First prize winner of the Third China International Piano Competition, pianist ChenXin Xu, was praised as “a pianist with extraordinary ability and imagination” by the late world-renowned pianist György Sándor. She has been captivating fans and critics alike with her passionately confident musicianship and vivid stage presence in the United States, Europe and Asia.
This season, Ms. Xu has made her debut at the China National Center for the Performing Arts, under the baton of Maestro Li XinCao with the China National Symphony Orchestra, performing Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto. As a Steinway Artist, Ms. Xu has made orchestral appearances worldwide. Her international career began as the first pianist in residence at the Juilliard School ever to be awarded a debut concert at Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage of Carnegie Hall with the Juilliard Orchestra, under the distinguished conductor Sir Roger Norrington. Her other orchestra engagements included performing with the Hilton Head Orchestra, Aspen Concert Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra, ShenZhen Symphony Orchestra, Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic, among others. Ms. Xu has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious venues, highlights including the Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Juilliard Theatre of Lincoln Center, Merkin Concert Hall, Steinway Hall in New York, Harris Concert Hall and Benedict Music Tent of Aspen, Bass Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland, Shanghai Concert Hall & Grand Theatre, China National Center for the Performing Arts, Beijing Concert Hall, Beijing Poly Theater and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in China.
In recitals, Ms. Xu has performed extensively throughout the world. In this past season, her concert tour included giving recitals and master classes in more than thirty cities, such as New York, Germantown, Hamptons, Aspen, Dallas, Fort Worth, Joplin, Salt Lake City, Boston, Boca Raton, Shreveport, Chicago, Taos, Dublin, London, Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Chengdu, GuangZhou, among others. She was also invited to perform a sold-out opening recital at the new legendary Shanghai Concert Hall. Her recent engagements included giving recitals at the China International Economic Development Forum where world leaders, prestigious domestic/overseas experts and scholars gathered. She was also invited to perform at the Whitcomb Foundation in Germantown, New York, as well as at the Texas Conservatory for Young Artists.
Ms. Xu was frequently featured on the “McGraw-Hill Young Artist Showcase” of the New York radio station WQXR, the U.S. National Public Radio Station (NPR), as well as the China Central Television Station (CCTV). In early 2005, Ms. Xu released her first commercial recording featuring Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Clementi and Xu ZhenMin. She was also featured on a 14-episode documentary titled "Ocean Away" on extraordinary Chinese immigrants living in the United States, on the China Central Television (CCTV).
A top prize winner of the 2005 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, Ms. Xu has also won numerous international awards, including the first prize of the Concerto Competition at the Juilliard School, the Munz Chopin Competition, the Nakamichi Piano Concerto Competition at the Aspen Music Festival, where she performed the Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major under conductor Markand Thaker. Ms. Xu has also been invited to various renowned music festivals, such as the Aspen Music Festival, the Taos School of Music, and the Pianofest in the Hamptons, New York.
After 11 years of studying at the prestigious Juilliard School, Ms. Xu has obtained both a Bachelor's and Master’s degree as a full scholarship recipient at the Juilliard School. She is continuing her private studies under the tutelage of Robert McDonald and Yoheved Kaplinsky. A native of Beijing, China, she began her piano studies at the age of three with Prof. Wu Yuan and Zhang Jin at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She entered the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School as a pupil of Herbert Stessin. Other major influences in her artistic and pianistic development are Paul Schenly, Yonghi Moon, Jerome Lowenthal and Arie Vardi.
Ms. Xu now serves as President and Artistic Director of the New York Music & Arts, which consists of over 500 students. Many of whom have won national and international piano competitions, as well as accepted to the top institutions such as the Juilliard School in New York and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.
President, Lower Strings
While pursuing both Science and Music degrees at Stony Brook University, Mr. Ferguson continued his musical studies under the world-renowned bassist Julius Levine, who was famous not only as a soloist, but as well as a chamber musician. In 1997, Mr. Ferguson made his first concerto debut with the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra by winning the all-instrument Concerto Competition there. This later led to many more orchestral and solo performances worldwide, including major concert halls such as the Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the Juilliard Theater of Lincoln Center; Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Aspen Music Tent, Beijing Concert Hall and many more.
In 1997, Mr. Ferguson was accepted at the prestigious Juilliard School under the tutelage of Homer Mensch, former member of the New York Philharmonic and NBC Symphony under renowned conductors such as Otto Klemperer and Fritz Reiner. During this fruitful period, he continues his career by serving as principal with orchestras such as the Juilliard Orchestra, the Korean Chamber Orchestra, the Westchester Symphony Orchestra and among others. As an active chamber musician, Mr. Ferguson has also collaborated with musicians from the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and other world renowned musicians at the Juilliard School.
Recently, Mr. Ferguson has been invited to give performances in China and will be returning to give master classes at several major music conservatories late this year. He now resides in the New York area with wife ChenXin Xu.
Ms. Melissa graduated from NYU Steinhardt in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance and in 2018 with a Master's degree in Music Education. As an active bass player, Melissa participates in ensembles such as the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, NY Chamber Players, Utopia Opera, 5th Floor Theater Company, and has played in orchestra pits for Cendrillon, Kiss Me Kate, A Little Night Music, Elf the Musical, Pippin, Bubble Boy, and Hairspray. Melissa is a certified music educator in NY State and is currently teaching 2nd/3rd grade music and beginning strings at Peekskill City School District. She has also taught music in Westchester and Orange County, as well as private schools in Manhattan. She joined NYMA in January 2019 and is also a bass, cello, and violin/viola teacher for NYMA.
Violinist Mr. Joan Plana comes from a family of devoted pedagogues. He started his first lessons of music with his mother, a piano teacher in Lleida (Catalonia), and over the years he has developed an ardent love for teaching violin to all ages and backgrounds, (alternating it with his concert solo career). After moving to Barcelona in 2001, he started a private studio until moving to Cleveland in 2005. Since then, he has been teaching privately both modern and baroque violin, first in Cleveland and after in New York.
He has taught master-classes, workshops, and lead rehearsals in performance practice at Baldwin Wallace College, Sarah Lawrence College, Manhattan School of Music, and since 2014, he is on the faculty at the “Rethinking Bach” workshop at the Tokai University in Japan. Along with his private studio, he is currently on the faculty at Opportunity Music Project, 88 Keys Music School and as Artist Teacher at Midori and Friends.
He alternates his career in the US and Europe between the worlds of both modern and baroque violin. Since moving to New York in 2009, Joan has built an active career as solo, orchestral and chamber musician. Recipient of several prizes and awards, Joan has performed concerts all over Europe, Canada, US, Japan and China. A founding member of the baroque ensemble CONCITATO, he has been the Music Director of L’Académie (Boston), concertmaster of Baroque Band (Chicago), the American Baroque Orchestra, Concentus New York (Japan) and guest concertmaster in other baroque orchestras around the country. He has been a member of the European Baroque Orchestra, Il Pomo D’Oro, Trinity Wall Street and Handel and Haydn Society, among others. Born in Lleida, Catalunya, he holds degrees from the Juilliard School’s Historical Performance Program, the Cleveland Institute of Music and the ESMUC (Barcelona).
Joan is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Ms. Josephine Rose is currently an undergraduate student at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, majoring in Classical Music Performance. Josephine is a recipient of the Macaulay Honors College tuition scholarship, and won the SUNY New Paltz concerto competition in 2017. She currently studies with the renowned violinists Daniel Philips and Rachel Evans.
Josephine’s main instrument is the viola, but in her spare time she plays bagpipes with the Celtic-Punk group “The Templars of Doom.” Josephine has also made several appearances at the Hooley on the Hudson and the Rosendale Street Festival with the trad group, “The Wild Irish Roses,” whose members include Josephine’s parents and seven siblings.
Mr. Michael Vascones was born in 1998 in Queens, New York. Michael began playing guitar at the age of twelve, inspired by watching his father play at home. At fourteen, he was admitted to the Juilliard Music Advancement Program where he studied classical guitar with Bokyung Byun for two years. After that Michael spent two years studying at Manhattan School of Music Pre-college with Mark Delpriora.
Michael began his undergraduate studies at the Juilliard School in the fall of 2016, as a student of Sharon Isbin. At Juilliard, he has performed numerous times as a soloist, in chamber ensembles, alongside dancers, and with the New Juilliard Ensemble.
Michael has won first prize in the National High School Classical Guitar Competition at the Long Island Guitar Festival (2015), the Southern Guitar Festival and Competition: Division II (2016), and the Domaine Forget International Music Festival Youth Competition (2016). Michael was also a finalist in the prestigious Guitar Foundation of America International Youth Competition, Senior Division (2016), the Domaine Forget International Music Festival Adult Competition (2017), and the Boston GuitarFest Academy Competition (2018).
Mr. Russell Holland earned his degree in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas where he studied with professors Dan Haerle, Ed Soph and Fred Hamilton. After completion at UNT, he continued his forays into jazz under the tutelage of Peter Bernstein, John Abercrombie and Brad Shepik. Primarily a guitarist, he has played music for most of his life, beginning with piano lessons at age 7 in his hometown of Plano, Texas. In addition to jazz and classical guitar, Mr. Holland has studied jazz and classical piano, classical saxophone, composition and arranging. As a guitarist, he has toured across the U.S., the Caribbean and aboard, he has performed with artists such as The Coasters, The Platters and The Drifters. Mr. Holland is featured on recordings of his own brand of unique lyric-less songs, where his vocals are accompanied by guitar, harmonicas, percussion, bass, harmonium, charango and recorder, all of which are played by himself.
Mr. Holland teaches all levels and styles of guitar (rock, pop, classical, jazz, folk, blues and more.). For students seeking a solid grasp of harmony, both in a theoretical sense as well as in terms of aural recognition, Mr. Holland has done extensive research into modern harmony and has developed his own unique methods of imparting this knowledge that suits students of all levels.
A graduate of City College's Jazz Studies program, and having studied classical guitar at SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music, Mr. Dan Saulpaugh studied with many innovators in modern jazz and classical guitar, including Lage Lund, Brad Shepik, Pete McCann, Kenny Wessel, Paul Meyers, and Doug Rubio. He was a finalist in The Greene Space's 2015 Battle of the Burroughs - Bronx. His debut EP, Before the Fire Is Gone, is available for purchase on all platforms including Bandcamp, iTunes, and Amazon.
When not leading his own projects Dan collaborates with several New York City-based and international artists as a sideman and session player. He has recorded, performed and toured with artists such as Sammy Rae & The Friends, Jenny Kern, Mari Solberg, and Tatyana Kalko. He also co-hosts the monthly jam session Jamhattan at Harlem’s Silvana with drummer Luke Markham.
Ms. Yung-Shan Chuang (Shan) graduated with a MFA in Musical Theater at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU). NTNU is the top university for college education in Taiwan. Shan started playing piano and dancing at a tender age. This naturally led to her joining the music department from junior high school all through to university.
Later on, Shan chose to major in classical voice for her training. She continued honing her piano alongside for 15 years. Shan also got her BA from the University of Taipei, specializing in children's Music Education Program.
With a solid foundation of music teaching under her belt, Shan complements her training with her warm personality. All the students, who have crossed paths during her 5 years as a teacher in Taiwan, would undeniably agree that she is a patient teacher, always encouraging in the teaching process.
Ms. Sulgi Cho is a recent graduate from Manhattan School of Music with her MM and Professional Studies as a scholarship student. Being a finalist of many international competitions including Talents of the World(2020) and Giulio Gari Competition(2019), she has performed many roles including La Fée(Cendrillon), Adele(Die Fledermauss), and Sophie(Der Rosenkavalier). She is now a conductor of Unison Youth Choir and soloist/accompanist(keyboard,(sub)organ)/sub conductor of KCQ. Ms. Cho also is the stage director for Baroque Opera Ensemble and music director for KCQ summer musical. Her career as an opera/classical singer as well as a voice/piano teacher has been building since 2010.
Ms. Cho is a native of South Korea and she holds her BM and first MM from Ewha Womans University. She plans on channeling her positive energy while providing people with happiness and fulfillment through music.
Ms. Liya Grigoryan is an Armenia- born pianist, who started her music career at the very young age of 5. She studied piano at the Kim Nazaretov Jazz School (Rostov-on-Don, Russia) and was actively participating in music competitions and performing at major music festivals in Russia and Europe. Ms. Grigoryan won her first award when she was 7 in 1998 at the International Jazz Competition for Young Jazz Musicians in Saint Petersburg. At the of 9, she took part in the Len-Expo (Russia) contest, where she won the main prize, a brand new piano, that allowed her to continue her music studies. Ms. Grigoryan was also part of the young jazz collective that toured Germany, France and Scotland, performing at prestigious music venues.
After graduating music school in 2009, Ms. Grigoryan decided to continue her music education abroad and moved to Amsterdam where she studied at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with full scholarship. At the beginning of her studies, Ms. Grigoryan joined the East West Jazz Orchestra (based in Dortmund, Germany), in which she was able to tour Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, Russia, Netherlands etc . In that project she collaborated with big names such as Dave Liebman, Jerry Bergonzi, Dennis Rowland, and JD Walter.
While in Europe, Ms. Grigoryan was actively performing as a sideman and leader of her own project. She travelled to Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland and performed with internationally acclaimed artists such as Dick Oats, Gary Smulian, John Clayton, Justin Dicoccio, Marco Tamburini, and Theo Crocker to name a few.
Ms Grigoryan won a handful of awards as the leader of her own piano trio, Jazz in Padova (Italy). In 2014 she received an award at the Getxo Jazz (Bilbao, Spain) where she had the opportunity to play an opening act before the jazz legend Jack Dejonette. In 2017 she released her first record as a leader, which was highly acclaimed in the jazz world and granted her the opportunity to perform at numerous Jazz Festivals such as “North Sea Jazz “(Rotterdam, Netherlands), “Cangas Jazz” (Galicia, Spain), “Meer Jazz”, “What’s Next Jazz Festival”, and many more. In 2015 Ms. Grigoryan had the incredible opportunity to study at the Manhattan School of Music as a part of an exchange program. She was selected as the best student from Netherlands to study in New York and was able to learn and collaborate with artists such as Phill Markowitz, Dave Liebman, and Justin Diciocio. In 2016 Liya graduated from Conservatorium van Amsterdam, where she received her Masters degree in Jazz Performance. She continues to grow her music career as a band leader and collaborates with different artists all over the world. In 2017 Ms. Grigoryan was a semi-finalist in the Thelonius Monk Contest, and was featured in the January 2019 issue of Downbeat Magazine.
You can find Ms. Grigoryan's music, Liya Grigoryan Trio, on Bandcamp.
Xiyue Huang (Steven)
Manhattan-based pianist and teacher Mr. Xiyue Huang has performed various classical piano repertoire in Asia, Europe and North America. He made his music festival performing debut at Beijing International Music Festival and Academy. He has also appeared at Euro Music Festival and Academy in Germany, International Academy of Music in Italy and Classical Bridge Music Academy in the U.S. where he received high praises for his passionate and deliberate playing of piano solo works by Ravel, Mendelssohn, Scriabin and Poulenc. In the U.S., Crystal Field, the Executive Director of NYC’s Theater for the New City once complimented his playing of Liszt’s Vallée d'Obermann as displaying his “virtuosic technique, and thoughtful control and distinct contrast within the music.” In North America, Mr. Huang’s performances at Mikowsky Hall at NYC’s Manhattan School of Music include a focus on piano four-hands and two pianos repertoire, especially works by Mozart, Debussy and Poulenc. He also made his recital debut at Manhattan School of Music in the past March with a program including solo works by Bach, Beethoven, Ligeti, Ravel and Liszt. As a private piano teacher in the New York metropolitan area, in working with his students, Mr. Huang established a personal approach that builds on their individual needs. Mr. Huang studies with Phillip Kawin at Manhattan School of Music, where he is completing his Master of Music degree.
Ms. Chen received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music. On top of being a pianist, she is also an oboist and a film composer. She has played in various venues and musicals including the Cats Musical tours. Ms. Chen has also worked with Asian pop singers such as Kenji Wu and Nicky Lee. Her styles include Classical, Pop, Jazz, and Gospel. She loves teaching music and believes that music can bring us joy. Ms. Chen's film scoring experience also gives her a different perspective in music and broader ideas in teaching.
Teacher, Piano/Music Production
Mr. Carlos Cabrera was born in Los Angeles, CA, raised in the Midwest and is currently based in New York. Cabrera studied piano with Dr. Susan Cobb, and with Dr. Steven Widenhofer; He holds a B.A in music from Millikin University. Cabrera caters his lessons to the individual needs of students. Lessons should help grasp skills, but most importantly be fun, and not feel like another school assignment! “If you heard it, we’ll play it.” Cabrera has performed at some of the most iconic venues including: Arline’s Grocery, Pianos, DROM, Shrine World Music Venue, Rockwood Music Hall, The Bowery Electric, The Bitter End, and The Knitting Factory. Since moving to New York, Cabrera has performed for an array of artists, including Hip-Hop, Gospel, Soul, R & B, Conscious Pop, and Rock. Cabrera strives to have a positive impact on others through the power of music. This mindset has enabled him to travel and perform across the U.S. at venues including the legendary Whiskey A GO-GO in Los Angeles, the Carver Theatre in New Orleans, and a Midwest tour. Cabrera is currently producing pop records with his writing partner Lescribe, at “3 Red Shoes” label, teaching piano and production, and working as a session musician.