Our Director

Stella Kotova

Stella Kotova was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (one of the former Soviet Republics). She emigrated to the United States in 1979 and settled in Chicago, IL where she attended DePaul University to pursue a degree in Piano Performance. Concurrent with her studies, she began performing throughout the Chicago area, playing piano and singing in five languages.

In 1985, Stella moved to Tustin, CA where she she began teaching. She opened Orange County Music School School in 1999 and assembled an international faculty of highly credentialed music teachers to offer individual and group lessons for a variety of instruments.

From classical to jazz to pop, Stella's repertoire embraces music in all its forms, and allows her to share her love of music with a wide range of young and adult students. Stella belongs to the Music Teachers' Association of Southern California (MTAC - Orange Coast Cities Branch) through which her students may participate in Theory, Musicianship and Performance testing at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.

In addition to teaching, Stella continues to perform as a solo pianist and accompanist, providing music for all occasions and venues. She has recorded numerous CDs, both solo and in collaboration with Southern California musicians. She has also composed and arranged original children's music including a collection of pieces that accompany a fairy tale book series produced for the Vietnamese community.

Stella believes that music is a universal language that stirs the soul, unites cultures even bridges generation gaps. It is a gift that we can all share - an invitation to a better world of peace and harmony.

Allison Zema

Allison is currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance at University of California, Irvine and will be graduating in June of 2013. She has performed both as a member of many world-renowned choirs at the university as well as a soloist in venues such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.. Allison is classically trained in opera and also specializes in vocal jazz, musical theater and pop. Her multi-dimensional background of ballet, drama and piano also influence her unique and fun teaching style. She has been teaching voice since 2010 and is incredibly passionate about her student's development in both technique and performance.

Remy Converse

Remy Converse is a concert violist in Orange County, California, pursuing a Bachelor of Music in viola performance and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. Aside from working closely with renowned violist, Dr. Jerzy Kosmala as part of her music performance program, Remy has also performed in masters classes taught by classical musicians Manheim Pressler, Trio Celeste and the Szymanowski Quartet. She currently serves as assistant principal in the UCI Symphony and most recently became a member of the Dana Point Symphony, performing in their 2012-13 concert series. In April 2013 Remy had the honor of performing new composer, Pablo Rubio Vargas's world premiere piece "Kuiya Xaa" for viola and electronics.

Remy's scholarships and awards include: The Robert and Marjorie Rawlins Scholarship (for four years of music education at UCI), Hildred Minich Scholarship (2011), TKMEA Music Scholarship (2011), and first place in both the Lorraine Burtner Young Artist Competition (2011) and the ASTA Fresno Chapter Solo Competition (2010).

Tasha Locke

Tasha graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2013 with a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance under the tutelage of Nina Scolnik. She started piano lessons at age four with Dr. Linda Mazich-Govel and was trained through such programs as the Piano Guild and the MTAC's rigorous Certificate of Merit, through which she was regularly invited to perform for state conventions and other prestigious honors. She is currently pursuing a career as a collaborative pianist, working as an accompanist, coach and repetiteur for recitals and opera productions. Her performance experience includes engagements in the U.S. and Europe, comprising of solo and collaborative recitals, solo appearances with orchestra, and extensive ensemble experiences with orchestras and wind symphonies.

In addition to almost ten years as a private music instructor, her teaching experience includes lecturer for college theory courses and studies in early childhood development at Long Beach City College, where she also holds an Associate of Arts degree in classical saxophone. Though her passion is classical music, she encourages her students to explore all styles and creative interests, and most importantly to develop a love for music.

Carter Willmann

Carter Willmann has been a clarinetist for 16 years. A California native, Carter developed a love for music and grew serious about the profession in high school, attending the Orange County High School of the Arts. During which, he joined many prominent youth orchestras and won various awards including the Pasadena Pops side-by-side competition and the Southwestern Youth Music Festival soloist competition.

After high school, he moved to Chicago where he studied clarinet at DePaul University. Carter was fortunate enough to study with Julie DeRoche and work with Larry Combs, two prominent clarinetists in both the country and worldwide. While in school at DePaul, he joined the Classical Symphony Orchestra and became a member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra. He formed various chamber groups and enjoyed starting his teaching career in addition to his orchestral work. Carter also picked up the flute and saxophone in college, taking extensive method classes for both instruments and taking lessons with the saxophone and flute faculty at DePaul University!

In 2010 Carter recieved his bachelors degree in clarinet preformance with an emphasis in education and moved back to Orange County, CA where he built a career as both a performer and educator. He is a member of The Neapolitan Trio, a prominent chamber music group in Orange County, plays regularly for the Limon & Carr musical players and has played with the West Coast Winds. Carter is proud to say he now works regularly performing with all three of his instruments!

Carter has had great success teaching in Orange County! He currently holds a position as woodwind instructor at the Orchepia School of Music and enjoys running his own private studio. He also works as a woodwind coach at El Toro High School. Carter's clarinet, flute and saxophone students develop a beautifully mature sound and soar through their music programs in school, even getting involved outside school with youth orchestras and bands! A couple of his students have even been accepted to collegiate programs with great scholarships! Carter is also a member of the Music Teachers Association of California which allows his students to participate in Certificate of Merit, a well respected progressive music program with levels of musical accomplishment the student must asspire to achieve. He enjoys giving students a well rounded education while still allowing the student to have fun and develop a life long passion for music!

Anson Brown

Anson Brown is a lutenist and guitarist, and is currently work on his graduate degree at UC Irvine under John Schneiderman. He has performed in the Orange County area and in the San Joaquin Valley in museums, radio, solo concerts and in group performances as a basso continuo player. Ansonís primary focus is on historical performances of the Renaissance and Baroque music using instruments that are appropriate to the era, such as lutes or early guitars. Although, historical performance is his primary study, he enjoys all styles of guitar playing from blues to pop music and any music the features the guitar or can be played on one. He has received scholarships for both guitar and lute, (Ruben Segal Memorial Academic Scholarship, Friends of the Arts Academic Scholarship, Outstanding Guitar Performance in Music Scholarship, Alice Lowell Scholarship for Musical Studies in the 18th Century) and strives to continue furthering his knowledge of music at present and in the past.

Matthew Fang

Matthew Fang is a concert violinist and teacher in the Orange County. He is currently Majorie Rawlins Endowed scholar, studying violin performance as a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine, under the tutelage of the distinguished Haroutune Bedelian. He has performed in many venues around the world, such as Carnegie Hall in New York, KHS Hall in Taiwan, and Tedako Hall in Japan. He also performs frequently at UCI's Winifred Smith Hall. Notable performances include UCI's chamber series with UCI string faculties and a benefit concert for victims of Great East Japan Earthquake. Aside from performing, Matthew has also participated in masterclasses taught by many renowned classical musicians, such as Levon Chilingirian, Peter Marsh, Daniel Rothmuller and the Szymanowski Quartet.

Christian Lopez

Christian Lopez is a trombonist, pianist, and composer/arranger based out of Orange County, CA. Christian received his masters degree in Bass Trombone Performance from Northwestern University, and specializes in classical, jazz, Latin, worship, and alternative trombone playing. Christian has performed all over the U.S., China, and Europe and was recently named a finalist in the 2014 Donald Yaxley International Trombone Association Bass Trombone Competition. His bass trombone playing can be heard on soundtracks scored by L.A. film composer Brian Ralston, on Indie rock sensation Calexico's CD Algiers, and also on his recordings of his band run with his brother, affectionately known as the LoBros.

As a pianist, Christian has a special affinity for Latin and jazz styles of piano playing. He has studied jazz piano with Professor Emeritus and former Director of Jazz studies at the University of Arizona (Composer/Arranger for Linda Ronstadt, Fight Club, Fairly Odd Parents). On piano, Christian has performed with jazz combos, big bands, praise bands, world-music groups, and salsa bands.

As a teacher, Christian has helped students reach their potential through sound teaching, encouragement, and a strong belief in each individual student's ability for improvement. Christian has taught masterclasses and privately, with his students achieving success in earning All-State Band and Orchestra honors.

Ivan Carames Bohigas

Composer and cellist, Ivan Carames Bohigas studied his undergrad in the Utrecht Conservatorium (The Netherland) and his Master as a Performer-Composer in California Institute of the Arts. Eclectic musician, he writes in every music style such as soundtracks for films and animation films, contemporary music for the stage, world music, flamenco, music for dance, electronic and electro-acoustic music.

His works have being part of Cannes Film Festival (France), PAH-Fest Los Angeles 2012 (Best soundtrack and best short award), HBO N.Y. International Latino Film Festival 2012, Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival 2012 ( Best Los Angeles film award), Santa Barbara International Film Festival (US), Chicago Mexican Film Festival 2012 ( Best Short Film award), Reel Rascuache Film Festival 2012 (Best short film award), Annecy International Animated Film Festival 2012 (France), Animafest Zagreb 2012 (Croatia), Los Angeles Animation Festival (LAAF) 2012 (US), PACT Zollverein 2011, Essen (Germany) , San Diego FIlm Festival (US), New Filmmakers Los Angeles Festival 2012 (US), Cine Sol Film Festival Texas (US), Melbourne International Animation Festival 2012 (Australia), Australian International Animation Festival Wagga wagga 2012 (Australia), Animayo International Animation Festival 2012 (Spain), Giant Robot Exhibition at the Japanese American Nationa Museum Los Angeles (US), Platform International Animation Festival 2012 (Los Angeles), Australian International Animation Festival Newcastle 2012 (official selection).

As a performer he has participated in different concerts at the Redcat (Walt Disney Concert Hall), ARC Pasadena (US), Vredenburg (Utrecht) and other important concert halls in The Netherlands and Spain (Madrid).

He has being part of different International Collaborative projects as A Counterpoint of Tolerance and the Jakarta Institute of the Arts/Calarts residency collaboration.

In 2012 he begins the creation of the International Collective Society of Composers and Performers and the Socio Political Art Collective as collaborative projects inspired on social justice and which aim is to have a constructive resonance in the society.

Kristapor Najarian

Kristapor Najarian began his musical studies at age 5 on the violin. At age 9 he auditioned and was accepted into the studio of Mrs. Anne Thatcher, whom he studied with until his enrollment at UCLA. In high school, Kristapor held leadership positions in several orchestras, among them the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Orange County High School of the Arts Symphony Orchestra.

After he was accepted into UCLA, Kristapor began violin studies with renowned violin professors Movses Pogossian and Guillaume Sutre. It was during this time that his passion for composition began to flourish. Last year he applied and was accepted into the UCLA composition program, and he is now a double major in violin performance and composition.

As a violinist, Kristapor has concertized all over Southern California as well as internationally, performing at such venues as the Segerstrom Hall in Orange County and The Sydney Opera House in Australia, as well as Zipper Hall at the Colburn School. During the Summer of 2012, Kristapor embarked on a concert tour to Armenia as part of the UCLA Threnody String Quartet, where he played as a member of the Dilijan Chamber Music Series in the Yerevan Perspectives International Music Festival.

As a guitarist, Kristapor has worked in a variety of styles ranging from rock to folk to jazz. He performs often around LA and frequently collaborates with many top musicians in the area.

As a composer, Kristapor has written music in a variety of styles; his eclectic tastes have allowed him to draw inspiration from many genres of music while composing. He has written works for varying instrumentation, including solo, chamber, and large ensemble. His pieces have been performed throughout the Los Angeles area. Previous concerts include a Spring 2013 performance of his Three Scenes for Two Violins, which was featured in UCLA's annual LA Composers Concert.

“ There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself. ”

- Johann Sebastian Bach

Did you know?

The "average" piano has 88 keys, of these, 36 are black keys commonly known as "sharps". There are also some pianos made with 85 keys and one with more than 88!

The first note (on a standard 88 note keyboard) is A . The exact middle of the keyboard is not middle C, it is actually the space between E and F above "middle" C. The last note of the keyboard is C.

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