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Benita BenéitezExpertise: Violin
Benita Benéitez is a dedicated violinist and educator with over twenty years of teaching experience.
Hailing from Spain, Ms. Benéitez received her Bachelor of Music in Violin and Piano Performance from the Superior Music Conservatory of Bilbao in Spain, as well as her Master of Music in Violin Performance. She received her Suzuki Teacher Training at School for Strings (NYC), and studied Counterpoint at the Juilliard School of Music. Ms. Benéitez holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Orchestral Training from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London, UK).
In addition to Opportunity Music Project, Ms. Benéitez currently teaches at Brooklyn College’s Preparatory Center for the Performing Arts, as well as The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music at P.S. 230. Ms. Benéitez is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Sculpture Foundation Gerald Siciliano New York INC. Grant, the Caixa Galicia International Scholarship, the JONDE – Cajamadrid Grant, and the Diputación Foral de Vizcaya Award.
Carlos BarrientoExpertise: Bass
Carlos Barriento has appeared with various orchestras and ensembles in many venues including Carnegie, Avery Fisher, Alice Tully and Merkin Halls, NJPAC, and Symphony Space. Currently, Mr. Barriento is Principal Bass of the New York Chamber Virtuosi, where he also holds a position on the board of the orchestra.
An avid performer, Carlos has performed various chamber works including Schubert’s Trout Quintet at Carnegie Hall, as well as Prokofiev’s Quintet in G minor and Schubert’s Octet. He has played in the NY Times reviewed performances of Britten’s A Beggar’s Opera and Strauss’s Die Fledermaus at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM), and has also performed in master classes at the International Society of Bassists convention. An active teacher, Carlos maintains a private studio throughout the NY metropolitan area and has taught at the American String Teachers’ Association/NJ Chamber Music Institute, Manhattan School of Music Precollege, and the Garden State Music Festival.
Elvira SullivanExpertise: Cello
Elvira Sullivan is a classically trained cellist and teacher, who has been devoted to music education for the past two decades. After obtaining Suzuki teacher training at The School for Strings in 2001, she taught for their outreach program at PS 116 from 2001 – 2011. For the past fifteen years, she has been the Orchestra Director and after-school cello teacher at Brooklyn Friends School. Elvira continues to teach privately in her uptown Manhattan music studio.
Icli ZitellaExpertise: Music Theory
Venezuelan composer Icli Zitella was born in Caracas. After he completed composition studies in his own country, he pursued a Masters degree at Manhattan School of Music in New York City (2015). He worked as a violinist with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of his country and served as professor of Theory at Mozarteum-Caracas School of Music. His works have been played by famous international soloists, such as Ab Koster, Willliam VerMeulen, Lucy Shelton, and Dimitri Vassilakis. He won the Municipal Price in Caracas (2011), the UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for Artists (1999), and the first place in the Moisés Moleiro Piano Composition Contest (1992). His works include concert, chamber, orchestral, electronic and incidental music, as well as film scores. He writes music in a wide variety of styles ranging from the classical and traditional to the popular and experimental. He teaches Intermediate and Honors Music Theory for OMP.
Jessica ParkExpertise: Violin
Praised as an “exceptional talent” by the Frankfurter Neue Presse, violinist Jessica Park explores a wide spectrum of music on both the baroque and modern violin. Whether performing on period instruments or collaborating with multi-media electronics, Ms. Park’s musical activities are enterprising and diverse. Since her debut at the age of nine with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Park has appeared as a soloist throughout the United States, Austria, China, Germany, South Korea, and Switzerland as well as Alice Tully Hall, Cologne Philharmonie, Seoul Arts Center, Shanghai Grand Theatre, and the Vienna Konzerthaus.
Wholehearted in her love of quartet music-making, Ms. Park has appeared with different quartets over the years in venues such as the Metropolitan Museum, the Morgan Library, the New York Historical Society, and on WQXR’s “Young Artist Showcase.” She has worked closely with members of the Brentano, Cleveland, Emerson, Juilliard, Mendelssohn, Orion, Tokyo, and Ying Quartets.
An advocate of contemporary music, Ms. Park performs with Ensemble LPR and Orchestra of the Next Century. Ms. Park’s recent multi-media projects include performances in Acoustica Electronica with touch Performance Art and the ARMIDA Project, a multi-genre baroque pastiche.
On the Historical Performance scene, Ms. Park plays with the Handel and Haydn Society, Trinity Baroque Orchestra, the American Baroque Orchestra, and New York Baroque Incorporated. In 2010-2011, she became a Fellow of the Yale School of Music as a member of the Yale Baroque Ensemble while studying with Robert Mealy.
A native of Cincinnati, Ms. Park was a student of Kurt Sassmannshaus while part of the Starling Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Park has participated in the Aspen Music Festival for several summers, as well as IMS Prussia Cove, the International Bowdoin Music Festival, Great Mountains Music Festival in South Korea, Kneisel Hall, Music Academy of the West and Encore School for Strings. Further studies and masterclasses include teachers such as Glenn Dicterow, Andras Keller, Mikhail Kopelman, Robert Lipsett, Joel Smirnoff, Krzysztof Wegrzyn, and Kathleen Winkler. Ms. Park holds Bachelor and Master degrees from The Juilliard School. Additionally, Miss Park earned a Professional Studies Diploma from the Mannes School of Music. Her principal teachers have included Mark Steinberg, Ronald Copes, and Hyo Kang.
Joan PlanaExpertise: Violin
Born in Lleida, Catalunya, violinist Joan Plana alternates his career in the US and Europe between the worlds of both modern and baroque violin. Since moving to New York in 2009, Joan has built an active career as solo, orchestral and chamber musician. Highlights of the 2012-13 season include his debut in Asia on a 2-week recital tour throughout China as well as his appointments as the new concertmaster of The New York Society of Ancient Music and Baroque Band (Chicago).
He is the recipient of several prizes, awards and scholarships, including the Jeanne Lamon Scholarship Award, Arjau Competition Catalan contemporary music prize (Barcelona) and the Achievement Award from the Cleveland Institute of Music.
A founding member of the baroque ensemble CONCITATO, Joan also plays with a variety of early music groups around the country, with appearances in Cleveland, New York, Chicago, Aspen, Boston and Ravinia. In 2011 he was a member of the European Baroque Orchestra. He plays regularly with Handel and Haydn Society, Chicago Band, Il Pomo d’Oro, Trinity Wall Street Baroque Orchestra, Concert Royal, Apollo’s Fire, the American Classical Orchestra and New York Baroque Incorporated.
An advocate of contemporary music, he has premiered and recorded several works from Spanish and American composers, some of them written especially for him. He appears in groups such as BCN 216 (Barcelona), Arcos Orchestra, Metropolis Ensemble, Blind Ear Project, Axiom Ensemble and the New Juilliard Ensemble.
As a recitalist and chamber musician, Joan has performed concerts all over Europe, Canada and the US. He has recorded for radio and TV stations including the BBC, RAI, TVE, TV3, WQXR, WCLV and WFMT. His discography credits include recordings on Virgin, Sony, Naive and Ambroise.
He has played in concerts and festivals such as the Aspen Music Festival, Ravinia, Dame Myra Hess Concert Series (Chicago), Steinway Hall (New York), Boston Early Music Festival, York Early Music Festival (England), Auditori de Barcelona (Spain), Auditorio Nacional (Madrid, Spain), Alice Tully Hall (New York), Rencontres Musicals des Graves (France) and Festival de Torroella de Montgri (Spain).
An avid chamber musician, he founded the Arion BCN Quartet, while studying with the Ysaye Quartet in Barcelona. With the quartet, he won several national music competitions and played concerts all over Catalunya. He has been featured in concerts with different chamber music groups in the US (Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Boston) as well as Canada, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland and France. He was a member of the Intensive Quartet Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with the Cavani Quartet and Peter Salaff. He has been coached by members of the Casals, Cassatt, Ying and Tokio Quartets.
Further studies and masterclasses include teachers such as Josep-Lluis Puig, Solange Dessane Jose-Luis Garcia Asensio, Lewis Kaplan, Midori, Ruggiero Ricci, Pierre Reach, and on baroque violin with Enrico Onofri, Riccardo Minasi, Stefano Montanari and Fabio Biondi.
He has participated as a student in festivals such as the Bowdoin International Music Festival (Maine), Sommerakademie at the Mozarteum of Salzburg (Austria), Encuentros Musicales de Santander (Spain), Aspen Music Festival (Colorado), Zephyr Music Festival (Italy) and “Musica en Compostela” (Spain).
Joan started his violin studies with Francesc Rodoreda at the Conservatori Professional de Musica de Lleida. While there, he obtained an Honorable Mention and received the 1st Prize from the Conservatory Music Competition. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree with Honors from the Escola Superior de Musica de Catalunya (ESMUC) in Barcelona, studying with Kai Gleusteen, Agustin Leon Ara and the Ysaye Quartet. Thanks through the support of the Fundacio Privada Sorigue, Joan moved to Cleveland in 2005 to study with the renowned teacher Paul Kantor, at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He received a Master of Music and a Professional Studies Degree from CIM as well as an Early Music Certificate from the Case Western Reserve University. He graduated from The Juilliard School’s Historical Performance Program (New York), studying with Monica Huggett and Cynthia Roberts. He is pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, studying with Cynthia Roberts and Robert Mealy.
Jordan BakExpertise: Viola
Luis CasalExpertise: Violin
Dr. Luis Casal is one of Panama’s leading violinists and violists, the Panama News cites: “Panama does have a worthy classical scene, and right at the top of it we find Luis Enrique Casal.” Mr. Casal is vice president of the Sinfonía Concertante Foundation of Panama, an honorary academic adviser to the Alfredo Saint Malo Music Festival, faculty at Juilliard Music Advancement Program, and instructor at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and Washington Heights Community Conservatory of Fine Arts. Known for his charisma, versatility, and musicality, Mr. Casal is a favorite among audiences and has quickly established himself in both art and folk music stages. He has represented his country in events in England, France, Japan, Italy, Spain, and the United States.
An experienced orchestra player, Mr. Casal has held the position of Principal Violist of the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra (2005-2008), Concertmaster of the Butler Symphony Orchestra in Butler, Pennsylvania (1998-2000), Concertmaster of the Viola Ensemble of the 2003 Tertis International Viola Workshop and Competition, and most recently guest concertmaster of the Altoona Symphony Orchestra. Some of the prestigious conductors he has worked under include Sergio Commissiona, Charles Dutoit, David Effron, Larry Rachleff, Juan Pablo Izquierdo, Eduardo Díaz-Muñóz, Roberto Abbado, and Elisabeth Heath Charles. He is co-founder and member of the Camerata Alfredo De Saint Malo.
A concert artist in both the violin and the viola, recent performances have included chamber music and solo appearances in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, Merkin Hall at Kaufman Center, Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, the Hall of the Americas at the Organization of American States, the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and residency at the Harper School Chamber Music Camp 2011 and the Loon Lake Live 2011 Summer Concert Series. Future commitments include duo recitals along with his brother, cellist Isaac Casal, trio recitals in partnership with the Latinum Duet, and collaboration with Korean pianist Wonsun Bae, Panamanian pianist Abdiel Lombana, and soprano Anna Noggle.
Enthusiastic about collaborating with young composers, Mr. Casal has premiered pieces by Mikolja Gorecki, Carlos Bernales, Alexandra Dubois, and Bartosz Smoragiewicz. Luis Casal holds degrees from New World School of the Arts, Carnegie Mellon University, Indiana University, and the University of Oklahoma.
Maureen KellyExpertise: Cello
Maureen Kelly is a native of Wisconsin who carries her midwestern roots around her home country of the United States and beyond. She recently obtained her Master’s in cello performance from the University of Kentucky studying with Benjamin Karp, where she was a member of the fellowship graduate quartet, and taught extensively in the area as a private teacher, chamber coach, and at an El Sistema based program called MusicWorks. She completed her first degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under Uri Vardi, where she was a founding member of the scholarship Perlman Piano Trio. Maureen has performed and studied abroad, including time spent playing as a substitute cellist in the Costa Rica National Symphony, and studying privately at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in Israel. She has attended a variety of summer music festivals, including the Luzerne Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Kent/Blossom, Jerusalem Summer Strings Institute, AIMS in Gratz, Austria, the Brevard Music Festival, Scotia Fest, and Music Mountain Chamber Music Masterclasses. As a chamber musician, she has performed alongside artists such as William Preucil and Scott St. John. Maureen was a 2015 Banff Winter Musician in Residence.
Pearl FuentesExpertise: Violin
Pearl Fuentes is a classically trained violinist and violist who has been teaching music for the past decade. Pearl started her music performance career in Miami, Florida where she spent most of her life playing in various orchestras, festivals, ensembles, and events as a freelance musician. Pearl
received her Bachelor’s Degree in Instrumental Performance from Florida International University where she studied with Michael Klotz, a Juilliard graduate and violist of the Amernet String Quartet. While freelancing in the vibrant city of Miami, Pearl was also passionate about being a teaching artist at Miami Music Project, an El-Sistema inspired organization dedicated to use music as a tool for social transformation and composing better lives. As an advocate for providing all students with access to music, Pearl became a manager of Greater Miami Youth Symphony, a youth orchestra devoted to enriching and inspiring the youth to bring music into our communities and preparing students for their musical endeavors.
In early 2018, Pearl moved to New York City where she continues to freelance and is currently a full time music teacher in NYC schools teaching general music and directing school orchestras.
Sasha OnoExpertise: Orchestra
Sasha Ono is a freelance cellist and music educator in the New York City area where she performs and records as a freelance and chamber musician in various genres. Recent performances include work with Grammy Award-winning jazz musicians, Mozart in the Jungle, Streetlight Manifesto, and Little Kruta Orchestra. Sasha has been featured as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician on National TV, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, National Sawdust, Avery Fisher Hall (David Geffen Hall), Madison Sq. Garden as well as international performance venues. International performances include a tour of Northern Japan to raise awareness and funds for areas still heavily impacted by the tsunami and earthquakes.
As an advocate for classical music reflecting the experiences of wider communities, she founded Lotus Chamber Music Collective which focuses on performing compositions by women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ composers – and recently was awarded a grant by Chamber Music America.
Sasha is the Community Partner and Education Director for OrchestraOne NYC which puts community involvement and education at the forefront of all of their programming.
Sasha is a faculty member for Orchestra of St.Luke’s (YOSL) and is the former orchestra director of the Elementary and High School Brewster Central School District orchestra programs. During her tenure teaching and conducting elementary through high school orchestras, Sasha developed a unique strings curriculum focused on developing perseverance, building effective practice techniques, and learning music literacy through ear training. At YOSL, she works as a group cello instructor as well as a consultant and creator of student assessments. Sasha is also the current conductor of the String Orchestra at the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra, conductor of Beginning and Intermediate Ensembles at Opportunity Music Project, and cello instructor for New Jersey Symphony Orchestra training ensemble.
Sasha received her B.A in Cello Performance under the direction of Julia Lichten at SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Music and Masters of Arts in Music Education from Manhattanville College where she received the Fromkin Award and became a New York State Certified Music Teacher.
Terrence ThornhillExpertise: Orchestra
Terrence Thornhill, a native of Maplewood, is an active cellist, conductor and educator in the New York metropolitan area. He is Vice President of Notes for Change, a teaching artist with the Paterson Music Project, and Founder, Conductor and Music Director of the Community Artist Ensemble. He is currently the Instrumental Director of Kent Place School in Summit and serves as Lead Teaching Artist of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Educational Outreach program.
Terrence has a Masters Degree in Cello Performance from SUNY Purchase, where he served as principal cellist and studied with Julia Lichten. At Montclair State University’s Cali School of Music, he graduated with a degree in Music Education, and studied cello with Nicholas Tzavaras.
Thapelo MasitaExpertise: Cello
Thapelo Masita uses his music to help further the arts in his home country of South Africa. He earned a Bachelor of Music in cello performance from the Eastman School of Music in 2017 and a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School in 2019.
Through a faculty position at the Opportunity Music Project and a fellowship in the Music Advancement Program – a Juilliard Sponsored Community Engagement Initiative, Masita has been able to serve young people from underrepresented communities.
Masita is a founding member of the Uhuru String Quartet, which seeks through artistic collaborations and performance to connect and empower women who have experienced domestic violence and homelessness. The Quartet has commissioned and performed a new quartet by Japanese-American composer Sato Matsui, and has collaborated on several occasions with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw.
Masita is the founder and executive director of the Bokamoso International Chamber Music Festival and Workshop in South Africa, which aims to share the joys of music with local communities while providing high level training to promising youths from around the country.
Thapelo is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at CUNY Graduate Center where he works with Julia Lichten. He performs on a cello made by Oded Kishony, on generous loan to him by the Virtu Foundation.
Yoojin ParkExpertise: Violin
Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Yoojin Park is a New York City-based violinist and composer. Growing up in a musical family and under the influence of a pianist mother, Yoojin began piano lessons at the age of 3 and began playing violin at 4. Soon after, Yoojin was recognized as being an outstanding musical prodigy, winning the Hankook Ilbo Competition at the age of 7. In high school, Yoojin served as concertmaster at the Kaywon High School of Arts, as well as performing as a soloist at the Seoul Arts Center. In 2006, Yoojin graduated from Korea National University of Arts, one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea, with a Bachelor of Music in Classical Violin Performance under the tutelage of the professor Nam-Yun Kim, one of the most celebrated violinists in South Korea.
Having a tremendous passion for classical music, Yoojin was also deeply intrigued by the world of jazz and improvisation. She liked the idea of not being restrained by following the conventions of classical music or playing only by sheet music. So in 2006, Yoojin moved to Boston to study at the renowned Berklee College of Music, pursuing jazz in earnest. After graduating Magna Cum Laude in performance from Berklee, she moved to New York City, where in 2011, she earned a Master’s Degree in jazz performance from Queens College as a student of professor Antonio Hart.
In 2013, Yoojin signed with Universal Music Group International and released her debut album “West End”—a cool mix of jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues—the album was publicly acclaimed by Jazz Times- “A new jazz violinist appears like a beacon.” The album was produced by Antonio Hart and featured Godwin Louis, Victor Gould, Montez Coleman and Lonnie Plaxico.
From there, Yoojin has established herself as a bandleader, performing in famed NYC venues including, but not limited to: Blue Note Jazz Club, Rockwood Music Hall and Jazz Gallery. During this time, Yoojin also actively performed as a sideman, recording violin parts for Victor Gould’s debut album “Clockwork” working with producer Myron Walden as well as his third album “Thoughts Become Things” working with producer Jeremy Pelt. In addition, she appeared on J.M.I. Recordings artist Antero Sievert’s debut album “The_Underscore”—where Yoojin collaborated with producer Steven Mandel.
Yoojin showed her versatility when she toured with DJ KSHMR, performing at Ultra Korea, Ultra Singapore, Sunburn Festival in India, IleSoniq in Montreal, and Avant Gardener in Brooklyn. Also in 2019, Yoojin recorded and appeared in a live video shoot performance with YUNGBLUD (Vevo)— “Hope For The Underrated Youth (Live Orchestral Version)”. In the same year, she also performed at the Hudson Yards opening commemoration with Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman, Deborah Cox, Nathan East and music director Greg Phillinganes.
Yoojin not only succeeds in performance but as an orchestral director/concertmaster as well, recording with and leading a 24-piece string orchestra on saxophonist Tivon Pennicott’s upcoming album “Spirit Garden”. Yoojin also recorded on the upcoming album—Producer Mondays with Ray Angry, as well as recently collaborating with Chien Chien Lu, a jazz vibraphonist and her producer Richie Goods.
Currently, since 2016, Yoojin’s been directing and performing in the string section for the Myron Walden with Strings feat. Jon Cowherd project, the group has performed numerous times at Smalls and Mezzrow Jazz Club of NYC.