Music Blog

The Official Blog of the Music Conservatory of Westchester

Golden Williams Duo to Present Concert of “Contrasts” for Viola and Cello

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The Music Conservatory of Westchester will ring in the new year with a concert by the Golden Williams Duo on Thursday, January 3rd at 7:30pm in the community music school’s Recital Hall. Cellist and Conservatory faculty member Diana Golden, and Assistant Principal Violist of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Gregory K. Williams, will perform a program of duos for cello and viola.

This program will include works by composers Rebecca Clarke, Günter Raphael, Caroline Shaw, Paul Wiancko, Jessica Meyer, David Wolfson, and Michael Kosch. Because the twentieth century compositions by Clarke and Raphael are in two contrasting movements, the program was built around the concept of “contrasts.” Within this theme, Wolfson composed his Mood Swings for the Golden Williams Duo and Kosch dedicated two contrasting movements of his Sassetta to the Duo. In all, the concert will highlight compositions by five living composers.  

The Golden Williams Duo first performed together in 2017 at the Custer Institute and Observatory in Southold, NY, as members of the Red Door Chamber Players. Most recently, the Golden Williams Duo has performed at the Mountain Springs Music Festival in Orem, Utah, and at the Bi-Annual Conference of the American Viola Society, held at The Colburn School in Los Angeles, California. Additional performances of this program will be held in Manhattan at the concert series of Metropolitan Playhouse and Castle Village, and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.

About the Music:

Composer Rebecca Clarke (1886–1979) was one of the finest violists and composers of her time. Holding both British and American citizenship, Clarke toured internationally with cellist May Mukle and other chamber musicians. Clarke would have won first prize in the 1919 Berkshire Festival of Chamber Music’s annual composition competition, but was awarded second prize instead when the judges discovered she was a woman. The Lullaby and Grotesque for Viola and Cello (published 1930) shows Clarke’s English musical influences and her Romantic and early twentieth century style. 

Günter Raphael (1903–1960) was a skillful German-Jewish musician whose career was forever altered by the rise of the Nazi Party; he was removed from his posts in 1934, his works banned from public performance. Raphael was ultimately saved by tuberculosis: hidden from the authorities in morgues and sanitariums, Raphael was able to continue to compose in secret, but his music never received the recognition of similarly talented composers who were able to escape Germany or those who were born after World War II. The Duo for Viola and Violoncello, op. 47, no. 4 (1941) is dark in texture and mood, reflecting the turmoil that Raphael faced during this time.

According to New York-based composer Caroline Shaw (b. 1982), her limestone and felt “presents two kinds of surfaces - essentially hard and soft.” The sounds of pizzicato and canons are imagined to be alternately inside the eaves of a gothic chapel or a woolen hat. For Shaw, felt and limestone represents “two opposing ways we experience history and design our own present.” 

American Haiku by Paul Wiancko (b. 1983) was commissioned by Ayane Kozasa and premiered in 2014. A richly-textured duo that incorporates Appalachian fiddling, percussive patterns and Japanese folk-inspired melodies, the piece explores Ayane's background as a Japanese artist growing up in the United States as well as Paul's Japanese-American heritage.

But Not Until by Bronx-based composer Jessica Meyer (b. 1974) is a duo based on a series of ironic interpersonal experiences that reminded the composer of the David Foster Wallace quote, “The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.” It was written in 2014 for either viola and cello duo or viola duo.

David Wolfson (b. 1964) wrote Mood Swings for the Golden Williams Duo to premiere in December 2018. In addition to being inspired by a theme of contrasts, the title was also inspired by the idea of a musical dialogue that moves through different moods over time. Perhaps the composer was imagining the working relationship exhibited during rehearsals of duo partners who also happen to be married.

Dedicated to the Golden Williams Duo, Sassetta III and IV, by Michael Kosch (b. 1959), are musical responses to the work of the artist (known as Sassetta) Stefano di Giovanni’s “earthly eternity”: his astonishing portrayals of humans encountering the divine, experiences spanning the misery of despair to the ecstasy of revelation. The fifteenth century Sienese painter vividly captured the reality of mystery.

Golden Williams Duo Concert
Thursday, January 3rd at 7:30pm
Free Admission
Music Conservatory of Westchester
216 Central Avenue
White Plains, NY 10606

New Singer-Songwriter Program Launched!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Melissa Frabotta, MCW Singer-Songwriter Faculty

Calling all aspiring singer-songwriters! Do you write lyrics and melodies in notebooks? Play an instrument and want to make your own music? You can learn how to successfully put those elements together with training from the new Singer-Songwriter Program at the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains. Sign up today!

Currently open for enrollment, this program is taught by professional, independent singer-songwriter Melissa Frabotta aka “Mosa,” who comes to the Conservatory with expansive recording and performance experience in New York City and major cities around the United States and Canada. Students can hone their instrumental skills as they study songwriting and performance, and learn how to be a successful singer-songwriter in the music industry.

“I think musicians should really try and master their craft, whatever that may be. Study hard in a fun positive way, go towards what satisfies you, and become great at it,” Frabotta says.

Recognizing the demand from students with an interest in writing and performing their own songs, the Conservatory developed a curriculum for this new program. The Conservatory encourages interested students to start with a combination of private instrumental lessons to enhance their skills and study the fundamentals of songwriting with Melissa Frabotta. Students enrolled in the program will also have opportunities to share their original music in performances at the Conservatory.

“Music should always be inclusive, not exclusive."

As part of the nonprofit community music school’s Jazz/Rock/Pop Division, the Singer-Songwriter Class adds Frabotta to the Conservatory’s roster of more than 80 expert faculty members. Her most recent album titled “Who We Are” was self-released in October 2018 under the stage name Mosa. She has performed her original music at Rockwood Music Hall, The Bitter End, Mercury Lounge, and other notable New York City music venues, and has toured for performances in such major cities as Nashville, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, DC, and Montreal, QC. Frabotta’s recording experience spans from solo recordings and producing, to vocal session work for various songwriters around the New York Metropolitan area.

“Music should always be inclusive, not exclusive. We're all human, and therefore all are naturally capable of creating, interpreting, and performing music to some extent,” Frabotta explains. “I like to encourage students to always remember that, in order for them to always maintain the natural connection and curiosity towards exploring music.”

Find Mosa at and listen to her latest album “Who We Are” at
Interested aspiring singer-songwriters and musicians at any level and any genre are welcome to join, learn, and express themselves through melody, lyric, and rhythm.

The Conservatory’s new Singer-Songwriter Program is now open for enrollment! Contact the Music Conservatory of Westchester at 914-761-3900 or to get started!

Inside the Studio Week - Fall Edition

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

We invite and encourage all parents/guardians during Inside the Studio Week to sit-in and observe their student’s private lesson. Parents will also have a chance during the last five to ten minutes of the lesson to talk with the teacher and check-in on their child's progress.

This special week also includes a fall social for Adult Students, and coffee and bagel meetup for parents and families. Come and participate in a week of music!


Parent Coffee & Bagel Social
Saturday, October 27th
Recital Hall, 10am-12pm

Conservatory Students Pitch Perfect with NYSSMA Scores!

Monday, July 09, 2018

Practice makes for perfect NYSSMA scores! The Music Conservatory of Westchester is proud to share the news that more than 25 Conservatory students received perfect scores on their New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) evaluations this year.

Each year, NYSSMA conducts evaluations of student musical achievement from around the state. At the Conservatory, our esteemed faculty members prepare their students for these audition opportunities, which can qualify students for All-State and NYSSMA festival placements. For students entering or in high school, participation in NYSSMA festivals and the Conservatory’s Honors Program are impressive components of a student’s college applications, regardless of their future career plans.

Congratulations to all of our students who participated in this highly-regarded musical distinction!

Amariah Leckie (age 12), student of Paula Chan Bing, flute

  • Amariah received an outstanding score for NYSSMA.
  • Amariah has been a student at the Conservatory since 2014.

Catherine Stanton (age 15), Patrick Stanton (age 13), and Agustin Otero (age 16), students of Douglas Bish, clarinet

  • Catherine received a score of A for NYSSMA.
  • Patrick received an excellent score for NYSSMA.
  • Agustin received a score of A+ for NYSSMA.
  • Catherine has been a student at the Conservatory since 2008.
  • Patrick has been a student at the Conservatory since 2012.
  • Agustin has been a student at the Conservatory since 2017.

Joshua Casenas (age 11), student of Kate Branch, Suzuki violin

  • Joshua received an outstanding score for NYSSMA.
  • Joshua has been a student at the Conservatory since 2014.

Gillian Ho (age 10), Serena Xu, (age 13), and Daniel Zhang (age 13), students of Tatiana Feigin, violin

  • Gillian received perfect score for NYSSMA.
  • Gillian has been a student at the Conservatory since 2016.
  • Serena received perfect score for NYSSMA.
  • Daniel received a perfect score for NYSSMA.
  • Serena has been a student at the Conservatory since 2017.
  • Daniel has been a student at the Conservatory since 2016.

Mason Chan (age 7), Benjamin Gutierrez (age 7), Kylee Zhang (age 6), and Aaron Zheng (age 6), students of Song Gonzalez, piano

  • Mason received an outstanding score for NYSSMA.
  • Benjamin received a perfect score for NYSSMA.
  • Kylee received an outstanding score for NYSSMA.
  • Aaron received a perfect score for NYSSMA.
  • Mason and Aaron have been students at the Conservatory since 2016.
  • Benjamin and Kylee have been students at the Conservatory since 2017.

Kenny Poor, (age 15), student of Christina Khimm, violin

  • Kenny received a perfect score for NYSSMA All State Level 6.
  • Kenny has been a student at the Conservatory since 2013.

Timothy Guida (age 14), student of Svetlana Gorokhovich, piano

  • Timothy won 1st Prize at the Concert Festival International Competition in February and played at Lincoln Center on March 24th.
  • Timothy received a Gold Award at NYSMYA audition.
  • Timothy won 2nd prize and $100 cash award in NYSMTA district 4 Younger Pianists Competition (Senior Division), and played an award concert at Faust Harrison on May 18th.
  • Timothy also won 2nd place in 9-10 Grade Division at the 2018 Washington National Youth    Music Competition.
  • Timothy has been a student at the Conservatory since 2012.

Jad Benslimane (age 11), student of Adriana Pera, cello

  • Jad was accepted into the Advanced String Summer Program at Interlochen this upcoming summer.
  • Jad also received a perfect score for NYSSMA.
  • Jad has been a student at the Conservatory since 2010.

Melissa Wang (age 9), and Tiana Kaga (age 9), students of Mary Elizabeth Poore, voice

  • Both Melissa and Tiana received perfect scores for NYSSMA.
  • Tiana also received First Class Honors on her Royal Conservatory performance exam.
  • Melissa has been a student at the Conservatory since 2014.
  • Tiana has been a student at the Conservatory since 2015.

David Luebbert (age 15), and Ben Wien (age 11), student of Amanda Tabor, horn

  • David received an outstanding NYSSMA score.
  • Ben received First Class Honors with Distinction on his Royal Conservatory performance exam and perfect NYSSMA score.
  • David and Ben have been students at the Conservatory since 2016.

Lev Mizukovski (age 11) and Kevin Dong (age 10), students of Inna Sukonik, piano

  • Lev received special commendations in all areas of his performance exam for the National Guild of Piano Teachers and has been declared a National Winner in the Intermediate Class.
  • Lev has been a student at the Conservatory since 2016.
  • Kevin received an outstanding score for NYSSMA.
  • Kevin has been a student at the Conservatory since 2016.

Ramez Marjieh (age 13), student of Suzanne Wagor, Suzuki violin

  • Ramez received an outstanding score for NYSSMA.
  • Ramez has been a student at the Conservatory since 2012.

Mekhala Mantravadi (age 14), Meghana Mantravadi (age 10), Melody Wu (age 8), students of Haodong Wu, piano

  • Mekhala received a score of A+ for NYSSMA.
  • Meghana received an excellent score for NYSSMA.
  • Melody received an outstanding score for NYSSMA.
  • Mekhala and Meghana have been students at the Conservatory since 2015.
  • Melody has been a student at the Conservatory since 2014.

Tanisha Venkatapur (age 10), student of Renee Guerrero, piano

  • Tanisha received an outstanding score for NYSSMA.
  • Tanisha has been a student at the Conservatory since 2015.


Music Conservatory of Westchester Students Play (Music) to Win

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

2018 is already a winning year for the Music Conservatory of Westchester community! The Conservatory is proud of its students who have been recognized by the greater music community for their talents and hard work. Several students in our musical community received honors for their musical accomplishments and have had incredible performance opportunities so far this year. Congratulations to all of our students who have proved that practice does pay off!

Aniketh Arvind, 12 year old piano student since 2016 of Dr. Mikhail Zeiger at the Conservatory, won first place in the J.Y. Park Piano Competition in April 2018 at Western Connecticut State University, and performed at the Winner’s Recital and Award Ceremony. His teacher, Dr. Zeiger won the Teacher’s Award at the award ceremony.

Sarah Ashley Baldeon, 13 year old voice student of Christine Free-Rhodebeck since 2016, won second prize at the New York Concert Festival International Competition and performed at Engelman Recital Hall at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City in April 2018.

Alice Cabral, 12 year old student of Mary Elizabeth Poore, voice, and Francesco Barone, guitar, since 2013, and recipient of the Darlene Love Vocal Scholarship, presented at the Conservatory’s 2017 Golf and Tennis Classic, is now a contestant of the Celebration of Music Talent Search where she will perform at the Bushnell Performing Arts Center in Hartford, CT live on PBS in a talent showcase on April 27, 2018.

Amanda Crewey, 13 year old cello student of Adriana Pera at the Conservatory since 2009, was offered admission to Special Music School (instrumental) and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (instrumental and vocal). She accepted a spot in the instrumental program at LaGuardia.

Benjamin Gotian, 17 year old saxophone student of Nicholas Brust since 2017, received a talent scholarship to Muhlenburg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Elizabeth Jones, 13 year old cello student of David Krieger, was awarded the esteemed Grand Prix at the Concert Festival Concerto Competition. A student of both David Krieger, cello, and Svetlana Gorokhovich, piano, since 2011, Elizabeth will perform with the Concert Festival Orchestra on May 6, 2018.

Audrey Yusi Li, 10 year old piano student of Jaejin Lee since, 2013 performed at the New York Celebration of Excellence Award recital in February 2018 at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and was recognized as a Center Certificate of Excellence Winner.

Patrick Stanton, 12 year old clarinet student of Dr. Doug Bish since 2010, performed at the New York Celebration of Excellence Award recital in February 2018 at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and was a National Gold Medal Winner.

Mariana Varriano, 13 year old piano student of Laetitia Ruccolo at the Music Conservatory of Westchester since 2014, won at the Golden Key Music Festival and will perform at Carnegie Hall on April 29, 2018.

Matthew Welling, 12 year old MTI student of music therapists James Maxson and Donald Stevens since 2010, performed in March at the Beacon Theater in New York City and with the Band O.A.R., and at Radio City Music Hall with the Garden of Dreams Alumni Choir. Both events were fundraisers for the Garden of Dreams Foundation.

Ruimin Zhang, 12 year old piano student of Marina Rozozhina since 2012, won second place in the 2018 New York Competition for Young Artists, and will perform at the award recital at Carnegie Hall on May 10, 2018.

MCW Faculty Perform Downtown at Grace

Friday, April 06, 2018

Music Conservatory faculty members Elizabeth Farnum, soprano, Thomas Jamerson, baritone, and Christine Free Rhodebeck, mezzo soprano, are joined by pianist Laetitia Ruccolo for a special performance Wednesday, April 18th at 12:10pm. The concert will be held at Grace Church in White Plains as part of Downtown Music at Grace's award-winning concert series.

It is the second of two concerts of Germanic repertoire which illustrate the developing role of the piano as a musical partner in the classical and romantic periods. This concert is made possible, in part, with the generous support of Ridgeway Garden Center, White Plains, and Lago Ristorante, West Harrison. Click here for more info, admission is free.

Late James Ranti Honored and Remembered

Monday, March 05, 2018

James Ranti's wife, faculty member Juliet Gopoian, and his daughter, Julie Ranti, Associate Principal Flute at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, gathered outside room 209 last Saturday to honor and remember the late James Ranti, beloved trumpet faculty member at the Conservatory since 2003.

Conservatory Mourns Passing of Sari Magaziner

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Conservatory mourns the passing of Sari Magaziner, wife of longtime faculty member Elliot Magaziner who has taught here for over 35 years. Our deepest sympathies to Elliot and his family.

Faculty Member Dorothy Jonas Releases New CD

Saturday, November 25, 2017
Jonas CD

The Piano Duo of Joshua Pierce and long-time Conservatory faculty member, Dorothy Jonas, have just released a new CD of 20th Century Masterpieces for 2 pianos and orchestra.

The two CD set includes world premiere recordings of Poulenc, Starer, Creston, Berezovsky, Lopatnikoff, Malipiero and Tansman. Distributed by MSR Classics the album can be purchased HERE.

Faculty Concert: Piano as a Musical Partner

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Conservatory will celebrate the talents of its faculty and the history of the piano as a musical partner in a Faculty Recital on Friday, November 10. Open to the public, this free concert will start at 7 PM in the Conservatory’s Helen Demetrios and Michael Stadther Recital Hall with music featuring the piano as a collaborative instrument.

Performing will be faculty pianists Svetlana Gorokhovich, Hyemin Kang, Jaejin Lee, Irena Portenko, and Michael Zeiger. They will be joined by the Conservatory’s Dean of Students and Faculty Douglas Bish, clarinet, and Suzuki Coordinator Suzanne Wagor, viola.

The program will highlight the role of the piano in chamber music from the 18th and 19th century Germanic repertoire, as well as pieces for multiple pianists. Performances will include selections from Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Rhapsodies for piano four-hands, Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio, K. 498 for clarinet, viola and piano, and three rarely performed works: Carl Czerny’s Divertissement Militaire for piano six-hands, Robert Schumann’s Märchenbilder for viola and piano, and Heinrich Baermann’s Adagio for clarinet and piano.

This concert is made possible by a grant from the Westchester Community Foundation’s Rudyard and Emanuella Reimss Fund.