Our highly acclaimed teaching artists are always inspiring students to love, play and create music. They will design learning plan to meet the individual needs of any student, no matter what age or skill level! Each teacher has been carefully selected , has attended a music program at a top university or conservatory and is highly regarded as a teacher and performer. All of our teachers have undergone rigorous background checks.
Jennifer Grimaldi Toohey, soprano (voice and piano)
Has maintained her own private voice and piano studio for over 20 years. Jennifer is a professional opera singer, who has performed internationally and across the US to high acclaim. Described as “a soprano with a luxurious voice that sparkles and shines”, Jennifer has performed as a soloist in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall and Symphony Space in NYC, and internationally with major symphonies in countries including Belgium, Austria, Mexico, and across the US with opera companies and Symphonies in New York, Florida, Utah, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina, among others. Jennifer is a graduate of the Aaron Copland School of music at Queens College. Jennifer is on the faculty for the Queens College Center for Preparatory Studies in Music and the Queens Summer Vocal institute for High school Students. She has extensive experience directing children’s choirs and has a true affinity for developing and grooming young voices. Her piano and voice students have all had outstanding NYSSMA evaluation scores and many have gone on to top level music colleges and conservatories around the country. To learn more information on Jennifer Grimaldi Toohey as a performer, Please visit- www.JenniferGrimaldi.com
Jennifer Barsamian, mezzo-soprano (voice and piano)
Jennifer Barsamian, mezzo-soprano, pianist and educator, has been teaching voice and piano for over 20 years. In addition to maintaining a private studio, Jennifer has served on the music faculty of Music Academy of Garden City, the Greenwich House Music School in Manhattan, Lucy Moses School in Manhattan, the Loomis Chaffee School in CT, the community division at The Hartt School of Music, and the community music school at North Carolina School of the Arts. As a performer, she has been praised as being a consummate artist with a winning personality and a deep, rich, strong, vocalism. Described as the “quintessential Carmen” Ms. Barsamian has sung the title role several times throughout the United States. In recent seasons, she has been heard at the Belleayre Music Festival, Opera Western Reserve, Asheville Lyric Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Company of the Highlands, Utah Festival Opera, New Jersey Verismo Opera, and the Spoleto Festival USA. Jennifer holds a Master’s Degree in Music from North Carolina School of the Arts and Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Westminster Choir College, where she began her studies as a pianist. She has also earned two post graduate certificates in Voice and Opera from both the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute and the Hartt School of Music. You can hear Jennifers work and stay updated with her performances and projects on her website at: www.JenniferBarsamian.com
Leah Wool (voice)
Grammy Award-nominated mezzo-soprano Leah Wool has been hailed by Opera News as “among the more distinctive and accomplished artists of her generation,” with a “voice of truly beautiful timbre.” Ms. Wool’s 2016-2017 season includes a début with the Charlotte Symphony for Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Recent performances include a début with the Nashville Symphony for Mozart’s Requiem, the New York Choral Society for Beethoven’s Mass in C, and the Phoenix Symphony for Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass; as well as returns to the San Francisco Symphony for Handel’s Messiah conducted by Jane Glover; the Utah Opera for Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, and to Boston Baroque as Minerva in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria. She performed as alto soloist for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Wiener KammerOrchester under Mark Laycock, and made her début with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for Handel’s Messiah. A two-time Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, she is also a Winner of the Sullivan Foundation Awards. Ms. Wool holds an Artist Diploma and Master of Music from Yale University, and received her Bachelor of Music magna cum laude from Westminster Choir College. www.leahwool.com
Christopher Thaw (drums/percussion, piano, trombone, trumpet)
Christopher Thaw, a dedicated music educator, has a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies and music composition from Ithaca College. A multi faceted instrumentalist in percussion, piano (jazz and classical), trumpet and trombone, Mr. Thaw has been teaching for over 11 years. As a performer and composer/arranger, he has played with and composed works played by numerous well known jazz musicians including Eric Alexander, Jim McNeely, Walter White, Steve Brown, Paul Merrill, Jeff Jarvis, Joe Magnarelli, among others. Chris had the honor of performing with a quintet that opened for jazz legend Herbie Hancock, playing vibraphone with a set list that included music that he composed. His teaching style emphasizes music theory, composition, freedom and creativity. He has experience with students of all levels and ages as well as children with developmental disabilities. Many of his students have gone on to receive scholarships from prestigious colleges and music schools, and have received outstanding scores at NYSSMA.
Jakub Lewkowicz (piano, guitar)
Tori Boell (French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba, Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon and Saxophone)
Chrissy Fong (flute)
Chrissy Fong is an active freelance flutist and educator in the New York City area. She currently serves as Principal Flute of the Astoria Symphony Orchestra, New York Tutti Ensemble, New York Symphony Orchestra, and One World Symphony and plays piccolo with the Litha Symphony Orchestra and New York Wind Orchestra. Her extensive performing experience has taken her throughout the United States, playing in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall to the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City, CA. Ms. Fong was the winner of the 1997 All-American Festival Solo Competition and has appeared as a soloist with the Astoria Symphony, the Baroque Consort of New York, the Brooklyn College Conservatory Orchestra, the Brooklyn College Conservatory Wind Ensemble, the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, the California Music Festival Orchestra, the Niles North Symphonic Orchestra, and the Niles North Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Highly sought after as a teacher, her students have participated in All-City Bands for Manhattan and Queens, All-County, All-State, All-Eastern, InterSchool Orchestras of New York, the Long Island Flute Club Honors Flute Choir, Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of New York, and Nassau-Suffolk Performing Arts bands. In addition to maintaining a private flute studio, Ms. Fong also serves as a teaching artist for Brooklyn High School of the Arts and for Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. Ms. Fong earned a Master of Arts degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College under the Ronald Roseman Woodwind Scholarship and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College as a Presidential Scholar. Her predominant teachers include Bernard Z. Goldberg, Keith Underwood, and Diane Willis.
Andres Maldonado (piano, guitar)
Andres Maldonado, pianist and composer, holds a Masters degree in Music Composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College and a Bachelor of Science in Music Composition from Hofstra University. As an active pianist, he performs as a soloist and collaborator. He has appeared with the American Chamber Ensemble, and accompanied the Wyandanch Youth Center Chorus in their inaugural concert, sponsored by Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts. He was the recipient of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame Scholarship; in 2016 he received the Marvin Hamlisch Award for Composition; and in 2017, received the Gabriel Fontrier Memorial award. As a composer, Mr. Maldonado is dedicated to blurring the divide between classical, jazz and Latin music. His music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe. He has been commissioned by the American Chamber Ensemble (in collaboration with the Eglevsky Ballet), The John Cranford Adams Playhouse, The Curiosity Cabinet, and was a composition fellow at the Talis Music Festival in Saas-Fee Switzerland. Mr. Maldonado has been on staff at Usdan where he helps guide young children through the exploration of the arts. In addition to accompanying, he also enjoys working as a music director for musical theater productions. He is currently an adjunct professor of music at Hofstra University.
Melissa Nyman (voice, piano, cello)
Matthew Allen (brass, woodwinds)
Matthew Allen holds a Masters degree in Trumpet Performance from Boston University and a Bachelors degree in Music Education and Performance from Ithaca College. As a performer, he has played with ensembles including the Boston University Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble and New England Philharmonic. He has been an orchestra member in various productions with the Cortland Repertory Theater and Hangar Theater. Matthew has had the privelidge of studying with Terry Everson, Bruce Hall, Kim Dunnick, and David Krauss. As an educator, he was the Teaching Assistant to the Boston University Concert Band and has held teacher positions at the Ithaca College Summer Music Academy as assistant trumpet faculty. Matthew teaches all brass and woodwinds.
Jennifer Russo (voice)
Soprano Jennifer Russo, an active performer in the Tri-State Area, is quickly establishing herself as a fast-rising singer and music educator. A native of Long Island, Ms. Russo holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from The New England Conservatory of Music, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Psychology from The George Washington University. She also recently completed an Advanced Diploma at the Aaron Copland School of Music. As a young artist, Jennifer performed the role of Copper Woman in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Grapes of Wrath with Sugar Creek Opera in Watseka, IL where she was also a member of the Danis Wilson Apprentice Artist Program. Other young artist credits include the roles of Alice Ford in Falstaff with the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute in San Francisco and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with the Bay View Music Festival in Petoskey, Michigan. Equally at home in concert settings, Jennifer performed Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Queens College Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Maurice Peress. In the realm of oratorio, Ms. Russo sang Gabriel and Eve in Haydn’s The Creation and was the Soprano Soloist in Bach’s Magnificat and Vivaldi’s Gloria with the Queens College Choral Society. Ms. Russo is currently the director of the children’s choir at St. Dominic’s Church in Oyster Bay, and she has maintained a private studio over the years helping her students prepare for NYSSMA, All-County and All-State as well as assisting in preparation for college and conservatory auditions. For more information visit www.jenniferrussosoprano.com
Kathryn Vetter (clarinet, saxophone, flute, theory, Music Play)
Kathryn Vetter is a doctoral student in clarinet performance at Stony Brook University. She completed her master’s degrees in clarinet performance and music theory at the University of Oklahoma where she served as a clarinet and music theory graduate teaching assistant. A native of New Jersey, she completed her bachelor’s in music education at Michigan State University. In 2018, Kathryn won first prize in the Contemporary Performance Competition at the Cortona Sessions for New Music in Cortona, Italy and performed as a soloist with the Oklahoma Community Orchestra after winning their Young Artists Competition. Kathryn was a clarinetist for the Painted Sky Opera in Oklahoma City for the 2017-2018 season and a woodwind specialist for the Ohio Light Opera in 2016. She has also performed in Carnegie Hall, was a member of the OU Saxophone Ensemble, and performed on clarinet, saxophone, and flute with OU Musical Theater.
As a music theory educator, Kathryn believes an understanding of music’s syntax can often lead to more advanced performances.
In addition to teaching private lessons in clarinet, saxophone, flute, and music theory, Kathryn is an early childhood music educator. Trained in the research-based Music Learning Theory, she taught classes for students ages 0-7 years at Michigan State University’s Community Music School and the Flint School of Performing Arts in Flint, Michigan. Kathryn also co-founded the early childhood music program at Imagine Music and Arts in Norman, Oklahoma in 2016. With five years of experience, Kathryn strongly believes in providing a high-quality music learning environment for all children during their critical stages of development. For more information and Kathryn’s performance schedule, visit kathrynvetter.com.
Rebecca Rutkovsky (voice)
Soprano Rebecca Rutkovsky hai
Gina Salvia (piano, violin, guitar, ukulele, voice, cello)
Gina Salvia holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre performance from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts/CAP21. With over twenty years of voice/piano training and experience, as well as ten years of Violin training and experience, Gina is mainly known for her strengths as a Musical Director, Pit Conductor and Vocal Coach. Any student looking to learn how to sing pop or musical theatre will be in good hands with Gina. A multi faceted musician, Gina has experience teaching Voice, Piano, Violin, Cello, and Mandolin, as well as beginner Ukulele, Guitar and Bass Guitar.
Christina Russo (voice, piano)
Annija Kerno (viola, violin, cello)
A dual citizen of Latvia and the United States, Ms. Kerno has performed in a variety of concert venues throughout Europe and America. Most recently, she has concluded her two year residency with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to work with many of the major classical musicians in the world. Among them are Ricardo Muti, Christoph Eschenbach, Yo-Yo Ma, Kristjan Jarvi, and Ken-David Masur, amongst many others.
Recent solo performances include performing in the bi-annual North American Latvian Song and Dance Festival, where she collaborated with Latvian musicians from all over the world to create a performance of choral and orchestral music written solely by Latvian composers. She is also a member of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, which is an orchestra comprised of members who are from one of the ten countries that border the Baltic Sea. In addition to performing, she is very passionate about teaching and spreading her love of music to others.
Matthew Kent (violin, viola, cello, piano )
Alina Tamborini (voice, Music Play assistant)
Alina Tamborini is currently pursuing her graduate studies at Stony Brook University under the tutelage of Ms. Brenda Harris. She is a Michigan native where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Michigan State University, studying with Dr. Anne Nispel. This season, Alina will perform in Stony Brook Opera Theatre’s productions of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Mozart’s Il re Pastore. Alina appeared most recently as an Apprentice Artist for the inaugural season of Teatro Nuovo. There, she prepared the roles of Zerlina and Servilia as a part of the Mozart Role Preparation Project. She is excited to be returning to Teatro Nuovo this summer as well. In 2017, Alina was an Emerging Artist with Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point, portraying the roles of Frasquita in Bizet’s Carmen and Mrs. Hayes in Floyd’s Susannah. In 2016, she made her international debut in a Bernstein Revue at the Peking National Opera House and the China Conservatory of Music. Her operatic roles with Michigan State University Opera Theatre include: Despina in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Romilda in Handel’s Serse, Miss Lavish in Robert Nelson’s contemporary opera, A Room With a View, and Giannetta in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. At Stony Brook, she has sung the roles of Céphise in Rameau’s Pigmalion and Adele in Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. Alina was a finalist for the Harold Haugh Light Opera Vocal Competition as well as a first-place winner at the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition, (Junior Woman’s division). She has performed as a guest artist with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, the soprano soloist for Handel’s Messiah with the Stony Brook Chamber Orchestra, and as a soprano soloist in numerous recital programs. Alina has been awarded the Robert and Carol Murrel Endowed Scholarship in Voice, Frank and Ruby ZARA Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Voice, and the GLMCA Guy Stoppert Scholarship. She is so thrilled to be at Stony Brook, surrounded by such amazing talent and mentors!
In addition to her performance career, Alina also teaches private lessons in voice, is a choral director, and is an early childhood music educator. Under the instruction of Dr. Cynthia Taggart, Alina trained in Music Learning Theory where she taught classes for children ages 0-7 at Michigan State University’s Community Music School. Alina loves teaching music for students of all ages and helping them recognize their music potential through immersive learning environments.
Olivia Lester (voice, piano)
Lindsay Lipsman (all styles of voice including pop, piano)
Lindsay is thrilled to be joining the LISM faculty. Originally from Cherry Hill, NJ, Lindsay received her Bachelors Degree in Music Education from the Hartt School of Music at The University of Hartford. Upon graduation in 2004, Lindsay spent 2 years in the Hartford area where she created the first ever music program at the Connecticut Children’s Place School. She then settled in Queens, NY where she has been teaching private voice and piano for the last 12 years. Lindsay has helped numerous students prepare for both high school and college auditions. Many of her students have been accepted to some of NYC’s most prestigious performing arts high schools such as LaGuardia HS and Frank Sinatra HS, and universities such as NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts, Queens College, Molloy College, and Five Towns College. As a performer, Lindsay currently sings and plays keys with an acoustic pop trio, Landing Approach, and has also performed over the years in various A Cappella groups and wedding bands. Lindsay teaches voice for all ages specializing in pop, R&B, and theater, as well as beginner piano.
D’Metrius Fernandez (percussion, piano)
D’Metrius Fernandez is from Glen Cove, NY, and is completing his Bachelor of Music degree this year from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. Throughout his time at Queens College, he has performed alongside his fellow students and faculty alike on both the professional and academic level. D’Metrius has performed internationally in Ireland at the Royal Irish Academy and in Bali at Rumah I Dewa Alit. He has also performed at the prestigious Carnegie Hall, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indiana and Texas, and the White House in Washington D.C. In addition to his work as a classical percussionist, D’Metrius has a love of latin music and performs regularly with Latin Combo Bands and a Balinese Gamelan group.
Anna Marie Wood (voice)
Joseph Demarest (voice, piano)
Joseph Demarest, tenor and pianist, has been a performer and music educator for over 20 years. A graduate of the Hartt School of Music-University of Hartford, Connecticut, Boston University’s Opera Institute, as well as Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, Mr. Demarest has performed with numerous professional companies and ensembles including Connecticut Opera, New York Virtuoso Singers, New York Choral Artists, New York City Opera, Verbier Music Festival, and Opera Theater of St. Louis, among others. Mr. Demarest has also performed in prestigious NYC Venus such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.