NCA Founder, Executive Director, and Piano Chair
Jacqueline Banks, M. Mus.
Jacqueline Banks was born in England and raised in Miami, Florida. She began taking piano lessons from her mother when she was three years old and began formal piano instruction six month later through the Suzuki method. Until Jacqueline went to college, she was under the tutelage of piano teachers primarily trained from the National Conservatory of Havana, which shaped her musical development and overall style. She studied at the University of Miami's, Frost School of Music's Preparatory Program, Keyboard For Kids, for 5 years before attending Xavier University of Louisiana on a full music scholarship. From Xavier, she earned a Bachelors of Music in Piano performance and was awarded the Sister Elise Sisson Award for excellence in Music; the highest honor awarded from the Xavier's school of music. She also studied vocal performance and music management at Georgia State University. Jacqueline is also a Certified Yamaha Music Educator from the Yamaha Music Education Institute, L.A., Calif. 2013. She earned her certification in Kodaly Methodology from New York University Steinhardt School of Education and Arts Professions. Jacqueline also has a Masters of Music in piano pedagogy from Georgia State University.
Hailed for her distinctive musicality and expressive warmth, American pianist Jacqueline Banks is quickly establishing herself as one of the country's most sought after rising stars for a variety of repertoire specializing works by African American and women composers. Mrs. Banks has a wide range of repertoire from C.P.E Bach, Domenico Scarlatti and Chevalier de Saint-George to Bela Bartok, George Walker and Tania Leon.
Mrs. Banks previous engagements have included recitals in Atlanta, Miami, Washington D.C and New York City. She has performed at such venues as the Levine School of Music, the International Keyboard Institute and Festival, New Orleans Piano Institute and Festival, and annual African American Music Festivals in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Jacqueline Banks has been teaching piano and voice for approximately fourteen years and nine years, respectively. She also teaches composition to musically gifted children. She has held faculty positions at several institutions and nonprofit organizations, and specializes in piano instruction, composition, music history, solfege and the Kodaly Approach to music education. She teaches private piano and group piano classes throughout the DMV area. She has also published a plethora of books, 7 are available on Amazon Books, on the subjects of piano, piano pedagogy, and music education for children Pk-12th grade. Mrs. Banks is also the founder and Executive Director of Music Education Today, a publishing company dedicated to the promotion of cutting edge concepts and applications of music education.
Mrs. Banks' students have placed in several piano competitions including the Rising Star Piano Concerto Competition, where her youngest student was 9 years old, performing Mozart’s Piano concerto in A Major, K. 488. One of her student’s also earned a scholarship to Harvard University for Musical Theatre.
Jacqueline Lives and works in Washington, DC with her husband and two daughters.
Dara Rahming, voice and piano
Dr. Felicia Lively, choir director and voice
Alice Chen, piano and cello
Eric Lewis, percussion
Ceylon Mitchell II, flute, kinderwinds, and woodwinds
Guy West, guitar
Robert Banks, guitar and percussion
Strings Department Chair & Violin, Viola, Cello Instruction
Lisa Darby Walker, D.M.A.
Dr. Lisa Walker is an American Violinist and International String Coach from
Chicago who is currently developing the next generation of classical musicians in Jamaica. She has a doctorate in Violin Performance and Pedagogy from Claremont Graduate University and over twenty years’ experience in violin pedagogy, including international master classes and workshops. In addition, she has performed nationally and internationally as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician in North America, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, and the Caribbean.
Dr. Walker has worked effectively with diverse student levels and cultures using various curricula including Suzuki, ABRSM, RCM, ASTACAP and standard Traditional literature. She was recently a violin professor at a prominent international school in Paris where she coached over 400 students from 73 nations - from beginners through IB Music Advanced. She has also served as chairman of the panel of judges for Florida Federation of Music and adjudicator for Florida Youth Orchestra, Florida Federation of Music, and All- city Music Festival in North Carolina.
A winner of several competitions and awards, Dr. Walker was trained in the prestigious Chicago Symphony Orchestra Civic orchestra program where she earned leadership positions and won the highly competitive concerto competition. She has performed with the Chicago Symphony and other professional orchestras throughout the United States and had several performances in the famed Carnegie Hall in New York.
Dr. Walker has a 4.0 Grade Point Average on all her undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral work and is fluent in Spanish and conversant in French. Based on her outstanding academic and professional achievements and extraordinary leadership ability, Dr. Walker was awarded a Fulbright Professorship by the American Government in 2004 to lecture as a String Music Performance Specialist at the National Autonomous University of Honduras.
Alice Chen was born in Dallas Texas, and began her piano studies at age four. In 1991, she moved to Taipei and continued her music study there. Alice is an accomplished musician who had earned several degrees, including a master’s degree in music from the Manhattan School of Music, where she was accepted into the Professional Studies Diploma program. She earned a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from the Music Department of Taipei National University of the Arts upon graduation from The Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University, which she was selected to be one of few talented young musicians.
Alice was one of the musical talents chosen by the Council for Cultural Affairs in Taiwan, during which she participated in many domestic and international competitions. She won the Second prize of The Taipei City Piano Competition for Young Artist, Music Excellence of the First in three consecutive years as well as Third Excellence in music competitions in Taiwan Province. She was the Winner of the Italian International Mauro Paolo Piano Competition and the 4th International Tchaikovsky Competition for Youth Musicians. During the competition, Alice performed in an event organized by Young People Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition on behalf of Taiwan's participation in Xiamen in 2002.
Alice has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in many music festivals, including the Summit Music Festival in New York and the Walnut Hill Music Festival in Massachusetts. In October of 2015, she gave out her first solo debut at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall which brought her performance career into a greater success. She also performed Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Major with the Boston Longwood Symphony Orchestra at the age of 14. The concert was broadcast live by WCRB radio. Alice has actively participated in concerts and recitals throughout Taiwan, Mainland China, Italy, and the United States. She appeared at Dimenna Center, The Town Hall, Queens Library in Flushing, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, Manhattan School of Music, DCR’s Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston, Taipei National Concert Hall and more. During the Past years, Alice Chen has participated in master classes with many prestigious musicians including Russell Sherman, Yablonskaya Oxana, David Deveau, Pavel Nersessian, Boris Slutsky, Hung-kuan Chen and Cheng-Zong Yin.
In addition to performing, Ms. Chen devotes herself to teaching the art of piano. Ms. Chen is the former general manager of LX Music School in Brooklyn, where she teaches piano, cello, and chamber music. Since 2004, her students have been accepted into some of the most prestigious music schools including Manhattan School of Music, New York University, LaGuardia High School, and the Mark Twain School for the Gifted & Talented in Brooklyn. Her lesson includes piano techniques, sight reading, ear & aural training and music theory. She assists students with performance pieces and stage manner for recital as well as helping students with NYSSMA, ABRSM music exams preparations. In addition to teaching piano, she also operates music programs for young musicians such as chamber music and music camps.
Bahamian-born soprano, Dara Rahming has been gracing the concert and operatic stage for almost twenty years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Xavier University of Louisiana and a Masters of Music from the University of Miami. Since completing her education Dara has performed with numerous opera companies in the United States and Abroad.
Highlights of her career begin in 2004 when she worked for the Sarasota Opera as a Studio Artist and performed the role of Medora in Verdi’s “Il Corsaro” and the title role in Puccini’s “Tosca”. Opera News described her as being “excellent” in the role of Medora. The Sun Sentinal also said “Rahming as Medora made one wish her part was larger. The young Bahamian soprano recalled Leontyne Price in looks as well as her sensual sound... Rahming was a poised presence, bringing out the melancholy yearning of her Act 1 Romanza with sensitivity.” After brilliantly performing both Tosca and Medora on the same day she was recognized by the opera company as an Outstanding Returning Studio Artist and was awarded the Daniel R. Mandelker and Marlene N. Harris Fund Grant. She later reprised the role of Tosca with Summer Opera Theatre Company in D.C.; the Washington Post commented that “Rahming sang (the aria) ‘Vissi d'arte’ with hair-raising power." Another highlight in Ms Rahming’s career was when she performed the role of the 1st Lady in Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” with Florida Grand Opera. “Rahming, a most spectacular First Lady. Her voice, beautifully placed and produced, soared over the ensemble with class and great style. Brava!”
Also in 2004, Dara began performing with the New York-Harlem Production’s tour of the Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess”, a chapter in her career which has literally taken her singing around the globe. For ten years she worked with this production company, performed leading roles in some of the greatest opera houses and theatres in the world including Bunkamura Orchestra Hall in Tokyo (Japan), Alte Oper in Frankfurt (Germany), Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf (Germany), Teatro Pèrez Galdós in Las Palmas (Spain), Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Sicily (Italy), Semperoper in Dresden (Germany), Oper Leipzig (Germany), Komische Oper Berlin (Germany) and Nationaltheater Mannheim (Germany). In 2009 while performing in Sicily one of the local papers wrote “Dara Rahming, in the role of Clara, delights the audience with the celebrated (aria) ‘Summertime’”.
Some other notable performances include her Washington National Opera debut singing, on separate nights, the roles of Lily and Serena in the company’s first ever production of “Porgy and Bess” at the Kennedy Center in 2005. Of the opening night performance, the Washington Post said “Dara Rahming brought a commanding authority to the part of Lily”. She also added the role of Bess to her repertoire in 2007 and performed it with the Oakland East Bay Symphony in California and then a full staged version later that year with Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis. Her most recent performance of the opera was as the role of Clara in the New Orleans Opera 2010 production. The Times Picayune describes her opening of the aria ‘Summertime’ as being simply “sublime”.
After witnessing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2005 Dara began a Benefit Recital Series designed to raise money for her alma mater, Xavier University located in the heart of New Orleans. For the last nine years, she has proudly served her alma mater as a member of their esteemed faculty, working with and mentoring young musicians. Since moving to New Orleans Ms. Rahming has maintained a busy performing schedule and has added several new roles to her repertoire. The title role of William Grant Still’s opera, “Minette Fontaine” with OperaCreole, Minerva in Opera Louisiane’s adaption of Monteverdi’s “Ulysses”, Sylvie in Dan Shore’s opera “Freedom Ride” and the title role of Scott Joplin’s “Treemonisha” both with Orquesta Sinfònica de Minerìa under the baton of Carlos Miguel Prieto. Dara looks forward to again working with Maestro Prieto singing excerpts from “Treemonisha” later this Summer with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra(LPO).
Felicia Imre (Colvin) Lively came to the DC area in the early 1980’s. Both a performer and teacher, she has been a music educator of General Vocal music in Montgomery County Public schools for 30 plus years. She studied voice with the late Todd Duncan (Gershwin’s original Porgy in his Opera Porgy and Bess). Her performances include classical recitals, cabaret style shows, operetta, opera and featured as a soloist with local churches and choruses. She received her Doctorate of Musical Arts in education in 2007. Dr. Lively has maintained a private studio of students for 20 years, teaching both voice and piano. She has also served as music specialist and director of Round House Summer Camp- Takoma Park location. In the public schools Dr. Lively has presented opera composed for her students, student created ballad operas, children’s musical plays and Broadway Jr. productions as well as choral programs twice a year. Additionally, Dr. Lively has led students in singing the National Anthem before local baseball games for 23 years.
The primary choir (PK -2) will be a mostly unison singing choir. The song literature will be primarily folksongs. It is intended that students will learn to sing in tune, vocal development and performance skills. The intermediate choir (3rd -5th grades) will be conducted with similar goals but using the language of origin and 2-part music.
The upper choir (middle school through high school) group will be introduced to 2 and 3 parts singing. The program of music will be varied both folk and popular music. Emphasis on personal vocal development is the primary goal.
The Adult Choir will work on short program with a wide variety of music. We will tackle some classical, folk and popular music. The conductor hopes to improve participants vocal quality as wells as provide a musical challenge. Lessons will be conducted with all voice parts present. It is expected that participants will take time between sessions to practice and learn parts already covered.
Guy West Originally from New Orleans, Guy West has been teaching and performing classical guitar for over twenty years. He has placed first in the Pine Belt Guitar Competition and symposium held at the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, and won first prize at the National Federation of Music Club's Young Artist Competition. Guy has been a guest performer on New Orleans' WWNO radio and has also appeared on WWL television's "Morning Show". In addition to giving solo recitals, Guy has also performed, recorded and toured with various classical, funk and world fusion ensembles.
After receiving his Bachelor's degree in Guitar Performance from Xavier University of Louisiana,Guy went on to obtain his Master's from San Diego State University under Celin Romero. It was during this time that he had the incredible opportunity to have a private lesson with the great Maestro, Celedonio Romero. Masterclasses Guy has participated in include Pepe Romero, Anthony Glise, Jorge Morel and Adam Holzman.
Solo Guitar, Guy's 2011 self-produced debut solo guitar recording, includes music by J. S. Bach, Brouwer and others. Also included is an original flamenco composition, "Sol en Algeciras".
In addition to his position as guitar instructor at The National Conservatory of Arts, Guy teaches and performs classical and flamenco guitar in the Philadelphia area. He also works as an accompanist for dancers in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Ceylon Narvelle Mitchell II is an active freelance performer and music educator in the Washington D.C. metro area. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Maryland School of Music in College Park under Ms. Leah Arsenault. Recent achievements include the 2015 National Music Festival Symphony Orchestra, the Loudoun Symphony Orchestra, and the 2014 Young Alaskan Artist Award where he received a monetary award and performed a debut recital in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. This summer, Mr. Mitchell was named the new Flute Choir Conductor with the Potomac Valley Youth Orchestra. He has previously served as a teaching artist with the Boston Flute Academy and director of the Boston University Flute Ensemble. Previous studies include music performance and education at Boston University and the University of Rochester. Mr. Mitchell has performed in various masterclasses and workshops for professional flutists such as Sir James Galway, Paul Edmund-Davies, Trevor Wye, and Marianne Gedigian. His previous mentors include Dr. William Montgomery, Professor Linda Toote, Dr. Sandra Nicolucci, Dr. Carmen Lemoine, Ms. Corinne McVee, and Ms. Sharon Nowak.