Northeast Pennsylvania's premier private school


Meet the Directors & Staff


Tim Early

Tim Early is BACK this summer to teach dance at Summer at Sem Creative Arts! Tim is an amazing teacher who always pushes students to their best and brightest!

Tim Early currently shares duties as co-director of the Philadelphia based modern company Opus I Contemporary as well as a principal dancer with the Brandywine Ballet. This has given Tim the opportunity to work with many choreographers including Nancy Page, Roni Koresh, Matthew Neenan, Scott Jovovich, Christopher Flemming, He has been on faculty at Mount Holyoke College, Lafayette College, Moravian College, West Chester University, and currently Temple University.

1999-2017, Tim Early has headed the dance department at the Performing Arts Institute in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Tim is trained in ballet, modern and jazz and enjoys a full time teaching schedule. In his spare time he is an avid photographer and loves riding his bike.


Jeremiah Downes

We are proud to welcome Pennsylvania native, Jeremiah Downes as our new director of the summer Creative Arts Theater Program!

Jeremiah is Assistant Professor of Theatre and Head of Voice for Musical Theatre at Western Michigan University. Prior to his transition into teaching full time, he spent almost two decades as a successful singing actor in Philadelphia and New York City, appearing in leading roles and in world premieres with some of Broadway's finest. A sought-after teacher, master class clinician and coach, he continues to maintain a studio in New York City and Philadelphia.

His clients have found success on Broadway, in film and on television, in opera houses and in recording studios.

Jeremiah is beyond excited to arrive on campus in July to begin working with our students!

Ryan Scott Oliver - Artist in Residence

Oliver was called “the future of Broadway… a major new voice in musical theatre” (Entertainment Weekly) and is “shaking up musical theater with his dark, twisted and genius work … [Oliver] could very well be musical theater’s answer to an auteur filmmaker or a gothic novelist” (Huffington Post). He is the winner of a Larson Grant, Rodgers Award, New Musicals Awards from Weston Playhouse, Pace University, and the recipient of a Lortel Award Nomination as well as numerous fellowships, residencies and ASCAP awards. He wrote the music and lyrics for Jasper in Deadland (off Broadway; the 5th Avenue Theatre), 35mm: A Musical Exhibition; Darling; Mrs. Sharp; Otherbody, a brief musical allegory, and more. He is currently at work on ¡Havana! directed by Warren Carlyle, and his “Dogs Trilogy” of original musical commissions: We Foxes, Rope and Three Points of Contact.

Nicole Van Giesen - Artist in Residence

Van Giesen is currently in the Tony winning smash "Dear Evan Hansen" on Broadway at the Music Box as a standby for the roles of Heidi and Cynthia. Before DEH,
Nicole was seen onstage as a stand by for adult Alison and Helen in the Tony winning Broadway production of "Fun Home" the Musical at Circle in the Square.

Billy Bustamante - Artist in Residence

Bustamante is a New York City based performer, director/choreographer, and photographer. He studied musical theater at Philadelphia's University of the Arts. He recently closed out "Miss Saigon" on Broadway as the understudy for the Engineer, has performed on Broadway in "The King and I" revival, the recent concert reunion of "Thoroughly Modern Millie", off Broadway at The Public Theatre, and will be in a Broadway bound musical this spring!

Spencer Hansen - Faculty

Hansen is a New York City-based actor and graduate of Texas State University. He has worked with an impressive roster of talents, including Paige Price, Larry Grossman, Adam Cates, Andrew Lippa, Laurence O’Keefe, Nell Benjamin, Michael Balderrama, The Neofututists, just to name a few. Most recently, he was seen as Schroeder, and a music director for the national tour of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”


Dr. Jonathan Harvey - Director - Vocal Performance & Symphony

Dr. Jonathan Harvey has been named the Summer Music Director for the Creative Arts Symphony Orchestra and Vocal Performance programs. Jonathan is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choirs at Fitchburg State University in Fitchburg, MA. He also serves as the Music Director of the Brattleboro Concert Choir in Brattleboro, VT.

In the role of Summer Director of Music, Jonathan will oversee all aspects of the program design and management. Working closely with guest conductors and faculty, he will coordinate the summer repertoire and daily schedules to ensure the best possible programming for the young artists.

Udi Bar-David - Artist in Residence - Symphony

Udi Bar-David, ARTolerance Founder and Artistic Director, Cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra

Udi  Bar-David is widely considered one of the most versatile cellists in the world, performing on international stages with both classical and ethnic musicians. Udi studied in Tel-Aviv, with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School, and Orchestral Conducting at Curtis Institute of Music.

Udi won the International Villa Lobos Competition in Brazil, and appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras, including the Jerusalem Symphony and Philly Pops. He was featured on the TODAY show, and was represented by Astral Artistic Services and the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity. He has served as principal cellist with many orchestras, and has been a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra since the late 1980s. 

As a chamber musician, Udi has collaborated with Christoph Eschenbach, Leon Fleisher, Jaime Laredo, Rudolph Buchbinder, Emanuel Ax and others. As Founder and Artistic Director of Intercultural Journeys, he produced numerous events world-wide. Udi has recently created Artolerance –  an important new effort to expand the crucial role music and the arts play in fostering understanding and tolerance.

Udi has toured the US, Europe, Palestine, Israel, Cuba and Asia,  with world-renowned artists, including Jie Bing Chen, Nawang Khechog, Hanna Khoury, Wu Man, Diane Monroe, R. Carlos Nakai, Mandy Patinkin, and Simon Shaheen. 

Diane Wittry - Symphony - Conductor in Residence

Internationally acclaimed conductor, Wittry, maintains a dual career as an esteemed music director and guest conductor throughout the world. She specializes in conducting American music abroad, and is known in the United States for her innovative and creative programming. Recently named as one of the "Top 30 Professional Musicians" by Musical America (Dec 2015) and the "Outstanding Alumnus of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California (2013), Wittry brings a proven track record regarding her ability to inspire musicians and to build an orchestra artistically and organizationally.

A frequent guest conductor of professional orchestras across the country, Wittry has conducted orchestras throughout Europe and Asia, including China, Poland, Canada, Bosnia, Russia, Slovakia, Japan, Italy, as well as her regularly scheduled concerts with orchestras in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Paul Hostetter - Symphony - Conductor in Residence

Hostetter holds the Ethel Foley Distinguished Chair in Orchestral Activities for the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University; Artistic Director of the Music Under the Dome series; and the conductor and artistic advisor for the acclaimed Sequitur Ensemble.

He has held appointments as the Director of Orchestral Studies at the John J. Cali School of Music at Mont Clair State University, the music director of the Colonial Symphony and High Mountain Symphony, artistic director of Winter Sun Music Festival, music director of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, Principal Conductor of the NY Concerti Sinfonietta, founder and artistic director of the Music Mondays Chamber Series in New York City, and the associate conductor for the Broadway production of Candide and assistant conductor for the Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm.

Dennis Carter II – Symphony Faculty - Flute

Carter has a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance from Wayne State University. He has toured the US with the NY Gilbert and Sullivan Players, The New Sigmund Romberg Orchestra and Carl Rosa Opera Company (UK). Currently Principal Flutist with the Dearborn Symphony, he also holds that position with the Fisher/Masonic Theater Orchestra of Detroit, Warren Symphony and Orchestra Canton. A busy freelancer, he has performed with the all of the area orchestras including Detroit Symphony, Ann Arbor Symphony and most recently the Michigan Opera Theater Orchestra.

Kemp Jernigan – Symphony Faculty - Oboe

A native of Gulf Shores, Alabama, Jernigan performs extensively in and around New York City in ensembles varying in size and style. A graduate of the Yale School of Music, Jernigan has been a guest artist at festivals such as Bridgehampton, Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society, Ocean Reef, Washington Friends of Music, Black Hills Chamber Music Society, Millbrook Music Assembly, and Musical Bridges over San Antonio. He is a frequent guest performer with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Mark Morris Dance Group Ensemble, as well as a founding member of the ensemble SoundMind.

Kristen Sienkiewicz – Symphony Faculty - French Horn

Sienkiewicz is Assistant Professor of Horn at Austin Peay State University. She is in demand as a freelance and studio horn player in Nashville and the broader region. This season she can be heard playing with orchestras from Alabama to Indiana, and as co-principal horn in Middle Tennessee’s Gateway Chamber Orchestra. Prior to moving to Tennessee she was an active chamber and orchestral horn player in Boston and throughout New England.

Lisa Raschiatore - Symphony Faculty - Clarinet

Raschiatore is a freelance musician and teacher in the Southeastern Michigan area. She currently serves as Principal Clarinetist with the Michigan Philharmonic and Bass Clarinetist with the West Michigan and Traverse Symphony Orchestras. She has appeared as a substitute musician with the Grand Rapids, Michigan Opera Theatre, Windsor, and Detroit Symphony Orchestras on clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, and basset horn. She has also toured the country with the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players as principal clarinetist, and this fall will appear in the pit of a nationally touring Broadway show at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit.

Dr. Jefferson Campbell – Symphony Faculty - Bassoon

With a focus on music that appeals to all audiences, Jefferson has commissioned and premiered over 20 new works for the bassoon in recent years. His New York City debut recital at Symphony Space in January of 2012 was titled “21st Century Bassoon: music that’s fun to play" and featured music composed since 2003. His collaborations with composers Jess Hendricks, Justin Rubin and marimbist/composer Gene Koshinski have resulted in a series of popular new pieces featuring the bassoon in a variety of settings including bassoon alone, with piano, with electronic playback and with various combinations of percussion. The recently popular funk bassoon duet “Get It!" by Koshisnki was the result of a commission from Campbell in 2007.

Tsukasa Mizuguchi-Waltich – Symphony Faculty - Piano

A native of Japan, Mizuguchi-Waltich received her Bachelor’s degree from Wilkes University and Master’s degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton. During her time in school, she studied piano with Thomas Hrynkiw, Ann Liva, and Walter Ponce. She has performed numerous solo recitals, chamber music, and piano concertos, including Mendelssohn’s piano concerto, Saint-Saëns’ second piano concerto, and Beethoven’s first and fourth piano concertos. She has worked with the Wilkes Community Conservatory, the Arcadia Chorale, the Lyric Consort, the Encore Music Camp, the Performing Arts Institute, the Catholic Choral Society, and other organizations throughout the United States.

Gene Koshinski - Percussion

Percussion artist, composer, and educator Koshinski has delighted audiences worldwide with his dynamic performances and creative programming. Koshinski serves as Professor of Percussion at the University of Minnesota Duluth and is well known for his extraordinary versatility as a solo, chamber, symphonic, jazz, pop, and world music artist. He has performed in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, Jordan, Slovenia, Canada, and throughout the United States. Most recently, Koshinski was invited to perform at the 2017 Congress of Brazilian Percussion in Campinas, Brazil.

Suzanne Wagor - Viola

An avid chamber musician, violist Wagor has collaborated with numerous artists,

including members of the Tokyo String Quartet, the Nash Ensemble of London, and the Peabody Trio. Wagor holds a B.M. from the Oberlin Conservatory, an M.M. from the Julliard School, a Performance Diploma in Orchestral Training from the Guildhall School of Music, with additional chamber music studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has twice been a finalist of the American String Teachers Association National Competition.

Christiane Appenheimer-Vaida - Cello

Appenheimer-Vaida completed her musical studies at the Hochschule fuer Musik in Frankfurt, Germany, under the tutelage of Professor Susanne Mueller-Hornbach and has undertaken additional studies with Gerhard Mantel, Siegfried Palm, Hubert Buchberger, Ulrich Voss, Menachem Pressler (Beaux Arts Trio), and Edna Golandsky. Before moving to Northeastern Pennsylvania, she taught at Justus-Liebig- University, Giessen, and headed the string department for the Buseck Music School while performing regularly both as soloist and chamber musician throughout Germany. Ms. Appenheimer-Vaida is the artistic director of an annual chamber music festival at Wyoming Seminary.

Justin Waller – Trombone

Waller is an active musician and teacher in the Greater New York City region, where he has performed and recorded with such groups as the American Brass Quintet, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the Long Island Symphonic Choral Association, and several others. Recent solo performances include a guest recital at the Summer Trombone Workshop, hosted at the Manhattan School of Music, and a performance of the Concertino for trombone and string orchestra by Lars-Erik Larsson, with the SCCC College Orchestra.


Dr. Jonathan Harvey - Director - Vocal Performance & Symphony

Dr. Jonathan Harvey has been named the Summer Music Director for the Creative Arts Symphony Orchestra and Vocal Performance programs. Jonathan is an assistant professor of music and Director of Choirs at Fitchburg State University in Fitchburg, Mass.

He also serves as the Music Director and Conductor of the South Hadley Chorale, and as Chorus Director with the Pioneer Valley Symphony.

In the role of Summer Director of Music, Jonathan will oversee all aspects of the program design and management. Working closely with guest conductors and faculty, he will coordinate the summer repertoire and daily schedules to ensure the best possible programing for the young artists of today. Jonathan will also work collaboratively with the director of Creative Arts Enrollment to market our summer programs and recruit students. harvey-dma- music-humanities/

Renaissance Men - Artist in Residence

The Boston choral scene is a vigorous one, teeming with artistic outlets for those singers passionate about ensemble performance. Therefore, it was strange to discover that so few groups existed in the area devoted to the wealth of repertoire written throughout the centuries for men’s voice.

A few trips to the bar, many email chains, and some truly horrible group name suggestions later, Renaissance Men was formed in January of 2014. From their beginnings as a sextet, the group expanded to nine in their first official season. In November of 2014, they shed, somewhat, from Boston bred early music backgrounds in favor of a program of American religious and folk music entitled RenMen Roots.

The audience may have been shocked to see erstwhile Bach specialists strumming away on banjo and upright bass, but their hooting and hollering validated RenMen’s first major attempt to push repertoire boundaries. In February 2016, The Boston Globe highlighted RenMen for their groundbreaking musical retrospective, RenMen 1965, which juxtaposed traditional choral music and rock/pop songs of the year. It also included the world premiere of Five Clippings from 1965, a multi-movement work for men’s voices using texts from Boston Globe articles published in 1965, by Charles Stacy III, then a student at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

In less than three years, Renaissance Men has paved their way into Boston’s cultural landscape with seven constructed concert series, the performance of several U.S. and world premieres by internationally-celebrated composers such as Patricia Van Ness and Daniel E. Gawthrop, and the garnering of a devoted following in their concerts, broadcasted live-streams, and social media outlets. Dedicated to the art of collaboration, RenMen has partnered with Boston City Singers, Ensemble Musica Humana, and in October of 2016 was featured in a talkback session on ensemble marketing and branding co-hosted by Boston Singers Resource and Greater Boston Choral Consortium. Renaissance Men is a proud member of Chamber Music America.

Christopher Jackson - Conductor in Residence

Dr. Jackson is the Director of Choral Activities and Head of Voice at Muhlenberg College since 2017. Professor Jackson works frequently as a guest conductor for Honor Choir Festivals on the east coast, and has led masterclasses and workshops on conducting and Baroque music at the San Juan Conservatory of Music. He has taught courses in Music History, Vocal Methods and Pedagogy, Conducting, and He is also the co-founder of professional ensemble Bricolage, which debuted with performances of David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize winning composition, The Little Match Girl Passion, in conjunction with various Collegiate and High School Art Departments and to raise funds for Women’s and Children’s shelters.

Jason Harris - Conductor in Residence

Grammy Award-winning conductor Jason Harris is the founding Artistic Director of Schola Cincinnati, and Music Director of Cincinnati Camerata. An active music educator, he has presented lectures on choral performance and repertoire, and conducting masterclasses for institutions across the nation, including the Eastman School of Music and for the Cleveland Orchestra. As a composer, his works have been performed by numerous academic and professional choruses across the country. Dr. Harris is also engaged as a professional singer in Cincinnati's Vocal Arts Ensemble under Craig Hella Johnson, and southeastern Michigan's Exigence.

Molly Allen - Soprano - Staff

Allen holds a bachelor of music and a master of music degree in vocal performance from the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at the Catholic University of America. She currently resides in the Washington D.C. area where she teaches at Harmonic Music Studios. When she is not teaching, Allen is pursuing a career in opera. She has performed the role of Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Gilda in Rigoletto, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Julie Jordan in Carousel, Miss Silverpeal in Der Schauspieldirektor, Jou Jou in The Merry Widow, Cupidon in Bel Cantanti Opera Company’s production of Orphee aux Enfers, and Nella, in the Amalfi Coast Music and Arts Festival’s production of Gianni Schicchiand.

Rebecca Henry – Mezzo - Staff

With her “beautiful mezzo timbre,” Rebecca Henry is capturing the attention of audiences throughout North America. Most recently heard as an Apprentice Artist with Ash Lawn Opera, Ms. Henry is distinguishing herself as a communicative and engaging performer. During her recent tenure with Ash Lawn Opera, Ms. Henry portrayed a playful yet otherworldly Dritter Knabe in Daniel Rigazzi’s interpretation of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Lauded for her convincing portrayals in trouser roles, Rebecca has appeared as Tirinto in Handel’s Imeneo, Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel, both with Opera McGill as and Prince Orlofsky with the Janiec Opera Company in their production of Die Fledermaus.

Patrick Cook – Tenor - Staff

Praised by the Washington Post for his “imposing and promising tenor,” Cook began the 2017-18 season with the creation of the role of Dr. Osborn in the world premiere of Musto’s Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt with On Site Opera in performances at New York’s American Museum of Natural History. Later this season, he sings the title role in excerpts of La clemenza di Tito in the operatic pastiche On Behalf of a Madman with Grand Harmonie in Boston as well as the title role of Sadko with Bel Cantanti Opera. His engagements next season include his Washington National Opera debut as Kronprinz in Puts' Silent Night.

Grant Mech – Baritone - Staff

Mech has appeared in numerous operatic productions, including Alcina (Melisso) with Cantanti Project, La Clemenza di Tito (Publio) and Le Nozze di Figaro (Bartolo) with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble, the titles role in Don Giovanni and Gianni Schicchi with Delaware Valley Opera, Turandot (Mandarin) with New Rochelle Opera, La Serva Padrona (Uberto) and The Pirates of Penzance (Police Sergeant) with Boheme Opera NJ, and La Cambiale di matrimonio (Tobias Mill) with Garden State Opera. He has appeared in concerts and recitals, singing works such as Brahms’ Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Schubert’s Schwanengesang.