Faculty and Staff

Associate Professor, Music
(909) 448-4919
Founders Hall / La Verne

Pianist Dr. Grace Xia Zhao is an award-winning, international solo and chamber music artist, with credits that include performances in the United States, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and China. Her performances have been broadcasted on KUSC (Los Angeles) and KASP (Aspen) and her playing has been characterized as being, “performed at the highest level, with incredible musical sensibilities and beauty.”

Dr. Zhao began her music education at the age of three in Sichuan, China. Awarded with a full-tuition scholarship to study at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, she went on to earn a BM, MM, and Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Piano Performance, with minors in Music Education, Ethnomusicology and Electro-Acoustic Media. Upon graduation, she was inducted into the Pi Kappa Lamda National Music Honor Society for her exceptional academic achievements. Her mentors include some of the most influential artists and teachers of our time, Antoinette Perry, Yang Hanguo, John Perry and Andrzej Jasinski to name a few. Dr. Zhao is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of La Verne.

Dr. Zhao lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.  Besides all things piano, she loves all kinds of music.  Other interests of hers include psychology, athletic training, architecture and cooking.

Dr. Zhao’s creative work can be found at her personal website.

Educational Background

BM, MM, DMA, University of Southern California.

Chair, Music
(909) 448-4915
Founders Hall / La Verne

Reed Gratz is a Professor of Music and department chair at the University of La Verne. He has taught at Washington State University, University of Miami, University of Innsbruck, Utrecht Conservatory and Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Claremont McKenna College.

He has been on the Advisory Board of the American Jazz Institute along with Mort Sahl, Lee Konitz, and Mark Masters. Gratz has been awarded a jazz composition grant from the NEA; a research grant in African-American music by the NEH; two Senior Fulbright Lectureships, one at the University of Innsbruck, the other, the Walt Whitman Distinguished Chair of American Culture Studies at the Leiden University; and the Excellence in Teaching Award for undergraduate faculty, and the Ellsworth Johnson Service Award at the University of La Verne. He is a member of the University of La Verne Academy. Professor Gratz has received three Who’s Who Among American Teachers awards since 2002. Reed has worked with George Russell, Herb Alpert, Bruce Hornsby, John Patitucci, Barbara Morrison, Alex Acuna, Konstantin Ruchadze, and many others. He has composed music for a dozen plays and released seven albums of his music.

Educational Background

  • B.A. (Music Theory) Manchester University
  • M.M. (Jazz Composition) New England Conservatory
  • D.M.A. (Composition) University of Miami School of Music


  • Tempodulu Music – ninety jazz pieces (small groups and big band); three choral works; four arrangements for men’s vocal quartet, five compositions for solo piano; double concerto for guitar, oboe, and orchestra; since 1977.
  • Avon-on-the-Lake, recorded on the album, Pangea, 1984
  • Ears, Heart, & Hands, an album of nine pieces recorded in 1990
  • Reed Gratz Band, an album of eight pieces recorded in 1991
  • Travelogue, CD of eleven original pieces, jazz quartet, 1992.
  • Approaching Simone, fifteen songs for the play, Approaching Simone, Megan Terry 1996.
  • Below Sealevel, CD of twelve original pieces, jazz quintet, released in 1999. BMI
  • Reed Gratz Piano, CD of piano improvisations on original and traditional songs, 2000. BMI
  • Full Moon, CD of seven jazz quartet songs, in a live performance, 2001.
  • Historical Perspective, The Lydian Chromatic Concept, vol II, by George Russell, 2001
  • View From the South, CD of nine jazz trio songs, in a live performance, 2002. BMI
  • Reed Gratz Band Featuring Michael O’Neill, CD of nine original compositions, 2003. BMI
  • Reed Gratz Piano Two, CD of piano improvisations on original and traditional songs, 2004. BMI
  • Music History & Appreciation, a college textbook in use for 16 years, in publication development
  • Reed Gratz Band ~ Quaadrille, CD of eight original pieces, quartet, released 2008.
  • New Music for Quartet – nine composition for jazz quartet, 2010.
  • Music History & Appreciation – Textbook Music History and Appreciation, 1999-2014; rev. 2016
  • American Music – Book of 45 compositions, 2013, amended to 65 compositions, 2019
  • Long Way to You – CD of ten original pieces, quintet, released 2016
  • Piano Two Too To 2 – CD of ten ‘Standards’ and original pieces, solo piano, 2017
  • Travelogue – CD of 11 original compositions, band, studio and live, remastered, 2017

Awards / Honors

  • National Endowment for Humanities Summer Research Grant, 1982.
  • National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Composition Grant, 1984.
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, University of La Verne, 1991.
  • Fulbright Senior Scholar, University of Innsbruck, 1991-2.
  • James Irvine Foundation, Diversity in Education Grant, 1997.
  • Walt Whitman Distinguished Chair of American Culture Studies, Fulbright Senior Scholar,
    Leiden University, The Netherlands, 2001.
  • Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012.
  • University of La Verne Faculty Research Grant, 2007, 2010
  • La Verne Academy, University of La Verne, since 2009
  • Grammy for Educators, nomination, 2014, 2016
  • 125 Influential Individuals, in celebration of the University of La Verne’s 125 year anniversary, 2017
  • Ellsworth Johnson Service Award, University of La Verne, 2020
Associate Professor, Music, Voice & Chorus
(909) 448-4918
Founders Hall / La Verne

Dedicated to inspiring musicians and audiences through a determined passion for musical excellence, Dr. Irene Messoloras maintains an active career as a highly sought music educator, conductor, clinician and adjudicator. Her ensembles have delivered meaningful and inspirational performances across the United States and on the international stage in both Europe and in Asia.

As an award-winning professor at the University of La Verne, Dr. Messoloras leads the voice area as Director of Choral Activities & Head of Vocal Studies. She conducts the University Chamber Singers, University Chorale, and teaches choral conducting. Under her baton, the ULV choirs have performed in annual international tours; participating in festivals and singing to sold out audiences throughout Europe. Before coming to the University of La Verne, Dr. Messoloras served as Director of Choirs at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and, before there, Gonzaga University.

Most recently, Dr. Messoloras’s ensembles have performed for the National Association of Music Educators (NAfME) national conference, the Oklahoma State Music Educators conference, at Carnegie Hall and Beijing Concert Hall, respectively. They have also produced professional music videos with nationally recognized composers, and have performed in national media campaigns.

Additionally, Dr. Messoloras also serves as the Minister of Music for the Crystal Cathedral Ministries and conducts the world renowned Hour of Power Choir in the weekly international Christian television program, Hour of Power. She is also the Artistic Director of the Claremont based Mountainside Master Chorale, an ensemble which focuses on choral/orchestral masterworks.

Dr. Messoloras received her doctor of musical arts degree in choral conducting from the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music under the mentorship of Donald Neuen.

Educational Background

D.M.A., Choral Conducting, University of California, Los Angeles

Instructor, Music
(909) 448-4922
Founders Hall

Michael teaches private guitar instruction, class guitar, guitar ensemble and songwriting at the University of La Verne.

Michael performs throughout California and every summer in Europe. His production company produces and performs three unique concerts with an ensemble of musicians and dancers: “Gypsy Passion”, “Spirit of Ireland” and “Brazilian Nights”. Michael has five internationally distributed CDs: “Between Earth and Sky”, “Romance”, “What If”, “A Classical Guitar Christmas”, and  “Carnaval de Guitarras”.

Michael is a member of ASCAP, (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishes)

Educational Background

  • MA in Music, California State University, Chico;
  • BA in Music, University of La Verne.

Adjunct Faculty

Name and Title Phone Email
Steve Alaniz
Michael Boos
Music History and Appreciation
Pebber Brown
Fundamentals of Music; Music Theory IV; Applied Electric Bass; Applied Electric Guitar
(909) 445-9000
Marge MohWei Chen Hribar
Applied Piano; Piano Workshop; Sight-Singing & Ear Training
Zach DeChance
Piano Accompanist
Bob Dominquez
Applied Drums and Percussion
Rafael Liebich
Applied Piano; Piano Workshop
Ariel Pisturino
Applied Voice
Todd Strange
Artist in Residence; Applied Voice
Courtney Taylor
Applied Voice
Jackie Tu
Applied Piano; Piano Workshop
Rachel Vetter Huang
La Verne Symphony Orchestra Director; Applied Violin
Joshua Williams
Pep Band Director; Applied Brass


Name and Title Phone Email
Dalton Lamberth
Music Department/Morgan Auditorium Manager
(909) 448-4917