Hülya Alpakin Luethi (Piano & Music Together, Founder)
Hülya Alpakin Luethi has a strong European-style conservatory education in piano performance. Born in Turkey, Hülya is a graduate from Mimar Sinan University Istanbul Conservatory. She moved to Chicago to continue her piano education at Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts. There she earned her Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance under the guidance of Dr. Ludmila Lazar and her Performance Diploma, under the tutelage of distinguished British pianist Graham Scott. Hülya is also a licensed Music Together Center Director and registered Music Together teacher.
Hülya has over 30 years of music teaching experience. She started teaching in Turkey as a private piano teacher while she was studying piano in Conservatory. After her graduation from college she started teaching piano at Istanbul Mimar Sinan University Conservatory and Istanbul Istasyon Art School as well as continuing private piano lessons. After she moved to the United States she worked as a piano instructor in various music schools such as Southport Performing Arts Conservatory SPACE, Peoples Music School, and Gasse School of Music. Her students have been accepted to various music colleges and music high schools. Also Hülya’s students have received awards in piano competitions. She has been a judge in CAMTA Roberta Savler Piano Contest.
In addition to her numerous performances in Turkey before coming to the US, Hülya performed as a solo pianist in many recitals and chamber music concerts in the Chicago area, such as at the Chicago Cultural Center, Roosevelt and De Paul Universities, Sherwood Conservatory, Green Mill, PianoForte Chicago and many other venues. She also performed as an ensemble member across the country including New York, California, Arizona, and Minnesota. She played about 10 years with Palomar Ensemble at Access Contemporary Music, which performed the world premiere of many well-known and young composers’ works, such as Xiaogang Ye, Gabriella Ortiz, Jane O’Leary and many others. Her performances were live- broadcast by the radio station WFMT.
After she had her twins she dedicated herself to education for children in music and art. She founded Sparkling Art Piano in 2016. Currently she has been teaching piano and Music Together classes for babies as well as running Sparkling Art Piano.
Katie O’Neill (Art)
Katie O’Neill earned her Bachelors degree in Fine Arts with a minor in Art History from Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia. In the course of her undergraduate degree, Katie worked as Internship Coordinator at The Institute of Contemporary Art where she implemented a high school internship program offering museum education and resources for youth interested in pursuing careers in the arts. She was also an art teacher’s assistant for PreK – 3rd graders and provided private lessons to aspiring adolescents.
In 2015, Katie was awarded The Happy Fernandez Leadership Fellowship from Moore, allowing her to travel to Melbourne, Australia for three weeks to work as a special needs instructor for ages 1-18 in the areas of art, music, dance, and drama. Following this experience, Katie presented at the annual Pennsylvania Art Educator’s Association conference in Harrisburg, PA on art therapy-inspired lessons that would specifically cater to students with emotional and behavioral disorders.
Katie’s teaching philosophy focuses on student-centered learning while incorporating art therapy driven practices to encourage the growth of self-expression, self-esteem, and ambition in students. In each of her classes, Katie invites the exploration of traditional and alternative materials through multi-step lessons built to engage students’ senses, improve independent decision-making, and develop technical, motor skills. Students are introduced to the day’s lesson with a visual, story, or small activity before beginning the art-making process.
Katie was born and raised on a 3-acre farm in rural Cookstown, New Jersey. She enjoys being out in nature, watching documentaries, and blueberry picking. Currently, Katie is earning her Master’s degree in Studio Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She joined Sparkling Art Piano in July of 2017 and has designed the curriculum for each art class.
Füsun Alpakin (Violin)
Fusun Alpakin was born in Turkey and began her music education at the age of six, playing the mandolin and later switching to the violin, receiving instruction from her long time instructor, composer and violin virtuoso, Ekrem Zeki Un. At age 11 Ms. Alpakin auditioned for and was admitted to the Mimar Sinan University Istanbul State Conservatory where she studied violin with the Istanbul Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Professor Yusuf Guler Aksoz and Ensemble with Professor Resit Erzin. In 1988, she received her bachelor’s degree in violin performance. In 1989, she auditioned for the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet Orchestra where she worked as assistant concertmistress. In 1996-97, she worked under tutoring Professor Piero Farulli (Italiana Quartet) with the Chamber Ensemble at Scola Di Fiesole in Florence, Italy.
In 1999, Ms. Alpakin moved to the United States where she worked with the Classical Symphony Orchestra as concertmistress, at the New Philharmonic as the principal second violin, and with the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. In 2000, she auditioned for the Roosevelt University Performing Arts Master’s degree program and received a full scholarship from the world famous Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She completed her Master’s Degree in 2002. While at Roosevelt University, Ms. Alpakin studied under Cyrus Forough (student of David Oistrakh). That same year she was accepted into the Civic Orchestra of Chicago (the training orchestra of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) where she trained with Daniel Barenboim, Sir Andrew Davis, Pinchas Zukerman, Cliff Colnot, and was coached by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal string members.
After moving to the United States she focused on her teaching career, gaining teaching experience working at DePaul University Community Division and the People’s Music School where she worked with Vermeer String Quartet members to train children. Ms. Alpakin has given many masterclasses for instructors and has been involved with “Yours,” a project for children. In 2005, she founded the Southport Performing Arts Conservatory (SPACE) for music, dance and drama education in Chicago. Since then, she has been teaching at SPACE and directing SPACE’s musical productions. She is also holding the position of Music Department Director at The School of Performing Arts at Naperville. Fusun joined Sparkling Art Piano in September 2017.
Luis Angel Salazar (Violin)
Luis Angel Salazar has given tours nationally and internationally as member of different organizations, as soloist and educator. Graduated with his Bachelor in Music Performance from Wichita State University, he currently studies his Master’s in Music Performance under Dr. Olga Kaler at DePaul University. Luis Salazar joined the St. Petersburg String Quartet in April of 2014 with whom he has performed in Europe, Canada and United States in festivals and halls such as Toronto Concert Hall, Music Barge in New York, Music Mountain in Connecticut, Christophori Piano Salon in Berlin, Zaubersee Russian Music Festival in Lucerne, Henschel String Quartet Festival in Germany, Music Bridges in Texas, Watermelon Music Series in Massachusetts, Gregynog Music Festival in Wales, among others. As a St. Petersburg String Quartet member, he has performed with artist and groups such as Arianna String Quartet, Borealis String Quartet, Rhonda Rides, James Dick, Oleg Poliansky, Ilya Yakushev, Stefan Milenkovich, Andrea Banke, Henschel String Quartet, Edmar Castaneda, among others. He has received numerous awards and prizes from different institutions in Mexico and United States such as a three-time 1st prizewinner of the Wolff Bing Chamber Music Competition, St. Petersburg String Quartet Concerto Competition, 3rd prize at Arapahoe Concerto Competition, Wichita State University Concerto-Aria Competition, Premio Municipal y Estatal de la Juventud (MEX), Orgullo Bajacaliforniano (MEX) and Talentos de Baja California (MEX).
Luis Salazar has been member of several groups in Mexico and United States such as Orquesta Juvenil e Infantil de Mexico (MEX), Suprima Chamber Orchestra, Orquesta del Centro de Estudios Musicales (MEX), Orquesta de Camara de Ensenada (MEX), Wichita State University, DePaul Symphony Orchestra, KMEA Symphony Orchestra, Wichita High School East Symphony, Hays Symphony Orchestra, Wichita Grand Opera, among others. He recently participated in the Academy Orchestra of the Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato, Mexico where he gave multiple recitals as solo and with ensemble.
In his teaching experience, he has had the opportunity to teach masterclasses and conduct youth orchestras in national and international tours. In his native town, Ensenada, he has given masterclasses to students from different institutions such as Centro de Estudios Musicales, UABC (University of Baja California), Esperanza Azteca, and REDES; as well as sectionals in orchestra festivals and demonstrations in schools from kindergarten to high school level. In United States, as member of the St. Petersburg String Quartet, he had the opportunity to teach in the St. Petersburg String Quartet Summer Academy, solfege, harmony, history and chamber music, and in Canada had the opportunity to give masterclasses at the Glenn Gould Conservatory of Music. In the city of Chicago, Luis founded “Cuerdas Mexicanas”, a free music program dedicated to Mexican families as an added program to Centro Autonomo. Currently, Luis is a teaching artist at Kenwood Academy High School by DePaul Music Community Division, principal substitute for the Chicago School of Music West, and recently joined the faculty rooster at Sparkling Art Piano, a school dedicated to promote creativity, social, emotional and intellectual development in children through music and art.