Alice Kay Kanack

Alice Kay Kanack is recognized internationally as a composer, teacher, and performer. The current Executive Director of the Kanack School of Musical Artistry in Rochester, New York, Alice previously served as a faculty member at the Third Street Settlement in Manhattan. She is the author of the Creative Ability Development series, consisting of three volumes published through Creative Ability Development Press and Alfred Publishing.

Along with the CAD tour group, she has appeared at numerous conferences and workshops, including the International Suzuki Conference, the ASTA Conference, the Philadelphia Suzuki Association, the NYSSMA Conference, the New Directions Cello Festival, and the University of Rochester/Eastman Symposium on Musical Creativity and Recent Brain Research. Internationally, she has also served as a presenter at conferences in Sydney, Australia; Paris, France; and Matsumoto, Japan.

Alice received a dual Bachelor’s degree in Composition and Viola Performance from the Eastman School of Music in 1985. Additionally, she has worked with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki in Matsumoto, Japan as well as with Suzuki teachers Kay Sloan and Anastasia Jempelis. Alice resides in Penfield, New York with her family.


Dr. Sera Smolen


Sera Smolen, soloist, collaborator, chamber musician, improviser, orchestral musician and recording artist, is an active performer of numerous genres of music, including four centuries of classical music. She is a longstanding member of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, and has subbed with Syracuse Symphony/Symphoria for many years. She has premiered new music by numerous composers.  As a committed improviser, she  has collaborated with dancers, sculptors, painters and poets.  She composes and records original music with her husband, Tom Mank with whom she will tour the Netherlands and Belgium for the ninth time in April 2017.

Smolen received her PhD in music education from the Union Institute in 2000, with graduate study at Ithaca College and Cornell University. She did summer studies at the Ithaca Violoncello Institute, Aspen Summer Music Festival and Meadowmount School of Music.  She received her bachelors degree at Ithaca College with a double major in performance and music education.

She currently teaches at the Opus Ithaca School of Music in Ithaca NY.   She is a frequent guest clinician in Europe, the US and Canada for workshops and teacher training seminars covering pedagogies of improvisation and composition for developing string players. She has taught at Mansfield University, Alfred University, the Kanack School in Rochester NY, and Hobart and William Smith College. She has been the assistant director of the New Directions Cello Festival for 20 years.


Special Guest Artist Jeffrey Young


Jeffrey Young is a violinist, composer, and electronic musician from Brooklyn, NY who specializes in experimental, rock, and classical music. Recent highlights include performing in LUCERNE FESTIVAL Young Performance’s NOMOZART, a music and movement show for children that will tour to Luxembourg and throughout Switzerland in March 2018. Jeffrey has toured Europe and the US as a solo performer and with cabaret/punk band The World/Inferno Friendship Society, toured throughout North America with trio Valerie Kuehne and the Wasps Nests and with composer/performer Paul Pinto, and created scores for shows by Swiss-based theater ensemble stringsaTTached, choreographer RoseAnne Spradlin, and more. For over a decade, he has been a member of theatrical experimental music ensemble thingNY, with whom he has collaboratively created four experimental operas, two full-length albums, two site-specific installations, and dozens of concerts. Jeffrey has played on national TV shows The Late Show with David Letterman and The Rachael Ray Show, and at the Lucerne Festival Academy, Bang on a Can, National Repertory Orchestra, and Aspen Festivals.


Special Guest Artist Jessie Montgomery


Jessie Montgomery is a New York native violinist, composer and music educator.

Jessie has been recognized as an important emerging composer by the American Composers Orchestra, the Sphinx Organization, the Joyce Foundation and the Sorel Organization through generous grants and fellowships that support and promote her works.

For the 2015-16 season she will be the Composer-Educator for the Albany Symphony, leading youth education initiatives and performances of recent works.  Further attention to her music has come with commissions from the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Young People’s Chorus of New York, and Cygnus Ensemble.

Her music has been featured on national radio by Q2 Music and National Public Radio and is performed regularly by PUBLIQuartet, the Catalyst Quartet and the Sphinx Virtuosi. She was the inaugural Musician Fellow at Lighthouse Works in partnership with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

In 2011-2012, Jessie was the Van Lier Composer Fellow at the American Composers Orchestra, with performances of her works for small ensemble showcased throughout New York City in the SONiC Festival, and the Composers OutFront! Series. In 2008 she was in Residence at the Deer Valley Music Festival under the direction of American composer Joan Tower.

Since 1999 Jessie has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports the accomplishments of young African-American and Latino string players. Since 2012 Jessie has held a post as Composer-in-Residence with the Sphinx Virtuosi, a conductor-less string orchestra, has been a two-time laureate in the annual Sphinx Competion, and was awarded a generous MPower grant to assist in the development of her debut album, Strum: Music for Strings (October, 2015, Azica Records). In 2016, she will serve as a juror in the annual competition.

An active chamber musician and collaborator, Jessie has performed with the highly acclaimed Catalyst Quartet, raved by the New York Times as “invariably energetic and finely burnished…performing with earthly vigor.” She was a co-founder of PUBLIQuartet, an ensemble of composers and arrangers playing their own music as well as that of emerging and established contemporary composers. From 2004-2009 Jessie was also a member of the Providence String Quartet, a pioneering ensemble in community-based music education. As well as being a traditionally trained classical musician, Jessie has collaborated as an improviser with several avant-garde greats such as Don Byron, Butch Morris and William Parker.

Jessie holds a Bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School in violin performance and a Master’s Degree in composition and film scoring from New York University. Her primary violin teachers have been Sally Thomas and Ann Setzer and her composition teachers and mentors include Ira Newborn, Joan Tower, Derek Bermel and Laura Kaminsky.


There’s No Such Thing As a Mistake

1995 Documentary about CAD by Grahame Weinbren