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Board Members

Thomas PellatonThomas Pellaton, President
Thomas Pellaton is a double degree graduate of Oberlin College and the 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 Harlem.

Susan Macaluso, Secretary
Susan Macaluso is the Director of Community Arts Programs at Goddard Riverside Community Center and their recently renovated Bernie Wohl Center. Goddard Riverside presents free arts programs to enrich the Upper West Side community, to engage in meaningful discussions, and to give everyone an opportunity to see and experience performing and creative art. Goddard Riverside Community Center builds community and changes lives through services including early childhood and youth programs, college counseling, supportive housing, employment readiness, and assistance to homeless and older adults in Manhattan. Susan Macaluso joined the board of The Harlem Chamber Players in 2013.

Vera Mshana, Treasurer
Vera Mshana is a Program Officer within the Ford Foundation’s Natural Resources and Climate Change team, working primarily on natural resource governance matters in developing countries in the Global South. Prior to joining Ford, Vera was a Program Officer within the Open Society Foundations’ Fiscal Governance Program, where she was charged with cultivating the Foundation’s investment portfolio in tax reform support efforts in developing countries in the Global South. She has also held senior positions within civil society and the private sector. Vera holds an LLM in Law and Development (with Distinction) from the University of Warwick, and is a member of the English, Tanzanian Bar Associations.


Sandra Billingslea, Advisor, Violinist

Ieda Britton, Advisor

Jon CoppolaJon Coppola, Advisor
Jon is responsible for overseeing the Private Banking activity in the Northeast and Western regions for Wilmington Trust. He and his team provide sophisticated banking and advisory lending solutions that align our clients’ cash flow, balance sheet, and wealth management goals.

As a Private Banking Group Manager he makes the following M&T Bank services available: bridge financing, residential and investment real estate financing, and specialized asset-backed facilities secured by investments, art, yachts, and aircraft. In addition, Jon coordinates a broad range of services available through the Wilmington Trust Wealth Management team, including investment management, planning, trust, family engagement, and family office services.

Prior to joining Wilmington Trust in 2013, Jon worked for TD Wealth Management as a private banker in New York City. Earlier in his career, Jon was a private client manager at US Trust, Bank of America for six years.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University and is a Board member of the Harlem Chamber Players which is an ethnically diverse collective of professional musicians dedicated to bringing high-caliber, affordable and accessible live classical music to people in the Harlem community and beyond.

Brenda Morgan, Advisor

Liz PlayerLiz 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.


In Memoriam

John BenderJohn Bender, Esq., Advisor (1940 – 2016)
John Bender was a practicing Attorney in New York City for 40 years. 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. John C. Bender passed away in New York City on April 3, 2016, after a brief illness. He was a generous and loving husband and father, an avid traveler to destinations such as Antarctica, the Galapagos, and Africa, and an overall lover of life. He was born on May 17, 1940 in Queens, New York.

Janet Wolfe Janet Wolfe, Advisor, Founder of New York City Housing Symphony Orchestra (1914 – 2015)
A long-time patron of minority musicians in New York City, Janet Wolfe was the inspiration behind the creation of The Harlem Chamber Players. She founded New York City Housing Symphony Orchestra (also known as the NYC Housing Authority Symphony Orchestra or NYCHA Symphony Orchestra), and she hosted 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 NYC Housing Symphony Orchestra and in the yearly gala benefit concerts Ms. Wolfe hosted at Weill Recital Hall and Zankel 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.

Charles DaltonCharles 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."
Montreal Gazette

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 AbdulRaoul 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.