Rok Palčič is active as a soloist, chamber musician, pedagogue, and competition juror. As an artistic director, he successfully combines this broad range of experiences with his passion for organizing cultural events.
He started his musical education at the age of five and only a few years into his studies, Russian professor and pianist Sijavush Gadjiev invited him to join his exceptional studio. Gadjiev later introduced him to renowned pianist, pedagogue, and International Chopin Competition laureate Pavel Gililov, with whom he continued his studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, Germany. After graduating in 2009, he decided to broaden his interests by choosing to pursue a graduate degree in chamber music performance. He moved to Graz, Austria, to study with Chia Chou, pianist and co-founder of the Trio Parnassus. After completing his second master’s degree, he briefly occupied a teaching position in his home country. He further used this time to obtain a degree in pedagogy and andragogy. During his studies he also took part in several master classes with pedagogues and pianists Aldo Ciccolini, Deniz Galenbe, Ronald Pröll, Kolja Lessing, Jeremy Denk, and others.
In 2003 he was awarded the Škerjanc prize for exceptional musical achievements. In 2007 he performed at the Ruhr Klavier-Festival in Germany and was also awarded the YEHUDI MENUHIN Live Music Now foundation scholarship. His performances at prestigious festivals, as well as prizes from national and international competitions, have taken Palčič to venues across Slovenia, Italy, France, Croatia, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He performed with renowned artists, such as Koryun Asatryan, Ida Bieler, Ofer Canetti, Dudu Carmel, Nora Romanoff-Schwarzberg, Steven Thomas, Benjamin Ziervogel, Andrej Žust, and others. Several of these concerts were either recorded or broadcasted live by the German WDR, Austrian ORF, and Slovenian RTV radio and television stations.
In addition to his concert and pedagogic activity, Rok Palčič is founder and artistic director of the Cultural Arts Society Ars Haliaeti, focused on organizing educational and artistic events. The Masterclasses Haliaeti Summer Academy, which has become one of the largest classical music festivals in Slovenia, is recommended by the University of Florida School of Music, where Rok Palčič has been appointed as Visiting Assistant Professor of piano and chamber music between 2015 and 2017. He is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in piano performance at the University of Maryland.
Eric Pazdziora, D.M.A. teaches piano, songwriting, music theory, and composition. He holds a doctorate in music composition from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he studied with Mark Edwards Wilson. As a teacher, he has worked with groups and individuals of all ages and skill levels from preschool to university.
Eric has been professionally active as a pianist for over 20 years and is proficient in multiple genres, including performances around the world as a soloist and with choirs, orchestras, chamber ensembles, indie bands, and jazz combos, and work as a church pianist and organist. He has recorded several solo albums, specializing in improvisation.
Reviewers have described his compositions as “fresh, exciting, and well-crafted” (Pastoral Music, 36:5) and “an instant classic” (Global Christian Worship, July 2015). His compositions have been widely performed, recorded, and published, including a choral cycle premiered by Chorosynthesis and several collaborations with award-winning author Jane Yolen. Recent commissions have included opera, choral works, instrumental pieces, art songs, film scores, and musical theatre.
Emily Brown is a soprano from Vancouver, Washington. In 2018, she received a Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from North Park University (Chicago) in 2016. Her voice teachers include Mary Schiller, Karen Bauer, and Linda Appert. Recently, Emily has performed the roles of Mother (Hänsel und Gretel), Glauce (Medea), Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), Monitor (Suor Angelica), and Principessa (La bella dormente nel bosco). Her notable opera scenes roles include Michaela (Carmen), Mimí (La bohème), and Countess (Le nozze di Figaro). Emily was the recipient of the 2018 Italian American Cultural Foundation Art Song Award and the 2015 recipient of the Presser Foundation Award for Excellence in Music. She won First Place in the 2015 North Park Performance Awards and the 2012 Washington State Solo and Ensemble competition. Emily also has an extensive choral background, participating in several community and school choirs, including the prestigious Pacific Youth Choir (Portland, OR), under the direction of Mia Hall Miller. With PYC, Emily performed with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Symphony, and Pink Martini. Emily has held church choral positions as a section leader and soloist at Trinity United Methodist (Wilmette, IL) under the direction of Julia Davids, and Trinity Cathedral (Cleveland, OH) under the direction of Todd Wilson. Emily was a muse for composers in recent years, performing premier solo and choral works by Judith Ecklemeyer (Trinity Cathedral) and Robert Kyr (I Dwell in Possibilities—2012 ACDA). Apart from opera and classical music studies, Emily is equally at home singing contemporary and Broadway styles, and for the last 6 years, she has taught children and adults of all ages and experiences.
Marta has graduated from Addis Ababa University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music specializing Viola performance in 2006. After her graduation, she directly was assigned as a teacher for 10 years where she also has worked as a director of the School for 2 years. Throughout her teaching years, she accumulated her performance experience by participating in different solo concerts, quartet, classical string chamber groups and symphony orchestras. Marta also had acquired her M.A. degree in Multicultural and Multilingual Education from Addis Ababa University in 2012. In order to advance her music-teaching career at higher educational institutions, she took Higher Diploma Program from College of Performing and visual Arts/ AAU. All of these experiences have enhanced her skills as a music teacher in one-to-one and group instrumental teaching techniques. She also had a musical performance and workshop experiences from European countries. Marta is excited to be a teacher at Chevy Chase music school and is dedicated to helping her students find a love and appreciation for music!
Justin Page received his Bachelor of Music degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill along with a second major in Exercise and Sport Science in 2012. During his time at North Carolina, he performed with the European Union Youth Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy. He then completed a Master of Music degree in cello performance at Florida State University. He has been a substitute musician for the Orlando Philharmonic, the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, and the North Carolina Symphony.
Additionally, he has been a substitute teacher with Kidznotes in Durham, North Carolina and with OrchKids in Baltimore, Maryland. He has taught cello students of all ages and levels of ability and has taught general music to preschool students. His teaching philosophy is based on creating a healthy environment where there is balance between concentrated learning and expression.
During the summer, he teaches cello and chamber music to school age children at Camp Encore/Coda in Sweden, Maine. In May 2014 he performed a concert of new music at Carnegie Hall with his non-profit new music ensemble, What Is Noise. He is currently teaching music in the D.C.-Baltimore metro region. His teachers include Greg Sauer and Brent Wissick.
A Russian-born flautist, Ivan left Moscow at the age of sixteen to pursue his music education in the U.K. He is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London (RAM) and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). He studied with some of the most sought-after flute professors across the U.K. including William Bennett, Clare Southworth, Richard Davis, Paul-Edmund Davis and Kevin Gowland.
His extensive orchestral experience involves working with internationally renowned conductors such as Sir Mark Elder, Yuri Temirkanov, Trevor Pinnock, Jac van Steen, Edward Gardner, Robin Ticciati, Paul Mann, Leo Geyer, Mark Heron, Clark Rundell, Philippe Bach and Antony Hermus.
During his postgraduate degree, he was selected to take part in special performances at the John Ryland’s Library, Lasham Chamber Music Festival and New Music North West Festival where he had an opportunity to work with and perform for one of the leading European figures in contemporary music, Sir Harrison Birtwistle. An avid chamber musician, Ivan is a founding member of the Gilbert Trio and has also been regularly performing with various chamber groups since 2009, performing in such prestigious venues as the Wigmore Hall in London.
In 2016 Ivan was named a Trevor James Artist. In 2017, he initiated an online project, “Making Life Sound Beautiful”, that used his arrangements for the flute and made them widely available to the musicians worldwide. Ivan combines his flute playing with composition and conducting. In 2017 two of his works were premiered in London at the prestigious 1901 Arts Club.
Robert Brown is from San Antonio, TX and has 12 years of experience playing the Alto Saxophone. He is also proficient on Tenor and Baritone Saxophones. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from North Park University (Chicago) in 2016. During his undergraduate years, he played with the North Park Jazz Band and Jazz Combo under the direction of Joe Lill. He was a 2016 North Park University Performance Awards finalist and a 2011 Texas State Solo and Ensemble finalist. His saxophone and jazz instructors include Ralph Wilder, Chris White, Bobby Broom, and Joe Lill. Robert was an active participant in his high school marching bands, jazz bands, and concert bands, as well as a frequent soloist in his home church. Since then, he has taken up roles of leadership within his ensembles, including being woodwind captain of his high school marching band and leading his college jazz combo in the absence of their director. He has a passion for developing students’ potential, focusing on breathing, support, posture, and the overall kinesthetic experience of playing. As a jazz saxophonist, Robert has the extensive knowledge of music theory and harmonics required to improvise, and he prioritizes teaching his students the same theory essentials so that they, too, can learn improvisational techniques. Robert has classroom and private music teaching experience with beginners and advanced students, and he is well-versed in Classical and Jazz repertoire. Through his own trials and errors as a beginning saxophone student, he’s learned the importance of patience and encouragement. It is this positive attitude that Robert strives to instill in his students.
Erica Spear is an emerging flutist and educator. A graduate of the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University, she obtained her Bachelor of Music Degrees in Performance and Instrumental Music Education. In 2014, she completed a short study of Irish Trad music at the University of Cork, (Cork, Ireland.) Additionally, she spent a semester studying solo performance and chamber music through the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) Abroad, in Vienna, Austria.
An active performer throughout her undergraduate career, Erica has experience performing as a soloist, chamber musician, and large ensemble musician. She held the position as principal flutist in the Appalachian Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, additionally holding section and piccolo positions. Ms. Spear was a finalist in the Hayes School of Music Concerto-Aria Competition and the 2014 Rosen-Schaffel Competition for Young and Emerging Artists. In 2015, she won the Appalachian Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition, performing Charles Griffes’ “Poem” with the ensemble as a featured soloist. She has performed in masterclasses for notable flutists such as Dr. Bradley Garner, Christina Jennings, Lorna McGhee, Goran Marcusson, and Stephen Preston.
Most recently, she has worked as a general music specialist for Wake County Public Schools and as a private teacher and freelancer in the North Carolina Triangle area, also performing a section flutist with the Raleigh Civic Symphony. She is wholly indebted to her teachers, Dr. Nancy Schneeloch-Bingham, Dr. Brooks de Wetter-Smith, Dr. Furugh Karimi Djafar-Zadeh, and Dr. Ulrike Anton.
Michael is an enthusiastic orchestral, chamber, and solo musician. He has had the pleasure of playing with various orchestras, including the Evansville Philharmonic and Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, Casto is a substitute clarinetist with the New World Symphony. Michael Casto had the pleasure of performing in concert venues such as Carnegie Hall, Seoul Arts Center, and Strathmore. Michael’s extensive orchestral experiences have provided him with opportunities to work with world renowned music directors such as Paul Nadler, Thomas Wilkins, David Effron, James Ross, Arthur Fagen, and Mark Russell Smith.
Before returning to his home state of Maryland, Michael was the clarinet instructor at Avon Middle School North, where he worked closely with young and aspiring clarinetists. He helped students refine skills such as tone, technical facility, rhythm, music reading, and performance anxiety. His students have gone on to receive Superior ratings with the Indiana District and State Solo and Ensemble Festivals. During his Master’s Degree, Casto designed a comprehensive curriculum for clarinet students ranging from beginner to advanced, under the guidance of distinguished clarinet pedagogue, Howard Klug.
Michael Casto holds a Master’s Degree from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland. His primary instructors include Eli Eban, Paul Cigan, and Robert DiLutis.
Lauren Arel Casto is an enthusiastic performer, teacher, and member of the community currently residing in the greater D.C. area. She has been described as an “elegant” and “engaging” oboist, and an “inspiring” and “comprehensive” teacher.
Casto is passionate about performing in various types of orchestras, including Bloomington Bach Cantata Orchestra, Willimantic Philharmonic, Second Winds Ensemble, as well as the school ensembles at Indiana University and the University of Maryland. Lauren has performed in a variety of orchestral works, some captivating highlights including Beethoven’s Symphonies 3 and 7, Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel, Brahms Requiem, Milhaud’s La Creation du Monde, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortileges, Mozart’s Idomeneo, and Schönberg’s Les Miserables.
Casto enjoys collaborating in various chamber ensembles, especially by contemporary composers. She has had the pleasure of performing in world premieres with the TEMPO Ensemble by composers including William Kenlon and Geoff Sheil. Additionally, Lauren is an advocate for new music, having commissioned “From the Apricot Tree,” for oboe and viola, by Alexandra T. Bryant, for her previous professor, Mr. Mark Hill and his wife, Ms. Katherine Murdock.
As an oboe pedagogue, Lauren teaches aspiring oboists at any level. She has developed a detailed curriculum, including technical studies, etudes, and repertoire for students at any level. Students of Casto refine their skills in technique, production of sound, reed making, and performing. Her students have achieved various accomplishments including Connecticut All-State Wind Ensemble, Principal Oboe for Eastern Regions Festival Orchestra, and Gold for Indiana Solo and Ensemble Festival.
Lauren holds her Masters Degree in Oboe from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, as well as a Bachelors Degree in Oboe Performance and Bachelors Degree in Music Education from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her primary instructors include Roger Roe, Linda Strommen, Mark Hill, and Fatma Daglar.
Thomas Creek is a classical guitarist living in College Park, Maryland. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Classical Guitar Performance at Shenandoah University.
Mr. Creek is a native of Columbia, South Carolina. He was fortunate enough to learn about classical guitar through a guitar class offered at his public high school. His interest in the instrument resulted in a successful undergraduate career as a music student at the University of South Carolina where he studied under the brilliant performer and pedagogue, Christopher Berg. This positive experience inspired him to continue his studies and enroll in the Master of Music Program at the University of Missouri where he studied with Anthony Glise, an important performer, scholar, and composer of classical guitar.
Aside from performance of solo classical guitar music, Mr. Creek was also active in two guitar ensembles; the MU Honors Guitar Quartet and the Cola Guitar Duo. His work in these ensembles resulted in performances in the greater Missouri area and performances abroad in Chartres, France.
While in Missouri, Thomas also gained incredible opportunities to teach at the undergraduate level. He was awarded the guitar assistantship at the University of Missouri; this demanded that he run the guitar program for students who were non-majors. Additionally, Thomas taught guitar privately as an adjunct professor at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. His experience teaching in these settings demanded that he created curriculum that catered to students interests, pushed their abilities on the instrument, and exposed them to the diverse styles of music that accompany the guitar’s long history.
Currently enrolling for the 2018-2019 school year.
Schedule a Trial Lesson today! Contact us via email or call us at (301) 539-9051 and we will contact you within 24 hours.
We believe in the importance of feeling comfortable and establishing a relaxed creative environment, which is why we specialize in providing in-home music lessons. We serve the greater D.C. area and are constantly adding new teachers.
Our teaching approach differs considerably from the conventional and often monotonous lessons regimen due to the emphasis that we place on a comprehensive music education. This philosophy spurred us to open the Chevy Chase Music School. Our lessons include components of theory, history, and music appreciation, but we also offer group musicianship classes to further reinforce these concepts that are truly essential to the music-making process.
During the summer, we offer the possibility of spending ten days in a wonderful artistic setting in the heart of Europe, working alongside world-renowned artists and talented young musicians. For more details, feel free to visit our website Masterclasses Haliaeti Summer Academy.