Teachers

Sondra Tammam

Recognized internationally as a pianist and pedagogue, Sondra Tammam has performed throughout the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, and has presented master classes, lectures, and workshops in the US, Austria, Italy, Israel, France, and Brazil. She is co-director of the Dorothy Taubman Festival at Montclair State University. Former Associate Faculty (Keene) at the Manhattan School of Music (New York). Guest faculty at Tel Aviv University, The Jerusalem Academy of Music (Israel), Tunghai (Taiwan) Conservatorio Santa Cecilia (Rome), Conservatorio Verdi (Milan), Universitat fur Musik Graz (Austria) Cetinje (Montenegro) and University of Sao Paulo (Brazil). Among her many awards are first prize in the Paderewski Foundation Competition of New York, the Awerbuch International New York Piano Teachers’ Congress, the Juilliard Concerto, the New York Orchestral Society Competition and a prize in the Koscuiszko Foundation Chopin Competition. Her debut recitals in Carnegie and Wigmore Halls and the Concertgebouw were sponsored by the Paderewski Foundation. Her chamber music performances include appearances with members of the N.Y. Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. She has performed with orchestras in Italy and the US. She has broadcast live on WQXR and WNYC in New York and AFN Radio in Germany, and has appeared on WCBS, WOR and PBS television. She recorded three CDs (Trutone, Palexa) and in 2018 released a new CD “Carnivals, Songs and Transcriptions”. Ms. Tammam was selected to be listed in Who’s Who of American Women. Clavier Magazine featured an article she co-authored on the topic of performance injury. NJMTNA bestowed Ms. Tammam with the 2018 Teacher of the Year Award. She presented a Master Class at the Manhattan School of Music (Pre-College) and was invited to speak at the MTNA National and Suzuki International Conferences. Faculty at the Cali School of Music, Montclair State University since 2013 and The Manhattan School of Music Precollege since 2020. Ms. Tammam holds an M.M. from the Juilliard School and a B.M. from the Manhattan School of Music.

David Witten

Pianist David Witten’s international career has included numerous concert tours in Ireland, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Europe, Mexico, South America, and China. As the recipient of a 1990 Fulbright Scholar award, Witten spent five months teaching and concertizing throughout Brazil, and he is frequently invited back to give concerts and masterclasses.

Closer to home, Witten’s performances have included solo appearances with the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, and various chamber music collaborations with members of the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Witten has also been active in contemporary music. He has recorded piano music of Nicholas Van Slyck (Titanic Records), and has commissioned over a dozen new works for Soli Espri, a chamber trio he founded in Boston with clarinetist Chester Brezniak and mezzo-soprano D’Anna Fortunato. With flutist Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin, Witten formed Dúo Clásico; their recording, Flute and Piano Music of Latin America, was issued on the Musical Heritage Society label. Marco Polo Records released Witten’s solo recording, Piano Music of Manuel M. Ponce. He has also recorded two CDs of music of Nikolai Tcherepnin on the Toccata Classics label. His most recent recording, The Eclectic Piano Music of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, was released on Albany Records in August 2018.

Witten’s involvement in music has not been limited to performance. He is the editor of Nineteenth-Century Piano Music: Essays in Performance and Analysis (Garland Publishing, 1997), which includes his landmark analytical study of the Chopin Ballades.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Witten received his early training at the Peabody Conservatory, and at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. His undergraduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University led to a degree in Psychology. Later graduating with high honors from Boston University, he earned the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance. His most influential teachers have been Tinka Knopf, Benjamin Oren, Reynaldo Reyes, Walter Hautzig, Leo Smit, Anthony di Bonaventura, and Dorothy Taubman. After twenty years as an active recitalist, chamber music pianist, and teacher in the Boston area, Witten accepted a position at the Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, where he is currently Coordinator of Keyboard Studies.

As an enthusiastic photographer, Professor Witten has won top prizes in several international photography competitions. He has had solo photography exhibitions in Budapest and Milan, and his photographs can be seen at www.davidwitten.com.

Dragica Banić-Ćurčić

Dragica Banić-Ćurčić was born in Zadar, Croatia. She graduated from the Stanković School in Belgrade with an Associated Degree in Music. In 1985, Ms. Ćurčić came to the United States to study both classical accordion and composition on scholarship with the world-renowned Dr. William Schimmel. Under his tutelage, she received the Neupauer Conservatory Order of the Shield diplomas both in the undergraduate and graduate levels. She took part in performances of Pauline Oliveros’s “The Wanderer” at the Whitney Museum under the conductor Tania León, and at Cooper Union School of the Arts and The Brooklyn Academy of Music under Lukas Foss.

Dragica returned briefly to her native country as a teacher in Zagreb. Upon returning to the United States, she became active as a teacher of accordion and piano in New Jersey. She continues to perform annually as a participant in Dr. William Schimmel’s Master Class and Concert Series sponsored by the American Accordionists’ Association in New York City. She has performed the Hindemith Kammermusik No. 1 in New York under conductor Jim Stubbs in a performance dedicated to the victims of 9/11, and at The Bennington College Composers’ Conference in Vermont. She has composed and published a number of accordion works – most notably, “Chromatic Etude.”

Ms. Ćurčić is currently a member of the Music Educators Association of New Jersey. She has studied piano with Sondra Tammam. Dragica successfully teaches the Taubman Approach in her piano studio to youngsters of all ages. As a result, many of them have performed in Carnegie Weill Hall, Merkin Hall and various other prestigious halls in New York and New Jersey. She is also the Director and Founder of the Ancora Music Festival, founded in 2012.