Agnes Kwasniewska

Director, Violin/Viola Teacher, String Ensembles & Orchestras Conductor

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 to this day.

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 served as a soloist and a concertmaster of the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey, as well as the Eastern Opera Company and is the founder of the Bohemian Ensemble,

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.”

Catherine Finlayson

Violin & viola teacher/conductor

Cady Finlayson holds a Master of Music degree in Violin Performance from Mannes College of Music, where she studied with Sally Thomas. Her years of teaching experience include19 years teaching strings at the United Nations International School and conducting the Overture Ensemble for the Youth Orchestras of Essex County. Ms. Finlayson received certifications in the Suzuki method, the Mark O’Connor method and from Carnegie Hall Music Educators year-long program.
As a performer, she is best known for her Spirited Celtic fiddling which she has brought to 38 states and Ireland, performing at venues including Carnegie Hall, Caramoor and the McPherson Scottish Festival. She performs as a duo with French guitarist Vita Tanga and her cds have attracted listeners from Australia to Japan.
Cady Finlayson attended the South Carolina Conductor’s Institute in 2021 and 2022, most recently as an associate conductor.

Allen Weakland

Violin/Viola Teacher

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 Teacher/ Suzuki Cello Groups

Mrs. Chatanow 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.

Nathan Cottrell

Cello Teacher

Nathan Cottrell, a native of Huntington Beach, California, is active across the United States as cellist, chamber musician and teacher. He is currently based in New York while engaged as DMA student under Colin Carr and with Pelia Quartet under the guidance of the Emerson quartet. Prior to moving to New York, Nathan was Cello Fellow with the Montgomery Symphony and Artistic Director of the Montgomery Music Project where he conducted and coached over 75 young musicians in orchestra and chamber music. In addition, he conducted the Auburn Community Orchestra and was on faculty at Auburn University.

Concert tours have taken him to Asia, Europe and North America. Awards include prizes from the William C. Byrd International Competition, the Beethoven Club Competition, the Delta Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition and the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition.

His Bachelor’s degree was earned at Biola University where he was a featured soloist with the Biola Symphony Orchestra, cellist of the Honors Quartet and adjunct conducting faculty while still a student. He has since been sought after to return as Guest Conductor and Studio Artist. During his time at the University of Memphis Nathan earned his Master’s degree in cello performance under the tutelage of Leonardo Altino and orchestral conducting under Pu-Qi Jiang. His Performance Certificate in cello was completed at Michigan State University under Suren Bagratuni.

Nathan has recorded on the Blue Griffin and Biola University labels as well as on live broadcasts from WKAR and KUSC. Nathan lives happily with his wife, three kids, black lab, and six chickens on Long Island.

Jisoo Ok

Cello Teacher

Born in Seoul, Korea, Ms. Ok grew up in New Zealand. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from The Juilliard School, studying with Bonnie Hampton and Fred Sherry.  She studied chamber music with Itzhak Perlman and Robert Mann.

She has trained in Suzuki pedagogy with Pam Davenport at the School for Strings in NYC.

A dedicated teacher, her cello students won numerous competitions and were accepted to New England Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, Indiana University, The Juilliard School Pre-College, All-National Honors Orchestra and All-State Orchestra.

Mrs Jisoo Ok enjoys a multi-faceted and vibrant musical career as a cellist, festival director, arranger and educator of classical and tango music. Deeply committed to exploring connections with musicians from other backgrounds, she has collaborated with distinguished artists such as jazz clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, tango pianist Pablo Ziegler, pianist Orli Shaham, jazz violinist Regina Carter and bassist Ron Carter; performing at prestigious venues and festivals including Carnegie Hall, Aspen Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, the Chautauqua Institute, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and among many others.

With her husband, bandoneonist Hector Del Curto, Ms. Ok co–produced and released two critically acclaimed albums, Eternal Piazzolla and Eternal Tango, which was featured on BBC News and Public Radio International’s The World. She also appears on Rojo Tango with bass-baritone Erwin Schrott released on Sony Classical.

Matthew Camastro

Piano Teacher & Accompanist

A San Francisco native, Matthew has studied a wide range of piano literature and has performed extensively across the United States. During his time at Bob Jones University, Matthew placed first in the annual program-wide music competition in 2019 after reaching finals the year before. On the collegiate level, he has collaborated with soloists on over a dozen solo recitals. Also, he was the rehearsal and concert pianist for the BJU Symphonic Wind Band for two seasons while also accompanying various local collegiate, community, and church choirs. Matthew has served as the pianist in his local church for the past seven years.

Matthew Camastro graduated from Bob Jones University in May 2020, studying with Ed Rea and Dr. Lorri Turcios. Currently, he is pursuing his Master of Music in Piano Performance at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College in Queens, New York and plans to graduate in 2022. He is now under the tutelage of Edna Golandsky, the leading authority of the Taubman approach to playing piano.

As an educator, Matthew finds his greatest reward in helping others. His primary goal is for his students, regardless of age or level, to grow as musicians and maximize their potential. Working with talented individuals across the United States, Matthew is committed to tailoring each lesson to his student’s individual needs.

Olga Gurevich

Piano Teacher/ Ensemble Teacher & Accompanist

European trained pianist, Olga Gurevich earned her Master’s Degree in Piano Performance, Piano Accompanying and Piano Pedagogy at Gnesin Academy of Music, and then finished her post graduate studies at Maimonides State Academy in Moscow, Russia. 

Olga is a winner of international piano competitions both in solo and piano four-hands divisions (XIII Piano International competition in Salerno, Italy, and Ragusa Ibla Foundation International Piano competition in Ragusa, Italy) and  enjoying her career as a concert pianist, chamber musician, accompanist, and a piano teacher. Her concert appearances include Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, 92nd Street Y, the Symphony Space in NYC, Scuola Civica in Cagliari, Italy, and many others. Her performances were broadcast by National Television in Azerbaijan, First TV Channel in Russia and RAI Tre in Italy.

She has been a pianist in residence for Silver Bay String Quartet since 2015, performing at Silver Bay Festival and at Marcella Sembrich Museum concert series every summer. Olga’s solo piano recordings of Chopin’s music as a part of Musopen project can be found at https://musopen.org/music/performer/olga-gurevich.

Ms Gurevich has been the principal accompanist for the Riverside Opera Company since 2010.

Besides being an active solo and chamber music performer, Olga has been a devoted educator for over two decades. Currently, Ms Gurevich is on the piano faculty of Bloomingdale School of Music in NYC, in addition to acting as a Steinway Hall teacher.

Lara Khakhamova

Piano teacher / musicianship class instructor / group accompanist

Lara Khakhamovapiano teacher & accompanist is a certified NYSSMA adjudicator, a member of NYSSMA successfully preparing students for NYSSMA Festivals, ABRSM (Royal Theory and Piano exam) and competitions for decades.
She served as  Director of Music Department at the Jewish Institute of Queens (Queens Gymnasia) Queens, NY and a Music Teacher/Coordinator Manhattan Branch Yeshiva Brooklyn,New York and was a Music Instructor/Accompanist Department of Education of Israel and Municipality of City of Dimona, Israel.
She was a lecturer on musical history, theory and composition responsible for musical publications in several newspapers while in State Music College, Department of Education Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Lara has been on the faculty of the VSA for years with an exception of a pandemic break when she decided to dedicate her time to help caring for her grandchildren.

Ellen Braslavsky


Pianist Ellen Braslavsky has distinguished herself as both a soloist and chamber musician.  Her appearances include concerts at the Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York, Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, Berlin Philharmonic, Izumi Hall in Osaka, Melba Hall in Melbourne, Rudolfinum Hall in Prague, Tonhalle in Düsseldorf, Bologna festival, and La Fenici  Venice. Ms. Braslavsky began piano lessons at the age of five in Moscow, USSR. After emigrating with her family to the United States, she continued her studies at the Juilliard School until receiving her Doctoral Degree in 1991.  She also studied at the Staatlische Hochschüle for Music in Cologne, Germany, as a Fulbright- DAAD scholar and at the European Mozart Academy in Prague.

In addition to her active concert schedule Braslavsky has served on the faculties of the Juilliard School of Music and Mannes College in New York.  

She is living in NY and is on the faculty of the University Mozarteum in Salzburg