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Faculty Bios

Stephanie Berg Oram, DMA, is Music Program Chair. She was awarded RRCC’s Endowed Teaching Chair for 2008-2010. She studied Voice at Peabody Conservatory and CU Boulder and holds degrees in Linguistics from the University of Michigan. Dr. Berg adjudicates frequently for various music associations. She has served as Soprano soloist at several churches in Denver and Baltimore. She has played piano since age three, and played keyboard with the Shades of Blue big band in Baltimore. With the Mile High Community Band, Dr. Berg has played mallet percussion and French horn for several years, and recently took up the clarinet.

Ira Bigelow, Ph.D., earned music degrees from Metropolitan State College and CU Boulder; he also holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from UC Denver. Dr. Bigelow has managed arts programs for Denver Public Schools, Wellshire Presbyterian Church, Community College of Denver, Denver Junior Police Choir, ArtsStreet, Colorado Online Learning, and UC Denver. He is a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, American Choral Directors Association, Colorado Association for Music Curriculum and Instruction, Colorado Music Educators Association, Advocates for Balanced Education, and Kappa Delta Pi.

Thomas Blomster, a professional musician since the age of 14, is Music Director for Mile High Community Band, RRCC’s ensemble. He is a former member of the Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria (Mexico City), the Colorado Ballet Orchestra, and the Denver Chamber Orchestra. Additional performances include the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, the Boulder Philharmonic, the Colorado Music Festival, and the Aspen Music Festival. He has led the following ensembles on the podium: the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Denver Chamber Orchestra, the Mostly Strauss Orchestra, the Boulder Brass, and the Mercury Ensemble. Blomster holds a Bachelor of Music Performance from Metro State College and a MA in Conducting from DU.

Jonathan Cullison holds a Bachelor’s in Jazz Composition from the University of South Florida and a Master’s in Bass Performance and Jazz Composition from DU’s Lamont School of Music. He is an active performer, playing all styles of music with Moment’s Notice, Latin jazz with Señor Gato, and bluegrass/rock with Homegrown Jones, among others. Cullison is also active in Music Technology, developing a new program for the Colorado School of Mines.

Jerry Cusack, originally from New York, began studying jazz as a teen and attended NYU and Manhattan School of Music where he studied with some of New York’s top jazz guitarists including Jack Wilkins, Richard Boukas, and Gene Bertoncini. He later developed an interest in pursuing the classical guitar working with Fred Hand and Jerry Willard in New York and eventually moved to Denver to study with Ricardo Iznaola. Cusack earned a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Guitar Performance at Metro State College under Alex Komodore and is pursuing a Master’s degree at DU under Ricardo Iznaola.

Olga Dashevskaya, a native of Ukraine in the former Soviet Union, gave her first public concert at the age of eight. Dashevskaya graduated from the Kharkov State Conservatory with Honors and received Master’s degrees in piano and music history. She began her professional music career in Moscow as an editor of music programs at the Moscow State Philharmonic and State Publishers Muzica. Since moving to the U.S. in 1990, Dashevskaya has given numerous solo recitals and lectures, performed with various symphony orchestras, and successfully collaborated with noted vocalists and instrumentalists. With violinist Lidia Sviatlovskaya, she formed the Colorado Classical Duo, which regularly gives lecture-recitals in Colorado.

Jennie Dorris is a writer and percussionist who lives in Denver. She has performed with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Fort Collins Symphony, Boulder Philharmonic, Greeley Philharmonic, Boulder Brass, Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Colorado Music Festival, and Colorado Chamber Orchestra. Dorris is the founder and director of the award-winning chamber series Telling Stories, and teaches interdisciplinary programs at the Denver School of the Arts and with the Harmony Project. She is a music instructor at DU and a music instructor at the Rocky Mountain Deaf School.

Kevin Kennedy has been a professional coach and accompanist in the Denver area for many years. After his education at the University of Denver, he taught for many years at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, and then at the University of Denver. He has served as an opera coach at James Madison University in Virginia, and is currently organist and music director at Holy Redeemer Episcopal Church in Denver. He has worked for Central City Opera, Opera Colorado, the Colorado Symphony, and was music director/conductor of the Colorado Ballet in 1992-93. Kennedy maintains a private studio where he teaches voice and coaches singers, some with international careers.

Jeff LaQuatra, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, has been described as a guitarist of enormous talent, both musically and technicallyby Classical Guitar Magazine. LaQuatra performs throughout Colorado as a soloist and as a member of various chamber music ensembles. In 1996, he was awarded first prize in the Oswald Rantucci Guitar Competition in Buffalo, NY. LaQuatra holds degrees from The Cleveland Institute of Music (BM) and DU (MM), where he served as a graduate teaching assistant.

Brent Paulson, 1st Trumpet with the Sunday Night Brass Quintet, is an active freelance trumpeter for church services, weddings, and community theater productions. Although trumpet is his principal instrument, he teaches all brass and woodwind instruments, including saxophone. He developed and taught a unique music curriculum/appreciation curriculum specifically targeting small elementary schools, and teaches up to 80 students in schools and his private studio. Paulson is a graduate of Concordia College, holding degrees in Education and Music Education. Paulson conducts the learning bands of the Mile High Community Band.

Laura Schulkind, Founder and Executive Director of Mountain Chamber Music Society, performs as principal flute with the Society. Through MCMS, Schulkind has developed an alliance between the Mountain Chamber Music Society, Denver Public Schools, St. Vrain Valley School District, and the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program. Schulkind holds a Master of Music degree in flute performance, and a Master of Arts in Education degree. Her major teachers include Maralyn Prestia, David Shostac, Samuel Baron, and Leone Buyse.

Bob Studinger, Ed.D., has been in the business of music for 30 years. He has composed for nearly all styles of music including scores for TV, radio, films, and major orchestras. Dr. Studinger studied Composition in the graduate program at CU Boulder. He also earned a Broadcaster of the Year award for Best Radio Commercial and has received numerous regional Emmy awards for music scores of televised documentaries. In addition, Dr. Studinger has composed for major and regional symphony orchestras and ballet companies, and is the owner of SoundScores studio.