Musicopia Staff Bios
Catherine served as Musicopia’s and Dancing Classrooms Philly’s Grants & Corporate Development Director from 2017-2020. Prior to that, she served as Assistant Vice President in Market Research and technology management for a global credit card company. Catherine has a B.S. in Engineering with Distinction and a minor in Music from Cornell University and holds an Executive Certificate in Financial Success for NonProfits from Cornell University.
The recipient of numerous grants, residencies, and honors, Catherine is also an executive record producer and a recording artist on the prestigious roster of Steinway Artists as pianist and composer. Her 12 albums in her twenty-five-plus year recording career have been broadcast extensively and have won numerous awards, including a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor, the Independent Music Awards Winner for “Instrumental EP” and a ZMR Award for “Best Instrumental Album—Piano.”
Catherine has a deep passion for the arts, music education, and their impact on creativity, joy, and quality of life, and has helped to create community concert series and speakers’ forums. She is also an avid enthusiast of ballroom and Argentine tango dancing, taught ballroom dance to youth in West Philadelphia, and has taught hundreds of students over the course of more than twenty years as a piano teacher. Catherine has been a board member for various arts nonprofits, and currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia chapter of The Recording Academy (“The Grammys®”).
Alecia first experienced the power of Musicopia, and the welcoming dedicated faculty and staff, as a Musicopia String Orchestra parent. Meeting her children’s School District of Philadelphia general music teacher, who happens to be one of the incomparable MSO Teaching Artists, has forever shaped her family’s extracurricular focus and her professional passion. Alecia received her B.A. from Randolph-Macon College and covered the action of the U.S. Congress for eight years as a Washington, D.C. based journalist. In Philadelphia, she managed distribution for scholarly journal publisher Taylor & Francis. Alecia sees the Gift of Music Instrument Donation program as a contemporary version of the ancient river crossing puzzle. She is overjoyed to use her logistics skills, along with a dedicated team of volunteer drivers, to ensure speedy delivery of generously donated and lovingly refurbished instruments to eager young musicians.
Director of Community Engagement & Digital Marketing
Caitlyn started working with Musicopia in August 2016 after earning a M.A in Professional and Business Communication from La Salle University. Caitlyn also completed her undergraduate studies at La Salle, focusing her education on both communication and the study of music. During this time, she successfully completed an internship with 93.3 WMMR and later accepted a part-time position with their Promotions Department. Caitlyn is thrilled to be part of the Musicopia team, as the organization encompasses many of the La Sallian values that she holds true to her heart; such as concern for the poor and social justice, respect for the dignity of all persons, and belief in quality education for all students. Music has an uncanny way of bringing together people from all different walks of life, and Caitlyn is grateful for the opportunity to bring musical experiences to young people in Philadelphia.
Director of Communications & PR, MSO Manager
Talia has bachelor's degrees in music and Judaic Studies from Tufts University and a master's degree in Arts Administration from Columbia University. She has worked as marketing manager for the American Symphony Orchestra League, communication and development manager for Healthy NewsWorks, publicity associate for ICM Artists, and as a marketing consultant at various arts and nonprofit organizations. Talia is also an active musician in the Philadelphia area, having been classically trained in piano. She regularly plays in orchestras with The Philadelphia Chorus, Narberth Community Theatre, the Adath Israel Players, and others. She is also an experienced rehearsal pianist and accompanist. In her role at Musicopia, Talia is thrilled to be a part of a team that brings the joy and benefits of music to Philadelphia-area children.
Artistic Director & Conductor
Taia Harlos received her Bachelor’s of Music in Performance, Bachelor’s of Music in Education, and Master’s in Teaching from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Greg Fulkerson. Taia has taught at Germantown Friends School for 17 years and served as Chair of the Music Department for ten years. She currently directs all three orchestras in the school and has guided the growth of the World Percussion program, Jazz program, the Orchestra program, and the Middle School general music program. Outside of GFS, Taia is an avid chamber musician, freelance artist, and solo artist and clinician. She has performed with the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, the Philly POPS, Lancaster Symphony, Delaware Symphony, Philadelphia Opera Company, Haddonfield Symphony, Newtown Chamber Orchestra, and the Fairmount String Quartet. Taia performs regularly with popular music artists as well, including Natalie Cole, The Who, Josh Groban, Evanescence, and Ben Folds Five. She has performed at numerous summer festivals including the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Mt. Gretna Music Festival, and the Orvieto String Festival in Italy. Taia and her husband, fellow GFS faculty member Jeff Fetterman, have guided expedition canoe trips in the remote Canadian wilderness for 20+ years. When Taia is not canoeing, teaching, performing, or playing with her new puppy (Jäger), she can be found on the wintery slopes as an ardent snowboarder.
Kate Lombardi received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from The University of the Arts and Certificates from Bryn Mawr College’s Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute and Boston University’s Professional Fundraising program. She began working with Musicopia affiliate, Dancing Classrooms Philly (DCP), in 2008 as a Teaching Artist, when she had the honor of being trained in the Dulaine Method by Dancing Classrooms (DC) founder, Pierre Dulaine. She then took on the position of Education Liaison and later Artistic and Education Director. In 2014, Kate received certification as DC Global Network Senior Teaching Artist and in 2018, found true joy in her role as Managing Director of DCP, which through social dance is helping to mold the lives and spark an artistic flare in children throughout the Philadelphia region. In 2018, Kate began working more closely with Musicopia as the Musicopia Drumline Manager. Kate is now the Philanthropy Manager for both Musicopa and affiliate Dancing Classrooms Philly. Continuing to explore her own dance artistry, Kate performs with SHARP, Dancefusion, and Anne Marie Mulgrew & Dancers in Philadelphia, where she enjoys both reconstructing historical modern dance works and exploring new choreography by local artists.
Alex Lukens has been with Musicopia since 2018. He had the pleasure of being the Site Director, show designer, and music writer for Musicopia Drumlines' Hill-Freedman Academy percussion program. In addition to Hill-Freedman, Alex is currently the director of the Musicopia Royals, comprised of the most talented and dedicated students from the Musicopia Drumlines programs. He has been teaching and designing percussion programs for over 10 years and has over 15 years of experience as a performer. Alex's experience includes 4 years as a marching member of the Reading Buccaneers Drum and Bugle corps. He has also had the pleasure of performing and writing for the Official Philadelphia Eagles drumline for 3 years. (S'go birds!) When not teaching, Alex owns and operates LotHype.com, a website dedicated to providing services to the marching arts community. Born and raised in the area, Alex went to Spring-Ford HS in Royersford, PA and credits his former drumline instructors with major formative roles in his life to this day.
Leslie Malmed Macedo is a seasoned arts administrator with a focus on traditional and classical music and dance. She has served on the staffs of the World Music Institute (1999-2008), Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana (2008-2011), Dance Theatre Etcetera (2011-2014) and the Philadelphia Folklore Project (2014-2016). In 2001, Leslie co-founded Mamadêlê Productions, a company that arranges performances and educational programs that present the music, dance and martial arts of Bahia, Brazil. She has served on the board of Dance USA (2009-2011) and joined the board of International Ballet Exchange in 2014. Throughout her career Leslie has worked with internationally acclaimed artists from around the world, arranging performances and educational programs at major performing arts centers and educational institutions throughout the United States and Canada. She was part of the curatorial team that co-produced the Cultural Olympiad in Greece, curated artists for the Nat Geo children’s tv series Ma Mirabelle as well as educational performance series at the Juilliard School and Baruch College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Leslie received a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School where she studied Ethnomusicology and International Politics.
Gift of Music Manager, Artistic Director of Musicopia Drumlines
Marcus Myers found his love and passion for music in a small church located outside of Philadelphia. At a young age, it was apparent that music would play a significant part in his life, and from that point on he immersed himself in every musical activity available to him. During his undergrad studies at University Of The Arts, with a concentration in percussion, his classical and gospel training fused with Jazz and shaped his musical style today.
Whether playing Jazz, Americana rock, or Hip hop, his versatility and ability to speak that musical language authentically landed him touring with international music groups quickly after college. He has traveled the world performing with powerhouses such as Kirk Whalum, Reilly, Randy Brecker, Adam Blackstone, and world-renown bassist, Gerald Veasley. From playing festivals in Europe to performing in South Africa, he now sees music from a world view.
In the fall of 2011 Marcus suffered an accident that forced him to take a break from playing music and which brought about a deep reflection and maturation. Marcus’ musical redirection birthed a new outlook and purpose: due to his inability to play at the time, Marcus began to compose, which became the launching pad to forming his group. While still being a sideman for an eclectic and esteemed group of musical talents his group is three albums later, with its latest album charted fifteen on its debut. In the spring of 2020, he accepted the position of Artistic Director of the Musicopia Drumlines. He is ecstatic to share his experiences and to invest back into the community that helped shape who he is today.
Nathan Rifenburg has a robust record in music education both as a classroom teacher in Florida and Washington DC and also as a teaching artist with LA Opera (2011-2015). As a performer, he has sung in many regional choirs and has been a part of regional repertory theater and community theater, serving both as a performer and musical director. Nathan later moved into arts administration with LA Opera taking over the role of Education Manager (2015-2018) for their diverse set of programs and teaching artists throughout Los Angeles County. Nathan has a Bachelor of Music degree from Longwood University, a small liberal arts school known for its education program, in Farmville, Virginia. He is married to his husband Lucas and they have two beautiful daughters.
Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Fordham University and obtained her MBA from Wilmington University. She possesses 14+ years in the finance field and her experiences range from corporate to non-profit. Besides having a passion for finance, she also has an appreciation for music and dance, which drew her to Musicopia. As a child she attended Ballet Hispanico in NYC where she took ballet and Flamenco. She also learned to dance salsa and merengue with family. As an adult she attended Manhattan and Motion where she performed hip hop and Jazz shows. She also enjoys kayaking with friends and visiting museums and amusement parks with her daughter. Jennifer is very excited to join an organization that brings music and dance to children in the Philadelphia area.
Director of Strategic Projects
Juliette joined the Musicopia team in 2011. She held fundraising and administrative positions at The Asia Society and Manhattan Theater Club in New York and at Cornell University in Ithaca. She has worked at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the Royal National Theater in London, the New York International Festival for the Arts, and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. As a volunteer, Juliette served for many years as the Cultural Arts Chair for the PTO at Hillside Elementary School in Berwyn and as a member of DELTA (Districts Educating and Learning Through the Arts), an association of cultural arts representatives from several suburban school districts and schools outside of Philadelphia. She holds a Masters of Business Administration from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University. Having been lucky enough to be involved in the arts all her life, Juliette has seen the power they have to open and change hearts and minds; build self-confidence and self-esteem; foster cooperation, partnership, and teamwork; and nurture the soul.
Director of Strategic Projects
Denise served as Executive Director of Musicopia from 2005-2020, succeeding her mother, Welthie Fitzgerald, one of the Musicopia founders. Denise also served on the Board of Directors from 1995-2005 and was Board Chair from 1999-2005. She continues her connection with both Musicopia and partner organization Dancing Classrooms Philly as a trusted advisor. Denise is a violinist and equestrian rider. Prior to her work with Musicopia, she worked in health care administration. She holds a Master’s degree in Nursing Administration with honors from Villanova University and a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Widener University. An active volunteer, she has served on the Board of the Main Line Youth Chamber Orchestra and the Community Performing Arts Center. Denise and her long-time partner Susan have 7 children, all of whom play a string instrument. Denise’s personal interest in working for Musicopia rests on her passionate belief that every child deserves the opportunity to play an instrument. She also knows from first-hand experience how sustained engagement with music helps children build the skills they need to be successful in life.