Donnetta Bishop-Johnson, Allegra's Founder/Owner, is an avid lover of the arts. She has lived in Hillsborough for more than twenty years. Ms. Donnetta discovered the power and beauty of theater and the arts at an early age, starting as a reviewer for her school newspaper in her New York City high school. As a student journalist, she often had front row seats to shows such as A Chorus Line, Cats, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and many other Broadway and Off-Broadway classics, developing a life-long love of drama and musical theater.
Ashley DelVecchio has been singing since the age of 5 and at the age of 9, she began taking formal lessons. In middle school, Ashley auditioned for the musical The Wizard of Oz and was cast as Glinda, the Good Witch, which led her to pursue more musical theater experience. Ashley was also a previous student of Allegra Teen Premier Summer Camp, participating in Allegra’s production of Fame, as well as taking private voice instruction.
Brandon has been playing drums since a young age and is a veteran of all types of percussion. He started off playing drum set and learning concert percussion. Throughout his school years he was in multiple ensembles such as wind ensemble, percussion ensemble, jazz ensembles and Marching band. He was part of the drum line in the Hillsborough High School marching band, and toured the country as part of Raiders Drum and Bugle Corps at the age of 16. Throughout college he was part of various bands and rock groups and has been playing gigs and concerts around the tri-state area for the past 6 years. During the summer of 2018 he embarked on a coast-to-coast tour with one of his bands and played over 30 shows around the U.S. He now currently teaching the Woodbridge High School Drum Line and is very well known throughout New Jersey's local music scene.
Nic Brown is a music educator, guitarist, and singer. In the decade since he began his guitar studies, Nic has become well-acquainted with many of the styles practiced on the instrument, including classical, jazz, rock, pop, folk, and rhythm and blues. While in college, he studied classical guitar with Michael Newman and Joseph Blumetti, as well as jazz guitar with Larry Barbee. During this time, he also participated in numerous performances (both on guitar and in choral ensembles) and master classes in the Northeastern United States. As an educator, Nic believes in fostering artistic appreciation and musical independence by exposing students to a varied repertoire in all styles and encouraging critical thinking.
Gwen Cartwright is a trained Soprano singing repertoire such as opera and art song but also is well versed in musical theatre, jazz, and more contemporary music. She received her undergraduate degree in vocal performance from Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa) and recently received her masters in vocal performance and pedagogy from Westminster Choir College (Princeton, New Jersey. 2018) where she studied under Sharon Sweet. Gwen has performed twice in Italy (International Lyric Academy of Rome) in roles such as Countessa from Le Nozze di Figaro. She has also attended a program Sing in China, where she collaborated with her fellow undergraduate students and Chinese undergraduate students to perform opera scenes in Beijing, China. Her most recent role was the cover for Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with the Steamboat Springs program in Colorado. Gwen has been performing since childhood and is very excited about enhancing her students passion for music whether it is singing or playing piano.
Megan Coiley enjoys a multi-faceted career as a pianist, conductor, and mezzo-soprano. As a collaborative pianist, she frequently plays with violinists and singers throughout
New Jersey and in the greater Philadelphia region. As a soloist, she particularly enjoys
performing the music of Shostakovich, and she is also a dedicated advocate of new
music. Megan has been a student of the Taubman Approach since 2007. Her teachers
include Edna Golandsky and Kendall Feeney, for whom she is forever grateful.
Alice Beals, a native of New Jersey, is a graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University where she received her Bachelor of Music Education with a concentration in Choral Studies. A Mezzo-Soprano, she studied voice under counter-tenor, Mark Crayton. In Chicago she was a regularly featured soloist and Alto section leader of the CCPA Chorale where she performed works with the Chicago Sinfonietta and Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. Alice has previously taught elementary through middle school piano, guitar, and choir. Presently, she teaches Pre-K through 4th grade general music and 4th grade choir in the Scotch-Plains Fanwood Public School district. She is also the director of the College Ave Community Church Choir in New Brunswick, NJ and a member of the Glassbrook Vocal Ensemble. Alice’s passion for teaching stems from her philosophy that we as educators are not just helping our students to become better musicians—we are helping them to become better people.
Marisa Curcio is a graduate of Westminster Choir College, where she studied both Sacred Music and Music Education. While singing with the college’s top ensembles - Westminster Choir and Westminster Kantorei - she embarked on two US tours, two European tours, performed as part of the choir-in-residence at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC, and can be heard on Westminster Kantorei’s first and newest album, Lumina (distributed by NAXOS). Currently, she is working on a recording project with pianist, Mark Loria, and producer/composer, Malcolm Bruno, which is set to release in the coming year. Also an active violinist, she has played for many recitals, concerts, and events. Ms. Marisa is a classroom teacher as well, currently substitute teaching in schools all around the area. She is very excited to teach at the Allegra School, and believes that you learn best when you’re enjoying what you’re doing!
Lillian Graham was a music teacher for the East Brunswick Public School District. She taught general/vocal music at the elementary level for 30 years. As a classroom music teacher, she developed lessons that engaged her students in fun, creative, and challenging ways. Mrs. Graham directed and accompanied the school chorus and presented a variety of programs for school assemblies and concerts. She began playing the piano at the age of nine and soon discovered the joy of music making through many years of private piano lessons, recitals, and concert performances. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education from Rutgers University and a Master of Arts for Teachers from Rutgers Graduate School. During her college years, Mrs. Graham performed as a solo pianist, accompanist, and in chamber music ensembles. She studied piano performance with Maria Katona Valgoczy and Wanda Maximilien. Mrs. Graham sang in the Voorhees Chapel Choir at Douglass College under the directorship of Barbara Linglebach. For many years, Mrs. Graham taught private piano lessons and encouraged her students to do their best and to be proud of their accomplishments. Mrs. Graham is looking forward to teaching piano at the Allegra School of Music and Arts and hopes to share her love of music and inspire her students to develop their musical abilities.
Karen Kacvinski-Tollin has played clarinet since 1999, and saxophone since 2001. She played woodwind instruments in many musicals such as West Side Story, Kiss Me Kate, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. She played in various ensembles such as marching band, jazz band, Montclair State University wind symphony, orchestra, Harry Parch, saxophone quartet and saxophone ensemble.
Phoebe Hu obtained her Master of Music as a student of Victoria Chiang at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where she was awarded the Olga Von Hartz Memorial Prize in Strings. She has soloed with the Cairn Symphony Orchestra, performed with the Jacksonville Symphony and at the Bowdoin International Music Festival. She is fortunate to have studied orchestral excerpts with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra at the David Kim Orchestral Institute. She also studied violin/viola pedagogy with Rebecca Henry, co-chair of the string department at the Peabody Preparatory. Also proficient on the piano, she often accompanies her students during recitals. Passionate about music education, Phoebe tailors each lesson to fit the student’s specific needs and goals. She is encouraging yet demanding to help her students achieve their highest potential. Some of her advanced students have gotten into the Delaware All-State Orchestra.
Dyanne Lile is a graduate of Westminster Choir College where she received her Master’s in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy, studying under the tutelage of Claudia Catania and Dr. Christopher Arneson. While attending WCC, Dyanne was a member of the prestigious Westminster Choir and the early music ensemble, Kantorei. Through these two ensembles, she was featured on 2 internationally released CDs, performed at Spoleto Festival USA in the ensembles of the main stage operas, Eugene Onegin and Pia del Tolomei, as well as a soloist in the Westminster Choir concerts, traveled to Spain to represent the United States at the World Choral Symposium in Barcelona, and performed in Julia Wolfe’s groundbreaking Anthracite Fields, at the Trenton Roebling Wireworks Factory with the renowned musical ensemble, Bang on a Can. Dyanne participated in the Art Song Festival while at WCC and was seen as Ida in Westminster Opera Theater’s production of Die Fledermaus. Dyanne has extensive experience performing in both musical theatre and opera. Roles include Velma Kelly in Chicago, Drowsy Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone, Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Cunegonde in Candide, Susannah in Le Nozze di Figaro, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, and Frasquita in Carmen. Dyanne has a passion for musical theatre, opera, choral music, and contemporary music.
Neil Mitchell is a baritone vocalist and collaborative pianist located in Princeton, NJ with a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree from Westminster Choir College. As a voice primary at Westminster, Neil starred as Lord Mountararat in Gilbert and Sullivan's opera Iolanthe under the baton of Rachelle Jonck. He has also been featured in scenes from Die Zauberflote as Papageno, Cosi fan tutte as Guglielmo, and La Boheme as Marcello with Westminster's Opera Workshop under the direction of Nova Thomas and William Hobbs. With the Westminster Symphonic Choir, he has performed iconic works with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and the Philadelphia Orchestra at venues such as Carnegie Hall and Verizon Hall.
Shelby Jackloski earned her Master of Music degree with distinction in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College and her Bachelor of Music degree magna cum laude in Music Education with a minor in Educational Theatre from New York University. Shelby is a New York State certified Pre-K-12 music educator and she most recently worked as a Teaching Artist at the Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School of the Lighthouse Guild in Manhattan, NY, exclusively teaching students with visual impairments. With the Westminster Symphonic Choir under the direction of Dr. Joe Miller, Shelby has performed choral works with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra at both David Geffen Hall and the Kimmel Center, respectively. Shelby’s most recent opera credits include Frasquita in scenes from Bizet’s Carmen with Westminster Opera Workshop and Papagena (cover) in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with Westminster Opera Theatre. At NYU, Shelby was a member of Steinhardt’s elite choral ensembles, performing large-scale works with the NYU Chorale, serving as the assistant conductor of the University Singers, and acting as the soprano section leader for the NYU Madrigal Singers. While studying music abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, Shelby performed Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Charles University choir and orchestra and as a soloist, she has performed in the annual Northeast Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association Honors Recital at Carnegie Hall. Shelby believes in systematic and sequential voice teaching and emphasizes teaching technique and artistry through the demands of the repertoire, while simultaneously fostering a genuine love of singing.
Adam Shaber has been playing music since he was six years old, playing a range of instruments from piano and guitar, to vocals, bass, clarinet, and saxophone. He has performed in concert, jazz, and rock bands, choirs, pit orchestras, and as a soloist, performing in the South Jersey area where he was born. Adam is a recent graduate of Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in May 2015 where he earned his B.A. in Music Education and Jazz Guitar Performance. In addition to teaching, Adam is an active professional musician, he plays guitar and sings a wide variety of musical styles and genres as a soloist, sideman, and bandleader. Adam performs at restaurants, clubs, pit orchestras, church choirs, and at community, charity, and private events. He teaches guitar, electric bass, ukulele, piano, and voice. With his students, Adam focuses on the abilities of the individual student in technique, music theory, reading, and repertoire.
Mrs. Elena A. Taylor is a Music Educator, professional Pianist/Organist, Minister of Music, Band/Choral Director, Instrumental/Vocal Instructor with thirteen years of experience. She holds two bachelor’s degrees in Music Performance and Education and a Masters of Music in Performance. She is known for her impressive virtuosity and an expressive performance style. Her performances are described as brilliant and powerful. As a teacher, Elena has been providing instrumental/vocal instruction to many students at all different levels, styles, and ages with great success. She creates an environment of musical excellence and commitment. Her teaching is meaningful, effective, and always fun.
A native son of New Brunswick, NJ, Jonathan Ware began playing Piano and Tuba at the early age of 7, he started playing for his church in middle school and soon after joined the Jazz Institute of New Jersey where he Studied under Radam Swartz. In Undergraduate studies he was the principal Pianist for Montclair State University’s premier Jazz ensemble.