Encore Staff

Meet the Encore Staff


The Encore faculty is comprised of teaching artists from all across NYC, representing a range of musical instruments, genres, traditions, and professional performance experience. Several Encore faculty members teach at our local community schools in our Encore Outreach program as well. We believe in employing “positive-psychology” teaching methodologies in our private lessons and group classes, emphasizing culminating projects and performances, and drawing upon the real-word experiences that our music faculty bring to music education at every level.

Dr. Samuel Torjman Thomas

Director of Musical Arts

Dr. Samuel Torjman Thomas is the Director of Musical Arts for the Sephardic Community Center. He oversees all music programming for Encore and for Encore Outreach. In addition to his…

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Zach Birnbaum

Guitar, piano, songwriting, & early childhood

Zach has been a gigging musician since the age of 15. He received two Bachelors of Music from Rowan University in 2020, concentrating his studies in Music Composition, Jazz Guitar,…

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Jeremy Brown

Violin, strings, & ensembles

Jeremy Brown is a Brooklyn, New York based performer, recording artist and educator.  Jeremy’s original sound merges the technical mastery of a lifetime of classical study with deep knowledge of…

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Ty Citerman

Guitar, early education, & composition

Ty Citerman is a Brooklyn, NY-based guitarist, composer and bandleader who writes, performs and teaches music across the spectrum of jazz, rock and contemporary classical. He is a founding member…

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Levi Claiborne

Dance & creative movement

Levi Claiborne grew up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and started dancing in the 80’s club scene. Since then he has worked with Mariah Carey, R and B singers Joe and…

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Adam Ellis

Guitar, bass, trumpet, audio/music technology, piano, & early education

Adam grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida where he started playing trumpet in elementary school all the way up to sophomore year in college. He has performed around the United…

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Moshe Elmakias

Piano, composition, & jazz improvisation

Moshe Elmakias is an Israeli composer and pianist currently based in Boston. With a virtuosic personal style (he began studying classical piano at age 6), he is one the most…

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Avinoam Ettun

Guitar, composition, & digital music production

Avinoam Ettun is a NYC-based contemporary music performer-composer, improviser, and educator. Known for compositions for large ensembles and his string quartet, Ettun merges electric guitar with chamber music. Collaborating across…

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Nir Furman

Drumset & general music

Nir Furman is a 24-year-old Israeli drummer, composer, and educator based in NYC, influenced by jazz, funk, and fusion. Nir teaches drums and works with all age groups. Nir has…

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Itay Goldberg

Woodwinds (sax, flute, clarinet), piano, drums, & early childhood

Itay Goldberg is a multi-instrumentalist and composer based in New York. Born and raised in Israel, his love for music was triggered at an early age. He started playing classical…

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Hillai Govreen

Winds, piano, ukulele, & early education

Hillai Govreen is a multi-instrumentalist and composer based in New York. Born and raised in Israel, her love for music was triggered at an early age. She started playing classical…

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Pele Greenberg

Drumset, percussion, guitar, piano, & digital music production

Pele Greenberg has been a musician since before he was old enough to read. He plays the drums, as well as some hand percussion, piano and guitar and has been…

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Isaac Grossman

Piano, guitar, drums, & early childhood

Isaac Grossman is a pianist and composer based in New York City. From Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he started to play piano at age 7. After graduating high school, he moved…

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Noa Havakook

Voice, improvisation, piano,& early education

Noa Havakook is a Jazz singer based in New York City. Born and raised in Israel, Noa’s passion for music blossomed at an early age. After studying Jazz in the…

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Kushaiah Hooper

Drumset, percussion, & buckets

Kushaiah is a native to New York City, and began exploring his musical gifts on the drum set at the tender age of 8 years old. He attended Adlai E.…

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Alex Koi

Vocals, piano, musical theater, & songwriting

Alex is a vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist based in Brooklyn. She is a versatile performer of rock, pop, Jazz, musical theater and classical music, and holds a Jazz Voice BMA…

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Gabriel Lavin

Guitar, oud, & ensembles

Gabriel Lavin is a guitarist and oudist based in Brooklyn. He teaches everything between jazz, rock, and Middle Eastern music, and performs with various groups and ensembles throughout the New…

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Insia Malik


Insia Malik is a versatile violinist with experience in a wide array of styles and languages of artistic expression. She also earned her Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at the Graduate Center…

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Yoni Perkins

Guitar, bass, rock ensemble, & senior therapeutic music

Known best for his performance work on the guitar and bass, Yonatan has composed music for a variety of different settings and genres, ranging from radio and Youtube commercials for…

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Fitzgerald Samuel

African drums & early childhood

Fitz Sam has twenty years of experience playing and teaching African and Caribbean drums. Mr. Fitz has taught students from two years old to senior citizens. Although he’s studied many…

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Nadav Samuel

Woodwinds (sax, clarinet, flute), & improvisation

Nadav Samuel is a woodwind specialist, educator, and composer. In 2021 Nadav relocated to New York from Israel to attend the New School and study Jazz. Nadav actively leads his…

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Amanda Saul

Vocal arts, piano, musical theater

Amanda Saul is a graduate of Western Illinois University with a Master of Music in Vocal Performance. While at WIU she was a student of Assistant Professor of Voice, Dr.…

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Sagit Shir

Early childhood, vocals, piano, & drums

Sagit Shir’s professional musical path began when she was 18 years old. She was one of very few to be accepted into the official entertainment unit of the Israeli military,…

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Keith Sisterhenm

Voice, brasswinds, composition, music theory, & general music

Keith attended the Hartt School in Connecticut, focusing on classical trombone. Keith is fluent and experienced in various musical styles, including classical and musical theater. He is a composer, in…

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Joanne Vance

Vocals, guitar, songwriting, & early education

Joanne Vance, singer, guitarist and songwriter from Quito, Ecuador, studied music and Hispanic Literature at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, as well as Vocal and Guitar performance at…

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Frank Vitolo

Woodwinds (sax, clarinet, flute), music theory, & improvisation

A recipient of the Steinhart Talent Award Scholarship and the Barney Josephson Award of 2022, Frank Vitolo has a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from New York University. He teaches…

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