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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.

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Stephen Schultz

Associate Teaching Professor of Music History & Flute, Director of the Baroque Ensemble

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Stephen Schultz, called “among the most flawless artists on the Baroque flute" by the San Jose Mercury News and “flute extraordinaire” by the New Jersey Star-Ledger, plays solo and Principal flute with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Musica Angelica and performs with other leading Early music groups such as Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Apollo's Fire, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Wiener Akademie, and Chatham Baroque. Concert tours have taken him throughout Europe and North and South America with featured appearances at the Musikverein in Vienna, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Royal Albert Hall in London, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Carnegie Hall, and the Library of Congress.

A graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Holland, Schultz also holds several degrees from the California Institute of the Arts and the California State University of San Francisco. Currently he is an Associate Teaching Professor in Music History and Flute at Carnegie Mellon University and director of the Carnegie Mellon Baroque Orchestra. Mr. Schultz has also been a featured faculty member of the Jeanne Baxtresser International Flute Master Class at Carnegie Mellon University and has taught at the Juilliard School and the International Baroque Institute at Longy School of Music.

In 1986, Mr. Schultz founded the original instrument ensemble American Baroque. This unique group brings together some of America's most accomplished and exciting baroque instrumentalists, with the purpose of defining a new, modern genre for historical instruments. The group's adventurous programs combine 18th-century music with new works, composed for the group through collaborations and commissions from American composers.

As solo, chamber, and orchestral player, Schultz appears on over fifty recordings for such labels as Dorian, Naxos, Harmonia Mundi USA, Centaur, NCA, and New Albion. Schultz has produced and edited forty CDs for his colleagues and has also performed and recorded with world music groups such as D'CuCKOO and Haunted By Waters, using his electronically processed Baroque flute to develop alternative sounds that are unique to his instrument. He has been very active in commissioning new music written for his instrument and in 1998, Carolyn Yarnell wrote 10/18 for solo, processed Baroque Flute and dedicated it to Mr. Schultz. The Pittsburgh composer Nancy Galbraith wrote Traverso Mistico, which is scored for electric Baroque flute, solo cello, and chamber orchestra. It was given its world premiere at Carnegie Mellon University in April 2006 and this highly successful collaboration was followed in 2008 with Galbraith's Night TrainOther Sun in 2009, and Effervescent Air in 2012.

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Riccardo Schulz

Associate Teaching Professor, Director of Recording Activities

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Riccardo Schulz is Associate Teaching Professor in the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon, where he teaches Sound Recording and runs the recording operations. His special interest is in recording, editing, and mastering classical music. For three years he was head of the Edgar Stanton Audio Recording Institute (ESARI) for the summer program of the Aspen Music Festival and School. 

Riccardo has recorded and/or produced more than a hundred compact discs on a variety of record labels, including Élan, New Albion, Mode Records, Ocean Records, Norvard, and New World Records. He has also recorded and/or mastered CDs of world music, jazz, alternative rock groups, and selected hip-hop artists. Groups and individuals he has collaborated with include Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Andrés Cárdenes and Luz Manríquez; conductors Denis Colwell and the River City Brass Band, Keith Lockhart and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Eduardo Alonso-Crespo and the Tucumán Chamber Orchestra, Rachael Worby and the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, Juan Pablo Izquierdo and the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, Robert Page and the Mendelssohn Choir; Andrés Cárdenes and the Pittsburgh Symnphony Chamber Orchestra; Chatham Baroque; pianists Laura Opedisano, Aki Takahashi, and Barbara Nissman; santur player Dariush Saghafi; guitarist Manuel Barrueco, composers Iannis Xenakis, Reza Vali, Nancy Galbraith, David Stock, Ricardo Lorenz, Julián Orbón, and Leonardo Balada; mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux; baritone Sebastian Catana; tenor Arturo Martín.

Riccardo’s recording of Inca Dances by Gabriela Lena Frank and featuring Cuarteto Latinoamericano and guitarist Manuel Barrueco, received a Latin GRAMMY Award in 2009 for Best Classical Contemporary Compostion.

Riccardo’s non-classical recording credits include the rock group The Syndeys and The Glass Cube; hip-hop artists Freestyle, Unknown Prose, Lil ’Toine, E-Nyse, Charon Don and D. J. Huggy; and jazz artists Alton Merrell, Nathan Davis, Roger Humphries, Bobby Negri, Dave Pellow, James Johnson Jr, and others.

Riccardo has co-produced CDs with Carnegie Mellon students Steven Goldberg, Anna Vogelzang, Tate Olsen, Michael Kooman, Jeffrey Grossman, Ali Spagnola, Ariel Winters, Friedrich Myers, Justin Bishop, Greg Runco, Andy Jih, Haseeb Qureshi, Gabriel Cuthbert, Derek Pendergrass, Joshua Hailpern, Fumiya Yamamoto, Enoma Oviasu, John O’Hallaron, and others. He also oversees recordings with participants in the Arts Greenhouse project, a community-oriented hip-hop workshop for teenagers.

Riccardo also edits and masters the full season of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performances in conjunction with WQED-FM for local and national radio broadcast, and is in his twenty-third year of recording and editing performances of the Pittsburgh Opera for radio broadcast.

With Carnegie Mellon alumnus Alex Geis, Riccardo has developed the Webcast project and the Destination website for the Carnegie Mellon School of Music, the first music conservatory in the world to offer live Internet broadcast of student recitals and ensemble concerts.

Riccardo has master's degrees in mathematics from Duquesne University and musicology from the University of Pittsburgh. He speaks Italian, and for several years was assistant accompanist for singers with the EPCASO program in Oderzo, Italy. He is former program annotator for the Y-Music Series, and former music critic for WQED-FM's Sunday Arts Magazine. 

Riccardo lives happily in Pittsburgh without a cellphone or a television, and has been a vegetarian for longer than anyone can remember.

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Franco Sciannameo

Associate Teaching Professor of Film Musicology and CFA Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Initiatives

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Born in Italy, Violinist, Film Musicologist and Cultural Historian Franco Sciannameo studied in Rome at the Conservatorio di Musica “Santa Cecilia” (D.M. in Violin Performance, Literature, and Pedagogy), and later at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena and Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. He holds advanced degrees in Historical Musicology and Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Always concerned with the role of artists in society, Franco Sciannameo writes and lectures extensively on contemporary music and its relation to politics, cinema, and the arts. He has worked with a number of celebrated composers, including Giacinto Scelsi, Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone, Franco Donatoni, and Paul Chihara with whom he collaborated on many performances and recordings. Sciannameo’s articles and essays are featured regularly in The Musical Times (London) while his most recent books include Nino Rota’s The Godfather Trilogy (Scarecrow Film Score Guides, 2010), Phil Trajetta (1777-1854), Patriot, Musician, Immigrant (CMS Monographs and Bibliographies in American Music, 2010), and Music as Dream: Essays on Giacinto Scelsi (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, 2013). Furthermore, Franco Sciannameo directs the project Re-imagining Futurism for the Digital Era, which is dedicated to the realization of masterpieces by Futurist artists on behalf of Mart Rovereto and the Guggenheim Museum in New York/Bilbao.

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Maria Sensi Sellner

Interim Director of Choirs

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Maria Sensi Sellner is recognized for her versatility as a conductor of opera, orchestras, and choruses. Praised for leading with “flexible assurance” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer) and “authority” (Pittsburgh Tribune Review), Ms. Sellner’s performances have been described as “sterling” (The Boston Globe), “adept” (Schenectady Daily Gazette), and “nothing short of incredible” (Berkshire on Stage). Back to back winner of the American Prize in Opera Conducting, she is the founder and Artistic Director of Resonance Works | Pittsburgh, the Director of the Akron Symphony Chorus, Interim Director of Choirs at Carnegie Mellon University, and Associate Conductor of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (chorus of choice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra). 

This fall Ms. Sellner conducted Verdi’s Macbeth (the debut project of Resonance Works | Pittsburgh), and will conduct the Akron Symphony Holiday Pops concerts in addition to the annual Holiday Concert for the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music. Recent performances include Mozart’s La finta giardiniera for Opera Theater of Pittsburgh Summerfest and Il barbiere di Siviglia for Hubbard Hall Opera Theater. During the 2012-2013 season, Ms. Sellner conducted Poulenc’s Gloria with the Akron Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Orpheus in the Underworld for the Boston Opera Collaborative, and two productions of Verdi’s La traviata - for the Solon Center for the Arts (OH), and for Hubbard Hall Opera Theater (NY) for which she was awarded the 2013 American Prize. She also guest conducted the Edgewood Symphony on their 25th Anniversary Gala Concert and prepared choruses for the Pittsburgh Symphony Holiday Pops and Akron Symphony classic and pops subscription concerts.  

For ten years, Ms. Sellner was the Music Director of the All University Orchestras at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2008 and 2009, she conducted on the Discovery Series Concerts at the Oregon Bach Festival as a part of the masterclass with conductor Helmuth Rilling. Ms. Sellner earned a masters degree in conducting from Carnegie Mellon University, studying with Robert Page. She also holds masters degrees in composition and mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.  
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Robert Skavronski

Director of Operations

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Robert Skavronski, Director of Operations, has a Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz School. He also holds degrees in double bass performance from Carnegie Mellon School of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music. 

Mr. Skavronski has worked with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as an intern for their personnel department. He also worked as Personnel Manager for the New World Symphony prior to joining the staff of the School of Music in 1995. Mr. Skavronski remains extremely active as a classical double bassist. He has played with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Wheeling (WV) Symphony and is a current member of the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, where he has played since 1987.

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Maria Spacagna

Associate Professor of Voice, soprano

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Providence born soprano, Maria Spacagna has been a regular guest artist at many of the world’s most prestigious opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the Dallas Opera, Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Santa Fe Opera Festival, Florida Grand Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Arena di Verona, Teatro San Carlo, the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago, the Spoleto Festival, the Zurich Opera,  Bavarian State Opera of Munich, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opera Theater of Cologne, Opera Theater of Montreal, Canadian Opera, Shanghai Grand Opera, Capetown Opera of South Africa and many others. She was the first American-born artist to perform the role of MADAMA BUTTERFLY at La Scala.  She has recorded for Vox Classics, the first commercial recording of the 1904 La Scala world premiere version of Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY which includes the revisions for Brescia and Paris. This is the first interactive recording of an opera designed for CD.  VARIETY, the American daily of the entertainment industry has written, “Spacagna is the Cio-Cio-San of our generation”.  The Spacagna Butterfly was selected by FANFARE, the recording industry quarterly, as one of the three opera “recordings of the year” for 1997.  Fanfare, places her recording of the role along with those of Tebaldi, Scotto and Toti dal Monte.  Her recordings of the title role of Mascagni’s Lodoletta for Hungaroton and Vivetta in Cilea’sL’Arlesiana for Harmonia Mundi have earned critical acclaim.  In 1993, the LA SCALA ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE OPERA wrote: “The elegance of Spacagna’s phrasing, coupled with a voice that is consistent across the range and great sensitivity of interpretation, led her to being acclaimed as one of the great singers of her generation.”  She has performed more than 40 roles in her career.  Among them are: Violetta, Gilda, Desdemona, Luisa Miller, Amelia Boccanegra, Mimi, Liu, Tosca, Micaela, Marguerite and Rusalka. 
As Liu in Turandot, Ms. Spacagna has been featured at the Metropolitan Opera (including the international radio broadcast), La Scala, Dallas Opera, Canadian Opera and in Korea and Japan with La Scala on tour.  Her Violetta in La Traviata has been heard at the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Arena di Verona, Cologne, Toronto, Metropolitan Opera, Torre del Lago, New York City Opera, Dallas Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and New Orleans Opera.  As Gilda in Rigoletto she has been heard at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Dallas, Milwaukee, Rio de Janiero, Toronto, New Orleans, Toledo, Artpark Festival, Winnipeg and Providence.
She returned to La Scala in 1996 to perform Cio-Cio-San, repeated the role at the Metropolitan, returned to Cologne and Berlin for more performances of Madama Butterfly and opened the Santa Fe Festival in their new production of that opera.  In the 1996/97 season she sang her first Tosca for Boston Lyric Opera and returned to the Met as Mimi in La Boheme and Cio-Cio-San inMadama Butterfly.  In 1997 Ms. Spacagna made her first appearances in Australia at Perth as Mimi in La Boheme and sang the Verdi Requiem.  Later that year she debuted in South Africa at Capetown with performances of Violetta in La Traviata.  In 1998 she added Leonora in Il Trovatore at the Met and the Deutsche Oper Berlin and reprised Liu in Turandot for the Met.  Other engagements included Madama Butterfly at L’Opera de Montreal, Pittsburgh Opera, and Deutsche Oper Berlin and La Traviata in New Orleans.
Important performances for Ms. Spacagna in 1998/99 included UnBallo in Maschera with Opera Grand Rapids, Andrea Chenier for Baltimore Opera, La Boheme at the Met, Madama Butterfly for the inaugural performances of the Fresno International Grand Opera,La Boheme for Opera Providence, and La Traviata for the Shanghai Grand Opera in Shanghai, China.
Other notable roles in her repertory (and their venue) include: Lina in Stiffelio and the title role in Luisa Miller (Metropolitan Opera), Maddalena in Andrea Chenier (Cincinnati Opera), Desdemona inOtello (Columbus Symphony and Florentine Opera), Marguerite inFaust (Trieste, Montreal, Winnipeg and Providence), the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro (Florentine Opera), Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore(Metropolitan Opera and Opera Theater of St. Louis), Micaela inCarmen (Dallas, Memphis, and Portland), Lord Byron‘s Love Letter(Trieste), and title roles in Rusalka (Spoleto Festival) and Lodoletta(New Jersey State Opera).
At the invitation of Placido Domingo, Ms. Spacagna performed at a State Dinner honoring the Prime Minister of Italy given by President and Mrs. Clinton at the White House.
In concert, Maria Spacagna has appeared with the Pittsburgh Symphony in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony conducted by Lorin Maazel, and the Verdi Requiem with the Stamford Chamber Orchestra, Pioneer Symphony, MA, and the Chorale and Orchestra of Perth, Australia.  She has also appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Civic Chorale, and New York’s Little Orchestra Society, the Queens Symphony and the Toronto Symphony.
Ms. Spacagna is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music where she received a Bachelor of Music in Voice and a Master of Music in Voice with Distinction.  She was honored with an Alumni of the Year Award in 2004 from NEC.   She was a member of the Juilliard Opera Center at the Julliard School of Music.  In competitions, she was a second prize winner of the Busseto Verdi Competition in Italy, and the Paris International Voice Competition, and a New York regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.  She is the recipient of 2 George London grants, the Metropolitan Opera National Council, Rockefeller Foundation and the Minna Kaufmann Rudd Distinguished Performance Award.  Ms. Spacagna is a recipient of a Rhode Island Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts. In March, 2012, she received an award from the Italian Consulate General in Boston for Outstanding Achievement in Art, Culture and Entertainment.  She is also Honorary President of the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra and has received its first Distinguished Artist Award.  At the invitation of its founder, Sherrill Milnes, Ms. Spacagna is a faculty member of V.O.I.C.Experience, a training program for emerging professional singers.  She was Lecturer in Voice at Boston University, College of Fine Arts from 2005 until 2012.  Presently, she is Associate Professor of Voice at Carnegie Mellon University School of Fine Arts.  

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Terry Steele

Artist Lecturer in Saxophone

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Terry Steele received his BME degree from Wichita State University, taught public school music, then attended the University of North Texas where he earned an MM degree in Classical Saxophone Performance in addition to performing with the acclaimed 1:00 Lab Band. After 33 years teaching at Slippery Rock University, he retired as a Professor Emeritus and joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University as the Instructor of Saxophone.

Mr. Steele remains active as a performer in both classical and jazz genres, having premiered original chamber works for saxophone in the classical style as well as maintaining a diverse career in the jazz idiom. He has performed with Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin in addition to hundreds of performances with entertainers. shows and musicals. Mr. Steele is the saxophonist with the Pittsburgh Symphony and has toured the United States and Europe with the orchestra. As an educator, he taught for a decade in the summers at the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts and has served three terms of office as the state president of the International Association for Jazz Education.

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Dr. Richard Stern

Professor of Electrical Engineering

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Most current speech recognition systems do not yet perform well in difficult acoustical environments, or in different environments from the ones in which they had been trained. This research is concerned with improving the robustness of SPHINX, Carnegie Mellons large-vocabulary continuous-speech recognition system, with respect to acoustical distortion resulting from sources such as background noise, competing talkers, change of microphone, and room reverberation. Several different strategies are being used to address these problems. These include: improved noise cancellation and speech normalization methods, the use of representations of the speech waveform that are based on the processing of sounds by the human auditory system, and the use of array-processing techniques to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of the speech that is input to the system.
Signal Processing in the Auditory System

This research includes both psychoacoustical measurements to determine how we hear complex sounds, and the development of mathematical models that use optimal communication theory to relate the results of these experiments to the neural coding of sounds by the auditory system. Much of this work has been concerned with the localization of sound and other aspects of binaural perception.