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, and cabaret stages.

In 2009, Jane and her husband, Micah co-founded Art House Astoria, and Jane has since found herself busy teaching and co-directing for this ever-growing organization. The 2019-2020 season marks Art House Astoria’s 10 year anniversary!

Jane is also the mother of two smart, energetic, creative, funny, and loving little boys; Charlie and Pete.

Jennifer Axelson : Violin

Jennifer Axelson

Violin

A "dynamic and versatile player", violinist Jennifer Axelson is equally at home in both classical and jazz idioms.  Ms. Axelson has lived and worked in New York as a freelance musician since 1997.  Her orchestra pit experience includes playing at Westport Country Playhouse, DiCapo Opera, and the Actors Shakespeare Company along with many other musicals and operas.  Jennifer has played at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, Webster Hall, Zinc, Shapeshifter Lab, and many other locations throughout New York City.  She regularly plays with the Astoria Symphony, Richmond County Orchestra, and the Firey String Sistas,  just to name a few.  Ms. Axelson also played improvised music for The Scarab Tale, an off-Broadway show.  While living in Madison, Wisconsin she played in the Madison Symphony Orchestra under John DeMain and the Dubuque Symphony under Nicholas Palmer.  Ms. Axelson holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison and a master's degree in jazz from NYU.

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 holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Georgia's Hugh Hodgson School of Music.

Upon moving to NYC, Stephanie completed a Master of Music in Musical Theatre and Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy at 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.

Passionate about new music theatre and works in development, Stephanie was seen as Young Gertrude in the New York premiere of Stephen Flaherty’s Loving Repeating, and workshops of Life of the Party (Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin) and Finding Home (music by Ricky Ian Gordon.) Other favorite credits include Johanna in Sweeney Todd, Rosa Bud in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Luisa in The Fantasticks, and Mary Poppins.

She has appeared in concerts at The Town Hall, Feinstein's 54 Below, and Birdland Jazz Club, and was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition. Stephanie is a resident artist in the world’s only company exclusively devoted to the music of Victor Herbert, the Victor Herbert Renaissance Project.

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 on 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 Group and resident teaching artist for TheaterWorksUSA. Steven is the creator of Innovative Theatrics (Ig: @Innovative_Theatrics) a new web- series featuring musical numbers from New York composers. as the theater director of Art House Astoria he has helmed many productions including: The Lion King, Willy Wonka, Annie, and Seussical. Credits: The Wiz (Scotland), Click Clack Moo (Canada/ US national tour), “The Untitled John Mayer Project”, The Little Orchestra Society concert series, Money$hot: a new musical. Associate Director/Choreographer: Clint Black's Looking for Christmas (The Old Globe), Murder For Two (Second Stage/New World Stages/1st National Tour), Yeast Nation (writers of Urinetown), ZM: Zombie Musical (writers of Urinetown), Law and Order SVU. BFA: The Boston Conservatory

Chien Chien Lu : Piano

Chien Chien Lu

Piano

Chien Chien Lu is a classical pianist, jazz vibraphonist, contemporary percussionist, educator, arranger, and composer from Taiwan.

Chien Chien Lu had her first exposure to music when she started learning the piano at the age of six. At the age of ten, she developed a passion for percussion. In 2008, She joined world renowned Ju Percussion Group and performed throughout Taiwan, China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore.

Chien Chien collaborated with composer Ching-Mei Lin and performed her marimba concerto for six-mallet marimba, entitled “Pulsing Wave.” In 2012, she played percussion accompaniment for the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre’s rendition of “Legacy,” and in 2013, she performed a solo percussion concert at Taipei Novel Hall. In 2014, Chien Chien was awarded as “Emerging Young Artist” for her work with her marimba duo.

Chien Chien graduated from Taipei National University of the Art with a master's degree in classical music in 2015. After that, she came to the USA to study Jazz in Philadelphia with famed vibraphonist, Tony Miceli. Shortly after, she taught a few jazz workshops alongside Tony Miceli in Taiwan. In 2016, she received a monthly residency at Chris' Jazz Café in Philadelphia. In September, Chien Chien performed with Vertical Current at Silkcity. The concert was a tribute to Roy Ayers. In the same month, Chien Chien performed with Chris Stevens Quintet as part of the John Coltrane Memorial festival in Philadelphia.

In 2017, she graduated with a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of the Arts. In August, she attend the prestigious Banff Jazz Residency under the direction of well-known jazz pianist, Vijay Iyer. In October, Chien Chien Performed at The Stone with Okkyung Lee. The Stone is a non-profit experimental music performance space located in the Alphabet City neighborhood in New York City.

Chien Chien is a Vibraphone instructor and performer for vibesworkshop.com. The site includes online communities for professional players and students, with lessons, performances, and other features. She started to teach private piano since 2008, also taught Juvenile Percussion Ensemble from 2011 to 2015. She was a music teacher at National Jhongli Commercial High School in 2014.

Ben Golder-Novick : Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone

Ben Golder-Novick

Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone

Ben Golder-Novick (AKA “Ben The Sax Guy”) is a multi-instrumentalist performing on clarinet, sax, flute, and live looping. As an original band member of “Postmodern Jukebox,” he has toured the world with them for the past five years, and has been featured on many of their most popular videos. In addition, he has made appearances with Dave Matthews, the Hot Sardines, and has performed onstage alongside a variety of notable performing artists including Trey Anastasio, Aaron Neville, Lin-Manual Miranda, Neil Patrick Harris, and Haley Reinhardt. In late 2018, Ben performed several times as a fill-in for the Off-Broadway show “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” Ben is currently leading two of his own jazz groups. They are “The Owlz” and “Ben And Friends.” These two groups can be seen and heard regularly all over New York and surrounding areas. They have recently released a new album of nine original instrumental songs. Ben is a passionate, enthusiastic educator. He is on a mission to pass along the torch the knowledge of instrumental musicality, technique, creativity, and improvisation. These vast array of skills are taught in Ben’s lessons. Many of his students have gone on to study at music schools and some have even become professional musicians!

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.

Krisztina Kiss : Viola, Violin

Krisztina Kiss

Viola, Violin

Krisztina Kiss is a Hungarian violinist and violist who is a resident of Cranford, NJ. She has 10 years of experience teaching and performing with various orchestras, quartets, jazz bands and cabaret acts all over the world. 

Krisztina earned her Master’s Degree studying at the Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary that is the only institution that was founded by Franz Liszt himself and where the famous violin teacher, Jenő Hubay gave to the world many of the greatest violinists. Krisztina did some post graduate studies at the prestigious Mannes College of Music in New York City under the guidance of Cynthia Phelps the Principal Violist of the New York Philharmonic. Recently Krisztina works with her mentor, Garrett Fischbach, who is a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. 

Krisztina has shared the stage with some of the greatest musicians and performers in the world such as Lalah Hathaway, Frederica von Stade, A Great Big World, DMX, Zoltan Kocsis. She recently performed with the Grammy Award Winner Mark Gross saxophonist and composer. She has performed at notable venues such as: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Barclays Center, Royal Elizabeth Hall, Dizzy’s Club, Birdland Jazz Club, Le Poisson Rouge, Flea Theater, The Dimenna Center for Classical Music, Rockefeller Center. 

As an instructor she taught many students in all levels and ages. Her priority is bringing joy to the classroom first and after she tries to find the individual ways to each student how they can become their very best. She wants to pass on to her students her deep dedication to art and the importance of music in our world. Krisztina is an active performer, plays classical, popular music and jazz, her new challenge is jazz improvisation. She also enjoys practicing yoga

John Melendez : Piano

John Melendez

Piano

John Melendez is a pianist and composer currently pursuing his Masters degree in jazz performance at NYU. He has studied privately with Vic Juris, Drew Gress, and Alan Broadbent and has performed at venues all over the East Coast. He has shared the stage with Ole Mathisen, Lauren Sevian, Kanoa Mendenhall, and Michael Veal. He plays regularly with his band, Arctic Circle.

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.

Tara Lynn Steele : Musical Theatre

Tara Lynn Steele

Musical Theatre

Tara Lynn Steele lives in Harlem and teaches for Art House as well as AbunDANCE Company. She has a BA in Musical Theatre & Dance with a minor in Telecommunications and Film. She performs regionally in musical theatre and in NYC with her dance company. Recent credits include: Ermengarde in Hello Dolly at Maine State Music Theatre and dance captain of Mamma Mia at Mill Mountain in Virginia. Tara Lynn loves to teach to be able to give back. Art isn’t selfish, it is instead a gift to be shared.

Eric Stockton : Guitar, Ukelele

Eric Stockton

Guitar, Ukelele

Eric Stockton is a freelance musician and educator living in the borough of Queens in New York City.  Most recently he has been working as guitarist for the Broadway Shows Beautiful; The Carole King Musical, Dear Evan Hansen,  and Mean Girls  among others.   Eric also currently leads a Van Halen Tribute band that has just begun performing in and around NYC.

Eric has performed as a sideman for many talented musical artists in NYC including KONDOR and Daniel Goodman both of whom released recordings of new songs in 2015 featuring Eric on guitar.

Past credits include the Broadway productions ROCKY and Soul Doctor, the First National tours of Beautiful the Carole King Musical and Tony Winning Best Broadway Musical Kinky Boots  as well as subbing for many other Broadway shows and the Big Apple Circus.

In 2010 Eric released his first solo album of his own original music titled roots.  On occasion you can find Eric performing an acoustic set of this music in venues around NYC.

Jessy Tomsko : Piano, Guitar, Voice

Jessy Tomsko

Piano, Guitar, Voice

Jessy Tomsko is a composer, music teacher, and vocal coach in New York City. As a songwriter, Jessy has shared the stage with such esteemed artists as Loudon Wainwright, Dar Williams, Edwin McCain, and Joan Osborne, and has performed at such festivals as Musikfest, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, and NJ Folk Fest. She was twice a featured performer in Sesame Street’s Leslie Carrara-Rudolph’s Halloween Cabaret "Moonlight Madness", and in 2019 she was assistant vocal director on Sesame Street and Apple TV's "Helpsters".  Jessy is a co-founder of NYC semi-professional a cappella group The Lost Keys, and she is now developing two of her original musicals with director Mia Walker (Jagged Little Pill, Waitress).  Jessy is also a contributing writer for the musical production of "Ramona" (now in development), which made its stage debut in 2019 at the NYC Furnace Festival. Also in 2019, Jessy released a new record, titled "Wild and Good."

Michael Vannoni : Violin

Michael Vannoni

Violin

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 : Acting

Laura Ware

Acting

Laura Ware, originally from Southern California, 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. Laura is an actress, singer, and director, having recently directed Art House Astoria's The Wizard of Oz Young Performer's Edition! In addition to being the Administrative Director for Art House Astoria, she is also the editor of the theatre website, StageAgent. 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. Laura holds a BFA in Acting and an MFA in Musical Theater and she is a member of Actors Equity Association.