Alumni

RECENT ALUMNI

Eric Alonzo
Ryan Banarjee
Jonathan Birckhead
Jason Brown
Shannon Cahill
Jessica Callandriello
Rebecca Chaleff
Philip Chan
Celena Chen
Suzanna Dilliplane
Kamna Gupta
Marianna Irby
Jason Isbit


Elizabeth Karnaukh
Nikola Kendis
Fraidel-Leah Kletter
Tammy Lam
Pria Louka
Elizabeth Machalek
Christina Merwitz
Julia Northrop
Sharon Pang
Faith Pang
Olivia Pascarella
Michelle Pascarella
Chris Pascarella


Cienny Pezik
Michelle Rofrano
Erica Safran
David Schlossberg
Julia Stewart
Dmitry Styrkas
Joshua Suslak
Jonathan Taratuta-Titus
Leonidas Tolias
Leda Wang
Young Min Yi
Young Jin Yi
Agustin Zavala



jonathantaratutaJonathan Taratuta -Titus

Westminster Conservatory, Young Artists Program, Graduated with Honors.

Continued undergraduate studies at Harvard University.

Jonathan studied music at the Westminster Conservatory for 10 years. He studied piano and chamber music with Rita Shklar, and saxophone and clarinet with Kenneth Ellison. He had participated in the Young Artists Program at the Westminster Conservatory since 2003 until his graduation in 2011.

Jonathan was a 1st place winner of the Westminster Conservatory Scholarship Competition in piano in 2009 and in winds in 2008. Jonathan is a three time 1st place winner of the Westminster Conservatory Concerto competition – on piano (2011) and on a saxophone (2010 and 2008). As a result he performed with the Westminster Community Orchestra in Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University in March 2011, March 2010 and in February 2008. Jonathan also performed the Saint-Sans piano concerto with the PHS orchestra in May 2011.

Jonathan was a 1st place winner at the Princeton Festival Piano competition in the Senior Artists category in 2010 and a finalist and a recipient of Honorable Mention award at the Steinway competition same year. He also received a High Honors award in the NJMTA piano audition the same year. In May 2007 he was a Gold prize winner in the Golden Key Music Festival which resulted in his performance at Carnegie Hall in New York on both saxophone and piano.


trioJonathan was selected by audition and attended the Young Artists Piano Program at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute in the summers of 2008 and 2009. He was chosen as a pianist for the BUTI Young Artists Wind Ensemble and performed on piano and celesta in their final concert of summer 2009 in Seiji Ozawa Hall on the Tanglewood Main Grounds. He was also selected for and attended the Eastern Music Festival in the summers of 2010 and 2011.

Jonathan participated in several chamber groups that were part of the Honors Music Program at the Westminster Conservatory. One of these groups
was a piano trio with Karen Bao (violin) and Philip Chan (cello). The trio was selected to perform at an annual NJMTA Fall Conference chamber master class in 2010. The Trio also performed for the members of the NASH Ensemble of London in a master class organized by the Young Artists Program and Princeton University in March 2011.

At Princeton High School Jonathan played clarinet in the PHS Orchestra. As a freshman and sophomore, he played alto saxophone in the award-winning PHS Studio Band. Jonathan performed  9 solo piano concerts in the Princeton area nursing homes and care centers.



 

joshuasusiakJoshua Suslak

Westminster Conservatory

Continued undergraduate studies at Eastman School of Music/ Rochester University.

Joshua was a student at The Westminster Conservatory of Music in Princeton from 2002 until his graduation, where he studied piano under the direction of Rita Shklar. During that time he became a recipient of numerous awards and top prizes at several prestigious competitions:

1st place – The Bart Pitman Memorial Scholarship Competition 2008
1st place – Marian Garcia International Piano Competition 2008
1st place – the Princeton Music Club Scholarship Competition 2008
Finalist – the Eastman International Young Artists Competition 2008
1st place – Princeton Festival Competition (senior and open categories) 2008
1St place – NJMTA Young Artists Fall State competition 2006
2d place – NJMTA Young Artists Fall State competition 2003
1st place winner – Westminster Conservatory Concerto Competition 2006
1st place winner – Westminster Conservatory Concerto Competition 2004

He has also been a winner of the Steinway Society Scholarship Competition, Westminster Conservatory Scholarship Competition (three time winner), the Sixth Annual Cecilian Young Artist Competition, Golden Key Music and Arts Festival (three time winner), American Fine Arts Festival Competition, Rising Stars of New Jersey-Best Young Classical High School Musician in 2006. Joshua was selected as the pianist for the New Jersey All-States Orchestra in 2005 and 2006. He also has been a 9 time winner of High Honors awards for the Spring NJMTA auditions (from 1998 through 2007).

trio2By the age of 14 Joshua had given several brilliant performances in the major Halls of New York City, such as Lincoln Center (Alice Tully Hall) on November 22, 2003,  Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall) on May 8, 2004, May 22, 2004, and May 2006. He has performed as a soloist with the Westminster Community orchestra, conducted by Ruth Ochs in Richardson Auditorium of Princeton University (Rachmaninoff’s 2d piano concerto in 2007 and Grieg Piano concerto in 2005).
While in the Young Artist Program at the Westminster Conservatory designed for gifted students, he met two gifted young musicians – violinist Evan Shieh and cellist Alan Chin. Together they founded a dynamic trio – Mephisto Trio – working and performing together until their graduation. The Trio was awarded High Honors in the 2004, 2005, and 2006 by NJ Music Teachers Association. They gave their Carnegie Hall performance in 2006 and several highly acclaimed concerts in the Princeton area.

Joshua was a member of his high school philharmonic orchestra, a cappella groups, concert choir and chorale, jazz band, wind symphony, and symphonic band. Joshua  dedicated time to frequently perform at assisted living facilities and many township events earning regional and national awards for his outstanding commitment including the U.S. President’s Award for Community Service, the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, and the Trenton Times Jefferson Award.



leonidastoliasLeonidas Tolias http://www.leonidastolias.com

Westminster Conservatory, Young Artists Program. Graduated with High Honors

Continued undergraduate studies at Princeton University.

Leonidas had been studying piano at Westminster Conservatory for twelve years, in the class of Mrs. Rita Shklar. He has won several piano competitions, including the Westminster Conservatory Scholarship competition (2010), the NJ Music Teachers’ Association Spring Recital competition (High Honors, 2010), the Music-Fest competition (Grand Prix, 2011) and the NJ Music Teachers’ Association Young Artist competition (Honorable Mention – 6th place in the state for his age group, 2011).


trio3He was also a finalist and Honorable Mention recipient in the Steinway competition in the spring of 2012. In ensemble performances he has also won a Sterling award at the Golden Key music competition (2010) and a second Grand Prix at the Music-Fest competition (2011), with cellist Jason Isbit. He has performed at Westminster, Rider University and twice at Carnegie Hall. Leonidas attended the Westminster Conservatory Young Artist program from 2003 to 2012 where he studied music theory, history and composition/orchestration, conducting, chamber music and jazz improvisation. He also played cello in Westfield public school orchestras for seven years and has often been invited to play piano with the WHS chamber orchestra. He was the section leader of the Westfield High School Marching Band Front Ensemble where he played vibraphone, marimba, keyboard and tenor drums (Quints).



Pria LoukaPria Louka

Westminster Conservatory

Continued undergraduate studies at Princeton University.

Pria graduated from the Princeton Day School. She has been playing the piano for 10 years. In 2008 she was honored with the Silver prize in the National Piano Competition of Greece. In 2010 Pria auditioned and was accepted to the Honors Music Program at Westminster Conservatory. In 2011, she began studying with Rita Shklar. In 2015 Pria became a finalist and a winner, 3d place, in the Greater Princeton Steinway Society Piano Competition. She performed in a winners’ musicale in April 2015.

Pria was a winner, 3d place, of The NJMTA Young Musicians Competition in the fall of 2014. She was also chosen as an alternate in the advanced master class competition at the annual convention of the New Jersey Music Teachers Association in 2014 and 2012.
Pria became a winner of the top High Honors award in the New Jersey Music Teachers Spring Recital auditions of 2014. She was the winner of the top Gold prize in the International Music and Arts Society piano competition in 2013. As a result, she gave a performance in the winners’ recital at Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall) in New York. In December 2012, she was honored to perform her music during the Winter Holiday festivities at the Drumthwacket Governor’s Mansion. At the Princeton Day School she is a Frank Jacobson Music Scholar. There, she gave her solo, senior recital in May of this year. She is the pianist for the Princeton Day School jazz band. Pria’s other interests include photography, figure skating, and writing.



CelenaCelena Chen

Westminster Conservatory

Continued undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Celena had been a part of Rita Shklar’s studio at the Westminster Conservatory for five years until her graduation in 2014. Celena is a 1st place winner of the 2013 Westminster Conservatory Scholarship competition. In the Fall of 2011she was one of four people from the state selected for the advanced master class at the NJMTA November convention. On November 20th that year she performed for the distinguished master class lecturer Eduardos Halim. Also in the Fall of 2011 Celena became a winner of the NJMTA Young Musicians’ Competition (3d place in the State in her age group 2011).

Celina was a winner of the NJMTA Spring recital auditions when she received High Honors award both times that she participated in 2012 and 2011. She is a two-time Princeton Steinway Society Competition finalist and Honorable Mention recipient (2014, 2012). In 2010 Celena became a Grand-Prix winner at the Music-Fest competition ( Carnegie Hall performance) and an Honorable Mention recipient of the Westminster Conservatory scholarship competition. She has also passed the ABRSM piano examinations up to grade 8, as well as the grade 5 music theory exam. She also studied flute at the Westminster Conservatory with Jill Crawford. In school she accompanies school Choir. Since she started working with Mrs. Shklar she has become more appreciative of the musicality of the instrument, as well as of the genius of Russian Romantic/Contemporary composers such as Balakirev, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev. Celena is studying entrepreneurship and life science at the University of Pennsylvania where she also continues her longtime engagement with piano and music.



AgustinAgustin Zavala

Continued undergraduate studies at Princeton University.

Agustin began studying piano around the 3rd grade with the RCMP(Rutgers Community Music Program). As a freshman Agustin was excepted to a high profile Honors Music Program (Young Artist Program) at the Westminster Conservatory of Music in Princeton. Upon entering YAP he began studying with Rita Shklar as a coach in chamber music and later as his private piano teacher. In 2014 Agustin became a finalist at the Steinway Society of Princeton piano competition. In 2013 Agustin competed in the IMAS (International Music and Arts Society) Young Artist competition. Not only did he win the honor of playing at Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall), but he also won the “Most Outstanding Performance Award”.


Agustin Zavala and Viola You at Carnegie Hall, New York
Agustin was also honored to perform during Winter Holiday festivities at the Drumthwacket Governor’s Mansion in December 2012. A year earlier he participated in the Music-Fest Rising Talents competition as a chamber musician together with his ensemble partner violinist – Viola You. There he won top Grand Prix and played in Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall. Agustin also participated in the NJMTA in 2012 winning top High Honors award. He passed the AP Music Theory exam with the highest grade and ABRSM highest level 8. Aside from piano competitions, Agustin has organized several recitals for senior citizens in assisted living communities. He also was contracted to play in the Meadow Lakes Winter Concert series. Agustin’s favorite composers are Berlioz and Chopin. Aside from piano Agustin enjoys playing soccer and running.



AlonzoEric Alonzo

Westminster Conservatory

Continued undergraduate studies in filmmaking and digital media at Pace University.

Eric is 18 years old and has been playing piano for the past 11 years. He joined Rita Shklar’s studio at the Westminster Conservatory in September of 2009. Eric started his early education in music when he was 7 years old when he joined group lessons at Westminster Conservatory. At the age nine, Eric started his private piano lessons.

His rapid progress was proven when two years later Eric became a winner at the Crescendo International Competition and performed in Carnegie Hall for the first time. In 2010 Eric received a Grand Prize award for the Rising Star Music Festival Competition and gave another performance at Carnegie Hall. Eric is a 4 times winner of top High Honors award at the NJMTA Spring competition in 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2010. In 2013 Eric became 1st place winner of the Westminster Conservatory Scholarship competition and recipient of the top Conservatory award – Korkina Scholarship.
Eric successfully completed and passed with distinction ABRSM exams level 4 by the age of 11. At the same time he also joined a band in school and played trumpet for two years. Now, in addition to his piano study, Eric takes private guitar lessons as a second instrument.
Aside from all his activities in music, Eric is also doing Martial Arts classes whenever he has free time. He also constantly performs in his church at least twice a year playing special music. Eric plans to major in filmmaking and digital media at Pace University and will pursue a minor in music.



micheleMichelle Rofrano

Westminster Conservatory

Continued undergraduate studies at the Mason Gross School of the Arts/ Rutgers University.

Michelle studied solo piano with Rita Shklar at Westminster Conservatory from 2003 and piano ensemble from 2001, until her graduation. Michelle participated in the Young Artists Program at the Westminster Conservatory for four years. There she met her long-time piano duet partner Shannon Cahill. Michelle has enjoyed a great success both as a soloist and as a part of piano duo.

Her outstanding, passionate performances have been recognized by appreciative audiences and professional judges alike. She has been recipient of top prizes at several competitions, such as: Cecilian Young Artist Competition, Golden Key Music and Arts Festival, the New Jersey Music Teachers Association Spring Recital Auditions (6 time winner), Westminster Conservatory Scholarship Competition. After she became a winner of the 2007 Teen Arts Program she was a piano representative for the Hunterdon County Schools at the State level.


Michelle has dazzled audiences with several brilliant performances at the major performance venues in New York, including Lincoln Center (Alice Tully Hall, November 2003) and Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall, May 2004). In the summer of 2008 Michelle was selected to participate in the summer music program for high school students at NYU.

Michelle participated in all orchestral and jazz ensembles and accompanied the chorus at the Reading Fleming Middle School, and she was accepted into the 2005 CJMEA Regional Concert Band and Orchestra. She also sang and played the piano at the 2004 and 2005 RFMS talent shows. Michelle was involved in music at Hunterdon Central Regional High School; through which she performed at Avery Fischer Hall of Lincoln Center in 2007 and 2008.

Michelle Rofrano recently graduated as a Piano Performance BM and orchestral conducting student from Mason Gross School of the Arts. As a pianist, she has performed in recitals at Avery Fischer Hall and Carnegie Hall and has participated in festivals throughout Europe and the US, performing as soloist with the Vienna International Orchestra in 2010. In 2011, Michelle was named winner of the Rutgers Undergraduate Concerto Competition. As a conductor, Michelle gave her debut leading the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra in 2013 and has participated in workshops with the Baltimore Chamber and Bakersfield Symphony orchestras. She held the position of Interim Music Director for the Garden State Philharmonic Symphonic Youth Orchestra during fall 2012 and served as Assistant Conductor of the Rutgers Sinfonia for the 2012-13 season.



tammylanTammy Lam
Westminster Conservatory

Continued undergraduate studies at New York University.

Tammy started playing the piano when she was four years old. She studied under the direction of master faculty Rita Shklar for nine years until her graduation from high school, at the Westminster Conservatory in Princeton, New Jersey. Tammy has been the recipient of many awards, both academic and musical. She is a four-time winner of the Westminster Conservatory Scholarship Competition (in 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2007), and received an honorable mention in 2002. She received High Honors in the New Jersey Music Teachers Association Annual Spring Recital audition from 2001-2007. In 2005, as a winner in the American Fine Arts Festival, she gave her debut performance at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall. She returned to Carnegie Hall in May 2006, as a winner in the Golden Key Music Festival. She has been a finalist twice in the Young Pianist Competition of New Jersey, and received an honorable mention in the Cecilian Music Club Fall Competition in 2003.


Tammy participated in the Young Artist Program at Westminster Conservatory for five years, and has performed in numerous recitals. She has also participated in master classes with distinguished pianists such as Robert Taub, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, and Jeanine Hummel. She was also an active member of the Princeton Day School choir and the Princeton Day School Madrigal Singers. She sang in the Princeton Girlchoir for three years, touring over the summers of 2005-2007 in Newfoundland, Hawaii, and Eastern Germany and Prague. The Princeton Girlchoir also sang for the President of the Czech Republic at the Ambassador’s residence in Prague.

Tammy was a recipient of the 2007 Pingry School Photo Exhibition Judge’s Award for her work in film and digital photography. She was also a National Merit Commended Scholar, a College Board National AP Scholar, and was nominated to be a Presidential Scholars candidate by the U.S. Department of Education. She also received a perfect composite score of 36 on the October 2007 American College Test (ACT).

Tammy graduated in May 2012 with honors from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, with a concentration in Globalization & Social Justice. She is currently a juris doctor (J.D.) candidate at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, from which she will graduate in June of 2015.



shannonShannon Cahill

Westminster Conservatory

Continued undergraduate studies at the University of Florida.

Born in 1991, Shannon began music studies at age 2, in the early childhood program at Westminster Conservatory, Princeton, NJ.  At age 10, she began piano studies with Rita Shklar, who was also the coach for her longstanding piano duet partnership with her contemporary, Michelle Rofrano.

Shannon has participated in many competitions and performances, including those sponsored by New Jersey Music Teachers Association (winner of top High Honors and Honors for many years in both solo and piano ensemble), Cecilian Music Competition (honorable mention solo, and duet winner, with 2003 performance at Lincoln Center Alice Tully Hall), The American Fine Arts Festival 2004 (performance at Merkin Hall, NYC), Golden Key Music competition (winners recital at Carnegie Hall).


shannon2Shannon was a 3 time winner of the  Westminster Conservatory Scholarship competition in 2008, 2006, 2004, Honorable Mention recipient in 2000 and 2002. She was also the piano representative for Hunterdon County schools at the state level Teen Arts program at The College of New Jersey in 2004 and 2005.

Outside of music, Shannon has many other interests. She has a great love for horses, photography, dance, and shopping! Spending time with her friends is an important part of her life too.



Leda Wang

Continued Undergraduate Studies at Rutgers University

Leda joined Mrs. Shklar studio in 2015. Since then Leda has been actively performing. Leda became a 1st place winner of The Greater Princeton Steinway Society Piano Competition in 2016. She was a 2d place winner of the NJMTA Young Musicians Competition in the Fall of 2017. Leda became a winner in the NJMTA Advanced Master Class competition in the fall of 2016.

As a result, she was one of four people from the state selected to perform for the advanced master class at the New Jersey Music Teachers Association annual convention on November 15th, 2016. The same year, Leda received an honorable mention award in the NJMTA Young Musicians Competition. She was a winner of the top High Honors award at the NJMTA Spring recital auditions in 2016. In 2017, Leda was selected as a soloist with the Princeton High School Orchestra. She performed Saint-Sans piano concerto No.5 with the orchestra in the United States and later during their European tour in major concert halls in London, Paris and Brussels. Their winter performance at the Princeton University Chapel was translated on the classical radio station WWFM. Leda received a standing ovation for that performance.



Christina Merwitz

Chamber student Young Artists Program Westminster Conservatory.

Piano Performance The College of New Jersey.

Christina studied chamber music with Rita Shklar at Westminister Conservatory in the Young Artist Program and then studied piano with Rita as a music student at The College of New Jersey.
Under Mrs. Shklar’s guidance, Christina won 1st place in the Golden Key Music Festival Competition, which awarded a solo performance at Carnegie Hall. She also was the recipient of The College of New Jersey Music Scholarship and The Piano Teachers’ Forum of NJ Scholarship and participated in numerous Master Classes at Temple University, Westminster Choir College, and The College of New Jersey.


Composition is another interest of Christina’s. She is a two-time first place winner of the Delaware Valley Philharmonic Orchestra Young Composers’ Competition, and her works have been premiered by the orchestra, and at Westminster Choir College, Princeton Theological Seminary, and The College of New Jersey.

After receiving a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance at The College of New Jersey, Christina went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. She is currently a registered nurse in the Surgical-Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Jefferson University Hospital and is studying to be an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.

Christina still finds ample time to be an active musician. She is the pianist/organist at The Church of St. Andrew in Newtown, PA and Titusville United Methodist Church in NJ. She continues to teach private piano lessons at Encorp Theater School in Ewing, NJ and accompanies various soloists for performances at The College of New Jersey. On her spare time, Christina composes chamber music and practices the cello.