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Alumni News

March 2014

Carol Ribner

Years at Usdan:1971,1973-75

Carol Ribner

I loved Usdan and remember it fondly. I majored and minored in dance (ballet, modern, folk dance). It was a true privilege to be there, especially at the beginning of such a marvelous institution. I have gone on to teach dance as well as teach elementary school and I am now an elementary school principal. The arts are so important in education.

June 2013

Stephanie Tubiolo

Years at Usdan: 2006-2010

I spent five summers at Usdan as a camper, a Counselor-in-Training, and a Music Staff Intern, both as a violist and as a chorister. The passion I gained there continues to energize all of my musical endeavors. I am currently a Music major at Yale College, where I teach students in New Haven Public Schools year-round through the Yale School of Music, Music in Schools Initiative. I also sing in many choirs and am an assistant conductor and the incoming Manager of the Yale Glee Club. This year, I founded the New Haven Summer Youth Choir, where, as the director, I strive to replicate the warmth and joy of the glowing musical environment I loved at Usdan. I can't imagine a happier place!

Sarah Turkiew

Years at Usdan: 2001-06

I was a Usdan student and spent 5 years and six summers as a music major. During my first year, I was in junior chorus with Elaine Gates (now retired) (2001) and the Division II band with A. Bradford Demilo (2001-03). Few summers later, I belonged to a Senior Chorus with Elliot Bean (now retired) (2002-2006) (later performed as one of Usdanites at Carnegie Hall Oct. 2002), sax lessons with Andrew Segale two times (2001 & 2004), and Division III & IV Band (2004-06). I had been a saxophone major and a chorus member for years until I finally got the chance to study jazz with a Division IV Jazz Ensemble following a jazz improvisation class. I enjoyed being a music student because I got to play music not only with the rest of the students, but also with my friends. During my six summers as a camper, I sang with both the junior and senior choruses & played alto sax in all divisions of the band following a lesson. During my last three sum mers, however, I switched from alto to Baritone sax while joining both the Division IV band and a Division IV jazz ensemble. I was only 13 through 18 years of age because if I would have stayed there for 8 years, I could have received an award for becoming a lifelong student at Usdan center. Instead, I came to this performing arts summer camp just to experience all types of music & arts around me. After Usdan, I performed with the Tilles Center Band & All-County Chorus at Tilles Center (2004-07) and received a NYSSMA award for my composition at New York State Electronic Music Festival at Rochester in 2007. I also performed at Five Towns College, High Town Music Festival, & Albany from 2007 to 2008. In addition to my past performances as a high school student, I also performed & soloed with a legendary jazz saxophonist, David Liebman during the seminar about jazz & studied with Gary Smulyan while at Amherst, MA with my family. Right now, I am a student at Nassau Community College so I can focus and explore more about music like I did at Usdan when I was in my teens. In addition, I'm also a member of Northport Jazz Band (2012-) & the Village Pops Band of Farmingdale ( Summers 2010-). I am also a freelance musician performing at Fox Hollow Jazz Jam nights on Monday evenings, Walk Street Tavern Tuesdays at the end of each month, & the Living Room jazz lounge Fridays at the end of each month (since 2012). Even though I have Autism, I still have my experience going to Usdan when I was a 5-year music student in the past and I still am. Thank you so much, mom, dad, my brother, Elli, and especially, my grandmother for helping me pursue my passion for music at Usdan Center.

January 2013

Teresa Van Remortel

Years at Usdan: 1976

I was Teresa Bengivingo back then. I wish it could have been more then just that one summer, but we had to move to WI after that year. I was crushed leaving all my friends in NY!!

November 2012

Lesley Rosenthal

Years at Usdan:1974-79

Lesley Rosenthal

Usdan was always the best part of my year and the centerpiece of my lifelong love of the performing arts. From orchestra with Dr. Joseph Sample and Clayton Wasserman to chorus with Elaine Panik (now Gates), every summer was fun and memorable. Although I did not end up becoming a professional musician (law school instead), I still have a life in music as the General Counsel of Lincoln Center. It's been great to reconnect and to see a new generation taking full advantage of the Usdan experience - my own kids, niece and nephew!

August 2012

Ken Sloane

Years at Usdan:1969-1976

ken sloane

I have so many wonderful memories of summers at USDAN, as a student (Band and Chorus) and as an employee during HS and college (Instrument Checking and Music Librarian). Andrew McKinley was and will always be a strong influence in my life, and so many others I couldn't begin to list. To the current students I wish you wonderful memories as well. Thank you USDAN!

April 2012

Naomi Dwyer

Years at Usdan:1989-1993

Naomi Dwyer

I love Usdan. I attended the Fiorello Laguardia HS of Music and Art and Performing Arts (FAME!) as a dance major. Life has taken many twists and turns (so has my name!). I will never forget Francis Patrelle's choreography in our production of "Firebird" during my last year at Usdan. What an amazing experience! Usdan got me through an extremely difficult time in my life and was very therapeutic. I made memories that will last a lifetime. I now live on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and only wish my children could have the same I did at Usdan.

Andrew Martin

Years at Usdan:1981-1983

Andrew Martin

The three summers I spent as a Musical Theater student were truly the gateway to my career in entertainment, which continues to this day both as a performer and a journalist. My first book, "All for the Best" How Godspell Transferred from Stage to Screen," was recently published by BearManor Media, and I broadcast an entertainment news segment twice-weekly on the historic WPAT 930 AM. At this writing I'm in rehearsal for an Off-Broadway bound play, and preparing for a role in "Dark Halls," a major motion picture starring Mariel Hemingway. Without Usdan as the foundation for my love of the arts, I don't know if any of this might have been possible. Thank you, Usdan!!

March 2012

Rebecca Cohen

Years at Usdan:2004-2008

Rebecca Cohen

I spent the greatest summers of my life in Usdan's Musical Repertory Company and Senior Chorus (as an MSI, then Assistant Teacher). The passion and confidence I learned there inspired me to earn a degree in Theatre and English from Binghamton University and go on two international tours to Chile and China. I now work in Online Marketing for Broadway at SpotCo. The skills, friendships, and memories I made at Usdan are invaluable, and I credit a part of who I am to those magnificent summers in the "magic woods."

January 2012

Amanda Kloos

Years at Usdan:2005-2010

Amanda Kloos

For six summers straight, I had experienced the greatest performances, and moments of my life. I had majored in Orchestra and Senior Chorus, with minors in Chorus, Painting, and Creative Writing. Usdan had been the biggest influence in my life and now has pushed me to where I am today. Currently I am working on a B.M. in Vocal Performance in LIU: Post. Also I am conducting a show choir in Post, which I started after my adventures in All-County and performing in Tilles Center when I was in Usdan. It's been interesting not attending Usdan, but I think about it everyday, and I hope the memories will last forever. Thank you Usdan for being the greatest thing to ever happen to me. I'll never forget my summers at the greatest place, Usdan.

Ian Poulis

Years at Usdan:1997

Ian Poulis

After Usdan and graduating from the Kirov Academy of Ballet, I have danced professionally with Ballet Internationale-Indianapolis, Ballet Met, Ballet Arizona and now currently with the Louisville Ballet. Thank you Usdan for the inspiration. Keep doing what you do!

November 2011

Cory Hecht

Years at Usdan:2007-2009

Cory Hecht

With just 3 years of experience at Usdan studying music, theatre, and musical theatre, I have gained a wealth of knowledge which I now use everyday. I am a current student at SUNY Potsdam and taking classes at the Crane School of Music. I have performed with the All-State and All-Eastern Choirs and will be performing with the Crane Chorus at Lincoln Center in Avery Fisher Hall.

September 2011

Deborah Hill Stevens

Years at Usdan: 1972-1974

I loved my time at Usdan. I continue to play guitar with a couple of groups playing Celtic music, old timey, contra dance tunes. I live in Western Massachusetts and would love to be in touch with some of my old friends.

August 2011

Emily DeSimone and Peter Sticco

Years at Usdan:2001, 2004-2007

Emily DeSimone and Peter Sticco

Ten years ago, two USDAN students lost themselves for a summer and found love for a lifetime. One warm August day in 2001, Peter Sticco, a Jazz Trumpet Major, met Emily DeSimone, a flute Major, while taking attendance for his bus. It started off as a friendship that grew into a loving relationship. After being campers ,Peter became an MSI in 2004, and Emily became the Flute TA from 2005 until 2007. On June 16, 2010 Peter asked Emily to be his wife; the couple will be married on March 31, 2012. Emily is currently a music teacher at The School at Columbia University, and Peter is a third year medical student working clinical rotations at Richmond University Hospital on Staten Island.

Sarah Weber

Years at Usdan:2000, 2002-2006

Sarah Weber

After spending seven unforgettable summers at Usdan in orchestra, chamber music, chorus, creative writing, and painting, I returned in 2008 to work as a Development Intern. I've been the librarian at Usdan since 2009 and I still play with Usdan's orchestras! I recently graduated from Ithaca College where I received a BM in violin performance and music education. Now I am pursuing my MM in Music Theory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with an aural skills teaching assistantship. New York State teacher certification is also just around the corner.

Kieran Kerekes

Years at Usdan:2000, 2002-2006

Kieran Kerekes

I recently graduated in May from The Boston Conservatory with my Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance Degree. I currently live in Hempstead,NY and I am also now a member of the NYC based men's a capella group, Ten&Change, which performs across New York City and the surrounding area. I am also doing solo work as a professional singer with various churches around Long Island and New York City. Many of the skills I gained at Usdan have already helped me in my college career and now my professional life. I have had many good times at Usdan, and I keep in contact with a large portion of my fellow campers from our time at Usdan.

Colleen Rosati McCormack

Years at Usdan: 1999, 2004-2007

Colleen Rosati McCormack

I am the Creative Coordinator for Disney Theatrical Group, where I assist in the development of shows such as Peter and the Starcatcher, Aladdin, Newsies and Freaky Friday. My many years at Usdan (as a Theater Major, office assistant and Discovery Counselor) have proved invaluable in my work developing Disney JR. and KIDS titles designed specifically for Elementary and Middle School aged children. I currently live with my husband in Astoria, Queens.

Andrew Parker

Years at Usdan:1998-1999, 2005-2008

Andrew Parker

Since attending Usdan as a student in Middle School and working in the Administration Office during my undergrad I have gone on to finish a Bachelors Degree in Oboe Performance from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music, a Masters of Music Degree in Oboe Performance from the Yale University School of Music and am currently working on my Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree in Oboe Performance from The University of Texas at Austin. Along with playing in numerous NYC concert halls such as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, I am currently a substitute member of the oboe section for the Austin Symphony Orchestra and have participated in many summer orchestra festivals such as The Roundtop International Summer Institute and the Brevard Music Center Festival.

July 2011

Stephanie Lanuto

Years at Usdan: 1998-2000

Currently, I am an elementary orchestra director in the Herricks School district. I received my Masters of Science in Music Education from Long Island University/CW Post in 2007. I currently live in Huntington, NY

Sharon Kitzis

Years at Usdan: 1999, 2007-current

Sharon Kitzis

Since my summers of studying flute and voice as a Usdan student, I continue to spend my summers working in Usdan's Development office, because this place is impossible to leave behind! In May 2012, I will earn my Bachelor's degree in Music Education from SUNY Fredonia, and I am currently preparing for graduate school auditions as the first step toward earning a Master's in Flute Performance. I have very fond memories of Usdan, and keep in touch with many friends I made during my summers as a student.

Karla Aristy

Years at Usdan: 2009

Karla Aristy

I am entering my junior year at New York University for Music Education (Concentration: Classical Saxophone) with a Spanish minor. A little over a month ago, I returned from my spring semester abroad in Florence. I had the time of my life with the culture, the language, the music---the food! Currently, I have returned to Usdan for the second year to work in the office--as the "Bus Lady". I must say, as always, I am very glad to be back at Usdan and am enjoying every minute of it!

June 2011

Jon Reilly

Years at Usdan: 2002-2004

Currently, I am a Stitcher at PCPA Theatrefest in Santa Maria, CA.

Rebecca Friedman

Becky Friedman

For the past nine years, I have been working as an elementary band director. I continue to play clarinet in local ensembles and teach private lessons. In 2009 I completed my Masters in Arts Management and continue to look for opportunities within the field. In August 2010, I married Bryce Jones and we live in Fairfax County, VA.

Arianna Grassia

I am just finishing up my first year as the MS/HS librarian in the Hastings-on-Hudson school district in Westchester County, NY. I received my Masters of Library Science from Long Island University in January of 2010, and my BA in English from the University at Buffalo in May of 2006. I've been living in Harrison, NY since August of 2008.

Andria Grassia

I am working as a freelance photographer in Westchester County, NY and completing my Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies at Empire State College.

Ashley Firestone

I continued to work summers at Usdan throughout college and graduate school, and finally graduated from New York University with a Master's in Performing Arts Administration in 2007. From there, I worked in the Special Events department at Roundabout Theatre Company, planning fabulous parties for the Broadway community and Roundabout's supporters. I am currently working in the Arts & Events department at the World Financial Center in downtown New York, where I help to coordinate a year-round free arts and culture program.