Joan Harkness is a Juilliard-trained pianist, educator, and author with wide-ranging interests in music education, the music of many cultures, and contemporary concert music. The piano has been the centerpiece of her musical life from infancy, when she discovered that she could reach up to the keyboard and play. Her performing credits range from Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall) to the Festival Internacional de Puebla and Festival Cultural Zacatecas in Mexico to Hyannis, Nebraska (a tiny ranching community in the Sandhills). Joan has given many workshops on rhythm and meter; and technique, reading, and musicianship for pianists. She believes that every person is inherently musical, including adults who gave up piano-playing or never thought to try. As a teacher, she guides her students toward a natural and expressive playing technique, and shows them that playing the piano is truly play—for the body, the mind, and the spirit. Recent presenters of her work have been the New York State and the New Jersey Music Teachers Associations, the Rocky Mountain Professional Workers Conference, and branches of the Music Teachers Association of California. In 2003, she was music facilitator for the Second Vittachi International Youth Conference in Crestone, Colorado.
Composer and soprano Anna Dembska has been teaching voice and musicianship for over 25 years, including at New York University and the Metropolitan Opera Guild In-School Program and National Teacher Training. Her music integrates disparate musical passions—polyphonic vocal music, singing traditions from Macedonia to Mongolia, improvisation and extended use of the voice, experimental opera and human sound as a dramatic force. She has produced and performed her original original theater works, operas, and music since 1976—from Enough is Enough, a puppet opera, at the Bread and Puppet Circus, to Coyote at The Bang-on-a-Can Festival at Lincoln Center. Anna was awarded a 2003 Commissioning Music/USA grant from Meet The Composer/National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the LEF Foundation, to write a new opera, The Singing Bridge, with libretto by poet Beatrix Gates, for Opera House Arts, which premiered at the Stonington Opera House in Stonington, Maine in July, 2005. Anna recently received a grant from the Puffin Foundation to compose a Joe Hill Cantata for the Schoodic Summer Chorus in Winter Harbor, Maine, where she is Conductor and Artistic Director. She direct and sings with the Downeast Maine vocal ensemble Singin' Local. As soprano soloist, improviser, and music director, she's collaborated with such innovaters as Leroy Jenkins, Lee Nagrin, Lee Ellikson, and Ralph Lee's Mettawee River Company, among many others. Her Kore Chant, recorded by Libana, has been performed by choruses all over the world. Her concert music is published by Clarion Alley Music.