Program Manager | Choral Director
Amanda Haag studied at Northeastern University in Boston, MA where she majored in Music and minored in Psychology and Health Science. At Northeastern, Amanda served as Musical Director, Band Director, Producer, Private Vocal Instructor, and Private Musical Theatre Coach for several musical theatre productions and other performance groups. It was through this involvement that Amanda discovered her passion for teaching and music directing. Amanda also spent six months living in Barcelona, Spain where she taught daily music and ESL classes to young children. During her education, Amanda began a career in music production as a sound and recording engineer, recording and producing with hundreds of musicians in the Boston area. As a professional vocalist, Amanda has performed as a soloist and ensemble member in renowned venues across Europe and the United States including multiple concerts at New York City’s Carnegie Hall and The Alice Tully Hall. Amanda now resides in Macungie, PA and absolutely loves working with the team of talented teaching artists and students at El Sistema Lehigh Valley!
Operations Coordinator | Orchestra Conductor
Margaret Jackson is a native of Lancaster PA, where she has been performing as a violinist for over a decade. She is a recent graduate of Muhlenberg College, where she earned a degree in Music with a Concentration in Violin Performance. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and was the recipient of the Seena Marcus Art Award, as well as the winner of the Class of 1969 Competition for her performance of J.S. Bach’s C Major Violin Sonata. Margaret also plays viola and piano. She is passionate about teaching and loves working with young children. She also works as a teacher for SWAN4kids, a nonprofit in her hometown of Lancaster, where she is the primary strings teacher. Margaret plans to continue working both as a teacher and performer in the future, and is looking forward to her fourth year with El Sistema Lehigh Valley.
Lead Teaching Artist
Daniel Stevens is a classically trained Violinist who studied at Kutztown University. Daniel has performed with numerous orchestras across the United States. In 2007, he performed with the European Concert Tour performing in many countries across Europe for several months. Daniel also writes and performs various styles of music. This is Daniel’s sixth year with El Sistema Lehigh Valley.
Samuel Higgins studied music education and double bass at Ithaca College and is from Kingston New York. He has been playing bass for almost 15 years and also plays cello, violin, and viola. Sam loves working teaching and with children. Sam enjoys playing a variety of styles including classical and folk. When not playing bass Sam enjoys sports, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.
Born in the Philadelphia area, Zach Raphael has always had a huge passion for music. An avid cellist and singer, Zach grew up singing and touring in the Keystone State Boychoir and is a graduate of Ithaca College’s Anthropology department. While at Ithaca, Zach performed in the Sinfonietta and founded Ithaca College Strings. Currently performing in both orchestral and choral ensembles, he hopes to pass on his enthusiasm for music of all types to his students. In addition to cello and voice, Zach plays piano and trumpet. Outside of music, Zach loves going on hikes, cooking and reading.
Matt Kolodzieski is a cellist born and raised in the Delaware Water Gap, New Jersey. He is passionate about music performance, as well as music education and believes that music is a gift that should be shared with everyone.
Matt received his BM (2013) and MM (2015) in Cello Performance from Mannes School of Music. Along with his work at ESLV, Matthew is a substitute cellist with the Allentown Symphony, and is the Assistant Principal Cellist with the NEPA Philharmonic in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
When Matt isn’t performing or teaching, he loves working on the farm, playing Nintendo Switch, doodling and skateboarding!
Teaching Artist Intern
Brianna Herrera is a musician that started her career with the ESLV program back in 2011. With a focus on violin, and incredible drive, she is pursuing a bachelor's degree in music education at Kutztown University. While at Kutztown, she has been a part of their marching band (KUMU), Orchestra (KUO), NAfME, and is now a sister of their SAI (Sigma Alpha Iota) chapter. In addition to Brianna playing violin, she also plays flute and is on her way to learning all of the instruments for her degree. In 2021, Brianna was accepted as an ambassador for The Ensemble newsletter where she worked with other El Sistema inspired programs around the world, advocating for music education. As a previous ESLV student she has seen the program grow and she is excited to finally be on the teaching side of the program and give back to her community!