Our Music Professors
Jose Arellano, Electric Bass
Jose Arellano is a talented multi-instrumentalist who has been performing for more than 40 years. He has performed and shared the stage with artists such as Gerald Wilson, Justo Almario, Arturo Velasco, Luis Bonilla, Bobby Rodriguez, Wayne Brady, and many others. He has performed with the Latin R&B group “Tierra”, Jose Rizo’s Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars, and various other local groups such as Son Mayor, Opa Opa, Phil Robinson, Chico, Suave, Rudy Macias Orchestra, Cold Duck, and the Tom Nolan Band. Jose is quite capable on several instruments, including the piano, trombone, bass, accordion, and guitar.
In addition to performing, Jose Arellano is also a respected arranger, having arranged for Cal State LA Afro-Cuban band, Memphis State University, Riverside City College, Luis Bonilla, Susie Hansen, Cui Cui Rangel, Dr. Bobby Rodriguez, and many others. Every holiday season, Jose directs the St. Lucy’s Christmas Big Band, which plays his Latin Jazz arrangements.
Mr. Arellano is also a prominent educator. He has been teaching since 1989, mainly at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, but also has taught at LA Mission College, Cal State University Los Angeles, and Whittier College.
Brian Barany, Guitar
Brian Barany is a classical guitarist who divided his time between performing, arranging, and teaching. Dr. Barany holds a Doctorate in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of Southern California, a Master of Music from Azusa Pacific, and a Bachelor of Music from Cal State Northridge. He has studied guitar, music theory, and arranging with William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, Pepe Romero, Michael Kozubek, Steven Thachuk, Brian Head, Richard Smith, Pat Kelly, Adam Hawley, and Tom Hynes. Dr. Barany is a certified Suzuki Guitar Instructor.
In addition to playing solo classical guitar, Dr. Barany has many years of chamber music experience. Presently, he is a member of the Westside Duo, in which he explores classical, jazz, and popular music.
Victor Barrientos, Drums and Latin Percussion
Victor Barrientos has performed with Celia Cruz, Aretha Franklin, Vikki Carr, Charro, Trini Lopez, Nell Carter, Lillias White, Michael Sembello, Russ Freeman (Rippingtons), HB Barnum, Ernie Fields, Jr., Clare Fischer, Bob Florence, Red Callendar, Danilo Lozano, Cuba L.A., Quí West, Jeff Clayton, Frank Emilio Flynn, Jesus “Chucho” Valdes, Justo Almario, Jose Rizo’s Jazz On The Latin Side All Stars & Mongorama, Luther Hughes, Jeff Kashiwa, Susie Hansen, the Estrada Brothers, Tierra, Gualberto Castro, Lalo Guerrero, Vicentico Valdéz, Mario “Papaito” Muñoz, “Fame” television series, Cold Duck, Hip Street (Tower of Power tribute band), Jimmy Imperial, Jess Acuña and David Piper. Vic studied drums/percussion privately with Murray Spivack, Wally Snow, Walter Goodwin, Dale Anderson, David Garibaldi, Danilo Lozano, José Luis Quintana, and Ralph Humphrey. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Cal State University Los Angeles in Business Education. Currently, Vic is the drum instructor (Artist-in-Residency) at Whittier College, has been active in several educational performances throughout the greater Southern, CA area and has also been mentioned in various articles in Latin Beat Magazine.
David Black, Bass
David Black has been a bassist with Pacific Symphony for over 25 years. He studied with Bertram Turetzky, as well as Dennis Trembly, principal bassist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. From 1984-89, Black was the solo bassist for the Roger Wagner Chorale, touring and recording three albums. Black has spent many summers performing with music festivals including the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and the Ojai Music Festival. Black has played with many other orchestras in Southern California, including the Long Beach Opera, and the San Diego, Pasadena, Redlands and Riverside symphonies.
Samvel Chilingarian, Violin and Viola
Samvel Chilingarian is a violinist and conductor. Mr. Chilingarian enjoys a varied career as a performer, educator, and conductor. An avid chamber musician, Mr. Chilingarian has toured extensively throughout Europe, Japan, the United States, and Central America with The Melos Ensemble, Vienna Sinfonietta, Orchestra Internazionale d´Italia, and Ensemble Nine.
A native of Armenia, Mr. Chilingarian began his musical studies at age five. After receiving a Bachelor of Music from the California State University, Northridge, and a Master of Music from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Mr. Chilingarian moved to Vienna in 1990 to continue his studies in authentic performance and conducting. While in Vienna, Mr. Chilingarian joined the Pons Artis Chamber Orchestra, the Kammer Oper Orchestra, and the Niederosterrichische Tonkunstler Orchestra. While in Austria, Mr. Chilingarian was invited to conduct the Linz Summer Festival Youth Orchestra in 1994.
Since his return to Los Angeles in 1995, Mr. Chilingarian´s focus has been to bring spirited music to young musicians. Mr. Chilingarian conducts the East Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra and is the Artistic Director of the Verdugo Young Musicians Association (VYMA).
Mr. Chilingarian has been featured on the Sundays Live radio broadcast Classical 105.1 K-Mozart as well as on 91.5 KUSC "Spotlight on The Arts". Mr. Chilingarian serves on the faculty of East Los Angeles College and continues to perform with the Elixir Piano Trio.
Theresa Dimond, Percussion
Theresa Dimond is currently the principal percussionist of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra. She has been a member of the orchestra since its inception in 1985.
As a free-lance musician in Los Angeles, Dimond has worked with every orchestral ensemble in the city, including the LA Philharmonic and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. As well as her duties at LA Opera, she is currently Principal Percussion of the Pasadena Symphony and Pops and Principal Timpanist of Muse/ique, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the California Philharmonic. She has worked with many preeminent conductors including Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas, Jeffrey Kahane, Placido Domingo, Herbert Blomstedt, Kent Nagano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel and James Conlon. A highlight of her career has been performing with soprano Dawn Upshaw, and members of the Boston Symphony, on a contemporary music tour. Dr. Dimond has also appeared as soloist at the Aspen, Sun Valley and Tanglewood Summer Music Festivals.
Dimond serves on the faculties of Whittier College , UCLA, UC, Irvine, Pomona College, and Cerritos College. In 1998, she founded TouchDown Publications, a music publishing company which edits and publishes opera percussion parts.
One of a handful of experts on the cimbalom, a Hungarian hammered dulcimer, she has performed with Pierre Boulez, Lalo Schifrin, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kurt Masur, Dawn Upshaw, and Grant Gershon on that specialty instrument. Her recording credits include The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, Far from Heaven, The Dewey Cox Story, Rush Hour 3, Rocky 5, and Edward Scissorhands, to name but a few.
James Ford III, Trumpet and Improvisation
James Ford, III is a native of Georgia. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2003, he has established an impressive reputation as an accomplished all-around trumpet player. He performs in diverse musical settings including big band, small groups, orchestral, chamber, pop, and early music ensembles. Ford continues to experiment and broaden his musical palette. He is a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, John Beasely's MONKestra, and the Benjamin Wright Orchestra. Ford has played in venues in Europe, Asia, South America, South Africa, Canada, and throughout the U.S.
Dr. Ford holds the Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of North Texas. He also holds the Master of Music and Master of Music Education from University of North Texas and the Bachelor of Music from Valdosta State University.
Melissa Landis, Voice
Melissa McIntosh Landis, soprano, is an accomplished recitalist and concert artist. She has been a guest soloist from coast to coast appearing in Carnegie Hall with the New York City Chamber Orchestra and on the stage of Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall. Ms. Landis' dramatically warm and emotionally rich soprano voice is equally adept in repertoire that includes Mendelssohn's Elijah, Verdi's Requiem, Tippet's A Child of Our Time, Poulenc's Gloria and Sir Paul McCartney's Ecce Cor Meum, in which Ms. Landis performed the West Coast premiere.
Ms. Landis completed her graduate work in opera performance at the nationally acclaimed Wanda Bass School of Music, Oklahoma City University where she was the recipient of the distinguished Inez Silberg Scholarship and a young artist with Tulsa Opera. During her post-graduate studies in voice performance she taught at the Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California. Over the last 20 years in the Los Angeles area, Ms. Landis has taught voice for Mount San Antonio College, Azusa Pacific University, La Sierra University and University of La Verne. She is currently an Artist-in-Residence for Whittier College Music Department where she teaches voice, music history and directs the Opera Workshop. Her voice studio develops successful singers in both contemporary and classical repertoire.
Hee-Seung Lee, Harpsichord and Staff Accompanist
Praised for her exceptional musicality and sophisticated sound she creates on the keyboard, born in South Korea, pianist and harpsichordist Hee-Seung Lee has appeared internationally as a soloist and collaborative artist. First Prize winner of numerous competitions in Korea and USA, Lee has soloed with orchestras and presented piano solo and duo recitals as a guest artist at numerous schools and venues in the USA, South Korea, and the Philippines while her chamber performances were exclusively heard at Seoul Arts Center in Korea, LACMA Bing Theater and Steinway Piano Gallery.
As a harpsichordist, Lee demonstrated her passion for early music through the concerts with Camerata Barocca Claudio Monteverdi from Italy at Soka Performing Arts Center, American Bach Soloists Festival concerts, and the San Francisco Early Music Society Baroque Workshop. Her chamber group performance at San Francisco Conservatory of Music Concert Hall was marked as a “memorable performance” by the San Francisco critique in 2015. She has performed on the modern harpsichord beautifully rebuilt by Curtis Berak for the world premiere of Double Flute Quintet (1961) by Roman Ryterband at the USC Polish Music Center's Concert, this has been marked as a historical event in Polish music society. Has served a harpsichordist and organist at the USC Early Music Ensemble Baroque Sinfonia and assisted the director of the early music program at USC in 2015-17, Lee is continuing her passion for early music through work with the Los Angeles Chamber Choir presenting full-house concerts on massive large works such as J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion and Handel’s Dixit Dominus.
Lee is a pupil of Angela Cheng, Arnaldo Cohen, Jean-Louis Haguenauer, Daniel Pollack, Elisabeth Wright and Lucinda Carver, and received a strong influence from Mack McCray, John Perry, Yoheved Kaplinsky, Corey Jamason and Peter Sykes. Has previously served an associate instructor of piano at Indiana University, Lee is currently the 2nd vice-president of the MTAC Lakewood-Cerritos Branch, the chairperson of the MTAC-LC Winter Solo Festival Competition, Artistic Director of Young Muse International Competition and JAYMF Competition, and a chamber coach at the Junior Chamber Music. An active adjudicator of competitions and a dedicated educator, Dr. Lee’s students won top prizes at international competitions and appeared at prestigious venues such as Disney Concert Hall and Carnegie Hall.
Dr Lee has a B.M., Oberlin Conservatory of Music; M.M., Indiana University; Performer Diploma, Indiana University; and a D.M.A., University of Southern California.
Cesar Mejia, Music Production
Cesar Mejia is an L.A. based engineer and producer. He has worked with Grammy Award winning artists such as Herbie Hancock, Los Lobos, Brian Eno, Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas, and Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine.
When Mejia attended Cal State L.A. in 1991, he ended up in a computer music course. That inspired his first little computer studio in his parents’ home and the purchase of a 4-track recorder. After recording his own band on the 4-track, Mejia became known as the go-to guy to produce and engineer all the local punk and rock bands. Right before graduation, an engineer named Dave Hampton spoke during one of his classes. Afterwards, Mejia approached him with an offer: “If you need somebody to roll cables for you, I’ll do it.” This offer lead to his contact with Herbie Hancock.
This conversation would be the beginning of an ongoing 15-year relationship with Hampton. Upon Hampton’s departure to Prince’s Peasley Park, Herbie Hancock’s studio enlisted Mejia with more advanced technical responsibilities. In fact, Mejia had no idea that Hancock had even noticed him throughout the years, but he had, and around five years ago, Mejia came to engineer some projects. His association with Hancock has resulted in wonderful projects. In 2007 for a Herbie Hancock’s Tribute concert, Mejia had the opportunity to record Sting, Joni Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, Al Jarreau, George Duke and George Benson. Mejia was mixer and sound effects supervisor on “Cuba: The Forgotten Revolution” which won an Emmy Award in the category of Best Documentary in 2016.
Cesar Mejia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Digital Media Arts and a Master of Arts in Technology based Education for California State University, Dominguez Hills. He has taught courses on music production, mixing and mastering, audio engineering (both beginning and advanced), music synthesis and recording studio maintenance.
Michael Rushman, Trombone
Michael Rushman is a professional freelance trombonist and music educator in the Southern California region. In his career, he has performed with many local orchestras, including the Young Artists Symphony Orchestra of Los Angeles, American Youth Symphony, YMF Debut Orchestra, Symphony Irvine, Dana Point Symphony, and in world-renown venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, and the Nixon Memorial Library. He also performs with various chamber groups, including Brass Jubilee and Trombone Time Machine.
An avid supporter of arts in the community, Michael was a founding member of Trombone Time Machine, a trombone quartet dedicated to bringing engaging chamber music performances to underserved community members in Los Angeles, sponsored by the Max H. Gluck Foundation.
Throughout his career Michael has been honored to be a part of many world premieres of new compositions, including legendary cellist Fred Katz’s Journeying trilogy for chamber ensemble, Juan Colomer’s Symphonic Genesis with the Dana Point Symphony, and Joshua Rodriguez’s symphonic work Condor: de los llanos al cielo with Symphony Irvine.
Michael received his Master of Music degree in trombone performance from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, studying under Dr. Terry Cravens. Before that, he studied with David Stetson, trombonist of the Pacific Symphony, at Chapman University in Orange, CA, where he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in Trombone Performance and a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Lyubov Solovyova, Cello
Originally from Ukraine, Lyubov Solovyova is the assistant principal and substitute principal cellist in the La Mirada Symphony. She has been teaching cello for more than 15 years.
After moving to the USA in 2008 Ms. Solovyova joined the faculty of the Moscow Music Center as a cello and music theory teacher. Starting from 2018, Lyubov Solovyova is an Artist in Residence at Whittier College.
As a soloist and ensemble player, Lyubov has participated in numerous competitions and festivals such as the Baroque Music Festival in Lviv, the Contemporary Music Festival in Odessa, the Mykola Lysenko International Music Competition in Kyev, and The Art of XXI competition in Vorzel. Ms. Solovyova has also participated in several orchestras including the Chamber Orchestra of Odessa's Philharmonic and Odessa's National Symphony.
Stephanie Thomas, Horn
Stephanie Thomas grew up in the Seattle area and while there studied with Anna Cloud and Christopher Leuba. She moved to Los Angeles and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Horn Performance from the University of Southern California. While there she had the privilege of studying with Jim Decker and Vincent DeRosa. She has been a free-lance musician in Los Angeles ever since. Stephanie regularly performs with the Pacific Symphony, LA Philharmonic, LA Opera Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony and the Long Beach Municipal Band. She has performed in numerous Broadway shows at the Schubert, Ahmanson and Pantages Theatres such as: Wicked, Lion King, The Producers, and Phantom of the Opera. She also has extensive studio recording experience in TV, radio, audio recordings and motion picture soundtracks. Some most recently: Terminator, Charlie’s Angels, Lion King, Deadpool 2, Alita, and Greatest Showman.
Neil Stipp, Organ
Neil Stipp is a music teacher, concert organist, author, and award-winning composer. His music has been heard throughout the United States, Canada, and in Europe. He has served as organist at various churches in Southern California for over 40 years. He received his Doctorate in Organ Performance from UCLA, Master of Music from USC, and a Bachelor of Music from Biola University. Dr. Stipp has been the winner of the ACAPlus award, in nine different years, for his outstanding catalog of composed works. Not only is he the organist for Whittier College, but also Immanuel First Lutheran Church in West Covina, CA.
Joseph Stone, Oboe, Clarinet, and Saxophone
Joseph Stone is a full-time free-lance musician in the Los Angeles area. He is Principal Oboe of the Chamber Orchestra of the South Bay, Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra, Long Beach Municipal Band, and the Desert Symphony, and Second Oboe of the Long Beach Symphony. Recent solo appearances include performing the Mozart Oboe Concerto with the Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra (2016) and Bach Double Concerto with L.A. Phil Concertmaster Martin Chalifour and the Chamber Orchestra of the South Bay (2017).
Mr. Stone has performed with The L.A. Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, L.A. Chamber Orchestra, L.A. Opera, Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Barbara Opera, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, and was past principal oboe for Long Beach Opera and the Pageant of the Masters.
In the studios he regularly performs on oboe, English horn, flutes, clarinets, saxophones and recorders. He is heard as English horn soloist on the scores for Star Wars: Rogue One, Jurassic World and Zootopia. He has played on the latest albums for Johnny Mathis, and Barry Manilow, for TV series Coach, Dawson Creek, Star Trek:Voyager, and Once Upon a Time and movie scores The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Super 8, Inside/Out, Frozen, Bridge of Spies, Finding Dory, Star Trek:Beyond, Moana, and Coco to name but a few of the more than 60 film scores he has performed on.
Mr. Stone holds both Bachelor and Master’s degrees from University of Southern California in Oboe Performance, is an adjunct Professor of Oboe at the Cole Conservatory of Music at CSULB, and teaches oboe, clarinet, and saxophone at Whittier College.