Art House Co-Founder/Director - Guitar, Ukulele, Tenor Banjo, Mandolin
Micah Burgess is a versatile guitarist whose credits include the Broadway production of “School of Rock”, the 2017 US tour with Petula Clark, 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 “Beautiful”, “Newsies", "Soul Doctor", and "Mary Poppins".
Micah has shared the stage with Matthew Broderick, Bibi Neuwirth, Ian McKellan, Chris Meloni, Stephen Schwartz, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Megan Hiltey, Jeremy Jordan, Chuck Cooper, Richard Kind, Leslie Odom, Jr., and Tituss Burgess 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.
Co-Founder/Board President - Voice, Women's Show Choir
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.
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
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 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 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.
The Grundy Family
Eli Draws are a family and a team supporting their young son Eli's passion for being creative and transforming it into a brand where other parents and kids can participate in exploration, learning and collaboration.
Eli Draws is an Astoria based company founded by Eric Briarley Grundy and Amanda Whitford Grundy, Eli's parents.
Eric is an actor, singer, and songwriter. He has appeared in the Broadway National Tours of Les Miserables and My Fair Lady as well as many other regional musical theatre productions.
Amanda is a musical theatre actress and performing arts educator. She is currently a teaching artist for Disney Theatricals, Trinity Baptist Church, and Art House Astoria.
Eli Draws mission is to encourage children and adults to explore their imaginations, expand their horizons, and actively engage through creativity, play, and art.
Amanda Whitford Grundy
Amanda is a musical theatre actress and performing arts educator. She is currently a teaching artist for Disney Theatricals, Trinity Baptist Church, and Art House Astoria.
After studying piano and trumpet as a child, Greg Hammontree has toured China, played with All-State ensembles, and performed all over the NYC and Atlanta area with many legends in jazz. He has a M.A. from Queens College in Jazz Performance and maintains a very active performance and recording lifestyle, in addition to the compositions and arrangements he is commissioned to write.
Alaleh Ketabi received her Bachelor of Music in piano performance from Georgia State University, where she studied piano with Dr. Geoffrey Haydon and chamber music with Dr. Brandt Fredriksen. After being recognized as an outstanding performer at the GMEA competition, she participated in several piano competitions throughout the country and overseas.
In fall of 2009, Ms. Ketabi appeared as a soloist to perform Prokofiev Piano Concerto #1 wit the GSU symphony orchestra. In the summer of 2010, Miss Ketabi participated in Vianden Music Festival and School in Luxemburg, where she performed Brahms Cello Sonata in e minor. She also had the opportunity to perform Doppler, Andante and Rondo for two flutes and piano in Neuburg, Germany. Ms. Ketabi is currently perusing a masters degree in Music Education at Hunter College. Ms. Ketabi has over 10 years of experience teaching piano and music theory with several music institutions and schools within the Atlanta area and New York City. Ms. Ketabi’s students have performed in several piano competitions and recitals. Ms. Ketabi’s vibrant energy, eloquent presentations, motivational techniques, and professional approach have brought success to all of her students.
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.
Amirtha holds a B.A. and M.M. in Vocal Performance, with training in Classical/Opera, Jazz, South Indian Carnatic music and Classical piano. She loves to teach all genres of music including Classical, Jazz, Musical Theater, Pop, Rock, R&B, Experimental techniques and Improvisation. As a musician, Amirtha is a composer, vocalist, and improviser, playing keyboards and Indian harmonium in many different bands and ensembles. She regularly premieres works by some of the most innovative composers in the world, and is the bandleader of her own avant-garde Jazz quartet, Elder Ones. Amirtha has been teaching voice and piano for almost a decade, and is thrilled to be teaching in the diverse and wonderful borough of Queens!
"It is my passion to instill a love for playing and singing in each of my students, by tapping into what excites them about music! I believe learning music is a highly personal experience, and each student requires a unique approach that reflects their own individuality. For that reason, I never use one single method of instruction, and try to tailor my approach to each student."
Australian saxophonist and woodwind performer Mark Phillips currently resides in New York City.
Before leaving Australia at the age of 23, Mark had performed with groups including The Australian Army Band, The Victoria Police Showband, The Australian Cotton Club Orchestra, Rob Simone Big Band and many others. He has twice performed as a soloist on 3MBS 103.5FM radio and in 2008 was featured in the University of Melbourne’s Lunchtime Concert Series. In 2010, Mark was an orchestra member for the annual Rob Guest Endowment Concert at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne, and worked as alongside John Foreman and Kellie Dickerson for the world premier of ‘Strange Bedfellows – A New Musical’. Markcompleted a Bachelor of Music Performance with Honors at the University of Melbourne in 2009, studying saxophone repertoire with Ian Godfrey, Michael Lichnovsky and Barry Cockcroft and was invited back as a guest woodwind lecturer in 2012.
Relocating to New York in 2011, Mark forged his own path and arranged to study privately with one of his jazz idols, Vincent Herring, as well as fulfilling his other ambition of studying flute with Andrew Sterman of the Philip Glass Ensemble. He has since performed at events including the renowned SXSW Music Festival in Austin Texas, The Long Beach Jazz Festival, at numerous jazz venues and performing arts centres throughout the US and even at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art! He can be seen performing with Elvis in Episode 7 of HBO's 'VINYL' which aired in March 2016, and has played supporting international artists including Olivia Newton-John, Gavin Degraw, Aaron Carter and Vertical Horizon.
As an educator, Mark currently works as Music Director of a Middle School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and teaches privately around New York City. In 2015, he worked as a teaching artist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens.
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.
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.
Michael Vannoni is a Juilliard graduate (BM and MM) with a local performance schedule including recitals, chamber & symphonic concerts, operas & ballets, new music concerts, and Broadway musicals. He is also active as a teacher, and and as an orchestral and chamber music coach. Michael is a multi-instrumentalist with a focus on strings and woodwinds, and also sings.
Michael has attended the festivals at Tanglewood, Taos, Verbier and Musicorda. As an orchestral player, Michael has toured on a number of occasions, and has touched down on most of the world's continents.
Michael's major teachers were Karen Tuttle (The Juilliard School), Steven Ansell (Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston University), and Christian Euler (University of Music and Theatrical Arts, Graz, Austria). Michael plays on a 1997 Alexander Tulchinsky viola.
In addition to Michael’s performance schedule, he is an experienced music administrator. He has held positions at the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, Schott Music, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Moab Music Festival, and Welltone New Music.
Teaching is a passion for Michael. He has maintained private lesson teaching studios both on Long Island and in New York City. Michael currently teaches at a number of community music schools throughout Queens and Brooklyn, and teaches privately in Manhattan. While at the Musicorda music festival, Michael was a teaching assistant to Roberta Guaspari-Tsavaras, who is known for her work in inner-city schools in Harlem, NY.
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.
Kris Wettstein writes and performs spare pop songs that draw on his background in classical piano, Christian hymnody, gospel, and West African music.
A committed musician around New York, he has collaborated with Grey McMurray (itsnotmeitsyou), Pauline Kim Harris (Wordless Music Orchestra) and Esther Noh (Either/Or), and has performed numerous times at Spectrum and Caffe Vivaldi.
In November 2009, he travelled to Dakar, Senegal where he performed frequently to thousands of people with pop star Carlou D, including an appearance at the Festival Mondial des Arts Négres (World Festival Of Black Arts) alongside artists such as Youssou N’Dour and Busta Rhymes. At this time he also collaborated with several other well known West African musicians including Daby Balde (Senegal), and Alfadio Dara (Guinea). He was especially moved by a form of guitar playing characteristic of Guinea, whose weightless and disorienting quality informs his work.
In 2012 he toured the East Coast playing a program of Morton Feldman, whose work profoundly shapes Kris’s music. As a composer, Kris is interested in creating sounds on another scale, with small changes occurring slowly. He recently wrote a song cycle inspired by the works of the Japanese sculptor Isamu Noguchi, examining the material properties of the piano. In November, he released the EP ‘For Nothing Holds You In’, recorded at renowned studio Water Music with Grey McMurray, Dan Sedwick (Kelly Polar) and Marjorie Gere (Boston Public Quartet).
A committed composer, he collaborated with Portland, OR storyteller Rochelle Saliba in writing the songs for a forthcoming musical named ‘Flight’. His works have been performed and recorded by Trio Rouge.
Kris studied music at Walla Walla University, and at Rice University, where he graduated with a Master’s in Piano Performance. He resides in New York City, where he conducts a gospel choir as director of music at Mott Haven Reformed Church.
Kris Wettstein writes and performs spare pop songs that draw on his background in classical piano, Christian hymnody, gospel, and West African music.http://www.amicroscope.com/