Sharyn Pirtle, founding director
Sharyn’s “aha!” moment began in a fantastic public performing arts school in her native Houston, Texas where children from all over the city and from different socioeconomic backgrounds came to share a common interest. Sharyn went on to study voice and opera at the Eastman School of Music and Yale University and spent summers on the shores of Cape Cod doing musical theater. As a performer, Sharyn performed both opera and musical theater – roles such as Ado Annie, Ilona, Cherubino and Despina. Her experience as a director started off by traveling with soprano Renée Fleming and sitting in rehearsals learning the craft at the greatest opera houses around the world. She assisted directors such as Christopher Alden, James Robinson, Francesca Zambello, Bruce Beresford and Werner Herzog, across the US, Europe and the Middle East and then began directing her own productions. In 2005, Sharyn, with the help of The Reverend Michael A. Bird, Rector of Christ Church Bronxville, childhood pal and Founder of Sing for Hope, Camille Zamora and her husband lighting designer, Shawn Kaufman, founded Young at Arts, in response to the gaps in arts education in her community. Young at Arts began with twelve drama students, and now serves over 400 children between 3 different campuses in Westchester County. At Young at Arts, Sharyn has directed both opera and musical theater including: Cinderella, Brundibar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Honk!, Guys and Dolls, The Little Sweep, The Wizard of Oz, Martin’s Lie, One False Move, Oliver! and I Wish. Young at Arts gives thousands of dollars in scholarships each year to children living in areas where over fifty percent live at or below the poverty line. Sharyn has spoken on the importance of an arts education in her community and beyond has been honored by the Mount Vernon Public Library Foundation for her dedication to the youth of Mount Vernon and the Junior League of Bronxville.
Charles duchateau, artistic & musical director
Charles is a multi-instrumentalist and composer based in the New York City area. In addition to conducting, he has played piano, cello, accordion and erhu on (or near) Broadway for the last 15 years. When “Mr. D” is not teaching, you can find him in the orchestra pit for Lincoln Center’s Tony Award winning production of “The King & I”, either conducting or playing cello in the orchestra. Other credits include Spiderman – Turn Off The Dark, with a score by Bono and the Edge of the rock and roll band, U2, South Pacific, The Color Purple, The Threepenny Opera, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma, Flower Drum Song and the national tours of Les Miserables and Miss Saigon. As a cellist he has played for Hall & Oates, Ben Folds, Earlimart, and Pierce Turner. He has appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, Live with Regis and Kelly, The Martha Stewart Show, The Conan O’Brien Show, and conducting a string section for the singer, Beck, on Saturday Night Live.
Richard F. Grasso
Richard F. Grasso is very happy to be a part of the YAA staff! Richard is a 2012 graduate of the University of Michigan with a BFA in Theatre Directing from the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. He is currently the 4th and 5th grade band director at Cottle Elementary School in Tuckahoe UFSD. Richard has directed the plays and musicals at Brewster HS in Brewster, NY and was also a marching instructor with the Brewster HS Marching band. Richard also asst. directed the Pittsburgh CLO Summer theatre season in 2012. Richard is very active in the NYC theatre scene, having recently served as the assistant director of the off-broadway musical THE MEMORY SHOW under the direction of Joe Calarco with Transport Group Theatre Co. Along with wearing the hats of teacher, director and musical director in this field, Richard is also an active pianist and vocalist, having performed at many local church services and weddings. Richard is a strong supporter of all musical and dramatic arts and is so grateful to have the opportunity to be working with the YAA students and sharing the gift of the arts with them! For more information, please visit my website:
Composer and pianist, Jonathan Faiman received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from Manhattan School of Music where he studied piano with Leon Fleisher and Yoheved Kaplinsky, and composition with Ludmila Ulehla and Nils Vigeland. Dr. Faiman is a member of the Locrian Chamber Players and an adjunct company member of The Actors Company Theatre (TACT). He has received ASCAP awards for his work as composer, arranger, and educator. His CDs are available on Amazon and CDBaby. Dr. Faiman has musically directed productions at The Bronxville School, Kol Ami, and Horace Mann and currently holds staff accompanist positions at Larchmont Temple and Concordia College. He also teaches ear-training at Hoff-Barthelson Music Conservatory and is Adjunct Professor of Music at Concordia.
Whitney Webster is a professional actor/singer/dancer and a lifelong believer in the transformative power of the arts … with good reason. As a child, she had flat feet, twisted legs, and a crooked spine. After the introduction of dance, music, and theatre into her life, she grew up to perform on Broadway and all over the world … wonky skeleton and all!
Whitney made her professional debut at the age of eleven as Young Estella in a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ GREAT EXPECTATIONS at the Pennsylvania Stage Co. She embarked on her first formal theatre-arts education at the Summer Conservatory of the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, attended the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, and later toured Europe with the Teen Choir and Orchestra of American Music Abroad.
She earned her BFA cum laude in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University, under the tutelage of Arthur Storch and Edward Greer. While at SU, she spent a semester abroad in London, where she studied acting and dialects with teachers from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), and music and dance with coaches from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).
New York City audiences have seen her as an original cast member of the Alan Menken/Lynn Ahrens Musical A CHRISTMAS CAROL (directed by Mike Ockrent and choreographed by Susan Stroman) at Madison Square Garden, in the role of Mrs. Cratchit during the 1998–2003 seasons. Other NYC credits include Stephen Sondheim’s ANYONE CAN WHISTLE with Angela Lansbury, Madeline Kahn, Scott Bakula, and Bernadette Peters at Carnegie Hall, a benefit for GMHC; and IDIOT’S DELIGHT and THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTON with TACT at the New York Historical Society. In addition, it has been her great privilege to be a pit singer for New York City Ballet for the past 21 years, whenever and wherever they perform Jerome Robbins’ WEST SIDE STORY SUITE.
She has toured North America as Kim Ravenal in SHOW BOAT, directed by Hal Prince and choreographed by Susan Stroman; as Young Jenny in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ASPECTS OF LOVE; and in MY FAIR LADY.
Whitney has already witnessed the life-altering benefits YOUNG AT ARTS has given to her sons, and she is honored to have the opportunity to pass her torch in mentoring this next generation of artists.
Dave Fabris is a dedicated professional who has been teaching music privately and at the college level for 30 years. As a guitar teacher, he places great importance on crafting an individual plan for each student so they are not only enjoying the experience of learning the guitar, but also absorbing the technical aspects of music in a fun way. Dave also enjoys teaching ensembles and rock bands, putting together kids on different instruments where they learn how to communicate, listen, and support each other, all while having a great time!
The hope is that, when a student experiences success in music, they will be able to apply the same discipline and focus to other parts of their life. The benefits of a good work habit and the self-confidence that comes from seeing the rewards of their efforts can last a lifetime.
Dave is the founder of the Fabulous School of Music in Beverly MA and has been an adjunct professor at Boston University, New England Conservatory, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Passaic County Community College. In addition to his teaching, Fabris has a very active performing career including performances at both of President Clinton’s Inaugurations, an appearance on Entertainment Tonight, and at festivals throughout the US and Europe. His guitar videos on Youtube have been widely seen by thousands of people.
Katty Rodriguez aka “Kat” is a beautiful multitalented, grammy nominated complete musician in all of its many splendor. She is an incredible singer, saxophonist, songwriter, clarinetist, flautist, producer, arranger and composer.
In 2001, Kat was awarded the international Women in Jazz award by legendary bassist Caroline Ray and Vocalist Lenora Helm. And from that she received a fellowship to study music with Saxophonist/recording artist Antonio Hart. After auditioning for several colleges Kat accepted a full Scholarship to Mannes Jazz Program at New School University in New York City, where she graduated with a BFA in Jazz Saxophone and Composition.
Since then Kat has gone on to performed with the likes of Beyonce, Erykah Badu, Eric Bennett, Anthony Hamilton, Luke James, Nikki Minaj, Louis Bauso, Patato Valdes, JJ Hairston And Youthful Praise, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Slim Thug, Jill Scott, Marsha Ambrosiuos, Keri Hilson, Keischa Cole, VV Brown, Monica, Ledisi, Kelly Price, Slim thug, George Michaels, Fantasia, Shirley Caesar, Mary Mary, Elle Varner, Mary J.Blige, Missy Elliot, Estelle and Ciara to name a few. Kat was invited by the President of the US Barack Obama and had the honor and privilege to perform for the FLOTUS Michelle Obama’s Birthday with Beyoncé at the white house. Kat has recorded with Destiny’s Child, DJ Mark Ronson, Rap Artist Mobb Deep, Beyonce, Michelle Williams, Gospel artist Kierra Sheard, Anthony Hamilton and 50 Cent’s.
In 2006 Beyonce audition for an all female band. Kat was one of 1000 girls who auditioned and got hand picked by Beyoncé herself. Since then Kat has recorded the Live DVDs; The Beyoncé Experience, the I…Am Tour, Live at Roseland, Live at Revel, Mrs Carter Tour, On The Run Tour. After being around the world a few times with the superstar Kat became one of the speakers for the BeyGood foundation Beyoncé founded. It is a Foundation that does outreach programs in communities all over the world. This opportunity made Kat realize a love for speaking. Kat decided to keep doing clinics called Inner Kat when off the road with the superstar. Kat Rodriguez put her dreams of an artist in the for front in 2013 and recorded her debut album Mockery which she co-wrote and co-produced. Currently Kat is promoting her CD Mockery which is out on Itunes and Amazon around the globe..
Annbritt duchateau, honorary faculty
Annbritt duChateau (Musical Director/Conductor/Vocal Coach) is presently the Associate Musical Director and Conductor for Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway. Annbritt was the Musical Director and Conductor for the National Tour of Mary Poppins, as well as for the National Tours of Miss Saigon and Aspects of Love (starring Sarah Brightman). She was Paul Gemignani’s Associate Musical Director and pianist for Kristina, a musical written by ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Kristina was performed and recorded at Carnegie Hall, and also performed in London’s Royal Albert Hall. Annbritt has had the privilege to work beside Stephen Sondheim on several of his productions. Annbritt’s Broadway credits include Mary Poppins, Billy Elliot, Pal Joey, Les Miserables (revival),The Frogs, Chicago, Into the Woods (Broadway starring Vanessa Williams, and Shakespeare in the Park starring Donna Murphy), Phantom of the Opera, Kiss Me, Kate (with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Marin Mazzie) and Oklahoma. She played piano with the New York Philharmonic for several concert performances of Sondheim’s Company that starred Neil Patrick Harris, Patti Lupone, Stephen Colbert and Martha Plimpton. Last September Annbritt played keyboards for the recording of the cast album of Alan Menken’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame which was released in January 2016. Most recently she was pianist for concert performances of The Secret Garden at Lincoln Center which featured over 200 singers from across the U.S., the New York City Chamber Orchestra and a starry Broadway cast. Annbritt has been active in volunteering her time for Young at Arts for the past 5 years since enrolling her sons in the program. Annbritt holds both a Masters and Bachelors degree in piano performance from DePaul University. Her piano teacher is Mary Sauer, pianist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is thrilled to be involved with a wonderful program such as Young at Arts that brings children together of every race and culture through the one language that EVERYONE speaks on the planet – MUSIC!