Nancy M. Williams, Founding Editor and Publisher
, is an award-winning creative nonfiction writer and a motivational public speaker. She is the recipient of the 2009 Lamar York Prize for Nonfiction for her essay, “Deserting the Piano.” She speaks on finding your passion and making music with a hearing loss. An ardent amateur pianist, her repertoire includes Bach, Chopin, Debussy, and Scriabin, and in 2012 she debuted in recital at Carnegie Hall. She performs in concerts despite her genetic hearing loss and serves on the board of the Hearing Health Foundation
. For more, visit nancymwilliams.com
Joanna Eng, Managing and Contributing Editor
, is a New York-based freelancer who writes primarily about arts, culture, and travel, and copy edits both web and print materials. She has put her creativity and editorial skills to use in a range of contexts, from mobile apps to books. Before becoming self employed, she worked as Web Editor at the nonprofit career site Idealist.org. Joanna took classical piano lessons for 12 years, starting at age six, and became a lifelong fan of Bach and Debussy. Learn more about her work at joannameng.com
Cosmo Buono, Special Contributing Writer
, is a Steinway Artist, teacher, consultant, and philanthropist who works to prepare the current generation of classical musicians to launch and sustain careers as working professional musicians. He serves as Chairman and CEO of Alexander & Buono International
, a consulting firm he co-founded in 2006, which has been responsible for helping to guide the careers of piano luminaries such as Jan Lisiecki, Thomas Nickell, and Anna Shelest. He is also Artistic Director of the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition, dubbed “one of the most important piano competitions in the world,” that to date has provided Carnegie Hall debuts for more than 200 musicians from 60 countries.
Michael Brazile, Contributing Editor
, has recently added the piano back to his musical life after spending a decade behind the harpsichord. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in musicology from the New England Conservatory, specializing in 17th century French music. He now works as a digital marketing strategist in St. Paul, Minnesota. You can find him on YouTube at MikeyBBoston
Robin Sloane Seibert, Contributing Editor
, is an essayist and creative nonfiction writer who began studying classical piano eleven years ago. Robin came to the piano as an adult beginner after retiring from a twenty-year career in the music business where she held the executive position of Creative Director for several major record companies. Her writing reflects how the piano has influenced her approach and understanding of life. She has spent a great deal of time studying the music of Bach and is convinced that no matter how far she may stray from Bach, she will always return. Robin lives in Manhattan with her husband and two teenage sons.
Ragini Bali, Marketing Associate
, is currently a student at New York University, studying psychology. Before coming to GRAND PIANO PASSION™
, she has interned at the marketing department of WH Smith India and volunteered at La Pietra Dialogues in Florence, Italy, with an emphasis on social media. Ragini started piano lessons at age six but had to give them up on coming to college—however, she is looking to get back into the swing of things now.
Jay Alan Zimmerman, Contributing Writer
, is a composer, author, and multimedia installation artist. Theatrical works include his award-winning Incredibly Deaf Musical
(The Duke on 42nd Street), A Royal Soap Opera
(The Clurman), and song cycle Punctuated Thoughts
—originally directed by Broadway legend Tom O’Horgan. Visual music installations include Window Music
(New York Academy of Medicine), Art/Song
(chashama Times Square), and Roboticus
—created during residency with Lemur
musical robots. He scored the dance films The Last Leaf
and Do Not Call It Fixity
, and the London-produced plays Booth
and Our Brutus
. Now profoundly deaf, he grew up playing piano, saxophone, and oboe. Learn more about Jay at jayalanzimmerman.com
Stacy Smollin Schwartz, Contributing Writer
, is a digital marketing expert, an adjunct college professor, a mom, and a beginner piano player. She manages her own consulting practice, focused on marketing strategy, digital marketing, and ecommerce. Stacy also teaches MBA-level marketing courses at Rutgers Business School and executive education-level seminars for Rutgers Center for Management Development. Previously she held marketing leadership positions at Virgin Mobile USA, Hospital for Special Surgery, and DoubleClick. Stacy lives in New Jersey with her husband, three young children, and an upright she acquired from an estate sale two years ago.
Lesley Green Leben, Contributing Writer
, is a writer, fundraiser, and amateur flutist. She credits all her accomplishments (her 29-year marriage included) to a combination of humor and hard work. Her articles have been published by More Magazine online and Dan’s Papers online. After a 30-year hiatus, Lesley is thrilled to once again be making music. Lesley is a champion of children’s charities and sits on the board of International Cinema Education, Camp Good Grief, and Young Artists for St. Jude. Lesley lives in New York City with her husband and their two young adult children.
Stephen Colangelo, Videographer/Video Editor
, is a freelance videographer and video editor since 2010. Stephen has been directing and taping musicians since his days as a college student at Elon University, where he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communications. Using his unique style of video editing, he has been able to capture pianists from multiple angels despite working with just one camera. Stephen often draws upon his creative thinking and wide arrange of technical capabilities to work with artists. To see more of Stephen’s work, please visit youtube.com/scolan09
Annika Connor, Contributing Artist
, is a Contemporary Romantic painter. Her work depicts a fascination with beauty and decadence. As a supporter of the art she admires, Annika is a Young Fellow of the Frick Collection and a member of the National Arts Club. She is also a professor of watercolor painting at Sessions College for Professional Design and the Owner/President of Active Ideas Productions, an innovative organization committed to the education, distribution, and development of emerging artists and the art community. Learn more about Annika’s work at: annikaconnor.com
and more about AI Productions at: aiproductions.org
Judy Polstra, Contributing Artist
, is a self-taught visual artist who has been drawing and painting for as long as she could hold a pencil. She studied classical piano from the age of 7 until 16, then again from 30 to 40 years old; more recently her piano studies have been focused on jazz. After experimenting with three-dimensional mixed media sculptural pieces composed of vast accumulations of costume jewelry and other inherited objects, Judy’s passion for piano eventually brought her back to her original visual art style—painting. Her stylized grand pianos are a way for her to express in color the emotions she feels when playing, practicing, or listening to music. Learn more at judypolstra.com
and follow her on Instagram @jpolstra
Leya Evelyn, Contributing Artist
, is an abstract painter whose career in the arts has extended up and down the East Coast into Canada. She studied at Yale University under Josef Albers, concentrating on painting and color. After twenty-four years in New York City, she moved to Nova Scotia, Canada. She now resides near Halifax and exhibits extensively locally as well as in galleries across Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Learn more about Leya’s work at: leyaevelyn.com.