732.741.8880 | Email Us | A Count Basie Center Performing Arts Academy Program


The faculty of the Monmouth Conservatory of Music is made up of professionals from around the world, including graduates of prestigious music conservatories and universities. As teachers, the MMC faculty strive to maintain the mission and integrity of classical music training, theory and performance.


PATRICK APPELLO (CLASSICAL + FLAMENCO GUITAR) Mr. Appello has taught classical and flamenco guitar at Monmouth Conservatory since 1990. He served on the music faculty of Georgian Court University for ten years, and has studied guitar with Manuel Barrueco, Frederic Hand, Juan de la Mata, and Ana Maria Rosado, plus lute and theorbo with Pat O’Brien. Mr. Apello earned a B.M. in Guitar Performance from the Manhattan School of Music and a Masters in Performance from New Jersey City University. Amongst his accomplishments, he was co-winner of the Oscar Ghilia Guitar Competition and solo artist in the Master Class at the Aspen Music Festival, and served as the original solo classical guitarist for the famed "Cellar in the Sky" restaurant on the 107th floor of the World Trade Tower. His CD Reflections, a collection of Renaissance and early-Romantic music performed on historic instruments, was released in 2007. A second CD, The Last Rose of Summer was released in 2012, hailed as “delightful by its array of guitar techniques, idiomatically conceived for the instrument” by Early Music America.


DR. KEITH CALMES (GUITAR) Dr. Calmes, who teaches guitar at Wall High School in New Jersey, has been performing solo guitar music professionally since 1984. Coined a "master musician" by Guitar for the Practicing Musician magazine, Dr. Calmes earned degrees in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of Southern California, California State University Northridge and The Juilliard School. As winner of the Artists International competition, he gave his Carnegie Recital Hall debut in 1992. He is the author of several books, including Guitar Music of the 16th Century and Gospel Favorites for Classical Guitar. Dr. Calmes’ performances have included lecture-recitals at the national conventions of the American String Teachers Association and the Guitar Foundation of America, concerts of the complete solo guitar works of Heitor Villa-Lobos, concertos with Monmouth Symphony, and the premieres of many solo works. He actively records as both a soloist and with prominent Dutch composer Chiel Meijering, and was recently presented with an Outstanding Educator award from The College of New Jersey.


TATYANA CHEREPINKSAYA (PIANO) Ms. Cherepinksaya holds a B.A. from the Music Conservatory Ukraine, Kharkov. She is an accompanist for Alvin Ailey Dance School in New York City, as well as for the Princeton Ballet and the Dance Academy of Red Bank. As faculty member of Red Bank Music School. Ms. Cherepinksaya is also a coach to for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools Of Music Exams, as well as for students entering various music programs at the collegiate level.


BERNICE COOPERMAN (PIANO) Mrs. Cooperman has been a piano teacher at the Monmouth Conservatory for over 18 years. A graduate of the Juilliard School, she holds a degree in Music Education from the Teacher's College, Columbia University in New York City. Ms. Cooperman’s students have ranged in age from 5 years old to adults, adapting different methods of teaching to adapt to each individuals tastes and needs. Classical Music is her primary concern, but she also teaches jazz, or popular music to interested students. Mrs. Cooperman was a Member of the board of judges of The National Guild of Piano Teachers for 15 years, responsible for the evaluation of piano students and teaching techniques for the entire tri-state area.


ANGELA D'ALOTTO (VIOLIN / VIOLA) Angela began her classical music training at the age of six. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and completed her Master of Music degree in Viola Performance at Penn State where she was also a teaching assistant. In that role, she worked with beginners taking strings methods, to more advanced players who studied privately with her. Angela continues to perform classical music and is currently an active member of the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra. Now at Manasquan Music and Dance Academy she teaches violin, viola, and piano. She also teaches the after school String Program at Manasquan Elementary School.


BETTINA FORBES (VIOLIN) Bettina focuses on developing a rich, musical tone and mastering proper techniques while nurturing a love of music. She studied from the age of seven with Dorothy Kitchen, founder of the Duke University String School. In high school, she was selected to study with Giorgio Ciompi of the Duke University Ciompi Quartet. She later attended the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she participated in a masterclass with Arnold Steinhart. As a student at Swarthmore College, she studied with Curtis Institute teacher Geoffrey Michaels. Ms. Forbes also performed in the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria for two summers.


ANDREW KOSINSKI (PIANO) Composer, and Pianist Andrew Kosinski is a collaborative pianist for the Royal Academy of Dance, Two River Theatre, Count Basie Theatre, Holmdel Theatre Company, as well as instructor of piano and theory at the Monmouth Conservatory of Music. He is a substitute keyboardist for St. Clements Church in Matawan and previously served as Music Director at the First United Methodist Church of Asbury Park. As a composer, Andrew’s works have been performed in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, as well as in Romania by ensembles such as “Split the Lark! New Music Ensemble”, the Sayreville High school marching band, and Timothy Broege (Boston Clavichord Society). His music was included in the CD New and Old Music for Clavichord performed by Timothy Broege. 2019 looks forward to premiere performances in New Jersey, South Korea, and Mexico.

MIKHAIL KUCHUK (VIOLA / VIOLIN): Mikhail Kuchuk graduated from the Academy of Music in Odessa, Ukraine and completed his Master of Music and Doctorate of Music Degrees in Freiburg, Germany. His teachers have included Alexander Stanko, Wolfgang Marschner, and Felix Gottlieb. He has received numerous awards for his work. Mr. Kuchuk was a winner of the Ukrainian National Violin Competition in 1990, Carl Flesch Violin Competition (Hungary) in 1993, and the Baden Wurtemberg Violin Competition (Germany) in 1996. Other awards include receiving the David Oistrakh Scholarship in Odessa, Ukraine and the Rosenberg Foundation’s Scholarship in Freiburg, Germany.Mr. Kuchuk was a concertmaster of Odessa Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra where he toured as a soloist in Germany, Italy, and France. He also held a full-time position at the Odessa Opera House.

Since 1997, Mr. Kuchuk has been living in the United States. He was the solo violinist on Broadway in New York City, in the production of Forever Tango.  He has appeared as a soloist with the Manhattan Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, the Westchester Chamber Orchestra, St Peter’s by the Sea Symphony Orchestra, and the Bachanalia Chamber Orchestra.

From 1999-2009, Mr. Kuchuk was the leader of the Forte String Quartet, quartet-in-residence at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. During this period they participated in festivals throughout the United States including Maine, Washington DC, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey.  Since 2009, Mr. Kuchuk has been a member of the Art-Strings Ensembles. Art-Strings Ensembles actively performs at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, David Geffen at Lincoln Center (formerly known as Avery Fisher Hall), Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since 2004, Mr. Kuchuk has been a member of Tito Castro Tango Quartet and has participated at various locations in New York, including Blue Note, as well as in Hawaii, Korea, and Japan.

Mr. Kuchuk is the Concertmaster of St. Peters by the Sea Symphony Orchestra in New Jersey and Principal Second at the Bachanalia Chamber Orchestra in New York City.  As an educator, Mr. Kuchuk teaches violin at Wharton Music Center in New Jersey, and he is a faculty member at the Prep Division at Rutgers University.


MIRIAM LERNER (PIANO) Ms. Lerner is a graduate of The Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, Connecticut. She holds an A.B. in Music from Barnard College, NYC and M.Ed. from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City. A member of Music Teachers National Association and New Jersey Music Teachers Association, Merian has also served as an adjudicator for the Crescendo Music Festivals International for piano, voice and violin students. Her specialty is teaching young students to love music.


GRACE LIM (VIOLIN / VIOLA) Ms. Lim received her B.M and M.M of Music Performance from Manhattan School of Music. An instructor of violin and viola, she works as an independent music instructor at Rutgers Preparatory School. Ms. Lim incorporates both the traditional and Suzuki methods to students, ensuring the development of good rhythm, intonation and beautiful tone. An active performing artist, Ms. Lim has given concerts as a member of orchestra and chamber music ensembles around the world. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts in performance at Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts.


JOHN LUCKENBILL (BRASS / WOODWINDS) Mr. Luckenbill holds a B.A in Music Education from Michigan State University, and has been teaching in the Long Branch public school district for nearly 40 years. He is currently the team leader for the Visual and Performing Arts Magnet Project’s instrumental music program. Outside of school, Mr. Luckenbill continues to perform with Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea, and serves as conductor for Asbury Park Concert Band and John Luckenbill Pops Band.


JULIA MUENCH (PIANO) Ms. Muench holds a B.A. and M.A. in Music and Applied Piano from the University of Miami, under Teresa Escandon, Robert Floyd and Maxwell Lepper. Ms. Muench has been on the piano faculty at the Monmouth Conservatory since 1997, and with the Academy of Dance Arts as piano accompanist since 2008. She won first place Audience Award for her own composition, "Nautilus Dances," for chamber ensemble at the Sub Tropics Music Festival in Miami, Florida. Besides composing and giving numerous piano recitals over the years, Ms. Muench has developed her own music theory course, Music Theory Elements …Micro to Macro, and works with piano students of all levels and ages towards achieving their musicianship goals. Many of her performances can be found on YouTube.


GERD NOWACZYK (PIANO) Born and raised in Germany, Mr. Nowaczyk studied privately with Rhandi Haiberg-Druckenbrodt and Erika Haase at the Conservatory of Hanover, Germany, later receiving his degree in piano performance from the University of Ashland, Ohio, where he was a student of Elizabeth Pastor, Regius Professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Mr. Nowaczyk has appeared in solo and chamber music recitals throughout the United States and Germany, including a memorable performance of Schumann’s Piano concerto with the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank. His work as a vocal coach with emphasis on the French and German repertoire and his extensive experience as a choral conductor has made him highly sought after by musicians and vocalists alike. Mr. Nowaczyk has been a member of the piano faculty of the Monmouth Conservatory since 1995. He also holds a degree in Romance Languages and Literature and German Philology from the University of Heidelberg, Germany.


LAURA PETILLO (VIOLIN / VIOLA) Laura Petillo is one of Monmouth and Ocean counties most well rounded musicians and teachers. A recipient of the Lydia and Frank Bergen Foundation Scholarship Award and the Bayview Foundation scholarship award, Mrs. Petillo is currently pursuing a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Monmouth University. She is an avid session musician and has recorded instrumental works for Disney animators, along with many concerts in the local and NYC area. On Baroque violin and viola da gamba, Laura has performed at the Boston Early Music Festival with the New York Continuo Collective, as well as the “NYCC’s” performances with the Gotham Early Music concert series. She has studied with Randy Hollander, Patricia Hickson, Irina Kovalsky and Lenuta Cieulei. In 2004, she performed with the combination New Jersey State Youth Orchestra and TCNJ Band in the “All American Youth in Concert” performing the original works of John Phillip Sousa while touring Germany, Czech Republic, and Hungary.


LUCIAN RINANDO (FLUTE) has been Principal Flutist with the Garden State Philharmonic for 15 years and has held engagements with Verismo Opera, Cantori New York, the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, the Monmouth Civic Chorus Orchestra and the Phoenix Productions Orchestra, and was a flute extra with The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for over a decade. He has performed with the New York City Opera National Touring Company and performed in the original Broadway hit Sunset Boulevard. Mr. Rinando made his first recording on the Azur label with the premier release of René de Castéra’s Concerto for flute, clarinet, cello and piano. That disc was named a “Record of the Year” by the U.K. based http://www.musicweb-international.com He has performed with the New York Chamber Music Festival, Red Bank Chamber Music Series and other chamber music festivals in Costa Rica and Brussels. In addition, he was Assistant Conductor of the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra for seven seasons. Lucian Rinando is Professor of Flute at Ocean County College and Monmouth Conservatory of Music in Red Bank, New Jersey. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Performance from Duquesne University as a pupil of Bernard Goldberg. Other teachers include Jeanne Baxtresser and Judith Mendenhall.


JOHN SHEEHY (PIANO) John Sheehy is a pianist and composer from Middletown, New Jersey. He started playing classical piano at the age of 7, and by 14 expanded his horizons to include jazz, as well as other genres. He is a graduate of Berklee College of Music with a Bachelors in Professional Music with a concentration in piano performance. While at Berklee, he was fortunate to study piano under the tutelage of prominent pianists, Joanne Brackeen, Helen Sung & Nando Michelin. John has been fortunate to play in several prominent venues including The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Tumulty’s Pub for the New Brunswick Jazz Project, Tomi Jazz in Manhattan, Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia, The Spotted Cat in New Orleans, and Wally’s Café in Boston. In addition to an interpreter of the Great American Songbook, John is also a composer, whose original compositions have been inspired by Afro-Cuban music, classical music, and odd time signatures. In addition to playing music of the jazz idiom, John is a highly flexible musician having been involved in various other projects including blues-rock (Alli & The Housecats, Sarah Messias), and singer-songwriter (Karlie Bartholomew, Aaron Lessard).


LEO SOEDA (CELLO) Mr. Soeda, a cellist, has taught, performed and written music for various notable international artists and organizations. He has performed at the United Nations and at each of the major classical venues in New York City, as well as overseas -- including the appearance as a rock cellist in Iceland Airwaves rock festival in Reykjavik, Iceland. Mr. Soeda has performed at the Chatauqua Music Festival, Orford Music Festival, the Henri Mancini Institute, and the Beverly Hills International Music Festival. He has also appeared on national TV programs, and in commercial recordings such as Yeah Yeah Yeah’s It’s Blitz!. He has also performed regularly with groups such as Asian Artists and Concerts, New York Virtuosi, Sketchy Orkestra (jazz), New Radio (rock), etc. He now serves as the principal cellist of Lucidity Chambaristas in Queens. As an educator, he currently serves as a conductor and chamber music director at New Jersey State Youth Orchestra, and as a conductor at Lucy Moses School in New York City.

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