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Dubravka Bencic

Soundscape Design & Piano Musings

As a Postmodernist Classical Composer, Improvisational Pianist & Experiential Performance Curator, Dubravka Bencic is dedicated to transmuting states of being through artistic expression. Her compositions venture into a myriad of shapes and forms during each performance, taking the audience through a panoply of soundscapes. The style she refers to as "piano dancing" is a dynamic interlace of rhythm and sound, resonating the ineffable mystery unfolding amongst the listeners. By designing and directing collaborative multi-disciplinary events, Dubravka aspires to integrate artistic communities via cross-pollination of genres, and thus bring about a sense of cultural wholeness. This notion of community building also translates into a multitude of musical collaborations with electronic, experimental and acoustic musicians, as well as with artists of various disciplines.






Justin Brown

If there is one consistent thread that ties together Justin Brown’s life since age 8, it would be music. First inspired at that age by his Aunt Annie during a family vacation on Prince Edward Island, Canada, Justin returned home and asked for piano lessons and received them from the nuns at school.


He became just the right age to get one of the newly invented “portable keyboards”. Following a 6-month stint of pop theory lessons (at the kitchen table!), Justin was all of a sudden in demand as a keyboard player with gear! He gigged with various local bands – all members older than him – playing frat parties, festivals and one-night bar gigs – having aball!


Meeting the love of his life, Christyl, at age 18 while attending college in Florida, the two of them got married and that led playing 6-nights a week in Wisconsin and the start of their family of five. Through it all, every other job around helped the cause (bartending, insurance, auto parts - you name it!).


It was at this point that Christyl start singing, building on her high school chorale experience. She pulled from Patsy Cline, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Rita Coolidge. This led to the formation of “Wild Roses” and another summer house band gig at “The Playpen”, a hot spot in Ft. Lauderdale. “Wild Roses” then hit the road and ended up living all together on a farm outside of Pittsburgh and doing local gigs.


Following the musical thread, Justin continued teaching improvisation and opening a formal teaching studio in Dormont. That studio, with added partners, Barney Lee and Henry Yoder, became AirCraft Recording Studios in the 80’s. It grew to house staff engineers, producers, jingle production, graphics, record labels, publishing house and media duplication. AirCraft went on for years pulling Justin away from “live” performing to studio work.


Justin and Christyl produced two of their own albums during this season entitled “Time Signatures, Volume One & Two”. Justin was also able to use the music medium to bring aid to the unemployed steel workers in the 80’s. He collaborated with KDKA-TV and released “Steel Mill Blues” to bring exposure and $84,000 in financial aid to unemployed steel workers and their families. He continued this success in fundraising and need awareness efforts with “Bundle Them Up” for WTAE to benefit children.


Returning to the “live” stage, Justin launched out as a solo pianist and landed a gig as the first performing artist at Zelda’s Greenhouse in Oakland. At the same time he joined with Barney Lee in a band called “GoodStuff” and a held a summer house band gig at “The Decade”, also in Oakland. “The Decade” caught fire and burned to the ground in 1995 - on the night “GoodStuff” was booked to play!


Disappointed with the instability of bar bands, the solo route looked like the only viable option. Enter stage left, Divine Providence! The Grand Course opens up a new restaurant in Station Square – with a beautiful grand piano bar in the Gandy Dancer Saloon. Three years later after performing 6-nights a week from 9pm to 1am, Justin left and brought with him his first solo


album, “All Of Me”. The 2-track “live” album was recorded in one session on a 9’ grand at Audio Innovators in town. The two takes were Side One and Side Two in front of 40 close friends and fans from The Gandy Dancer.


Hyatt Hotel bought Justin’s contract to feature him at the newly designed “Lillys, a Piano Lounge”. After two years there, the private gig opportunities were strong enough to open up the calendar to them and more solo work. During these same years, Justin was teaching improvisation to adults by providing lessons in their home. Christyl rejoined Justin on stage to make their new duo. Breaking into the county club circuits mixed in with some international resort gigs such as Club Med, the duo was a compact, strong unit that kept busy making music while still raising their family – and this continues today. As a solo or a duo, they entertain in local retirement and nursing centers.


Justin’s business and technology sense led him to a career with Apple and Computerm. In 2001, Justin entered the nonprofit community with The Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and currently, The Education Partnership. ( Justin, a native of Pittsburgh and resides in Dormont.

Christopher Catone

Chris Catone is a composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received a Bachelor’s degree in music technology from Northeastern University in Boston and a Master of Music degree from Duquesne University. He is an active composer of sacred, chamber and film music, in addition to working as a freelance pianist and organist throughout the region. His concert music has been performed by Alia Musica Pittsburgh, Trillium Ensemble, A Far Cry Ensemble, The Heinz Chapel Compline Choir, Kassia Ensemble and others. His music for film has won awards at prominent film festivals such as the Los Angeles 48 Hour Film Fest and Four Points Film Festival. Chris assisted on various projects with film composer and electronic producer Junkie XL at Remote Control Productions in Los Angeles. Chris currently holds the position as Director of Music at Saint Athanasius Church, Resident Artist at Pittsburgh Musical Theater and teaches piano privately. In his free time, Chris loves to travel and hang out with his dog.


Rochelle Klein

Noted for her convincing and passionate interpretation, Rochelle Klein is a pianist, a singer, a certified music educator and an arts administrator. She has garnered rich experience in performance, higher education, nonprofit arts and public education.

Klein's performances and programs have been reviewed in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, among others. Her program development and implementation have won grant support from national and state agencies, corporations and foundations.

Klein is an associate professor in the musical theatre program at Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts, where she teaches private and group piano, theory and sightsinging. For 20 years, she served as coordinator of both the music and core arts areas, creating eight courses, spearheading community engagement partnerships, mentoring faculty, and developing/administering sequences in music and in arts. Serving on strategic planning and curriculum alignment teams, she has aided Point Park’s transition from a college to a university with an increasingly selective Conservatory.

Funded projects she has secured or facilitated for Point Park include master classes by composers Marvin Hamlisch, Ricky Ian Gordon, Adam Gwon, and lecture-demo performances by artists from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cello Fury and Umoja Dance Company, among many. Previous posts include full-time Conservatory teaching artist and adjunct Education faculty.

Heather Kropf

Portland native Heather Kropf, now living in Pittsburgh, has forged a reputation as a talented and dedicated songwriter. With honeyed vocals reminiscent of early influenced Suzanne Vega and Joni Mitchell, she deftly weaves Americana and jazz influences into piano-based songs that capture the complexity of modern life and romance. Her live performances straddle a fine line between relaxing and mesmerizing.


She recently went to Nashville to collaborate with producer/multi-instrumentalist Lex Price (Mindy Smith, Neko Case, k.d. lang). Together, they created her fifth release Lights, named "a starkly beautiful album of heart-wrenching pop songs" and listed as a best album of 2017 by Pittsburgh's TribLIVE. Lights is also an honoree finalist for Top Entertainment + Media Projects of the Year (2018) by the Creative Industries Network and Festival.

Laurie Kudis

“I can entertain myself for hours with this thing. Literally, all perception of how long I’ve been at it goes right out the window”  Keyboardist, songwriter, and front woman for the Pittsburgh based groove rock band Charm & Chain, Laurie has been fascinated by the piano for as long as she can remember.  “There was a children’s piano program at Carnegie Mellon, and when I was around five I was old enough to start attending and it was the best because every Saturday morning I got to spend hours doing all of these fun musical, creative, and piano things.  I’m not sure how enjoyable it was for the rest of my family that came and waited each week, but I was in my glory.” Laurie has also studied songwriting, jazz and rock piano with several Berklee instructors, has performed with various Pittsburgh acts, and founded the band Charm & Chain, which just released their third album this past year.  “As a songwriting tool, it’s exciting to experiment sonically with different synths and vintage keyboards, but nothing beats sitting down to my baby Kawaii with the spark of an idea, a word, a phrase, or a visual, and creating a song from just that single thought and the pure sound of the piano.”

Heather Metz

As a Manager of Government Compliance at a Pittsburgh based health insurer, don't let Heather's day-job fool you.  This gal is full of spunk & her passion for the piano and music is what truly drives her.  


From the time she was a toddler, banging out classical and modern riffs on her Playskool mini piano, Heather has aspired to cultivate her musical skills throughout her life.  Despite a nearly 10 year hiatus from the art, she returned to the keyboard as an adult through more formal classical instruction, though unconventional-rock piano what Heather loves. 

Tom Roberts

Tom Roberts is one of the leading exponents of early jazz piano in the world today (as stated by Ricardo Sciavales in The Heart and Soul of Stride, Blues, and Swing Piano).
He has performed on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson The Statler Brothers Show onTNN , and A Prairie Home Companion with GarrisonKiellor.

Tom arranged and performed the music for the soundtrack of Martin Scorsese’s film The Aviator, starring Leonardo di Caprio, as well as several titles for the film DeLovely.
He has also arranged music for the syndicated PRI show Riverwalk Jazz, Live from the Landing with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band, and a number of pieces for Wynton Marsalis and The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for a concert of the music of Louis Armstrong in October 2006.


Read more about Tom by clicking here.


Molly Spino

Molly Rae's music is a feeling, not just a sound. Her writing dives into our human vulnerability and freely talks about it unapologetically in song. Because Molly's work is based on the struggles of the human condition, you'll find her writing more than she plays live, but when you do catch her, you may see a number of tearful audience members. Molly's moving lyrical content is often set to choreography, and with her extensive theater background, she's performed at the Palace Theater, and the New Hazlett, as well the Three Rivers Regatta main stage. A native to the Pittsburgh region, you can find Molly anywhere there's good company and a well loved piano.

Sterling Yoga

In 2002, Sterling Painton opened Sterling Yoga and Wellness Center, LLC. with a mission to create a yoga community that nourishes growth of our body, mind and spirit with a strong focus on therapeutics and alignment honoring the Iyengar tradition. Her main teacher is Manouso Manos along with Judith Hason Lasater.


Bryan Wright

Bryan S. Wright, Ph.D., is a pianist and musicologist specializing in ragtime and early jazz piano styles. With his wife, Yuko, he has performed and lectured on ragtime across the United States and abroad and released two full-length solo CDs, Syncopated Musings and Breakin’ Notes. He is founder and executive producer of Rivermont Records, a Grammy-nominated label specializing in ragtime and early jazz. Bryan holds degrees in historical musicology from the College of William and Mary and the University of Pittsburgh, where he is presently an instructor.

Craig Zinger

Craig Zinger wrote/recorded the “Pierogi Shuffle” for the Pittsburgh Pirates, played at all PNC Park homegames during the 6th Inning Great Pierogi Races. Craig played piano for Christina Aguilera’s first studio recording session in Pittsburgh, for 3-W-S Radio’s Home For the Holidays CD Craig has opened for International recording artist, YANNI, at Pittsburgh’s Star Lake Amphitheatre. ...was featured on WPXI-TV (Channel 11) performing his G-20 Parody (visit youTube). Craig has four recordings to his credit and has received airplay on National Public Radio. Craig played for the National premiere of the Disney Movie “Angels In the Outfield” at Three Rivers Stadium. Craig has performed in concert with national recording artists including Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits), Lou Christie (“Lightning Strikes”), The Tokens

Craig has been showcased on WPXI-TV’s “Celebrate the Season Parade,” and performed live on KDKA-TV, for The Children’s Hospital Telethons.

Craig performed at Heinz Hall for Marvin Hamlisch’s “SEARCH FOR A STAR NIGHT”

Craig studied music at the University of Pittsburgh. He was the pianist for the University of Pittsburgh Jazz Ensemble directed by Dr. Nathan Davis.


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Jeannine Zhou

Jeannine started her first piano lesson with Dr. Marina Lupinacci shortly before she turned five and has since enjoyed playing piano. She won the first prize of Best Schumann Performance and Best 19th Century of Great Composer Competition. She also won the first prize of Golden Classical Music Awards International Competition and performed at the Winners’ Concert at Carnegie Hall in New York.


Besides being a pianist, she is currently a second grader at Hosack Elementary School and likes all kinds of extracurricular activities. Her regular activities include North Allegheny Soccer Club practice and game, and a figure skating lesson weekly. She also studies violin and hopes to join the school orchestra in the fall. She follows Mr. Seneca, the gym teacher, rigorously by scooting, biking and tagging an hour a day.

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