Music in the Somerset Hills: Education, Artistry, and Community Through Music
The mission of Music in the Somerset Hills is to provide musical experiences of the highest quality to those who live and work in the Somerset Hills and the surrounding communities.
Board of Trustees
Stephen Sands, Artistic Director
Matthew LaPine, Director of Education
Billy Webster, Administrator
Brian Harlow, Small Venue Concert Series Director
Richard Somerset-Ward, President of the Board
Catherine Pane, Treasurer
Joan Seigle, Chair of Development
Pamela Nardone, Co-Chair of Development
Ferrill Roll, Jennifer Pierson, Kristin Sands, Linda Walker
Frederica von Stade, Honorary Artistic Advisor
Artistic Staff Biographies
A GRAMMY-nominated “crystalline tenor” (Backstage) who was praised by the New York Times as “a tenor with a focused, powerful tone“ who sings with “subtlety” and “poignancy“, Stephen Sands is highly sought after as a soloist, conductor, music educator and ensemble member by some of the most prestigious institutions and conductors in the United States. Mr. Sands holds his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Westminster Choir College.
Stephen is conductor of Downtown Voices, a new and exciting choral group that is part of the Trinity Wall Street music program, focused on bringing the best volunteer and professional singers in the NYC metro area together into one choir for high level performances. Of his conducting in Britten’s St. Nicholas, The New York Times said “In the sequences in which the adult choir sang at the front of the church, with the children’s choir in the organ loft, the conductor Stephen Sands beautifully balanced the sound and maintained order. The singers and instrumentalists had incisive, agile strength.” The 2015-2106 season featured performances of Britten’s St. Nicolas, MacMillians Seven Last Words from the Cross and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Symphony Number 9. The 2016-2017 season will feature a major commissioned work, Spire and Shadow, by Zachary Wadsworth, which will examine the rich history of downtown New York City and celebrate the 250th anniversary of St. Paul’s Chapel. Also this season Stephen will conduct Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and prepare the choir for Philip Glass’ Symphony Number 5.
Stephen is a founding member and Executive Director of the internationally award-winning Antioch Chamber Ensemble, widely regarded as one of the finest professional vocal ensembles in the country. He has had the pleasure of coordinating international performing tours, producing commercial recordings, and staging many self-funded performances. Stephen has recently coordinated and participated in residencies and masterclasses with Antioch at Harvard University and Vassar College.
As an Artistic Director, Stephen has successfully raised funds from both individual and institutional sources for Music in the Somerset Hills, an organization dedicated to music education and performance in northern New Jersey. In 2016, Stephen led a concert of Music of the Movies, featuring actor Peter Dinklage and a professional orchestra of Broadway players, led by Jonathan Dinklage. In 2016-2017, Stephen will lead the Somerset Hills Community Chorus in a concert of Mozart’s Requiem and conduct a concert of Handel’s Water Music on Ravine Lake in Far Hills, NJ.
In addition to a successful career as a musician and conductor, Stephen is also a respected music educator. He has taught choral music to thousands of students in grades 3-12 in the Somerset Hills School District for more than 18 years.
Stephen has been heard as the Evangelist and tenor soloist in numerous performances of Bach’s sacred oratorios, most recently with the Trinity Choir and Baroque Orchestra in the St. John Passion of J.S. Bach. As an ensemble member, Stephen sings with the Carmel Bach Festival Chorale, Vox Vocal Ensemble, Aoede Consort, TENET, Clarion Music Society, Pomerium, and is a full time member of the Choir of Trinity Wall Street under the direction of Julian Wachner. StephenSands.net
Mr. LaPine is the Choral Director at Bernards High School, where his choral ensembles have received national acclaim and have performed in various locations along the East Coast, most recently at the Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk, VA and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. He is also the Director of Male Ensembles with the New Jersey Youth Chorus, directing the Young Men’s Ensemble and the newly established Boys’ Ensemble. Mr. LaPine is Director of Education for Music in the Somerset Hills, a community organization whose mission is to provide musical experiences of the highest quality to those who live and work in the Somerset Hills and the surrounding communities. He is Director of Early Childhood Music Camps at Westminster Conservatory of Music and is a veteran member of the dynamic teaching team for Westminster Choir College’s Middle School Piano Camp where he has created and teaches the Eurhythmics, Plus! classes. Additionally, Mr. LaPine sings for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen (NJ) where he is a soloist, section leader, and guest conductor with the Festival and Chamber Choirs.
Mr. LaPine has been published in multiple works. He contributed the chapter “Prognosticating the Choral Ensemble’s Ear” to The Choral Rehearsal: Volume One, and the chapter “Schenkerian Analysis as an Analytical Tool for the Choral Conductor” in Inward Bound – The Choral Rehearsal: Volume Two; both books are authored by James Jordan and published by GIA. He is featured as a contributing author to Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir: Volume 2, as well as Teaching Music Through Performance in Middle School Choir, both published by GIA. Additionally, Mr. LaPine created an edition of Brahms’ Fest- und Gedenksprüche, which features a scholarly edition of the work with a complete Harmonic Immersion SolfegeTM analysis. It will be available as part of the Evoking Sound Choral Series, published by GIA. Further, Mr. LaPine coordinated and prepared Westminster Williamson Voices in the recording of multiple tracks for the Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir, Resource Recordings CD.
Mr. Harlow is active as a recitalist, accompanist, choir director, teacher and composer in the greater New York City area. In addition to serving as the Church Concert Series Director for Music in the Somerset Hills, he is Organist and Choirmaster of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Gladstone, New Jersey, Choral Accompanist for the Somerset Hills School District, and organ accompanist for the Rutgers University Chorus, Newark Campus. Previous positions have included St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, NJ, and Assistant positions at Saint James’ Church, Madison Avenue in NYC, Trinity Church on the Green in New Haven, CT and Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in NYC.
Mr. Harlow has given a number of recitals in the United States and England. He also performs regularly in organ duet recitals and with other instrumentalists. He is the recipient of two awards from the American Guild of Organists: the award for the highest grades on the Associate exam and the S. Lewis Elmer Award for the highest grade on an upper level exam. Mr. Harlow is a member of the executive board of the Metropolitan New Jersey chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and Instrumental Music Reviewer for the Journal of The Association of Anglican Musicians. Mr. Harlow has recorded for Koch International Classics and BKM Associates.