• We are amazed at how supportive these young people are of each other’s individuality, creativity, and expression.

    – Parent of a Young Musicians Program student

Seth Brenzel, Executive Director & Director, Young Musicians Program
Eliza Brown, Assistant Academic Dean, Young Musicians Program
Alex Christie, Assistant Academic Dean and Director of Composers Forums, Young Musicians Program
Juliet Kaplan, Director of Operations
Caroline Mallonée, Director, Creative Musicians Retreat & Academic Dean, Young Musicians Program
Sam Pluta, Academic Dean, Young Musicians Program & Director, Electronic Music
Sara Riddington, Nurse & Dean of Students, Young Musicians Program
Jonathan Thomas, Development Manager


Seth Brenzel

Executive Director
Director, Young Musicians Program

Seth Brenzel has been associated with The Walden School for more than 25 years. He was fortunate to be a student at Walden for six magical summers (1985-1990), and since 1994, has served the School as a staff member, faculty member, Director of Operations, and as the Associate Director from 1996 to 2003, when he became the School’s Executive Director. Since 1995, he has sung tenor with the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus, and is currently a professional member of that ensemble. He currently studies voice with Ruth Rainero.

Seth serves as the co-clerk of the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Friends School, and in the past, he has served on the boards of The Walden School, Swarthmore College, and Earplay, a San Francisco-based new music ensemble. Seth received his B.A., with degrees in Music and Political Science, from Swarthmore College, where he served as President of the College’s Alumni Association. He received an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, with a focus in non-profit management and marketing; he has also served on the Haas School’s Development Council. He is a 2012 graduate of Leadership San Francisco, where he has also served as an alumni advisor.

Prior to becoming Walden’s first full-time Executive Director, Seth worked part-time for Walden during the year and held positions as a senior consultant at Deloitte Consulting, in marketing and public relations at the San Francisco Symphony, and most recently led both the marketing and the enterprise sales teams for an internet software company, now part of Adobe. When not at Walden, Seth lives in San Francisco with his partner, Malcolm Gaines, and their daughter, Cora.

Back to top

Eliza Brown

Assistant Academic Dean, Young Musicians Program

Composer Eliza Brown attended the Walden School as a YMP student from 2000-2002 and has since returned for many years as a staff and faculty member. Eliza’s music, described as “delicate, haunting, [and] introspective” by Symphony Magazine, has been performed around the world by leading new music ensembles including Ensemble Dal Niente, ensemble recherche, Network for New Music, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Spektral Quartet, ICE, Wet Ink Ensemble, Wild Rumpus New Music Collective, and PRISM Saxophone Quartet. Deeply interested in the relationships between music and the other arts and humanities, Eliza has also engaged in interdisciplinary collaborations with practitioners of theater, dance, architecture, painting, and film, frequently taking on other artistic roles in these collaborations in addition to “composer.” Eliza holds a DMA in composition from Northwestern University and has taught at Northwestern and Columbia College Chicago. In fall 2016 she will join the faculty of the DePauw University School of Music

Back to top

Alex Christie

Assistant Academic Dean
Director of Composers Forums, Young Musicians Program

Alex Christie is a San Francisco Bay Area composer, performer, and improviser of acoustic and electronic music. His work is the hybridization of hyper-intellectualized contemporary music theory and a childish obsession with explosive sound and bright, flashing lights. Alex holds a BM from the Oberlin Conservatory in Composition and TIMARA (Technology In Music And Related Arts) and an MFA from Mills College in Electronic Music and Recording Media. He frequently collaborates with choreographers and dancers and has been commissioned by Cleveland-based dance company GroundWorks Dancetheater and Seattle-based choreographer K.T. Niehoff. Alex performs as a laptopist in several veins of music, ranging from experimental improvisatory noise to electronic dance and also performs free jazz and freely improvised music as a saxophonist. He recently released an album of solo electronic music entitled “In The Blink” on Khalija records and currently teaches composition, electronic music, and music theory at Santa Clara University.

Back to top

Juliet Kaplan

Director of Operations

Juliet Kaplan is a composer passionate about multidisciplinary collaborations. She has created work with many wonderful choreographers, playwrights/directors, multimedia artists, and musicians. She has received awards from the Women’s Electroacoustic Listening Room Project, the Longitude Commissioning Project Award, and the John Hedrick Memorial Award. Her music has been performed throughout the U.S., in the Czech Republic, and on Kansas Public Radio.

Her educational background includes composition studies at the Longy School of Music, where she received her M.M., and at Bennington College where she received her B.A. Julie is also an actor with the Transactors Improv Company, the longest running improv group in the South.

In addition to her involvement in the arts, Julie has also enjoyed a decade-long career in publishing. For the last 8 years she managed the production of several monthly scientific journals with The Sheridan Press, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Journal of Public Health. She currently resides in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband and two children, where she works as a freelance composer/sound designer and actor.

Back to top

Caroline Mallonée

Director, Creative Musicians Retreat
Academic Dean, Young Musicians Program

Caroline Mallonée has been on the faculty of The Walden School since 1998. A composer of orchestral, chamber, and choral music, Mallonée has had her music performed by prominent ensembles in the U.S., including the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Present Music, Wet Ink Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players, Antares, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Spektral Quartet, Firebird Ensemble, ANA Trio, Ciompi Quartet, Buffalo Chamber Players and American Opera Projects. Her music has been programmed at venues in New York including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Merkin Hall, Bargemusic, Tenri Cultural Center, Town Hall, Roulette, Tonic and National Sawdust (as part of the New York Philharmonic CONTACT! series), as well as further afield at the Long Leaf Opera Festival (NC), Carlsbad Music Festival (CA), Bennington Chamber Music Conference (VT), Cambridge Music Festival (UK), Tokyo Opera City (Japan), Bowdoin Summer Music Festival (ME), on the New Music New Haven series (CT), the Corcoran Gallery (Washington, DC) and Jordan Hall (Boston, MA). Her music has been performed in the U.S., the Netherlands, Wales, England, Iceland, Japan, Brazil, Italy and Mexico, and has been broadcast several times over National Public Radio on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”Several of her choral pieces, including The Carolers At My Door, are published by Boosey & Hawkes. Carrie holds degrees from Harvard University, The Yale School of Music and Duke University, and she was a Fulbright scholar to the Netherlands in 2004. She first came to Walden as a student when she was 12 and has hiked Mt. Monadnock over thirty times.

Back to top

Sarah Riddington

Nurse & Dean of Students, Young Musicians Program

Sara Riddington is a registered nurse at Northfield Mount Hermon, a college preparatory boarding school in Massachusetts, where she provides triage and inpatient care to a population of 650 students. Previously, she was both an ICU and ER nurse in an urban hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts. She is CPR and ACLS certified. Sara graduated summa cum laude in three degrees: a Bachelor of Science in nursing (2010), Masters of Social Work (2001), and a Bachelor of Arts in comparative literature (1996), in which she also completed a music minor, studying vocal performance under soprano Paulina Stark. Sara and her husband met singing in college, and live with their two children at the Bement school in Deerfield, Massachusetts. They are dorm parents to 8th and 9th grade students from predominantly international backgrounds, a population they have happily served for almost a decade. The Riddingtons are overjoyed to be joining Walden in the summer of 2015.

Back to top

Sam Pluta

Academic Dean, Young Musicians Program
Director, Electronic Music

Known internationally for his laptop performances with groups like Rocket Science, Wet Ink Ensemble, and The Peter Evans Quintet, New York City-based composer/improviser Sam Pluta, Academic Dean and Director of Electronic Music, is one of the most compelling electronics performers of his generation. As a composer, he has been commissioned and premiered by Mivos Quartet, Yarn/Wire, ICE, Timetable Percussion, RIOT Trio, So Percussion, Dave Eggar, and Prism Saxophone Quartet and has performed internationally as a laptop soloist and chamber musician, with appearances at the Donaueschingen Festival, the Moers Festival, Bimhaus, Porgy and Bess, and the Vortex, amongst other international venues and festivals. A devoted pedagogue, he directs the Electronic Music Studio at Manhattan School of Music and is Academic Dean and Director of Electronic Music at the Walden School. Sam’s music is released on quiet design and Carrier Records, a label he runs with Jeff Snyder and David Franzson, and his performances can also be found on More Is More, Tzadik, and hat[now]ART. Sam holds a Doctorate in Music Composition from Columbia University.

Back to top

Jonathan Thomas

Development Manager

Jonathan Thomas, Development Manager, joined the Walden administrative team in 2015. Since moving to the Bay Area, Jonathan has been making an impact in the arts as a performer and a business professional. He is currently a professional member of the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus and a regular member of the small ensemble Cappella SF. Before joining the Walden team, Jonathan worked as a graduate advisor for Academy of Art University. Prior to moving to San Francisco in 2014, Jonathan divided his time between building an insurance agency and singing professionally in the Kansas City area. He received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Kansas in 2001. He was a regular performer with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He also sang with professional ensembles, including the Kansas City Chorale and the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers. During his tenure as Executive Director for the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, Jonathan realized his professional goal of combining his business background with his love for work in the arts world. He relocated to San Francisco and is excited to continue that work with The Walden School.

Back to top


Past Administration

Anne Deane Berman
Amy Bryan
Stephen Coxe
Kate Davis
Lindsay Edwards
Audrey Enriquez
Bradley Evans
Malcolm Gaines
Tanja Shipman Gubser
Thomson Guster
Lynn Taylor Hebden
Morgen Jahnke
Esther Landau
Deborah Katz

Amelia Lukas
Laura Mehiel
Jefferson Packer
Patricia Plude
Pamela Layman Quist
Brendon Randall-Myers
Thomas Serene
Benjamin Smith
Chung-Wai Soong
Andrew Thams
Randy Thomas
Peter Thompson
Leo Wanenchak