Kush Abadey (drums)
Kush has performed and recorded with many notables including Ravi Coltrane, Chris Potter, Nicholas Payton, JD Allen, David Weiss, Andrew White, Gilad Hekselman, Azar Lawrence, Terrance Blanchard, Frank Lacy, Jeremy Pelt, Tomasz Stanko, Barry Harris, Gary Thomas, Jared Gold, George Colligan, Dave Stryker, Josh Evans and David Gibson among others. At the early age of 16, he joined the ranks as the newest member of the Wallace Roney Quintet, and has traveled, performed and recorded with the band at various concerts, jazz festivals and club dates in many parts of the world. Kush featured on Roney’s latest CD’s, “Understanding” (2013), “Home” (2012) and on his first live CD with the quintet entitled “If Only for One Night.” Kush has performed primarily as a soloist for various community service projects taking the music to those who don’t necessarily have the opportunity to go to live concerts; as well as to audiences at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Kush was the youngest artist to date selected for the Strathmore Artist-in-Residence program for performance and composition. In 2008, he was invited to perform for “Jazz at the White House” hosted by Michelle Obama, and performed in an ensemble led by Paquito D’Rivera featuring Wynton Marsalis. He was invited back to the White House in 2010 to be featured in a Harpers Bazaar photo shoot with the First Lady Michelle Obama. In 2009, Kush was awarded a Presidential Scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston Massachusetts, where he attended for two years. While at Berklee, he collaborated and studied with Terri Lyne Carrington, Ralph Peterson, and Darren Barrett. In 2012, Kush moved to NYC to pursue the jazz scene, and now performs, records, and tours internationally.
Dan Aid (guitar, voice)
Dan is an internationally acclaimed musician and actor currently based out of Denver, CO. Outside of his work with his band, Authority Zero, he is a singer/songwriter, producer, writer, and activist. When not on tour he volunteers and works with a variety of organizations including: Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Vocal Coalition, No Enemies, A+ Angeles, Love Hope Strength, Music For Cancer, Youth On Record, and Musical Mentors.
Dan grew up doing theatre in Colorado, then moved to New York City in 2007 after being accepted to NYU, Tisch School of The Arts, where he studied acting at the Stella Adler Conservatory. He currently plays “Troy” on the NBC series Good Girls, and travels regularly between Denver and Los Angeles where he is represented by Gartner Group Entertainment.
As well as playing in bands in Denver for the past 16 years, Dan has also worked as an assistant engineer at Colorado Sound Studios, and received his Bachelors of Music Industry Studies from CU Denver in 2012. He previously worked as a Program Manager for The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), where he helped create and manage the IMTour grant, helped create and present The Denver Music Summit in 2013 and 2015, and represented WESTAF at The Future of Music Policy Summit in Washington D.C. in 2013 and 2014.
Dan released his first full-length solo album, Phantom Pains, last year, and is currently working on writing for his new band, Big Hearts Club.
Mikaela Bennett (voice, theatre)
Mikaela is a graduate of The Juilliard School and is celebrated as a singer and actress for her work on stage and in the concert hall. She most recently appeared as a featured soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel performing ‘Aurora’ written by Wayne Shorter. In 2019 Mikaela was honored by Lincoln Center with a ‘Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists’. In May 2019 Mikaela made her critically acclaimed debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago playing ‘Maria’ in Lyric’s production of West Side Story. In July 2019 Mikaela starred in the title role in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” at the MUNY and in August 2019 Mikaela returned to the BBC Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra performing music from the Warner Bros film studio which was broadcast live on British television. In November 2019 she sang the role of Mary Wintergreen in MasterVoices’ concert production of Gershwin’s Let ‘Em Eat Cake at Carnegie Hall.
On stage, Mikaela made her professional debut starring as Penelope in The Golden Apple at City Center Encores! Mikaela originated the role of Norma in Dick Scanlan and Carmel Dean’s new musical Renascence in New York City and at the 2018 Prototype Festival she originated the title role of Acquanetta in a new opera composed by Michael Gordon and directed by Daniel Fish.
In the concert hall Mikaela has made her debuts with some of the world’s leading orchestras and foremost conductors in America and the United Kingdom. In August 2018 Mikaela made her BBC Proms debut at London’s Royal Albert Hall starring as Maria in the John Wilson Orchestra’s concert production of West Side Story to-critical and public acclaim. She has made her debuts with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Slatkin and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Mikaela performed as a featured soloist in Bernstein on Broadway as part of the Leonard Bernstein 2018 centennial celebrations at the Kennedy Center directed by Kathleen Marshall and conducted by Rob Fisher. Mikaela has collaborated multiple times with conductor Ted Sperling, most recently at Carnegie Hall performing Gershwin, and also as the soprano soloist in Händel’s Israel in Egypt with MasterVoices and Orchestra of St Luke’s. She has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New World Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, for the world premiere of his work, Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. Mikaela has performed in New York City’s prestigious cabaret venues including Joe’s Pub at the Public and solo concerts at Feinstein’s 54 below. Mikaela is a native of Ottawa, Canada.
César Cañón (piano, voice, conducting)
Equally devoted to instrumental chamber music as he is to art song and operatic repertoire, César alternates his activity as a concert pianist with vocal coaching, teaching and conducting. He has performed in his native Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Mexico, and across the United States. His concert appearances include the Kennedy Center, Detroit Symphony, and San Francisco Opera’s Taube Atrium Theatre at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera. He has been a guest performer and lecturer at Michigan State University, Emory University, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Universidad Central de Colombia, Universidad Sergio Arboleda, and Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
Cañón’s collaborations encompass formats that span from piano-voice duo to full symphony orchestra. During the 2015- 2016 season he was Associate Conductor of the Ann Arbor Camerata, and a regular chamber music performer at the Kerrytown Concert House. He created and curated University of Michigan’s En Español: Sounds of the Hispanosphere, a weeklong festival dedicated to music of the Spanish speaking nations of the world, with guest artists from Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, Spain, Canada, Brazil and the US. He has been a fellow Opera Coach with the Aspen Opera Theatre Center, as well as a vocal coach and repetiteur for the Ad Astra Music Festival. In 2017 he attended the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco. That same year, he was assistant conductor and pianist for Opera de Colombia’s production of Verdi’s Falstaff and Teatro Colón de Bogotá’s production of the Cuban zarzuela Cecilia Valdés by Gonzalo Roig.
Cañón was an Adler Fellow with the San Francisco Opera in 2o18 and 2019. As a fellow, he was featured in the Schwabacher recital series, in which he performed Johannes Brahms’ Die Schöne Magelone alongside baritone Christian Pursell and soprano Felicia Moore. On the mainstage, he has been part of the music staff for Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, Puccini’s Tosca, Händel’s Orlando, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. He debuted as music director for Pocket Opera’s 2019 production of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, and was assistant conductor for Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera with Accademia Europea dell’Opera 2019 in Lucca, Italy. Cañón holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and a Master of Music and Doctorate in Collaborative Piano from the University of Michigan. In 2020, he was music director for Pocket Opera’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and joined the music staff for San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s departments of
Cat Cantrell (oboe, woodwinds)
Oboist/English hornist Cat Cantrell is a nomadic musician based in Los Angeles. Prior to joining the Redlands Symphony and working in LA, she freelanced in New York City and was a member of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra for six seasons.
As a teaching artist, Cat has worked with students of all ages through programs with the Tucson Symphony, the Huntsville Symphony, and as part of the Terry Barber Trio. She has taught privately and coached youth orchestras in California, Arizona and New York. In 2018 she was the Double Reed teacher at Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts in Long Island.
Enamored with the power of orchestral music, Cat performs with symphonies in all corners of the US – including recent engagements with both the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Sarasota Orchestra, Boise Philharmonic, and more. She has played with diverse ensembles including the American Ballet Theatre, Bare Opera, and her own Central Avenue Trio. She tours and records on all woodwinds with Terry Barber, internationally performing countertenor. Not confined to the concert hall, Cat has appeared on “America’s Got Talent”, in musical theater pits, and on movie and television soundtracks.
Patrick Cornelius (saxophone)
After 18 years in New York City, alto saxophonist and composer Patrick Cornelius has cultivated a substantial body of work as a composer and bandleader, and performed his original music in some of the world’s top jazz venues. Hailed as “self-assured” and “resourceful” by The New York Times, “Elegant” and “Extraordinary” by DownBeat Magazine (in whose annual Critics Poll he has been listed among the “Rising Stars” multiple times), and “Bold and Gifted,” by All About Jazz, Cornelius’ discography of six albums as a leader (and two as co-leader) features established masters (like Jeff Ballard and Frank Kimbrough) as well as rising stars (including Gerald Clayton, Kendrick Scott, and Miles Okazaki).
As a composer, Cornelius has earned an array of awards and commissions, including four consecutive ASCAP “Young Composer Awards,” (now Herb Alpert Award) and Chamber Music America’s “New Jazz Works” in 2012, and has been commissioned to compose and arrange original music for ensembles across the globe. Cornelius’ latest album, This Should Be Fun (Posi-Tone 2019) sees him coming to terms with who he is as a musician, and embracing his own aesthetic after a career of being many things at once. He is joined on the album by veteran musicians Ben Allison, John Escreet, Nick Vayenas, and Mark Ferber.
An active music pedagogue, Patrick (who received a Bachelor’s Degree from Berklee College of Music, a Masters Degree from The Manhattan School of Music, and an Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School), has appeared as visiting artist or guest lecturer at many international institutions, including The Royal Academy, the Birmingham Conservatoire, Guildhall, Hull University, Trinity College, and Edinburgh University in the United Kingdom, St. Mary’s University and UTSA in Texas, The Centro Culturale and San Jose University in Costa Rica, The University of North Carolina, The Juilliard School, and Snow College in Utah. He is currently an adjunct professor of saxophone at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, and a music faculty member at The United Nations International School in New York City. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, two children, and seven neon tetras.
Kate Derringer (bass, computer music/Abelton, music production)
Kate is a bassist and audio engineer based in metro Detroit. Kate has been heavily involved in Detroit’s rock scene for several years, currently a member of Shadow Show, and previously in Deadly Vipers. In addition to playing bass and singing in Shadow Show, she engineers and mixes all of their music. Kate has digital and analog recording experience from several notable studios, including Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La Studio in Malibu, High Bias Recordings in Detroit, University of Michigan’s recording studios, and Solid Sound Studios in Ann Arbor. Kate holds a BFA in media arts from the University of Michigan.
Alex Goodman (guitar, jazz composition)
Winner of first prize and the Public’s Choice Award at the 2014 Montreux Jazz Festival International Guitar Competition, Alex Goodman has been hailed as “a definite musical voice” (Guitar International), and as a player of “fluid lyricism” (Downbeat), “dazzling improvisational dexterity and engagingly smart composition (New York City Jazz Record). His quintet LP Bridges, released in 2011, was nominated for a Juno Award, Canada’s top recording honor, as the year’s best contemporary jazz album.
In his time on the New York scene, he has played at all the city’s top jazz clubs, including the Jazz Standard, Blue Note, Smalls and Jazz Gallery, as well as at such venues as Lincoln Center and National Sawdust. The guitarist has also performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and Massey Hall in Toronto as well as at such festivals as Winter Jazz Fest in New York, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival and further afield in China, Ukraine and Bulgaria.
In addition to his seven albums as leader or co-leader, Goodman is featured on recordings with such artists as John Patitucci, Dick Oatts, Joel Frahm, and Rich Perry. In addition to having performed with musicians like Charles Lloyd, Eric Harland and Ari Hoenig, the guitarist plays regularly in ensembles led by Manuel Valera, Lucas Pino, Mareike Wiening, Martina DaSilva, Roxy Coss and Remy Le Boeuf, among many others. Goodman has won an ASCAP Herb Albert Jazz Composer Award, and he has composed and recorded a book of solo guitar etudes, along with writing scores for jazz and chamber groups, orchestra, big band and string quintet. He is a graduate of the Master’s program in Jazz Performance at the Manhattan School of Music.
Gergana Haralampieva (violin)
Gergana is a Bulgarian-American violinist who is a passionate chamber musician and educator. Born into a family of music teachers, Gergana began singing in her father’s children’s choir at the age of three and playing the violin at the age of six. Although she was born in Bulgaria, she spent her whole childhood living in the Czech Republic where her parents worked and in 2005 moved to Massachusetts after her dad won the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery. After moving to Massachusetts, Gergana continued her violin studies at the New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School and later attended the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Upon her graduation from the Walnut Hill School, she moved to Philadelphia to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree at the Curtis Institute of Music where she studied with Ida Kavafian and Pamela Frank. In 2016, she moved back to the Boston area to complete a Masters Degree from the New England Conservatory under the tutelage of Paul Biss and Miriam Fried.
Gergana is currently a member of Ensemble Connect at Carnegie Hall which is a two year fellowship for young professionals who want to expand their experience in teaching, community engagement, advocacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership. She is also the co-founder and co-director of Long Island Chamber Music (LICM). LICM presents engaging chamber music performances and community engagement events of the highest caliber that are specifically tailored to celebrating the history and culture of Long Island.
Eric Huckins (horn, all brass)
Hailed for his “sparkling, crystal clear sound” (Brass Legacy) New York based french horn player Eric Huckins is dedicated to creatively sharing music through diverse musical styles. A winner of Astral Artist’s 2018 National Auditions, Eric is the first horn player to be a part of their roster.
As a chamber musician, Eric has been a founding member of multiple groups including The Brass Project and Tangent Winds and a prize winner at The Fischoff Competition. He has toured the United States extensively with Frisson Ensemble and The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass. Eric has been a featured artist at various chamber music festivals including Music from Angel Fire, Ostrava Days, and Cape Cod Music Festival.
Passionate about expanding repertoire for the horn, Eric regularly commissions and premiers new works for horn as a solo instrument and in chamber settings. Alongside composer Nick DiBerardino and The Brass Project, Eric curated an initiative, called “Cityscaping,” generating thirty-five new pieces of engaging civic music for outdoor performance, including works by Pulitzer Prize winner Aaron Jay Kernis, Rome Prize winner Sean Friar, and Princeton Professor Emeritus Paul Lansky. Praised as “great fun” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the project culminated in new music concerts in dozens of schools, public spaces, and non-traditional concert venues. Eric’s anticipated debut album ‘Drifter’ (release date TBA) is a collection of new works for horn by Eric and 9 other young composers.
In orchestral settings, Eric is currently Principal Horn of Symphony in C and has appeared with orchestras throughout the United States and internationally such as American Ballet Theater, The Netanya Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. On natural horn participating in historically informed ensembles, Eric has performed with Clarion Music Society and Teatro Nuovo Opera Orchestra.
A committed teacher, Eric is horn faculty at the Mahanaim School on Long Island and is a regular brass clinician at Fordham’s Lincoln Center Campus and works regularly around the country as a clinician including a masterclass on brass and electronic music at The Juilliard school in October, 2018. Eric has been in residence at Navajo Technical University with The Heartbeat Project, working with students from Kindergarten through 12th grade on composition and improvisation.
A community builder, Eric is a Co-Founder and the Artistic Coordinator of The Arts at Blessed Sacrament, an arts series based in New York City which featured the work of young artists through chamber music, orchestral concerts, dance, and art installations at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament. In 2015, Eric revived the band program at South Philadelphia High School through his Community Artist Project at the Curtis Institute of Music which is now continued through Curtis’ Community Artist Fellow program. Eric is looking forward to an upcoming project with the Aquinas Center in Philadelphia building “Stories of Home” through musical mediums.
Eric received his Bachelor’s Degree from Curtis Institute of Music and his Master’s degree from The Juilliard School. Outside of his musical life, Eric enjoys spending time with his Fiancé and violinist, Gergana and is an avid guacamole enthusiast.
Laura Jean Spineti (voice, piano, theatre)
Laura Jean Spineti is a musician, actor, dancer, and singer based in NYC. She is a recent graduate of New York University, where she honed her skills as a multi-instrumentalist, entertainer, music director, piano accompanist and music teacher. She’s been involved in the Manhattan Transfer, Vocalmania. the Braiden Sunshine, “NBC’s The Voice,” Samira & The Wind, Xan of Mars, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Zebvlon. She’s taught for the Shujitsu International Music Festival Bialik Rogozin International School, Little Red Elementary, and LaGuardia High School.
Jack Kay (voice, musical theatre, pop)
A recent graduate of the Juilliard School, Jack Kay is a singer and actor based in NYC. Most recently, Jack was seen as Sky in Mamma Mia! at the Ivoryton Playhouse. Other role highlights include Fabrizio in The Light in the Piazza, Anthony in Sweeney Todd, and John Styx in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. He’s also participated in the New York Festival of Song, The Little Orchestra Society, Seagle Music Colony Emerging Artists, and the Growing Studio LINK Program. Jack is also a pop vocalist and songwriter. You can find his work on IGTV: @jackkaynyc.
Chelsea Knox (flute)
Chelsea Knox is the principal flutist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. A sought-after performer, Ms. Knox has held positions as assistant principal flute of the Baltimore Symphony and principal Flute of the New Haven and Princeton Symphonies. She has been hailed by the New York Times for her warmth, precision, and clarity, as well as by the New York Classical Review for her “expressive life and full tone.”
An active orchestral and chamber musician, Ms. Knox has appeared with numerous orchestras including the Seattle Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and IRIS Orchestra. As a soloist, Ms. Knox has performed concertos with the Baltimore Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Princeton Symphony, and Manchester Symphony. She has won competitions including the New York Flute Club Young Artists Competition and the Hartford Symphony Young Artists Competition.
Ms. Knox earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School in New York City as a student of Jeffrey Khaner. A native of Litchfield, CT, she received her early training at the Hartt School of Music, where she studied with Greig Shearer. In her spare time she is an active visual artist and her work has been displayed in galleries in New York and Connecticut.
Elise Lawrence (piano, introductory music)
Pianist Elise Lawrence maintains an active performing schedule in the United States and abroad, performing in recital in Spain, Portugal, Austria and England. A native of Missoula, Montana, she was a guest artist for the annual Pianissimo series hosted by the University of Montana. In Missoula she studied with pianists Jean Alexander and Dr. Christopher Hahn. Ms. Lawrence is an alumna of the University of Michigan, where she obtained a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance under Christopher Harding. While at Michigan she cultivated her passion for chamber music and song interpretation, taking part in a variety of projects spanning from duo recitals to symphony band concert performances in venues such as Kerrytown Concert House and Hill Auditorium. She received chamber music training with pianist Katherine Collier and performed in several master classes taught by acclaimed collaborators Amy Cheng and Martin Katz. In the past year, Ms. Lawrence has also had the pleasure of being a teaching artist at the Neighborhood Music School in East LA. Most recently, Ms. Lawrence finished her masters degree in keyboard collaborative arts at the University of Southern California, where she studied with renowned pianist and composer Dr. Alan Smith.
Zhailon Levingston (theatre making)
Zhailon Levingston is a performing artist, writer and producer living in New York City. He received his BFA in Musical Theatre from AMDA college in Los Angeles where he co- wrote and produced the musical “16 Bars”. Zhailon made his professional stage debut in the Los Angeles premier of The Christians (pastor Joshua u/s) at the Mark Taper Forum. He made his NY stage debut in the 2016 New York Musical Theatre Festival performance of Illa: a Hip Hop Musical. After the death of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, Zhailon started an arts and activism campaign called “Words on White”. It’s journey can be followed on his website, Youngamazingsouls.com, an online space for millennials. Zhailon can be seen in the Warby Parker ad campaign “A Thousand Pieces of Candy” and the independent film, The Stand.
He co-founded #WORDSONWHITE, an arts and activism campaign and is an artist in resident for Columbia Law School. He recently directed The Exonerated at Columbia Law School and associate directed Primer for a Failed Super Power with Tony nominee Rachel Chavkin. Plays written include: 16 Bars The Musical (National Black Theatre Reading, AMDA College) The Hole (JAG Fest in Vermont, The American AF Festival). This year he will be directing the one man show Neptune, by Timothy Duwhite at Dixon Place.
Kuan Cheng Lu (violin)
Violinist Kuan Cheng Lu joined the New York Philharmonic at the start of the 2004–05 season — the first Taiwanese classical musician to earn a seat in the Philharmonic in its 170-year history. Mr. Lu has received numerous awards and scholarships that include the top prize in the Taiwan National Violin Competition, first prize in the ASTA string competition, the Raphael Bronstein Award, and the Taiwan Chi-Mei Corporation’s Outstanding Young Artist award. He received his bachelor’s in music degree from Oberlin College, his master’s in music from the Manhattan School of Music, and his doctor of musical arts from the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). He is an alumnus of the Music Academy of the West, now a partner in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, and has studied with former New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, Lisa Kim, Associate Principal, Second Violin Group, and Yoko Takebe. Other teachers have included Roland and Almita Vamos, Daniel Phillips, Julia Bushkova, as well as his father, Chung Chih Lu. Mr. Lu has served as concertmaster of the Verbier Orchestra, Pacific Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, Oberlin Orchestra, Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, Manhattan Chamber Sinfonia, Manhattan Symphony, and Manhattan Philharmonia. As a member of the New York Philharmonic Ensembles, he makes regular appearances at Merkin Hall. Mr. Lu teaches at the Manhattan School of Music in the graduate program for orchestra performance.
Jessica Niles (voice, introductory music)
Jessica Niles recently appeared at the festival Dans les Jardins de William Christie in their 40th season performing Monteverdi chamber music and Aminta in Handel’s pastoral cantata Aminta e Fillide alongside the renowned early music ensemble Les Arts Florissants. This April, Niles will be returning for a residency with Les Arts Florissants performing Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Vivaldi’s virtuosic motet In furore iustissimae irae.
Based in New York City, Niles is pursuing her Master of Music at The Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at The Juilliard School, where she is a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship. In 2019, she was awarded the Peter Mennin Prize for outstanding achievement and leadership during her undergraduate studies at Juilliard. An active collaborator in her community, her Juilliard graduation recital featured new works by composers Jack Frerer and Manuel Sosa, and chamber music by Handel, Fauré, and Strauss with musicians from the Juilliard School. During her time at Juilliard, Niles appeared in Juilliard’s Liederabend recital series twice, singing Rachmaninov’s Op.38 coached by Metropolitan Opera coach Natalia Katyukova and Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson coached by conductor Pierre Vallet. She made her Alice Tully Hall debut performing the music of Robert and Clara Schumann in Brian Zeger’s curated recital Juilliard Songfest. This March, Niles was selected to perform in the 2019-2020 Vocal Arts Honors Recital with her collaborator pianist Gracie Francis. In 2017, Niles was a part of the inaugural performance of the Opera-Composer Collaborative Project, a student run collective to combine singers, composers, and playwrights in a collaborative process of creating new opera. Niles is currently workshopping new opera scenes with Juilliard composers and librettists under the guidance of dramaturg Cori Ellison, with performances forthcoming this spring. With American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) Niles will be participating in a workshop this spring on a new work composed of Bach and Matt Aucoin.
Her 2018/2019 operatic roles include Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro at Aspen Music Festival, Zerlina in Juilliard’s mainstage production of Don Giovanni, covering Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro and Julia Bullock as Destiny/Loneliness/Greta in the world premiere of Fire Shut Up In My Bones by Terence Blanchard at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Eurydice in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld at Juilliard, Adina in L’elisir d’amore with Chautauqua Institution and with City Lyric Opera, Une Matelote in Juilliard’s mainstage Hippolyte et Aricie, and Anne Page in Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor at Juilliard. In spring of 2020, Niles will perform Armida in Handel’s Rinaldo with Juilliard415 and Nicholas McGegan at Juilliard, and tour the Göttingen International Handel Festival in Germany and SPOT Groningen in the Netherlands.
In concert, Niles performed the New York City premiere of Gavrillin’s Russian cantata “Chimes” with Cantori New York at National Sawdust conducted by Mark Shapiro, Handel’s Israel in Egypt with MasterVoices at Carnegie Hall, and the Echo Soprano in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Cecilia Chorus at Carnegie Hall. At The Morgan Library & Museum, Niles performed Aminta in Handel’s Aminta e Fillide with Juilliard’s baroque ensemble Juilliard415 and conductor William Christie. Aforementioned, the piece was revived at the festival Dans les Jardins de William Christie. Niles has been a featured recitalist in WQXR’s live performance series Midday Masterpieces, in Music for Montauk’s Summer Series, and at Chautauqua Institution.
An avid lover of chamber music, Niles has performed Schoenberg’s String Quartet no.2 at Juilliard ChamberFest 2018 and at Aspen Music Festival, Liza Lehmann’s In a Persian Garden coached by the Metropolitan opera coach Craig Rutenberg, and her own commission The Opposite of Loneliness: A Chamber Piece with text excerpted from Marina Keegan’s poem Bygones set by composer Benjamin Wenzelberg. A project close to her heart, the work was debuted in March of 2018 in dedication to Ms. Keegan and her legacy (see PROJECTS). In collaboration with the baroque ensemble ACRONYM, Niles performed the premiere of Doug Balliett’s original chamber opera Gawain and the Green Night this past December.
Niles diversifies her work as an actor, composer, and music director with Columbia University School of the Arts, and as an assistant director with City Lyric Opera in their 2019 production of The Medium. Her collaborations have led her to perform new works with the dance company Alessandra Corona Performing works (ACPW) and at the 9th Annual Collaborations in Dance Festival.
Edward Perez (bass, composition)
Edward Perez resides in the cultural crossroads of Queens, New York, where he leads parallel careers as a composer, arranger, and bassist. His works have been performed by the likes of The Silkroad Ensemble, Yo-Yo Ma, Alan Gilbert, Galician gaita powerhouse Cristina Pato, Latin-jazz legend Ignacio Berroa, Latin-grammy nominated Peruvian singer Jorge Pardo, and oud phenom Kenan Adnawi. His music has been played in venues ranging from the smallest nightclubs in New York to the Kennedy Center, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Massey Hall, Chicago Symphony Center, El Gran Teatro Nacional de Lima, Damascus Opera House, and Boston Symphony Hall.
Perez began his career as a jazz bassist, but quickly branched out to Latin-Jazz and traditional styles from Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and other parts of South America. He spent his collegiate years at Harvard University, earning a math degree while cutting his teeth in the local jazz clubs in Boston. Afterwards, Perez enjoyed a two year stint in Lima, Peru where he performed with the foremost Afro-Pervuian musicians including Grammy winners Eva Ayllón and Juan Medrano Cotito as well as venerated greats of the older generation such as Oscar Avilés and Julio “Chocolate” Algendones.
Perez later returned to the US in order to establish a home base in New York and pursue his interests in modern jazz. Hailed by Jazz Times for his “great dexterity,” Perez has toured through more than 20 countries sharing the stage with jazz luminaries such as Lee Konitz, Greg Osby, Seamus Blake, Lionel Loueke, Kenny Werner, Jason Palmer, and also Latin jazz powerhouses Paquito D’Rivera, Ignacio Berroa, and Arturo O’Farrill. His numerous recording credits on bass include the Grammy-nominated Latin jazz album “Second Chance” by Hector Martignon.
Also active as an educator, Perez has taught privately for The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music and has held ongoing teaching positions for the Queens College Center for Preparatory Studies in Music as well as the Symphony Space Curriculum Arts Project. In the summers he teaches at Silkroad’s Global Musician Workshop and has given masterclasses to bassists and improvisors on all instruments in a host of countries around the globe.
Currently, Perez co-leads the Terraza Big Band, an 18 piece jazz group which some of the strongest up-and-coming players on the New York scene gather together to play original works by co-leaders Edward Perez and Michael Thomas, which run the gamut from modern jazz to styles from Latin America. As a bassist, Perez still remains firmly rooted in jazz improvisation, but continues to play a myriad of musical styles with a variety of groups, always remaining open to allowing the influences from these collaborations to influence his compositional style.
Jordan Peters (guitar, music production)
Jordan is a Brooklyn based guitarist and producer whose influences range from jazz, hip-hop, blues, folk, rock, funk, soul and electronic music. Originally from Lachute Québec, he has a degree in Jazz Guitar Performance from McGill University’s Schulich School of Music. In 2011, he attend the Banff International Jazz Workshop led by trumpeter Dave Douglas. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where his time is split between recording, producing, touring and teaching. He has worked, toured, performed and recorded with numerous artists such as Lauryn Hill, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jon Batiste, The Weeknd, NAS, Billy Porter, Quiñ, The Roots, Andra Day, Antonio Sanchez, Tony Allen, Femi Kuti, Darlene Love, Bokanté, Alex Clare, Renee Neufville, Becca Stevens, AHI, Vassy, Malika Tirolien, Elise Testone, Thana Alexa, Sarah Elizabeth Charles and Linda Briceno. He has appeared on the Tonight Show, NPR Tiny Desks, Austin City Limits, The View, CBS This Morning, NBC’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, and BET Black Girls Rock.
Rick Rosato (bass)
A native of Montreal, Rick Rosato moved to New York City in 2007 to study at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. He quickly became one of the most in-demand jazz bassists and maintains an international performing, recording, and teaching schedule. In 2010, he led a three-month artist series at the Upstairs Jazz Club in Montreal, where he formed several groups featuring some of today’s most influential voices in jazz, including the co-led trio Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato. In the summer of 2014, Rosato competed for the TD Jazz Awards at the Montreal International Jazz Festival with his own trio and won the Galaxie Jazz Award for best composition. Rosato tours internationally and records with groups such as Gilad Hekselman, Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato, Ben Van Gelder, David Kikoski, and Will Vinson. He has performed alongside Billy Hart, Peter Bernstein, Mark Turner, Dayna Stephens, Chris Potter, Aaron Parks, Bill Stewart, Marcus Gilmore, Jeff Ballard, Ari Hoenig, Mike Moreno, Lage Lund, Charles Altura, and many more.
Marié Rossano (violin)
Marié Rossano joined the New York Philharmonic in May 2016. Since making her solo debut at age 11, Ms. Rossano has performed as soloist with the Seattle Symphony, Utah Symphony, Northwest Sinfonietta, and more than a dozen other orchestras in the western United States. In 2015 she performed as concertmaster of the Malaysian Philharmonic under Giancarlo Guerrero and Fabio Luisi. She has enjoyed summer engagements at the Seattle Chamber Music Society Summer Festival, Strings Music Festival, Music From Angel Fire, Deer Valley Music Festival, and Methow Valley Music Festival, and has also performed at Keshet Eilon Violin Mastercourse, Verbier Festival Academy, and Starling-DeLay Symposia.
Ms. Rossano performed on the 1715 “Baron Knoop” Stradivarius violin in the 2010 PBS documentary Violin Masters: Two Gentlemen of Cremona,courtesy of the Fulton Collection. She was named First Laureate of the 2010 Stradivarius International Violin Competition and National Winner of the Music Teachers National Association 2008 Junior Strings Competition; she was also awarded the 2005 Seattle Young Artists Festival Medal and the Music of Remembrance David Tonkonogui Memorial Award in 2008.
Marié Rossano studied with Ida Kavafian and Joseph Silverstein at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she graduated in May 2016 with a bachelor’s of music and the 2016 Edward Aldwell Award for Excellence in Musical Studies, and was recognized on the Dean’s List for excellence in academics. While at Curtis, she performed in the 2015 Dean’s Honors Recitals and the 2015 Beethoven Residency with Miriam Fried and Jonathan Biss, and toured worldwide with Curtis on Tour on multiple occasions as a soloist, chamber musician (including at the 2014 Henry Kissinger Award Ceremony in Berlin), and concertmaster of the Curtis Chamber Orchestra with Roberto Díaz and Robert Spano. Ms. Rossano also performed under the baton of conductors Rossen Milanov, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Robert Spano, and Osmo Vänska, as concertmaster of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in 2015.
Ms. Rossano was born in Japan and raised in the Seattle area. In 2009 she founded Orcastra, a small, flexible, conductor-less string ensemble that has organized community engagement and charity concerts in the Seattle and Philadelphia areas, raising tens of thousands of dollars for tsunami victims in Japan and the impoverished in Tanzania and Guatemala.
Daniel Schwalbach (trombone)
New York City-based tenor and bass trombonist Daniel Schwalbach enjoys a varied career of orchestral playing and chamber music. Mr. Schwalbach joined the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra as Co-Principal Trombone for their 2016-2017 season, and has since performed with major orchestras throughout North America including the Atlanta Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York City Ballet Orchestra, and American Ballet Theater Orchestra.
An avid chamber musician, Mr. Schwalbach is a founding member of The Brass Project, a flexible brass sextet devoted to expanding the brass chamber repertoire by commissioning, performing, and recording new works. The Brass Project’s entrepreneurial activities include the recent release of their first album, Cityscaping, a collection of commissions that features works by Pulitzer and Rome Prize-winning composers.
Mr. Schwalbach has performed in prestigious chamber music residencies and festivals including the Bravo! Vail Music Festival (2019), Rockport Music (2019), American Brass Quintet Seminar at Aspen (2018), Tanglewood Music Center (2014) Santa Fe Pro Musica (2016), and Music from Angel Fire (2016), the latter at which he collaborated with Ida Kavafian, Gregory Zuber, and Peter Lloyd for a staged performance of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat.
Daniel was born and raised in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, where he was a student of Samuel Schlosser. He continued his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music with Nitzan Haroz, Matthew Vaughn, Blair Bollinger, and Craig Knox. He resides in Manhattan with his wife, Marié, a violinist in the New York Philharmonic.
Caeli Smith (violin and viola)
Called “intense, precise, and full of personality,” after performing the Penderecki Viola Concerto with The Juilliard Orchestra, Caeli is an award-winning violinist and violist. She breaches the frontiers of classical music by incorporating a variety of styles, including jazz and tango, into the traditional repertoire.
Caeli is a fellow at Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, a two-year program for the finest young professional classical musicians in the United States. Caeli is the founder, Associate Director, and violist of Frisson, a nine-piece chamber ensemble featuring NYC’s finest young classical musicians, represented by General Arts Touring. Frisson tours nationally and internationally since its inception in 2016.
She is also a member of Noree Chamber Soloists and the New York Classical Players, and the hip-hop collective Shouthouse. She has performed internationally with ensembles such as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Sejong Soloists, and the Verbier Chamber Orchestra.
She has collaborated with a wide range of musicians in recital and chamber music settings, including Leon Fleisher, André Watts, Simone Dinnerstein, Ani Kavafian, Carmit Zori, Natasha Brofsky, Donald Weilerstein, Roger Tapping, Catherine Cho, Christopher O’Riley, Julianne Baird, and didgeridoo artist Howard E. Smith.
In addition to concertizing throughout the US, Caeli is a teaching assistant at The Juilliard School, where she works with undergraduate and graduate students. Since 2016, she has been a New York Philharmonic Teaching Artist working with children in New York City public schools. She is on the violin/viola faculty of HeifetzPEG, an innovative three-week intensive summer program for gifted young string musicians.
As a soloist and recitalist, she performs in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and BBC Proms. Caeli has written for radio, TV, and print, and her articles have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as Strings and Symphony magazines. She is also on the editorial staff of Cleaver Magazine. As a teen, Caeli was often featured on From The Top, a national radio and TV program dedicated to the discovery of young musicians. She is also known to Philadelphia audiences as the street violinist starring in Robert Downey Sr.’s documentary Rittenhouse Square.
Caeli holds two degrees from The Juilliard School: a bachelor’s degree in violin performance and a master’s degree in viola performance.
Tyler Stell (percussion/timpani)
Tyler began his journey in the realm of percussion in his high school marching band in Phoenix, Arizona. This led him to pursue his Bachelor of Music at Arizona State University, where he had a widely diverse education including performance opportunities with the university’s Brazillian percussion ensemble, contemporary percussion ensemble, percussion jazz ensemble, Pan Devils Steel Drum Band.Throughout this time, Mr. Stell was almost always teaching, primarily in the high school marching band circuit.
He moved to Los Angeles to pursue advanced degrees in percussion at the University of Southern California. Immediately upon graduation, Tyler was the inaugural percussion director of the very first U.S. branch of Mexico’s Esperanza Azteca Youth Orchestra, an organization with dozens of chapters throughout its home country.
As a performer, Mr. Stell has been principal timpanist of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra since 2015, and performs regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as an extra percussionist and timpanist, including as a soloist in Philip Glass’ “Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra” on the Philharmonic’s Symphonies for Youth series.
Eric Stephenson (cello)
Eric Stephenson is cellist and cofounder of the high energy chamber group Project Trio. The group was founded in 2005 and has since been active educating and performing for audiences around the world. Mr. Stephenson has appeared with the St. Louis Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Toronto Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, and LA Chamber orchestra, among many others, performing original compositions and arrangements. He has been key in engineering, mixing, and producing their five acclaimed albums, which have topped the classical and jazz iTunes charts. Teaching has been an important part of Project Trio’s mission and they have worked with over 500,000 students worldwide and held intensive music camps around the country. In 2013 they were selected as musical ambassadors for the United States and were sent on a government sponsored tour of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.
In addition to chamber music, Mr. Stephenson has held an exciting and varied orchestral career. A native of Louisville, KY, Mr. Stephenson began playing the cello at the age of three. His musical studies include degrees with honors from the Cleveland Institute of Music, as well as an alumni achievement award. He was the principal cellist of the Caton Symphony in Ohio and also performed with the Cleveland Orchestra. His solo career led him to perform concerti with the Louisville Orchestra, World Youth Symphony, and National Repertory Orchestra. Today he continues to perform regularly with the IRIS Orchestra in Memphis, TN and is a renowned studio musician. He has appeared on indie, pop, and rock recordings by artists such as Son Lux and Dawn Landes as well as commercials for Nike, Smartcar, and Tide.
In his spare time Mr. Stephenson plays all genres of music and many different interments including the piano, guitar, banjo, and mandolin. He enjoys cooking Italian food and collecting vinyl records.
Colin Stranahan (drums)
Born In Denver, Colorado, and the son of a Jazz Educator, Colin Stranahan has always been surrounded by music. By his teenage years he was already actively working on the local Denver scene, and has recorded multiple records of Capri Records. After receiving the prestigious NFAA Presidential Scholar award in 2005 , he studied in California for one year as a Brubeck Institute Fellow. Shortly there after he attended the prestigious Monk Institute of Jazz. Stranahan was also one of the winners of the 2012 Thelonious Monk Drum Competition. Now living in Brooklyn, New York, Colin is among the most sought-after drummers in the world. working with such artist as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jonathan Kreisberg, Fred Hersch, Terence Blanchard, Dave Kikoski, Kevin Hays, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and many others. He also now is part of a collective trio featuring some of the most talented and praised you musicians in New York City. Rick Rosato on bass and Glenn Zaleski on piano. Together they are the Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato trio. They have recorded 2 albums that have been very successful and a third on the way which was recorded Live at Smalls which is scheduled to be released in 2015. . Colin Stranahan currently holds teaching positions at a couple of different conservatories in Europe, where he teaches both private lessons, and ensemble teaching. Aarhus Royal Academy of Music, and London’s Royal Academy of Music. Colin also has started teaching at a few summer Jazz programs including The Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony, and The Fara Sabina Summer Jazz school and Festival in Fara Sabina, Italy. Colin also has been giving drum master classes all over the world. Some of these recently have included, Oberlin Collage, New England Conservatory, International Jazz Conference in Thailand, and at the Singapore Esplanade Jazz Festival.
Claire-Frances Sullivan (musical theatre)
New York City based and rural Michigan bred, Claire-Frances is an actor, singer, musician, composer/lyricist, and playwright. She graduated from Central Michigan University with a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance. Claire-Frances has most recently performed in New York City with the Signature Theatre Company, TheaterLab, and in various cabaret settings.
Claire-Frances is an internationally produced and award-winning playwright with work produced by and/or developed at the Powerhouse Theater, Midland Center for the Arts, TACT studios, The Pulp Stage Theatre Company, Festival 56, and the Bread and Roses Theater. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Playwright’s Center of Minneapolis, and is a lyricist with the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Claire-Frances’s original musical, Fostered Love, was the recipient of the Kennedy Center’s National Musical Theatre award through the Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards in 2018. Her work includes short plays, full-length plays, song cycles, and full-length musicals with original book, music, and lyrics.
Whatever the medium, Claire-Frances is dedicated to being a person and what that means when you get to make art with other people. You may have seen her at the Open Jar Institute for Musical Theater, at the Powerhouse Theater Training Company as a playwriting apprentice, or at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in residence as a playwright observer. When she’s not making things, Claire-Frances loves playing Stardew Valley, spoiling her two cats, and tending to her family of plants.
Alex Van Gils (computer music/Abelton, music production, composition, bass)
Alex Van Gils composes music for humans, instruments, and computers. He is currently captivated by notions of transition and gradient—liminal spaces and in-betweens. Alex holds a Ph. D. in Music Theory and Composition from UC Davis. His dissertation work included The Permanent, a concerto for improvising jazz saxophone and orchestra. Alex lives in Brooklyn, NY, and his active projects include XBUCKET, a performance trio featuring live-processed violin and generative video, and also a discipline of daily compositions with Max/MSP/Jitter visuals uploaded to @avg.music on instagram. Alex is a founding member of Cutelab, a place for colors and sounds in NYC.
Ben Wexler (composition)
Ben is a New York-based composer, arranger and teaching artist. Recent projects include composition for Lucy Thurber’s The Insurgents (LAByrinth), The Orchestra (Whitman/Grove New Works Commission), Appaholics (TheaterWorks USA Commission), Key Change (Richard Rodgers Award Finalist), Ship Show (dir. Mark Brokaw), and Washington Square (in development with Kirsten Childs). He arranged and co-produced new music for the feature film Speech and Debate, with screenplay by Stephen Karam (Sycamore Pictures, 2017). He was music supervisor and arranger for Fun Home’s Spotify Session, the first-ever featuring a Broadway Musical.
Ben is the Artistic Director of the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, which merges Broadway Artists with justice-oriented organizations to integrate the arts into their change work. Projects have included collaborations with The Center for Popular Democracy, New York City Council, the Alliance for Quality Education, and a course at Columbia Law School, where he is an adjunct lecturer. He is a teaching artist for Lincoln Center’s Songwriting in the Schools program. Ben is resident composer for A Broader Way Foundation, an immersive arts-education program for young women that was founded by Idina Menzel and Jeanine Tesori. Ben served as associate to Ms. Tesori on four seasons of Encores: Off-Center at New York City Center and for Fun Home, Violet, and Sunday in the Park With George, all on Broadway.
Ben has been commissioned to compose original music for choirs in eight states, from Alabama to California to Ohio, leading these groups to top honors at both local and national competitions.
Ben is the recipient of a 2019 Jonathan Larson Grant, The Jerry Harrington Award for Creative Excellence (2013, BMI), a finalist for the 2018 Fred Ebb Award and 2019 Richard Rodgers Award, trained through the New Dramatists’ Composer-Librettist studio, and was a Dramatists Guild Fellow (2015-16). Ben holds a B.A. in Music with a focus in composition from Yale University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.