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.
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.
Attending Boston University.
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 is a solo and chamber violist performing recitals, workshops, and teaching individual and group lessons in violin, viola and bass. Colin received a Bachelor’s in Music from the Juilliard School, a Master’s Degree at Longy School of Music of Bard College, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Music Education from Columbia University.
As a violist, Colin has performed in orchestras throughout New York State, in Italy at the Spoleto Festival and in the Multipromo Opera Festival Orchestra, and in the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra and the São Paulo Symphony where he toured Brazil and South America. He was the resident violist of Music Haven (New Haven, CT) and a member of the Haven String Quartet from 2009 to 2015, and served as Music Haven’s Senior Resident Musician from 2015-17. He founded and now directs CB Strings.
Studied with Pascale Delache-Feldman while at Project STEP and is currently studying Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.
Studied with Michael Zaretsky while at Project STEP. She received her bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
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 received a Master’s Degree from the Yale School of Music studying with Don Palma and his undergraduate degree from the Juilliard School studying with Albert Laszlo. Jordan has attended the Aspen Music Festival under the Vincent Wilkinson scholarship, the National Orchestral Institute, the Atlantic Music Festival, the Orford Music Festival, the Caroga Lake Music Festival, and the National Arts Centre Young Artists Program run by violin virtuoso Pinchas Zukerman. Jordan currently plays with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and substitutes with the New Haven Symphony.
Attending Furman University.
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.
Studied with Sophie Vilker at the New England Conservatory while a student at Project STEP and is a graduate of Lake Forest College.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 is Project STEP’s Artistic Advisor and a member of STEP’s violin and chamber music faculty. She has been a long-term member of Project STEP’s staff, and has served in many roles including Artistic Director. Mariana is also the Strings Director at Boston Arts Academy where she teaches high school students. She founded and directs Four Strings Academy, an intensive string training summer program, and teaches privately and as a member of the New England Conservatory’s Preparatory Division. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from The Juilliard School and a Professional Studies Diploma from the Mannes College of Music.
Mariana is a multi-prize winner of the Sphinx Competition as well as the recipient of the 2009 Sanford Allen Award in recognition of her “artistic merit, persistence, and extraordinary achievement.” Mariana has been a featured guest soloist with the New Jersey, Memphis, Detroit, and Boston Symphony Orchestras and the Boston Pops. In addition to her solo performances, she is an experienced chamber and orchestral musician. The Amaryllis String Quartet, of which she was a member, was awarded First Prize in the prestigious Fischoff Chamber Music Competition (Jr. Division). Mariana has performed with Yo Yo Ma, Pamela Frank, Lynn Chang, Marcus Thompson, and with members of the Houston and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras. She was also a member of the Young Eight String Octet for six seasons.
A versatile chamber and orchestral musician, violinist Njioma Grevious completed her undergraduate studies at The Juilliard School and was awarded the John Erskine Prize for scholastic and artistic achievement. She won First Prize for Performance and Interpretation in the Prix Ravel chamber music competition in France in 2018 and a Music Academy of the West Keston-Max Fellowship to study and perform with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2022.
Along with her colleagues in the Abeo Quartet, Njioma won a First Prize and the Audience Favorite Prize at the 2022 Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition, Silver Medals in the 2022 Chesapeake International Chamber Music Competition and the 2019 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, as well as finalist in the 2021 Young Concert Artists competition. Njioma also performs as a soloist, most recently appearing with the Chicago Philharmonic in 2021. As an orchestral musician, she has been invited to perform with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Montclair Orchestra, among others. Njioma was selected as a Senior Division finalist in the Sphinx Competition and will perform at the prestigious event in January 2023.
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.
Studied with Mark Churchill at Project Step and is currently pursuing a double major at Vanderbilt University in Cello Performance and Computer Science.
Studied with Kyoto Horowitz while at Project STEP. She studied music University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth and graduated Spring 2020.
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.
Chris Johnson is based in New York City and performs widely. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from the New England Conservatory and pursued graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music. Chris holds positions with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Allentown Symphony Orchestra, and the Reading Symphony. He won the International Society of Bassists Excerpt Competition in 2013 and was later invited to play with the Sphinx Virtuosi, a touring chamber orchestra. Chris plays in a wide variety of ensembles including Rootstock Republic/Dear Nina, JP Jofre’s Tango Quintet, Brooklyn’s Pitch Blak Brass Band, BlackRock Philharmonic, The Recollective Orchestra, and The New York City Ballet. He performs in studio sessions for movies, commercials, and albums, and at many other engagements. Chris can be heard on the soundtrack of the 2021 film “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
Kirk Johnson; a graduate of Indiana University is a musician, performer, and educator that believes that the zip code of a child should not dictate their access to music education. Out of this belief, he founded SOUNDS Academy, a nonprofit music education organization that teaches, mentors, and provides musical experiences and opportunities for underserved youth in Phoenix, Arizona. SOUNDS Academy teaches character values through music education. He began his musical journey with Project STEP in Boston, Massachusetts where he learned to play the violin and viola under the guidance of Farhoud and Dubravka Moshfegh. He eventually took theory classes, played in chamber music groups and orchestras, touring countries like Italy, Mexico, and Cuba. As the CEO, Kirk has guided SOUNDS Academy in providing over 47,000 lessons and classes to children, while impacting an additional 19,000 students through the Musical Access program, where students attend concerts and are introduced to instruments in SOUNDS Academy’s Instrument Petting Zoos. In addition to students building confidence through performing in concerts, SOUNDS Academy is also making an academic impact with 100% of the students in their SOLO program being accepted into college on scholarship.
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 a graduate of New England Conservatory in Contemporary Improvisation. He is currently attending the University of Limerick to receive his Masters in Fiddling.
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 just joined the Project STEP faculty as a Chamber Music Coach for the 2022-2033 year and also works for the YMCA/Boston Public Schools as a Community HUB School Coordinator.
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.
An experienced soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, Lev made his orchestral debut at age eight with the Cape Cod Symphony. He won the 2013 Junior Division Sphinx Competition and has 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. Recent concert appearances have included performances with Castle of Our Skins, the Boston Public Quartet, the New Philharmonia Orchestra and Boston-based string orchestra A Far Cry. He has participated in the Perlman Music Program, the Banff Centre Masterclasses, and the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival. Lev received a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Literature from Harvard University and a Master’s Degree in cello performance from the New England Conservatory.
Outside of his performing efforts, Lev is now an Admissions and Scholarship Assistant at From the Top and a composer whose works have been performed at the Rockport Music Festival, the New England Conservatory, and around the Boston area. He studied with Michael Reynolds while at Project STEP.
Studied with Ed Barker at New England Conservatory for three-and-a-half years.
Graduated from the New England Conservatory. Freelancing in New York City.
Attending Boston University
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.
BA from Yale, where he was music director of “Baker’s Dozen,” a self-conducted music performance group for undergraduates.
Studied with Laura Blustein while at Project STEP and is currently studying Biomedical Engineering at New York University.
Attending New York University.
BM from Oberlin, MM from University of Michigan.
BA, PhD from MIT in Electrical Engineering. Member of an amateur string quartet; founded a fiber optics company, CTO – Sycamore Networks Inc.
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.
Juliet Pepe currently serves as the Interim Manager of Youth & Community Engagement for Project STEP. She is a former Project STEP student, and a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience and Behavior. Her years in STEP ignited her love of music, and she now plays two instruments and is trained in singing choral and a cappella music.
Vali Phillips joined the Oregon Symphony in 2012. Before moving to Portland, Vali was a long-time member of the Minnesota Orchestra, with whom he served as principal second violin for 11 seasons before joining the first violin section in 2008. With three colleagues from the Minnesota Orchestra, Vali co-founded the Minneapolis Quartet, which won a McKnight Artist Fellowship in 2006.
Before coming to Minnesota, Vali served as concertmaster of the Savannah Symphony Orchestra, and associate concertmaster for both the Erie Philharmonic, and the Charleston Symphony. 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. Vali graduated from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied under Charles Castleman.
Studied with James Buswell while at Project STEP. Lauryn graduated from Yale in 2021 with a BA in Urban Studies. She is currently in NYC and working as an associate with the affordable housing developer The Community Builders.
Attending Columbia University.
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.
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.
AB from the Academy of Musical and Dramatic Arts in New York City. Performing in theater troupes, including King Richard’s Faire.
Graduated from STEP in 2007 and studied with Andrew Mark, Eugene Kim, Laura Blustein, and Paul Katz while there. Recently Tony Rymer has been playing as a substitute with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Staatskappelle Berlin.
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.
A native of Boston, Tony began playing cello at age five, attended the Walnut Hill Arts School, was a Project STEP scholarship student from 1996-2007, and was awarded the prestigious Kravitz scholarship in 2007. One of the first recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Award on the NPR national radio show From the Top, he has also been heard as soloist on WGBH Boston, WCLV Cleveland, and NPR’s Performance Today. He received a scholarship from the DAAD to study in Berlin. An avid chamber musician, Tony has performed at many festivals and concert series throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Most recently he has performed at the Marlboro Music Festival, Krzyzowa Music, Perlman Music Program, Bard Music Festival, Ravinia Steans Institute, Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, and Incontri Musicali. Tony has performed chamber music with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Ani Kavafian, Miriam Fried, Kim Kashkashian, Paul Katz, Martin Helmchen, Dénes Várjon, and members of the Guarneri, Takacs, Juilliard, and Cleveland Quartets.
Tony has worked privately with Yo-Yo Ma and performed in master classes with Anner Bylsma, Gary Hoffman, Steven Isserlis, and Pieter Wispelwey. He 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 in Berlin.
Holds a Master of Architecture degree from the Yale School of Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Design from Princeton University.
BA from Princeton, MA in Journalism from NYU; Senior Editor for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst majoring in Music Education.
Violinist Ann Shiau Tenney has been a member of Pacific Symphony in Orange County, California since 1994. In addition to her post in the first violin section of the orchestra, she is a freelance musician. Ann has played on many movie soundtracks and has performed with other ensembles throughout Southern California including Opera Pacific, Long Beach Symphony, Long Beach Opera, and the New West Symphony. Ann received a Bachelor’s Degree from the Juilliard School. She was a recipient of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation Scholarship as well as other numerous awards and scholarships. Her Master’s Degree was obtained at Yale University. While studying at Yale, Ann was also assistant principal second violin in the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. Her awards include fellowships to Tanglewood and the Great Woods Festival, second place in the Harry Dubbs Competition, and the Robert Hardt Award. Ann maintains a private teaching studio and as part of the Music Teachers’ Association of California, Irvine Branch, she coaches for Junior Chamber Music and serves as String Chair.
Nathan Theodore, viola, studied with Michael Zaretsky of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was a semifinalist in the 2017 SEC Concerto Competition. At the age of 13, Nathan auditioned into Benjamin Zander’s Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO) and has performed throughout Europe and Brazil. He has performed in various masterclasses and recitals including a solo performance for Rebecca Young, New York Philharmonic Associate Principal, viola. In 2021 through STEP’s partnership with Ashmont Hill Chamber Music, Nathan had the amazing opportunity to perform in concert with renowned professional violinist Randall Goosby. Nathan joined Project STEP through the Kindergarten FOCUS program in 2010. He is currently attending Notre Dame on full scholarship for Chemical Engineering and Viola.
Studied with Lucy Chapman at the New England Conservatory while in Project STEP. Received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Princeton University.
Attended Oberlin Conservatory, studying with Karen Ritscher where she was assistant principal viola of Oberlin Orchestra.
Dr. White completed her DMA from Boston University in 2016. In addition to teaching strings at Boston Latin Academy Dr. White is the president of Sankofa Songs, a nonprofit organization devoted to cultivating outstanding Africentric arts education
Violist, teacher, and researcher Dr. Sonya White Hope has been teaching strings and related music courses in the Boston Public Schools since 1992. Dr. White Hope’s scholarship examines topics centering Arts Education as Cultural Emancipation (AECE) philosophy, a perspective brought to light through her independent research. A self-proclaimed Africentric music educator, Dr. White Hope draws on the AECE paradigm in her work. She focuses on topics at the intersection of music/arts education, Africa-descended peoples, and the arts of the African Diaspora. Dr. White Hope is especially interested in achieving an effective, nuanced approach to teaching, studying, and learning American music by applying Africentric perspectives. When she isn’t teaching, researching, or performing, Dr. White Hope enjoys making multi-media art.
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