Founder and Artistic Director Michelle Rofrano is a Sicilian-American conductor with a keen interest in the intersection of art and social activism. An avid opera conductor, she is the current Resident Music Director of City Lyric Opera, a women-led company in NYC. Upcoming projects include serving as cover conductor for Proving Up with Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Merry Wives of Windsor with The Juilliard School. Previous engagements include conducting The Queen of Spades and Trouble in Tahiti with The Glimmerglass Festival; Don Quichotte at Comacho’s Wedding with Opera Saratoga; Le Nozze di Figaro with The Crane School of Music; An Evening of Contemporary American Opera and Trouble in Tahiti with Westminster Choir College; and Così fan tutte and The Turn of the Screw with DC Public Opera. She has served as assistant conductor for productions with Juilliard Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Opera Saratoga, Florida Grand Opera, and Opera Birmingham. Rofrano is the Founder and Artistic Director of PROTESTRA, an activist orchestra that advocates for social justice through classical music. She is also a co-creator of Girls Who Conduct, an initiative that mentors young women and non-binary musicians in an effort to achieve gender parity on the conducting podium.
Co-founder of PROTESTRA and Director of Operations and Chairman of the Board Ian Vlahović is a co-founder of PROTESTRA and serves as Director of Operations and Chairman of the Board. Ian is a brass instrument repair technician by trade and, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, maintained a busy performance schedule as a freelance horn player in the NYC metropolitan area. He is a regular member of the Adelphi Orchestra (Oradell, NJ), the Richmond County Orchestra (Staten Island, NY), and the Westchester Symphonic Winds (Tarrytown, NY). Ian is a certified K-12 music educator in the State of New Jersey. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Music Education and Spanish from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. This past January, Ian returned to Rutgers, where he is now pursuing a Master of Public Policy at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. Ian is fascinated by the power of art and culture to affect broader societal change and is passionate about harnessing the power of the public and nonprofit sectors to support those efforts. He hopes to see PROTESTRA become a model of what a 21st century classical music organization can and should be. He is inspired and heartened to see—and is excited to be a part of—a growing community of people who believe that music and advocacy can be one and the same.
Executive Director Samuel Gray is a New York-based violinist, violist, administrator, producer, and music contractor. Sam currently holds concertmaster positions at Centre Symphony and PROTESTRA—an orchestra that advocates for social justice through classical music—and is a member of Parlando Chamber Orchestra, Bronx Arts Ensemble, and Rendez-Vous Orchestra. He performs regularly at venues throughout New York City, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, 54 Below, Tenri Cultural Institute, and the DiMenna Center. A fervent believer that music is healing to the soul, Sam produces intimate chamber music performances in unconventional places around New York. He is the co-producer and co-founder of Mini Masterworks, an annual series of living room concerts, in collaboration with cellist, singer, and composer Anthime Miller. Sam began his musical studies at the age of nine. He currently studies with Ming-Feng Hsin and Gary Kosloski, and his formative teachers include Patricia Cosand, Steven Moeckel, and Sarah Plum. Sam performs on two modern instruments: a 2014 Samuel Zygmuntowicz on loan from Jay and Michiko Jones and a 1972 John Sipe on loan from an anonymous sponsor.
Co-founder Flutist Natasha Loomis is an engaging and versatile performer, a dedicated music educator, and a passionate proponent of new music. Natasha is committed to seeking out overlooked works of the repertoire as well as commissioning new works, and has to date commissioned and premiered 11 new works from young composers, primarily through her work with the Meraki Chamber Players. She has performed as a solo, chamber, and orchestral artist throughout the United States and abroad, and memorable past engagements include the XXXII Festival Internacional de Flautistas in Lima, Peru, where she was a guest artist and clinician, as well as performances with the Lake Tahoe Music Festival Orchestra, The Orchestra Now (TŌN), and the Asian Cultural Symphony, among others. Additionally, she has given performances at the National Flute Association Convention, Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention, the New York Flute Club Fair, and the NJ Flute Society Fair. In addition to her work as a founding member of PROTESTRA, Natasha is currently the Director of Flute Ensembles at New Jersey Youth Symphony, Assistant Director of Con Vivo Music in Jersey City, Adjunct Music Faculty at Kent Place in Summit, and runs a successful private teaching studio.
Marketing Coordinator Erin Schwab is an experienced performer, arts administrator, and teaching artist with a special interest in the intersection of art and social activism. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Music from Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts, where she studied Vocal Performance and was the recipient of the Michael Fardink award for “Outstanding Vocalist” and the Olga Marsano Burian award for “Outstanding Achievement in Music.” She received further vocal and stage training through scholarships at Maestro Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival, The Chautauqua Institution’s Opera Conservatory, and an artist residency at The Crested Butte Music Festival. She is adept at multiple styles of singing, ranging from the Baroque to the 21st century, and has performed many operatic roles including Susanna (Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro), Venus (Blow’s Venus & Adonis) Soeur Constance (Poulenc’s Les Dialogues des Carmélites), La Princesse (Ravel’s L'enfant et les sortilèges), Zan (Blitzstein’s Regina), Ginevra (Handel’s Ariodante), Nanetta (Verdi’s Falstaff), Lucia (Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia), Noémie (Massenet’s Cendrillon) and Lucy Lockit (Britten’s The Beggar's Opera). She is a highly accomplished and sought after concert soloist and choral ringer, and has been the soprano section leader at The Community Presbyterian Church in Ringwood, NJ since 2010. In addition to her active freelance singing career, Erin currently serves as the Marketing & Communications Director for Music in the Somerset Hills, a nonprofit with the mission of creating high-quality musical experiences and fostering education, artistry, and community through music. In January 2022, she became the Chorus Manager for Downtown Voices, a semiprofessional choir in NYC made up of volunteer singers and GRAMMY®-nominated members of The Choir of Trinity Wall Street. In September 2022, she signed on as the Executive Director of Skylands Music Academy, a tuition-free after school program for students grades 1 through 8. She is also the Marketing Coordinator for PROTESTRA (protest + orchestra), a nonprofit organization with the mission of educating audiences about social justice issues through the context of classical music.
Board Treasurer Tyler Hefferon is a percussionist with a background in nonprofit financial and operations management. His work has supported the missions of a number of organizations addressing national food insecurity, healthcare accessibility, environmental conservation, affordable housing, and education. He studied at Temple University and Boston Conservatory.
Organizer Michaela Wright recently received her Master of Music in Opera Performance and Literature from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she studied privately with Jerold Siena. Her recent credits include The Fox in Janácek’s Cunning Little Vixen (The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts,) Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo Ed Euridice (The Armory Free Theatre,) Bianca in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia (The Krannert Center,) and Mrs. Segstrom in A Little Night Music (The Krannert Center.) Recently, Wright has also been seen in La Boheme (directed by Nathan Gunn and Sarah Wigley,) Take Flight (a 29 hour reading of the new musical directed by Broadway lyricist, Richard Maltby,) and in a workshop presentation of the new opera, Sensorium Ex (Composed by Paola Prestini and produced by The Beth Morrison Project.) In addition. Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Jacksonville University where she studied privately with Dr. Jay Ivey, portrayed roles such as Ginger in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Rebecca in Weird Romance, and sang the role of the Mezzo-Soprano soloist in The Mozart Requiem. She currently studies privately with Michelle DeYoung and is working on performances of several new compositions. In addition to her performance for the ARC project, Michaela has recently premiered a piece by Brooks Clarke scored for voice and spoons on NEC’s virtual composition seminar concert, a piece by composer, Caleb Wiggins, for “New Music Mosaic’s” Timbre Project, a brand-new song cycle by Jacksonville-based composer, Bob Moore, and is working with grant money through All Score Urbana to workshop and develop new compositions which will be premiered this Winter.She currently works as a social media organizer for “Protestra” and is a teaching artist and performer for “Central Florida Vocal Arts.” She will be performing as a semi-finalist In the “Music International Grand Prix” competition this January in Miami, as a soloist in the “Deus ex Musica” Festival This February in Illinois, and she is slated to perform in the Czech Republic next April with Opernfest Prague.
Organizer Olivia Coyne is a current organizer for both the Development and Social Media division in PROTESTRA! She is currently a violin Graduate Assistant at the University of Mississippi, studying violin performance under Dr. Selim Giray. She has completed her Bachelors of Music at the Crane School of Music, and has performed nationally and internationally, attending a wide variety of summer festivals including the Zodiac Music Festival, International Music of the Adriatic, and UOttawa Chamber Music Festival. In her off time, she enjoys drawing, writing, playing video games, and playing with her two Siberian huskies.
Board Secretary Priscilla Rinehart is delighted to have joined the horn section in the orchestra of Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera this fall, after spending two seasons as a member of the Sarasota Orchestra. Playing the horn has allowed her to travel across the globe and have countless opportunities to deepen her understanding of people and our different societies. In 2019, she performed for the first time with Chineke! Orchestra in London, Sphinx Symphony Orchestra in Detroit and Gateways Music Festival in Rochester, NY. These three organizations assert cultural variety in the representation of classical music through programming choices and dynamic concerts. Motivated by their efforts and the Black Lives Matter movement, Priscilla is working to better advocate for marginalized people inside and outside of performance spaces. Priscilla is a board member for PROTESTRA.
Website Coordinator An experienced orchestral, operatic, and chamber musician, cellist Jennifer Jordan (she/her) has performed coast to coast across the United States in such venues as National Sawdust in Brooklyn, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the New World Center in Miami. Outside of her role as a performer, Jennifer teaches individual and group lessons at Mosaic String Academy in Portland, OR. Jennifer completed her most recent musical studies at Indiana University with a Performer's Diploma in Solo Performance, with additional performance degrees from the Boston Conservatory (M.M.) and the University of Oregon (B.M.), where she graduated as the "Outstanding Undergraduate Performer in Strings." With a particular interest in new music, Jennifer strives to promote equity and inclusion in the arts by pursuing works less frequently performed in the classical canon. When not engaged in musical activities, she is most likely practicing yoga, snuggling with her cat Chloe, or reading the latest non-fiction page-turner.
Personnel Coordinator & HR Co-Coordinator Lucia Lostumbo is a Philadelphia based violinist who received her Bachelor of Music degree from Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in 2018. She graduated cum laude. While at Temple she studied with Davyd Booth of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Meichen Liao-Barnes of The Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra. She played for Temple’s Symphony Orchestra as well as their Opera Orchestra and numerous chamber ensembles. In 2019 Lucia was a part of the American Institute of American Studies Orchestra in Graz, Austria. Her other summer festival experience includes the Mediterranean Opera Studio Festival in Sicily, Brevard Music Center, the National Music Festival, and the Miami Music Festival. Originally from the Washington, DC area, Lucia began studying at the age of seven, and by sixteen had several private students of her own. She now maintains a busy schedule of teaching private students, as well as playing other gigs in the Philadelphia and New York areas. Lucia is also a dedicated organizer with Protestra, a non-profit orchestra based in New York City, as well as the artistic administrator for City Lyric Opera.
Organizer Jacqueline Coston is a music educator and art administrator living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She has been a music educator in Brooklyn, NY for 7 years teaching grade K-12. Jacqueline received her BS and MA in Music Education with a concentration in string performance. Her Master’s studies focused on urban multicultural education and curriculum development in Orchestral music education. Jacqueline founded Youth Orchestra of Urban Towns and Hoods in August 2019 leading group and private violin lessons through a multicultural music curriculum with focus on songs of the African Diaspora. She is now on staff at Pioneer Works as the K-12 Education Associate overseeing STEAM afterschool programs lead by Pioneer Works current and former residents with local school and community partners, leading K-12 school tours and developing STEAM workshops with Pioneer Works network of educators and artists.