Winter 2018 bios

Gold Coast Kaleidoscope

Music Art Dance Story

Polina Melnick, soprano

Polina Melnick, 11 y.o., discovered her love of music very early on. She loves playing the piano; singing Italian Opera, Russian Romances and pop music. At the age of 9 she performed singing for the first time in front of a wide audience. Later that year she participated in the International Children's competition Art Washington, where she took first prize in her age category and received a special recognition. At the age of 10 she became a member of the National Children's Choir of the United States. In the summer of 2017 she went with the choir on a tour to Italy and Vatican City. In November 2017 she was selected to perform at Carnegie Hall's Concert Festival as one of the Grand Prize winners.

Prasenjit Dutt, violinist

Born in India to a musical family, Prasenjit (Praz) Dutt began his violin studies under his father at the age of 5. As a 13-year old he received his Advanced Certificate from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London. He was awarded a scholarship to the Yehudi Menuhin School in the UK, but chose to continue regular school. As a child and teen he played in several local and national ensembles, chamber groups and as a soloist. He has been an artiste with the All India Radio since the age of 15.

As a freshman he attended the Festival Junger Künstler Bayreuth in Germany. He played several concerts around Europe as part of the Symphony Orchestra and as part of Chamber groups. Following this he turned his focus to academics and his violin was (sadly) mostly untouched.

Prasenjit came to the United States to attend graduate school at Yale University. He graduated with a PhD in theoretical physics in 2013. While in New Haven he found a little time to play with the Saybrook College Orchestra and the New Haven Chamber Group.

A few months back he had a rude awakening when he realized how empty he felt having neglected his childhood passion. An opportunity to play trios with Larissa and Kevin has been heaven-sent and has got him practicing again. During the day Praz works as a Quantitative Analyst at Barclays Investment Bank. He plays on a Cremonese instrument made by Vittorio Villa.

Alexandria Marino, Violinist/Violist

Alexandria grew up playing violin in West Virginia, where she competed in classical competitions, played every week at her church, and recorded and performed with a local folk rock band. Since then she has performed with groups in every city she has lived in, and especially loves playing and singing with small ensembles as a way to connect with others. Currently a final year medical student at Yale, she is excited to play a lot of music before she starts neurosurgery residency in July. 

José Bastardes, violinist 

Born in Madrid, José Bastardés started his violin studies when he was 7 years old under maestro Juan Krakenberger, performed in master classes for Samuel Marder, Gonçal Comellas, Jose Luis García Asensio, Rodney Friend, Jake Park, Dorothy Delay,  Berl Senofsky and Arnold Steinhardt. Completed his studies under Professor Manuel Guillén with the highest honours winning the Amaniel Prize in both chamber music and violin performance at the "Conservatorio Profesional de Música Amaniel" in Madrid. Mr. Bastardés has appeared throughout Europe as a solo performer with special frequency in Spain and Germany and has been featured on the National Public Radio of Spain as well as on Spanish Television. 

A recipient of both a Fulbright Scholarship and a Distinguished Ministry of Culture Fellowship, Mr. Bastardes completed his postgraduate studies under Maestro Vartan Manoogian at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  

Following his postgraduate studies, Mr. Bastardés taught at the University of North Carolina.  He currently lives in Stamford, CT, where he continues to perform and teach.  

In 2014, Mr. Bastardes inaugurated the music series "Tocan los Clásicos", in partnership with the Conservatory of Music in Ceuta, Spain.  He continues to perform and teach annually at the Revellín Auditorium in Ceuta, where his activities range from solo performances of the Mozart Violin Concerti with Maestro Angel Hortas and the Orquesta of Ceuta, to duo collaborations with renowned pianist Tomás Lobato.

Kevin Root, cellist

As a child, I had somehow been chosen to play the cello in my elementary school orchestra. I actually have no memory of choosing to play the cello myself, so I now believe that the cello,instead, chose me to play it. Unfortunately, my tenure with the cello only lasted a single year, and that year was 1964, the very same year that the Beatles arrived in the United States. So,before too long, it was hello Ringo and good bye cello! For the next ten years, I played the drums and was the drummer in our local neighborhood rock band. I never thought of the cello again, not for a second, as long as I could play rock 'n roll throughout high school, which is what I did.

And then I sold my drums soon after I went off to college, not knowing why, other than that I was no longer living at home, and had no time or place to play anymore . After college, I entered graduate school to become a psychotherapist as I had discovered the work of Carl Jung, and decided I wanted to become a Jungian analyst so that I could understand dreams, both my own and those of others. I also began my own analysis which included weekly dream analysis.

Soon after I began my analysis, a consistent theme began to emerge in them. I was dreaming repeatedly of playing the cello, not just alone like I would if I were practicing, but of performing with orchestras and chamber groups. It happened so often that I thought I should reconsider my earlier estrangement from the instrument, and seek out lessons with a professional. Fortunately, I was living in Manhattan and soon began lessons with a Julliard student and eventually with a member of the New York Philharmonic. Thirty-nine years later, I'm still dreaming of playing and performing, but only when I forget to practice.

Ruth Miyamoto, cellist 

Ruth Miyamoto holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Cello Performance from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she studied with cellist Astrid Schween. While attending UMass, Ruth also studied orchestral conducting with Vince Lee of the Indianapolis Symphony

 and Teresa Cheung of the Altoona Symphony. Ruth has attended various summer festivals for cello, including Interlochen arts camp, the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, and also Bard Conducting Institute for conducting. After leaving UMass, she went on to study

 Violin Repair at Minnesota State College Southeast in Red Wing, Minnesota. This is where she discovered her love for the world of luthierie and instrument restoration. She now resides in Connecticut where she works as a luthier for Atelier Constantin Popescu,

 LLC. During her free time, Ruth enjoys indoor rock climbing, kickboxing, and of course, playing music with others.

Larissa Friedenberg, artistic director/producer/pianist

Larissa Friedenberg is a Stamford resident and loves her new home by Mill River Park. She was born in St Petersburg, Russia when Russia was Soviet Union in its sunset and she left the country just shy of graduating from high school.

Larissa was educated in Special Music School for Gifted Children as a piano and composition major but they had overlooked her passion for dance and theater. She holds a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School of Music and she is a proud mother of three sons who grew up as young musicians and actors, playing several instruments and performing in professional theater, including Broadway, NY City Ballet, Met Opera and other less famous companies. You might say that Larissa was a “stage mother” for a few years, but she eventually grew smarter and allowed her kids to make their own career choices. One is a technology expert, another is a mathematician and the youngest is an aspiring concert pianist and conductor.

Larissa is a soloist, a chamber musician, a teacher and a Music, Arts and Dance ambassador. Her dream is to grow a community of Performing Arts and Swing Dance in Stamford with a creative name of Gold Coast Kaleidoscope. Her dance baby is CT Swing Society and she would like to inspire everyone to learn to dance.

Larissa is thrilled and honored to have an opportunity to present Gold Coast Kaleidoscope: Music, Arts, Dance and Story at St Andrew’s Church.

Many many thanks to our performers and friends for sharing their talents and energy and making this event happen!

Gratitude and love to everyone in the audience!

Gregory Jackson, baritone

Gregory is currently based in Stamford with his incredibly supportive wife, son, and Golden Retriever. He grew up in Westfield, NJ where his involvement in music began at a young age, as he was fortunate to have had teachers and family to cheer him on. While attending Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, he was heavily involved with the Rutgers Glee Club and the Riverside Choral Society, both directed by Patrick Gardner. As a choral singer, he was fortunate to have performed with many famous directors in many of the most famous halls and churches of America and Europe. He also fully immersed himself in developing as a soloist. However, once graduated, he found a passion for haute cuisine and decided to dramatically change course to pursue a career in the kitchen of a small French restaurant. After chopping many, many onions, it wasn’t long before music beckoned and he was invited to sing with the chamber choir of the Mark Morris Dance Group. He performed in MMDG’s setting of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas as well as Gertrude Stein’s Four Saints in Three Acts at BAM and David H. Koch Theater, respectively. He attended DePaul University School of Music for his graduate work where he studied with Marc Embree. After many wonderful musical experiences during his time at DePaul, Gregory’s story took another sharp turn when he found a day job with the Jerry Springer Show, which led to a long career in TV and video production. Currently, Gregory is the Field Producer at the Jerry Springer Show and Steve Wilkos Show here in Stamford. Thanks to Larissa Friedenberg, Gregory has been introduced to a growing music community in Stamford, regularly performing with the Angel Choir, directed by Pamela Kuhn. This will be Gregory’s first public solo performance in almost 10 years!


Singer of the Golden Age of American Popular Song


Margi has built a reputation for authenticity and excellence on the New York jazz scene since 2012. As far back as she can remember, Margaret "Margi" Gianquinto, listened lovingly and felt a strong connection to music from America's Golden Age: from Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Old Hollywood. She has a unique versatility…equally at home in a jazz club, cabaret room, playing for swing or ballroom dancers, singing two, three or four part harmony in a folk or jazz setting. Her sultry style, which many describe as "vintage," and "transportive” is reminiscent of an earlier era when those marvelous big band singers and gifted vocalists sang the music of Berlin, Gershwin, Porter, Arlen and Rodgers & Hart. 


She can be seen regularly at Blacktail NYC (every Thursday), and has given performances at Mezzrow Jazz Club, The Metropolitan Room, The Jalopy Theater, The New York Swing Dance Society and other venues in and around NYC. In June 2017 made her debut at Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center and at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. She has made appearances as part of shows at Urban Stages, The Players Club, The Laurie Beechman Theater, The American Popular Song Society (Jo Stafford and Dinah Shore tributes), Iridium Jazz Club, Birdland, The Friars Club, The NY Hot Jazz Festival, and others, and has had the good fortune to sing with some of the very best musicians on the NYC scene.  For more information visit


Leighanne Saltsman, vocalist/ukulele 

Leighanne Saltsman was born and raised in rural Dutchess County in Upstate New York. She began singing in public at age four and by age 17 was accepted into the prestigious Tanglewood pre-conservatory program in Lenox, MA. Her first paid gig was singing with the New York Choral Artists behind the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. Though she started by singing choral music, she soon became intrigued by songwriting, jazz, folk and americana music, and after recieving her B.Mus from Oberlin she moved to NYC to begin learning the business of music as a manager at Grassy Hill Entertainment, an affiliate of Judy Collins' Wildflower Records.


In 2008 she made the move to Columbia Artists Management, where she worked with Mark O'Connor and Sharon Isbin, Head of the Guitar Department at Juiliard, among others. In 2012 she took up the ukulele began writing her own original songs. Being in NYC has allowed Leighanne to become incredibly versatile, both as a singer and a songwriter, playing and writing in almost every genre imaginable.  Leighanne gigs regularly around the city sitting in with friends' jazz ensembles, singing in classical choruses and also performing her original music. She is featured on recordings as a choral / harmony singer and plans to record the remainder of her EP in 2019. In the meantime Leighanne continues her studies with former Trinity Choirister Marguerite Krull, Yale School of Music / Manhattan School of Music coach Ted Taylor, and award-winning songwriter Tony Conniff.

Robert Resnikoff, actor

The last time I gave a public reading of a short story, it was in Scandinavia House in New York, at a gala reception for the prime minister of Iceland — who was also the author of the story. I have played many roles onstage, including Igor Stravinsky in the world premiere of SMALL WORLD, by Frederick Stroppel; Jack in BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS, by Neil Simon; and Claudius in HAMLET, by You-Know-Who. In my radio career, I have presented classical music on WQXR-NY and WSHU-Fairfield, where I hosted SATURDAY BUFFET and MORNING MUSIC. As an arts administrator, I have edited publications for The New York Philharmonic, 92nd Street Y, and most recently, the Shubert Theater, New Haven, where I was director of marketing and public relations for six years.

Jonathan Yarmis (Old Major)

Jonathan Yarmis (aka Doctor Disruptive) has been a leading voice in the technology industry for over 30 years, with a variety of experience in industry analysis, end-user computing, and public and analyst relations.  His research focus has always been on “disruptive technologies.”

Yarmis is a regular speaker at industry events and appears regularly on a variety of print and broadcast media.  

Jonathan received his BA in economics from Hamilton College.  After college, he was in sports broadcasting for a few years before discovering that technology was both more interesting and lucrative. His acting highlights include a high school production of Arsenic and Old Lace, pretending he’s a race car driver,  and occasionally convincing his two children that he actually knows something.

Peggie De La Cruz soprano 

Peggi is a Stamford resident active in several local singing groups including The Angel Choir,  Park Street Singers, The Bows, and Connecticut Playmakers, where she is currently producing “Nunsense”, opening in April.

“The Angel Choir is important in my musical and spiritual life.”  Great thanks to Pamela Kuhn, our sensitive and caring leader.

Kadriya Bikbova, Soprano

 My   name   is   Kadriya   Bikbova.      I   am   17   y.o.   and   I   enjoy   singing   in   my   free   time.

I   was   born   in   Russia   but   moved   here   to   Connecticut   when   I   was   4.   My   great   grandfather was   a   famous   singer   and   my   grandmother   was   a   professional   vocal   coach.   And   my Mom   teaches   piano   and   vocal   technique   privately.

I   have   been   in   my   school’s   chamber   choir   for   two   years   and   I   have   sang   at   Carnegie Hall   last   year   in   November   in   the   concert   as   a   finalist   of   Concert   Festival   International competition.   I   participated   in   my   church’s   choir   and   sang   there   every   Sunday.   I   have also   participated   in   many   of   the   singing/performance   events,   like   “Broadway   Night”   and “Coffee   House”   that   my   church   held   to   raise   money.   I   like   learning   new   Italian   arias   in my   free   time   and   listening   to   famous   opera   stars,   such   as   Maria   Callas,   Anna   Netrebko, etc   to   learn   their   techniques   of   singing   and   stage   presence.   But   my   first   teacher   is   my Mom,   Liliya   Bikbova,   who   passed   me   passion   to   singing.   I   have   sang   at   the   grand duchess   Wolkonskaya   three   times   when   she   has   held   events   for   young   musicians   to perform   for   the   Russian   speaking   audience.   I   was   a   finalist   in   the   Washington   contest, Planet   of   Art.

I   Like   to   sing   and   share   my   voice   with   other   people.   I   am   sure   music   could   change   lives for   good!

Liliya Bikbova        pianist

Liliya Bikbova is an active member of Schubert Club. She often performs as a singer at workshops, festivals, etc.Her talented students performed at the Annual Concerts held by Princess Elena Wolkonskaya in Manhattan, NY. Also, they successfully performed at International Competitions in Washington, DC and in New York, NY. In November 2016 Mrs Bikbova and her students were on the stage of Carnegie Hall as finalists of the International Vocal Competition.Her students are frequent participants at Young Musician Festival in Fairfield, CT, also at “Young artist Cafe” at Pequot Library in Westport, CT. Just recently they performed at “Music of the Gilded Age” held by Pequot Library.Liliya Bikbova's talent, skills and enthusiasm have improved every project, event and concert she has been part of.

Jan Ivarsson, Poet/Narrator

Our poet and cartoonist, Jan Ivarsson, has a full career behind him in project management and finance where he learned that just because he made it up doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Hence he thought that poetry and cartooning would be a natural segue for his talents. He currently resides in Connecticut surrounded by verdant fields, golden retrievers and neighbors who kindly advise him that he would be much happier living somewhere else. He is, of course, of the opinion that the dogs and scenery should stay.

If so inclined please send any comments or your version of the alternative facts to his email address at

‘Rest assured that all feedback will be thoroughly vetted by him, or his dogs, dependent on comment.

Emil Perdue, pianist/singer

Hello, my name is Emil Perdue and I am a sophomore at Greenwich High. I have been playing piano since early elementary school and have enjoyed it ever since. I also used to play the cello throughout middle school and I participated in the Unsound Festival twice in elementary school, performing electronic music. I currently sing for the Angle Choir and study Music Theory at school. I look forward to progressing my musical abilities because of the great effects it can create on people.

Daria Timasheva, actor

Daria Timasheva, is a 14 yr old teenager with many interests and talents. She realized her love of performance and music when she began playing the piano at age 6, and then added voice lessons at the age of 10. Dasha, as she is known to family and friends, has played leading roles in all of her school theater performances, most recently playing the lead role of Maria in West Side Story. Along with music and theater, she enjoys dancing, spinning and tennis.

Gold Coast Dancers

American Hustle

Choreography by Erik Novoa

Doug Haladay & Mary Holaday

Doug & Mary Holaday have been taking dance instruction with regularity for the past ten years, learning Hustle and West Coast Swing (and maybe some Salsa.)

This is not their first public performance. They have travelled to NYC showcasing their Hustle and West Coast Swing routines!

Crystal Seaford

Crystal is an optometrist with a passion for dance.

Larissa Friedenberg

Not a One Trick Pony

Argentinian Tango

Choreography by Gem Duras

Tango Sueno Academy

Brian M. McGuire

Susan McGuire-Rzucidlo 

Brian is a Patent Attorney and Susan is a Naturopathic Doctor as well as a luxury pet accessory designer for her company Maison de Woof.

Ronald Frank & Tatjana Frank

Ronald and Tatjana were introduced to Argentinian Tango by Larissa, who thought that they needed more intense passion in their lives besides the fun and humor they were already enjoying in their amazing Swing Dancing - to which they had introduced Larissa and got her hooked. It’s a tight circle.

Swing Dance, Lindy Hop, Shim-Sham

Choreography by Lauren Bova

Swinging Entertainment

Paolo Pasta Lanna and Laurentina

Hannah & Cary Monroe

Kim Cahill & Steve Cahill

Tatjana Frank & Ronald Frank

Larissa Friedenberg & Michael Chait

Hannah Monroe

Hannah began her dancing journey in ballet classes. After 12 years of classical training in both dance and music, she found renewed joy in jazz. She first learned swing and ballroom dance styles in 2009 in San Antonio, TX. She now enjoys Lindy, Balboa, and Vernacular Jazz, singing jazz music, and playing the ukulele. She has taught in San Antonio and Colorado Springs swing scenes and has choreographed for dance showcases and theatrical productions. She loves seeing people move from being wary of dancing to jumping feet first into this awesome social art form when given tools and skills to succeed. Her favorite swing songs include "Lavender Coffin," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," and "On Revival Day." Check 'em out!

Cary Taylor

Cary's first foray into swing dancing came in Tulsa, OK in 2010. He was immediately enraptured by the physical conversation that happens when two people share a dance. He has taught Lindy Hop, Charleston, and East Coast Swing in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado, and he attends workshops to further understand swing whenever he can. He enjoys passing on his joy of the dance to others and delights in having them come back to teach him, as well.

Laurentina, dancer/choreographer

After growing up as a student of Tap, Jazz and Ballet, Lauren trained as a ballroom dancer at the Arthur Murray School of Dance in Charleston, SC where she specialized in teaching the six main ballroom dances (Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Rumba, Cha Cha, Swing). She’s made the conversion to Lindy Hop and Balboa in 2005 and brings an elegance and lightness to this dance. She has appeared in several television ads for Midsummer Night Swing and was recently a featured guest on the BK Live morning show with partner Paolo Pasta Lanna. In addition to traveling up and down the east coast as a performer and instructor of these american born dances, In 2014 & 2016 she performed on the main stage at the Umbria Jazz festival in Perugia, Italy with Ray Gelato & his Giants, and again joining them in 2017 to dance on stage at the San Sebastian Jazz Festival in Spain. Other notable performances include: Midsummer Night Swing Lincoln Center, The Shake Rhythm & Roll Festival Asbury Park, The Saratoga Racetrack, Poughkeepsie Swing Dance Society, Central Jersey Dance Society, The All-American Dance Weekend Villa Nova Resort, Feast of San Gennaro, NYC and Belmar, NJ, and the Monmouth Park race track. She currently teaches group and private dance lessons in the tristate area. A collection of her performance videos can be viewed at

Visual Arts

Olga Klymyk Painting

Olga emigrated to the USA in 2006 to further explore career opportunities. She became a US Citizen in 2011. Olga actively engages in a variety of work experiences to provide income. She gives private art instructions, and teaches at the Ukrainian school. Olga is associated with the Loft Art Association in Stamford, and has had a Solo exhibit at a local gallery. She is pursuing opportunities to exhibit her portfolio of watercolor art consisting of some 30 items, all professionally presented. 

Milana Melnick Painting

Milana Melnick, 9 y.o., was drawing, working on art projects from her early years. It was clear that she had a high interest in art. Later on she started studying art. She became interested in the works of Leonardo DaVinci, Picasso, Monet. She has experimented with drawing using charcoal, sketching, watercolor, Conté sticks, acrylic, oil, other materials. One of her favorites is water color.

At the age of 7 Milana participated in the International Children’s Competition Art Washington with her painting “Boats” and was asked to do a sketch on a spot. She took first prize in her age group.

Later she participated in NYC-based contest, where she took second place and was rewarded with a monetary gift.

Milana has a passion for writing stories and drawing.

She is very excited to share her work at the Gold Coast Kaleidoscope.

Nina Nelson, Photographer

Nina Nelson fell in love with photography the summer she was ten years old, bored out of her mind living on a thousand acre farm with parents who didn’t believe in television.

She now lives in Darien with her two children and husband, hasn’t been bored since she was ten, and although she doesn’t have a lot of time for television, does indulge in it every once in awhile.

She enjoys photographing people and pets. All people. All pets. But not landscapes; they never seem to come out as pretty as the real thing.

Danna Dielsi The Silk Touch Design

The Silk Touch is the premier permanent floral design company located in Fairfield County. We specialize in elegant everlasting custom silk floral designs, that capture the spirit of nature..

Owner and designer Danna DiElsi has years of design experience and is known for her silk floral designs by professional interior designers for both residential and commercial interiors as well as special events parties and weddings.

The Silk Touch offers personalized, individual service to each client,offering on site consultations to ensure complete satisfaction .Each floral arrangement is carefully designed to meet the client's particular needs, room ambiance color and decor.

Additional info is available on our website


Olga Loukitcheva-Melnick, producer

Olga Loukitcheva-Melnick, a former market-research specialist and a vivid music and and art appreciator, a volunteer. Olga worked on a number of projects uniting various artists and talents in big events for charitable causes. She always wanted to create a platform, where artists could meet and share their talents in a friendly atmosphere...

Song Translations


Henri Duparc (1848-1933)

Dans ton cœur dort un clair de lune,

Un doux clair de lune d'été,

Et pour fuir la vie importune,

Je me noierai dans ta clarté.

J'oublierai les douleurs passées,

Mon amour, quand tu berceras

Mon triste cœur et mes pensées

Dans le calme aimant de tes bras.

Tu prendras ma tête malade,

Oh! quelquefois sur tes genoux,

Et lui diras une ballade

Qui semblera parler de nous;

Et dans tes yeux pleins de tristesses,

Dans tes yeux alors je boirai

Tant de baisers et de tendresses,

Que peut-être je guérirai.

Jean Lahor

About the composer - from The Interpretation of French Song by Pierre Bernac

“It is certainly unique in musical history for a composer to win international fame with an output of fourteen songs only — yet such is the case of Henri Duparc, who was born in Paris in 1848, three years after Fauré. Duparc wrote fourteen songs in sixteen years, between the ages of twenty and thirty-seven; he died in 1933, having lived for another forty-eight years without producing a single note of music… This was his first melodie.”


Translation by Winifred Radford

In your heart moonlight sleeps,

gentle summer moonlight,

and to escape from the stress of life

I will drown myself in your radiance.

I will forget past sorrows,

my love, when you cradle

my sad heart and my thoughts

in the loving peacefulness of your arms

You will take my aching head

Oh! Sometimes upon your knee

and will relate a ballad

that seems to speak of ourselves.

And in your eyes full of sorrows,

in your eyes then I will drink

so deeply of kisses and of tenderness

that, perhaps, I shall be healed…