Reed Gratz is a Professor of Music and department chair at the University of La Verne. He has taught at Washington State University, University of Miami, University of Innsbruck, Utrecht Conservatory and Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Claremont McKenna College.
He is on the Advisory Board of the American Jazz Institute along with Mort Sahl, Lee Konitz, and Mark Masters. Gratz has been awarded a jazz composition grant from the NEA; a research grant in African-American music by the NEH; two Senior Fulbright Lectureships, one at the University of Innsbruck, the other, the Walt Whitman Distinguished Chair of American Culture Studies at the Leiden University; and the Excellence in Teaching Award for undergraduate faculty at the University of La Verne. He is a member of the University of La Verne Academy. Professor Gratz has received three Who’s Who Among American Teachers awards since 2002. Reed has worked with George Russell, Herb Alpert, Bruce Hornsby, John Patitucci, Barbara Morrison, Alex Acuna, Konstantin Ruchadze, and many others. He has composed music for a dozen plays. Five of his recent CDs are Below Sealevel and Piano, View From the South and The Reed Gratz Band featuring Michael O’Neill, and Quaadrille.
Pianist Dr. Grace Xia Zhao is an award-winning, international solo and chamber music artist, with credits that include performances in the United States, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and China. Her performances have been broadcast on KUSC (Los Angeles) and KASP (Aspen) and her playing has been characterized as being, “performed at the highest level, with incredible musical sensibilities and beauty”
Dr. Zhao began her music education at the age of three in Sichuan, China. Awarded with a full-tuition scholarship to study at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, she went on to earn a BM, MM, and Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Piano Performance, with minors in Music Education, Ethnomusicology and Electro-Acoustic Media. Upon graduation, she was inducted into the Pi Kappa Lamda National Music Honor Society for her exceptional academic achievements. Her mentors include some of the most influential artists and teachers of our time, Antoinette Perry, Yang Hanguo, Zhen Daxin, John Perry and Andrzej Jasinski to name a few. Dr. Zhao currently serves as the Artist-in-Residence at the University of La Verne.
Andres Espinoza Agurto
Assistant Professor of Music A native of Chile, Dr. Andrés Espinoza Agurto has been playing percussion since he was 8 years old. He studied Afro-Cuban percussion at the Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA) in La Habana, Cuba, graduated summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music, receiving a BM in Jazz Composition, and holds an MM in Jazz studies and Ethnomusicology from the University of York (England). He received his PhD in Ethnomusicology from Boston University in 2014. His dissertation is entitled Una Sola Casa: Salsa Consciente and the Poetics of the Meta-barrio, and analyzes the impact of Salsa music as a forging element of social and political identity within Latino and Latin American communities. Other research interests include the application of ethnomusicology to jazz performance and composition, Afro-Latino music, modern art music, and Spanish language rap. He is also the composer, musical director, and percussionist of the Andres Espinoza World Jazz Ensemble, the Andres Espinoza Octet, and the Latin fusion sextet Los Songos Jalapeños. He has performed and taught in many countries around the world, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, England, Italy, Mexico, Peru, and the United States, and has been a faculty member at Roxbury Community College, Boston University, Emmanuel college, and the University of Maine system.
Irene Messoloras, Director of Choral Activities and Vocal Studies
D.M.A., Choral Conducting, University of California, Los Angeles
As a member of the University of La Verne Music faculty, Dr. Messoloras is the director of choral activities and head of vocal studies. She conducts the University Chamber Singers, Chorale and teaches conducting. Before coming to ULV, Dr. Messoloras served as director of choirs and chair of the fine arts department at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Messoloras has also served on the music faculty at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. She has taught courses in conducting, choral methods, diction and vocal pedagogy.
Dr. Messoloras is an enthusiastic musician and teacher, dedicated to inspiring musicians and audiences through a determined passion for musical excellence. A native of New York, Messoloras maintains an active career as a highly sought-after music educator, conductor, clinician and adjudicator. Her ensembles have delivered meaningful and inspirational performances across the United States and on the international stage in both Europe and in Asia, appearing in multiple festivals and competitions and receiving superior ratings and awards.
Most recently, ensembles under Messoloras’ baton have performed for the National Association of Music Educators national conference as well as the Oklahoma State Music Educators conference (2014). Additionally, her ensembles debuted at Carnegie Hall (2015) and toured extensively throughout Shanghai/ Beijing (2013).
Dr. Messoloras earned her doctor of musical arts degree in choral conducting from the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. She is an active member of ACDA, and is currently completing her postdoctoral studies in choral folk music of the Aegean.
Music Department Associate
Instructor of Music, Barbershop Singing, Musical Theatre
Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Carol Stephenson moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California. While at USC, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance and a Master’s Degree in Church Music. Carol has been a featured soloist in performances of Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Kodaly’s Te Deum, Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, Haydn’s Paukenmesse, Schubert’s Mass in G, DuBois’ Seven Last Words of Christ, Rutter’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Bach’s Magnificat and St. John Passion. She has been involved in the premiere performances of the music of many composers including Scott Farthing, John McIntyre, Ruth Morris Gray and Margaret Meier. In the genre of musical theater, Carol has both starred in and directed productions of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, was featured in Quilters in 2011 in Whittier, and was the musical director for and played a secondary character in Urinetown: The Musical in the fall of 2012 at the University of La Verne.
Most recently, Carol has become heavily involved in barbershop music as a singer, coach and director. She initiated a barbershop program at ULV in the fall of 2012 and is continuing to expand the offerings on campus. An active church musician, Carol has been on the music staff at Church of the Good Shepherd, United Methodist, in Arcadia for the past 14 years. Carol has served on the music faculties of Los Angeles Harbor College, Cypress College and Saddleback College, and Chapman University Conservatory of Music. She is currently a Music Department Associate at the University of La Verne and Adjunct Instructor at Mt. San Antonio College, where she directs several choirs, teaches group and individual voice instruction and musical theatre, and teaches vocal diction.
Music Department Associate
Senior Adjunct Music Faculty
Michael Ryan, MA in music, CSU, Chico; BA in music, University of La Verne. Senior Adjunct Professor of Music. Voting member of the Recording Academy, (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) and ASCAP, (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishes). Performs in Europe and extensively in the United States. Four nationally distributed CDs. Teaches private guitar instruction, class guitar, chamber music and songwriting.
MFA – Voice Performance, UC Irvine
Applied Voice, Class Voice
Lance G. Kuyper
B.A., M.E. University of La Verne
Guitar, Recording Arts
Steven A. Biondo
Music Department Manager
Instructor: West African Drumming
Steve Biondo is a professional musician, drummer/percussionist and and graphic designer. He manages the Music Library and Music Office Staff and assists with studio recording and music software training.
Mr. Biondo is also the founder and director of the West African Drum Ensemble at University of La Verne. The ensemble was founded in 2001.