Music, Art, and Drama Programs
Music Director and Teacher
The music teacher for Pre-kindergarten through high school, River brings to Odyssey his rich and extensive experience as a multi-percussionist, composer, and educator. Born in Montreal, Canada to Armenian-Egyptian parents, he received his Bachelor of Music from the Manhattan School of Music Conservatory in 1989. For over 25 years, River has been performing internationally with such groups as the BBC Concert Orchestra, New Music Consort, Grammy and Oscar winning composer Tan Dun, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble, Talujon Percussion Quartet, Chuck Berry, and Ziggy Marley/Gipsy Kings project. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by chamber ensembles, universities, modern dance companies, and new music festivals throughout the U.S.
River has performed in concert halls in New York, Berlin, Moscow, Tokyo, Rome, Sydney, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Athens, Istanbul, London, and has recorded on over 150 albums and film soundtracks. In 1994, River sold all possessions, left civilization, and lived in a wildlife sanctuary in the Himalaya Mountains. This immersion in nature initiated intense research and experimentation into the physiological effect of sound on brainwave states.
River is the Music Director of the “Creative Technology and Arts Center” in Asheville, NC and conducts rhythm and sound exploration workshops throughout the country. Visit him at www.ShareTheDrum.com.
High School Ceramics Instructor
At Odyssey, Lydia is also a preschool team teacher. She attended Earlham College, in Indiana, where she received her BA in Fine Art, with a focus in Ceramics. She later completed Haywood Community College’s program in Professional Crafts. “It feels very natural for me to be here at Odyssey,” says Lydia, “and to be able to feed the two main passions in my life, having the opportunity to work with young children and also to work in clay, offering others the chance to explore such an amazing and captivating medium.”
High School Aesthetic Design Teacher
Jesse grew up in California and has lived in Asheville since 1998. She studied art at UC Berkeley and ultimately graduated with a degree in art (and an emphasis in Photography) from UNCA. For the past decade, Jesse has been using photography as her primary creative tool and started her studio Jesse Kitt Photography, www.photokitt.com.
Jesse loves the adventure that each photo shoot brings and is in love with the creative process. As a lover of poetry, she is drawn to the idea of the “decisive moment” and she regards photography as a kind of visual poetry. In her aesthetic design classes, Jesse explores the elements of design and the passion of expression in a variety of media.
A mother to two young children (7 and 5 years old), Jesse also loves installation art, Latin American/Spanish culture, travel, and seeking out pristine natural landscapes!
Melanie worked in theater and film for fourteen years before becoming a mom. She has now come out of retirement to teach drama at Odyssey, where her two middle school children attend. She began to teach acting at Southeastern Louisiana University and taught acting throughout her career in theater and film. She also worked on various films behind the camera in the art department.