Large and small ensembles, and songwriting and improvisation-based composition lessons
Sonya Belaya is a pianist and a singer bred by the traditions of the Russian school. Her roots are planted in these memories-playing piano during overflowing dinners, and singing Soviet bard songs around family campfires. Her love of song is audible in my patterns of speech. You’ll hear her voice carry in its distinct presence. She speaks through art based in vulnerability and emotional transparency. She finds this vulnerability in free improvisation, writing songs, and in creating unapologetic experiences that say, “I feel with you.” Her focus as an artist is to use vulnerability and personal emotional inventory for social change. By openly exploring trauma, depression, loss and grief in a vulnerable way, she creates space for others to be comfortable with self-reflection and deep empathy. Building community and connectivity in this way allows for more personal emotional inventory that leads to a greater understanding of happiness and suffering. Empathy and vulnerability are where we solve social issues, and create a sense of understanding across boundaries.
Large and small ensemble, conducting lessons
Leonard Bopp is a New York City-based conductor, trumpet player and educator. With a boundless artistic curiosity, a love of adventurous collaboration and a deep commitment to socially-resonant curation, Leonard is passionate about creating adventurous and engaging musical experiences that inspire audiences and strengthen communities.
A devoted champion of the music of our time, Leonard is the Founder and Artistic Director of the BlackBox Ensemble and the newly-appointed conductor of the Face the Music Chamber Orchestra at the Kaufman Music Center. Under his leadership, BlackBox has performed numerous world premieres, worked with many of today’s exciting compositional voices, and spearheaded collaborations with multidisciplinary artists, and held residencies and education engagements at Williams College, NYU, and the Mannes School of Music Preparatory Division, and the University of Florida (upcoming). They were selected for Chamber Music America’s 2022 Ensemble Forward program, through which they were coached and mentored by Alan Pierson of Alarm Will Sound.
In his new position at Face the Music, Leonard will lead the chamber orchestra in performances of an eclectic range of repertoire, nurturing students’ creative musicianship by introducing them to a broad selection of contemporary musical practices. He will also facilitate workshops and collaborations with leading composers, guest artists and partner ensembles.
Kristian de leon
Electronic composition, audio production lessons
Kristian de Leon is a Brooklyn-based composer and artist who aims to create colorful, imaginative works that explore the threads that connect our human condition. He focuses on blending elements of acoustic, electronic, and visual media, looking to find inventive ways to push past traditional conventions, fostering a new kind of connection to those who interact with his work. His recent projects include compositions for acoustic-electric ensemble and dynamic lighting, works for creative movement and adaptive fixed media, and real-time visual synthesis for generative electronic music.
Kristian has written for a number of premiere performance artists and ensembles such as JACK Quartet, Bergamot Quartet, Hypercube Ensemble, Transient Canvas, and the CSUF Wind Symphony. He also has worked closely with individuals and organizations, including Southern California Marimba and Brooklyn Motion Capture Dance Ensemble, creating new works for different mediums ranging from traditional concert music to experimental live sound design.
Kristian is currently living in Brooklyn, NY with his obscenely large house cat, Bagel, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Percussion Performance from California State University, Fullerton, and a Master’s Degree in Music Theory and Composition at NYU Steinhardt under Michael Gordon, Shelley Washington, and Robert Honstein. He is also a proud Rustic Percussion Artist (rusticpercussion.com, @RusticPercussion on Instagram).
Sarah Goldfeather is a composer-performer who lives in Jersey City. Her compositions include commissions from pianist Timo Andres, ETHEL quartet, a 25-minute song cycle she performed with Contemporaneous, and several works for her ensembles, Exceptet and Cipher. Future projects include works for Warp Trio and Alkemie. She received a 2023 Finalist award from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Sarah co-writes and performs music for Goldfeather, an experimental pop band based out of New York City. The whimsical brainchild of Sarah Goldfeather and Mike Tierney, Goldfeather’s music has been described as “a nightmare funhouse-mirror take on Carly Rae Jepson-style upbeat pop [that is] deeply disconcerting and outrageously fun” (National Sawdust Log), with songs that are “as crazy as they are catchy... a three minute rush of conflicting emotions over sonic exploration... sounds from one universe seem to be leaking into another" (New Sounds), “giddy, cute, vulnerable, and delightful” (I Care If You Listen), “full of light and life” (The Current, Minnesota Public Radio), and "poignant...striking and laudable" (The Deli Magazine). Their fourth studio album, Change, was released in 2023 on innova (American Composers Foundation).
Sarah has also had an active career as a violinist and singer. She was the violinist in the Tony Award-winning and Grammy-nominated Broadway production of Oklahoma! and the 2023 production of The Coast Starlight at Lincoln Center Theater, and has additionally performed as a soloist in for The NYU International Conference of the Arts in Berlin, the AMEE Festival in Madrid and Valencia, the TEDxMET series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and has been a featured composer-performer for the WildShore Festival in Alaska, The Present Music Festival in Milwaukee, The Johnstone Fund for New Music in Columbus, OH, The Laudie D. Porter Artist Series at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, The Center for New Music in San Francisco, The MATA-Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall, and more. Sarah has additionally performed at The Barclay’s Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Alice Tully Hall, The Bang on a Can Marathon, The Park Avenue Armory, and with Courtney Love, Ronnie Spektor, Lizzo, Kimbra, to name a few. Her television performances include the 2019 Tony Awards, the Tonight Show, the Today Show, and Kelly and Ryan.
Sarah is the co-founder and artistic director of Exceptet, an “eclectic” and “quirky” (New Yorker) seven-piece new music ensemble that commissions new works from emerging composers including recent Barlow Prize Winner Katie Balch. Sarah is also the co-founder and violinist of Cipher, a soprano-violin duo with Justine Aronson.
Finola Merivale is an Irish composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music, currently living in New York City. She is a Dean’s Fellow at Columbia University where she is pursuing a DMA in Composition, studying with George Lewis, Georg Friedrich Haas and Zosha Di Castri. Themes that run across her music include climate change, inequality and a sense of place – both real and imagined.
Her compositions have been performed internationally – in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia – and featured at festivals such as the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, the Contemporary Music Festival of Buenos Aires, and Vox Feminae in Tel Aviv. Her music has been performed by musicians of the Chicago and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Talea Ensemble, Desdemona Ensemble, Crash Ensemble, ~Nois Quartet, PRISM Saxophone Quartet and Bearthoven, amongst others. Projects in 2020–21 include commissions from bassoonist Rebekah Heller, pianist Karl Larson and her first evening-length multimedia work for Real Loud.
Finola will have three records released in 2021, including her first solo album, String Music of Finola Merivale recorded by Desdemona Ensemble. Pathos Trio is releasing her new work oblivious / oblivion on their debut album and ~Nois Quartet is releasing her 2016 saxophone quartet Kenopsia.
Finola also plays gamelan, which she has spent time studying in Java, Indonesia. During her mid-twenties, she spent two years teaching English in Hong Kong. When she’s not composing, she enjoys exploring New York City, yoga, playing with her adopted cat Saffron, cooking vegetarian food for friends, and relaxing with a cup of Barry’s Tea, which hails from her home county of Cork.