Natella Askerova, Piano
Natella Askerova was born and raised in Baku, Azerbaijan. At the age of seven, she began her musical education at a specialized school of music. After graduating from the school, she continued her study of music at the Baku College of Music, where she received a degree in piano pedagogy and collaboration. In 1971, Nat went on to study at the Azerbaijan State Conservatory, where she completed her post-graduate degree in piano performance, pedagogy, and collaboration. While studying at the conservatory, she began performing as a soloist with the Azerbaijan State Symphony and chamber orchestras. During the last 19 years, she has been performing as a soloist, directing dozens of musicals in Ashtabula, Lake, and Geauga counties, and providing accompaniment for a number of singing groups, including the Madison Chorale, Ashtabula County Choral Society singers, and various school choirs and giving private lessons for students from age 4 to seniors. She is currently serving as the director of music at the First Congregational Church in Ashtabula. Nat frequently provides accompaniment for professional guest instrumentalists and guest vocalists, plays for area high school students at the solo and ensemble events, and plays the piano for various special events and services. She also loves sharing her knowledge of her native language—Russian—and giving individual or group lessons.
Dave Black, Percussion
Dave has been performing since he was twelve years old. He was a student in the Willoughby-Eastlake School District and performed in the school music program from elementary school through high school. He studied music education at Ohio University in Athens, then joined the Navy and played in Navy Bands in San Diego and San Francisco. He has been performing and teaching actively in Northeast Ohio for eight years.
Randy Coutts, Guitar
Randy has been teaching guitar to students in Ashtabula and Cleveland for the past 15 years. He acquired his certification after completing four years of Alfred’s Basic Guitar Methods, and took instruction from Tony Butch, Don Banzer, Ed Ollikainen, and Glen Swartz of the well-known 70s band Union Pacific Gas & Electric/The James Gang. Randy has also made a living as a professional singer and guitarist in Northeast Ohio since 1974. He has played in several area rock bands, including the Ernest T. Band. www.ernesttband.com
James Fuller, Brass
A native of Ashtabula, Jim attended Kent State University’s Hugh Glauser School of Music and Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music. Jim studied voice locally with Jim Onion, trumpet with local musicians Oliver Kaura and Ward Hamm, and French horn with William Slocum, assistant principal of the Cleveland Orchestra. Jim has been playing in local bands since the 6th grade, including “Soul Expression,” “Ovations,” “Time Bandits,” and “Northeasterly Winds.” He was the principle hornist for the Ashtabula Area Orchestra and is currently a member of the very popular “King Pins,” which specialize in tunes from the 50’s and 60’s, and is one of the original and still active members of the “Blues Project,” a well-known local blues band. Jim is the brass coach for Ashtabula’s Braden Junior High and for Lakeside High School Marching Band. In addition, he teaches steel drum, piano, and band for After School Discovery. He spends his Sunday mornings playing music for several local churches.
His students at the arts center routinely rise to the top of their section, and many of them have participated in the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony, with several receiving college scholarships.
Kimberly Godfrey, Voice
Kimberly Godfrey received her Bachelor of Music in musical theater from the nationally-renowned musical theater program at Baldwin-Wallace University’s Conservatory of Music. Kimberly studied musical theater under director Victoria Bussert and studied voice under Joan Ellison. She has been musically directing children’s choirs, orchestras, and musicals along with choreographing musicals and award-winning show choirs since the age of seventeen. Since 2008 Kimberly has served as an adjudicator for high school choirs and show choirs across northeastern Ohio. She has performed as an actress and soloist in musicals and concerts from Southern Ohio to New York City. She is the current director of theater and music at the Ashtabula Arts Center and directs its Arts Center Singers, Starlight Singers, and The Showoffs. Kimberly’s recent students that she has mentored are being accepted into the top musical theater schools in the country, such as Boston Conservatory of Music, Syracuse University, and Baldwin-Wallace University.
Carol Linsenmeier, Strings
A life-long love of playing string instruments has led Carol to share the joy of making music with her students for 40 years. Carol has earned a Bachelor of Music Education from The College of Wooster, a Master of Music Education from The University of Georgia, and a Ph.D. in special education research from Kent State University and received her Suzuki teacher training from Ithaca College Suzuki Institute. During her career, Carol has performed as a member of many community orchestras, chamber ensembles, pit orchestras, and a traditional bluegrass band. She is an accomplished American and Celtic fiddler. Carol has been listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, and Who’s Who in American Women.
John Linsenmeier, Strings
Forced retirement in late 2012 gave John the opportunity to use his talents in teaching violin. John has been playing violin since 4th grade. At the University of Michigan, John played in The Gilbert and Sullivan Society Orchestra. He has also played in the University of Georgia Theater productions of three musicals and in the Athens (CA) Civic Symphony. Closer to home, John has played in the Shaker Symphony, the Suburban Symphony, and Lakeland Civic Orchestra, and for musicals at the school of Fine Arts in Willoughby. John organizes a music day at his church every October directing musicians from around the U.S. and Canada. He also plays along on all the hymns during the worship services and leads children’s singing at the end of Sunday School.
Lyn Rocco, Piano
Lyn holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Indiana University School of Music, Bloomington, Indiana, where she holds degrees in keyboard, pipe organ, and choral conducting. She has been a piano and organ instructor for 35 years along with being the organist and choir director for Ashtabula’s First Presbyterian Church since 1972. She is a member of the American Guild of Organists – Cleveland Chapter. Lyn is the former accompanist for the Ashtabula County “Messiah” Chorus, Men of Praise, and keyboardist of Ashtabula Area Orchestra.
Caitlin Rose, Voice
Caitlin Rose grew up in Madison in a musical family, playing in band and singing in show choir. From the age of 8, she was bit by the performing bug. She has since performed at venues across Northeast Ohio, including Canton Players Guild, The Akron Symphony Orchestra, and area favorites like the Ashtabula Arts Center, Beck Center for the Arts, and Rabbit Run Theatre. She studied voice through the Rabbit Run Community Arts Association along with Bob Godfrey before taking off to Kent State University to work on her degree in musical theatre. Caitlin studied voice under one of the great tenor soloists of the Ohio area, Timothy Culver, and Dr. Jay White, member of the two-time Grammy Award-winning Chanticleer ensemble, and soloist and ensemble performer of international venues. Caitlin graduated in 2013, moved to Biloxi, Mississippi, where she performed with the professional theatre group Broadway Southern Reparatory. Her passions in the arts include teaching voice, musical theater, music directing, and coaching audition techniques.
Geoffrey Wands, Woodwinds
Geoffrey Wands is principal clarinet with the Erie Chamber Orchestra. He is a professional classical, jazz, and rock musician, performing on clarinet and saxophone, and has a large private teaching studio. Geoff teaches clarinet and saxophone at the Conservatory of Music – Mercyhurst University and at the Ashtabula Arts Center. His clarinet and saxophone students are seen in honors, district, regional, and state bands, as well as jazz bands, youth orchestras, Ohio solo and ensemble contests, in the Cleveland Wind Symphony I and II, and have been concerto competition winners. He substitutes regularly on clarinet, E-flat and bass clarinet, and on soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone with the Erie Philharmonic and the Youngstown Symphony. He also plays sax in an R&B, soul, and funk band called The Groove. Geoff earned a BA in music from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and a Master of Music degree in clarinet performance from Illinois State University in Normal, where he was a graduate assistant teaching music theory.