flute and piano – to students of diverse musical backgrounds and ages. There is no greater joy to her than to simultaneously foster a lifelong love of learning and appreciation for music. A chamber musician herself, Adrienne divides her time between Boston and the New Jersey area as part of the duo NorthStar. Along with saxophonist Seychelle Dunn, NorthStar’s projects have included the commissioning of ‘Spirituals for Wind Duo,’ an arrangement by composer Anthony Green and the ‘Women’s Equity Project’ which celebrated works by black women composers. Adrienne looks forward to NorthStar’s future creative explorations of their instrumentation, particularly of music by women composers.
Suzuki strings coordinator
Ruth Brons Website
Ruth Brons was honored for her work in music education by the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) in 2014 with the prestigious Kudos Award. Ruth maintains a full private lesson studio in conjunction with her work with the Extension Division. She has also served as a clinician for the South Carolina Suzuki Institute (for over twenty years), a music education conference session presenter, and as active free-lance violinist/violist and chamber music coach in the greater New York City area. She holds a Master of Music in Viola Performance from Temple University (Philadelphia), a Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance from The New School of Music (Philadelphia), and is an alumna of the Charles Castleman Quartet Program. Her teachers included Max Aronoff, Leonard Mogill, Heidi Castleman, Evelyn Jacobs Luis and Davyd Booth.
Maria DelVecchio received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Caldwell College. She attended The New England Conservatory of Music on a full scholarship in accompanying and holds two master’s degrees in music from Columbia University. She served as accompanist for the Uniroyal Chorus, Tufts University Choir, Ohabei Shalom Men’s Chorus and the Garden State Ballet Company. For two years she served as the accompanist for opera star Licia Albanse’s solo performances and recitals. Additionally, for four years in the Berkshires, she was the pianist for Fiorella Keane of the Royal Ballet and the Juilliard School of Music. Ms. DelVecchio studied piano with Robert Armstrong of the Juilliard School of Music and Martha Motchane, a student of Alfred Cortot and Robert Hebble. Most recently, she studied The Taubman Technique with Edna Golandsky. Ms. DelVecchio is a certified Suzuki Piano teacher who, for eight years, served as the coordinator of the Preparatory Center’s piano program. She has also served as adjunct faculty in the Cali School of Music. Over the past 35 years, Ms. DelVecchio has had numerous students in the state’s piano competitions. Her students have won first and second place in the New Jersey Music Educators Association’s piano competitions.
Mansoon Han Kim
Mansoon Han Kim has won numerous competitions including the Yale Gordon Competition, the Yook Young Competition, the Piano Music Competition and Nan Pa Music Competition. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Seoul National University in 1991. In 1992, she began studies with concert pianist Ann Schein at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, MD where she received her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. She has performed throughout the United States, Canada, South Korea and China. She has performed with members of the Maia String Quartet, Ceruti String Quartet, the Anchor Trio and soprano Hyunah Yu. Kim has won the Clara Ascherfeld Accompanying Award, Peabody Career Development Grant. She has studied at summer festivals such as the Aspen Music Festival, the Orford Arts Center and the Kent Blossom Summer Chamber Music Festival and participated in master classes by Mennahem Pressler, Leon Fleisher, Abbey Simon, Jörg Demus, Sergei Dorensky and Gabby Casadesus.
Youn-Hee Bang Kim
Born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to the United States in 1998, pianist Youn-hee Kim’s numerous awards include first prize in the 2000 Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, third prize in the Carmel International Piano Competition, and two-time grand prizes in the Music Associates Performance Award Competition in Southern California. Youn-hee was the first recipient of the Alicia de Larrocha Scholarship. Mme. de Larrocha highly praised her performance and wrote to her that “…with or without competitions, you will be a fantastic artist!” The Peninsula Review of the Carmel International Competition noted Kim’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Études-Tableaux (Op. 39): “…was simply the best performance among any other performers’ live or recording.” She holds a BMus degree in piano performance from Sungshin Women’s University in South Korea, MM degree from California State University Fullerton, Professional Studies Diploma from Manhattan School of Music, and DMA in piano performance from the Stony Brook University under the tutelage of Gahng-soon Lee, Young-joo Hong, Eduardo Delgado, Philip Kawin and Christina Dahl. As a pedagogue, Youn-hee has been awarded “Certificates of Excellence” from the Crescendo Competition, Forte International Competition, Golden Key Festival, recognizing her work as a leading teacher. She is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society.
Pianist Florence Liu, holds a DMA degree in piano performance from the Graduate Center of CUNY where she studied with the legendary pianist Abbey Simon. She received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Dr. Liu made her New York recital debut at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and has performed in solo and chamber music concerts in Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, Yamaha Hall and Steinway Hall. Additionally, she has performed throughout the New York metropolitan area, Taiwan, France and Spain. Her awards include the Dora Zaslavsky Piano Competition, Artist International’s Special Presentation Award, Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society’s Young Musician award, the Henry Levine Memorial Award, the Anne-McDermott Memott Memorial Award, and Manhattan School of Music’s President Award. As an educator, Dr. Liu has been awarded “Certificates of Excellence” from the International Concert Alliance, the National League of Performing Arts, Forte International Competition, Golden Key Festival, Music-Fest and Prima Music Competition recognizing her work as a leading teacher. Currently, she is director of the concerto/chamber competition for the National League of Performing Arts and also serves as co-chair of the competition committee for the Music Educators Association of New Jersey.
Amir Mortezai is a composer, pianist and teacher from Chester, New Jersey. His pieces have been performed at concert halls in Paris, Prague, Tehran, and Pavia, Italy. Self-taught as a composer until the age of 25, he attended the EAMA Summer Music Program in Paris in 2010 and 2011 where he studied counterpoint and harmony with Dr. Philip Lasser of the Juilliard School, who became his private teacher for three more years. With a bachelor’s degree in Classical Piano Performance from Rutgers University, he’s been active as a concertizing pianist and piano instructor for a number of years. His principal piano teachers were Paul Hoffmann and Dr. John Gorman. He graduated on scholarship from NYU Steinhardt in 2016 with a master’s degree in Theory and Composition where he studied both concert music and film scoring with Paul Chihara and took courses with Pulitzer Prize Winner Julia Wolfe. Other composition teachers include Jose Bevia, Kyle Blaha and Herschel Garfein. As a songwriter, he’s taken part in master classes with Roseanne Cash, Glenn Frey and Phil Galdston. His film scoring credits range from drama to documentary, animation to horror.
Ruth Rendleman was educated at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University. She is a specialist in the performance of eighteenth-century music. She has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities for research and studies at the University of Maryland and has served on the faculty of the Aston Magna Performance Institute. She has performed as a solo artist and in chamber recitals throughout the New York metropolitan area. Her tours abroad have included performances in Korea, China (where she was artist-in-residence at the Shanghai Conservatory) and Australia. In the New York Times, Joseph Horowitz wrote that, “The performance showed force and fluency, consistently communicative. Her work had a firmness of design and continuity of emotion.” Her interest in contemporary music led her to commission her colleague, Ting Ho, to write a piano sonata for her. She has received two major commissions from the New Jersey State Arts Council for new piano works. Prof. Rendleman founded Montclair State’s Preparatory Center for the Arts and Stokes Forest Music Camp. She has served as the music coordinator of the New Jersey School of the Arts and served on the board of the College Music Society. She also served as chair of the Committee on the Status of Women for the College Music Society.
Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Victoria Schwartzman (formerly Mazin) performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician. Victoria has appeared at the Music Mountain Festival, in the New York Philharmonic Ensembles series at Merkin Hall, at Summit Music Festival, at Bargemusic, in the Gessner- Schocken concert series in Cambridge, and the Nicolas Roerich Museum. Victoria graduated from the Jerusalem Conservatory and continued her education at the Longy School of Music and New England Conservatory. While pursuing various degrees in solo and chamber music performance, she was selected to perform in masterclasses given by Dmitri Bashkirov, Menahem Pressler and Richard Goode, among others. Her principal teachers include Irina Kivaiko, Issak Kossov, Victor Rosenbaum, Sally Pinkas, Eda Shlyam and Eteri Andjaparidze. As soloist with orchestra, Victoria has performed with the Jerusalem Chamber Orchestra, the Longy School of Music Chamber Orchestra and the Riverside Orchestra. She has participated in the Tel-Hai International Piano Festival in Israel and the Lyrica Chamber Music Festival in New Jersey. Active in the field of opera and art song, Victoria has served as a vocal coach and accompanist at Boston Lyric Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Bard Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, and the American Institute of Musical Studies Festival in Graz, Austria.
Pianist Guerguan Tsenov has performed in his native country Bulgaria, Western Europe and the United States. He has recorded for the Bulgarian National TV, Bulgarian National Radio, and UNISON Records. He has been a soloist with many of the leading orchestras in Bulgaria – Plovdiv Philharmonic, Pazardjik Symphony Orchestra, Sliven Philharmonic among others. Mr. Tsenov has won prizes and distinctions at many international competitions including Svetoslav Obretenov (1984), Dimitar Nenov (1987), Albert Roussel (1996) and Music and Earth (1997) for composition. He has appeared at the Aspen Music Festival (Aspen, Colorado), Venice Piano Festival (Italy) and the Winter Musical Evenings (Bulgaria). He has taken part in piano master classes given by renowned pianists such as Richard Goode, Ludmil Angelov and Germaine Mounier. Mr. Tsenov has been awarded the Prize of the Foundation Open Society (1996) and the Prize of the International Academy of Arts (1996). He holds a master’s degree in Piano Performance from the Cali School.
Collaborative Pianist/Suzuki Strings Class Accompanist
Joseph-Roy Varela grew up in the New York City metropolitan area. He began his studies in the Amati Conservatory with Svetlana Miasnikova at five and made his first public appearance at the age of 12. He was later accepted into the Manhattan School of Music pre-college division under Sheryl Canellakis, continuing to perform in various showcases, benefit concerts and local competitions where he won multiple prizes and recognition. Varela has been selected to perform in masterclasses with guest artists Jerome Lowenthal, Walter Hautzig, Wu Han, Olegna Fuschi and Alan Weiss. Apart from the piano, Varela had early training as a violinist and vocalist; he served as concertmaster of a public-school symphonic orchestra and chamber orchestra and frequented county and state-wide choir ensembles. Varela received his bachelor’s in piano performance from Montclair State’s John J. Cali School of Music under Mark Pakman and continues his studies as a master’s student in the Manhattan School of Music under Dr. Joanne Polk.
Yi Xia earned her bachelors degree in piano pedagogy from Guangxi Arts Institute in China and a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Oklahoma City University. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree studying music therapy at Montclair State University. Yi is a teacher with passion and patience and experience working with both children and adults. She joined the Extension Division faculty in 2015.
Yuka Yanagi is currently an adjunct faculty member of the music department at County College of Morris and the Preparatory Center for the Arts at Montclair State University. Ms. Yanagi performs frequently throughout the New York metropolitan area and has performed in venues such as Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and the Steinway Piano Gallery. Additionally, she has performed in Japan and Taiwan. In 2008 and 2009, Ms. Yanagi served as the Second Vice-President for the Music Educators Association (MEA) in New Jersey, and as co-chair for the MEA competition from 2005 to 2008. Her students have won numerous competitions within the tri-state area. Ms. Yanagi holds a Bachelor of Music degree, summa cum laude, and a Master of Arts degree in Piano Performance from Montclair State University. In 1996 she was the recipient of Montclair State University’s Outstanding Performance Award. Ms. Yanagi has studied with Dr. Julie Jordan and Mark Pakman. Additionally, from 2001 to 2009, she took concentration courses at the Juilliard School.
Soyeon Park Yoo
Pianist Soyeon Park Yoo is a performer, educator and adjudicator. She has performed in the United States, Canada and South Korea as a soloist and chamber musician. She has performed concertos with the Hope College Symphonette, Orchestra of St. Vincent and the Good Samaritan Symphony Orchestra. She has also presented performances at Northwestern University, Bradley University, Hope College, Gustavus Adolphus College, Aspen Music Festival and Las Vegas Music Festival. She has presented at ISMTA conference on “Comprehensive Approaches to Teaching Harmonization” in 2014. Dr. Yoo received degrees in music from the Juilliard School, the Peabody Conservatory of Music and Northwestern University. With a passion for teaching, Soyeon Yoo taught private lessons in the Northwestern University Music Academy and keyboard skills classes in Northwestern University Bienen School of Music, Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts and Hope College. She joined the John J. Cali School of Music Extension Division program in 2016 and the following year was appointed as an adjunct professor at the Cali School of Music.
Shixuan Zhang is pursuing her Artist Diploma at the Cali School of Music where she also serves as a collaborative pianist in the School of Music and in the Department of Theater and Dance. She received her Master of Music in Piano Performance and Certificate in Chamber Music Performance from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee as a full scholarship student. Ms. Zhang has performed master classes with the esteemed pianists Einar Steen-Nøkleberg, Solomon Mikowsky, Olegna Fuschi, Walter Hautzig and Nelita True. She was a 2017 scholarship recipient for her participation in the International Keyboard Institute & Festival at Hunter College in New York. That same year she also received a full scholarship to participate in Montclair State University’s Dorothy Taubman Piano Festival. Shixuan has also participated and performed at other festivals including the second Beijing International Piano & Violin Festival in Beijing Concert Hall, the seventh Beijing International Piano Festival in China Conservatory of Music, and the Piano Festival at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She has won prizes and honors in the third Hong Kong-International Piano Open Competition and the sixth Singapore-China International music competition.
Violin, Viola, Cello, String Bass, Harp – Contact number for faculty: 973-655-4443
Amy Beshara, fiddler, dancer and vocalist, has almost 20 years teaching experience and has taught hundreds of kids and adults in the North Jersey/New York City area. Classically trained in viola at Manhattan School of Music and Trinity College of Music, London, Amy began playing fiddle music in 2003. After earning her Certificate in Viola Performance and Teaching at Trinity College of Music, Amy studied linguistics and language acquisition at Montclair State University in preparation to teach English as a Second Language but discovered it gave her the perfect foundation to understand music acquisition and traditional music. Amy holds certifications and has done teacher training in the O’Connor Method, the Suzuki Method, Music Together, the Paul Rolland method and Dalcroze Eurythmics, focusing on the principles of music acquisition. She is also very focused on musicians health, emotional issues, stage fright, and the physicality of playing, with certifications in Dr. Louise Montello’s method of Performance Wellness, and is a 200 hour registered vinyasa and yin yoga teacher. Amy has performed around the country with the Celtic band Burning Bridget Cleary, plays in the NYC area as part of the Iona Scottish Session, and has appeared on the BBC, ESPN and NBC. Amy is an award-winning Irish Sean Nos dancer (improvisational percussive step dancing) and last summer began learning the folk music of Nepal, studying Nepali Sarangi in Kathmandu.
Suzuki strings coordinator – See bio above.
Agnes Simkens is a native of Belgium. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree with a specialization in historical performance from the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston and a master’s degree from Yale University. She has studied violin with Erik Friedman and Emanuel Borok. Dr. Simkens has performed with numerous ensembles specializing in historical performance and symphony orchestras in the United States and Europe including Opera Lafayette, Rebel, American Classical Orchestra, the Princeton Symphony and others. In addition to performing, Dr. Simkens has a true passion for teaching strongly driven to share her knowledge and experiences with her students. She teaches students of all ages and levels – beginning through adult.
J.J. Johnson is from Phoenix, Arizona where he received his Bachelor of Music Degree from Arizona State University. In 2005 he moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and worked towards his master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University. While working on his degree J.J. won positions with the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet Orchestras and Assistant Principal Viola of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra. In the winter of 2010 he began performing at Radio City Music Hall in NYC with the world-famous Radio City Rockettes and made his Broadway debut in 2013 in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. He has performed in a number of Broadway musicals, including On The Town, Cats, Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, An American in Paris, and Sunset Boulevard. He has also appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and was Principal Viola of the NBC Studio Orchestra for the NBC Live! performances of The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood and Peter Pan with Christopher Walken. He has participated in a number of recording projects including The Red Eye of Love, Tokio Confidential, Telly Leung’s solo album Songs for You, and the independent short film The Ceiling Fan. Alongside his active freelance career, Mr. Johnson also greatly enjoys teaching at the Extension Division.
Violin/Viola/Youth Orchestra Conductor
Kimberly McCrann became the music director of the Montclair State University Youth Orchestra, where she conducts the Youth Orchestra and Chamber Sinfonia, in 2006. She has taught in both the college and pre-college divisions at MSU. Kimberly also conducted the Overture Strings (Youth Orchestras of Essex County) from 2006 – 2016 and currently heads the Gill St. Bernard’s School strings program. She directed the Lower School Strings Program at the Dwight-Englewood School from 2008 – 2015. She is the Executive Director of the Gemini Youth Orchestras (NY). Kimberly received her BMus in violin performance from the Peabody Conservatory where she studied with Shirley Givens, and her Artist Diploma from Montclair State, where she was a scholarship student of Yi Wen Jiang. She studied jazz violin with John Blake and Suzuki pedagogy with Martha Thomas. Kimberly lives on Long Island, NY with her family.
Yen Yu grew up in China and began studying the violin with her father at an early age. She entered WuHan Conservatory of Music at age 14, under the tutelage of Professor Zhou Xin Min. Ms. Yu was chosen by world-renowned pedagogue Dorothy DeLay to study with her as a full scholarship student at the University of Cincinnati, and continue at the Juilliard School of Music. Her teachers were Kurt Sassmannshous, Masao Kawasaki and Robert Murray. She also spent many summers at the Aspen Music Festival, Grand Teton Music Festival and Tanglewood Music Festival. Ms. Yu is an active chamber musician and recitalist, and has been praised by critics for her “mellow tone and rich timber.” Her performance was named “best chamber concert of the year” by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. For over ten years Ms. Yu was a member of the Richmond Symphony and served on the music faculty at the University of Richmond and the Virginia Commonwealth University. Currently, she lives in Montclair, New Jersey with her husband Honggang Li of the Shanghai Quartet and their two children.
Lanny Paykin was born in New York where he attended the High School of Music and Art. He received his BA from Wesleyan University and the MM in Cello from the Juilliard School. Mr. Paykin maintains a diverse career in the New York area, appearing regularly with the NY City Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera, in recording studios, and in solo and chamber music concerts. He is a member of Westchester Philharmonic, American Composers’ Orchestra and Brooklyn Philharmonic, often performing as principal for these orchestras, as well as for NY City Opera, NY City Ballet, Long Island Philharmonic and American Symphony Orchestra. He has toured Asia with New York Philharmonic and performed with them at Avery Fisher Hall. His honors have included the Juilliard Alumni Award and the Paderewski Foundation Award.
Loretta O’Driscoll began studying music at the age of six, learning first piano and then flute. At the age of 12, she began studying harp and soon thereafter made it her primary instrument. At age 16, Loretta became the principal harpist for the New Jersey Youth Symphony. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Northwestern University and graduated from the Eastman School of Music with a Master of Music in Harp Performance and Literature. Loretta went on to perform frequently with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Saint Louis Children’s Choir and the Saint Louis Women’s Chorale. She maintains a private studio and has also taught at the Thurnauer School of Music at the Kaplen JCC in the Palisades.
Sophia Anastasia is a premier concert flutist in the New York area. She is a founding member of the Electrum Flute and Percussion Duo, who were recently hailed by the New York Times as a duo whose “playing had an air of conversational spontaneity,” and how “Ms. Anastasia played with brightness and vigor…” In addition, she has also performed with the Shanghai String Quartet, flutists Carol Wincenc, Gary Schocker and Linda Chesis. She has performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Avery Fisher Hall, Town Hall, The Kennedy Center, Alice Tully and Merkin Concert Halls. She received her bachelor’s degree in music education from Montclair State, a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music and a doctoral degree from SUNY Stony Brook. She maintains a private teaching studio in New Jersey and is on the faculty at Montclair State University’s Preparatory Center for the Arts.
Flutist Natasha Loomis is a versatile and engaging performer of music from Baroque to contemporary. She is an avid chamber musician and passionate proponent of new music. As flutist and Artistic Director of the Meraki Chamber Players, an ensemble dedicated to commissioning and performing contemporary works in unconventional venues, Natasha seeks to reach new audiences and change the way audiences perceive of “classical” music, and to date has commissioned and premiered 11 new works with the ensemble. Natasha has performed throughout the United States, as well as in France, Austria and Peru, and at a diverse range of New York City venues, including Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Alice Tully Hall, DiMenna Center, Shapeshifter Lab, the Firehouse Space and Silvana Harlem. Recent engagements include the XXXII Festival Internacional de Flautistas in Peru, where she was a guest artist and clinician, and Lake Tahoe Music Festival Orchestra in California, where she premiered a flute concerto by D. Wendell Nelson. She has also played regularly with the Adelphi Orchestra and Asian Cultural Symphony, among others. A dedicated teacher, Natasha is currently flute instructor and Associate Director at NJ Woodwind Studio, flute faculty at Rutgers and Montclair State University’s Extension Divisions, chamber coach at the NJ Youth Symphony program, and maintains an active private teaching studio.
Megan Alston is a New Jersey based music educator, clarinetist and woodwind doubler. She has earned both her Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees from Montclair State University. While studying at Montclair, her primary clarinet professors were KeriAnn Dibari-Oberle and David Singer. Megan has participated in several summer music festivals including Madeline Island Chamber Music Festival, Windhaven and the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival. She has performed in various venues throughout the New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia areas, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Kimmel Center. Additionally, she has performed abroad in Argentina with the New York Youth Symphony. Currently, Megan is a music educator in New Jersey who loves introducing and cultivating a passion for the arts with her students. She teaches middle school band, music theory and general music while also instructing marching band and maintaining an active private woodwind studio.
Timpanist/Percussionist Adrienne Ostrander graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University School of Music. She has studied with George Gaber, Roland Kohloff and Buster Bailey. Adrienne is the timpanist/percussionist with SOLID BRASS and has traveled the United States, Canada and Mexico performing with this group and has made numerous recordings with them. Her local credits include the Broadway shows Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park With George and she has performed several productions at the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ. Adrienne performs with the Princeton Symphony, Princeton Pro Musica, Westminster Choir College, Plainfield Symphony and the Garden State Philharmonic. Adrienne has performed in festivals in Greece, Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia, France and Cuba. Adrienne coaches the New Jersey Youth Symphony and performs over 100 educational concerts yearly in New Jersey schools with Young Audiences of New Jersey, Solid Brass, The New Philharmonic of New Jersey, Arts Horizons, Arts Alive and BRAVO!
From symphonic orchestras, off-Broadway productions and Mexican traditional music for marimba, to chamber and pop music, Mariana Ramirez has performed in Europe, Asia Mexico, and the United States. A native of Mexico City, Mariana is a NYC-based freelance percussionist who began her music studies at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance from the Mason Gross School of Arts at Rutgers University. She has performed extensively with symphonic and chamber orchestras in Mexico and the United States. Currently, she is the percussionist of the off-Broadway American Dance Machine show directed by Wayne Cilento, (Wicked, Tommy), that has been touted by the New York Times as “the best such anthology seen since Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.” Mariana is the founder of the all-female Sabian Cymbals endorsed percussion quartet Excelsis, which has performed on NPR Radio’s From the Top show, at the Percussive Arts Society’s New York Weekend Of Percussion, Brooklyn Bound with So Percussion, Zeltsman’s Marimba Festival and Tippet Rise Music Festival in Montana.
Main Office: 973-655-7212
William Amory is known for his range of repertoire, from Lied and Mélodie to operatic roles, comic and dramatic: His roles include Renato, Germont, Frank, Enrico, Don Alfonso, and he was heard as King in American Symphony Orchestra’s production of Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae under Leon Botstein. He made his European opera debut as Ford in the Britten-Verdi Aldeburgh Festival’s Falstaff under Steuart Bedford, and was then invited back by the Maestro to sing the role of Leporello. Mr. Amory performed as Eurymaque in Fauré’s Pénélope in Sydney and has toured Austria in recital. In San Francisco, he appeared in a workshop production of Billy Budd as First Lieutenant under maestro Kent Nagano and sang in the baritone section of the San Francisco Opera Chorus for six years under Maestro Ian Robertson. He has appeared as bass soloist in Messiah, The Creation, Brahms’ Requiem, and Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and in recital, having had the honor of working closely with composers Martin Halpern, Ernst Bacon and Matthew Owens in preparing and performing their works. Mr. Amory received his master’s degree in vocal performance at Montclair State University, studying voice with Professors Jeffrey Gall and Stephen Oosting.
George Spitzer is a versatile singer in the fields of opera, musical theatre, oratorio and art song literature. He has performed throughout the United States and Europe. Spitzer’s students have performed on Broadway (The Lion King) and off-Broadway, with national Broadway tours (A Chorus Line, Henry and Mudge), at theme parks (Busch Gardens) and with numerous regional opera and musical theater companies. His students have won first prize in the New Jersey and New York City National Association of Teachers of Singing Auditions in both Classical and Musical Theater (middle school, high school and college divisions). Spitzer holds a BMus from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, an MM from Eastman School of Music, and Post Graduate studies through Oberlin College and Centro Studi Italiani. Spitzer is a member of the New York Singing Teachers Association (NYSTA) and is on the board of directors of the New York City National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS – NYC).
Director, Violin, String Ensembles
Tyler J. Rubin is an NYC/NJ-based composer, copyist and woodwind doubler. He obtained his MFA in musical theatre writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he premiered several pieces including his musical, How To Create A Young Girl (book and lyrics by Laura Barati), through NYU’s Tisch New Musical Theatre Workshop/New Studio on Broadway collaboration, and a short opera, I Celebrate (libretto by Marella Martin Koch), in conjunction with American Opera Projects. TJ obtained his BMus in music theory/composition from Montclair State University with a concentration in clarinet where he studied under Scott Davenport Richards, Marla Meissner, Robert Livingston Aldridge (composition), David Singerand Romie de-Guise Langlois (clarinet). As a performer and composer, he is well-versed in the traditions of classical, jazz, pop and theatre. Additionally, he has worked as a music copyist for composers such as David Shire, Anthony Davis and Adam Gwon. His copy work and orchestrations have premiered at The Town Hall in NYC and The Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, CA.
Mr. Yassky has a BS & MS in Music Ed from the University of Illinois and an MS in School Administration from Iona College. He has taught at the University of Illinois, Baruch College, Bergen Community College, Northern Valley Regional HS in Old Tappan, NJ and is on the music staff at South Orangetown Central School District in Rockland County, NY. He is the Music Director of the Ramsey Wind Symphony and the Orangetown Concert Band and has been featured as a conductor and performer in the United States, Canada, Europe and Israel. His publications include a transcription for wind orchestra of “Ouverture en Hommage á Mozart” by the Swiss composer Frank Martin (Universal Editions, Vienna) and the “Introduction to Act III” for Solo Clarinet and Wind Orchestra from Verdi’s opera La Forza del Destino (Baton Music, Netherlands). His transcription of the overture to Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute was performed in July at the 2010 Salzburg Music Festival in Austria and in China as part of the Ridgewood Concert Band’s recent concert tours. In addition, his TV theme for “ESPN College Football” was broadcast for the 18th season this year, and is one of the longest-running sports themes currently on the air. Mr. Yassky has led recording sessions in studios throughout the world and has collaborated with many of today’s outstanding musical artists. He has produced and appeared on numerous albums for Angel-EMI, New World, Arabesque and Helicon Records and his performances from these albums are heard frequently on NPR stations throughout the country.
Kimberly Syvertsen McCrann, Conductor
See bio under Strings
Since debuting on his own Purple Cow Records label in 1998, composer Chris Opperman has been carving his own niche in today’s pop-saturated music world, having released five full studio albums including 2010’s The Lionheart, an EP, and a digital single called Aphrodite Nights (2011), which was composed on the gourd tree, a unique instrument invented by Harry Partch. Opperman has also performed with and/or orchestrated music with many industry luminaries, such as Grammy-award winning guitarist Steve Vai. His association with Steve Vai resulted in two Grammy-nominated recordings: 2006’s Lotus Feet and 2008’s The Attitude Song with Holland’s Metropole Orkest. As a professor at MSU, Opperman has taught courses on music technology, music theory/composition, aural skills, rock/classical music history and music business.
Conductor/Coach, Chamber Winds, Theory/Composition
See bio under Chamber Winds