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  Our Teachers    

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Amanda Haag

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!

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Margaret Medina

Operations Coordinator | Violin Teaching Artist

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.

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Daniel Stevens

Violin 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.

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Samuel Higgins

Low Strings Teaching Artist

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.

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Jessica Boothe

General Music Teaching Artist

Jessica Boothe is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She studied Theatre and Communications at Robert Morris University. Jessica then went on to get her MFA in Performance Creation from Moravian University and Touchstone Theatre. Though her academic life focused on Theatre, Jessica maintained her love of music. Jessica first joined choir and Orchestra in 4th grade. Through her education, Jessica was always apart of a music ensemble and performing in musical theatre or taking classes like music theory and music appreciation. Jessica is also the House Manager for Miller Symphony Hall. In recent years, she discovered her love of teaching art: theatre, visual, and music. She also enjoys working with individuals with disabilities. Her master’s thesis focused on using art to encourage social and emotional skill growth. Teaching has become a passion for Jessica, and she is so excited to be a part of the El Sistema team.

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Zachary Raphael

Low Strings Teaching Artist

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.

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Briana Gonzalez

Teaching Artist Intern

Briana Gonzalez is an instrumentalist who has played her violin for 12 years. Briana is 18 years old and attends college at Lehigh Carbon Community College. She is majoring in Business Administration and looking into Kutztown University as her next step to further her ultimate goal of being an accountant. In her past role as a student of El Sistema, she was able to bond with students and teachers easily. While in her role as Concert Mistress, the Fellowship of the Strings Ensemble received three awards for the Music In The Park's competition in 2019 including Superior, The Overall Orchestra Award, and was the only group to receive the Esprit de Corps Award for professionalism. This made for Briana’s most monumental moment at El Sistema Lehigh Valley.  Currently, she is helping the ESLV teachers in their classes and will soon  manage her own class of students. In addition to playing her violin, she played the Euphonium at Lehigh Valley Academy High School for five years. Other than playing her instrument, she finds herself spending time with her friends and family by fishing or camping.

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