Faculty Bios

Noelle Casella Grand, MA (Royal Academy of Music), LRAM, BA
Cello, Chamber Music

Noelle Casella Grand, an American born cellist, has been praised for her “wonderful, rich tone” and her “particularly expressive and finely nuanced playing”. Noelle is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London where she received a Master of Arts and the accompanying LRAM Teaching Diploma with distinction. Prior to her years at the Academy, Noelle studied in New York at Sarah Lawrence College and at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Equally at home on the concert platform as in the classroom, Noelle enjoys an active career encompassing both performance and teaching throughout Europe and the United States. Noelle is currently a Director of the Grand School of Music, Pennsylvania.

Recent performances include the original version of Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations with the Old York Road Symphony and the Korngold Cello Concerto with the Guernsey Sinfonietta with praise such as "she really understands what she is playing in Korngold" (Bennett Lerner, pianist). Noelle was also recently featured as a solo cellist for a Nakashima Foundation for Peace event, upon personal invitation by Mira Nakashima-Yarnall. Other performances and collaborations include the premieres of numerous compositions for both solo cello and chamber ensemble as well as recently having worked with New York based photographer Don Freeman on the soundtrack for his internationally acclaimed documentary and book, "Artists Handmade Houses".

Noelle has performed with such ensembles as the Philadelphia International Music Festival Piano Trio, Bach Festival Orchestra, baroque ensemble La Fiocco, Pennsylvania Sinfonia, L'Offerta Musicale Venezia, New York Consort of Viols, the Royal Academy of Music's Symphony, Concert and Opera Orchestras, Guernsey Sinfonietta, London Rehearsal Orchestra, Conservatorium van Amsterdam Symfonieorkest, Guernsey Choral and Orchestral Society, London Arts Orchestra, CUNY New Music Ensemble in New York, and the New York Youth Symphony. Having lived in the USA, Holland, and the UK, Noelle has performed in many venues from Carnegie Hall, Baryshnikov Arts Center, The Mann Music Center, The Duke's Hall, Bernard Haitinkzaal, St James's Piccadilly, The Union League of Philadelphia, and Bryant Park, NYC.

Alongside her regular performance and teaching schedule, Noelle enjoys organizing and performing for charitable events and causes. Recently, Noelle has organized a string orchestra to perform in the Baker Street Pedestrian Underpass in London to raise awareness for homelessness in the UK. Other involvement has included such organizations as the American Heart Association and A Woman's Place.

Noelle plays on a Joseph Hill cello, c. 1770 London.

Sebastian Grand, MA (Royal Academy of Music), MusB, GRNCM, CTABRSM
Piano / Conductor

Sebastian Grand is currently Principal Conductor of the Guernsey Sinfonietta and active as a pianist, conductor and educator both throughout Europe and in the United States. He is a Director of the Grand School of Music in Pennsylvania, conductor of the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County (YOBC) Philharmonia and Assistant Conductor of Bucks County Symphony Orchestra.

Raised in Guernsey, Seb is a First-class graduate of the Joint Course between the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) and has received a Masters with distinction from the Royal Academy of Music in London. A prizewinner at each institution, Seb’s notable awards include winning three Hargreaves Prizes and the Procter-Gregg Prize at Manchester University, the Piano Duo Prize and the Clifton Helliwell Memorial Prize at the RNCM and the Dorothy Bryant Award at the Academy. He was also commended in the Christian Carpenter Piano Recital Prize and the Harold Craxton Piano Trio Prize whilst at the Academy and was a prizewinner at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 2010. His formative years were spent learning with Mervyn Grand, and were followed by studies with Ian Fountain, Paul Janes and Vanessa Latarche.

As a pianist, Seb is much in demand as a concerto soloist, recitalist, accompanist, chamber musician, orchestral pianist and répétiteur. He made his concerto debut in 2008, receiving a standing ovation for his performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and has since performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto no. 1 (University of Manchester Sinfonietta), Bartok's Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion (University of Manchester Symphony Orchestra), Grieg’s Piano Concerto (St James Sinfonia) and Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals (Guernsey Camerata). He has performed at the Bridgewater Hall with the RNCM Symphony Orchestra, as soloist with the RNCM Wind Orchestra and as orchestral pianist for Fulham and Worthing Symphony Orchestras. He is a member of the D’Avanzo Piano Trio, and has worked as répétiteur for Olivier award winning company OperaUpClose.

As founder and principal conductor of the Guernsey Sinfonietta, Seb is also in high demand as conductor of a wide variety of both professional and non-professional ensembles. He was a participant on the 2012 Orkney Conductor’s Course, where he worked with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Trondheim Soloists and the St Magnus Festival Chorus and received a full bursary to conduct the Orchestra of the Swan in a public masterclass with Kenneth Woods. He co-founded the Odyssey Symphony Orchestra – who performed their debut concert in St James’s Piccadilly in 2011 – and has taken rehearsals for Ealing Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the City, Lord Williams Festival Chorus and St Alban’s Chamber Choir. Seb also conducted the University of Manchester String Orchestra’s 09/10 Season and Royal Academy of Music Opera Scenes in 2012.

Always interested in developing new and exciting projects, Seb co-founded Guernsey-based new music group Terra Nova, has led a performance of In C for the Victor Hugo International Music Festival and conducted ‘Serenade for Shelter’ – a performance raising awareness for homeless charity Shelter UK. Seb studied conducting with Martyn Brabbins, Charles Peebles and Mark Heron and has participated in masterclasses with Mark Shanahan, Clark Rundell and Richard Boynage

Jambol Leuenberger, MM, BM (Temple)
Violin, Viola

Rodolfo PictureJambol Leuenberger, originally from Mechanicsburg, PA, studied with Joseph Esmilla, Odin Rathnam, and Pamela de Wall of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. He completed his B.M. in 2009 and M.M. in 2011 from Temple University studying with Helen Kwalwasser.

At Temple, he performed with the Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, the Kimmel Center, and Lincoln Center and participated in masterclasses given by Arnold Steinhardt, the Biava Quartet, and the Emerson Quartet. Other activities during his education include Baroque violin with Nancy Wilson and Joyce Lindorff, treble viol in the Early Music Ensemble, and also performing and recording new compositions by local composers. As a board member and Resident Artist of The Wednesday Club of Harrisburg, he performs solo and collaborative recitals in Central PA. Jambol lives in Philadelphia as an active performer, teacher, and violinist of The Veritas Quartet. Recent performances with ensembles include Pennsylvania Philhamonic, Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra, Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance, Concert Opera Philadelphia, and Opera Libera.

This summer, he will be attending La Pellegrina, a chamber music program with the Martinu Quartet in the Czech Republic.


Freddy Contreras

Freddy was born in San Cristóbal, Venezuela. At age 8 he started his musical studies at “El Sistema”, the Venezuelan orchestral program under the tutelage of Professors Pedro Navarro and Maria Alejandra Guerrero. He was a member of children's youth and semi-professional orchestras throughout his studies in this institution. Parallel to this he was enrolled at the “Miguel Ángel Espinel” School if music where he was student of Marco Sayago.

In 2010 Freddy started his professional music studies at the “Universidad de Los Andes” in Mérida, Venezuela in the studio of Maestro Simón Gollo. In 2012 prior to his acceptance to Temple University he was invited by ArCoNet to enter in its Pre-College program where he continued his violin studies with Mr. Gollo. Freddy has participated in summer festivals such as the “Nuevo Mundo” Festival and Academy and the Dalí Quartet Chamber Music Camp and Festival. He has received instruction in both violin and chamber music masterclasses with Dimitri Berlinsky, Daniel Phillips, Kurt Nikkanen, Netanel Draiblate, Benjamin Sung, Francesca Anderegg, Dalí String Quartet, Enso String Quartet, Cavani String Quartet, and the Dover String Quartet. This past summer Freddy was the Student Services Director for the Nuevo Mundo Festival and Academy as well as the Festival Assistant’s Coordinator For the Dalí Quartet Chamber Music Camp. Freddy is currently completing his Bachelor´s degree in Violin Performance as a part Dr. Vladimir Dyo's studio at Temple Universiy's Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia, USA.


Thomas Cunningham, MA, BM
Conductor / Piano

Thomas Cunningham is artistic director of Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra. Founded in 2014, this orchestra for the 21st century is malleable in size, genre and venue and collaborates anywhere, anytime, with anyone. Mr. Cunningham made his New York debut conducting Iolanta for Opera Slavica in 2012. He is on the conducting staff of the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County in Bucks County, PA and Voices of Ascension in New York, NY. He works regularly with The Princeton Festival, Opera Slavica and The CoOPERAtive program.

A conductor of distinctly broad repertory, recent engagements have included the concertos of Bach, Dvorak and Berg, orchestrating Addi Jacq's award-winning songs, and commissioning numerous young composers. Passionate about the American repertory, Mr. Cunningham believes deeply in the underperformed compositions of African American composers, especially William Grant Still and George Walker. He recently created a symphonic suite of William Grant Still’s grand opera Troubled Island.

Mr. Cunningham counts Tito Muñoz, Kynan Johns, Kenneth Kiesler and Dennis Keene amongst his teachers and mentors. He is a graduate of Westminster Choir College, and was a finalist in the 2016 International 4x4 Prizes for composers and conductors.

Holding degress in Music and Education, Mr. Cunningham is currently on the piano faculty at the Pen Ryn School and is an active educator. He is a graduate of Westminster Choir College.

For more information, visit www.ThomasCunningham.us


Krysta Fogel, MM, BM

Krysta Fogel is a recent graduate of Temple University, where she earned a Master’s of Music degree in String Pedagogy under the tutelage of Jeffrey Solow. While at Temple, Krysta performed with the TU Symphony Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, Contemporary Ensemble, and New Music Ensemble and studied pedagogy with Jeffrey Solow and Eduard Schmieder. She has also performed extensively throughout the northern Virginia area and has received a Bachelor’s of Music in Violoncello Performance from Shenandoah University. In addition, Krysta is a Suzuki certified cello instructor and has studied the Suzuki method with Sally Gross and Beth Goldstein-McKee.

A young and enthusiastic teacher, Krysta teaches privately in Philadelphia and its surrounding areas. She is an advocate of healthy and efficient cello playing to promote lifelong music-making, and often builds upon ideas from the Alexander Technique in lessons. For Krysta, the most rewarding part in teaching is watching her students grow and find their own voice through music.


Michael Newman, MM, BM

Michael Newman is a classically trained cellist from Southampton, Pennsylvania. In May 2018, he earned his Master's Degree from the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University. Michael was a recipient of the Marc von May Cello Scholarship and studied with distinguished cellist, Alan Stepansky. While at Peabody, he was awarded the Olga Von Hartz Owens Memorial Prize in Strings and the Grace Clagett Ramney Prize in Chamber Music. Additionally, he served as principal cellist of Peabody's Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and Modern Orchestra, which included performances in New York City and Washington D.C. As a soloist, he premiered two seperate works for cello, written by composer Zach Gulaboff Davis. Michael received his Bachleor's degree in May 2016 from the Boyer College of Music at Temple University, under the tutelgae of Udi Bar-David, a cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

An accomplished chamber musician, Micahel won the position of principal cello in 2016 for Baltimore's newest chamber orchestra, Symphony Number One, which performs substantial works by emerging composers. At Peabody, Michael was a member of the Vernon Quartet, which was selected, by audition, as Peabody's Honors Ensemble for 2017-2018. In the summer of 2018, Michael attended the Manchester Music Festival as a cello fellowship recipient in the Young Artisits Program. Previously, Michael has performed in various concerts, fesitvals and in master classes with the Julliard Quartet, the Brentano Quartet and the Jerusalem Quartet. Michael was also a member of the Peabody String Sinfonia, a conductor-less string orchestra that performs exclusively in the local community with a mission to the bring the beauty of music to people in challenging situations. While in his hometown, Michael enjoys teaching cello lessons privately and at a summer music school.

Abbie Mulhern

Abbie Mulhern is a multi-faceted musician who brings a broad range of experiences to her studio. As a pianist, Miss Mulhern has performed and accompanied in masterclasses, recitals, church settings, and special events. As a conductor, Miss Mulhern has worked with various instrumental and vocal ensembles including the Princeton Area Homeschool Choir Kindred Singers. She is on the Piano Faculty of the Cairn Community Arts Academy and teaches piano and voice privately. Miss Mulhern is finishing a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance at Cairn University and studies with Kenneth Borrmann. In addition to her studies and teaching responsibilities, Miss Mulhern works full-time at Cairn University in the School of Music as the Recruitment and Events Coordinator.