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Benjamin Opie

Artist Lecturer in Music Technology

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Ben Opie teaches music technology at both Carnegie Mellon and CAPA High School. He is also the founder and coach of CAPA Antithesis, the school's groundbreaking avant-garde ensemble.

Outside of academic life, Ben is highly active as a composer and arranger, and performer on reeds and electronics. He currently performs with Thoth Trio (intense acoustic jazz), OPEK (reduced size big band), Dust and Feathers (improvisation with text), and the Syrinx Ensemble (improvisation with live birds). Ben has recordings available by Thoth Trio, Water Shed 5tet, Coal Train, among numerous others.

In 1996, he received the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Creative Achievement Award for his work as a composer and saxophonist. Ben has received composition commissions from the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, First Night Pittsburgh, and the Woodland Hills School District.

Ben did undergraduate studies at Carnegie Mellon and Duquesne University, where he graduated cum laude with a degree in music education.

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Dr. Natalie Ozeas

Professor of Music Education, Director of Graduate Studies

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Natalie Ozeas holds a B.F.A. in Music Education, a B.F.A. in Applied Music (clarinet), an elementary certificate in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, an M.F.A in Music Education, all from Carnegie Mellon, and an Ed.D. in Humanities from the University of Pittsburgh. 



Dr. Ozeas taught preschool through high school for over 20 years. Before coming to Carnegie Mellon, she was Professor of Music and conductor of the choir at California University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Ozeas is currently a Professor in the School of Music and Director of Graduate Studies. She appears frequently as an adjudicator and guest conductor for junior and senior high school choral festivals, and has directed workshops in Dalcroze Eurhythmics throughout the United States in Europe and in Asia. 



She is a past President of the Dalcroze Society of America, past President of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, past President of the Music Educators Association, Eastern Division and immediate past National Chair of the Urban Music Leadership Conference. She chaired the development of a Pennsylvania Arts Curriculum. As a member of the National Executive Board of MENC, she acted as liaison to the National Research Society and served on its editorial board. For the past fourteen years, Dr. Ozeas has directed the Urban Music Education Project with the Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg School Districts. Dr. Ozeas was inducted into the PMEA Hall of Fame in 2011.

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David Premo

Artist Lecturer in Cello

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Cellist David Premo joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1992, was promoted to Fourth Chair, a non-rotating position in 1994, and subsequent to a national audition in 1999, was offered the position of Assistant Principal. Following another round of national auditions, Mr. Premo was awarded the position of Associate Principal in 2001. Additionally, Mr. Premo has been Artist-Lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University since 1994, providing private cello instruction, coaching chamber music groups and teaching an orchestra repertoire class.

Mr. Premo came to Pittsburgh from Washington D.C., where he served as Associate Principal of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra from 1980 until 1991. During his tenure in Washington, Mr. Premo performed chamber music at the Phillips Collection, the Corcorcan Gallery and the Library of Congress, and served on numerous occasions as principal cellist with the American Chamber Orchestra, the National Gallery Orchestra and the Wolf Trap Festival Orchestra, among others. Mr. Premo performed as a member of the National Symphony Orchestra, both at the Kennedy Center and on several United States and European tours.

Since coming to Pittsburgh, Mr. Premo has become a frequently requested
chamber musician and soloist, appearing on Shadyside and Rodef Shalom chamber music series and, in 1993, performing the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Edgewood Symphony. In 1995 Mr. Premo and Christopher Wu (violinist with the PSO and winner of the 1994 Passamaneck Award) won the Pittsburgh Concert
Society Competition. In 1996 Mr. Premo won the prestigious Passamaneck Award entitling him to a solo recital which he gave in Pittsburgh's Carnegie Hall in April 1997.

David Premo studied 'cello in his native Chicago with Margaret Evans of the Chicago Symphony, later with Robert Newkirk at Catholic University, and most recently with Janos Starker at Indiana University. His 'cello was made in approximately 1860 by Jean Baptiste Vuillaume.

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Dr. Richard Randall

Associate Professor of Music Theory

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Richard Randall earned a BM in Theoretical Studies (with Distinction in Performance) from New England Conservatory of Music, an MA in Music Theory from Queens College of the City University of New York, and a PhD from University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music. 

Randall's research ranges from music perception and cognition, mathematical modeling, philosophy of music theory, Schenkerian analysis, style analysis, and twentieth-century music analysis. He has presented papers at conferences for the Society for Music Theory, the Music Theory Society of New York State, American Mathematical Society, International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, and the Society for Music Perception and Cognition. Recent publications include "Similarity Measures for Tonal Models" (2006) and "Lerdahl's Tonal Pitch Space Model and Associated Metric Spaces" (2010).

He is a fellow at the Studio for Creative Inquiry and has a faculty appointment at the Center for the Neural Basis for Cognition. His research is supported by a Berkman Faculty Development Grant and a Rothberg Brain Imaging Award. Prior to his appointment at Carnegie Mellon, Randall held teaching posts at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and Tufts University. 

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Thanassis Rikakis

Professor, Vice Provost for Design, Arts & Technology, joint appointment in the Schools of Design and Music

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Thanassis Rikakis is Vice Provost for Design, Arts and Technology at Carnegie Mellon University. He serves as a full professor in the Schools of Design and Music and holds a courtesy appointment in the Biomedical Engineering Department. He also oversees the university’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC).

His research and creative work are in the areas of experiential media, mixed reality rehabilitation, interdisciplinary education and computer music. As Vice Provost, Rikakis’ charge is to facilitate the growth of the many existing synergies among design, arts and technology – each term broadly conceived – as well as to create opportunities for new ones.

For the past 11 years Thanassis had lead an interdisciplinary team - spanning rehabilitation medicine, neuroscience, engineering, design and the arts- that is developing mixed reality rehabilitation systems for stroke survivors. These are systems that track the movement of stroke survivors during the performance of functional tasks in the physical realm and enhance internal feedback with digitally generated, multimodal feedback that facilitates motor learning and functional recovery.

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Karen Roethlisberger Verm

Vocal Coach, Chamber Music Coordinator

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Originally from Beaver, Pennsylvania, pianist Karen Roethlisberger Verm has been working as a vocal coach and accompanist in the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University since 2005. 

In Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger has performed with the Mendelssohn Choir, Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Youth Symphony, and Pittsburgh Opera, in the Opera Orchestra as well as with their Education Trunk Program. She has also worked as a collaborative artist at Duquesne University, Point Park University, Aspen Music Festival, Cincinnati Opera's Education Outreach Ensemble, Rocky Ridge Music Center, Rising Star Audition Works, Opera Theater of Lucca (Italy), and participated in the Grandin Festival, Bowdoin Music Festival, and Eastern Music Festival. 

Roethlisberger is a recipient of numerous awards including first prize in the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Chamber Music Competition, Vocal Arts Resource Network Artsong Competition, Tuesday Musical Club of Pittsburgh Scholarship, NY State MTNA competition, and the Pittsburgh Concert Society Auditions with her husband, baritone Craig Verm. 

Roethlisberger is a graduate of Syracuse University (BM, Piano Performance) and University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music (MM, Piano Performance; MM, Vocal Accompanying; and Artist Diploma, Opera Coaching). Her major teachers include Kenneth Griffiths, Donna Loewy, Sylvia Plyler, Frank Weinstock, and Fred Karpoff.

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Michael Rusinek

Artist Lecturer in Clarinet

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Michael Rusinek joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 1998 and holds the Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Silberman Principal Clarinet chair. Born in Toronto, his early studies were with Avrahm Galper at the Royal Conservatory of Music. He attended the Curtis Institute, and was appointed by Mstislav Rostropovich to the post of Assistant Principal Clarinet with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C.. Rusinek has performed as a soloist with many orchestras, and as a recitalist he has been heard across Canada on CBC Radio and in live concerts. He has performed throughout the United States and Israel. In 1985 he was awarded the grand prize in the International Clarinet Society competition and was a prize-winner in the Belgrade International Clarinet competition. In 1989 Rusinek represented Canada at the International Clarinet Festival in France. He has participated in many music festivals in the United States and Canada, including Musicians from Marlboro, and was featured on Sony records celebrating Marlboro's 50th anniversary. In the summer of 2000 Rusinek performed as Principal Clarinet in the Super World Orchestra, alongside musicians from around the world. He is working on Clarinetscape, an educational Web site for clarinetists.

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Dr. Christopher Ruth

Artist Lecturer in Music History

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Christopher Ruth holds a BFA in Music composition from Carnegie Mellon University (2004), a Master of Arts in Musicology from the University of Pittsburgh (2007), and a PhD in Musicology from the University of Pittsburgh (2012). His areas of specialization include the sixteenth-century sacred motet and nineteenth-century German Romantic music. His dissertation deals with the role of the psychological writings of Carl Gustav Carus and their impact on the late dramatic works of Robert Schumann. Still active as a composer, he was a founding member of Alia Musica Pittsburgh, a group of musicians dedicated to the performance of contemporary local and international composers, and served as editor of their newsletter Quarternotes until 2009. He has received numerous study fellowships to pursue his research, most recently a Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship in 2010-2011. He has presented his work at both national and international conferences, including the national meeting of the American Musicological Society, the North American Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, and most recently, the international conference Music in Goethes Faust: Goethes Faust in Music. He is also currently on the faculty at Shenandoah University, where he serves in an adjunct capacity as Auxiliary Assistant Professor of Music History. 

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Vahan Sargsyan

Staff Pianist, Chamber Music Coach

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Armenian pianist Vahan Sargsyan graduated from Yerevan Komitas State Conservatoire, under tutelage of Elza Tandilyan and his father, renowned pianist Villi Sargsyan.

Vahan was named Laureate of the International Piano Competition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Few times he was selected by Pittsburgh Concert Society as winner in solo and chamber music categories. 

Mr. Sargsyan has concertized in Armenia, Georgia, Italy, Russia, Austria, Argentina Brazil, USA and Canada. His recordings are released by Alanna and Aerophon labels.

He has performed as a soloist with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and last few years appeared with regularity at the Orchestra‘s keyboards, along with his work as a pianist and chamber music coach at the Carnegie Mellon University.

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Sergey Schepkin

Associate Professor of Piano

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The Russian-American pianist Sergey Schepkin has performed around the globe, from the United States to Russia to Japan to New Zealand. He made his Carnegie Hall recital début in 1993 (at Weill Recital Hall) to an enthusiastic reception from the audience and The New York Times, and has performed on the Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center, Celebrity Series of Boston, LACMA and Maestro Series in Los Angeles, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, St. Petersburg Grand and Chamber Philharmonic Halls, the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and the Sumida Triphony Hall in Tokyo, among many other venues and series. Mr. Schepkin’s discography includes major works by Bach (the complete Well-Tempered Clavier, the Partitas, Italian Concerto, French Overture, Four Duets, and two recordings of the Goldberg Variations), Brahms (complete late piano works), Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, and Schnittke. He is a recipient of numerous prizes and awards. His concerts and recordings have garnered critical acclaim from such publications as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, the Boston Musical Intelligencer, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, BBC Music Magazine, International Piano, American Record Guide, Gramophone, Fanfare, and MusicWeb International.

Mr. Schepkin’s vast solo, concerto, and chamber repertoire extends from late Renaissance to the present day. He is recognized as one of the world's foremost interpreters of works by Johann Sebastian Bach, and was hailed by The New York Times as "a formidable Bach pianist . . . [who] plays with the passion and drama of a young Glenn Gould." The Boston Phoenix once described him as "one of Boston's great treasures, a supremely intelligent pianist who plays Bach as well as anyone."

Mr. Schepkin has performed concertos with such conductors as Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Nikolai Alexeev, John Gibbons, Max Hobart, Christian Knapp, Keith Lockhart, Jonathan McPhee, Klauspeter Seibel, Edward Serov, and Vassily Sinaisky. A passionate chamber player, he has performed with the Borromeo, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, New Zealand, and Vilnius string quartets, as well as the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston, of which he was a founding member. He is a member of the Boston-based Trio Amici, where his partners are violinist Lucia Lin and cellist Owen Young, both members of the Boston Symphony. He has collaborated with such artists as violinists Lucy Chapman, Gregory Fulkerson, Ilya Kaler, Joanna Kurkowicz, Curtis Macomber, Daniel Stepner, and Masuko Ushioda, violists Toby Appel, Marcus Thompson, and Walter Trampler, cellists Suren Bagratuni, Colin Carr, Norman Fischer, and Laurence Lesser, flutists Julius Baker, Leone Buyse, and Fenwick Smith, and clarinetists Jonathan Cohler and William Hudgins. An advocate of new music, Mr. Schepkin earned Sofia Gubaidulina's praise for his interpretation of her piano Chaconne; he has collaborated with Leonardo Balada, Nancy Galbraith, and John Harbison, and premiered works by Julia Carey, Alan Fletcher, Michael Gandolfi, Joseph Johnson, Daniel Pinkham, and Christopher Trapani.

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Mr. Schepkin studied piano at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Alexandra Zhukovsky, Grigory Sokolov, Alexander Ikharev, and Ekaterina Murina. He made his orchestral début with the St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra in 1984. After his move to the US in 1990, he studied with Russell Sherman at New England Conservatory (NEC), where he earned an Artist Diploma in 1992 and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1999. In 1994-98, he coached with the late legendary French-American pianist Paul Doguereau. Mr. Schepkin has served as Associate Professor of Piano at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh since 2003, and has been a member of the piano faculty at the NEC School of Preparatory and Continuing Education since 1993. He was on the piano faculty at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1988-90 and coached chamber music at the Boston Conservatory in 2006-07. He was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Iowa in 1997-98 and a Visiting Associate Professor of Music at the Boston University in 2011-13. He was also a member of the Music History and Musicology faculty at NEC in 1995-2006. Mr. Schepkin has presented lecture-recitals and master classes at NEC, UCLA, Oberlin Conservatory, the San Francisco Conservatory, M.I.T., Longy School of Music, Duquesne University, the Norwegian Academy of Music, and other institutions of higher learning, as well as at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute and the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.

Sergey Schepkin is a Steinway Artist.