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Faculty: Voice & Drama



Soprano, Voice Instructor

Karla Rivera singing

Karla in nature

Karla Rivera at Takoma Park SDA Church, with Min of Worship Anwar Ottley & 2 singers & Patrick McCoy

  • Ms. Karla Rivera joined the faculty of the Ottley Music School in June 2016 as a teacher of Voice and Piano
        She is also a Voice Teacher/Vocal Coach at Red Bridge Studios and Takoma Academy.
  • She also serves as Office Manager at The Takoma Park Seventh-day Adventist Church
  • Online Teacher for Music Appreciation at Andrews University
    Sings in a professional group of singers directed by Nolan E. Williams.
  • Former Administrative Assistant at World Headquarters of Seventh-day Adventists
  • Ms. Rivera studied Vocal Performance at University of Maryland, College Park, receiving a M.Mus.
  • and Vocal Performance at the former Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University, receiving a B.Mus.
    Other talents besides voice and piano, Ms. Rivera plays the violin, and has performed with the New England Youth Ensemble.



    Baritone was a psychology major at Howard University and graduated from the former Federal City College (now the University of the District of Columbia). He studied voice with the famed coloratura and master teacher, Charlotte Wesley Holloman for more than 10 years. He is in demand throughout the Washington, D. C. area as a sacred soloist. He is presently a professional member of the Heritage Signature Chorale in Washington, D. C. under the baton of Stanley Thurston.

    Mr. Higgs performes arias of both opera and oratorio from Handel's Messiah, Rossini's Petite Messe Solonelle to name a couple, and played the role of Simon, the conjuror in Scott Joplin's opera "Treemonisha" with the Nevilla Ottley Singers, and Ned, the father in the same opera with the Municipal Opera of Baltimore. He sung the Priest in Carlos Gomes' opera, "Colombo" with the NOS. He had sung the role of King Melchior in Menotti's Christmas opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors", and most recently sang King Balthazar in the Ottley Music School's production of that opera. He has also served as a choir director for several years, teaching the music and developing the voices of his youth and young adult choirs and has been a fine addition to the music voice faculty at OMS since 2003. 



    NEVILLA E. OTTLEY, B.Mus.Ed., M.A. (organ & music history), M.Mus. (conducting) is the founder of the Ottley Music School, established in 1973 a year after she graduated with her Master of Arts in organ and music history from Andrews University where she had earned her B.Mus. in music education and piano performance. She came to Maryland after spending time in New York (accompanying the fledgling Boys Choir of Harlem) and New Jersey (teaching piano and organ at Garden State Academy) where she accompanied the bass baritone Wintley Phipps at age 17 at the beginning of his career. The Ottley Music Studio existed at first out of her home in Maryland, while she taught piano and theory, and later added other piano teachers, violin, voice and clarinet teachers. For more information on the development of her school and other work, see the Principal page above.

    Nevilla, as a child of two Trinidadian singing parents, began her musical career as a singer at the age of 3, singing at what is now Andrews University. By the time she was almost 5, she had sung on the pilot radio show produced by Uncle Dan and Aunt Sue, known to children nationwide as "Your Story Hour." As an elementary child with two singing parents, Neville as a tenor, and Myra as a contralto, she sang all over Southern California and later in Trinidad with her siblings in the Ottley Trio. As a teenager she formed a ladies sextette called the Valley Echoes, which sang all over Trinidad. When she returned to the USA, she continued her college education at Andrews, singing in the University Chorale, taking voice lessons, and playing for voice lessons. When she came to the Washington, DC area, she coached and accompanied many singers in the church scene until she added voice lessons to the Ottley Music School ca 1989, with vocal students Anika Sampson, Porsche and Shalisha Vanderhorst at George E. Peters SDA Elementary School.

    Mrs. Ottley makes sure that when students are prepared, she gives them the opportunity to sing not only in the monthly recitals at Ottley Music School, but also for churches, other community events, and Ottley Music School productions. Over the past few years the Summer Voice, Drama and Dance Camps/Institutes have immersed the students in The Sound of Music, Scott Joplin's Treemonisha (for several years including 2013), in A Century of Broadway, The Wiz, High School Musical II, Sister Act II, The King and I, and Les Miserables. The 2004 fall production was Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, 2005 was Mozart's The Empresario, 2006 was Amahl and A Miracle (excerpts from both Menotti's and Mark Fax's christmas operas), and Handel's Hallelujah Chorus which they performed with orchestra on W*USA Channel 9 in the Washington D. C. area. In 2007 they performed and recorded Elijah and Messiah scenes from the oratorios of Mendelssohn and Handel with the Hyattsville Symphony. Some of them were priveleged to go to Trinidad and to sing (and play) there in the summer of 2007 under the auspicies of the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Culture, Youth Development and Gender Affairs.

    Some of her piano and voice students who have done well as vocalists include Barbara-Gene Brown, and Hazel Thorpe. Some of her vocal students from Ottley Music School doing well include

    • Anika Sampson Anderson (former voice student), Soprano soloist

    • Julia Soraya Dennis (former voice/piano student),  Mezzo-soprano soloist

    • Anika Tene (former voice/piano student), Soprano soloist, school principal

    • Nicole Butler (former voice student), soprano opera singer in the USA and Europe

    • Jasmine Murrell Brann (former voice/piano student), soprano soloist, minister of music, Metropolitan SDA Church

    • Porsche Vanderhorst (former voice/piano student), soprano, Minister of Music at Emmanuel Brinklow SDA Church

    • Shalisha Vanderhorst (former voice/piano student), soprano, social worker

    • Nichelle Anderson (former voice/piano student), coloratura soprano and Neo-Natal Registered Nurse, Holy Cross Hospital.

    • David Griffiths (former piano student), bass/baritone recording artists, Minister of Music at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (where President and Mrs. Obama and family occasionally attend)

    • Anwar G. M. Ottley (former piano/conducting student), Tenor, Pastor of Worship and Minister of Music, Takoma Park SDA Church

    • Victoria Alma Castello, Soprano, (former piano student), piano professor at Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DC),  

    • Airis McCottry Gill, (former piano/violin student) Director of Internal Affairs at the U. S.  General Services Administration, 

    • Gerard Limerick (former piano student), M.D., Ph.D.

    • Edwina Findley-Dickerson (former piano student), actress in Tyler Perry's TV series, "If Loving You Is Wrong" on OWN, Brothers and Sisters on ABC and other TV series,

    • Rhonda Tsoi-a-Fatt (former piano student), President at The Moriah Group and Senior Fellow at the Center for Law and Social Policy, and Senior Advisor on the President Obama's Education program for African Americans,

    and the late Nathan Anderson (composer, arranger, piano & organ). Some of her students have returned as faculty or staff members, such as Kieron Irwine (trumpet teacher), Anwar Ottley (former piano, organ and steel drums), Clayton Taylor (piano), and Jonathan Adjahoe (as network administrator). Two have returned at School Board members, Judelle Campbell (violin), and Dianne Bradley (violin and steel drums).  Others are serving in other leading capacities in various careers such as medical doctors, lawyers, speech pathologists, scientists, church choir directors, composers and arrangers, reporters for major news organizations, and business people.

    Mrs. Ottley's students have always rated very high in both the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and of the National Guild of Piano Teachers annual examinations and auditions (NGPT are for all instruments and voice through the Ensemble exams). Over the past 43+ years, her piano, organ and voice students have taken (and are still taking) places of responsibility in the music world and other fields internationally. Most of them have gone on to colleges and universities around the world as students and professors, such as Johns Hopkins University, Andrews University, Washington Adventist University, Loma Linda University, Carnegie Mellon, Western Michigan University, University of Maryland, Oakwood University, Duke University, Howard University, Berkelee School of Music, Morgan State University, Spelman, Ithaca, Bethune Cookman College, Mannes College, Princeton, Northern Caribbean University, University of the Southern Caribbean, Bowie State University and others.

    Mrs. Ottley has high ideals and goals for all students and teachers of the Ottley Music School. She expects teachers to have the same level of motivation and achievement for their students as she expects of hers. Therefore, she has selected a faculty that we hope will continue the high ideals and level of achievement. She serves at the OMS as a teacher of piano, voice, organ, music theory, music history, and conducting, and is the Music Director and principal conductor of the Hyattsville Symphony, comprised of students, OM School teachers, and community musicians, including many of the Prince George's Philharmonic's "Symphony Kids." She also produces the concerts and operas at the OM School and directs the summer camp/institute programs. To request Nevilla E. Ottley as guest conductor or speaker on Black Composers or genealogy at your next event, write 

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