Founder & Director
Marisela Smith, our studio's founder and director, began playing piano when she was 6 years old under the tutelage of Professor Sidonia Stern. Mrs. Stern was a renowned german instructor who focused heavily on theory and agility, nurturing Marisela's raw talent for music from an early age. She then attended the National Music Conservatory in Caracas, Venezuela where she was classically trained and learned performance, composition, theory, and music history.
Mrs. Smith first began teaching piano in 1982 after moving to the United States to study at the University of Pennsylvania. Her passion was to teach young students, which allowed her to develop the versatile and enjoyable teaching methods used at Opus Conservatory. In her own words "It seems to me that music is a great gift, that it enriches lives, and that it should always be fun!"
In 2008, Marisela Smith founded Opus School of Music and Conservatory, then known as Brambleton Piano Studio. Since then, the music school has grown into a full fledged conservatory with 4 branches, more than 200 students and 8 classically trained, full-time piano instructors and supporting staff. Mrs. Smith is a loving, lively teacher who instills a love for music in each of her students. Her goal is to help each student be the best they can be, for she believes that the skills acquired while learning to play an instrument have a positive impact on the individual's academic and personal life.
Luis Vasquez in an inspirational pianist, instructor, composer, and arranger with more than 30 years of teaching experience. His passion for music developed at a very young age when he began studying piano, theory, harmony and counterpoint in Venezuela, first at the “Escuela de Música Padre Sojo” (a Music Conservatory under the direction of the renowned Venezuelan musicologist and composer José Antonio Calcaño), and afterwards at the IUDEM (University Institute of Music Studies).
Luis’ unique talent for music coupled with his extensive conservatory training allowed him to attend the Berklee College of Music. He currently holds degrees in Performance as well as Composition and Arranging.
Luis was as a Tenor at the “Capella de Caracas” Choir and has participated in several tours in Venezuela, the Caribbean Islands and Europe.
Luis’ lessons are geared towards training, challenging, and motivating pianists to excel in the Music Development Program. His students are accepted through teacher recommendations and auditions only.
Marisa began studying with Karen Christiansen under the Suzuki Method at the age of six and continued for the next eight years. In middle school, she began teaching herself to play guitar and developed songwriting and recording techniques. At the nationally-recognized Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Marisa sang Mozart’s Requiem in choir, performed Sondheim and Bernstein in musical theatre, and in her senior year became musical director and principle arranger for the school’s female a cappella group. Marisa excelled in AP Music Theory and would go on to complete all of her major’s music theory requirements in her first year of college.
Marisa’s passion for the piano was rekindled at the College of William & Mary where her studies with Dr. Maria Yefimova culminated in a senior piano lecture recital on Chopin and Romanticism. She graduated in May 2012 with a B.A. in Music and Psychology having acquired substantial experience working with children ages three to fourteen. Her last two summers have been dedicated to teaching piano, guitar, SAT and TJ exam prep. Marisa delights in helping students discover what they can achieve with her encouraging and fun-loving style. She is thrilled to join Brambleton Studio in guiding and inspiring the next generation of music-makers.
Olga received her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from the Syktyvkar college of Music in Russia. She started her music education at the Ryazan School of Music for talented children at six years old. Some of her professors included those from the renown Moscow State Conservatory, and she received chamber music coaching.
Mrs. Kovalchuk uses original exercises that integrate technical and artistic training for pianists. In addition, she puts a lot of emphasis on the expression of emotion through music.
She was a teacher and an accompanist at the Music School for children in Russia for 10 years. Many of her students have gone on to festivals, participated in competitions, and performed in solo recitals. She believes music should be something people share with each other and an important aspect if that is being comfortable performing for others.
Michelle Fegeas is a second year DMA Vocal Performance student at George Mason University. A native of Warrenton, Virginia, she received a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of South Carolina, and a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance with a Concentration in Music History and Literature from the University of Florida.
Throughout the course of her studies, she has performed several operatic roles, including Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Adele in Die Fledermaus, and Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro. Active in concert work as well, in 2013 she premiered several songs for soprano by University of Florida composition professor Paul Richards.
While at the University of Florida, she also had the opportunity to perform for elementary school students in Seymour Barab's clever retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Through this she developed a passion for outreach programs, and plans to include outreach as a major portion of her dissertation work.
As the whole body is a vocalist’s instrument, Michelle believes it is important for her students to learn how singing happens from a scientific perspective. She also advocates mindfulness techniques to aid in putting the scientific knowledge into practice.
Martin Gallegos has recently graduated from the George Mason University School of Music, where he obtained the Master of Music degree in Piano Performance under the tutelage of Dr. Linda Monson. He was awarded with the Karen Arledge FOM Piano Scholarship and the Monson Music Endowment Scholarship at GMU.
He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science Engineering at Universidad Mayor, Chile, where he also took piano lessons with Polish pianist Ewa Jasinska. An engineer with the heart of a musician, Martin earned the Bachelor of Music Degree in 2012 and his Licentiate of Music Diploma in 2013 from the Conservatorio Nacional de Música del Perú, studying with Russian pianist Marina Pavlovna de Ferreira. Martin participated as a soloist in the 2014 GMU Young Master Concert, playing Bach’s Piano Concerto in D minor with the Mason Symphony Orchestra. Shortly after this, he attended the “Tafelmusik” Baroque Summer Institute in Toronto, Ontario, studying harpsichord with Charlotte Nediger from the renowned Canadian Baroque ensemble.
Martin has performed in Peru, Brazil, and the US, and has actively collaborated as a piano accompanist with operatic institutions, such as "Romanza” in Lima and “Opera NOVA” in Arlington, Virginia.
Director of Business Development and Marketing
Ofelia Santos comes to us from Leesburg with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and a minor in Psychology from The University of Maryland. Ofelia has lived in many countries throughout her life including Greece, Algeria, Spain and Canada. She is trilingual, speaking English, Spanish and French.
She has worked in the government contracting sector as Marketing Manager. She stayed home with her son and soon started freelance work in marketing and fine art photography before moving on to teach Spanish at a local private school to first through fifth graders.
Her son has been a student at the studio for over four years and she has grown to know the business since its earlier days. Ofelia hails from a musical family and has always had a deep passion for music, small business and marketing, making her the perfect fit to lead our efforts at Opus Conservatory of Music.