Spark and Echo Arts Leaders
Jonathon Roberts (Co-Founder, Executive Director) is a composer and performer from Wisconsin living in Beacon, New York. His compositions range from solo piano/vocal pieces to large ensemble works, electronic music and theatrical sound designs, drawing from a classical background influenced by pop, jazz, and musical theater. He has performed in NYC and across the country with Spark & Echo Band, The Renaldo The Ensemble, and his multimedia theatre piece on the Apostle Paul, Project Paul. He works as a composer for slot machines at High 5 Games. www.jonathonroberts.com
Emily Clare Zempel (Co-Founder) is an actor and musician based in Beacon, NY, who received her MFA from Brooklyn College. Favorite credits include Katherine in Love’s Labour’s Lost at Milwaukee Shakespeare, Ophelia in Hamlet at Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and Wittenberg at Rep Stage, which was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award. She plays bassoon, ukulele, guitar, clarinet, and other assorted toys in Spark & Echo the Band, has co-created the original play Esther with Jonathon Roberts and Chris Cragin, and has a small obsession with running marathons. www.emilyclarezempel.com
Rebecca Testrake (Lead Administrator) is an artist turned theologian. She has a background in theatre, creative writing, and painting. Favorite performance credits include Grace in Life Without Parole, Lydia in Pride and Prejudice, and Gay Wellington in You Can’t Take it With You. A graduate from Fuller Theological University, she received her Masters of Divinity with an emphasis in Worship, Theology and the Arts and was a recipient of the Brehm Scholarship. She is the founding member of her experimental band, Sound Quilt: a project which interpreted original poems into songs and then music videos. A Southern California native, she thoroughly enjoys visiting NYC.
Artists in Residence
Lily Maase is a rock, country, jazz and classical guitarist raised in New Mexico, educated at the University of North Texas, and living in Brooklyn, New York. She is contributing writer for Premier Guitar Magazine and has contributed to Guitar World and Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation, who recently lauded her as a “master guitar teacher.” She is the founder and owner of Brooklyn GuitarWorks, a workshop-oriented center for guitar and bass guitar education located in Williamsburg.
Lily is the lead guitarist, musical director and bandleader with the Rocket Queens all-female tribute to Guns N Roses and the Suite Unraveling (Tzadik). She is the lead guitarist with Gato Loco, and is endorsed by Godin Guitars.
Her playing has been featured by Vans.com, Maxim.com, Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation, Teen Vogue, and Elle Magazine.
Aaron Beaumont makes music for stage, for screen, and for practically any other thing, whenever possible. As a writer and performer, he’s shared his work in wide-ranging venues from the Sziget Festival in Budapest to KCRW Santa Monica to Theatre 80 in the East Village to the main stage of the West Hollywood Carnaval. L.A. Weekly wrote that Aaron’s music brings “a new life to the ancient music-hall/pop piano-man tradition, with clear-headed songs of genuinely witty lyrical oomph and, most of all, a historically informed musical depth – all delivered with style, grace, wit and elan, of course.” Recently, he was a finalist as a composer and lyricist for the Fred Ebb Award, co-wrote / arranged music for the film Permission (Rebecca Hall, Jason Sudeikis), and premiered a new song cycle, Midtown Antoinette, with Parisian soprano Lorelei Zarifian for Florida Tech / Foosaner Museum / WFIT. He’s currently developing musicals with playwrights Meghan Brown and Drew Crabtree in LA and NYC, where he also occasionally helps produce outrageous bingo raves (Rebel Bingo), most recently at L.A.’s Globe Theatre for Night on Broadway. Aaron also works as a composer and producer for the Gregory Brothers, whose original music has earned them a gold and platinum record and nearly one billion views on YouTube. He co-founded SongLab and currently serves as co-chair of the Carnegie Hill concert series in New York, featuring leading interpreters of classical and New Music from around the globe. In his spare time, Aaron enjoys playing the piano, eating, making coffee, drinking coffee, going for brisk walks, being near coffee, and writing brief autobiographical sketches in the third person.
Marlanda Dekine (Spoken Word) is Sapient Soul, an award-winning Poet and social transformation worker, currently residing in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Furman University and her Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. Marlanda has served as a therapist, consultant, group facilitator, and forensic evaluator for individuals, children, and families across South Carolina.
Marlanda’s poetry can be found in Flycatcher Journal, Wake Magazine, Spark & Echo, and The New Social Worker. In 2012, she released her second album, SOULidifying Borrowed Concepts. She is the Founder of Furman University’s Poetry Club, Poetic Noise, as well as the Co-Founder of Spoken Word Spartanburg (www.spokenwordspartanburg.com), a nonprofit organization bringing awareness to the spoken word art form across the Upstate of South Carolina. Currently, Marlanda is the Founder and Executive Director of Speaking Down Barriers, a nonprofit that transforms our life together across our differences. She is working on a poetry project entitled “A Punch & A Kiss”, naming the ongoing trauma and psychic abuse caused by racism and racial injustice in the United States.
Marlanda is true to the meaning of her stage name, Sapient Soul. She believes that every word she shares with others has been dipped in the wisdom and truth given to her. She believes that art holds the healing power of transforming both people and spaces.
John Estes (Literature) directs the Creative Writing Program at Malone University in Canton, Ohio and is a visiting faculty member of Ashland University’s Low-Residency MFA. He is author of three volumes of poetry— Kingdom Come (C&R Press, 2011), Stop Motion Still Life (Wordfarm, forthcoming) and Sure Extinction, which won the 2015 Antivenom Prize from Elixir Press—and two chapbooks: Breakfast with Blake at the Laocoön (Finishing Line Press, 2007) and Swerve, which won a National Chapbook Fellowship from the Poetry Society of America.
Lauren Ferebee (Theatre) is a Texan native and a multidisciplinary artist whose primary mediums are playwriting and installation/video art. Most recently, her play The Reckless Season was selected for Stage West’s Southwest Playwriting Competition Festival of New Works, and her alternative screwball comedy Sexual Geography was a finalist for the Reva Shiner Comedy Award at the Bloomington Playwrights’ Project. In 2014, she was a juried fellow at Saltonstall Arts Colony, a semifinalist for the Shakespeare’s Sister fellowship and the first theatre-artist-in-
She was also a Spark and Echo Arts Artist in Residence for 2016.
Sarah Gregory (Music) is a singer, songwriter, actor and producer living in Brooklyn with her husband Evan and their daughter Rose. She’s most known for her work with the online music and comedy quartet, The Gregory Brothers, who are responsible for viral hits that have garnered the group over 600 million YouTube views, two Comedy Awards, three Webbys, and a gold and a platinum record. In the last ten years since moving from her home state of Texas to New York, Mrs. Gregory has lent her voice to many amazing artists and projects, such as Kelley McRae, Andrew Rose Gregory, Pony of Good Tidings, The Welcome Wagon, Sufjan Stevens, BiFrost, Dishman + Co., The Key of Awesome and Josh Rutner’s Twelve Gates. Sarah received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater from Meadows School of the Arts at SMU and studied further at the British American Drama Academy in London. She’s a member of Resurrection Brooklyn, Williamsburg.
Laurel Justice (Visual Arts) lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she works from her historic loft studio as a psychotherapist, artist and art consultant. She recently served two terms as a Public Art Commissioner for the Pikes Peak Region and juries everything from latte art competitions and poetry slams, to large scale public sculptures and outdoor arts festivals. She has consulted on various digital art experiences (apps and blogs) for companies based in New York and London. Laurel also writes an occasional arts and culture feature for the local newspaper.
As a visual artist, Laurel works in soft pastels, creating abstract and landscape paintings primarily inspired by the Lowcountry of SC, Colorado and New Mexico. Her commissions hail from coast to coast in the US, and her work has been exhibited widely in Colorado Springs. People describe her work as energetic, whimsical, mysterious, topographical and inspiring.
A graduate of Agnes Scott College with a BA in Art, she went on to earn an MA in Counseling from Webster University in Myrtle Beach, SC. She is passionate about helping clients restore wholeness around whatever it is they feel they are meant to be in the world. Not surprisingly, many of those clients happen to be artists, writers, musicians, playwrights, dancers, etc. She designs workshops and retreats that support the personal and professional growth of creative people.
She is married to Steve and has 4 children.
Michael Markham (Film and Theater) is an actor/filmmaker/photographer based out of New York City. As an actor his favorite roles in New York include Platonov in The Spectacular Demise of Platonov at Shapiro Theater; Frizer in Christopher Marlowe’s Chloroform Dream at The Red Room, Giant in Giants at HERE; and The Singing Soldier in Mother Courage and Her Children at The New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park. Film and television include Law and Order; Coda, Terminal Legacy, Black Card, Fumes, Blind Date, and Last Girl Left. Regionally he has performed in A Little Night Music, Hamlet, the title role in Julius Caesar, and The Ibsen Project: A Lonely Light. His photography has been featured in Skating Magazine, online at FromThisTerrace.com, and the international The InsideOut Project from artist JR. As a filmmaker he has directed and produced videos for Redeemer Presbyterian Church, MPowerd, Operation Exodus, Tootelage, ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty) and Project CREO. He has also helped produce 3 films for Spark and Echo Arts and produced videos for Spark and Echo Band for their third album. Michael graduated from the Juilliard School Drama Division, and has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Acting from Washington University in St. Louis. Michael grew up in Montpelier, VT but has lived in New York for over 13 years. He currently resides in Harlem with his wife, Karen, daughter, Claire, and their 2 cats.
Katie Reimer (Music) is a New York City based concert pianist with broad interests as both a soloist and collaborative musician, acclaimed by the New York Times for her “meditative” playing . She has performed extensively across the United States, and internationally in Austria, Lithuania, and Sweden.
Her debut solo piano CD, Mirrors, was released in September, 2016 on Arabesque Records, featuring works by J.S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Philip Glass and the debut recording of Mohammed Fairouz’s Piano Sonata No. 2, “The Last Resistance.”
She was the Artistic Director for the Mimesis Ensemble’s debut CD on Bridge Records, featuring Mohammed Fairouz’s opera, Sumeida’s Song for 4 singers and orchestra. She collaborated with the Grammy award winning producer David Starobin, and Scott Dunn, Associate Conductor of the LA Philharmonic’s Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, for this project. Opera News selected this CD for their Dazzling Dozen best releases of 2013, calling the Mimesis Ensemble’s performance ‘very impressive.’
Her first commercial recording was released in November 2011, a disc by Sono Luminus featuring solo and chamber music by Mohammed Fairouz. She is both the pianist and the Executive Producer for the disc, and she engaged artists including the Lydian String Quartet, and James Orleans, double bass player in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The disc was selected by New York’s WQXR as their Q2 Music Album of the Week, was called ‘winningly cosmopolitan’ by the San Francisco Chronicle, and noted for its ‘versatility’ by Chicago’s WFMT.
Ms. Reimer is a passionate advocate for contemporary music. She was awarded a grant by the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania to perform a series of concerts by American composers in June, 2014. She curated and performed on a concert in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in April, 2011, as a celebration concert for Pulitzer Prize winning composer Gunther Schuller’s 85th birthday, a performance that was reviewed by the New York Times. She commissioned composer Daniel Bernard Roumain to write a solo piano piece for her in 2013, titled Nine Soul Settings of a Bach Chorale, a piece she has performed extensively.
She has been invited several times to curate and perform on concerts by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center. She also performed by invitation with The German Forum, by Steve Drury to perform at The Stone, by Musicians for Harmony on their series in Merkin Hall, and by the New York City based ensemble, counter)induction to perform at Merkin Hall.
Ms. Reimer is a passionate educator with a private piano studio in New York City, and she has been invited to perform and lecture at the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, and the Northeastern Wisconsin Piano Teachers’ Association. She holds degrees from the Boston Conservatory, and Lawrence University’s Conservatory of Music (Magna Cum Laude), and spent a semester studying in Vienna, Austria through IES Abroad.
Reimer is currently working on a M.Div. degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. http://www.mimesisensemble.org
Kent Shaw (Literature) is the author of Calenture (University of Tampa Press, 2008). His work has since appeared in The Believer, Ploughshares, Boston Review, PEN/American and elsewhere. He is an Assistant Professor at West Virginia State University.
Past Curators: Rachel Carvoso (Visual Arts), Chris Cragin-Day (Theatre), Elizabeth Dishman (Dance), Laura Eve Engel (Literature), Evelyn C. Lewis (Visual Arts)
Board Members: Mark Sprinkle, Michael Markham, Faith McCormick, Nate Risdon, Lauren Davis Waisanen, Kimberly Reeve, Emily Clare Zempel, Jonathon Roberts.