Faculty

 Lynnelle Ediger

Founder & Director

Harp, Virginia Choristers

Founder and director, Lynnelle Ediger-Kordzaia, is a nationally recognized educator. She has taught the harp, voice and piano and directed harp ensembles and children's choirs for over 20 years. In 1999 she founded the American Youth Harp Ensemble (AYHE). The AYHE continues to dazzle audiences around the world as America’s premier youth harp ensemble. The Ensemble has brought world-class music to enthusiastic audiences in the U.S. and abroad through hundreds of performances, recordings, television and radio features on CNN, NBC, PBS and NPR affiliate stations. Since 1999, the Ensemble has made 15 national and international tours, performing in the Maastricht Music Festival (Netherlands), Edinburgh Festival (Scotland), the Paris Music Festival (France), Salla Puccini (Milan), Salle Gaveau (Paris), the United Nations (NY), the Kennedy Center (DC), the 34th and 38th American Harp Society National Conferences, AHS 9th Summer Institute, the Association for Music Personnel in Public Radio National Conference, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall three times. Most recently, the Ensemble performed in the London Festival of Music (England), on the “State of the Arts” Concert Series at the U.S. Department of State, at the White House (DC), in the Advent Music Festival in Vienna and Salzburg (Austria), for the Prince and Princess of Belgium, and for the 34th Annual Kennedy Center Honors performing for such musical luminaries John Williams, Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Jessye Norman and Denise Graves. Their performances have reached an audience of more than 300,000 viewers and listeners through television and radio broadcasts and live performances. The AYHE has been featured in two television specials: “The American Youth Harp Ensemble: Defying the Limits” and “The Community Idea Stations Present: Christmas with the American Youth Harp Ensemble.”

The Virginia Choristers has also grown into a nationally acclaimed program since its inception in 2007. The choir has expanded from a single choir to three levels of choirs and through satellite choirs via multiple partnerships with youth organizations throughout the region. The Virginia Choristers have performed in national and international venues including choral festivals in Puerto Rico, Vienna and Salzburg (Austria) and the International Festival of Choirs in Charleston, South Carolina. Most recently the choir toured the East Coast with a culminating feature performance in Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center (New York). The Virginia Choristers provides singers in elementary through high school the opportunity to grow, learn and excel through quality instruction and experiences that emphasize the development of musical skills and understanding. The Virginia Choristers also collaborate with other ensembles including symphony choruses, community choirs and other youth music ensembles. 

The Summer Music Institutes, now in the 18th year, attract students from around the world for intensive summer music study. The Summer Music Institutes have expanded to include six weeks of programming with focus areas including: harp, choral music, guitar, piano, musical theater, music exploration, and chamber music. A European Institute was added to the offerings in 2012.                        

Mrs. Ediger-Kordzaia has been an invited presenter/performer at the World Harp Conference, American Harp Society National Conferences, the International Folk Harp Conference and the International Harp Therapy Conferences. She is a recipient of the Governor’s Citation for Excellence in the Arts and has twice been named a “Top Forty Under Forty” by arts and business publications in Virginia. Most recently she was honored with the American Alliance for Performing Arts Educators 5th Annual Del Keiffner Award for Outstanding Arts Educator at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the Teresa Pollak prize for “Excellence in the Arts” from Richmond Magazine, and was the recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award in Music Education from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. She holds an undergraduate degree in harp performance and a graduate degree in music education from Oberlin Conservatory of Music where she was a student of Alice Chalifoux. She also holds a masters degree in arts administration from Goucher College. Along with her husband, orchestral conductor Alexander Kordzaia, she owns the Academy of Music, a Central Virginia's leading classical music school.

Ron Alig

Guitar & Beginning Piano

 

Ron Alig has been playing classical guitar in the greater Richmond area as well as northern VA for the past 4.5 years. He has a Bachelor degree in Music Performance from the VCU School of Music where he studied with David Toussaint and John Patykula. In 2007 he joined the Richmond Guitar Quartet and has performed for the Charlottesville Guitar Society, Randolph-Macon College, the VCU Guitar Series, as well as many other concerts and events in the area.

In addition to solo and quartet performances, Ron also is a regular member of the Richmond Community Guitar Ensemble and one of the founders of the Ashland Guitar Society.

 

Aponi Brunson

Harp, Flute & Chamber Music Instructor

 

Aponi Brunson, Assistant Artistic Director, 2003 graduate of the American Youth Harp Ensemble and 2007 graduate of University of Mary Washington, Ms. Brunson directs the HARPS Foundation outreach programs, serving a diverse range of students, from the urban outreach programs with the Greater Richmond Boys and Girls Club and City of Richmond Parks and Recreation to the rural partnership with Charles City Public Schools. Ms. Brunson directs the Harp Therapy Outreach Program under the careful advising of Ms. Ediger and Ms. Owens. In addition to her work with the HARPS Foundation outreach programs, Ms. Brunson assists Ms. Ediger with the various ensemble levels. As a member of the American Youth Harp Ensemble, Ms. Brunson has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Paris Music Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, and Milan and Rome, Italy.

 

Caroline Bryan, MT-BC

Harp & Music Therapy

Caroline Bryan, an alumni of the Academy of Music and American Youth Harp Ensemble, is pleased to be part of the Academy’s Faculty as a recent Board Certified Music Therapist. In 2014, Caroline graduated from James Madison University with a BA in Music Industry. She continued her studies at Shenandoah University and graduated in 2016 with a graduate certification in Professional Studies in Music Therapy. While in school, Caroline was involved in many practicum experiences that have helped further her learning and career in music therapy. Those experiences included the Adult Day Center in Winchester, Va., Music Therapy Field Service Project in Portland, Jamaica, and a local placement, VCU Medical Center, Richmond, VA. Caroline Bryan completed her internship placement at James River Juvenile Detention working with high risk adolescents on psychoeducational goals.

During her studies at Shenandoah University, Caroline has worked to serve her community by being a harp mentor, at the Boys and Girls Clubs, for the Harps Foundation program “Sound Experiences” and as a private harp teacher at the Academy of Music. She also worked as a musician for hire at three local Bon Secour Hospitals and as well as a Children’s Choir Director for Winfree Memorial Baptist Church. She also served as principal harpist for the James Madison University Symphony Orchestra, and as a performing harpist for the Shenandoah Conservatory Orchestra, Rockbridge Symphony, and the Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra. Her continued service work throughout her studies at Shenandoah University granted her the school’s Music Therapy Professional Studies Service Award. Caroline Bryan has currently accepted music therapy positions at Poplar Springs Hospital and Noah’s Children. She will also continue serving the community at the Academy of Music, Harps Foundation and as a music program leader for Art 180, a local nonprofit that serves a diverse youth population in self-awareness and expression.

 

Suzi Fischer

Saxophone, Clarinet, Beginning Piano & Beginning Guitar

 
Suzi Fischer received a Bachelor of Music degree from Virginia Commonwealth University with a concentration in Jazz Studies. During her time at VCU she studied with Skip Gailes, Albert Regni and Doug Richards, held the lead alto chair in VCU's Jazz Orchestra 1, and received a number of performance based scholarships. She has performed with artists including The Temptations, Jason Mraz, John D'earth, and Tony Martucci.  Suzi currently plays saxophone, clarinet and flute in many ensembles in the greater Richmond area in a variety of genres, including jazz, classical, R&B, funk and rock.

 

 


Kim Gilbert

Music Therapy

 

Kim Gilbert, MT-BC, graduated from Radford University in 1991with a bachelor's degree in both Music Therapy and Spanish. She has been a board certified music therapist since 1992. She has experience working with individuals of all ages, ranging from preschool to geriatrics. During her career, she has worked with various levels of autism, special education, at-risk youth, psychiatric disorders, and dementia. She has practiced music therapy in numerous settings, including schools, state hospitals, private practice, nursing homes, other senior adult facilities, and currently hospice. In addition to her position with Noah's Children, Kim provides music therapy to patients at Hiram Davis Medical Center in Petersburg. She also serves as the Worship Arts Associate at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, where she leads the children and youth music programs. Kim plays the piano, guitar, and clarinet. In her spare time, Kim enjoys reading, aerobics, and golfing.

Dana Jacoby, MT-BC

Music Therapist, Voice, Flute, Beginning Guitar and Piano

Dana is very pleased to join the faculty at the AOM as a board certified music therapist! She is a native of New Jersey, and moved to RVA in December 2016. In May 2016, she completed her Bachelor’s in Music Therapy from Slippery Rock University in PA with a concentration in voice. In addition to voice, she also plays flute, guitar, and piano. Within her clinical studies, she has experience working with children and adults with special needs, children in a preschool setting, adults and children in hospice care, medical and psychiatric hospitals. Dana also has international clinical experience in Jamaica, where she studied with the Jamaica Field Service Project for two summers, providing music therapy to children with specials needs in schools, adults in a drug/alcohol rehab center, hospice care, and people of all ages in a medical hospital. In addition, Dana was invited to provide two workshops on Music Therapy and Play at the International Play Therapy Conference held in Kingston, Jamaica back in October 2016. In attendance were clinicians from various parts of the Caribbean who are passionate about providing services to children who have experienced trauma.

In addition to teaching a variety of lessons at the AOM, Dana will also be working with Noah’s Children to provide music therapy services.

 

Emre Kartari

Percussion

Born into a family of musicians and artists in Ankara, Turkey, Emre moved to the United States when he was nine years old. Soon after, he began to study drums, which led to studying jazz percussion with T. Howard Curtis and receiving his Bachelor’s degree from VCU. He holds an M.A. in jazz performance and composition from New York University and received the Barney Josephson Award in 2003; and he is continuing his D.M.A. studies with Howard Curtis. While in New York, Emre studied with Adam Nussbaum, John Riley, Tony Moreno, Billy Hart, and Jamey Haddad. He has performed and/or recorded with Dena DeRose, Darius Jones, Trevor Dunn, Paul Pieper, John D’earth, Howard Curtis, Mike Richmond, Houston Person and David Liebman.

Emre has toured and performed extensively with the spoken-word, hip-hop group Jazz Poets Society. His first CD as a leader, Perpetual Anxiety, featuring Grammy Award-winning bassist Mike Richmond, is released in Turkey under the Dogan Music label. He performed and recorded with his own quartet Origin, featuring David Liebman, John D’earth, and Howard Curtis. All About Jazz editor John Kelman called Origin “a recording that engages the head and the heart long after it’s over.” He has also performed and recorded for the rock band Brindley Brothers, the electric jazz group “Signals” featuring Paul Pieper, and the trio “Big Girl,” featuring Darius Jones and Trevor Dunn.

As an educator, Kartari worked with the New York Pops Mentors in Music program from 2003 until 2005. In 2009, with the support of the American Embassy in Turkey, he formed Turkey’s first accredited, state-funded jazz program at the Ankara State Conservatory. In 2011 he became the Director of Jazz Studies at Yasar University in Izmir, Turkey, directing the VCU Izmir International Jazz Camp in 2012 and 2013. He formed the group “Sazli-Cazli,” featuring VCU alumni Taylor Barnett and Kevin Simpson, to perform along with Turkish musicians for state-sponsored tours in Turkey in 2015 and 2016.

Emre Kartari is an Adjunct Instructor of Jazz at VCU, where he teaches Small Jazz Ensemble.

Ayca Kartari

Cello, Double bass & Chamber Music Coordinator

She started her doublebass studies in 1995 with Dr. Esra Gul in Anadolu University State Conservatory in Eskisehir. In 2002, she began studying at Dokuz Eylul University State Conservatory and continued her studies with Dr.Tahir Sumer in Izmir, Turkey.

In 2000-2003 she toured France,Spain,Italy,Morocco with the Mediterrenean Youth Orchestra directed by George PEHLIVANIAN and Roland HAYRABEDIAN. In 2004, she won first place in the Yamaha String Instruments Competition. Also in the same year, she performed in Berlin, and Brussels with the Anatolian Youth Orchestra formed by Fazil Say, and directed by Ibrahim Yazici.

In 2005, she received a full scholarship from International Yehudi Menuhin Music Academy, Gstaad  and Lozan Conservatory in Switzerland for her graduate studies. There she studied with Alberto Lysy and Michel Veillon. In 2008, she graduated from the “Diplome de concert”” section and received the International Yehudi Menuhin Music Academy Solo and Chamber Music diploma. She toured Spain,Holland,France,Portugal with Camerata Lysy Chamber  Orchestra with Alberto Lysy and Camerata Lausanne Chamber Orchestra with Pierre Amoyal. She was invited as a principal bassist to Animato Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Howard Griffiths in 2010 and 2011 and toured to Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia. She performed with Young Musician Chamber Orchestra in Bayreuth, Germany in August 2013, at the Young Musicians Festival under the direction of Prof. Iagoba Fanlo. In 2011, she joined Izmir State Opera and Bale, and Camerata Izmir Chamber Orchestra as a double bassist and organized chamber music concert series for the State Opera and Ballet. During this time, she became as an adjunct double bass faculty at Yasar University/Izmir and performed with the Yasar Chamber Orchestra. She has also joined Borusan Philharmonic in 2012 and performed for Proms deput at the Royal Albert Hall/London conducted by Sascha Goetzel in 2015. She has been a member of the double bass quartet BigBoomBass in Izmir/Turkey since 2015.

She has studied and/or attended master classes with Liviu Prunaru, Ettore Causa, Pablo de Naverán,, Jeremy Menuhin, Adelina Oprean, Matthias Enderle, Wendy Champney, Pineiro Nagy, Lory Wallfisch, Massimo Mercelli, Darko Brlek, Raphael Oleg, Franz Helmerson and Gary Karr. 

Alexander Kordzaia

Piano & Voice

 

Professional orchestral conductor, pianist and vocal coach. Graduate studies at the T'blisi Conservatory of Music, Republic of Georgia and the Juilliard School of Music. Currently Music Director of the University of Richmond Orchestra. Past music director of the Charlotte Civic Orchestra North Carolina and the Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra Virginia, Mr. Kordzaia has conducted orchestras throughout North America and Europe and is in frequent demand as a guest conductor.

 


Anne O'Byrne

Voice

ANNE O’BYRNE was born and studied in Dublin, Ireland, before gaining scholarships to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. Anne’s performances have taken her all over the world, where she has worked with many leading opera companies, singing over twenty major roles – Handel in Melbourne Australia, Mozart in Milan and the US, Verdi in France, Puccini in England, and Bizet in Ireland – to name but a few. As a member of the RTE Chamber Choir, she recorded weekly for Irish radio, and has also broadcast for Irish television, the BBC, NPR, and Fox Business Channel as a guest soloist at a National Veteran’s Day concert from the Basilica of the National Shrine DC. Anne has created roles in new operas for the Wexford and Covent Garden International Festivals.  

Since her move to Richmond in 2002, with her husband David Fisk, the executive director of the Richmond Symphony, and their two children, Fionnuala and Oliver, Anne has performed for VA Opera, the Symphony, many East Coast choral societies, and for distinguished international speakers at the Richmond Forum – including Robert Redford. As well as teaching at the Academy of Music, Anne teaches voice at University of Richmond, (where she was recently Artist in Residence) while continuing to travel for concerts and recitals –in recent years performing at Carnegie Hall with the American Youth Harp Ensemble and concerts in Ireland. Many of Anne's  students have achieved top placements in District and State choral auditions, are in the elite vocal ensemble groups at their Universities, or are pursuing successful careers in the world of opera and musical theater.

Listen to Anne singing on a morning television show http://wtvr.com/2014/05/07/angelic-sounds-of-anne-obyrne/

 

Caleb Paxton

Violin, Viola, and Chamber Music

Caleb Paxton is a Richmond-based violist with expansive experience in orchestral, chamber, and solo repertoire.  He has toured all over the world with various orchestras and ensembles, having performed in the major halls of locations such as New York, Lima, Prague, and Vienna.  Caleb has attended several distinguished festivals, most recently at Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Burlington, VT, where he studied with Karen Ritscher.

He has won multiple concerto competitions, the most recent in 2015, and has performed as a soloist with orchestra numerous times.  Additionally, he has performed in masterclasses with Daniel Sweeney, Lawrence Dutton, Karen Ritscher, Sheila Browne, Basil Vendryes, The "President's Own" Quartet, and the Cavani Quartet. 

Caleb holds the teaching and sharing of music as a top priority in his life.  His core philosophy of teaching is to empower the student performer and the audience to develop a meaningful understanding and love for music of all varieties.  He is a chamber music coach and sectional leader with the Williamsburg Youth Orchestras, and is a regular musician with Classical Revolution RVA.

 

Ruth Prevette

Musikgarten 

Ruth Prevette owned and directed Musikgarten of the West End from 1996-2015. Her studio received the Musikgarten Exemplary Certificate every year since it’s inception and she has achieved Level III Certification from the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association. She holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Illinois. She has 24 years experience as a Preschool Music Specialist and directed a children’s choir at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church for many years. She currently sings in the St. Stephen’s Adult Choir.

 

 

Charles Staples

Piano & Chamber Music Instructor

Clarke Bustard has described Charles Staples’ playing as “forceful…but unforced, as natural as breathing.”

A native of Alabama and an honors graduate of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Staples received his early training under Witold Turkiewicz. After winning the Van Cliburn full-tuition scholarship to Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, he entered college after his junior year of high school on an early admission program and began his studies with internationally acclaimed pianist David Bar-Illan. While in Cincinnati he played with the CCM Concert Orchestra twice—with the Congress of Strings under Milton Katims and the North Carolina Symphony. He won prizes in the MTNA Southern Division Competition and the Bryan Young Artist Competition, as well as competitions at the conservatory. He also made several appearances as soloist and accompanist on Cincinnati’s public radio station, WGUC.

Upon graduating magna cum laude, he was given an assistantship to study piano with Martin Canin at Stony Brook University in New York and received his master’s and doctoral degrees there, winning prizes in the Five Towns and Sunwood competitions. He also represented Stony Brook on WQXR radio in a series on New York’s top-five music schools. He studied Chamber Music with the legendary cellist of the Beaux Arts Trio, Bernard Greenhouse and won the position of pianist in the Stony Brook Trio.  After graduation, he was chosen to open the 1984 Select Debut Series in New York City’s historic Town Hall. Since coming to Richmond, he has played numerous recitals and has appeared in chamber music, orchestral concerts and over public radio on WCVE. He has also held the position of visiting assistant professor of music at the University of Richmond.

Staples has held teaching and church music positions in Alabama, New York and Texas and is currently director of music ministries at Trinity United Methodist Church in Richmond. He is on the music faculty of VCU. Along with being a pianist, he is also a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Staples has performed as soloist with both the Richmond Symphony in Liszt’s Totentanz and the Richmond Philharmonic in Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, Rachmaninoff’s 1st and 2nd  Piano Concerti  and in Tchaikovsky’s 1st Piano Concerto.  Most recently, he was featured as soloist with the University of Richmond Orchestra in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Grieg’s Piano Concerto.  “[He] proved yesterday to be fully up to the technical and expressive demands of the Rachmaninoff concerto . . . the pianist lifted more than 300 listeners out of their seats in a cheering ovation after a performance that was both bravura and lyrically sensitized.” After his first recital in Richmond, Richmond News Leader music critic Francis Church wrote that Staples “is a pianist of prodigious talent, fire and thunder, blood and guts . . . this was no metronomic key-banging. It was piano playing that reached to the listeners’ emotional jugular veins!”

Kayla Tilghman

Violin & Chamber Music Instructor

 

Kayla Tilghman is a classically trained violinist with 11+ years experience performing in ensembles. She is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance. Kayla has been teaching violin and viola since 2015, and started teaching lessons, Music Theory, and coaching chamber at the Academy in 2016.

Before attending VCU, Kayla studied at the University of Mary Washington for a year with Johanna Beaver. During that year, Kayla performed in solo recitals and in the first violin section of the UMW Philharmonic alongside world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman in a sold out performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto.

Kayla has also studied with Susan Bedell, Kimberly Ryan, and Susanna Klein. She has performed in master classes with famous violinists such as Philippe Quint and Anne Akiko Meyers. She hopes to have her own private studio one day, and believes music is an important part of all of our lives.

Gaelyn Elliott Young

Voice, Virginia Choristers, and Music Discovery

Gaelyn Elliott Young received her B.F.A Degree in Vocal Performance from The Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts and most recently completed the Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medicine Certificate Program at VCU. During her time at Carnegie Mellon, Gaelyn studied with acclaimed soprano Laura Knoop-Very and Sondra Gelb, as well as two-time Grammy Award winning choral conductor Dr. Robert Page. The 2015-2016 year marked Gaelyn’s inaugural season as Assistant Director of The Virginia Choristers, as well as her Carnegie Hall conducting debut at Weill Recital Hall in June 2016. In addition to her work with the Choristers, Gaelyn serves as the Choir Director for Galilee Montessori School in Virginia Beach, VA, Music Instructor for Rudlin Torah Academy, and teaches voice at The Academy of Music.

 

 

 

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