Graciela Briceno, Executive Director

Graciela Briceno has worked as a music teacher and strings program director for 12 years. After graduating from the Sistema Fellows Program at New England Conservatory in 2011, Graciela co-founded Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program with then-Principal Simon Ho. In addition, Graciela works as a consultant for El Sistema programs worldwide and is an Associate Editor for the World Ensemble, a newsletter for the global El Sistema movement. As a violist, she has performed with the Brookline Symphony Orchestra, Nairobi Orchestra, and Royal College of Music Orchestra in London. Graciela holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Music Education from Boston University and also currently works as an early childhood music teacher for Boston Public Schools.


Laura Messina, Program Manager

Laura Messina is a music educator, arts administrator, and performing cellist active in the Boston area. Before coming to JQOP, she worked as Education and Programs Director for musiConnects for four years. While there she also taught cello, orchestra, and chamber music, and designed a strings curriculum for elementary school students in two Boston Public Schools. Laura currently teaches private cello lessons through the musiConnects community lessons program. Laura also led the elementary strings program in the Belmont Public Schools for two years, where she taught group lessons to third and fourth grade students and conducted elementary level orchestras. She holds a Master of Science in Music Education from Western Connecticut State University and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Ithaca College.

Bin Shin Lim, Zimmer Orchestra Director

Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Bin Shin Lim (Alison) began playing cello at the age of 9. She received a Bachelor of Music from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 2002 and a Master of Music from the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2013. Ms. Lim has held several orchestral positions, including with the Malaysia National Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Television Malaysia Orchestra, The Youth Orchestra of Shanghai, Boston Chamber Symphony, the Metrowest Symphony Orchestra, and others. These experiences helped shape Ms. Lim as an artist and inspired her to nurture the next generation of musicians. Her dedication to cello and teaching inspired her to become a certified Suzuki instructor in 2011 in addition to running a private studio and leading cello sectionals across Boston. Ms. Lim enjoys instilling the same passion she has for music in her students and hopes to encourage her students to develop their own musical style.

Maureen Heflinger, Chamber Music & Leadership Director

Violist Maureen Heflinger grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska where she studied piano privately, picked up violin in school orchestra, and finally settled on viola. Now a two-time graduate of New England Conservatory, she enjoys a varied freelance career in Boston as an orchestral and chamber musician, and appears in solo performances on the Arbor Day and groupmuse recital series. Recently, Maureen has collaborated with artists such as Marcus Thompson, Jeffrey Solow, Phillip Levy, and Jennifer Drake. Maureen returns to Fairbanks each summer where she is Principal Viola in the Opera Fairbanks Orchestra under the direction of Gregory Buchalter, and teaches at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. In the coming school year, Maureen is looking forward to helping the students in the Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program decode some of the complexities of classical music and string instruments.

Andy Chau, Mancini Orchestra Director

An avid performer, music educator, and administrator, Andy Chau is a student affairs professional at Berklee: Berklee College of Music/Boston Conservatory at Berklee.  Chau is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) degree from Northeastern University and earned his Master of Music (M.M): Music Education from The Boston Conservatory and Bachelor of Music (B.M): Music Education & Clarinet Performance from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Chau is also the Assistant Conductor of the Rivers Youth Wind Ensemble in Weston, MA. Previously, Chau was Manager of the Rivers Conservatory Youth Wind Ensemble and Director of the Durfee High School Symphony and Elementary Strings Specialist of the Fall River Public Schools. As a performer, Chau is both an accomplished clarinetist and violinist. He has conducted and performed with the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, Rivers Symphony Orchestra, AAYSO, Concert for Hope Orchestra, and the Fall River Symphony Orchestra.

Naseem Alatrash, Mancini Orchestra Teaching Artist

Palestinian cellist, Naseem Alatrash is a sonic product of his upbringing in Bethlehem, Palestine. He is dedicated to representing Arabic culture to the world audiences. After studying at The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine, Naseem was awarded a full presidential scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music. Naseem went on to achieve the highest honors for BMus in cello performance. As a soloist, recording musician, chamber musician, and teacher, Naseem continues his global performance career. His goal is to bring Arabic cello performance to world stage and increase the importance and the role of cello in Arabic music. The twice awarded “string player of the year” from The National Music Competition of Palestine, Naseem continues to be a voice for Palestinian culture and advocate of its music through his global string quartet The Four Corners Quartet.

Deborah Apple, Sibelius Orchestra Director

Violist, Deborah Apple, has been an active teacher and performer in the Boston area for over 8 years. She teaches private lessons in violin, viola, and cello to approximately 35 students of all ages. Additionally Deborah directs the Sibelius Orchestra (2nd-4th grades) at the Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program. Previously she has taught at the Conservatory Lab Charter School (Boston) and the USC String Project (Columbia, SC). Deborah has viola performance degrees from the University of South Carolina (BM) and the Boston Conservatory (MM). Growing up in Virginia and Georgia, Deborah started violin at the age of 8 before switching to viola during her high school years. As a performer in the Boston area, Deborah is a member of the Brookline Symphony and has played with Boston Civic Symphony, Longwood Symphony, and Symphony Nova.

Matthew Smith, Sibelius Orchestra Teaching Artist

Cellist Matthew Smith is a passionate performer, educator and arts administrator working to inspire young people through classical music. Matthew is a member of Palaver Strings, a musician-led chamber orchestra committed to taking classical music beyond the concert hall. He is also an active performer in New York City and has been a frequent guest artist with New York-based ensemble, Contemporaneous. As an educator and administrator Matthew has served as a Teaching Assistant at The Boston Conservatory, appears each summer as a guest lecturer at the Verdi Arts School in Beijing and is the Artistic Coordinator of Project STEP. In addition to his work with the Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program, he teaches a private studio of cellists. Matthew received a Master of Music degree from The Boston Conservatory, where he studied with Andrew Mark, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Arizona State University, where he studied with Thomas Landschoot and graduated summa cum laude.

Brian Race, Rimsky Orchestra Director

Bassist Brian Race grew up in Western Massachusetts surrounded by music of various shapes and forms due to his father, an amateur classical singer in the area. He picked up electric bass and guitar in high school playing in various punk rock and funk bands as well as studying regularly at local music schools and stores. He began to seriously pursue jazz in at Wheaton College in Norton, MA under the tutelage of the late saxophonist and educator Rick Britto. It was there that Brian began pursuing the double bass in earnest with weekly excursions to Boston to study classical and jazz double bass under various teachers such as Randy Zigler of the Boston Philharmonic and Boston-area bassist Pascale Delache-Feldman. Moving home to Western Massachusetts after his studies at Wheaton, he began playing in a series of folk and bluegrass bands before moving to Boston to pursue graduate studies in Modern American music at the Longy School of Music. Brian has also played in many pit orchestras playing double bass, guitar, and electric bass and has also performed with various chamber groups and jazz ensembles in the area. He is a bass teacher at Josiah Quincy School in Boston’s Chinatown as well as at Somerville Public School’s El System program and teaches guitar and ukulele at Kingsley Montessori School in Boston’s Back Bay..

Pilar Zorro, Rimsky Orchestra Teaching Artist

Pilar Zorro grew up participating as a violinist in many international youth orchestras and chamber music festivals around the world, soon realizing how music has the power of crossing barriers. After experiencing “El Sistema” in Venezuela, Pilar has been an active teacher, coach, assistant director and founder member of several youth orchestras in Colombia and USA, where this philosophy has been established. Her career originally based on Classical music, now has broadened into traditional Colombian folk music and improvisation. Currently she is pursuing a masters degree in Contemporary Improvisation with a focus in education at the New England Conservatory in Boston.

Tania Mesa, Rimsky Teaching Artist

Tania Mesa is a crossover-style violinist and singer from the Canary Islands (Spain), with a degree in classical violin performance (ESMUC- Barcelona), and extensive (11+ years) teaching experience. Past credits: voice, violin, acting, dance [National Theatre of Catalonia (2008-2009) and Caixaforum (2013-2014)]. She toured for years with well known artists such as Manolo García, Joan Manuel Serrat (2008-2010) and performed with Dream Theater (2014) and Alejandro Sanz (2013). She also has performed with celebrated flamenco national dancers and musicians Karime Amaya, Amador Rojas, Mayte Martín and Nino de los Reyes. In 2010, she recorded Spanish vocals for the Walt Disney Company film "Fucsia, the Mini Witch." Since 2007, she has been a member of The World Orchestra: Artists for the Peace (UNESCO) with whom she performs music and promotes race relations worldwide (Germany, China, Mexico, South Africa, and throughout Western Europe), in large concert halls as well as less traditional venues in underserved communities.

Pilar Kelly, Mozart Orchestra Music Director

Ms. Kelly has been a teaching artist with JQOP since November 2013. Ms. Kelly has over ten years of teaching experience with Batuta, a similar social change through music program in Colombia inspired by El Sistema in Venezuela. She is originally from Manizales, Colombia where she received a degree in Musical Studies with emphasis on Violin Performance from the Conservatory of Caldas University. She has participated in numerous workshops in the US and abroad and has experience playing with many prestigious and community orchestras such as Orquesta Nacional Batuta and the Boston Civic Symphony Orchestra.

Sylvia Schwartz, Mozart Orchestra Social Director

A musician with a big heart and a sweet tone, Sylvia loves to perform and to help her students find creative expression and empowerment through music. Humanity, collaboration, community, and embodiment inspire her most as player and teacher. Performance projects include Eudaimonia, a period orchestra, and the prog/alt rock band The Mood Swings. She is an alumna of the Olin Conductorless Orchestra, LyricaFest, BUTI, and BYSO, with which she toured Estonia, Latvia, and northern Russia. She has also sung in the Harvard Summer Chorus, Chorus pro Musica and the Masterworks Chorale. Sylvia began Suzuki violin at age 6. She holds an MM in Violin Performance from the Longy School of Music, studying with Laura Bossert, and is completing a Dalcroze Certificate. She also holds a B.S. in Engineering from Olin College. Sylvia is thrilled to join the faculty of JQOP and the Winchester Community Music School this year!

Melany Piech, Mozart Orchestra Teaching Artist

Violinist Melany Piech is excited to be a part of the Boston area’s vibrant musical community. Originally from Buffalo, NY, she currently resides in Somerville and is pursuing a Master of Music degree in violin performance at the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She studies violin and the Alexander Technique with Karen Oosterbaan, and has completed training in violin pedagogy with Darcy Drexler and Mimi Zweig. In addition to her private studio in Somerville, Melany has also served as Assistant Faculty at Point Counterpoint Chamber Music Camp in Leicester, VT. This year Melany will participate in the Music Educators/Teaching Artists Fellowship Program, as developed by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Klarman Family Foundation.

Yank’l Garcia, Mozart Orchestra Teaching Artist

Yank’l Garcia is a violist and a board certified music therapist from Miami, Florida. She is currently pursuing her masters of music in music education at Boston University. Yank’l has previous experience working with El Sistema inspired programs, and is looking forward to continuing the goal of social transformation through music at the Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program as a Mozart Orchestra Teaching Artist.

Maria Alejandra Montero, Choir Director

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Maria Alejandra Montero started her musical studies at the age of seven taking private piano lessons at school and singing in the choir. At the age of fifteen she became part of the “Fundación Schola Cantorum de Venezuela” singing in its different choirs and touring around the world. As a choir member Maria has had the opportunity to work with world class conductors, composers and stage directors like: Gustavo Dudamel, Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado, John Adams, Krzysztof Penderecki, Osvaldo Golijov, Peter Sellars, among others. In 2008 she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the National Experimental University of the Arts in Caracas. In 2013, Maria started Vocal Performance studies with Soprano Jayne West at Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, MA, where she received a Masters Degree (2015) and a Graduate Performance Diploma (2016). Maria has a big passion for teaching and singing!

Simone Trollmo, Choir Teaching Artist

Swedish violinist and music educator Simone Trollmo enjoys exploring the different repertoire of the violin and especially the freedom and improvisatory nature of baroque music. A passionate performer, Simone believes in breaking the traditional boundaries between performer and listener and by expanding the horizons of classical music through performing in non-traditional venues. Recent performances include a Boston Early Music Festival fringe concert where she as part of the Volare ensemble put up the musical enlightenment salon “The Meaning of Life”, and touring Sweden with her Ensemble Haag. When not performing in a concert hall, Simone frequently takes the music to the streets as part of a busking Cello & Violin Duo. A keen educator, Simone enjoys passing on the joy of making music to a new generation, and has been working for amongst others Dedham School of Music, Braintree Public Schools and Keynotes School of Music. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Historical Performance at Boston University.

Jury Kobayashi-Baxter, Bass Specialist

Jury Kobayashi-Baxter obtained his undergraduate degree in music performance on the Double Bass from the University of Toronto where he studied under both Tim Dawson and Paul Rogers. He is currently a Masters of Music student at the Longy School of Music where he is presently studying the double bass with his teacher Pascale Delache-Feldman. While at Longy Jury has continued his growth in many different avenues of music, which includes being involved with jazz ensembles, early music ensembles, as well as his new passion taking conducting lessons. During his first year at Longy he won the Benjamin Franklyn Creativity Foundation Legacy award. Jury has been able to continue his journey towards blending his love of acting, teaching and music through his involvement with the El Sistema side by side Orchestra Program through the Longy School of Music. It is Jury’s long-term objective to continue with his dream of blending his love of performing and teaching through music and the arts.

Board of Directors

Graciela Briceno, Chair pro tempore

Cynthia Soo Hoo, Vice Chair

Darrell Smith, M.D., Treasurer

Heidi Boulogne, J.D., Clerk

Shwetha Anandan

David Benfield, Esq.

Michael Campbell

Simon Ho

Robert Kordenbrock

Ann Sousa