Students | Faculty | Board of Directors | Advisory Board | Staff | Alumni

Roberta Guaspari , violin,
Master Teacher, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Performance

Ms. Guaspari holds a Bachelor of Music degree from SUNY Fredonia as well as a Master of Arts degree in Music Education from Boston University School of Fine Arts and honorary doctorates from the New England Conservatory of Music, SUNY Fredonia and Mount Holyoke College. Roberta Guaspari began her remarkable teaching career in three East Harlem Public schools in 1981. She devised her own teaching method, combining the rudiments of traditional violin instructions, elements of the Suzuki method, with her own highly developed approach to the instrument. In response to severe budget cuts by the New York City Board of Education in 1991 when her teaching position was eliminated in all three schools, together with parents, teachers, and volunteers, Ms. Guaspari co-founded Opus 118.

The first benefit for Opus 118—Harlem Center for Strings was the Fiddlefest concert in Carnegie Hall. Ms. Guaspari received support from some of the biggest stars of the music world, including Quincy Jones, Dave Grusin, Mark O’Connor, Itzhak Perlman, Arnold Steinhardt, and Isaac Stern. A documentary, Small Wonders (Allan Miller), and a feature film, Music of the Heart (Miramax, starring Meryl Streep as Roberta) soon followed, depicting Ms. Guaspari’s passionate struggle to keep music in the Harlem Schools. Both films were nominated for the Academy Awards.

A dynamic and devoted teacher, Ms. Guaspari has received numerous awards and honors including the Petra Foundation’s annual award to “recognize and encourage unsung individuals who are making distinctive contributions to human freedom.” Manhattan Borough President, C. Virginia Fields issued a proclamation recognizing Ms. Guaspari “for her dedication in unlocking the potential for academic and artistic achievement in her students.” She was named Woman of the Year in 1994 by CBS This Morning and also was the recipient of the Heroes for Today Award by Readers Digest and the Outstanding Achievement Award by SUNY Fredonia Alumni Association. She will receive the Arison Award in 2003 presented by NFAA for her “significant influence in the development of young American artists.”

Opus 118 Harlem School of Music has grown to include a Community Music School, a teacher training program, and an annual String Training Workshop
for teachers.

Lynelle Smith , violin,
Master Teacher and Head of the String Department

Ms. Smith holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from the New England Conservatory and a Performance Diploma in Violin from The Juilliard School as well as an Associate Degree in Nursing from Atlantic Union College. She has performed across Europe and in Mexico as well as in the United States including performances at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and Notre Dame Cathedral. She has participated in master classes and chamber coaching with Itzhak Perlman, Dorothy DeLay, Joel Smirnoff, Eugene Lanier and Louis Krasner. She teaches at the Lucy Moses School of Music and Art concurrent with her position as Master Teacher at Opus 118 Harlem School of Music, teaching in the Community Music School.

Charlene Bishop , violin

Charlene Bishop, an alumna of Opus 118, started her studies at the age of six with Roberta Guaspari. Soon after she was accepted to the Juilliard MAP (Music Advancement Program) program and began attending when she was eight years old. At eleven, Charlene participated at Kinhaven and Fredonia summer music camps and continued to attend for the next two years. She attended the Mannes Pre-College division at thirteen and then continued at the Mannes College of Music where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Violin Performance.

During the course of her musical studies at these various programs, Charlene remained in touch with Opus 118 and has participated in performances with them in Germany, Switzerland, the Kennedy Center, Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium, VH1’s Save the Music with Madonna and N’Sync, and more. Charlene is currently a member of the One World Symphony and continues to be both a performer and teacher in New York City.

Christopher Bradshaw, piano

A native of Monticello, New York, Christopher Bradshaw graduated with distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before doing his graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati. He has studied with Francis Whang, Eugene and Elizabeth Pridonoff, and has played in master classes for Malcolm Bilson, James Tocco, Ruth Laredo, and William Bolcom. He has performed in solo and chamber music recitals in Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, as well as in the United States.

Since 1992, Bradshaw has been performing regularly in a piano duo with Spanish pianist María José Parker. Together, they have performed a wide variety of four-hand and two-piano repertoire in the United States, Spain, Austria, and Germany. In 1997, they won the second prize in the International Competition Ciudad San Sebastián. They have performed with the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, with the Palisades Chamber Players in New York’s Steinway Hall, and as soloists with the Kennett Symphony. Recently, they performed four-hand recitals at Neumann College and at Hamilton College, where they also taught a master class.

Bradshaw teaches piano at the Opus 118 Harlem School of Music, the Little Red Schoolhouse in Greenwich Village, and has his own private studio. His students have received scholarships, honors,
and awards for their playing. In addition to teaching and performing, he also enjoys collaborating
with vocalists on the art song repertoire, in part due to his interest in and study of the Spanish,
French, and Russian languages.

Steve Jabas, guitar

Steve Jabas is a talented guitarist, producer, composer, arranger and teacher based in New York City. He holds a BFA in music from the University of Minnesota, and has taught guitar, bass, music improvisation and music technology for over 15 years.

Music has taken Steve across the country and the world; he has performed and traveled to over 30 countries while working as Musical Director for Norwegian Cruise Line.

Steve can now be seen and heard performing with a variety of groups in NYC, including performances with The Stingers, Josh Charles, Hot Peas ‘N Butter (seen on Nickelodeon & Noggin TV Networks; and recipient of the Parents Choice Award for Best Children’s Band for 2006, ‘08 and ’09), Allison Scola, Vaya! and the acclaimed improvised comedy-musical Baby Wants Candy. In addition, Steve has composed songs and scores for short films and independent features. Recently he produced the self-titled debut album for singer/songwriter Josh Charles, including the song "Healing Time" proceeds of which benefited the rebuilding effort in the gulf region following hurricane Katrina and other recent disasters.

Nelson Ojeda Valdés , piano

Nelson Ojeda Valdés has been a soloist with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra playing Saint-Saens “Carnival of the Animals”, the Southeast Symphony playing Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto and Cal State Fullerton Wind Ensemble playing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” on a tour of Japan. His solo recitals include the concert series at St. John the Divine in New York, Steinway Hall in Los Angeles and Fundación Juan March in Madrid (Spain). His chamber concerts include a recital with his duo partner, Hyangmee Kim at Yon Sei University in Seoul, Korea, the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria and Brahms Quintet Opus 34 with Cuarteto Assai. Nelson Ojeda Valdés is a Louis Ferdinand artist, his upcoming recording "España" will be released under this label. Mr. Ojeda holds degrees from California State University, Fullerton and Manhattan School of Music. He is on the piano faculty at Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts in New York City.

Opus 118 Harlem School of Music
c/o Kaufman Music Center | 129 West 67th St. | New York, NY 10023 | 646.842.2775