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Core Curriculum Participants Info Page

Xander T Ambrose (He/Him/His)

MUSIC

Xander Ambrose (he/him/his) is a musical theatre composer hailing from the northern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Xander enjoys combining contemporary elements of electronic, rock, and experimental styles with the classical tradition of musical theatre storytelling, featuring a distinctive flourishing piano style. His first full-length musical entitled 'dreamscape' which is in-progress now will be workshopped at UCLA this academic year. He currently attends the university as a third-year Theatre student in the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television in pursuit of a Bachelor of Arts degree. Xander loves to play piano, beatbox, and finds creative inspiration on his walks with his family's dog, Millie.

I am so excited to be afforded the opportunity to audition for the Core Curriculum sequence. While this application is early in my career, I decided to try my hand at auditioning! I am applying because I am seeking mentorship and training for musical theatre writing and will work enthusiastically to make new theatre come to life.

IN PERSON

Los Angeles   California

Patricia Baer (She/Her)

BOOK

Since pursuing my B.A. in Theatre at the University of Minnesota, I’ve been inching closer to my urge to create musicals by doing work in many areas of musical theatre... except writing. My background includes work in stage management/assistant directing, arts marketing, and as an artist instructor working with children ages 3-14. More recently I had been working as a project manager in healthcare research, but embarked on a sabbatical this year to explore writing children’s literature and reconnect to my creative side.

VIA VIDEO

Marshfield   WI

Sierra S Blanco (She/her)

BOOK

Sierra Blanco is a winner of the 2020 National Endowment for the Arts/American Theatre Wing’s Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge. She is a winner of Stephen Sondheim’s National Young Playwrights Competition, winner of NYC Write A Play Competition, Winner Writopia WorldWide Plays Competition, and an Invited Guest Playwright to the Eugene O’Neill’s Young Playwrights Festival. Scholarships Include The National Music Publishers 2020 & The Michael Perelstein Discover Your Passion Scholarship for Playwriting and Musical Theater Composition, Finalist for Andrew Lloyd Webber Training Initiative Scholarship in Musical Theater Composition. Her play “The Smallest Heroes” was published by YouthPLAYS in 2020, and her play “Bang!” Published in the anthology A Decade of Shared Stories. Sierra is a member of The Dramatists Guild, BMI, AEA and MENSA. (Taking Gap year SUNY Purchase Playwriting/Screenwriting program 2021/22)

VIA VIDEO

Monterey   CA

Orlando Byron (He/him)

MUSIC

I graduated in January with honours from a masters degree course in Musical Theatre Composition at Goldsmiths, University of London, where I am now an Associate Lecturer for the BA Musical Theatre course, teaching music theory and rep. Prior to that course, I studied Ethnomusicology at SOAS, University of London, where I specialised in Japanese music. Before that, I studied composition with David Knotts at the Junior Royal Academy of Music. As a child, I was head chorister to the Queen at the Chapels Royal, St. James Palace.
In addition to lecturing, I work as a freelance pianist and MD while holding a position as Head of Music at New London Performing Arts Centre, where I teach piano, singing and musical theatre to students from beginners to West End professionals.
Last year, I composed the music for a show put on at the Tristan Bates theatre in the West End called Last Minutes with Anglo-Canadian playwright Deborah Vogt.

VIA VIDEO

London   England

Katherine Cowell

LYRICS

Hi, I'm Katherine! (She/Her)

I joined NMI's Core Curriculum in pursuit of a dream I've had for a long time—to write a kick-ass comedy musical someday. My background is in film, advertising, and sketch comedy. I got into musical comedy while writing live and digital musical comedy sketches for my sketch teams. You can see some of them at katherinecaseycowell.com (my YouTube). Once I started creating musical material I couldn't stop, so I came to NMI to learn how to do it right.

Excited to meet you all and grow as a lyricist at NMI : )

VIA VIDEO

Seattle   WA

Katherine Glover (she/her)

LYRICS

Katherine Glover is a writer, playwright, lyricist, and research addict. Her first musical, Us Against Us (with composer Ben Emory Larson), explores the feminist antipornography movement of the 1980s, and was a semifinalist for the 2019 O’Neill National Music Theater Conference. Other historical plays include Sex, War, and Syphilis, a comedy about WWI government action to protect soldiers from syphilis, and Ronald Reagan: Time Traveler, which is more historically accurate than it sounds. Katherine won a 2013 Ivey Award for playwriting, she was a 2015 Br!nk playwright with Renaissance Theaterworks in Milwaukee, and she was a selected writer for Nautilus Music-Theater’s nationally recognized Composer-Librettist Studio in 2017. She spent ten years as a freelance journalist and has a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and a founding member of the Playwright Cabal.

IN PERSON

Los Angeles   CA

Sarah Rose Horton (She/her)

LYRICS

I am so excited to have discovered this program! As a hobby songwriter/lyricist and avid musical theater fan, it’s been a lifelong dream to collaborate to write a musical. What I bring to the table: A music education honed by 15+ years in choirs and self-taught ukulele; a self-designed BA titled Writing for Performance: Storytelling through Theater, Film and Music from Western Washington University (2011-2015); a devotion to character-driven story (instilled by a screenwriting intensive at the Film School in Seattle); a certificate in Editing from the University of Washington (and what is songwriting if not constant editing?); and a love of wordplay.
In March of 2020, driven to isolation by the pandemic, I wrote and produced a music video, Paris if it Kills Me, wherein cancelled travel plans inspired my character to recreate Paris in her own living room. I have also written two songs (Mind’s Island and Continua) for Yesterday’s Analog Earth Band (on Spotify). In addition to these published works, I have a proverbial sock drawer (i.e. folder on my phone) filled with songs in varying degrees of completion (and seeking more than ukulele accompaniment).
You meet me at a crossroads: I am a travel professional looking for a way out, and a lyricist longing for a way in. That is why I am leap-out-of-my-seat, cry-happy-tears-of-joy thrilled to discover that the Core Curriculum exists. This challenge is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I can’t wait for the opportunity to meet you and prove myself.

Because I live in Seattle I would be joining the course via video. However, I would happily fly down to collaborate in person.

VIA VIDEO

Seattle   Washington

Erika Ito

MUSIC

Hi everyone!

My name is Erika Ito. I’m a Japanese composer.

I was born and raised in Tokyo. I moved to the US to and obtained bachelor's degree in film scoring from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and started working as an orchestrator / pianist for musical theater shows in New York City.

I moved to the Netherlands to attend master's program in composition at Amsterdam Conservatory. After graduation, I started working on cruise ships as an interpreter / pianist, and visited nearly 50 countries.

Currently I’m based in Tokyo, making music for video games, films, TV, and commercials. My website is www.erikaito.com

I love musical theater since I was a child, and making music for musical theater is one of my dreams. I’ve never studied song writing, so I’m really excited that I found this Core Curriculum. I’m looking forward to get to know other writers and collaborate to make new musical theater!

Thank you very much!

VIA VIDEO

Tokyo

Jeff Kasanoff

LYRICS

I'm a writer currently working as a creative executive in Hollywood. But I am very passionate about musical theater. This has long been a hobby I have pursued in school, where I wrote and produced two short film musicals, and afterwards, on my own and in a songwriting course. I would love the opportunity to take this passion to the next level and btgin putting my work out there in the world.

IN PERSON

Los Angeles   CA

Trip Kennedy

Trip Kennedy

LYRICS / BOOK

My name is Trip Kennedy
I am a past member of the BMI Lehman Engel Workshop for composers and lyricists.
In 2000 I was the recipient of the 1st ever Harrington Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Musical Theater.
I have created the following shows which have had full productions:
'Fresh Off The Farm' (Book, Lyrics) Galveston Texas 2000
'Rest in Peace' (Book, Lyrics) Tuttle, Oklahoma_
'Far Rockaway; (Book, Lyrics, Music) Gallery Players, Brooklyn
The Boy Who Wrote Songs (Book, Lyrics, Music) Hollywood Fringe Festval 2018

I appeared on Broadway in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (with Michael Damian) and Beauty and the Beast (ensemble).

I am currently the host of Trip Kennedy's Showoffshow a weekly singers open-mic on Mondays, as well as the host of Trip Kennedy's Broadway Friday Nights --an invited Broadway focused open mic/jam in South Pasadena.

I am currently the creator, producer and star of 'THE BOOK OF MEL" a cabaret series tribute to the canon of Mel Brooks coming to the Hollywood Fringe Festival in August.

I got a million ideas a minute it would be a shame to waste them .

IN PERSON

Los Angeles   CA

Chie-Hoon Lee (he/him)

LYRICS / BOOK

Produced credits include the short plays "For the Living" (also published) and “Half Life”. I have worked in non-creative capacities for the renowned Belvoir and Griffin theatre companies in Sydney, and helped launch Kookaburra: the National Musical Theatre Company, and the Sydney Fringe Festival. By day I'm a self-employed management consultant, putting my MBA (from the Australian Graduate School of Management) to use in the world of suits, ties and hard hats. During these Covid downtimes I'm expanding my creative portfolio and have recently currently completed an MA in Creative Writing at UTS, Sydney.

I'm based in Sydney, Australia and will participate remotely. I'm exceedingly camera and microphone shy.

VIA VIDEO

Pyrmont   New South Wales

Parker Lemal-Brown (he/him)

LYRICS

Parker graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in Sociology. He is a TV writer currently working on the Netflix show Bridgerton.
I grew up doing musical theater and have written a one act musical as a passion project. I have basic music skills but want to practice writing lyrics with others.

VIA VIDEO

Sandy Liao (she, her, hers)

MUSIC

Hi! I'm Nai Hui Liao but I prefer my English name Sandy. I'm from Taipei, Taiwan and I just graduated from Berklee College of Music.
I double major in music production and film scoring and also minor in musical theater writing. I'm currently a freelance composer in Taiwan. I make music for film, TV, commercial and animation.

I prefer doing the program online via zoom based on I'm currently in Taiwan.
I love watching musical and I’ve always wanted to learn more about the writing skills. This will be a good opportunity for me to gain more experience and knowledge about musical theater industry and skills for being a writer.

VIA VIDEO

Taipei City

Jay Moad

BOOK

I hold a B.S. in International affairs from The U.S. Air Force Academy, an M.A. in English from Southern Illinois University, and an M.F.A. in creative writing with a dual concentration in both Fiction and Playwriting. I wrote and performed the award-winning play, "Outside Paducah - the Wars at Home" in which I was nominated for Outstanding Solo Performance by the New York Innovative Theater Awards (NYIT). I was a 2020 finalist for the McKnight Fellowship in playwriting and am a recipient of the Consequence Magazine Fiction Award. I’ve also performed at The Library of Congress and The Guthrie Theater in "The Telling Project - Giving Voice to the Veteran Experience". I wrote both the script and lyrics for the short musical, "Judy and Me" for New Musicals, Inc in 2021. I’ve served as an Air Force Pilot and English Professor at the United States Air Force Academy and continues to serve as an editor for their international journal, War, Literature & the Arts (WLA). My short stories, poetry and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, and I currently resides in Northfield, MN where I am a pilot for a major airline. Here's a link to more info on my website: https://www.jamesmoad.com/home-1

Despite living near Minneapolis in the U.S., being an airline pilot affords me easy access to L.A. in order to attend workshops

VIA VIDEO

Northfield   MN

photo of Jenson Neal

Jenson Parker Neal (He/Him)

LYRICS

Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from an early age fell in love with musical theatre and writing, and worked to make them a focal point of life. Musicals provided a way to explore viewpoints different from my own, learn more about myself, and gave me a safe world to escape into when the real world felt too much. In winter of 2019 I relocated to New York City to be closer to the theatre world, create opportunities to meet creative partners and explore life as a lyricist at a higher level. Three months later the theaters would be closed.
Sticking out the pandemic in New York, by day I serve as the administrative producer for The Hamilcast: A Hamilton Podcast, which conducts weekly creative conversations with the cast, crew, and creatives of the Hamilton team. Over the 2020 holiday season I served as producer to a radio play featuring major Broadway talents, a fundraiser for The Actors Fund, ‘Twas The Night (www.twasthenightplay.com). I also oversee the creative production of the sketch comedy podcast Ted and Michael Read Sketches Into Microphones.
By night I continue to hone my skills, and hope to find a program to help me better my craft and in able to become a full time lyricist creating new musical theatre.

I believe new voices and viewpoints are vital to the next phase of American musical theatre, and think I have a lot to offer as a transgender person in exploring how new stories can be told.

VIA VIDEO

New York   NY

Richard Plotkin

MUSIC

East Amherst   NY

Lynn Allison Sternberger (she/her)

BOOK

Nice to e-meet you. I'm Lynn Sternberger, an LA-based TV writer whose musical aspirations fall somewhere between "Waitress," "Fun Home," and the tragically underproduced "Violet."
Upon graduating with a Creative Writing/English undergrad degree from Wellesley, I spent four years as a book editor in Boston, living a wine-saturated single life. It was great, but nobody at work wanted to deconstruct "The Good Wife" with me. This is also when I figured out that television writing was an actual job.
In 2008, my father suffered a fatal heart attack while we were snorkeling together on vacation. That experience changed everything. I took the leap and left publishing, met the French woman I would later marry, and moved to Vancouver for a year of film school (Writing for Film and Television degree at Vancouver Film School). Just as my Canadian visa was expiring, the U.S. repealed the Defense of Marriage Act. I told Frenchie she had to marry me. Two years of navigating U.S. immigration later, as she was literally driving a U-Haul across the border, I got to call her and tell her I had staffed on my first television show. I've written for a medical dramedy, a collegiate mystery series, a legal procedural, and THE BOLD TYPE.

I tend to write about the things I know: how families get upended by illness, and geography, and long-held secrets unearthed. How the political can be intimately personal, especially from the perspective of millennials, women, and immigrants. I write about queer relationships and complex family dynamics. Well-intentioned people who occasionally make terrible decisions. While swinging between drama and dramedy, my writing is consistently grounded, female-centered, and always reaching for an emotional truth.

I most recently wrote a (gay!) feature for Hallmark and a pilot about three female winemakers of color. Now I'm looking for my next creative adventure!

I may split my time between in person and Zoom attendance.

IN PERSON

Pasadena   CA

Joan Szymko

MUSIC

I am a classically trained musician with a degree in Music Education (Univ of Illinois, 1979). About thirty years ago I composed the music for a musical that was produced in Seattle and SF. That experience totally lit me up! Determined to compose musical theater I retreated to an island in Puget Sound where I spent the next two years collaborating on two more musicals (that didn't go anywhere) — but then returned to my core training as a choral conductor, moving to Portland in the process. I had begun composing for my choirs back in the 1980's and really hit my stride in Portland. I now have a catalog of well over 100 published works; my music is regularly performed across North America and abroad including performances at national and international festivals and competitions and been commissioned by all manner of choral ensemble. Theater was still in my life but totally different genre: I have enjoyed a long and fruitful collaboration as a resident composer with DoJump Movement Theater (since 1995) and performed with the company at the New Victory in NYC, as well as runs at the Geffen Playhouse and the Kennedy Center. I have for some time been contemplating stepping away from choral music and then COVID hit, giving me great pause for reflection on the third and final act of my life (I am 64) . As a composer I have always been driven by text. I hear and conceive music more as line and rhythm, which is not in sync with current contemporary choral trends (6-8 parts/stacked sonorities) In programming over 60 choral concerts I focus on creating emotional arcs for both singers and audience. My concerts have always been theme/story driven. In 2016 recently had the tremendous opportunity to compose a large work for chorus and full orchestra— the resulting 70 minute oratorio, "Shadow and Light, an Alzheimers Journey" is a universal story— beyond the scope of the disease —as it bears loving witness to a growing population that feels largely invisible and ignored. (I created the libretto for "Shadow and Light" with existing texts .) An award-winning documentary was made about the research and creation of this piece and you can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQ88rO_OfaY

• my website is www.joanszymko.com
• I participated in the New Dramatist Composer-Librettist Studio in NYC in 2013.
• Since I live on the West Coast, I would welcome the option of attending CORE weekends both in person and via video
• I am a percussionist at heart; performed in an African marimba ensemble and have studied both hand and kit drumming.
• I am an avid landscape gardener

VIA VIDEO

Ethan Whittaker (He/Him/His)

MUSIC

I'm a recent graduate of Princeton University (BA in Chemistry), and consider myself an avid musician and composer. I play a wide range of instruments, but I would say I'm most proficient in piano, voice, and steel drum (I come from the Cayman Islands). I have produced a variety of a cappella, choral, and marching band arrangements (performed by groups at Princeton), as well as composed several instrumental trio/ensemble pieces. Near the end of my undergraduate term, I composed pieces in the musical theatre genre, and have thoroughly enjoyed the process. If afforded the opportunity, I'd be delighted to enhance my abilities as a composer through this program and engage with the variety of musical and lyrical approaches this program fosters.

I am currently living in Philadelphia, but plan to be in Santa Monica starting July so I don't envision any problems with attending in person. I predominantly use Sibelius (with NotePerformer) as my notation software (8+ years), and Audacity for any vocals (3 years). I have also begun experimenting with ProTools as a medium for composing.

IN PERSON

Ahou Yasmine (She/Her)

BOOK / LYRICS

Ahou Yasmine is a performer and writer based in Los Angeles. Performance credits include Farida in Seven with Contra Costa Theater; Ziba in Call Me Mehdi, Soledad O'Brien in Compression of a Casualty, Sevgi in The Cry of the Reed, and Sheida in A Moment of Silence with Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco; Phebe in As You Like It with Subterranean Shakespeare, and more. Ahou has also studied Shakespeare with upcoming Artistic Director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Charles Pasternak for the past year. With a varied performance career, Ahou is also a singer with the Los Angeles-based vocal arts ensemble Artes Vocales, where she is Associate Producing Artist and a frequent soloist. She studies voice and Alexander Technique with Tracy Van Fleet of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and has studied under Dr Steven Kronauer and Twyla Meyer of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. and Artes Vocales

As a songwriter, Ahou has written and sung on a body of songs found on Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/ahouyasmine), which includes a cover song of Kate Bush's Army Dreamers.. She has written and voiced a documentary short on human rights in Iran titled Beyond the Axis of Evil & the Great Satan at USC Cinematic Arts and is currently developing a screenplay in the magical realism genre.

I'd love to be able to collaborate with a seasoned composer who is open to having assistance on writing for the female voice and melody lines, if that option is available.

VIA VIDEO

Los Angeles   CA