Project STEP Class


Jason Amos (chamber music) began the viola at age eleven in his hometown of Southfield, MI.  He placed 4th in the 2007 Sphinx Competition and 1st in the 2006 Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Bradlin Scholarship Concerto Competition. He has also performed as the featured young artist of the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings and as soloist with the Ann Arbor Symphony. After undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, Mr. Amos received a Graduate Diploma at the New England Conservatory of Music.  During the summers, he has enjoyed serving as faculty for the Sphinx Performance Academy and the Four Strings Academy, as well as mentoring the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. Jason studied primarily with Martha Strongin Katz, Yizhak Schotten, Caroline Coade, and Catherine Carroll.  Mr. Amos completed the Fellowship program at Community MusicWorks in Providence, RI. Jason serves as violist in the Boston Public Quartet, which has a permanent residency at the Chittick Elementary School in Mattapan, MA.

Alexander Badalov (cello)

Laura Blustein (cello), received her Bachelor of Music degree from New England Conservatory, and both her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from SUNY-Stony Brook. Laura has studied with Gabor Rejto, Laurence Lesser, and Timothy Eddy, and has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada. From 1994-1998 she was Associate Professor of Cello at the Berklee College of Music. Currently, she is on the teaching faculty at Project STEP, New England Conservatory Preparatory Division (currently Chair of the String and Piano Chamber Music Department), Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts, and Powers Music School where she is also the Artistic Director of the school’s Music on the Hill summer program.

Meghan Carye (cello) is an active cellist and music educator in the Greater Boston Area.  She began her musical training at New England Conservatory and holds a Bachelor of Music and a Graduate Performance Diploma in cello performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music.  She has performed throughout North America, Europe and Israel and is a founding member and cellist of the Illyrian Chamber Players.  She has served as the Assistant Director and Chamber Music Coordinator for NEC’s Festival Youth Orchestra since 2001.  In the fall of 2012 she joined the faculty at Tufts University as a cello instructor and chamber music coach for their Community Music Program.   She maintains an active private studio, is currently on faculty at The Belmont Hill School and is a former faculty member for Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Intensive Community Program and The Powers Music School.

Julia Cash (violin)

Mark Churchill (cello) is Dean Emeritus of New England Conservatory’s Department of Preparatory and Continuing Education, which he led for 31 years. As a cellist Churchill has appeared as soloist, recitalist, and chamber music player throughout the United States and on tours of South America. Churchill is widely known as a conductor in New England and abroad. He has been Associate Conductor of the Boston Ballet since 1992, and is the founder and Music Director of Symphony Pro Musica, Worcester’s Salisbury Lyric Opera, and the Salisbury Chamber Orchestra. He is the founder and vice president of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, established in 2002, and currently serves as director of El Sistema USA, the advocacy and service organization for American programs that emulate the renowned Venezuelan model of social development through music. In 2005, Churchill spearheaded the signing of the “Friendship Agreement” between New England Conservatory and Venezuela’s massive El Sistema youth orchestral training program—planting the seeds for NEC’s close relationship to that program. Churchill was married to violinist and educator, the late Marylou Speaker Churchill.

Jennifer Elowitch (violin), is Founder and Artistic Director of the Portland Chamber Music Festival and Director of Music at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in MA, where she was the recipient of a 2016 E.E. Ford Faculty Award for Exceptional Merit. A noted chamber musician, she has appeared as a guest artist with the Franciscan and Fidelio Quartets, the Winsor and Andover Chamber Music Series, the Williamstown and Walden Chamber Players, and the Mark Morris Dance Group. Ms. Elowitch has also performed with well-known contemporary ensembles including Boston Musica Viva, Collage New Music, and the Fromm Players at Harvard. With PCMF, she has appeared on WGBH radio in Boston, NPR’s “Performance Today,” and at the Harvard Musical Association. She is the Assistant Principal Second Violinist of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, has performed often with the Boston Symphony, and was a longtime member of the Emmanuel Chamber Orchestra, with whom she toured Europe. A noted teacher, she has presented workshops and masterclasses as a guest at The Boston Conservatory, Community Musicworks in Providence, New England Conservatory, The Curtis Institute, and Lawrence University (WI), and she recently served as a guest teacher at the Yehudi Menuhin School in the UK.

Pascale Delache Feldman (bass), French doublebassist, was a prizewinner at the Prague International Chamber Music Competition, hailed by the New Music Connoisseur as having “technical certainty and musical imagination” and by the Phoenix as “a gifted colorist.” An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated with Midori, Joel Smirnoff, Virginia Eskin, Randall Hodgkinson, the Lark, Borromeo and St. Petersburg String Quartets and soprano Dawn Upshaw. She has soloed with the Merrimack Valley Philharmonic, North Shore Philharmonic, Greensboro Festival Orchestra and has recorded on Albany, Archetype, Arsis, AFKA and CRI. Co-founder of Duo Cello e Basso with cellist Emmanuel Feldman, they have concertized in the US and Europe. Ms. Delache-Feldman has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, Toulouse Capitole National Orchestra (France), and as principal bassist with Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, among others. Founder and artistic director of the Boston Bass Bash, an international bass festival, she is on the bass faculty at the Longy School of Music of Bard College, NEC and Tufts University.

Sassan Haghighi (cello & theory), is a freelance cellist and teacher. Recently completing his M.M under the tutelage of Astrid Schween, he has also studied and played for well-known cellists such as Marcy Rosen, Zvi Plesser, Brooks Whitehouse, Rhonda Rider, Pieter Wispelwey, and David Finckel. A long time participant of the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, Sassan spent part of summer 2012 as a member of a trio in the Young Artist Fellowship Program. An advocate of new music, he attended a Contemporary Cello Festival in 2012 held at Music from Salem in Salem, NY. After attending Ameropa Music Festival in Prague Czech Republic, Sassan was invited to study at the Prague Conservatory under the instruction of Vladan Koci. Sassan has won several awards, scholarships, and competitions including the Music Academy of North Carolina Strings Competition.

Nancy Hair (cello) received her B.M. from Indiana University and The Hartt School, and attended graduate studies in pedagogy at Ithaca Talent Education. She studied with Janos Starker, Raya Garbousova, Yehuda Hanani, George Neikrug, Timothy Eddy as well as the Alexander Technique. She has performed with Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, New Hampshire Symphony, Opera Company of Boston, Rhode Island Philharmonic and has been former faculty at Longy and Powers music schools. She is currently on faculty at The Hartt School, All Newton Music School, and New England Conservatory Preparatory Division.

Mariana Green Hill (violin & chamber music) serves as Artistic Advisor of Project STEP, performs as a soloist and chamber musician and teaches at New England Conservatory’s Preparatory Division and privately. She also serves as Founder and Director of Four Strings Academy and is on the faculty of Boston Arts Academy. Mariana Hill is a Second Prize Winner of The Sphinx Competition. She has also won first place in the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Harry and Marion Dubbs Competitions. Mrs. Hill has been a featured guest soloist with the New Jersey, Memphis, Detroit, and Boston Symphony Orchestras and The Boston Pops.  The Amaryllis String Quartet, of which she was a member, was awarded First Prize in the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, Jr. Division.  Mariana Hill is co-concertmaster of the Soulful Symphony whose recording earned an Emmy. Ms. Hill is a member of the MarNi Duo that performed for a benefit concert for the now President Barak Obama.  Mrs. Hill is an alumna of Project STEP and attended Walnut Hill School for the Arts. B.M. and M.M., The Juilliard School; Professional Studies Diploma, Mannes College of Music.

Susan Jarvis (violin) B.M. (University of Ottawa); B.Ed. (University of Lethbridge); M.M. (Ithaca College); Silver Medal Winner, Royal Conservatory, Toronto; studies with Linda Case, Sanford Reuning, Lóránd Fenyves, John Gomez; frequent Suzuki workshop and institute clinician; former faculty, Ithaca Talent Education, Conservatory Suzuki Program at the University of Lethbridge; former member, Thirteen Strings of Ithaca, Southern Alberta Chamber Orchestra, Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra.

Anna Korsunsky (violin) studied at Gnesiney Institute of Music in Moscow, Russia. After immigrating to the United States she continued her studies under a Special Director Award at Boston University, where she received Master of Music degree. She has appeared as a soloist and as a chamber musician in the former USSR, Germany, Italy, Japan and USA and has participated in the Musicorda, Spoleto and Pacific Music Festivals. Ms. Korsunsky is a member of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and plays with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. She teaches extensively at her home studio in Needham and at St. Mark’s School.

Angela Leidig (violin) received her B.A. in Music from Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, her M.M. from Boston University, and did doctoral work in violin performance at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She currently teaches Suzuki violin lessons and group classes at New England Conservatory and maintains her own studio in Somerville where she teaches private violin lessons and Alexander Technique. During the summer Angela teaches at the New England Conservatory Summer SuzukiFest and at the Ogontz Suzuki Institute. She studied Suzuki pedagogy under Kimberly Meier-Sims, Alice Joy Lewis, Ed Kreitman, Ed Sprunger, Linda Fiore and Ronda Cole and is registered through SAA for Suzuki Books 1-10, Every Child Can and Teaching Creativity courses.

Rob Mayes (cello)

Dubravka Sajfar Moshfegh (violin & viola), Graduate, Zagreb University and Brussels Royal Conservatory; Diplome Superieur for violin and Premier Prix for Chamber Music; studies with K. Hauser, I. Pinkava, A. Gerller, Yankelewitch, and Chugajewa; masterclasses in Budapest, Weimar, Salzburg, Goslar; solo and chamber music performances in Europe and U.S.; faculty, New England Conservatory; TV and radio recordings; member Duo Affetuoso.

Farhoud Moshfegh (violin), Graduate from Munich University and Brussels Royal Conservatory; participant, Budapest Bartok Seminar, Salzburg, Goslar, Weimar, Siena masterclasses; studies with A. Gerller, L. Basil, J. Laurent, W. Künig; performances in Europe, U.S., Asia; formerly Artistic Director of Project STEP; director of Vivace Ensemble; member, Duo Affetuoso.

Carol Ou (cello) is a versatile artist known for her “fiery, marvelous” and “meltingly melodic outpourings” (Boston Globe) and her “wonderfully pure cello tone and incisive technique” (The Strad). A founding member of the Buswell-Ou Duo, Ou often appears in solo, chamber music, and concerto performances with violinist James Buswell. As the cellist of the Carpe Diem String Quartet, she frequently tours all over the U.S., performing an eclectic mix of classical string quartet repertoire with many crossover genres of music. Ou has collaborated with celebrated artists such as Midori, Hillary Hahn, Kim Kashkashian, Timothy Eddy, Pascal Rogé, András Schiff, Raul Juarena, and Jayme Stone at the Marlboro Music Festival, Summerfest La Jolla, Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Austin Chamber Music Center, Nevada Chamber Music Festival, and other noted music festivals. Since 2007, Ou has also been chamber music director of the Heifetz International Summer Music Institute in Wolfeboro, N.H. and Staunton, Va. Her recording of Walter Piston’s Chamber Music, issued by Naxos, won the 2001 Chamber Music America Best Chamber Music CD award.

Kirsi Perttuli (violinreceived her BM from the University of Michigan and her MM from Indiana University, both with high distinction. Her teachers included Franco Gulli, Yuval Yaron, and Angel Reyes in violin, Rostislav Dubinsky in chamber music, and Mimi Zweig in violin pedagogy. Ms. Perttuli has performed extensively in the United States and Europe, and she received the Cecilia S. Cohen Award from the Sibelius Society of New York for her recital in New York. She has recorded for CRI and WGBH Boston, and was a guest on New York Cable TV. During her studies she was a recipient of numerous awards and grants. Ms. Perttuli was a member of the Boston Concert Opera and Boston Light Opera Companies. She is a founding member of the Kalliope Piano Trio. In Finland she was a member as well as a soloist with the Pori Symphony, and performed with the Helsinki Radio Symphony. Ms. Perttuli has previously taught at the Dana School of Music, the Longy School of Music, the Rivers School Conservatory, and she has coached chamber music at Boston College. She has conducted children’s string orchestras at Longy School and Rivers School Conservatory. Currently she maintains a private studio in Brookline.

Annie Rabbat (violin) is an avid chamber musician who has participated in the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute, IMS Prussia Cove’s Open Chamber Music, and Caramoor’s Rising Stars Series, as well as the Yellow Barn, Kneisel Hall and Norfolk Chamber Music Festivals. She toured with Musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Institute in 2005, giving performances in Washington, D.C.’s Library of Congress and Boston’s Gardner Museum. Her chamber music collaborations have included performances with Roger Tapping, Gary Hoffman, Menahem Pressler, Timothy Eddy, Ani Kavafian, Anthony Marwood, and Stephen Stirling. Ms. Rabbat’s recent engagements have included a solo recital at the Caramoor Center for the Performing Arts and chamber music performances at the Virginia Arts Festival, Concord Chamber Music Society, and throughout the Boston area. She is a member of the Laurel Quartet, Concertmaster of the Gardner Museum Chamber Orchestra, and also plays with Walden Chamber Players and A Far Cry. Ms. Rabbat completed her Bachelor of Music degree at Indiana University and holds a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School. She now resides in Boston where she studies at the New England Conservatory with Miriam Fried and Donald Weilerstein. Her mentors have also included Robert Mann, Nicholas Mann, Pamela Frank, Ani Kavafian and Phil Setzer.

Magdalena Richter (violin) teaches violin at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, holding the position of Chairman of the String Department and teaching String Pedagogy at NEC College. Additionally, she teaches violin at the Rivers School Conservatory, serves as Chairman of the String Department, and directs the Rivers Upper School Chamber Orchestra. She graduated with honors from the Warsaw Academy of Music and Juilliard School. Her other awards include prizes at the International Competitions in Poland, Paris and New York City. She was awarded a prestigious Jean Stackhouse Award at the NEC Preparatory school. Her students are very involved in Boston based youth orchestras, often as section leaders. Each year her graduating seniors choose music as a career and continue study in the most prestigious schools such as Juilliard School, NEC, Rice University, Royal Academy of Music in London.

Aristides Rivas (cello) made his solo debut at age fourteen with Los Llanos Chamber Orchestra in Guannare, Venezuela, where he became the Associate Principal Cellist the following day by audition.  His musical training began at age seven when he started to learn the cuatro, one of the most representative folk instruments in Venezuela.  At age ten, Mr. Rivas joined the Barinas city wing of the internationally known Venezuela National Youth Orchestra Program, a musical-social project created by the visionary Jose Antonio Abreu in the 1970’s.  Mr. Rivas has been a member of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra since 2005.  

Gillian Rogell (viola)

Daniel Stepner (violin) has been the first violinist of the Lydian String Quartet since 1987.  He is on the faculty at Brandeis University and is also the Artistic Director of the Aston Magna Festival in the Berkshires. As a touring musician, he has played in 11 countries in Western Europe and the former Soviet Union, and throughout Australia and the United States. He has performed and recorded a wide repertoire on period and contemporary instruments. In addition to the Lydian String Quartet’s many recordings, he has recorded chamber music by Buxtehude, Bach, Marais, Rameau, Vivaldi, Telemann, Mozart, Schubert, Charles Ives, Harold Shapero, Irving Fine, Yehudi Wyner, David Rakowski and Yu-Hui Chang.  His recent CD releases also include the Sonatas and Partitas of J.S. Bach (along with his transcription of the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue), and an album of 20th Century masterworks for solo violin, including music of Bartók, Hindemith, Ysaÿe and Perkinson.  Stepner studied with Steven Staryk in Chicago, Nadia Boulanger in France, and Broadus Erle at Yale. 

Jenny Stirling (violin/viola)

Deborah Thompson (cello) has specialized in the teaching of beginning cellists, as young as 3 and as old as 80 for well over 40 years. After teaching for the Wellesley and Lexington Public Schools, Dana Hall, The Suzuki School, All Newton, Brookline, and Powers Music Schools, The Rivers School, Longy and the New England Conservatory, Ms. Thompson has been running her own school “The Cello Studio” since 1992. She performs occasionally but especially enjoys playing chamber music with friends. Ms. Thompson is a passionate organic gardener and vegetarian cook, she loves trying to find time to practice, walking her dog Katie Bell and spoiling her grandson, Thatcher. She is a Boston native, a graduate of Boston University and has attended many wonderful music festivals and conferences all over the world. In addition to her packed teaching schedule, Ms. Thompson conducts a cello choir for adult cello students, she teaches at Music at the Lake, a summer retreat for adult cellists and she organizes workshops, recitals and chamber music opportunities for all her students during the year. 

Gwendoline Thornblade (violin & string class), born in London, UK, was educated at St. Paul’s Girls’ School, whose strong musical tradition greatly influenced her life. She graduated from London University’s Royal Dental Hospital, and later from Boston University studying Pediatric Dentistry. A lifelong devotion to chamber music and orchestral performance culminated in a change in career to teaching violin and viola using the Suzuki Method. She began this second career as an involved mother and pursued her training with recognized Suzuki Teacher Trainers throughout the U.S. During her training, she attended teacher training directly with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki at various workshops and in Japan. Her teaching experience includes 12 years of Suzuki Method in the Newton Public Schools, 8 years at the All Newton Music School, and 10 years at the New England Conservatory, including chamber music coaching. She has taught at many summer Suzuki Institutes in the USA and Canada, and has presented at international workshops. A founding member of the Suzuki Music Schools of Massachusetts (now Suzuki:MA), she has organized annual Suzuki Festivals and many workshops, bringing renowned teachers to Massachusetts. In 1986 she founded the Suzuki School of Newton for young children and teachers.

Emileigh Vandiver (cello & solfege), described by the New York Times as “an excellent performer” and by the Boston Musical Intelligencer as a musician bringing “a world of emotional meaning to the cello,” her experiences have earned her recognition as a recitalist, chamber musician, teacher and soloist. She’s appeared with numerous ensembles including the Fort Bend Symphony, the Clear Lake Symphony, the Virtuosi of Houston Chamber Orchestra, and the Houston Civic Symphony Orchestra. In addition to teaching at Project STEP, she is currently on the cello faculty at the New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School. Ms. Vandiver has traveled Panamá multiple times in the past year and a half to perform, coach, and teach at The Panamá Jazz Festival. In the summer she teaches at the Four Strings Academy. She has completed a Graduate Diploma, Master’s Degree and Bachelor’s Degree at the New England Conservatory of Music where she studied with Paul Katz, Natasha Brofsky and John Heiss. Her former teachers include Christopher French and Ann Victor.

Liana Zaretsky (violin)

Michael Zaretsky (violaBorn in the former Soviet Union, violist Michael Zaretsky joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1973. A cum laude graduate of Moscow State Conservatory, he began his career as a member of the Moscow Philharmonic String Quartet and the Moscow Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra. In 1972, he immigrated to Israel and became principal viola of the Jerusalem Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra and a soloist of Radio Israel. The following year he played for Leonard Bernstein, who brought him to Tanglewood, where he successfully auditioned for the BSO. A faculty member of Boston University, Mr. Zaretsky performs chamber music with such leading artists as Yefim Bronfman, Emanuel Ax, Gil Shaham, Paul Lewis, and Vadim Repin, as well as BSO colleagues. He has given solo recitals and appeared at music festivals in the United States, Greece, Israel, and Japan. Mr. Zaretsky has also collaborated with Tom Gold Dance, accompanying former New York City Ballet soloist Tom Gold and other ballet dancers. His six recordings for ARTONA include music of Shostakovich, Glinka, Bach, Brahms, Schumann, and Hindemith, as well as more recent work by Jakov Jakoulov and John Williams who dedicated his Duo concertante for violin and viola to Mr. Zaretsky.

John Ziarko (viola) Graduate, Boston University; violin with Roman Totenberg; viola with Eugene Lehner; assistant principal viola, Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra; principal viola, Hamburg Symphony and Fort Worth Symphony; solo recitals in Italy and Brazil; former faculty, Texas Christian University; faculty, Longy School of Music, Walnut Hill School, Greenwood Music Camp; principal viola, New Hampshire Symphony; member, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Monadnock Music Festival.