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ASTA Festival Approaching

Washington Township Schools to Host 32nd Annual ASTA Solo and Ensemble Festival on February 28th 

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP – The string teachers of the Washington Township School District will present their 32nd Annual American String Teachers’ Association (ASTA) Solo and Ensemble Festival for eighth grade and high school string students on Tuesday, February 28th, from 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at Washington Township High School (529 Hurffville-Cross Keys Road, Sewell). A similar festival for sixth- and seventh-grade students, hosted this year at Orchard Valley Middle School (238 Pitman-Downer Road, Sewell), is planned for Thursday, March 2nd, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Festival provides an opportunity for young musicians to perform in chamber groups and as soloists. The ensembles perform for an audience of their peers and also are critiqued by highly qualified clinicians. The festival is organized in an open, master class setting so that performers and the audience can listen to and learn from the clinician’s comments.

The schedule for the event at WTHS is as follows:
- 8:15-8:45 a.m. – Performance by the clinicians in the Investors Bank Performing Arts Center
- 9 a.m.-Noon – Chamber music performances and coaching in the IBPAC, Play House, Band room and Chorus room.
- Noon-1 p.m. – Rehearsal, coaching and performance by the ASTA Festival Orchestra (all 140-plus eighth- through 12th-grade orchestra students) in the IBPAC.

This year’s ASTA High School clinicians include:

Timothy Schwarz (Violin)
Since his solo debut with the legendary Philadelphia Orchestra at age 9, violinist Timothy Schwarz has been praised for his “energetic performances” (Rome News) and “technique beyond reproach” (Buffalo Times). Schwarz has recorded solo and chamber music CDs for Naxos, EMI, Marquis Classics, and Centaur Records. The American Record Guide praised his 2006 solo CD as “good enough to be the only recording in your collection,” and his 2013 CD featuring the Pulitzer Prize Winner Jennifer Higdon was on the “Top 10 Classical Albums in 2013” by the Philadelphia City Paper. Other awards include Best Artist in Maryland from the National Endowment from the Arts, and Gold Medal in the Artistic Ambassador Competition in Washington, D.C.

His 2016-17 season includes a European recital tour with concerts in London, Rotterdam, and Thessaloniki, and chamber music collaborations with violinist Andrés Cárdenes, violist Roberto Díaz, and cellist Andrés Díaz.

An avid educator, Schwarz is currently Assistant Professor and Head of Strings at Rowan University, and artistic director and founder of Techne Music, which includes a summer chamber music camp and concert series. Before his appointment at Rowan, Dr. Schwarz was Assistant Professor at Kutztown University, where he conducted the Kutztown University Orchestra and taught violin and viola.

For a five-year period through 2001, Schwarz served three tours as Artistic Ambassador in South America, Asia, and Africa, performing over 100 recitals in 15 countries. As part of winning the Starling Violin Competition, he studied with Dorothy DeLay at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. He later received a MM from the Peabody Conservatory and a DMA from Temple University. For more information and a performance schedule, visit

Luigi Mazzocchi (Violin)
Luigi Mazzocchi studied in the Venezuelan “El Sistema” and the Latin American Violin Academy with José F. del Castillo. He was a first violinist of the “Simón Bolívar” Symphony Orchestra and performed as soloist with the leading Venezuelan symphony orchestras. He attended international music festivals in Latin America, the U.S., Spain, France and Australia, and is a prizewinner in such competitions as the Venezuelan “Del Castillo” Latin American Competition and the 1999 FOSJA, performing in the Casals Festival. Mr. Mazzocchi studied with Liliana Ciulei and Helen Kwalwasser and has coached with D. Arben M. Pardee, Z. Bron, O. Charlier, T. Tanaka, W. de Pasquale, and L. Biava.

Currently, he is the Concertmaster of the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra, Co-Concertmaster of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, Associate Concertmaster of the Delaware Symphony and a member of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the West Jersey Chamber Orchestra, the Ocean City Pops, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops and the Gaudeamus and Cachasa ensembles.

Michal Schmidt (Cello, Piano)
Cellist and pianist Michal Schmidt has been described as “a splendid musician, energized and energizing, inspired and inspiring.” Ms. Schmidt regularly combines repertoire of the past with new works, many of which were written specifically for her.

Schmidt collaborates with many composers, including Osvaldo Golijov, Robert Maggio and Andrea Clearfield, among others. She is on the faculty at Haverford, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore colleges, and the University of Pennsylvania. In January 2017 she joined the music department at Rowan University.

Schmidt was principal cellist of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and toured with saxophone soloist Branford Marsalis. She is a member of Trio Camille, Piano4, Network for New Music and Trio Tiadam. She studied at Tel Aviv University in Israel, the Royal Academy in London, and at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. She holds a Master’s Degree from the University of the Arts and a doctorate from Temple University.

Adelya Shagidullina (Viola)
Adelya Shagidullina is a prizewinning Russian-American violist. Her numerous awards include first prize at the Togliatti International Music Competition, Eugen Coca International Music Competition, Andrey Korsakov All-Russian competition, as well as the first prize national J.S. Bach Competition. In November 2016 Shagidullina was announced as the first prize winner of American Protege International Competition and a winner of the prestigious American Prize competition.

Shagidullina has performed in such venues as Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York, and Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, among others.

Currently she is a doctoral candidate at Temple University. She studied in the international studio of Dr. Eduard Schmieder and with the violist of the American Quartet, Daniel Avshalomov.

Louis Petinelli (Bass)
Louis Petinelli is a bassist in the Tri-State Area. He began his musical journey at the age of 9 as a trumpet player. Starting in high school, he began playing the upright bass for his school's jazz ensemble, and quickly developed an affinity for the instrument. Petinelli attended George Mason University for his first year of college, and then enrolled at Rowan University, where he is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in instrumental music education. At Rowan University, he studies classical bass with Douglass Mapp and jazz piano with Dean Schneider. Petinelli also currently studies jazz bass privately with jazz great Buster Williams. In addition, he has had the privilege of studying bass with Andy Lalasis, Joseph Conyers, Glenn Dewey, Tom DiCarlo and Mike Boone, among others.

Since starting at Rowan, Petinelli has become increasingly more involved in both the Philadelphia and New Jersey music scenes. Besides being active in the jazz idiom, he also is active as a bassist in the classical and musical theatre genres. Notable places he has performed at include the 2013 Virginia Music Educators' Conference, as well as the 2013 Jazz Education Network's Conference in Dallas, Texas.

Petinelli has had the privilege of playing with talented musicians such as Jim Holton, Jim Carroll, Nelson Hill and Chris Simonini, among others. He holds a monthly gig at Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick, N.J., and is also the associate principal bassist of the Hunterdon Symphony Orchestra in Flemington, N.J. Petinelli also has been hired as a bassist by high schools, colleges, and community and regional theatres throughout the tri-state area.

- WTPS -