Our Faculty


Micah Burgess : Art House Co-Founder/Director - Guitar, Ukulele, Tenor Banjo, Mandolin

Micah Burgess

Art House Co-Founder/Director - Guitar, Ukulele, Tenor Banjo, Mandolin

Micah Burgess is a versatile guitarist whose credits include Cirque Du Soleil's "Banana Shpeel", the first national tour of “Come Fly Away”, and numerous off-Broadway productions. He has also been a sub on the Broadway productions of "School of Rock", “Beautiful: The Carole King Show”, “Newsies", "Soul Doctor", and "Mary Poppins".

Micah has shared the stage with Matthew Broderick, Bibi Neuwirth, Ian McKellan, John Oliver, Chris Meloni, Stephen Schwartz, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Megan Hiltey, Jeremy Jordan, Chuck Cooper, Richard Kind, Jane Monheit, Danielle Hope, Charlotte Jaconelli, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Seth Rudetsky, Harriet Harris, Katie Rose Clarke, Tracie Thoms, Shoshana Bean, Constantine Maroulis, Krysta Rodriguez, Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Iconis, Tituss Burgess, Brian Lynch, Fabian, Bobby Rydell, and Danny and the Juniors among others. His playing has been heard on television and radio including the 2014 Winter Olympics, ABC Family’s “Becoming Us”, and National Public Radio.

As a composer, Micah co-wrote the score for “In The Magic of the Green Mountains”, a feature length documentary with Rob Cookman featuring Tony Trischka on banjo. Other composing credits include the Off-Broadway production of “The Hat Left Behind” as well as a documentary entitled "I Am Bombay", a featured selection at the 2006 Indo American Arts Council Film Festival in New York City and the 2007 Stuttgart Film Festival Germany. In 2008, Micah released his first CD as a bandleader, "We Do Know You".

As an instructor, Micah has over ten years of experience including adjunct positions at New York University, The New School, Duquesne University and the Queens Conservatory. He is a co-founder and guitar instructor at Art House Astoria, a nonprofit conservatory for music and art in Queens, NY.

Micah is also a recipient of the Eubie and Marion Blake Award for jazz performance and holds a Masters Degree in Jazz Performance from New York University and a Bachelors Degree in Guitar Performance from Duquesne University

Jane Burgess : Co-Founder/Board President - Voice

Jane Burgess

Co-Founder/Board President - Voice

Jane Burgess is a New York City-based singer/actor/instructor. She has performed throughout the United States and Italy. She received her B.M. and Artist Diploma in vocal performance at Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA). Jane has appeared on opera, musical theater or cabaret stages.

Most recently Jane has made a home for herself teaching for and co-directing here at Art House Astoria. In 2009 Jane and her husband, Micah Burgess, co-founded Art House Astoria with a mission to provide affordable, quality music and art education to the Astoria, Queens community and surrounding areas. We have grown from 5 students to over 125 in a little over 5 years.

After living in Astoria for only 6 years Jane is very much a part of the community. Having grown up in a strong community, Jane has longed to create a similar feeling in her Astoria neighborhood. In 2013 the Astoria Presbyterian Church hired Jane to be a Community Liaison where she reaches out to people through the church, her music and arts organization and helps others obtain a sense of responsibility and pride for their community.

Stephanie Bacastow : Voice, Piano

Stephanie Bacastow

Voice, Piano

Stephanie is a New York City based performer, originally from metro-Atlanta. Bitten by the bug for music and theater at an early age, Stephanie completed a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Georgia's Hugh Hodgson School of Music. In addition to operatic and choral work at the HHSOM, Stephanie appeared in productions by UGA’s Department of Theater and Film Studies as well as the Athens community. Favorite roles include Luisa in The Fantasticks, Johanna in Sweeney Todd, and Mary Poppins. 

Stephanie holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance with a Music Theatre concentration as well as an Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy from New York University. As adjunct faculty, she taught private and group voice at NYU’s Steinhardt School and was recognized for Distinguished Leadership and Contribution in the Graduate Vocal Pedagogy Program. At NYU she was seen as Rosa Bud in The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, and has been featured in concerts at The Town Hall, Birdland Jazz Club, and Feinstein's 54 Below.

Stephanie is also a member of NATS, the National Association of Teachers of Singing. (stephaniebacastow.com )

Nolan Byrd : Drums, Piano

Nolan Byrd

Drums, Piano

Nolan Byrd is an award-winning and critically acclaimed drummer currently based in New York City.

After displaying a talent for drumming at a very early age, Nolan started pursuing a life in music. Upon enrolling at the University of North Texas in 2010 on scholarship, Nolan began his invaluable years as a student of Ed Soph, culminating in several Downbeat Student Music Awards and drumming in the six-time Grammy nominated One O’Clock Lab Band. A year after graduating from North Texas, Nolan began attending the Manhattan School of Music, earning his master’s degree in 2017. During his time there and under the guidance of John Riley, Nolan began to establish himself as one of the more in-demand drummers of his generation. He already has performed at notable venues such as The Blue Note, The Apollo Theater, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Kennedy Center in addition to holding monthly residencies at The 55 Bar, Zinc Bar, and the Producer’s Club. Touring has also brought Nolan out of New York to play throughout the county and travel internationally, including going to Sweden in 2016 to perform at the Stockholm Jazz Festival. In 2017, Nolan was one of three finalists in the J.C. Heard National Jazz Drumset Competition sponsored by the Detroit Jazz Festival.

As a creative musician, Nolan’s versatility as a drummer and deep interest in composition allowed him to travel to Washington DC to be a member of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead residency held at the Kennedy Center in 2016 and to Alberta, Canada in 2015 to participate in the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music. These exclusive programs provided Nolan with the opportunities to be mentored by and perform with notable artists such as Mark Turner, Eric Harland, Billy Hart, Jason Moran, Vijay Iyer, JD Allen, Eric Revis, Wadada Leo Smith, Zakir Hussain, Becca Stevens, Harish Raghavan, Tyshawn Sorey, Carmen Lundy, and Cyrus
Chestnut.

Zofia Bogusz : Art

Zofia Bogusz

Art

Zofia Bogusz was born in Poland in the ’80s. As a child, she moved with her parents to New York City where she currently works and resides. Zofia received a bachelors degree from the School of Visual Arts, where she focused in oil painting and figurative studies. Zofia regularly exhibits her work, and enjoys doing freelance illustration as well as commissions. Her personal work was featured in Juxtapoz, the leading international art and culture magazine. Her art and interview is also featured in the print issue of a Miami-based art magazine Art Nouveau, as well as the Brazilian art and culture magazine ZUPI.

Ben Brewer : Violin, Guitar, Piano, Ukulele

Ben Brewer

Violin, Guitar, Piano, Ukulele

Ben Brewer is a musician and educator from Long Island, NY. Growing up, he was actively involved in his school’s music program, and gained a sharp ear for both classical and popular music styles. He has performed with various groups including the renowned Nassau-Suffolk Jazz Ensemble, with whom he was televised on PBS. He attended Stony Brook University where he studied both classical and jazz performance, along with composition, theory, and history from professors such as world-class trombonist Ray Anderson, and renowned composer Peter Winkler. At Stony Brook, Ben rose to the top of his class, receiving multiple awards for musicianship and academics and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude. Currently, he is living in New York City as a musician and teacher, and can be found both in the studio and playing throughout the country with many different groups that range though all musical styles. As an instructor, Ben is informative, patient, inspiring and develops individualized lesson plans tailored to the unique abilities and goals of each student. His motto is: “It’s not what you play, but how you play it.”

Steven Cardona : Musical Theatre

Steven Cardona

Musical Theatre

Steven Cardona is a Teaching Artist for Disney Theatrical, teaching choreography from all of the Disney on Broadway shows. International; The Wiz ( Scotland), Click Clack Moo (Canada). Regional; "The Untitled John Mayer Project" (The Merc) Altar Boyz (Theater Barn), Strike Up The Band (Boston Conservatory), Ragtime (Dr. Phillips), Guys and Dolls (Act III Pro.) Money$hot: a new musical (Rush Theatrical productions) Asst. Choreographer: Murder For Two (Second Stage/ New World Stages/ 1st National Tour) Yeast Nation , ZM: Zombie Musical (creators of Urinetown), BFA: musical Theater Boston Conservatory.

Gregory Good : Piano, Songwriting

Gregory Good

Piano, Songwriting

Gregory Good is a composer/arranger/vocalist based in New York City.  Greg’s orchestral works have been performed by the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Wind Symphony, Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra and the Baldwin Wallace Symphony Orchestra.  Recently, the Westminster Choir College featured a set of Greg’s choral arrangements at a conference in China and has toured them throughout various locations in the United States. Now, several high school and college choirs around North America are performing them, and they will soon be published as a part of the Music from Westminster Choral Series.  He was granted the Lee Goldstein Music Composition Award at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory, in which he graduated from in 2017. Greg was the artistic/music director for Baldwin Wallace’s PRISM 2016 concert and assistant music director for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera’s 2014 summer season, in which he was a part of Singin’ in the Rain, Legally Blonde, Footloose, CATS, and Monty Python’s Spamalot.  Greg teaches musical theatre, piano and composition at Art House Astoria. He is currently writing Mother Never Speaks with Jordan Silver, a new musical based on the story of Grendel from the Beowulf tales.

Amanda Whitford Grundy : Musical Theatre

Amanda Whitford Grundy

Musical Theatre

Amanda Grundy is a musical theater teaching artist and actor. She currently teaches with Art House Astoria, Disney Theatrical Group, and Hunter College Elementary school. Over the past 10 years she has taught with other fantastic arts education organizations such as American Ballet Theatre, The Town Hall, and The Crossing Bridges Project at Covenant House New York. Amanda also enjoys leading arts-centered professional developments with educators and teaching artists. As an actress, Amanda has performed and worked backstage in musicals on Broadway, across the United States, in Europe, and regionally. Favorite performing credits include 42nd Street, Hello Dolly, Joseph…, and A Day in Hollywood a Night in the Ukraine. Favorite backstage credits include Les Miserables, Billy Elliot, and Annie. Amanda holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from East Carolina University and a Masters in Educational Theatre from The City College of New York. Amanda is grateful to work in many areas of the theatrical world and share her knowledge and experiences with the many students she teaches.

Mara Jill Herman : Theater, Acting

Mara Jill Herman

Theater, Acting

Mara Jill Herman is an Astoria-based performer, teaching artist, and writer. She frequently appears with America's Sweethearts, the all-female vintage trio. Developmental/regional highlights: The Band’s Visit (Playwrights Horizons), Nerds (Philadelphia Theatre Company), and Sam’s Room (Theatre Barn’s Impact Award). Favorite productions include On The Town (Hildy), Rent (Maureen), Guys and Dolls (Adelaide), and the international tours of Disney On Classic and Jesus Christ Superstar. She directed and produced Stronger Than Hate: A Benefit for Tree of Life Synagogue to raise money for the Pittsburgh congregation and victims' families. Mara is a Backstage Expert and co-authored So You Wanna Be A Superstar? The Ultimate Audition Guide (Running Press Kids). She is an adjudicator for the National YoungArts Foundation and received the Young Alumni Service Award from her alma mater, University Of The Arts. Other affiliations include Wingspan Arts, Marquis Studios, French Woods Festival, and Jamaica Center For Arts and Learning.  www.marajillherman.com

Krisztina Kiss : Viola, Violin

Krisztina Kiss

Viola, Violin

Krisztina Kiss is a Hungarian violist/violinist who is a resident of Long Island City, New York.

She earned her Master's Degree studying at the Liszt Academy of Music and the University of Debrecen in Hungary, and recently did some post graduate work at the prestigious New School for Music under the guidance of Cynthia Phelps of the New York Philharmonic. She has 9 years of professional experience performing with various orchestras, quartets, trios, and cabaret acts all over the world. Her background includes several years performing with the Debrecen Philharmonic Orchestra in Hungary as well as freelancing all around Europe with some of London's top rated string quartets (Niche: The London String Quartet, and Graffiti Classics).

Krisztina has shared the stage with Frederica von Stade, Joseph Colaneri, David Barg, Iain Ballamy, Great Big World, Ruff Rider Artists, Dave Mckean, Zoltan Kocsis, Misha Piatigorsky among others. As an instructor Krisztina has several years experience in teaching violin. She received the Dr. Elemer and Eva Kiss Scholarship Award from the Hungarian American Coalition, the Hungary Initiatives Foundation Scholarship to Study in the US, the Mannes Scholarship and Scholarship of the Hungarian Republic.

This past year she had the honor of performing at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Barclays Center, Le Poisson Rouge, and other notable venues around New York City.

Norman Pors : Piano, Jazz Workshop

Norman Pors

Piano, Jazz Workshop

Norman Pors grew up in Charlottesville, VA and began playing piano at age 10. He studied classical music for many years and while in high school, started playing in local rock and dance bands. In 1979, he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts graduating in 1982 with a B.M. in Performance and Arranging. The following year, he attended New York University where he earned his M.A. in Jazz Composition. While there, he studied with Jim McNeely, Hilton Ruiz and Joanne Brackeen. Over the years, Mr. Pors has proven his versatility by performing not only with jazz groups, but also rock, R&B, blues and fusion bands. Some of the performers he has played with include Brian Torff (bassist with George Shearing), Vernell Fournier (drummer with Ahmad Jamal), Marcus Mclaurine (bassist with Clark Terry) Bob James, David Sanborn, the Gil Parris Band, the Dave Matthews Band, and Marsha Heydt and the Project of Love.

In addition, Mr. Pors has had many of his compositions and arrangements  recorded by various artists including Marsha Heydt (“One Night” & “Diggin’ the Day”) and jazz vocalist Donna Cumberbatch (“Daughters of the Nile” and “Seasoned Elegance”). He has also written/arranged music for documentaries (“Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood”) and other independent film projects. He has performed in many musical theater productions including “Cabaret”, “Once Upon a Mattress” and “American Fantasy 1,2 & 3”. Also he was the musical director for the off-Broadway shows, “Five Guys Named Moe” and “Smokey Joe’s Café”. As a teaching artist, Mr. Pors has been on staff at the Brooklyn Queens Conservatory of Music, helped co-found CenterStage: the Queens Center for the Performing Arts and currently coaches the New Jazz Vocal Workshop at Art House Astoria.

Jessy Tomsko : Piano, Guitar, Voice

Jessy Tomsko

Piano, Guitar, Voice

Hailing from New York City, Jessy Tomsko has a love for music that transcends the simple pop tunes that plague much of today’s music scene. With her heartfelt lyrics and self-penned melodies, Jessy celebrates life and love in her acoustic renditions brought to life on the many stages of New York City.

Jessy’s love for music stretches back to early childhood where she became enamoured with writing short poems and stories, and shortly began to add music to the equation by composing little piano pieces. These early ventures into music cumulated in picking up the guitar in her late teens, and deciding then and there that she wanted to focus on music and pursue a career of her own. After some time spent earning a degree in classical singing, Jessy returned to writing music, reigning in her creative capabilities and challenging herself as a singer-song writer.

In 2010, Jessy worked closely with Greg Fisher of Evolving Sound Studios on her debut, full-length album, “The Light You Make”. The album invites the listener to take part in Jessy’s honest and unguarded musical interpretation of life’s virtues and melancholies. The soft, lilting melodies featured on the record showcases her vocal skills, finessed with years of classical training.

Jessy’s work is infused with a lightness and warmth that is equally embodied in her live performances. Maintaining a busy performance schedule, Jessy has played at venues such as The Bitter End in New York City and the World Café Live in Philadelphia, and major events as the Wave Gathering Music Festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey and the Launch Music Conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She’s also had the honour of sharing the stage with artists such as David Berkeley, James Maddock, John Francis, Amber Rubarth and Ari Hest among many others.

“Little Reverie”, a three track EP, was released in January 2011. Jessy continued to evoke emotionally charged responses from her listeners with acoustic tracks delivered with sweet and simple vocals. Her stripped down and honest delivery magnified the intimacy she strives to achieve with her audience.

Jessy continues to grow as an artist, garnering new skills from each musical experience and being inspired by artists such as Joni Mitchell, Ani Difranco and Ingrid Michaelson. These experiences can be seen in her new full-length album, “Join the Circus”, to be released this year.

Known for her well-crafted songs and dynamic stage personality, Jessy’s easy-going personality and warm vocals permeate her music and continues to do so with her latest single, “Come Get Me”. As a member of ASCAP, she has teamed up with Concerthouse Music Management and Blue Pie Records in 2011 to further develop her music.

Jessy Tomsko is part of the Blue Pie Family of Artists. For More Information visit www.jessytomsko.com.

Laura Ware : Acting

Laura Ware

Acting

Laura Ware arrived in Astoria in 2007 with her two suitcases and a laptop after spending two years out on the National Tour of Mamma Mia! where she played the role of Rosie. Since arriving in New York, Laura has appeared on As the World Turns and on the Nickelodeon kids' show The Naked Brothers Band as well as in the World Premiere of Things As They Are in the New York Musical Theater Festival. Some of her favorite stage roles include Miss Hannigan in Annie, Maggie Jones in 42nd Street, and Reverend Mother in Nunsense among others. Originally from California, Laura holds a BFA in Acting and an MFA in Musical Theater and she is a member of Actors Equity Association.