Music Faculty

Jeri Bannister – Brass, Woodwinds, and Drums. B.S., Mus. Ed., M.S., Mus. Ed., Ithaca College; C.A.G.S. Interdisciplinary Studies, Fitchburg State College; additional graduate studies at Hartt School of Music and Central Connecticut State University. Member of Pioneer Valley Brass and Flamingo, and all female swing band. Extensive teaching experience in public schools, at Northfield Mt. Hermon and Bement.

JJ Beck – Drummer, Pianist and Composer actively performing in NYC and throughout the New England region. He received a BA in Music Composition, Performance, and Recording at Bennington College, studying under Milford Graves, Allen Shawn, Scott Lehrer, Julie Last, and Nick Brooke, among others. His studies at Bennington led him to NYC where he worked as the Drumming Instructor at Sunnyside After-School Program in Queens, NY, primarily focused in the Rhythms and Drumming of West Africa. Through out his time in NYC, J.J. performed on Drum Kit with a number of alternative rock and pop, and pop classical bands based out of Brooklyn NY and Manhattan NY, such as Horse’s Mouth, Firefoot, ANAWAN, and Shimmerplanet. As a Pianist and Composer, J.J. has held a number of concerts premiering new works for solo piano and chamber ensembles in NYC and throughout New England. Alongside teaching and performance, J.J. is an active recording engineer and producer. He currently works out of the studio he co-founded, Akin Studios in Hoosick Falls, N.Y.  During his time in NYC J.J. was an engineer at Motherwest, a recording studio in Manhattan, N.Y. where he worked with artists such as The Magnetic Fields, The Davenports, Jon Derosa, Thomas Dolby, Kris Gruen, and Pat Hull.

Jonathan Brennand – Strings & Voice: B.A. in Music & History, Drew Univeristy; M.M. in Orchestral Conducting, UMass Amherst. Conductor, Worcester Youth Orchestras & the Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra. Principal Conductor & Music Director of the College Light Opera Company, Falmouth, MA.

Cecilia Berger – Violin, Viola. B.M., Violin Performance, Lawrence University, WI; M.M. Violin Performance, Bowling Green State University, OH. Production Manager and Member of Pioneer Valley Symphony and Commonwealth Opera Orchestra. Strings For Kids in the Greenfield Public Schools Lead Instructor and Coordinator.

Ella Middleton – Voice, Ukulele. B.A. in Music, Vassar College. At Vassar, Ella co-directed the Vassar College Camerata Choir, a student-led early music choir, and was the Music Department History Intern. She also sang with the Vassar College Choir, Women’s Chorus, Madrigal Singers, and Mahagonny Choir.

Maria Ramsey – Violin, Piano, Voice. B.A. in Music, Vassar College. At Vassar, Maria was concertmaster of the Vassar College Orchestra, Music Department Theory Intern, and co-director of Camerata Choir, a student-led early music choir. She also played in a string quartet and was a member of the Vassar College Women’s Chorus.

Heather Sommerlad – Born and raised in El Paso, TX, where music became the foundation for her continuing studies at Bennington College.  At 16, she began playing with the El Paso Symphony under the direction of Gurer Aykal, an opportunity which prompted the beginning of her professional career.  During her time at Bennington, Heather worked closely with emerging composers, performing a number of new works.  As first violinist of the Bennington College String Quartet, she traveled with the group to perform and teach in Kingston, Jamaica, and the Czech Republic. Heather is dedicated to nurturing passion, dedication, and enthusiasm in all her students to maintain a healthy balance of technical proficiency and musical integrity.

Eleni Yalanis – Violin, Piano, Viola, Cello and Recorder. B.A. in Music, The American University Washington D.C.Faculty member and Teaching Artist- Artspace, and Communty Music School of Springfield.