Monument Square Music School Faculty
Piano (Jazz, Classical, Rock, Pop) B.M. jazz studies, New England Conservatory of Music
Joe is a pianist/composer who brings a unique blend of jazz, classical, and pop music to his performances and teaching. He has played with many bands and as a solo artist in the Worcester and Boston area. Joe has studied privately with Ran Blake, Danilo Perez, Mark Marquis, Frank Carlberg, and Bob Moses. Joe has been teaching private piano lessons for over ten years. Joe’s Website
piano, voice BM Berklee College of Music
James Dower is a pianist, singer and composer from Boston, Massachusetts. James graduated from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Film Scoring and has been performing, writing and recording original music as well as working as a sideman to the stars ever since. James has worked with some of the biggest names in music including: Sting, Ne-Yo, Elvis Costello, Wynonna Judd, The Edge, Gloria Gaynor, the Temptations and Blood Sweat & Tears. James has composed music that has been featured in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee as well as MTV Cribs, NASCA and Bloomberg TV. James has also enjoyed playing keyboards for the legendary Sam ‘Soul Man’ Moore (Sam&Dave, Stax Records) since 2006. http://www.jamesdower.com
Guitar, Bass, Piano, Composition/Arranging B.A. Instrumental Jazz Studies – University of Montana
Owen Ross is a composer, arranger, producer and multi-instrumentalist. Raised in a musical family, he began performing professionally at young age. He is a versatile performer, equally at home in jazz, R&B, funk, blues, pop and rock styles.
As a composer and arranger, Ross writes primarily for jazz big bands and small groups. His works have been commissioned by high-schools, universities, and professional ensembles.
A graduate of the University of Montana, Ross holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Jazz Studies. His principal teachers included Dr. Luis Millan and Thomas Pertis (guitar), Robert Tapper (piano, arranging), Dr. Johann Eriksson (improvisation), and Dr. Charles Nichols (composition, computer music).
Ross is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging at The University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studies with Jeffrey Holmes (composition) and Shigefumi Tomita (double bass), and performs with the award-wining Jazz Ensemble I and the Jazz Composers Ensemble.
Piano, B.S. in Mathematics at Fitchburg State University
Theodore Demosthenes, or Theo for short, has been around music since he was young. He started playing piano when he was 5 years old, learning melodies and basic chords by ear. He started playing for his church when he was 14 as a backup for his church keyboardist and was soon bumped to main keyboardist when the keyboardist left. It was then he knew he had to get serious about his craft. He studied different styles of music by listening and imitating, but it wasn’t enough. He started studying piano formally from the ages of 15 through 21, working on the technical aspects of playing the piano, including sight reading, proper posture, and fingering. These lessons revolutionized his entire approach and his playing developed exponentially because of it.
Theo’s styles include Jazz, Gospel, RnB, Soul, Fusion, and Latin blended with some classical elements to create a style that is uniquely his own. He plays at two churches, both pastored by his father, and likes to help out at other church services in the area. He has also been an active member of Fitchburg State University’s music community and programs. While studying there, he was a key member of FSU’s jazz band and was a founding member of FSU’s a capella club, Harmonic Velocity, boosting it to one of FSU’s top sought after forms of entertainment. He’s arranged countless pieces for the group, including a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and Fitchburg State’s Alma Mater. His last performance (and last solo) with Harmonic Velocity was at the inauguration of the mayor of Fitchburg in January 2016. He’s also studied voice with the esteemed Maria Ferrante and was a member of FSU’s Chamber choir, a select choir open via audition. He has played at the Fitchburg Art Museum’s opening of their “Art in Bloom” exhibit in April 2016, was the music director for local artist Merrick Henry’s first concert “Merrick Live in Concert” in October 2016, performed at the Worcester Gospel Fest in 2017. He hopes to one day record his own album. Check out Theo’s Soundcloud here.
sax University of Massachusetts, New School in New York
Originally from Texarkana, TX, by way of Springfield, MA, Charles L began
playing saxophone at the age of nine. Coming out of a musically rich and
diverse town, which spawned artists such as Phil Woods, Taj Majal and Avery
Sharpe, Charles began his musical training at home with his mother, classical
vocalist Mary L. Prior to reading music, with the instruction of Mary,
Charles learned his favorite saxophone solos note for note, starting with Paul
Desmond’s solo from “A Bridge over Troubled Water.” He began studying with
Harvey LaRose, Phil Wood’s saxophone teacher, at 10.
Charles began playing saxophone professionally at 13. Two years later, Charles
Majeed Greenlee, Dizzy Gillespie’s trombonist and the husband of John Coltrane’s
cousin Mary, became one of Charles’ first mentors. From that point, Charles
began sitting in at every opportunity with one of his most influential teachers,
Archie Shepp. Charles also spent countless hours listening to the musicians who
would become profound influences on his musical growth such as Grover Washington
Jr., David Sanborn, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Kenny G,
Michael Brecker, Stan Getz, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis.
After high school, Charles studied music at the University of Massachusetts at
Amherst with teachers Max Roach, Yusef Lateef, Archie Shepp and Lynn Klock. He
then went to Houston, where he opened for George Benson. Charles continued his
musical study in New York City, attending The New School. He lived in New York
for four years, playing with Melvin Spark’s, Norman Connors, The Temptations,
Hilton Ruiz and Joe Farnsworth while studying with Barry Harris, Donald Byrd and
Billy Harper. Charles was then afforded the opportunity to study privately with
the great George Coleman.
Since completing his formal education, Charles has toured world wide with
artists The Temptations, Solomon Burke, Mighty Sam McClain and Toni Lynn Washington.
Charles now takes his gift of playing saxophone, and the extraordinary education
he has received, into the realm of teaching.
Piano- B.M. Ana Maria College, Music Education
Michael J. Rice, as a piano and music teacher, has spread more than twelve years across China, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Mr. Rice is the lead clinician for Piano Adventures in China, directs a full-time piano studio in the United States, and accompanies the Montachusett Chorale. Besides being a licensed Music Together teacher, he also has experience as an organist/ choir director and theater music director. Most recently, he taught piano and music for two years at Changzhou Trina International School in China’s Jiangsu Province. Mr. Rice holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Anna Maria College.
guitar, bass Berklee College of Music
James’ original guitar style makes him one of the most exciting and creative musicians in New England. James can be found performing locally throughout New England. He has studied with Mark Marquis and attended Berklee College of Music.
Voice (Jazz, R&B, Pop/Rock) Fitchburg State, Worcester State
Stephanie is a singer songwriter, currently working on her third studio album. She has studied Elementary Education extensively at Fitchburg State University. She has studied voice privately with MSCMS teacher Matt Rippere, and Berklee professor Paul Pampinella. She has also studied jazz theory and improvisation with Mark Marquis. Stephanie is bilingual and composes and sings in Spanish and English. Her music can be found on her website Stephanie’s Website.
Melissa is a lifelong resident of Fitchburg and has been on the stage just as long, with her involvement in local acts and community theatre. In her 25 years of experience in theatre she has been given the opportunity to portray various roles such as Cinderella in “Into the Woods” (Stratton Players), Judy in “9 to 5: the Musical” (Theatre at the Mount) and Yonah in “Children of Eden” (Theatre at the Mount), which garnered her an EMACT DASH award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. For a brief stint she performed at the regional theatre level at Turtle Lane Playhouse in Newton where she was Maureen in “RENT” and Mrs. Walker in “The Who’s Tommy”- two of her most favorite roles to date. Melissa has also been behind the scenes in the director’s chair, directing Monty Tech’s drama club for 5 years and is currently directing student plays at MWCC. She performs locally as a solo guitar/vocal act, as well as with various collaboratives, and with the bands Sweet Green and Soulstice- a five-time Pulse Award winning band, including “best female vocals”. Her musical influences include the Beatles, Janis Joplin, Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Raitt, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Sharon Jones to name a few. She is pleased as punch to be joining the Monument Square team!
Piano, B.A. in Music at Westfield State Univeristy
Emily completed her B.A. in music from Westfield State University in 2013 where she studied privately with jazz pianist James Argiro and classical pianist Galina Gertsenzon. She currently performs locally with the Fitchburg-based band TREBEK and enjoys playing piano and organ at weekly church services. Her interests include music composition, production, and improvisation. Check out Emily’s website at Emily’s Website
Andrew (AJ) Balthazar
drumsAJ is an experienced drummer and teacher who brings his unique drum styles and eclectic tastes to the Worcester and North Central MA areas . He studied with drum great, Bob Gullotti where he learned how to play jazz, rock, funk and blues. He has performed and recorded with many bands in the Worcester area including Dusty Miller, Free Grass Movement, and The Stone Clovers. AJ gives tailored lessons to students of all ages.
guitar, 5 string banjo, mandolin, ukulele & diatonic harmonica
Paul Luria has been a musician for most of his life. He grew up in New York City learning and playing at different venues. Paul has taught students of varied ages from 6 to 70. He believes in a balance of immediate gratification and long term goals, using materials geared to the student’s interest. Paul is experienced in group & individual instruction. Paul is an active performer, currently performing with four different groups and as a single act.
violin/cello M.M music education from University of Miami
Laurie Strubbe has a Masters in Music Ed from the University of Miami. She has been teaching cello and violin for over 35 years. She performs with two symphonies as well as various chamber music groups.
Voice-Jazz,R&B, Pop, Rock
Lizzy Marquis is a vocalist, pianist, and song writer who’s love for music started at a very young age. Her first music debut was when she was six years old singing at a Christmas charity event. She has studied music under her father Mark Marquis, Betsy Fiedler, Mary Bastoni, and Ann Marie Koivu. She has been playing professional solo performances since the age of 14.
On March 2, 2013, and at the age of seventeen, Lizzy Marquis won the Highest National “Superior Musicianship Award” and”Judges Choice” at the Berklee College of Music’s 45th Annual High SchoolJazz Festival held at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. This is the largest High School jazz competition in the United States where more then 200 bands and over 3,000 students competed. Lizzy enjoys playing and singing all different genres of music including jazz, blues, country, etc. and also enjoys writing her own music. Lizzy has a way of making any song her own with her unique style and swing.
bass, guitar, banjo, mandolin
Having grown up in a household full of drummers, Mike Kelly was bound to be a crucial part of a rhythm section someday. When he was 7 his older brother Matt (drummer – Dropkick Murphys) told him to get a bass guitar for Christmas. Oblivious to what a bass guitar was, he trusted his older brother’s wisdom. At the age of 11 Mike started getting serious about learning, and studied with a local teacher. By the time he reached 14 he was playing bass in his brother’s Hardcore band, Hatchetface, making strides in the underground music world. By 16 he had joined a band with some of his father’s friends and played local bars, learning a lot of standard Blues and Classic rock songs. Main areas of study were Led Zeppelin, Rush and Stevie Ray Vaughan as well as many different technical, brain and muscle memory exercises. At 17 he joined a band traveling through the upper New England states each week while making the grades in High School and keeping a job at the local grocery store. This was the life Mike wanted for himself. He learned to love the stage and wanted to make his own music come to life.
In recent years Mike has played acoustic guitar in a duo with Country singer/songwriter Jilly Martin. Here he was able to expand his guitar playing and was encouraged to sing and work on his abilities as a front man. Having always thought he would want to play Country/Folk guitar and sing, he took this as an opportunity to become a more erudite musician. Also, always wanting to be the utility player or “guy that knows a bunch of instruments on stage”, the opportunity that came to him from his cousin, Jimmy Kelly in 2012, hit home. Mike was asked to fly to Germany to play banjo and acoustic guitar on stage with Jimmy for his “Viva La Street” tour. Little did he know he would also be asked to play ukulele, mandolin and bouzouki.
Mike has performed on stage as the bass player with: James Montgomery, James Cotton, Johnny A., J. Geils, David Maxwell, GE Smith, Paula Cole, Trombone Shorty, Joan Osborne, Simon Kirk, Barry Goudreau, The Uptown Horns.