About Us


Project STEP takes pride in the achievements of our graduates. Their accomplishments are a source of inspiration not only to us but to other incoming Project STEP students and their families. Every year, we are reminded that Project STEP’s impact goes beyond the years our students are in a classroom setting and we would like to thank our alumni for their continued support.




Meet our Alumni

Valandrhah Abraham

Viola, 2014

Studied with Dubravka Sajfar Moshfegh while at Project STEP.  She graduated from Syracuse University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Music.

Amalia Ali

Cello, 2020

Studied with Carol Ou while at Project STEP and is currently continuing her studies as a Cello Performance major at New York University.

Colin Benn

Viola, 1998

Received his Bachelor’s in Music from the Juilliard School and his Master’s Degree at Longy School of Music of Bard College. As a violist Colin has performed in orchestras throughout New York, in Italy at the Spoleto Festival, Umbria and Multipromo Opera Festival Orchestra, Florence as we well as the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, Rio de Janeiro and the São Paulo Symphony where he toured Brazil and South America. He was the resident violist of Music Haven and a member of the Haven String Quartet from 2009 to 2015, and now serves as Senior Resident Musician, designing and teaching the Music 101 after school program. Colin recently played with Misha Piatigorsky and the Sketchy Orkestra at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City.

Ajani Boyd

Double Bass, 2020

Studied with Pascale Delache-Feldman while at Project STEP and is currently studying Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.

Lauren Brown

Viola, 2013

Studied with Michael Zaretsky while at Project STEP. She received her bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

David Burke

Cello, 1988

BS, MM and Ph.D. from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Currently teaches and plays in orchestras in the Central and Western part of Massachusetts.

Jordan Calixto

Double Bass, 2012

Studied with Donald Palma while at Project STEP. He graduated from The Juilliard School in 2016 and then received a Master of Music degree in double bass from Yale University in 2018, studying with Donald Palma.  He is currently assistant principal bass with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony.

Jennifer Caudle

Violin, 1995

Dr. Caudle graduated with Honors from Princeton University and earned her medical degree from UMDNJ – School of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Caudle is a cellist, and as a musician she has performed Cello in orchestras and string ensembles internationally.

Abina Cohen

Violin, 2010

Studied with Sophie Vilker at the New England Conservatory while a student at Project STEP and is a graduate of Lake Forest College.

James Coleman

Viola, 1990

Received a BM and MM from the Eastman School of Music studying with James Dunham. He played viola in orchestras and chamber ensembles before diagnosis and during treatment for bone cancer, from which he died in 2005.

Clinton Dewing

Violin, 1993

Clinton Dewing received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Juilliard School as a student of Joel Smirnoff. His summer festivals credits include the Spoleto Festival USA and Italy, Festival Mozaic, Pacific Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, Sarasota Chamber Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, National Orchestral Institute and the Tanglewood Music Center. He has performed with the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Clinton is currently a member of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s violin section since 2006.

Isabel Espinosa

Violin, 2014

Studied with David Rubinstein while at Project STEP. She has received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Anthropology from Harvard University and a Master of Science in MSc Migration Studies from the University of Oxford.

Tristan Flores

Violin, 2016

Studied with Donald Weilerstein while at Project STEP.  Tristan Flores is a recipient of From the Top’s Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist. He studies with a merit-based scholarship at Bard College, majoring in Philosophy and Violin Performance.

Robin Gilbert

Viola, 2005

BM from the New England Conservatory. Robin is was a Fellow at Community Music Works in Providence, RI from 2010 – 2012.  Currently, Robin is a special education teacher at Little Milligan Elementary in Tennessee.

Mariana Green-Hill

Violin, 1997

Ms. Green Hill received Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the Juilliard School, and a Professional Studies Diploma from the Mannes College of Music.  Ms. Green Hill currently serves as Artistic Advisor and Faculty member, Project STEP.  Learn more about Ms. Green Hill here.

Njioma Grevious

Violin, 2017

Studied with James Buswell while at Project STEP and is now continuing her musical studies at The Juilliard School.

Njeri Grevious

Violin, 2013

Studied with Victor Romanul while at Project STEP.  She graduated from Yale with a degree in applied mathematics, currently a Data Engineering Associate at Goldman Sachs and serves on the Board of Winsor Music (Boston). Njeri is also a freelance violin, viola, piano and music theory teacher.

Solomon Hearn

Cello, 2020

Studied with Mark Churchill while at Project STEP and is currently continuing his studies as a Cello Performance major at Vanderbilt University.

Itsva Hernandez

Violin, 2016

Studied with Kyoto Horowitz while at Project STEP. She studied music University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth and graduated Spring 2020.

Michael Ireland

Viola, 1989

Bachelor’s degree in the Field Of StudyViola Performance, Boston University; Master’s degree in the Field Of Study Viola Performance, Boston University; Master’s degree in the Field Of Study Multicultural Education. Michael currently teaches violin, viola, cello, and bass to elementary, middle, and high school students in eight different public schools in Philadelphia.

Christopher Johnson

Double Bass, 2002

Christopher Johnson is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and holds a Master’s from the Manhattan School of Music. Currently member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra with which he has toured and recorded. Chris has performed in Japan, Italy, Spain, and Mexico.


Kirk Johnson

Viola, 1999

Kirk graduated with a BM in Viola Performance and a MEd from Indiana University. It is here that he was introduced to the world of string pedagogy under the guidance of Mimi Zweig. Inspired by his experiences with Project STEP, New England Conservatory of Music, and The IU String Academy, Kirk founded Owen County S.O.U.N.D.S. (Students Opening Up New Doors with Strings) in the Fall of 2003. This program continues to educate the children of Owen County as a successful non-profit organization. After teaching music in public school and conducting youth orchestras, Kirk founded SOUNDS Academy in 2013.

Noah Kelly

Violin, 2018

Noah Umberto Kelly was born in Quito, Ecuador in 1999. He started his classical violin studies at the age of 6 through Project STEP’s FOCUS program and was one of Mariana Green-Hill’s first students.

While a student of Project STEP, Noah was also a dedicated member of the New England Conservatory Preparatory School where he continued his studies through Walnut Hill School for the Arts.  Noah fulfilled his passion for Irish traditional music by traveling to Ireland for two months. Noah was selected to compete in the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil, an Irish music competition run by Comhaltas Ceoiltori na Eireann, an international organization dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of Irish music, dance, language, and culture. Noah plans to continue to pursue a career as a fiddler, violinist and improviser, and is currently attending New England Conservatory as a Contemporary Improvisation major.

Danielle Lennox-Heichman

Violin, 2009

Danielle Lennox-Heichman is an NEC Prep and Project STEP alumna attending from 1995-2009 when she graduated high school from Boston Arts Academy. She went on to study music performance (violin) at New York University. Danielle is currently the NEC Prep Office Coordinator.

Lemarr Lovett

Bass, 2001

New England Conservatory; Bachelor’s Classical Performance;  finalist in the Met Opera orchestra auditions in 2008. Currently, Music Teacher at Boston Arts Academy and Owner at MG Production.

Lev Mamuya

Cello, 2014

Studied with Michael Reynolds while at Project STEP.  Lev received his Bachelor’s degree in History and Literature from Harvard University; he received his Master’s degree in cello performance from New England Conservatory. During his higher education, he studied with Paul Katz and and Yeesun Kim.

An experienced soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, Mamuya gave his first solo recital at five and made his orchestral debut at age eight with the Cape Cod Symphony. As the Junior Division First Place Laureate of the 2013 Sphinx Competition, he appeared as a soloist with the Florida Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the South Bend Symphony, the Ann Arbor Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Brevard Concert Orchestra. More recently, Mamuya has been a member of groups like the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, participated in the chamber music programs at Harvard and NEC, and given concerts around the Boston area. He has attended the Banff Centre Masterclass program, and worked as a research intern at the Bach Archive and Research Facility in Leipzig.

Akil Marshall

Double Bass, 1999

Studied with Ed Barker at New England Conservatory for three-and-a-half years.

Margaret Martinez

Viola, 2003

Graduated from the New England Conservatory. Freelancing in New York City.

Ndidi Menkiti

Cello, 2003

She earned a Bachelor of Music in cello performance from The Juilliard School; a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in English and African-American  Studies; a Master of Studies in Secondary Education and Teaching from Fordham University; and a Juris Doctor degree in Law from Duke University School of Law. Ndidi Menkiti is currently a Trial Attorney, US Department of Labor.

Eyan Mitchell

Bass, 1990

BA from Yale, where he was music director of “Baker’s Dozen,” a self-conducted music performance group for undergraduates.

Maria Montalvo

Cello, 2020

Studied with Laura Blustein while at Project STEP and is currently studying Biomedical Engineering at New York University.

Young Park

Viola, 1986

BM from Oberlin, MM from University of Michigan.

Naimish Patel

Violin, 1991

BA, PhD from MIT in Electrical Engineering. Member of an amateur string quartet; founded a fiber optics company, CTO – Sycamore Networks Inc.

Taylor Payne

Violin, 2015

Studied with Irina Muresanu while at Project STEP.  Graduated from Ithaca College’s School of Business with an M.B.A in Entertainment and Media Management. Additionally, from Ithaca College, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in both Writing and Music.

Vali Phillips

Violin, 1990

BM from the Eastman School of Music where he studied under Charles Castleman.  Vali Phillips joined the Oregon Symphony in 2012. Before moving to Portland, Vali was a longtime member of the Minnesota Orchestra, with whom he served as principal second violin for 11 seasons before joining the first violin section in 2008. As a soloist, Vali has appeared with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as in recital at Carnegie Hall.   At Project STEP, Vali studied with artistic director Farhoud Moshfegh.

Lauryn Phinney

Violin, 2017

Studied with James Buswell while at Project STEP and is now studying at Yale University.

Nehemiah Richardson

Cello, 1986

BA from MIT, where he played in the MIT orchestras. Majored in math and became a financial analyst.  Currently the General Manager Corporate Development and Investor Relations at Latitude Financial Services in Melbourne, Australia.

Stephen Richardson

Violin, 1987

Dr. Richardson received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He completed both a dermatology residency and a fellowship in cutaneous oncology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Marta Rymer

Violin, 2006

AB from the Academy of Musical and Dramatic Arts in New York City. Performing in theater troupes, including King Richard’s Faire.

Tony Rymer

Cello, 2007

Completed his BM and MM at the New England Conservatory where he studied with Paul Katz and Laurence Lesser while holding the Laurence Lesser Presidential Scholarship. Tony then received a Masters of Music, with highest marks, as a student of Frans Helmerson at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule für Musik. Cellist Tony Rymer has performed major concerti to critical acclaim with the Atlanta Symphony, Boston Pops, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, and Pittsburgh Symphony, among others. He was the first prize winner in the Washington International Competition and the Sphinx Competition Senior Division, Second Prize Winner in the Enescu Competition, and took 3rd place in the Stulberg International String Competition.

Adrya Sanchez

Cello, 2009

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in the Field Of Business Administration and Management, General.

Howard Shen

Violin, 1987

Holds a Master of Architecture degree from the Yale School of Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Design from Princeton University.

Luna Shyr

Cello, 1987

BA from Princeton, MA in Journalism from NYU;  Senior Editor for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Monique Smith

Viola, 2010

University of Massachusetts, Amherst majoring in Music Education.

Ann Shiau Tenney

Violin, 1988

Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School, she studied with both Dorothy DeLay and Naoko Tanaka. Violinist Ann Shiau Tenney has been a member of Pacific Symphony since 1994. In addition to her post in the first violin section of the orchestra, she has played in a multitude of soundtracks and performed with other ensembles throughout Southern California such as, Opera Pacific, Long Beach Symphony, Long Beach Opera and New West Symphony. You may even be able to spot her in an episode of “Alias.”

Aurélie Théramène

Violin, 2011

Studied with Lucy Chapman at the New England Conservatory while in Project STEP. Received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Princeton University.

Barbara Vanté

Viola, 2006

Attended Oberlin Conservatory, studying with Karen Ritscher where she was assistant principal viola of Oberlin Orchestra.

Audrey White

Violin, 1985

BM in Viola Performance from New England Conservatory, MM in Conducting from the University of Massachusetts.

Sonya White

Violin, 1984

BM, MM from Boston University and currently a teacher in the Boston Public Schools.