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staff

 

A L E X  H E L S A B E C K

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

mr.alex@notebusters.org

 

Mr. Alex was a baritone soloist with the United States Army Chorus since 1998. Before retiring from the Military, he was stationed in Washington, D.C., where he performed at the White House, the Capitol, and other official venues. Before transferring to the Army Chorus, he performed with the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants and during that time received the Meritorious Service Medal as the vocalist most requested for special performances, including performances before the President and other national and foreign leaders. Alex was awarded two additional Meritorious Service Medals for his distinguished service as an Army soloist.

 

As a featured soloist, Alex performed the Toreador area from Carmen for the President of France during a White House dinner in 2007. He was also featured as a soloist at the 90th birthday celebration of the late President Gerald R. Ford and the ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of the Armed Forces. He was personally selected by the Speaker of the House of Representatives to perform the National Anthem for a remembrance of the 100th birthday of Lyndon B. Johnson in the Capitol's Statuary Hall. Less formally, Alex has sung at a Washington Nationals' baseball game, and in countless other venues throughout the National Capitol region.

 

Alex is a native of Winston-salem, NC. He began his professional career as a boy-soprano soloist, and performed the Chichester Psalms with the Winston-Salem Symhony and Chorale at age 13. In 1992, Alex was named to the list of People Who Make a Difference in Washington, D.C. for his charitable contributions through the arts as a recitalist. His love for helping children led him to develop noteBUSTERS for the public schools in Washington, D.C.

 

As Artistic Director of noteBUSTERS, Mr. Alex selects and arranges the musical compositions for the noteBUSTERS performances and he creates the solo arrangements for the fall and spring performances.

 

 

S H E L L I E   W O O D, Ph.D.

ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR

dr.wood@notebusters.org

 

Dr. Wood has served as a mental health professional in schools throughout her career. She currently works as the Student Support Services Coordinator at Janney Elementary School for DC Public Schools. Prior to that she worked as a school psychologist for the International School of Prague. Before moving overseas, Dr. Wood worked as a school principal at the Kennedy Institute where she was hired to develop mental health programs. She became Educational Director for the Institute and eventually served as Acting Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Wood also worked as a crisis intervention specialist for DC Public Schools and adjunct professor at American University. Dr. Wood received her Masters Degree from The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and her Ph.D. from The American University in Washington DC.

 

As Administrative Director, Dr. Wood assists in every aspect of noteBUSTERS, assisting site directors with instruction in all schools and coaching the soloists to encourage their abilities and their confidence.

 

 

A N D R E   MC R A E

MUSICAL DIRECTOR AND INSTRUCTOR

 

Mr. Andre is a native of Philadelphia PA, and serves as a bass vocalist and Sergeant First Class for the U.S. Army Chorus. He is the proud winner of the Oxnard Gold Award in the American Traditions Competition, a competition celebrating the diversity of American music. He took home the top prize singing Operatic repertoire and Musical theatre songs. André is no stranger to being awarded for his talents. He received scholarships for all three of his degrees at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (BM, MM, and an Artists Diploma in Opera).

 

André quickly began performing upon graduating from the Conservatory in theaters all around the country scoring the lead in Ragtime, Joe in Showboat, and principal roles in Smokey Joe’s Café, Dreamgirls, Godspell among others. He also toured Europe and Japan in Porgy and Bess. McRae has been a featured soloist and performer with the National Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and The Broadway Concert Series, Encores! at New York City Center. He recently composed a musical called Chasing the Wind which was performed at Creative Caldron in Alexandria, VA and the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.

 

As Musical Director for noteBUSTERS, Andre serves as basic musical instructor for all schools as well as rehearsing and directing the performance band. He also selects soloists for each performance and coaches the children to perform weekly in every noteBUSTER session.

 

 

 

E M I L Y   P I N N A

DIRECTOR OF VISUAL COMMUNICATION

 

emily@notebusters.org

 

Emily Pinna, a visual storyteller and social entrepreneur graduated with a MA in Social Design from MICA's Center for Social Design.

Emily is using visual storytelling to create powerful visuals to convey a message or narrate a story visually. Her aim is to create a connection between a image and its audience: to evoke emotions and thus engage people in a cause/project/behavior change campaign is her goal. Emily holds a diploma in professional photography from the Washington School of Photography in Washington, D.C. She was awarded the Magistra Artium from the “Friedrich-Wilhelms University” in Bonn, Germany in communications, politics and modern foreign languages, and recently the Master of Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, US in Social Design.

 

Emily is the Director of Visual Communication for noteBUSTERS. She was one of the earliest parent supporters and advocates for noteBUSTERS and was a noteBOOMER while her children were enrolled in the program. She now returns periodically during the sessions to make lasting memories through the art of photography. Emily Pinna currently resides in Central Africa (Cameroon) where she works with numerous international organizations and NGO's as well as runs her own social enterprise MLE Empowering Apparel.

www.emilypinnaphotography.com

www.mleempoweringapparel.com

 

 

 

 

 

J E S S E   N E A C E

SITE DIRECTOR

Horace Mann and Janney

 

 

Mr. Jesse is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and serves as Sergeant First Class with the US Army Chorus in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Maryville College in Tennessee and also earned a Master's Degree from The University of Tennessee where he studied as a member of the Knoxville Opera Studio. Mr. Jesse’s career includes performances with the the Washington Chorus, the Knoxville Opera Company, the University of Tennessee Opera Theatre, the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, La Musica Lirica, and the National Philharmonic. During his tenure with the Army Chorus, Mr. Jesse opened the Major League Baseball World Series in 2008 and 2009 singing God Bless America. He also has sung the National Anthem at numerous games for Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL), and the National Football League (NFL).

 

As a site Director for noteBUSTERS, Mr. Jesse directs the afterschool noteBUSTERS sessions at Horace Mann Elementary School. He also directs the soloists in their stage performance.

 

 

B E N   P A T T I S O N

SITE DIRECTOR

Lafayette and Janney

 

Mr. Ben has been a tenor with the U.S. Army Chorus and soloist with the U.S. Army Band since, Pershing’s Own since 2012. Prior to joining the Army Chorus, he studied trumpet and voice at DePaul University with continuing vocal studies at the University of Maryland under Gran Wilson. Mr. Ben has sung with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and at the 10th World Symposium on Choral Music in Seoul, South Korea. In addition to performing, Mr. Ben is a dedicated music educator acting as a leading force in the Army Chorus’ educational outreach mission and is spearheading a new program mentoring Army Reserve musicians.

 

Mr. Ben serves as a primary instructor for noteBUSTERS at Janney and Lafayette Elementary Schools. He also regularly lends his tenor voice to the vocals in noteBUSTER performances.

 

 

C H R I S T I A N   H O F F

SESSION ACCOMPANIST AND INSTRUCTOR

 

Mr. Christian is a tenor in The U.S. Army Chorus.  He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, earning his bachelor degree in vocal performance.  As a member of the UMD Chamber Singers, Christian has performed major choral symphonic works in collaboration with the NSO and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.  Christian recently performed the lead role of Eddie Birdlace in Pasak and Paul's "Dogfight" with the Red Branch Theatre Company.  He has also performed the role of Tobias Ragg in Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd as a member of the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center.  Christian has most recently performed as a tenor soloist with the U.S. Army Chorus at venues such as The White House, The U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon.

Christian accompanies noteBUSTERS in their weekly sessions at Horace Mann, and serves as intermittent instructor at Janney and Lafayette.  He also lends his beautiful tenor voice to noteBUSTER performances.

 


T O N Y   N A L K E R

P I A N O

 

Mr. Tony recently retired as Sergeant Major for the United States Military stationed in Washington, D.C. He performed with many musical talents including Doc Severinsen, Kathy Mattea, Kenny Loggins, James Moody, Slide Hampton, Kurt Elling, Stanley Turrentine, Clark Terry, and Louis Bellson. He has performed on more than 90 recordings in a variety of styles, three of which were Grammy finalists, and one winner in the children's music category. Mr. Tony teaches jazz piano at George Mason University and is also a pianist for the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. He is also the pianist for Hal Leonard Publishing Jazz Play-Along series, which has more than 130 books/CD's in its collection, and is the pianist for the Alfred Publishing Jazz Play-Along and Big Band series. Tony received his undergraduate degree in music at James Madison University and his M.A. in music from the University of Iowa.

 

Mr. Tony is the staff pianist for noteBUSTERS. He arranges the accompaniments to match the vocal abilities of the children and genre of the music. Mr. Tony also plays for rehearsals and sometimes makes practice tapes for the children to use during noteBUSTERS' sessions. At the performance, this man is the engine which moves noteBUSTERS to unbelievable heights. Tony Nalker works his sensory perceptions on ALL levels to miraculous capacities and engages "in the moment" with each child to create a successful memory which will last a lifetime.

 

 

C H A D   L E A D E R

GUITAR

 

Mr. Chad currently serves in the U.S. Army Band. He supports noteBUSTERS at the fall and spring show playing accoustic and electric guitar throughout the performances.

 

 

H A R O L D   S U M M E Y

PERCUSSION

Mr. Harold, a Newport News, VA native, has been a drummer/percussionist for over thirty years. He has performed with great musicians including Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Buck Hill, Harold Mabern, Eric Alexander, Gunther Schuller, Wynton Marsalis, Geri Allen, Pat Metheny, Whitney Houston, James Moody, John Hicks, David "Fathead" Newman, Don Braden, Brian Lynch, Charlie Young, Tim Warfield, Walt Weiskopf, Terrell Stafford, Nick Brignola, Ray Charles, Patti Austin, Aaron Neville, Bobby Watson, and Frank Sinatra, Jr. In 1992 he was the first prize winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition.

 

Harold is also an educator conducting master classes for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in the United States and abroad as well as at Hampton University, Howard University, George Mason University, and The University of Colorado, Boulder for its Mile High Jazz Camp. He is currently on the faculty at Howard University and George Mason University. He is currently a member of The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" in Washington, DC. He literally drives the energy for the noteBUSTER shows with his amazing talent and precision.

 

 

J A N E   B O W Y E R   S T E W A R T

VIOLIN

 

Ms. Jane is a first violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra, which she joined after earning both her Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and Master of Music degrees from Yale University. A devoted chamber musician, Ms. Stewart is a regular guest artist with the Kennedy Center Chamber Players and the 21st Century Consort. Currently a member of the Columbia String Quartet and the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, she has also recorded a Grammy-nominated CD with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Chamber Ensemble and appeared as concerto soloist with the New Jersey Symphony and the National Symphony. She plays a violin made in 1691 by Venetian master Matteo Goffriller. Jane has shared her talents with noteBUSTERS for the past 15 years. She also serves on the noteBUSTER Advisory Board as Secretary.

 

E T H A N  O' R E I L L Y

BASS

 

Mr. Ethan travels to join us each spring and fall from New York where he works professionally as a jazz bassist throughout the city and New England. Ethan has a masters of performance degree from Manhattan School of Music.  He recently competed in the final rounds of a jazz competition in Italy. 

 

A N D R E A   W O O D

VOCALIST AND KEYBOARD

 

Ms. Andrea joins noteBUSTERS from New York for performances to add synthesizer effects to the orchestral music which suppports the noteBUSTER shows. She also regularly serves as a guest vocalist singing with noteBUSTERS in performance. She is a professional jazz singer in New York and also teaches children and youth through New York Pops and Lincoln Center.  She also performed and taught at the True School of Music in Mumbai, India.  

Andrea is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music where she received a Masters in Performance and also a graduate of Columbia Teachers College where she received a Masters in Education. Andrea is a former noteBUSTER from Janney ES and graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts here in DC.  Her most recent CD recording, Kalaidascope, can be found on ITunes and at AndreaWoodMusic.com, or listen to her on Pandora.

 

 

J E N N I F E R   L Y O N S   P A G N A R D

PERFORMANCE MC

 

Ms. Jenn has been the noteBUSTER primary Master of Ceremony for the past 7 years. As a mezzo-soprano/actress and talented performer, she both writes and narrates the scripts which punctuate each noteBUSTER show. She hails from Knoxville, Tenn. and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education at the University of Tennessee in 1990. She earned a Master of Arts in Vocal Performance from George Mason University. She has had extensive stage training both as an actress and singer. Some of her favorite roles include The Baker¹s Wife in Into the Woods, the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a role for which she recently won the Washington Area Theatre Community Honor¹s award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical.

Jenn is retired from The United States Air Force Band where she served as Chief of Marketing and Outreach and also performed as a member of The Singing Sergeants, the official chorus of the United States Air Force. Before joining the Air Force, she taught Elementary Music in Prince Georges County, Md.

 

 

 

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