Los Angeles Youth Orchestra Faculty

Composer Russell Steinberg instills passion for music in listeners of all ages. He is the Artistic Director and Founder of the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra, a widely-praised ensemble that includes 120 students from over 60 schools. The orchestra recently completed its second successful international tour performing to enthusiastic crowds in Italy at Cremona, Montecatini, and Rome. Steinberg is also a popular pre-concert speaker for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and offers an annual Winter Lecture Series on a wide range of topics. His AudioMaps® use simple illustrations that help people follow the narrative of symphonic music in full understanding without musical training.

Steinberg’s music fuses Romanticism with contemporary pulse and colors that reviewers call “freshly lyrical, pulsating, edgy, infectious” and “shimmering with great beauty and energy.” Three orchestras – the New West Symphony, the Bay Atlantic Symphony, and the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra – commissioned and premiered Cosmic Dust, a work that Science News Magazine featured in its issue celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope. His Daniel Pearl Foundation commission, Stories From My Favorite Planet, tells the compelling story of Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl, alternating music with Pearl’s own brilliant tragic-comic articles. Numerous performances have included Theodore Bikel and LA Philharmonic violinist Mitchell Newman. The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony recently premiered Canopy of Peace, a song cycle on meditations by noted scholar and philosopher Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis. The SAN BERNARDINO CARES benefit for the families of the victims of the 2015 terrorist attack performed Aria for a Calmer World for solo violin and orchestra. Steinberg’s two award-winning string quartets were premiered by the New World String Quartet in Boston and the Lyris Quartet in Los Angeles.

Commissions and premieres for 2017-2018 include Trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano with Sierra Ensemble in the Presidio in San Francisco, Whack-A-Mole USA with double bassist James Rapport at the Gesellschaft für Musiktheater in Vienna, and Paleface with the celebrated Neave Trio that will have the trio playing to a video projection of paintings by acclaimed “psychological pop” artist Jerry Kearns at the Dimenna Center in New York City.

Steinberg received a Ph.D. in Music from Harvard University studying with Leon Kirchner, an M.M. from the New England Conservatory studying with Arthur Berger, and a B.A. from UCLA studying with Elaine Barkin. He has taught music theory at Harvard University and UCLA as an Assistant Professor and Visiting Assistant Professor. He developed over a dozen music listening courses for UCLA Extension. He was also Director of Music for 15 years at Milken Community High School where he created a classical music program for the all the Stephen Wise Temple schools, including elementary, middle school, and high school.

Information about Steinberg’s current performances, recordings, and lectures, is available at www.russellsteinberg.com.

The daughter of a voice professor, Sharon Jackson began her music training very early, studying piano at around age 3 and singing throughout her childhood. She began playing the violin when she was 10 years old. She later earned Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in violin performance from the University of Oklahoma where she studied with Michael Ma and Felicia Moye, both former students of the famed teacher Ivan Galamian.

Ms. Jackson is currently a sought-after Los Angeles freelance musician, performing live but also working in studios for film, television and records. In these capacities she has worked with the most prominent musicians of our time from Itzak Perlman, Leona Mitchell, Emmanual Ax and Joshua Bell to Stevie Wonder, Nellie Furtado, Ray Charles, Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow, Harry Connick Jr. and Lenny Kravitz. Soundtracks include Alvin and the Chipmunks and Spider-Man 3 and television appearances include The Tonight Show and American Idol.

In the past, Ms. Jackson has enjoyed teaching at Cameron University, Oklahoma Baptist University and the Oklahoma Arts Institute. Coaching violins for Los Angeles Youth Orchestra carries a special significance for her, being a product of youth orchestras herself.

Ukrainian-American violinist Anna Kostyuchek has appeared as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player throughout the United States, South America, and Europe. Here in Los Angeles, she has appeared as soloist with the Mozart Classical Orchestra and Santa Cecilia Orchestra. As an orchestral player she has played under the batons of Michael Tilson Thomas, John Williams, George Mester, Grant Gershon, and David Newman. She is a member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale Orchestra and is Associate Concertmaster of Riverside Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, and Mozart Classical Orchestra. She has also been a member of the Philharmonie der Nationen under Justus Frantz and the Stuttgart Bach Academy under Helmuth Rilling since 2006, where she served as Principal Second Violin and Associate Concertmaster, and with whom she has performed in the most magnificent concert halls of South America and Europe, including the Berlin Philharmonie, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern, and the Teatro del Lago in Frutillar, Chile. As a recording artist she has recorded for numerous television and motion picture soundtracks, including Sabina K., Star Trek, Dexter, Fear Factor, Grey’s Anatomy, American Idol, The Voice, Survivor, Batman Returns, and had an onscreen role in The Big Bang Theory. Anna has also appeared in concert with Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, Tony Bennett, Burt Bacharach, Stevie Wonder, Black Eyed Peas, and Harry Connick, Jr. Anna is very passionate about teaching and has extensive experience as a private teacher, classroom teacher, and coach. She has worked with young instrumentalist of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Summer Program, Cal. State Northridge Youth Orchestras and Junior Chamber Music program. She holds a Master’s Degree in Violin Performance from UCLA, where she studied with Professor Lorenz Gamma.

Bryan Gonzalez is an active freelance violist in Los Angeles, where he was born, raised, and educated. He has played for various orchestras, including the Santa Barbara Symphony, Riverside Philharmonic, San Bernardino Symphony, and the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra. In addition to the various orchestral work he does, Bryan has also recorded for several video games, movies, and television shows. He is a versatile player and has performed in various styles that vary from Broadway (Betty Buckley, Lisa Vroman), to Pops (Marvin Hamlisch), and rock/pop/television (Foo Fighters, Grammy Awards, The Voice). Bryan has also worked with guests artists in concert such as John Williams, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Alan Silvestri, Sarah Chang, Andre Watts, and many others.

Bryan is committed to teaching and believes strongly in giving back to underserved communities; he has been a teacher for the Harmony Project since 2011, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing music to kids regardless of income. He also teaches a private studio, and is excited to join LAYO to help shape the next generation of musicians. Bryan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance from the California State University, Northridge where he was the recipient of a full scholarship. His primary teachers there included Andrew Duckles and Keith Greene.

Stephen Green has studied at McGill University (Bachelor of Music), University of Toronto (Masters of Music), and with renowned French cellist, André Navarra at both the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie, Detmold, Germany and Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena, Italy. He has performed in a wide variety of musical environments including recitals, operas, ballets, symphony and chamber orchestras as well as theatre, chamber groups such as string quartets.

Stephen recently arrived from Toronto where he lived for eight years, playing in the orchestra for Les Misérables, Miss Saigon and Beauty and the Beast, along with other freelance activities. Before that Stephen lived in New York City where he played with Solisti New York under Ransom Wilson as well as with many other chamber, symphony and choral groups.

Since moving to southern California, Stephen’s credits include working with the Long Beach and Pasadena symphonies and in theater, three productions of The Last Five Years, Peter Pan and Annie among others.

Stephen is very pleased to be working with The Los Angeles Youth Orchestra. He is happily married to actress/dramaturg/director Elise Dewsberry and they have a beautiful daughter named Rebecca Rose.

Hailed as possessing “rich, mellow flute playing, lovely lyrical style, and excellent breath control” by ClassicsToday.com, flutist Michelle Matsumune is a fourth generation Californian and an avid chamber music performer. In addition to concertizing regularly with the woodwind trio Ceora Winds, she has released two CDs with the Resonance Flute Consort, and performs as singer and flautist for both the choral group Wagner Ensemble and the Independent Opera Company. With the flute and harp group Duo Arioso, Michelle released a CD of Medieval music, entitled Cantico, to critical acclaim. As a soloist, Michelle has performed flute concerts in Europe, Mexico, and throughout the United States, and at music festivals in Mexico City and Geneva, Switzerland. She toured as the featured soloist with the Southern California Balinese Gamalan Group, and has worked closely with many contemporary composers including James Tenney, Eugene Kurtz, Adrienne Albert and Nancy Bloomer-Deussen. She is married to composer Mat Matsumune, and has premiered all of his flute works. Michelle studied flute with Peter Lloyd at Indiana University and received her MFA at California Institute of the Arts. She is the Woodwind Coach for the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra and teaches privately.

Dr. Caster J. Teoh hails from Penang, Malaysia. Caster was appointed Principal Trumpet with Dream Orchestra of Los Angeles and has been performing with this wonderful ensemble since then. While in universities in the United States, he was one of the finalists in the Maia Quartet competition and was awarded outstanding Pi Kappa Lambda award. Caster has performed with many professional ensembles, including the Malaysian Philharmonic, Brazilian Symphony, Kumamoto International Orchestra, Baltimore Brass, Quad City Symphony, Cedar Rapids Opera, and National Symphony of Malaysia. He has performed under Kees Bakel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Marin Alsop, Kurt Mazur, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Carl St. Clair and many more. During the summers, he has performed in many countries, including Brazil, Italy, Japan, Korea, Belgium, Taiwan, Australia, Thailand, Canada.

A doctorate graduate from the University of Southern California (USC) Thornton School of Music, Caster was inducted as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society in 2007 and 2013. While at school, he was also a Fulbright scholarship student and received the 2013 outstanding Brass Chamber Music award. In the past summers, Caster has performed in many world-class music festivals, including the International Winter Music Festival in Brazil, Alba music festival in Italy, Domaine Forget Academy in Canada etc. In 2014, he was invited to perform Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 with West Coast Chamber Orchestra. His primary teachers include Andrew Balio, Boyde Hood, David Greenhoe, Stephane Beaulac, John Bourque and William Theis. Aside from being an orchestra musician, Caster had served as Music Director/ Conductor of the Youth Symphony West, Brass Instructor at California Summer School for the Arts and Adjunct Professor of Brass at Grace Mission University. Caster has also been a recording artist in Hollywood studios, where he has recorded multiple movies soundtracks throughout the years. He has also appeared in many TV channels, including Channel 18, doing interviews and performances.

Caster is a much sought after teacher of trumpet and other brass instruments. His students have won numerous music awards, and have beeen admitted to such universities and conservatories as San Francisco Conservatory, Michigan University, Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, Oberlin College and Manhattan School of Music. Caster’s students have also performed in music festivals, orchestras and competitions throughout the country, including the National Young Arts and International Trumpet Guild competition, Colburn Youth Symphony and Jazz Orchestra, Pacific Youth Symphony, Idyllwild Music Academy and Colorado Youth Jazz Ensemble.

Los Angeles Youth Orchestra Staff

Laura Kay Swanson is Executive Director for the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra and joined the organization in August 2015. An experienced producer and arts administrator, she served as Artistic Planning Coordinator for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra for over three years and was Producing Director for The Industry for over two years, overseeing their inaugural production of Crescent City in 2012. She was managing producer for Rain Coloring Forest at REDCAT, featuring Indonesian artist and choreographer Sardono Kusumo and lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, and produced The Mortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth, a contemporary chamber opera by Veronika Krausas, which was described by the Los Angeles Times as “a major experience, where surprise sidesteps operatic conventions.”

She earned an MFA in Producing at California Institute of the Arts in 2011 and collaborated on a wide range of work including Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure directed by Bob Cucuzza and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant directed by Zoe Aja Moore. She produced and directed a music video of the Hymn to the aria, “Hymn to the Sun” from Akhnaten by Philip Glass, which premiered at REDCAT in 2011 as part of the CalArts Film and Video showcase. In 2010, she was associate producer of the world premiere of Brewsie and Willie, a staged adaptation of the Gertrude Stein WWII novella presented by CalArts Center for New Performance in association with Poor Dog Group, which won a 2011 Ovation award for Best Production Design. Prior to attending CalArts, Laura Kay was a professional opera singer, having performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, New York City Opera, and Carnegie Hall.

Anna Kouchnerov is a violinist, music educator, and arts administrator. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, where she actively lead and performed in interdepartmental projects bringing composers, dancers, projection artists, and musicians together from classical, jazz, and traditional music cultures from all over the world.

Anna has won numerous awards, and has been featured as a soloist with the UCLA Philharmonia performing on the ‘Duke of Alcantara’ Stradivarius violin. She has also performed as a chamber musician with ensembles across Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the Green Umbrella Series. Furthermore, Anna has participated in orchestral festivals, chamber programs, and masterclasses across the United States and Western Europe.

In past years, Anna has worked with a wide range of nonprofit arts organizations, including development & fundraising with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, assisting with Monday Evening Concerts, serving as project coordinator for the Los Angeles-based ensemble Bridge to Everywhere, and providing special event & programs support for the Kronos Performing Arts Association and members of the Kronos Quartet.

Having been raised in the heart of Los Angeles, Anna is passionate about evolving local artistic experiences to strengthen relationships of the diverse communities in this vibrant city through classical music. She continues her pursuits in arts education and multicultural engagement as a performer, instructor, and orchestra manager for the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra.