Spark Your Creativity: Explore Musical Instincts

Monique MeadViolin
Isabel CardenesHarp
Tino CardenesPiano

Since 2009, Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts has been presenting an Educational ArtReach Program in partnership with the Allegheny-Clarion Valley School District – bringing music, dance and visual art resources and opportunities to students from Grades K to 12.

Teaching Artist groups performing sequential music education residencies consisting of small workshops, assembly performances and after-school coaching for Elementary and Junior/Senior High students have included Cello Fury, Attack Theatre, C Street Brass, Akropolis Reeds, Beo String Quartet, Aria 412 and the Renaissance Winds.

In addition, prior to COVID, ARCA presented annual exhibits in its Red Brick Gallery in Foxburg of art work made by A-C Valley Junior and Senior High School students.

The Music That Makes Me Dance 2014
Aria412 – Fractured Musical Fairy Tale 2019

Explore Your Creative Instincts with Trio con Brio

Undaunted by Pennsylvania COVID restrictions prohibiting in-school performances in 2021, ARCA has engaged the acclaimed Teaching Artist, violinist MONIQUE MEAD, to create a 35-minute video resource to be presented in the classroom for all students in grades K to 6 and for Band and Chorus students in grades 7 to 12.  The resource not only will be presented by general music teachers Karen Hetrick and Jennifer Lowrey to students in the Allegheny-Clarion Valley School District, but also will be offered as a resource to music teachers in additional schools in the Region. Later this Spring, the video will be posted on YouTube for students of all ages!

Monique Mead and her children, harpist Isabel Cardenes and pianist Tino Cardenes – “Trio con Brio” – will present an engaging program that explores the creative instinct within each of us.

Performing on violin, piano, and harp, this teen-family will bring you into their home to share stories, performances, and practices that can help light a spark for your own creative pursuits.

And as a teaser, here is Tino playing a cyber-piano duet with himself – a four hand arrangement of the Dvorak “Dumky” Trio, op.90, II. Vivace non troppo!  A promise of what will be a superb program for the students in the region.


Monique Mead

A passionate ambassador of classical music, violinist Monique Mead enjoys a rich career as a performer, educator, and innovator. Inspired and mentored by Leonard Bernstein, Mead has devoted her performing career to nurturing new audiences and deepening the musical experience for seasoned concertgoers. Her programs with major orchestras and festivals in the United States and Europe have drawn international acclaim for their popular appeal and innovative approach.

Interweaving live music with education and audience engagement at the highest level, her programs have reached millions through television appearances, a six-year radio series with the Munich Radio Orchestra, and nearly 20 years of concerts with the Cologne Philharmonic, Munich Symphony, Düsseldorf Symphony, Berlin Radio Orchestra, RIAS Chamber Choir, Neue Philharmonie Westfalen, San Diego Symphony, and the Mainly Mozart Festival, among others.

Sharing her passion for audience engagement are conductors and soloists such as Manfred Honeck, Leonidas Kavakos, Jon Kimura Parker, Sarah Chang, Lars Vogt, Arabella Steinbacher, and Yan Pascal Tortelier, with whom she collaborates to create interactive events that build excitement around the concert experience. In this capacity, she has created long-term programs for many arts organizations in the United States and Europe. Her current focus is on the Pittsburgh Symphony, where she serves as Consultant for Integrative Strategies, spearheading initiatives that build loyal audiences and integrate music into community life.

Mead’s ability to see musical connections in everything from Verdi to Vader and Star Wars to soccer, and Verdi to Vader has resulted in over 200 thematic programs for audiences of all ages, many sponsored by Audi, Bayer, FC Bayern-München, Dresdner Bank, Ronald McDonald House, BASF, Opel, and the Anders Foundation, among others.

In addition to programming, performing, and presenting concerts with orchestras since 1997, Mead has trained hundreds of orchestral musicians to be effective teaching artists, helping them to make meaningful connections with young audiences. The opportunity to offer this training at the conservatory level came in 2012, when Mead was appointed Director of Music Entrepreneurship Studies at Carnegie Mellon University. With a focus on experiential learning, she collaborates with world-class musicians in helping students develop a broad range of skills and take an innovative approach to professional life.

Other affiliations with CMU include a position as Violin Instructor at the Preparatory School and a lecture series for CMU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Most recently, Mead founded the Center for Arts Innovation at CMU, which serves as a cross-campus laboratory for developing strategies and products that support orchestras and other arts organizations.

She currently performs on a 1717 Stradivarius, graciously made available by Carnegie Mellon University.

Isabel Cardenes

A Pittsburgh native, Isabel Cardenes, age 17, has been immersed in music for her entire life, taking in the sounds of the Pittsburgh Symphony and traveling with her parents to concerts and festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Having made her piano debut performing a Mozart concerto in Germany at age nine, she discovered her love for the harp a year later and has been thriving in the studio of PSO Principal Harp, Gretchen Van Hoesen.

Isabel has been a member of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony since 2017. In May, 2019 Isabel won first prize in Pittsburgh’s Lois Streator/Smith Competition and in June traveled to North Carolina to compete in the finals of the American Harp Society national competition, winning third prize. She has received scholarships to attend Interlochen Arts Camp in 2018 and 2019, and is a recipient of the Arts Recognition Scholarship from Oakland Catholic High School.

With a strong interest in music for healing, Isabel performs frequently for patients at the Hillman Cancer Center. She and her mother, Monique Mead, have also developed “Music in the Moment,” an integrated program of music, movement, and mindfulness. She was recently chosen as a finalist to be featured on the NPR Show From the Top.


Tino Cardenes

Tino Cardenes, is 16 years old and a classical and jazz pianist living in Pittsburgh. I’ve been playing classical piano since I was five and have always loved performing for people.

My favorite moments have been performing as a soloist with orchestras in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Germany as well as performing for people that rarely experience live music. In the past year, I have been on a 50-concert tour performing the Beethoven Violin Concerto with Monique Mead and playing jazz for people who are facing adversity.

When I’m not practicing, I am coding, video editing, or building this website.


Monique Mead and her children, harpist Isabel Cardenes and pianist Tino Cardenes – “Trio con Brio” – will present an engaging program that explores the creative instinct within each of us.  Performing on violin, piano, and harp, this teen-family will bring you into their home to share stories, performances, and practices that can help light a spark for your own creative pursuits.

The works being performed include:

William Grant Still: “Mother and Child” and “Gamins” (street urchins) from Suite for Violin and Piano

J.S. Bach/Grandjany: Harp transcription of “Largo” from Solo Violin Sonata in C Major

Vittorio Monti: Czardas for Violin and Piano

Jules Massenet: Meditation from the opera Thais

Antonin Dvorak: II. Allegro vivace from “Dumky Trio” arranged for Piano 4 Hands

Akropolis Reed after-school workshop, 2017

ARCA’s Educational ArtReach Program fulfills its mission as a non-profit organization, demonstrating its commitment to contribute to the future of the Allegheny-Clarion valley community through the arts education of its young people. ARCA is grateful for its partnership with the A-C Valley School Board, administrators, faculty and music specialists for facilitating this program – and to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts for making this program possible

Designed specifically as an arts education resource for A-C Valley students, in past years the assembly concerts and workshops have not been open to the public. This year at the end of the educational presentations in participating schools the Spark Your Creativity video will be posted on YouTube.  Because there is no admission for its Educational ArtReach events, ARCA relies on contributions from the community to support its art education program in the A-C Valley Schools and grant support from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Anyone interested in making a contribution or becoming an ARCA member may do so on this site.

Beo String Quartet – Elementary Workshop A-C Valley 2018

In advance of their residency, elementary music teachers, Karen Hetrick, A-C Valley Elementary band director and general music teacher and Jennifer Lowrey, choral director and musical theatre director  will prepare students in K-6 for the instruments in the string family and some of the concepts and music Trio con Brio will be performing in the video.

Jennifer Lowrey said of ARCA’s arts education program,“The students at A-C Valley have a love for the arts. The programming ARCA has brought into our district over the years has nurtured that love and opened a window into a world of professional artistic excellence that many students otherwise might not get a chance to experience. It also has given them a glimpse of the possibility of who they could become as an artist.”

Karen Hetrick, Elementary band director and general music teacher said of ARCA’s program, “The students and faculty at A-C Valley Elementary School are so thankful for the arts opportunities that ARCA has brought to our school. Students have been exposed to professional singers, dancers, instrumentalists and actors of the highest caliber. My students are always so excited and enthusiastic to play after watching and listening to these wonderful groups. The elementary band students especially love interacting with the performers in the small group settings both during the day and in the after-school sessions. Thank you so much for the continued artistic enrichment you provide to our students and community.”

C Street Brass After-School Student Ensemble Coaching, 2016

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