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Berkshire Music School Welcomes Four New Faculty Members
03:29PM / Wednesday, February 22, 2023
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Jonathan Comisar, Ryan LaBoy, Matthew O'Steen Thomas, and Carol Yahr
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Music School (BMS) announced four new faculty members: Jonathan Comisar on piano; Ryan LaBoy on vocal instruction; Matthew Thomas on piano; and Carol Yahr on vocal instruction. 
In addition, BMS welcomes Andrew Smith, to their staff as an Administrative Associate.
Headquartered in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the Berkshire Music School is a non-profit organization that provides music education activities, community collaborations, and performance opportunities.
"We are pleased to welcome some of the best teaching musicians in our community to the BMS faculty to help fulfill the increased demand for private lessons and group classes in some of the most popular instruments," Executive Director Natalie Johnsonius Neubert said.
About the new faculty members:
Jonathan Comisar's  music background includes Eastman School of Music (pre-college), Oberlin Conservatory (piano) and a Masters in classical composition at the Manhattan School of Music. Jonathan Comisar is also a musical theater composer (Public Theater, Jerry Orbach/Snapple, Don't Tell Mama, TACT) and a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop.  
Comisar's musical theater piece "Things As They Are," about the life of American photographer Dorothea Lange, was awarded Best of the Festival Audience Favorite Prize at the NY Musical Theater Festival (2010) and was twice nominated for the Fred Ebb Foundation Award, 2009 and 2011. 
Comisar is also an ordained Cantor with a Masters in Sacred Music from the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music and served the Community Synagogue in Rye, NY with distinction from 2000-08 and has served Congregation Beth Torah in Florham Park, NJ since 2014. 
Ryan LaBoy is a singer, conductor, and educator, currently serving as Artistic Director of Berkshire Children's Chorus and as Choir Director at Bard College at Simon's Rock. He also sings with Twin Cities-based chamber ensemble, Border CrosSing, which recently released their debut album "Un Milagro de Fe" to critical acclaim. 
Additionally, Ryan serves as a Virtual Music Instructor at the Shanti Bhavan Children's Project (Tamil Nadu, India), a Program Committee Member with Broadway for Arts Education (NYC), and the 411 Youth Education & Activities Advisor with GALA Choruses-- a national organization for LGBTQ+ ensembles and directors. 
Before arriving in the Berkshires, Ryan spent three years as Director of Choirs & Voice at North Hennepin Community College where he conducted Concert Choir and Chamber Singers and led the Voice Studio, and served as Founding Music Director of ComMUSICation-- an El Sistema-inspired choral youth-development program in St. Paul, Minnesota-- leading them to performances with Grammy Award-winners like the Minnesota Orchestra and Leslie Odom, Jr. (Super Bowl LII). Ryan holds degrees in Choral Conducting and Music Education from the University of Minnesota and Westminster Choir College, respectively. 
Matthew O'Steen Thomas is a pianist, organist, music director, conductor, composer, and music educator. He is the Minister of Music at St. John's Williamstown, the Artistic Director of the Berkshire Concert Choir, the Dean of the Berkshire Chapter of the AGO (American Guild of organists), and an active music educator. 
Thomas holds a double concentration Masters in Organ Performance and Music Composition (Hunter) where he studied organ with W. Michael Brittenback (Indiana University) and composition with Shafer Mahoney (The Juilliard School), an undergraduate degree in Piano Performance (Belmont University) studying with Dr. Robert Marler (Principal Keyboardist for the Nashville Symphony), an Artist Diploma from The Russian Academy of Music (piano performance and Russian language), studying with Sergei Senkov (Moscow Conservatory) and an artist diploma in Musical Theatre Performance from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA). 
As a Musical Theatre Music Director, Mr. Thomas served as the Collaborative Pianist and Music Director for Broadway sings for E.A.T.,  and has served as a vocal coach, and rehearsal and audition accompanist for many performers and productions, was the Music Director for the MainStage production of Sweet Charity at MCLA, Spamalot and Drowsy Chaperone at B.A.R.T., and Mary Poppins at WES. This summer Thomas performed with the Stockbridge Sinfonia, and, as a collaborative pianist, he has worked with singers and instrumentalists at MCLA and Williams College, and throughout the Berkshires. Thomas's most recent compositions, String Quartet: Hymnos Meditation and Transcendence for solo violin, and Suite Midiévale, for solo guitar were premiered at Hunter in New York City during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons.
Carol Yahr had an international opera career singing the dramatic soprano repertoire, such as Leonore in Fidelio by Beethoven (Met debut) and all the German heroines, including Isolde in opera houses such as Australian Opera, Scottish Opera, Copenhagen, Prague and Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center. She has also sung Brünnhilde (Staatsoper Berlin, Oslo Opera) in Wagner's Ring Cycle. For the past 20 years Carol has had an active voice studio in New York City and was the director of the New York Summer Opera Scenes Training Program for aspiring opera singers.
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