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Daniel Nesta Curtis

Music Director of Contemporary Ensemble

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Daniel Nesta Curtis was named music director of the Contemporary Ensemble at Carnegie Mellon University in 2012 and has served as the assistant conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic in Brooklyn, NY since 2011.  Curtis worked with artistic director Alan Pierson in programming and producing two seasons concerts and community-specific events that were praised by the New York Times as “Responding to the histories and needs of its audiences in a way that has been truly inspiring,” and “Not just a good orchestra, but an important one.”  In April, 2013 Curtis made his debut with the Brooklyn Philharmonic conducting Randall Woolf’s Blues for Black Hoodies featuring emcee Wordisbon and in June, Curtis collaborated with the orchestra in a concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music titled “You’re causing quite a disturbance,” featuring neo-soul artist Erykah Badu.  Since 2010 Curtis has been curator of the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s popular chamber music series at the Brooklyn Public Library, which mixes contemporary chamber music and the work of renowned Brooklyn authors, poets, actors, activists, and filmmakers.  Curtis previously served as the associate conductor of the Bleecker Street Opera Company in New York, and professor of music theory at Mount Saint Vincent College in the Bronx.  Originally from Key West, Florida, Curtis has conducted several orchestras in the Southeast including the Key West Pops Orchestra.  

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Michele de la Reza

Assistant Teaching Professor of Dance

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Michele de la Reza is co-founder and artistic director of Attack Theatre, whose work has been presented throughout the US and in Switzerland, Japan, Monaco, Germany, France, Indonesia and Turkey. With co-artistic director Peter Kope, they made their Broadway debut in 2000 as choreographers for Squonk. They have choreographed and performed in ten productions with Pittsburgh Opera ranging from Carmen and Rigoletto to Dead Man Walking and Samson & Dalila. With the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, they choreographed and performed in Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat featuring Pinchas Zuckerman and annually in the Holiday Pops series. They have collaborated with theater companies (Quantum Theatre), museums (Carnegie Museum of Art, Andy Warhol Museum, Frick Art Museum, Mattress Factory), and international dance companies (Japan’s Nibroll Collective and Belgium’s Compagnie Matteo Moles). Michele was a leading dancer with Dance Alloy and NYC-based Perks DanceMusicTheatre and is the recipient of three PA Council on the Arts fellowships and Hardie Educator of the Year. 

Attack Theatre is dance company in residence for the School of Music, where Michele is a teaching professor of dance. She received her BFA from the Juilliard School and a Master’s from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Jeff Dee

Artist Lecturer

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Jeff Dee joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as principal bass trombone in fall 2016. Prior to this appointment, he held similar positions with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and Shanghai Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra. Jeff has been in demand as a guest artist with the major orchestras in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Naples, New York, Rochester, and San Francisco, and has participated in festivals in Barbados, Durango, and Sun Valley. While in Buffalo, he made 32 recordings with the orchestra, including Eric Ewazen’s Triple Concerto for Three Trombones and Orchestra. Ewazen wrote the Triple Concerto for Jeff and his colleagues, Jonathan Lombardo and Timothy Smith, and together they gave the world premiere in 2012 under Maestro JoAnn Falletta.

Outside of the orchestra, Jeff has enjoyed numerous solo, chamber, and teaching engagements. He has been fortunate to solo in front of the Buffalo Philharmonic, Amherst Symphony, U.S. Army Orchestra, World Youth Symphony, Brooklyn Wind Symphony, and various college ensembles. A lover of chamber music, Jeff has participated as a member of the Buffalo Chamber Players, Buffalo Philharmonic Brass Quintet, and the Great Lakes Trombone Ensemble.

Jeff currently serves on faculty for both Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University. Additionally, he has served on faculty for the University of North Florida and SUNY Fredonia, and led master classes throughout the U.S. For several summers, Jeff was guest artist and faculty for the Third Coast Trombone Retreat, an enriching program for trombonists of all ages.

A native of Plano, Texas, Jeff attributes his love of music to his public school music education and his inspiring teachers. He received a bachelor’s degree in performance from Southern Methodist University and a master’s degree in performance from The Juilliard School. His principal teachers include Joseph Alessi, Bob Burnham, Donald Harwood, and John Kitzman.

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Eric DeFade

Artist Lecturer, Director of Jazz Orchestra

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Eric DeFade is in demand as a performing artist and studio musician. He has toured internationally with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the Artie Shaw Big Band, and has led his own combo in Tokyo. Mr. DeFade has played with Nancy Wilson, Rosemary Clooney, New York Voices, Roger Humphries, John Scofield, Dave Liebman, and has been a featured soloist for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Currently, Mr. DeFade is participating in concerts and workshops for the Pennsylvania Arts On Tour Program and filming a series of music specials for public television. He uses a pragmatic approach to understanding the jazz language while emphasizing sound, improvisation concepts, and versatility.

Robert Dell

Artist Lecturer in Music Education

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Robert Dell is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music with both a BFA in Music Education and BA in Clarinet Performance while studying under Louis Paul.  His significant influences in music education were  Dr. Oleta Benn, Dr. Carolyn Kennedy, Dr. Richard Strange. Dr. Frederick Dorian and Dr. Nokolai Lapotnikoff. In addition, he earned both a M.Ed. and an Ed.D.  in Administration and Policy Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. 

Dr. Dell has been an educator and administrator in the PA public school system for over 40 years and has been honored on numerous occasions as a Teacher of Excellence by the Teacher Excellence Foundation.  His diverse background includes teaching assignments at the elementary, middle and high school levels.  Those assignments have included middle school general music, AP music theory, comprehensive musicianship, concert band, wind symphony, jazz band and marching band. 

He has conducted seminars on the topics of effective lesson design, rehearsal techniques, ensemble adjudication, curriculum integration, school spirit, school climate, and student leadership.  As an administrator, he was responsible for curriculum development, student achievement, staff development, teacher evaluations, and the general administration of a junior-senior high school in Western Pennsylvania.  For many years Dr. Dell served as a cooperating teacher for aspiring music educators in the CMU music department.

Presently, Dr. Dell volunteers in the Music Therapy Department of a local nursing home, serves as a guest conductor and adjudicator for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA), and participates in the Washington Jazz Orchestra.

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Mark Domencic

Artist Lecturer in Music Theory

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Mark Domencic is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music (BFA, MM in piano performance) and a current doctoral student at Boston University’s School of Music, where he is pursing a DMA in Music Education.  In addition to his duties as Artist Lecturer in Music Theory at CMU, Mr. Domencic also serves as a piano instructor in Carnegie Mellon’s Music Extension Division.  Outside of CMU, Mr. Domencic is a music instructor at Act One Theatre School.  He has also worked with various other musical and theatrical organizations throughout the Pittsburgh area as a solo and collaborative artist.  Past performance venues include Heinz Hall, the Byham Theatre, and Carnegie Music Hall.

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Thomas W. Douglas

Director of Choral Activities, Director of Opera Studies

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Thomas W. Douglas has been involved with more than 175 musical theatre, symphonic, opera and oratorio productions. Highlights include conducting Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Phantom of the Opera in Basel, Switzerland, and the stage roles of Fats Waller in Ain’t Misbehavin’ in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar, and King Amonasro in Elton John’s Aida

This is his first season as the Music Director and Conductor of the Newton Mid Kansas Symphony and has also worked as musical director for the Music Theater of Wichita, West Virginia Public Theater, East Carolina Theatre and Carnegie Mellon University having conducted production of Showboat, Ragtime, The Full Monty, Hairspray, Oklahoma, Cats, Footloose, and White Christmas, among many others. Douglas has served as musical director for many record breaking shows at Pittsburgh's City Theatre, including Master Class and Mundo Mangia with Jilline Ringle. 

Douglas has been a soloist with the Pittsburgh Opera, the Pittsburgh Symphony, Canton Symphony, Westmoreland Symphony and the River City Brass Band, and frequently performs Joe Negri’s Mass of Hope. Thomas is in his eighth year as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Bach Choir who has received critical acclaim for innovative programming, including the Pittsburgh premiere of the Bernstein Mass. He has served as Chorus Master of the Canton Symphony and as guest conductor of the Dallas Symphony Chorus under Eduardo Mata. Next season he will be guest conductor with the Wichita Symphony.

He has also served as a member of the Choral/Opera panel for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and is a recipient of the Mary Jane Teall award for theatre in Wichita and the Robert Frankel award for development of new musicals at City Theater. Presently, Douglas is on the faculty of both the Drama and Music School at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the Founder and the Artistic Director of the Pinnacle Players and the Neighborhood Opera Company, which is preparing an urban rewrite of The Magic Flute.

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Paul Evans

Artist Lecturer in Percussion

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Paul Evans graduated from Duquesne University in 1988, with a bachelor's degree in Jazz Performance. While at Duquesne, he studied privately with Lenny Rogers and Don Liuzzi. Evans went on to earn a M.M. at Temple University, studying with Alan Able of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He is currently section percussionist with the River City Brass Band. A former extra percussionist with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Evans maintains an active freelance schedule in the Pittsburgh area.