GMG Board Members
Dr. Utako Tanigawa
Founder and President
Utako Tanigawa, a native of Japan, started playing the piano at the age of three; however she gave up playing when she was thirteen years old. In Japan, she owned a private school for high school and junior college students, and a French Japanese cuisine restaurant.
She later came to the U.S. and earned the degrees in Mathematics, Computer Science, Software Engineering, Management Science and Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science/Information Systems.
About six years ago, her life had a dramatic turn due to a life threatening illness. Although it severely damaged her body, her love of music returned and provided a tangible lifeline. Today music continues to play a key soothing and healing role as her recovery continues.
For the last five years, she has been a contestant at several international amateur competitions such as Van Cliburn Outstanding Amateur Pianist Competition, Chopin International Competition in Warsaw, Poland, St. Petersburg in Russia, Seattle International Piano Competition, Dulwich Piano Festival in London and Washington DC International Piano Arts Council. She is honored to be selected as a finalist as well as a best performer award in the several competitions.
Currently she is taking leadership roles in Atlanta Symphony Association, and several other organizations, while she still works as an advisor of a leading technology leadership and strategy council. She is a founder of Georgia Musicale Group which mission is to increase classical music appreciation through listening and performing opportunities. The only requirement to be a member is to love music.
Dr. Ed Ewing
Retired after a medical career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where he specialized in infectious disease pathology, Ed is an amateur pianist who also enjoys world travel, local politics, continuing education, and multiple hobbies including gardening, woodworking, and oil painting. He teaches English as a second language as a volunteer for the International Rescue Committee and volunteers as a docent at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Jeffrey retired from a 30 year corporate leadership role in 2021. He had been involved with piano, choral music and performing during his youth. Jeffrey is now able to spend time getting back into music and studying piano as well as community volunteer work.
Judy Manganiello has been playing piano for about 25 years,studying and taking lessons as a child and an adult. She has a B.A. degree in Communications from Michigan State University. She was born in, and grew up in Detroit, and has lived in Atlanta for the past 35 years. Judy has always had a love for for music, and is currently enjoys teaching piano along with playing in recitals and in small group sessions. She is married to Dennis and has five wonderful children.
Tom Slavicek was born in Caracas, Venezuela soon after his family had escaped Communist Czechoslovakia after the war. He emigrated with his family to America in 1960. His first piano lessons came from his father who was an accomplished amateur pianist and composer back in Czechoslovakia, as well as being a Diplomat for the Czechoslovak government during the 1930s and 1940s. After arriving to America Tom’s piano studies had to be put on hold due to ever-changing family circumstances. After graduating from the University of South Florida, Tampa, with a degree in Communications, Tom began his service to the Boy Scouts of America. His career spanned 37 years as he served as executive director in 14 different Scouting councils. During this time, he rarely touched the piano due to a strenuous work schedule. Tom and his wife Karen retired to Dahlonega in 2011. He began to study some of his favorite piano compositions but was once again diverted from his playing. From 2011 to 2018 Tom’s community involvements included the founding of a ministry to the homeless in Lumpkin County, for which he served as its first executive director (volunteer). He joined Chestatee Artists, Dahlonega’s own arts guild, started a home-based leather crafting business, and inaugurated a series of leather crafting classes that eventually grew to more than 40 per year. In January 2019 Tom was inspired to join the Georgia Musicale Group which helped to motivate him to invest daily time in studying and practicing his passion for classical piano. Today Tom’s repertoire has grown dramatically since his earlier years, a repertoire that includes several of his father’s compositions as well as works by Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Dvorak, Liszt, Rachmaninov and others.
Ms. Julie Woodall
Julie Woodall has played the piano for fifty years, earning a Bachelor of Music in piano performance and Master of Fine Arts from the University of Georgia. After college, she taught elementary school music for thirty-one years in the Georgia counties of Lincoln and Clayton, believing that every child should experience the joy of music. She is currently choir director and organist at St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church in Dahlonega, GA. She enjoys accompanying solos and groups and has taught children and adults to play the piano for over thirty-five years.
Having a strong Christian faith, she is grateful to be able to use her God-given talent where it is needed. She is blessed to have a wonderful husband and two fine sons.
Ms. Kimber Kwiatkowski
Kimber Kwiatkowski began taking piano lessons as a third grader and eventually earned the degree of Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude, with a concentration in piano performance from Mercer University. Along the way she began playing for churches in an employee capacity at the age of 15, holding positions as pianist, organist and choirmaster. She then earned a Juris Doctor degree from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law. Throughout her legal career she worked in various private law firms as well as two Fortune 500 companies as in-house counsel.
Since retiring from the practice of law, she has returned to music and teaches piano in her private studio. She is an active accompanist and performer and is a member of the Music Teachers National Association, the Georgia Music Teachers Association, and the Gwinnett County Music Teachers Association.
Ms. Shoko Tanaka
Shoko Tanaka began studying piano at the age of three and continued for more than twenty years. She was a student at Yamaha music school in Japan until the age of eight and started taking private lessons with Professor Miyuki Hoshino in Oita, Japan. She competed in several local Japanese piano competitions including the PTNA, Glanzen competitions and won several prizes. As a thirteen-year-old, she also performed with the Poland Krakow Chamber Orchestra in their Concert Series in Japan. In addition, she was a member of the music group at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan where she held concerts in elementary schools, nursing homes and festivals to share the joy of music with local people. She has a B.A. degree in Sociology and Tourism from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University and studied Tourism and Marketing at the University of Westminster in London, U.K. Although her work has deprived her of time for piano practice and performing for several years, she joined the Georgia Musicale Group in April 2017 and has happily returned to playing the piano once again. Now she is an active member of Georgia Musicale Group serving as Vice President of Media Marketing and actively playing at monthly musicales and concerts at various venues in Georgia. She believes in the power of music to connect people, bringing much joy and happiness to their lives. She lives with her wonderful husband and son who always enjoys hearing music and attends musicales as an enthusiastic listener.
Annette has enjoyed a life-long love of music. She began piano lessons at the age of 8 and studied for about 7 years. She also studied voice for several years as a young adult. She has participated in a variety of vocal experiences including church and community choirs and solos. After graduating from Rutgers College in NJ, she taught 1st and 3rd grades for 35 years. She incorporated music into the classroom whenever possible to enhance learning. Being involved in music has always been a priority her life.