Alyssa Bell, Viola Teaching Artist/Chamber Music Facilitator
Kansas City native Alyssa Bell has been playing viola/violin for 20 years, and teaching for since 2009. Her commitment to music education and music advocacy can be observed through her work with organizations such as OrchKids in Baltimore, Northwest Missouri State University, Classical Revolution KC, and now Harmony Project KC. She has performed at international music festivals as well as at home with the Kansas City Symphony and is excited to embark on a new chapter of music advocacy in Kansas City!
Valerie Bell, Orchestra Conductor/Double Bass Teaching Artist
Valerie is currently serving as a string specialist in the Kansas City area, and teaching double bass and strings at the Harmony Project KC. She retired from the Park Hill School District in 2011 as Director of Orchestras at Park Hill South High School and Lakeview Middle School. Prior to this Ms. Bell was Director of Orchestras at Raytown High School and Middle School. Other teaching experiences include string instructor in the North Kansas City School District (2013-2018), and adjunct instructor of String Methods, UMKC (2010-2014). Ms. Bell holds a BME and MA in Music Education (double bass emphasis) from the University of Central Missouri. Valerie has held the positions of KC Metro District III Orchestra V.P., MMEA Orchestra V.P., and is a Past-President of MoASTA (Missouri Division of the American String Teachers Association) where she is currently serving on the board and assists with the administration of the Missouri All-State Orchestra.
Rachael Berg, Viola Teaching Artist
Rachael was born and raised in Georgia where she received her musical training and teaching credentials. She has been playing the violin for twenty years and teaching for nearly as long. She received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Georgia. Rachael was co-director of one of the largest high school orchestra programs in Georgia before switching gears to solely teaching private lessons for violin, viola, cello, and piano. Since moving to Missouri in 2018, Rachael has enjoyed playing with the KC Civic Orchestra and other local ensembles, teaching private lessons, and teaching online English lessons to children in China. When she isn’t teaching or playing she enjoys spending time with her husband and four boys. Sharing music with others has been one of the greatest joys of Rachael’s life and she is excited to be a part of the wonderful program at Harmony Project KC.
Laura Bock, Woodwinds Teaching Artist
Ms. Bock grew up in central Maryland where she was an active member of the band and orchestra programs at Westminster High School. She completed a double concentration in Music Education and Flute Performance at James Madison University, graduating Summa Cum Laude, With Distinction in Music, and as an Honors Scholar. In the summer of 2011, Ms. Bock toured with The Glassmen as a baritone player in the Drum Corps International circuit. She started her teaching career at Walker Upper Elementary School in Charlottesville, Virginia for four years. While at Walker, she also played second flute and piccolo with the Charlottesville Symphony Orchestra, won second prize in the Mid-Atlantic Flute Fair's 2013 Piccolo Young Artist Competition, and served as the central Virginia representative to the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association. From 2015 to 2017, Ms. Bock completed her master's degree in Music and Human Learning at the University of Texas at Austin and presented her culminating research project, a review of equity topics in the music education literature, at the 2018 Texas Music Educators Association and National Association for Music Education Research conferences.
Gözde Çakır, Woodwinds Teaching Artist
Gözde Çakır, a native of Turkey, is a third year DMA student in Flute Performance at the Conservatory at UMKC. She is a member of Plaza Winds, the UMKC Graduate Woodwind Fellowship Quintet. She also holds the second flute position at the Topeka Symphony Orchestra. She holds a Bachelors degree in Flute Performance from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory in Istanbul. Following graduation, she accepted a teaching assistant position at Central Michigan University in order to pursue a Master of Music in flute performance. She has received recognition at various competitions including second prize in the Izmir International Flute Competition, the Yamaha Scholarship Award, honorable mention at the Nixon Woodwind Competition at CMU, and winner of the concerto competition at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Istanbul State Conservatory. Gözde has performed throughout Turkey, United States, France, Switzerland and Kosovo.
Victor Diaz, Violin Teaching Artist
Victor began his musical training in Bogotá, Colombia at the National Colombia Conservatory. He was a four-time winner of The Young Performer Competition from the Colombian Republic Bank. On several occasions, he has travelled the world with the sponsorship of orchestras and organizations such as Colombian Youth Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Americas, Sphinx Organization. Victor has been part of numerous international tours and educational programs such as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra Academy, Allegro Vivo Festival in Austria, and the National Alliance of Audition Support training program. Currently, Victor plays with numerous regional orchestras and is completing his master degree in violin performance with Benny Kim at UMKC.
Adee Dancy, Cello Teaching Artist
Adee was born and raised in the KC area, and has spent all of her career working in the music and theatre scene within the city. She has been a music director, a director, an actress, a singer, a pit orchestra cellist, an orchestral cellist, a teacher, and an arranger, each inspiring her in a different way! She has worked with ensembles and organizations such as Faust Theatre, Artist Community Project, The Arts Asylum, Shawnee Mission Theatre in the Park, Music Theatre Kansas City, Musical Theatre Heritage, and the Midwest Chamber Ensemble.
Hannah P. Edwards, Piano Teaching Artist
Hannah P. Edwards is a current student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, earning a BA in Music Therapy & Psychology and an Undergraduate Certificate in Arts Entrepreneurship. Hannah has experience as a collaborative pianist since 2015, a piano teacher since 2019, and an undergraduate peer mentor since early 2020. Hannah hopes to become a board-certified music therapist and serve the Kansas City community through the arts.
Casey Gregory, Violin Teaching Artist,
Casey is a violinist for the Wichita Grand Opera and a substitute violinist for the Topeka
Symphony. Primarily serving as a dedicated music educator, Casey holds a thriving 28-student
studio of both violinists and violists. Equipped with an inspirational teaching style and a passion
for the craft, he inspires motivation in his students to succeed in their musical endeavors. Casey
has successful experience preparing students for high-level auditions and competitions. His
students have accolades performing in scholarship competitions, college auditions, all-state and district orchestra auditions, and both Kansas City and Olathe Youth Symphonies.
Larry Hernandez, Cello Teaching Artist
Larry is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Cello Performance at the UMKC Conservatory studying under Michael Mermagen. He obtained a double degree in BM Cello Performance and Music Theory at the UMKC Conservatory 2018, cum laude. He was a participant at the Miami Music Festival (MMF), the Innsbrook Music Festival in St. Louis, and the Frostburg Summer Music Academy (Frostburg, MD) where he was a Fellow and coach for students. Hernandez has played in the Topeka Symphony Orchestra, the MMF Symphony and Opera orchestras, the Midwest Chamber Ensemble, and the Youth Symphony of Kansas City. Hernandez has performed in master classes for Hans Jørgen Jensen, Michael Stern, Keith Robinson, Emilio Colón, and Nathan Cole. Other influential cello teachers include Carter Enyeart, Alexander East, and Emilio Colón.
Selene Hernandez, Violin Teaching Artist/String Ensemble Conductor/Advanced Technique Teaching Artist
Selene is currently a middle and high school Orchestra teacher for the Independence School District. In the past, Selene interned with the Youth Symphony of Kansas City and the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles at Heart of Los Angeles. She received her Bachelor of Music Education from William Jewell College.
Kathryn Hilger, Viola Teaching Artist
Kathryn Hilger is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music (M.M.) and the University of Missouri—Kansas City Conservatory (B.M.), holding degrees in Viola Performance. Ms. Hilger is active in her community, performing and teaching with several local organizations in her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. In this regard, she serves as Principal Viola and Chamber Music Coordinator for Midwest Chamber Ensemble, performs as a member of the Topeka and Lee’s Summit Symphonies, subs with the Kansas City Symphony and serves as a Teaching Artist for Harmony Project KC. Past notable achievements include positions with the National Repertory Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, where she sat principal. Ms. Hilger’s other interests include spending time outdoors (and bringing the outdoors in with an ever-growing collection of houseplants), rewatching the same five episodes of The Office, yoga, jogging, local history and fashion.
Brett Jackson, Woodwinds Teaching Artist
Stepping between genres, Brett’s performance and recording credits include Bobby Watson, Cyrille Aimée, Johnny Mathis, Michael Feinstein, Roy Hargrove, Jerry Bergonzi, Jaleel Shaw, Sean Jones, Tech N9ne & Krizz Kaliko, Kelly Finnigan, Josh Heinrichs, Monophonics, The Project H, Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Repertory Theater and the Broadway tours of Chicago, Motown and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. He currently teaches woodwinds at KCKCC Jackson can be heard on “We Live Among The Lines”, “Become Light” and “Everyday, Forever” from The Project H, “Soul Jazz Fridays” and “The Basement Beat” from Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7, “Make It Right” and “Perseverance” by the Zack Mufasa Band, “Rhapsody” by the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, “Go” by Krizz Kaliko and “The Storm” by Tech N9ne. More information on Brett can be found at: www.brettjacksonmusic.com
Dr. Ezgi Karakus, Cello Teaching Artist/Chamber Music Facilitator
Turkish cellist Ezgi Karakus began her cello education at the age of eleven in her native Izmir, Turkey. Later on, Ezgi completed her Master of Arts at Marshall University, where she was awarded first prize in the Jackson Balshaw Music Competition, and the Marshall University Concerto Competition. She has performed with several orchestras, including the Dokuz Eylul Symphony Orchestra, the Ohio Valley Symphony, the Medical Arts Symphony, and the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra. Ezgi recently received her D.M.A. in Cello Performance at the UMKC Conservatory of Music & Dance.
Adam Lundine, Wind Ensemble Teaching Artist
Adam is a Kansas City area native and has enjoyed teaching in the area for the past ten years. He holds a Master of Music Education degree from the University of Kansas and undergraduate degrees in Music Education and Saxophone Performance from Kansas State University. Previously, Adam was the Director of Bands at Blue Valley Northwest High School. He is very excited to work with the students of the Harmony Project KC Wind Ensemble!
Maria Milazzo, Teaching Artist
Maria Milazzo graduated in May 2018 with her Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying under the vocal direction of Maria Kanyova. Maria graduated from Westminster Choir College with her Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance in 2014. Upon returning to Kansas City in 2015, Maria found a love and passion for bringing music to youth. She began as a Teacher's Aide with Harmony Project KC in the Fall of 2015 and has since become a Teaching Artist serving Harmony Project students in the Northeast Community Center, Garfield Elementary, and most recently Scuola Vita Nuova. Since the Spring of 2016, Maria has served the community of Nativity of Mary Church and School in Independence, MO. as the Director of Music and Liturgy. Her and her sister have begun a theatre program at Nativity of Mary and have most recently been seen directing Seussical, Jr. and Beauty and the Beast, Jr. In addition to her teaching experience, Maria has fulfilled her love of opera in various roles both at Westminster Choir College and UMKC Conservatory.
Kristen Nall, Musicianship Teaching Artist
Kristen received her Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Missouri - Kansas City. She currently teaches K-5 Music at Lewis and Clark Elementary School in Liberty, MO. Kristen plays the trombone regularly with two ensembles in the Kansas City area - Moon City Big Band and the Northland Symphony Orchestra. Kristen is passionate about children receiving opportunities to make music and is thrilled to be a part of Harmony Project KC!
Nate Nall, Woodwinds Teaching ArtistNate Nall has performed across the USA, and in Europe and Mexico. Nall was a residency participant in Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead and won 2nd place in the National Trumpet Competition-Jazz Division (2016). Nall holds a B.M. Jazz Studies from UMKC, a student of Bobby Watson. Nate teaches Trumpet and Jazz Improvisation at Mid-America Nazarene University, and has taught Brass at The Culture House, Music House School of Music and Base Academy of Music. Performances include: The Temptations, Michael Feinstein, Jon Faddis, Jerry Bergonzi, New York Voices, Deborah Brown, Marcus Lewis Big Band, KC Symphony, Fountain City Brass Band, Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Brass, Paducah Symphony. Nate is a BAC Custom Trumpet Performing Artist. Check out www.natenall.com
David Tourtellot, Bass Teaching Artist
David Tourtellot is a musician and a music educator in Lee's Summit, Missouri. Mr Tourtellot received his degree from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri - Kansas City where he studied the double bass with Sue Stubbs, Jeffrey Kail, and Gerald Spaits. He has taught in the Lee's Summit School District since 2013 and with Harmony Project KC since 2021. In 2018 Mr Tourtellot was selected as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Teacher at Sea, and served on board NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson while doing a hydrographic survey mission in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr Tourtellot continues to be an active performer in the Kansas City metro area, performing regularly with the Lee's Summit Symphony, the Kansas City Wind Symphony, the St. Joseph Symphony, and is a founding member of the Lee's Summit Jazz Orchestra.
Helena Vasconcellos, Musicianship Teaching Artist
Helena received her Master of Music in Chorale Conducting and her Doctorate of Music in Music Education from the UMKC Conservatory of Music, both with emphasis in Choral Conducting. Helena is currently the Music Director of the Jacomo Chorale (a community chorus) and the conductor of "Bells of Joy" (a hand bell choir at Holy Trinity Catholic Parish in Lenexa). She was formerly a Choral Music teacher in several Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Saint Joseph-Kansas City, the Associate Director of the KC Children's Chorus, and the Music Director of the Nativity of Mary Parish in Independence, Missouri.
Brittany Wasko, Violin Teaching Artist/String Ensemble Conductor
Brittany is a senior at the UMKC Conservatory of Music pursuing a Bachelor of Music Education. She is currently an intern with the Youth Symphony of Kansas City and performs in several local ensembles including the Lee's Summit Symphony and the Midwest Chamber Ensemble.
Jason West, Cello Teaching Artist/String Ensemble Conductor
Jason recently finished his undergraduate studies with degrees in Cello Performance and Music Education at the UMKC Conservatory. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Cello Performance from the conservatory as well. He has a great devotion for both teaching and performing to help improve the lives of others through music. Jason has performed in various recitals and music festivals of solo and chamber music across the country, and locally with the Midwest Chamber Ensemble. He is delighted to be a part of Harmony Project KC to encourage growth and influence young musicians in this program.