Music Blog

The Official Blog of the Music Conservatory of Westchester

Keys to Success: Conservatory Student Sets Record at Fundraising Event

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ailey Ann Simon performed “Silent Night” at the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s Performathon, a biennial fundraising event in which students perform and compete for prizes by getting family and friends to sponsor them.  In the weeks leading up to the Dec. 10 fundraiser and marathon day of recitals, the nine-year-old piano student from Elmsford was quite vocal in trying to raise enough money to secure the event’s grand prize of a Petrof Upright Piano.

“It takes a village,” Hartsdale’s Marian Richardson said with a smile, noting that her granddaughter was relentless in approaching family members, friends, and parishioners at her church to sponsor her performance.  That hard work eventually paid off - literally. Ailey raised $1,260 – a record in Performathon’s ten year history – and the young girl took home her very first piano. 

“It takes a village...” 

In total, the event, which featured over 200 students performing, netted $6,129. Funds raised will go to the Conservatory’s scholarship program as well as the launch of a new electronic keyboard classroom. Fittingly, young Ailey is a scholarship student. The Conservatory provides tuition assistance on a sliding scale for qualifying youth ages 18 and under. Scholarships are provided for up to 95 percent of tuition (the Conservatory does not provide full scholarships). All scholarship awards are based upon household income, family size, and special financial considerations. Scholarship applications are kept confidential and must be updated yearly.  Save


Audition for the Westchester Choral Society

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


The Westchester Choral Society is performing Carmina Burana by Carl Orff as part of its Gala 75th Anniversary Concert. The performance will be Saturday, May 13, 2017,at White Plains Presbyterian Church.

The society is welcoming new members in all voice parts. To schedule an audition, call Numa Rousseve, at 914-285-9026. Rehearsals begin January 17, 2017. For more about the Westchester Choral Society, visit our web site at



MCW student in the Broadway show "School of Rock!"

Monday, October 17, 2016

(Rachel 5th from left in black with "68" shirt)

The Music Conservatory is pleased to announce that Rachel Katzke, electric bass student of MCW faculty member Al Renino, has been cast in the role of "Katie" in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "School of Rock-The Musical," at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway! She will be making her debut on November 7th, 2016.

"This role is unique in that it also requires her to play the electric bass live in an on-stage rock group," said her teacher, Al Renino. "Rachel came to MCW last year (at age 10) specifically with the goal of auditioning for this role, never having previously played or owned a bass. She worked incredibly hard, and I am extremely proud of her!"

Congratulations Rachel, break a leg! 

Photo courtesy of For the Playbill announcement click HERE.



Celebrating the Life of Marco Quartero

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Please join us for an evening of music in his honor as we celebrate the life of a true original.

Thursday, September 29th at 6:00pm
Music Conservatory of Westchester
216 Central Ave
White Plains, NY 10606

please RSVP to Katie Goulart

Earlier this summer we lost a true original - a talented composer, artist, and friend. Marco Valentino Quartero, the creator and composer of the Ensemble "Tango Quartero," was a fixture in our community, gracing us with his passion for Tango and his warm presence. Marco began taking lessons at the Music Conservatory of Westchester and within a few years, composed numerous Tangos, starting for piano solo and further evolving for duo, trio, quartet and quintet.

The first commision was a Tango for 6 pianos 24 hands by the Conservatory performed at Alice Tully Hall in New York in 2005. In 2011 and 2012, he received two awards for his compositions by ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). We'll miss our gifted friend who always had the best interests of our community music school at heart. We'll miss his "Tango Quartero" performances, but take solace in the fact we were able to know him. To know Marco was to love him.


Introducing a More Extensive Jazz/Rock/Pop Program this Fall!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Music Conservatory of Westchester will roll out several brand new classes for those interested in new and contemporary music. The offerings are aimed to expand musical horizons by learning the basics of jazz theory, harmony and improvisation. Additionally, students can explore their unique compositional voice and write original music. A music appreciation class is also available as are new large and small ensemble options including, respectively, Latin Jazz and Jazz Big Band and Jazz Combos and Rock Band.

“We offer groups of every shape and size, from rock or jazz band, to Latin Jazz and Big Band,” explained Doug Bish, Dean of Students and Faculty. “We’ll match you up with compatible players, and you’ll receive weekly coaching with a member of our outstanding professional faculty. You’ll grow as a musician and have opportunities to perform at the Conservatory and in the community.”

"We offer groups of every shape and size, from rock or jazz band, to Latin Jazz and Big Band..."

For those jazz lovers, there’s also a Jazz Theory and Improvisation class in which students will learn the evolution of improvisation, and discover how jazz greats like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane mastered their art. “You’ll develop new ways to practice your instrument, understand the Blues, use complex harmonic ideas and structures, and improvise in styles such as Bebop and Cool Jazz,” said Assistant Dean Jake Robinson.

In addition to those enhancements, the Conservatory is offering a songwriting workshop (grade 7 to adult) which will enable students to create and perform their original compositions. (There is also a young songwriters class for those in grades 6-8.) For those who simply want to share their love of music, music appreciation class “Cover to Cover” will discuss a different classic album – from Bowie to the Beach Boys – each week.

The Conservatory will also hold group classes in guitar and piano for teen and adult beginners. There is also a new “Top 25 Classics for Bass” class for students who can read music, and want to perform classic tunes by the likes of The Beatles, Temptations, Van Morrison, and other top artists.

The Conservatory offers instruction in all styles of music, on all instruments including piano, voice, strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, harp, harpsichord and organ. “Our highly qualified teachers use an individualized approach for each student, based on age, goals and learning style. Lessons are available throughout the year, including summer,” Bish said. Tuition to the lessons includes free music theory classes, discounted performing ensembles, and free student performances including rehearsals with a professional piano accompanist.

Photo by Alye Carlevaro


Music Conservatory to Hold Early Fall Open Houses

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Music Conservatory of Westchester will hold open houses for its Fall Semester throughout August and September in their 216 Central Ave. location in White Plains. The dates are respectively Tuesday evenings (4-7 p.m.)  Aug. 23 and 30 and Sept. 6, 13, and 20. Open houses will also be held Saturday mornings (9-1 p.m.) on Sept. 10 and 17.

At the open house events, parents and their children can meet with staff, discuss their interests, and register for the fall semester, which runs from September through January.  In addition to private and group lessons, theory, and everything in between, the Conservatory has launched an all new Jazz, Pop and Rock program. For more details, please call (914) 761-3900, contact, and/or visit


Michael Welling's Speech Honoring the Music Therapy Institute

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"It is truly an honor and privilege to be standing up here tonight. This is true for a number of reasons but at the top of that list is the fact that more than any other audience, all of you will fully understand and appreciate the impact and the role that music and more specifically the Music Therapy Institute has played in our lives. Full disclosure, neither myself nor my wife Susie have any musical talent. In fact, we rarely agree on the same music, Reggae being the one major exception. So this entire “Matthew experience” has been as surreal as you can imagine. After Matthew was discharged from his 143 day stay at Sloan Kettering, we knew we needed to do whatever we could to help Matthew catch up. Matthew was in preschool at the John A. Coleman school in White Plains and at that time our biggest concern was his inability to hold a spoon. We overheard another family talking about music therapy so we thought, “let’s let him play with some drum sticks and maracas to build up those fine motor skills.”  Well, little did we know that we were about to unleash the beast – and hopefully the source for funding Matthew’s college education.    

Tina Brescia and James Maxson joined "Team Matthew" 7 years ago when he was just 3 years old. Donald Stevens joined the team shortly thereafter. Collectively they have not only helped to shape Matthew the musician, but they helped shape Matthew the person.  Musical talent is one of the greatest forms of human expression, but being able to use music to help others learn to express themselves is one of the greatest forms of gift giving. The therapists from MTI give this gift every day. I have seen their impact on Matthew and on many, many of the other students at MTI, big and small, young and old, musically inclined and not. Through his years at MTI, Matthew has learned more than music. He has learned about cooperation, teamwork, adversity, anxiety, hard work, satisfaction and success. He has grown up, developed, matured – to a point – in their care. Without them, he would not be who he is today. But more significant than being his therapists, more significant than being his music teachers, they have become important and valuable members of Matthew’s life  - as his friends… and his band.  

"Through his years at MTI, Matthew has learned more than music. He has learned about cooperation, teamwork, adversity, anxiety, hard work, satisfaction and success."

Thanks to them, during his time in Music Therapy Matthew has achieved more then we could have ever imagined. In fact, just last year Matthew achieved more then we could have ever imagined. In February of 2015 Matthew debuted his first album in an 1 ½ hr concert in front of 150 people at the Conservatory. Susie and I thought “Wow, 9 years old and his own album debut concert.” We did not think it could get better than that. But we were wrong. In June Matthew performed his original hit “Sunshine” in front of a packed house at Radio City Music Hall during the Garden of Dreams talent show.   Susie and I thought “Wow! 9 years old, performing at Radio City.” We did not think it could get better than that. But we were wrong. In November Matthew again performed "Sunshine" to open the Premiere of the Radio City Christmas spectacular in November. We did not think it could get better than that. But we were wrong. Two weeks later in December Matthew performed during half time of a NY Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. We did not think it could get better than that. But we were wrong.  

Having Matthew here with us today. Healthy. Happy. Well adjusted. A quality human being who already understands giving back and bringing joy to others. That is better than all of that. And all of this is made possible, thanks to the support, love and tireless work by Tina, Lisa, Donald, James, Peter and all of the music therapists at MTI. Matthew is just one example, and I am not even sure he is the best example, of the impact of music therapy, the difference that can be made through music therapy, and the life changing and life long benefits of music therapy. And about that, we are not wrong.   We are trying to raise money for MTI scholarships to bring this type of support to other children and for the Veteran’s scholarship to help expand the “Healing Our Heroes” program. Every dollar helps. Every dollar makes a difference."


(above) Michael Welling cheering on his son Matthew at the Music Conservatory of Westchester's recent Golf & Tennis Classic honoring the Music Therapy Institute

(top) (L to R)  Susie, Matthew and Michael Welling are all smiles at the MCW's Golf & Tennis Classic, June 20th, 2016


Congratulations 2016 Graduating Seniors!

Monday, June 13, 2016


Congratulations to all our graduating seniors! And thank you to all their teachers who made an amazing difference in all of their students' lives.

Colleges and Universities the seniors will be attending in the fall include: Brown University, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Duke University, George Washington University, and Swarthmore College. Go out and change the world!

  • Gabriella Bavaro (voice)
  • Jacob Brady (cello, bassoon)
  • Cen Chen (viola)
  • Matthieu Chicoye (trumpet)
  • Natalie Danett (voice)
  • Ariella Gentin (voice)
  • Ariella Goldman (voice)
  • Jessica Hecht (trombone)
  • Jesenia Laureano (clarinet)
  • Taylor Lonner (voice)
  • Lena Malmstrom (piano)
  • Arianna Markel (piano)
  • Boris Morocho (voice)
  • Brittany Pezzola (piano, guitar)
  • Brian Poor (piano)
  • Domingo Ramos (voice, piano)
  • Patrick Slattery (violin, voice)
  • Susanna Stepanyan (voice)
  • Alex Tiratsuyan (piano)
  • Jay Tobin (piano)
  • Alanna Toledo Batista (saxophone) 

MCW Piano students win Gold and Silver

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Students of MCW piano faculty Jaejin Lee performed beautifully in the recent New York State Music Teachers Association (NYSMTA) district 4 audition, which took place in May 1st.

Audrey Li, MCW student since 2014, won the Gold award. Anya Kar, MCW student since 2013, and Abigail Tsuji, MCW student since 2012, both won the Silver award. They played in the Winner's Award Recital on May 15 at the Music Conservatory. Take a bow!

MCW Graduating Seniors Shine!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

It's not a surprise that our students are amazing achievers. Two MCW students lit up the stage with their voices  and we are so proud of them! Graduating seniors Susanna Stepanyan and Boris Morocho are both voice students of Jeanai La Vita. Susanna has been an MCW student since 2015 and recently won the Yonkers Idol Competition!

Boris Morocho has been a student at the Music Conservatory since he was 12 and discovered his passion for opera here. He has attended Washington National Opera Institute in summer of 2014, Oberlin Summer Vocal Academy in 2015 and will be attending BU Tanglewood Institute this summer on a full scholarship. He recently won Honorable Mention in High School Musical Theatre and was a finalist in High School Art Song in the Hal Leonard Competition.


Congratulations Susanna and Boris, and congrats to all our graduating seniors. May your be futures be full of music!