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Current Graduate Students

Stephanie Faria-Kropp

Portrait of Stephanie Faria-Kropp.
Stephanie Faria-Kropp.

Stephanie Faria-Kropp is a master’s student pursuing her degree in Music Education at the BCCM.

Originally from Tulare, CA, Stephanie completed her Bachelor of Music Education and Clarinet Performance from California State University, Long Beach.

She regularly plays with community orchestras and is currently enlisted in the United States Army Reserve Band stationed in Bell, CA.

Stephanie has a strong interest in psychology and performance anxiety in elementary instrumental musicians, and currently teaches K-5 instrumental music for the Long Beach Unified School District.

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Cameron Johnston

Portrait of Cameron Johnston.
Cameron Johnston.

Cameron Johnston, from Torrance, California, is a composer and musician specializing in electronic music and experimental performance practices. He earned his bachelor’s in Music Composition from CSULB where he studied composition, primarily with Dr. Martin Herman. He currently serves as Director of the CSULB New Music Ensemble and is the assistant director of the CSULB Laptop Ensemble. He is working towards his Master of Music in Composition with Interactive Media at CSULB.

Cameron often performs with his laptop ensemble, Pile of Wires, where he has performed original works in the Los Angeles area and in New York City. He enjoys collaborating and frequently composes and works for filmmakers and choreographers. Additionally, he performs with the SynthLab musician and composer collective based in Long Beach, recently having performed in virtual concerts. He is currently working on his second opera featuring only electronics for the accompaniment and an album with his group Pile of Wires.

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Kimmie Levin

Portrait of Kimmie Levin.
Kimmie Levin.

Kimmie Levin is a violinist from Rancho Santa Margarita, California. She is pursuing her Master of Music in violin performance at the Bob Cole Conservatory at CSULB, studying under Professor Henri Gronnier and Dr. Moni Simeonov. She is also a violin and viola teacher at a music school in Irvine where she works with students of a variety of ages, abilities, and learning styles.

Kimmie was Assistant to the Director of String Studies at Chapman University, where she studied with Professor William Fitzpatrick and received her Bachelor of Music in violin performance in 2016. She has since performed in string quartets, orchestras, operas, pop concerts, musicals, and film scores in southern California.

When she’s not practicing, she loves to play videogames on her Nintendo Switch with her puppies, Wilson and Morty.

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Jacob Lythgoe

Portrait of Jacob Lythgoe.
Jacob Lythgoe.

Trumpet player Jacob Lythgoe has been described by one of his mentors as having "a drive and tenacity that have been intense and relentless, yielding tremendous progress." Jacob has experienced success in a variety of performance settings including being a semifinalist at the National Trumpet Competition performing with the top six trumpet ensembles in the nation. He and participated in several summer music festivals including The Sewanee Summer Music Festival, the Montecito International Music Festival, and Ryan Darke’s Trumpet Forward. Most recently, Jacob accepted a position on the Tucson Symphony Orchestra substitute list.

Jacob first excelled in music in the marching arts, spending three summer tours with The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps. While there, he developed a strong work ethic and leadership abilities as a lead trumpet, soloist, and section leader. He was also a member of the 2016 All American Marching Band, a program that accepted best high school marching musicians in the country to perform at the US Army All American Bowl. He went on to march with the 2017 undefeated DCI World Champions the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps.

While his marching days are over, Jacob dedicates much of his time to marching arts education. He was the visual caption head and trumpet teacher at Rincon University High School in Tucson, Arizona from 2016-2020. He enjoys watching his students improve both as performers and as people.

Jacob graduated from the Fred Fox School of Music at the University of Arizona in 2020 with his bachelor’s in Trumpet Performance. He studied with Ryan Darke, Principal Trumpet of the LA Opera, and Jason Carder, Yanni’s solo trumpeter. He is currently pursuing his master’s in Trumpet Performance with Ryan Darke at California State University Long Beach.

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Jasmine Mangal

Portrait of Jasmine Mangal.
Jasmine Mangal.

Soprano Jasmine Mangal is from Modesto, CA and has been noted for "performances with strong vocal range and stamina" by The Daily Titan. Her professionalism and compassion for music inspires creativity and welcomes life into her art.

Miss Mangal has a solid performance background with diverse appearances. Her most recent performances was with LA Opera’s Community and Education division as Pam in The Magic Dream, a children’s rendition of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Several other roles include include Lucy in The Threepenny Opera, Madame Galwari in Lehar’s The Merry Wife, Adele in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, Madame Silberkland in Mozart’s Die Schauspieldirektor, and Mabel in Pirates of Penzance.

Jasmine recently completed her bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance at Cal State University Fullerton’s School of Music, where she studied with Janet Smith. She won 1st place in the American Soloist Competition and is a member of the international professional co-ed music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon. Her mentor, Marty Stark, has greatly influenced her understanding and navigation of the innumerable aspects of professional opera. She is a student of Shigemi Matsumoto and is currently completing a M.M. with an emphasis in Opera Performance.

At the BCCM Jasmine hopes to continue to build a solid career in opera and the performing arts.

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Apostolia Nikouli

Portrait of Apostolia Nikouli.
Apostolia Nikouli.

Apostolia Nikouli earned her diploma in choral conducting in her native Greece, receiving high honors. She completed her master’s in Musicology from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where she conducted the Athens City Symphony Orchestra and the Thessaloniki City Symphony Orchestra premiering contemporary pieces in cooperation with Aristotle University’s contemporary music lab. In 2017 she was Principal Conductor of the children’s choir at the Catholic Church of Thessaloniki and from 2019-2020 she was assistant conductor for the Thessaloniki City Symphony Orchestra and North College Choir under the guidance of Athanasia Kyriakidou.

Apostolia’s great interest in research led her to complete her final master’s thesis, I. Stravinsky, Symphony in C, Analytical and aesthetic approach in the context of Neoclassicism, under the supervision of Dr. Konstantinos Chardas. She also contributed to a paper on behalf of the Hellenic Musicology Society, entitled Rephrase the tradition: The multifaceted role of symmetry in Symphony in C (1938-1940) of Igor Stravinsky.

Currently she conducts the Bob Cole Conservatory Symphony Orchestra while working toward her master’s in orchestral conducting at the BCCM under the guidance of Dr. Johannes Müller Stosch.

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Maria Peñaloza

Portrait of Maria Peñaloza.
Maria Peñaloza.

Maria Peñaloza is a master’s student pursuing her degree in violin performance. Maria completed her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance in 2020 at the BCCM where she studied with Andrea Byers, a student of Ivan Galamian. She performed with the BCCM Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Johannes Müller Stosch, and the New Music Ensemble, directed by Alan Shockley.

Being a violin student at the Bob Cole Conservatory is an exhilarating and empowering experience. She loves the rigorous academic culture, musicianship, and fellowship that is cultivated here through the leadership of Dr. Stosch and violin studies director, Moni Simeonov.

She co-founded the Viva Learning Center in Lakewood, CA, where she teaches music classes. She also teaches privately and freelances in the Los Angeles and Orange county areas. Maria’s ultimate goal is to establish music studios for families in disadvantaged areas.

Maria knows the road to violin mastery continues to help her overcome limiting perspectives, to acquire higher thinking, and to obtain freedom, leading to a more enriching life for her and everyone she teaches.

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Maura Phelps

Portrait of Maura Phelps.
Maura Phelps.

Maura Phelps is an M.M. candidate studying Cello Performance with Dr. David Garrett. Originally from Washington state, she pursued a B.M. in Instrumental Performance and Music Therapy at Western Michigan University as a Rhea Yeager Fetzer Scholar. While there, she served as the associate and assistant principal cellist in the Holland Symphony Orchestra working under BCCM’s own Johannes Müller Stosch. Additionally, she worked as the University Symphony librarian and played in the Advanced Jazz Ensemble, which performed at the 2020 Jazz Education Network conference in New Orleans. In 2018, she was awarded the William and Fiona Denny scholarship. The following year was voted by music faculty as the top senior and was named the Presidential Scholar for the School of Music, graduating summa cum laude.

In addition to performing and teaching, Maura completed music therapy clinical work in the Kalamazoo community. Following graduation, she completed her internship at the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital where she worked as a full-time music therapist and treatment team member. In August 2020, she earned her MT-BC credential and is a board-certified music therapist.

Maura is passionate about her work as a cellist and music therapist and continues to explore how the two interact with and benefit one another. She has had the pleasure of working with many professors from DePaul University, Boston Conservatory, Cincinnati College Conservatory, and Juilliard, among others. She currently teaches privately and works to use her music therapy training to provide a learning environment which is accessible to any and all abilities.

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Kris Rahamad

Portrait of Kris Rahamad.
Kris Rahamad.

Kris Rahamad is a Los Angeles-based performer-composer attending CSULB for his M.M. in Composition. He performs and composes in new music ensembles, collaborating with artists such as Alvin Lucier and the Ever Present Orchestra, and Ulrich Krieger. During his undergraduate studies at California Institute of the Arts, Kris’s principal teachers were Nicholas Deyoe, Andrew McIntosh, Ulrich Krieger, Vinny Golia, and Mark Menzies.

Kris made his international debut as a co-composer and soloist for the theatrical production Pomegranate Jam, a feminist retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone, goddess of the underworld. The production premiered in the 2013 Edinburgh International Fringe Festival, receiving rave reviews: "a gorgeous, ghostly original score, from composer David Aguila and violinist Kris Rahamad, serves action better than any dialogue or narration ever could." (Fest Magazine, UK).

Kris returned to Edinburgh Fringe in 2017 where he was the musical arranger for Gunshot Medley, a theater production that follows the spirits of African American slaves as they face the racial oppressions from the civil war through the current BLM movement. His current projects include commissions from soloist/trumpeter Lucas Lipari-Mayer of Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris, and local violinist Alisa Luera.

Kris’s compositions are inspired by Baroque forms and 20th-Century Classical styles. At CSULB, he is currently composing a multi-movement passacaglia for chamber orchestra and choir, where he is researching Alfred Schnittke’s polystylism and the Baroque passacaglia. Through these styles, he is exploring his Colombian heritage by including musical elements from Colombian music within the passacaglia.

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Darita Seth

Portrait of Darita Seth.
Darita Seth.

Master of Music in Choral Conducting candidate, Darita Seth, was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. Darita is founder, president, and director of Choral Audacity, Director of Music at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Associate Director of the Danville Girls Chorus, an Associate Director of the Cantabella Children’s Chorus, and a former Interim Director of the Grammy Award-winning Pacific Boychoir Academy. He concluded his tenure with Chanticleer, the Grammy Award-winning, San Francisco-based men’s vocal ensemble in 2016.

As a Sigma Alpha Iota distinguished member, he periodically appears as a guest soloist with the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony, sounding Light Chamber Choir, RSVP, and the Saringhimig Singers. Darita attended Capital University, where he received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. He is also a proud alumnus of the Interlochen Arts Academy and Camp, where he participated in the composition, opera, and choral programs.

Praised for his "technical deliciousness, power and precision of the connection between the colors of the voice, and beauty of delivery" (Aspen Music Festival), Darita has been featured in performances of masterworks including Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Durufle’s Requiem, and Handel’s Messiah. Additionally, he has recorded with AireBorn Studios, featuring his voice on premiere perusal recordings. He has performed in many notable international concert venues including Musikverein in Vienna, Endler Hall in South Africa, The National Concert Hall in Taipei, and The Esplanade in Singapore

He has been a guest speaker at conferences presenting topics such as: Nurturing and Embracing Ethnic Diversity Within the Choral Ensemble, Mysteries of the Countertenor Voice, and How to Change Your Church’s Singing Culture. Outside music and teaching, Darita enjoys cooking meals from his proud Cambodian American heritage, weightlifting, and being a dog-dad to his rescue, Remy Martin.

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Ashley Shahbazi

Portrait of Ashley Shahbazi.
Ashley Shahbazi.

Ashley Shahbazi is currently pursuing her M.M. in Piano Performance at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, under the tutelage of Professor Craig Richey.

A native of Southern California, Ashley earned her B.F.A. in Film Production from Chapman University while studying piano with Dr. Janice Park. She has placed in competitions and festivals through MTAC and CAPMT, including first place in her district’s CAPMT Contemporary Competition.

Ashley is a recipient of the Keyboard Foundation scholarship at the BCCM and serves as Vice President for the collegiate chapter of the Music Teacher’s National Association at CSULB. Other notable past teachers include Professor Mona Wu DeCesare and Marlene Feldman.

Ashley currently teaches piano and violin privately in the LA and Orange County areas.

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Rudy Silva

Portrait of Rudy Silva.
Rudy Silva.

Rudy Silva is completing his M.M. in Music Education. Originally from Indio, CA, he earned both his B.M. in Clarinet Performance and Music Education degrees at the BCCM. In 2008, Mr. Silva was awarded the very first Bob Cole scholarship at his entrance audition. During his undergraduate studies, clarinetist Dr. Michael Grego was his private studio instructor. Rudy also performed with the BCCM Wind Symphony, under the direction of Mr. John Carnahan, and the BCCM Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Johannes Müller Stosch.

Mr. Silva is currently the band and orchestra director at Granada Middle School in Whittier, CA. During his second year of teaching, he was awarded the Teacher of the Year Award, and most recently, he was presented with the "Rising Star Award" at the 2020 Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association music conference. Mr. Silva’s ensembles have earned Unanimous Superior ratings for two years in a row at the annual Whittier Area SCSBOA music festival, held at Whittier High School. Mr. Silva has attended many music conferences to further develop his passion for teaching, including the American String Teachers Association conference, Midwest Clinic, SCSBOA conference, and the California All-State Music Education Conference.

After completion of his M.M. Arts degree in Music Education, Mr. Silva hopes to continue his career in public school music education and further inspire young musicians to pursue their passion for playing music.

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Zachary Spiess

Portrait of Zachary Spiess.
Zachary Spiess.

Zachary Spiess is a first-year Master of Music student in trumpet performance. Currently he is the graduate student assistant for the BCCM trumpet studio and studies trumpet with Professor Ryan Darke of the Los Angeles Opera. Zachary grew up in rural Casa Grande, Arizona and is very excited to move to Long Beach in the future.

He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Trumpet Performance from Arizona State University where he studied with David Hickman, Josef Burgstaller, and Benny Nguyen of the Phoenix Symphony.

In addition to the numerous ensembles he performed with during his studies at Arizona State University, Zachary became a substitute trumpet player for the Tucson Symphony. He has also participated in the Oberlin Trumpet Workshop, the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute, Trumpet Forward, and the Eastern Music Festival.

When not diving into his orchestral studies, Zachary likes to go for hikes and produce his own music. He looks forward to making music with his colleagues when we have in-person instruction again!

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Grace Stewart

Portrait of Grace Stewart.
Grace Stewart.

Grace Stewart is a mezzo-soprano from Yucaipa, California pursuing her M.M. in Opera Performance at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. She studies with Shigemi Matsumoto, is a recipient of the Pritchard Scholarship, and is working as a student assistant for the Opera Institute and the Music and Film class.

Grace earned her B.A. in Environmental Analysis from Claremont McKenna College in 2017. During her tenure in Claremont, she studied voice with Dr. Anne Harley and sang in choirs directed by Dr. Charles Kamm. In the course of her undergraduate studies, Grace received a DAAD scholarship for a summer language course in Berlin, Germany, she presented a solo recital at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, and she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Grace has also studied privately with Patricia Gee, and she is a member of the Inland Master Chorale under the direction of Dr. Joseph Modica. She has been featured as alto soloist for Haydn’s Paukenmesse and she has performed in choirs, backing up Josh Groban and Irish band The Chieftains. Grace has worked during the holidays for The Desert Carolers and she has served in various church choir section leader roles.

Passionate about a variety of performing arts, Grace grew up playing piano, dancing ballet, and performing in community musical theater productions and is excited to build her opera portfolio here at the BCCM. Upon completion of her degree, she hopes to perform opera, musical theater, and concert repertoire. Her long-term goal is to earn her DMA and work as a music educator.

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Darya Voronina

Portrait of Darya Voronina.
Darya Voronina.

Darya Voronina is pursuing her master’s degree in violin performance under the tutelage of Moni Simeonov at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. She earned her B.M. in violin performance from California State University, Sacramento in Spring 2020.

Darya enjoys teaching violin and music theory to children ages 5 and up, as well as playing violin and viola at weddings or symphony orchestras in North California. In June 2019, she was a member of a string quartet at the MIM Festival in Grass Valley, California. In February 2019, she won the Saturday Club Scholarship at the Sacramento State School of Music.

For the past five years, Darya has been teaching violin and music theory, as well as giving presentations at Strings’ summer festivals in local churches.

Born and raised in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, Darya enjoys visiting her hometown, as well as reading books and walking in nature.

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Michele Yamamoto

Portrait of Michele Yamamoto.
Michele Yamamoto.

Born and raised in Southern California, Michele Yamamoto is an M.A. student in Musicology with a research interest in the roles that popular music plays in the development of cognition, self-identity, cultural identity, and other conceptual social frameworks. She is especially interested in arts justice, and in the way music and sounds enter and evolve within marginalized communities. She is a recipient of the Cole Scholarship at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music.

Michele holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music History from UCLA where her research focused on fabricated markers of authenticity in popular music, working closely on several projects with Dr. Robert Fink. During her time at UCLA, she contributed to Under the Radar Magazine as a writer and to UCLA Radio as a reporter. Before transferring to UCLA, she was a member of the Cypress College Vocal Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Kate Reid. Her first instrument was the violin.

Michele is currently the Manager of Alumni and Parent Relations at the Colburn School in downtown Los Angeles where she develops resources, programming, and engagement opportunities for families and former students. In her former life, she worked in talent management with athletes and brands before turning to non-profit and education work. Most recently, she supported fundraising and events at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music as their development associate, and prior to that, she worked as a graduate student advisor for the Musicology program at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

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