A native of Mexico city, Maruca Helguera-Bednarek began her studies at the National Conservatory in Mexico City with Guillermo Helguera, principal cellist of the Orquesta Sínfonica de México and former cellist of the Dallas Symphony. Mrs. Bednarek later came to the U.S to study first at Southern Methodist University with Lev Aronson, former principal cellist of the Dallas Symphony, and later at Northern Illinois University with Marc Johnson of the Vermeer Quartet. Mrs. Bednarek has a B.F.A. degree in cello performance from Northern Illinois University.
She has performed with many orchestras in the Chicago metropolitan area including the Lake Forest Symphony, Elgin Symphony, Illinois Chamber Symphony and Light Opera Works. She was also a member of the Cassatt Piano Trio for two years.
Mrs. Bednarek has been teaching privately for over 15 years and has also taught at many schools in the northwest suburbs, including Prospect High School for 6 years and the Betty Haag Academy for Performing Arts for 4 years and currently teaches at Deerfield High School where she has been teaching for the last 3 years.
Maruca Bednarek is married to cellist David Bednarek and they have an 11 year old daughter.
Shaun Flynn earned a Bachelor of Music degree at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. He then completed graduate work at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, earning a Masters Degree in Orchestral Studies while studying with John Yeh of the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra. A staunch advocate of new music by living composers, Shaun proudly performs with the Chicago Composers Orchestra. He has performed at numerous venues throughout the United States including Carnegie Hall, Harris Theater, the Auditorium Theater, and the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts.
Shaun had the honor of winning the Susquehanna University Concerto competition and the Music Teachers National Association Young Artists Competition. Feeling a special proclivity toward Music Education, Shaun enjoys giving private lessons in and around the Chicago area. More over, he is sought out regularly as a chamber musician and adjudicator, including the Illinois High School Association Solo and Ensemble State Contests.
In addition to his activities as a clarinetist, Shaun is also a collaborative pianist and performs in recitals and for other music events. At the age of 7 he began his music studies at the piano.
A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Lesley Swanson began her musical studies at age 11. Early on, she began performing with the West Michigan Flute Association and appeared as a soloist with the ensemble at age 15. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Grand Valley State University as a student of Judith Kemph (Grand Rapids Symphony) and had the honor of being a two-time winner of the annual GVSU Concerto Competition. Lesley went on to study with world-renowned flutist Donald Peck (principal flute emeritus of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, receiving her Master of Music degree. Lesley has attended many master classes throughout the United States and Canada and has had the opportunity to work with such flutists as Denis Bluteau, Michel Debost, Jennifer Gunn, Susan Hoeppner, Walfrid Kujala, Amy Porter and Nan Raphael.
Lesley is both an active performer and teacher. She currently serves as principal flute for the Chicago Composers Orchestra, an ensemble dedicated to the performance and advocacy of orchestral music by living composers. Through the CCO, Lesley works with music composition students at Columbia College of Chicago, performing students’ pieces as they are working toward their degree. Lesley has been teaching privately for 15 years and loves working with a wide age range of students. In addition to teaching flute, Lesley also serves as the Music School Director here at the Metropolis School of the Performing Arts.
Jacob Rensink started his studies on horn in 1996 at the age of 9. An active freelance horn player and teacher in the Chicago area, Jacob earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance from SUNY Purchase where he studied with Ann Ellsworth and Peter Reit. After finishing his bachelors he studied with Greg Flint and David Griffin at Roosevelt University while pursuing a masters degree in orchestral studies. Jacob has also studied with John Zirbel, principal horn of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and performed in masterclasses with John Bowen, Jerome Ashby, Neil Kimel, Dan Gingrich, among others.
Jacob has played assistant principal and extra horn with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and principal horn with the Holland Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with the Newburgh Symphony Orchestra as well as the Pitten Festival Orchestra in Austria. Additionally, he has performed in concert with both members of the New York and Vienna philharmonic orchestras.
As well as playing in orchestras on a regular basis, Jacob is an active chamber musician and soloist. He has performed with numerous chamber ensembles including the Sapphire Brass quintet, the Canturbury Theater Players, the Parallel Brass quintet and the Gaudete Brass Quintet. He has given solo recitals in numerous venues, including Paul Hall at The Juilliard School and, recently, Ganz Hall at Roosevelt University. He has also given benefit recitals with members of the New York Philharmonic.
Jacob currently resides in Chicago with his two cats Yoshi and Gracie and his girlfriend, Allison.
Paul Henry has received much acclaim for his performances across the United States and Europe. He received high praise from Guitar International Magazine following his first Carnegie Recital Hall performance. He was recently featured in Guitar One Magazine as one of the top 10 guitarists in the United States. His numerous compact disc recordings have received outstanding reviews. His performance scores and his new method book for classical guitar are published internationally by the Hal Leonard Corporation. Paul is currently on the faculty at the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University and Concordia University in River Forest. He conducts master classes at many colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Robbie Kellogg holds a Master of Music in Classical Guitar Performance from Roosevelt University and a Bachelor of Music from Moody Bible Institute. He has taught as a freelance guitar instructor for ten years. He teaches classical, rock, blues, jazz and other various pop styles; pick and finger picking technique, along with note reading and improvisation, all this through the lens of classical technique and music theory. He has played electric and acoustic guitar in rock, jazz and hip-hop bands. He performed Conrad Susa’s “Carols and Lullabies” with the Glen Ellyn-Wheaton Chorale, and has also performed in Mexico City and China. He plays bass, drums, mandolin, and directs rhythm sections regularly. He also composes and arranges music. Robbie has been a choir director, accompanist, and now leads worship for the Student and Children’s ministries at North Suburban Church in Deerfield. He performs regularly with his wife Lydia who plays flute and piano, and frequently jams with his 3-year old aspiring drummer/son, Theo. Robbie studied classical guitar with Norman Ruiz and Paul Henry; studied guitar and pedagogy with Pamela Kimmel, and had master classes with Denis Azabagic, Sergio Assad, Lorenzo Micheli and David Leisner. He is an adjunct faculty member at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
Brad Conroy is a versatile guitarist who specializes in both classical and electric guitar styles. Brad is an accomplished performer on the classical guitar and has performed throughout the United States in recital, competitions, numerous master-classes, and at festivals where he is also active as an evaluator, adjudicator, and clinician. Brad keeps busy with the electric guitar and plays in a few Chicago-based rock and jazz fusion groups; he frequently plays on recording sessions, and maintains a large studio of students.
Brad finished his B.M. at Northeastern Illinois University (cum laude) with a degree in Classical Guitar Performance and studied with Dr. Brian Torosian. Brad furthered his music studies with a M.M. in Classical Guitar Performance at The Chicago College of Performing Arts, the music conservatory at Roosevelt University where he studied with world renowned guitarists Denis Azabagic and Sergio Assad.
Brad Conroy is very active in the Chicago music scene as a solo classical guitarist, jazz/rock/fusion guitarist, session player, composer, music journalist, and he teaches many students. See www.BradConroy.com for more info.
Matt Hart graduated from Illinois State University in May of 2006. He earned a bachelors degree in Music and has been teaching at Metropolis since February of 2007. Aside from teaching, Matt is also an active performer. He plays drums and percussion for theatre productions and various artists in the Chicago Area. Matt has been involved with the stage reading of Another Tomorrow at Metropolis, the LZP production of 110 in the Shade, The Backstage Theater Company production of Zombies From the Beyond, the Harper College Wind Symphony, and his rock band The Factory to name a few. Matt is very excited to be working with the Metropolis School of Performing Arts.
Bryan Shilander, has performed widely as a pianist throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Korea, with recitals in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Mexico City, Seoul and Pusan, Korea. In addition to recital and concerto engagements he is sought after as an accompanist and chamber musician. He performed a concert series in three cities in Taiwan with the Sinorica Piano Trio in 1989. In 1985, 1992, 1995, and 2003 he performed in Korea in engagements including solo recitals, concerto appearances with the Pusan Symphony Orchestra, and recitals with violinist Hae Young Chung and soprano Seungwon Lee. He was the pianist and organist for the Chicago Boy Choir’s 2004 tour of England.
Mr. Shilander teaches piano at the Metropolis School of Performing Arts, Arlington Heights, Illinois, and is the music director at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Chicago. From 1985–2005 he was a piano instructor and Associate Dean of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Bryan Shilander studied piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music as a preparatory student with Betty Zimmer, and at the Sherwood Music School, Chicago, with Leo Podolsky, where he received the B.M. and M.M. degrees.
Tina Qi began her piano studies at the age of five with her mother. During the childhood years of her piano studies, she received many honors, won numerous competitions, and performed both solo as well as with orchestras. She began entering piano competitions around the age of seven and has participated in such competitions as the Chicago Symphony Young Performers Competition and the Fox Valley Young Performers Competition. She received the Youngest Player Award multiple times in the Elgin Symphony Young Virtuosi Competition and also received a full scholarship to the Interlochen Arts Camp from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Youth Auditions. Tina competed in numerous competitions all the way until her undergraduate studies.
In 2007, Tina earned her Bachelor degree in piano under scholarship from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. From 2007 to 2009, she attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and earned her Master of Music degree in piano. Recently, she was chosen to perform at the Chicago College of Performing Art’s first annual Inaugural Piano Showcase Recital in the spring of 2009. Participants were chosen based on the top seven scores received in their piano juries from the previous semester. Continuing her education, Tina again attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts under scholarship from 2010 to 2012 and earned her Performance Diploma degree in piano. Currently, when she is not fulfilling her passion for teaching, Tina enjoys collaborating with local musicians in chamber and other settings and is always looking for a way to share music with anyone that is willing to listen.
Matt Kowalski, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, is native to the Chicago area. Performing with ensembles such as The Fox Valley Orchestra-Principal Bass Trombone, Wheaton Municipal Band and various jazz and rock and roll groups in Chicago, Matt also leads his own jazz quartet. Matt also regularly performs with pianist Belford Hernandez, giving recitals of both jazz and classical stylings.
While in school, Matt learned to master many styles of music, playing in groups such as the Eastman Trombone Choir, winning the International Trombone Competition in 2011, as well as the Eastman Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Ensembles. In 2013 he was awarded his performer’s certificate for excellence in applied trombone. Matt’s previous teachers include John Marcellus of the Eastman School of Music and Timothy Riordan of the Merit School of Music.
Derek Fitting is a Chicago based Trumpet player, Teacher, and founding member of the Temporal Brass Quintet. Growing up in a home where music of all kinds was always being played, he was constantly drawn to the sound and look of the Trumpet. After years of classical training under Gene Arnold, he attended Roosevelt University where he studied under the tutelage of Mark Ridenour (Chicago Symphony assistant-principal) and Rob Parton.
Performing an extraordinary range of genres that include but are not limited to Classical, Blues, Funk, Jazz, Rock, and Ska; Derek has put his abilities to use in Pit Orchestras, Classical Symphonies, Chamber Ensembles, Recording Studios, and with the Temporal Brass Quintet with which he is a founding member. Having had opportunities to sub in several Pit Orchestras and Symphonies early on in his career, he found a love for playing many different styles and has constantly worked towards furthering his knowledge and skills.
Performing in many venues across the US and UK; including, The Auditorium Theatre, Ravinia, the Chicago Jazz Fest, Symphony Center, and multiple Theatre houses; Derek has become one of Chicago’s most diverse and experienced trumpet players. As a founding member of the Temporal Brass Quintet (TBQ) and with his career taking off, he is more than excited to see where his love for Trumpet and music in general will lead him.
Violin & Viola
Vasile Ardeleanu began his musical training at the age of six in Romania where he attended a full-time specialized music school for 12 years. Vasilereceived his Masters degree in Orchestral Performance and his Bachelors degree in Violin Performance, graduating with honors from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. While there, he studied with concert violinist Cyrus Forough, former principal second violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Joseph Golan and former principal second violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra Stefan Hersh. He has played with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago while in college, as well as with The Roosevelt University Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra in addition to various amateur orchestras throughout the city.
Vasile teaches violin at the Metropolis School of the Performing Arts in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where he has been on faculty since 2005. He provides one-on-one instruction to students at a variety of levels. In his spare time, Vasile also plays in a Romanian folk orchestra.
Brad Larson is a Teaching Artist in the Chicagoland area. He has 12 years of teaching experience with a private studio of students ages 4 to18. His students have participated in IMEA as well as Honors orchestras throughout the Chicagoland districts. He has served on the faculties of Lewis University and Judson University. Pedagogy training mentors include Michele George, Dr. Gerald Fischbach, and Ronda Cole. In addition to these pedagogy studies, Mr. Larson spent a year observing the teaching methods of Mrs. Betty Haag and working with the talented students of the Magical Strings of Youth.
As a performer, Brad has performed chamber music alongside many of the world's leading chamber musicians including the Guarneri string quartet, the Left Bank string quartet, and Rita Sloan. An accomplished orchestral musician, Brad has held title positions in the Canton symphony orchestra and the Fairax Symphony, as well as Concertmaster of the National Orchestral Institute, Chautauqua Institution orchestra, The Cleveland Institute of Music, and University of Maryland symphony orchestras. While a student at the University Of Maryland, Brad led the symphony as concertmaster in the performances of “Don Quixote” and received critical acclaim. Mr. Larson has had the privilege to work under many of the world’s leading conductors including Andrew Litton, Michael Stern, Alan Gilbert, Leonard Slatkin, Gerard Schwarz, and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (serving as Concertmaster under several).
Mr. Larson holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Summers were spent studying at the renowned Encore School for Strings in Hudson, OH. His primary teachers include William Preucil, Stephen Rose, and David Salness. Additional teachers of significant influence include Arnold Steinhardt, Jacques Israelievitch, and Stephen Majeske.
A Cleveland native, Tiffany Gates has performed consistently since age seven, and her career highlights include a starring role in a staged reading of a rock musical called Another Tomorrow at Lincoln Center and solo vocal performances as well ensemble and dance work at The Triad, also in New York City. Regionally, Tiffany has been seen at Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Beck Center, Lakeland Theatre, Cain Park, Carousel Dinner Theatre, Bailiwick, Light Opera Works, and Chicago Folks Operetta to name a few.
As a passionate instructor of the performing arts, Tiffany has taught dance classes for all ages since 1995 and private voice lessons since the year 2000. She specializes in the Musical Theater style, with a concentration on mixed- voice, head-voice, and belting techniques, but feels equally at home in all styles of vocal music. Her teaching has led her private students to major in the performing arts in college at The University of San Diego, Wagner College in New York City, Millikin University, Kent State University, and Tulane University. Several of her students have had agent representation through Stewart Talent Agency, Aria Talent, and Paonessa Talent Agency here in Chicago.
Tiffany is also the Owner of Harmonious Horizons, a Music Together® center on the North Shore. Music Together is an internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through age 5. This program encompasses everything that she is passionate about - music, movement, creativity, education, and young children. Harmonious Horizons opened in the Fall of 2009.
Tiffany has a Certificate in Classical Vocal Performance which was awarded to her during her senior year of high school from The Cleveland Music School Settlement in Cleveland, Ohio. She received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Ohio Northern University where she performed in four dance showcases and fifteen musicals/operas, with nine lead roles. She was also a member and Assistant Conductor of The University Singers national touring chorus. Tiffany was a frequent soloist with the group, singing Aaron Copland’s In the Beginning, Handel’s Messiah, and Mozart’s Missa Brevis in F, to name a few. As the Assistant Conductor, she was seen leading the choir on national television during The Hour of Power with Dr. Schuller at the Crystal Cathedral in Los Angeles. Tiffany was the founder/director of the Ohio Northern University Women’s Chorus, as well as a performer and choreographer for The Northernaires, a touring vocal jazz quartet. Tiffany was also chosen for The Circle in the Square Theatre School’s Summer Intensive Workshop in Manhattan, where classes where held in The Circle in the Square Theatre, the only accredited acting school on Broadway.
Jolilorlyn Quitain-Wenghofer (Jing) completed her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music in Manila, Philippines in 2003. During her time there she appeared with several orchestras including the UST Symphony Orchestra, the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. Jing was also a member of Vocal Ensemble Philippines, a 6-member vocal group which performs all over the country. Upon her graduation she accepted a teaching position at UST and the Colegio San Agustin in Makati.
In 2005, Jing came to the US to obtain her Master of Music degree at Winthrop University in South Carolina and graduated in 2007. At Winthrop, she performed with the university’s Chorale and performed in the opera Dido and Aeneas and Gianni Schicchi. Currently, Jing is about to complete her Doctorate degree in Vocal Performance at the University of South Carolina. At USC, she performed in the musical The Light in the Piazza as well as the opera Riders to the Sea. Her recent performances as a soloist include Mozart Mass in F, Schubert's Mass in G and Faure's Requiem.
Jing has been teaching voice and piano lessons for over twelve years and is enjoying every minute with her students. She also serves as the Music Director for Addolorata Villa in Wheeling, IL.
Jing is married to Kevin Wenghofer and just had their first baby, Isabelle, in May 2011.
Brad Jenks has been involved in vocal music since his earliest years. Raised his entire youth singing in choirs, involvement in musical productions was frequent, with roles in such shows as Britten's Noye's Fludde, and the title role in Amahl and the Night Visitors. As a young man he portrayed Caleb in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Enoch Snow Jr. in Carousel and performed as a member of the Illinois Opera Theatre ensemble in productions of Carmen, La Cenerentola, The Magic Flute, Madama Butterfly, L'elisir d'amore, La traviata and The Merry Widow. He sang regularly in recital, featured as a soloist with the Sunday Singers, and was a soloist in the Vivaldi Beatus Vir with Parkland College.
He studied voice privately under Master Teacher William Miller, Professor Emeritus of the University of Illinois, until his passing in 1998. He has spent time on staff at Glimmerglass Opera, in Cooperstown, NY and Florida Grand Opera, in Miami, FL. While in Miami, he opened a private voice studio. In 2006 he took his teaching full-time, moving his studio back to Illinois.
A member of NATS, he now spends his time teaching between Chicago and Champaign. In addition to private instruction Mr. Jenks has been Vocal Advisor on musical productions including Ragtime and Into the Woods as well as Vocal Director for Little Shop of Horrors.
He has stepped back onto the stage in recent years as an ensemble member in Beauty and the Beast, Charlie Davenport in Annie Get Your Gun, and Reuben in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Most recently he sang Silvio in I Pagliacci with Greater Chicago Opera Guild and King Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors with North Shore Opera Hour. He joined friends for a concert dedicated to Disney & Mozart, has been the Baritone Soloist in Bach's Weinachtsoratorium, Fauré's Requiem, and Britten's Five Mystical Songs, all with Chicago State University, as well as singing the part of Jesus in the Hillert Passion According to St. John with First St. Paul's Lutheran in Chicago, IL.
A native of Sterling, IL, Nathan W. Brown is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. Nathan recently returned to the Chicagoland area after living just outside of Nashville, TN, where he served as the Associate Director of Theatre/Resident Music Director for The Renaissance Center. During his eight years with The Renaissance Center, Nathan worked on more than 55 productions, including Hello, Dolly!, Anything Goes, A Chorus Line, Cats, Oklahoma!, Annie, The Music Man and Once Upon a Mattress. Favorite Directing credits include Into the Woods, Seussical, Jr., Church Basement Ladies, A Year with Frog and Toad, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol: The Musical and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr.
Nathan has also worked with many regional theatres around the country. Favorite Music Directing credits include All Shook Up, Seussical, The Will Rogers Follies, Married Alive!, Forever Plaid and Jekyll & Hyde, at theatres including Bigfork Summer Playhouse (Montana), The Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres (Indiana), Stage Door Theatre (Florida), Bearcreek Farms Resort (Indiana), Cornwell's Dinner Theatre (Michigan), Houston County Arts Council (Tennessee) and Illinois Wesleyan University (Illinois). Most recently, Nathan Co-Directed/Music Directed the Metropolis School of Performing Arts production of Into the Woods, Jr.
As an actor, Nathan has performed leading roles in shows such as You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Charlie Brown), Anything Goes (Billy Crocker), Dames at Sea (Dick), and Seussical (Horton, the Elephant). He’s also performed supporting roles in shows such as Forever Plaid (Jinx), Grease (Doody), Hello, Dolly! (Cornelius Hackl), Cats (Mungojerrie), A Chorus Line (Al), and Fiddler on the Roof (Motel, the Tailor). Nathan also spent time performing as a lead singer with theme parks and cruise lines, including Dollywood, Hersheypark, and Costa Cruises.
Nathan is very passionate about teaching singers of all ages, and has given private voice lessons to more than 80 students, ages 6-86. Several of his vocal students have received talent-based scholarships to colleges such as Wright State University (Ohio), Millikin University (Illinois), and Trevecca Nazarene University (Tennessee).
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