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Student & Faculty News
Summer & Fall 2012



On November 20, four SMS and two LMS flute students of Valerie Holmes performed at the Guggenheim Museum in conjunction with the “Picasso Black and White” exhibition.


Special Music School received the highest rating on its first Department of Education quality review, a thorough analysis of the school’s academic and music programs.

Special Music School parents gave a benefit concert on November 16 that raised over $2100 in support of the Waterside Children’s Studio School in Rockaway Park, which was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The concert was organized by SMS faculty and supported by the SMS PTA.

Special Music School and Lucy Moses School flute and drum students performed in Central Park at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on September 9.

Sofia Belimova (Piano, 7th grade, piano student of Natela Mchedlishvili & ComposerCraft student) won an Emerging Composers award in the 2012 Tribeca New Music Young Composer Competition for her work Rain.

Sebastian Demayo-Stoger (Cello, 8th grade, student of Yari Bond) will perform on the National Public Radio show “From the Top.”

Zachary Detrick (Composition, 7th grade, student of Joseph Ries and Robinson McClellan) was awarded first prize in the Robert Avalon International Competition for Composers, a competition open to junior high school, high school, college and professional composers.

Abe Gold (Piano & Composition, 6th grade, student of Joseph Ries and Robinson McClellan) had his string quartet, 4 NYC Things, performed at the Five Seasons Chamber Music Festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Julia Jones (Violin, 3rd grade, student of Viktor Basis) won 2nd prize in the Cremona International Academy String Competition in July.

Yali Levy-Schwartz (Piano, 4th grade, student of Genya Paley) won first prize in solo repertoire in the Orfeo International Music Festival on July 9. She participated in 2 competitions, 2 solo recitals and chamber performances.

Nadira Novruzov (Flute, 5th grade, student of Valerie Holmes) won first prize in the Elementary Division of The Alexander & Buono International Flute Competition and played at the winner’s recital at Weil Recital Hall on October 21, accompanied by Valerie.

Annaliese Wee (Piano, a 6th grade, student of Irina Morozova) won 3rd prize in the Cremona International Academy Piano Competition in July.


Luca Sakon (Violin, student of Viktor Basis) won 1st prize in the Cremona International Academy String Competition in July.

Alice Ivy-Pemberton (Violin, student of Nurit Pacht) performed as one of four soloists in Sinfonia Concertante for Four Violins in a minor, Op. 55 by Ludwig Maurer with New York Youth Symphony as part of the 50th Anniversary opening concert of the season on November 25. She shared the stage with such celebrated violinists as Cho-Liang Lin and Michelle Kim at Carnegie Hall and was singled out by the New York Times for her “sweet-toned playing.” Read the review.


On June 14 Young Artist Program students performed at the Harmonie Club. The QSSR Quartet performed Ben Yarmolinky’s piano quartet; other students performed works by Fauré, Debussy and Gershwin. The students were coached by Emily White.


Roni Ben-Hur (Jazz Program) taught and performed last summer in the South of France, Istanbul and Bar Harbor, Maine. In August he released his latest CD (his 9th as a leader), Our Thing (Motema Music) to critical acclaim.  

Chaim Freiberg (Piano) was an official guest of the Bratislava Conservatorium in Slovakia in August 2012. He was subsequently invited by the director to give a presentation of his pedagogical work to a national conference of of piano teachers  in the same institution in August 2013.

Gulia Gurevich (Violin/Viola) has just released a debut album, PRIMA, with the award winning Prima Trio.
This self-produced commercial recording includes works by Peter Schickele, Aram Khachaturian, Darius Milhaud and the trio's own arrangements of works by Astor Piazzolla.

Tardo Hammer (Piano, Jazz) performed in Portland, Oregon as solo pianist and with jazz trio in October and toured Japan in November in a duo setting with guitarist Masa Nakagawa. He performed at Marian's Jazz Room in Bern, Switzerland in December with cornetist Warren Vache and appears monthly at Small's jazz club in NYC with his own trio.

Brian Krinke (Violin, Suzuki) performed an all-Paganini program for unaccompanied violin at Florida State, Tallahassee on November 6.

Robinson McClellan (Composition, Theory) premiered his work A Child in Nature, which was performed by the choir The Esoterics in Seattle, WA in October. He was a panelist alongside composer Libby Larsen and others at a recent sacred music conference at Notre Dame.

Nils Neubert (Voice) will perform this season at Bach Vespers, TENET, Trinity Wall Street, Berkshire Bach Society, Schubert & Co. (a presentation of the complete songs of Franz Schubert), Cello Plus Chamber Music Festival and American Landmark Festivals. Next summer he will perform in Christopher Park's new opera, Phaedra and Hippolytus, at the Palacio das Artes in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Irina Nuzova (Piano) was appointed a Duo-in-Residence at the Music Institute of Chicago with cellist Wendy Warner. In October she performed Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the SOMA orchestra in Maplewood, NJ; as a member of the Camerata Phillips she performed Beethoven's First Piano Concerto at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

Nurit Pacht (Violin) gave recitals and chamber music performances in the San Juan Chamber Music Festival with pianist Max Levinson and cellist Allison Eldridge in August. In September she served as juror of Chengu International Violin Competition in China, gave a Baroque Violin Recital at Juilliard's Paul Hall and made concerto appearances with Boulder Bach Festival on tour in Colorado.

Taisiya Pushkar (Piano) will release her first CD with the New York-based Dutch cellist Amber Docters van Leewuen on the Brilliant Classics label in January of 2013. The CD includes works by Debussy, Van Breen, Schnittke and Beethoven. The duo made their debut at Carnegie Hall in 2011, and will play their debut at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on December 2.

Matthew Reichert (Suzuki Program) performed a concert of sonatas by Schubert, Beethoven and Brahms with pianist Quynh Nguyen at The Church of St. Stephen on November 11.

Luke Schwartz (Theory) performed his works at New Music Forum's 10th Annual Festival of Contemporary Music in Berkeley, CA and the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA and was the official guest composer for the University of South Florida's composition seminar. His solo guitar/electronics music will be heard as part of Miami Dade College's On Stage series and Rhymes With Opera's Music Salon in NYC, and will also be performed by First Construction (ensemble) in Baltimore, MD.

Svetlana Smolina (Piano) served on the faculties of the Summit Summer Festival and Philadelphia International Summer Festival, giving masterclasses and playing recitals and chamber music concerts with Philadelphia orchestra principal players, and was invited to join piano faculty on their Winter Festival in Miami in December. She performed a series of concerts for the 15th iPalpiti Festival of International Laureates in Los Angeles. She returned for the second summer as collaborative piano faculty to the Mozarteum Summer Academy in Salzburg and opened the Philadelphia International Music Festival’s 15th anniversary season with a recital in September.

Liza Stepanova (Theory), with the Lysander Trio, won the 2012 Concert Artist Guild Competition.

Suzanne Wagor (Viola) performed piano quartets by Fauré and Schumann at a Faculty Recital at Montclair State University College of the Arts with Laura Kobayashi, violin; Ken Law, cello and Mansoon Han Kim, piano on October 21.

Emily White (Piano, Chamber Music) gave a recital at Nyack College on October 2 of music by Mozart, Chopin, Prokofiev, Yehudi Wyner, Szymanowski and Wagner/Liszt.