Jeremy Filsell, Organist and Director of Music
As a U.S. Citizen and a British Citizen, Jeremy is uniquely placed to lead the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, which owes much of its existence to the great English choral tradition since T. Tertius Noble was invited to found the Saint Thomas Choir School in 1919.
Jeremy Filsell has been hailed as one of only a few virtuoso performers as both pianist and organist. He has appeared as a solo pianist in Russia, Scandinavia, New Zealand and throughout the USA and UK. His concerto repertoire encompasses Bach, Mozart and Beethoven through to Shostakovich, John Ireland and Rachmaninov. He has recorded the solo piano music of Herbert Howells, Bernard Stevens, Eugene Goossens and Johann Eschmann and recently released were discs of Litaize’s organ music, Rachmaninov’s first and second piano concertos and two of French Mélodies accompanying Michael Bundy (baritone). Jeremy is on the international roster of Steinway Piano Artists and has recorded for BBC Radio 3, USA, and Scandinavian radio networks in solo and concerto roles.
His discography comprises more than 35 solo recordings. Gramophone magazine commented on the series of 12 CDs comprising the première recordings of Marcel Dupré’s complete organ works for Guild that it was ‘one of the greatest achievements in organ recording’. In 2005, Signum released a 3-disc set of the six organ symphonies of Louis Vierne, recorded on the 1890 Cavaillé-Coll organ in St. Ouen, Rouen, BBC Radio 3’s Discs of the Week.
He has taught at universities, summer schools, and conventions in both the UK and USA and has served on international competition juries in England and Switzerland. Recent solo engagements have taken him across the USA and UK and to Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Australia and New Zealand. In North America, he concertizes under the auspices of Philip Truckenbrod Concert Artists.
Brought up as a chorister in Coventry, England, Jeremy Filsell was charged with the direction of a men & boys choir there while still a High School student. Studying with Nicolas Kynaston and Daniel Roth, he read for a first degree as Organ Scholar of Keble College, Oxford University before completing graduate studies in piano at the Royal College of Music in London. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Musicology at Birmingham Conservatoire/BCU for research on aesthetic and interpretative issues in the music of Marcel Dupré.
A former Assistant Organist of Ely Cathedral and Director of Music at St. Luke’s Chelsea in London, before moving to the USA in 2008, Jeremy held Academic and Performance lectureships at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and was a lay clerk in the Queen’s choir at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. You can read more about Jeremy at his website: www.jeremyfilsell.com.
Birmingham City University, Ph.D. Musicology
Royal College of Music, M.Perf. Piano
Oxford University, M.A.
Christine Hruska, Director of Studies & English Faculty
“Saint Thomas Choir School has always felt a bit like Brigadoon to me – magical. It is where a passion for music and academic excellence cohabitate, thrive, and grow. The robust academic program reflects best practices for teaching and learning and the curriculum provides a strong foundation for the boys as they move toward graduation, and life beyond Saint Thomas. I have never seen such a close-knit community where students easily cross grade level divisions with their friendships and where an overall mutual respect between students and faculty exists. The lessons the boys learn at Saint Thomas are not relegated to the classroom; they grow from living and working together in a small community of human beings open to exploring and learning about themselves and the world around them.”
Christine grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut and spent many of her early years sitting in her favorite maple tree, reading, or at Tod’s Point, participating in any and all water sports. Her first real job was as a camp counselor at a sailing camp on Calf Island on Long Island Sound. Working with children has always been her calling.
After attending the University of Connecticut, Christine moved to NYC, then to Tennessee, and then back to NYC (202 West 58th Street, to be exact – ask her about it). After completing her Masters in English Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, she began her teaching career in the NYC public school system. For the next twenty odd years, Christine worked primarily in independent schools around the tri-state area as an English Teacher, Department Chair, Professional Development Chair, and Curriculum Coordinator. Christine was a presenter at the first RULER conference for Social Emotional Learning at Yale University (2020). She has also coached volleyball and softball, sports she’d played in high school and college.
Christine has many interests such as a passion for the great outdoors (in particular National Parks), hiking, journaling, writing short stories, performing stand up comedy, reading, music, theater, yoga and meditation. She loves spending time with her grown children, John and Eva. Her youngest son, Luke, will be studying at Tufts University beginning in the fall of 2020 where he will also compete on their swim and dive team. Daisy (dog), Lucy (cat), and Buttercup (bigger cat) Christine round out her immediate family unit.
Margaret White, Classics and English Faculty
“I was initially drawn to Saint Thomas because of the all-boys environment and the emphasis on music, but I have quickly learned that this school is so much more than those two attributes. The students, faculty, and staff are a true family, and the chance to teach these boys is a chance to get to know them not just in the classroom but in so many other facets of their lives. To know one’s students so well is a gift to any teacher.”
A lifelong New Yorker, Margaret White attended The Brearley School for thirteen years and then Princeton University, where she earned her A.B. in English with minors in Theater and American Studies. She became a teacher somewhat by accident when Brearley asked her to serve as an emergency medical leave replacement, but she fell in love with teaching instantly and never looked back.
She spent the next several years as a substitute teacher in all grades and several subjects at independent schools across Manhattan; this breadth of experience helped her to settle on Latin and English as subject areas of focus and middle school as her favorite age to teach. After three years teaching middle school Latin and English at Marymount School of New York, she temporarily relocated to Massachusetts to earn her Ed.M. in Learning and Teaching at Harvard University. She is thrilled to be back in her hometown and joining the faculty at Saint Thomas.
Outside of the classroom, Margaret enjoys reading and writing stories for young people (she also holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults) and spending time with her dog, Blaze. Her other interests include musical theater, baking, board games, and learning new languages.
Harvard University, Ed.M. Learning and Teaching
Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA Writing for Children and Young Adults
Princeton University, A.B. English
Nicholas Berry, Third & Fourth Grade Faculty
“The sense of community present at the Saint Thomas Choir School is unlike any I have encountered in my career. The boys come from many different backgrounds and each brings their own personality and interests that they are able to explore and cultivate given the school’s small size and boarding style living. Even so, they are all united through their love of music, the drive to be successful, and the hard work they do both in the choir and in the classroom. I am able to construct my curriculum in a manner that meets each boy where he is and challenges him to reach new heights, yet also instill it with a sense of teamwork and collaboration amongst peers that I believe can only exist here.”
At the age of six, Nicholas Berry first showed signs that he would enter the field of education when he made worksheets for his younger brother and would not allow him to play until they were finished. He has been a New Yorker his entire life. Nicholas was raised in Manhattan where he attended the Town School for his elementary years and the Loyola School for High School. In 2008 he made the difficult decision to leave his city and traveled a great deal north to Poughkeepsie. While there at Vassar College, Nicholas received his bachelor’s in history, specializing in both ancient Greek and Roman history as well as 17th century English history.
Having grown nostalgic for dollar pizza and public transportation, Nicholas returned to New York proper in 2012 and spent the next few years teaching at several elementary schools. In 2016 he earned his M.S in general education at the Bank Street School of Education. When not in the classroom, Mr. Berry can most likely be found running in Central Park, reading a historical novel, or either playing or designing his own board games.
Bank Street School of Education, M.S. General Education
Vassar College, B.A. History
Matthew Gilbert, Science Faculty
“The Choir School environment allows learning to be an all-day experience, with ample opportunities for the boys to interact with their teachers outside of class. I value the high academic standards we set for our students, our expectations for how the boys behave and treat others, and the warm, compassionate community we create together.”
Matt spent the first few years of his life in Ithaca, NY before his family settled in Rochester. After a year in Germany as an exchange student and four years at college in Ohio, he moved to NYC and has been here ever since. He has always been passionate about science, both as a researcher and a teacher, and is grateful to be able to share his knowledge and enthusiasm as a profession.
When not doing something related to science, he keeps himself busy with one of the too many activities to which he devotes too little time, such as playing instruments, working with wood, boating, skating and biking, and being an uncle.
Cornell University, Ph.D. Physiology and Biophysics
Oberlin College, B.A. in Chemistry & Biochemistry (dual degree)
Chris Cuomo, History Faculty
“My experience as a student at a boarding school has helped me understand the value of a strong community of students and teachers. I owe my all my academic success to those teachers who were willing and able to give me the one-on-one attention I needed. I wanted to teach at St Thomas because I knew I could replicate that experience here and give students the support and personalized experience that they need to succeed and grow.”
Chris Cuomo was born and raised in Connecticut where he attended high school at Choate Rosemary Hall. He graduated from Hamilton College in 2018, majoring in history, before beginning to teach at St. Thomas. Chris has spent two summers teaching in Choate’s Summer Programs in addition to tutoring college students in writing. Chris enjoys playing and watching a number of sports and is excited to be teaching at St Thomas.
Hamilton College, B.A. History
Lissy Hodge, Math Faculty
“I’m excited for the opportunity to teach such a wide range of mathematics and work with the same group of students as they progress from year to year. I strongly believe that learning and engaging with others extends far beyond the classroom, especially in an environment like Saint Thomas. I cannot wait to become part of the incredible STCS community!”
Lissy Hodge was born and raised in Kansas City and attended an Episcopal day school and an independent high school. She earned a BA in mathematics and elementary education at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she also minored in dance. With a passion for teaching abroad, she spent two summers teaching in Mauritius and all of 2017 teaching at a boarding school in rural Malaysia through the Fulbright Association. Since her return to the United States, Lissy has refocused on her true love, math education, and has taught in schools in Kansas City and New York. One of her favorite parts of teaching math is engaging students as they approach problems and develop their skills. In Spring of 2020, she graduated with her M.A. in Math Education from Teachers College at Columbia.
Lissy loves all things math and is fascinated by vintage mathematical tools. She has never met an abacus or slide rule she didn’t like! Outside of math, she enjoys learning about and experiencing other cultures, dancing, playing the ukulele, singing, crafting, playing games and sports, needlepointing, and baking.
Veronique Buelens, French Faculty
Veronqiue grew up in Brussels, Belgium and holds a degree in Special Ed and Social Work. During her studies, she did several internships working with children of all ages and from different backgrounds and with special needs. She also has vast experience with multilingualism both through her work as well as with her own children.
Veronique has earned several awards for dictation and grammar by participating in interscholastic competitions. She loves reading and writing, and those awards represent a high level of accomplishment and recognition of her skills.
Nine years ago Veronique moved to New York and has been working as a teacher at Bonjour NY, la Petite Ecole, Preschool at French Institute Alliance Francaise (Fi:Af). Besides her professional baggage, Veronique will also bring new ideas, views and approaches on education to Saint Thomas Choir School.
Haute Ecole Lebre de Bruxelles Llya Prigogne, B.A. Social Assistant
Nicolas Haigh, Associate Organist
“I am fortunate to have benefitted from living in community for much of my life. A former chorister myself, I entered boarding school at the age of eight and never looked back. I am delighted to be able to nurture the next generation of choristers at Saint Thomas and foster the same spirit of camaraderie and belonging that I experienced.”
Nicolas comes to us from Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte, NC, where he served as Assistant Director of Music and Organist. Prior to his transatlantic move four years ago, he held positions at New College, Oxford and at York Minster in England. He grew up as a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, before studying at Winchester College and then, as organ scholar, at Clare College, Cambridge. Currently active as a historical keyboardist and choral conductor, Nicolas has made appearances with American Bach Soloists and Bach Akademie Charlotte, as well as having given solo organ recitals at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and St. John the Divine in New York City. He is a co-founder of the early music consort L’Académie du Roi Soleil and has performed as a Young Artist at the Britten-Pears Festival in the UK. Nicolas has performed across the Americas, and in Hong Kong, Australia, and Israel. His organ teachers have included Malcolm Archer, Clive Driskill-Smith, and James McVinnie.
Cambridge University, M.A. Musicology
Giuseppe Spoletini, Vocal Instructor
“The first thing I noticed when I started teaching at this magical school is the all-encompassing sense of community. Additionally, I am inspired by the commitment, decorum and talent exhibited by these fine young singers whom I am so very honored to call my students.”
Canadian baritone Giuseppe Spoletini has performed widely throughout Canada and the United States. He has performed with the Opera Theater of Saint Louis, the Opera Company of Brooklyn, Saskatoon Opera Association, the Cincinnati Opera, and Opera Company of the Highlands. Mr. Spoletini is equally at home on the oratorio stage, where he has been the soloist in such works as Elijah, Messiah, The Creation, and Brahms’s Requiem.
A member of the Manhattan School of Music Precollege vocal faculty since 2005, Mr. Spoletini is also co-director of the musical theatre programs of both the Precollege division and MSM’s Summer Music Camp. Mr. Spoletini’s students in his private studio have gone on to study in such prestigious conservatories and summer programs as the Manhattan School of Music College division, New England Conservatory, Mannes, Eastman School of Music, Oberlin, the Tanglewood Institute, and the WNO Opera Institute. He is also the music director of the Greenville Community Church in Scarsdale, New York. Giuseppe Spoletini is a founding member of the renowned classical crossover ensemble O Sole Trio which tours extensively in the United States, Canada, and the UK.
Manhattan School of Music, M.M.
University of Manitoba, B.M.
Calvin Wentling, Athletic Director & Music Theory Faculty
“As an alumnus of the school I have a deep appreciation of the Choir School experience. While Saint Thomas offers an unparalleled musical and choral education, as well as a rigorous academic and athletic curriculum, the truly special thing about the school is the sense of purposeful, communal activity that pervades every moment of the day. I hope to use my experience as a choirboy to pass on the many lessons I learned here – musical, academic, athletic, and otherwise.”
After graduating from Saint Thomas in 2010, Calvin Wentling matriculated to The Hill School and went on to study music at Princeton University. Calvin has been a substitute singer with the choir since October 2018 and began working for the school in January of 2019 as music theory teacher. Now also serving as Athletic Director, Calvin is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the life of the Choir School across disciplines.
Princeton University, B.A. Music
Regina Yung, Instrumental Music Faculty
“Being surrounded by a group of talented, energetic, and inquisitive boys makes teaching more enjoyable. It’s also inspiring to see the dedication and commitment to music-making from the boys in the choir and the journey they take to bring their music to a higher level. Saint Thomas prepares boys to become well-rounded individuals and I believe their experience is an invaluable asset for life.”
A native of Hong Kong and an active performer, Regina has taught, accompanied, and coached students of different ages and diverse backgrounds at prestigious musical institutions in the northeast, London, and Hong Kong. She earned a bachelor of music degree in piano performance from Oberlin College, and master of music and doctor of music degrees in piano performance from Manhattan School of Music. Regina, recently appointed as Director of Instrumental Studies in 2016, has been on the piano faculty at Saint Thomas Choir School since 2010.
Manhattan School of Music, M.M. & DMA
Oberlin College, B.A., Piano Performance