New Faculty in Music, Dance, and Drama

Virginia Allen joins the graduate studies faculty after serving as associate dean for administration (2009-11); she’salso the artistic director of the summer Conducting Workshop for Music Educators. Previously at Juilliard, she taught orchestral conducting for non-majors (1998-2008), was executive director of the biennial Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies, and co-founded and conducted the Juilliard Trombone Choir. Allen studied French horn with Edwin C. Thayer and Wendell Hoss, and conducting with Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Lloyd Geisler, Frederick Fennell, and others. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., a diploma in wind conducting from the University of Calgary, and a Doctor of Education degree at Teachers College, Columbia University. Currently on the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music and the University of the Arts, Allen has conducted and arranged for ensembles all over the world and was artistic director of the Sun Valley (Idaho) Summer Music Workshops and founder of the Sun Valley Youth Orchestra. She was the first woman conductor of West Point’s and other army bands during her 20-year military career in the Army bands program. 


Alan Baer joins the tuba faculty. Baer, who has been the principal tuba at the New York Philharmonic since 2004, previously held that position with the Milwaukee Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, and Louisiana Philharmonic. He did his undergraduate work at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and received his B.M. at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Baer did graduate work there and at the University of Southern California and California State University at Long Beach. He has recorded with the Cleveland Orchestra led by Vladimir Ashkenazy and performed with the Peninsula Music Festival of Wisconsin, New Orleans Symphony, Los Angeles Concert Orchestra, Ojai Festival Orchestra (California), Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has also been a featured soloist in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and France. A former faculty member at Cal State Long Beach and the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Baer is also currently on the faculties of the Bard College Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

Mary Birnbaum, an acting coach for opera singers, joined the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts last year as its inaugural directing fellow. After graduating from Harvard, where she majored in English and minored in French, Birnbaum attended École Jacques Lecoq in Paris where she studied movement and design and devised theater. Birnbaum founded art.party.theater.company and as its director has collaborated with Flux Factory, American Opera Projects, and Bryant Park. Her directing credits with art.party include Schooled: or m. moliere’s the learned ladies, Cupcakes and Strippers: Midwestern Plays, Bryant in the Park, Duchess in the Dark, Bad Romance: A Couple’s Therapy Session Based on Schumann’s Op. 48 & 39, and Starbox as well as commissions of new plays by Erica Lipez, Jess Burkle, and Mattie Brickman. Birnbaum has assisted faculty member Stephen Wadsworth at Seattle Opera, Juilliard, and the Met; she was also an assistant director to Wadsworth for Master Class on Broadway. Last year, she directed Christopher Oscar Peña’s I Wonder If It’s Possible to Have a Love Affair That Lasts Forever?, or Things I Found on Craigslist at Theater for the New City.

Kyle Blaha, who joins the ear training faculty, received his D.M.A. (in May) and M.M. from Juilliard and his B.M. from Eastman in composition, clarinet, and German. He has studied composition with Darrell Handel, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, Samuel Adler, Philip Lasser, and Robert Beaser, and ear training with Mary Anthony Cox. The artistic director of the Making Score Composition Program with the New York Youth Symphony, Blaha is also on the faculty at the European American Musical Alliance program in Paris. He has received multiple ASCAP Young Composer Awards and awards for study in Germany, including a Fulbright grant and a D.A.A.D. (German government) grant. His work has been premiered by the Juilliard Orchestra and the New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute, and he has received commissions from the New York Youth Symphony, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, and the New Juilliard Ensemble.

Catherine Cho, who has served since 1999 as assistant faculty in the studio of Itzhak Perlman, joins the violin and chamber music faculties this year. She has been on the Pre-College faculty since 1996. Cho received bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Juilliard; she studied with Dorothy DeLay, Felix Galimir, Franco Gulli, Ruggiero Ricci, and Michael Avsharian Jr. She has been a soloist with, among others, the Detroit, National, Edmonton, Montreal, National Arts Center, Barcelona, New Zealand, Buenos Aires, and Korean Broadcasting Symphony Orchestras. She has given recitals and chamber music performances at the Kennedy Center, Ravinia, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, 92nd St. Y, Salzburg Mozarteum, Casals Hall, and at festivals including Marlboro Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, Bridgehampton, Eastern Shore, Rockport, and Santa Fe. She was a founding member of the chamber ensemble La Fenice and was also in the Johannes String Quartet (2003-2006). A winner of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, Cho also received top prizes at the Montreal, Hanover, and Queen Elisabeth International Violin competitions. She is vice president of the nonprofit Musicians for Harmony.

John Giampietro, who joined the Vocal Arts faculty last year teaching acting for singers, studied acting and directing at Hofstra University. At the Accidental Theater Company in New York City, where he was artistic director, he directedLove’s Labour’s Lost, Miss Julie, Joan of Lorraine, Feeding the Dead, and Wagner’s in the Tub. Giampietro has directed at the Vermont Shakespeare Company, Phoenix Theater, Actors Theater of Louisville, N.Y.U. Tisch School of the Arts, Manhattan School of Music, Manhattan Opera, Trill Vocal Projects, and the Ensemble Studio Theater. His acting roles include Hamlet, Romeo, Jason (Medea Unharnassed), the Duke (Measure for Measure), and Odysseus(Hekabe), among others. Giampietro is the author of Strength of God and other grotesques, which had its premiere at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater; Wagner’s in the Tub; and The M. of Versailles. He is on the faculty of the Chautauqua Institution School of Music and is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theater.

Noa Kageyama, who joins the graduate studies faculty, is a performance psychologist who specializes in teaching talented individuals how to perform their best under pressure. He began playing the violin at age 2 and has made appearances on television and radio, as a soloist with orchestras, and in international competitions. His teachers include Stephen Clapp, Ronald Copes, Franco Gulli, Paul Kantor, Masao Kawasaki, Shinichi Suzuki, Roland and Almita Vamos, and Donald Weilerstein. He received a  bachelor’s from Oberlin and a master’s from Juilliard. While at the School, Kageyama took a performance psychology class taught by Olympic sport psychologist Don Greene that he said changed his way of thinking and launched a new career. He went on to pursue a master’s and doctorate in psychology at Indiana University. A veteran presenter at the Starling-DeLay Symposiums, Kageyama is also the performance psychology coach for Miami’s New World Symphony.

Choong Mo Kang, who joins the Pre-College and College piano faculties, is a graduate of Seoul National University. He received a master’s from the San Francisco Conservatory and an artist diploma from Peabody, where he also served on the faculty while pursuing his D.M.A. He has won prizes at the Dong-A Competition in Korea, Frinna Awerbuch International Piano Competition, Louise D. McMahan Competition, and Washington International Competition, and he has soloed with the London and Moscow Philharmonic orchestras, as well as with Korea’s leading orchestras. His recordings include Bach’s Goldberg VariationsInventions and Sinfonias, and The Well-Tempered Clavier. Previously, Kang served on the faculty of the Korean National University of Arts; he is also on the faculty of the Ishikawa Music Festival in Japan. The artistic director of the Euro Music Festival and Academy in Leipzig, he has been a juror for competitions in Warsaw, Cleveland, Dublin, Shanghai, and Sydney.

Joseph Lin, the new first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet, joins the violin and chamber music faculties. After graduating from the Pre-College Division, where he studied with Shirley Givens, Lin studied violin with Lynn Chang while he was at Harvard. An active concerto soloist, he has appeared with the Boston Symphony, the New Japan Philharmonic, the Taiwan National Symphony, and the Ukraine National Philharmonic, among others. Lin was a founding member of the Formosa Quartet, which won the 2006 London International String Quartet Competition. Lin’s appearances include the Ravinia, Marlboro, Seattle Chamber Music, and Tucson Winter festivals. He has recorded works for violin and piano by Korngold and Busoni (Naxos) and by Bach and Ysaÿe (N&F). From 2007 to 2011, Lin was on the faculty at Cornell University, where he led a project with student composers to study Bach’s Violin Sonatas and Partitas and create new music inspired by them. Lin’s personal interests include Chinese music, in particular the gu-qin, which he studied as a Fulbright scholar.

Anthony McGill, who joins the clarinet faculty, is the principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.Before joining the Met, in 2004, he was associate principal clarinetist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Among his many recordings is “Air and Simple Gifts,” by John Williams, which he performed with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Gabriela Montero at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. A 2000 Avery Fisher Career Grant winner, McGill has performed throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and he is a member of the newly formed Schumann Trio, with violist Michael Tree and pianist Anna Polonsky. He’s also on the faculties of the Peabody Institute, Mannes College the New School for Music, and Bard College Conservatory. McGill attended Interlochen Arts Academy and the Curtis Institute of Music; his former teachers include Donald Montanaro, Richard Hawkins, Larry Combs, Julie DeRoche, David Tuttle, and Sidney Forrest. 

James Ross, the associate director of the conducting program, received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard and studied conducting with Kurt Masur in Leipzig while serving as solo horn of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. He also studied with Otto-Werner Mueller, Seiji Ozawa, and Leonard Bernstein. Ross, who continues his roles as director of orchestral activities at the University of Maryland at College Park and as artistic director of the National Orchestral Institute, was previously director of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and assistant conductor of the period-instrument group Les Arts Florissants. He has taught at Yale, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Curtis. Ross has guest conducted the Utah Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and he has conducted opera at England’s Glyndebourne Festival, at the Théâtre du Rhin in Strasbourg, France, and with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic.

Avi Stein has joined the Historical Performance faculty as a basso-continuo teacher; he also teaches harpsichord, vocal repertoire, and chamber music at Yale as well as being the organist and music director at St. Matthew and St. Timothy Episcopal Church, N.Y.C. Stein  has performed throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada, and Central America. He is also an active continuo accompanist who plays regularly with the Boston Early Music Festival, the Trinity Church Wall Street Choir and Baroque Orchestra, the Clarion Music Society, and Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, N.Y.C.  Among the ensembles he has directed are Opera Français de New York, OperaOmnia and the 4x4 Festival in New York City, and the young artists’ program at the Carmel (Calif.) Bach Festival. Stein is completing his doctoral studies in organ and harpsichord at Indiana University; he also holds degrees from Eastman and the University of Southern California. He was a Fulbright scholar in Toulouse, France. 

Rachel Straus joins the Dance Division to teach dance history. Having received an M.F.A. from Purchase College Conservatory of Dance and an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Straus has written more than 200 articles on dance history, education, and company premieres for newspapers, magazines, exhibition catalogs, and festival programs. Currently she is the dance critic for Musical America, writes the history column atDance Teacher, and works in the summers as a scholar in residence at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass. She has lectured at London’s Roehampton University dance program, served as a fellow at the N.E.A. Journalism Institute for Dance Criticism, and contributed to Brooklyn Academy of Music (forthcoming) and Writing About Dance (2010).


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