Mr. Babbitt graduated in 1985 from the UWM with an MM degree in double bass performance. He has worked extensively throughout the Midwest as a professional bassist and educator.
As a performer he has worked with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, Festival City Symphony, Kenosha Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Philharmonic, Bel Canto Chorus and Orchestra, Skylight Opera, Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, Florentine Opera and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He is also active as a jazz performer, having worked with Chuck Hedges, David Hazeltine and Manty Ellis.
Mr. Babbitt served as Wisconsin Conservatory of Music faculty chair of the String Department from 1996 to 1999 and has also served as adjunct faculty at UWM, UW-Stevens Point, Concordia University, Cardinal Stitch University, Carroll College, Alverno College Community Arts Department, the String Academy of Wisconsin and the Oshkosh Summer String Program.
Mr. Babbitt has been an instructor with the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music since 1994 in bass, theory and music history.
Ravenna Helson is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music and Yale University where she received an MM degree and the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Award for Excellence in Chamber Music.
She has performed with the Detroit Symphony, Michigan Opera Theater, New Jersey Symphony, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Chicago Baroque Ensemble, Her Majesty’s Clerks and Comic Intermezzo.
In Milwaukee she has played with the Milwaukee Symphony, Skylight Opera Orchestra, Ensemble Musical Offering, Bel Canto Chorus and Orchestra and is currently principal cello of the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra. Theater work includes the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Twelfth Night and Anna Karenina.
As a faculty member of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Alverno College and Carroll University, she has taught cello and chamber music and performed concerts and educational workshops with the Carroll String Trio. As a student she was invited to participate in the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico with Alexander Schneider’s NY String Orchestra and additionally has been a fellow at the Oberlin Baroque Institute, the International Baroque Institute at Longy and the Bach Aria Festival in New York.
Studies in Baroque cello/viola da gamba have been with Anner Bylsma, Phoebe Carrai, Catharina Meints and Enid Sutherland.
Janet Jensen serves as Progressions Director, and Music Director of Prelude Orchestra and the combined String Orchestras North and Central.
She joined the MYSO staff following her 2016 retirement from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she was Professor of String Pedagogy and Associate Director of the School of Music. Her teaching responsibilities included preparation for teaching strings in multiple settings, coursework in string literature and repertoire, and conducting the non-major All-University String Orchestras. She also directed the masters degree in String Development, a degree focused on string teaching, performance and administrative skills. As Associate Director, she oversaw undergraduate admissions, advising, and scholarship and award allocation.
Prior to her UW-Madison appointment, Dr. Jensen held interim and instructor positions in string pedagogy and string education at Oberlin Conservatory, Bowling Green (OH) State University, and the University of Texas at Austin, and she taught instrumental music in Rockford, IL and Watertown and Madison for 10 years.
Herself an alumna of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra (WYSO), Dr. Jensen has served as a WYSO conductor, board member, and director of the chamber music program, and has also been a staff member and advisor of UW-Madison’s Summer Music Clinic for more than 30 years.
She is a strong supporter of outreach programs in the arts, lifelong learning and engagement in music, and advocacy for policy decisions in support of arts education. Her research interests have included arts education policy, pedagogy curricula, iconographic representations of historical bows, and the Swedish bowed/keyed instrument nyckelharpa.
Her MYSO association began with Progressions teaching in 2005, and has included chamber coaching in many of the years since.
Her proudest achievement is the cumulative enrollment of over 2800 students in the All-University String Orchestras, and she was named the 2016 String Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin American String Teachers Association.
Dr. Jensen holds Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin.
Carmen Kitts attended UW-Oshkosh as a Music Education/Performance Major. In Oshkosh, she had a private studio of 45 students; and performed in the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, Fox Valley Symphony, Fond du Lac Philharmonic and in professional chamber ensembles.
After teaching for eight years in Oshkosh, Carmen relocated to Florida where she played in the Treasure Coast Symphony and taught in Vero Beach. Later, she moved to Minnesota where she was Associate ConcertMaster of the Dakota Valley Symphony (DVS), played in the Rochester Orchestra and Choral (ROC), Kenwood Symphony, performed regularly with DVS chamber groups and was Principal Second Violinist in the Arious Chamber Music Society.
Carmen taught at Minnesota Valley Academy of Music (MVA), developing a Mentor Program between MVA and DVS, which allowed students to play side by side with Symphony members.
While in Germany she played in the Friedrichshafen Symphony Orchestra and took private lessons from Concertmaster Pawel Zalejski of the Symohoieorchester Vorarlberg in Austria.
Since August 2011, she has lived with her two children in Waukesha. In addition to continuing her private teaching studio, she is head teacher for the Greater Milwaukee El Sistema Chapter.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Progressions Viola Instructor Evan Lane began viola in the fourth grade. His introduction to music was singing with his school choir at age six at a Starbucks for the holidays and learning about folk and bluegrass music from his family. He attended Milwaukee High School of the Arts, where he was a music major and had his first paid gig playing in a string quartet for the Milwaukee County Zoo. He reports he “couldn’t get enough of music, so I also joined MYSO in high school, and it changed everything.” He attended both Lawrence and Roosevelt University as a music major and learned what it took to be a true chamber musician. He is Music Director of Milwaukee Montessori School, and has sung for dozens of private and public organizations. He now has his first EP produced and streaming everywhere. “I’m excited about the opportunity to teach and work with MYSO. It truly was the best experience, and I can’t wait to impart the gift of music to others.”
Domingo Pasillas-Velazquez serves as coach for MYSO’s beginning strings programs, Progressions and Prelude Orchestra. A 2018 graduate, he was a part of MYSO for four years, playing in Philharmonia, Metropolitan Symphony, and Chamber Orchestra. Currently, Domingo is pursuing a degree in violin performance from the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin. He has enjoyed the privilege of studying under many wonderful teachers including Bernard Zinck, Diane Duraffourg-Robinson, Yuri Anisimov, and Lyda Osinga.
Having a great passion for teaching, Domingo was an student mentor for three years in the Progressions program during his time in MYSO. He continues to teach privately, and enjoys working with the Progressions, Prelude, and String Orchestra musicians of all ages, instilling fundamentals and technical foundations, but most importantly a passion and love for making music.