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 PhD 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.
Amalia Francisco, English Faculty & Director of Studies
“ To me, the best thing about Saint Thomas is the sense of community it fosters: the boys do everything together, and their bonds with each other and with their teachers run deep. As a result, they feel safe here to be themselves, to explore their interests, and to grow as students, musicians, and people. Seeing the young alumni return for our annual Thanksgiving Dinner and join together so naturally with each other and with current students in everything from dodgeball games to dinner conversations is a real testament to the deep impact that friendships they form here continue to have on them throughout high school and beyond. ”
Amy Francisco grew up in Groton, Massachusetts surrounded by her two younger sisters and her family’s dogs, and attended Groton School for high school. This experience, particularly the close bonds she developed with her teachers while she was there, inspired her to want to work in boarding schools herself, and led her to a variety of teaching-related activities during her time as an undergraduate at Middlebury College.
After graduating in 2012 with a BA in Literary Studies, Amy moved to New York City to teach full time at Saint Thomas. While she has come to love city life—who knew how useful having corner stores willing to sell ice cream at 3 in the morning could be?— she still refuses to cheer for the New York sports teams.
An avid reader all her life, Amy enjoys putting her favorite childhood books into the hands of her students and reading on her own, a pastime she has much more time for after completing her M.A. in English and American Literature from Columbia University in the spring of 2017. She also enjoys running, biking, baking, and board games, as any of the students who have participated in her cookies and board games elective at Camp can attest.
Columbia University, MA English and Comparative Literature
Middlebury College, BA Literary Studies, Minor in Portuguese
Noah Appleton, Math Faculty
“ Teaching at Saint Thomas is a fantastic opportunity as an educator to preserve meaningful musical and academic traditions while staying on the bleeding edge of educational practices and technology in the heart of New York City (which I believe to be the precise and actual center of the known universe). Because we are in such a unique position, we have been able to adopt a unique and effective approach of which I am particularly proud to be a part.”
Noah Appleton spent his first years in college studying Music Production & Engineering and Music Synthesis at Berklee College of Music in Boston, after which he worked in Los Angeles as a Sound Designer and Editor. Unsatisfied with Hollywood and inspired by his teacher father, he returned to his first love, Mathematics. It was either that or cook.
Completing Mathematics and Computer Science coursework at Purchase College and further Math and Education coursework at Lehman College, he began working at Osborn Elementary in the Rye City School District where he was found by Father Wallace. Currently, he teaches grades 4-8 and spearheads the Choir School’s technology initiatives.
A nerd’s nerd, fan of sci-fi and comic books, avid strategy and card gamer, Mr. Appleton has tangible passions for an eclectic array of music and food. Teacher in the classroom, at the meal table and during Friday Night Magic, he has as a member of the Choir School community since 2012.
Lehman College, MSEd Secondary Mathematics
SUNY Purchase College BA Liberal Studies, Minor in Mathematics and Computer Science
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.
Vassar College, BA History
Bank Street School of Education, Master’s of Science in General Education
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, PhD Physiology and Biophysics
Oberlin College, BA 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, BA History
Elizabeth Ratze, Latin Faculty
“ Saint Thomas Choir School offers a complete educational experience, extending beyond the classroom in a way that is extraordinary. Because of this, teaching at the Choir School is particularly rewarding; faculty members become involved in every part of the boys’ lives, instructing them in a way that does not only focus on academic development, but also on educating the complete person. ”
Elizabeth Ratze joined the faculty for the 2017-2018 school year after majoring in Classics at Columbia University. Elizabeth began studying Latin while attending Cranbrook Kingswood in Michigan; prior to high school, she was homeschooled along with her five younger siblings. In addition to Latin, her interests include dance, arts administration, Biblical Greek, and Ancient Greek and Roman art.
Columbia University, BA Classics
Richard Jarrett, Athletic Director
“ When I was a chorister I never dreamt that I would return to teach at Saint Thomas, but being back reminds me of how valuable the dogged pursuit of excellence and the tight-knit community that sets this school apart are. I’m honored to have this opportunity to give something back to a school that has given so much to me, and to mentor this next generation of choristers. ”
Richard Jarrett attended the Saint Thomas Choir School in New York City as a boy and sang with the Saint Thomas Choir at Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, and at Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in England. In 2001 he appeared on a BBC Christmas special, which featured both Jessye Norman and James Gallway.
In 2003, he sang as a soloist for Ned Rorem’s eightieth birthday celebration in New York City. As a professional singer, Richard sings regularly with Ian Watson and the Arcadia Players and with the choir of the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, NY. He has sung under the baton of Gerre Hancock, John Scott, Barry Rose, James O’Donnell and David Hill. He may be heard as a soloist the compact disc Christmas on Fifth Avenue with the Saint Thomas Choir and sings on a recent recording of the choral works of Benjamin Britten by the choir of the Cathedral of All Saints entitled To Thee All Angels Cry Aloud. Richard attended Trinity Pawling School before graduating from Hobart College with a Bachelor’s of Arts.
In addition to his musical pursuits, athletics have always played an important role in his life. He played baseball, hockey, soccer, and tennis in high school and continued to enjoy club sports in college. He is an avid downhill skier and is the supreme overlord of a promising New York basketball league.
When not coaching or teaching, Mr. Jarrett can be found watching his beloved New York Mets lose yet another pitiful season or praying that the Giants won’t implode. Inevitably he must pin his hopes on the New York Rangers who have managed to disappoint him the least in recent years. He consoles himself with the knowledge that he coaches the nation’s top chorister basketball team.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, BA Music
Dave Eppley, Art Faculty
“ The students at Saint Thomas come to the school already very creative and enthusiastic about art due to their musical backgrounds. This makes it very enjoyable and fulfilling to teach because I get to nurture and develop a child that is already at a great point. My job is to simply make them better and more comfortable expressing themselves.”
In 2003 Dave Eppley earned an MFA in painting from Mass Art. Since then he has evolved through significant institutions through invitations and commissions. These include: The Des Moines Art Center, The NYC Department of Transportation, The Kohler Arts Center, Rye Country Day School, The School Construction Authority, Oboro Art Centre Montreal, Bloomberg LLP, The Tang Museum at Skidmore College, The Decordova Museum, The Town School, Fidelity Investments, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and The Ritz Carlton Boston.
Dave has lectured at The Des Moines Art Center, Rye Country Day, The Kohler Arts Center, Harvard University, Kenyon College and Mass Art. His work has been reviewed in The Boston Globe, The Harvard Crimson, NY1, New American Paintings, The Wooster Collective, and Brownstoner.com
In addition to his own work Dave has taught and collaborated with multiple age levels. These institutions include: Mass Art, Harvard University, Rye Country Day, The Town School, The Des Moines Art Center, The Kohler Art Center. The NYC School Construction Authority, The New York City Public School System: PS 65 and Jackie Robinson Day School. Dave Eppley’s complete portfolio can be seen on his website DaveEppley.com.
Massachusetts College of Art, MFA Painting
Kenyon College, BA English
Ouarda Bonsignour, French Faculty
“ Being a teacher at STCS and sharing my passion for my native tongue is an amazing experience and an everyday joy. Watching the boys become familiar with French culture and language day after day, laugh at the French comedies, enjoy reading novels and comic books, take on the challenge of French grammar and conjugation, or declaim Hugo or Verlaine’s poetry is a blessing. ”
Ouarda holds a bachelor's degree in French Spoken Literature and a master's degree in French Literature and Language from the University Paris XIII in France. After two years of studying for a PhD, spending hours in libraries flipping through books, smelling and living for them, Ouarda caught the book bug. This is when she decided to join the fascinating world of publishing: she spent 15 years as a junior and a senior publisher for two well-known French education publishing houses.
Alongside her publishing career, Ouarda was part of 2 professional choirs: Coeur Colonne and Cœur Symphonique de Paris where she fulfilled her passion for sacred music. Ouarda Bonsignour moved to New York in 2007 and joined Saint Thomas Choir School in 2010. In addition to her work as a teacher, Ouarda is also a passionate jazz singer.
Université Paris XIII – Villetaneuse Diplôme d’études approfondies de Littérature et Langue française
MA French Language and Literature
Benjamin Sheen, Associate Organist
“ Since arriving in 2012, I have always felt that the Saint Thomas Choir School is a hidden gem in the heart of this bustling city. I feel privileged to be a part of such a vibrant community, passionate about the nurturing and encouraging of young, talented boy choristers, and working alongside such a committed faculty. Having grown up as a boy chorister myself, I know first hand what an important part of these boys’ lives this school will be, and I can think of no better place where boys can experience such a well-rounded, challenging yet enjoyable education both academically and musically.”
Benjamin Sheen is one of the UK’s brightest young organists. Hailed as a ‘brilliant organist’ by the New York Times, he is the 2013 winner of the Pierre S. du Pont First Prize in the inaugural Longwood Gardens Organ Competition and received Second Prize and the Jon Laukvik prize at the St. Alban’s International Organ Competition 2013.
He holds degrees from the University of Oxford and the Juilliard School and is also a prize-winning Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and the 2011 recipient of the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ Silver Medal.
As a concert organist, Mr. Sheen has performed throughout Europe, the USA and Australia and also, recently, in Hong Kong and Singapore. He has performed with notable orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the City of London Sinfonia and appeared on BBC radio and television several times. Recent highlights have included several complete performances of J. S. Bach’s ClavierÜbung III, including live on New York’s classical radio station WQXR in November 2014, as well as in Barcelona, Spain and in Cambridge, UK.
After the untimely death of John Scott in 2015, Mr. Sheen took up the posts of Acting Organist and Acting Director of Music of Saint Thomas Church, directing the choir on a domestic tour of the USA and also for performances at the AAM Convention 2016 in Stamford, CT and AGO National Convention 2016 in Houston, TX.
Recital engagements have taken Mr. Sheen across the USA, as well as to Australia and New Zealand this season and in 2018 he will make his debut tour of South Africa, as well as being a featured artist at the American Guild of Organists National Convention in Kansas City, MO. Mr. Sheen is exclusively represented in North America and Canada by Philip Truckenbrod Concert Artists. www.bensheen.com.
The Juilliard School, MM in Organ Performance
Oxford University, BA Honours in Music
Guiseppe 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, MM
University of Manitoba, BM
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, MM & DMA
Oberlin College: BA, Piano Performance