Music Blog

The Official Blog of the Music Conservatory of Westchester

Raise Funds for Scholarships at Performathon 2018!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


At the Music Conservatory of Westchester, students learn much more than how to play music; the White Plains nonprofit music school also teaches the importance of community. On Saturday, December 8th, 2018, the Music Conservatory will hold its Performathon fundraiser, an all-day event featuring 13 hours of student performances and family-friendly activities, to help support the school’s Scholarship Program and new Digital Piano Lab.

For more than 15 years, the Music Conservatory of Westchester has held this event as a fun way to get its student community involved in raising funds for the school’s mission-specific programs, in order to provide the extraordinary benefits to all in our community. The Conservatory’s Scholarship Program makes it possible for financially qualifying students to study at the school who might not otherwise have that opportunity.

“The Conservatory is such a special place. When you walk through our doors, you hear the music and you feel the joy,” said Executive Director Jean Newton. “Performathon brings it all together to share with the entire community.”

The Conservatory’s Digital Piano Lab will create new opportunities for students of all ages in the Westchester County community to hone their keyboard and studio composition skills, tying into the studio facilities that will be constructed on the music school’s lower-level by the end of 2020, thanks to a $500,000 challenge grant from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council.

To raise funds this year, the Conservatory will hold a raffle with exciting prizes to include a beautiful upright piano, as well as a 55’’ LG LED Ultra HD 4K Smart TV, a Nintendo Switch game console, and a 15.6” HP laptop donated by P.C. Richard & Son.

On the day of Performathon, the Conservatory’s lobby is transformed into a fun, creative space for students and their parents with crafts and games, a photo booth, and a variety of donated food, either homemade by families or from local restaurants. It takes a community effort to organize Performathon and ensure a successful outcome. The entire Conservatory community gets involved including parent and student volunteers, local vendors and food establishments, donors and sponsors, and the Conservatory’s faculty and staff.

Student performance is the centerpiece of the day. Students of all ages will take the stage in the Conservatory’s Helen Demetrios and Michael Stadther Recital Hall to perform on a variety of instruments and styles of music. Classical, jazz, rock, pop, and musical theater will be represented at Performathon as students proudly play for their family and friends.

Voted Best of Westchester’s “Best Music School” of 2017 and 2018, the Music Conservatory of Westchester raises more than $500,000 each year to support its Scholarship Program, its Music Therapy Institute for children and adults with disabilities, and its Healing Our Heroes Program for military veterans.

For more information about Performathon, please visit

Donations to the Music Conservatory of Westchester are also accepted here:

Sneak Peek - We're Going Digital!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Professional rendering of the future Recording Studio.

We’re going digital! By the end of 2020, the Conservatory will have five exciting new lower-level studios, and will offer classes in Sound Engineering, Studio Composition and much more.

The Recording Studio will be networked to our Recital Hall and Percussion Studio, so we can make professional quality recordings of student and faculty performances. For the first time in Westchester, high school students planning a career in sound production will have access to a pre-college training program with expert professionals. Special thanks to NYS Regional Economic Development Corp. for awarding us a $500,000 challenge grant to support this project!

Lower Level Floor Plan with new digital tech spaces.

The Dean's Desk - Fall 2018

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Always staying current while remaining true to our time-honored musical values, we are moving forward in the areas of music technology and composition.

With our major lower level construction project still more than a year away, we will set up an interim Digital Piano Lab on our second floor. Ten workstations will each have a digital piano, computer, and the latest software – ideal for teaching studio composition, arranging, classical composition, theory and more. The lab will provide training for high school students to hone their 21st century music technology skills and prepare for college and careers. It will also house group piano classes for young children and adults.

Another new trend we’re headlining is our “Singer-Songwriter” program, offering classes and private lessons in this popular art form. Taught by recording artist Melissa Frabotta, this program is for all aspiring songwriters/performers, regardless of age or experience.

For two years running, we have earned the title “Best of Westchester,” in part because of our enthusiasm for adaptation and innovation. For our team of teachers, students, parents, and administrators, this is just the beginning!

Dr. Douglas Bish
Dean of Students and Faculty

A Very Special Musical Afternoon Performance

Monday, November 05, 2018

(from left to right) Kenneth Taber, Jean Newton, MCW Executive Director, Cheryl Breitkopf, Joel Breitkopf, MCW Board President, Aishling Quinn, Development Officer, Andrea Taber, Board Member, Cynthia Ahn, Victor Goldsmith, Board Member, and Carmen Forte, Board Member.

The Conservatory is so proud of our students who participated on Sunday, November 4th in a very special appreciation performance at the home of Board member Andrea Taber! We were thrilled to share our students’ musical talents with our Board of Trustees members and community leaders.

Thank you to our incredible faculty members Hyemin Kang, piano, and Nick Brust, saxophone, and Suzanne Wagor, Suzuki program coordinator for being part of the Conservatory’s Musical Afternoon for our Leaders & Friends. 

Conservatory Jazz Ensemble members Sarah Ashley Baldeon, vocals, James Cardosi, drums, Joanna Green Delgado, flute, Jacob Dunefsky, guitar, Adam Pascual, piano, and Hugo Vera, bass.

Suzuki violin students Erin Lang, Melissa Rosas, and Cecilia Valdes.

Solo instrumentalist Adrian Pascual, cello.

 Solo instrumentalist Cathy Stanton, clarinet.

Congratulations are in Order!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Congratulations to our amazing students on their wonderful accomplishments!

Congratulations to Ben Wien, age 12, student of Amanda Tabor, horn
• Ben received State Certificate of Excellence and Center Certificate of Excellence for Level 4 in the 2018 Royal Conservatory of Music Certificate Program, an international evaluation standard for music students.
• Ben has been a student at the Conservatory since 2016.

Congratulations to Yusi Audrey Li, age 10, student of Jaejin Lee, piano
• Audrey received State Certificate of Excellence and Center Certificate of Excellence for Level 3 and Level 4 in the 2018 Royal Conservatory Certificate Program.
• Audrey has been a student at the Conservatory since 2013.

Congratulations to Olivia DiLallo (age 8), Sydney Harris (age 9), and Rowan Pedraza (age 13), students of Mikhail Zeiger, piano

• Olivia, Sydney, and Rowan received Center Certificate of Excellence for Level A and Level 4 (Rowan) in the 2018 Royal Conservatory Certificate Program.
• Olivia has been a student at the Conservatory since 2016.
• Sydney has been a student at the Conservatory since 2014.
• Rowan has been a student at the Conservatory since 2017.

Congratulations to Cathy Stanton (age 15) and Agustin Otero (age 17), students of Doug Bish, clarinet

• Cathy was selected for the Area All-State Band, and Agustin was selected for the Area All-State Orchestra.
• Cathy has been a student at the Conservatory since 2008.
• Agustin has been as a student at the Conservatory since 2017.

Community Celebrates Music-Themed Mural at Conservatory Block Party

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

 Associate Director of Programs at ArtsWestchester Sue Abbott,  “Colors of Music” Student Mural Contest judge Lynn Honeysett, Mayor of White Plains Thomas Roach, MCW Executive Director Jean Newton, MCW Board President Joel Breitkopf , New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, professional mural artist Jonathan Villoch, student artist Mya Madison Davis of Pelham, student artist Emma Farley, and student artist Ciara Sergi celebrate the ribbon cutting for the music-themed mural painted on its building at the Mural Unveiling Party.

Sunday, September 30th was a beautiful, sunny day for music and art! The Music Conservatory of Westchester invited the entire Westchester County community to a Mural Unveiling Party to celebrate the painting of a music-themed mural on the nonprofit music school’s building on Central Avenue in White Plains. Live music, food trucks, and fun family activities drew more than 150 community members to the Music Conservatory’s campus throughout the exciting afternoon event. Click here to see all the photos!

This new public art collaboration between professional mural artist Jonathan Villoch and Westchester County high school students is made possible with support by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funds for the event were donated by TD Bank, with mobile stage equipment and services provided by the City of White Plains.

“Music and art bring people together like nothing else can,” Conservatory Executive Director Jean Newton said during the mural presentation at the event. “We are really thrilled to have this opportunity to do this project and paint this beautiful design on our building.”

Fios 1 News Broadcasted the event!

With the painted mural as a bright and vibrant backdrop for the festive event, students of the Conservatory as well as a faculty band showcased their talents in live musical performances, food trucks from around Westchester County were on premises with diverse cuisine, and event attendees of all ages enjoyed free activities and outdoor games. The Music Conservatory also offered a booth for exploring a sample of instruments taught at the music school and event participant Faust Harrison Pianos was on site sharing information about their piano services.

Conservatory Board President Joel Breitkopf, professional artist Jonathan Villoch, City of White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach, and New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin joined the Music Conservatory Executive Director in presenting the mural to the community with an address to the event attendees and ribbon cutting ceremony.

Breitkopf explained his initial idea to beautify the Conservatory’s building which started four years ago at a board meeting. “Now it will have an amazing physical presence in the community.”

MCW Board President Joel Breitkopf of Scarsdale, professional mural artist Jonathan Villoch, Mayor of White Plains Thomas Roach, and New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin admire the detail in the collaborative mural design with Westchester County students and professional mural artist Jonathan Villoch.

The collaborative mural design was decided through the Conservatory’s “Colors of Music” Student Mural Contest which called upon local Westchester County middle and high school students to submit their artistic vision of what the theme of “multicultural music” means to them. Art experts from Westchester and Manhattan voted to determine the winning design. Mural concepts by Pelham Memorial High School 10th grader Mya Madison Davis and White Plains High School 10th grader Ciara Sergi won the contest in a tie. Emma Farley of New Rochelle, 8th grader at Albert Leonard Middle School and Lucy Schwartzreich of Chappaqua, 12th grader at Horace Greely High School were finalists in the contest.

Student artists Mya Madison Davis, Emma Farley, and Ciara Sergi were in attendance at the Mural Unveiling Party as their talents and creative ideas were celebrated and appreciated by event attendees.

Over the summer, winning students Mya Madison Davis and Ciara Sergi participated in a mural art workshop with professional artist Jonathan Villoch for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create the final design together.

“We are very excited to share the mural with you,” Jonathan Villoch said at the mural presentation. “The students really gave it their all. They were here every day, created great ideas, and worked tremendously to complete this project.”

Painters from Mural Painter NYC continue progress on the music-themed mural at the Music Conservatory of Westchester.

Mayor Thomas Roach emphasized the importance of the arts as a critical element of education for youth in presenting the mural to the community. “I am particularly pleased that we got young people involved. I feel strongly that we need the arts. The arts bring the most out of young people,” he said. “This will not only brighten people’s day, but let people know the wonderful things that are happening inside this building every day.”

“It’s really a great day,” New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said, addressing the crowd, “When you think about the importance of art in all of our lives, it is so incredibly important for all of us. The Conservatory has been that presence in our community for a long time.”

Mural Painter NYC, a group of artists specializing in hand painted murals in the Tri-State area, is currently finishing painting the colorful design on the Music Conservatory of Westchester building’s south-facing wall.

Executive Director Newton added, “This is definitely something people will notice!”

Fall Open Houses at the Best Music School in Westchester!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Music Conservatory of Westchester, voted Best of Westchester’s ‘Best Music School’ for two consecutive years (2017 and 2018), invites prospective students and their families to attend and participate in its Open Houses introducing its updated roster of classes in September! Explore music classes that appeal to toddlers, children, teens, and adults – open for Registration now!

The Conservatory is grounded in time-honored musical values with innovative programming for today’s students, including our very youngest. A new elementary Guitar Program for students as young as age 4 imparts the musical foundations to pursue more advanced studies in classical, rock, Latin, or jazz guitar, and prepares them to join a variety of bands and ensembles.

On Saturdays and Sundays, a new sequential First Notes curriculum will start musical exploration at age 3 months. Parents will see their children engaged in fun learning activities, gaining new skills at each level. The curriculum will seamlessly progress to our Music Skills and Theory classes.

Starting in the upper elementary grades, the Conservatory prepares students for NYSSMA auditions, music competitions, performing in school ensembles and productions, and gearing up for college. For advanced high school students, the Conservatory offers an Honors Program with a pre-college curriculum. Graduation from the Honors Program is a highly-regarded component of students’ college applications, regardless of their future career plans.

The Music Conservatory has also developed unique programming just for Adults ages 18 through 80+. Adult music theory classes are offered in sections for absolute beginners through experienced students using a flexible learning approach. In addition to private lessons, group piano and guitar classes, piano partners, women’s vocal ensemble and chamber ensembles create a fun, social atmosphere for adult music students to learn and master their instruments.

As part of our inclusive musical community, the Conservatory provides numerous performance opportunities throughout the year for students of all ages. With more than 80 expertly qualified faculty of professional musicians with exceptional academic and performance credentials in their specialized instruments, the Music Conservatory of Westchester truly offers the ‘Best of Westchester’!

Join us at Open Houses at our 216 Central Avenue location in White Plains on:
  • Tuesday, September 4 (6:00-7:30 PM) CANCELED
  • Saturday, September 15 (10:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
  • Monday, September 17 (5:00-7:00 PM)
See us on Saturday, September 15 and September 22 at 9:30 AM for our Suzuki Open Houses!

Music Conservatory of Westchester
216 Central Avenue
White Plains, NY 10606

Announing TWO "Colors of Music" Student Mural Contest Winners

Friday, June 15, 2018

Local Student Artwork to Be Painted As Community Mural in White Plains

The Music Conservatory of Westchester is proud to announce that both Mya Madison Davis, 9th grader at Pelham Memorial High School, and Ciara Sergi, 9th grader at White Plains High School, are winners of the “Colors of Music” Student Mural Contest!

Numerous entries were submitted by middle and high school students around Westchester County with the hope that their artwork would be chosen as the basis for a mural to be painted on the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s building on Central Avenue in White Plains. Four finalists were selected by an adjudication panel of art experts and creative community leaders from New York City and Westchester County. (To view an album of all the contest entries click here)

"Rainbow Rhapsody" by Mya Madison Davis, Pelham Memorial High School

In a tie, based on scores from all eight members of the adjudication panel, both Mya Madison Davis and Ciara Sergi were chosen as winners of the contest. They will collaborate with professional mural artist, Jonathan Villoch, to adapt their winning designs as a large-scale mural representing the theme of “Multi-Cultural Music.” Runners-up in the contest, Emma Farley of New Rochelle, 7th grader at Albert Leonard Middle School and Lucy Schwartzreich, of Chappaqua, 11th grader at Horace Greely High School will attend a mural art workshop over the summer with all four finalists. A new mural will be developed based on the winners’ designs under Jonathan Villoch’s guidance.

“Giving and getting feedback is so important to collaboration and having an open dialogue is essential for artists to communicate productively on any project,” Mr. Villoch said of this once-in-a-lifetime artistic experience.

Finalists in the contest are (in alphabetical order by last name):
  • Mya Madison Davis, of Pelham, grade 9, Pelham Memorial High School
  • Emma Farley, of New Rochelle, grade 7, Albert Leonard Middle School
  • Lucy Schwartzreich, of Chappaqua, grade 11, Horace Greeley High School
  • Ciara Sergi, of White Plains, grade 9, White Plains High School

Mya Madison Davis described her winning contest submission titled “Rainbow Rhapsody” as, “The bright colors represent diversity of people. The instruments I used are from all over the world. For example, I included a Djembe which is a drum from Africa. I also included a pan flute which originates from Colombia. I also depicted instruments that would not usually go together like a piano and an electric guitar. An important part of my painting is the silhouette of the conductor's arms because it shows everyone from all different cultural backgrounds coming together, united in one harmony, all with a common goal.”

Ciara Sergi described her worldly entry titled “Musical Pangea”: I drew the characteristic instruments from each of the continents as a product of their traditional culture, and used their instruments to depict each continent.”

"Musical Pangea" by Ciara Sergi, White Plains High School

The Music Conservatory of Westchester thanks all of the talented student artist entrants in the “Colors of Music” Student Mural Contest for their exceptional creative ideas, colors, mediums, and musical and multi-cultural elements that were demonstrated to illustrate the theme.

“Each artist brought his or her creative point of view. Some artists were quite literal in their interpretation; others took the theme to another level of graphic abstraction and conceptualization,” Lynn Honeysett, former Executive Director of the Pelham Art Center said of the art entries submitted by local students for the contest. “I appreciated that all the student artists brought heart and soul to their work.”

Submissions for the “Colors of Music” Student Mural Contest, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, were judged in two rounds by eight panelists with art expertise as well as Westchester County community leaders:

  • Margaret Adasko, Curator of Education, Katonah Museum of Art
  • Samantha De Tillio, Assistant Curator, Museum of Arts and Design
  • Michael Dweck, Treasurer and Board Trustee, Museum of Arts and Design
  • Jimmy Fink, Radio Personality and Producer at 107.1 The Peak
  • Lynn Honeysett, Former Executive Director of the Pelham Art Center
  • Kimberlyn V. McKoy, Gallery Associate, ArtsWestchester
  • Amy R. Paulin, Assemblymember for the 88th District
  • Jonathan Villoch, Professional Mural Artist, Collaborating Artist for “Colors of Music” Student Mural Contest
Conservatory Executive Director Jean Newton said, “We are very excited to unveil the finished mural, celebrate and share it with the entire community. Music and art brings people together in a way that nothing else can.”

The Music Conservatory of Westchester will celebrate the unveiling of the final mural on Sunday, September 30th, 2018 with a block party on the Conservatory’s grounds. The entire community is invited to enjoy live music, food trucks, and family fun! The Conservatory encourages all students who entered the contest to attend and share in recognizing their fellow students whose creative vision of the vibrant diversity of Westchester County and beyond will be featured as public art for the community.

Conservatory Students Continute to Excel in May!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Thirteen-year-old Conservatory student Marina Varriano stuns the audience with her winning performance at Carnegie Hall on April 29, 2018 at the Golden Key International Music Festival.

May is a Musical Month for Conservatory Students! 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 during this month. Congratulations to all of our students who have proved that practice does pay off!

Jad Benslimane, 11 year old cello student of Adriana Pera since 2010, was accepted into the Advanced String Summer Program at Interlochen this upcoming summer and received a perfect score or NYSSMA.

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 performed with the Concert Festival Orchestra on May 6, 2018.

Kenny Poor, 15 year old violin student since2013 of Christina Khimm, received a perfect score for NYSSMA All State Level 6.

Ellie Takaki (age 7), David Takaki (age 10), Audrey Li (age 10), and Abigail Tsuji (age 14), piano students of Jaejin Lee won first place by scoring over 95 for their NYSMTA District 4 auditions. They played in an award recital at 2pm on Sunday, May 20, 2018 in the Conservatory Recital Hall. Ellie and David have been students at the Conservatory since 2015, Audrey has been a student since 2013, and Abigail since 2011.

Marina 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 performed at Carnegie Hall on April 29, 2018.

Serena Xu, 13 year old violin student of Tatiana Feigin since 2017, received a perfect score for NYSSMA.

Daniel Zhang, 13 year old violin student of Tatiana Feigin since 2016, received a perfect score for NYSSMA.

Ruimin Zhang, 11 year old piano student of Marina Rozozhina since 2012, won second place in the 2018 New York Competition for Young Artists, and performed at the award recital at Carnegie Hall on May 10, 2018.

Congratulations to our many talented students!

Student Spotlight - Elizabeth Jones

Thursday, May 17, 2018

After studying piano and cello at the Conservatory since 2011, 13 year old Elizabeth Jones found her love for the cello.  Elizabeth won Grand Prix in the esteemed international Concert Festival Concerto Competition this year, performing Tarantella Op. 33 by David Popper. 

As a winner, she will perform a solo with the Concert Festival Orchestra on May 6, 2018. Her Conservatory cello teacher David Krieger said, “She is so talented and takes everything to heart. She also appreciates the humor and fun that is in the music, which makes the whole learning experience very enjoyable.”

“My parents tell a story that when I was a little baby, I liked to sing myself to sleep in a low voice,” she said, explaining how her love of playing the cello was meant to be.