Brookhaven Art & Music Staff

Kelly Nixon-Gelfer

Executive Director

Kelly Gelfer began her musical training at Ithaca College School of Music where she earned her B.M. in Music Education and her Master of Arts degree from Stony Brook University. Mrs. Gelfer is currently teaching at Woodland Middle School, after serving as a high school orchestra director at East Islip High School.

Orchestras under her direction have participated in several regional competitions receiving superior ratings and her students consistently participate in NYSSMA, SCMEA, All County, All State and All Eastern. She is an active member and is currently on the Executive Board for the Long Island String Festival Association (LISFA) where she has served as Elementary Chairperson, Elementary Vice President and Hospitality Chairperson. Mrs. Gelfer has performed in Master Classes for Janos Starker, David Finckel of the Emerson String Quartet, Irene Sharp, Elizabeth Simkin and Colin Carr at Stony Brook University. Mrs. Gelfer has served on the faculty at Teachers College at Columbia University as well as Ithaca College School of Music. Mrs. Gelfer is excited to be a part of Brookhaven Art and Music and looks forward to another exciting and fun musical season.

Matthew Gelfer

summer music orchestra

Matthew Gelfer grew up on Long Island's South Shore with one foot planted firmly in the classical world and the other in the world of fiddling and alternative styles. As a student at the Berklee College of Music, he was coached by some of the preeminent non-traditional string players of the profession, including Darol Anger (Turtle Island String Quartet), Jean Luc Ponty, and Mark O'Connor.

Mr. Gelfer currently teaches Junior High School strings in the Huntington School District. Previously, he taught Elementary School orchestra in the Middle Country School District where he started a 5th Grade Fiddle Club and a ukulele program.

Mr. Gelfer has been an All-County Chairperson, a NYSSMA adjudicator and guest conductor of the HMEA High School Orchestra. He is a founding member and violinist for the New Inlet Chamber Orchestra, and he can often be seen performing bluegrass and folk music as fiddler, mandolinist and guitarist for the Brooklyn based band The New Students.

Douglas Baldwin


Douglas Baldwin is a professional guitarist, instructor and writer living in Sound Beach, New York. For over twenty years he has run Coyote Music, a guitar and bass instruction studio in St. James.

His performing credits include professional theater, performing in the pit for such shows as West Side Story, Hair, Spring Awakening and, currently, Mamma Mia! at the Engeman Theater in Northport. He also performs regularly with “Who Loves You?” (a Jersey Boys tribute); numerous classic rock acts such as the Miracles, the Flamingos, the Coasters, and the Drifters; with his own group, Coyote & Co.; and as a solo artist exploring the radical worlds of ambient soundscapes and electronic dance music.

Douglas has authored several instructional books for the Hal Leonard publishing group including Play Mandolin Today! and Comprehensive Chord Theory for Guitar. He has studied with classical guitarist Glenn Lyons, studio and session ace Carmine D’Amico, jazz master John Scofield, and rock visionary Robert Fripp.

Suzanne Califano

summer music orchestra

Suzanne Califano is the instrumental string teacher and director of orchestras at The Setauket Elementary School. Mrs. Califano will be starting her tenth year of teaching in the fall at Three Village CSD. She began her teaching career in the Deer Park Union Free School District, where she taught high school orchestra and music theory.

Mrs. Califano graduated magna cum laude from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. While she was there she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and was a member of the National String Project under the direction of her violin professor, Dr. Sarah Hersh. Mrs. Califano received her Master of Arts Degree from SUNY Stony Brook. She is thrilled to be returning for her ninth summer of teaching at Summer Music!

Jason Champlin

Summer Music Orchestra

Jason Champlin is currently an elementary orchestra director in the Connetquot School District. Jason holds his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the Crane School of Music and his Master’s degree in Music Education from Boston University.

He is a past conductor of the SCMEA Division 1 West Orchestra as well as the NMEA Division 1 West Orchestra. Jason is a former district-wide select-orchestra conductor in the Connetquot School District. He is a regular NYSSMA judge, adjudicating multiple festivals every year.

Jason is one of the past Executive Vice President of Festivals for the Suffolk County Music Educators Association. Jason has also held the position of Assistant Vice President in the east division of SCMEA and has been a chairperson for the Division II East and Division III West orchestras.

Laura Cooley

Summer Music and Recorder

Laura Cooley is the choral music teacher at Setauket Elementary School. Mrs. Cooley is in her 14th year of teaching, the past seven at Three Village. She has taught general music, beginning and advanced choruses, vocal lessons, and recorder technique. In addition, Mrs. Cooley has co-directed several musical theatre productions with children in Raleigh, SC.

Mrs. Cooley received her Bachelor’s degree in music performance from University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana and her M.F.A. from Southern Illinois University. She has performed in off-Broadway productions of Gilbert & Sullivan, as well as many choral chamber productions. Mrs. Cooley is excited to be a part of the BAM Summer Music program!

Daniel Hayes

summer music band

Dan Hayes is in his thirteenth year of teaching within the Three Village Central School District. He is currently the band and theater director at WS Mount Elementary School, as well as the Assistant Director of the Ward Melville Patriot Marching Band.

Daniel earned his degree in music education and performers certificate in Oboe/English Horn performance from the Fredonia School of Music and has performed in both orchestras and pit orchestra's throughout New York State and Long Island.

James Hein

summer music band

James Hein received his undergraduate degree in Music Education from the University of Maryland and is currently working towards a Master’s in Liberal Arts from Stony Brook University.

Mr. Hein is currently the orchestra director at Arrowhead elementary school as well as the 10th grade orchestra at Ward Melville High School. Throughout his career, Mr. Hein has taught beginning band, orchestra, chorus and general music.

Sean Jordan

summer music band

Sean Jordan has performed as a freelance trumpeter for the past twelve years. He has had pleasure of playing in over fifty musical productions, various chamber groups, and local orchestras, and as a soloist for weddings and church services. Sean is also a band director in Three Village School District.

Born in Miami, FL, on August 6, 1977, Sean grew up in Somers, NY, where he actively performed in every school ensemble and area bands. In the summer of 1993 Sean toured and performed concerts in Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands with The United States Youth Ensemble.

Sean played in many school ensembles as well as some popular local bands 'The Concrete Gibsons", and "Old Janx Spirit", and performed in a few premier performances of student compositions, including the first ever Skapera! Sean has Music Education and Performance Degree from Ithaca College, and a Master’s from Stony Brook University, where he performed with the renowned Graduate Orchestra. Sean has a private trumpet studio in Port Jefferson where he teaches many students throughout the week, and runs Jordan Studios. He continues to perform as a soloist, pit orchestra musician, and with his New Orleans Jazz-Funk Band, Funkapplied.

Sharon Kitzis

summer music band

Through teaching and performance, Sharon Kitzis hopes to inspire the next generation of budding musicians. Sharon received her Bachelor’s in Music Education and a Performer’s Certificate in Flute from SUNY Fredonia. Currently, she teaches elementary band in Patchogue-Medford and middle and high school woodwind lessons in East Rockaway, New York.

Sharon also maintains a private studio of flute students of all ages, and prepares flutists for NYSSMA, All County and All State festivals.

Committed to a high standard of performance on the flute, in 2013 Sharon became a founding member and the principal flutist of the New Inlet Chamber Orchestra, whose mission is to perform quality live music for Long Island audiences for free. She also performs as principal flutist of the Band of Long Island. As part of her work towards a Master's Degree in Flute Performance at SUNY Purchase, Sharon studies with Dr. Tara Helen O’Connor, and has participated in master classes with Susan-Palma Nidel, Conor Nelson, and Julian Rose. Sharon is an active member of SCMEA, NMEA, NYSSMA, the National Flute Association, and the Long Island Flute Club.

Regina Montanye

summer music band

Regina Montanye has been a music educator for 24 years and currently teaches elementary instrumental music in the Sachem Central School District. Throughout her career she has had the opportunity to teach elementary and middle school general music, elementary chorus, elementary orchestra, and elementary through high school level bands.

She has also taken great pleasure in directing jazz bands, marching bands and musical theater productions. She is a graduate of The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s degree in Performance for French horn. She has also served on the Crane School of Music faculty, teaching the French horn techniques course to future music teachers. Ms. Montanye has, throughout her teaching career, performed with orchestras, wind symphonies, brass and woodwind quintets, pit orchestras and has shared the stage with musical talents such as Richard Stoltzman, Mark O’Connor, Tony Bennett and Neil Diamond. She is very excited to be joining the summer music staff and is looking forward to having a great time making music!

Margaret Murphy

B.Y.E. Chorus

Margaret Murphy is thrilled to join the BYE chorus for another season after a short break. Mrs. Murphy received her Bachelor’s of Music in Performance from Ithaca College and will receive her Master’s in Music Education from Boston University this fall.

She is a member of the Sachem Central School District music faculty, and proudly returns to Sachem after an extended child care leave to take over the East High School chorus program. Besides spending time with her family, Mrs. Murphy enjoys the occasional guest-conducting opportunity.

Most recently, Mrs. Murphy was pleased to work with the 2012 NMEA Division III All-County Chorus. She also serves as a mentor to beginning choral teachers, and holds a small vocal studio for student musicians preparing for musical theater, college, and NYSSMA auditions. Mrs. Murphy also enjoys singing and has performed solo recitals and chamber music with local musicians. Mrs. Murphy would like to thank the BAM organization, Deb and John Kocay, and the Bellport Community for helping to make this season such an overwhelming success!

Ashley Ockner

summer music band

Ashley Ockner is a flutist and music teacher on Long Island. She received her Bachelor of Music from The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, where she pursued a dual major in Flute Performance and Music Education. Her career in music education has included teaching elementary band, orchestra, and general music.

While at the Crane School of Music, Ashley studied flute with Professor Kenneth Andrews, and performed with the Crane Wind Ensemble and Crane Symphony Orchestra. She was also invited to perform on several occasions with Potsdam’s professional musical ensembles, such as the Northern Symphonic Winds and the Orchestra of Northern New York. She also had the opportunity to perform in a number of professional master classes, including one with flutist Michael Hasel of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to performing avidly, Ashley co-founded a flute program at a local private school in Massena, NY, where she taught flute lessons to students in elementary through high school.

On Long Island, Ashley has taught master classes at the Long Island Flute Club’s annual Flute Festival. She has performed on flute and piccolo with a number of musical ensembles, including the Atlantic Wind Symphony, the Sound Symphony Orchestra, the New Inlet Chamber Orchestra, and a new woodwind quintet. She has also been involved in the pit orchestras for some of the recent musicals at Murphy Junior High School.

Jason O’Connor

Summer Music Band

Jason O’Connor is a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, where he completed his degrees in Music Education and Saxophone Performance. During his time at Berklee, he studied with Bill Pierce, Shannon LeClaire, Dino Govoni and Jeff Harrington.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Jason completed his Master’s degree in Saxophone Performance at The Aaron Copland School in Queens College under the direction of Antonio Hart.

Since 2013, Jason has instructed a variety ensembles in the New York State Public School System that include districts such as Smithtown, Hauppauge, Oyster Bay, Amityville, South Country, and Three Village. These ensembles include Middle and High School Jazz Ensembles, Elementary and Middle School Band, High School Pep Band and Elementary Chorus. In addition to his work in the public school arena, Jason has been privately instructing students in the New York Area since 2005.

Jason currently resides in New York as both a freelance musician and teacher. He has performed in groups such as BCJAS Quintet, Slang, New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band, Out of Nowhere One More Once, U.S. Sounds Big Band, The Boston Civic Symphony Orchestra, Eclipse (Pink Floyd Tribute Band), and the Jason O’Connor Quintet. Additionally, he has performed at venues such as the Berklee Performance Center, The Paramount, Treme, Port Jazz, Cask’n Flagon, Regis College Fine Arts Center, The Shrine, Somethin' Jazz Club, and Le Frak Concert Hall.

Mark Portugal

summer music band and Instrumental Jazz

Mark Portugal is currently in his eighth year of teaching music in the Three Village School District, where he directs the band at Minnesauke Elementary School and the jazz ensemble at Gelinas Junior High School.

Mr. Portugal received a Masters Degree in Music Education from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, NY and a Bachelors Degree in Music Theory and Performance from SUNY Stony Brook.

Mr. Portugal is a professional drummer and performs regularly with Bakithi Kumalo, Bryan Carrott, Morris Goldberg, Hofstra Alumni Jazz Orchestra, Al Quinn/Glenn Heckinger Quartet, Shenole Latimer Quartet, Mike Carubia Big Band, Frank Rizzo Big Band, The Jumpers Orchestra, Gail Storm, Jack Licitra, Andrew Fortier, and Levi Barcourt. Guitar and clarinet are Mr. Portugal's secondary instruments. Mr. Portugal is thrilled to be back teaching instrumental lessons and jazz ensemble to our summer music students!

Emilio Rovalino

Administrative Assistant

Emilio Rovalino leads a versatile musical life as a performer, educator, and administrator. Emilio recently graduated from Pacific Union College, located in the beautiful Napa Valley, with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. In his life, Emilio has been a member of multiple choirs that have toured both the east and west coasts, and have received high honors and reviews.

Emilio has also been a featured soloist in many of these choirs including the PUC’s large choir, Chorale, and its chamber choir, I Cantori. Emilio, as a soloist, has given multiple recitals and participated in many competitions resulting in high honors and an invitation to join an all-state choir.

As an educator, Emilio has taught in multiple school settings around the San Francisco Bay Area and has successfully held a teaching assistantship with Pacific Union College teaching Music History, Music Appreciation, and Music Theory. Emilio has also taught band in multiple grades levels ranging from grades K-12. Emilio, most recently, has explored the ways in which music can be used as a vehicle for social change by becoming a teaching intern with the Valley Vibes Orchestra, an El Sistema program located in Sonoma, CA.

Emilio found a passion in non-profit administration when he joined the Brookhaven Art and Music team back in 2011. In his time with BAM, Emilio has helped develop a thriving internship program where high school upper classmen can develop their skills in educating and performing in their respective areas of performance. Emilio also serves the organization as a liaison for the community and parents. By supporting their passion for music, Emilio hopes that the students of BAM will continue to feel part of something greater and that they continue on a path of success. Emilio is thrilled to be joining the team again for his fifth season with Brookhaven Art and Music.