Dean of Music
Assistant to the Dean
A native North Carolinian, Dr. Leslie Alan Denning completed his undergraduate studies in music at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, sponsored in part by the prestigious Bryan Scholarship and various awards for academic achievement. Dr. Denning accepted scholarships for graduate studies at the University of Miami, completing the Masters of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees with recognition by Pi Kappa Lambda for his achievements. His other studies include performance and language studies in Salzburg, Austria and master classes with prominent names in vocal music such as Eleanor Steber and Birgit Nilsson. Dr. Denning’s performance experience spans the worlds of art song as well as opera. His teaching has been recognized by faculty and staff with Teacher of the Year awards at his school sites, and by the Grammy Foundation as one of the top music educators in the United States for two consecutive years.
A composer, educator and author, Dr. Epstein Garcia holds an DMA in Composition from Boston University 1999 and a BM in Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music 1992. Her works have been performed by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and at Clark, Brandeis, Boston and Florida International Universities as well as internationally at UniRio in Rio de Janeiro, and in Rome and Spain. She is a contributing author to Women and Music Since 1900: an Encyclopedia and is actively involved in IAWM (the International Alliance for Women in Music). Dr. Epstein Garcia holds the rank of Professor and joined the faculty of New World School of the Arts in 1999.
Jim Gasior holds a BM (1992) in Studio Music and Jazz Performance and an MM (2002) in Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Miami. Prior to his appointment to Interim Dean in July 2009, he was NWSA's Associate Professor of Jazz and Instrumental Studies. As the director of NWSA High School Jazz Ensemble, Jim led the group to numerous national successes including performing/competing at the Essentially Ellington competition eight times. The ensemble was also selected to perform at IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education) conference in New York City, Toronto, and Los Angeles. Many of his students have been awarded Downbeat Student Music Awards as well as honors such as selections to GRAMMY High School Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Bands of America, and other nationally renowned groups. The Jazz Ensemble and Combos have recorded eleven CDs, under his production and direction.
He is a successful jazz and commercial pianist, composer and arranger with performance credits with Kelly Clarkson, Ben Vereen, Jose Feliciano, Little Richard, Smokey Robinson, Jane Oliver, Camillo Sesto, Chita Rivera, The Platters, and The Drifters as well as jazz artists — Freddie Hubbard, Patti Austin, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, Robin Eubanks, John Fedchock, Duffy Jackson, Jay Leonhardt, Jason Marsalis, Donald Harrison and the Jaco Pastorius Reunion Big Band. Studio recording credits include performances on albums for Grammy award winning artists Ricky Martin, Arturo Sandoval, Chayanne, Kelly Clarkson, Ed Calle and Raul Diblasio. Gasior has been serving as musical director for the new musical Cuba Libre written by Desmond Child and Davitt Sigerson. This new work has been performed in several readings in New York City (Graciella Daniel, Director) as well as at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, CA.
With Bachelor of Music 1984 and Master of Music 1985 degrees from The Juilliard School and a Certificate of Study from The Curtis Institute of Music 1987, Richard Fleischman is one of today's most distinguished violists. Formerly a member of the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Fleischman continues to perform internationally on the viola and viola d'amore as soloist with orchestras such as the Miami Symphony, Colorado Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, and the San Francisco Concerto Orchestra. Highlights of his career include a concert for the President and First Lady of Germany as conductor of New World Chamber Orchestra and for Vice-president Al Gore as viola soloist on live German television. Further, he performed as principal violist with Leonard Bernstein conducting, at a televised performance of the 1988 Proms from Royal Albert Hall. He spends his summers as the principal violist of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra in New Mexico, is violist with the Delray String Quartet and was guest principal violist of the Hong Kong Philharmonic for several years. Mr. Fleischman has been the Professor of Viola at New World School of the Arts since 1999. He has recorded for Naxos, London/Decca, Sony and Poinciana labels.
Mr. Gershfeld is a senior associate professor for instrumental studies at New World School of the Arts and the conductor of the school's orchestra. He received his advanced degrees in conducting from the Kishinev Conservatory, 1966 and violin performance from the Moscow Conservatory, 1960 in the former Soviet Union. He served as conductor of the Moldavian Chamber and Symphony Orchestras and the Moscow Bolshoi Theater before immigrating to the United States. Mr. Gershfeld is also the Director of the Anna Maria Island Community Orchestra and Chorus, has been the Principal Conductor of the Alhambra Community Orchestra since 2009, and has served as Artistic Director of the Lake Placid Sinfonietta. He has appeared as guest conductor at the Jerusalem Academy of Music, the New York Music Festival, the Quad Cities Symphony, the Eastman School of Music, the Miami City Ballet, and the Naples Philharmonic.
Voice / Opera
Rodney Nolan Miller received a BM in Vocal Performance from Birmingham-Southern College in 1969, an MM in Vocal Performance from the University of Illinois in 1973, and was a member of the American Opera center at Julliard School of Music in 1983-84. He has had a distinguished national and international performance career, performing more than 45 operatic roles and 50 concert solos, ranging from Lohengrin to the Britten War Requiem. His discography includes Songs from Jewish Poetry by Shostakovich with I Musici de Montreal, Con Flor y Canto by Rodriquez, and Wagner’s Lohengrin. His international appearances have included solo performances at the Maggio Musicale in Florence, Italy, the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, and at the Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Nationally, Mr. Miller has been widely engaged by companies including The National Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Seattle Orchestra, Baltimore Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Honolulu Symphony, Oratorio Society of Utah, The New York Chamber Orchestra, Tanglewood, Wolf Trap Opera, Boston Opera, and Hawaii Opera. Highly regarded as an exceptional voice teacher, Rodney Nolan Miller amassed more than twenty years of outstanding voice teaching success in New York City, where he trained young singers who were then accepted into prestigious music schools such as Juilliard, Manhattan, Mannes, Roosevelt, and New England Conservatory, and who have won numerous contests and honors. His professional singers have appeared as leading artists with many of the most significant opera houses in America and Europe including City Opera, Seattle Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Houston Opera Washington Opera, Philadelphia Opera, San Francisco Opera, Dusseldorf Opera, Lucerne Opera, and Canadian Opera. Mr. Miller is a consultant to Wade Artist Management in New York, is highly regarded for his master classes on career development and has been teaching at the New World School of the Arts since 2003.
HS Wind Ensemble Director
Brent A. Mounger received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Stetson University. While at Stetson he began an active role in music education. During the Fall of 2004, he took on the assignment of conducting the school’s Brass Ensemble. Later in 2006, he petitioned the faculty, with the help of Dr. Bobby Adams, to create a new ensemble for woodwinds - Chamber Winds. In 2005, Mr. Mounger was President-Elect for the Florida Collegiate Music Educator’s National Conference and served as President in 2006. While President of FCMENC, he restructured the statewide organization and was able to increase the association’s membership. A partnership program was also established where larger universities in Florida were zoned with smaller universities and community colleges to help establish links and communication between future music educators. Mr. Mounger also served on the Florida Music Educator’s Association State Board from 2005-2007.
Currently Brent Mounger is the Wind Ensemble Director at New World School of the Arts, and from 2007 until 2011 he served as Director of Bands at Coral Reef Senior High School. While at Coral Reef the Wind Ensemble received national acclaim and was invited to perform at the 2011 National Concert Band Festival. Under Mr. Mounger’s direction, the Coral Reef Senior High band program received Superior ratings at District and State Jazz and Concert Assessments. Graduates from his programs attend the New England Conservatory, Peabody Conservatory, Stetson University, University of Miami Frost School of Music, The Florida State University College of Music, Berklee College of Music and the University of Florida School of Music.
Brent Mounger is the Bass Trombonist with the Miami Wind Symphony, a professional Wind Ensemble in South Florida. His professional memberships include: the College Band Directors National Association, the National Band Association, the Music Educators’ National Conference, the Florida Music Educators’ Association, the Florida Bandmasters Association, and Phi Mu Alpha
Suzan DeGooyer has been on faculty with the New World School of the Arts, teaching Private Flute and Flute Choir, since 1989. She received her MM in Flute Performance from the University of Miami 1972 and her BME in Flute and Piano from Drake University 1969. Ms. DeGooyer started playing in professional orchestras at age 19 in Iowa and Florida. She has performed with the Ft. Lauderdale Orchestra, Florida Philharmonic, Greater Miami Opera, American Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, and the Royal Ballet. In addition to her work with NWSA, Ms. DeGooyer has been a flute instructor at Florida International University for 19 years and has been teaching at Miami Dade College Kendall Campus since 1976. She is Principal Flute with the Miami Wind Symphony, Piccolo with Miami Symphony Orchestra, Piccolo soloist with the South Florida Youth Symphony, Conductor and founder of Miami Flute Ensemble and a member of the MDC Faculty Woodwind Quintet-Kendall campus. Her affiliations include woodwind adjudicator for NFAA Young Arts, member of the National Flute Association and the Florida Flute Association, and flute instructor at the University of Miami Young Musicians Camp every summer.
Peter Francis earned a DMA in Trumpet Performance 2005 and an MM in Music Education 1997 from the University of Miami where he studied with Gilbert Johnson and Craig Morris. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education 1991 from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. While at the University of Miami, Dr. Francis was a teaching assistant in the Jazz/Studio Music Department and a member of the Concert Jazz Band under Whit Sidener. He has taught trumpet at the New World School of the Arts since 2004 and in 2010, began directing the High School Jazz Ensemble.
Dr. Francis has toured with Chayanne, Celia Cruz, Issac Delgado, Tony Vega, Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz, and Jerry Rivera among others. In South Florida he has performed with the Manhattan Transfer, the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Ojay's, Frankie Valli, Frankie Avalon, Jack Jones, the Funk Brothers, Chaka Kahn, Patti Austin, Arturo Sandoval, Clarence Clemons, Stephen Marley, Hal Linden, Ed Calle, Tito Nieves, Luis Enrique, Cheo Feliciano, Rey Ruiz, Larry Harlow, and Frankie Ruiz, among others. Dr. Francis has also performed regularly with the Miami City Ballet and Florida Grand Opera orchestras, as well as with the South Florida Symphony, the Symphony of the Americas, the Miami Symphony, and the Florida Chamber Orchestra. Dr. Francis has served as brass panelist for the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts Young Arts program since 2007. In 2011, he was awarded a NWSA Professional Development grant to attend the Jazz at Lincoln Center 2011 Band Director's Academy in New York City.
Christopher Graham is a native of the Boston area where he began his studies at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. In Boston, he has performed at Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall, and Sanders Theater at Harvard. Dr. Graham holds BM 2000 and DM 2006 degrees from the University of Miami and completed an MM 2003 at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London. He has performed with orchestras in the UK at the Dukes Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the Jacqueline du Pre Music Center, Oxford. In 2002, Mr. Graham received the RAM's prestigious Nicholas Blake Prize for woodwinds. He has participated in summer festivals including Boston University's Tanglewood Institute, the Bowdoin Chamber Music Festival and NEC's Clarinet Summit with Richard Stoltzman and Kalmen Opperman. In South Florida, Mr. Graham has performed with the Florida Philharmonic, the Boca Raton Philharmonic Sinfonia, the New Philharmonic, and currently plays with the Florida Grand Opera and Classical Orchestras at the Carnival Performing arts Center and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. As a chamber musician, Graham has performed to critical acclaim with the Ibis Camerata in the Southeastern U.S. and on international tours to Serbia, Russia, and Italy. Dr. Graham can be heard on the Ibis Camerata's debut album Glisten, released on Albany Records in December of 2006. Dr. Graham has been with the New World School of the Arts since 2006.
T. Geoffrey Hale received his Bachelor of Music Degree 1969, and Master of Music Degree 1970, from the University of Miami. While in college, he was Principal Bassoon for the Miami Beach Symphony. Upon graduation, he served four years in “The President's Own” U.S. Marine Band, in Washington D.C. For the next 28 years, Mr. Hale was a member of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. He served as the Delegate to the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), representing the Florida Philharmonic since 1990, as well as served as a member of its Orchestra Committee. During the past 30 years, Mr. Hale has also been a member of the South Florida Symphony, Florida Chamber Orchestra, Miami Philharmonic, Miami Beach Symphony, Miami Chamber Orchestra, Key West Pops, Orchestra Miami, Key West Opera Orchestra and Grove Winds. He performed seven years with the P.A.C.E. - "Four Families of the Orchestra" woodwind quintet, giving concerts in the tri-county public schools. He is presently Principal Bassoon of the Miami Symphony Orchestra (MISO) and the Miami City Ballet Orchestra. Mr. Hale has been Bassoon instructor at the New World School of the Arts for the past 11 years. He has taught privately for the past 43 years, aiding his students in achieving scholarships at Cincinnati Conservatory, The Julliard School, New England Conservatory, Florida State University and at the University of Miami School of Music.
John Kricker is a native Floridian and has been an active freelance musician in south Florida for the past 30 years and has been teaching at the New World School of the Arts since 2002. He performs on tenor trombone, bass trombone, and tuba. He is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Music from where he has received both his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. During his career, he has performed for many major stars in virtually every musical genre including Luciano Pavaroti, Placido Domingo, Jose Cararas, Sarah Brightman; Frank Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Jr., Tony Bennett, Jerry Lewis, Steve and Eydie, Jack Jones, Debbie Reynolds, Shirley Jones, Robert Goulet, Ben Vareen, Joey Bishop, Donald O’Conner, Danny Thomas, Vic Damone, Lou Rawls, Jerry Vale, Tony Martin; Linda Ronstadt, Pia Zadora, Nell Carter, Natalie Cole, Paul Anka, Johnny Mathis, Marvin Hamlisch, Wayne Newton, Burt Bacharach, Roy Clark, Kenny Rogers, Maynard Ferguson, Chuck Mangione, Boots Randolph, Hal Linden, Larry Elgart, Willie Chirino, Juan Gabriel, Nelson Ned, Arturo Sandoval, Jose Luis Rodriguez, Jon Secada, Mana, The Platters, The Spinners, The O’Jays, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Moody Blues, The Fifth Dimension, The Smothers Brothers, Dr. John, and P Diddy. Mr. Kricker is also a frequent performer in a variety of South Florida Orchestras, Brass Groups, Ballet and Opera Companies, Broadway and Theater Shows, Jazz and Commercial Ensembles, and Wedding Bands. He is an active studio musician. John is also a member of the award winning Jaco Pastorius Big Band.
Marco Sartor is a top-prize winner of more than fifteen international guitar competitions, including First Prize and Audience’s Favorite Award at the JoAnn Falletta International Concerto Competition. His subsequent debut solo recording for Fleur de Son Classics, “Red,” received rave reviews and was broadcast on national radio. He appears frequently in solo, ensemble, and orchestral concerts in the US and abroad.
As an active pedagogue, Mr. Sartor has given numerous masterclasses, workshops and lectures in the USA and abroad, and has designed and implemented youth guitar programs in Charleston, SC, Pittsburgh, PA, and Montevideo, Uruguay. He has written articles for Soundboard Magazine and liner notes for recordings, and regularly publishes columns and blogs about music.
Marco Sartor completed the highly-selective Master of Musical Arts program (Doctoral Residency) at Yale University, earning the Friedmann Prize for his thesis. He also received degrees from the College of Charleston and Carnegie Mellon University.
Aaron Merritt has been an Adjunct Professor of Cello at the New World School of the Arts since 2006. Mr. Merritt holds degrees in performance from Rice University 2004 (MM) where he studied with Lynn Harrell, and from Indiana University 2002 (BM) where he studied with Emilio Colón, Helga Winold, and Janos Starker. Mr. Merritt was a member of the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas from 2004-2008. His performance career has brought him to festivals across the United States and into Austria, Italy, and the Netherlands.
As a member of the Miami Music Project under the direction of James Judd, Mr. Merritt performs over fifty concerts a year with his string quartet, providing educational concerts and presentations for under-served schools and communities in the Greater Miami area. He is also a member of the Florida Grand Opera and Palm Beach Opera orchestras, the Boca Raton Symphonia, and the Miami Symphony Orchestra. In addition to his teaching duties at NWSA, Mr. Merritt has taught chamber music at Point CounterPoint Chamber Music Camp in Vermont and maintains a private studio. His students are laureates of and participants in competitions at the national and international level, including the Sphinx and Tchaikovsky. During the summer months, Mr. Merritt performs at the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder
As the First Prize winner of the XIV Bartok-Kabalevsky-Prokofieff International Competition, Ciro Fodere’s latest performances have been described as “masterful, electric, by turns fiery and lyrical” by The Post and Courier, and as featuring “technical sheen articulation, alert dynamic shading, and an imaginative approach” by The Miami Herald, which also raves, “edge-of-the-seat thrilling.” In addition to soloing with both major orchestras in Uruguay, he has performed the Liszt and Gershwin concertos with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Ignat Solzhenitsyn and David Stahl. He recently performed the Rachmaninoff Variations on a Theme by Paganini with the New World Symphony (NWS) and the Rachmaninoff Third with the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic.
Other orchestras he has performed with include the Sendai Philharmonic, Philharmonic of Extremadura, Symphony of the Americas and Florida Philharmonic. Mr. Fodere was the First Prize winner at the Eastern Division MTNA. He received his BM in 1998 from the College of Charleston and completed his fellowship at the New World Symphony, an organization that featured him regularly in Miami. In addition to accompanying leading musicians like Joshua Bell and Renee Fleming, and working under Michael Tilson Thomas’s tutelage, he participated with members of the NWS in Santa Cecilia, Rome, Perugia, and Carnegie Hall in New York. Mr. Fodere currently teaches at the New World School of the Arts and is the pianist of the South Beach Chamber Ensemble, Miami Symphony, and the Florida Orchestra. Mr. Fodere has been with the New World School of the Arts since 2007.
A native Floridian, Sarah Weiner-Jamison has recently relocated back to South Florida after having been the Founder and Artistic Director of her New York City-based opera company, The coOPERAtive Opera Company. Sarah has sung opera and oratorio throughout the New York Metropolitan area. In a review of her work, Opera News Magazine called her voice beautifully creamy and elegantly spun. Ms. Weiner-Jamison continues to perform recitals and concerts in the South Florida area. She is also on the voice faculty at Broward Community College, where she was nominated as adjunct professor of the year, and maintains a private vocal studio in Broward County. Studied with Rita Shane and Gianna d'Angelo of the Metropolitan opera. Coached with Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, Patrick Summers (Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera). Ms. Weiner-Jamison holds the Bachelor of Music degree from Brenau College and the Master of Music degree from Indiana University.
Music Ensemble, Technology, Jazz Guitar
Fernando Ulibarri was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. He is an active performer, composer, and educator in the South Florida music scene. He moved from his native country to Boston in 1998, where he graduated from Berklee College of Music with a BM in Music Synthesis. After working professionally in the New England area, he moved to Miami to attend Florida International University where he obtained a MM degree in Jazz Performance. Mr. Ulibarri has performed concerts at Carnegie Hall, Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica, Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club, Berklee Performance Center, The Bass Museum, and various other venues in the United States and abroad. He has given lectures at the Universidad de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica and on two separate occasions, has been a clinician for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. He is currently an adjunct professor at the New World School of the Arts and is a full-time faculty member at Broward College where he teaches music technology classes as well as ensembles and jazz guitar.
Lajos Zeke, adjunct professor of piano and musicology at the New World School of the Arts, is a native of Hungary (b. 1958, Budapest), where he spent the first three decades of his life. A graduate of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Organ Performance 1981 and Musicology 1987, Dr. Zeke worked both as a traveling organist and as a musicologist. He gave recitals in Hungary, Finland, Germany, Austria, the Ukraine, Greece, and Japan while simultaneously conducting research at the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in diverse fields such as analytical study of F. Liszt’s music, 19th century music history, organology, and experimental music theory. In 1990, he began his doctoral studies in the United States and in 1999, received his degree from the University of Miami. As part of his Ph.D. project, he embarked on a thorough study of certain aspects of philosophy and the history of logic, and integrated his new understanding into his approach to theoretical musicology. In the last 17 years, church musicianship, composing, piano performance and, above all, teaching have seemingly eclipsed his musicological activities. However, during this same period, prompted by certain crucial discoveries concerning Plato’s “Pythagorizing” musico-mathematical theories, he has launched a new project. This project is aimed at disclosing aspects of a half-forgotten, yet alive and still unfolding, worldview: a sort of “musical metaphysics,” a participatory science of consciousness.
Composition and Music Technology
Ferdinando De Sena teaches composition and music technology at the New World School of the Arts. His music has been performed throughout the continental U.S., Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Argentina, Italy, Scotland, and Ireland. Dr. De Sena’s work has also been performed at international, national, and regional conferences of the College Music Society, the Society of Composers, the International Computer Music Conference, the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States, and the International Double Reed Society. Dr. De Sena earned a BA 1987 in Music and Computer Science from Ithaca College and an MM in Electronic Music 1989 as well as a DMA in Composition 1984 from the University of Miami. His principle teachers were Dennis Kam, Peter Rothbart, and Don Wilson. Dr. De Sena was recently included in Who’s Who in America 2005-2011 edition. His music Three Attitudes for Harp and Flute, and Directed Ambience for Harp and Computer Sound, has been published by St Francis Music Publications. Further, he is currently working on a number of large commissions including a double guitar concerto for soloist Jose Adan and the Miami Wind Symphony, and a work for chorus and string orchestra for SoundSet in Dublin, Ireland.