Chava Appiah is a third-year Cello Fellow at the New World Symphony. She has performed with the Grant Park Symphony as a Project Inclusion fellow, Pacific Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA and Tanglewood Music Festival, as well as with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas. She holds degrees from New England Conservatory and Oberlin.
Benjamin Bush is the fifth eldest and plays the cello. At the age of 10, he joined two orchestras, Miami Music Project (MMP) and South Florida Youth Symphony (SFYS) in which he holds the principal positions. He is currently studying under Jason Calloway who is a graduate of Juilliard. Mr. Calloway personally requested to teach him the cello after observing his musical ability during a master class in which he had only been playing for a few months. Benjamin’s goal is to attend Juilliard and become a world-renowned soloist and give master classes to talented young cellist whose parents cannot afford to pay for private lessons. Some of his most recent accomplishments are that he was accepted into three major summer programs: Sphinx, Interlochen Arts camp, and NYO2. Currently, Benjamin is a senior at Florida International University and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cello performance. His college grade point average is 3.9.
Grace Bush started college at the age of 13 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Spanish with honors at the age of 16. In fact, she graduated college before high school and was featured on the Today Show and other national and international news programs as a consequence. She received her master’s degrees in Public Administration at the age of 18. In 2016, Grace was selected among the top 100 most influential women in the 50-year history of Florida Atlantic University. Currently, Grace works at Miami Music Project and is working on her second master’s degree in Music Education at Boston Conservatory at Berklee.
Dachondra “Dae” Cason is a poet and published freelance writer from Miami, FL. She is the CEO of The Write Dae, a freelance writing company based in Atlanta, GA, and founder of Poetry and Sneakers, an interactive conceptual art experience using original poetry to start crucial, in-depth conversations with audience members. Through Poetry and Sneakers, Dachondra has created a space for conversations centered around cultural diversity, vulnerability, and personal growth in multiple cities around the US.
Portia Dunkley is a social and cultural entrepreneur, arts advocate and administrator, educator, double bassist and native Miamian of Haitian and Bahamian descent. In 2017, Portia started Teeny Violini, a mobile music education program for preschools and afterschool programs, providing music education services for historically underserved communities, educating students from preschool-5th grade through weekly programming. In 2019 Portia was chosen as a Fellow for the Sphinx L.EA.D (Leaders in Excellence, Arts and Diversity) inaugural cohort. In the same year, Ms. Dunkley was awarded a Knight Arts Challenge grant for her project “Music of the Unsung America; Spotlighting Black Composers in the Shadows of History.” Currently she serves as the Executive Director of the Refugee Orchestra Project whose mission is to demonstrate through music the vitally important role that refugees from across the globe have played in our country’s culture and society.
Alexandra D’Amico hails from From Boston, MA. She studied at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University, where she received her BM degree. Alexandra performs with ensembles, including Miami City Ballet Orchestra and Colour of Music Virtuosi. She is also a Teaching Artist at Miami Music Project.
Florida’s best-kept secret, Waldron E. Dunkley II, has evolved into an infamous musical performer, talented composer, and multi-faceted instrumentalist. Although of Bahamian and Jamaican descent Waldron grew up in Florida. At the early age of 10, he developed an interest in playing instruments while at Scott Lakes Elementary School. Waldron went on to attend Broward College, where he received an Associate of Music in Performance in 2010. He then earned his Bachelor of Jazz Studies and a Masters in Jazz Studies in Performance at Florida State University (FSU).
Waldron epitomizes the words leadership, responsibility, and discipline. He taught and directed the Jazz Chamber Ensemble and the Jazz Repertoire Ensemble at FSU. He was also a professor of Jazz History (Part 1 & 2) at FSU and often gives private lessons to students in high school and college. Waldron welcomes responsibility as a method of staying humble and giving back to the community.
Lakeisha Frith is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and Humanities. Ms. Frith began working with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony in 2005 as the String Orchestra Assistant and as an instructor and was eventually appointed Assistant Executive Director of GMYS in 2015. Over the years, Ms. Frith has worked extensively in the Miami-Dade and Broward communities with organizations like, the African American Library, Covenant House, United by Music Inc, public schools, Parks and Recreation, also, with The Children’s Trust as an adjudicator for their Young Talent Big Dreams Competition, a panelist for the Youth Arts Enrichment Grant Program, and as a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. As the Manager of Education for the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Ms. Frith works in conjunction with resident companies, arts partners, and with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to enhance the arts education experience of all students and teachers throughout Miami-Dade County. Lakeisha Frith maintains a private lesson studio and enjoys teaching and performing.
Isaiah Gonzalez is a Hialeah-based artist. He graduated with a BFA in Dance from New World School of the Arts in 2019 and since 2018 he has trained and performed with the Miami-based contemporary dance company Brigid Baker Whole Project. Isaiah also performed in works by Maya Billig, Sandra L. Portal-Abreu, Emily Ricca, Eulyce Eason, Claudio Marcotulli, Karen Peterson, and Jamar Roberts. He enjoys working with people and strives to build deeper connections in every aspect of his life and work.
Sheena Gutierrez is one of Miami’s promising young talents. She joined the Sphinx Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra-compromised of Top Laureates of the Sphinx Competition- in 2011. This early success paved the way to her performances in halls such as Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, New World Center, Adrienne Arsht Center, Harris Theater, Studzinski Hall, Benedict Music Tent, KKL Luzern Concert Hall (Switzerland), and König Albert Theater (Germany), among others. Along with Stepan Rudenko, pianist and husband, she has formed the Sotto Amore Duo in 2011 to inspire people with their love and passion for music. They are actively performing recitals around South Florida. She completed her undergraduate degree at the Boston Conservatory of Music studying with Rictor Noren. She is currently a Teaching Assistant and a Henry Mancini Fellow student at the University of Miami pursuing her Doctorate studies with Charles Castleman.
Born on the 1st Day of Spring, JaNia Harden is a native of South Florida. Music was a strong influence on how she wanted to live her life as a professional musician, performer, composer, arranger, artist, and educator. JaNia graduated from Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Music Education emphasis in Voice. Immediately after graduation day she hopped on a European Gospel and Jazz tour and never stopped. She has been in education for 15 years and has the pleasure of being a music educator with Broward County Public Schools. JaNia is a wife to musician John Harden, and mother of three all while still performing professionally opening up for the likes of Laylah Hathaway, composing and arranging for musicals and performing all over South Florida with her group The Harden Project.
Dr. Christine Jobson, Jamaican American soprano from Miami, Florida, has performed in Spain, Portugal, Austria, Russia, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and throughout the United States. Recently, Dr. Jobson sang in the chorus and was a featured soloist at the Metropolitan Opera for their Grammy award-winning production of Porgy and Bess. She made her Russian debut at the Music Hall Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess Suite. In May 2019, Dr. Jobson won first place in the pre-professional category of the prestigious George Shirley Vocal Competition. Dr. Jobson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Oakwood University, a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Kentucky, and a doctoral degree from the University of Miami. Dr. Jobson’s recordings include “By Faith,” a collection of hymns and Negro spirituals with pianist Dr. Wayne Bucknor and “Nearly Lost: Art Songs by Florence Price” pianist Dr. Gregory Thompson. “Nearly Lost” was recently named one of Opera Wire’s ten essential recordings of Black composers.
Joseph Jones developed his interest in conducting at an early age; after beginning to cultivate it with independent score study at the age of 14, he began studying with Dr. Harlan Parker at the Peabody Conservatory. In November 2004, he made his operatic debut with Capitol Opera, Harrisburg, as conductor and music director in four performances of Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz. In the summer of 2005, Mr. Jones was awarded a fellowship to study at the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival and the youngest conductor ever to receive a fellowship to that program. He studied with David Zinman and Murray Sidlin, conducting the American Academy of Conducting Orchestra in masterclass readings and concerts. Mr. Jones is the founder, artistic director, and conductor of the Orchestra Amadeus, a project based in New York City which performs benefit concerts for humanitarian causes. Other recent activities include conducting apprenticeship with the New York Youth symphony; a fellowship with the Allentown (Pa.) Symphony orchestra; and serving as assistant conductor with the National Music Festival and Gulf Coast Symphony. Mr. Jones has also appeared with the Moscow Symphony, the Kuban Symphony, and the Orquestra Sinfonica de Coyo. He has participated in masterclasses with orchestras such as the Omaha Symphony and Rose City Chamber Orchestra, and conductors David Zinman, Vladimir Punkin, Michael Morgan, Murray Sidlin, Thomas Wilkins, Mark Gibson, and Achim Holub. Mr. Jones’ music has been performed at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Peabody Conservatory, and Kennedy Center. His work has recently been presented by Decoda in New York City and the Winnipeg New Music Festival. Mr. Jones studied composition, conducting, and viola at the Peabody Conservatory of Music.
Jeremy Jordan is a native of Huntsville, AL, and attended Oakwood University, where he studied vocal performance and pedagogy and was a member of the Aeolians, serving as student conductor (2012-2013). In 2017 along with his brother Justin, Jordan was inducted into the North Alabama Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame. Currently, he is the Director of Music and Choral Department at Miami Union Academy (MUA), teaching grades 6th-12th. MUA is a historically black private academy that has been in existence since 1917. The high school choir has enjoyed much success under the direction of Jordan, recently being participants in the 2018 Music for All National Choir Festival. They’ve also had the privilege of performing at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. Under his leadership, the MUA Choral Department initiated an annual social justice concert to raise awareness about the injustices our students see in their communities and the world at large. Jordan is currently a MM choral conducting student at Florida International University. While also serving as the Director of Music at Myrtle Grove Presbyterian Church.
Victoria Joseph finds purpose in continuing her father’s legacy of sharing the power of music with the world. Romel Joseph was not only an accomplished violinist, but an equally passionate teacher. As a child, Victoria watched her father build The New Victorian School (TNVS) with her mother in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, growing it from just a few students into a school that teaches over 300 children aged 2-13. After three decades of seeing first-hand the benefits of children becoming empowered through music, Victoria is motivated more than ever to further educational opportunities that nurture, strengthen and empower Haiti’s youth through a balance of academic and musical programs. Victoria draws on her experience from her time assisting Mr. Joseph in different capacities, incorporating leadership strategies into the umbrella of the “One Movement for Haiti” initiatives that she champions today. In her leadership roles with The New Victorian School, The Friends of Music Education and sharing The Romel Joseph Music Collection, Victoria values what the power of one founder, one student, one song and one dream can do for creating a better world.
Eleejah Kitchell-Bush is a Miami native. She pursued her baccalaureate studies at Oakwood University, in Northern Alabama, earning a degree in Music with a concentration in violin performance. After graduating, she discovered a passion for teaching and has done work as an orchestra and band conductor, general music teacher and vocal chorus director. Currently, Kitchell-Bush works full-time as an elementary school music teacher, private violin instructor and is a student in the Masters in Music Education program at the University of Florida. She balances her career in the classroom with a rigorous performance schedule, playing in local ensembles and as a solo artist. Her great joy is to see people moved by the power of music and inspired by the magic it ignites inside us all.
Andres Lasaga obtained his Bachelor of Music from the New World School of the Arts’ vocal program. He performed several roles in their annual scenes program and productions, such as Ernesto from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and Mengone from Haydn’s Lo Speziale. He received his Master’s of Music degree at the University of Miami, Frost School of Music, where he had the opportunity to perform two Stravinsky operas: Mavra (Hussar) and The Rake’s Progress (Tom Rakewell). Other roles include Britten’s The Turn of The Screw (The Prologue and Peter Quint), Lehar’s The Merry Widow (St. Brioche and Baron Popoff), Barber’s A Hand of Bridge (Bill), Massenet’s Cendrillon (Le Doyen de la Faculté), Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Puck), Strauss’ Ariadne Auf Naxos (Scaramuccio), and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Tamino and Monostatos). Along with choir collaborations, Andrés had the honor of performing a recital at the Mirabell Palace in Salzburg, Austria, in 2017. Aside from singing, he has composed several art songs and instrumental works and had the opportunity of premiering his work in the South Florida community.ccordion Content
Albert Lee is a featured soloist on a recording of works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Walker on Albany Records singing musical settings of the Walt Whitman poem “When lilacs last in dooryard bloomed,” a poem written as an elegy to Abraham Lincoln after his assassination.
He appeared as tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the National Chorale, joined the British-based classical crossover group Vox Fortura in domestic and international performances, and made appearances with Opera Las Vegas and Steamboat Opera of Colorado. He completed his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Connecticut, his Master of Music at The Juilliard School, and his Doctorate of Music degree at Florida State University. Albert is an Associate Professor of Voice and Opera at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Nicaraguan born jazz pianist and composer, Darwin Noguera is an emerging voice in the jazz and Latin idioms. With 3 albums as a leader, commissioned works, recordings as a sideman, performances and masterclasses across the United States and the world, Darwin is considered a rising star in the new generation of pianists. Darwin started formal classical training with Panamanian pianist Reinaldo Whyte in Miami, where he grew up. Later Darwin studied at Horta Music Institute of Miami, where he got the opportunity to make his debut with the Miami Symphony Orchestra at the age of 15. He transitioned to study jazz in his early 20’s and now moves swiftly through musical styles, employing equal prowess in composition and jazz improvisation.
Cellist, Kevin Phillip Jones currently resides in the South Florida metro area, and formerly in the Washington D.C. area, where he was recently soloist with the DC Strings orchestra.
He performs with several opera companies, including Maryland Lyric Opera and Washington Opera Society. In addition to playing stages like The Kennedy Center, Meriweather Post Pavillion, Jiffy Lube Live Amphitheater, and NPR’s Tiny Desk, Kevin was most recently a guest soloist with the Colour of Music Festival Orchestra in Charleston, South Carolina, and will be returned as a guest soloist with the DC-Strings Workshop Orchestra, in August.
Most recently Mr. Jones was featured in recital on the Music@St. Alban’s series outside of Charlotte, NC.
Vishnu Ramankutty, violist and Miami native has performed locally in South Florida and nationally in, Washington D.C, North Carolina, New York, and Paris. He has appeared at the Festival de Saint-Denis, the Metis Festival, the Miami Music Festival, the Music Academy of the West, the New York String Orchestra Seminar, and the Eastern Music Festival as a string fellow. He began his training at the New World School of the Arts/University of Florida high school and college. At NWSA, he was a laureate of the concerto competition, performing Alan Shulmans Theme and Variations. Some of his teachers include Richard Fleischman, Chauncey Patterson, and Michael Klotz. His chamber music experience includes work with the Juilliard, Guarneri, and Takacs Quartets. Most recently, Srivishnu completed a Master’s degree in Performance at Lynn Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Ralph Fielding. Srivishnu has worked with the Miami City Ballet Orchestra, the Miami Lyric Opera, the Miami Symphony, Orchestra Miami, the Symphonia Boca Raton, the Palm Beach Symphony, and the Nu Deco Ensemble. Currently, Srivishnu performs with the Candlelight Concert series, bringing classical music to audiences in uncommon spaces. Outside of music, Srivishnu is an amateur rock climber and ashtanga yogi.
Angel Refuse is an Opera and Concert Singer. He is born in and cultivated in Miami, FL he is of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent. I after graduating from Miami Northwestern Senior High School’s PAVAC Program he attended Boston Conservatory at Berklee . Angel Refuse-. He has been an active singer with Florida Grand Opera since 2011. He has been on radio interviews and art lectures local and abroad, introducing and exposing the public to classical music and opera and alongside telling the narrative of the African Contributions’ rich cultural legacy to the Arts.
Emily Ricca is a free-lance ballerina. She has danced professionally for Ballet de San Juan, Florida Dance Theatre, Boca Ballet Theatre, the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, as well as a guest ballerina in Paris, France where she worked with the legendary Michael Denard of the Paris Opera Ballet where Miss Ricca performed excerpts from Swan Lake, Giselle, Raymonda & presented The Romance Project- an informative educational, & engaging live music & Dance performance for all ages . She currently working with Albany Berkshire Ballet in Upstate New York where she performs principal roles such as Snow Queen pas de deux from Nutcracker as well as teaching at the Miami City Ballet. Recently Miss Ricca had the opportunity to work with the legendary film Director- Harmony Korine on one of his films He needed a ballerina for. Last December She was the prima ballerina for Joyce Stahl’s lavish production of the Nutcracker in Key west where past Sugarplums have been Wendy Whalen. In December 2020, Miss Ricca was the featured ballerina for The African Heritage Centers performance. of the musical – Paint Your Wagon. a contemporary, dramatic duet.
Mario Rivera is a vivid chamber musician and violist who enjoys playing and coaching string quartets. He is a chamber music coach and viola teacher at Premier Orchestral Institute Summer Festival in Jackson, MS. and Victoriano López music Camp in Honduras. Mr. Rivera is former member of the Ajax Quartet which was graduate quartet-in-residence at the University of Colorado Boulder from 2017 to 2019. During their residence they studied with the Grammy award winner Takacs Quartet. As a chamber player he has done collaborations with renown musicians such as Alexander Kobrin, William Preucil, Wendy Warner, Klauss Stoll, Sergiu Schwartz, and has work with the Jupiter String Quartet, Escher String Quartet, American String Quartet, the Pacifica Quartet, and Sylvia Rosenberg, Donald Weilerstein and James Dunham in the quartet fellowship program at the 2018 Aspen Music Festival and School.
Isis C. Roberts (Mezzo Soprano) is the Arts & Education Specialist at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center (AHCAC). During the last twenty-four years, she has shared her passion for music with the students of the AHCAC. When she’s not working with either student, you can find her worshiping God at First Deliverance Church of God in Christ.
A native of Miami, FL, Kunya is an alum of New World School of the Arts College’s opera program, but often traverses various genres’ worlds.
Kunya is also a national reviewer for the National YoungArts Foundation voice division. His artistic credits include performances with Magic City Opera, Slow Burn Theatre, Opera Naples, Florida Grand Opera, Orchestra Miami, Nu Deco Ensemble, Illuminarts, Klezmer Orchestra, and the M Ensemble.
Kunya is a 2017 Knight Arts Challenge recipient for “Hued Songs,” a performance series that explores and celebrates black history through black music and artists’ lens. Through his work, he seeks to be a conduit for accessible arts across a multi-cultural platform.
Crystal A. Sawyer is a Freelance harpist who performs solo, in chamber ensembles, and in orchestras throughout South Florida and the Caribbean. She enjoys collaborating with Jazz and classical musicians, dancers, choreographers, poets, and visual artists. Ms. Sawyer has directed harp ensembles for children and maintains a harp studio where she teaches private lessons. Her healing projects include working with senior venues and Reiki circles. Most recently, Ms. Sawyer appeared in Buskerfest and participated in Make Music Miami.
A native of Duluth, Georgia, Chelsea Sharpe is a fourth-year Violin Fellow at the New World Symphony. She is a graduate of the Atlanta Symphony’s Talent Development Program and also serves the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra concertmaster. After high school, Ms. Sharpe attended the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, studying with Kathleen Winkler for her bachelor’s degree. Recently, Ms. Sharpe completed her master’s degree at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where she studied with Glenn Dicterow. She recently embarked on a US tour with the Sphinx Virtuosi, one of the nation’s most dynamic professional chamber orchestras. She has also recorded TV/film scores and provided strings for artists such as John Legend and Kanye West.
Miami native Cesare Turner is a graduate of Florida Memorial College, with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Music. There he studied trumpet under Melton Mustafa, He has played in ensembles ran by world-renowned recording saxophonist Ed Calle. Very shortly after college Mr. Turner started teaching for the South Florida Youth Symphony, where he started his.orchestral journey, playing viola.He spent 13 years with the organization as an orchestral conductor and teacher.
Throughout his professional career Mr. Turner has been fortunate enough to play on stage, tv, and record for world-class artists and musicians such as John Legend, Chico DeBarge, Luis Fonsi, Luis Enrique, Ed Calle, Arturo Sandoval, Nestor Torres, Albita, Oscar de Leon, and others. Mr. Turner also played trumpet on Ed Calle’s 2015 Latin Grammy album of the year Mamblue. He currently teaches music at the historic Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts, an award-winning performing arts school located in Miami.
Professor Kevin Wayne Bumpers is a concert pianist holding both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Piano Performance from the University of South Alabama and Florida State University. He has done postgraduate studies at the University of Miami.
In 2006, Mr. Bumpers received a Fulbright-Hayes Group Study Abroad Scholarship to Ghana, West Africa, to study traditional religious music in their various dialects.
Mr. Bumpers is a full-time tenured faculty member and coordinator of the Keyboard Arts Area at Miami Dade College Kendall Campus since 1991 at the rank of Full Professor Senior.
Mr. Bumpers is a sought after classical and gospel pianist, accompanist, music workshop clinician and adjudicator of talent competitions.
Erica Williams is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Master of Music degree in vocal performance. MLO performances include Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Lucia di Lammermoor, L’elisir d’amore, L’Amico Fritz, La Bohème, Don Pasquale, La Traviata, and Arrieta’s Spanish opera, Marina. Ms. Williams has also performed with Riuniti Opera. Her roles include Adele in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and the Queen of the Night, Papagena, and Spirit 1 in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Outside of this, she has performed the roles of Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Madame Herz in Der Schauspieldirektor. Her last operatic performances include the South Florida Symphony’s production of Porgy and Bess and Suor Angelica with Opera Fusion. Before the pandemic, she was the soprano soloist in a performance of Handel’s Messiah. Ms. Williams is the Chorus Teacher at North Miami Middle School and serves as the Soprano Soloist/Section Leader at First Presbyterian Church in Pompano Beach, FL.