Mariana Hill

Mariana Green-Hill marks this upcoming year as the eighth anniversary as Founder and Director of Four Strings Academy, an intensive string program held during the summer geared to children, ages 4-18 and some adults, demonstrating the potential to become professional musicians and love for the art form.  


Mrs. Green-Hill is also the Strings Director at Boston Arts Academy under the leadership of Gregory Holt, directing both technique and orchestral classes for the school’s string students. From 2012-2013, her role was expanded to teach violin at the Orchard Gardens School under the leadership of Principal Andrew Bott with his Arts Initiative Team also considered President Obama’s choice turn around school in Boston.

Along with these responsibilities, she currently serves as Artistic Advisor to the Artistic Director of Project STEP program located in Boston’s Symphony Hall, where she teaches, coaches and advises students and parents grades K-12. Ms. Green-Hill also performs in various venues as a soloist and chamber musician and teaches privately and as a member of the New England Conservatory’s Preparatory Division.


Mariana Green-Hill is a multi- prize Winner of The Sphinx Competition as well as the recipient of the 2009 Sanford Allen Award in recognition of her “artistic merit, persistence, and extraordinary achievement.” She has also won first place in the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Harry and Marion Dubbs Competitions. Mrs. Green-Hill has been a featured guest soloist with the New Jersey, Memphis, Detroit, and Boston Symphony Orchestras and The Boston Pops. In addition to her solo performances, she is an experienced chamber and orchestral musician.  The Amaryllis String Quartet, of which she was a member, was awarded First Prize in the prestigious Fischoff Chamber Music Competition (Jr. Division).  Ms. Green-Hill has performed with YoYo Ma, Pamela Frank, Lynn Chang, Marcus Thomson, and with members of the Houston and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras. She was also a member of the Young Eight String Octet for six seasons.

Mariana Green-Hill is one of the Concertmasters of Soulful Symphony, a symphony ensemble made up of classical orchestra, big-band and gospel choir. Their performance of “Song in a Strange Land” composed and directed by Darrin Atwater earned an Emmy. This ensemble has also performed in collaboration with members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Green-Hill is the one of the violinists of the MarNi Duothat performed for a benefit concert for the now President Barak Obama in Boston’s Jordan Hall.  She enjoys performing with non-classical musicians, and has recorded with gospel artists Donnie McClurkin and Richard Smallwood. She has also performed with the “Gorillaz,” and with Joss Stone and Alicia Keys. Ms. Green-Hill studied violin under the auspices of Project STEP and attended Walnut Hill School for the Arts. She received her Bachelor and Masters Degrees from The Juilliard School and a Professional Studies Diploma from the Mannes College of Music under the respective tutelage of the late Dean Stephen Clapp, Dr. Ann Setzer and Ida Kavafian.

President/ Hear Training & Music Theory Instructor

Dennis L. Slaughter, Ed.M, DLP,  born and reared in Jackson, Mississippi, is the son, grandson, brother, nephew, and cousin of preachers, pastors, lay speakers, and church musicians. He began directing childen’s church choirs when he was ten years old and participated in leadership roles in school and church choirs throughout his middle school, high school, and college years. 
Brother Dennis, as he is affectionately known, is founding director of the Boston Community Gospel Choir and since 1995 has been artistic director of the Boston Pops Orchestra Gospel Choir. He has received numerous awards for his talent and community service including:
·      Bearer of the Flame, Passing the Torch Award (Boston Renaissance Charter School)
·      Boston Neighborhood Fellows Award (The Philanthropic Initiative, Inc.)
·      Community Builder Award (Town of Milton, Massachusetts)
·      Gospel Music Award (New England Conservatory of Music)
Brother Dennis Slaughter has served as Minister of Music in Mississippi, Colorado, and Massachusetts. He has filled leadership posts in Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal, and United Methodist churches over his 40 years of service.
In addition to his musical life, Brother Dennis is also an educator. He began his career as a teacher, and then went on to be a principal, central office administrator, program director, and organization development specialist. He has over 25 years of direct experience in organization development, crisis management, advocacy, team building, consulting, and community outreach/organizing. He holds an undergraduate degree in Music from the University of Southern Mississippi, a master’s degree in Education Administration and Policy Studies from Boston University, and a doctoral degree in Law & Policy from Northeastern University.
He is the proud husband of Dr. Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter (a clinical psychologist to whom he has been happily married since 1985). They are the blessed parents of two adult sons, Khari and Gyasi. He is convinced that through God, all things are possible.

President of the Board/ Hear Training & Music Theory Instructor

Naira Cola

Over the course of her career, Naira Underwood-Cola has received recognition for her unique artistry and has received numerous accolades including winning the Doris Kahn Concerto Competition, being a semi-finalist in the National Sphinx Competition, and being awarded the Artist Award from the New York Foundation for the Arts.  As a soloist, she has been featured on NPR radio, WUWF Classic radio, and WEAR TV. Recent performances and broadcast include performing at the Kennedy Center with world-renowned jazz artist Steve Wilson, performing live on NPR radio and recording with World fiddle Master, Mark O’Conner.  


Mrs. Underwood-Cola is currently a member of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and has toured with Ensemble Du Monde chamber orchestra. Mrs. Cola has served as an Artist in Residence for the Sphinx Performance Academy, Queens Borough Community College, and The Noel Pointer School of Music.  She serves as the Artistic Director of the Four Strings Academy in Boston, MA, and has served as the Artistic Director for the Noel Pointer School of Music. As a pedagogue and advocate for arts education, she has instructed hundreds of students in Brooklyn, and throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Mrs. Cola received her training under the tutelage of Sally Thomas and Dr. Ann Setzer at the Mannes College of Music and New York University ‘s Steinhart School for her undergrad and graduate studies, and postgraduate at the Juilliard School as apart of the Emerging Ensembles Program. 

Posthumous Artisic Director

Marcus Hurt

Marco Alexander, born Marcus Alexander Hurt, is an American (aspiring international) Pop/R&B Singer/Songwriter and all around ARTIST. Being born in Memphis TN and listening to such artists as Jackie Wilson, Phil Collins, Frankie Lymon, Sam Cooke, Sting, and Michael Jackson; he started his study of music at an extremely young age. Along with being exposed to such artists, he is also the youngest cousin of Andrew Love; of the late horn section duo, “The Memphis Horns.” These artists, along with legendary family members, have taught Marco to develop a style that is not only untouchable, but also timeless. Marco grew up watching his mother lead the church choir, while sitting next to the organ player so that he wouldn’t get into trouble. It was very clear that he was destined to be around the arts for a very long time. With his parents being instrumentalists & vocalists, he was often granted the opportunity to travel and study sounds that were unfamiliar to him; whether it was the sound of beating on pots and pans, or listening to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra perform The Sea Symphony on a school trip. He always seemed to be extremely interested in every aspect of the performing arts. Marco started in piano lessons at a very young age however, started to study string instruments soon after entering the third grade. He was also a part of one of the nations leading children's choirs, “The Angels of Praise” under the direction of Anthony Q. Richardson (whom he gives credit for a lot of his vocal ambition). As a result, Marco was granted the opportunity to represent several professional symphony orchestras and industry music organizations on television/radio airings as a young prodigy. During his senior year in high school, Marcus got the opportunity to make his Carnegie Hall debut with the National Festival Symphony performing Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. At the point of graduating high school, Marcus was already venturing into the theater world where he won his first audition. Since then, he has been featured in shows such as Thoroughly Modern Millie (Chorus), Aida (as Mereb) in four different theaters, Dreamgirls (CC), and more. This is where Marcus found a new love for production design and had already begun designing his future shows under the name "Marco Alexander". Marco received a bachelors degree in Music Education & Music Performance, with a minor in music business from the University of Memphis, where he studied with John Chiego. After countless success at the University, this led him to perform with over 23 orchestras nationwide and tour on national soundtrack tours with Disney and Nintendo. 

Continue reading Mr. Alexander's bio at

Artistic Director - String Bass/Industry Vocals/Resident Composer/West African Rhythms

Keith Sanders

Keith Sanders, has garnered a reputation as one of the most versatile performers on the music scene today.  His passion for creating has led him to composing, arranging, theatrical performances, singing and dancing.  His diverse performances include being a Cirquador (Circus Ambassador- performing throughout the community for Cirque Du Soleil’s “Kooza” and utilizing electric effects, creating bowed, plucked and looped percussion effects to collaborate with “Sounds in Bloom” & “Dr.T and the Vortex Other Dimension Ensemble. His dedication to passing the craft of music on to the next generation through creative arts & educational workshops has led him to Cameroon working with Cultures in Harmony, and teaching throughout Boston. Keith was awarded the coveted Glazier Scholarship to attend the Hartt School of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree, followed by a Master of Music degree in Modern American Music from the Longy School of Music in Boston, MA.

Violin & Viola Instructor - Improvistaition

Edward W. Hardy

Edward W. Hardy is a critically acclaimed American composer, music director, virtuoso violinist and violist and is one of the foremost exponents of solo violin repertoire for theatrical productions. At the age of 25, "Hardy is one of the youngest composers to ever be accepted into the Exploring the Metropolis Con Edison Composer Residency and one of the most prominent composer/ violinists in New York City" - BroadwayWorld. “Edward W. Hardy, who composed the omnipresent music, plays the violin superbly.” – The New York Times . He has “Vigor, Control And Expressiveness." - The Post and Courier. Hardy is “Mesmerizing” -Manhattan With A Twist and also performs in a style that is “serene, dreamy, and soulful with velvety panache” - The Millbrook Independent. As the composer, music director and violinist of the smash hit Off-Broadway show The Woodsman Hardy’s show was a recipient of the 2016 Obie Award and the 2014 Jim Henson Foundation Grant and was broadcast on PBS stations four separate times, streamed on BroadwayHD and major music producer Jim McElwaine produced Hardy’s album “The Woodsman Original Off-Broadway Solo Recording” which continues to be sold and streamed in countries such as the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Russia, Turkey, France, Hong Kong, Argentina, Ireland, and Germany. Proud member of Local 802 Musicians Union, Dramatist Guild of America,  ASCAP.

Violin & Viola Instructor - Composer/Producer/Playwright

Caitlin Edwards

Caitlin Edwards began studying the violin at the age of eight, through the Music Opportunity Program, a non-profit organization in Birmingham Alabama.  Caitlin attended the University of Louisville where she studied with J. Patrick Rafferty. In 2015, she was the state winner of the Strings Division MTNA Young Artists Competition. In 2016, Caitlin won a Project Inclusion Fellowship with the Grant Park Music Festival and also won the Concerto Competition at the University of Louisville School of Music. In 2018, Caitlin performed with the Ritz Chamber Players as they received the Aspire Award from the Atlanta Symphony Talent Development Program. She also had the pleasure of performing as a soloist with the Chicago Solisti and placed as a semi-finalist for the New World Symphony. She most recently was awarded the Rising Star award from the Gateways Music Festival in Rochester, New York. She has performed with numerous Grammy-nominated and award-winning artists such as P.J. Morton, Lecrae, Israel Houghton, and Darlene Zschech. Caitlin recently graduated from the DePaul University School of Music with her Masters, where she studied with Janet Sung. She hopes to continuously inspire, encourage and uplift people through the gift of music.

Violin Instructor

Kendall Ramseur

A distinguished cellist, singer, composer and songwriter from Charlotte, North Carolina, Kendall Ramseur uses his gifts to create positive, inspiring, and heart-felt experiences through music. He enjoys fusing the sounds of different genres with classical elements learned through conservatory training.

Kendall’s journey to music began at age seven when his father purchased an upright piano for the family. While excelling in his piano studies, he found his instrument of choice at age ten, when his orchestra teacher encouraged the students to pick an instrument that spoke to them. Kendall chose the cello, or rather the cello chose him and opened up a whole world of possibilities.

Kendall received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). He studied cello under the instruction of Dr. Brooks Whitehouse. Upon graduating UNCSA, Kendall matriculated to Boston University’s College of Fine Arts (BU) where he received his Master’s of Music in Cello Performance with Marc Johnson, member of the Vermeer String Quartet.Kendall’s professional journey began in 2013, with the release of his debut album T.I.M.E., and the launch of his album tour. He was later awarded the Gospel/Inspirational Artist of the Year by the Boston Music Awards.


Since then, Kendall has performed his original compositions at over 100 events in Massachusetts and around the country including: ArtsEmerson “The World on Stage”, Cast Party for “Daniel Beaty”, Wheelock’s 2013 Metro Boston Race Amity Celebration, Kendall Square Concert Series and Boston Green Festival. Kendall was a featured panelist on the Boston University Music Symposium, “The Multi- modal Musician: The Success of Adaptability”. Additionally, the Boston Globe recommended him as one of the artists to see at the 2014 First Night Boston. In May 2017, Ramseur soloed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra where he performed the Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto III Mvmt. Kendall is one-fourth of the nationally-acclaimed and billboard charting quartet, Sons of Serendip who gained fame during Season 9 of NBC’s America’s Got Talent.

As a group, they’ve collaborated with Grammy award winners John Legend, Train and Cynthia Erivo. They have performed twice with the highly distinguished Boston Symphony Orchestra, as well as with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. They have also played with the Boston Pops for the July 4th Fireworks Spectacular. Kendall has orchestrated various parts for the group’s performances with the Boston Pops and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Recently the Sons of Serendip rejoined other A-List entertainers on AGT, performing in the first-ever America’s Got Talent Holiday Spectacular, aired nationwide on NBC. The quartet was also invited to perform at the 2016 Creative Arts Emmy Awards for the In Memoriam segment. As a group they average between 40-50 performances a year, traveling both nationally and internationally. In 2017, the group released their third studio album Life + Love. As a member of Sons of Serendip, Ramseur has exercised his ability to arrange, orchestrate, compose and program material for both the group’s performances and albums.

Ramseur utilizes his talents of composition, songwriting, singing, piano and cello playing to tell a story that will inspire. Through his passion for music he endeavors to spread a message of positivity and hope.  Kendall performs on a CR Series Electric Cello, endorsed by NS Design.

Cello Instructor

John Egan

John Egan grew up in the Greater Boston area and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance at the Eastman School of Music.  He has studied with many notable Violists including members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conservatory faculty members from the Eastman School and Berklee College of Music.  In 2016 he was a Finalist in the Bacardi Fallon Scholarship Competition.  His orchestral engagements have played in Symphony Hall, Boston; Koussevitzky Music Shed and Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood; Jordan Hall, Boston; and music halls throughout Europe.  He has participated in the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Luzerne Music Festival, and Bowdoin College International Music Festival programs. During the school year, Mr. Egan is an active chamber musician and is regularly coached by members of the Grammy winning Ying Quartet.  John has a passion for sharing his music with others; he teaches Viola and Violin, and can often be heard in the Boston Public Garden playing for onlookers who might not otherwise enjoy classical music.  In his free time, John runs, bikes, takes pictures, and cooks.  

Viola & Violin Instructor

Patrice Jackson-Tilghman

The brilliant and gifted cellist Patrice Jackson is carving a name for herself as a gifted and charismatic soloist. The Detroit News has described her as a "big-toned, boldly projected soloist" and the Hartford Courant stated that Ms. Jackson "wowed the audience with effortless facility, playful phrasing and a sense of spontaneity that one hears usually only from the highest caliber of musicians."

A native of St. Louis, Ms. Jackson began piano lessons with her mother at the age of three and cello lessons with her father at the age of eight. At thirteen she made her debut with the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra, performing the Elgar Cello Concerto. 

In 2002 Ms. Jackson was awarded first place in the Senior Laureate Division of the nationally renowned Sphinx Competition, and was the recipient of the 2002 Yale University Aldo Parisot Prize awarded to a "gifted cellist who shows promise for a concert career." Since then she has performed with the Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas, New Jersey, Milwaukee, Omaha, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Grand Rapids, Nashville, Hartford, Chautauqua, Colorado and Mississippi Symphonies, as well as with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ms. Jackson also made her international orchestral and recital debuts in South Africa in 2002.  Highlights of the 2018-2019 season included performances with Berklee's World Strings, Boston Conservatory at Berklee's Chamber Orchestra and Boston Conservatory's Faculty Recital Series.

Ms. Jackson has taken master classes with world-renowned Brazilian cellist Aldo Parisot, and has studied chamber music with Claude Frank and the Tokyo String Quartet at the Yale School of Music, as well as with the Juilliard String Quartet at the Juilliard School.  Ms. Jackson, who performs on an Alberto Blanchi cello generously donated by Franklin and Tresa McCallie of Kirkwood, Missouri and Doris Taylor Cope of Chattanooga, Tennessee, has been a student of Janos Starker, Aldo Parisot, Joel Krosnick, and Bonnie Hampton. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York and the Yale School of Music in New Haven. 

In addition to her classical credentials, Ms. Jackson has played behind some of the most iconic artists of our generation including Alicia Keys, Kanye West, J-Cole and Stevie Wonder. She is an Associate Professor of Cello at Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee in Boston.

Cello Instructor

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