January 27 Performance


The Little Church Around the Corner

A few days before Christmas in 1870, Joseph Jefferson, an actor renowned for his portrayal of Rip Van Winkle, approached the rector of the now-defunct Church of the Atonement to request a funeral for his friend and fellow actor, George Holland. Upon learning that the deceased was an actor, the rector refused to hold a funeral for the man in his church. Joseph Jefferson persisted, and asked if there was a church in the area that would hold services for his friend. The rector said, “I believe there is a little church around the corner where it might be done.” Jefferson replied, “Then I say to you, sir, God bless the little church around the corner.” To this day, the church maintains close ties with the theatre. It has served as the national headquarters of the Episcopal Actors’ Guild since its founding in 1923.

Transfiguration is home to The Arnold Schwartz Memorial Concert Series, which was founded by Marie Schwartz in 2004 in memory of her late husband. Since then over fifty concerts, operas, and music dramas have been performed, using some of the finest singers and musicians in New York City. In addition, the church presents outstanding musical groups from September through June, as well as a Summer Concert Series. 

The Conductor and Director

Award- winning organist, music director and conductor, DR, CLAUDIA DUMSCHAT is the Artistic Director of the popular public Concert Series at the Church of the Transfiguration, which features local and international performers in an eclectic mix of recitals, music dramas, operas, and multi-disciplinary works combining music with dance, poetry, and the visual arts.

She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts, Master of Music, and Bachelor of Music degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Fred Swann, John Walker, McNeil Robinson, Alec Wyton, and Dennis Keene, who wrote that she is “one of the most gifted and accomplished organists and choral conductors of her generation.”

Claudia’s extensive organ and conducting repertoire ranges from medieval to contemporary music. She has also commissioned and premiered both secular operas and choral works. As a champion of new music, Claudia collaborates with the New York Composers Circle as organist and conductor. She is the Organist and Choirmaster at the Church of the Transfiguration (“The Little Church Around the Corner”), a national landmark in the heart of New York City with a rich liturgical and musical tradition. There she administers and conducts the professional Choir of Men and Boys (the oldest such choir in the country); the Girls Choir; Cherub Choir; and Camerata.


SARAH CHALFY’s work as a singer and actress encompasses many disciplines, styles, languages and traditions.  She is an avid recitalist, cabaret performer, and collaborator with living artists in developing new works. Notable recent premieres include: Artemisia: Light and Shadow, a new theatre piece on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, with arias by Strozzi and Cavalli; Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger’s Requiem for Fossil Fuels in a rare live performance at the Galerius Rotunda in Thessaloniki, Greece; The title role in ADA, Kim D. Sherman’s opera about Ada Lovelace Byron; Nellie Bly in David Friedman/Peter Kellogg’s new musical Stunt Girl; Madeleine X in the LA world premiere of Michael Gordon’s opera What to Wear, conceived, designed, and directed by avant-garde theatre legend Richard Foreman.  She has collaborated with some of NYC’s foremost new music ensembles, including Alarm Will Sound, Newspeak, and NOW, premiering works of composers such as Michael Gordon, David T. Little, Missy Mazzoli, Judd Greenstein, John Halle, Joel Derfner and Kim D. Sherman.  On the pre-Baroque front, she is a frequent soloist with ARTEK, Early Music New York, and other members of GEMS NY.  She has recorded on the Canteloupe, New Amsterdam, and Innova labels.  Opera and musical theater credits include Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Anne Sexton (Transformations), Vixen (The Cunning Little Vixen) Yum Yum (The Mikado), Guenevere (Camelot), Marian (The Music Man), Carrie (Carousel), and Hodel (Fiddler on the Roof).  As an actress, Sarah has done numerous independent films and appeared on TV in  TNT’s Leverage.

Sarah did her MM studies at Manhattan School of Music and her BM at the Peabody Conservatory.  She was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Universität Mozarteum Sommerakademie, and the Académie internationale d’été de Nice. She studied acting/Meisner technique at the T. Schreiber Studio, and musical theater with Paul Gemignani and Carolyn Marlow. Sarah is recipient of numerous awards, including top prizes in the Lotte Lenya, Rosa Ponselle, Canticum Dominum, and Bach Society of Baltimore competitions, and study grants to the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg and the Académie internationale d’été de Nice.  



Being lauded for his sensitive phrasing, colorful performances, and attractive timbre, tenor Nicholas Nesbitt is quickly becoming a sought after artist. Nesbitt has performed with many opera companies and music festivals including Caramoor Music Festival, Central City Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Sarasota Opera, and the International Vocal Arts Academy. Nesbitt received his BM in Voice from DePauw University and MM in Voice from Indiana University. Additionally, Nesbitt recently completed his doctoral coursework at Indiana University where he also received a certificate in vocology. Nesbitt has performed leading roles including: Tonio in Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment, Il Conte d’Almaviva in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, King Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Fenton in Niccolai’s Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor, Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. Nesbitt has received major awards from the Bel Canto Foundation, NSAL, and NATS.

MITHUNA SIVARAMAN, a coloratura soprano, is quickly getting noticed for the “clarity of her embellishments” (Voce di Meche). Since moving to the New York City area in 2018, she has made role debuts in New York and New Jersey as Colleen in Scott Joiner’s Connection Lost (Modern Opera Company), Casilda in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers (Ridgewood G&S Opera Company), Clizia in Handel’s Teseo (Cantanti Project), and Drusilla in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (New York Lyric Opera Theater). She also covered the role of Savitri in New Camerata Opera’s double bill of Venus and Adonis/Savitri, and the roles of La Fee and Maguelonne in City Lyric Opera’s production of Viardot’s Cendrillon. Outside of the New York City area, she has performed with companies in California and Washington D.C., with other roles performed including Belinda (Dido and Aeneas) and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel). Mithuna is a 2019 alumna of IVAI, and was accepted as a Studio Artist for Teatro Nuovo’s 2020 season (cancelled due to COVID). She is also an experienced choral artist, and has performed in venues including Carnegie Hall, National Sawdust, and Madison Square Garden. Born and raised in Singapore, she is of Tamil descent, and has extensively trained in both Hindustani and Carnatic classical voice, with teachers including Ustad Vilayat Khan and D.K. Pattammal. In her non-singing life, Mithuna is a tax attorney with significant experience in transfer pricing and tax controversy.

BILL GROSS has appeared in many productions at The Little Church Around the Corner including King Darius in The Play of Daniel, the title role in Saul, and Melchior in multiple incarnations of Amahl and the Night Visitors. A Juilliard graduate, he has New York credits that include Sondheim’s Children and Art at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theater, the off=Broadway premiere of Beowulf at the Irish Repertory Theatre, a production of his own one-man show, All the Way Through Evening, and a slew of workshops and recordings, too numerous to count. Other favorite credits include Lionel in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Jud in Oklahoma!, El Gallo in The Fantasticks, Hal in Picnic, and a tour of David Drake’s The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me. Apart from the world of performance, Bill has worked for the past 8 years at SAGE, the nation’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ older adults.

Baritone DOMINIC INFERRERA has enjoyed acclaim in giving voice to opera, oratorio, musical theater, pop, jazz, and contemporary music. As The Son in Hugo Weisgall’s Six Characters in Search of an Author with Opera Festival of New Jersey, The New York Timesproclaimed him a “standout.” His performance of Young (Old) Button in John Eaton’s operatic adaptation of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” at Symphony Space in NYC was hailed by the New York Times as “dynamic.” Other roles include The Celebrant in Bernstein’s Mass with the Cornell University Theatre, Escamillo (Carmen) and Silvio and Marco (Pagliacci/Gianni Schicchi) with OperaDelaware, Masetto (Don Giovanni) with Toledo Opera and Annapolis Opera, Lescaut (Manon Lescaut) at Opera Memphis, Guglielmo (Così fan Tutte) with Capital City Opera, Moralès (Carmen), Wagner (Faust), Marquis (Traviata), and Maggiordomo (Vanessa) with Opera Festival of New Jersey, Escamillo with Union Avenue Opera, The Swineherd in John Harbison’s A Full Moon in March with Encompass Opera Theater, Aeneas (Dido and Aeneas) with the Greenwich Village Singers, and Castro (Fanciulla) with New York City Opera.

Mr. Inferrera’s concert repertoire includes Orff’s Carmina Burana, Finzi’s In Terra Pax, Vaughan Williams’ Fantasy on Christmas Carols, Fauré Requiem, Duruflé Requiem, Brahms’ Requiem, and Handel’s Messiah with Princeton Pro Musica, Monmouth Civic Chorus, Burlington Symphony (VT), Choral Society of the Hamptons, Greenwich Village Singers, and American Classical Orchestra, and Pontius Pilate in Brooklyn Academy of Music’s critically acclaimed St. Matthew Passion. Dominic has performed with the Meredith Monk Ensemble, Mark Morris Dance Group, and pops appearances with Indianapolis Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, Naples Philharmonic, Ocean City Pops, Colorado Symphony, New York City Opera, and Seattle Symphony. Recordings include the acclaimed Orpheus and Other Works by composer Louis Karchin, Arnold Rosner’s Songs of Lightness and Angels, and Eaton’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” on Albany Records.

JENNIFER CRIER JOHNSTON began her career at the age of five in West Wickham, England singing You Are My Sunshine, beguiling a care-worn audience eager to buy war bonds to support England’s part in World War II. Jennifer has appeared in some of America’s most iconic films, including Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady (Mrs. Higgins’ maid); Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music (a nun at Nonnberg Abbey); the musical comedy The Unsinkable Molly Brown; Paddy Chayefsky’s The Americanization of Emily; and several Alfred Hitchcock films. Her stage credits include leading roles in productions of G.B. Shaw’s Saint Joan (Joan), Shakespeare’s The Tempest (Ariel) and The Merchant of Venice (Jessica), Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit (Elvira), Matthew Barber’s Enchanted April (Mother), Source Theater’s production of Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey (again, Mother), and Irish-accented voice talent at the Ireland 100 Festival at The Kennedy Center. Her television roles include a nurse in Dr. KildareBen Casey, and Guiding Light. Her Kennedy Center productions include Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades/Pique Dame, Giordano’s Fedora, and Massenet’s Werther, all as The Maid. She has cast supernumeraries in stage productions at Washington National Opera, dressed sets on stages on both coasts, and for many years was the voice of Opera News on the Radio Service for the Blind. 

Violinist ALEXANDER SASHA YAKUB is a 2020 graduate of Harvard University with a B. A. in Music. Sasha has studied violin with James Buswell, Minna Diner and Giovina Sessions since the age of four, and has been composing since age seven. He was co-concertmaster in the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and has been winner of the BPYO, Windham Orchestra and Springfield Youth Orchestra concerto competitions, as well as concertmaster of the MA All-State Orchestra. Sasha was also a 2018 and 2017 Tanglewood Music Center Violin Fellow, and was named a 2016 Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist on NPR’s “From the Top” with Christopher O’Riley. His compositions have been performed in Boston, New York City, Miami, and Vienna by ensembles including the Parker Quartet, Transient Canvas, and Ensemble PHACE. He was a 2019 “Harvard Arts” Artist Development Fellow and a proud member of the Harvard/UK-based group The Goat Exchange, an artistic collective where he serves both as composer and violinist. Notable composition projects with that group include The Emperor’s New Clothes, a children’s disco musical commissioned by and premiered at the American Repertory Theaterr, and more recently “Memory Play,” a short film voted “Best Experimental” from the Grand Jury Selection at the Ivy Film Festival. Other notable commissions have included the Harvard Composers Association (2019), and the Southeastern Piano Festival (2016). Sasha also served as Music Director of the Harvard College Opera (2017-2018) and of an intercollegiate new music ensemble he founded in Boston, N. M. E.

Cellist DAVID BAKAMJIAN performs regularly as a recitalist, ensemble player, and recording artist on both modern and baroque cello. In addition to appearances in New York’s premiere concert halls, he has appeared several times on National Public Radio and WQXR and was a winner or finalist in four international chamber music competitions. He is a founding member of the New York Classical Quartet and of Brooklyn Baroque, whose CDs were deemed a “must buy” by the American Record Guide, and his recording of cello sonatas by Boismortier was released in 2011 to critical acclaim.

David has performed as soloist with the Allentown Symphony, Philharmonia Virtuosi, Beijing Symphony, Early Music New York, Bachanalia Festival Orchestra, Musica Bella, the Hunterdon Symphony, and the Lehigh University Philharmonic, and he has served as principal cellist for several orchestras, including the Berkshire Opera, New York Grand Opera, Bachanalia, the High Mountain Symphony, and the Miss Saigon theater orchestra on Broadway. As a member of the Casa Verde Trio, he completed six critically acclaimed national tours and a month-long tour of China. On baroque cello, he performs with Concert Royal and the American Classical Orchestra, and he was principal cello of Early Music New York for several years.

Mr. Bakamjian was featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Evocations of Armenia, a specially conceived program that he co-wrote with actress Nora Armani for solo cello and spoken word. By special invitation, they subsequently took the program to Armenia. A dedicated teacher, he is the director of both the Summer String-In, where he teaches and performs as a member of the Simon String Quartet, and of the three Play Week chamber music workshops for adult amateurs. He earned his B.A.at Yale, and his Master’s and Doctorate degrees at SUNY Stony Brook, and he was a faculty member of Lehigh University for eight years.