President & CEOlourdes@astralartists.org
Lourdes Starr, a trained musician with degrees in performance and composition, leads Astral with more than 25 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 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 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 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.
Director of Community Partnershipsstefanie@astralartists.org
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.
Director of Operationselysa@astralartists.org
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 and Digital Contentgrace@astralartists.org
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.
Artist Services Representativechanning@astralartists.org
Originally from Florida’s Gulf Coast, Channing Billups has spent the last several years involved in Philadelphia’s arts scene collaborating with a number of arts organizations and producing independent interdisciplinary arts projects in music, theater, sketch comedy, and podcast spaces. She currently serves as Associate Artistic Director for Crossroads Comedy Theater programming and booking the theater’s performance runs featuring improv, sketch, and stand-up. Channing holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Textual Studies from Syracuse University and a Master’s degree in English Literature from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Fun facts: Channing grew up studying acting and taught drama. She once played Bee-Bee in the Eric Bogosian play, Suburbia. She’s also a former competitive gymnast which is why if you listen closely you can hear her ankles pop when she walks.