Lourdes Starr-Demers

President & CEO

Lourdes Starr-Demers, a trained musician with degrees in performance and composition, leads Astral with more than 24 years of experience in the classical music world and has a strong track record of supporting highly talented young musicians. Her vast range of expertise in orchestral touring, concert production, special event planning, fundraising, the creation of digital content including online courses, summer music festivals, and digital arts education has spanned various administrative roles with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Curtis Institute of Music, and ArtistYear. During her time at Curtis, she co-founded and co-chaired Curtis’ Council for Inclusive Excellence, an initiative that explored and addressed systemic racism in Philadelphia and the classical music industry. Starr-Demers was also the driving force behind the Curtis Summer programs, including the highly successful Young Artist Summer Program, Chamber Music for Adults, and Sphinx Performance Academy at Curtis.

In her volunteer work, Starr-Demers serves organizations in both the musical and education worlds. For the past 15 years, she has served on the Board of Directors of Network for New Music, which has been referred to as “the premiere new music organization” in Philadelphia due to its ongoing mission to commission and perform a diversity of new musical works. Previously, she has served board roles for Montessori Schools in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, N.J. Currently, she also serves as Vice President of the Board of Trustees for the Greater South Jersey Chorus, of which she is an active member, as well as the Board of Directors of Appel Farm Arts Center. In addition, Starr-Demers has designed and led workshops on the topic of building racial equity and accessibility within classical music, while presenting at national conferences in Detroit, Chicago and Atlanta.
Photo credit: Sue B Photography

Stefanie Wakeman

Director of Community Partnerships

A licensed social worker, Stefanie Wakeman brings a lifelong love of the arts to her role as Astral’s Director of Community Partnerships. Stefanie has expertise in the areas of training and education, community engagement, and trauma-informed care. Prior to joining Astral, she developed innovative pilot programs with the Drexel University Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice and the Pennsylvania Montgomery County System of Care. Throughout her career, she has had the privilege to support survivors of violence, individuals experiencing serious physical and mental illness, and children and families involved with child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She has served as a training and facilitation consultant for multiple city, county, and state social service organizations, and has worked on federally funded grant projects through the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). She holds a Master of Social Work degree from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, where her focus of study was Children and Youth, with a specialization in Non-Profit Management.

Elysa DiMauro

Director of Operations

Elysa DiMauro brings a combination of business knowledge, arts administration experience, and musical expertise to Astral. She is a classically trained Horn player with nearly a decade of experience owning and operating small businesses in Philadelphia. After completing her Bachelor of Music at Northwestern University and Master of Music at University of Wisconsin-Madison, she went on to serve as Assistant Director and Site Coordinator for the inaugural year of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra’s Tune Up Philly program, where she also spent two seasons as their Horn Teaching Artist and Operations Manager. Most recently she was co-owner and operator of Menagerie Coffee in Old City, Philadelphia, receiving accolades such as Best of PhillyTM and Zagat 30 Under 30. She is eager to use her unique range of experiences to further the mission of Astral Artists.

Grace Lea Asuncion

Manager of Artistic Production

Grace brings to Astral her experiences in the music world as a classically-trained percussionist, performer, educator, and administrator. After completing her Bachelor’s of Music Degree in Percussion Performance, she worked for a variety of arts organizations including The Curtis Institute of Music, Theodore Presser Company, and Carl Fischer Music Company. Most recently, she served as an ArtistYear Music Teacher within the Philadelphia School District, supporting the organization’s mission of providing equitable access to arts education. With Astral Artists, Grace is determined to uplift the voices of emerging musical artists and to promote equity and inclusivity within the world of classical music. In her free time, Grace can be found writing, recording, and arranging songs for her YouTube channel, tending to her vegetable garden patch, making multimedia collages, and upcycling thrifted clothes.