Our Faculty

JAMES ANTONUCCI has well over a decade of experience in West Hartford Public Schools. Prior to coming to West Hartford, Mr. Antonucci taught at the secondary level in public and private schools in CT and NY. His instrumental and choral groups have received first place and finalist recognition at many regional and national competitions including Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards, Essentially Ellington Competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center, National Jazz Festival, and the Berklee College of Music High School Jazz Festival.

Mr. Antonucci also has experience in the non-profit sector as Manager of Educational Programs, K-12 at Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC. During this time he traveled around the country and was an advocate for public school music education and jazz education programs in general.

Since coming to West Hartford, Mr. Antonucci has worked at Aiken ES, Bugbee ES, Charter Oak ES and Sedgwick MS. He also has taught improvisation and worked with the jazz bands at King Philip, Bristow, and Hall. The past seven summers, Mr. Antonucci has directed a jazz camp for middle school students in the greater Hartford area through WHPS summer schools. Mr. Antonucci has been the CMEA All State Jazz Chair Co-Chair since 2014.

Mr. Antonucci has an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami (FL) as a saxophone, jazz and studio music performance major, and has a Master of Arts in music education from New York University.  He has his sixth year degree in Educational Leadership from SCSU.  

As a professional saxophonist and woodwindist, Mr. Antonucci has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Sherman Irby, Slide Hampton, Wycliffe Gordon, Hank Jones, Arturo O'Farrill, Lenny Pickett, Alex Sipiagin, Teo Macero, Kenny Werner, Matt Wilson, George Garzone, Jim McNeely, Dick Oatts, John Mosca, Scott Wedholt, and Ralph Lalama. He has performed professionally in NYC at the Bluenote, Birdland, Avery Fisher Hall, Rose Hall and Dizzy's Club (JALC), and Jazz Standard jazz clubs. Locally he has performed with the Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury Symphonies, and at the Goodspeed Opera House. Jim resides in Simsbury with his wonderful wife Rachel and their two daughters, Rose and Grace.

HAIG SHAHVERDIAN is a highly-respected music educator with extensive knowledge of jazz ensemble technique, pedagogy, and repertoire. He taught middle school and high school for more than 40 years and was supervisor of fine and performing arts in the West Hartford Public Schools. Down Beat magazine has recognized Shahverdian as an Outstanding Jazz Educator. Under his direction, the Hall High School Concert Jazz Band has been recognized nationally and achieved numerous awards including Down Beat magazine (Outstanding HS Jazz Recording, Outstanding HS Musicians, Outstanding Jazz Combo), multiple Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival first-place awards, and Berklee Jazz Festival (Outstanding Jazz Ensemble and multiple first-place awards and Outstanding Musician awards), and was featured at an IAJE Convention with Wynton Marsalis as guest soloist. The Concert Jazz Band has performed with Phil Woods, Slide Hampton, Randy Brecker, Jimmy Heath, and many other jazz greats. Currently, Shahverdian is on the jazz faculty at Hall High School, and leads the nonprofit foundation, Gifts of Music, which provides instrumental lessons to underserved students.

LARRY GAREAU has played supporting performances with Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra Jr., Aretha Franklin, Bernadette Peters, Johnny Mathis, Franki Valli, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Ojays, Mannheim Steamroller, The Irish Tenors, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers and Regis Philbin. He has performed with the Hartford and New Haven Symphonies and played Broadway shows at the Bushnell, Palace, Shubert and Oakdale theaters, at the Goodspeed Opera House, and at the Harford Stage. Recent solo appearances with Central Connecticut State University Jazz Ensemble, Southern Connecticut State University Wind Ensemble, Trinity College Jazz Ensemble, Simsbury Town Wide Jazz Festival, Fitch High School Jazz Ensemble, Avon Old Farms High School Jazz Ensemble, Bristol Eastern High School Wind Ensemble, Hartford Pops Band, Farmington Valley Symphony, Colchester Civic Orchestra, and the Nutmeg Symphony The Larry Gareau Trio/Quartet has performed at the Bushnell’s Belding Theater, New Britain Museum of American Art, Goff House Gazebo Series, Music in the City Series, Buttonwood Tree, East Hampton Public Library, Douglas Library of Hebron, MCC on Main, Hall High School, Xavier High School, Miss Porters School, Avon Old Farms School and the Baby Grand Jazz Series. He is on the faculties of Central Connecticut State University and Manchester Community College.

NATHAN EDWARDS is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University with a degree in Music Education. In addition, he recently completed a Master's degree in Jazz Studies at the Jackie Mclean Institute of Jazz within the Hartt School of Music. Throughout his time performing and studying music he has had the opportunity to perform with jazz icons such as Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Kenny Garrett, Jimmy Heath, Orrin Evans, Lewis Nash, Steve Davis and Jimmy Greene. Although an active performer, Nathan Edwards has established a career in Music Education where he has discovered a passion for teaching and enriching the minds of his students through music and performing. As a founding member of the CMEA Equity and Advocacy Committee, Mr. Edwards has presented at Sacred Heart University and the University of Hartford.  He is currently the Director of Bands at King Philip Middle School School in West Hartford.

MATT PARKER is a New York City-based saxophonist and composer who recently moved his family to the Hartford area. Mentored by Jimmy Cavallo (South Florida saxophone legend) and studied with Gary Cambell, Gary Keller, Junior Mance, Reggie Workman, Mike Karn, and Jane Ira Bloom. Career highlights include: Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, The Mingus Big Band, Cape Town Youth Choir, Bridgett Everett, David Bromberg, Ariana Grande, Phil Woods, Ad-Rock, Dorrance Dance, appeared in and recorded for the blockbuster film John Wick, and two years touring with Maynard Ferguson. Ensembles include: Big Bop Nouveau, Hess Is More, Murray Hill, Post Modern Jukebox, Reggie Watkins, Greg Garing, The Candy Shop Boys, and 2s and 4s. Parker has written and released two records under his name World Put Together (2014) and Present Time (2016), both albums chosen by DownBeat Magazine for their albums of the year. He is the composer and musical director for Hand Forged Fiction and Variety Life Production, Theater companies that concentrate on creating original content. Under the nom de sax Sonny Lauderdale, Parker is a signature artist for PremiumBeat. Parker attended the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at The New School and is a D'Addario artist. 

EVAN GRAY currently resides in Waterbury and regularly performs in the Tri-State area. Evan has performed at venues such as Dizzy’s Club, Infinity Music Hall, Katherine Hepburn Theater and Daryl’s House. He is a member of the Hartford Jazz Orchestra, Connecticut Transit Authority (Chicago tribute group), Five Metal Chemistry Brass Quintet, and leads his own jazz groups. Evan is also a frequent performer with the New London Big Band, The Other Orchestra, Rob Zappulla Big Band, Stanley Street Big Band and other regional pop groups. In addition to being an active performer, Evan is a music educator. He instructs private trombone lessons and serves as the CMEA Southern Region Middle School Jazz and Flute Choir chairs. Currently, he is a teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Meriden. At Lincoln Middle School, he instructs the band, jazz, and world music programs. He is also the brass instructor for the Maloney High School Marching Band.