Lani Bortfeld received her Bachelor’s of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music and her Master’s in Music from the University of Connecticut, and has studied with Mischa Mischakoff, Eric Rosenblith, Theodore Arm, Raphael Bronstein and Ariana Bronne. A member of the American Federation of Musicians, Ms. Bortfeld is an experienced orchestral, chamber and solo musician, performing throughout the region and a familiar soloist at area houses of worship. She has performed with the Waterbury Symphony, where she was principal 2nd violin for many years, as well as the orchestras of Springfield, Hartford, and New Haven. She is first violinist and founder of the Arcos/iris Quartet, which was selected for the Mass. Cultural Council’s Education Roster, and is also an artist teacher on the MCC’s Creative Teaching Partners roster.
Bilingual in English & Spanish, Ms. Bortfeld has traveled extensively throughout Latin America. She received an Artist Fellowship from the Springfield Cultural Council in 1999 to arrange multicultural folk songs, blues, and Latin music for her students, and continues to enjoy arranging many styles of music from around the world in order to open up new vistas to her students.
Ms. Bortfeld began using the Suzuki® Method as a graduate teaching assistant at UConn, and finds it a transformational way of teaching. She is a thirty-two-year member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and has presented at the SAA’s biennial conferences in 1994, 1996 and 2008. Her 2008 presentation was entitled “Building Diversity in Suzuki Programs,” and reflects her commitment to diversity and equal access. After teaching in the music schools of Brookline, Storrs, Hartford and Springfield, and with SAA training in pedagogy and the core repertoire, Ms. Bortfeld founded the Suzuki Talent Education Partnership (STEP) in 2001. She currently teaches violin, viola, Suzuki group classes, chamber orchestra and ensembles at STEP locations in Springfield and Longmeadow.
Amy Cele began her violin studies with Lani Bortfeld (director of STEP Suzuki Strings program in Springfield, MA), later studying with Ubaldo Valli and Dr. Mark Zaki at Marywood College where she majored in Music Therapy. Amy has lived and worked in South Africa where she was a volunteer for Community Arts Project of Pietermaritzburg as well as for the IHM ministry of KwaZulu-Natal. She has studied Suzuki Pedagogy with Ed Kreitman, Dr. Susan Baer and Christie Felsing.
Amy founded Sound Crossing Studio in 2008. She continues to direct the school Music School at Sound crossing and has worked to grow and develop the school as a non-profit educational organization. Prior to this she worked for over 10 years as an early childhood music teacher, bringing music programs to local public and private school programs throughout Northern Connecticut. In 2008 she began working with the POTE (Providing Opportunity Through Education) foundation, teaching and administering a Suzuki violin program to preschool and kindergarten children in Windsor Locks Public schools for 7 years. She currently assists with the POTE funded Suzuki violin program at International Magnet School in South Windsor.
Amy is a firm believer in the transformational power of music on both an individual and a community level. She is committed to the belief that music provides a strong framework in which all children can be nurtured and grow.
Emily Deguzis earned her B.M. and G.P.D. in Viola Performance from The Hartt School of Music, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. Her primary studies were with Steve Larson and Rita Porfiris. During her graduate degree, Emily completed long-term Suzuki violin training with former chair of the Suzuki Association of America, Teri Einfeldt, and holds registered book training for books 1 through 8. Emily was a finalist in the Pottstown Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Concerto Competition, and she appeared as a soloist with Collegium Musicum of The Hartt School.
Emily Hale is a three-time recipient of teacher scholarships from the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She completed an MPerf in Historical Performance with Distinction at the Royal College of Music in London, winning the McKenna Prize for Baroque Music, and also holds degrees in Violin Performance from Houghton College (BMus) and Penn State University (MMus). Emily completed Suzuki teacher training for Violin Books 1-3 at the Hartt Suzuki Institute and International Music Festival (Cleveland, OH).
Emily has developed violin/viola studios in New York State, Pennsylvania and London (UK), teaching students ages three to adult. While a post-graduate student, Emily joined the faculty of the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music as their first historical strings coach for Baroque ensembles. She has been on the faculty of summer music camps at the Pennsylvania State University and Elizabethtown College, and is co-founder and past president of the Centre County chapter of the Central Pennsylvania Suzuki Association. A series of library outreach “Pajama Concerts” Emily presented won the 2009 Pennsylvania Library Association’s “Best Practices in Early Learning Award”. In London Emily helped to lead numerous community music workshops with RCM Sparks Learning & Participation programs, including BBC Proms Plus Family Orchestras, museum concerts for preschoolers, composition workshops for teens, and a collaboration with the English National Ballet. Emily has joined her enthusiasm for historical performance and education by creating an introductory baroque workshop for young musicians, “Elisabeth at the Court of the Sun King”.
Sarah Michel’s musical journey began at the age of 4 when she started violin lessons using the Suzuki Method. By the age of 6, she was introduced to fiddle music and began competing in fiddle contests all over New England. Her grandparents suggested having a signature look….so she was known as the girl with the little red hat. Eventually it was her playing that was being recognized as she won hundreds of competitions. These contests and festivals instilled Sarah’s passion for old-time music as she learned and played along side some of the best old-tymers. Even her fiddle was given to her by New England fiddler Willie “Uncle Willie” Lapman and carries a history of over 200 years of song.
Combining her influences of Old-Time, Irish, World and Classical music, Sarah takes her audiences on a musical journey from old-time sing-alongs, to lively polkas and rousing reels. Sarah currently performs with her husband Keith DaSilva on drums and Joe Dziok on piano & accordion. The influences of these three musicians makes for a high energy show loved by audiences of all ages.
When she is not performing, Sarah carries on the tradition of old-time fiddling teaching at her studio in Southampton, MA. Since 2001, Sarah has been the fiddle instructor for the Western Massachusetts Summer Suzuki Academy which takes place every July in Easthampton, MA.
Guitar & Music Recording
Andy Cass received his bachelor degree from the Hartt School of Music, with a concentration in jazz guitar. He has worked as a long term substitute music teacher at East Windsor High School and Metropolitan Learning Center in Bloomfield. He has also taught master classes at Windsor High School in both Jazz and Concert band. He is a past recipient of the Louis Armstrong Jazz award and has received a Judges Choice Award at the Berklee Jazz Festival. In addition to teaching and playing guitar, Andy brings his expertise in the area of music recording and sound engineering.
Andy’s teaching style is enthusiastic and encouraging to students of all ages. He brings his passion for jazz guitar to intermediate and advanced students, cultivating a deep understanding of this genre in his students.
Soprano Sarah Kohl (née Asmar) is an accomplished performer and voice teacher living in Simsbury, CT. She has maintained a private studio since 2002 and currently teaches in the beautifully refurbished mill in Tariffville. Ms. Kohl has been on the music faculty of The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT and currently teaches at Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, CT. In addition, Sarah is often invited to conduct masterclasses at area schools and serves as Artist-in-Residence at Farmington High School.
As a performer, Sarah has sung with opera companies and choral groups throughout the country. Her operatic roles include Desdemona in Rossini’s Otello, Musetta in La Bohème, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Emily Webb in Rorem’s Our Town, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, and Ofelia in Faccio’s rarely performed Amleto. She has appeared on the stages of Boston Lyric Opera, Sarasota Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Opera Southwest, Opera Delaware, and The Ohio Light Opera among others. Ms. Kohl’s concert appearances include performances with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the New Haven Symphony. In 2008, Sarah was a New England Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Ms. Kohl attended Boston University where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in violin performance and later returned to obtain her Master’s Degree in vocal performance.
A native of East Windsor, Michelle Slajda is a graduate of University of Connecticut with a B.A. in music with vocal emphasis. Michelle has had the opportunity to work with great vocal instructors such as Dr. Constance Rock, Dr. Sylvia McClain, and Dr. Anton Belov. She has also studied privately with Mrs. Marika Kraus, the current musical director at East Windsor High and has been involved with the East Windsor after-school musical theater program.
Michelle has also had the opportunity to perform in several operas, including Monteverdi’s Orpheus and the Underworld and Mozart’s Der Shauspieldirektor. She is experienced in choral music, participating in choirs ranging from intimate, on-a-part-singing, to the large choir with 200+ members. Michelle has also studied early renaissance and medieval music, participating in UConn’s Collegium Musicum.
Michelle’s voice has been used for classical performances as well as rock, Broadway, jazz, and video game music. She believes that singers, no matter what genre of music they choose to sing, should be properly trained to prolong the health and quality of their voice. Her students have gone on to audition for American Idol & America’s Got Talent, score leading & supporting roles in community musical theater productions, and win coveted seats in Eastern Regionals and All-State.