Guitar, Rock Ensembles
Alex Faulkner holds a bachelors degree in Guitar Performance from Western Connecticut State University. He has been a performing musician since the age of 13, and has professionally studied jazz, rock, and classical music. Alex has taught guitar full-time throughout Fairfield County since 2002, and he is a founder and co-owner of The Southbury Music Studio. Alex can be heard performing throughout Connecticut with No Big Deal and original rock and jazz groups.
Amber Cardinal is a Music Education major at Western Connecticut State University planning to graduate in May of 2019. She has been studying voice formally since the age of 12 with Cynthia Servetas of Southbury formerly and Constance Chase in the present at WCSU. Amber has been actively apart of musical theatre since she was 10, pursuing many different roles. Amber is now apart of the Opera Ensemble at WCSU where she studies opera and classical voice. She has placed 3rd in the National Association of Teachers of Singing New England Competition in 2018 as well as qualifying for the Classical Singers Competition for May 2018 in Boston. Amber loves spending her free time performing for various assisted livings in Connecticut to spread her talent and wonderful music of various genres.
Arianna Carlo is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music Degree in Audio and Music Production, with a concentration in Voice, at Western Connecticut State University. Arianna’s passion for singing started at an early age. She started soloing at St. Joseph Church in Brookfield in the fourth grade. Arianna continues to solo at St. Joseph Church today and occasionally solos at St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Church in Brookfield. At 11 years old, Arianna started taking private voice lessons with Lynn Paulella Beard, and currently takes private voice lessons with Dr. Margaret Astrup at WCSU. She has performed in many musicals such as “How to Succeed in Business”, “Grease”, and “Oklahoma” in which she played Aunt Eller. She has performed in various operas as well, such as “Almahl and the Night Visitors”, “Die Fledermaus”, and “The Tender Land”, in which she performed the lead role of Laurie. She also sings in the WCSU Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, and Opera Ensemble. Arianna won first place in the Lower College Division of the New England Regional round of the 2015 National Association of Teachers Singing Competition. In addition, Arianna writes and performs original music. She released an album called, “Love & Other Pointless Things” under her stage name, Arii, which was produced by multi-award winning songwriter/producer Funkee Boy. Arianna performs at various local venues, charity benefits, and concerts.
Violin, Viola and Cello
Ashley Dunne is a professional violinist and music educator who is passionate about both performing and working with students. Ashley holds a Master of Education Degree from the University of Bridgeport, where she was nominated for the “Outstanding Student Teacher” award after spending time in the Stratford school system and in Regional School District #6. During her time at the University of Bridgeport, Ashley interned at Andrew Avenue School in Naugatuck working with students in a multitude of settings. Ashley also graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music, where she studied under Theodore Arm and Julie Rosenfeld. In addition to being an active member in the local music scene, Ashley has played violin in the UConn Symphony Orchestra, various chamber ensembles, and the Danbury Symphony Orchestra. Ashley is also a K-5 General Music and Chorus teacher at Gainfield Elementary School in Southbury, where she loves instilling an appreciation of music in kids from an early age.
Billy Bivona graduated from the Hartt School of Music with a bachelors degree in Composition with a concentration of French Horn performance. He has studied composition privately with Dr. Larry Allen Smith, Dr. Tawnie Olson, and Professor Ken Steen, has studied French Horn with Susan Spalding and David Wakefield, jazz guitar with Tony Lombardozzi of Wesleyan University, and has been playing piano since the age of four. Billy’s original compositions have been performed across the state by numerous amateur, youth, collegiate, and professional groups alike. His work with voice and choir granted him a year long residency with the West Avon Congregational Church and a premiere by the New York City based a cappella ensemble “khorikos.” He was a semi-finalist in NoteNova Publication’s 2015 “Composers’ Composition Competition”, and has choir pieces currently published through NoteNova Publishing. He has worked extensively in theater as a principal composer, orchestrator, transcriber, assistant music director, and performer on a number of productions, and worked with Tony award-winning theater director Darko Tresnjak, composer Stephen Flaherty, and lyricist Lynn Ahrens, among many others, as a part of the creative team for the world premiere of “Anastasia” at the Hartford Stage, which will be opening on Broadway in 2017. Billy is a member of the National Association For Music Education and has been an adjudicator for Connecticut’s annual Regional and All-State auditions since 2014. He is a substitute organist and pianist for churches in Connecticut, as well as an actively gigging guitarist and core member of the musical group/artistic collaboration “World Soul.”
At Hartt, Billy played Horn for the Hartt School Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Brass Choir, Horn Ensemble, Composers’ Ensemble, pit orchestras for numerous musical theater and opera productions, was principal horn of the Hartt Symphony Band, and played in recording sessions with the Hartt Swing Band. As a freelance horn player he continues to perform with groups and orchestras across the state in a variety of venues. He has been teaching privately for many years, always working on technique but prioritizing engaging students with passion about creation and expression, harvesting a love for music and art.
Colleen is a pianist and educator. She is currently studying Music Education at Western Connecticut State University, with a concentration in classical piano. Colleen first fell in love with piano at age eight, when she started taking private lessons.
She currently studies piano with Dr. Hirshfield, and has preformed in two of his studio
recitals. Colleen is an active member of Western’s NAfME (National Association for Music Education) chapter, and Keyboard Club.
Colleen loves teaching and believes that music is for everyone.
Dexter is currently studying K-12 music education with a concentration in piano and composition at Western Connecticut State University. He started studying piano at age 15 with Martha George and concentrated on classical music. He started playing guitar at the age of 12, saxophone at ago 17, and he began composing music at age 16. His compositions have been used for the play “Waiting on the Sun” in 2011. He has premiered compositions as well as performed in recitals with the concert choir, symphonic band, and jazz combos at WCSU. He loves teaching and believes that everyone can and should take part in music making.
Doug Alley, 28, is quickly becoming one of Connecticut’s most up and coming drummers and teachers. A graduate of Western Connecticut State University (WCSU), Alley obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Music Education with an emphasis in classical percussion in 2011. Studying under the tutelage of Dave Smith and Patrick Smith (New Haven Symphony), he would eventually obtain his Connecticut State Teaching Certification the following year in 2012.
At WCSU, Alley vigorously studied all of the major percussion instruments. He focused most of his energy on snare drum, marimba, and timpani, but also fell in love with playing all of the percussion accessories. Spending hours each day practicing various orchestral excerpts on different percussion instruments, he would always find himself being drawn back to his first passion, the drum set.
Currently, Doug is the drummer of the hard rock band, Mile Marker Zero (MMZ), and his music has been promoted on various platforms including the Rock Band video game series on XBOX.
While playing with MMZ, Doug has been fortunate enough to be featured twice inModern Drummer Magazine. The first being in October 2009 in the article “30 Drum Stars Give it Up For Neil Peart,” alongside famous percussionists including Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz, Mike Stern), Daniel Adair (Nickleback), Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson), Jon Wysocki (Staind), and many others. He also had a blog feature onwww.moderndrummer.comin January 2014.
Doug has also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with some of the world’s best drummers such as Gavin Harrison (King Crimson, Porcupine Tree), Matt Halpern (Periphery), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Adrenaline Mob, Winery Dogs), and Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard). He has also performed and recorded with other Connecticut musical powerhouses as a session drummer, continually entertaining audiences nation wide with his energetic performances and famous “comfy” feel.
In addition to his rock endeavors, Doug also plays an abundance of musicals and symphonies around the New York and Connecticut areas.
Doug has had the opportunity to perform with the Connecticut Symphonic Winds, the Nutmeg Symphony Orchestra, and the Westchester Symphonic Winds while also performing as a pit musician in musicals such as, “Chicago,” “Aida,” “Snoopy! The Musical,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “The Pajama Game,” “Curtains,” “Jekyll & Hyde,” “Nine,” and many more.
Elliot Wallace is a drummer, percussionist and educator throughout New England and NYC. Highly active as a freelance percussionist, he has a diverse output. Elliot has performed with groups and institutions such as: Apartment Sessions, Powerstation Recording Studio, Ghost Hit Recording Studio, Ivoryton Playhouse, Playhouse on Park, Off Broadway Theater, Schubert Theater, The Fairfield Theater Company, The Yale Alumni Association, Richmond IN Symphony, The Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, 10th Intervention, The New Baroque Soloists, New Britain Symphony, Waterbury Symphony, Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra (HICO) and many others. He was recently a featured xylophone soloist with the Simsbury High School Band. In addition to music theater and classical music, he performs regularly with his rock band Art School Girls and plays frequent jazz and big band gigs. Elliot also holds the position of dance accompanist at the University of Hartford.
Elliot is also well versed in world percussion, studying with conga greats Michael Spiro and John Amira, as well as Brazilian music expert RogerioBoccato and African percussionist Joe Galeota. In January 2014, Elliot traveled to Ghana to study ewe drumming from master drummer Bernard Woma. During school, Elliot’s primary teachers were Dr. Larry Snider, and Benjamin Toth. Elliot is currently the percussion instructor at Simsbury High School, The Loomis Chaffee School, Parkville Sounds, and Southbury Music Studio, as well as professor of percussion at Holyoke Community College and Naugatuck Valley Community College. He also recently (Spring ‘16) served as Sabbatical Replacement for Benjamin Toth at The Hartt School of Music. Elliot holds a Bachelor Degree from the University of Akron and a Masters Degree from the University of Hartford.
Erik D. Perez is a native New Yorker with 33 years of Experience as both a player (live and studio) and instructor. Erik started playing drums at the age of 11 for his church choir. He studied with Robert Brown and Peter Metranga. Through the years, Erik explored various styles of music such as Gospel, Funk, R&B, Jazz, Pop, Rock, and World (Latin etc.).
He continues to play in the Tri-state area with various groups and singer song-writers. Erik enjoys helping students discover a passion for music through drumming.
Grace Nield has been playing the cello for 20 years. She is currently a freelance cellist here in CT playing everything from weddings and musicals to benefits and bar gigs. Grace is a cello teaching artist for Bravo Waterbury! an El Systema inspired educational initiative of the Waterbury Symphony and enjoys teaching her K-6 students after school.
“I have learnt much from my teachers, more from my colleagues, and most from my students.”
-Rabi Hanina, Ta’anit 7a
Gina Carrozza has been teaching private lessons since 2014, and started teaching at the Southbury Music Studio in 2017. Gina has been playing flute since the age of ten. She received her Bachelor of Science in Music Education in 2015 from Western Connecticut State University with a concentration in Flute, and is currently a Music Teacher in the West Haven Public School District. She has studied classical flute with Heather Levanti-Syzmanki and Dr. Kerry Walker, and has played for famous flute players Robert Langevin, Susan Hoeppner, and Bart Feller. Gina also teaches the New Milford High School Marching Band and musically directs the Danbury Drum Corps. She is a member of the Hat City Flute Choir as well as the WCSU Alumni Band, plays fife with the Danbury Drum Corps when she is not directing, and is the Piccolo player and Flute Sub for the New Haven Chamber Orchestra. Gina has also performed with the Ives Symphonic Winds, Sound Beach Community Band, Shepaug Valley Flute Choir, and the Danbury Music Centre Orchestra as a sub. In college, Gina played flute and piccolo in the Wind Ensemble, New Music Ensemble, Flute Choir, Woodwind Quintet, Orchestra, Pit Orchestra for the Musical Theater Department, played flute and clarinet in the Symphonic Band, and sang in the Concert Choir. With her flute duo and trio, Gina won the WCSU James Furman Chamber Competition two out of four years of her college career. She has a passion for music and believes that it is a universal language that can be learned, spoken, and appreciated by anyone.
Strings, Viola, Cello, Violin
Hafez Taghavi is a professional violinist and teacher in Connecticut and New York City. Originally from the greater Washington D.C. area, Hafez received his early violin training from Martha Shackford. Later, he studied in the prestigious studios of Ronda Cole and David Strom. Before entering college, Hafez started a widespread performing career which included concerts at the Kennedy Center, Strathmore Hall, Constitution Hall, as well as a three city tour in Bolivia. He attended Western Connecticut State University and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance. While studying under Eric Lewis at WCSU, Hafez maintained the concertmaster position of both the Symphony Orchestra and Opera Ensemble for four years. As a featured soloist with the WCSU Symphony Orchestra, the Danbury News Times described him as a “…promising, talented soloist.” Hafez then completed his Master of Music studies at the conservatory at Purchase College in the studio of Calvin Wiersma. While pursuing both of his music degrees, Hafez received extensive chamber music coaching through a fellowship with the Manhattan String Quartet. Through this fellowship, he was invited to play at workshops in New York City, Colgate University, and internationally in Budapest, Salzburg, and Leipzig. Outside of chamber music, Hafez is a member of the Ives Symphony orchestra, where he has sat as Principal 2nd and Associate Concertmaster. In addition to classical music, Hafez actively plays in a wide variety of other genres. This includes performances with country recording artist Ashton Shepherd, Moroccan singer Saida Fikri, as well as recording a trailer for the acclaimed computer game, World of Warcraft.
Hafez currently holds teaching positions at the Wooster, Millbrook, and Marvelwood schools, the Southbury Music Studio and also maintains a private studio based in Fairfield County. Hafez also teaches through the non-profit organization, Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County. His program at NSFC, funded by the John Mayer Foundation, provides instruments and group violin classes to children in the inner city.
Outside of music, Hafez enjoys soccer and all food.
Jake Habegger began playing the drums at the age of 13. He holds a Master of Music Education degree from University of Bridgeport and a Bachelor of Music degree from Western Connecticut State University in Jazz Performance. While at Western, Jake studied drum set with Jeff Siegel and classical percussion with Dave Smith and Patrick Smith. Jake is an elementary band teacher in Stratford, CT and plays many instruments in addition to percussion. He has been teaching private music lessons since 2007. Jake’s teaching is centered around making music and learning essential skills through playing rather than through lecture. Jake has been in many different bands and often performs with local musicians in the CT area.
John is a Saxophonist, Clarinetist, Flautist, composer, arranger and educator. John graduated from New School University in Manhattan with a BFA in Musical Performance and a BA in History. At New School John studied with some of NYC’s best jazz musicians including, Reggie Workman, Jane Ira Bloom, Jim Snidero, Tim Price and Walt Weiskopf. An extremely sought after performer, John has experience with a wide array of genres such as Jazz, Blues, Rock, Reggae, Salsa, Merengue, Samba, Choro and Afrobeat. His talent has taken him to tour the United States and share the stage with such greats as the Heath Brothers, Bobby Sanabria, The Fabulous Thunderbirds,Vernon Reid, Rachel Z, and Popa Chubby, just to name a few. As someone who is very open-minded and believes in expanding the joy and amusement that music has to offer, John always welcomes the prospect to share his knowledge and experience with his students.
Guitarist John Tuohy has performed with many groups across multiple styles and genres such as Reptillicus (multi-stylistic), Blanck Stare (jazz fusion), The Steve Gregory Band (modern rock covers) ,and his main group Mile Marker Zero www.milemarkerzero.com (progressive rock). He is equally at home writing progressive rock riffs or playing over jazz standards, and is an in-demand sideman in the New Haven area. John’s songs “A Thousand Nights” and “Laceration” with Mile Marker Zero are available for download on the game “Rockband” for Xbox 360.
John graduated Magna Cum Laude from Western Connecticut State University with a degree in Jazz Performance in 2005. His work as a private guitar instructor and business owner for 11 years has given him unique insight into overcoming hurdles and challenges that come into play as a serious student of any instrument. John has also done session work for various artists and companies, such as “The Sonic Saints”, “Porter” and various cruise lines. He also has had musical equipment related feature articles done on him by Gearwire.com, as well as judging the “King of the Blues” contest at Guitar Center for 2 years.
John cites a sample of his musical influences as Eddie Van Halen, Chick Corea, Porcupine Tree, The Eagles, Frank Zappa, and Bireli Lagrene .
Violist Lindsey Tuttle has her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Western Connecticut State University where she studied privately with Professor Erick Lewis and Professor Hannah Levinson. Lindsey grew up going through the Region 15 school system, and ultimately completed half of her student teaching at Pomperaug Elementary School. Lindsey has also played in a variety of ensembles, including pit orchestras for Westconn’s opera productions, pit orchestras for Newbury Theatre Company’s summer musical productions, as well as in quartets for a variety of different events. Lindsey is a passionate music educator and enjoys teaching viola, violin, and cello. She also teaches general music in Bridgeport to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. In the next few years, Lindsey hopes to continue her studies and complete masters degree in Music Education.
Matthew Spencer, recent graduate of Western Connecticut State University with a degree in Jazz performance has been playing drums for 17 years. Hailing from Newtown, CT, he has been teaching drums for 7 years having students ranging from age 6 to 60. He plays a variety of styles and currently plays in two groups, both with albums out on iTunes, Spotify, and other popular streaming sites. They are entitled: Tales of Joy – Breathe Easy (Reggae/Soul) and Sub-Urban – Everybody Knows (Neo-Soul/HipHop).
Matthew Volpe is a certified PK-12 music educator from Western Connecticut State University with a concentration in jazz and classical trumpet. He began studying trumpet at age 15 with Domonic Talotta, focusing on classical and jazz trumpet. At age 18 he began studying with jazz trumpeter Dave Scott and studied with him for 2 years. He then studied with Rich Clymer, the first trumpet player for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, for two years studying classical trumpet.
He has performed in the WCSU Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Combos, and Brass Quintet.
Music is for everyone, and He believes that every student has the potential to be great, so long as they desire to be such.
Michael Mosca is currently studying Music Performance at Western Connecticut State University with a concentration in jazz guitar. Michael started playing guitar at the age of 11 studying under Shane Peters. After making it into the CMEA Western Regional band in high school, he developed an interest in learning jazz guitar, which later led to pursing a degree in music at Western and studying under Chris Morrison. Outside of jazz, Michael can also be seen performing with his original rock band Standby throughout the local tri-state area and currently has three recordings available on iTunes with them. Michael also has experience in several musical settings including pit orchestras, big bands, and church bands.
Instructor of Voice
Noelle Chave graduated Magna cum Laude from Western Connecticut State University with a degree in Music Education and holds her Connecticut license for teaching music K-12. While at WCSU, she was a member of the Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Opera Ensemble and Symphonic Band (flute) and was the recipient of the Connecticut Choral Society Scholarship, which is awarded to a music major “with a record of academic achievement and who possesses extraordinary singing or musical talent.” Noelle studied voice with Dr. Margaret Astrup and music composition with Dr. Kevin Jay Isaacs and was a music theory and sight-singing tutor as well as a private voice and flute instructor for students of all ages during her time at WestConn.
Noelle recently returned to Connecticut after spending a number of years in Wisconsin, where she sang with the Madison Symphony Chorus, the Madison Chamber Choir, and the Milwaukee Chamber Choir. She also worked as a choral music editor for Hal Leonard where, in addition to editing sheet music and teacher resource books, she collaborated with colleagues, McGraw-Hill and esteemed writers, educators, and directors to create a choral music textbook. She has performed in venues ranging from local churches in Connecticut and Wisconsin to the Overture Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City. In addition to teaching privately, Noelle is currently a cantor at St. Edward the Confessor Church in New Fairfield and sings with various ensembles throughout the state. You may also find her working the front desk at the studio, so stop by and say hello!
Instructor of Drums
Ryan Dunne holds a Master of Music Education Degree from the University of Bridgeport and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Jazz Percussion Performance from the Western Connecticut State University. Ryan began studying percussion at the age of 13 and performed with various rock groups throughout the early stages of his career. While studying at Western Connecticut, Ryan performed in a variety of ensembles including the Western Connecticut State University Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Choir, and Small Jazz Combo groups. Throughout his career, Ryan has studied and professionally performed a wide range of musical genres including rock, jazz, funk, r&b, and various types of world music. Ryan currently performs professionally with the wedding band No Big Deal, with the saxophone group the Saxtet, and as a sideman with various jazz groups/projects. In addition to the Southbury Music Studio, Ryan teaches elementary general music and band in the Ridgefield Public School system.
Instructor of Voice
Samantha Feliciano is in the process of completing her Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education with a concentration in Voice from Western Connecticut State University. She currently studies classical voice with Laura Mashburn as well as Jazz voice with Atla De-Champlain. Throughout her college career she has been apart of several Operas, Choirs and Chamber Voice Ensembles, Jazz Combos, and been a guest vocalist for the WCSU Symphonic Band and the Jazz Orchestra.
Included here are some examples of her performances of solo classical voice with The Bird by John Duke, as well as with a past jazz combo performing Sometimes I’m Happy by Vincent Youmans. She continues to perform all across Connecticut as well as compete in vocal competitions. In the past, she has won first place in the Furman Competition at WCSU as well as ranking in the New England NATS competition.
As for her teaching, she has had students ranging from ages 6 to 32 and loves to take on any student with a passion for music. She focuses on sight-singing, ear-training, and music literacy while continuing to sing with ease in all genres of music. Her goal is to inspire her students with all the music that can be made possible and get them to appreciate musicianship on a new level.
Violinist Stephan Tieszen has a Bachelors from the Mannes College of Music, a Masters from the Juilliard School and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Yale School of Music. He studied violin with Mischa Mischakoff, Guila Bustabo, Sally Thomas, Sidney Harth, and Gabriel Banat.
Dr. Tieszen teaches violin and chamber music at Mannes College of Music and the Tabor Community Arts Center in Branford CT, and orchestral violin classes at the Meadowmount School of Music in Elizabethtown, NY. He has taught at Yale University, the University of Connecticut, Connecticut College, and Fairfield University. He has been Concertmaster of the Norwalk, Meriden, Bridgeport and New Britain Symphonys, and he is currently the Concertmaster of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra in New London, and the Principal Second Violin of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.
Dr. Tieszen appears frequently with the Wall Street Chamber Players, was a founding member of the Concord Chamber Music Ensemble, and is an active performer and lecturer in educational outreach programs.
For this performance, Dr. Tieszen has written his own cadenzas in the style of Mozart, and he will be playing on a violin made in the mid-1700’s that was in use in Mozart’s time, using a reproduction of a contemporary Dodd bow. He has based his interpretation on Mozart’s manuscripts as published by Gabriel Banat.
Piano, Music Composition, Music Theory
Stephanie Biello started playing piano at the age of seven. She now holds a Master of Music Degree from SUNY Purchase College in Studio Composition and a B.A. from Western Connecticut State University in Music Education. While studying at WCSU, her instrumental focus was classical piano. It was there that she studied under the studio of Dr Russel Hirshfield. Along with her private piano lessons and performances, she also privately studied music composition with Dr Kevin Isaacs. Stephanie is an experienced performer, piano instructor, composer, arranger, and a founder and co-owner of The Southbury Music Studio. She has been teaching piano, music theory and composition privately since 2004. In addition to teaching and running The Southbury Music Studio, Stephanie performs regularly with her cover band; No Big Deal. She also activly writes and performs original compositions.
Tim Smith graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a B.M. in Classical Piano Performance. Tim is an experienced accompanist and has performed with choirs, and has been a part of pit bands for musicals and operas.
He also performed two solo recitals while at WCSU. Tim also plays the organ and is substitute organist at many churches in Connecticut. He also enjoys singing and playing French horn and was a part of WCSU’s chamber choir, Symphonic band, and Orchestra.