Lisa Gwasda, Choir Director
Member: National Music Educators Association, Music Educators Association of New York City, United Federation of Teachers
A graduate of New York University, and CUNY Lehman College, Lisa holds both Undergraduate and Masters Degrees in Music Education, with concentrations in Violin, and Voice. She built the Choral Program from the ground up at the Celia Cruz Bronx HS of Music (Opened in 2003, Bronx, NY), and has since celebrated her Show Choir being named "New York City's Best High School Chorus," by the NY Daily News, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Hard Rock Cafe! She directs the School's Freshman Treble Chorale, Show Choir, and Sweet Out-Of-Lines Girl's Chamber Chorus.
Ms Gwasda's Show Choir served as the back up choir for Gramy Award winning singer Melissa Manchester in a performace for Grand Central Stations's Centenial Celebration, and are featured performers at the 5th annual "At This Stage" expo at the Minskoff Theatre. They are scheduled to perform in Carnegie Hall's Creative Learning Project's performance of "Ellington's Sacred Mass," also staring Norm Lewis, in March 2014.
Outside of school her vocal ensemble composed of students, former students, and friends in the industry has performed behind Broadway star and recording artist Linda Eder at her Holiday Concert in Westbury, NY, as well as Ms Eder's "Walk Down Memory Lane" concert at The Town Hall, NYC this past summer. Recording credits include both singing and directing backup vocals on Linda Eder's Holiday Album "Christmas Where You Are;" Ensemble singer in Essential Voices USA for "The Music In My Mind," (CD enclosed in the book "Marvin Makes Music," by Marvin Hamlisch); Ensemble singer on Essential Voices USA's "Celebrating The American Spirtit;" Vocal Coach for "Holding the Torch for Liberty," with the Jazz Drama Project, among others.
Ms Gwasda's choirs have received a GOLD rating at the New York State School Music Asociation (NYSSMA) major ensemble Adjudications at a level 6, and SUPERIOR ratings and first place rankings at the National Music. Showcase Festivals.
Other honors include serving as the Guest Conductor for the All-County division 3 chorus in Suffolk County, NY, and having her students invited to sing as student members of the renown Essential Voices USA (Judith Clurman, director). In addition to being an ensemble singer in "Essential Voices USA," Lisa plays violin in the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra. Lisa served as a Carnegie Hall Choral Fellow, in the Carnegie Hall Choral Institute, and is now a member of the Carnegie Hall Music Educator's Workshop.
Jacqueline Bergland (ACDA, NAFME, NYSSMA)
T here was never a doubt that music would be a big part in Jackie’s life. She comes from a large family of gifted musicians. Many of whom have performed professionally their entire lives.
Starting voice and piano lessons at the age of 4, Jackie would later attend New York’s acclaimed Music and Art High School now known as (LaGuardia). After graduation she attended St. Johns University and accepted a scholarship from the school choir and received a BS in Health Care Administration with a minor in Business.
Jackie has performed professionally in recitals and as a soloist in venues throughout the United States, Europe and many countries throughout the Caribbean. She has performed at the world famous Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, and the Reichold Center for the Arts as well as The Lehman Performing Arts Center.
As a member The Repertory Theater Company in St. Thomas USVI Jackie performed in Camelot and Phantom of the Opera. She also performed in a production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ with the Pistarkle Theater Company also in St. Thomas. Jackie has been a soloist and member of the St. Johns University Concert Choir, SDA Deo Gloria Chorale in St Maarten, The UVI Concert Choir in St Thomas and The Lehman College Choir – CUNY
Jackie is a founding member of the professional singing group "Las Tres Amigas" and later the Calypso band "Pyour Passion" which traveled and opened for such acts as Shaggy, Sean Paul, Kassav, Destra, Allison Hinds, as well as world renowned Calypso legends Arrow, Byron Lee, and The Mighty Sparrow.
Ms. Bergland has a second Bachelors Degree in Music Education from Lehman College and holds Masters Degrees in Early Childhood Education and Special Education, both from the University of the Virgin Islands as well as a MAT in Music Education from Lehman College. She studied voice with; Louis Sgarro from the Metropolitan Opera, Gary Glaze of the NYC Opera, Dr. Vertrelle Mickens from Kentucky State University and studied the McClosky Vocal Approach under Dr. Bonnie Pomfret.
Jackie previously held the position of Choir Director of the Youth Choir, Chancel and Mass Choirs at the Methodist Church of St. Maarten where her Youth Choir won the Caribbean Gospel Fest held in Curacao. She currently is the Choir Director of the Youth Choir and Chancel Choir at the Eastchester Presbyterian Church in New York.
Jackie has been Choir Director at Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music for 8 years. She teaches Freshman Mixed Voices Chorale, Intermediate Mixed Voices Choir, Men's Choir and Advanced Women’s Choir. The choirs participate in NYSSMA each year and the Women’s Choir has earned 2 gold with distinction awards during their 7 years of existence. The Women’s Choir has also won the Six Flags Music Showcase Festival Grand Sweepstakes Award in Chorus. In addition several of her students have been selected to the New York State School Music Association All State Choir.
Jackie started her teaching career in the Virgin Islands teaching special education students before transitioning to music. She has been an adjunct professor of music at the University of the Virgin Islands teaching applied music-voice. She also taught music theory, class piano, ear training, music appreciation and applied music-voice at Lehman College – CUNY.
Describing Jackie’s teaching style, students not only learn music theory and musicianship, but they also learn important life skills such as self-discipline respect and self-confidence. They are taught the benefits of staying committed to a long term goal as well as accountability and responsibility for ones actions.
Jackie being a mother herself credits her parents with helping her to stay focused, and a strong upbringing in the church for providing her with the tools she needed to flourish.
Ms. Bergland has now been teaching for over 20 years.