NJSYO Musical Director
Symphonic Youth Orchestra, Conductor
Acclaimed as “one of New Jersey’s favorite musicians,” Dr. Dorothy Sobieski was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. She began her music education at the age of 7 studying the violin and later the viola at the Karol Szymanowski School of Music in Warsaw, Poland. She went on to receive her Masters of Music degree with Honors in viola performance at the Fryderyk Chopin Music University, the largest and oldest music institution in Poland. Dr. Sobieski earned a second Masters of Music degree, also with Honors from Louisiana State University and a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Rutgers the State University of New Jersey.
Dr. Sobieski is a recipient of many distinguished awards and scholarships, including Best Soloist at the International Music Festival Bydgoszcz Music Impressions, International Primus Inter Pares Award, and President of the City of Warsaw Scholarship, Polish Ministry of Culture Scholarship, Graham-Stahl Prize, the Ranney School Faculty Panther Prize in 2012, and the Ranney Head of School Faculty Fellowship Award in 2018. She has performed as a chamber musician, soloist and conductor in her native Poland as well as France, Italy, Belgium, Germany and the United States. Her chamber music collaborations include appearances with Christopher Collins Lee, Vladislav Kovalsky, Yi-Wen Jiang, Mark Lubotsky, Grigory Kalinovsky, Dennis Parker, Maciej Paderewski, Chiang Tu, Elmira Darvarova and Sam Magill. Dr. Sobieski premiered a number of works written and dedicated to her by contemporary composers, Gerald Chenoweth, Timothy Broege and Gerald Chiusano. She has also been the principal violist in numerous orchestras in Poland and the USA, performing under the baton of Witold Lutoslawski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Carl St. Clair and Yehudi Menuhin.Among her principal teachers and mentors were Michael Tree, Arnold Steinhardt, Zara Nelsova, Jerzy Kosmala, Wolfram Christ, Paul Coletti, Yfrah Neeman, Yehudi Menuhin and Artur Paciorkiewicz.
Dr. Sobieski was the founding conductor and artistic director of the Kean University Preparatory Symphony Orchestra, and a former faculty member at Georgian Court University, where she taught ear training, music theory, music history, world music and string pedagogy. As Chair of the Performing Arts Department at Ranney School, Dr. Sobieski has brought her many years of musical and higher educational experience to continue the development and growth of Ranney’s esteemed multi-divisional Performing Arts program.
Her other awards and accomplishments include: member the Ranney Chapter of the Cum Laude Society, conductor of the Central Jersey Intermediate Orchestra, conductor of the Central Jersey Elementary Honors Orchestra, founder, artistic director and conductor of GCU String Orchestra, juror at Monmouth Symphony Concerto Competition, viola and violin teacher, as well as chamber music clinician for New Jersey State Youth Orchestra and Garden State Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Dr. Sobieski is a member of American String Teachers Association, National Association for Music Educators and the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools. Dorothy Sobieski performs on a 1995 Hiroshi Iizuka viola and resides with her husband and three daughters in Wayside, New Jersey.
NJSYO Intermediate String Orchestra, On Leave
Mrs. Chelsey Dokus earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education with a Specialization in Instrumental Music, from The College of New Jersey. She began her teaching career in 2012 in the Lumberton School District where she taught 4th-6th grade strings for three years and helped to develop a strings program in the elementary schools.
Mrs. Dokus teaches 6th-8th grade strings at Marlboro Middle School and Marlboro Memorial Middle School since starting in 2015. She grew up in Fair Haven and now resides in Red Bank. Mrs. Dokus manages her quartet, Four Shore Strings, is vice president of All Shore Orchestra, and founder of The Marlboro Phoenix Orchestra. She is currently principal cellist of The Monmouth Symphony, and is a proud alumna of the NJSYO.
NJSYO Intermediate String Orchestra, Interim Conductor
Interim ISO Conductor, Erika Sayar, is an accomplished musician, teacher, and professional violin maker and restorer. Among her more notable achievements as a solo pianist, Erika competed and earned her place in winners’ recitals in both Carnegie Hall in NY and the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. She was also selected to perform for Steinway’s 150th Anniversary celebration and UNICEF’s peace piano concert series. Erika received her Bachelor of Music degree from The College of New Jersey in piano and cello and is an active performer on both instruments. She is currently a cellist with the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra.
As a luthier, Erika began her training with her father at the age of 14. After completing her education at TCNJ, she opened her own shop, The Violin Doctor, in 2005. Erika then went on to be accepted to the prestigious 3 year Violin Making & Repair program at the North Bennet Street School in Boston, MA from which she graduated with honors. She has built many instruments and completed many high-end restoration projects for clients throughout New Jersey and the surrounding areas.
Erika has also been running a busy private lesson studio teaching strings and piano for many years and also serves as the adjunct orchestra director for the Wall Township schools, grades 4-8. Additionally, Erika serves as the Director of Music at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Middletown, NJ where she plays piano, organ, directs the choir, and coordinates music events. Her professional affiliations include the Violin Society of America, American Guild of Organists, American String Teachers Association and others.
NJSYO Preparatory String Orchestra, Conductor
Ms. Jennifer Brush earned a Bachelor of Music from Rutgers University and a Masters of Music from Northwestern University.
Ms. Brush has been teaching in the Little Silver School District since 2009. She teaches 4th grade instrumental music, 5th-8th grade orchestra, general music courses, choir, and is the musical director for the spring musical. She also enjoys coaching the cross-country and track teams. Ms. Brush plays the clarinet and piano professionally throughout the Monmouth County area. She can be seen performing with the Asbury Park and Belmar Municipal Bands. Ms. Brush has performed in various locations including Carnegie Hall, NJPAC, Algonquin Arts Theater, and Count Basie Theater. Ms. Brush is a member of the Cecilian Music Club, secretary of All Shore Orchestra, and is a proud alumna of the NJSYO.
Ms. Brush maintains a private studio of students in the Red Bank area. Her students have earned spots in All Shore Band, All Shore Orchestra, CJMEA Region Band, and the NJSYO. Ms. Brush enjoys living near the beach, hiking with her dog Coda, running, and traveling around the world!
NJSYO Chamber Ensemble, Conductor
Dan is an accomplished musician and educator with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education, specializing in violin performance. He also holds a Master of Music in Music Education, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership, and a Master of Education in Instructional Design. His career began in the South Brunswick School District as an orchestra director, where he taught for eight years and received the Governor’s Educator of the Year award in 2013. Concurrently, he was chosen by the New Jersey Symphony to lead a pilot El Sistema program for inner-city youth in Newark. This initiative endures today as CHAMPS (Character, Achievement, and Music Project). Dan later moved to Wall Township, serving as the orchestra director for the intermediate and elementary schools for three years, and earning another Governor’s Educator of the Year award in 2017. During his tenure at Wall, he founded and currently presides over All Shore Orchestra, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing students with extracurricular performance opportunities. He then served as the orchestra director for Highland Park High School and Middle School for three years, with his orchestras consistently earning top honors in competitions. As a performer, Dan co-founded the Barefoot Strings, a rock/pop string quartet that frequently performs throughout the Tri-State area and has shared the stage with renowned artists. Despite his professional commitments, Dan remains dedicated to his community by continuing to serve as a before-school orchestra conductor in the South Brunswick School District.
Ben Lin is an amateur musician who loves helping young artists discover the beauty of music. Ben grew up in Flushing, New York and has been involved with orchestras since middle school. He studied piano under Louis Kohnop, and began his violin studies under Mrs. Nicole DiCecco, and later with Calmen Fleisig. In middle school, Ben was concertmaster in the Queensboro Orchestra in New York City, and during his high school years, played first violin in New York City’s All-City High School Orchestra. In college, Ben played double bass for the Wheaton College Symphony Orchestra (Wheaton, IL). He has also played violin in the Manalapan Battleground Symphony from 2005-2007. Ben has a small number of music students, including his own children. Ben’s regular vocation is full-time pastor, serving Jireh Church in Marlboro, NJ
John started his musical career on piano at age 5. In high school, he was selected to the McDonald’s All-American Band, All- Eastern and All-State Bands. John received a music scholarship to Michigan State University where he was section leader in the wind-ensemble and symphonic band and received his BA in Music Education and graduated with High Honors. He is presently the conductor of the Asbury Concert Band and John Luckenbill Pops Band which perform on the boardwalks in Asbury Park and Belmar and various towns around the shore area. John has performed with and is the personnel manager for the Orchestra of St Peter which has done concerts at Carnegie Hall, Claridge Casino, Philadelphia Academy of Music, Tillis Center in Long Island as back-up orchestra for Marvin Hamlisch, and Ray Charles. He has played on “Good Morning America” ABC-TV and “Good Day NY” on FOX -TV. He has also performed with the Lansing Symphony, Trenton Symphony, and Deleware Valley Symphony.
He has been the Talented Theme Magnet Program Team Leader in the Long Branch Public Schools where he is also an instrumental music teacher. This is his 35th year of teaching in Long Branch where he was Teacher of the Year as well as receiving a Master Music Teacher award from the NJ Symphony Orchestra. He also teaches privately for the Monmouth Conservatory of Music and the Peddie School.
Ted Malevris is a graduate of Jersey City State College, where he studied violin under Dr. Ed Raditz and received both BA and MA degrees in Music Education.
He taught instrumental music in Bayonne for 35 years and received the Governor’s Teacher of the Year Award in 1990 at the Vroom Learning Center. Ted spearheaded a string program for 4th grade students and an outstanding orchestra of 100 students at PS14, the gifted and talented “Star School.”
Ted took an early retirement on July 1, 2002 stays very busy with private teaching, his string coach position at the NJ Symphonic Youth Orchestra, and playing 1st violin professionally with the Orchestra of St. Peter-by-the-Sea. He is former concertmaster of the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra, and is concertmaster of the Orchestra of St. Cecilia at Saint Anthony of Padua Church in Red Bank.