Our Teachers


Alexander Peña

Alexander Peña serves as Director of ROCmusic, a unique music education program that offers group and private instruction within economically disadvantaged communities to help enable urban youth in Rochester, NY. His non-profit organization, inspired by the El-Sistema movement, is a partnership collaborative between the Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester), Hochstein School of Music & Dance, Eastman Community Music School, City of Rochester, Rochester City School District, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

In addition to his position at ROCmusic, Peña teaches violin and viola, and directs string ensembles at the Eastman Community Music School. Peña is also a founding member, performing artist, and Children and Community Education Coordinator at the Lakes Area Music Festival in Brainerd, Minnesota.  In addition to teaching, Peña frequently performs with ¡Voila!, an award-winning viola trio which has been recently featured on Western New York’s WXXI Radio FM’sBackstage Pass, hosted by Julia Figueras.

Peña’s musical studies began in the Texas public school system before later focusing on private lessons in high school with Eastman alumna and principal violist of the San Antonio Symphony, Allyson Dawkins. He attended the Eastman School of Music, where he earned a Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance and Music Education in 2010. Peña received his Master of Music degree in Viola Performance and Literature and an Arts Leadership Certificate from the Eastman School this past fall of 2013. Upon graduation, Peña was honored with the Robert L. Oppelt Viola Prize which is annually presented to an outstanding viola student at Eastman.

Alexander comes with a variety of leadership experience, including successfully hosting the 40th International Viola Congress. Most recently, Peña has continued his broad musical studies by training for certification in Dalcroze Eurythmics through the Dalcroze Society of Canada. He enjoys dancing, practicing yoga, and spending time with his partner and their cat. 


Robert L. Pycior

Robert L. Pycior is a multi-instrumentalist and private instructor of over 15 years. He performs the violin professionally in a variety of contemporary outfits, and currently composes and records music for film and television. Most notably, Pycior is the violinist for the Brooklyn-based band O’death.

Robert has composed the film scores to feature films including The Village of Peace (2014), a documentary that explores a community of African-Americans from Chicago, who in 1967 began the 2 year migration to Dimona, Israel; A Wife Alone (2012), a psychological thriller taking place in the suburbs of Rochester. Pycior has also contributed string performance and orchestration to the scores of Rich Hill (2014), winner of Sundance Grand Jury Prize for documentary; Marina Abramovic (2012), Emmy and Peabody Awards winning documentary.
Pycior received his Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from the Music Conservatory at Purchase College, State University of New York.


Humberto J. Colón Rivera

Humberto J. Colón Rivera began studying music in 1996 at the Preparatory School at the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico, and the “Escuela Libre de Música Ernesto Ramos Antonini.” He has a Bachelor’s degree in Double Bass Performance from the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico, graduating magna cum laude under the tutelage of Professor José David Torres. Humberto also attained a Master’s degree in Double Bass Performance from the University of Arizona, studying with Professor Patrick Neher. He served as Professor of Double Bass at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, San Germán Campus, and as President and Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society Modern Academy Inc.

From 2001 to 2005, Humberto served as a member of the double bass section of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. He is also been part of other great orchestras in Puerto Rico and the United States, including the Arizona Symphony Orchestra, World Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of Institute of Puerto Rican Culture “Sinfonietta”. While still in high school, Humberto was highlighted as a soloist with the Advanced Strings Orchestra of the Preparatory School in New Canaan High School, Connecticut. He has also performed as a soloist with the University of Arizona Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

His desire to grow as a performer led him to study with famed bassist Gary Karr on Victoria Island, Canada. He also studied with Lawrence Hurst, Christopher Hanulik, Eugene Levinson, among others. For three consecutive years he attended the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. He has participated in several festivals in the United States, such as the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Tennessee, Las Vegas Music Festival in Nevada and the acclaimed Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. Humberto has taken masterclasses with François Rabbath, Kristin Korb, Frank Proto, Volkan Orhon, Biava Quartet, among others.

After attending for two years to the Arizona Bass Player Festival, Humberto was invited to work as assistant manager for the year 2008. He also worked as an music editor for ISG Publications while still in Arizona. Among other employments, he has been Assistant Professor in The University of Arizona, bass teacher at the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico, the “Escuela Libre de Música” in Humacao and the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Puerto Rico. He currently teaches double bass at the International School of Music and Arts (ISMA) located in Pittsford, NY.

In 2013, Humberto received the Art Business Scholarship bestowed by CEMCA (“Centro Empresarial para Músicos CulturArte”) for his ongoing projects with the Chamber Music Society Modern Academy, Inc. Other scholarships and awards he has received are the Arizona Top Scholars, which allowed him to study Graduate School with a full scholarship, the Robert I. Ferdman 2005 Award by Pro Arte Musical of Puerto Rico, the Emerson Electric Co. Scholarship Award for representing Puerto Rico in the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Double Bass Medal in the “Escuela Libre de Música Ernesto Ramos Antonini”, and the Medal of Honor of the Strings for Kids program of the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico. Humberto was a finalist in the XVIIIᵗʰ Southern Arizona Young Artists Competition and the Vᵗʰ Interdepartamental Competition at the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico.

Humberto currently is an active member for different ensembles in the Rochester area, such as the Penfield Symphony Orchestra and Cordancia Chamber Orchestra, among others. He also works as a producer, composer, and arranger for figures such as the famous Puerto Rican singer, Danny Rivera, and the Puerto Rican composer Jorge Ayala. His double bass and piano, Sonata 1949, is in the process of being published.

Tahlia Cott

Tahlia Cott is a performer and educator currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in music education at the Eastman School of Music. She has been playing piano since the age of four and has been a finalist in various competitions, and has experience with solo performance, live theater performance, chamber performance and accompanying.

In addition to playing classical violin since the age of ten, she also has related experience playing fiddle performing in various bands, recording albums, and writing. She has played fiddle in multiple venues and festivals in the Connecticut, New York City, Boston and Rochester area such as the Rochester International Jazz Festival, Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, Brantling Bluegrass Festival, Greater Danbury Irish Festival, Northeast Music and Dance Festival, has performed live on radio stations such as WPKN in Bridgeport, CT and WGDR in Montpelier, Vermont, and placed in contests such as the Roxbury Picking and Fiddling Contest.

Tahlia currently performs with two bluegrass bands in the Rochester area, The Crooked North, and Great Vagrant, a band she started her freshman year with other Eastman students. She also teaches fiddle at the Kanack School of Music in Rochester.

In addition to performing and recording, Tahlia also founded Eastman Americana, a student organization started for the purpose of educating Eastman students about various styles of traditional American music. Eastman Americana has hosted various guest artists such as 10 String Symphony and Bèla Fleck for workshops and masterclasses with Eastman students.

Erika Matei

Erika Matei is a Romanian­American music educator and classical pianist from Ringwood, NJ. The first of her family to professionally pursue music, she currently attends the Eastman School of Music. In addition to recitals at Eastman, she has also performed at Carnegie Hall, The New World Center, Steinway Hall Coral Gables, The Kosciuzko Foundation, and Lang Hall at Hunter College. This summer she attended the Miami Music Festival, where she worked with faculty from Juilliard, The Manhattan School of Music, and Temple University. Previous summer festival experience includes the InterHarmony International Chamber Music Festival (Germany), Alexander and Buono International Festival of Music (NYC), and the Dorothy Taubman Seminar (Montclair State University). Not only a soloist, Erika also collaborates with other musicians through accompanying, chamber music, and orchestral groups, such asEmpire Film Music Ensemble and the Miami Music Festival Orchestra. 

Passionate about community outreach, Erika has lead group music sessions and private lessons with the Eastman Community Music School’s Pathways Program and the Hillside Children’s Center. Similarly, she has interned at the Diller­Quaile School of Music’s Summer Music Study Program (NYC), which offers free music instruction to Harlem­area youth. Other experience includes assisting at the ECMS Early Childhood Music Program classes, maintaining a private piano studio, and music directing for productions and summer programs in New Jersey. This year, she serves as the President of Eastman’s National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Chapter, facilitating workshops, volunteer opportunities, and general interest meetings about various aspects of music teaching and learning.