Academics

Music Faculty

 

Dr. Warren Apple, Piano, Organ (SCF Venice)

Dr. Warren Apple earned a Bachelor of Music from North Carolina School of the Arts. He studied abroad at the Vienna Academy of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, Austria as an organ major with Anton Heiller and harpsichord major with Isolde Ahlgrimm. Dr. Apple earned a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester with a major in organ and a secondary major in harpsichord. He has performed at Kennedy Center, Spoleto Festival USA, Symphony Hall, Atlanta while also performing abroad in Canada, Switzerland and Austria.

 

William Barbanera 

William Barbanera, Saxophone (SCF Bradenton)

William Barbanera earned a Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in Performance of Multiple Winds from Florida State University. He has been the saxophone instructor at St. Petersburg College since 1982. He is the director of the Sarasota Concert Band. Barbanera performs in various professional ensembles including the Sarasota Orchestra, the Florida Orchestra and Gloria Musicale. Solo and chamber music appearances include the Sarasota Pops Orchestra as well as conventions of the World Saxophone Congress, the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors, the North American Saxophone Alliance, the Florida Flute Association and numerous other organizations. 


Felicia Brunelle 

Dr. Felicia Brunelle, Violin (SCF Bradenton)

Dr. Felicia Brunelle is a long standing member of the Sarasota Orchestra. She has been an active chamber musician throughout the United States and has performed concerts in Japan and Canada. Brunelle has played with the Emerson String Quartet and the Tokyo String Quartet in summer festivals at the Yale Summer School of Music-Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, and the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts. Solo appearances include the Missouri Symphony, Sarasota Chamber Orchestra, the Colorado Philharmonic, Sarasota Pop, and the Ozark Festival Orchestra. Brunelle received a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota, master's degree from Indiana University and Doctorate of Music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. 


Sung-I Choe 

Sung-I Choe, Piano (SCF Bradenton)

Sung-I Choe is an active music teacher and teaches at Booker High School, Sarasota Music Center and privately at home, in addition to SCF. She is the co-chair for the Creative Music Festival, was a chairperson for the concerto competition in district division, and a member of Sarasota Music Teachers' Association and Manatee County Music Teachers' Association. She worked with professor Uriel Tsachor and received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Iowa with the emphasis on the piano performance and minor in the pedagogy of music theory.


Todd Craven 

Todd Craven, Trumpet (SCF Bradenton)

Todd Craven is principal trumpet of the Florida West Coast Symphony and the Florida Brass Quintet. A prizewinner in the Ellsworth Smith International Trumpet Competition, as well as First Prize winner of the International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition, Craven has performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Cincinnati Symphony. In addition, he has participated in summer festivals such as the National Repertory Orchestra, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra and the A.I.M.S. Festival Orchestra in Graz, Austria. Craven received a B.M. from the University of Michigan under Armando Ghitalla and M.M. from Indiana University where he studied with Charles Gorham and Steven Burns. Craven performs in Trio per Due with his wife Laurie. 


John Fiorito


John Fiorito, Voice (SCF Bradenton)

John Fiorito's operatic career began with the New York City Opera. He later became the leading baritone in the Metropolitan Opera national touring company under the direction of Rise Stevens. Having retired from the stage after his 15th consecutive season at the Metropolitan Opera, his objective is to share his experience as a performer and teacher with young students who seriously desire to study. He has been a member of the voice faculty of George Washington University. His students are performing in companies such as the New York City Opera, Metropolitan Opera and in all the major houses in Europe.

 

Tatyana Gershfeld 

Tatyana Gershfeld, Piano (SCF Bradenton)

Tatyana Gershfeld received bachelor's and master's degrees in piano performance, pedagogy, and chamber music from the Gnesin Academy of Music in Moscow, Russia. She completed post-graduate studies with Victor Merjanov, professor of Moscow Conservatory and Boris Lvov, professor of Hochschule fur Musik in Trossingen, Germany. She performed solo recitals and accompanied instrumentalists from the Sarasota Orchestra. She performs as a chamber musician with Boris Goldenblank, a violinist from Maastricht Symphony of Holland and the internationally known Andre Rieu Orchestra. Since 1993, she has maintained a private studio sponsored by Yamaha Corporation. She is an active member of Sarasota Music Teachers Association, Manatee County Music Teachers Association and Sarasota Steinway Society. 


Alfred Gratta

Alfred Gratta, Cello

Alfred Gratta is a member of the artistic staff of the Pinellas Youth Symphony and principal cellist of the Saint Petersburg Opera Orchestra. He previously served as principal cellist with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife in the Canary Islands and the Florida Orchestra. Gratta also makes regular appearances at national and international festivals. He has a bachelor's degree in performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

 

Jane Hoffman 

Dr. Jane Hoffman, Flute (SCF Bradenton)

Dr. Jane Hoffman was a faculty member at Humboldt University in California for eight years, teaching flute, coaching chamber music, flute choir, theory and beginning woodwinds. She holds degrees from College of the Redwoods, Humboldt State University, Cal State and SUNY Stony Brook. Hoffman enjoys seasonal performances with the Sarasota Opera, the Craig Turley Orchestras and many other concert series. She has studied in Nice, France and performed in Mallorca, Spain; at the Miller Theater at Columbia University in Manhattan with the Contemporary Chamber Players and as a fellow in the Sarasota Music Festival. In addition to SCF, Hoffman teaches at several schools including Booker Middle School, Riverview High School, Island Village Montessori and Suzuki Institute School of Music. 


David Katz 

Dr. David Katz, Voice (SCF Lakewood Ranch)

Dr. David Katz received master's and doctorate degrees in vocal performance and pedagogy from Peabody Conservatory of Music where he studied with John Shirley-Quirk. As a professional singer, Katz has performed in a number of venues nationally and in Europe. He has performed with the Baltimore Opera, the Bach Aria Festival in Stony Brook, New York and has made appearances at both the Walton's Art Center in Arkansas and with Cedar Rapids Opera Theater in Iowa. At the Sarasota Players, Katz has served as music director for "Grease" and "The Sound of Music." He is a music specialist at Braden River Elementary School and music director/cantorial singer at Temple Shalom in Port Charlotte.


Thomas Koch 

Thomas Koch, Classical Guitar (SCF Bradenton)

Thomas Koch graduated from two music conservatories with degrees in music education and guitar performance. He performed throughout Europe. His highly acclaimed CD, "Souvenir de Paris," received the best reviews from critics in France, England, Germany, Japan and the United States. Koch performed as soloist with many orchestras along Florida's gulf coast, and he is the founding president of GuitarSarasota, a non-profit organization that promotes the education, appreciation and cultural significance of the classical guitar. Koch is the director of the Booker High School guitar program, and he serves on the music faculty of Florid Gulf Coast University, in addition to SCF. 


Randolf Locke 

Randolph Locke, Voice (SCF Bradenton)

Randolph Locke has performed with opera companies in Italy, Greece, Finland, Stuttgart, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Puerto Rico, Mexico City, Ottawa, Edmonton, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Boston, Atlanta, Santa Fe and Sarasota. He has made guest appearances with the National Orchestra of Mexico, Cincinnati May Festival, Cincinnati Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Florida Philharmonic, Connecticut Symphony, Chautauqua Symphony, Berkshire Music Festival, Johnstown Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Flint Institute of Music, Tulsa Philharmonic and the Sarasota Orchestra. Locke received a Master of Music from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Locke and his wife Carol Sparrow regularly perform together and cofounded the nonprofit organization, Opera for Animals: Singing Is Saving (OASIS), to raise funds for animal welfare groups by giving recitals or other special musical events via their donated talents. 


Martha Lopez 

Martha Lopez, Voice (SCF Bradenton)

Martha Lopez earned a Bachelor's degree in Music from Stetson University and a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of South Florida.  Martha Lopez has performed with the Sarasota Pops Orchestra, the North Port Symphony and the St. Petersburg Opera.  She performs regularly in recital and as a concert soloist through Southwest Florida and is the Florida Director of "Ben & I Play for Peace", an annual, nationwide concert event that raises money for disabled children in impoverished countries who need wheelchairs


John Miller 

John Miller, String Bass, Bass Guitar (SCF Bradenton) 

John Miller is the principal bass of the Florida West Coast Symphony and an active soloist and chamber musician. He has performed as soloist with orchestras in New York and Florida. He was formerly co-principal bass with the New World Symphony, where he led the bass section on tours of Japan and the UK, as well as recordings on the Decca label. Miller released his debut CD, "Miller and Ramsier Play Ramsier" on Albany Records in 2002.


Lurray Myers

Lurray Myers, Piano, Staff Accompanist

Lurray Myers holds a Master of Music in Accompanying from the University of Southern California. She served as staff accompanist for the Conservatory of Music and University of Missouri at Kansas City. She spent various summers playing for the Blossom Festival, the Phyllis Curtin Seminars, Lyric Opera and Starlight Theatre. Myers has served as music director for an apprentice production for the Sarasota Opera, as associate director and director of the Sarasota Girls' Choir and as accompanist for Gloria Musicae, Florida Voices, the Gulf Coast Men's Chorus and The Fellowship of Methodists in Music. She currently is organist at Ss. Peter and Paul, The Apostles, Catholic Church inBradenton.


Laurie Penpraze 

Dr. Laurie Penpraze, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba (SCF Bradenton)

Dr. Laurie Penpraze is a member of the Sarasota Orchestra and was formally assistant professor of Trombone at Miami University, Ohio; a Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in Vilnius, Lithuania. She received a Bachelor of Music, Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan. Penpraze performs frequently as a soloist and chamber musician in this country and abroad.


Jean Phelan 

Jean Phelan, Viola (SCF Bradenton)

Jean Phelan received a Bachelor of Music from Stetson University and Master of Music from Northwestern University. While at Northwestern, Ms. Phelan was chosen to perform in the Chicago Civic Orchestra, which allowed her to study with members of the Chicago Symphony as well as conductors Daniel Barenboim, Georg Solti, and Zubin Mehta. Phelan was viola faculty at Northwestern State University. She currently is a member of the Sarasota Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, and is assistant principal Viola of Southwest Florida Symphony.


  

Nadia Sawa-Veremchuk, Clarinet (SCF Bradenton)

Nadia Sawa-Vermchuk is the music director at Sarasota Middle School, where she teaches beginning and advanced students in both instrumental band and chorus. She has performed with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, New York Music Educator's Wind Ensemble, and with community ensembles in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Prior to her time in Florida, Sawa-Vermchuk worked with the Lincoln Center Institute Educator's Program. Nadia obtained a Master of Music in Music Education from Syracuse University.

 

Larry Solowey 

Larry Solowey, French horn (SCF Bradenton)

Laurence Solowey earned a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Akron and Master of Music Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. He has been co-principal horn of the Sarasota Orchestra and a member of the Sarasota Brass Quintet since 1991. Solowey has been a member of the Filarmonica del Bajio in Guanjuato, Mexico. He has toured extensively in the United States and Europe with various touring Broadway shows and participated in summer music festivals in Columbia, Missouri, Sarasota and Newport, Oregon. He has performed as soloist with the Sarasota Orchestra and performs with the Naples Philharmonic and Florida Orchestra.


Carol Sparrow 

Carol Sparrow, Voice (SCF Bradenton/SCF Lakewood Ranch)

Carol Sparrow has appeared to critical and popular acclaim as Princess Eboli in Verdi's "Don Carlo" at the Komische Oper, Berlin, and in St. Gallen, Switzerland, as well as in the title role in "Carmen" in St. Gallen and many other cities. She also performed leading soprano roles with the New York City Opera, Washington Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Opera Theater, Sarasota Opera and the Des Moines Metro Opera. She earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music and earned a Master of Music, studying with opera greats Italo Tajo and John Alexander. She is president and cofounder, along with husband Randolph Locke, of OASIS: Opera for Animals: Singing Is Saving.


Laura Spaulding 

Laura Spaulding, Voice, Piano (SCF Bradenton/SCF Venice)

Laura Spaulding earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education at Ball State University with majors in both voice and piano and Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of South Florida. She has taught chorus, music theory, music history and class voice in public high schools and middle schools. The Spaulding Music Studio, her private studio, offers voice, piano and music theory lessons to a wide range of students in Sarasota.


Laura Stephenson  

Laura Stephenson, Clarinet (SCF Bradenton)

Laurie Stephenson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from The Juilliard School and a Master of Arts in Music from the University of Southern California. She currently serves as second clarinetist of the Sarasota Orchestra. She served as principal clarinetist of the Cedar Rapids Symphony, Iowa. She has also performed in Japan, Korea, Poland and Isreal, as well as participations in several prestigious music festivals including Aspen, Winter in Jerusalem, Kneisel Hall, Norfolk, New Hampshire, Utah Festival Opera and the AIMS Opera Festival in Graz, Austria. She has also performed with The Alabama Symphony, The Kansas City Symphony, The Naples Philharmonic, and the Florida Orchestra. Laura spends her summers performing with the Cincinnati Symphony, Pops and Opera Orchestras and has recorded with the Cincinnati Pops on Telarc's Masters and Commanders and with Itzhak Perlman on Concertos from my Childhood on the EMI label.


James Stoltie

Dr. James Stoltie, Saxophone (SCF Bradenton)

Dr. James Stoltie is dean emeritus of the Crane School of Music, State University of New York College at Potsdam where he taught saxophone for more than 22 years and served as dean for 11 years. He continues as director of music for the New England Music Camp, Sidney, Maine where he teaches saxophone. He received a bachelor's degree in music from Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois and master's degree in saxophone performance and a Ph.D. in woodwind literature and pedagogy from the University of Iowa. He presently performs with Manasota Saxophone Quartet, Anna Maria Island Community Chorus and Orchestra, and the Sarasota Suncoast Band. He has performed with the Tampa Bay Symphony as well as the Sarasota and Venice concert bands. 


Thomas Suta 

Thomas Suta, Percussion (SCF Bradenton)

Thomas E. Suta earned a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music from New England Conservatory of Music. He is timpanist with the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and percussionist with the Sarasota Orchestra. He has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the New England Philharmonic, the Boston Philharmonic as well as Key Chorale, Gloria Musicae and local churches. . Show experience includes working with Asolo, Tampa Bay Performing Arts, Sarasota Players, Manatee Players, Theater Works and Florida Studio Theater. Compositions include several percussion ensembles and brass pieces for international competitions as well as local high schools.


  

Dwight Thomas, Organ (SCF Bradenton)

Dwight Thomas made his theatre organ debut at age 17 when he joined the organ staff at the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis, studying with the famed organist/teacher John Ferguson. He has played major theater organ and classical organ installations across the United States and in the United Kingdom. He has been involved with several recordings as an organist. He is widely known throughout the Tampa Bay area for his masterful command of the Wurlitzer, as well as for his service in numerous churches. 


  

Fernando Traba, Bassoon (SCF Bradenton)

Fernando Traba is principal bassoon of the Sarasota Orchestra. Traba has served as principal bassoon with all five major orchestras in Mexico City, as well as the Orchestra of the Principality of Asturias in Oviedo, Spain, the National Opera Orchestra in Lisbon, Portugal and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria in Mexico City. Traba holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and has done postgraduate work at the Juilliard School. 


Joyce Valentine 

Joyce Valentine, Piano (SCF Bradenton)

Joyce Valentine played her first full-length recital at the age of six. She later completed a Bachelor of Music at the Juilliard School of Music and a master's degree from the University Of Missouri Conservatory Of Music in Kansas City Missouri. Her debut at Carnegie Recital Hall was received with acclaim. Valentine has performed as soloist with the Kansas City Philharmonic, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. In addition to her many solo concerts, she has been an active chamber music performer. Valentine serves as musical director for local theatre productions. She continues to perform, compose and maintain a private teaching studio in her home. 


Laurie Wright 

Laurie Vodnoy-Whright, Violin
Laurie Vodnoy-Wright received a Bachelor of Music from Indiana University and Master of Music from Chicago Music College. She has performed with the Florida Orchestra, Sarasota Opera, Tampa Opera, Florida Opera West, Midwest Chamber Orchestra and Lexington Symphony. She has been an artist in residence for the Battle Creek Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony and Salzburg Chamber Orchestra. Vodnoy-Wright is an avid recitalist and chamber musician and has performed with the Avanti String Quartet for 20 years. She is a highly sought-after performer and teacher.

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