Teaching Artists and guest speakers

Rebecca Harris

Teaching Artist

Rebecca began playing the violin at age eight in a free program at her elementary school. When she was sixteen, she made the decision to leave home and attend a specialist music school for her final years of high school. During those two years, Rebecca studied violin in a conservatory-like setting while continuing to study regular school subjects alongside. She was certain that she wanted to be a musician, an aspiration that served as a bridge between regular high school and conservatory. Rebecca made her choice about which college to attend by looking for somewhere with a competitive environment and the highest standards available. While in college, she realized that her main musical interests were contemporary and early music, and she decided to pursue a career path that allowed her to focus on these areas. Since graduating from college, Rebecca has built a “portfolio career” that combines solo and chamber music engagements, playing with early-music ensembles, freelance orchestral playing and recording, and working as an artist teacher.


Kei Fukuda

Teaching Artist

Kei is a violinist, music educator, and passionate advocate for classical music as a vehicle for social change. She began her musical studies at the age of five at a local Suzuki violin program in Connecticut, continuing her studies in New York and at the Hartt School of Music. After graduating from Swarthmore College with her Bachelor of Arts degrees in biology and music, Kei switched her focus back to studying the violin under the guidance of Choong-Jin (C.J.) Chang in Philadelphia and completed her Masters in Music in violin performance at Kent State University, studying with Miami String Quartet violinists Ivan Chan and Cathy Meng Robinson. She recently completed her Artist Certificate in violin performance at University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) as a student of Benny Kim and a member of the Graduate Fellowship String Quartet. Kei has had the pleasure of collaborating with renowned musicians Benny Kim, Eric Kim, Scott Lee, and Keith Robinson. Equally passionate about orchestral playing, she has played in Orchestra 2001, Symphony in C, Akron Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, Britt Music Festival, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Philly Pops, PA Ballet, and Delaware Symphony. Kei is excited about the opportunity to further explore how music education and performance can be used to empower youth and their communities.


Cigus Vanni

College Specialist

Cigus, AKA “Cigus the College Fairy”, knows stuff. Lots of stuff, particularly about the college application process. He has forty-two years of experience in college search and selection, and has worked as a college admissions counselor, and school counselor and a school psychologist, among other things. The first member of his family to attend college, he earned his BA from Swarthmore College and certification in school psychology with course work in Education and Child Development from Bryn Mawr College. Cigus “refuses to add to the stress of college search and selection” with the knowledge that there are nearly 2,250 four-year colleges and universities in the US alone from which to choose. He will NOT “get your kid into Harvard” – he will help your kid figure out what the right fit is for her. Cigus enjoys spending one-on-one counseling time with young people but he makes them pay (literally) for this. He does not want his fees paid by parents/guardians but rather by the students he serves. (You can find his unusual fee schedule at cigus.net.) Cigus is a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, the New Jersey Association for College Admissions Counseling, and an associate member of the Pennsylvania Association for College Admissions Counseling. Most importantly, however, is the fact that Cigus was a five-time winner and undefeated champion on the quiz show Jeopardy! In 1988 and returned for the 1989 Tournament of Champions. That alone make him way cool.


Seth Hanes

Entrepreneurship Specialist

Marketing specialist Seth Hanes is a private consultant who works with businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals in digital marketing and website development, bringing public attention to where it is deserved. Seth understands clearly that each person in an organization offers individual talent to make that group perform at its best. With clear branding of clients and the use of campaigns and interactive programs, Seth works to build social media publicity and a following around his clients that creates a steady flow of public interaction and recognition. As a musician, Seth has an acute understanding of the mechanics of self-promotion. He willingly shares his expertise on his blog, The Musicians Guide to Hustling. He also speaks publicly on his techniques, having spoken most recently at Kutztown University and the Philadelphia International Music Festival in partnership with Project 440.

Arlen Hlusko Bernardo Headshot.JPG

Arlen Hlusko

Arlen Hlusko is a dynamic and versatile young musician who has performed as soloist and chamber musician across North America, Asia, and Europe. She has appeared as soloist with ensembles including the National Arts Center Orchestra and the Calgary Philharmonic, and has collaborated in performance with Donald Weilerstein, Ida Kavafian, and members of the Guarneri, Orion, and Tokyo String Quartets, among others. Arlen has performed as principal cellist of several ensembles, including the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and New York String Orchestra. Committed to using her music to serve her community, Arlen served as a 2015-16 ArtistYear fellow, and won a 2016 Tarisio Trust Grant to present her own series, Philadelphia Performances for Autism. She is currently based out of Philadelphia where she does a myriad of work, including being a member of the Dolce Suono Ensemble, chamber music freelancing, and being a Teaching Artist for The Philadelphia Orchestra and Project 440. A native of Canada, Arlen is a recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where she held the Jacqueline du Pre Memorial Fellowship and studied with Carter Brey and Peter Wiley. http://www.arlenhlusko.com/

Career Speakers for Instruments for Success, Fall 2017

Intermission photo.jpeg

Melissa White and Elena Urioste

Artistic Directors

Unbeknownst to each other, Melissa White and Elena Urioste stumbled upon their respective yoga practices at exactly the same time in two different cities. Over the summer of 2009, Melissa was invited to a Bikram yoga class by a cellist friend and immediately took to the heat (Bikram studios are warmed to 105°F) and the specific sequence of postures; Elena hauled herself to a class amidst an embarrassing period of self-pity and instantly felt a sense of calm despite – or perhaps even because of – the intense conditions of the practice. Upon discovering each other’s new passion for yoga, they added this to their list of commonalities and began to practice together whenever their schedules allowed. Over the past eight years, the benefits that they have both experienced have been innumerable, from improved muscular control in their violin playing to an increase in self-discipline to a greater sense of peace with the world around them. Both active teachers within their respective musical careers, Melissa and Elena have often found themselves advising students to employ principles learned in yoga as much as those from their musical studies. The truth is, the two fields are inextricably linked, and out of this realization the idea for Intermission was born. In recent years, both Melissa and Elena have expanded their practices to include many styles of yoga (most notably the Kula Flow style that Intermission instructors Tiffany June and Giulia Pline teach), and with each passing class have become more committed to sharing the knowledge and positivity yoga has afforded them with anyone who will listen.

Looking even further back, Melissa and Elena met in 2003 via a combination of ENCORE School for Strings, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Sphinx Organization. Through their attendance at and performances in affiliation with all three, the two grew to be wonderful friends and natural collaborators. And, fun fact: they both began playing the violin as a result of watching the very same episode of Sesame Street in 1988!

Diane Monroe good.jpg

Diane Monroe

Diane Monroe is more than simply a fine performer. She is a violinist whose versatility and expressive artistry consistently bring audiences to their feet. Her visibility as a jazz artist began with her long-standing membership as first violinist of the Uptown String Quartet (with Lesa Terry, Maxine Roach and Eileen Folson) and the Max Roach Double Quartet. With those ensembles, she performed with Cecil Bridgewater, Trumpeter; Odean Pope, Saxophonist and Tyrone Brown, bassist, and has recorded on the Soul Note, Philips/Polygram, and Mesa/Bluemoon labels.

In addition to her contributions as a side-person, Monroe has been leading her own ensembles for more than 15 years. The Diane Monroe Quartet appeared on the Kennedy Center’s Women in Jazz Festival in 2012 and has performed at many other venues. She has developed a program for her sextet – “What Is This Thing Called Freedom” – that features vocalist Paul Jost and her longtime musical partner, vibraphonist Tony Miceli. She and Miceli released their debut recording, Alone Together (Dreambox Media), in August 2014. All About Jazz sums up the recording: “Monroe and Miceli are adept and resilient musicians of the highest caliber, so they are able to weave their combined sounds into many expressive variations that create "tone poems" and tell stories.”

Monroe is in demand as an educator, panel specialist and leader of jazz improv workshops, rhythm clinics and master classes. The Verbier Festival Switzerland 2000, highlighted her summer as soloist/conductor of the Fiddlefest Jazz String Orchestra. During this festival, Monroe conducted the string orchestra students in a spontaneous collaboration with the violinist Kennedy, in a blues medley. In 2007, Monroe conducted the jazz string section for the Saxophonist James Carter with his quartet, in a presentation at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall entitled, “Gardenia’s for Lady Day.” At last season’s ASTA conference, she chaired a panel, “Improvised music in the classroom,” which included distinguished composer/pedagogue, David Baker.

Drew Forde pic.jpg

Drew Forde, AKA ThatViolaKid

Social Media Content Creator and Performer
A fiery, passionate performer who leaves everything on the stage, Drew Alexander Forde gives his all to audiences. Hailing from The Juilliard School, Drew regularly performs throughout the United States. Described by NPR as “outgoing, nerdy, and unabashedly enthusiastic about classical music,” Drew connects with audiences in a way that leaves them wanting more.

Although Drew has finally begun a career as a soloist, he is also an accomplished Chamber Musician. Having studied under Lawrence Dutton of the Emerson String Quartet, Drew has performed with some of the industry’s leading performers including Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Robert McDuffie, and Amy Schwartz-Moretti to name a few. Drew has even begun to delve into other genres as well. He has collaborated with the eccentric rapper Mac Miller alongside Ariana Grande, Cee Lo, and Kendrick Lamar on the album The Divine Feminine. Additionally, Forde is credited for performing the viola on the upcoming release of Final Fantasy XII remake.

Perhaps Drew’s most impressive accomplishment is his ability to connect with audiences via social media. As one of the most-followed Classical Musicians on Instagram, Drew boasts a following of over 107K followers, more than twice as many as Yo-Yo Ma. Known as “ThatViolaKid” on the interwebs, Drew is a mentor and motivational content creator that doesn’t just inspire younger musicians to pursue their passion, but he also creates a community of positivity and self-improvement through his hashtag campaign, #PlayHomiePlay.

Drew has been featured on the official music blog of Instagram, the 2017 July Edition of Strings Magazine, and Juilliard’s very own “Day in the Life of a Musician” video campaign, and Drew shows no signs of slowing down. He is now focusing on writing his debut EP and creating more content to inspire young musicians to follow their dreams.

Donate Now!