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Voice Faculty

Raina Murnak, UM Faculty, Assistant Professor/ Director of Contemporary Voice and Performance Artistry

Stephen Gleason, Faculty, Contemporary Voice

Cassandra Claude, UM Faculty, UM faculty, Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music Program

Brian Wilkins, Voice and Music Industry Faculty

Alexandra Skye Brandenburg, voice and piano

BIOGRAPHY

photoRAINA MURNAK

Dr. Raina Murnak is Assistant Professor and Head of Contemporary Voice & Performance Artistry department at Frost School of Music at the University of Miami in the Music Media and Entertainment Industries Department. She has served as the Artistic Director of the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music Pop Ensembles, co-founder of the renowned Frost Method of Experiential Musicianship, the founder and director of Frost Summer Institute of Contemporary Songwriting and a co-creator of the widely successful MADE program at Frost where she has been innovating in higher education for the last 17 years.

She is a sought-after vocalist and performance coach with over 20 years of experience on stage, television and in the studio. Her extensive training in both classical and pop/contemporary voice has afforded her the rare ability to fluently perform/coach a vast array of styles and genres from opera to classical avant-garde to theater to rock. Her gift is her ability to unleash performers and help them create compelling honest performances grounded in freedom and expression.

Dr. Murnak is a multi-talented artist well versed in not only music, but also in dance and the visual arts. She holds a BM and MA degree in Vocal Performance and Composition from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a DMA in Music Theory and Composition and Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Miami. She remains active as an online educator for Frost Graduate programs, Continuing Education and the Top Hat platform in music theory and peak performance.

https://people.miami.edu/profile/r.murnak@umiami.edu

STEPHEN GLEASONSTEPHEN GLEASON

is a New York-born musician, artist, and educator. With heavy roots in both jazz and popular music - a unique career of performing, composing, producing, and teaching music has been curated. For over fifteen years he has been a highly sought-after guitarist, vocalist, and conductor, performing for major network television, corporate, and political affairs including Rachael Ray, The Food Network, and The Presidential Inaugural Ball. As a studio musician, he has been featured on many recordings, including the likes of Carly Simon, and appeared as a sideman on various recording label sessions.

As an award-winning ensemble director, his original vocal arrangements are heralded as a "modern and vibrant interpretation of classic jazz and the Great American Songbook", garnering attention from the likes of Manhattan Transfer and Phil Mattson from the renowned A cappella quartet, Singers Unlimited. He has since gone on to arrange and sing in the CASA nominated, award winning vocal jazz ensemble, Quintet, as well as direct the Contemporary A cappella ensemble at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami.

CASSANDRA CLAUDECASSANDRA CLAUDE

An accomplished and in-demand voice teacher, Cassandra has become a staple and representation of fine vocal technique to emerging singers today. In addition to upholding a thriving vocal studio, she is currently a vocal instructor at the University of Miami Frost School of Music and is a leader in promoting cultural and artistic awareness through vocal instruction. Her students have performed on stages cross-country.

Though Miami is her home base, she travels to Los Angeles and New York to work with singers as well. She also maintains part of her vocal studio nationally and internationally via videotelephony systems. Cassandra has also had students chosen for lead roles in theaters in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Sarasota, and Los Angeles. Acclaimed as a vocal pedagogue, Cassandra was named as the Superintendent for the Vocal Competition of Miami-Dade County Youth Fair, which offers youth accessibility to stage-performances and critiques from world-class vocalists. Under her leadership, Cassandra produces singers that mesmerize audiences through pure tonal ability and skill of the vocal instrument. Yet beyond that, her goal with these vocalists is to produce a confident and "honest" singer with a timeless voice that stands out.

brian-wilkinsBRIAN WILKINS

Wilkins built a successful 18-year career utilizing his passion for music, technology, creative partnership building, and artist relations to help clients grow their businesses and brands. He is the founder and president of 137 Entertainment, an innovative music management agency specializing in artist development, digital marketing, business development consulting, and artist-label relations. Most recently, he served as strategic advisor and business development director for leading music companies PledgeMusic and Cyber PR where he helped establish music business curriculums at the Berklee School of Music and Middle Tennessee State University. As an entrepreneur, he helped create, launch, and build a client base of over 75 artists and 100,000 users for the music mobile social application, CrowdStream. Wilkins has held positions with major and independent music label partners including Sony/BMG Entertainment, RED Music, and INgrooves. He was also an artist manager and director of new media for Rebel-One Management, where he helped guide the careers of top-tier artists and producers including Rihanna and Alex Da Kid.

Alex Brandenburg ALEXANDRA SKYE BRANDENBURG

Vocalist and pianist Alex Brandenburg is proof that the future is bright for the jazz community. A versatile musician, she has performed solo, duo, with small groups and big bands, in coffee shops and concert halls alike. Jazz and popular music luminaries she has performed with include Peter Eldridge, Darmon Meader, Donny McCaslin, Becca Stevens, Jo Lawry, Kathleen Grace, and Dena DeRose. Alex has performed in major concert series such as the Stanford Jazz Festival and Jazz Roots at the Adrienne Arsht Center. She most recently spent a week performing in Zagreb, Croatia as part of the International Association of Schools of Jazz. As an arranger, her work has been featured at the New York Voices Vocal Jazz Camp. Her debut single "Take Your Seat" is available for streaming and purchase on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music and more. Currently, Alex is a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Miami, where she studies with Dr. Kate Reid, sings in Downbeat award-winning vocal group Extensions, and teaches jazz voice lessons and ensembles. In addition to her work at UM, Alex has worked with students of all ages in private lessons, summer camps, choir, and musical theatre productions