The Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank has named violinist and longtime strings instructor Laura Petillo as Manager of Music Programs at its Academy of the Arts and the Count Basie Center’s Monmouth Conservatory of Music.
Petillo’s history at the Monmouth Conservatory – and as a musician – is storied. At the age of 12, her father, Patrick Appello – himself a lifelong musician and Conservatory instructor – urged her to take lessons with its founders, Irina and Vladic Kovalsky. The nonprofit Conservatory was gifted to the Basie Center as part of the Kovalsky’s 2017 retirement.
“My early Conservatory years gave me a high-quality classical music education and so much more,” says Petillo. “The guidance provided to me by the Kovalskys, as well as my first music teacher, my father, provided me with me confidence, discipline, and a passion for music that stayed with me my entire life – values I intend on instilling and reinforcing with our students moving forward.”
“My goal is for our music programs to offer exciting programs for students from all walks of life,” Petillo added, “plus opportunities for young musicians to share their talents and creativity with the local community and beyond.”
In addition to leading the Conservatory, Petillo will manage music-based offerings as part of the Basie Center’s Education Department. Programs such as Stormy Singers, a choral program for kindergarteners at Red Bank Primary School, the Count Basie Center Gospel Choir and music-based classes and workshops at the Count Basie Center Academy of the Arts will all fall under Petillo’s tutelage.
“Laura brings not only a musical pedigree to our programs, but also a history,” said Samantha Giustiniani, Senior Director of Education and Outreach, Count Basie Center for the Arts. “That her musical upbringing led her to pursue a career in education is not lost on us: Laura embodies the excellence, hard work, passion and benefits one can experience when exposed to the arts at an early age.”
Petillo’s music and education résumé is a veritable highlight reel of achievements; later this year, she will attain her Doctorate in Educational leadership from Monmouth University, where she completed her Masters studies in Early Childhood Education in 2020.
A lifelong Jersey Shore resident, she attended Saint Mary’s and Holy Trinity Catholic School as a child, moving into the Ocean Township district for intermediate school and then Red Bank Regional High School. During these years, she played in all three levels of the New Jersey Youth Symphony Orchestra, as well as with the Red Bank Regional Chamber Ensemble, and in The College of New Jersey’s All-American Youth In Concert Band’s tour of eastern Europe.
She was the 2008 Concert Master of the Rutgers Sinfornia Orchestra, and performed as first chair on Baroque Violin with the New York Continuo Collective.
Petillo is a 2011 graduate of Rutgers University’s Mason Gross and Douglass colleges.
“I’ve come to appreciate the Basie Center as a nonprofit organization interested in bettering its community through the power of the arts,” Petillo says. “It’s inspiring to have the opportunity to be part of these efforts, as well as to incorporate important components, including social emotional learning, the importance of social justice, sustainability, and other innovations I’ve learned that can have a profound impact on education.”
Information on private and group instruction at the Monmouth Conservatory, as well as music- and performing arts-based classes at the Count Basie Center Academy of the Arts is available here.