Music Conservatory of Illinois

Meet our Piano Faculty!


 
Seho Young

Piano Faculty

Born and raised in Boston, MA, pianist and composer Seho Young has appeared on stages across the globe, from Carnegie Hall and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center to international venues in Japan, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. His awards include first prize and the chamber music award at the 2022 Charles Wadsworth Competition, third prize at the 28th New Orleans International Piano Competition, and first prize in Bienen School of Music’s 2023 Thaviu-Isaak Piano Competition. He has performed as a soloist with the Louisiana Philharmonic, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Brockton Symphony Orchestra, Princeton University Orchestra, and Northwestern University Baroque Music Ensemble. In 2022 he was featured in the International Holland Music Sessions New Masters on Tour concert series, touring Europe and giving recitals at iconic venues including the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Philharmonic Hall in Bratislava. His mentors include Boris Berman, Francine Kay, Yoheved Kaplinsky, and Wha Kyung Byun, and he has performed in masterclasses for Stanislav Ioudenitch, Tamás Vásáry, Jeffrey Kahane, and William Naboré. Seho holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Princeton University and a Masters in Music from Yale School of Music, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts at Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music, studying under James Giles.

Seho is also a passionate composer and arranger, having written original work for orchestras, film, and musical theater. His arrangements span a wide range of genres and ensembles, from piano and string quartets to bands and acapella groups. He has studied composition with Alla Elana Cohen and taken courses in counterpoint and improvisation with Steve Mackey.



Wenting Shi

Piano Faculty

Pianist Wenting Shi started playing the piano at the age of 4 and won the first prize in a national competition in China at the age of 5. She was admitted to Affiliated Middle School to Shanghai Conservatory of Music to begin her professional studies in music at the age of 8. In 2011, Wenting began her studies on a full scholarship at Juilliard where she received her Bachelor of Music degree and Master of Music. In 2017, she was admitted to Yale School of Music on a full-ride scholarship and received a Master of Musical Arts degree. In 2019, Wenting studied at University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and received her Master of Arts degree in June 2022 with the highest grade "Auszeichnung" (first with honors). In early 2022, she was admitted to Konzertexamen (Germany’s highest educational level in instrumental performance) at Berlin University of the Arts. She also accepted the offer of the Doctor of Musical Arts degree on a full-ride scholarship at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music. She is pursuing her further studies at both universities.





Zaira Castillo

Piano Faculty 

Zaira, brings her wealth of experience working with beginner to pre-collegiate students in her private studio. Guided by her teaching philosophy, she believes in nurturing each student's unique musical journey. With a commitment to infuse every lesson with joy and enjoyment, she ensures a gratifying and personalized musical experience for her students.

Zaira has performed in venues across Portland, Los Angeles, and Chicago. She has also participated in renowned festivals including the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance, Los Angeles Liszt International Competition, and the Frequency Series through Constellation Chicago. She has also commissioned and premiered numerous solo and chamber works for piano. 

Her programming choices blend classical masterpieces with avant-garde creations, bridging the gap between past and present. Zaira's performances feature works by composers like Ligeti, Kurtag, Saariaho, Takemitsu, and composers around her, alongside Schumann, Schubert, and Prokofiev.

Currently based in Chicago, Zaira works as a freelance pianist and private instructor. She actively contributes to the Riso Duo and the Codex Trio, exploring contemporary repertoire through innovative performances.







Sonya Ur
Adult Piano Faculty
Sonya Ur, who is a native of the North Shore area began her classical training in piano at the age of 4 and violin at the age of 9. She did most of her musical training in both piano and violin at the Music Institute Of Chicago in Winnetka. She received her Undergraduate degree for piano performance at the University Of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Masters for piano performance and pedagogy at Northwestern University in Evanston. Her professional memberships include MTNA, CAMTA, and NSMTA. She currently teaches private piano and is the accompanist for the choir program at Niles West High School in Skokie. She also does accompanying for many Suzuki programs and adjudicates many festivals all over the North Shore.
 
“Without music, life would be a mistake.” Friedrich Nietzsche




Nancy DeHaven
Piano Faculty

Nancy DeHaven has been an active musician and independent piano teacher in the Chicago area for over thirty years. She has a B.A. in Music Theory from DePaul University where she studied classical piano with Melody Lord Lundberg. In addition she studied jazz with Alan Swain in Evanston. She was one of the original staff pianists at Nordstrom Old Orchard when the store opened in 1993 and has extensive experience playing piano in the many hotel lobbies in the greater Chicagoland area, as well as on the cruise ships docked at Navy Pier. She has been a choir director, a worship leader, a camp music director, and continues to compose and arrange music on a regular basis. In a previous life she played guitar and performed solo as a singer-songwriter as well in ensembles performing music as diverse as Balkan and bluegrass. 


           







Tzu-Jung Jennifer Wang

Voice and Piano Faculty


Taiwanese Soprano, Tzu-Jung Jennifer Wang is passionate about collaboration and continues to explore the vast music styles in different cultures. She appeared as Barbarina in the Chicago Summer Opera production of Le nozze di Figaro and sang in Taiwan’s National Hall for the Peabody New Star Recital this past Summer. As a choral artist, she enjoys working with the Presbyterian Church of Barrington as a section leader. Tzu-Jung holds a B.F.A. in Voice Performance from Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan, and M.M. in Voice Performance & Pedagogy at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University where she received George Castelle Award and Charles P. Sachs Scholarship— She currently based in Bloomingdale, IL. Tzu-Jung loves taking strolls and being immersed in nature.

 

Tzu-Jung’s teaching emphasizes building trust through clear communication and gaining confidence through exploration and solidification of students' techniques.




Jesse Dunn 

Piano Faculty

Jesse Dunn is a dual craftsman in both music composition and piano performance. While studying at the Wheaton College Conservatory, Jesse earned recognition for his solo piano piece, “The Life of an Intel Processor” by taking bronze in the Hal Leonard Piano Composition Competition. He competed twice in the Wheaton College Keyboard Concerto Competition, eventually taking second place with Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto, Op. 38, 3rd mvmt. In 2020 Jesse completed his masters degree studying under Winston Choi at Roosevelt University's Chicago of Performing Arts. As a graduate student Jesse served as TA for non major piano classes, presented lectures to pre-college classes, and maintained private piano students. Recent performances include Music at Grace, Northern Lights Music Festival, CCPA Chamber Showcase, and a Degree Recital for violin. Jesse has been on faculty since August 2020 and currently plays for local recording artists while pursuing chamber music and pedagogy. 





Yi Ding 

Piano Faculty

Yi Ding holds degrees in piano performance from The Juilliard School and New England Conservatory. Yi served as a teaching fellow at the Juilliard Preparatory Division from 2018 to 2020 and coached students through different stages of their musical developments, ranging from their first notes on the piano to their first college auditions. Yi has arranged teaching workshops, masterclass, and community concerts in the US and China through his involvement in the Community Performance & Partnerships Program, which he joined in 2017. As a musician who has worked in communities and conservatories, Yi enjoys working with students of all ages and abilities. Yi is currently a DMA candidate and serving as a teaching assistant at Northwestern University.  



 

Emily Stone 

Piano and Harp Faculty

Harpist and Nashville native Emily Stone is a recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music earning her Bachelor of Music degrees in harp Performance and Music Education with a minor in French. Beginning this fall, she will be pursuing her Master of Music degree in Harp Performance at Northwestern University under the tutelage of Marguerite Lynn Williams. During her time at Eastman, she served as the rotating principal harpist of the Eastman Philharmonia, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the Eastman Musica Nova Ensemble, the Eastman Symphony Orchestra, and the Eastman Wind Orchestra. She has performed with the OSSIA New Music Ensemble in Rochester, NY, the St. Andrew's Chamber Orchestra in Rochester, NY, the Ithaca College Wind Ensemble in Ithaca, NY, the Jazz Orchestra led by Chase Ellison in Rochester, NY, and the Cordancia Chamber Orchestra in Rochester, NY. In 2020, she was a finalist in the American Harp Society's Anne Adams Awards and the recipient of a Performer's Certificate at the Eastman School of Music. Her summer festival experience includes the Mostly Modern Festival (2022) and the Brevard Music Center (2016). 





Nora Harstford  


Piano and Voice Faculty

Nora is a vocalist and music teacher with roots in jazz, folk, and contemporary music genres. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Nora spent her formative years attending rock music camps, participating in musicals, and performing vocal jazz competitively. After moving to Chicago, Nora attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts to earn a Bachelor's of Music. Recently she has performed around Chicago including venues like the Jazz Showcase, Fulton Street Collective, Jazz Union League Club, and much more. Her teaching mission is to create a welcoming and expressive environment for her students to grow and learn. 






 

 

Tiffany Melvin 

Piano and Voice Faculty

Born in Kalamazoo, MI, Tiffany Melvin holds a Bachelor's of Music focused in vocal performance and music education from Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL. As a performer, she is trained in the classical vocal technique, but her roots lie in music theater and jazz. She has been singing and performing since the age of 4! Tiffany's theatrical resume contains more than 30 roles ranging from Belle in Beauty and the Beast, to Lucy from The Beggars Opera. She has participated in masterclasses with notable composers and coaches such as Jake Heggie and Martin Katz. She has placed in multiple competitions such as NATS and Classical Singer. Tiffany has a strong passion for performance but also for her students. As an educator, Tiffany encourages exploration in the world of music. Her educational motto is "To build musicians that are literate, expressive performers and conscious consumers of ALL kinds of music." 







Han Geul Lee  

Piano Faculty

Han Geul Lee is a pianist, composer, producer and electronics performer. Starting with Piano lessons at the age of fourteen, he has won numerous competitions and performed chamber and solo recitals across the United States and Europe. He received full scholarships to Eastman School of Music and Manhattan School of Music for Piano Performance. Han expresses his curiosity and passion for music in every form - from difficult classical repertoire to exploring sonic capabilities of contemporary and electronic music. An active electroacoustic composer, Han's digital output ranges from experimental acousmatic works to hip-hop and dance with everything in between. Currently he's developing a solo set of piano and electronics with immersive VR artist collaborations for mind-opening experiences while simultaneously evolving new and rarely performed music. 


 
 



 



Lam Wong

Piano Faculty

Lam Wong made his debut as a classical pianist with Liszt's 12 Études d'exécution transcendante at the age of fourteen. Since then, he has appeared in concert venues in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chicago, and New York. He is also winner of Lillian Fuchs Competition, Dover Competition, and finalist of MTNA Chamber Music Competition. Wong holds a bachelor’s degree from Manhattan School of Music, and a master’s from Yale School of Music. He is currently pursuing Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance and pedagogy at Northwestern University, studying with James Giles. As a piano performance and pedagogy dual major, Wong also works closely with the Director of Piano Pedagogy, Dr. Marcia Bosits, at Northwestern University, where he teaches precollege students from Northwestern community, conducts lessons for non-major students from the university, and leads group classes at various levels. His other pedagogy works also include Piano Clinics (a master class series focusing on solving pianistic problems), and specialty areas in sight-reading, a topic which he presented at the Collegiate Chapter Poster Session at the ISMTA Conference.






Elijah McTiernan

Piano, Voice, and Acoustic Guitar Faculty

Elijah McTiernan is a singer, multi-instrumentalist, and theatre artist born and raised in the Greater Boston area. They graduated from The University of Maine with a degree in music education and has since worked as a professional stage actor, music director, and stage manager for Non-Equity and Equity theaters such as Reagle Music Theatre, Moonbox Productions, Firehouse Center for the Arts, and most recently since moving to Chicago, PrideArts. Elijah sang with UMaine's premier choir, The University Singers, for four years as a tenor. They also sang with their premier male acapella group, The Maine Steiners, for one year. With classical, musical theatre, and pop/rock training, Elijah has a diverse pool of vocal material to pull from. 
Elijah has been playing piano since the age of 8 and specializes in lead-sheet performance and music theory. They have also added guitar, bass, accordion, kalimba, saxophone, and percussion to their repertoire. Elijah has taught a wide range of students aging 4-28 and is a strong believer in music as a lifelong adventure. They have taught classroom, workshop, and private lesson environments, all with the goal of sharing their passion and enthusiasm for music with those around them.






 

Rodolfo Faistauer

Piano Faculty

Brazilian pianist Rodolfo Faistauer has appeared in solo and chamber music recitals in France, Germany, Austria, Brazil and the United States. Rodolfo holds a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, where he also taught at the pre-college division. He continued his piano studies in France at the Strasbourg Conservatory and in Germany at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich. Rodolfo is now a doctoral student in Piano Performance at Northwestern University where he studies with James Giles.

During his years in Europe, Rodolfo worked actively as a piano teacher with a variety of students. At Northwestern University, he worked closely with the Piano Pedagogy Department as a teacher of the non-major piano program and also collaborating with the Piano Clinic Project with his fellow doctoral students, a project of masterclasses that promotes efficient and productive piano practice for non-majors.

  



 


 
Joy Yelenosky       

Piano and Voice Faculty

Joy Yelenosky has been involved in various prestigious international music programs from an early age.
Joy received a full scholarship during her certification in Piano Performance from the “Conservatorio Julian Aguirre” in Argentina, where she took part of summer intensive training and annual examinations. She has been an active participant at the Florence Opera Seminar (Italy), the Torgau International Artist Workshop (Germany), and the Stonybrook International Piano festival of New York (NY) and worked at several professional organizations as a choir soloist/singer, sectional leader, language repetitor and accompanist at the piano. She was selected as a Young Steinway Talent to perform a full piano solo recital at the age of 16. Joy also has a passion for languages and has studied and worked at intensive language schools based in Germany and Paris (France),
Joy is not, however, only tied to one style of music; in high school, Joy was a member of one of the country’s top Vocal Jazz ensembles that traveled to Mexico and many states and participated as a soloist at multiple festivals. Music has connected Joy to people all over the world and she’s looking forward to inspiring her students to reach for their dreams and musical goals as well. Joy obtained her Classical Voice Performance degree at the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA at Roosevelt University) and is currently working on her Master's degree in Vocal Performance at Notre Dame University.





Collin Jinks

Piano Faculty


Pianist Collin Jinks is a native of Stillwater, Minnesota. Jinks pursued his undergraduate studies with  Jack Winerock and Steven Spooner at The University of Kansas, and with Yoshikazu Nagai at The San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He currently studies with James Giles at The Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University. Jinks has garnered awards such as third prize in the Chopin International Piano Competition in Hartford,Connecticut as well as second prize in the Schubert Club Competition. Jinks has appeared in faculty recital atthe Amalfi Coast Music and Arts Festival in Maiori, Italy, and was the national winner of the Music Teachers National Association Piano Competition. During this victory, he was subsequently awarded the Chopin Prize by The Chopin Foundation of the United States for the best performance of a work this master. In that same year, Jinks’ victory was also honored in The Chopin Foundation’s “Polonaise” Magazine. Jinks has been a finalist for the venerated National Public Radio (NPR) show From the Top, a laureate of third prize at theColburn International Steinway Concerto Competition, and a finalist at The International Institute for Young Musicians International Piano Competition Jinks has appeared with The La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, Mississippi Valley Orchestra, and Minnetonka Symphony. He has had performances at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis and The Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota. Jinks’ performances have been aired on Classical Minnesota Public Radio. In masterclass, Jinks has performed under the tutelage of esteemed artists such as John Perry, Enrico Elisi, Leon Fleisher, Vladimir Feltsman, Sergei Babayan, Stewart Goodyear, Olga Kern, Barry Douglas, Kevin Kenner, Boris Slutsky, Bernadene Blaha, and Yong Hi Moon. Most recently during his residency at the San Francisco Conservatory, Jinks has performed in masterclasses under the guidance of pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Inna Faliks, Awadagin Pratt, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. In his teaching, Collin looks to bring out the very best in his students by inculcating a deep appreciation of the beauty in life that is reflected through music.
 
 


Sol Adam Lehman

Voice and Piano Faculty


Sol Adam Lehman is a countertenor and an emerging artist within the Chicago area. They enjoy exploring the human experience through the works of a range of composers, including Handel, Britten, Philip Glass, and Duparc. In their work, Lehman hopes to expand what the countertenor voice is known for, bringing its beauty to many styles beyond the Baroque and Modern. Lehman was born and raised in Wichita Falls, Texas. A chance recital they attended in their hometown opened Sol up to the possibility of the countertenor voice. It was then that they knew the ultimate direction of their artistic life. Their recent roles include Ottone/Handel’s Agrippina with Chicago Summer Opera, Raphael/Jonathan Dove's Tobias and the Angel, and the live premiere of Chicago Healthcare Worker in David Shenton's On Call: Covid-19. In addition to opera, Lehman is involved in music theatre. Their roles include one of two ‘ladies’ in Cabaret and Chip Tolentino in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Lehman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Austin College. They hold a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance and Arts Administration from Roosevelt University where they studied with Mark Crayton.