Staff

Jonathan Torgrimsen – Director
Guitar/Bass/Ukulele/Songwriting
 Jonathan has been performing, writing, recording, and teaching music professionally for more than 2 decades.  He has experience teaching all levels of guitar and has a passion for passing music on to the next generation.  Whether it’s a young child or an adult Jon enjoys finding what motivates and inspires his students and spurring them on to reach their goals.
Most of all Jonathan loves spending time with his wife and 2 kids.  They love laughing, riding roller coasters, skiing, and of course playing and singing music together.
You can find out more about Jonathan and listen to some of his music on his website.

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Stephanie Tsai – Assistant Director
Piano, Clarinet, Preschool Piano, ABRSM 

With a B.M. in Music Education from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Stephanie is experienced in both solo and collaborative performances for clarinet and piano. Stephanie’s passion is teaching music and encouraging students to appreciate and gain a love for music.

Over the past seven years, Stephanie has been teaching music and preparing students for various music competitions and evaluations in the tristate area. She passionately believes that building a strong musical foundation is an essential stepping stone in helping a student tap into their creative side and become a well-rounded musician. Stephanie additionally enjoys producing instrumental covers of mainstream music.
Check out her Youtube channel here.

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John Swayne –
Drums

John has been playing drums for over 30 years.  He began playing professionally at the age of 12 and has remained a fixture in the New Jersey live music scene ever since.  He with his band New Blood Revival spent 7 years as Atlantic Records recording artists traveling the country and sharing the stage with countless legendary acts.  Most recently John has worked with Ariana and The Rose, Dave Cook (Musical director with Taylor Swift), producer David Khan, and producer Chris Pierce.  You can also catch John on the road with his newest project Coach n’ commando.

John has nearly 2 decades of teaching experience and takes great pride in his student’s accomplishments.  He genuinely treasures the relationships he’s developed over the years and the  privilege it’s been to see his student’s develop into great drummers and people.


Guitar/Piano
Mike recieved his Master’s degree in Music Education from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.  He’s also performed and recorded in several metal bands around New Jersey.
Mike hope’s to enable a lifelong appreciation for music in a new generation of students.  Outside of music, my hobbies include hiking, weight lifting and playing video games.
Check out Mike’s most recent recording project here.
 

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 Brendan Stavris
Piano, Saxophone, Drums, and Guitar
Brendan has enjoyed numerous opportunities in music since childhood. Starting his formal instruction on piano, he continued on to saxophone during elementary school and eventually guitar and drums. He received his B.S. in music education at Western Connecticut State University, and an M.M at UMass Amherst in Composition. He is currently seeking a Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA) in Music Education at the Mason Gross School of the Arts. His research interests include democracy learning, and helping students develop their musicianship through improvisation and composition. As a performer, Brendan is equally at home performing as a jazz saxophonist, rock guitarist, pit orchestra/theater woodwind musician, or classical pianist. He hopes that his variety of experience in music and education helps to enrich the lives of his students. Everyone is musical, and the happiness and satisfaction gained from studying this art form is something that students can enjoy for the rest of their lives.

  imageMegan Fernandez  
Voice and Piano
Megan Fernandez is currently studying Vocal Music Education at Mason Gross School of the Arts. As a singer, her musical journey began as a child singing in church, and today, her varied career has involved everything from rock to opera. Megan currently studies with Susan Quittmeyer and has been the featured soloist for works including Haydn’s Missa Cellensis, Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien, and Ravel’s opera, L’enfant et les sortilège. In choral settings, Megan has sung with ensembles at Rutgers, including the Voorhees Choir and Kirkpatrick Choir, in addition to being the assistant director of the a cappella group, Orphansporks. As a well-rounded musician of multiple genres, Megan has performed with bands at various venues such as the Highline Ballroom in NYC and continues to perform folk rock across the tri-state area.
As a teacher, Megan believes that becoming a well-rounded musician and singer calls for gaining the self-confidence to share an intimate part of ones artistic self with others. Not only does she focus on musical and vocal fundamentals, but she constantly challenges her students to step out of their comfort zone. Megan loves to see her students grow as not only outgoing, knowledgeable musicians, but also as people!

IMG_1896Nathan Johns
Voice

Nathan graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University) in 2015 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance. While at Mason Gross, he participated in the Kirkpatrick Choir and Opera Workshop.  Nathan most recently performed in concert at Lincoln Center as a member of Kirkpatrick Choir.

Nathan loves encouraging his students to make music a part of their lives.  Whether they simply listen to music with a newer appreciation, get involved with their community choir/musical theater, or even go on to perform professionally, he believes it can greatly enrich one’s life at any level.

In addition to music, Nathan enjoys books, gaming with friends, entertainingly bad movies, and cooking chili.


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Cassandra Lambros
Violin and Viola

Soprano, Cassandra Lambros, holds a BM in violin performance, with highest honors, from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University and is a member of Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey and the Amelia Quartet. Her vocal accomplishments include: winner in the 2013 Milton Cross Young Artist Rising Star Competition, the Hellenic Music Foundation Scholarship and Irving Ludwig Young Artists Auditions. Cassandra also placed second in the Friday- Woodmere Music Club Young Artist Competition and was a New York Lyric Opera Theatre Competition Semi-Finalist.

Cassandra created the main character, Deb, in The Golden Arrow for its premiere with The Opera Project, covered Giannetta with Opera for Humanity, sang First Lady in New Jersey Baroque Orchestra’s Summer Festival, while covering Pamina in The Magic Flute. Cassandra covered Adina in Opera at Florham’s L’elisir d’amore production, under the baton of Dr. Robert Butts and was Erste Dame in the Opera Theater of Montclair production of Die Zauberflöte in summer of 2015. Cassandra was a Studio Artist in the 2014 Savannah Voice Festival and was a Young Artist (Voice and Violin) in the 2015 Assisi (Italy) Music Festival where she premiered Valentin Bogdan’s violin solo La Strada.

Cassandra was soprano soloist in the First United Methodist Church’s March 2016 performance of the Gounod Requiem and was heard as Giannetta in Eastern Opera’s production of L’elisir d’amore April 2016.

In summer 2016, she performed Zweite Dame in the Tuscia Opera Festival, sang the role of Lola in Eastern Opera’s production of Cavalleria Rusticana in October and the Lord Nelson Mass in November under the direction of Maestro Repp. She will be joining Maestro Repp in November of 2017 to sing the Schubert Mass in E-Flat Major. In October, she will sing with the Raritan Valley Symphonic Band under the direction of Dr. Christopher Sumner.

Cassandra is Artist-in-Residence at Westfield Presbyterian Church, studies voice with Amy Shoremount-Obra and is very happy to be violin teacher at the Bridgewater School of Music.


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Christina Nigro
Voice

Christina has been involved in music since childhood where she played both soprano and alto saxophone.  She kept up her passion for music into high school where she made the decision to make singing her primary musical focus.  Since then she has been a member of the All State Women’s Chorus,  All Shore Chorus, Region II Jazz Chorus,  and has performed at both NJPAC and The NJ State Theatre with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.  She is currently in her senior year at Mason Gross studying Music Education with a concentration in voice.

She finds the most rewarding aspect of teaching is seeing her students growth from week to week.   Above all she loves seeing a student accomplish a concept or a piece of music that they at one time didn’t think was possible.

In her spare time Christina loves going to and finding inspiration through live music events and concerts.  She also loves traveling, hiking, and spending time at the beach.


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Richard McCarthy

Piano and Guitar

Richard McCarthy is a Classical Guitarist in Somerset County New Jersey, with a diverse and rich repertoire. He is also a composer and an adept pianist, versed in a variety of musical styles, ranging from Baroque to Post-Modernism, with a strong affinity for improvisation.
In 2016 Richard graduated Magna Cum Laude from Montclair State University with a Bachelors Degree in Composition. Currently Richard is preparing to enter Graduate School for a Masters Degree in Classical Guitar Performance.
Richard performs at various venues across New Jersey,  teaches both at The Bridgewater School of Music and privately, and is ever composing new works for a variety of instrumentations.

 

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