Music Changing Lives in LA
Harmony Project Staff
Myka Miller is a musician, oboist, teacher, student, and agent for social change through music. Since joining Harmony Project as Executive Director in 2007, she has overseen the program expand from 250 to over 2,000 students.
Under her direction, Harmony Project was named the 2009 Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and was named semi-finalist in 2008.
Under her leadership, Harmony Project launched new initiatives and nurtured partnerships with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Beyond the Bell – LAUSD, Los Angeles City College, P.S. Arts and many other community organizations. Myka is responsible for the development of projects including the YOLA/EXPO Youth Orchestra, Jazz Band, and the contemporary music program.
Myka was raised in small town McKinney, Texas, where fortunately band programs and music education were strong. Myka received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the University of Texas at Austin and her Masters of Music from the University of Southern California. Myka spent three years in Mexico playing in orchestras such as the Jalisco Philharmonic, and she continues to perform locally in classical, jazz, salsa, world and popular music groups, including the daKAH hip hop orchestra. Don Heckman of the LA Times said, “Myka and ensemble guide flow of third stream music.”
Myka is a graduate of the Wells Fargo New Executive Directors Institute, a year-long program conducted by the Executive Service Corps that provides high-level training in management, fund raising, board relations, and leadership. She was privileged to be a participant in the Community Arts Education Leadership Institute offered by the National Guild for Community Arts Education, for which she is the Vice-Chair of the West Coast Chapter.
Natalie Jackson, a Southern California native, was introduced to the Viola at a young age, and her love of music has always been strong. It was during time spent at the American Youth Symphony that Natalie came to know Myka and was subsequently introduced to Harmony Project.
Natalie Jackson, a Southern California native, was introduced to the Viola at a young age, and her love of music has always been strong. It was during time spent at the American Youth Symphony that Natalie came to know Myka and was subsequently introduced to Harmony Project. Natalie comes to the Harmony Project family with expertise in operations, accounting, planning, and extensive knowledge of both cash and accrual accounting systems.
Natalie has been responsible for multi-fund budgets ranging from $5 to $35 million, and served as the Assistant Project Manager to Bravo Communities, where she worked in the planning, financing, marketing and design of the Barrington Community, a $33.5 million, single family community. Her direct responsibilities included cash flow management and title/escrow closings of all homes.
DIRECTOR OF ADVOCACY & RESEARCH
Margaret Martin, DrPH, MPH overcame early challenges, including teen pregnancy and parenting, domestic violence and homelessness with her two children, to enroll at LA City College as a freshman at the age of thirty-three.
She founded Harmony Project in 2001, which has provided instruments and tuition-free group and private music lessons to thousands of the most vulnerable children in Los Angeles as a means of positive youth development and social inclusion. Harmony Project currently maintains numerous full-time youth orchestras, and works to develop youth music ensembles throughout LA’s low-income gang reduction zone neighborhoods.
Paloma Udovic Ramos
Paloma Udovic Ramos has formed a musical career in both performance and social justice. She received her Bachelor of Arts in 2003 from Northwestern University in Anthropology, with a focus on Ethnomusicology and Latin American Studies. Paloma moved to Los Angeles following her undergraduate studies, and began touring…
Paloma Udovic Ramos has formed a musical career in both performance and social justice. She received her Bachelor of Arts in 2003 from Northwestern University in Anthropology, with a focus on Ethnomusicology and Latin American Studies.
Paloma moved to Los Angeles following her undergraduate studies, and began touring extensively in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S as a violinist for bands including the Eels, Gnarls Barkley, Spiritualized, and DaKah Hip Hop Orchestra. She has recorded with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vietnam, Heavens, the Eels, Great Northern, Har Mar Superstar and several film soundtracks. In 2007 she traveled with the band Lions of Panjshir to Afghanistan to play and record with masters of traditional instruments.
She began mentoring in public schools with Southwest Chamber Music in 2006 and soon became Education Associate, heading an exciting curriculum of chamber and new music outreach. In the winter of 2008, Paloma joined the staff of Harmony Project.
Sarah Wass is a flutist, teacher, administrator and entrepreneur. She earned her BM in flute performance from the Oberlin Conservatory, and spent the next year working for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as Executive Assistant. Sarah went on to study at the California Institute of the Arts, earning her MFA in music…
Sarah Wass is a flutist, teacher, administrator and entrepreneur. She earned her BM in flute performance from the Oberlin Conservatory, and spent the next year working for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as Executive Assistant. Sarah went on to study at the California Institute of the Arts, earning her MFA in music performance, and specializing in the performance of works from the 20th and 21st centuries.
In 2004, she co-founded the Academy of Creative Education at Oakwood School, a summer performing arts program for students in grades 4-12 dedicated to empowering children through the creation and performance of their own works and side-by-side collaboration with professional artists. In 2006, Sarah created a new arm of this organization called the Community Youth Partnership, a service-learning program where high school students design and lead free music workshops for children in the community surrounding Oakwood School. Since she arrived in Los Angeles nine years ago, Sarah has been active as a teacher and freelance musician.
She performs regularly with guitarist Steven Thachuk and the new music group inauthentica. Sarah has recorded concerti for the Tempo Space Productions Modulations series, numerous independent film scores, and can also be heard on recordings by rock artists Bright Eyes and A Fine Frenzy.
Alexandria Avenue Elementary
Olivia Pittel was born in Los Angeles and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She began her musical training at age 9, studying classical piano and music theory.
From 2004-07, she worked as a piano and music theory instructor at Piano Play Music Systems…
Olivia Pittel was born in Los Angeles and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She began her musical training at age 9, studying classical piano and music theory. From 2004-07, she worked as a piano and music theory instructor at Piano Play Music Systems, a private music school in Studio City, CA. During the 2005 summer season, Olivia worked as an intern for the American Youth Symphony’s Outreach Program under the supervision of then-Program Director Myka Miller.
As a member of the California State University of Northridge Women’s Chorale (2007), Olivia was privileged to travel and perform in various cities in China, such as Shanghai and Beijing. In late 2007 she joined The Harmony Project as a member of the office staff working once again under the direction of Myka Miller as the program assistant.
Olivia, who holds an Associate in Arts degree in History from Los Angeles Valley College (2004), is currently working towards a Bachelor in Arts degree in Music Education from CSUN under the tutelage of the multi-talented Diane Ketchie, concert pianist and professional vocalist.
In addition to her time at Harmony Project and studies at CSUN, Olivia continues to work as a private piano teacher in the Los Angeles area while occasionally working as a professional wedding photographer in Fresno, CA.
A California native, Maya Barrera performs extensively throughout the United States and abroad on Oboe and English Horn. Ms. Barrera’s classical training is vast with performances spanning solo, symphony, chamber, new and experimental music.
A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, Maya earned a Masters Degree in Music Performance where she studied with Robert Botti of the New York Philharmonic. She also holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music where she studied with Dr. Joel Timm and David Weiss.
Ms. Barrera is passionate and active as a private teacher, music coach, and freelance performer throughout the Southern California area, performing regularly in diverse ensembles around town.
Regional Youth Orchestra, Harry Bridges SPAN School
As an active performer and music educator, Jessica Catalan saw the need for music education and professional performances in underserved communities throughout Los Angeles. Her desire to contribute to this need led Jessica to work at the Harmony Project.
Jessica most recently has been awarded with a Master’s degree in Music from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music in French horn performance. During her studies at USC, she earned three outreach performance fellowships: The Gluck Foundation Fellowship and was twice awarded the Thornton Outreach Fellowship Resident Ensemble.
These fellowships gave Jessica the opportunity to perform with her woodwind quintet, The Sound of Five, for thousands of people. Jessica has also performed in tours to Singapore, South Korea and throughout the United States.
Bill ‘Bj’ Johnson
PROGRAM MANAGER & MUSIC DIRECTOR
Glassell Park, Pacoima
Bill ‘Bj’ Johnson holds a Masters Degree from the USC Thornton School of Music and a Bachelor of Music in Bass Performance from Oberlin College Conservatory.
He has worked with distinguished musicians such as Dennis Trembly, Stephen Molina, Scott Haigh, Stuart Sankey, Larry Hurst and Peter Dominguez. Bill has participated in prestigious organizations including Aspen Music Festival, Interlochen Music Festival, and Sphinx Virtuosi. Since settling in Los Angeles Bill has become a studio session bassist and is affiliated with multiple orchestras including principal with Southeast Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Riverside County Philharmonic, Jacaranda Ensemble and St. Matthews Music Guild.
As a huge advocate of music education, Bill has helped develop music curriculum for Renaissance Arts Academy, a public charter school. As music director, he has led chamber music, choir, and orchestras to a high level of musicianship, which has be recognize by many respected organizations such as National Endowment for the Arts, Eisner Foundation, Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and Fidelity FutureStage Program.
Beyond The Bell
A native of Los Angeles, Cynthia received her Bachelor of Music from UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts, where she was a recipient of the Ann & Gordon Getty and Medici scholarships.