Marcia Capparela is the Assistant Head and Director of Admission at Westland School in Brentwood. Her career in education began in 1976 at Wildwood School where she served as business manager, facilities manager, admission director, and assistant head. Her experience includes serving on the board of trustees at Wildwood and working with many committees, including strategic planning, governance, and finance. She attended the University of Redlands and Pacific Oaks College where she earned an MA in Human Development.
Her love of music began in childhood and she is a experienced pianist, organist, and harpist. She currently studies with harpist Marcia Dickstein. Throughout her life he has enjoyed singing in formal choral groups as well as with friends and family.
Marcia has one daughter who is a graduate of SAMOHI where she was active in the choral music program. Marcia lives in Santa Monica with her husband, Classical KUSC's radio host Rich Capparela.
is the mother of two students, Jordan and Ethan, in the SMMUSD. In addition to being a member of the Brentwood/Westwood Symphony as an amateur violinist, Janie is an active volunteer for Elemental Strings. In her former life, she was the lead financial analyst for Opto-electronics Group at UCLA and managed over $5M/year overseeing all aspects of the research projects in the Electrical Engineering Department. Currently, a consummate volunteer, she serves the community in many ways from sitting as a board member/executive officer for numerous nonprofit organizations, to assistant teaching viola and cello at Grant Elementary School where she is also the resident pianist. Her most recent community service includes raising a puppy named Hugo for Guide Dogs of America for the visually impaired. Her son Ethan plays 3 instruments (sadly, none of them strings) and her daughter Jordan is an alumnus of Elemental Strings and is currently the concertmaster of the JAMS Chamber Orchestra.
Charles grew up and attended public schools in Denver, then obtained degrees at Harvard (A.B. '65, LL.B. '68). He taught English at the Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio and legal writing at the Case-Western Reserve Law School in Cleveland, then came to Los Angeles in 1970 to take up the practice of business law, principally litigation. He was elected to fellowship in the American College of Trial Lawyers and served two years as State Chair. Appointed by then mayor James Hahn, he served a five-year term on the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission, two years of which he served as President. While his younger daughter attended Palisades Charter High School, he served on the Governing Council as a parent representative. He is presently serving a second term on the Board of Directors of the Opera League of Los Angeles and serves also as League Vice President and Parliamentarian. Charles and his wife Terri have lived in Brentwood for 45 years and volunteer in various community activities.
Tim Tortora is currently CEO of Andrews, Sumitt & Allen Management, a financial management company specializing in Outsource CFO services for the entertainment industry. Prior to founding ASA, Tim was CFO of Benji Returns Distribution a film production and distribution company that independently produced and distributed Benji Off the Leash in 900 theatres domestically generating more than $4.2MM in box office revenue. Prior to that, Tim was in charge of worldwide production for ASA Management's production services partner Milk & Honey Pictures, headquartered in Los Angeles and Prague with offices and affiliates in Mexico, Italy, Canada, South Africa, England, Spain, Russia and Italy. Recently Tim was Executive In Charge Of Production for Oprah Winfrey's film production arm - Harpo Films. As head of production, he was in charge of all aspects of production from deal execution through delivery with an emphasis on financial/logistical execution and hi-definition delivery on such films as Tuesdays With Morrie (Jack Lemmon, Hank Azaria), Amy & Isabelle (Elisabeth Shue), The Wedding (Halle Berry) & Before Women Had Wings (Ellen Barkin). Prior to running production at Harpo, Tim was a production accountant for such projects as "Home Improvement," "Ellen," "The Fan" and "Metro." Tim started his career as a recording engineer at a post-production facility producing feature and record projects.
Jeff J. Kim is the Founder and Managing Principal at Larchmont Financial Management Co., specializing in 401(k) plans and corporate benefits. Prior to finding Larchmont Financial in 2011, he spent years at a boutique firm and a Fortune 100 Company, working with AT&T, Verizon and Northrop Grumman’s employee benefit packages as well as California’s government pension programs. Before transitioning into corporate finances, he worked in the front offices at UCSB Athletics and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Jeff grew up playing the cello and was a member of the New West Youth Symphony (now dissolved) and CSUN Youth Philharmonic throughout his middle/high school years. He earned his B.A. in Music with minor in Sports Management at UC Santa Barbara and furthered his studies at American College with concentration in Financial Planning. He holds Certified Financial PlannerTM designation with the CFP Board along with securities licenses issued by FINRA. Jeff balances his professional life with music, books, animals, sports and friends/family accompanied by good food and a glass of whiskey (or two).
Kirsten Bersch has been teaching for the organization since its inception in 2004, and served as the Program Director for Elemental Strings from 2009 to 2012. Kirsten is an elementary music teacher in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, where she has been teaching since 1999. She holds a BA in Music Education from California State University, Northridge, and an MA in Music History and Literature from California State University, Fullerton.
Buzz Gravelle—composer, multi-instrumentalist, business owner, and music educator—has been involved with new music for plucked strings for over twenty years. As a recitalist he is known for creative programming and has extended the repertoire of the classical guitar and classical mandolin through his own compositions, transcriptions, and the premiering of new works written for him. Buzz was a founding member of the Modern Arts Guitar Quartet (1991-1995), an ensemble of guitarists/composers that explored the leading edges of new music for classical guitar—prepared guitar, serialism, minimalism, aleatoric, and electro-acoustic music. He has performed throughout the western United States, in addition to Canada, Mexico, Italy, Austria, and Germany. Buzz holds both M.F.A. and D.M.A. degrees in Music from UCLA. Buzz serves on the music faculty of California Polytechnic University at Pomona. Buzz, along with his wife Jessi Spike Gravelle, are the founders of the Santa Monica Academy of Music, founded in 1997. Buzz is also it’s Director and Outreach Program Coordinator.
Grace Phillips is a landscape designer and urban planner living in Santa Monica. Her children have spent a total of four seasons with Elemental Strings, and have greatly enjoyed the experience.
Brian S. Driscoll, born and raised in Ohio, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music composition from California Institute of the Arts, and Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in organ performance from UCLA. For nine years, Dr. Driscoll was the director of music at The Church of the Epiphany (Oak Park/Agoura) where he directed five choirs, including the Conejo Valley’s Oaks Camerata, and organized the Epiphany Music Guild concert series. He started teaching at Santa Monica College in 2008 and then joined the faculty fulltime in Fall 2014. In addition to teaching, he enjoys an eclectic musical life as pianist, organist, choral conductor, accompanist, concert series presenter, arranger, and composer. Dr. Driscoll serves on the boards of directors of the Association of Anglican Musicians and Red Door Vineyard.
Working as an agent in residential real estate with Gibson International - Santa Monica, Cindee loves selling, finding, and creating the perfect home for her clients all over greater Los Angeles.
A Santa Monica resident since 2001, Cindee and her two children, Chloe and Owen, began studying music at an early age and appreciate the benefits of and lifelong friendships made while performing in both large orchestras and small ensembles. Chloe continues to play the flute for fun at UC Berkeley while Owen is currently a member of the Harvard-Westlake Orchestra and participates in Junior Chamber Music ensembles through the Colburn School. Cindee practices piano most mornings, and Brody, the family's pit bull, loves to relax and fall asleep to Coldplay and Mozart.
Jeff Olsen is the Director of Special Events for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where he oversees the team that produces donor-focused events for the hospital. He came to Los Angeles from the Bay Area, earning his bachelor’s degree in music performance (percussion) and a master’s in communication management at USC.
He has spent his career working for non-profit organizations, primarily in the field of event production, beginning as the program coordinator for the Pasadena Conservatory of Music, before returning to his alma mater as USC’s Managing Director of Academic Events and Conferencing. In that role he produced the university’s largest events, ranging from a campus visits from the Dalai Lama to conferences in Seoul and London.
Ingrid Hutman joined the viola section of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1991. Her musical training began with piano lessons at age 5 and she first picked up the viola in the fourth grade at Loma Alta Elementary School. She played in many of the local youth orchestras including the Pasadena Youth Symphony, the Pasadena Young Musicians Orchestra, the American Youth Symphony, and the Young Musicians’ Foundation Debut Orchestra. Her teachers include Louis Kievman, Heiichiro Ohyama, and Robert Vernon. She studied at Pasadena City College, Cal State Northridge, Encore School for Strings, and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Ms. Hutman’s interest in training young musicians led her to join the viola faculty at the Colburn Community School of the Performing Arts in 1997.
Ms. Hutman, her husband, and their daughter have all played in public school orchestras. They live in Santa Monica.