NJ Conservatory of Music

Welcome to New Jersey's Premiere Conservatory of Music! 

"Music gives a soul to the universe, flight to the imagination and life to everything"  Plato 

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Organizational Catalogue

The Continuo Arts Conservatory of Music provides private studies in voice, piano and a variety of instruments.  In addition, Musical Theater Workshops, Audition Prep, and Music, Mommy & Me sessions are available.

A staff of exemplary working musicians most with Masters to Doctorate degrees are committed to the artistic growth, development and achievements of each individual student.  Lessons take place in the new and beautiful conservatory studios conveniently located in Summit, NJ.

Whether you are considering lessons for yourself, your child or grandchild, here are some important considerations:

The Study of Music will:

Increase your IQ

According to an article from The Telegraph online magazine, “New research suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills.”  There is continually more evidence that musicians have organizationally and functionally different brains compared to non-musicians, especially in the areas of the brain used in processing and playing music. Some studies show that playing an instrument can increase your IQ up to 7 points.
 
Increase the capacity of your memory 

Research has shown that both listening to music and playing a musical instrument stimulate your brain and can increase your memory.  A study was done in which 22 children from age 3 to 4 years old were given either singing lessons or keyboard lessons.  A control group of 15 children received no music lessons at all. Both groups participated in the same preschool activities.  The results showed that preschoolers who had weekly keyboard lessons improved their spatial-temporal skills 34 percent more than the other children.  Not only that, but researchers said that the effect lasted long-term.

 Increase Mathematical Ability 

Reading music requires counting notes and rhythms and can help your math skills.  Also, learning music theory includes many mathematical aspects.  Studies have shown that students who play instruments or study the arts are often better in math and achieve higher grades in school than students who don’t. 

Improve Reading Comprehension

According to a study published in the journal Psychology of Music, “Children exposed to a multi-year program of music involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers.”  It’s not surprising to hear results like that because music involves constant reading and comprehension.  When you see black and white notes on a page, you have to recognize what the note name is and translate it to a finger/slide position.  At the same time, you also have to read what rhythms the notes are arranged in and force your tongue to produce the correct pattern.

 Build Self-Confidence

Overcoming musical challenges that you thought you’d never quite master can give you a great sense of pride.  When you first start learning how to play an instrument, it seems like just holding a note for a couple beats or hitting a high pitch is an amazing accomplishment.  Many small successes will eventually breed long term, innate self-confidence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ellen       Jack      Olivia

Private Voice

Whether studying opera, music theater, or modern pop music, the basics of voice technique are still be applied. Technique refers to the way that we are able to control our singing voices, and in traditional terms this group of techniques (way of singing) is called Bel Canto. Bel Canto is Italian for beautiful singing, which is the goal of every singer, regardless of style. At the Continuo Arts Conservatory of Music we welcome all types of singers. It is our goal to use a combination of traditional Bel Canto and Music Theater repertoire to help singers master their individual techniques so they can apply them to whatever music they choose to sing.

There are many opportunities for our vocal department students to perform throughout the year as well as develop ensemble technique by joining one of our choral ensembles. Many vocal students participate in auditions, competitions, and performances, therefore we offer annual vocal departmental recitals in addition to performance workshops, masterclasses, and more to prepare students for their auditions and performances.  

In preparation for college, regional and state choirs auditions, we offer audition prep packages as well as career-building for serious students focused on attending music school and pursuing music as a career. Each student is paired with a member of our faculty who will assess their needs and guide them towards meeting their individual goals. Lessons are offered in 30, 45 and 60 minutes sessions.  

Click Here for:  Conservatory On-line Registration
Conservatory Brochure
Conservatory Registration Form PDF
Organizational Catalogue



Candace Wicke -  Voice (Studio Full-Wait list), Conducting

 Candace Wicke, DMA

Candace Wicke

 

Hailed as a ‘true maestro’ conductor Candace Wicke made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2002.  As a champion of new music, Dr. Wicke has premiered new works in many of her Carnegie Hall appearances. Featured as conductor in the nationwide PBS documentary broadcast of Requiem for my Mother, the recording of this work, conducted by Wicke, spent eight weeks on Bill Board’s top ten chart, received a Hollywood Media & Music Award and an IMA nomination.

Sharing the stage with the likes of the Vienna Philharmonic, Christoph Eschenbach, and Helmuth Rilling, Wicke has appeared twice on the prestigious Festival Internazionale pro Musica e Arte Sacre Series, made history by conducting the first concert featuring an US ensemble inside the Sistine Chapel and served as Chorus Master for the world premiere of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at the Paper Mill Playhouse.  

Most recently seen in Carnegie Hall on April 28, 2019, Dr. Wicke’s latest international appearance was at the Festival of the Aegean in Syros, Greece. The 2021 season includes serving as rehearsal Conductor for the World Premiere of the Opera-Oratorio “Eleni” in both Carnegie Hall and Athens Greece.  A Festival Conductor for two seasons of the Festival Internazionale Di Arte Per Giovani Musicisti in Rome, Assisi and Prague, additional international experience includes conducting the United States representative Wind Ensemble at the Taipei Presidential Inauguration, the Continuo Arts Symphonic Chorus at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the City of Prague Philharmonic and the Waratah Girls Choir in Australia.

Ensembles under her baton have received National and International acclaim performing with Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra, the Turksoy Orchestra in Lincoln Center and the Music Center at Strathmore, the Global International Women’s Summit, Musica Mundi International, Legatus International, and the Miami Civic Associations Young Artist Debut. She is a popular guest conductor, adjudicator and master class clinician across the United States and serves as a Conductor-in-Residence for MidAmerica Productions in New York City and abroad.

Dr. Wicke is the Founder, President, and Executive Director for the Continuo Arts Foundation where she conducts the Continuo Arts Intergenerational Choral Ensembles, who serve as Choirs-in-Residence in Carnegie Hall. She is the Executive Director of The Minuetto Music Festival and Manager of the Continuo Arts Conservatory of Music.  Wicke is a graduate of the University of Miami and Evangel University, majoring in vocal and instrumental performance, music education, and conducting.  She is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award for Evangel University, New Jersey’s Women of Excellence in Arts & Humanities Award Winner and has received a Congressional recognition for dedication and excellence in Arts & Humanities.

Amanda Blutner - Voice

 Amanda Blutner, MA

Amanda Blutner

Mrs. Blütner holds a B.M. in Music Education from Westminster Choir College and an M.A. in Music and Music Education from Teachers College of  Columbia University. During her time at
Westminster, she performed as a choir member and soloist with Schola Cantorum, Williamsonn Voices, and the Westminster Choir under the batons of James Jordan, Joe Miller, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jacques Lacombe, Alan Gilbert and Joseph Flummerfelt. She has performed in ensembles in engagements around the country including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer Hall at Lincoln Center, the Kimmel Center, Paper Mill Playhouse, The United Nations General Assembly, and the Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

Mrs. Blütner is a choral director and music teacher in the Elizabeth Public School District, Programs Manager and Assistant Conductor for The Continuo Arts Foundation and is on staff teaching private voice at the Continuo Arts Conservatory.

Samantha Ferrara  - Musical Theater, Audition Prep, Voice, Acting

 Samantha Ferrara, BM

Samantha Ferrara

 

Samantha Ferrara, Director of Musical Theater at The Continuo Arts Foundation, graduated in 2014 from Westminster Choir College of Rider University with a B.M. in Music Education and a minor in Musical Theater. While at Rider and Westminster, she performed as a choir member and soloist with Symphonic Choir, as well as performing in six mainstage productions under the direction of Nathan Hurwitz, Robin Lewis, Trent Blanton and Miriam Mills.   Ms. Ferrara made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2019 under the baton of Maestro John Rutter and served as Manager for the Continuo Arts Symphonic Chorus at the International Festival of the Aegean. 

Ms. Ferrara can be frequently found on both the professional and community stage; she spent last spring in the chorus of Hunchback of Notre Dame at Paper Mill Playhouse, and this past summer flying high in Trilogy Repertory Company’s Mary Poppins as the title role.  Some of her favorite roles include Niki Harris in Curtains, Ariel in Footloose and Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes.   

Ms. Ferrara lives in Bernardsville, where she is the alto section leader at St. Bernard’s Episcopal Church and had music directed productions at Bernardsville Middle School. Ms. Ferrara is currently teaching chorus and orchestra at Mountain View Middle School in Mendham.

Craig Sanphy - Voice, Musical Theater, Tap, Audition Prep

Craig Sanphy, MM

Craig Sanphy

 

Continuo Arts Conservatory staff member Craig Sanphy holds a M.M. from Wichita State University and a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Westminster Choir College.  At the Continuo Arts Foundation, Mr. Sanphy teachers private voice, tap and is an associate for the Broadway & Beyond Musical Theater Department.  He is a member of the Civic Chorale of NJ and Sonaré, a professional chamber ensemble.  Mr. Sanphy made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2019 under the baton of Maestro John Rutter and was a featured young artist at the International Festival of the Aegean

As a featured artist, Mr. Sanphy has performed in the Texas Music Festival, Minuetto Music Festival, Crittenden Opera Studio, and the Festival of the Aegean.  Recent stage credits include Light in the Piazza (Giuseppe, Fabrizio U/S), The Gondoliers (Marco Palmieri), The Mikado (Nanki-Poo), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Chorus).  In addition to his prolific recital and solo repertoire, he is often seen on the concert stage as tenor soloist including performances of Schubert’s Mass in G, Mozart Coronation Mass, Beethoven Choral Fantasy, Haydn’s The Seasons, and The Seven Last Words of Christ (Dubois, Hadyn, and Franck). 

During his time at Wichita State, Mr. Sanphy was cast in numerous revues and full-scale productions, including The Light in the Piazza and Les Indes Galantes.  In addition, he served as assistant to the dance department.  During his tenure at Westminster Choir College, Mr. Sanphy sang with the Williamson Voices and the Westminster Symphonic Chorus under the batons of Dr. Joe Miller, Dr. James Jordan, Sir Michael Tilson Thomas, Sir Roger Norrington, Daniel Harding, and John Adams. 

In addition to his work at the Continuo Arts Foundation, Mr. Sanphy serves as tenor soloist and section leader at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield.

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer -  Voice, Musical Theater, Acting


Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer                                           

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer
Conservatory Staff

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer is a Cuban-American actress, singer, songwriter and producer. She was last seen originating the role of Fate in the hit Broadway musical Hadestown (winner of 8 Tony Awards - including Best New Musical). She is best known for playing the role of Kiki on the Emmy Award-winning Nickelodeon TV series, The Fresh Beat Band, where she received two Imagen Award nominations for Best Actress in a Television Series.

As Kiki, the lead singer/violinist/guitarist of The Fresh Beat Band, she sold out Madison Square Garden 4x’s, performed in the 85th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, sold out a US Tour for 1 million fans, was on the cover of Pollstar Magazine, rang the Morning Bell at NYSE and had two #1 Albums on iTunes.

An award winning singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, she has also performed at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, has sung with Florida Grand Opera, has performed and toured around the globe with artists such as Engelbert Humperdinck, Ne-Yo, Jason Mraz, Wyclef Jean, Gloria Estefan, Justin Bieber & All-4-One, among others. Yvette’s songs have been heard on a variety of films and TV shows, Sirius XM, and various features, including Dan Fogelman’s feature film Life, Itself. She recently won the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest and has been signed to BMG Publishing (Topline) by the multiplatinum hit songwriter/executive-producer Billy Mann.

Some of Yvette’s other television credits include the role of Cha Cha in Fox's star-studded cast of Grease: Live, Soleded Penagos on Madam SecretaryCriminal Minds, Guiding Light, voicing the role of Kiki on Nick Jr’s The Fresh Beat Band of Spies as well as Phyllis on Disney’s Goldie & Bear, to name a few. She has also starred in classic stage productions like West Side Story, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, 3 Mo’ Divas as well as Broadway’s 1st Nat’l Tour of In the Heights and won a Craig Noel Award (SD Critic’s Circle) in the category Outstanding Female Lead.

Yvette is the founder and President of Whitelighter Productions, a production company focused on developing original content for film and television in both the US & Hispanic markets. Most recently, Nacer produced the film Crossroads, as well as International Branded Spots for Lionsgate Studios, Metro PCS and various projects for Universal Music Latino. Under her own banner, Nacer produced Santería, which garnered accolades at the California Int'l Film festival, Sarajevo Fashion Film Festival, Los Angeles CineFest, Barebones Int’l Film & Music Festival and Arthouse Asia. She most recently wrote, produced and co-directed the musical short film Who We Were Before, which was an official selection at the Grace International Film Festival in Berlin as well as the Los Angeles CineFest. She was an associate producer on the film, Always a Thorn and A Holiday Boyfriend and is currently producing/ directing the short film Quicksand, the full-length feature film The Way We Look At Horses and has several other projects on her slate.

 

 

Piano
Private & Group Piano     

The piano is an excellent instrument for laying a strong foundation of music education. Our piano department offers supportive and quality instruction for all levels and ages. We place an emphasis on individuality in learning and provide hands-on, tailored instruction. For students looking for an instrument to study, the piano's basic structure allows for the fundamentals of music to be learned through a visual and comprehensive approach, which can be easily transferred to other instruments. Students will explore musical concepts such as note reading, rhythm, melody, harmony, style and expression. 

Private piano lessons provide focused, one-on-one instruction, while guiding students to develop their unique talents at their own pace. Private lessons establish a solid foundation in theory, repertoire and polished technique. Students are exposed to a variety of musical concepts and skills while being inspired to achieve their goals. Our faculty are top-level educators with years of teaching experience. Having studied at some of the most prestigious universities and conservatories our faculty are highly-successful, experienced and caring musicians. 

Each student is paired with a member of our faculty who will assess their needs and guide them towards meeting their individual goals. Lessons are offered in 30, 45 and 60 minutes sessions.  

Group piano classes are designed and scheduled for skill and age levels.  Registration fee includes a keyboard to take home & practice!

Organ 

The organ, although not the most prevalent or popular musical instrument, is a great option for pianists looking to expand their skills. While the organ does have some similarities to the piano, keep in mind there are several separate skills involved. Here are three reasons why you should consider learning this fascinating set of keys:

1. Many piano players make the assumption that their skills on one keyboard will transfer directly to another, and that they will be able to play the organ with the same level of skill instantly. However, this is a dangerous assumption to make, especially if you are engaged to play the organ somewhere, and haven’t honed your skills already. Whereas the touch on the piano is all about the attack, the organ is all about the release, so using the same weight on the keys will not necessarily produce the desired outcome. This is where students who have been learning to play piano on a keyboard will have a small advantage — unless you’re using an expensive clavinova with weighted keys, an electronic keyboard will require a similar attack-and-release technique as an organ.

2. If you’ve played the organ, you probably have vivid memories of the first time you were faced with a model with dual keyboards, pedals, and stops! It was probably pretty terrifying. Remember all those hours you spent making your hands properly independent and equally agile on the piano keyboard? You’ll have to develop an entirely new technique for the organ, where you will be negotiating stops and a dual keyboard at the same time. Also, your piano has a measly three pedals at most, so your footwork will have to become extra-fancy to negotiate the organ pedals.

It’s worth finding specific exercises to help coordinate your hands and feet to ensure that you can transfer your dexterity at the piano to the organ. Again, if you have been learning to play piano on a keyboard, you will find yourself at an advantage, as you may have had to manipulate buttons to get different effects. As for those stops, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the sound and function of each before you play, so that you can become fluent quickly.

3. While you may have found the odd source of extra money playing the piano at a restaurant, or perhaps giving an occasional piano lesson to a beginner, even if you don’t plan on a career as a professional musician, being able to play the organ will open up a whole new sphere of music jobs to you. Many older churches have large manual organs, and although most will have a regular organist, it’s worth introducing yourself as someone that they can call on when needed. Even smaller churches typically need a keyboard player of some kind, so you may find occasional opportunities to perform.

Church organ music isn’t the only source of extra repertoire, however — just as there are significant orchestral piano opportunities, the organ is often required, too. This includes not just for works such as Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony (which also has a spectacular piano part!), but many choral works, including Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, and the most common favorite of choral societies worldwide, Handel’s Messiah.

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Lucas Barkley - Piano, Audition Prep (Opera, Classical), Music Theory, Organ

Lucas Barkley

 
Lucas Barkley, MM

Mr. Barkley is a pianist and vocal coach who lives in South Orange, NJ serves as staff accompanist at The Continuo Arts Foundation and works in the New York City area. Recently he was pianist and coach for Manhattan Opera Studio's Winter Festival as well as rehearsal pianist with Regina Opera (Lucia di Lammermoor). He is also a regular pianist for performances at Brooklyn Opera (recent productions include Elektra and Nabucco, with Das Rheingold, Thaïs, and La Gioconda upcoming in 2016).

Mr. Barkley recently relocated from Pittsburgh, PA where he was a staff pianist at Duquesne University’s Mary Pappert School of Music and a pianist and vocal coach for Undercroft Opera (Carmen, Norma, The Magic Flute, Die Fledermaus, Madama Butterfly). He was also an accompanist and coach for CO-OPERA, a co-production of Pittsburgh Opera and Carnegie Mellon University featuring the world premieres of five one-act operas by student composers, and accompanist and répétiteur for the inaugural production (Verdi’s Macbeth) of Resonance Works | Pittsburgh. As an art song accompanist, Mr. Barkely devised and accompanied two all-Schubert recitals (Nacht und Träume in 2013 and 1815: A Schubert Song Bicentennial) as well as a graduate recital featuring works of Schubert, Poulenc and Brahms. With tenor Daniel Arnaldos in 2014 he presented Spain is Different: Spanish Songs and Arias and Sehnsucht (structured around settings of Goethe’s Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt) at Carnegie Mellon University.

In 2013 and 2014 Mr. Barkley studied at the Vancouver International Song Institute, coaching with (among others) Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, Cameron Stowe and Arlene Shrut. Lucas holds a bachelor’s degree in piano performance with a minor in English literature from Duquesne University and a master’s in collaborative piano from Carnegie Mellon. He lives in New Jersey with his wife Kerri, daughter Lydia and cat Mädchen.

 

 

Flute   Violin  Trumpet

Instrumental

Can you imagine living your life without music? It would be very hard to do so, as music has been hard-wired into our very existence as human beings. While everyone enjoys listening to good music, not many of us are what the world calls ‘musicians’- the ones with the ability to play a musical instrument. This could be due to not having the opportunity to learn as kids or simply due to lack of inclination or proper instruction. However, music is something that is never too late to learn. And here are 10 good reasons as to why everyone should learn to play a musical instrument.

1. Playing a musical instrument relieves stress 
Researchers studying the benefits of music have reported that playing a musical instrument on a regular basis can help bring down stress. Studies show that playing an instrument helps in lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn lowers the stress hormone cortisol, thus making us feel relaxed. While just listening to music also helps, learning to play an instrument brings with it a comforting routine of daily practice that helps in keeping the stress hormones away. Michael Jolkovski, a psychologist who specializes in musicians, feels that music also helps in bringing down stress by helping people connect with others. "It (music) can satisfy the need to unwind from the worries of life, but unlike the other things people often use for this purpose, such as excessive eating, drinking, or TV or aimless web browsing, it makes people more alive and connected with one another."

2. Playing a musical instrument makes you smarter
People who have received a music education are generally smarter than their non-musical counterparts are. Extensive research done in this area has proved that children who learn to play a musical instrument do better in academics. Shaw, Rauscher, Levine, Wright, Dennis and Newcomb, in their research paper titled Music Training Causes Long-Term Enhancement Of Preschool Children's Spatial-Temporal Reasoning, speak about, “a research team exploring the link between music and intelligence reported that music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning math and science."

3. Playing a musical instrument improves your social life
Music helps you connect. Learning an instrument enlarges your social circle since you get to meet more people than you usually would. In children, music can help develop social skills. Maestro Eduardo Marturet, a conductor, composer and musical director for the Miami Symphony Orchestra, who also oversees the MISO Young Artist program in South Florida, has observed the effect that music has on a child’s social skills. "Socially, children who become involved in a musical group or ensemble learn important life skills, such as how to relate to others, how to work as a team and appreciate the rewards that come from working together, and the development of leadership skills and discipline."

4. Playing a musical instrument helps build confidence
Choosing to take music lessons can help build confidence. Once you are aware that you are able to do something well, like play the flute for instance, you naturally become more confident of your skills. Learning to play an instrument can help both children and adults who face confidence issues. Elizabeth Dotson-Westphalen, a music teacher and performer, has found that music has helped many of students develop confidence. "They find that once they can develop a skill by themselves that they can get better and better."

5. Playing a musical instrument teaches patience
Music teachers feel that music can help teach patience. In a world of instant gratification, learning to play an instrument is not something that can happen overnight. It is the daily effort of everyday practice that can help a musician learn how to play without mistakes. This is turn develops patience. Most musicians go through years of regular practice that includes daily musical exercises and the tackling of progressively difficult musical pieces, which in turn helps them conquer the virtue of patience. 

6. Playing a musical instrument fosters creativity
Stuck in everyday routine lives, many of us lose touch with our creative side. Learning to play a musical instrument, especially when you reach advanced levels, can foster that lost creativity. Since music education plays on your mental, emotional and cognitive abilities, the brain is stimulated to think out of the ordinary, which results in improved creativity. 

7. Playing a musical instrument improves memory
Music and memory go hand in hand. Learning to play a musical instrument makes you use both parts of your brain and this in turn boosts memory power. Maestro Eduardo Marturet, reiterates this point when he says, "Further research has shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve a child's learning ability and memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development." Music education is also linked to higher IQ levels and the physical development of certain parts of the brain.

8. Playing a musical instrument develops discipline
Music requires dedication and regular practice. Allotting a specific amount of time to practice music daily develops discipline in the learner. This can prove to be extremely advantageous in children. Mira Stulberg-Halpert, of 3D Learner Inc., who works with children who have ADHD, has seen music discipline children when everything else fails. She has this to say on the effect of music on kids."Exposing kids to musical instruments is the key. They are naturally curious and excited about them-and the discipline that parents and kids learn by sticking with it is a lesson in itself." 

9. Playing a musical instrument gives you a sense of achievement 
Learning to play a musical instrument gives you an immense sense of achievement. Pianist Emily Singers, in her article titled, 12 Reasons You Should Learn to Play the Piano, writes that piano playing can bring true satisfaction. “It's truly one of the most satisfying things you can do,” she says. “There's no feeling like playing a difficult song and playing it flawlessly. (It is) Quite an ego-boost.” This feeling of satisfaction leads to a tremendous sense of self-achievement that can help you accomplish more in other areas of your life.

10. Playing a musical instrument is fun
Lastly, learning to play a musical instrument is fun. “The art of music is so deep and profound that it has to be approached with a bit of intensity laced with great affectionate joy”, says noted singer, musician and Bollywood film music composer Shankar Mahadevan. Playing a musical instrument can bring back the fun factor into your life. Music has the special quality to bring joy, peace and fulfillment that helps lift the spirit and make life enjoyable for everyone involved. 

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Conservatory Brochure
Conservatory Registration Form PDF
Organizational Catalogue

Devin McGuire, Guitar & Bass

 Devin McGuire, BA

Devin McGuire


Devin McGuire, Continuos director and member of Sonaré, has established himself as a capable and versatile baritone throughout the Northeast. Mr. McGuire is a member of Civic Chorale and Sonaré. His professional debut took place in 2016 as Sciarrone in Tosca with Opera New Hampshire with additional engagements with MidAtlantic Opera, New York Opera Collaborative and the Minuetto Music Festival, where he received the Emerging Artist award. Mr. McGuire made his Carnegie Hall debut as bass soloist in Monteverdi's Gloria a 7 under the baton of Sir John Rutter. As an ensemble member, he sings professionally with the choirs of St. Bernard's Episcopal Church (Bernardsville, NJ) and Immaculate Conception Chapel(South Orange, NJ).Mr. McGuire is an accomplished bassist and passionate music educator at Woodbridge Middle School, teaching both Choral and Handbell programs. Ensembles under Mr. McGuire's direction have achieved excellence in competition and adjudication, and his students have been accepted into the New Jersey All State Chorus. A magna cum laude graduate of Seton Hall University, he has continued his studies within the studio of Christòpheren Nomura.

 

Amanda Blutner, Trombone

 Amanda Blutner


Amanda Blütner, MA

Mrs. Blütner holds a B.M. in Music Education from Westminster Choir College and an M.A. in Music and Music Education from Teachers College of  Columbia University. During her time at 
Westminster, she performed as a choir member and soloist with Schola Cantorum, Williamsonn Voices, and the Westminster Choir under the batons of James Jordan, Joe Miller, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jacques Lacombe, Alan Gilbert and Joseph Flummerfelt. She has performed in ensembles in engagements around the country including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer Hall at Lincoln Center, the Kimmel Center, Paper Mill Playhouse, The United Nations General Assembly, and the Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

Mrs. Blütner is a choral director and music teacher in the Elizabeth Public School District, Programs Manager and Assistant Conductor for The Continuo Arts Foundation and is on staff teaching private voice at the Continuo Arts Conservatory.

 

 

Hunchback Master

Musical Theater/Audition Prep

Visit the Broadway & Beyond page for latest show details!!  

Click Here for:  Conservatory On-line Registration
Conservatory Brochure
Conservatory Registration Form PDF
Organizational Catalogue

Samantha Ferrara  - Musical Theater Audition Prep, Voice

 Samantha Ferrara, BM

Samantha Ferrara

 

Samantha Ferrara, Director of Musical Theater at The Continuo Arts Foundation, graduated in 2014 from Westminster Choir College of Rider University with a B.M. in Music Education and a minor in Musical Theater. While at Rider and Westminster, she performed as a choir member and soloist with Symphonic Choir, as well as performing in six mainstage productions under the direction of Nathan Hurwitz, Robin Lewis, Trent Blanton and Miriam Mills.   Ms. Ferrara made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2019 under the baton of Maestro John Rutter and served as Manager for the Continuo Arts Symphonic Chorus at the International Festival of the Aegean. 

Ms. Ferrara can be frequently found on both the professional and community stage; she spent last spring in the chorus of Hunchback of Notre Dame at Paper Mill Playhouse, and this past summer flying high in Trilogy Repertory Company’s Mary Poppins as the title role.  Some of her favorite roles include Niki Harris in Curtains, Ariel in Footloose and Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes.   

Ms. Ferrara lives in Bernardsville, where she is the alto section leader at St. Bernard’s Episcopal Church and had music directed productions at Bernardsville Middle School. Ms. Ferrara is currently teaching chorus and orchestra at Mountain View Middle School in Mendham.

Craig Sanphy  - Musical Theater Audition Prep, Voice, Tap

Craig Sanphy, MM

Craig Sanphy

 

 

Continuo Arts Conservatory staff member Craig Sanphy holds a M.M. from Wichita State University and a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Westminster Choir College.  At the Continuo Arts Foundation, Mr. Sanphy teachers private voice, tap and is an associate for the Broadway & Beyond Musical Theater Department.  He is a member of the Civic Chorale of NJ and Sonaré, a professional chamber ensemble.  Mr. Sanphy made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2019 under the baton of Maestro John Rutter and was a featured young artist at the International Festival of the Aegean

As a featured artist, Mr. Sanphy has performed in the Texas Music Festival, Minuetto Music Festival, Crittenden Opera Studio, and the Festival of the Aegean.  Recent stage credits include Light in the Piazza (Giuseppe, Fabrizio U/S), The Gondoliers (Marco Palmieri), The Mikado (Nanki-Poo), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Chorus).  In addition to his prolific recital and solo repertoire, he is often seen on the concert stage as tenor soloist including performances of Schubert’s Mass in G, Mozart Coronation Mass, Beethoven Choral Fantasy, Haydn’s The Seasons, and The Seven Last Words of Christ (Dubois, Hadyn, and Franck). 

During his time at Wichita State, Mr. Sanphy was cast in numerous revues and full-scale productions, including The Light in the Piazza and Les Indes Galantes.  In addition, he served as assistant to the dance department.  During his tenure at Westminster Choir College, Mr. Sanphy sang with the Williamson Voices and the Westminster Symphonic Chorus under the batons of Dr. Joe Miller, Dr. James Jordan, Sir Michael Tilson Thomas, Sir Roger Norrington, Daniel Harding, and John Adams. 

In addition to his work at the Continuo Arts Foundation, Mr. Sanphy serves as tenor soloist and section leader at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield.

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer  - Musical Theater, Audition Prep, Voice

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer                                           

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer
Conservatory Staff

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer is a Cuban-American actress, singer, songwriter and producer. She was last seen originating the role of Fate in the hit Broadway musical Hadestown (winner of 8 Tony Awards - including Best New Musical). She is best known for playing the role of Kiki on the Emmy Award-winning Nickelodeon TV series, The Fresh Beat Band, where she received two Imagen Award nominations for Best Actress in a Television Series.

As Kiki, the lead singer/violinist/guitarist of The Fresh Beat Band, she sold out Madison Square Garden 4x’s, performed in the 85th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, sold out a US Tour for 1 million fans, was on the cover of Pollstar Magazine, rang the Morning Bell at NYSE and had two #1 Albums on iTunes.

An award winning singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, she has also performed at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, has sung with Florida Grand Opera, has performed and toured around the globe with artists such as Engelbert Humperdinck, Ne-Yo, Jason Mraz, Wyclef Jean, Gloria Estefan, Justin Bieber & All-4-One, among others. Yvette’s songs have been heard on a variety of films and TV shows, Sirius XM, and various features, including Dan Fogelman’s feature film Life, Itself. She recently won the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest and has been signed to BMG Publishing (Topline) by the multiplatinum hit songwriter/executive-producer Billy Mann.

Some of Yvette’s other television credits include the role of Cha Cha in Fox's star-studded cast of Grease: Live, Soleded Penagos on Madam SecretaryCriminal Minds, Guiding Light, voicing the role of Kiki on Nick Jr’s The Fresh Beat Band of Spies as well as Phyllis on Disney’s Goldie & Bear, to name a few. She has also starred in classic stage productions like West Side Story, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, 3 Mo’ Divas as well as Broadway’s 1st Nat’l Tour of In the Heights and won a Craig Noel Award (SD Critic’s Circle) in the category Outstanding Female Lead.

Yvette is the founder and President of Whitelighter Productions, a production company focused on developing original content for film and television in both the US & Hispanic markets. Most recently, Nacer produced the film Crossroads, as well as International Branded Spots for Lionsgate Studios, Metro PCS and various projects for Universal Music Latino. Under her own banner, Nacer produced Santería, which garnered accolades at the California Int'l Film festival, Sarajevo Fashion Film Festival, Los Angeles CineFest, Barebones Int’l Film & Music Festival and Arthouse Asia. She most recently wrote, produced and co-directed the musical short film Who We Were Before, which was an official selection at the Grace International Film Festival in Berlin as well as the Los Angeles CineFest. She was an associate producer on the film, Always a Thorn and A Holiday Boyfriend and is currently producing/ directing the short film Quicksand, the full-length feature film The Way We Look At Horses and has several other projects on her slate.

 

 

Batons  Music Theory  Candace Conducting

Conducting/Music Theory Tutoring-AP Prep

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Candace Wicke -  Voice (Studio Full), Conducting

 Candace Wicke, DMA

 Candace Wicke

 

Hailed as a ‘true maestro’ conductor Candace Wicke made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2002.  As a champion of new music, Dr. Wicke has premiered new works in many of her Carnegie Hall appearances. Featured as conductor in the nationwide PBS documentary broadcast of Requiem for my Mother, the recording of this work, conducted by Wicke, spent eight weeks on Bill Board’s top ten chart, received a Hollywood Media & Music Award and an IMA nomination.

Sharing the stage with the likes of the Vienna Philharmonic, Christoph Eschenbach, and Helmuth Rilling, Wicke has appeared twice on the prestigious Festival Internazionale pro Musica e Arte Sacre Series, made history by conducting the first concert featuring an US ensemble inside the Sistine Chapel and served as Chorus Master for the world premiere of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at the Paper Mill Playhouse.  

Most recently seen in Carnegie Hall on April 28, 2019, Dr. Wicke’s latest international appearance was at the Festival of the Aegean in Syros, Greece. The 2021 season includes serving as rehearsal Conductor for the World Premiere of the Opera-Oratorio “Eleni” in both Carnegie Hall and Athens Greece.  A Festival Conductor for two seasons of the Festival Internazionale Di Arte Per Giovani Musicisti in Rome, Assisi and Prague, additional international experience includes conducting the United States representative Wind Ensemble at the Taipei Presidential Inauguration, the Continuo Arts Symphonic Chorus at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the City of Prague Philharmonic and the Waratah Girls Choir in Australia.

Ensembles under her baton have received National and International acclaim performing with Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra, the Turksoy Orchestra in Lincoln Center and the Music Center at Strathmore, the Global International Women’s Summit, Musica Mundi International, Legatus International, and the Miami Civic Associations Young Artist Debut. She is a popular guest conductor, adjudicator and master class clinician across the United States and serves as a Conductor-in-Residence for MidAmerica Productions in New York City and abroad.

Dr. Wicke is the Founder, President, and Executive Director for the Continuo Arts Foundation where she conducts the Continuo Arts Intergenerational Choral Ensembles, who serve as Choirs-in-Residence in Carnegie Hall. She is the Executive Director of The Minuetto Music Festival and Manager of the Continuo Arts Conservatory of Music.  Wicke is a graduate of the University of Miami and Evangel University, majoring in vocal and instrumental performance, music education, and conducting.  She is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award for Evangel University, New Jersey’s Women of Excellence in Arts & Humanities Award Winner and has received a Congressional recognition for dedication and excellence in Arts & Humanities.

Lucas Barkley - Piano, Audition Prep (Opera, Classical), Music Theory

 Lucas Barkley, MM

Lucas Barkley

 

Mr. Barkley is a pianist and vocal coach who lives in South Orange, NJ serves as staff accompanist at The Continuo Arts Foundation and works in the New York City area. Recently he was pianist and coach for Manhattan Opera Studio's Winter Festival as well as rehearsal pianist with Regina Opera (Lucia di Lammermoor). He is also a regular pianist for performances at Brooklyn Opera (recent productions include Elektra and Nabucco, with Das Rheingold, Thaïs, and La Gioconda upcoming in 2016).

Mr. Barkley recently relocated from Pittsburgh, PA where he was a staff pianist at Duquesne University’s Mary Pappert School of Music and a pianist and vocal coach for Undercroft Opera (Carmen, Norma, The Magic Flute, Die Fledermaus, Madama Butterfly). He was also an accompanist and coach for CO-OPERA, a co-production of Pittsburgh Opera and Carnegie Mellon University featuring the world premieres of five one-act operas by student composers, and accompanist and répétiteur for the inaugural production (Verdi’s Macbeth) of Resonance Works | Pittsburgh. As an art song accompanist, Mr. Barkely devised and accompanied two all-Schubert recitals (Nacht und Träume in 2013 and 1815: A Schubert Song Bicentennial) as well as a graduate recital featuring works of Schubert, Poulenc and Brahms. With tenor Daniel Arnaldos in 2014 he presented Spain is Different: Spanish Songs and Arias and Sehnsucht (structured around settings of Goethe’s Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt) at Carnegie Mellon University.

In 2013 and 2014 Mr. Barkley studied at the Vancouver International Song Institute, coaching with (among others) Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, Cameron Stowe and Arlene Shrut. Lucas holds a bachelor’s degree in piano performance with a minor in English literature from Duquesne University and a master’s in collaborative piano from Carnegie Mellon. He lives in New Jersey with his wife Kerri, three children and cat Mädchen.

 

 

 

Staff

Candace Wicke -  Voice (Studio Full), Conducting

Candace Wicke

 Candace Wicke, DMA

Hailed as a ‘true maestro’ conductor Candace Wicke made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2002.  As a champion of new music, Dr. Wicke has premiered new works in many of her Carnegie Hall appearances including the World Premiere of Imant Raminsh’s Symphony of Psalms, Gary Fry’s Sing A Song With Me, and Stephen Edward’s A Carol FantasyRequiem for my Mother, RevelationMissa Brevis and the New York Premiere of the Ave Maria Mass. Featured in the nationwide PBS broadcast of the Requiem for my Mother documentary, the recording of this work conducted by Wicke is currently on Bill Board’s top ten chart.

 Sharing the stage with the likes of the Vienna Philharmonic, Christoph Eschenbach, and Helmuth Rilling, Wicke appeared on the prestigious Festival Internazionale pro Musica e Arte Sacre Series in 2008, made history in 2014 by conducting the first concert featuring an US ensemble inside the Sistine Chapel and in 2015 served as Chorus Master for the world premiere of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at the Paper Mill Playhouse.  

 Other major conducting appearances include “Christmas Time in the City” and the Lee Kjelson Memorial “Sounds of Music Series” in Carnegie Hall and two seasons of the Festival Internazionale Di Arte Per Giovani Musicisti in Rome, Assisi and Prague.  Dr. Wicke returned to the International Festival Pro Musica E Arte Sacra in 2016, sharing the series with the Vienna Philharmonic, Zubin Metha and other international artists of note.

 Wicke’s international experience also includes conducting the United States representative Wind Ensemble at the Taipei Presidential Inauguration, the Continuo Arts Symphonic Chorus at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the City of Prague Philharmonic, in Prague and the Waratah Girls Choir in Australia. Ensembles under her baton have received National and International acclaim performing with Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra, the Turksoy Orchestra in Lincoln Center and the Music Center at Strathmore, the Global International Women’s Summit, Musica Mundi International, Legatus International, and the Miami Civic Associations Young Artist Debut. She is a popular guest conductor, adjudicator and master class clinician across the United States.

 Dr. Wicke is the Founder, President, and Executive Director for the Continuo Arts Foundation where she conducts the Continuo Arts Intergenerational Choral Ensembles, is Co-Artistic Director of The Minuetto Music Festival and Manager of the Continuo Arts Conservatory of Music.  Dr. Wicke is a graduate of the University of Miami and Evangel University, majoring in vocal and instrumental performance, music education, and conducting.  She is the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Alumni of the Year for Evangel University, New Jersey’s 2016 Women of Excellence in Arts & Humanities Award Winner and has received a 2016 Congressional recognition for dedication and excellence in Arts & Humanities.

Amanda Blutner - Voice
Amanda Blutner


Amanda Blütner, MA

Mrs. Blütner holds a B.M. in Music Education from Westminster Choir College and an M.A. in Music and Music Education from Teachers College of  Columbia University. During her time at
Westminster, she performed as a choir member and soloist with Schola Cantorum, Williamsonn Voices, and the Westminster Choir under the batons of James Jordan, Joe Miller, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jacques Lacombe, Alan Gilbert and Joseph Flummerfelt. She has performed in ensembles in engagements around the country including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer Hall at Lincoln Center, the Kimmel Center, Paper Mill Playhouse, The United Nations General Assembly, and the Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

Mrs. Blütner is a choral director and music teacher in the Elizabeth Public School District, Programs Manager and Assistant Conductor for The Continuo Arts Foundation and is on staff teaching private voice at the Continuo Arts Conservatory.

Lucas Barkley - Piano, Audition Prep (Opera, Classical), Music Theory
Lucas Barkley

Lucas Barkley, MM

Mr. Barkley is a pianist and vocal coach who lives in South Orange, NJ serves as staff accompanist at The Continuo Arts Foundation and works in the New York City area. Recently he was pianist and coach for Manhattan Opera Studio's Winter Festival as well as rehearsal pianist with Regina Opera (Lucia di Lammermoor). He is also a regular pianist for performances at Brooklyn Opera (recent productions include Elektra and Nabucco, with Das Rheingold, Thaïs, and La Gioconda upcoming in 2016).

Mr. Barkley recently relocated from Pittsburgh, PA where he was a staff pianist at Duquesne University’s Mary Pappert School of Music and a pianist and vocal coach for Undercroft Opera (Carmen, Norma, The Magic Flute, Die Fledermaus, Madama Butterfly). He was also an accompanist and coach for CO-OPERA, a co-production of Pittsburgh Opera and Carnegie Mellon University featuring the world premieres of five one-act operas by student composers, and accompanist and répétiteur for the inaugural production (Verdi’s Macbeth) of Resonance Works | Pittsburgh. As an art song accompanist, Mr. Barkely devised and accompanied two all-Schubert recitals (Nacht und Träume in 2013 and 1815: A Schubert Song Bicentennial) as well as a graduate recital featuring works of Schubert, Poulenc and Brahms. With tenor Daniel Arnaldos in 2014 he presented Spain is Different: Spanish Songs and Arias and Sehnsucht (structured around settings of Goethe’s Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt) at Carnegie Mellon University.

In 2013 and 2014 Mr. Barkley studied at the Vancouver International Song Institute, coaching with (among others) Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, Cameron Stowe and Arlene Shrut. Lucas holds a bachelor’s degree in piano performance with a minor in English literature from Duquesne University and a master’s in collaborative piano from Carnegie Mellon. He lives in New Jersey with his wife Kerri, daughter Lydia and cat Mädchen.

Samantha Ferrara  - Musical Theater Audition Prep, Voice
Samantha Ferrara

Samantha Ferrara, BM

Samantha Ferrara, Director of Musical Theater at The Continuo Arts Foundation, graduated in 2014 from Westminster Choir College of Rider University with a B.M. in Music Education and a minor in Musical Theater. While at Rider and Westminster, she performed as a choir member and soloist with Symphonic Choir, as well as performing in six mainstage productions under the direction of Nathan Hurwitz, Robin Lewis, Trent Blanton and Miriam Mills.      

Ms. Ferrara can be frequently found on both the professional and community stage; she spent last spring in the chorus of Hunchback of Notre Dame at Paper Mill Playhouse, and this past summer flying high in Trilogy Repertory Company’s Mary Poppins as the title role.  Some of her favorite roles include Niki Harris in Curtains, Ariel in Footloose and Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes.   

Ms. Ferrara lives in Bernardsville, where she is the alto section leader at St. Bernard’s Episcopal Church and had music directed productions at Bernardsville Middle School. Ms. Ferrara is currently teaching chorus and orchestra at Mountain View Middle School in Mendham.

Craig Sanphy, Voice, Musical Theater, Tap
Craig Sanphy

Craig Sanphy, MM

Continuo Arts Conservatory staff member Craig Sanphy holds a M.M. from Wichita State University and a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Westminster Choir College.  At the Continuo Arts Foundation, Mr. Sanphy teachers private voice, tap and is an associate for the Broadway & Beyond Musical Theater Department.  He is a member of the Civic Chorale of NJ and Sonaré, a professional chamber ensemble. 

As a featured artist, Mr. Sanphy has performed in the Texas Music Festival, Minuetto Music Festival, Crittenden Opera Studio, and the Festival of the Aegean.  Recent stage credits include Light in the Piazza (Giuseppe, Fabrizio U/S), The Gondoliers (Marco Palmieri), The Mikado (Nanki-Poo), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Chorus).  In addition to his prolific recital and solo repertoire, he is often seen on the concert stage as tenor soloist including performances of Schubert’s Mass in G, Mozart Coronation Mass, Beethoven Choral Fantasy, Haydn’s The Seasons, and The Seven Last Words of Christ (Dubois, Hadyn, and Franck). 

During his time at Wichita State, Mr. Sanphy was cast in numerous revues and full-scale productions, including The Light in the Piazza and Les Indes Galantes.  In addition, he served as assistant to the dance department.  During his tenure at Westminster Choir College, Mr. Sanphy sang with the Williamson Voices and the Westminster Symphonic Chorus under the batons of Dr. Joe Miller, Dr. James Jordan, Sir Michael Tilson Thomas, Sir Roger Norrington, Daniel Harding, and John Adams. 

In addition to his work at the Continuo Arts Foundation, Mr. Sanphy serves as tenor soloist and section leader at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield.

Devin McGuire - Guitar & Bass
Devin McGuire, BA

Devin McGuire

 Devin McGuire, Continuos director and member of Sonaré, has established himself as a capable and versatile baritone throughout the Northeast. Mr. McGuire is a member of Civic Chorale and Sonaré. His professional debut took place in 2016 as Sciarrone in Tosca with Opera New Hampshire with additional engagements with MidAtlantic Opera, New York Opera Collaborative and the Minuetto Music Festival, where he received the Emerging Artist award. Mr. McGuire made his Carnegie Hall debut as bass soloist in Monteverdi's Gloria a 7 under the baton of Sir John Rutter. As an ensemble member, he sings professionally with the choirs of St. Bernard's Episcopal Church (Bernardsville, NJ) and Immaculate Conception Chapel(South Orange, NJ).Mr. McGuire is an accomplished bassist and passionate music educator at Woodbridge Middle School, teaching both Choral and Handbell programs. Ensembles under Mr. McGuire's direction have achieved excellence in competition and adjudication, and his students have been accepted into the New Jersey All State Chorus. A magna cum laude graduate of Seton Hall University, he has continued his studies within the studio of Christòpheren Nomura.

 

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