Janelle Zook Cunalata is an active composer and music educator in central Pennsylvania. Her music is compelling, passionate, exciting, and meaningful. Heartfelt and creative music-making in a context where performers are relaxed, engaged, and having a novel experience is Janelle’s passion. She is a member of the American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers and The National Association for Music Education.
Music has long been a part of Janelle’s life from her mother playing guitar, taking piano lessons, playing oboe, participating in various district, regional, and state orchestras and bands in Pennsylvania, later in Virginia, and finally choosing music as her career. She received her Masters of Music degree from Sam Houston State University at the American Band College in Ashland, Oregon in 2010, and a BS in Music Education as well as an Oboe Performance Certificate in 2006 from Penn State University.
One of Janelle’s passions is passing the joy of music to the next generation through teaching and composing for students of all levels. Janelle taught orchestra and band in public schools for 4 years in Southern Lehigh Bethlehem Area School Districts before moving to Ecuador, where she taught large and small group music and composition lessons to students in Riobamba.
While in Ecuador, Janelle auditioned to play first oboe with the Ecuador National Symphony and also expanded her musical endeavors by discovering a new passion, music composition, although improvisation had always been an integral part of her musical experience. Inspired by her students and the violin lessons she had taken previously, Janelle began her composition career writing for string orchestra. Upon returning stateside in 2016, Janelle has expanded her writing to include a more diverse body of ensembles inspired by music composition teachers, Dr. Mark Lochstampfor and Dr. Scott Watson.
While Janelle loves writing new music and motivating students, she can also be found exploring the unknown, hosting family and friends, and spending time with her husband, Franklin, and their young daughter, Elizabeth.