Meet the FacultyA graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Tom Christensen is an established saxophonist, woodwind specialist, and composer in New York City. He is a member of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra and has performed with them throughout the world. He can be heard on their latest recordings as well as on Grammy-winning albums with Joe Lovano, Paquito D’Rivera, David Sanchez, and Don Sebesky. Christensen also has performed with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, David Liebman Big Band, John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, and BMI Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, as well as with pop acts such as Cheap Trick, Aretha Franklin, and Diana Ross. He also has recorded cast albums for and performed with many Broadway shows. In 2003, Christensen was awarded a composition grant from Chamber Music America to write and perform an extended work based on the poetry of Frank O’Hara. This piece is featured on his third CD, “New York School,” on Playscape Recordings, which was listed as one of the top 10 jazz albums of 2005 by All About Jazz. Christensen’s latest projects include “Spin Cycle,” with drummer Scott Neumann, and “Kailash,” featuring Tim Sund and Tomas Ulrich. Christensen can also be heard on Rufus Reid’s latest CD, “Quiet Pride”; David Liebman’s latest Big Band CD, featuring the music of Wayne Shorter; and with Ryan Truesdell’s “The Gil Evans Project.” He is currently on the faculty of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and Nyack College.
Scott Latzky, who has been on the faculty at Ethical Culture Fieldston since 1992, considers teaching to be a vital part of his career. He studied with jazz great Joe Morello while still in high school and went on to receive a degree in jazz studies at Indiana University, under acclaimed professor and bandleader David Baker. Latzky is a sought-after percussionist in a wide range of genres and has traveled around the world as both a player and clinician. He has had the pleasure to play and/or record with many great musicians, including Tito Puente, Lionel Hampton, Brad Mehldau, John Patitucci, Larry Goldings, Herb Ellis, Bob Mintzer, and Randy Brecker. Recent projects include composing and music-directing a percussion/comedy show in Hershey Park, Pennsylvania; leading his own eclectic, improvisational percussion ensemble; and composing, recording, and producing his own singer/songwriter music and videos in styles ranging from rap, hip-hop, dance, pop, and indie rock. Most recently, he has been studying, performing, and teaching Indian tabla with Pandit Samir Chatterjee.
Nina Simon joined Fieldston as the string educator and retains her status as a freelance professional violinist. Throughout her commercial career she has played in numerous Broadway shows and albums, as well as jingles, record dates, Grammy Award ceremonies, individual rock shows, and Radio City Music Hall. Her orchestral performances and tenured positions include ones with the American Symphony Orchestra, Symphony of the New World, American Composers Orchestra, Brooklyn and Westchester Philharmonics, Colonial Symphony, Springfield Symphony, Queens Symphony Orchestra, Little Orchestra Society, Stamford Symphony, New York City Opera, New York Choral Society, Opera Orchestra of New York, Carnegie Hall, French and Italian opera series, visiting ballet companies at Lincoln Center, the Joffrey Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, and American Ballet Theatre. Simon's extensive chamber music experience encompasses two Rockefeller Foundation grants and music series at or with CAMI, Merkin Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center Library, the Soviet Emigré Chamber Players, New York Chamber Virtuosi, and I Solisti di Vivaldi. Prior to teaching at Fieldston and giving private lessons, Simon's educational experience included stints with the Tappan (New York) and Old Tappan (New Jersey) public school systems; the Larchmont school system; the Rudolf Steiner School; and educational programs in Westfield, New Jersey. She has received grants to teach inner-city children in New York City and has taught and/or performed with the American Symphony Orchestra's public school series, Young Audiences programs, and educational performances at Carnegie Hall.
Russell Currie teaches digital music, music composition, and music theory. Having composed music for opera, musical theater, orchestra, chamber music, dance, and film, he is "a composer who puts an idiosyncratically musical syntax at the service of a coolly romantic esthetic” (New York Times). His music is “rich in dramatic orchestral color with direct emotional lyrical lines that discover an effective balance between dissonance and clarifying tonality” (New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians) and “knows how to sustain, modulate and build a mood that is all of a piece" (Opera News). Currie’s works have been sponsored and commissioned by the New York State Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Millennium Pictures, Scottish Television, Glasgow City Council, ASCAP, American Music Center, Meet the Composer, Astor Foundation, and Edgar Allan Poe Society of Prague. Articles on his music have been published in numerous international magazines and periodicals, and he has appeared on TV and radio for media outlets such as the BBC, WQXR, WNYC, and Deutsche Welle. At the Eastman School of Music, where he trained with Pulitzer Prize winners Christopher Rouse and Joseph Schwantner, he was a three-time recipient of the ASCAP Max Dreyfus Award for Musical Theater. His concert works have been performed throughout the U.S. and Europe. Dreams, commissioned by the Poe Society of Prague, premiered in the Rudolfinum with the Prague Symphony Orchestra during the "Illustrations of a Tormented Mind" festival, commemorating the 150th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's death. Thomas Stacy, the principal English hornist for the New York Philharmonic, commissioned Wet On Wet and premiered it at the Carmel Music Festival. Rooted in traditional opera technique, Rimshot—The Banishment and Rise to Fame of Joe Rimshot, Rock Drummer is a satirical opera that explores the trappings of fame and fortune by casting opera singers as heavy-metal rockers. Currie's film music includes orchestral/choral scores for feature films, intimate shorts, and documentaries.
Pianist Taisiya Pushkar has performed extensively in Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Israel, Canada, and the United States as a recitalist and in collaboration with many leading singers and instrumentalists. A winner of the Oberlin Senior Concerto Competition, Pushkar has enjoyed a longtime musical partnership with the cellist Amber Docters van Leeuwen, which led to the recording of their debut CD on the Brilliant Classics label in 2012. The duo has performed at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Pushkar is the recipient of the 2013 Sorel Fellowship from SongFest in California. Through the Sorel organization, she was invited to perform and coach at the renowned Daniel Ferro Vocal Program in Italy in 2011. Since 2009, Pushkar has been the official pianist of the Melodia Women's Choir of New York City, a group dedicated to both exploring rarely heard music written for women's voices and nurturing emerging women composers through commissions and performances. Pushkar has been on the faculty of the Waterville Valley Music Center in New Hampshire, the Performing Arts Institute of Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania, and the Positano International Chamber Music Festival in Italy. In New York, she is a teaching artist for the Distance Learning Center at the Manhattan School of Music, where she develops programs for students in a cutting-edge, interactive video-conference setting, and has presented at schools in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alaska, and Norway. Pushkar is on the piano faculty of the Lucy Moses School at Kaufman Music Center, of which she is an alumna. She holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the Manhattan School of Music.
Libby Nuss teaches Middle School Band and World of Music at ECFS. After graduating from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in 2013, she returned to her hometown in Northern Virginia to teach public school concert and marching bands. Nuss joined the Fieldston music faculty in 2015. A brass instrument specialist, she enjoys learning about instruments indigenous to a wide array of cultures and frequently adds instruments to her expanding repertoire. Her most recent additions include ukulele, didgeridoo, and various Afro-Cuban percussion instruments. Outside of school, Nuss is a post-partum doula, a volunteer with New York Cares and Best Friends Animal Society, and she enjoys camping and hiking.