MMP String Quartet

Aleksandr Zhuk— I Violin

Born into a celebrated musical family in Moscow, Russia, Aleksandr Zhuk began studying violin at age six at the Gnessin Special School for Gifted Children. He has performed extensively throughout Europe and the United states as a soloist, chamber musician, and concertmaster of various orchestras. He has appeared at many major music festivals such as Spoleto, Schleswig-Holstein, Tuscan Sun and many others. During 2001-2004 seasons Mr. Zhuk has served as one of the concertmasters of the Miami's New World Symphony, a unique orchestra led by Michael Tilson Thomas consolidating the most talented young musicians from all over the world. Currently he is a member of the Florida Grand Opera orchestra as well as several other groups throughout South Florida.

In 2010 as a member of Russian Virtuosi of Europe he participated in a critically acclaimed tour of South America.

Mr. Zhuk holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the Utrecht Conservatory in the Netherlands and a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, MD.

Karen Lord-Powell— II Violin

Violinist Karen Lord-Powell moved to Miami in September from Louisville, KY, where she was Principal Second Violin of the Louisville Orchestra and Director of Strings at Bellarmine University. She is a member of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra in New York state, where she performs every summer. Karen is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for both her solo and chamber music playing, including winning the Concerto Competition at Northwestern University, and performing a solo recital at the National Governor's Convention in Washington, D.C. She is a former member of the New World Symphony, where she met her husband, Brian Powell. They now have a toddler and are happy to be back in the area to relive fond memories, and to make new ones!

Yael Kleinman— Viola

At age 28, Yael Kleinman has had a musical career that has taken her all over the world. Initially a violinist, she switched to viola under the guidance of Prof. David Chen in the Israel Conservatory in Tel Aviv when she was 16. At the age of 18 she joined the Israel Army in the unit of "Outstanding Musicians" for a period of 21 months. During this time she also played with the Young Israel Philharmonic touring to both Germany and China. After being released from the army, Yael moved to The Netherlands to pursue her Bachelors Degree in Music at the Academy for Music in Rotterdam, where she studied with Prof. Ron Ephrat for 4 years, graduating in June 2005.

From 2004-2008, Yael was a member of the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra under music director James Levine. She was also member of the UBS Chamber Orchestra Touring in Canada, USA, Europe and Asia with virtuoso violinist Maxim Vengerov.

She has played with many esteemed conductors including Valery Gergeiv, Zubin Mehta, James Levine, Michael Tilson Thomas, Charles Dutoit, Christoph von Dohnanyi, and Gustavo Dudamel among many others. She was awarded the Keren-Sharet Award Scholarship in Israel in June 2001 and June 2003. Yael studied for one year at the Manhattan School of Music with both Irene Breslaw and Daniel Avshalomov. Yael was a fellow in the New World Symphony from 2007 till 2010.

Aaron Merritt— Cello

A native of Miami Beach, Aaron Merritt has been Adjunct Professor of Cello at New World School of the Arts since 2006. Mr. Merritt was a fellow of the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas from 2004-2008. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University and his Master of Music degree from Rice University. In addition to his teaching duties at NWSA, Mr. Merritt is a member of the Miami Music Project, Florida Grand Opera Orchestra and the Firebird Chamber Orchestra.

Thoughts about MMP

In most instances, we presented Antonin Dvorak's "American Quartet" to music students and were able to expand on musical fundamentals. When we had younger students or groups from general classes we could talk about broader topics such as the industrial revolution, American expansion, and immigration. The ability to put these topics into less traditional clothes was fun for us performers, and very engaging for the kids.

MMP Brass Quintet

Sam Hyken— Trumpet

Sam Hyken has had a diverse musical career that has spanned the globe. Currently residing in Miami, Florida, he is in constant demand as a performer, producer, arranger, and composer. Sam holds a Bachelor's degree from the Juilliard School in New York City, a post-graduate diploma with distinction from the Royal Academy of Music in London, and a Master's degree from the University of Miami.

Sam has been engaged as a trumpet soloist and orchestral musician since 1999, holding the positions of Associate Principal Trumpet of the Singapore Symphony, fellow with the New World Symphony, co-principal trumpet of the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra, and is currently Principal trumpet of the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

As a composer, Sam's music has been commissioned and performed by several symphony orchestras, such as the Kansas City Symphony, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Symphony, the New World Symphony and the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolivar de Venezuela. In the fall of 2011, Sam began his position as composer in residence with the Miami Symphony Orchestra, which premiered his work “The Beatles Guide to the Orchestra” as their 2011-2012 season opening piece.

Various artists and ensembles have contracted Sam to adapt and write new music, including the New World Symphony, Carmen Lundy, Jessie Murphy (Brazilian Girls), and Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols). Sam has been contracted as music director and arranger for "Synesthesia," an event at the New World Center of Miami Beach, where he led his 30 piece "Hyken Orchestra", accompanying Grammy Award Winning artists Dirty Vegas. He is currently on faculty at the University of Miami where he teaches Pop Composition.

Sam is a performer and music arranger for the Miami Music Project, and also serves as the Dean of Musicians for the Miami Music Project Honors Orchestra.

Position pending — II Trumpet
Madison Roberts— French Horn

Originally from Houston, Texas, Madison received a Bachelor of Science with an Outside Field in Business in 2008 from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where she studied with Myron Bloom. She began a Master's degree in horn orchestral performance at Manhattan School of Music, where she performed as a Teaching Artist with her peers in Manhattan's public and private schools. She is currently completing her Master's degree at the University of Miami Frost School of Music as a graduate assistant and student of Richard Todd. She is extremely excited to be a part of the Miami Music Project Brass Quintet, and is looking forward to performing for young students in and around the Miami area.

Maciej Pietraszko— Trombone

Maciej Pietraszko is an award-winning trombonist with the New York City Opera, a featured soloist with orchestras and at international festivals across Europe and the United States and co-founder of the annual Zywiec Trombone Festival in Poland, a lively event that gathers musicians and teachers of all ages to learn and perform for audiences in a remote, mountainous region of Poland. Known for his warm, round sound, Mr. Piestraszko is also a dedicated teacher, conductor and ambassador on behalf of his instrument and its repertoire.

Mr. Pietraszko received both his Bachelor of Music degree and his Master of Music degree from the Szymanowsky Academy of Music. While studying, Mr. Pietraszko became the principal trombonist of the Silesian Philharmonic and an associate principal of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. After gaining his Masters degree, a scholarship brought him to the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music in 2002, where he studied under Terry Cravens and legendary jazz trombonist Bill Watrous. From 2004-2008 Mr. Pietraszko was a fellow of the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

Mr. Pietraszko is a recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Grand Prix at the National Trombone Festival in Warsaw, a scholarship from the Polish Minister of Culture and Art, and a First Prize at the Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition in Pasadena, California and The New World Symphony Concerto Competition.

Mr. Pietraszko is also a member of the Manhattan Slide Project, a trombone quartet comprised of unique musicians that seem to be on the same wavelength when it comes to making music.

Calvin Jenkins— Tuba

Mr. Jenkins is currently an adjunct professor of music at Miami Dade College and New World School of the Arts. He currently performs with the Miami City Ballet Orchestra, Brass Renaissance, and numerous other ensembles. Mr. Jenkins has also performed with such groups as the Florida Grand Opera, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, the Monumental Brass Quintet, and the Ambassador Brass Quintet.