BLAKE RAGGHIANTI
b. 1981

Founding Executive/Artistic Director
Composer and Performer

Blake Ragghianti has studied music composition and piano performance since the age of 8.  He has performed professionally with the Pittsburgh Opera (La Boheme), the Pittsburgh Boy’s Choir extensively in western Russia (appearing on Russian National Television twice) and widely throughout the Eastern and Souther United States.  He has also appeared on television as part of the Pittsburgh Lottery’s commercial series and as part of Pittsburgh’s Project Bundle-Up benefit.  Blake has been a guest lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, his Alma Mater, as well as Duquesne University and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. He has performed with and been a member of a multitude of small ensembles of various size and genre, collaborating and performing alongside such artists as Joe Negri, Etta Cox, and Gaelic Storm.  His extensive international travels have been a primary inspiration and influence in his ‘serious’ compositional style, inspiring an ever increasing collection of works that blend aspects of an a multitude of genres, cultures, and artistic perspectives.  He has given Creativity in Innovation training sessions for many Fortune 500 companies including Kimberly-Clark, Keurig, Georgia Pacific and the Hershey Company and regularly works with Market Insights firm Skyscraper, inc.

In 2011 Blake created OvreArts, a small non-profit that includes a chamber orchestra and choir, with Co-Founder Luke Mayernik.  OvreArts immediately received the support of the University of Pittsburgh and shortly thereafter, the Heinz Endowments as well as a large group of enthusiastic sponsors, both corporate and private. Seen in its purest form in the OvreArts mission statement, Blake shares his perspectives on music and the arts by composing, collaborating, Directing OvreArts, and by educating.  

In December of 2008 Blake composed the theme music for Glenn Beck’s two year sell-out, nationally touring Broadway show The Christmas Sweater, now available on DVD, and was gratefully acknowledged by Mr. Beck in the book by the same title for creative and editorial additions.  After the success of The Christmas Sweater, Beck again commissioned Blake to compose the music for an upcoming Christmas musical.

Most recently he premiered his 45 minute ballet, “Infinity,” Pittsburgh’s first full orchestral ballet composed and premiered locally(alongside “The Alkonost” by Luke Mayernik).  The large work featured famed actor Harry O’Toole, Texture Contemporary Ballet, the Pillow Project, a 65 member orchestra, and international conductor Alejandro Pinzon.

Blake earned a BFA in Music Composition from Carnegie Mellon University and studied Music Education, Music Technology and Piano performance at Duquesne University.  Musical mentors include, among others, Amanda Ford (Composition, Eurhythmics, and Musical Philosophy), Dr. Brady Allred (Musical Philosophy, Conducting, Choral Studies, Voice), Dr. Robert Page (Voice, Conducting), Nancy Galbraith (Composition), Efrain Amaya (Composition), Bill Purse (Composition and Technology), Ken Burkey (Piano Performance), Dr. Harry Coleman (Piano Performance and Pedagogy), and Lynn Purse and Tom Kikta (Digital Recording and Studio Design).

Blake holds an MCA Yachtmaster 200 tons (Sail endorsement) captains license which he has used to captain, deliver and manage private yachts up to 120 feet in size in Australia, the Caribbean, and from Florida to Rhode Island.

Enjoys slightly fermented sugar cane juice, the sweet crooning of the 1970’s schizophrenic ukelele maestro loving known as Tiny Tim, and practicing writing backwards with his left hand.  He has occasionally been spotted at Dish Osteria arguing about obscure philosophical concepts with Co-Founder  and co-conspirator Luke Mayernik.

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Luke MayernikLUKE MAYERNIK
b. 1981

Co-Founding Artistic Director, Composer and Performer ( www.lukemayernik.com )

LUKE MAYERNIK (b.1981) is a nationally and internationally acclaimed and award winning composer/organist. He won First Place at the American Guild of Organists’ National Competition in Organ Improvisation (2004), and First Place at the International Organ Improvisation Competition hosted by the Royal Canadian College of Organists (2008). In 2004, his Oratorio In Memoriam: A Requiem for Mister Rogers was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and received an interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” With over 20 sacred works published in the last five years, Luke continues to write both sacred and secular music noted for its engaging harmony, inventive forms, and cross-genre appeal. Mr. Mayernik is an Associate of the American Guild of Organists and is currently Director of Music and Organist for St. Anne Parish in Castle Shannon.

Mr. Mayernik is also the co-founding/artistic director of OvreArts, Inc., Pittsburgh’s newest non-profit performance ensemble. OvreArts has been named the Ensemble-in-Residence at the Heinz Memorial Chapel, the first ensemble ever to be so named.  Luke was honored by the Royal Academy of Music in Split, Croatia with the bronze medal (2011) and gold medal (2012) in Music Composition at the 15th and 16th Annual International Sacred Music Festival and Composition Competition. Mr. Mayernik calls Croatia his “home away from home”, where he gives organ recitals, teaches improvisation at the national music academy, and has works performed. He also continues to teach composition, theory and harmony to students of all ages, both privately and within the academic setting. Luke’s personal mission is to help young composers discover their individual musical voice and instill within them a passion for artistic growth. Mr. Mayernik continues to present recitals and seminars at national conventions and universities.  Recent commissions include a new choral work for the award-winning Tesoro High School Choir to be performed at Carnegie Music Hall in New York (May 2013) and for the American Guild of Organists International Conference in 2016.  Luke studied organ with Edgar B. Highberger at Seton Hill University, organ improvisation with Dr. Ann Labounsky at Duquesne University and Composition with Nancy Galbraith at Carnegie Mellon University. His music is published with Oregon Catholic Press, GIA Publications, World Library Publications and Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Graphite Publishing and Walton Music Publishing Firm. 

He enjoys the thrilling company of his cat “Sir Thomas à Becket” and quiet nights in, forcing his newly wed to watch Eastern European movies about the Cold War while wearing period clothing and muttering angry and unintelligible phrases under his breath in an unnecessarily thick Russian accent as if the characters on the TV could actually hear him. If one is lucky, he can be spotted at Dish Osteria in Pittsburgh eating whole lemons (often with the sticker still attached).

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CHRIS MASSA
b. 1981

Composer and Performer ( www.chrismassa.com )
Orchestra Manager and Librarian

CHRIS MASSA grew up in Dover, PA. He began percussion studies at the age of six, and began composing in his teens. By the time he graduated from high school, he had performed at Westminster Cathedral, Carnegie Hall, and the White House. Chris studied music composition at West Chester University with Robert Maggio and Larry Nelson.

Chris’s music has been commissioned by a wide variety of solo artists and performing ensembles, including the York Youth Symphony Orchestra and bassist Ryan McMasters, and his award-winning choral music has been performed around the world. Since moving to Pittsburgh, Chris has worked with many of area’s leading independent artists, including Brad Yoder, Ben Hardt, Joy Ike, Autumn Ayers, Boulevard of the Allies, and Yours Truly. He is also the vocal arranger for Re-Creation U.S.A., a non-profit organization whose main service is to America’s Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and State Veterans Homes.  He is also the Orchestra Manager and Librarian for the OvreArts Sinfonia.

Chris lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, singer/songwriter Elise Massa, where together they enjoy playing shuffle disc, competitive keeno and couples curling.  He occasionally forgets his name.

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NEIL STAHURSKI
b. 1969

Composer and Performer

NEIL STAHURSKI holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Organ Performance and the Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. While at Eastman, he was a student of David Craighead and the late Michael Farris. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Sacred Music from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, where he studied with Ann Labounsky.

He is currently the Director of Music Ministries at Assumption Parish in Bellevue. He has been featured as a recitalist and accompanist in the Pittsburgh area, serving as organ accompanist for the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh. He has appeared on several of their compact disc recordings, one of which was a collaboration with the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass.  His last recital was an organ/piano duet recital with pianist Yee-ha Chiu at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in East Liberty for the Organ Historical Society Convention. Neil has a special interest in research of the organ literature of Poland, and has presented recitals and programs featuring works by Polish composers, particularly works of the post-World War II era.

Neil enjoys salsa dancing after large meals, getting weekly “Mongolian Flaming Spear” massages, and painstakingly painting mirror image frescos of Margaret Thatcher.  He has claimed to be omniscient in public on two occasions.

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ERBERK ERYILMAZ
b. 1989

Composer and Performer – ( www.erberkeryilmaz.com )

ERBERK ERYILMAZ was born in Samsun, Turkey in 1989. He started his music education when he was 3 years old in the Samsun Conservatory. He studied piano and composition in Hacettepe University – Ankara State Conservatory from 2000 to 2006. He studied at the Hartt School from 2006 to 2012. During his studies at the Hartt School, he studied piano with Margreet Francis, Oxana Yablonskaya, composition with Stephen Gryc, Robert Carl, David Macbride, and conducting with Christopher Zimmerman, and Edward Cumming.

He has also had private studies with world-famous pianists such as Idil Biret, Andrej Jasinski, Vicenzo Balzani, Stanislav Pochekin, Felix Gottlieb, and composers Bright Sheng, Joan Tower, Chen Yi, William Bolcom, John Corigliano and Leonardo Balada.

In 2007, he was awarded First Prize with his “Sonata for Piano” in the SCI/ASCAP(North East) Composition Competition, and his “Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra” was chosen for “The Masterworks of the New Era” by ERM Media. In 2008, he won the grand prize at “The Van Rooy Competition for Musical Excellence”. In 2010, he received the “Diemente Prize” from the Hartt School’s Composition Department.

Eryılmaz has been featured on Turkish State Radio several times. Turkish State Television produced a documentary based on his musical career as part of series called “The Succesful Turkish People”. The Ministry of Education’s required English Class Book for 7th grade elementary schools in Turkey includes a unit on Erberk Eryılmaz.

As a composer, pianist, and a conductor, he collaborated with orchestras such as Presidential Symphony Orchestra of Turkey, Hacettepe Chamber Orchestra, Gazi Chamber Orchestra, Hartt Symphony, Wind Ensemble, and Foot in the Door, and conductors such as Vakhtang Matchavariani, Dmitry Yablonsky, Edward Cumming and Glen Adsit.

He is the pianist of the Anatolian Trio, and also the artistic director/conductor of the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra. He is continuing his studies at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and studying composition with Reza Vali and conducting with Robert Page.

Enjoys shuffle board, Turkish speed dating, and chicken tickling.  He has never actually been seen in person but is believed to be “plausibly real” by some scholars.  The Turkish History Channel will be premiering a new series called “Finding Erberk” this summer.

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DEVIN ARRINGTON
b. 1978

Composer and Performer – ( www.devinarrington.com )

Devin Arrington’s music has been performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City and as far away as the Great Hall of the Composer’s in St. Petersburg, Russia. Some of the outstanding performers of his music include the Grammy-nominated Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the Westmoreland Symphony, and the Oakland Girls Choir. Following its Carnegie Hall premiere in 2005 by members of the New York Youth Symphony, Arrington’s piano trio Jerusalem was chosen for broadcast on WQXR 96.3 as part of the McGraw-Hill Company’s Young Artist Showcase. In 2006 Arrington received a grant in Music – Classical Composition from the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts. Other recognitions include a special distinction in ASCAP’s 2005 Rudolf Nissim competition for his large orchestral work La Via Dolorosa, the 2004 First Music Prize from the New York Youth Symphony for his String Quartet #2, and a scholarship from the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers for his Three Proverbs for Trombone Quintet. Mr. Arrington received an MM in Composition from Carnegie Mellon University in 2004 where he was a scholarship student of Leonardo Balada.

As a professional violinist Mr. Arrington has studied privately with Huei Sheng Kao (Pittsburgh Symphony Assistant Concertmaster), Masao Kawasaki (The Juilliard School), Yehonatan Berick (University of Michigan), and participated in the Aspen, Bowdoin, and Masterworks music festivals. Mr. Arrington is a member of the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra and is the Founding Director of “Musicians with a Mission”, a nonprofit which currently has 20 volunteers bringing classical music into local nursing and personal care homes. (www.musicianswithamission.org)

As a teacher Mr. Arrington maintains a private music studio in Pittsburgh, PA of over 25 students, many of whom are concertmasters of regional youth orchestras including Trypo and CAPA and members of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony. His students have performed in the Heinz Hall Lobby, Governor’s mansion, and opened for NPR’s “From The Top.” In 2010, Mr. Arrington was chosen as a Shinichi Suzuki Teacher Training Scholar and granted a scholarship to attend the American Suzuki Institute at Steven’s Point in Wisconsin. As a Suzuki clinician, he has taught violin and composition at the “Green Mountain Suzuki Institute” in Vermont and South Indian Carnatic violin at “Absolutely Ottawa!”

He enjoys collecting broken Hummels and mentoring inner city youth on proper technique of the Chicken Dance.  Other accomplishments include winning “Best BBQ Sauce in the Confederacy” in the 1997 Salamanca BBQ Sauce Cook-off.   He is fluent in a stunning 28 languages.

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4179_91943727358_8358768_nEMILY JONES
b. 1991

Composer and Performer – (www.emijonesmusic.com)

 

Emily Jones began her musical career at the age of five by taking piano lessons from a neighbor. At 12 years old she joined the City Music Center, studying under Wonsun Bae, Kazumi Petinaux, and Israel Kremen. During this time she won her division for piano in the Duquesne Young Artist National Competition, 2009.

Emily received her BFA in Music Technology – Composition track from Duquesne University, graduating magna cum laude. While at Duquesne she studied composition under Patrick Burke, piano under Kenneth Burky and orchestration under Joseph W. Jenkins. Her student collaborations were many and varied: she was commissioned to write a piece for the Duquesne Woodwind Trio, she co-founded Duquesne University Improv, and she wrote music for several film projects created by her brother Ben Jackson. One of those films, with electronic music by Emily, went on to win a Golden Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, 2013.

Currently, Emily runs a notation/transcription/orchestration business which has enabled her to work closely with such musical artists as Orion Czarnecki, Eric Dzugan, Louis Landon, Chad Lawson, Alex Kaloian and Daniel Snoke. She accompanies ballet classes at Point Park University, works as assistant choir director and pianist for St. James Anglican Church, serves as a music therapist in assisted living communities for Fine Art Miracles, & teaches piano lessons out of The Melody Shop.

On occasion Emily is filled with an uncontrollable urge to make toast, lots of toast. If you would like some toast, Emily has a lot of it. To place an order for toast, please email Emily directly.

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Artistic Staff

RYAN KEELING
b. 1984

Music Director and Performer

RYAN KEELING is active as a teacher, singer and conductor in the Pittsburgh area.  Ryan is the Director of Choral Music at Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church where he conducts two choirs. Ryan was recently named co-conductor of Voces Solis. As Music Director and Principal Conductor of OvreArts, Mr. Keeling conducts the OvreArts Sinfonia and is the founding conductor of the OvreArts Chamber Singers.  In that role, Ryan conducted the world premiere of Luke Mayernik’s choral-orchestral ballet, “The Alkonost” in September 2012 and has premiered more than 50 new works.

Mr. Keeling was previously a Professional Core tenor in The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, The Pittsburgh Symphony’s “chorus of choice,” and an adjunct faculty member at West Liberty University where he taught private and class voice, the West Liberty University Women’s Vocal Ensemble, and Music Appreciation.

As a tenor soloist Ryan has been heard in The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh’s concert of Mozart’s “Great Mass in C Minor” and in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Music for the Spirit concert at Rodef Shalom Congregation.  He was a soloist at the National Pastoral Musicians National Conference where he sang for the Oregon Catholic Press showcase.  In 2012, he made his New York City debut as the tenor soloist in Bach’s cantata BWV 4 “Christ Lag in Todesbanden” and Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasy” with the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  Also, Ryan sang Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and selections from Haydn’s Creation with the Fairmont State University choirs.

Before moving to Pittsburgh Ryan taught at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland.  At St. Andrew’s he served as middle and upper school choral music director, Chapel music director and assistant middle and upper school baseball coach.

Ryan holds the M.M degree in Choral Conducting from East Carolina University, where he studied with Dr. Daniel Bara, and the B.A. degree in Music Education from West Liberty State College, where he studied conducting with Dr. Alfred de Jaager and voice with Dr. Linda Cowan.  Ryan is pursuing the D.M.A. Degree in Choral Conducting at West Virginia University where he has studied with Dr. Jeffery Redding, Dr. Mitch Arnold, Professor John Hendricks, and Professor Kym Scott. He has conducted in master classes with such preeminent conductors as Dale Warland, Simon Carrington, William Weinert, and Kenneth Fulton.

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03302013-114555-4410-EditEDWARD LEONARD
b. 1980

Principal Guest Conductor
Assistant Conductor

Edward Leonard started his early musical training on the violin at the age of four under the direction of his parents; both string players in the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.  Mr. Leonard would later begin his piano training which would eventually earn him a full scholarship to complete his Bachelor’s Degree cum laude in Piano Performance under the direction of Enrique Graf at the College of Charleston. While there, he performed in numerous venues such as the Monday Night Concert Series and the Thursday noon concerts at the College of Charleston, the Candlelight Concert Series at historic Drayton Hall, and appeared as soloist with the College of Charleston Orchestra and the Charleston Metropolitan Orchestra.  He also composed several pieces that were premiered at the annual Composers’ Forum at the College of Charleston.

Mr. Leonard was accepted on full scholarship to study with Juan Pablo Izquierdo at Carnegie Mellon University where he earned his Master’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting and completed the Performance in Residency Program. As a conductor he has worked extensively the Carnegie Mellon ensembles, such as the Philharmonic, Contemporary Ensemble, and Repertoire Orchestra not only in conducting his own programs, but preparing them for conductors such as Sir Andrew Davis and Erich Kunzel.  Mr. Leonard has also been a frequent guest conductor in the Pittsburgh area.  He has conducted the Edgewood Symphony and Butler Symphony after winning the 2007 BCSO Young Conductors’ Competition.  In 2008, Mr. Leonard was asked to be the Assistant Conductor of the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh.  The past four summers, he attended the prestigious Pierre Monteux School for Orchestral Conductors in Maine as one of only a handful of participants from throughout the world.  During his last three summers there, he was named an Orchestra Assistant.  Mr. Leonard as also appointed the Music Director and Conductor of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic in 2011.

In the 1984 summer olympics, Edward was neck-in-neck for Bronze in the junior division of Wild Boar Wrestling but had to abdicate due to a last minute case of Irish-shingles.   He is an avid unicyclist, dables in butterfly taxidermy and enjoys watching televised Spelling Bee reruns from the 1960’s.

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