Bernardo Bermudez

Instrument: Voice

  Our Faculty

Vocal Instructor

Bachelor of Arts, Cognitive Psychology, University of California, Irvine
Conservatory of Music Juan Manuel Olivares, Caracas, Venezuela


Latin American baritone Bernardo Bermudez, raised in Venezuela, started his musical education at the age of seven at The Conservatory of Music in Caracas Venezuela. After relocating to the United States at the age of twelve, he participated in productions of The Music Man, Oklahoma, and Beauty and the Beast. Operatic roles include Aeneas, Gianni Schicchi. Jim in the mini opera The Gift of the Magi. Vidal in Luisa Fernanda, Scarpia, Shaunard, and Teniente Cantalapiedra in Cecilia Valdes, Papageno, Alfio, Capulet, as well as Morald in the North America stage premier of Richard Wagner's Die Feen, produced by Los Angeles Lyric Opera, as part of Los Angeles Opera's Ring Festival. Most recently he participated as a voice fellow at the prestigious Summer Festival at The Music Academy of the West, singing the role of Figaro in the Barber of Seville cover performance. He received 1st place in NATS LA 2009 singing competition, 1st place winner in American Educators Of Italian Origin United, 39th Annual Opera Scholarship and Competition, finalist in the Burbank Philharmonic Hennings-Fischer Opera Competition 2011, Recipient of the Anne and Michael Towbes Scholarship in Voice 2011, and Opera Buffs Grant Recipient.

Dr. Barbara Durost*

Instruments: Piano, Voice

Program: Piano Program

Piano, Voice – Master Teacher


Doctor of Musical Arts, Conducting, Claremont Graduate School 

Master of Music Piano Pedagogy, Catholic University of America

Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance, Anna Marie College.


Studied with Robert Shaw, Donald Neuen, Michael Lamkin, Bela Bozormenyi-Nagy, Ney Salgado, Maureen Egan. Awarded the J. Merrill Knapp Fellowship from American Handel Society, 1996. Nominated to International Who's Who in Music, 1997.

Wendy Kikkert

Instruments: Piano, Voice

Program: Piano Program

  Our Faculty

Vocals/ piano

Wendy Kikkert has a Bachelors in music with emphasis in piano from Wellesley College, and a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from CSU Long Beach. She has over 10 years experience teaching private piano and voice, as well as directing choirs. She enjoys teaching students of all ages. She has sung professionally with Los Angeles Opera, Opera Pacific, Long Beach Opera, Pacific Chorale and the John Alexander Singers. She has performed leading roles with local opera companies and musical theater showcases. She was founding member and president of the Intimate Opera Company, producing fully-staged productions for 14 years. In her teaching, she focuses on the strengths and interests of each student, giving individualized instruction. She seeks to give students a foundation for a lifetime of musical enjoyment.

Kathryn Lillich

Instruments:Piano, Voice

Program: Piano Program

Hailed as a “world-class vocal talent”, soprano Kathryn Lillich is quickly establishing herself as one of the most versatile vocalists in Southern California. Her performances as coloratura soprano and Celtic harpist draw praise from conductors, stage directors, and audiences alike. Most recently, Kathryn debuted at Carnegie Hall as the soprano soloist in Tarik O’Regan’s Triptych. Both composer and conductor agreed that hers was “the finest live performance of [O’Regan’s] beautiful score.”

Her past performances include the leading soprano role of Nannetta in Verdi’sFalstaff,Olympia from Offenbach’sLes contes d’Hoffmann,soprano soloist in Bach’sCoffee CantataandMagnificat in D, Handel’sThe Triumph of Time and Truth, Faure’sRequiem,and “Rose I” in Jonathan Sheffer’s contemporary comic operaBlood on the Dining Room Floor.She has performed with NAPA Music Festival, Repertory Opera Company, Claremont’s Candlelight Pavilion and as soloist at the American Choral Director’s Association convention in Madison, WI. She was the first winner of the “Candlelight’s Got Talent” competition and was awarded a full scholarship to NAPA Music Festival.

Kathryn is a student of UCLA’s Juliana Gondek and has coached with Richard Zeller, Rakefet Hak, and Eli Villanueva of LA Opera. She has also worked with a number of notable conductors, composers, and stage directors, including Metropolitan Opera’s Daniel Beckwith, John Alexander, Robert Istad, Jonathan Sheffer, Tarik O’Regan, and Marc Verzatt of the Yale School of Music.

Kathryn studied music education at Luther College in Decorah, IA. She has studied classical and improvisational teaching techniques, and is committed to an holistic approach to teaching. She brings together theory, anatomy, and musical expression making it accessible to students of all ages. Her students currently perform in the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus and have won several local talent competitions.

Ann Melkesian

Instrument: Voice

Ann Melkesian began studying music at the age of nine with piano and started voice lessons at the age of 15. Her love of music resulted in the pursuit of a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance, which she received from California State University, Los Angeles. In addition, she studied in Graz, Austria at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS). Since then, Ann has sung locally in the LA area in various operas and concerts. She has also been involved in her church’s choir as a soloist and section leader and currently leads the worship music for the Upland chapter of BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) International.

Voice teachers include Esther Andreas, Pollyanne Baxter and Carol Clary. Ann is currently a member of the National Association Teachers of Singing (NATS).

Besides music, Ann trained with Pam Hartman in Alexander Technique, a method focused on proper posture and body balance. Ann’s philosophy for effective singing is treating the whole body as the instrument.

Married for 30 years, Ann and her husband Brent have three grown daughters and one son-in-law who also share their love of music.

Donna Marie Minano

Instruments:Voice, Recorder, Oboe


Bachelor of Music, California State University, Long Beach 

DONNA MARIE MINANO, musician and music educator, is a veteran of all aspects of the musical stage in Southern California, from pit musician to singer to conductor. She received her bachelor’s degree in oboe performance from California State University, Long Beach.

She currently conducts the chorister program at Claremont United Methodist Church. From 1995 to 2003 she was Director of Music Ministries and choir director for Our Lady of the Assumption Church. During her tenure, her choirs traveled to Rome to perform at the Vatican.

As a vocalist, Mrs. Minano has performed onstage locally at the Candlelight Pavilion, Grove Theatre in Upland and Victoria Gardens Cultural Center in Rancho Cucamonga, and also with the chamber trio Seamless Achord and the IVRT Dickens Carolers.

Mrs. Minano teaches general music in the Claremont Unified School District. Besides teaching general music, Mrs. Minano teaches voice, recorder and oboe at the Claremont Community School of Music.

Mrs. Minano is general manager and co-founder with her husband Frank of the Inland Valley Repertory Theatre company (IVRT) which performs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Candlelight Pavilion in Claremont.

Mrs. Minano’s philosophy of teaching is influenced by Helen Kemp and David Osborn. Her ultimate goal is to to help students find their voice, and her mottos are “Body, mind, spirit, voice, it takes the whole person to sing and rejoice,” “Practice makes permanent” and “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Her greatest joy in life is hearing children make music, especially her two beautiful and talented daughters Amanda and Katherine.

Vanessa Morse

Instruments: Piano, Voice

Program: Piano Program

  Our Faculty

Vanessa Morse has studied music from the very early age of 5. She began her studies at Claremont Community School of Music, and has since gone on to study music pedagogy studying voice and piano, with an emphasis in choral ensemble. Vanessa has been the director of her church choir, and is active in holding performances throughout the year. Vanessa holds a BA in Music Education from Cal State University Fullerton, and an MA in Choral Conducting from Azusa Pacific University.