World Class Faculty
Léna Cambis, Violin
A native of Montpellier, France, Léna started her violin studies at the age of 4. At age 6, she was the youngest student admitted to join the National Conservatory of Music of Montpellier to pursue violin, chamber music, voice, and solfege studies. Graduating solfege at age 11, she won the Conservatory's Gold medal award in violin and chamber music at 17. 

Léna went on to pursue a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin performance at the Royal College of Music in London under the tutelage of Dr. Felix Andrievsky. As an RCM student, she played with the Royal String Ensemble, performing regularly for royal and official events, became concertmaster of the “Orchestre Philharmonique Europeen”,  and won the 2nd prize at the International Violin Competition in Viterbo, Italy.

Léna started teaching at age 15 at local music schools and at the National Music Conservatory in Montpellier. She has performed all over the world, with many European orchestras and chamber groups and played at many prestigious halls such as the Royal Albert Hall, Salle Gaveau, and Opera Garnier.

In 2000 Léna moved to Florida, where she is a member of the Sarasota Orchestra. In 2008 Léna co-founded the Sarasota Music Conservatory where she has been on faculty ever since.  With 25 years of teaching experience, Léna has guided most of her students from a young age through their college endeavors. She specializes in competitions/auditions preparation, and prides herself in developing well rounded musicians on and off the stage.
Giuseppina Ciarla, Harp
 Italian born Giuseppina Ciarla is principal harpist with the Sarasota Opera Orchestra.  She holds a Conservatory diploma from her native Italy along with a Bachelor's and a Master's degree – with honors, in harp performance from the USA.  She is multilingual, an accomplished solo, chamber and orchestral musician and maintains a harp studio in Sarasota where she’s dedicated to sharing her years of experience and knowledge.  

Giuseppina will inspire, nurture and guide you in the wonderful and exciting journey of learning to play the harp.  Expression, musicality and a strong technical foundation are the core of Giuseppina's teaching philosophy, while encouraging each student to bring out the best of themselves through their own creativity.    

​Giuseppina offers traditional and Suzuki method harp lessons. She has completed Suzuki teacher training with the world renown Mary Kay Waddington.

Giuseppina is joining the Conservatory's faculty this Fall and currently accepts students of ages and levels.
Stephen Fancher, Piano
​​​Originally from central Connecticut, Stephen earned his bachelors and master’s degrees in piano performance, studying piano at the University of Connecticut, Trinity College of Music in London, England, and at the conservatory at SUNY Purchase in New York.  
Stephen has been in Sarasota since 2012, relocating from the New York area where he was active as a musician and teacher.  Having been awarded Stamford Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year in 2012, he was the general music and chorus teacher at Julia A. Stark Elementary School for eight years. 
  
Stephen decided to transfer his skill set as teacher to the field of finance, working as a financial advisor with the Mariash Lowther Group at Merrill Lynch from 2012-2016 and now works at the Sarasota Opera as their Development Officer. 
Stephen has been giving private piano and chamber music lessons for over twenty years and is very excited to be on faculty at the Sarasota Music Conservatory. 
He has been very active in the arts community in Sarasota; sitting on the board of the Artist Series Concerts, the Sarasota Music Conservatory, as well as performing the role of assistant conductor for Key Chorale.

Stephen has been on faculty at the Conservatory since 2015.
Lise Frank, Piano, Instrumental & Vocal coach
Lise Frank, holds a Masters Degree in Piano Performance from the University of Indiana. With over 20 years of teaching experience, Lise is also well recognized as a concert pianist and instrumental coach, collaborating with many musicians around the globe. Lise recently moved back to Sarasota from South America, and is currently accepting new students in her studio.

Angela Galestro, Flute
Flutist Angela Galestro is a native of Sarasota, Florida. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Orchestral Flute Performance from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida in 2012 and her Master’s Degree in Flute Performance from the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio in 2014 graduating summa cum laude. Angela has notable professional experience performing around the world in cities throughout the USA, Europe, and South America. She has played flute, piccolo, and alto flute professionally in symphony orchestras, opera orchestras, musical theatre, and chamber music ensembles including two performances at Carnegie Hall.

Angela performs regularly with her husband, guitarist Jonathan Lee Smith, in the award-winning flute and guitar ensemble Galestro-Smith Duo. Both highly accomplished artists, the duo offers a diverse repertoire of classical, jazz, Latin American and popular music. Most recently, Galestro-Smith Duo won second place in The American Prize Chamber Music Competition making them the only two-person chamber music ensemble to earn a top prize in this category.

Currently, Angela is in the final dissertation phase of completing her Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at Shenandoah Conservatory where she studies with world-renowned flutist Jonathan Snowden. She served as the graduate teaching assistant to the flute studio at Shenandoah from 2014-2018 where she taught applied lessons, was director and conductor of the Flute Ensemble, gave masterclasses on flute history and development, and instructed classes on scales, technique and sight-reading for undergraduate, masters, doctoral, and artist diploma level flutists, as well as the Bentley system aural training method for flutists. Angela plans to complete her doctorate in the Spring of 2019 after presenting her research and lecture recital on “Demystifying Third Stream Genre through the lens of Claude Bolling – Performance Implementation for the 21st Century Classical Flutist.”
  
Natalie Helm, Cello
​​A native of Louisville, KY, Natalie Helm joins the Sarasota Orchestra for the 2016-17 season as principal cellist. Most recently, she held the Principal and Cello Fellowship position for the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra and currently is a member of the Des Moines Metro Opera.

She has appeared as soloist with orchestras around the country including the Dana Point Symphony, the Montgomery Symphony, the Richardson Symphony, the Louisville Orchestra, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the Colburn Symphony Orchestra; won top prizes at international competitions including the Lennox International Competition, Blount-Slawson Young Artist Competition, Kingsville Young Artist Competition, MTNA, and NPR's From the Top; and appeared with the American Contemporary Ballet, Domingo-Thorton Young Artist Program, and Yamaha Music Foundation.

​Natalie studied with Peter Wiley and David Soyer at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she received her Bachelor of Music in 2011, and with Ronald Leonard at the Colburn School, where she received an Artist Diploma in 2014. 

Natalie is joining the Conservatory's faculty this Fall and currently accepts students of all ages and levels.
Denise Hoff, Piano
Denise Hoff, originally from Wisconsin, began her musical career in NYC where she earned a Master's Degree from Manhattan School of Music. While in NYC, she spent ten years as principal clarinet with the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, three years with New York CIty Opera, and on shows including Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, Scarlett Pimpernel, and The Secret Garden with Mandy Patinkin. An avid traveler, Denise spent a summer teaching at the Altenburg Music Festival in Germany with faculty from Manhattan School of Music and has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore while on tour with the International tour of Phantom. Denise has recorded on multiple labels and was active in the contemporary music scene in NYC performing at Threadwaxing Space, The Kitchen, Merkin, and Weill Recital Hall. Following her graduate degree, Denise also spent three years studying music composition at Columbia University where she won a competition allowing her chamber orchestra composition to be recorded by the Riverside Symphony. 

 Currently, Denise is on faculty at Out-of-Door Academy, where she is musical director of theater, choirs, and AP Theory. In addition to teaching, she recently edited and authored lessons for the two main competing music programs used across the US public school system—Pearson's Silver Burdett Interactive Music and McGraw-Hill's iMusic Studio.

Thanks to an interesting career, Denise has been fortunate to live in Singapore, Hong Kong, and India. Having taught piano and woodwinds for over twenty years, she is thrilled to join SMC's faculty team this Fall!
Meghan Jones, Violin
 Meghan is currently the Assistant-principal violin of the Sarasota Orchestra.
Originally from Edina, MN, Meghan earned her Bachelor’s of Music at Northwestern University as a student of Gerardo Ribeiro and her Master’s of Music at Boston University as a student of Peter Zazofsky. 

Prior to her position in Sarasota, Meghan performed as a member of the New World Symphony and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina. She has also performed at the Breckenridge Music Festival in Colorado since 2002. Other festival performances include Tanglewood, the National Repertory Orchestra, Spoleto U.S.A. and Encore School for Strings. 

Meghan has been on faculty at the Conservatory since 2008 and currently accepts students of all ages and levels.
Daniel Jordan, Violin
Daniel has been the concertmaster of the Sarasota Orchestra and violinist in the Sarasota String Quartet since 1998. He is also the assistant principal second violinist of the Santa Fe Opera orchestra.

He has played as concertmaster of the New World Symphony (Miami Beach), Spoleto (Charleston) Festival and Erie Philharmonic. During the 2001/02 season, while on sabbatical from Sarasota Orchestra, Daniel was the assistant principal first violinist of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur.

Daniel received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of Donald Weilerstein and David Updegraff.

Daniel has been on faculty at the Conservatory since 2008 and currently accepts new students into his studio.
Gil Katz, Double bass
From classical to popular music, rock and jazz, Gil S. Katz’s diverse abilities have led him to perform in a wide spectrum of music. Since his debut at the age of 14, Katz has performed with various symphony orchestras including Rhode Island Philharmonic, Naples Philharmonic, and Florida West Coast Symphony.

During his Bachelor of Music degree at University of Southern California, Gil appeared as guest soloist with  Deutsches Kammerorchester. He then went on to complete his Master of Music degree on a full scholarship at Boston University with Ed Barker.
In the recording studios, Gil has worked with such artists as Barbara Streisand, Barry Gibb and John Secada.

Gil has performed at numerous music festivals, including Tanglewood, Aspen aCabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. Currently, Gil is Principal double bass with Sarasota Opera and Utah Festival Opera and is working on has a performing duo with his wife, cellist Nadine Trudel.
Gil has been on faculty at the Conservatory since 2008.
Milene Moreira, Violin
Milene was born and raised in Brazil and started playing violin at age 4. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul in Brazil. Her impressive resume includes an Arts Diploma from the Freiburg School of Music, Germany, a Master Degree in Violin Performance from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Graduate Performance Degree from Hartt School Of Music in Chamber Music.

Currently Milene is in the violin section of the Sarasota Orchestra and the Sarasota opera, and plays as a regular sub for the Florida Orchestra in Tampa, FL.

Milene has given Masterclasses at the Federal University of Santa Maria in Brazil, and has been on Faculty at the Wintergreen Music Festival, Virginia.

Milene joined the Conservatory's faculty in 2016 and with over 20 years of private teaching experience she is currently accepting students of all ages and levels.
Sean O'Neil, Violin/Viola
A native of New Orleans, Sean began violin studies at the age of five with Doris Ballard Hansen. He studied at the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Encore School for Strings, where he was a pupil of Robert Lipsett.

Sean pursued a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied with esteemed violinist Vartan Manoogian. He was a fellowship member of the Strelow Graduate String Quartet studying under the Pro Arte Quartet.

Sean's past professional experience includes the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cleveland Pops, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, as well as the Akron and Canton Symphonies as assistant concertmaster.

In the summers, Sean has taught and performed at prestigious festivals such as the Breckenridge Music Festival, Western Slope Music Festival, and Point Counterpoint Chamber Music Camp.

Sean moved to Florida in 2002 where he is member of the Sarasota Orchestra’s violin section and was Concertmaster of the Venice Symphony from 2013 to 2015 and 1st violin of the Venice Symphony String Quartet. Sean performs regularly with The Florida Orchestra, the Naples Philharmonic and most of the area's professional musical organizations.
 
Sean has 25 years of private teaching experience, and has been a mentor for his students from the start of their journey to their College years. Sean is co-founder of the Sarasota Music Conservatory, and teaches students of all ages and levels.
Christopher Schnell, Cello
 Bio coming soon
 Jonathan Lee Smith, Guitar
 Award-winning guitarist Jonathan Smith has received awards in a number of competitions including 1st place “James Stroud All-Ohio Guitar Competition 2014;” 1st Prize “Southern Guitar Festival 2014, chamber division;” 3rd Prizes in both the Classical and Blues/Rock categories of the “Wilson Center Guitar Festival and Competition 2013;” and highly commended for the Stetson University Concerto Competition in 2010.

Though trained as a classical guitarist, Jonathan is equally at home with jazz, pop, rock and fusion styles. He performs both solo and collaborative works, including in a flute and guitar ensemble, Galestro-Smith Duo, with his wife, flutist Angela Galestro.

Teaching music and developing his own pedagogical methods is at the forefront of Jonathan’s career. He manages and teaches at Glaize Avenue Studios which holds a network of students well on their way to making music. Through a foundation of classical studies mixed with an upbringing in popular culture, Jonathan’s teaching methods cater to all ages and learning styles. Jonathan regularly teaches classical guitar, fingerstyle guitar, electric guitar, electric bass, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, trumpet, and beginning piano. Further, the genre focus is specific to the student’s strengths, background, and ambitions.

Jonathan received a Master of Music degree from the University of Akron under the tutelage of Stephen Aron and a Bachelor of Music from Stetson University while studying with Dr. Stephen Robinson. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Guitar Performance at Shenandoah Conservatory under Professor Julian Gray and remains active as a teacher, performer, arranger, and recording artist.
  
Nadine Trudel, Cello
 Nadine is currently Principal cellist of the Sarasota Opera and member of the cello section of the Sarasota Orchestra. Before moving to Florida to join the Florida Philharmonic, Nadine Trudel held a position in the Boston Ballet Orchestra and performed with several New England ensembles as well as the Pittsburgh Symphony.
 
A native of Montréal, Québec, Nadine attended the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal. She earned her Master of Music degree at the University of Southern California. Nadine and her husband Gil Katz have a performing cello/Bass duo called Nona.
Nadine has been on faculty at the Conservatory since 2008 and currently accepts students of all ages and levels.
Gwen Wahman, Piano/Jazz
Gwen Wahman has performed in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, many NYC Jazz clubs and internationally and with such Jazz legends as Ron Carter, Elvin Jones and Paul West to name a few. Dizzy Gillespie's pianist and musical director Mike Longo says, "Gwen Wahman is both a talented pianist and composer and is a rising star on the music horizon" and adds in the complimentary old jazz phrase, "she will swing you into bad health."

A native New Yorker, Gwen has twenty six years of performing and teaching, both privately and in music schools. She has taught Classical, Jazz, Blues, Funk, Gospel, Pop, Bossa, Samba, Calypso, Rock and R&B, Improvising, Voice Leading, Theory, Piano Technique, Developing The Left Hand for Jazz Piano, Systematic Harmonic Substitution, Creating Harmonic Melody and Functional Re-harmonization to pianists, other instrumentalists and vocalists. She has taught at SMC for the past three years.

Gwen studied privately with Jazz legend Mike Longo for twenty five years, for four years with Jazz legend Ron Carter, at the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes, University of Miami and City College and holds a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance.

Gwen is a very patient, supportive and kind teacher who believes that each student is a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Students’ talents and creative potential will develop and manifest through encouragement, inspiration and varied teaching tools as we explore the joy of music and study.