Here at The Music School at Sound Crossing, we pride ourselves on having professionally trained educators and performers, who prioritize creating a welcoming environment for students and parents each week.
MSSC Director Amy Cele began her music studies as a student at the Harford Conservatory, studying Suzuki violin with Lani Bortfeld. She studied Music Therapy at Marywood University before traveling to South Africa in 1992 where she worked with Pietermaritzburg Community Arts Project (CAP). Through her involvement in this grassroots arts organization in post-Apartheid South Africa she witnessed the power of music to give voice to struggling peoples and to bring people from different backgrounds to a place of peace. Amy is registered Suzuki violin teacher with The Suzuki Association of the Americas. She has studied Suzuki pedagogy with Edward Kreitman, Christie Felsing and Dr. Susan Baer and has studied Suzuki Early Childhood Education with Lynn McCall. In 2008 Amy founded Sound Crossing Studio, a small, private music school in northern Connecticut. In 2014 the school was established as a nonprofit organization under its current name, The Music School at Sound Crossing (MSSC). Amy continues to serve as Executive Director of MSSC where she also teaches Suzuki violin. In 2009 Amy established the Sound Crossing Suzuki Outreach Program which has provided Suzuki violin lessons and group classes free of charge to children at North Street School in Windsor Locks, CT and International Magnet School in South Windsor, CT. Amy is a firm believer in the transformational power of music on both an individual and community level. She is committed to the belief that all children deserve access to the strong, nurturing framework which Suzuki music education provides.
Lani Bortfeld received her Bachelor’s in Music from the New England Conservatory and her M.M. from the University of Connecticut. A product of Russian violin pedagogy, Lani is now an SAA-trained teacher and a 37-year member of the SAA. She is an experienced orchestral, chamber and solo musician, including 33 years in the Waterbury Symphony (CT), where she served as principal second violin and first violin. She is first violinist with the Arcos/iris Quartet and a familiar soloist at area houses of worship. An active freelance musician, she is a member of Local 171 of the American Federation of Musicians, and performed the May 2014 world premiere of Gwyneth Walker’s quartet, The Dove, and her choral work with chamber accompaniment,To Love This Earth. Honors include being an artist-teacher on the Creative Teaching Partners roster of the Mass. Cultural Council, receiving an Artist Fellowship from the Springfield Cultural Council and the McKnight Neighborhood Council 2014 Community Service Award for “dedicated work in the cultural arts and in the education of young people.” In 2001 Lani founded the Suzuki Talent Education Partnership (STEP), an interfaith music ministry in Springfield, Mass. dedicated to making Dr. Suzuki’s family-centered method of instrumental music instruction accessible to students of all ages, genders, economic levels, religious and ethnic backgrounds. She also is the advanced Suzuki teacher at the Music School at Sound Crossing in Poquonock, CT. Lani teaches in English and Spanish, and enjoys involving families of all cultures and ethnicities in their children’s music education. Lani presented at the SAA’s biennial conferences in 1994, 1996 and 2008. Her 2008 presentation was entitled “Building Diversity in Suzuki Programs”, reflecting her commitment to diversity and equal access.
Kasey Calebaugh enjoys a wide range of musical endeavours, as a performer, chamber musician, and Suzuki teacher. As a member of The Hartt School’s Performance 20/20, an honors chamber ensemble that awards full-tuition scholarship to attend the University of Hartford, he is pursuing a DMA under Rita Porfiris. His previous degrees include a BM from Northern Arizona University, where he graduated magna cum laude and was awarded the Outstanding Graduating Student Award, and a MM from the University of Oregon with an emphasis in Viola Performance and String Pedagogy. Calebaugh began his Suzuki violin studies in Arizona, studying with pedagogues Louise Scott, Shelly Rich, and Karin Hallberg. As an undergraduate student, Calebaugh taught through NAU’s Community Music and Dance Academy completing Suzuki teacher training to become a certified teacher while actively performing throughout Northern Arizona with groups like the Flagstaff Symphony as well as the Verdi Valley Sinfonietta. A love for teaching led him to attend UO on full-scholarship. As a Graduate Teaching Fellow he taught Suzuki group and private lessons, Music Mind Games, Music & Movement in a group class setting, and coached student chamber ensembles. As a student Calebaugh’s musical pursuits have led him to attend many summer festivals such as NAU’s own Curry Summer Music Camp as both student and counselor, the National Music Festival, Winter Chamber Music Institute, Chautauqua Music Festival, and Bowdoin International Music Festival. He has had the pleasure of studying under renowned pedagouges Paul Coletti, Carol Rodland, Caroline Coade, Rami Solomonow, Dimitri Murrath, Honggang Li, and Roland Vamos in addition to masterclass participation with Nicholas Canellakis, Steven Moeckel, Jeffrey Swann, Bill Preucil, the Merling Trio, and Jacques Israelievitch. His plans for the future include further teaching and training through the Suzuki Association of the Americas and continuing to spread his love and passion for music.
Eugenio Figueroa is a registered Suzuki teacher in Violin, Viola and Piano with the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Currently, he is on faculty at The Hartt Community Division and the Music School at Sound Crossing. As a violist, Eugenio is pursuing his DMA in Viola Performance at The Hartt School underRita Porfiris. Eugenio’s commitment to the Suzuki Philosophy brought him to Connecticut were he did his Masters Performance Degree and Suzuki Long Term Training with Teri Einfeldt. Previous of relocating to Connecticut, he received his Bachelors of Music degree in Viola Performance from the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico where he also taught at the Pre-College division and at the first ever Suzuki School in Puerto Rico Kids and Musik. Eugenio Figueroa has performed with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Bayamón and the Orquesta Filarmonica Arturo Somohano. He has had the honor of performing with the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Santo Domingo and traveled to Iceland with the contemporary chamber ensemble, “Foot in the Door” in 2015. He currently serves as a rotating principal at the Hartt School Symphony Orchestra. Eugenio loves playing in orchestra and accompanying his students on the piano.
Allison Hughes enjoys a diverse and exciting career of solo, chamber, and orchestral performances. She gave her Carnegie Hall debut in January 2016 as a founding member of Duo Alterity, which has garnered first prizes in the 2016 Vivo International Music Competition, 2016 Hartt Chamber Music Competition, and 2017 Music of America’s Great Composers Competition. Passionate about the flute as a solo instrument, Allison was recently selected to perform the Liebermann Flute Concerto with the Hartt Orchestra. Allison has appeared playing principal flute with ensembles such as the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra and the Hartford Opera Theatre Orchestra. With Duo Alterity, Allison served as an Artist in Residence for the 2018 season of Connecticut Summerfest, and will return for the 2019 season. Allison is currently the flute instructor at Bay Path University, and holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Flute Performance from The Hartt School, where she studied with Janet Arms. While at Hartt, Allison was on a full scholarship as a member of the prestigious Performance 20/20 Chamber Ensemble. For four years, beginning with her third undergraduate year, Allison taught a technique class for flute performance majors at Hartt. She loves sharing her passion for music and life with students, collaborators, and audiences alike.
Ashley Peck earned a Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance from Portland State University where she was a student of Hamilton Cheifetz. She has registered teacher training in Suzuki books 1-4 with Ann Grabe, Blake Brasch, Barbara Wampner, and Annette Costanzi. An avid educator and performer in Oregon from 2006-2017, Ashley taught private lessons in her home studio in Portland as well as large group classes in the strings program in the public schools in Lake Oswego. As adjunct faculty at Portland State University from 2014-2017, Ashley developed and taught a string techniques curriculum for music education students. She was also a member of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra from 2008-2017. As a chamber musician, Ashley has performed as a recitalist in several concert series in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Memorable masterclass performances include playing for Janos Starker and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. Additionally, Ashley has enjoyed unusual collaborations such as playing the on-stage cellist in Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play and performing live with Kanye West. She has also appeared in a wide range of recording projects, including sessions for Oregon Catholic Press and heavy metal band Alesana. Currently, Ashley is pursuing a master’s degree in cello performance with Suzuki emphasis at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, and she teaches at Suzuki Music Schools of Westport.
Violinist, violist, and educator Seina Shirakura graduated Summa Cum Laude from The Hartt School in West Hartford, Connecticut where she studied under Anton Miller. She is also a graduate from the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Division, where she studied extensively under Hungarian violinist Bela Horvath. Shirakura holds Suzuki Certification in Books 1 through 8, received from long-term training with Teri Einfeldt, former Chair of Suzuki Association of America, and Christie Felsing. She is currently on faculty at the West Hartford Montessori School, The Music School at Sound Crossing in South Windsor, Kent School in Kent, Connecticut, and her private studio. Her summer fiddle class in Saratoga Springs, NY will be heading into its seventh season this year. As an avid performer, educator and lifetime student, Shirakura thrives on learning each day from her students and colleagues. Whether she is teaching traditional, Suzuki, or other genres of music, she prioritizes focused fun with life lessons to be used throughout her students’ lives. A native of Japan, her study of music began at just under two years old at the Kawaii Music School, where she studied voice and piano. Later in her elementary years in the states, she began learning the violin and fell in love with its diverse sound and ability to captivate audiences. Now, with performances at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium, New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, Tanglewood Ozawa Hall, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Saratoga Performing Art’s Center, The Bushnell and more, she hopes to continue spreading her passion for music with students, colleagues, and audiences alike.
Justin Clapis is a musician and teacher from Hartford, Connecticut. Clapis graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2018, receiving a B.A. in General Music Studies with a Percussion focus. Here, Clapis performed with various groups such as the Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and UConn Soul Collective (which he co-founded). Clapis has played drum set in various jazz combos and rock bands. In 2015, his band opened for Panic! at the Disco. Today, Clapis spends his time gigging around the Connecticut area teaching music lessons (mostly for drum set, percussion and ukulele).