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Faculty

But first, some highlights from our final concert!


Mark WoodRecording artist, performer, producer, inventor, Emmy-winning composer and music education advocate Mark Wood has spent the past four decades electrifying the orchestra industry – literally.

Dubbed “The Les Paul of The Violin World” by PBS, the Juilliard-trained violinist (he attended on full scholarship) first turned the string establishment on its head in the early 1970’s with his invention of the first solid body electric violin. His company Wood Violins is the premier manufacturer of electric violins, violas and cellos worldwide and he holds the patent for the first-ever self-supporting violin. The company stands behind its claim to have made the most important change to the violin in 400 years and is often referred to as the “Stradivarius of electric violins.”

Wood is a world-renowned performer who rose to fame as string master and founding member of the internationally acclaimed Trans Siberian Orchestra. A successful solo artist in his own right, Wood writes and records original music for film and television, has released six solo albums, and tours with his band The Mark Wood Experience (MWE). His commission credits include The Juilliard School and extensive TV broadcast music including The Winter Olympics and The Tour de France (for which he won an Emmy).

Wood has collaborated with and appeared alongside some of the biggest names in music such as Lenny Kravitz, Celine Dion, and Kanye West. As a member of his touring band, Wood had the honor of performing with the legendary Billy Joel for both historic final concerts at Shea stadium, sharing the stage with Paul McCartney, Steven Tyler, and Roger Daltry. He also starred in a Kanye West produced national Pepsi TV commercial and has appeared on the world’s most venerable stages including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Madison Square Garden.

But his true passion is music education. His program Electrify Your Strings (EYS) – now in its 16th year – is an intensive rock and roll workshop for school music education departments that boosts student self-esteem and motivation and helps raise money for music education.  EYS visits upwards of 60 schools per year and has been featured on The Today Show, CBS Evening News, and in countless local media outlets.

With hundreds of thousands students reached, millions of dollars raised to help school music departments across the US, and dozens of school orchestra programs saved from the chopping block because of funds raised through his efforts, Mark Wood has proven himself a man of ideas, action and results. Showing no signs of slowing down, the multi faceted visionary continues to write, perform, record, invent and inspire. As a matter of fact, Mark Wood is just getting started…

Connect with Mark:
Facebook | YouTube | Twitter | Instagram

MARK LEADS THE ZEPPELIN ORCHESTRA – What to expect in his classes:

  • “The fretted violin” featuring Bach
  • Improvisation 101
  • Electric strings and effects
  • Viperisms: Exploring the art of the Viper
  • How to utilize distortion with strings
  • The art of the solo – 2/4/8/16 bars
  • Blues and pentatonics
  • How to use your ears
  • Teacher Training classes!
  • Leading the Zeppelin Orchestra, for advanced players and the new Dream Theater Orchestra, for pro-level players

Executive Camp Director Lisa BlackMWROC’s Executive Director Lisa Batson has gained a reputation as a creative and dynamic orchestra director in the Houston area. Presently, she is an orchestra director at Space Center Intermediate School where she built the program to include approximately 200 students. SCIS has won consecutive UIL sweepstakes, been a finalist in the Texas State Honor Orchestra competition numerous times, and has been invited to perform at the state Capitol in Austin for the “Go Arts Day” three times. The Space Center Orchestras have enjoyed performing concerts along side Mark Wood. Lisa also coordinated a weeklong district Electrify Your Strings! event that included over 1,200 students with the entire Mark Wood Experience with an audience of over 5,000.

She was also a conductor with the Greater Houston Youth Orchestra and currently conducts and is the Artistic Director of the Bay Area Youth Symphony. As the founder of “Sizzling Strings Summer Camp” in the Houston area, Lisa encourages string students to study jazz and rock styles. She received her Bachelor of Music Education from the Crane School of Music, State University of New York at Potsdam. After completing her degree, she was awarded a full teaching assistantship at Kent State University where she earned a Master degree in Music Education with a concentration in string pedagogy. Feel free to email Lisa any time with questions about MWROC!

Assistant Camp Director Janette HessMWROC’s Assistant Director Janette Hess is the orchestra director for Clear Creek ISD’s Science Magnet School, Seabrook Intermediate, which is located in the heart of NASA’s Mission Control. Under her direction, the Seabrook orchestras have tripled in size. Superior ratings at festivals and competitions are the norm for Seabrook. Janette’s program is truly out of this world now that they have performed for the Astronauts on the International Space Station!

She earned her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Kent State University where she studied cello with Moshe Amitay. She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Management from the University of Houston Clear Lake. Organization is a gift; as she has served as Region 17 orchestra division chairman, organized several district-wide orchestra festivals for the beginning orchestra students, and served on numerous campus and district-level committees. In her free time she is a mom to 2 active teen-agers and is an avid runner & swimmer.


Special Guest Artists for MWROC 2015!

Emil-Dariel-MWROC-web

Young cellists Emil & Dariel, who won the hearts of millions on America’s Got Talent this season, will be visiting MWROC in 2015 so you can hang with them in a master class and enjoy a very special performance during one of our evening concerts!

Elijah Wood’s summer job as America’s Got Talent house drummer brought the unexpected and thoroughly delightful gift of introducing us to E&D.

These brothers are making a name for themselves around the world as the youngest American cello virtuoso cross-over duo to be featured on a national stage, and we can assure you that these energetic rockers are the real deal with a very bright future ahead of them.

As positive, inspiring role models for string players throughout the world, we’re thrilled that our attendees will have the chance to meet and work with Emil & Dariel at MWROC.

Connect with E&D:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Our MWROC 2015 Faculty!


Mazz SwiftMazz Swift – * NEW FOR 2015!! * We’re thrilled to announce that Mazz Swift is joining our faculty! Critically acclaimed as one of America’s most talented and versatile performers today, Violin/Vox/Freestyle Composition artist Mazz Swift has engaged audiences all over the world with the signature weaving of song, melody and improvisation that she calls MazzMuse.

Mazz combines elements of classical, folk, rock, jazz, free improvisational music and electronica to create a rich, unique and diverse musical experience. She is a singer, composer and Juilliard-trained violinist who plays electric and acoustic instruments and has, over the years, performed and recorded with a diverse accumulation of artists including Whitney Houston, Perry Farrell, Dee Snider, James “Blood” Ulmer, Vernon Reid, Valerie June, DJ Logic, William Parker, Butch Morris, Jason Lindner, Kanye West, and most recently as string mistress for D’Angelo’s “Vanguard Strings”.

On electric violin, acoustic violin, soulful singing and improvisation, Mazz brings music that speaks directly to your soul. Expect to be transported.

Connect with Mazz:
Website
Facebook

What to expect in Mazz’s classes coming soon!


DBRDBR (aka Daniel Roumain) joined MWROC in 2014 and was an instant hit with our attendees! His acclaimed work as a composer and a performer has spanned more than two decades, and has been commissioned by venerable artists and institutions worldwide. Proving that he’s “about as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets” (New York Times), Roumain is perhaps the only composer whose collaborations span the worlds of Philip Glass, Cassandra Wilson, Bill T. Jones, Savion Glover and Lady Gaga.

Roumain has performed with countless symphony orchestras in some of the most prestigious venues in the world. Additionally, DBR’s music has been performed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, Des Moines Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Memphis Symphony, New World Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Noord Nederlands Orkest, and the Vancouver Symphony, among many others. His most recent orchestral work, Dancers, Dreamers, and Presidents, is a 2010 Sphinx Commissioning prize and is being performed at many orchestras of an esteemed consortia.

Roumain was the first artist to be awarded Arizona State University’s prestigious Gammage Residency, “a three-year commitment to an extraordinary performing artist that includes performance, creative time and resources, intensive training for ASU students and local artists and engagement with many of the local communities.” His outreach and residencies have garnered extravagant praise and long-term relationships with countless universities, orchestras, and performing arts centers  He served as Chair of the Music Composition/Theory Department and Composer-in-Residence at The Harlem School of the Arts.

Recent work includes a third commission for the Brooklyn Academy of Music (Symphony for the Dance Floor), and a new work for the Atlanta Ballet (Home in 7) in collaboration with the choreographer Amy Seiwert and the poet Marc Bamuthi Joseph.  Roumain has recently performed at The Macau International Music Festival, Ten Days in Tasmania, Central Park SummerStage, 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and the Sydney Opera House.

Roumain earned his doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Michigan under the tutelage of William Bolcom and Michael Daugherty.

Connect with DBR:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

“What to expect in DBR’s classes” coming soon!


David WallaceDr. David Wallace – The New York Times compares David’s solo improvisations to “Jimmy Page fronting Led Zeppelin.” After fourteen years as a professor at the Juilliard School in NYC, Doc Wallace is the Chair of the String Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston. A Senior Teaching Artist for the New York Philharmonic, David is an internationally-touring musician; an award-winning composer; and a master teaching artist who has performed, consulted, and authored curricula for dozens of performing arts institutions.

A short list of David’s clients and presenters includes Carnegie Hall, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Tanglewood Music Festival, Young Audiences, Midori and Friends, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Known for his mastery of eclectic styles ranging from all classical genres to fiddling, rock, and free jazz, David has also gained widespread acclaim for his ability to connect with audiences in diverse community settings. Never content to let music remain in the concert hall, David actively brings his artistry to schools, hospitals, psychiatric facilities, homeless shelters, houses of worship, and prisons. Symphony Magazine declares his book Reaching Out: A Musician’s Guide to Interactive Performance “an invaluable manual for all musicians, classical or otherwise.”

David’s Texas-style string band, The Doc Wallace Trio, will be releasing a new live album later this year. His classical flute-viola-harp trio Hat Trick, just finished recording a new CD with Grammy-winning producer, David Frost. Hear more at CD Baby. Watch videos of David’s electrifying performances from MWROC 2011 on YouTube

What to expect in David’s classes:

  • Improvising in the free jazz context of New York’s downtown scene
  • Playing the blues and soloing effectively
  • Learning to play Nahum: An Apocalyptic Prophesy for Electric Viola
  • Gaining shortcuts and secrets to better tone and technique
  • Developing compositional and creative ability

Joe Deninzon has been hailed by critics as “The Jimi Hendrix of the Violin” because of his innovative style on the electric seven-string violin and his compositions combining jazz and rock with Gypsy influences. A musician who transcends many genres, he has worked with Sheryl Crow, Bruce Springsteen, Phoebe Snow, Everclear, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, Robert Bonfiglio, and Les Paul among many others. He has also performed as a solo electric violinist with the New York City Ballet for Richard Einhorn’s “Red Angels.” and has performed, co-written, and musically directed the of Broadway show, “Spider Dance” with percussionist Alessandra Belloni.

Joe is the lead singer and violinist for the band, Stratospheerius, who have just released their fifth CD, “The Next World,” on Steve Vai’s Digital Nations label, and were named “Best Jam Band” in the Musician’s Atlas Independent Music Awards. He can be heard on over a hundred CD’s and jingles as a violinist and string arranger.

A 12-time BMI Jazz Composer’s grant recipient and a winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, his original music has been featured on CMT, MTV VH1, Comedy Central, National Geographic, the Travel Channel, the History Channel, and most recently, the Will Ferrell/Adam McKay-produced film “Virginity Hit”. Joe has released a CD with his Acoustic Jazz Trio featuring guitarist Steve Benson and bassist Bob Bowen, entitled “Exuberance”. He is also a member of the Sweet Plantain String Quartet, which combines classical, jazz, hip-hop, and Latin styles.

What to expect in Joe’s classes:

  • Fiddlefunk: Using the violin in a funk or hip-hop band
  • Rhytholin: Chopping, scratching, and comping on the violin
  • The “Effective” Violinist: Working with effects in a solo or composition
  • Fusion Violin: Mahavishnu, Jean-Luc Ponty, and original songs.
  • Singing and playing/ arranging violin parts around vocals
  • Rocking out your string quartet


Sean Grissom has been an integral part of the MWROC faculty since our inception. We’re thrilled to announce that he’s returning for MWROC 2014!

Internationally known as the Cajun Cellist, has performed his unique brand of Country, Cajun, Classical, Swing, and Rock music from the streets and subways of New York City to the concert halls of Europe and the Far East. “O’Cello” – his hit one-man show – runs the gamut of musical tastes and vaudeville humor… proving that you can NEVER have enough cello! Sean has been on the forefront of the ‘Alternative Styles’ development, and has performed at World and American Cello Congresses, as well as numerous festivals. He is an active board member of the Violoncello Society, and is on the board of the New Directions Cello Association.

On the rock front, Sean has been performing in original music groups since he first starting playing on the streets of New York. He has played all of the clubs in New York from CBGB’s to Webster Hall and beneath Madison Square Garden. He did three tours with his final mentor – Papa John Creach, of The Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna- both here and in Europe. Because there is ALWAYS room for cello, he has performed and recorded with many of New York City’s singer/songwriters.

What to expect in Sean’s classes:

  • Cello explorations
  • Cajun styles and fiddle styles on cello
  • Unique arrangements of all styles of songs for cello
  • A spectacularly great time

Chuck BontragerChuck Bontrager is the very definition of the the 21st-century violinist: classically trained, yet experienced in multiple performance styles; fluent in several variations of his instrument (viola, chin-cello, mandolin, and especially his 7-string Viper electric violin); capable as a performer, arranger, and conductor; and wholly dedicated to the advancement of his instrument and the education of new generations.

As a performer, Chuck has appeared with every major symphony orchestra in the Chicago area, including the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Lake Forest Symphony, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has performed in theater orchestras in over twenty productions on the Broadway In Chicago series as well as productions with Drury Lane Oakbrook, Chicago Shakespeare, Court, Northlight, Steppenwolf, Marriott Lincolnshire, and The Goodman theaters. He also performs regularly as String Captain with local tribute giants Tributosaurus, and his Tool tribute band, Vicarious.

As an educator, Chuck teaches at Columbia College Chicago and the Merit School of Music. He is an experienced private lesson and group class teacher, chamber coach, Rock Band instructor, and clinician; his Metal Violin demonstrations are a frequent addition to local school curricula, most recently at Washington Jr. High School in Naperville, Illinois, and with the Audience Matters outreach program sponsored by the Chicago Sinfonietta.

Connect with Chuck:
Facebook

What to expect in Chuck’s classes:

  • Using your axe in a Metal Band – gear, techniques, and attitudes
  • Insane Gain – finding and using an uber-distorted sound
  • Re-Ruption – learning, adapting, and expanding iconic guitar solos
  • Be The Band – transcribing the charts and leading the string section on the next big tribute show
  • Surviving The Four-Gig Day – tips and tricks for the modern multi-style freelance instrumentalist

Matt Vanacoro is a graduate of Manhattanville College’s music program and NYU’s prestigious Music Technology program, and is a skilled pianist and composer with a strong background in contemporary music and jazz. Always a dynamic performer, Matt has studied jazz piano and guitar with New York Jazz Legends Charles Blenzig and Jay Azzolina.

Matt has integrated his love of composing and theory with his keyboard skills to craft the perfect fit for a myriad of live situations. He has performed, recorded and collaborated with local and national touring acts up and down the east coast in a range of styles from pop sensation Aaron Carter, NY jazz vocalist Amy Regan, Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater, Mark Rivera of Billy Joel and numerous others.

His music has been featured in television and film, from Oprah Winfrey’s television show to films by Lionsgate. Matt’s biggest influences as a musician are Trey Anastasio of Phish, Chick Corea and Al DiMeola of Return to Forever, and Herbie Hancock / Thelonious Monk. He endorses Nord Keyboards, Traveler Guitars, Gator Cases, Morely Wah Pedals and Source Audio distortion pedals.

Connect with Matt on Facebook

What to expect in Matt’s classes:

  • Keys/computer programming
  • Composing and arranging using the latest technology available
  • Jazz Improvisation
  • Dry humor with a dark twist

Paul RanieriPaul Ranieri was born in New York City and raised in a musical and artistic environment. He started studying music and playing bass at age 11. Influenced early on by the music from cartoons, science fiction and monster movies; and then later by all the greatest rock, funk, and jazz bass players, Paul is now involved in many diverse musical projects and has developed a melodically ferocious and powerful playing style all his own.

With a degree in Jazz Performance from New York’s New School University and Mannes College of Music, Paul’s talents encompass a high level of technical expertise and professionalism. Paul is currently the bassist for producer, inventor, Emmy Award-winning composer, and highly acclaimed international recording artist Mark Wood, and has been touring the US with Mark’s “Electrify Your Strings” series of music education programs; working alongside Mark to participate in the creation of rock orchestras with student musicians at schools and universities across the nation.

Paul has been a teacher and music educator since 1990, having taught at San Diego’s only professional bass shop and music school; Bass Alone and at Sam Ash Music University and also has a successful private teaching practice. Paul is also leader of the band Dangered Ace, whose debut CD “GoTenGo” was recently released to great acclaim.

Connect with Paul:
Website

What to expect in Paul’s classes:

  • Modern Bass playing concepts and dexterity including developing your ability to play in all styles and handle all rhythms.
  • Your Partner in Crime – Playing with the drummer and being able to think as they do and match their playing.
  • Electric Bass Improvisation – Improving both your technique and increase your musical knowledge.
  • Slapping Techniques – How to apply modern slapping to any string instrument including special techniques like “The Ranieri Theory”.

Laura KayeVocalist Laura Kaye has a lyricism and musicality all her own and is a rock and roll chanteuse whose take-no-prisoners voice invokes the likes of Steven Tyler and Aretha Franklin.

Over the course of a musical career that began when she was a teenager, Laura is the powerhouse vocalist in the Mark Wood Experience (MWE), and is also Mark’s wife. Along with their son Elijah, Laura and Mark have toured extensively with the EYS program for 16 years. Laura is also Vice President and co-owner of Electrify Your Strings, Mark Wood Music Productions, Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp, Wood Violins, and the Mark Wood Music Foundation.

As a recording artist and session vocalist, Laura has worked with legendary musicians such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Lenny Kravitz and Sean Lennon and been featured on countless television shows and advertisements. Laura is also a solo musician who continues to write, record, and perform.

Laura adds the Electrify Your Choir component to EYS programs; and works with choir students, coaching them for the performance and auditioning soloists to be featured during their concert events. She empowers each student she works with by encouraging them to cultivate their own unique style; and by teaching them performance techniques, stage presence, and improvisational tips and tricks. But above all, she helps all her students to tap into their individual creative potential!

Connect with Laura:
Website
Facebook

What to expect in Laura’s classes:

  • Performance tips and tricks
  • Vocal techniques that will give you stamina and strength
  • Every singer’s essential arsenal for vocal health
  • How to own the spotlight and the stage
  • Methods to get you functioning on a high creative level
  • Songwriting exercises to clear your brain
  • Private mini-lessons are available throughout the week

Nathan BlakeNathan Blake returns this year with his very special and extremely popular classes on stage movement for our attendees.

Nathan Blake is a YouTube sensation in the Zumba world, with over 2 million views for his dance videos posted from classes he’s given in more than 40 countries and 6 continents. His well-earned Zumba nickname is “Mister Worldwide” and his upbeat, high-energy, charismatic teaching style has gained him a devoted and loyal following.

Blake has performed onstage with Beto Perez (the creator of Zumba) as a back up dancer for several Zumba national conventions, and appears at every major Zumba event, both nationally and internationally, including those held in Australia, Germany, France, and Sweden. Most recently, Blake was in the Czech Republic assisting Beto and the Zumba team with his energetic warmup routines.

Nathan has a performing arts degree from Hofstra University and also attended a 2-year dance intensive program at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In addition to his work in the field of Zumba and cardio dance, Blake also performs annually with the Scottish Ballet in Glasglow.

Blake currently teaches classes in dance, fitness, kick-boxing, and more in the New York area, and is a true leader his field; having developed his own unique approach called “The Blake Experience.”

Connect with Nathan:
Facebook

What to expect in Nathan’s classes:

  • Build Your Toolbox of Movement: identifying and embracing your own unique performance style
  • Sing With Your Body: become a more fluid “mover”
  • Spacial Awareness: exercises to help you interact effectively with others onstage
  • Dance party Friday night!


Steve CostelloSteve Costello returns to MWROC this year as our guitar hero! 

Hard-hitting original rock songs driven by classic guitar licks and heavy riffs are what Steve Costello has always strived for. And in the years since playing the Northern Ontario bar circuit at the age of 13, he has more than adequately proven his ability to rock with the best of them. Now 22, Steve has travelled across the U.S. and Europe doing what he loves best: entertaining. And whether it be in his rapidly growing solo career, playing guitar for The Mark Wood Experience or his involvement with the Electrify Your Strings! program in schools across America, Steve continues to impress audiences around the world.

As a teen building his chops, Steve found inspiration in the work of artists like Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age and Joe Bonamassa; but his earliest influences were the legends—Zeppelin, Hendrix, Clapton—and it is from these British Blues roots, along with elements of Rock, Grunge and Steve’s own considerable gift of invention, that he has managed to forge a fresh, signature sound. And nowhere is this sound better demonstrated than in his debut solo album, Steve Costello – Vol. 1, a powerhouse collection of 7 originals and a rockin’ cover of the Willie Dixon classic, “Evil.”

With a never waning commitment to his music and a rapidly growing international fan base, Steve is doing whatever it takes to become a successful musician. He has shown time and again that he can rise to any challenge, and will continue to grow and express himself with an unrelenting passion for music.

Connect with Steve:
Website
Facebook
Instagram
YouTube

Steve Costello’s Master Classes of Awesome include:

  • Improvising and songwriting to create original licks and riffs
  • Tools and techniques you’ll need for rock playing and performance
  • Exploring famous solos
  • The art of playing with a rhythm section
  • Tricks and effects: effect pedals, distortion, and more!

JoeDomjan2

Joe Domjan has been Mark Wood’s partner in crime over at Wood Violins for over 20 years.  As the shop manager and head luthier, Joe is a true artist in every sense of the word and masterfully designs and builds our Vipers, Stingrays, Sabres, and Cobras. Bringing with him over 30 years experience as a guitar and bass tech, Joe is a guitarist and bass player in his own right. He spent 15 years working in a traditional acoustic violin repair shop, where he mainly focused on school and rental repairs.  “It was like working in a MASH unit,” Joe says of that time in his life. “Lots of casualties with very little time.”

Joe bring his expertise and his sense of humor to his classes at MWROC, where you will participate in building an electric violin and learn how to master the maintenance of your own acoustic or electric instrument.

See Joe’s work at the Wood Violins website.

www.woodviolins.com


This list is subject to change at any time.