May 2024

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From the Executive Director

Dear Hoff-Barthelson Community,

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We are thrilled to introduce our newest initiative: a quarterly newsletter designed to foster a stronger sense of connection and community within Hoff-Barthelson Music School.

Together, we will celebrate our shared passion for music and our dedication to nurturing the next generation of musicians. Additionally, we’ll provide valuable information and items of interest to assist our students, faculty, parents, and supporters on their musical journeys.

I am incredibly grateful for the warm welcome I have received thus far, and I look forward to working closely with each of you to uphold and build upon the rich tradition of musical excellence that defines Hoff-Barthelson.

Thank you for your continued support, and here’s to the beautiful music we will create together!

Warm regards,

Gabriella Sanna
Executive Director

Dedicated Educator and Accomplished Violinist Leaves Lasting Legacy on
Generations of Students

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Longtime Hoff-Barthelson violin instructor Peggy Klinger has recently retired after four decades with the School. Her work with Hoff-Barthelson has been a tour de force in instruction, providing generations of students with meticulous training, imbuing them with discipline, dedication, and a passion for music.

Peggy spent her early years in Durban, South Africa in a family she describes as “eccentric” who gave her freedom to explore and experiment from a young age. As a child, she explored various ethnic neighborhoods, and those experiences remain vivid in her memory.

She started studying the violin at age eight with a tutor who came to her school, over the years learning technique as well as harmony, counterpoint, theory, form, and music history. At age 17 she performed the Lalo Symphonie Espagnole with the Durban Civic Orchestra. The head of the South African Broadcasting Corporation heard her play and offered her a live radio broadcast, which turned into several more followed by the Beethoven Violin Concerto with several different orchestras. Peggy began playing extensively in South Africa, giving recitals with a fine pianist who had performed with Ysaÿe.

At age 19 she won a scholarship to study in London and became the pupil of Max Rostal, a student of the famed Hungarian violinist Carl Flesch. She remained in London for four years, living with a family, practicing every day and taking weekly three-hour lessons, one hour of which was exclusively slow bow scales. The second hour was applied technique on etudes and sonatas with an emphasis on bowing, the third hour was repertoire. While studying in London she also took on freelance jobs playing with the London Chamber Orchestra on BBC radio broadcasts, the London Mozart Players, and other music groups throughout England.

Peggy briefly returned to South Africa, playing with local orchestras there, but could not resist the bustle and opportunities of London, staying in a studio apartment in Highgate that had once been used by the painter Piet Mondrian. Her own violin studies and freelance performing continued while she began teaching in London at the London College of Music. She then met her husband, an Israeli physics professor at Imperial College. They had a son, Tamir, and when he was six months old, they moved to the United States for her husband’s work. They started on Long Island, where they had a daughter, Anna, but soon moved to Chappaqua in Westchester, where Peggy has resided for the past 50 years teaching privately and at Hoff-Barthelson. During the summer, she was invited to start the violin section of the International Institute for Young Pianists. The head of the violin department in Lima, Peru invited her to teach for a week at the Lima Conservatory of Music and she continued for five years.

Following a short stint at the Westchester Conservatory of Music, Peggy was hired to the HBMS faculty in the late 1980s by former director Mary Helton, quickly building a full studio. In total, nearly 500 violinists have thrived under her tutelage at Hoff-Barthelson. Reaping the benefits of her exacting guidance in technique and interpretation. Additionally, Peggy has had at least one concert performance every year.

At Hoff-Barthelson, Peggy said, “Students come and hear each other and become enthused about music; a sense of camaraderie can be key to building a student’s relationship with music. There are so many opportunities at Hoff-Barthelson: theory classes, orchestras, chamber groups, master classes, and access to professional accompaniment. Those are things that you can’t replicate with only home study.” Many of Peggy’s Hoff-Barthelson students have gone on to careers in music. One lovely example is Stephanie Hsu, a former concertmaster at the New York Youth Symphony, who later founded Yakima Music en Accion (Music in Action), a program in Washington State that provides completely free classical music education for under-served children. No child is turned away. Peggy’s influence on Stephanie’s life has led directly to bringing the joy of music to a disadvantaged population on the other side of the country.

In her retirement, Peggy continues to practice, playing scales and Bach. She also listens to both live and recorded music; the mezzo-soprano Janet Baker is a favorite. She encourages her students to listen to singers to learn phrasing. Janet Baker is a great example.

When not immersed in music, she enjoys frequent visits from her son and meals at her daughter’s restaurant, Al Di La Trattoria in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

World Premieres Dazzle at Hoff-Barthelson Music School’s Music of Our Times Festival

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The stage was set for an electrifying musical extravaganza as Hoff-Barthelson Music School unveiled not one, but two world premieres at the Music of Our Times Festival, which took place on May 19, 2024. Showcasing compositions by award-winning composers Ke-Chia Chen and Joseph Fong, this year’s festival proved to be a jubilant celebration of cutting-edge creativity and innovation in contemporary music.

The spotlight first shone on “Three Eastern Episodes” by the talented Ke-Chia Chen, marking a significant collaboration between Hoff-Barthelson Music School and Copland House. Specially commissioned for a student ensemble, this composition stood as a shining example of Hoff-Barthelson’s dedication to nurturing budding composers through its Wilma Machover Residency and Commission Program. Chen’s masterpiece for six cellos intricately wove traditional Asian motifs and values into a mesmerizing musical fabric, encapsulating cultural heritage with every note. From the evocative “Lucky Cat” to the enchanting “Sky Lantern” and the dynamic “Dragon Dance,” Chen beckoned audiences on a poignant journey through familiar symbols that stirred memories of youth and ancestry. The piece was brought to life by HBMS students Sarah Rivas, Yasmin Yogaratnam, Vera Kolvalskaya, Ryan Kaufman, Jad Benslimane, and Zack Gottesman, under the expert guidance of the Festival’s Artistic Director, Peter Seidenberg.

Ke-Chia Chen’s impressive portfolio and international acclaim underscored the significance of this premiere. With compositions performed by leading orchestras and ensembles worldwide, Chen’s distinctive blend of Western and Asian influences captivated audiences and enriched the musical landscape.

The second premiere, “Suite Miniature” by Joseph Fong, stood as the apex of a lifelong passion for music composition. Despite his background in architecture and business administration, Fong’s dedication to musical craftsmanship shone through in this captivating ensemble piece for flute. Selected as the winner of the Hoff-Barthelson Music School Flute Composition Competition out of 38 submissions, Fong’s composition reflected his mastery of form and melody, offering a diverse musical experience across three distinct movements.

Fong’s journey from piano studies in Hong Kong to international recognition in composition competitions spoke to the universality of music and the power of creative expression. Performed by the School’s Flute Clubs, under the direction of Co-Directors Donna Elaine and Joseph Piscitelli, “Suite Miniature” showcased the versatility and beauty of the flute instrument family under Fong’s expert guidance.

Both Elaine and Piscitelli expressed their enthusiasm for Fong’s composition, praising its ability to enrapture audiences with its lyrical charm and rhythmic intricacy. With its world premiere at the Music of Our Times Festival, “Suite Miniature” etched an indelible mark on both performers and listeners alike.

“I am thrilled to witness the culmination of the collaboration between our gifted composers and the students of Hoff-Barthelson Music School in these exhilarating world premieres,” remarked Mr. Seidenberg. “It underscores our steadfast commitment to nurturing voices in contemporary music and furnishing our students with invaluable opportunities to engage with pioneering repertoire,” he continued. “These premieres not only showcase the creativity and innovation of our composers but also inspire and empower our students to partake in the musical dialogue shaping the future.”

The audience embarked on a musical journey through the vibrant landscape of contemporary music, experiencing the magic of these world premieres firsthand.

Discover the Magic of the HBMS Summer Arts Program!

two young girls playing violin in an orchestra.

A beloved tradition at Hoff-Barthelson Music School, the HBMS Summer Arts Program, has been enriching young musicians’ lives since its inception. Led by esteemed faculty members Rie Matsumoto (piano) and Donna Elaine (flute), the Summer Arts Program (SAP) is a vibrant extension of Hoff-Barthelson’s academic year curriculum, tailored for students entering 1st through 9th grade.

“SAP is not only about learning music; it’s about fostering creativity and self-expression in a supportive environment,” says Rie Matsumoto, SAP Co-Director.

Donna Elaine, SAP Co-Director, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing, “At SAP, we aim to create a space where students can explore new musical horizons and develop lifelong friendships with fellow musicians.”

This summer, immerse yourself in a myriad of classes designed to keep the musical journey alive during the break. Whether continuing with an instrument or venturing into new musical territories, SAP offers a plethora of group classes, ensuring an enriching experience for all.

Beyond individual instrument and musicianship classes, SAP presents various ensembles, including the ever-popular Crossroads Ensemble for students entering grades 4 through 9. Unlike traditional ensembles, Crossroads empowers students to perform popular, jazz, and world music pieces arranged and composed by themselves—a true testament to their creativity and talent!

Naomi R., a long-time SAP participant enthuses about the Crossroads Ensemble: “Being part of the Crossroads Ensemble is like embarking on a musical adventure with friends. We not only get to perform awesome pieces but also explore our creativity by arranging and composing music together. It’s truly a unique and exhilarating experience!”

“At the heart of SAP lies the belief in the transformative power of performance,” expresses Co-Director Donna Elaine. “Weekly recitals offer a nurturing environment for students to showcase their talents and build confidence, supported by their peers and mentors.”

Testimonials from families like that of Penny Bowman reaffirm SAP’s invaluable impact. “My granddaughter has participated in the Summer Arts Program for the past five years,” shares Penny. “It offers a great way to continue playing your instrument over the summer, plus the opportunity to try out new instruments. In addition, the range of non-instrumental courses is quite diverse — from learning about great composers to learning how to use the software in the technology lab.”

Recognizing the importance of flexibility, SAP accommodates various schedules, with options for three-, four-, or five-week programs, both in the morning, afternoon, or full-day formats. Early drop-off and late pick-up options further ensure convenience for families.

Join us this summer at the Hoff-Barthelson Summer Arts Program—a place where musical passion thrives, friendships flourish, and creativity knows no bounds.

For more information and registration, visit the Summer Arts Program page or email

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