Category Archives: Accompanist

Nicholas Mueller

  • Bachelor of Music, Jazz Studies, Western Michigan University
Since pursuing a professional career in the performing arts, Nich has received acclaim for composing, arranging, producing, conducting, educating, acting, graphic-design, and photography. He received a Bachelors of Music in Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University; during his formal education he studied under or interacted with great jazz musician and esteemed educators including Billy Hart, David Baker, Fred Hersch, Ed Simon, Darmon Meader, and Peter Eldridge, as well as the highly esteemed faculty at WMU. Throughout his career, he has been privileged enough to have performed alongside greats such as Donny McCaslin, Bob Mintzer, Kurt Elling, Roger Treece, Matt Hughes, and Phil Palombi; as well to have performed in venues and festivals such as Carnegie Hall, the Allen Room in Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, and Jazz Educators Network. In April 2011, Nich released his Downbeat Award winning debut album All in a Day, which features Nich as a singer-songwriter, pianist and vocalist. Nich has also been featured as a lead actor in productions at the highly acclaimed Barn Theatre in Augusta, MI, Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, and now Farmers Alley Theatre. Currently, Nich is the director of GCII at WMU, the partnering ensemble to the internationally acclaimed collegiate vocal jazz group, Gold Company.
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Melissa Holso

  • Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance, Central Michigan University
  • Bachelor of Music Education, Central Michigan University

Melissa has taught lessons for 8 years through the Community Music School at Central Michigan University and at Crescendo Academy of Music.  She remains active as an accompanist to multiple ensembles, instrumentalists and vocalists. Melissa currently is the Assistant Band Director for the Portage Northern High School Band program and the Director of Bands for Portage North Middle School.

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Brent Decker

  • Bachelor of Arts, Woodwind Performance, Western Michigan University

Brent teaches saxophone and piano for Crescendo, as well as accompanying students at recitals. Brent has worked as a freelance accompanist and pit orchestra musician throughout the Kalamazoo area. He also has experience as a Stage and Musical Director for Community Theater productions.

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Mark Portolese


  • B.M., Illinois Wesleyan University
  • M.M., University of Michigan

Mark Portolese is an active violinist and pianist in the Western Michigan area. He is Acting Concertmaster of the South Bend Symphony for the 2017-18 season and will return to his normal position of Associate Concertmaster for the 2018-19 season. He is also Associate Principal Second Violin of the West Michigan Symphony and a member of the Kalamazoo Symphony. As pianist, he was a member of Crescendo Trio and was the studio accompanist for the violin studio of Dr. Gregory Maytan at Grand Valley State University. He has also served as staff accompanist for the ballet courses at Western Michigan University and has accompanied students in such events as the All-State Solo-Ensemble Contest, the Stulberg Competition Master classes, the MTNA regional competition, the Walgreens Midwest Young Artists Concerto Competition and many others.

Mark teaches both instruments at Crescendo where he maintains a private lesson studio of over 30 students, accompanies the student recitals and coaches various groups that participate in the chamber music program. Through Crescendo he also runs the Vicksburg String Program, which is a beginner group class for violinists, violists, and cellists grades three through five that attend Tobey, Sunset Lake, and Indian Lake Elementary schools.

Mark Portolese received a Bachelor of Music in Orchestral Instrument Performance and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Illinois Wesleyan University where he graduated summa cum laude. There he studied violin with Vadim Mazo and piano with Lawrence Campbell. He also received a Masters in Music in Violin Performance and Chamber Music from the University of Michigan where he studied violin with Stephen Shipps and piano with Louis Nagel.
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