Who We Are | Teachers
Harmony Program instructors are undergraduates, graduate students, and recent alumni of departments of music performance and music education. In order to be selected to participate in the program, they are asked to complete a program application outlining their musical backgrounds and achievements and describing their interest in teaching. They are required to provide three references and attend a personal interview with the Harmony Program before final selections are made. Participating teachers receive professional development training, classroom observation, formal evaluation, hands-on classroom teaching experience and hourly stipends for their teaching services.
Johanna Aguilera, Clarinet
Johanna Aguilera is a graduate student at Brooklyn College, where she is pursuing a Master’s in Clarinet Performance. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Clarinet Performance from Houston Baptist University. An accomplished musician, Johanna has played the clarinet for 18 years and the alto saxophone for two years, and she has performed with a diverse selection of groups, including the the Brooklyn College Conservatory Orchestra and jazz band, Flamenco Latino, Harmonia del Peru marching band, and various New York City salsa bands. Johanna has provided music lessons for over eight years, and she looks forward to continuing her work with the Harmony Program because she believes that "to teach my passion is a privilege."
Julie Desbordes, Trumpet & Orchestra
Originally from Limoges, France, Julie Desbordes’ love for music began from the moment she picked up the cornet at age 8. She is now a sought-after trumpeter, conductor and teacher, currently residing in upper Manhattan. Mrs. Desbordes holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Conservatoire of Montreal in Trumpet and Conducting. She holds additional degrees and certifications from the Conservatoire of Bordeaux, France (where she was awarded first prizes in both trumpet and chamber music) and the Conservatoire of Limoges. As a trumpeter, Julie has performed in the U.S., the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, France, Germany and Spain. Her love of a wide variety of musical styles has led to musical adventures ranging from the Montreal-based pop group Lazuli, to the Collectif 129 Big Band (France), to various symphony orchestras, chamber groups and traditional ensembles, including Harmonie Municipale de Limoges (where she also served as Assistant Conductor from 2004-2007). As a conductor, Julie has found wide acclaim, including a 2006 1st prize at the DADSM French National Conducting Competition of the Confederation Musicale de France (Paris, France). Julie is honored to be part of the Harmony Program and to “be able to communicate my passion for music while transmitting universal values such as team work, dedication and respect.”
Elad Kabilio, Cello
A dynamic and engaging musician, Elad has performed under the baton of influential conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta, and Gustavo Dudamel and as the principal cellist with numerous orchestras, including the Mannes Symphony. He has performed solo recitals in New York, Aspen, and Washington D.C., and in chamber ensembles at Carnegie Hall, the Morgan Library, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Elad holds a Master’s in music from Tel Aviv University, and professional studies diplomas from the Manhattan School of Music and Mannes College.
Itay Lantner, Flute
As a graduate student at the Yale School of Music, Itay taught undergraduate flute classes and worked with at-risk youth as part of Yale's outreach program in New Haven, Connecticut. In addition to his work with the Harmony Program, Itay currently teaches for The School at Columbia’s after-school program. A talented performer, Itay has played in chamber and orchestral ensembles at Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and at the Mann Auditorum in Tel Aviv. Itay cherishes the experience of being active in the community and giving children the "opportunity to express themselves through music."
Kieran Ledwidge, Violin
Kieran is a graduate of Princeton University and has studied the violin for over 20 years. He has toured internationally as concertmaster, soloist and composer for the Nova Youth Orchestra, and as concertmaster of the Princeton University Orchestra. Prior to joining the Harmony Program, Kieran taught violin and conducted school aged children at the Nova Music School and Sydney Grammar School in Australia. A passionate artist, Kieran currently works as a professional musician in New York City, dividing his time between teaching, playing electric violin and songwriting with the orchestral indie rock band, Miracles of Modern Science. Kieran also performs with the Salome Chamber Orchestra, freelances with various other ensembles, and composes music for film. "I am passionate about music and its universally communicative nature. Teaching this to children through the Harmony Program has been immensely satisfying, and I look forward to another fulfilling year."
Eric Lemmon, Viola
A gifted composer and performer, Eric holds a B.M. from the Steinhardt School of Music and a M.M. from Mannes College. His orchestral experience includes appearances as principal violist with the Chelsea Symphony, the Sheep Island Ensemble, and the One World Symphony. As a Mancini Fellow, Eric has performed on stage with artists such as Terence Blanchard, Mark O’Connor, and Michael Feinstein, among others. Eric’s compositions have been performed throughout the United States and Japan, and have earned him grants from NYU and Mannes College, as well as a review in the New York Times. Most recently, Eric taught undergraduate strings classes at the University of Miami, where he also led group lessons for elementary-age string players at University of Miami String Academy. Eric looks forward to working with the Harmony Program because “music lessons are incredibly helpful in teaching students discipline and focus, which is needed to overcome life’s obstacles. The unique opportunity to inspire children to love and cherish music is one I will wholeheartedly undertake as a Harmony Program teacher.”
Zach Para, Percussion
Zach earned his B.M from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he majored in Jazz Performance. An award-winning drummer, Zach won outstanding soloist prizes at the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival and the Reno Jazz Festival. He has performed at the Montreaux Jazz Festival and on international tours in China and Europe, in addition to various local venues. Zach has provided percussion instruction in the Seattle public schools, and through the Ocheami Culture Club and the DayJams Rock Music Camp. Most recently, Zach worked with the NEC Youth Jazz Orchestra, where he coached percussion students. Zach is especially passionate about expanding opportunities for music education, and he looks forward to sharing his love of music with his students this year.
Maryam Parhizkar, Viola
Violist Maryam Parhizkar has filled diverse musical roles as a performer, educator and organizer. She has performed in New York venues ranging from art galleries and local schools to the Miller Theatre and Carnegie Hall, and has spent summers at the Orford Arts Centre and American Conservatory at Fontainebleau. As founding director of the ensemble fourbythree, she has co-organized programs dedicated to bridging the gap between traditional repertoire and new music, and has led educational workshops for outreach programs at the Turtle Bay Music School. Maryam holds a B.A. in English from Columbia University, where she was also a recipient of the Dolan Prize and Rapaport Fellowship in music performance, and is continuing studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. A product of Texas public school arts programs, she is a firm believer in music’s role as a catalyst for social improvement in the community and is committed to sharing her love of music with her Harmony students.
Erik Saras, Trombone
Erik is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Manhattan School of Music with degrees in Music Performance on bass trombone. A dynamic leader with a strong pedagogical background, Erik co-founded a summer clinic to teach brass fundamentals to musicians of all skill levels. He also coaches marching band and teaches general music to new musicians. An accomplished performer, Erik was a finalist in the 2011 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, the 2010 Coleman Chamber Music Competition, and the 2010 J.C. Arriaga Chamber Music Competition. As a member of the Obsidian Brass Quintet, he won the International Brass Quintet Competition in 2008. Erik brings over 15 years of trombone expertise, and 5 years of compositional experience to the classroom, as well as the conviction that the "tradition of music education leads to a more fulfilling life."
Jeanette Stenson, Cello
Jeanette Stenson has worked with several New York schools, including The School for Strings, Scarsdale Strings, Corona Youth Music Project, Herald Music School, Beverly Burton School of Music, and the Turtle Bay Music School. As a teaching artist, she has presented at The Children’s Storefront, Mott Hall II, and Cedar Island Elementary Schools, and coached the Osseo Senior High Symphony Orchestra, District 279 Summer Music Camp, and the Stenson Suzuki Studio “Torture” Camp. She held a private teaching studio at Anderson Music Academy while she was residing in Minnesota, and she continues to expand her teaching practice in New York City. She is currently pursuing her Suzuki Long-Term Teacher Training Certificate at The School for Strings. Ms. Stenson holds an M.A. in Orchestral Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, and a B.A. in Cello Performance from the University of Minnesota. She has been part of the Harmony Program since 2010 and is excited to see the program continue to grow.
Eric Trudel, Clarinet
Eric received a B.M. from Towson University and is currently completing his Master’s in Jazz Performance at the Steinhardt School at NYU. He is a seasoned wind player, composer, and bandleader who has performed extensively at local and international venues, including the Federal Hill Jazz and Blues Festival, the Blue Note, and the Banff Centre International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music. In 2012, Eric toured in Costa Rica as part of the Centro Cultural Exchange Project, where he led master classes and performances for students of all ages. A dedicated educator, Eric has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Towson University, Loyola University and NYU, and has taught at the Musician’s Institute of Baltimore, the Friends School of Baltimore, the Park School, and, most recently, in the Baltimore County Public Schools, where he collaborated in leading creativity workshops for elementary school students. Eric says, “I deeply believe in the importance of sharing music with children and providing them the encouragement to engage in their practice. I’m lucky to pass on to others the knowledge and love of music that I have been so fortunate to receive.”
United Palace of Cultural Arts
Tia Allen, Viola
Tia graduated magna cum laude from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where she recently earned her Master’s in Violin Performance. She has performed under esteemed conductors including Lorin Maazel and George Manahan, and with ensembles such as the West Virginia Symphony, the Manhattan School of Music Graduate Orchestras, and La Fundación Sinfonía in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In addition to maintaining a private teaching studio, Tia has participated as a tutor with the America Reads Program and as an educational outreach artist with the Manhattan School of Music, where she recently earned two professional degrees in Viola Performance. Tia writes, “Being involved in music led me to new knowledge in different areas, as well as the chance to travel the world and the ability to communicate in a global language. To be able to give this opportunity to students who would otherwise not be exposed to learning music is invaluable to me.”
Jacqueline Jove, Violin
Jacqueline has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in concert venues across the United States, Canada, and Europe and has recorded for Naxos and Albany Records. An avid chamber and orchestral musician, she served as a fellow at the Opéra Bastille in Paris and at the Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy. A “strong believer of music as a means for both individual empowerment and social change,” Jacqueline founded the violin program within “Right Trak,” and served as a violin teacher for Instrumental Connection, where she was a volunteer teacher and mentor to at-risk youth. She has held teaching positions with the Long Ridge Music Center, the Hillel Community Day School, and with the Miami Music Project, an El Sistema-inspired music education program. Jacqueline holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, with Distinction from Yale University and a Master of Music degree in violin performance from Purchase College Conservatory of Music, where she served as a teaching assistant. She also studied at the Paris Conservatory. Her primary teachers include Wendy Sharp, Laurie Smukler, Marie-Christine Millière, and Mark Steinberg. A gifted musician and dedicated educator, Jacqueline is proud to join the Harmony Program this year.
Filip Pogády, Violin
Filip completed his undergraduate studies at the Music University in Vienna and recently graduated from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied on a full scholarship and received his Master’s in Violin Performance. An international performer and educator, Filip’s experience includes engagements at the Wiener Konzerthaus, the Tel Aviv Opera House, Brucknerhaus Linz, and broadcast appearances on Slovak national television and Radio Krakow. Filip has also led and participated in educational concerts and social programs in the U.S., Austria, and Switzerland, where, as part of “Live Music NOW,” he brought the joy of music to children and adults with special needs. Filip says, “I love working with children. The most important part of music instruction is that the children enjoy their lessons so that they’re motivated to keep playing. I’m excited to have the very special opportunity to make a difference in my students’ lives.”
David Wiley, Cello
David received his undergraduate degree in Literature from Bard College, where he also minored in Music. He has played the cello for 16 years, and has been a teacher, tutor, and guidance counselor for children and young adults since 2007. Most recently, David assisted in the after-school school program at Bard High School, working with students and providing extra help in English and writing. David has also taught cello at the Danbury Music Centre and led private lessons, chamber classes, and orchestra rehearsals at Buck’s Rock Summer Camp in Connecticut. David’s diverse performance experience includes appearances with the Woodstock Symphony and CelloPointe, and recordings with Jonas Friedman and Y Stereo.
Christian Alonzo, Orchestra
A talented musician, educator, and conductor, Christian Alonzo is a student at Brooklyn College, where he is pursuing his degree in Music with a concentration in Orchestral Conducting. Previously, he attended the College of Staten Island, where he was involved in several ensembles and brass studies. Christian is an active church musician, director, and teacher, and he also conducts several groups in the NYC area. A multi-instrumentalist, Christian specializes in brass, and plays keyboard, drums, guitar, and bass, in addition to composing his own music. Fluent in English and Tagalog (the native language of the Philippines), Christian began studying music in the fourth grade, and has loved it ever since. Of the benefits of music education, he says, “music is not only fun, but rewarding" and "it teaches the value of hard work and dedication."
Maya Bennardo, Violin
A thoughtful musician and educator, Maya is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Music at New York University. Maya has taught group strings lessons since high school and recently assisted in teaching young children through the Toledo Symphony Music School. She has played the violin for over 16 years, and the viola for 6, performing in a variety of ensembles. Maya believes deeply in the "sense of accomplishment and confidence" that comes from learning to play music, and is proud to share her love of music with her Harmony Program students.
Danny Gouker, Trumpet
Danny is a recent graduate of the Steinhardt School at NYU, where he earned his Master’s in Jazz Performance. Prior to studying in New York, Danny graduated summa cum laude from Towson University. While completing his undergraduate degree, Danny organized and led numerous collaborative projects, including founding and curating the Creating Music Concert Series and the Towson Society for Jazz and Improvised Music. An experienced educator, he has worked as a teaching artist and music instructor for over seven years, providing instrumental and music theory lessons for students of all levels. Danny is particularly passionate about sharing with children the substantial social benefits of music education. He writes, “Future generations will need the ability to solve problems collaboratively and creatively. Music is a great way to achieve the skills necessary to meet this challenge.”
Robert Karpay, Cello
A gifted composer, cellist, and teacher, Robert Karpay recently earned his Bachelor's Degree at the Manhattan School of Music. Robert's compositional output includes works for orchestra, chamber ensembles and voice, as well as a number of intimate solo pieces. His music has been played at venues such as The Stone, The Manhattan Inn, and the Roger Smith Hotel, and has also enriched Harmony Program recitals in Brooklyn, where his students have performed new works and arrangements. In addition to the Harmony Program, Robert previously served as a teaching artist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra ORCHkids program. We are proud to welcome Robert back to the Harmony Program this year.
Sarah Kuzma, Flute
Sarah received a B.A. in Psychology from Boston University, but soon realized that music was her true passion. She then went back to school to earn a Bachelor's in Music Education from Brooklyn College, where she studied flute and piccolo under Bernard Goldberg. She is currently a graduate student studying Musicology at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music. A dedicated educator, Sarah provides lessons in piano and multiple woodwind instruments, and she teaches music and other subjects as a substitute in the NYC Public Schools. Sarah believes in the importance of the Harmony Program because "music teaches students to work slowly towards a larger goal, which is a great skill to learn as a young child and will positively impact their academic lives and their lives in general.”
Inna Langerman, Violin
A talented violinist with over 14 years of experience, Inna is a recent graduate of Queens College, where she earned a B.A. in Violin Performance. She has taught private violin lessons through the Interschool Orchestras of New York, where her students have gone on to audition for, and play with, ISO's youth orchestras. Inna is originally from Eastern Europe but grew up in New York City, where she currently performs with a number of freelance groups, including the rapidly emerging One World Symphony. She has performed at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center's Alice Tully and Avery Fisher Halls. Inna is proud to return to the Harmony Program this year to share the "joyful" and "life-changing" experience of music-making with her Harmony Program students.
Jason Silva, Trombone
Jason Silva is a music performance graduate of Brooklyn College and plays the trombone, baritone horn, tuba, and trumpet. Jason has been involved with music for 19 years, and has performed with the Meetinghouse Jazz Orchestra and the One World Symphony, among other groups. He also has experience playing different styles of popular and folk music, and he performs with several Latin bands like La Rebelión and Cholo Rivera y su Orquesta Clásica. Jason has given private lessons to a wide range of students, ages 12 to 50, and he continues to grow as an educator and mentor through his years of experience at the Harmony Program. "The best way I can contribute to the education of these children is by showing them the many joys and possibilities music has to offer."
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Anna Garcia, Trumpet
A talented musician and educator, Anna recently earned her Master’s in Orchestral Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, where, in addition to maintaining an active performing schedule, she participated as a teaching artist at P.S. 290 and Mott Hall II in upper Manhattan. Anna has performed with numerous ensembles, including the Astoria Symphony, the One World Symphony, the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra, and the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, in addition to wide-ranging work with jazz bands, brass ensembles, and chamber groups. An award-winning trumpeter, Anna won first prize in the International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition in 2010 and the Fuchs Chamber Competition in 2011. She looks forward to joining the Harmony Program because she “loves to be a part of something that not only inspires musically, but also socially and personally.”
Sean Tripp, Trombone
Sean is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and is currently pursuing his Master’s of Music at the Juilliard School. An accomplished trombonist, Sean has performed with the Camerata Orchestra of New York, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, and the Patriot Brass Ensemble, among other groups. As part of the Bone Rangers trombone quartet, he placed first in both the Rembrandt Chamber Music Competition and Midwest Young Artist Chamber Music Competition, and he was also the first brass player to win the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, which resulted in a nationally syndicated performance on NPR’s “From the Top.” Sean has led trombone sectionals at the Merit School of Music’s summer festivals, and he is excited to join the Harmony Program this year where he will lead trombone instruction at our new brass site in the Bronx.
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Malcolm Parson, Cello
Malcolm received his B.M. from the Berklee College of Music, where he received a Presidential Scholarship and graduated magna cum laude. His diverse performance experience includes concerts with Ron Carter, Burt Bacharach, and Andre Watts, and with the Berklee World Strings at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Malcolm has also performed as a featured soloist with the Atlanta Symphony Community Orchestra, and he was presented with their annual Young Artist Award in 2006. In addition to his performance and composition experience, Malcolm has led string clinics and outreach performances at the Tri Cities Visual and Performing Arts Strings Program and the Child Development Center of Central Atlanta.
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Marc Dover, Clarinet
A talented musician with a broad background in performance and education, Mark graduated from the Manhattan School of Music in 2012 with a Master’s in Clarinet Performance. His orchestral experience includes concerts with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and performances at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and other prestigious venues. As part of the music outreach program at the Manhattan School of Music, Mark taught clarinet at the Harlem Children’s Zone charter school, and, as a student at the University of Michigan, he provided lessons in the Ann Arbor public schools. Of the El Sistema model of music education, Mark writes, “It has not only transformed a generation of children in that country, but it is a catalyst for social change internationally for those who have adopted its philosophy. I truly believe that every child can gain valuable life skills from learning how to make music.”
Jesse Schiffman, Flute
Jesse is a graduate of the Juilliard School, where he earned his Master’s in Flute Performance. He currently performs with the Chamber Orchestra of New York, the Chelsea Symphony, the ART Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Chamber Virtuosi, among other groups. In addition to performing at concert halls around the world, Jesse has shown a commitment to community service through his extensive outreach and education work. As a student at Juilliard, Jesse received the Gluck Community Service Fellowship and provided flute instruction to New York City public school students at P.S. 7 in East Harlem. In 2009 and 2010, Jesse took part in an exchange program to work with the El Sistema-inspired “Neojba” program in Salvador, Brazil, where he gave lessons, coached performances, and sought to instill in his students the importance of hard work and cooperation. Jesse hopes to build on this foundation with the Harmony Program: “I am a musician because of the wonderful and inspiring teachers I had, and I love to pass that inspiration and love of music to others.”