Ms. Mayen 'Meimei' Akpan, Piano.
With an eclectic musical taste, and exquisitely unique, diversified upbringing, Mayen's musical palette is inclusive and sweetly influenced by every musical genre. Mayen is a proud, native Houstonian, and has been teaching and tutoring for over 10 years. She loves helping her students discover their amazing talents, explore exciting new musical genres, set achievable goals, overcome challenges, encourage consistent improvement, and instill discipline and high quality performance. Mayen is very patient, kind, and has experience teaching students (from age 4 to adult).
Miss Akpan is especially grateful for her most recent piano performance engagements (California Concerto Weekend 2015, 4-time Houston Symphony Spotlight performer - Spring 2015, Piano Texas International Academy & Institute 2015, International Keyboard Institute & Festival 2015, and California Concerto Weekend 2016). She hopes to continue a good balance between teaching, composing, and performing music.
Mayen loves God, family, music, tennis, traveling, learning languages, and encouraging everyone to pursue their dreams, wholeheartedly and without apology. She is excited to share her many musical gifts with students of the Academy.
Mr. Wyatt Coleman, Violin and Piano.
Wyatt has been studying violin for 18 years. Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, he was member of the Triangle Youth Philharmonic for six years, ranging in positions from Principal of second violins to Associate Concertmaster. A founding member of the Gemini Quartet, he attended the Fischoff National Chamber Competition and finished as a quartet finalist. He has participated in multiple masterclasses and worked with prominent musicians such as, William Preucil, Leila Josefewicz, Lucie Robert, and Emmanuel Borok.
Wyatt holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance from the University of Houston Moores School of Music. He plans to pursue a Master's Degree in violin performance following his graduation. Wyatt enjoys teaching violin and piano to students of the Academy and crafts each lesson to allow his students to flourish.
Mr. Richard Power, Guitar, Piano, and Violin.
Richard has studied music for over a decade under Chris Robbins and was awarded he CCISD Intermediate Solo and Ensemble Competition gold medal for violin solo in 2008 as well as the UIL Region XVII Solo and Ensemble Competition gold medal for both guitar solo and violin solo. In 2010 he was awarded the UIL Region XVII Solo and Ensemble Competition gold medal for guitar solo and violin solo again. He has performed with the Clearlake Symphony Orchestra and the Clearlake Philharmonic Orchestra for the past 6 years.
In 2011 Richard was awarded the UIL Region 17 gold medal for guitar solo and violin solo and the gold medal for guitar performance in the Texas Solo and Ensemble Competition. He is currently pursuing a degree in Music on a Music Scholarship. He teaches piano, violin, & guitar for the Academy and enjoys helping each student find the instrument and style of music that speaks to their heart.
Mrs. Heather Scharbor, B.P.A, Academy Director and Piano.
Heather is the Director of the Academy. She has been an arts advocate in the Pearland area for the last decade striving for excellence in the arts for music, dance, and theatre. She has studied, trained and performed both nationally and internationally in these disciplines. It is her honor and privilege to provide uncommon excellence in training in piano, voice, violin, guitar, and cello to children in the Pearland area. Mrs. Scharbor’s mission for the Academy is to allow each student’s interest in music to flourish and to guide each student joyfully in developing mastery of their instrument while enriching the cultural atmosphere of Pearland.
Allegro also supports numerous local efforts that serve children and families in Pearland in need as well as Musicians without Borders which is an organization that brings healing through music to children and families in war-torn countries around the world.
Mrs. Scharbor is also an active member of the Pearland Arts League and Pearland Chamber of Commerce.
Ms. Victoria King, Academy Coordinator.
Victoria originally from Florida, began playing the piano around the age of 10. After laying a foundation with the piano she then took a great interest in learning to play the guitar. She learned how to play from her Father at home and has enjoyed and loved it ever since. She grew up singing in school choirs and also in the church that she attended in Brazil where she served as an accounts executive for LHR Services and Equipment Inc. Victoria also worked for LHR in Inside Sales in Houston. She is fluent in Portuguese and conversational in Spanish.
Victoria believes that music is essential in every child’s life, because it is a way for them to feel their emotions and express themselves in something as beautiful as music.
Ms. Cheryl Lollar, Piano.
Mrs. Cheryl Lollar holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy from Arizona State University. Her passion has been teaching piano to both children and adults for the past 30 years. She taught in studios in Arizona and in Houston private schools. Having recently moved to Pearland, she was thrilled to find the Allegro Academy which has the same philosophy of inspiring students with private lessons that she has built her teaching career on.
While teaching in Houston, she had several students that stayed with her from age 6 all the way through high school. She laid the foundation for students who went on to attend HSPVA in Houston. She has also used her Music Therapy training to teach piano to special needs students for many years. She has also taught adults in a therapeutic setting.
For students of all ages and levels, she strives to instill joy from music by using fun method books, playing duets, and also focusing on the style of music the student enjoys. Her goal with every student is that they develop a lifelong understanding and love of music from a firm foundation of piano lessons.
Mr. Christian Ibanez, Cello & Piano.
Christian Ibanez studies cello and music education at the University of Houston. Christian studies cello with Vagram Saradjian and has previously studied with Evgeni Raychev and Charlotte Eads. He also performs with the Moores School of Music Symphony Orchestra. Christian is excited to teach cello and piano to students of the Academy.
Mr. Anthony Larson, Piano, Guitar, Voice, Brass Instruments
Anthony Larson holds a degree in Music Education from the University of Houston. Anthony has taught at greater Houston area schools since 2013 teaching a broad range of ages and abilities in voice, piano, guitar, and brass instruments. Anthony enjoys the challenge of adapting teaching styles to students of the academy and creating a joy and passion for music through his instruction. In his free time, Anthony enjoys exploring the rich and diverse culture of Houston through its food, art and music and performing.
Mrs. Naghme Karimimanesh, Violin
Naghme has been studying violin for 12 years. Originally from Shiraz, Iran, she has been teaching violin to children and adults for five years. She has written songs for children to help them learn violin techniques in a fun and memorable way. She has used music to encourage and aid in the memorization of great poems.
Naghme also worked as a choir coach for one of the top high schools in Shiraz. With her efforts, her team was awarded 2nd place in a prestigious Shiraz competition.
Naghmeh holds a Master’s Degree in Geology and is one of Allegro’s favorite music teachers. She enjoys teaching violin to students of the academy and uses Suzuki and additional teaching methods for each lesson to allow her students to have the most enjoyable learning experience possible while bringing out their best.
Mr. Joseph Rodriguez, Piano, Trumpet, and Voice
Joseph’s passion for music emerged when he purchased his first trumpet at nine years old. Throughout high school Joseph served as band president, worked his way up to section leader, and later became his high school band’s drum major. His senior year in high school, Joseph was recognized for his superior musicianship, excellence, and dedication to the music program.
Joseph has 13 years of experience in music and performance. He is proficient in a variety of genres such as symphonic band, chamber choir, jazz, mariachi, and church choir. Joseph’s most memorable musical achievement to-date is performing in the All-State symphonic band for the Texas Music Educators Association convention.
Joseph is currently pursuing a degree in audio engineering. Joseph enjoys sharing his love for music with others. He finds it rewarding to teach students of the academy and watch their musical talents grow.
Mr. Nathan Mays, Piano, Guitar, Double Bass, Composition, Improvisation
Nathan Mays is an active musician, teacher, and versatile composer from the Gulf of Texas, who has collaborated with numerous musicians, dancers, and painters to explore the artistic bounds of modern music. He began studying composition in 2010 at San Jacinto Community College, finishing his Bachelors of Music in Composition at Sam Houston State University and Masters of Music in Composition at Texas State University. Nathan’s music has appeared throughout the United States and Europe in festivals and on the air.
While maintaining an active composition career, Nathan regularly performs in the Houston area and enjoys teaching double bass, piano, guitar, and composition to students of the Academy.
Ms. Kimberly Belsley, Special Needs Piano
Kimberly Belsley is a certified teacher who has studied piano since she was 7 years old. She was born with a disability that limits her hand span and finger movement. Kimberly has overcome this obstacle, however, and continues studying piano with her mentor. Kimberly wants students at the Academy to love music and overcome their own obstacles, no matter what they may be. She loves working with children and adults who enjoy her dynamic and energetic teaching style.
Kimberly holds a Bachelor of Arts degree that enables her to teach Early Childhood – 6th grade General Education, Early Childhood – 12th grade Special Education, Early Childhood – 12th grade English as a Second Language and Special Needs Piano.
Ms. Lynn Wang, Piano and Bassoon
Ms. Lynn Wang holds a Bachelors degree in Music Performance from Taipei Municipal University and her Master’s from the Jacobs School of Music. She has worked as a private piano teacher for beginner through advanced levels in the Houston area since 2008 and formerly taught at Fort Bend Music Center. She also teaches aural skills, theory, and Mandarin. Ms. Wang has also taught band, orchestra and solo students from elementary to college level in Bassoon.
She has performed with the International Chamber Orchestra of Puerto Rico, Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra, and Reimagining Opera for Kids. Ms. Wang is excited to be a part of the Allegro Faculty and enjoys bringing out the unique musical gifts in each of her students.
Mr. Charles Stanley, Guitar & Piano
Charles Stanley is the Worship Leader at Redeemer Church. Charles is a native Texan who grew up in Nacogdoches. He has served on church staffs in youth and college ministry. More recently, Charles worked at a faith-based drug and alcohol rehab center in Lufkin called the Dream Center. Charles is a kid magnet and enjoys teaching guitar and piano to students of the academy.
Ms. Shannon O'Hara, Voice & Piano
A Los Angeles native, Shannon O’Hara grew up with music and has been studying voice for 7 years. After attending the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where she was able to play many and diverse roles such as Carmen in Carmen High and Cinderella in the production of Pacific Cinderella in Hangzhou China, as part of the Full Circle Opera Project. She moved to Texas two years ago and has been studying Vocal Performance at the University of Houston with Cynthia Clayton. She has performed in Moore’s School of Music Opera productions as a chorus member in La Rondine and as Sister Anjelica (The Inspector) in John Musto’s The Inspector. She plans to continue her career as a musician by obtaining a Master’s of Music. She hopes that her passion for music will influence her students and is so happy to be teaching at Allegro.
Ms. Weijia Zhou, Piano
Weijia Zhou acquired her Master of Music and Bachelor of Musical Arts degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Oklahoma, where she studied with renown pianist Jeongwon Ham. In addition to her primary teacher, Zhou has studied with world-class musicians and pedagogues including Barbara Fast, Jane Magrath, Stephanie Leon Shames, Barry Douglas, and Andrew Cooperstock.
During her career, Zhou received numerous awards and accolades for her work as a solo and collaborative pianist, including first place at the OKC Ladies Music Club Competition, first place at the OU Concerto Competition, honorable mention at the Donna Turner Smith Competition, and was the recipient of the Bratton Family Scholarship, Hector and Sylvie Derdyn Memorial Scholarship, and Ruth Moore Memminger Memorial Scholarship.
As a soloist, Zhou has performed extensively in a wide variety of settings. She was featured soloist with the OU Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jonathan Shames. She has also collaborated with numerous instrumentalists and vocalists in public performance, masterclass, and competition. As part of her Graduate Assistantship during her time at OU, she served as Studio and Concert Pianist for the brass, percussion, vocal, and choral departments.
Drawing upon her strong background in performance, Zhou's teaching style emphasizes naturalness and efficiency in technique to better serve each student's own musical expression. After many years of teaching Ms. Zhou is skilled at bring out the best in each student and enjoys working with the dedicated students of Allegro.
Ms. Kaarin Phelps, Voice and Piano
Ms. Kaarin Phelps has studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, and holds a Bachelor’s in Music from The Hartt School. She is currently a Master of Music candidate at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. A singer from a very young age and a naturally engaging teacher, mezzo-soprano Kaarin Cecilia Phelps combines her knowledge of vocal pedagogy with her own performance experience, to create a dynamic atmosphere in her lessons. From absolute beginners to advanced vocalists, Ms. Phelps has a unique talent of diagnosing vocal problems and working to find their solutions. As a teacher of beginner piano as well, Ms. Phelps has a special knack for encouraging and guiding improvement in young students. Originally from the rural town of Ashburnham, Massachusetts, Kaarin has taught and performed in many universities and professional theatres across New England.
Recent performance accolades include appearances as the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Phobia in Seymour Barab’s La Pizza con Funghi, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, and La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi. She loves working with students of the academy to develop the musical gifts in each of her students.
Mr. James Masanotti, Violin
James Vincent Masanotti completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from Furman University in Greenville, SC, and his Master of Music degree in Violin Performance from the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston.
In addition to furthering his own studies, James has also been engaged in teaching students at music academies and public schools throughout Houston. As a private instrumental instructor, James employs a variety of pedagogical approaches, tailoring Suzuki, Sevcik, and other pedagogical methods to fit each individual student.
As a performer, James has been a member or leader of a myriad of school orchestras, scholarship string quartets, chamber choir ensembles, and school musical productions. In addition to classical music, James also plays jazz on the violin with his gypsy jazz ensemble “Bayou City Swing”. He enjoys living in Houston, TX, where he continues playing and teaching.
Mr. Benjamin Luss, Piano
Benjamin Luss is the former owner and Managing Director of the national award winning Bay Area Theatre And Voice Academy. He holds a Bachelors of Music Education with a Choral/Vocal concentration from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. There he studied voice under Jeannine Crader and Dr. Kenneth Lee and Choral Conducting under Dr. Susan Conklin, Mr. Mel Ivey and Dr. Henry Gibbons. He was involved in the UNT Marching Band, Basketball Band, UNT Opera Theater, Concert Choir, Acapella Choir and the graduate choir Cantictum Novum.
A veteran of the public school system Mr. Luss was a Choir Director for eight years in both Middle and High Schools in the San Antonio, Austin & Galveston Independent School Districts. At each school he revived neglected or dormant choir programs by bringing in new students and taking choirs to participate in concerts, competitions and festivals. Mr. Luss also participated in many key leadership roles while working in the public school system and was named the Galveston ISD Fine Arts Teacher of the Year in 2003. Mr. Luss also served on the board of the Strand Theatre in Galveston Texas prior to assuming the responsibilities of the Managing Director for the 2005 - 2007 seasons.
Mr. Luss has performed with and directed many organizations including the San Antonio Mastersingers, Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble, Austin Civic Chorus, Temple Beth Israel Choir, Austin ISD All City Choir, Austin Civic Orchestra, The Galveston Symphony, Westminster Presbyterian Church Choir, Galveston ISD Honor Choir and Sine Nomine. In addition, Mr. Luss has conducted and arranged music for the Austin Independent School District All City Middle School Honor Choir with the Austin Civic Orchestra. He has recently joined the Houston Symphony Chorus for the 2017 - 2018 season.
Students of Mr. Luss have won numerous individual and group awards and honors including: Tommy Tune Awards & Nominations, UIL One Act All Stars, Junior Theatre Festival Outstanding Productions, JTF Outstanding Music Production, JTF All-Stars, JTF Outstanding Male Performers, JTF Outstanding Female Slam Performer, Classical Singer Scholarships and numerous Texas All State Choir members.
His students have gone on to pursue numerous types of undergraduate degrees in the arts from various intuitions including: The Boston Conservatory of Music, Southern Methodist University, Carnegie Mellon University, New York University at Steinhart, The University of North Texas, University of Miami, Oklahoma City University, University of South Carolina, Webster University, The University of Colorado at Boulder, Indiana University Baylor University, Marymount Manhattan College, Belmont University, Abilene Christian University, Oklahoma Christian University and The University of Texas.
Mr. Luss also has numerous Direction, Musical Direction, Sound, Set and Lighting Designs to his credit including: 101 Dalmatians KIDS, Annie Jr. Aladdin Jr., Alice In Wonderland Jr., Aristocats KIDS, Beauty and the Beast Jr., Carrie the Musical, Cinderella KIDS, Elf Jr., Fame Jr., Fiddler on the Roof Jr., Frog and Toad KIDS, Godspell, Godspell Jr., Grease, Into the Woods Jr., The Jungle Book KIDS, The Little Mermaid Jr., Little Shop of Horrors, The Lion King Jr., ON BROADWAY, Once On This Island Jr., Once Upon a Mattress, The Patient, Peter Pan Jr., Pippin, Schoolhouse Rock Live Jr., Shrek Jr., Sleeping Beauty KIDS, Seussical Jr., Sweeney Todd, Urinetown, Willy Wonka Jr., Winnie The Pooh KIDS, The Wizard of Oz, Ruthless! The Musical, Honk! It’s A Wonderful Life, The Odd Couple, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Woman in Black, The Santaland Diaries, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, The Foreigner and Love Letters. Mr. Luss is thrilled to share his many gifts with the talented students of Allegro.
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