Kyla Pitts-Zevin, Northeast Community Center Executive Director
Kyla Pitts-Zevin has spent the past decade advocating for and serving children and families. A bilingual Spanish speaker, Kyla has a background in program management and grant writing. Kyla has served as the Community Center's Development Director since 2018, and stepped into the Executive Director's role in July 2021. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from Arkansas State University, a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University, and a Bachelors in Human Development & Social Relations and Spanish from Earlham College.
Casi Riegle, Northeast Community Center Development Director
Casi, originally from Lee's Summit, MO, holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Point Park Conservatory of the Performing Arts and a Masters in Public Administration from Capella University. Before joining the team at the Northeast Community Center, she was living in New York City performing in various musicals as a member of the Actors' Equity Association. Casi is happy to be back in her hometown and excited to be on the NECC team!
Carmen Eppright, Harmony Project KC Director of Programming
Carmen Eppright is a musician and educator with over 20 years of experience, and a passionate advocate for equity and accessibility in the arts. Carmen holds a Bachelor's Degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a Masters in Piano Performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She then went back home to her hometown of Lima, Peru and taught Piano and Music History at the National Conservatory of Music and the Catholic University of Peru. Seeing the need to make music education accessible - especially to children who would not have access to it-, Carmen decided to pursue a Masters in Education Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Carmen came to Kansas City in 2014 to co-launch Harmony Project KC. As the Founding Program Manager, she has seen the program grow and thrive. Carmen took a hiatus in 2018 to start a family, and is honored to be back to continue serving our families and students.
Tamara Marler, Director of Finance and Administration
Tamara Marler has worked as an executive level administrative assistant since completing her service in the US Army in 1993. A novice cellist, she was first introduced to her instrument as a fourth grade student through a music outreach program in Denver, Colorado. As a Northeast KCMO resident and enthusiastic proponent of music education for youth, Tamara is excited to be on the Harmony Project KC team.
James Westbrook, Harmony Project KC Artistic Program Manager
James Westbrook is a teacher, performer, and Kansas City native. With over ten years of teaching experience, Mr. Westbrook is dedicated to providing quality music education to learners of all ages. As a performer, he has had the pleasure of performing works from both the classical and contemporary canon alongside phenomenal colleagues and musicians. James holds degrees in clarinet performance and music education from the University of Missouri - Kansas City, the University of North Texas, and the University of Central Missouri, respectively. He is also an advocate for contemporary music and musicians in the Kansas City music community and served on the Board of Directors for newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble.
Liz Snow, Harmony Project KC Music Therapy and Impact Manager
Liz is a certified Music Therapist with degrees in Psychology and Music Therapy from UMKC. Before her role as Music Therapist & Data Coordinator, Liz served as a violin and viola Teaching Artist at HPKC for 3 years. She plays 6 instruments including accordion, piano, violin, viola, guitar, and ukulele. She also loves to sing. In her free time, Liz enjoys playing volleyball and spending time in nature. She is passionate about her family, her pets, data, and making an impact on others through music.
Flor Lizbeth Cruz Longoria, Supportive Services Manager
Flor Lizbeth Cruz Longoria holds a BM and a BME from Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and an MA in Music from the UMKC Conservatory. She received performance and teaching fellowships from the New York Summer Music Festival (2013, 2014) and Blue Lakes Fine Arts Camp (2015), was selected as an Emerging Artist for the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival (2013), won the TAMUK Concerto Competition (2015), was selected as first flute for the NFA Collegiate Flute Choir (2016), and was an intern for NFA (2017, 2018). Flor’s convention presentations include TMEA, MMEA, NFA, Electronic Music Midwest, the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association, and the College Music Society.
She recently served as Adjunct Professor of Flute at TAMUK and is a member of New Music USA’s Program Council and NFA's Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is the Founder of Colectiva Huēhuecoyōtl, an organization whose purpose is the advancement of Black, Indigenous, People of Color in the music industry.
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Adee Dancy, Harmony Project KC Program AssistantAdee Dancy is excited to be joining the Harmony Project Staff as Program Assistant, after being a Teaching Artist for 3 years! Adee has an extensive background in performing arts and music education, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Cello Performance from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. Adee has a passion for sharing the love of music with everyone they encounter- from students, to peers, to listeners. As a teacher, Adee has done everything from substitute teaching middle school strings, teaching private lessons, conducting ensembles, to starting an elementary music program. Adee has a deep love for songwriting, singing, and playing the cello, and performs with many local music groups. They pursue these artistic disciplines as a Studio Resident at the Charlotte Street Foundation. When they’re not working, Adee loves to be outside, ride bikes, read, and snuggle their kitties, and constantly change their hair!
Shelley Armer, Viola Teaching Artist
Violist Shelley Armer believes that access to high quality performances and music
education is a basic human right. She has taught with education nonprofits
including the Joy of Music School in Knoxville, TN and the Daraja Music
Initiative in Moshi, Tanzania to ensure students have access to quality instruction
and support. Ms. Armer is passionate about sharing and has performed outreach
concerts from Appalachia to Philadelphia. She teaches from her own experience,
intuition and process. Ms. Armer works alongside her students to develop
technique that fosters longevity and supports their inner expressivity. She is
focused on tailoring her teaching method to her students, resulting in healthy,
balanced musicians. Ms. Armer is influenced pedagogically by Karen Tuttle,
Stephen Wyrczynski, Mimi Zweig, and Paul Rolland.
Can Balcik, Violin Teaching Artist
Turkish/Uruguayan violinist, Can "John" Balcik Moretti, holds a Bachelor's Degree from Dokuz
Eylul University Conservatory in Izmir and a Master's Degree in Violin Performance from the
University of Iowa. He moved to Kansas City in 2018 to pursue his Doctoral Degree at UMKC,
where he served as concertmaster for three years. As part of his musical journey, Can has
attended numerous festivals, including the International Music Academy in France, Institute
Eugene Ysaye in Belgium, Internationale Sommerakademie, and Beethovenfest Bonn in
Germany. Through these opportunities, Can has given many solo, chamber, and orchestral
concerts throughout Europe, the US, and South America. In addition to performing, Can's true
passion has been teaching since 2014. Back in Izmir, he founded a violin ensemble, consisting of his high school level students, that toured all over the Aegean Region. A number of his students have won competitions in Turkey and Europe, and many of them pursue musical careers today. Can joined the Harmony Project team in January 2022 and has been thrilled to teach the incredibly talented students there.
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.
Henry Bullock, Violin Teaching Artist
Henry Bullock is a Kansas City Native and has been playing and teaching violin/viola in the North Kansas City School District for 28 years. He has taught at Winnetonka High School and Maple Park Middle School as well as many NKC Elementary schools. He served as the Orchestra Vice President for the KC Metro All District Orchestra from 2004-2006. Henry is an active clinician and adjudicator in the Missouri and Kansas string communities. He recently retired from North Kansas City Schools and is excited to be a member of the Harmony Project team.
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.
Justin Cowart, Cello Teaching Artist
Justin Cowart has been playing cello for 26 years, and has been teaching in his private studio, cello and piano students of all ages, for about 17 years. Justin has sat Principal Cellist of local symphonies including Kansas City Civic Orchestra, UMKC Chamber Orchestra, UMKC Symphony Orchestra, and is the newly appointed Associate Principal Cellist of the Lee’s Summit Symphony. In the past Justin has enjoyed traveling to music festivals abroad–focusing on chamber music. Justin has completed a summer chamber music tour throughout China performing with members of the Newstead Trio. Justin has enjoyed numerous masterclasses with various artists throughout his studies, including with Yo-Yo Ma. Justin has collaborated with many local artists and bands, sometimes crossing genres into jazz, and rock, among others. Recently, Justin has served as a full time accompanist and choral assistant for Ray-Pec high school choral programs, enjoying an MMEA performance as an educator. Justin looks forward to serving the community at Harmony Project KC teaching both cello and bass.
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.
James Farquhar, Cello Teaching Artist
James Farquhar is formerly a student of Kurt Baldwin of the University of Missouri - St. Louis. Under Baldwin’s instruction, James attained 2019-20 UMSL Artist of the Year with the Rococo Variations by Tchaikovsky. During his time in his undergraduate, James also organized numerous Outreach recitals in the communities around St. Louis, Columbia, and Kansas City, sharing his love for music with a variety of communities. He is currently continuing his studies, pursuing a Master’s of Music (Cello Performance) from Park University under Prof. Daniel Veis.
James has received invaluable instruction from the likes of the Arianna String Quartet, the Brooklyn Rider String Quartet, the Harlem String Quartet, the Rolston String Quartet, Dennis Parker, Jackie Lee (artistic director of Heartland Chamber Music KC), Lawrence Figg (KC Symphony), and Frank Huang (Concertmaster of the NY Philharmonic), among numerous others. He has also participated in various chamber music festivals including the Arianna Chamber Music Festival, Madeline Island Chamber Music Festival, Heartland Chamber Music Festival (as a festival scholar from the 2017-2021 seasons), and Chamber Music in the Mountains (Mt. Lemmon, Arizona).
His ultimate career goals are to be a concert cellist for a major symphony orchestra, continually give collaborative recitals, and teach privately. He also aspires to organize grant-funded outreach concerts for underserved elementary schools, hospitals and nursing home communities. James also plans to continue teaching as Cello Instructor for String Sprouts KC, a nonprofit that is specifically ‘designed for underserved children ages 3 - 8, and is a free music education program created to support school readiness’.
Hannah Habiger, Teaching Artist
Hannah Habiger graduated from the UMKC Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor's degree in Music Education. Currently, she teaches K-5 elementary music in the Park Hill school district, conducts elementary choir, and directs musicals during the summer with PH Presents. In previous years, Hannah served with Harmony Project Musicianship classes and choir, and is excited to return to the program.
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
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!
Joseph Panella, Bass Teaching Artist/Chamber Music Facilitator
Joseph Panella has been performing (double bass and electric bass) professionally for over a decade. He grew up in a musical family and was encouraged to study music from the earliest ages. He was trained in the Suzuki program and then switched to bass at age thirteen, upon hearing a series of recordings that inspired him to be more deeply immersed in Black American Music, including what is known as Swing, Bebop, Funk, Blues, and more.
He studied with Marcos Machado, classical virtuoso and author of “The Tao of Double Bass” at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has also studied with bassist and educator Dr. David Pellow, a Protege of Francois Rabbath and former professor at Carnegie Mellon University, as well as Bob Bowman, legendary bassist with the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra.
In 2012, he began working in Nashville as a session and touring musician with the Annie Moses Band, a group that fuses a broad range of influences, including folk, pop, and classical music. He is featured on their studio album, American Rhapsody. During that time, he also met, toured, and recorded with Joshua Carswell. His playing is featured on the albums Debonair and Joshua Carswell: Live in Long Beach, CA.
Currently, Panella resides in the Kansas City Area, performing as a freelance bassist and teaching clinics and private lessons. In the Midwest, he has performed with the likes of Mark Lowrey, Lisa Henry, Matt Otto, Will Matthews, Shay Estes, Stanton Kessler, Danny Embrey, Anthony Pinciotti, Pete Zimmer, Pamela Watson, Ensemble Iberica, Victor and Penny, Owen/Cox Dance Company and many more.
Sheila Pycior, Teaching Artist
Born and raised in Michigan, Sheila has been calling the Kansas City area home since 1987. Sheila has been teaching private and group music lessons for 30+ years. Music was a way of life in her family growing up and continues to be today. She has performed in many different groups as a vocalist, pianist, flutist, and clarinetist. Although she loves teaching, the joy of performing always rises above! Sheila is passionate about the importance of music theory. She wants her students to understand the science and math behind the feeling that is music. She loves to see her students be successful and watch them get excited when they’ve mastered a task. Sheila is dedicated to the success of each student and loves being a part of the Harmony Project KC team.
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!
Alberto Racanati, Brass Teaching Artist
Dr. Alberto Racanati is a freelance trumpet player and educator in the Kansas City area. Originally from Bari (Italy) Alberto has studied at the Piccinni Conservatory in Bari, the Moniuszko Music Academy in Gdansk (Poland), Western Illinois University and the University of Missouri - Kansas City. Besides his activity as a classical musician, he is also active in the realms of contemporary and electronic music, having released three solo albums on streaming platforms with his project Alber, and collaborating with other local artists in a variety of projects.
Chase Shumsky, Woodwinds Teaching Artist
Chase Shumsky is a graduate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory where he graduated with a degree in saxophone performance and music education. Currently, Chase is entering his third year of teaching at Guadalupe Centers Middle School where he teaches General Music, Band, and Mariachi. During his time at GCMS, Chase has revamped the music program’s curriculum to not only ensure students are mastering the skills necessary to become successful musicians but also honing their social/emotional skills to guarantee they become impactful leaders in their community. As a music educator Chase consistently strives to honor his belief that all students deserve a quality music education that provides meaningful musical experiences.
Kayl Soukup, Camerata Conductor
Kayl Soukup is Orchestra Director at Liberty Middle School and Schumacher Elementary School in Liberty, MO. She believes that everyone can make music and the opportunity to make music with others is one of life’s greatest joys. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance degree from Northern Illinois University as well as Master of Music (again, cello performance) and Bachelor of Music Education degrees from UMKC. She has completed additional training in the Bornoff Approach to string education and Suzuki Units 1-3. Kayl was presented the MoASTA Outstanding Secondary Educator Award 2022.
Kristen Tourville, Violin Teaching Artist
Kristen Tourville is a clinician, performer and independent fiddle, Suzuki violin & viola teacher currently living in Blue Springs, Missouri. An Arizona transplant, she holds degrees from Vanderbilt University (BM) and Northern Arizona University (MM-violin performance/string pedagogy). She completed her long-term Suzuki training in all 10 books with several remarkable teacher trainers including Louise Scott, Karin Hallberg, Carol Tarr, & Carrie Reuning. Personal musical pursuits took her around the country on tour with major commercial performing artists, and to symphonies across the Midwest & Southwest. Offstage and outside the teaching studio, Kristen serves as a Music Mind Games Teacher Trainer, and as a clinician and creative workshop leader, working to engage children of all ages in cross-genre musical exploration. Previously, Kristen taught elementary strings for the School District of Clayton in Missouri, and at the NAU Community Music and Dance Academy teaching individual and group classes in violin, viola, and Music Mind Games. She also taught Suzuki violin and Music Mind Games to over 300 kids each year in grades K-5 at Marshall Magnet Elementary, a Title I school in Flagstaff, AZ. Kristen’s other interests include gardening, jogging, hiking, camping, and adventuring with her dogs Ophir and Jack.
Emily Trapani, Wind Ensemble Conductor
Emily is a Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honors Society member and earned her bachelor's degree in music education from East Carolina University in 2015. She is currently pursuing her masters degree in wind conducting at UMKC. Emily is passionate about creating meaningful experiences through music with students and audiences alike. From the outskirts of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in the pacific northwest, to the inner city schools of Indianapolis, Emily has consistently been an advocate for providing high quality music education experiences for students in traditionally underserved communities. Ensembles under Emily’s direction consistently earned gold ratings at the Indiana State School Music Association’s Concert Band Organizational and State Finals events. In 2019 and 2022 the Lawrence Central Wind Ensemble was ranked 2nd and 3rd in the I.S.S.M.A. Concert Band State Finals Event respectively. Emily is looking forward to joining the Harmony Project Team!
Helena Vasconcellos, Musicianship Teaching Artist
Helena Vasconcellos comes from a musical family in Brazil. She holds a bachelor's degree in Piano Performance from the "Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro." In 1997 she moved to Kansas City to pursue a master's degree in Choral Conducting under the guidance of Dr. Eph Ehly at UMKC. Following that, she pursued an Interdisciplinary Ph. D in Music Education with emphasis in Choral Conducting.
From 2003 to 2015 she worked as the Music Minister of Nativity of Mary, a Catholic Parish in Independence, MO. She directed both the adult and the youth choirs and organized many concerts and musicals. For 12 years she was the Music Director of the Jacomo Chorale, a community choir in the area of the Jackson County Lake. She worked also as a music teacher in several Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Saint Joseph-Kansas City and as the Associate Director of the KC Children's Chorus. Currently she works for the Harmony Project KC teaching Musicianship 1 and 2, which is her favorite music activity. She is also the conductor of the "Bells of Joy," a hand bell choir at Holy Trinity Catholic Parish in Lenexa. Helena keeps a small piano studio at home. She enjoys cooking, learning foreign languages and watching TV with her husband.