Our Judges & Adjudicators
Get to know our great adjudicators and judges. Our music festival adjudicators all have unique backgrounds in music, performance and education. Some new adjudicators at Festival '17 included Sonia Kiernan, John Kiernan, Diane Aragona, Charles Salamone, John Tyler Donathan, Britton Matthews, Liam Barredo, Apryl Chanco, Ruotao Mao, Dylan Lloyd, Shane Tapley, Annie Bryson, Laura Wittman and Tyneisha Menginie among others...
Soprano Andrea Covais is currently a Professor of Voice at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. She holds music degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, Montclair State University, and is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at City University of New York. She maintains a private studio for voice and piano in Rutherford, NJ and is currently the Director of Sacred Music at Sacred Heart parish in Haworth, NJ. Andrea has performed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Carol Hamersma is a multi-faceted artist/educator who performs and teaches both jazz and classical guitar. She studied classical guitar at the Mannes School of music in New York and received a Master's in jazz studies from the Aaron Copland school music at Queen's College. Performances have included Trumpet's Jazz Club, The Barron Art Center, and the Saturday Evening Series sponsored by the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship. She has played in several musical productions at the Barn Theater in Montville, including "A Christmas Story", "Shrek" and "The Spitfire Grill" where she doubled on guitar, banjo, and mandolin. Ms. Hamersma is presently an adjunct professor at the County College of Morris and Seton Hall University. She accepts private students at studios in Clifton and Woodbridge, NJ.
Josephine Sarica is a professional musician and educator. She is a former board member of the American Federation of Musicians also former board member, Vice President and president of the Accordion Teachers Association of New Jersey. Currently she is member of American Accordionist Association and the Piano Teachers Society of America.
An entertainer who traveled with the Tradewinds for many years, she has performed with the Neaupeuer Conservatory, Eugene Ettore, Desiderio Orchestra and presently the Accordion Pops Orchestra. She has been selected to adjudicate for many state competitions including the New Jersey state Teen Arts Festival.
Josephine has enjoyed the fine reputation of having taught many New Jersey State, Eastern State, Mid Atlantic State and United States music Champions. Josephine Sarica is both founder and Director of Sarica Studios successfully, beginning her 50 years in business.
Lisa is an active performer of AEA, SAG and AFTRA. She performed in New York City Opera’s Noli Me Tangere and toured at the Kennedy Center. She has professionally toured throughout North America, Australia and New Zealand with Miss Saigon, CATS, Cinderella, Godspell, South Pacific, Junie B. Jones and Disney’s Aladdin. NY’s Off-Broadway performances include the title role in Naughty Marietta and Peony in Shanghai Lil’s. Lisa toured with the Baltimore Symphony Pops Orchestra with Sandi Patty and Ann Hampton Callaway and sung in concert at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. On TV she played multiple characters on CBS’s Guiding Light, Blue Bloods and WB’s Gossip Girl.
Lisa maintains a private studio in Jersey City. Lisa teaches general music, choir, hand bells and has music directed several musicals in East Brunswick, North Brunswick and Jersey City. She received the Music Excellence Award by Governor McGreevy for NJ’s top 100 music teachers in music education.
Lisa is a proud member of NAFME, ACDA, NATS, NJMEA, MTNA, MAMTG board member and Vice President of the NJFMC. Lisa is the NJ representative for the national NFMC and contributes to the national vocal standards. Lisa is NPM CCC certified, public school music certified K-12, and holds a BM from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts with a concentration in Vocal Performance and Music Education.
Carmella Ferrara started music at the age of eight and knew
at that time, she wanted to become a music teacher. She participated in various competitions with great success. Carmella graduated from Fairleigh Dickenson University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education (Cum Laude). She is a member of the Phi Omega Epsilon Honor Society and a member of the Manchester Who's Who and holds a certificate in audio engineering from the New School in Manhattan. Her career includes over twenty-five years of teaching private accordion and piano lessons and performing keyboards and vocals with various bands in several states. Carmella is currently working on her third CD with her original group CARMA; writing, arranging, and performing.
Sonia Kiernan began studying piano at the age of seven. By ten she had made her television debut with NJ Network's Youth Talent Showcase. Sonia went on to receive her BM in piano performance from Florida Atlantic University under the tutelage of Irena Kofman.
After graduating with her Masters, Sonia went on to accompany West Palm Beach's Opera Restoration Project as well as serve as accompanist to the Florida Vocal Association while maintaining her own piano studio. Upon her return to NJ, Sonia continued performing and began piano teaching in Morris County and Bergen County.
Sonia is currently a member of The National Guild of Piano Teachers and NJMEA. Sonia's students have gone on to study music collegiately and have performed in recitals and festivals.
George served as Drama Director at the Rosa Parks School of the Arts in Paterson, NJ for 25 years. He is the creator/director of the nationally acclaimed, student performance troupes, Positive Impact Ensemble and Equity Ensemble. His troupes, which have performed throughout the east coast, and have been featured on every major TV channel, have allowed him to be selected as the Passaic County Teacher of the Year and recipient of the National Human Rights Award. He is currently serving as the President of the Speech and Theatre Association of NJ and on the board of the state Thespian Society.
Beverly Roberts Curnow was the winner of the 1965-1966 American Accordionists' Association (AAA) national virtuoso competition and went on to win that year's world title at the Coupe Mondiale (World Championship) held in Valetta, Malta! She earned Bachelor and Masters degrees in Music Education from New York University and Columbia University, respectively. Following graduation, Beverly taught choral, instrumental, and general music at all levels in the Wilson Area public school system, of Easton, Pennsylvania for thirty-five years. Remaining an active accordionist throughout her teaching career, Beverly continues to make guest artist and concert appearances and plays in pit orchestras for musicals and shows. She currently serves as a member of the AAA Governing Board.
Born and raised in Rome, Italy, Alessandra Tiraterra has performed more than five hundred recitals for festivals and institutions in Europe and in the U.S., including Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall, Steinway Society, Kopleff Recital Hall and Rialto Center for the Arts in Atlanta, Wiener Saal in Salzburg, Salle Cortot in Paris, Teatro Ghione and Teatro Marcello in Rome. Winner of many national and international piano and music competitions and prizes, her educational background in piano performance counts degrees from the “A. Casella” Conservatory of Music in Italy (Bachelor of Music), the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris “A. Cortot”, France (Master of Music), Georgia State University (Master of Music), and Mozarteum Universität in Salzburg, Austria (Postgraduate Studies). She is currently a teaching assistant in the piano department at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Sam graduated from the University of Hartford with a music degree in Theory and Composition. As an educator, in the 70's and 80's, he was an adjunct professor at Westfield State University and Holyoke Community College where some of his students went on to perform at Carnegie Hall. Sam conducted orchestras at the Worlds Fair in Osaka, Japan, toured Italy and New Zealand and appeared on national television with Roberta Flack. In August 2015, his New England Digital Accordion Orchestra opened for Deanna Martin and Bobby Rydell in Enfield, Ct. As a musical entrepreneur, Sam was president and CEO of Falcetti Music, a 50-year 8-store music chain, in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. Sam's picture has graced the front covers of Music Trades, MMR and University of Hartford's alumni magazine in honor of his accomplishments. An experienced adjudicator throughout the USA and Italy, Sam is on the board of AAA, ATAM and MAAA.
Mrs. Hasmik Zamgochian is trained in the classical Armenian and Russian methods. She studied with famous musicians and teachers in the former Soviet Union and started her music education at the age of seven.
Mrs. Zamgochian earned the Bachelor of Music degree in Music Pedagogy in Armenia and her Masters of Music degree from Connecticut State, Hartford Conservatory.
Mrs. Zamgochian is known for her distinguished teaching career. Her students have earned distinctive marks of piano competitions. She offers professional training for her students attending Mid Atlantic Music Teachers Guild, AYTM Competitions and concerts in Carnegie Hall, NYC.
She is able to teach piano lessons in English, Russian and Armenian and has taught masterclasses in piano master classes. A winner of several awards, Hasmik Zamgochian is a member of Connecticut Music Teacher National Association, Mid Atlantic Music Teachers Guild and Connecticut Accordion Association.
She has received wide recognition as a musician and teacher and has served as the piano instructor and chair of the piano department of the Cultural center in Armenia. Mrs. Zamgochian served as an adjudicator for music competitions in Armenia, New York and NJ.
Laura Addeo-Bone received her BA in Music Education from Kean University and continued her studies at Montclair University. She is a member of Mid-Atlantic Music Teachers Guild, New Jersey Music Educators Association and National Association of Music Educators.
As a Music Educator in the Linden Public Schools, her range of teaching experience includes strings, woodwinds instruction and elementary band. She is currently Band Director for Concert and Jazz bands at Soehl Middle School. Her private lessons provide instruction in piano, flute, saxophone and clarinet.
As a performer, she has played with numerous flute ensembles under the direction of flutist Laura George. She has played in local productions of Leader of the Pack, Aida, Beauty and The Beast and On Your Toes.
Frank Busso, Sr.
Frank J. Busso, Sr. has served on the governing board of the American Accordionists’ Association for 45 years. He has held the office of President, Vice President and Treasurer. Currently he is serving as Treasurer and Comptroller of the AAA. As director of the Staten Island Music School of New York, he has taught many award winning students and orchestras. Although retired, he is still performing and arranging orchestral works.
Mr. Busso is the proud father of two children who both continue to follow their musical passions as part of The Busso Trio. Frank J. Busso, Jr. is the accordionist of the United States Air Force as a member of the Strolling Strings and is based in Washington, D.C. He is also the owner of Ernest Deffner Affiliates and Director of The Busso Music School in Alexandria, Va.
Concert Accordionist Mary Tokarski performs both nationally and internationally as a soloist, with Symphony Orchestras, with String Quartets, in several duos and trios and as a member of The 'K' Trio. Mary has performed in Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Scotland and Switzerland, as well as extensively in the United States.
Along with her travels throughout the U.S. giving concerts, accordion workshops and master classes, she has recorded 3 solo CDs, 3 CDs with The "K" Trio and collaborated on a book for early childhood readers called “An Accordion! What Is That?” Mary is a currently serving as President of the American Accordionists' Association (AAA), is a member of the Accordionists' and Teachers' Guild International (ATG) and was a co-founder of the Connecticut Accordion Association (CAA).
Joseph Bartello is a graduate of Neupauer Conservatory with a specialization in performance and keyboard pedagogy. After graduation he joined the faculty at Neupauer Conservatory teaching private music lessons and conservatory preparatory classes. In 1967, Joseph and his wife Pat moved to Central Pennsylvania where they established the Bartello School of Music, teaching many award winning students who went on to become professionals in the performance and teaching field. In addition to teaching and preparing students for competition, recitals and auditions, the school offers college preparatory classes, preparing students for a professional career in music.
Rose Slachetka Bachraty
Rose is retired from the Clark Board of Education after teaching vocal, instrumental and strings in public school for 35 years. With a BA and MA in music from Rutgers University,
Rose owned and operated Progressive School of Music, in Linden, New Jersey, where students actively participated in competitions sponsored by the American Accordionist's Association (AAA) and the
Accordion Teacher's Association (ATA). Rose was an active member of the New Jersey Music Educator's Association (NJMEA) and coached students for their competitions. Currently involved as a piano accompanist and projects in music therapy, Rose is delighted to adjudicate at MAMTG's Spring Music Festival.
Donnetta Bishop-Johnson is the founder and executive director of the Allegra School of Music and Arts in Hillsborough, NJ. The Allegra School of Music and Arts has been a leader in the music and theater community for over 16 years, recently garnering the Courier News “Best of the Best” community award for summer musical theater camps. Ms. Bishop-Johnson is the senior drama director at Allegra SMA and has produced and directed over sixty dramatic and musical theater productions in central New Jersey. She is a board member of the Hillsborough Cultural Arts Commission, and Founder of the Hillsborough Music Festival which raises funds for college scholarships in the arts and secondary school suicide prevention programs. Bishop-Johnson’s students have been accepted into prestigious university acting programs and have appeared in film and television.
Linda Soley Reed
Linda Soley Reed began studying the accordion at age 7 and participated in AAA and Connecticut State-wide competitions winning numerous awards. She studied with the late Rudy Molinaro, was a theory major at the University of Bridgeport (CT), and also studied conducting privately with Dr. Harrison Valante and John Maucieri at Yale. She also studied jazz piano with John Mehegan.
Linda became a Certified Teacher member of the American Accordionists’ Association in 1962 and by 1971, she was an active member of numerous committees as well as the owner of the Molinaro School of Music in Bridgeport (CT). She chaired the AAA “Accordion Day” events for many years which were held at the Woodcliff Lake Hilton and the Saddle Brook Marriott. Her ensembles and orchestras consistently won awards and were invited to perform at several events both locally and nationally.
In addition to her teaching schedule, Linda performed with a 4 piece group called Odyssey and remained with that group for 15 years. She was also adjunct professor of music at the University of Bridgeport. Linda served as President of the American Accordionists’ Association from 2005 to 2014 and currently serves as 2nd Vice President and artist liaison for the 2016 Buffalo SqueezeFest hosted by the American Accordionists' Association.
Cynthia Thomason Bartlett
Cindy is a private instrumental music teacher for piano and flute. Throughout her twenty six year career in the NJ public schools, she taught choral, general, band and orchestra. Cindy was an adjunct faculty member of Fairleigh Dickinson University as an ensemble director and private music instructor. She was a children's church choir director and the owner of the Progressive School of Music. Throughout her teaching career, she has taught many contest champions.
Cindy received a BA in music education, magna cum laude, from FDU Florham-Madison. Her music studies began at the age of eight and she continued on to win state, regional and national competitions sponsored by the ATA of NJ, the AAA, and the NJ Talent Expo. Cindy has performed with the Molinaro Orchestra and the Desiderio Orchestra. Today she enjoys performing as a volunteer musician in her church and throughout the community.
Cindy is a member of the MENC and MAMTG. She is a former member of the AAA, and NJMEA and former board member of the ATA.
Susan Speidel appeared in the off-Broadway revue OLIO: A MODERN VAUDEVILLE and in THE STUDENT PRINCE, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and KING ISLAND CHRISTMAS at Paper Mill Playhouse. Other credits include NUSENSE, CHICAGO and ALL SHOOK UP at Surflight Theater, DAMES AT SEA and CINDERELLA at George Street Playhouse; COMPANY, NINE, THE THREE MUSKETEERS and MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG at the Forum Theater, among others. A vocalist, Susan served as Director of Education for acclaimed Paper Mill Playhouse for 20 years and was founder of Rising Star Awards and Summer Musical Theater Conservatory.
Katherine Gornick is thrilled to be back for her third year as a vocal adjudicator for the MAMTG festival. Ms. Gornick is currently head of the vocal department and senior vocal instructor at the Allegra School of Music and Arts in Hillsborough, NJ. She has received her B.M. and M.M. in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College of Rider University studying from the renowned mezzo soprano Zehava Gal. Ms. Gornick enjoys a varied career as both an educator and performer in the central NJ, New York, and Philadelphia regions. Favorite performances include Mahler’s Second, Third and Eighth Symphonies with Pierre Boulez at Carnegie Hall and the Kimmel Center, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic, and Handel’s Messiah with Ton Koopman and the New York Philharmonic. She has also performed with the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC premiering Anthony Davis’ new opera Amistad as well as with the New Jersey Opera Company in performances of Carmen and Madame Butterfly. As an educator, Ms. Gornick has music directed and directed many musical theatre productions including Legally Blonde the musical, Avenue Q: School Edition, Into the Woods, Urinetown, and Little Women the musical. Ms. Gornick also enjoys programming cabaret events, masterclasses, recitals, and seminars. Favorite masterclasses have included bringing artists such as YouTube sensation and Broadway star Natalie Weiss and Jersey Boys star Russell Fischer to the Allegra School. Broadway star Jim Schubin will be coming to work with Allegra students this coming May. Ms. Gornick also presents on various vocal topics including singing contemporary commercial music, musical theatre, belting and vocal health.
Italian-American pianist, Catherine Ingravallo was born in New York City in 1981. Her love for music, especially opera, began at an early age and, after initial studies with Judy Weisberg and Edward Edson she entered the Manhattan School of Music as a student of Marc Silverman and Jeffrey Cohen.
Upon graduating from the Manhattan School of Music, Catherine furthered her studies as a scholarship student of Miyoko Nakaya Lotto, in the Graduate program in Piano Performance at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education, where she was also an adjunct faculty member.
Catherine’s pedagogical interest in music led her to pursue an extensive teaching career. She is a founding member of the Carnegie Hall Achievement program. Her students have achieved many prizes and honors in internationally recognized music educational programs such as ABRSM, The Carnegie Hall Achievement Program, The Piano Teachers Congress, and NYSSMA.
Catherine believes that music enhances the life of every student she teaches and is proud to be a part of their journey.
Kim is an Orchestra Director at the Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School (since 1996) and has taught Instrumental Music within the Bridgewater-Raritan School District for the past 23 years.
Kim earned her Bachelor of Music in Education, Cum Laude, with Vocal Emphasis from The University of Michigan and the University of Southern California. Kim has been involved as a member of multiple musical organizations including the prestigious Bach Choir of Bethlehem (PA) and the Hunterdon Symphony (NJ).
She Directed the Orchestras for Hunterdon Musical Arts’ Saturday Strings/Music for Youth Division from 2006-2015. In addition to educational and classical pursuits, Kim sings and plays keyboard, violin and flute with a variety of pop music groups, including folk/jazz group the Kathy Phillips Trio and tours with the wildly popular Fleetwood Mac tribute band, TUSK, performing 40-50 dates annually.