Posted on 15 June 2018
by MMNY Staff
It’s that time of season where we like to feature each of our Special Projects so that you, the Make […]
James Burke, Executive Director
James is a performing arts executive with over fifteen years of experience and a special passion for activating free public programs. Most recently, he was Executive Director of the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, a not-for-profit theater and arts academy serving Long Island’s East End. From 2001 through 2013, James worked at City Parks Foundation, NYC’s largest producer of free outdoor performing arts programs, including the renowned Central Park SummerStage and Charlie Parker Jazz festivals. As Director of Arts & Cultural Programs (2007-13), he and his team rebranded and expanded SummerStage to parks across all five boroughs, spearheaded dozens of dynamic commissions, developed original content for television and the Web, and forged innovative partnerships with a host of prestigious presenting organizations. Prior to 2001, James worked in sales, marketing and promotions for a variety of music industry trendsetters, including Paradigm Associated Labels, Caroline Distribution, CMJ Music Marathon and Reel to Reel Records. An avid musician since his teens, he has recorded and toured with numerous projects, including the post-punk band Idle (Big Deal). He is a graduate of Boston College and an alumnus of Coro Leadership NY, class of XVII.
Petrit Pula, Director of Sponsorships & Outreach
For over a decade, Petrit has held multiple functions in the music industry. He is most known for being the founder of Brasil Summerfest, the largest contemporary Brazilian music & arts festival in the world. The festival launched in 2011 and has presented some of Brazil’s most celebrated artists including Seu Jorge, Bebel Gilberto, Lenine. From 2014-2018, he worked independently as a producer, curator and consultant on numerous projects for various companies and institutions such as France Rocks/French Bureau Export, Rockrose Development Corp, Central Park SummerStage, Jewish Museum, Natura, Red Bull, Soho House. From 2006 to 2014, he was the head of Nublu Records, an independent record label where he managed its worldwide operations including distribution, marketing, business affairs and licensing for TV/Film for companies like Sony Pictures, CBS, Focus Features. Between 2011-2014 he was also involved with the Nublu Jazz Festival which took place in New York, São Paulo and Istanbul presenting many high profile artists such as Roy Ayers, Robert Glasper, Sun Ra Arkestra. He holds a BBA Degree from Baruch College (class of 2003).
Brenna Keeley, Senior Fellow
Brenna is a New Jersey-based arts administrator working with fine artists and musicians and a returning Make Music New York Fellow. She graduated from Fordham University in 2016 where she received a B.A. in Art History while working as a videographer at WFUV Public Radio. Working at WFUV allowed Brenna to collaborate with musicians such as Gary Clark Jr., Brandi Carlile, Richard Thompson, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Ben Folds. She filmed at locations such as Avatar Studios, Electric Lady Studios, MSR Studios, City Winery and Rockwood Music Hall. Working on last season’s Make Music New York, Brenna spearheaded new special programs, including the South Shore Lawn Party and Offerings and Songs to the Solstice Sun. She is currently working on the logistics for the twelfth annual festival as well as the first annual Make Music Asbury Park festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Shelby Blezinger-McCay, Fellow
Shelby is a passionate soloist, chamber player, educator and experimental musician who desires to explore the vast art of percussion and music within today’s communities and cultures. She is a recent graduate from the University of North Texas with a Master’s in Percussion Performance and emphasis on Contemporary Performance Practice. She has also received a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Auburn University. She currently resides in New York City as a free-lance percussionist and educator. She has been grateful to have recently performed and collaborated with many artists, schools, dance companies and ensembles across the city sharing the experience of music. She recently traveled as an ensemble member and clinician with the World Percussion Group and has performed across the world including USA, Poland, and China as a soloist and chamber percussionist. In addtion to being a Make Music New York Fellow, Shelby is Operations Manager for the So Percussion Summer Institute.
Spencer Kulow, Fellow
Spencer is a recent transplant to NYC pursuing a career in music production. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016 with a degree in American Studies, and again in 2017 with a Masters in Commerce. Spencer has produced, DJ’d and played jazz piano professionally, and currently spends time with Make Music New York and DCity Studios out on Long Island. He combines his passion for music with marketing and communication skills learned working at an ad agency and with several startups. His favorite producer is Brian Wilson and he has listened to Pet Sounds, quote, “a lot of times.”
Felix Reyes, Fellow
Classically trained, Felix recently graduated with his Master’s in Percussion Performance with a concentration in Ethnomusicology from Bowling Green State University where he studied percussion under Dr. Daniel Piccolo (USA) and marimba specialist Dr. Isabelle Huang (TW). Previously, he received his Bachelors of Music in Percussion Performance at the State University of New York at Fredonia under the direction of Dr. Karolyn Stonefelt (USA) and studied Marimba Performance at the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Sengawa, Japan with legendary marimba virtuoso Keiko Abe (JP). Outside of his collegiate studies he has also studied privately marimba with Katarzyna Mycka (DE), Ney Rosauro (BR), and chamber percussion with all members of Sō Percussion (USA). He has performed for and collaborated with countless acclaimed international artists and composers including all of Third Coast Percussion (USA), Jean Geoffrey (F), Michael Colgrass (USA), Dai Fujikura (JP), Jennifer Hidgon (USA), and Kaoru Watanabe (JP). In addition to being a Make Music New York Fellow, Felix is Studio Manager for Sandbox Percussion (US), Kaoru Watanabe, and Assistant Managing Director at ShapeShifter Lab.