Agnes Kwasniewska (Director, Violin, String Ensembles, Orchestras)
Graduate of Manhattan School of Music New York, where she was a protégé in:
- violin studios of Mitchell Stern (Orpheus Chamber Orchestra) and Isaac Malkin
chamber music studio of the members of the American String Quartet orchestral studies studio of Glenn Dicterow (NY Phil), Burt Kaplan and Enrico DiCecco (NY Phil)
- NYS Teachers Certification in Music Education K-12 from Hunter College mentor prof.Victor Bobetsky
Agnes has been involved in the Virtuoso Suzuki Academy Program since 2003, when she returned from her six years engagement in Hong Kong. Being a graduate in both violin performance as well as Music Education, she has been a Suzuki coordinator at a music program in New Canaan while still a student at Manhattan School of Music.
While living in Hong Kong she established successful violin programs for 120 students under the auspices of the English School Foundation and became a co-founded member of the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong with which she still performs on occasion.
In addition to currently serving as the Director of the Virtuoso Suzuki Academy, formerly known as the Suzuki Program, in Mineola, she continues teaching private violin lessons as well as conducting Orchestras and String Ensembles which she successfully launched in 2009 and which continue to be the most sought-after classes till this day for young and very young musicians in the area.
She serves as a soloist and a concertmaster of the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey, as well as the Eastern Opera Company.
Throughout her career Agnes has performed with many fine orchestras in Europe, Asia and in US under such well known conductors as: Kurt Masur, Leonard Slatkin, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Henryk Gorecki, Christopher Warren Green and recently, Sir Neville Marriner.
Her performance of the Bruch Violin Concerto was very well-reviewed by a critic, Sheila Abramson. (http://www.njartsmaven.com/2012/10/bruch-violin-concerto-reveals.html) who had this to say about her playing: “I was absolutely amazed by the Agnes Kwasniewska I saw Sunday. Her emotional commitment to the music was dazzling. She was one with the composer. It was an unforgettable performance that brought tears to my eyes. That doesn’t happen very often.”
Rita Livs (violin/viola)
Rita graduated from the Belorussian State Conservatory, where she mastered in music performance. Her musical background is based on the great traditions of the famous violin schools of the past of Leopold Auer, David Oistrakh, and Y. Yankelevich. She studied violin with Prof. Goldfield (student of L. Auer), I. Lubotsky, and N. Arnopolskaya. She was the winner of several prestigious competitions
Rita has over 30 years of teaching experience. She was the founder and conductor of the Children’s Chamber Orchestra, which became popular in Belarus and remains so to this day.
In 1994, Rita moved to New York, where she was introduced to the Suzuki approach. After completing the two-year teacher training seminar the “School for Strings” she began widely using this unique method in her teaching.
She has been on the faculty of the Virtuoso Suzuki Academy since 2001. A number of Rita’s students grew to become professional musicians and currently play in world famous orchestras.
Magdalena Garbalinska (violin/Suzuki Group Classes)
Ms.Terlitsky received her Master of Music (Viola Performance) at SUNY-Purchase College, and her Bachelor of Music (violin Performance) at Manhattan School of Music. She has studied violin with Mela Tenenbaum, Lucie Robert, and Albert Markov. She has studied viola with Mela Tenenbaum, Karen Dreyfus, and Walter Trampler. Her Orchestra Repertoire Studies were with Enrico DiCecco of the NY Philharmonic.
Ms. Terlitsky has appeared as soloist with Philharmonia Virtuosi, Amor Artis Orchestra, Jupiter Symphony, and Virtuoso Strings. She has had appearances at the Spoleto Festival, both in Italy and the USA, the Pacific Festival in Japan, the Waterloo Festival in NJ, and the Cape May Festival.
Ms. Terlitsky is a Faculty member at the Thurnauer School of Music, the Hamilton Madison House Violin Program, and the Summer Strings Festival at the Elizabeth Morrow School in Englewood, NJ.
She is a former Faculty member at the Elizabeth Morrow School, the Music Conservatory of Westchester, the Henry Street Settlement Center of Arts, and the Brooklyn College Preparatory Center for the Performing Arts.
Allen Weakland (violin/viola)
A former student of Dr. Samuel Applebaum, renowned violin pedagogue, and of Michael Tree, long-time violist with the Guarneri String Quartet, Mr. Weakland has taught violin and viola at Seton Hall University, The French School of Music in Plainfield, NJ, the United Nations International School in Manhattan, as well as Trevor Day School and Ecole Internationale, both in Manhattan. He has taught private lessons on both the violin and viola, as well as group classes for almost seven years at the Suzuki Program – the forerunner of the current Virtuoso Suzuki Academy.
Mr. Weakland has had an active performance career, including acting as Concertmaster at Carnegie Hall under renowned English composer/conductor John Rutter, as well as under the conductorship of Peter Schickele (PDQ Bach). He has acted as Concertmaster of the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey, the Astoria Symphony in New York, and the NJ Conservatory Orchestra. In addition, he is a member of the South Orange Symphony, the Senior Orchestral Society of NY, the Northern Tier Symphony in Pennsylvania, and the Yonkers Philharmonic, and is violinist and violist with the New Jersey Conservatory Orchestra. He has soloed with the Baroque Orchestra on many occasions, and has been the first violinist with the chamber group, The Summit Strings for 25 years.
Of all of life’s obligations, he finds the instruction of our youth in the joys of music the most exhilarating and meaningful.
Ivy Chatanow (Cello, Suzuki Cello Groups)
Ms. Chatanow, cellist, began her cello studies at the age of six under the guidance of Dr. H. T. Ma and later continued her studies with his son, Yo Yo Ma. She went on to study as a scholarship student in the Preparatory and College divisions of the Manhattan School of Music, with Marion Feldman and Ardyth Alton. In addition, she has performed in master classes with David Finckel, Stephen Kates, Joel Krosnik, Fred Sherry and Irene Sharp. As an avid chamber musician, her collaborations have earned multiple honors such as being a two-time winner of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society competition and participating in the 1995 Lincoln Center Arts Project Award.
As an educator, she has had the opportunity to coach both cello and chamber music at many music programs including the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division, the New York State Music Camp and Institute at Hartwick College, Queensborough Community College and the Allen Stevenson School. Currently, in addition to being on the cello faculty of the Virtuoso Suzuki Academy, she is an adjunct faculty member of LIU Post’s Continuing Education Music Program.
Jennifer Girone-Virgilio (Cello, Suzuki Cello Groups)
Ms. Girone-Virgilio has studied at the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles, the Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, Connecticut, the Mannes College of Music in NYC, and at the School for Strings in NYC. She has studied with Paul Tobias at Mannes and with Steven Thomas at the Hartt School.
She has taught early Childhood Education at the School for Strings, and Cello at Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory of Music, as well as at the Great Neck Conservatory.
She has performed on the documentary soundtrack of “The China Question”, and has performed since 2011 with the group, “Rhymes with Opera” and with the One World Symphony.
Peter Howard (Cello)
Mr. Howard has been a member of the Florida Symphony, Thunder Bay Symphony, Casals Festival, and the Puerto Rico Symphony. He toured with the New York City Opera National Company for 9 years.
Peter Howard currently free-lances in the New York Metropolitan Area. He performs with the Synergy String Quartet, Westchester Chamber Orchestra, Garden State Philharmonic, Richmond County Orchestra, Gateway Orchestra, Pennsylvania Philharmonic, and other ensembles. Peter is an active teacher of cello.
A social highlight occurred when Peter Howard performed at the wedding of Steven Spielberg in East Hampton. He played with the New York Symphony at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. Mr Howard had performed at the United Nations numerous times during the last few years.
Peter Howard began to study the cello at age 10. Some of his cello teachers include: Lynn Harrell, Bernard Greenhouse, and Gabor Rejto. He received his BM degree from The University of Southern California and his MM degree from S.U.N.Y. at Stony Brook.
In Hwa Lee (Cello)
A native of South Korea, she received both her master’s degree and artist diploma studying with Aldo Parisot at the Yale School of Music and with Paul Tobias, Fred Sherry from Mannes School of Music
Ms. Lee has been the top prize winner of many competitions, including the Moscow Virtuoso International Competition for Youth in Russia, Five Towns Musician and Arts Foundation Music Competition in New York, and in many competitions in her native Korea.
She received Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Stony Brook University, where she studied with Colin Carr and she is furthering her Suzuki teacher training at the School for Strings, under the tutelage of Pamela Devenport.
Her students were selected for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Young Musicians Concert and for Scholarship Student of The Korean Honor Scholarship The United State Presidential Scholar of the Arts receiving an invitation from The White House (“Pump Up” article in Korea Times and Anton Media Group Magazine).
Alicia Skrabut-Furrey (Cello, Musicianship in Practice)
Received her undergraduate studies in cello performance with high honors under the tutelage of Susan Seligman, M.A., Yale and went on to continue her M.A. studies under the tutelage of Ben Capps, M.A., Julliard
In addition to knowing the art of the cello playing with specialty in baroque performance practice. Mrs Furry’s skills include an extensive knowledge of music theory as she is an expert in providing an instruction and tutoring in music theory on all levels including preparation for the New York State AP music theory examination and all college-level music theory entrance exams and courses.
As an active performing musician and a teacher based in Eastern Queens, she has been an assistant to the conductor at Queens College and an instructor at the Laconia Music Center, New Hyde Park
Being on a faculty of the Virtuoso Suzuki Academy aspires Mrs Furry to teach and lecture students of our Program at the highest university level.
Anna Elias-Bonet (Musicianship in Practice & Piano Ensembles/Piano Teacher)
Anna has been a music teacher in the Rockville Centre UFSD for twelve years. Prior to that she earned her BA in music from Smith College in Northampton, MA and her MA in music composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music at CUNY Queens College. Currently, Anna has been the Piano Ensemble and piano coach at the Virtuoso Suzuki Academy since 2013.
Iris Elezi (Accompanist/Visiting Pianist)
Ms. Elezi of an Albanian descent is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory where she obtained her Master’s Degree in Piano Performance M.M Cum Laude and the Bachelor’s Degree B.M Magna Cum Laude. Her performances capture audiences for their variety of nuances and brilliant technique.
Ms. Elezi was a scholarship student and the winner of the Piano Honor’s competition held at the Boston Conservatory. In addition, she was the recipient of the Chancellor’s talent award at UMass/Amherst.Ms. Elezi performs in solo and chamber recitals throughout the United States.She has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Yamaha Salon, Tilley Center, Seully Hall and etc. She has been the accompanist for all state, Scmea, all county , many musicals and etc. She is well rounded in the classical and jazz repertoire. She has studied with Diana Mittler Battipaglia, Jonathan Bass, Nigel Coxe .
Being a dedicated pedagogue Ms. Elezi is a NYSSMA judge and a member of ” The National Society of Collegiate Scholars” and “The International Honor Society.”
Margarita Epshteyn (Piano Teacher&Accompanist)
Mrs. Epshteyn has been involved in the Suzuki Program – the forerunner of the Virtuoso Suzuki Academy – since 1991, teaching students from all ages and any level, preparing them for solo recitals, piano duets, NYSSMA tests, etc.
Margarita got her conservatory and then masters degree as concert pianist, piano teacher and accompanist in the former Soviet Union and went through advanced teacher training in Moscow and Leningrad Conservatory.
In 1992 Margarita obtained her Suzuki Certificate from New York’s School for Strings.
Margarita Epshteyn is a First Prize winner of the All National (USSR) Piano Competition, Churlionis (Lithuania) National Piano Competition; has performed and accompanied in Carnegie Hall, Gracie Mansion, Flushing Town Hall, Murray Hall, and on radio and television.
Angela Novy (Group Accompanist, Piano Teacher&Accompanist)
Natasha Agilina (Piano Teacher & Accompanist)
Natasha was born in Russia where she received her Bachelor of Music degree from Moscow State Gnessin College of Music (Russia) and Master of Music degree.
A frequent performer as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician, she devotes most of her time to teaching. was awarded high honor certificates for her creative work from the Ministry of Culture of Russia.
As the Chamber Music Performer, Ms. Agilina was a first prize winner of pedagogical philharmonic competitions in Moscow.
In 2002, Ms Agilina moved to the United States where she continues to maintain a private studio in New Jersey. Ms Agilina is noted for her teaching in the traditions of Russian School of Piano.
Since 2008, she has been a faculty member of Westminster Conservatory of Music of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey. She also teaches piano during summer courses in Europe.