Music Electives Faculty

Sean Pentland Shaped by his years in Great Britain, Germany, and South Korea, Sean Pentland has a worldly musical voice that has led him to perform and tour internationally with masters such as Jerry Bergonzi, Don Braden, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jim Snidero, Luciana Souza, Damon Brown, and Johannes Enders at venues such as Vienna’s Porgy and Bess and the Panama Jazz Festival. Also a prolific composer, Sean has premiered large ensemble works at the Naju Contemporary MusicFestival in South Korea and will soon release an album of his unique material for an interdisciplinary combination of jazz quintet plus strings. Sean earned his bachelors in 2007 at New England Conservatory where he studied with masters such as Cecil McBee, Dave Holland, Frank Carlberg, and Don Palma. In 2018 he received his M.M. from Berklee’s prestigious scholarship program, the Global Jazz Institute under the guidance of Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci, Ben Street, Joe Lovano, Terri Lyne Carrington, David Liebman, and many other stellar faculty. In 2013-2017 Sean was bass professor at Paekche Institute of the Arts in South Korea. In 2008-2012 he tutored piano and theory at Edinburgh University and has been a faculty member at the Litchfield Jazz Camp yearly since 2004.

John Schmergel is a guitarist, vocalist, composer, and educator in New York City. As a private lesson instructor with more than 10 years of experience, John employs a learner-centered pedagogical approach that emphasizes solo and group practice, songwriting, and, above all else, personal enjoyment. Regardless of age, instrument (guitar, voice, ukulele), or genre (classical, pop, folk, jazz, etc.), John will ensure that the individual goals of each student are fully realized. John holds a M.A. in Music & Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, where he is currently a Master of Education (Ed.M.) candidate. He received his B.A. in Music Theory (Cum Laude) from New York University. In addition to serving as a teaching artist at Brooklyn Youth Chorus, John currently holds academic positions in the Music Department at Queensborough Community College (Adjunct Lecturer) and Teachers College, Columbia University (Applied Lessons Instructor). As a touring singer-songwriter under the moniker “The Corduroy Suit,” John has composed and released several albums over the past decade that are available on Spotify, iTunes, and other streaming services. John is also an accomplished freelance composer, guitarist, and vocalist, and he has worked with multiple artists and production companies throughout the tri-state area, including Afterwork Theatre, Wingspan Arts, and Brooklyn Children’s Theatre.

Julian Shore (piano) was born in Providence, RI and began playing piano at a young age. He began to study improvisation and composition with famed jazz educator Hal Crook at 17 and was then awarded a full-tuition scholarship to Berklee College of Music. Since then Mr. Shore has had the opportunity to work with Gretchen Parlato, Joshua Redman, Myron Walden, Chris Cheek, Marcus Strickland, Ferenc Nemeth, and Hal Crook at Smalls, Blues Alley, The Stockholm Jazz Festival, 55 Bar, Catalina’s, the Banff Arts Centre, the Panama Jazz Festival, and others as a sideman and a leader. He has served on the faculty at the Wheeler School jazz camp as well as the world-famous Litchfield Jazz Camp. His debut album, For Away Places, is available on iTunes, and

Cassi Torres was born deep in the heart of Texas with a New York state of mind! Cassi received her Bachelor of Arts in Music – Classical Voice from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Immediately following graduation she was accepted into Steinhardt’s Graduate Music Theatre program at New York University where she earned her Master’s of Music in Vocal Performance Musical Theatre and Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy under the mentorship of Dr. Brian Gill. Her performances include work in musical theatre, opera, film, jazz concerts, and as an orchestral soloist. She has served as Adjunct faculty at New York University and Professional Assistant Professor of Music at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi teaching voice lessons, and music history courses. Best feeling in the world; finishing the NYC Marathon, and watching my students perform on stage! Both are an exhilarating testament to mental focus, hard work, and passion.

Mara Waldman (voice, piano) graduated from the Manhattan School of Music with a Masters Degree in piano and made her Carnegie Hall debut, sponsored by the Leschetizky Association. She was a winner in the New York Chopin Foundation Council International Auditions, the International Piano Recording Competition, and recorded solo piano music by Vittorio Rieti for Columbia Records. At the same time, she made her conducting debut with the Bel Canto Opera Company and went on to conduct several productions.  This led to her work with the New York City Opera national tours and South Texas Lyric Opera performances.  Ms. Waldman is Music Director/Conductor of the Encompass New Opera Theatre and held the positions of Chorus Director and Associate Conductor with the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera for 6 years and Music Director and Conductor of the Belleayre Music Festival Opera for 4 years.  She was on faculty of the New Opera Fesitval di Roma, Italy, for 6 years as conductor and voice teacher and was a coach at the AIMS program in Graz, Austria for 2 summers. She joined the voice faculty of Brooklyn Youth Chorus in 2010 after teaching and coaching privately for over 35 years. Ms. Waldman is a certified Level 3 instructor in Somatic Voicework, the Lovetry Method™,  is Past President of the New York Singing Teachers’ Association, the Leschetizky Association, Joy in Singing and currently is on the board of the Musician’s Club of New York.