Simon Brown

Simon Brown is a music educator and composer. He started playing cello at the Third Street Music School at the age of five and went on to study classical guitar with Edward Flower, John Mason, and Phillip DePhremery. In 2011, he founded the Westfield Festival of New Music while a student at Westfield State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree along with an award for excellence in composition. He served as the first site director of Kids 4 Harmony, an El Sistema-inspired program run by the social service agency Berkshire Children and Families, and currently serves as a teaching artist at the Berkshire Music School and the Austen Riggs Center.

Mr. Brown has received numerous commissions for new works, recently including Pieces of Horace Mann, a 12-minute work for wind symphony and choir. An avid writer, he has penned more than 1,000 poems and songs across a variety of genres.

David Burnett

David Burnett is a Harlem-born violinist of Antiguan and Kittitian parents. He began violin lessons with Galina Heifetz (Jasha Heifetz’ cousin) at the Third Street Music School Settlement while a student at LaGuardia's High School of Music and Art. He then did his undergraduate studies at Oberlin Conservatory with Marilyn McDonald and Boston Conservatory with Lynn Chang. Upon returning to New York, David continued his studies with Daniel Phillips.

David has enjoyed teaching at the Harlem School of the Arts (29 years), Langston Hughes Middle School (15 years), Garvey School (six years), Assar Auset Charter School (five years), Bayside High School (two years), and Juilliard's Music Advancement Program (two years). In addition to teaching, David performs with several groups, including the Harlem Symphony Orchestra, Harlem Chamber Players, New York Housing Authority Symphony, Soulful Symphony, New York Youth Symphony, and the West Village Quartet—an African-American quartet that he founded in 1987. The quartet keeps a busy schedule of concerts, recitals, and other public performances.

Andrew Cowie

Andrew Cowie is a Long Island born multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and 
educator currently residing in Brooklyn. He received his BFA in Jazz Saxophone from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music where he studied with Steve Wilson, Ralph Lalama and David DeJesus. As a multi-instrumentalist Andrew performs in a variety of settings as a saxophonist, clarinetist, flutist, guitarist and vocalist. Andrew has performed in numerous settings ranging from rock, pop, jazz and soul. He has also appeared as a pit orchestra member with multiple theatre companies throughout the tri-state area. In the winter of 2016 Andrew had the opportunity to tour the United States as a saxophonist with the ska band The Toasters.
As an educator Andrew has taught all throughout New York City, New Jersey and Westchester with students ranging in age from Pre-K through high school. Andrew is also a music specialist and children’s performer with Preschool of Rock.

Julietta Curenton

The Philadelphia Inquirer says flutist Julietta Curenton’s “tone glows more than it sparkles, and it draws in one’s ear with sounds and ideas that simply cannot be resisted.” Also praised as an “artistic and organic” performer, Julietta was the winner of the prestigious Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia Career Advancement Award in 2012. Other awards include prizes from the young artist competitions sponsored by the National Flute Association, New York Flute Club, and Astral Artists’ National Auditions.

Julietta has made solo appearances with several ensembles including the National Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Temple University Orchestra, The Kennedy Center Institute Orchestra, U.S. Army Orchestra—Pershing's Own, and Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra. She frequently performs and tours with the New York City-based Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Philadelphia-based Orchestra 2001.

Julietta has concertized extensively in the U.S. and abroad in Switzerland, England, Italy, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates. She has been featured in Flutists Quarterly magazine and her performances have been broadcast on New York City's WQXR and Philadelphia's WRTI radio stations. Her interests cross into jazz and gospel. She can be heard on the Smithsonian Folkways album Praise the Lord! with the Curenton family and on Miguel Zenon's Grammy-nominated jazz album, Alma Adentro—The Puerto Rican Songbook. An alumna of The Academy—a ground-breaking educational program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and The Weill Music Institute—she has performed extensively in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Hall and Zankel Hall, as well as Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fischer Hall at Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, and Suntory Hall in Tokyo.

Julietta received a bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School and a master’s degree from The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. She is a Levine School alumnus.

Rachel Gawell

From rock bands to chamber music ensembles to experimental noise music, cellist Rachel Gawell's playing distinguishes itself by pairing a rigorous conservatory skillset with enthusiasm for expanding what is possible on the cello. In addition to her devotion to classical music new and old, Rachel specializes in performing and touring with bands, including her most recent project, Baba Sonya ( She has toured internationally, performing with groups including River City Extension, Ricciotti Ensemble, Barnaby Bright, and Kingsley Flood. Rachel studied at Peabody Conservatory (MD) and Rotterdams Conservatorium in The Netherlands, and specialized in improvisation and avantgarde music at the Henry Mancini Institute and Bowdoin's Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music. She can be heard in numerous recordings including Baba Sonya’s “How to Land a Hot Air Balloon,” released 2015. Rachel is current faculty with Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s and New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program. Visit for more info.

Michael Herring

Violinist Michael Herring holds a B.M. in Violin Performance from DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where he was a student of Professor Janet Sung. While at DePaul, he diversified his playing and teaching background by studying early music and historically informed performance practice with baroque violinist Brandi Berry and harpsichordist Jason Moy and would later continue these studies with members of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto, ON. His other mentors include cellist Natasha Farny and violist David Rose. As a strong proponent of chamber music, Mike has been a participant at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival and the Hot Springs Music Festival. He was a member of the Kingston String Quartet who he performed regularly with from 2007 to 2012. As a dedicated violin and viola teacher, he has taught for Music for Kids in Chicago, and Play On Philly! in Philadelphia, the Harmony Program in New York City, among others. In October of 2014 he started the after-school violin program at the Independence Charter School in Philadelphia as part of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra’s educational outreach program, Tune Up Philly. 
In addition to his work as a violinist/violist and teacher, he has worked for Marlboro Music, The Little Orchestra Society, and currently serves as the Operations Manager of Young Concert Artists, a non-profit organization founded in 1961, dedicated to discovering and launching the careers of exceptional, but unknown, young musicians from all over the world. He is thrilled to join the Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's as a teaching artist for the 2016-2017 season.

Gwen Laster

Gwen Laster is a native Detroiter whose creative influences were conceived through Detroit's vibrant and innovative urban and classical music culture. After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, she relocated to New York City. She was awarded funding from the NEA, ASCAP, and Lila Wallace Endowment, and won first place in the Cognac Henessey Jazz Search to perform, compose, and teach. Her chamber and orchestral work includes performances with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Go Organic Orchestra, and Quartette Indigo.

She has toured with multi-genre artists in Japan, Cuba, Haiti, Barbados, Anguilla, Jamaica, Canada, the Dominican Republic, and the U.S., and has performed and recorded with artists including Alicia Keys, Nona Hendryx, Rihanna, Gladys Knight, Anthony Braxton, Emeline Michele, Shaggy, and Leroy Jenkins. Those experiences fueled her desire to create her own original music projects. She recorded and released her first EP, Sneak Preview, followed by a full album, I Hear You Smiling, which includes a track chosen for airplay in the Adult Contemporary market. Her third album, Gameboard, will be released in January 2016. All of Gwen's music is available at CD Baby, iTunes, and all other digital media sources.

A champion of progressive and intuitive education, Gwen is the visionary and founder of the Creative Improvisers Orchestra, educating young musicians to become unique and thoughtful artists through composing original music and original ideas (improvisation) on their instruments. CIO is exploring and expanding ways to teach young musicians with the greatest needs and the fewest resources, in order to effect social change. Her workshops are presented to educational institutions and summer camps everywhere. Gwen is thrilled to be teaching concepts from CIO at YOSL.

Evelyn Petcher

Evelyn Petcher is a violinist who collaborates on a variety of community-focused concerts, projects, and educational initiatives. She has performed as a soloist and played chamber and orchestral music with groups as diverse as the Tuvan Alash Ensemble, Classical Revolution Baltimore, the New World Symphony, and Symphony in C. She earned her master’s degree in violin performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland, where she studied with Pamela Frank. She earned bachelor’s degrees in English and music with a focus on composition at Covenant College in her hometown of Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

Before coming to New York, Evelyn worked for three years as a teaching artist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s El Sistema-inspired ORCHKids program. She spends her summers at East Lake Expression Engine, an El Sistema-style program in Tennessee which she co-founded and where she now serves as artistic director. Evelyn is passionate about promoting musical creativity through group composition events in which professional musicians and students write new music together; she routinely leads such projects for various programs. Outside of her work at YOSL, Evelyn teaches with the Noel Pointer Foundation and the Center for Arts Education, leading in-school classes in violin and general music.

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