Liz Player, Founder, Executive & Artistic Director
Clarinetist/bass clarinetist Liz Player has performed with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra, the Greenwich Village Orchestra, New York City Housing Authority Orchestra, One World Symphony, Ensemble du Monde, Harlem Symphony Orchestra, The Harlem Festival Orchestra, The Manchester Music Festival Orchestra, The Bronx Opera, and on Broadway's Finian's Rainbow. As an avid lover of chamber music, Ms. Player has organized recitals and chamber music concerts in New Jersey and New York since 1990. She founded West Harlem Winds in 2004 and in 2008 started the acclaimed Music at St. Mary's chamber music series with The Harlem Chamber Players. As artistic director of The Harlem Chamber Players, Liz has contracted chamber ensembles and orchestras for several other organizations, such as American Opera Projects, Opera Ebony, Columbia University, Harlem Opera Theater, the NYC Housing Symphony Orchestra and more.
She attended the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College as a Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellow and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor in Music. There she made her debut as soloist with the Queens College Orchestra in a performance of the Debussy Première Rhapsodie. She also appeared as a featured soloist with the Greenwich Village Orchestra in a performance of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto and as a guest artist with Ensemble du Monde in a performance of Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro for harp, flute, clarinet and strings. She has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, CAMI Hall, Merkin Concert Hall and Brooklyn’s Forecast Music. Former instructors and master class coaches include David Krakauer, David Glazer, William Blount, Ayako Neidich, Stanley Drucker and Ronald Roseman.
In addition to being a dedicated chamber musician, Liz is able to use skills she acquired from her diverse educational background and work experience to run The Harlem Chamber Players. She received her B.A. in Computer Science with a minor in English from Rutgers College, New Brunswick, N.J. and has worked in various industries from marketing and communications to foundations. In addition to her duties as executive and artistic director of The Harlem Chamber Players, Liz also uses her graphic design skills to create all marketing materials and concert programs. She designed this website www.harlemchamberplayers.org and is responsible for maintaining it.
Janet Wolfe, Founder of New York City Housing Authority Symphony Orchestra
A long-time patron of minority musicians in New York City, Janet Wolfe is the inspiration behind the creation of Harlem's music series Music at St. Mary's. She founded New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Symphony Orchestra in 1971, which she now calls The Housing Symphony, and she hosts a yearly gala benefit concert featuring many of New York City's finest minority chamber musicians every February in honor of Black History Month. Many of the musians who perform now with The Harlem Chamber Players have also played in the NYCHA Symphony Orchestra and in some of the yearly gala concerts Ms. Wolfe hosts at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.
In February of 2010, Ms. Wolfe was featured in the The Daily News article "Janet Wolfe, 95, keeps NYCHA orchestra humming along." Ms. Wolfe was also featured in 1996 in The New York Times article "Sowing the Classics, Reaping New Listeners."
Click here for more info about Janet Wolfe.
William Hoch, Treasurer
William Hoch works as a System Assurance Engineer for the telecom company IDT in Piscataway, NJ. He has been in the Information Technology field for over 23 years now, previously working for AT&T and various consulting companies. His computer skills, aptitude in logic and basic accounting, and proficiency in Microsoft Excel, have aided him to take over and maintain the budget and basic bookkeeping for the group, as of September 2010.
John Bender, Esq., Advisor
John Bender was a practicing Attorney in New York City for 40 years until his retirement 4 years ago. He received an engineering degree from Northeastern University and law degrees from New York University School of Law. During the course of his career he served as General Counsel of the Emergency Financial Control Board of the City of New York from 1975 to 1980, as Chairman of the Trust for Cultural Resources of the City of New York from 1982 to 1995 and was Senior Vice-President and General Counsel of Simon & Schuster and thereafter of Macmillan Publishing Company. For 15 years he was a director of the Mary McDowell Center for Learning and is currently a director of The Housing Symphony Orchestra and Oakwood Friends School.
Rev. Thomas Pellaton
Fr. Thomas Pellaton is a double degree graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music having done work in Intellectual History and Voice Performance. He was a Metropolitan Opera District Audition winner during his time at Oberlin. He received an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Opera Theater but was drafted into the Army and served both in Vietnam in Army Intelligence and then in Europe. He became a member of the Opera Studio at the Staatsoper Zürich Company and sang a number of roles there before he returned to New York. He was the maître d' at at the famed Carlyle Hotel and sang with a number of small opera companies in New York, including the Amato Opera. Fr. Tom then joined Shaw Concerts and was assistant to the president, Harold Shaw, European manager and head of the Vocal Roster. He helped manage such artists as Janet Baker, Nathan Milstein, Jessye Norman, Hermann Prey, John Williams, Robert Shaw, Garrick Ohlsson and many others.
He was active in homeless and feeding ministries at St. Thomas Church and St. Michale's but felt called to full time ministry and entered the Yale Divinity School Institute of Sacred Music where he was the Giles Scholar. He also held a fellowship in Urban Ministry. He was ordained both deacon and priest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and served as Curate at St. Michael's in New York and then Rector of the Church of the Ascension in Munich, Germany. He returned to the USA as rector of the church of the Ascension in Rockville Centre, Long Island and then retired to Harlem in 2010 where he preached and celebrated in most of the Episcopal Churches in the Northern Deanery. In October 2012 he came out of retirement to become the Interim Pastor of St. Mary's Manhattanville, and, as they say, the rest is history.
Carl Jackson, Associate Director, Stage Manager
(Please go to the Musicians page for bio.)
Deryck Clarke, Educational Program Director
(Please go to the Musicians page for bio.)
Eric K. Washington, Advisor & Host
Eric K. Washington researched and wrote the report on which the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission based its 1998 designation of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Manhattanville as an official New York City historic landmark. His subsequent book, Manhattanville: Old Heart of West Harlem, drew the half-forgotten neighborhood—whose founders are still buried under the church porch—back into a well-earned spotlight. Eric recently won the Municipal Art Society’s 2010 MASterworks Award for his interpretive signage of the new West Harlem Piers Park on the Hudson River at the foot of 125th Street. His New York City local history and travel writing, as well as his photography, appear in numerous print and online publications. Learn more about Eric K. Washington on his website http://www.erickwashington.com/.
Lee Koonce, Advisor
Lee Koonce was appointed Executive Director of Third Street Music School Settlement in June 2006. Founded in 1894, Third Street is the oldest community music school in the nation. Each year the school provides music, dance and visual arts instruction of the finest quality to more than 3,500 children, regardless of their artistic ability or financial circumstances. Instruction takes place both at the School and through partnerships with local public schools and community organizations across Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A hallmark of Third Street’s programs for youth is its extensive chamber music and ensemble program for students from beginners through advanced. Third Street also provides music instruction to adults of all ages and levels, and presents more than 250 public concerts and performances by students, faculty and guest artists throughout the year.
Prior to joining Third Street Music School Settlement, Lee was Executive Director (2004-2006) of Opus 118 Harlem School of Music in New York City. Opus 118 uses music education and string playing to promote the love of music, improve academic performance, provide positive alternatives to drugs and violence, build confidence and self-esteem and help children explore the world. Opus 118’s work was documented in the Academy Award-nominated documentary, Small Wonders and in the feature film Music of the Heart, starring Meryl Streep in her Academy Award-nominated performance as Roberta Guaspari, Opus 118’s co-founder and Artistic Director.
Other past positions include Executive Director of the Sherwood Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Illinois, Director of Community Relations for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for five years, Communications Manager at Andersen Consulting, now Accenture, and an instructor of music and Spanish Literature at The Elgin Academy. Mr. Koonce received a bachelor’s of music degree in Piano Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, a bachelor’s of arts degree in Spanish Literature from Oberlin College, and a master’s of music degree in Piano Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music.
Lindsey Wilson, Publicist
Lindsey Wilson is a seasoned marketer specializing in the grassroot sector. She has worked for some of the top advertising, broadcast and non-profit corporations in the city such as Clear Channel (WKTU Radio), Deustch Advertising, A&E, and The Educational Alliance. In her spare time, she is an independent singer/songwriter and musician who has and continues to perform at popular venues throughout the city. As a musician and business woman, Lindsey is proud to apply her marketing skills and talent to a worthy organization such as The Harlem Chamber Players.
Charles Dalton (1948 – 2013)
"Mr. Dalton makes makes rich sounds on his melodious instrument."
The New Yorker
"lovely" and "breathtaking"
New York Amsterdam News
"a remedy long overdue, musical ensemble brought about by his performance."
These are just a few raves associated with Charles Dalton's viola playing and musicianship. Charles was principal violist of the Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal de Caracas, Venezuela for 20 years. In 2001 he returned to New York City where he was very active as a teacher and performer. Charles Dalton, along with Liz Player, founded the original "Music at St. Mary's" chamber music series in 2008. Mr. Dalton is survived by his partner of 20 years, Joel Gomez.
Raoul Abdul (1929 – 2010)
Raoul Abdul, honorary board member and dear friend of Music at St. Mary’s, died in Manhattan on Friday, January 15, 2010. He attended nearly all of our concerts and wrote favorable reviews in The New York Amsterdam News’ column “Reading the Score.”
In addition to being a music critic, Mr. Abdul published several books, including Blacks in Classical Music, Famous Black Entertainers of Today and The Magic of Black Poetry. He was a concert baritone and German lieder expert who was a White House guest of President Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan. He sang with such renowned figures as William Warfield and Marian Anderson. Mr. Abdul was a founding director of Coffeehouse Concerts in Harlem. Most notably, he was an assistant to and friend of the legendary poet Langston Hughes until Hughes’ death in 1967.
Mr. Abdul was an only child, orphaned at an early age. His father was from Calcutta, India and his mother from Cleveland, Ohio. While Mr. Abdul has no immediate living relatives, he is survived by cousins Artis Lane (renowned sculptor), Blake Shreve, and Bryce Shreve, whose mother Ada Shreve raised Mr. Abdul. Other cousins include the late pianist Buster Harding and the late composer and pianist Hale Smith. Mr. Abdul will be missed by all of us, especially here in the Harlem community.