Keith Fitzpatrick was born in Nashville, TN. A self taught dancer, he has choreographed for the Dove Awards, and the... read more
Dance - Guest Faculty
Keith Fitzpatrick was born in Nashville, TN. A self taught dancer, he has choreographed for the Dove Awards, and the CMT awards. He has also been featured in several TV spots for Toyota, WSIX, and a pilot episode of a television show. He has also taught several workshops across the country, including Dancers Rock, TAD, and Dancemasters, and is currently teaching Hip-Hop for Vanderbilt University, Austin Peay University, and several Top dance studios in the Nashville, TN area.
Keith is also a talented music producer, working with hip-hop and R&B acts in a joint venture with Skyline Music Group in Nashville, TN. With a dance style that has an urban edge, with a lyrical twist, Keith is fast becoming a very sought after and respected choreographer and dancer.
Lindsay McNeal Ison
Lindsay McNeal Ison, PT, MS, OCS, is a physical therapist at Susan Underwood Physical Therapy in Nashville, TN, the official... read more
Dance - Guest Faculty
Lindsay McNeal Ison, PT, MS, OCS, is a physical therapist at Susan Underwood Physical Therapy in Nashville, TN, the official physical therapy provider to Nashville Ballet. She is a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopaedics. Ms. Ison is an adjunct faculty member at Belmont University School of Physical Therapy. She also collaborates with numerous dance schools and programs in Middle Tennessee to provide injury prevention seminars and health education.
Jennifer’s yoga path began in 2000 with her mentor Johnny Johns at Murfreesboro’s first yoga studio. She completed a 13... read more
Dance - Guest Faculty
Jennifer’s yoga path began in 2000 with her mentor Johnny Johns at Murfreesboro’s first yoga studio. She completed a 13 month 1,000 hours yoga teacher training program at the Southern Institute for Yoga Instructors with Betty Larsen and John Charping. She is registered with Yoga Alliance at the highest level as an E-RYT® 500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher at the 500 level) and maintains registry through continuing education by attending teacher trainings and workshops. This is the highest level recognized in the discipline of yoga. She has over 2,000 hours of yoga training (2001 to present), including a 300-hour Foundations of Yoga Therapy Program and 25 hours of Ayurveda training.
Jennifer has been teaching yoga full-time at MTSU for 15 years, instructing almost 6,000 hours and over 5,000 students. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Health and Physical Education, a Specialist in Education Degree and has completed all her coursework towards a Doctorate Degree in Administration and Supervision in Higher Education (currently working on her dissertation). She was acknowledged as a person at MTSU who makes a real difference in students’ lives and contributes to their success for years 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015. She has consistently impressive student evaluations ranging from 4.6 to 4.9 (out of 5.0) for 15 years. Jennifer created and implemented the curriculum for Beginning Yoga, Intermediate Yoga, and Advanced Yoga at MTSU. She also co-created the Somatic Movement Education minor in the Health and Human Performance Department along with the Somatic Movement class. In addition, she has taught in Murfreesboro’s local community for 16 years at various studios and venues.
Her teaching is a fusion of yoga styles, incorporating the alignment principles from the Iyengar tradition to the fluidity of Vinyasa with sprinklings of a modified Ashtanga method. Jennifer’s intentions for teaching are to cultivate an atmosphere for exploration and many opportunities for growth; empowering students to become the best version of themselves on and off the yoga mat. Her goal is to share the gift of yoga and make it accessible to everyone!
Sam Dalton is an accomplished Rocky Mountain Regional Emmy, a two-time national Telly, and a Parent’s Choice award-winning television and... read more
Sam Dalton is an accomplished Rocky Mountain Regional Emmy, a two-time national Telly, and a Parent’s Choice award-winning television and motion picture actor, writer, director, producer and television and print journalist with over 35-years of hands-on experience in all phases of the entertainment and communications media, on both sides of a camera.
His motion picture and television acting credits include the original Paramount motion picture “Footloose”, the NBC Daytime Series Santa Barbara, a costarring role on the NBC Prime-Time Series Mancuso FBI and numerous other appearances.
For the past three years, Sam has served as an instructor and as a Visiting Assistant Professor-Film at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in Nashville where he teaches a rotating series of required and special topics college curriculum courses including “The Fundamentals of Production”, “Production II Filmmaking”, “The Business of the Biz”, “Documentary Production”, “Mastering The Art of Pitching”, and “Mastering The Art of Movie Trailers”. He also teaches the Watkins summer three-week Pre-College High School Film Track Program.
Spenser Fritz graduated with his B.F.A. in Screenwriting and Directing from Watkins College of Art, Design and Film. Shortly after... read more
Spenser Fritz graduated with his B.F.A. in Screenwriting and Directing from Watkins College of Art, Design and Film. Shortly after he started his own production company, Boun Pane Pictures. He has written, directed and edited many award winning short films such as “Weight,” “Murderererer,” and most recently “Rock Hunter in 3D.” Spenser has also won awards in time-based festivals like the 48 Hour Film Project in Nashville and the 24 Hour Film Festival in Knoxville.
While Spenser’s main focus is narrative film making, he has also directed, shot and edited a variety of music videos, documentaries, and promotional videos. Throughout his career he has been involved with nearly every aspect of film making. In 2010 he was the sound recordist for the award winning film “Nickel Children” and most recently was the script supervisor for the upcoming film “10 Seconds.” He is currently in pre-production on Boun Pane Pictures’ next project, a comedy TV pilot set to debut in late 2011.
Nashville based artist Amanda Dillingham graduated with a BFA in Fine Arts from Watkins College of Art & Design in... read more
Film Production Teacher
Nashville based artist Amanda Dillingham graduated with a BFA in Fine Arts from Watkins College of Art & Design in 2005 and with an MFA in Studio Art from Vermont College of Fine Art in Montpelier, Vermont in 2008. Amanda works in a variety of media including drawing, video, sculpture, and installation with issues linked to feminine identity, rituals, body image and the Skin Ego. She recognizes the importance of a research-based studio process, making writing and reading integral the process of creating.
Amanda’s growth as an artist has benefitted from mentorships with established artists such as Faith Wilding, Judy Chicago, Jeanne Dunning and William Pope L. Amanda has exhibited and curated shows across Tennessee, as well as exhibiting nationally in cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia and New York City. Most recently, Amanda was the gallery curator at the Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN and currently is an adjunct professor at Austin Peay State University, Middle Tennessee State University and David Lipscomb University.
Meghan O’Connor received her BFA in printmaking from East Tennessee State University in 2003, and her MFA from Clemson University... read more
Meghan O’Connor received her BFA in printmaking from East Tennessee State University in 2003, and her MFA from Clemson University in 2007. Since 2005, Meghan has been an active member of Southern Graphics Council, where she has organized and participated in international exhibitions and portfolio exchanges. She has assisted over 30 artists at Frogman’s Print & Paper Workshop in Vermillion, SD. Meghan enjoys spending long hours in the printmaking studio getting her hands dirty, listening to loud, fast music, and collaborating with others. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at Middle Tennessee State University, just outside Nashville, TN, where she teaches foundations and printmaking courses.
Thomas Sturgill was born is Pound, Virginia a small coal town far past its prime. He received a BFA in... read more
Thomas Sturgill was born is Pound, Virginia a small coal town far past its prime. He received a BFA in Sculpture from the University of Tennessee and an interdisciplinary MFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He has exhibited nationally and internationally. Most of Sturgill’s work is part of a two-person art collaborative named Pulled Resources, which focuses on the creation of large-scale projects with limited budgets and short timescales. He is an Assistant Professor at MTSU, teaching Foundations and Sculpture classes.
Charles Clary was born in 1980 in Morristown, Tennessee. He received his BFA in painting with honors from Middle Tennessee... read more
Charles Clary was born in 1980 in Morristown, Tennessee. He received his BFA in painting with honors from Middle Tennessee State University and his MFA in painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He has had solo exhibitions at Nancy Margolis Gallery in NYC, The Rymer Gallery in Nashville, TN, and Galerie EVOLUTION-Pierre Cardin in Paris, France. He completed a three week residency in Lacoste France, completed a painting assistantship with Joe Amrhein of Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn NYC, and had work acquired by fashion designer Pierre Cardin and gallery owner James Cohan. As of 2013 Charles had been featured in numerous print and Internet interviews including, WIRED magazine (US and UK), Hifructose.com, Beautifuldecay.com and Bluecanavs Magazine.
He has also been featured in publications including “Papercraft 2” published by Gestalten and “PUSH Paper” published by Lark Books, “Paper Art” published by ArtPower International Publishing, and “Paper Works” published by Sandu Publishing as well as 500 Paper Objects published by Lark Books. Charles has lectured nationally and exhibited regionally, nationally, and internationally in numerous solo and group shows, is represented by The Rymer Galery in Nashville, TN, the Diana Lowenstein Gallery in Miami, FL, the Kenise Barnes Gallery in Larchmont, NY and currently lives and works in Murfreesboro, TN.
Dawn Martin Dickins
Dawn Martin Dickins is a drawing/installation artist originally from a small farming community in Georgia. Dawn loves the performative nature... read more
Dawn Martin Dickins is a drawing/installation artist originally from a small farming community in Georgia. Dawn loves the performative nature of drawing large scale in public spaces, which allows the viewer to experience the evolution of the drawing. Her goal is not to create permanent art works, but to create experiences. Dawn earned a BFA from Georgia Southern University and an MFA at the University of South Carolina. She currently lives in Clarksville and teaches as a full-time instructor at Middle Tennessee State University in the Foundations Department.
Patrick DeGuira (born 1972) lives and works in Nashville, TN. He has exhibited his work at the Frist Center for... read more
Design as Art/Art as Design
Patrick DeGuira (born 1972) lives and works in Nashville, TN. He has exhibited his work at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Brooks Museum of Art, Hunter Museum of Art, Cheekwood Museum of Art, as well as numerous commercial, non profit, University galleries, and is represented by Zeitgeist Gallery. In addition to his exhibition career, he has worked as a Museum Exhibit Designer, educator, and curator. He has co-curated video exhibitions through Fugitive Projects, which has held exhibitions worldwide; including such venues as La Maison Laurentine (France), MVMA Fest 2010 (Marfa), Emmedia (Calgary),Version 10 Festival Screening (Chicago), Banff Center, and the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival (Ireland).
His work has been reviewed and featured in numerous publications, including The Oxford American, New American Paintings, Art Papers, Number, and Art Daily, and he is a recipient of a Tennessee Independent Artist Fellowship Grant and multiple Tennessee Professional Development Support Grants. DeGuira received a BFA from Memphis College of Art (1994) and is currently completing his Master of Fine Arts at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Dr. Raphael Bundage
Director, Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts
Raphael Bundage is Director of Choral Activities and Opera at Middle Tennessee State University.... read more
Director - TN GSFTA
Director, Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts
Raphael Bundage is Director of Choral Activities and Opera at Middle Tennessee State University. Bundage has served as the Assistant Conductor and Chorus Master of the Nashville Opera and the Nashville Symphony. He also presently serves as the Director of the Sanctuary Choir at the First Presbyterian Church of Nashville. He holds Bachelor degrees from Texas Christian University and Graduate degrees from the Eastman School of Music. Prior to his Graduate study, he was the Supervisor of Choral music in the Edinburgh, Texas Public School System. While at Eastman, he was director of the Eastman Chamber Chorus and the Assistant Director of the Eastman-Rochester Symphony Chorus. Bundage serves as frequent adjudicator and clinician in the choral field throughout the country and has led numerous International Concert tours. He is himself the product of an extraordinary host of master teachers including Alfred Mann, Roberta Bailey, Julius Herford, and Robert Shaw.
Dr. Jerome Reed
Jerome A. Reed is the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Piano at Lipscomb University. He has performed extensively in... read more
Jerome A. Reed is the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Piano at Lipscomb University. He has performed extensively in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and South America, giving recitals and masterclasses in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, China, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, England, Hungary, and Uruguay. He has recorded works for piano and tape for Capstone Records and in 2009 released a recording of sonatas for flute and piano with Deanna Little. In August of 2014 Navona Records released his recording of Elizabeth Austin’s Rose Sonata. He has given over fifty performances in the U.S. and abroad of Charles Ives’s Concord Sonata, which incorporates a multimedia presentation and readings from Ives's writings. In 2003 he was awarded the Avalon Award for Creative Excellence, in 2006 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Tennessee Music Teachers Association and in 2010 he was named Teacher of the Year by the same organization. In 2019 he was inducted into the Steinway Teachers Hall of Fame in New York.
His students have won many competitions, including first place in Tennessee Music Teachers Association competitions, the first Nashville International Piano Competition, the Tennessee Tech Young Artist Competition, and Clavierfest at MTSU. His student piano trio placed third at the Music Teachers National Association Competition in New York in 2012. He has served on the faculty of the InterHarmony Music Festival in Italy and the East/West International Piano Festival in China. He is also chair of the music division of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.
He holds the D.M.A. and M.M. in piano performance from The Catholic University of America, where he was a student of Béla Börzörményi-Nagy. He also studied with Jeanne-Marie Darré at the Conservatoire de Musique de Nice.
Alexandra Giannell holds a MFA in Painting from Clemson University with six years of university-level teaching experience, most recently at... read more
Alexandra Giannell holds a MFA in Painting from Clemson University with six years of university-level teaching experience, most recently at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Auburn University, and the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project. Giannell's personal research engages the intersection of haptic mark-making and the phenomenological study of somatics, exploring collaborative and ritual-based processes functioning within abstraction, referencing bodily relations within architecture and the landscape. Incorporating these methods into the classroom, Giannell promotes collaboration, critical thinking, and conceptual development in her student work.
Professor, MTSU DMA, Eastman School of Music
Dr. Raphael Bundage is the Director of Choral activities at Middle Tennessee State University... read more
Professor, MTSU DMA, Eastman School of Music
Dr. Raphael Bundage is the Director of Choral activities at Middle Tennessee State University and is the Director of the Governor’s School for the Arts. He has served as Assistant conductor and Chorus Master of the Nashville Opera Association and the conductor of the Nashville Symphony Chorus. In addition, he is the Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church of Nashville.
He holds Bachelor Degrees in Music Education and Music History from Texas Christian University and Graduate Degrees in Conducting from the Eastman Conservatory of Music. Prior to his graduate study, he was a supervisor of choral music in the Texas Public School System and while at Eastman, he directed the Eastman Chamber Chorus and was the assistant director of the Eastman-Rochester Symphony Chorus.
He is a frequent adjudicator and clinician in the choral field and his choirs have toured extensively in Europe and throughout the United States. He is the product of an extraordinary host of master teachers including Alfred Mann, Julius Herford, Donald Neuen, Bev Hensen and Robert Shaw.
Meg Brooker is Artistic Director of Duncan Dance South and Associate Professor and Director of Dance at Middle Tennessee State... read more
Dance – Guest Artist
Meg Brooker is Artistic Director of Duncan Dance South and Associate Professor and Director of Dance at Middle Tennessee State University. She is a founder and steering committee member of the Isadora Duncan International Symposium; chair of the Isadora Duncan Archive Committee; and a former member of Lori Belilove & Company, Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation, NYC. Meg holds an advanced certification in Duncan dance, and her additional teaching certifications include Noyes Rhythm, an early modern somatic dance practice, and Zena Rommett Floor-Barre®. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Noyes School of Rhythm Foundation and for the Tennessee Association of Dance; as Dance Chair for the Hellenic Institute of Cultural Diplomacy; and as Dancer Laureate 2021 for the City of Murfreesboro, TN.
Meg has performed in national and international venues including The National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum, Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Blanton Museum of Art (Austin), the Art Monastery (Italy), Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art (St. Petersburg), American Center of Moscow, PROJEKT Fabrika (Moscow), the People's Friendship University of Russia/RUDN (Moscow), the Tchaikovsky Museum (Votkinsk), the ancient Greek ruins at Chersonesos (Crimea), Kalamata International Dance Festival as a guest with Isadora Duncan Dance Group London/Paris (Greece), the Dora Stratou Theatre as a guest with the Isadora Duncan Dance Company (Greece), the Ruth Page Center for the Arts and Joffrey Theatre as a guest with Duncan Dance Chicago. In Tennessee, Meg has appeared with Duncan Dance South at the Parthenon in Centennial Park, Nashville (2018), and at the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga (2019, 2020). Her work has been featured in publications including Arts + Culture Texas, Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Nashville Arts Magazine, The Pulse (Chattanooga), and Dance Teacher Magazine.
Meg has presented scholarship on early modern dance and somatics for Society of Dance History Scholars, Congress on Research in Dance, Dance Studies Association, National Dance Education Organization, and International Somatic Movement Educators and Therapists Association. Her creative work with MTSU dancers has twice been selected by national adjudicators for the American College Dance Association Regional Gala Concerts, as well as for the Women in Dance Leadership Conference. Her research and creative activity has been funded by the MTSU Faculty Research and Creative Activity Committee and also by an NEH Preservation Assistance grant for the Noyes School of Rhythm Archives. Meg holds an MFA from The University of Texas at Austin and a BA from Yale.
Kate Goodwin is Chair of the Theatre Division of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts. She teaches Stage Management... read more
Kate Goodwin is Chair of the Theatre Division of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts. She teaches Stage Management and Theatre Education for the Department of Theatre and Dance at MTSU and has spent her Theatre Career as a production/stage manager and sometimes director and designer. Following undergrad at MTSU, she taught at the Nashville School for the Arts, chairing the Theatre Department from 2003-2006. The pursuit of a MFA in Stage Management at UIUC led to an exciting array of opportunities, including touring internationally with The Builders Association production of Continuous City. Other adventures include serving as Director of Education and Touring for Voices of the South Theatre Company in Memphis, TN; teaching at University of Memphis, Eastern Kentucky University, Asbury University, and Centre College; and in 2014, helping found AthensWest Theatre Company in Lexington, KY, where she served as Production Manager before joining the faculty at MTSU.
Dr. Joni M. Hand
Dr. Joni M. Hand is currently Associate Professor of Art History at Southeast Missouri State University. She holds a BA... read more
Dr. Joni M. Hand is currently Associate Professor of Art History at Southeast Missouri State University. She holds a BA in graphic design from Kent State University, a MA in painting from Bradley University, a MA in art history from Hunter College of the City University of New York, and a Ph.D. in art history from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her research concerns late medieval manuscripts in Northern Europe and female patronage. She is author of the books Bound for the Midwest: Medieval and Early Modern Religious Manuscripts in the Charles Luce Harrison Collection, Kent Library, Southeast Missouri State University (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2017) and Women, Manuscripts, and Identity in Northern Europe, 1350-1550 (Ashgate, 2013).
Dr. Hand is also a practicing artist working in mixed media, oils, and graphite. Her current work explores physical and metaphysical journeys. She leads the viewer on these pilgrimages through the objects, images, or drawings she incorporates into each piece. The destination of each trip is different for each viewer and for each time the work is viewed. She lives in Cape Girardeau, Missouri with her husband Kevin, their dogs Grady and Gracie, and cats Grill and Grizzle.
Abigail Anderson is from Elizabethton, TN and is an alumna of the 2016 Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts -... read more
Dance - Counselor
Abigail Anderson is from Elizabethton, TN and is an alumna of the 2016 Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts - Dance Division. Starting from the age of four, she has had a love for dance, especially ballet. She began dancing with a studio when she was eight years old where she studied the technique of a variety of dance styles. Along with her passion for ballet, she thoroughly enjoys musical theater.
Abigail is currently working towards a B.F.A in dance and an Elementary Education degree at Radford University. With completing her first year at Radford, she has been able to participate in productions such as Fall Dance Fest, Student choreography shows, The Nutcracker, and Paradigm Shift. She is very excited to assist students as they grow in their passion for dance this summer.
Ethan Hollinger is excited to be joining the staff at the Tennessee Governor's School of the Arts as the Dance... read more
Dance Production Coordinator
Ethan Hollinger is excited to be joining the staff at the Tennessee Governor's School of the Arts as the Dance Production Coordinator. An avid writer, artist, and musician, Ethan can usually be found hard at work with popcorn nearby. He has designed lighting, sound, and media across the country, but is excited to return to a state where he can finally get sweet tea again. He is delighted to continue collaborating with choreographers, dancers, and designers. He is currently the Assistant Professor of Lighting, Sound, and Media at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. ethanjhollinger.com
Meyer Blaine Maddox
Meyer Blaine Maddox is from Dresden, Tennessee and is an alumna of the 2016 Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts-... read more
Meyer Blaine Maddox is from Dresden, Tennessee and is an alumna of the 2016 Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts- Dance Division. She began her dance career at Martin Dance Studio before training at the Pat Brown School of Dance and performing with the pre-professional company Ballet Arts of Jackson for eight years. While dancing with Ballet Arts, Meyer Blaine performed a variety of roles in numerous ballets including The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland, and Coppelia. She also attended summer programs with Cincinnati Ballet and San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet. Currently, she is pursuing a degree in Neuroscience with a double minor in English and Education at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and is a Senior Performing Member of the San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet.
Christina Humble received her MFA in Studio Art at American University in Washington, DC. She has a BFA in Painting... read more
Drawing and Printmaking
Christina Humble received her MFA in Studio Art at American University in Washington, DC. She has a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Youngstown State University. Christina is an interdisciplinary artist who works in drawing, painting, printmaking, and photography. The themes of her work are often based on self reflection and personal observations that she re-conveys into broader ideas about society. She's worked and shown nationally and internationally. She participated in an artist residency in Berlin, Germany through Glougair Studios, as well as a Study Abroad in Venice, Italy focusing on etching and art history. When she's not in the studio she spends time with her three cats whom are often featured in her work. Currently, Christina is an instructor of Drawing and Printmaking at Adrian College in Michigan.
Billy Ditty – Costume Design. Hailing from the coal country of eastern Kentucky , Billy studied Costume Design and Theatre at Morehead... read more
Billy Ditty – Costume Design. Hailing from the coal country of eastern Kentucky , Billy studied Costume Design and Theatre at Morehead State University. Since then he has sewn and performed his way across the south and the country. Here in Nashville he has had the pleasure of working on many different types of projects from film to musical theatre to the Nashville Ballet where he is in his 4th. Season as the draper and a designer.
Rodger Murray retired in 2006 from teaching visual art in Tennessee public schools for 33 years. He taught at Franklin County... read more
Visual Art Production Coordinator
Rodger Murray retired in 2006 from teaching visual art in Tennessee public schools for 33 years. He taught at Franklin County High School, Winchester, Tennessee, for 12 years and at Tullahoma High School, Tullahoma, Tennessee, for 21 years. During his high school teaching career Mr. Murray was chosen by his peers as ‘Teacher of the Year’ five times. He is an adjunct ‘Art Education’ teacher at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, and Cumberland University in Lebanon.
Ever since the Governor School curriculum added visual art in 1986, he has been part of the faculty, either as a teacher or on staff. In his free time, Mr. Murray sings with a community chorus in Nashville and works at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center as an usher. He holds a B.S. degree from Middle Tennessee State University and a M.Ed. degree from Tennessee State University.
Glenna Robinson comes to the Governor’s School from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, where she worked for the Office... read more
Glenna Robinson comes to the Governor’s School from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, where she worked for the Office of Admissions from 1993-2008.Ms. Robinson moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 2008 and became the School Coordinator for the Governor’s School for the Arts.
Ms. Robinson has a B.A. in Multi-disciplinary studies and an M.A. in Professional Studies. She has two children and one grandchild.
John McDonald is currently a doctoral candidate in choral conducting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and... read more
Music Production Coordinator
John McDonald is currently a doctoral candidate in choral conducting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. At UMKC, John studies with Dr. Robert Bode and Dr. Charles Robinson, and serves as conductor for an undergraduate select chamber choir, Canticum Novum, and co-conductor of the large ensemble University Singers. Previously, John received a masters of music in choral conducting from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. At ECU, John studied conducting with Dr. Andrew Crane, and voice with Mr. John Kramar. While in Greenville, John was involved in the East Carolina University Opera Theatre program, where he served as Conductor, Assistant Director, Assistant Conductor, Chorusmaster, and Stage Manager. John also had the opportunity to conduct the Collegiate Choir and the award-winning East Carolina University Chamber Singers.
John holds a bachelor of music degree in Vocal and General Music Education from Middle Tennessee State University and taught high school choral music in Murfreesboro, TN. He currently holds the position of Music Production Coordinator for the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts, and Music Director at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Kansas City. John and his wife, Alyssa, live in Overland Park, Kansas with their son John Tyler, Jr.
Amy Tate Williams is Pianist & Chorus Master for Nashville Opera. Since joining the company in... read more
Opera Director / Conductor
Amy Tate Williams is Pianist & Chorus Master for Nashville Opera. Since joining the company in August 1998, she casts and musically prepares all choruses and acts as rehearsal pianist for all mainstage productions, coaches Mary Ragland Young Artists, plays keyboard in the Nashville Opera Orchestra, and plays for auditions, fundraisers and outreach events.
Amy free-lances as Vocal Coach and Collaborative Pianist often in recital and competitions. In February 2015, Amy made her debut as Conductor and Stage Director for Middle Tennessee State University's The Merry Widow. She is regularly invited to conduct Master Classes in area universities. The University of Memphis hired her to prepare a Puccini double-bill of opera in February 2017.
A native of Bowling Green, Kentucky, Amy holds degrees in Piano Performance from Western Kentucky University and Florida State University. She has been a coach accompanist for Glimmerglass Opera, Nevada Opera, Augusta Opera, and Des Moines Metro Opera, served two years as Music Director for OPERAIowa, and trained for two years in the Houston Opera Studio program at Houston Grand Opera. She has also directed elementary, middle and high school choral departments, taught private voice, piano and drama and led an acappella ensemble on a European tour.
Since 2003, Amy has served on the staff of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts as Opera Director, preparing an original fully-staged production in three weeks with high school vocalists. She also accompanies choral concerts and vocal recitals.
Amy is a published composer of choral anthems with Beckenhorst Press and Abingdon Press. In 2010, she launched an online publishing company, RANDAMWILL Music, which promotes her print music and CD recordings. Her two children’s operas, Rumpelstiltskin and The Looking Glass, have been produced for educational tours by Nashville's Opera On Tour, Des Moines Metro Opera’s OperaIOWA, and The University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
She lives in Brentwood with her husband and son.
Terry Jolley is currently serving as Co-Director of the Stewarts Creek High School Band in Smyrna, Tennessee. Prior to this... read more
Dean of Students
Terry Jolley is currently serving as Co-Director of the Stewarts Creek High School Band in Smyrna, Tennessee. Prior to this position, he served the Director of Development at The Band Hall and served as the Director of Education and Brass Supervisor/Arranger for The Music City Drum and Bugle Corps.
Mr. Jolley was recruited as the Supervisor of the Extended School Program for Murfreesboro City Schools which involved over 3,000 students from K-6. He has over twenty years in the music education profession at multiple levels of instruction including Siegel Middle School, Stewarts Creek Middle School, and Blackman High School in Murfreesboro. He also enjoyed serving as the Associate Director of Bands at Middle Tennessee State University.
Before taking the position at MTSU, he was co-director of bands at John Overton High School in Nashville, Tn, and served as Director of Bands at Warren County High School in McMinnville, TN. He has held several positions over a seventeen year span with The Governor’s School for the Arts including Director and production coordinator.
He has enjoyed 16 years of marriage to Alison, who is a registered nurse at Middle Tennessee Medical Center. Terry and Alison are blessed with a beautiful daughter, Ava who is currently in fourth grade at Redeemer Christian Academy in Murfreesboro.
Professor of Music, Abilene Christian University DMA, Michigan State University
Dr. Steven Ward is Professor of Music at Abilene
Professor of Music, Abilene Christian University DMA, Michigan State University
Dr. Steven Ward is Professor of Music at Abilene Christian University, serving as Director of Bands and Orchestra and teaching courses in conducting. Previous to his appointment at ACU, he was Director of Bands at Hope College in Holland, MI, and the Music Director/Conductor of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra in Kalamazoo, MI. Dr. Ward holds a D.M.A. in Conducting from Michigan State University, a M.A. in Conducting from Stephen F. Austin State University, and a B.M. in Music Education from Abilene Christian University. Prior to his appointment at Hope College, Dr. Ward was the Music Director/Conductor of the Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra in La Grande, OR, and was Instructor of Music at Eastern Oregon University.
He has conducted extensively in many different areas including orchestra, band, musical theater, opera, and contemporary music, and is a recipient of the ASCAP award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. He spent 9 summers at the Interlochen Arts Camp, conducting the Interlochen Philharmonic, as well as middle school and high school bands and orchestras, and faculty ensembles. He has conducted many all-region and similar ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestra at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, region orchestras and bands throughout Texas, Michigan, Tennessee, and others.
He has served as a conductor for the Orchestra at the Tennessee Governor’s School in summers since 2006. Dr. Ward is a member of the College Orchestra Directors Association, the College Band Directors National Association, the Texas Music Educators Association, the Texas Orchestra Directors Association, the Texas Bandmasters Association, the Michigan State Band and Orchestra Directors Association, and the American String Teachers Association.
Darren E. Levin
Darren E. Levin is a freelance lighting designer and lighting design faculty at Middle Tennessee State University. He has designed... read more
Theatre Audition Coordinator/Faculty
Darren E. Levin is a freelance lighting designer and lighting design faculty at Middle Tennessee State University. He has designed lighting for Nashville Repertory Theatre, Black Hills Playhouse, Green Mountain Opera Festival, Theatre West Summer Repertory, Cedar Point Live Entertainment. Favorite credits: Topdog/Underdog, Avenue Q, Posterity (Regional Premiere), Pageant (Regional Premiere), Peter and the Starcatcher, Good Monsters (World Premiere), and Pride and Prejudice. Darren worked as the Assistant Technical Director/Lighting Supervisor for McCain Auditorium at Kansas State University. He has also worked with Cedar Point Live Entertainment/Cedar Fair Entertainment Corporation, Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts, and toured with Disney on Ice. Darren is a proud member of United Scenic Artists 829 (USA829), The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 205, and the United States Institute of Theatre Technology (serving on regional and national committees within the organization).
Professor, East Carolina State University MM, Curtis Institute of Music
M.M., Curtis Institute of Music. Performer’s Certificates in Voice and Opera,... read more
Professor, East Carolina State University MM, Curtis Institute of Music
M.M., Curtis Institute of Music. Performer’s Certificates in Voice and Opera, B.M., Eastman School of Music. Formerly at Middle Tennessee State University. Private Studio Teaching in NYC. Has won the Helen Jepson Deller Award. Performances with the Sarasota Opera. Apprentice Achievement Award, Santa Fe Opera; Kneisel Lieder Competition (2nd place), Eastman School.
Performances with the North Carolina Symphony, Jupiter Symphony, Nashville Opera, Elysian Opera Group, New York Vocal Arts Ensemble, Middle Tennessee Choral Society, Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, Erie Philharmonic, Springfield Symphony, National Chorale, Aspen Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, Tanglewood Festival, Sarasota Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Washington Summer Opera, Opera Delaware, Choral Society of Durham, and City Center Encores Series.
Gerald Watson began his formal dance training at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School and... read more
Dance - Guest Artist
Gerald Watson began his formal dance training at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School and the Academy of Ballet Arts in St. Petersburg, Fla. Upon graduating high school, he continued his studies at the Boston Conservatory and graduated in 2012 with a BFA in Contemporary Dance. While at the Conservatory, Watson performed works by Jose Limon, Ohad Naharin, David Lichine, Kathy Posin, Parren Ballard and Danielle Agami. He has also been a guest artist with Commonwealth Ballet Company, BalletRox Urban Nutcracker and The Diva Day Foundation, as well as creating his own works for the Juventas Music Group and Berklee College of Music. Watson also attended multiple summer programs on scholarship, including Boston Conservatory Summer Dance, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, BalletMet Columbus, Nashville Ballet, Bates Dance Festival and the Academy of Ballet Arts. In 2012, Watson joined Nashville Ballet’s second company, NB2, and has performed works by Nashville Ballet Artistic Director & CEO Paul Vasterling, Banning Bouldin, Christopher Stuart, Bat Abbit and James Sewell. Watson became a Nashville Ballet apprentice in 2014, and was promoted to company member in 2016. He is currently on faculty with School of Nashville Ballet's Children's Program and the new Young Men's Scholarship Program, which he helped create. Outside of the studio, Watson is a budding chef and musician and works a variety of odd jobs as an HVAC technician and painter. He is also a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the largest music fraternity in the world.
Donna Carver began her first stage appearance at the age of 4 performing in a stage production of “Pinocchio” in... read more
Donna Carver began her first stage appearance at the age of 4 performing in a stage production of “Pinocchio” in her hometown of Tampa, Florida. Her formal dance training began at the age of 7 and she proceeded to dance with two civic ballet companies during her student years training under Alpheus Koon of American Ballet Theater and Gerald Pascual of the Chicago Lyric Opera. She went to New York City to train under such ballet luminaries as Vladimir Dokoudovsky at the Ballet Arts School, Maria Nevelska and Vladimir Konstantinov at Carnegie Hall Studios, Anatole Vilzak at the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and David Howard at the David Howard School of Ballet. She also trained in Toronto at the National Ballet School (now School of the National Ballet of Canada) with school Principal Betty Oliphant (who was also a guest teacher at the Bolshoi Ballet) and Margaret Saul.
While performing professionally with the Florida Ballet Company, she trained with Jean Spear and the great Frederic Franklin. She passed examinations of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, London, England – Cecchetti Method. In Nashville, Ms. Carver founded Tennessee Dance Theater and was its Artistic Director and resident choreographer before it became the famous modern company. Tennessee Dance Theater presented the first full-length ballet ever presented in the city when it premiered its production of “Giselle” in 1989, and sponsored the first ever showcase of local choreographers during its annual Choreographer’s Showcases. Tennessee Dance Theater paved the way for other professional dance companies in the city including Nashville City Ballet, which is now known as Nashville Ballet. She also served as the Secretary and Teacher Representative to the Board of Directors for Tennessee Association of Dance as well as a judge for several talent and dance competitions in and around the city. She taught ballet technique classes in several local dance studios including Vanderbilt University, Tennessee Fine Arts Center at Cheekwood, Nashville Ballet and The Dance Center a school she owned and operated. She also worked as a Musical Theater Director for Circle Players (the oldest community-based theatre company in Middle Tennessee) for such musicals presented at TPAC as “Brigadoon”, “Camelot” and “Hello, Dolly”.
Perhaps her biggest contribution to the dance community was the creation of The Ballet Book Student Workbooks, a student workbook series that Ms. Carver spent over ten years researching, compiling and writing. The series is designed for a program of written study for the ballet student. These workbooks have been used as textbooks in public, Magnet, and Performing Arts High Schools, private schools, boarding schools, community colleges, universities and ballet schools around the country. Continuing to share her knowledge with dance students at GSFTA since 2013, she is very excited to be joining the faculty again this year.
Gregory T. Merriman
Gregory T. Merriman is a 1983 graduate of Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Classical... read more
Gregory T. Merriman is a 1983 graduate of Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Classical Ballet performance.Of the many he has studied with, Fernando Shaffenburg, Claire Duncan, Clara Cravey, Bill Martin-Viscount and Maria Grandy have been the most influential. Gregory began his early dancing career in 1977 with the Houston Allegro Ballet under the direction of Emma Mae Horn and Glenda Brown.
He was a scholarship student under the direction of Ben Stevenson at the Houston Ballet Academy and later became an apprentice to the Houston Ballet Company.Offered the Brown and Nordan Scholarships at TCU, Gregory joined the Fort Worth Ballet, dancing many of the classics as a frequent partner to Karen Schaffenburg. He was also a principle dancer with the Fort Worth Opera Ballet, under the direction of Marina Svetlova and a regular guest artist with regional companies throughout the Southwest.
Thomas Chesnut is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education.... read more
Assistant Dean of Students – Men
Thomas Chesnut is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education. Upon graduating, Thomas worked as an education assistant and assistant band director at Cascade High School. He currently teaches in Bedford County and serves as the band director at Liberty School and Harris Middle School and is the assistant band director at Shelbyville Central High School.
In addition to teaching band, he also serves as the choir teacher at Harris Middle School. Each year, he maintains several private lesson students throughout the middle Tennessee region. As an active performer, Thomas is a member of the Southern Stars Symphonic Brass, South Jackson Street Band, and Tennessee Valley Winds.
Assistant Professor, University of West Virginia DMA, University of Kentucky Hope Koehler has appeared with many opera companies and orchestras,... read more
Assistant Professor, University of West Virginia DMA, University of Kentucky Hope Koehler has appeared with many opera companies and orchestras, such as Nashville Opera, Tennessee Opera Theatre, Blair Opera Theatre, MTSU Opera Theatre, University Opera Theatre in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Northland Opera Theatre Experience, Lyric Opera of the North, Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, Lexington Symphony Orchestra, and Itasca Symphony Orchestra. With these companies she has appeared in such productions as Carmen, Il Trovatore, Lucia di Lammermoor, Rigoletto, The Impressario, The Old Maid and the Thief, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Gianni Schicchi and many others.
At the Northland Opera Theatre in Duluth, Minnesota, she has appeared in the title roles of Tosca, Carmen, Fidelio, and Madama Butterfly. In addition, she has appeared in La Boheme (Musetta), Der Freischutz (Agathe), The Tales of Hoffmann (Giulietta), and others. Koehler’s other stage credits include operetta and musical theatre. She has appeared in such productions as The Mikado, The Sound of Music, The Pajama Game, Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof, and West Side Story. Koehler has performed as a soloist in oratorio and other choral orchestral works, such as Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Verdi’s Requiem, Mozart’s Vesperae solennes di confessore, Rossini’s Stabat Mater,Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) and many others.
Koehler is a regular performer and featured soloist with the American Spiritual Ensemble, a group that performs all over the world, and whose mission is to keep the American Negro Spiritual alive and vibrant. She has also been on the faculty of the prestigious Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts for seven years and in 2006 served as chair of the vocal music department. In addition, in July and August of 2006 she was a member of the voice faculty at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria. In June of 2008 Albany Records released Koehler’s recording of John Jacob Niles songs titled The Lass from the Low Countree, performed with James Douglass at the piano. Koehler received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Vocal Performance and Music Education at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, and her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Alabama. Her Doctor of Musical Arts degree was completed at the University of Kentucky in Lexington where she studied with tenor Everett McCorvey and soprano Gail Robinson. She is currently on the voice faculty at West Virginia University
Noted for his diverse repertoire, lyric tenor Daniel Shirley captivates audiences with his commanding stage presence and vocalism rich in... read more
Noted for his diverse repertoire, lyric tenor Daniel Shirley captivates audiences with his commanding stage presence and vocalism rich in color and character. He has been critically lauded for his performances of new operas, musical theater classics, and symphonic masterpieces.
During 2017, Daniel debuted the role of John Little in the world premiere of We Shall Not Be Moved, a new hybrid opera by Daniel Bernard Roumain, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and Bill T. Jones. Part of Opera Philadelphia‘s groundbreaking O17 Festival, the work was presented to great acclaim at Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater, New York City’s historic Apollo Theater, and the Dutch National Opera of Amsterdam.
The 2017-2018 season also brought important concert engagements throughout his home state of North Carolina: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Easter Oratorio with the Raleigh Bach Soloists, Messiah with the Carolina Philharmonic, his debut with the Bach Cantata Series of Duke University Chapel, and a solo recital of Finzi at East Carolina University.
Daniel has appeared in recent years with such opera companies as Kentucky Opera, Austin Opera, Madison Opera, Odyssey Opera of Boston, Boston Baroque, Opera Memphis, Michigan Opera Theater, Sugar Creek Opera, Intermountain Opera Bozeman, and New York City Opera. In concert, he has appeared as a soloist with Seattle Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Carolina Philharmonic, Lexington Philharmonic, Music of the Baroque, Firebird Arts Alliance of Charlotte, and Choral Society of Durham. His 2013 Carnegie Hall debut was with Distinguished Concerts International – New York.
Daniel sings the role of Eurimaco on Boston Baroque’s Grammy-nominated recording of Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria (realized and conducted by Martin Pearlman). In the Chicago area, he has been a familiar presence with Music of the Baroque under Jane Glover, having performed tenor solos in Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Handel’s Israel in Egypt, for which his “articulate delivery was to the Handelian manner born” (Chicago Tribune).
Daniel trained in some of America’s most notable young artist and apprenticeship programs: those of Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Central City Opera, Opera Memphis, and Chautauqua Opera. He has been recognized in recent years by the American Traditions Competition, the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation, the Anna Sosenko Trust, the George London Foundation, and the National Society of Arts & Letters.
A native of Jackson, Mississippi, he is a graduate of the Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He and his wife, soprano Caitlin Shirley, reside in Greenville, North Carolina, where Daniel is a member of the Vocal Studies faculty of the East Carolina University School of Music.
Ahmad Simmons is a performer, choreographer, director, writer, and creative producer. He was last seen on Broadway as Diesel in... read more
Dance - Guest Faculty
Ahmad Simmons is a performer, choreographer, director, writer, and creative producer. He was last seen on Broadway as Diesel in Ivo Van Hove’s revival of West Side Story. Previous credits include the original Broadway cast of Hadestown, and the most recent revival casts of Carousel and Cats. TV appearances include the FX mini-series "Fosse/Verdon” as Ben Vereen, and ABC’s TV remake of Dirty Dancing. He has toured Internationally and across the United States with Parsons Dance Company, River North Dance Chicago, and Eisenhower Dance Detroit. He is a graduate of Point Park University.
Daniel Karasik grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Through experiencing a multitude of different types of cultural and artistic experiences,... read more
Daniel Karasik grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Through experiencing a multitude of different types of cultural and artistic experiences, Karasik developed a profound appreciation for individual and collaborative art-forms at an early age. At 17, he began his formal training in dance –– his thorough characterizations and sensitivity as a partner led him to study on scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York, the Nutmeg Conservatory and the School of Ballet Florida.
In 2007, Daniel graduated from Point Park University, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. He has danced professionally in Pittsburgh, with the Georgia Ballet and the Dayton Ballet.
As a dancer, Karasik has most enjoyed roles in George Balanchineʼs Serenade, Karen Russo-Burkeʼs and Dermot Burkeʼs The Nutcracker, Agnes DeMilleʼs Rodeo, Christopher Flemmingʼs The Whoʼs Tommy, Steven Millsʼ Five Flights Up, Stuart Sebastianʼs Dracula and Susan Stromanʼs CONTACT.
Currently, Karasik is the Artistic Director of the Morgantown Ballet Company and works as ballet faculty at Morgantown Dance School and Point Park Universityʼs Conservatory for the Performing Arts; he also teaches and choreographs for the universityʼs International Summer Dance program. He is a frequent guest teacher in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and has taught for American College Dance Festival and the National High School Dance Festival.
Karasikʼs choreography, la Carte du Tendre, was sent to the American College Dance Festival in Boston, MA, and chosen for the Gala. He has collaborated with the Duquesne Contemporary String Ensemble to create a work entitled Orpheus. In 2011, Karasik set Cha, dʼAmour for Dayton Ballet's annual Nutcracker Ball, and was one of three choreographers chosen from a national search to choreograph for the Dayton Ballet's final performance of their season. That work, Fixed Action, was awarded the People’s Choice Award.
In 2011, Karasik premiered the Dayton Arts Project, a company that seamlessly integrated art forms, such as choreography, dance, film, installation art, new and live music, and mixed media in exhibition.
Having more than 40 commissioned works, Karasik’s choreography has been reviewed as “grace and beauty personified,” having “intellectual glamor” and being “a wonderfully effective series of dance essays.” Most recently his work Volumes, was presented in a show named on of “seven Transportive Dance Programs of 2016.” He has produced works for Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, Dayton Arts Project, Dayton Ballet, Morgantown Ballet Company, Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh, Point Park University, West Virginia State Dance Festival and West Virginia University.
Wendy Bledsoe-Payne is a Nashville native and graduated from McGavock High School in 1992. At McGavock Ms. Payne... read more
Assistant Dean of Students – Women
Wendy Bledsoe-Payne is a Nashville native and graduated from McGavock High School in 1992. At McGavock Ms. Payne and was a member of the McGavock Madrigal Singers under the direction of Mr. Bob Binkley. While in high school Ms. Payne had the extraordinary opportunity to sing with the Nashville Symphony Chorus for the performances of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Carmina Burana under the direction of Kenneth Schermerhorn and Dr. Raphael Bundage.
Ms. Payne is a graduate of MTSU with degrees in Vocal Performance, 2005 and Music Education. While at MTSU, Ms. Payne was a member of the Chamber Chorus, Schola Cantorum and the Nashville Opera Chorus for the performances of Die Fledermaus, La Traviata, and The Magic Flute, all under the direction of Dr. Raphael Bundage. For the MTSU Opera, Ms. Payne sang the roles of La Ciesca in Gianni Schicci, Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Elizabeth in The Crucible. In 1997 Ms. Payne Earned 2nd place at the Beethoven Competition in Memphis, TN and earned the Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera Regional Competition.
Ms. Payne has studied voice with Dr. Vigil Hale, Dr. Gerald Pope, Dr. Christine Isley-Farmer, and Margy Bredeman. Ms. Payne served as a Music Counselor for Governor’s School for the Arts from 1995-1998. Ms. Payne has been a soloist/section leader for Vine St. Christian Church, West End Methodist Church, and First Presbyterian Church in Nashville. Ms. Payne is currently the Music Director at Trinity United Methodist Church. Ms. Payne has been the Assistant-Choir Director and General Music teacher at Siegel High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for the past 4 years and is an active member of NAfMe, MTVA, TMEA, and ACDA.
Associate Professor, MTSU DM, Indiana University Deanna R. Little, associate professor of flute at Middle Tennessee State University, holds a... read more
Associate Professor, MTSU DM, Indiana University Deanna R. Little, associate professor of flute at Middle Tennessee State University, holds a Bachelor of Music degree in education from the University of Northern Iowa, a Master of Music degree in flute performance and the Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University. Her primary instructors include James Scott, Kate Lukas, Peter Lloyd, Trevor Wye, and Angeleita Floyd.
As a professor at MTSU, Little currently teaches applied flute, classes in woodwind methods, literature and pedagogy and directs the MTSU Flute Choir. As a writer/arranger she is the author of Daily Flutin’, a daily warm-up and exercise book for flutists, and has arranged several works for flute ensemble. As an active performer, Little is a member of the Stones River Chamber Players and a frequent guest on Nashville’s WPLN “Live from Studio C” radio broadcasts. She has performed with the Nashville Symphony, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Huntsville Symphony ( AL), and Evansville Philharmonic (IN).
Little has won numerous awards for her flute playing. She was a two time winner in the National Flute Association’s Young Artist Competition (1998, 1996) as well as the recipient of an award for best performance of a newly commissioned work at the 1996 convention. She was a winner in the 2007 Myrna Brown Competition in Texas and a 1998 semi-finalist in the New York Concert Artists Guild Competition. She has performed as a soloist, master class clinician, and flute ensemble director throughout the mid-west and mid-south. She was also the 2004 local arrangements coordinator for the NFA Convention in Nashville, TN and is the past-president of the Mid-South Flute Society.
Jon Royal is a teaching artist and facilitator, from Nashville, TN. He blends his training as a director and actor,... read more
Jon Royal is a teaching artist and facilitator, from Nashville, TN. He blends his training as a director and actor, with communication models from the National Council for Community and Justice. Over the past twenty years he has directed, or appeared in productions for Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville Repertory Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Actor’s Bridge Ensemble, and other organizations. In 2019 he was named Best Theatre Director by the Nashville Scene. He cofacilitates two Restorative Justice through the Arts projects: August Wilson Gets R.E.A.L, and My Place: Discovering Self Identity in Community. He serves as the Co Director for Shakespeare Center Los Angeles’ Write On program. Jon is a member of Metro Nashville Arts Commission’s Committee for Anti-Racism and Equity, and has facilitated Anti-Racism training for multiple institutions in the Middle Tennessee area. This year he is a New Leaders Council Fellow, and a Mosaic Changemakers Fellow.
Ross Mazzupappa is the Instructor of Printmaking and Photography at Bowling Green State University, in Bowling Green, Ohio. He holds... read more
Printmaking and Photography
Ross Mazzupappa is the Instructor of Printmaking and Photography at Bowling Green State University, in Bowling Green, Ohio. He holds a MFA and MA from the University of Iowa in printmaking with a minor emphasis in photography, and BFA from Youngstown State University in printmaking/painting. Ross is well versed and practices all major forms of printmaking but specializes in lithography, monoprint, historic/alternative photo printing, and new technologies/digital hybrid processes. Ross’s artistic practice deals with themes of socio-economic and ecological issues concerning the Rust Belt region of the US. As well as social implication of technology, labor, and utility of spaces. His work fluidly moves through multiple print processes that intersect between drawings, digital, photo, and the multiple.
Sarah is a Tennessee native and a lifelong dancer. As a highschooler, Sarah worked with KnoxCAM to bring the arts... read more
Dance Division alumni speaker
Sarah is a Tennessee native and a lifelong dancer. As a highschooler, Sarah worked with KnoxCAM to bring the arts into prisons, taught at the Boys & Girls Club, and attended various dance intensives, including Governor's School in 2015. Sarah then attended West Virginia University (WVU) as a dance major on full scholarship. In the Fall of 2019, Sarah studied abroad in Jerusalem, Israel, where she studied under members of the prestigious Batsheva and Vertigo Dance Companies. After graduating from WVU, Sarah joined Ballet Magnificat!'s Trainee Program in Jackson, MS, where she was recently promoted to the Events Company.
Amy Collins, oboist, is presently a member of the artistic faculty at The University of South Florida and principal oboist... read more
Amy Collins, oboist, is presently a member of the artistic faculty at The University of South Florida and principal oboist with Opera Tampa. Ms. Collins spends her summers on the faculty of The Governors School for the Arts in Tennessee as well as The Clazz International Summer Music Festival in Arcidosso, Italy. Prior to these appointments Ms. Collins was on the faculty of The InterHarmony International Summer Music Festival in Aqui Terme, Italy and Sultzbach-Rosenburg International Music Festival in Sulzbach-Rosenburg Germany, served as second oboist with The Classical Summer Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria and was honored in the Fall of 2007 to perform for Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in Rome Italy where she made history as being the first instrumentalist to perform in the Basilica of St. Peters since Pope John Paul I. In addition to The University of South Florida, Ms. Collins is also on faculty at Hillsborough Community College, Eckerd College as well as Gibbs High School (Pinellas County Center for the Arts) and she has an active private studio. She was English hornist with The West Coast Symphony for six years, second oboe/English hornist with The West Coast Symphony for five years, and principal oboist of the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra in Ft. Myers for six years prior.
Ms. Collins has played with The New York City Opera Company, Miami City Ballet Company, Joffrey Ballet, The Moisiev Ballet, Mannheim Steamroller, Cirque de Sole, and with such greats as Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Tony Bennett, Diana Ross, and Josh Groban, to name a few. Ms. Collins released her first solo oboe recording in 1995 entitled “Amy and Friends” and her second oboe recording in 1998 entitled “Amy and Friends at Christmas”. Ms. Collins has given clinics throughout the United States. She has received two grants from The Pinellas County Arts Council and has served on the grant committee for The Pinellas County Arts Council. She has also been an Allstate oboe adjudicator and often is a double reed judge at both the district and state levels of FBA’s Solo and Ensemble events. Ms. Collins is president of her own business; The Stellar Corporation, Inc. dba Stellar Oboe Products. In 2017, The Stellar Corporation, Inc. (www.oboe.net) celebrated twenty years in business.
Ms. Collins received her bachelor’s degree from The University of South Florida and her master’s degree from both The University of South Florida as well as The University of Florida. Primary teachers include John Mack, Robert Mayer, Jan Eberle, Patty Sharp Malone and Leslie Odom.
Andrea Yohe is a Nashville native and MTSU alumni. She graduated with her Bachelor Degree in Theatre in 2012. Since... read more
Andrea Yohe is a Nashville native and MTSU alumni. She graduated with her Bachelor Degree in Theatre in 2012. Since 2014, she has been making her living exclusively through music, both teaching and playing. At Trevecca Nazarene University she has accompanied vocalists, played for Commercial Ensembles and the Gospel Choir, and even taught a commercial piano course. Andrea has also been the rehearsal pianist as well as performing keyboardist for musicals over the last 10 years in the greater Nashville area with recent ventures into Assistant Music Directing shows. Aside from regular playing gigs, she also teaches piano to students of all ages in the Murfreesboro area.
Todd Waldecker has served on the faculty of the Middle Tennessee State University School of Music where he teaches clarinet,... read more
Todd Waldecker has served on the faculty of the Middle Tennessee State University School of Music where he teaches clarinet, pedagogy and chamber music. He holds degrees from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Yale University, and the University of Missouri. He has also served for over twenty years on the faculty of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.
Waldecker has performed across the United States, Europe, Asia and South America, and has appeared by invitation at several International Clarinet Association conventions. He is a frequent performer with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Opera, and can be heard on commercial recordings for film, television and video games.
Waldecker’s current and former students enjoy careers as university professors, public school teachers, orchestral and military band performers, and in the various fields of music publishing, sales, marketing and instrument repair. His students have been semi-finalists and finalists in the International Clarinet Association Competitions and they regularly attend summer music festivals around the globe.
Image by http://www.eilasblog.com/
Celebrating 50 years as a show business professional, Mark Cabus is a skilled actor, director, writer, and producer of both... read more
Celebrating 50 years as a show business professional, Mark Cabus is a skilled actor, director, writer, and producer of both stage and screen, classically trained in Great Britain, New York, and Washington DC. Having performed all over the world, he is recognized in the Southeast for his work with the Alliance Theatre, Georgia Shakespeare, Theatrical Outfit, Actors Express, Horizon Theatre, the Clarence Brown Company, Nashville Rep, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and his own company, Naked Stages. Twice, The Tennessean and Nashville Scene honored Mark as the city’s Best Actor and Best Director. His film and television credits range from the Oscar nominated Selma, John Grisham’s The Client, Nicholas Sparks’ The Longest Ride, and HBO’s True Detective to recurring roles on the Fox series The Resident and AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies.
An educator of merit, Mark currently serves on the faculty of Belmont University, teaching theater and film acting, but has served under the auspices of Vanderbilt and Emory universities, the Brooklyn Arts Council, the Digital Arts and Cinema Technology School of Cobble Hill, the Georgia Shakespeare Summer Conservatory, the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts, and the Nashville Film Institute. He served as a guest lecturer and teaching artist at the University of the South, the Alliance Theatre, and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. As a Director of Education, he spearheaded programs at Atlanta’s Theatrical Outfit and Nashville’s Green Room Projects. He is recognized as both a Tennessee Arts Commission/Ingram Industries Individual Artist and a Tennessee Williams Fellow.
Tens of thousands have thrilled to Mark’s critically- and publicly-celebrated original solo performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol—a longtime Holiday favorite—and now, as a self-produced, full-length feature film, he hopes to reach even more.
My desire in painting is to capture the affect the natural world has on me. Its capacity to draw me... read more
My desire in painting is to capture the affect the natural world has on me. Its capacity to draw me in to itself. It reminds me that, however lost, isolated and lonely we might feel in the rush and dissonance of modern life, we are always on a deep level connected. Getting lost in nature reminds me that where ever we are we are truly at home in the web of life.
Gathered in by the reaching arms of a tree, or through the sleek curve of a cat’s back or up into the beauty of a winter sky. They are inspired by walks through the green spaces of Liverpool.
They are in part a dream of the future for a planet which has healed itself. A place where familiar landscapes are devoid of people, buildings walls, railings and human artefacts so that all that is left is the sky, the trees and the beauty of a world in harmony with, and at peace with, itself.
‘Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things’. Mary Oliver
Halena Kays is an assistant professor at Northwestern University where she works with MFA actors and directors. She is... read more
Halena Kays is an assistant professor at Northwestern University where she works with MFA actors and directors. She is based in Chicago where she is a founding member of the artistic collaborative, The Ruffians, former member of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care unit, past artistic director of The Hypocrites, former co-artistic curator for Theater on the Lake, and co-founder and former artistic director of Barrel of Monkeys.
Halena is an Artistic Associate with the Neo-Futurists where she directed Comfortable Shoes, Pop/Waits, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, Burning Bluebeard, Daredevils, Daredevils Hamlet and Fake Lake. Selected Chicago directing credits: Endgame, Ivywild, Six Characters in Search of an Author (The Hypocrites); The Magic Play (The Goodman), Lord of the Flies (Steppenwolf); How a Boy Falls (Northlight Theatre); On Clover Road (American Blues Theater); Feast (part of a collaborative directing effort) with The Albany Park Theatre Project (The Goodman). Regionally Halena has directed The Magic Play (The Olney Theater Center, The Actor’s Theater of Louisville, Portland Center Stage and Syracuse Stage), Love Song (Nashville Story Garden), and Secretary (Nashville Rep’s Ingram New Works Festival).
Halena has been nominated for Jefferson awards for Best Supporting Actress, Best Direction, Best New Work, and Best Production, named one of the top 50 “players” in Chicago theater by NewCity, is a recipient of the prestigious 3Arts award and received a signed letter from Mr. Rogers saying she was “special” in 1978. She is a UT-Austin and Northwestern grad, and assistant professor of acting and directing at Northwestern University. Proud member, SDC.
Brian Utley is Senior Lecturer in Saxophone and Coordinator of Chamber Music at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music. Utley... read more
Brian Utley is Senior Lecturer in Saxophone and Coordinator of Chamber Music at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music. Utley has been a featured soloist with the Vanderbilt Wind Symphony and the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, and is the regular classical saxophonist with the Nashville Symphony. As a chamber musician, he has performed with the contemporary music ensemble Intersection, the Blair Wind Quintet, the Stone Fort Wind Quintet, and the Nashville Saxophone Quartet.
Utley is a regular recitalist at regional and national conferences of the North American Saxophone Alliance, and has performed at multiple NACUSA conferences, World Saxophone Congresses, U.S. Navy Band International Saxophone Symposia, and new music festivals. As an advocate of new music, he has premiered works by noted composers including David Froom, Leonard Mark Lewis, Stephen Lias, Lidiuno Pitombeira, and William Price. His first solo recording Characters is available on the Mark Records label. The project features 21st-century works by American composers, including three world premiere recordings. Utley is an endorsing artist for Légère Signature Series Reeds.
Utley holds degrees from Louisiana State University and Murray State University, and his primary teachers include Griffin Campbell and Scott Erickson. Prior to his appointment at Vanderbilt, he was Associate Professor of Saxophone at Stephen F. Austin State University.
University of Tennessee Chattanooga and Lee University
Based in Chattanooga, TN, Staci A. Spring leads a versatile career as a professional... read more
University of Tennessee Chattanooga and Lee University
Based in Chattanooga, TN, Staci A. Spring leads a versatile career as a professional bassoonist, educator, and arts advocate. She performs frequently throughout the region with ensembles including the Knoxville Symphony, Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, Rome Symphony, Chattanooga Bach Choir, Opera Tennessee, Figment Chamber Ensemble, and the Fourth Wall Trio. She maintains a private bassoon studio, and holds faculty appointments at Lee University, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga State Community College, and the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts. In 2019 she was selected as a UTC-Wolf Trap Teaching Artist, an affiliate program of the nationally renowned Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts.
An active member in the Chattanooga arts community, Spring has participated in the Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute, served on the Community Arts Team for the Kennedy Center’s Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child initiative in Chattanooga-Hamilton County, and spent three seasons with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera as the Youth Orchestras Manager and the Community Engagement Manager. In 2016 she founded the Scenic City Bassoon Ensemble; a group for bassoonists of all ages and skill levels that performs in community settings.
Other professional experience includes a decade of performing and teaching in Texas, where she held faculty appointments at Stephen F. Austin State University, McMurry University, Abilene Christian University, and Hardin-Simmons University. She performed numerous recitals as a member of the Stone Fort Wind Quintet, Key City Winds, and the Abilene Chamber Players, and performed regularly with the Abilene Philharmonic, Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale, San Angelo Symphony, Longview Symphony, Texarkana Symphony, and Shreveport Symphony orchestras. She has performed and presented at conferences for the International Double Reed Society, Texas Music Educators Association, and the College Music Society, and has served on the organizational team for the Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition & Bassoon Symposium since 2013.
Spring is a doctoral candidate at the University of North Texas, where she studied bassoon with Kathleen Reynolds and completed a Graduate Academic Certificate in Arts Leadership as a Priddy Scholarship recipient. She earned dual Master of Music degrees in Historical Musicology and Bassoon Performance from The Florida State University, studying with scholar Denise Von Glahn and bassoonist Jeffrey Keesecker. She completed her undergraduate studies at Brevard College in North Carolina.
Shabaz Ujima , formerly Hershel Deondre Horner, first studied dance at Nashville School of the Arts and Nashville Ballet. He... read more
Dance - Faculty
Shabaz Ujima , formerly Hershel Deondre Horner, first studied dance at Nashville School of the Arts and Nashville Ballet. He continued his training at New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL. Shabaz had the the delight to dance with Nashville Ballet’s Second Company, Graham II, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. Mr. Ujima has performed works by choreographers such as Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham, Donald McKayle, Milton Myers, Matt Maddox, Susanna Linke, Jose Limon and Paul Vasterling, Ronen Koresh, Ray Mercer, and Christopher Huggins. Upon his professional dance retirement in 2014 he has explored the world of choreography and created works on the Franklin School of the Performing Arts, the School of Nashville Ballet and Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble. He choreographed Carly Simon’s Opera “Romulus Hunt” (Nashville Opera) as well the musicals Hairspray (Martin Luther King High School) and The Wiz (Fisk University) and was chosen to be on the Nashville Ballet’s 2017 Emergence Program. He now teaches Graham based Modern and Contemporary dance full-time at The School of Nashville Ballet and adjunct at Belmont University. He also serves as a teaching artist for Nashville Ballet and the Global Education Center, where he teaches yoga in the juvenile detention center. “I GIVE because I have been given so much.”
David Wilkerson is a theatre professional with over 100 credits as an actor, director, fight director, stage manager,... read more
Theatre Performance Faculty
David Wilkerson is a theatre professional with over 100 credits as an actor, director, fight director, stage manager, and dialect coach. He was worked with companies such as Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville Rep, Nashville Opera, Vanderbilt University, and Middle Tennessee State University, just to name a few. David has taught at MTSU since August, 2017.
Dr. Chris Combest serves as assistant professor of tuba at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN where he leads... read more
Tuba - Euphonium Faculty
Dr. Chris Combest serves as assistant professor of tuba at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN where he leads an active career as a performer and educator. In addition to teaching, he conducts the MTSU tuba-euphonium ensemble and instructs brass chamber music. A faculty fellow and a member of the graduate faculty, Dr. Combest is also co-director of the Stones River Chamber Players, the music faculty ensemble-in-residence at MTSU. He has taught on the faculties of the University of Texas-San Antonio, Southern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
As a performer, Dr. Combest has appeared throughout the United States and internationally in Europe. A former tubist with the Louisville Orchestra, he performs regularly with a myriad of ensembles in the Nashville area including the Nashville Opera, Nashville Symphony and the Chattanooga Symphony. He has also appeared with the Indianapolis Symphony, the San Antonio Symphony, The Lexington Philharmonic, Illinois Symphony, Longview Symphony, Orchestra Kentucky, The Victoria Symphony, The Plano Symphony, the Dallas Wind Symphony, the Tone Road Ramblers and various artists including film composer John Williams, the Canadian Brass, John Michael Montgomery and Audra McDonald. Recordings on which Dr. Combest can be heard include “Andres Cardenas - Violin Concertos of Barber, Stock, and Copland” (Albany), “Brass Masters: Vol. XI” with the Lexington Brass Band (Polyphonic), and “Live from St. Louis” with the Saxton’s Cornet Band (Classics). In addition to his work in Nashville, he can be heard on live broadcasts for National Public Radio, the BBC and on commercial recordings for Sony and Disney.
A dynamic supporter of commissioning and performing new works for the tuba and euphonium, Dr. Combest has worked with composers such as John Stevens, Rodney Newton, Robert Litton, James Grant, James Stephenson and Ethan Wickman to expand the repertory of the instruments. He was recognized as a finalist for the prestigious Clifford R. Bevan Award in Research by the ITEA in 2010 and recently, as Competitions Chair for the ITEA, he led an expansion of the International Tuba Euphonium Conference Competitions to include a new Electronics division. Dr. Combest is a member of the Board of Directors for the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium Tuba Competition where he serves as the Tuba Competitions Music Chair and is also a Life Member of the International Tuba Euphonium Association (ITEA). Dr. Combest holds a B.M. from Eastern Kentucky University, an M.M. from the University of Louisville and a D.M.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Jackie McIlwain, Assistant Professor of Clarinet, began teaching at The University of Southern Mississippi in 2013. She enjoys keeping... read more
Dr. Jackie McIlwain, Assistant Professor of Clarinet, began teaching at The University of Southern Mississippi in 2013. She enjoys keeping a diverse and active performance schedule with solo recitals, chamber recitals, solo performances, and orchestral concerts. In 2017 Dr. McIlwain became a licensed Andover Educator, which allows her to teach Body Mapping. This body awareness technique teaches anatomy and physiology of the body and how this knowledge can help us release tension and move more efficiently. Body Mapping was created specifically to help musicians perform with more freedom and ease as well as to aide in injury prevention and recovery.
Mark Clodfelter is a versatile performer of international acclaim and a Grammy nominated recording artist. He was recently described by... read more
Mark Clodfelter is a versatile performer of international acclaim and a Grammy nominated recording artist. He was recently described by Classical Voice North Carolina as “…a stellar world-class trumpeter who’s dazzling playing wowed the audience”, as “warm toned” by the Lexington Herald Leader (KY) and “an exceptionally strong performer” by the International Trumpet Guild Journal. As a soloist, Mark has appeared in many of the world’s finest performing venues throughout the United States, Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Italy, Ireland, Russia, Thailand, Greece, Australia, Brazil, Croatia, the Czech Republic and the Peoples Republic of China.
Mark can be heard as Principal Trumpet of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, the Trade Winds (Tamp Fl.) and with the Palladium Brass. At home in a great array of styles, his commercial affiliations have recently included split lead with the DiMartino/Osland Jazz Orchestra and the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra. Mark is member of Covalence, a chamber duo, with Rebecca Wilt, his wife and renowned collaborative pianist. Additionally, he spends summers as a member of the faculty of the InterHarmony International Music Festival in Arcidosso, Italy.
Mr. Clodfelter has recorded extensively in styles ranging from classical to rock. He has also appeared with such headliners as Josh Groban, The O' Jays, Gladys Knight, Mannheim Steam Roller, the Moody Blues, the Lettermen, Doc Severinson, Bob Mintzer, Frank Mantooth, Lou Rawls, Glen Campbell and Ray Charles.
Mark is the Professor of Trumpet at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro. During the decade prior to this appointment, he was Professor of Trumpet at the University of Kentucky. In both cases, his students garner national and international recognition; winning coveted awards and professional placement. Additionally, he was Co-Conductor of the Blue Grass Area Jazz Ambassadors and the Central Kentucky Youth Jazz Orchestra. Mark entered collegiate teaching as Instructor of Trumpet and Director of Jazz Band at Mars Hill College. He has served on the faculty of the prestigious Eastern Music Festival and has taught the Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps. Mark was a founding member of the Giannini Brass and has held positions with the Greensboro Symphony, Orchestra Kentucky, the North Charleston Pops,the Western Piedmont Symphony, the Salisbury Symphony, the Greenville (SC) Symphony and the Eastern Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mr. Clodfelter holds a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Lenoir-Rhyne University and a Master of Music Degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Mark Clodfelter is an S.E. Shires Performing Artist and plays Pickett Brass custom mouthpieces.
Pianist Cahill Smith has performed in major venues in the United States and abroad, including four programs at Carnegie Hall’s... read more
Pianist Cahill Smith has performed in major venues in the United States and abroad, including four programs at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York, Chongqing’s PolyTheatre, Zhuhai’s Mozart Hall, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall in Boston, Cleveland Museum of Art, the Royal Dublin Society’s Concert Hall, Buffalo’s Kleinhan’s Music Hall, and Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Center. Cahill has been featured as a concerto soloist with the National Ukranian Symphony Orchestra in Kiev, the Mongolian Symphony Orchestra in Hohhot, China, the Eastman Philharmonia, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the Chattanooga Symphony, the Butler Symphony Orchestra, the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, and others. His live and studio recordings have been broadcast on WQXR, New York’s Classical Music Radio Station, WCRB, Classical Radio Boston, and WSMC, Chattanooga Public Radio.
Cahill gave his first recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2013 with a program dedicated entirely to works of Nikolai Medtner. Two years later, in a review of his 2015 solo recital in the same venue, New York Concert Review wrote, “The entire second half was devoted to a special “cause” of Mr. Smith: the piano music of Nikolai Medtner […]. Here, Mr. Smith was in his element, revealing every twist and turn, every poignant repeat of the cyclic themes, with beautiful shimmering colors I haven’t heard since Gilels played the Sonata reminiscenza in Carnegie Hall in 1980.” Cahill has given recitals and lectures on Medtner’s music at Yale University, the International Medtner Festival in London, and others. In January of 2019, his debut album “Medtner: Forgotten Melodies” was featured as Classical Radio Boston’s “CD of the Week” for its “irresistible lyricism” and “a palpable sense of love – a real affinity for the directness and honesty in Medtner’s music, which goes straight to the heart.”
Cahill completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Eastman School of Music, where he served as the teaching assistant to Natalya Antonova. At Eastman, Cahill was the inaugural recipient of the Douglas Lowry award for excellence in degree recital performance, won the Eastman Concerto Competition, received honors in chamber music, and was awarded the Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Cahill completed his Master’s degree at the University of Michigan with Arthur Greene, and his Bachelor’s at the University of Alabama at Birmingham with Yakov Kasman. Cahill previously served as Keyboard Area Coordinator and Artistic Director of the International Piano Festival and Competition at Lee University. He joined the faculty of Utah State University in 2019. Cahill is a Yamaha Artist.
After a 17-year career as a professional dancer and arts educator, Katie Smythe returned to her native Memphis with a... read more
Dance - Teacher of the Year
After a 17-year career as a professional dancer and arts educator, Katie Smythe returned to her native Memphis with a vision in mind. Smythe saw a need for a community dance program offering a high standard of dance training for children from every corner of the city, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or ability to pay. She founded New Ballet Ensemble & School based on that mission in 2002.
Under Smythe’s leadership, NBES has continued to broaden its mission, expanding community engagement and reaching more children. In 2009, NBES entered a partnership with the community of Orange Mound, creating an after-school dance program in Dunbar Elementary School. The residency has brought a number of talented young dancers into the NBE program, and it continues today. In November of 2014, Smythe and NBES student Briana Brown accepted the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award from Michelle Obama at the White House, on behalf of NBES and its after-school residency in Orange Mound. As NBES continues to expand its residencies in schools, these programs will continue to reach even more Memphis youth with dance, mentoring, and access to family resources.
Thanks to Katie Smythe’s vision and initiative, New Ballet Ensemble & School has become known for its collaborations with a wide range of organizations to achieve the goals of access, equity, excellence, and professionalism - the principles on which NBES was founded.
Ashton Ludden is a printmaker, educator and sign artist.
Her prints explore our relationship with other living creatures as we
printmaker, educator and sign artist
Ashton Ludden is a printmaker, educator and sign artist.
Her prints explore our relationship with other living creatures as we become further removed from the natural world. As she researches human impact on endangered animals, Ludden develops images of wildlife coping with humans’ influence on their livelihood. She makes use of multiple printmaking processes, such as hand-engraving on copper and monotype, to link the fragile existence of each animal to a subtle pattern of its threat, such as plastic pollution or logging. Collectively, Ludden’s prints are alert to the wild around us and consider our everyday actions that affect it directly or indirectly. Her work aims to evoke a renewal of attentiveness, conversation, and respect for other living beings.
Currently, she is developing a body of work focusing on issues closer to home in the East Tennessee region. The first print in this series is of the North Carolina Flying Squirrel, which is losing its habitat due to the invasive woolly adelgids attacking the Eastern Hemlocks. Ludden is interested in the ramifications of invasive species in our own backyard, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Ashton Ludden received her MFA in Printmaking from the University of Tennessee in 2013 and her BFA in Engraving Arts and Printmaking from Emporia State University in 2009. Ludden’s prints have been exhibited in galleries nationally and internationally as well as at animal education and welfare conferences. She teaches printmaking and bookmaking workshops regionally and nationally.
Currently, Ludden is an artist member of the Vacuum Shop Studios Collaborative (vacuumshopstudios.wordpress.com) and the head sign artist for Trader Joe’s in Knoxville, TN.
Dennis A. Hawkins, Jr. has facilitated performances on the podium as a conductor, in ensembles as a trumpet player, in... read more
Dennis A. Hawkins, Jr. has facilitated performances on the podium as a conductor, in ensembles as a trumpet player, in lecture-based courses as an instructor, and administratively as a certified nonprofit professional. Hawkins has a passion for teaching that continues to be cultivated through the support of many mentors with whom he has had the privilege of studying. He finds great inspiration through collaborations with guest artists, composers, educators, and students.
Since joining the faculty of Middle Tennessee State University, Hawkins has completed training for both the Safe Zone Program and Mental Health First Aid USA. Hawkins has also recently had research published by the International Women's Brass Conference. A recent commissioning project with The Paper Days, a contemporary folk band based in the Twin Cities, resulted in the creation of a piece for contemporary folk band and wind band. This three-movement work attempts to prove that the unique characteristics of a contemporary folk band and the strengths of a wind band do not have to exist exclusive of one another. Previous engagements include serving in varying capacities with the University of Nevada, University of Minnesota, The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own", Metro Brass, Minnesota Chorale, St. Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra, Medalist Concert Band, Dana Faculty Brass Quintet, Brevard Music Center, Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera Western Reserve, American Wind Symphony, Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, and the Youngstown State University Foundation.
Hawkins holds memberships with the American Composers Forum, College Band Directors National Association, International Trumpet Guild, League of American Orchestras, Middle Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, National Band Association, and the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. Dennis Hawkins is a proud brother of both the Kappa Alpha and Alpha Alpha chapters of Kappa Kappa Psi and the Delta Eta chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Currently, Hawkins serves as co-advisor for the Omicron Tau chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfornia at Middle Tennessee State University.
Associate Professor of Horn & Music Theory Middle Tennessee State University
Angela DeBoer is the Associate Professor of horn at... read more
Associate Professor of Horn & Music Theory Middle Tennessee State University
Angela DeBoer is the Associate Professor of horn at Middle Tennessee State University where she also teaches music theory, brass literature and pedagogy. She is an active performer, playing second horn with the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera and assistant principal horn with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra. Ms. DeBoer appears regularly with the nationally acclaimed Nashville Symphony as well as performing with the Nashville Opera, Nashville Ballet and maintaining a presence in the recording studios of Nashville. Additional creative activity will find her performing on the Baroque and Classical natural horns; instruments on which she presents lectures and masterclasses at workshops and schools around the country. Ms. DeBoer is also the co-coordinator of the MTSU music faculty concert series, the Stones River Chamber Players, and since 2011 has been on the faculty of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.
Prior to her work in Tennessee, DeBoer was a member of the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra and worked with the Tulsa Ballet and Tulsa Opera. She was also active in the freelance community in and around Chicago for many years, performing with the Milwaukee, Grant Park, Elgin, South Bend, Northwest Indiana, Duluth-Superior and Illinois Symphonies as well as with Symphony II, Chicago Sinfonietta, Millar Brass Ensemble, Chicago Opera Theatre and the Illinois and Fort Wayne Philharmonics. She also spent several seasons as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the training orchestra for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a group with which she also appeared as soloist. She has attended several competitive music festivals including Tanglewood, National Repertory Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute, Sarasota Chamber Music Festival and the Music Academy of the West. Angela was also a semi-finalist at the 2007 International Horn Competition of America.
Ms. DeBoer received her Bachelor of Music degree from DePaul University in Chicago, studied in the Orchestral Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music and received her Master of Music from Northwestern University. Her primary teachers include Gail Williams, David Krehbiel, Jerome Ashby and Jonathan Boen.
In addition to her work at MTSU and in the music profession, Angela competes nationally in Three Day Eventing (horse triathlons) with her horse Christopher.
Dr. William Koehler received a Bachelor of Music Degree and a Master of Arts Degree in speech/theatre from the University... read more
Dr. William Koehler received a Bachelor of Music Degree and a Master of Arts Degree in speech/theatre from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. The Bachelor’s degree was an individually designed curriculum which focused on voice, acting, directing, and dance. He also holds a Master of Music Degree in vocal performance from the University of Kentucky where he studied with Everett McCorvey and a Doctoral of Musical Arts Degree in vocal performance from the University of Minnesota where he studied with John DeHaan.
Comfortable on the opera stage, in concert, in theatrical productions and as a director, Koehler’s activities have included the Mother for WVU’s Opera Theatre production of Seven Deadly Sins, and Abe Kaplan in Street Scene; soloist for Eternal Light Requiem by Howard Goodall, Bass soloist in Messiah both for WVU; Pooh-Bah in Lyric Opera of the North’s production of Mikado, stage direction of both Bizet’s Carmen for the WVU Schools of Music and Theatre & Dance and the WVU Opera Theatre’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury; Juror No. 7 in the play, Twelve Angry Men produced by M.T. Pockets Theatre of Morgantown, and Gaston in Picasso at the Lapin Agile produced by the Frostburg State University Theatre.
Other performances include Cadmus/Somnus in Handel’s Semele, Bottom in Britten’s Midsummer Nights Dream, Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro, Commendatore in Don Giovanni, the Rev. Winemiller for WVU’s Opera Theatre production of Summer and Smoke, and soloist in WVU’s performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Koehler, a Visiting Assistant Professor, has taught several classes besides applied voice lessons for WVU’s School of Music. Among them are Diction for Singers, Vocal Pedagogy for music education majors, Voice Pedagogy for vocal performance majors and assistant Opera Workshop instructor.
He also teaches Voice Technique for Speakers through the Community Music Program at WVU. This is a course which is designed for adults who depend on their voice: singers, clinicians, actors, teachers, coaches, clergy, announcers, lawyers, salespeople, or people who simply suffer from vocal fatigue.
He has been a member of the music faculty at Frostburg State University, Eastern Kentucky University, Transylvania University, the University of Minnesota Morris, and the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
Besides his solo work, Koehler sings and has recorded with the American Spiritual Ensemble, a group that performs all over the world and whose mission is to keep the American Negro Spiritual alive and vibrant.
Dr. Ben McIlwain joined the faculty of The University of Southern Mississippi in the fall of 2010 and was named... read more
Dr. Ben McIlwain joined the faculty of The University of Southern Mississippi in the fall of 2010 and was named the Nina Bells Suggs Endowed Professor of Trombone in May of 2014. He holds degrees from Middle Tennessee State University (B.M.), Manhattan School of Music (M.M.) and The Florida State University (D.M.)
One of Dr. McIlwain’s main passions and research interests is supporting new music for the trombone. As of June 2017, Dr. McIlwain has commissioned over 30 new works for trombone solo and/or ensemble. This includes compositions for his group, Tromboteam, which successfully funded a Kickstarter.com campaign in 2012 that raised $10,000 for new works for trombone ensemble including composers James Kazik, Kevin McKee and Alan Theisen to name a few. Tromboteam released their debut album containing all nine of these Kickstarter.com funded commissions in 2015. This recording is funded by a Scholarly and Creative Arts Grant provided by the College of Arts and Letters. After being awarded the Aubrey Keith Lucas and Ella Ginn Lucas Endowment for Faculty Excellence, Dr. McIlwain was able to fund a new concerto for trombone and orchestra by Russian composer, Polina Nazaykinskaya. In addition, the composer agreed that this piece would be written in memory of McIlwain’s former student Gustavo Campos Cassemiro, who lost his battle with cancer on December 4, 2013. The title of this work is Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra, In Memoriam to Gustavo Campos Cassemiro. Premiere performances included with the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra in February 2015 and with the U.S. Pershing’s Own at the American Trombone Workshop in March 2015.
In addition to these commissioning and performance opportunities, Dr. McIlwain has been active in service to the International Trombone Association. The former President of the International Trombone Association, Jiggs Whigham, appointed him, Director of TAPAS (Trombone Artists Performing for Amateurs and Students), which aimed to increase membership in the Association. Dr. McIlwain is also a frequent contributor to the ITA Journal as a writer and literature reviewer.
At Southern Miss, Dr. McIlwain directs all aspects of the trombone studio including The Southern Miss Trombone Choir, Select Octet, and Hub Bones (jazz trombone ensemble). The Southern Miss Trombone Choir was invited to perform twice at the 2013 International Trombone Festival in Columbus, GA and at the American Trombone Workshop in 2017. He is also a member of the Southern Arts Brass Quintet, the faculty brass quintet at Southern Miss. In June 2015, Dr. McIlwain joined members of Tromboteam to start an annual summer trombone camp in 2015: Summer Slides @ Southern Miss with Tromboteam, which was a rousing success. His primary teachers have included Dr. David Loucky, formerly of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Dr. Per Brevig, former Principal Trombonist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, along with Dr. John Drew, professor of trombone at Florida State University.
As a Presidential University Fellow at Florida State University, Dr. McIlwain was the first doctoral trombone student and one of two in the entire College of Music at FSU to ever receive this honor. The research for his doctoral treatise titled, “Select Contributions and Commissions in Solo Trombone Repertoire by Trombonist Innovator and Pioneer: Stuart Dempster,” consists of extensive interviews with Stuart Dempster and Pauline Oliveros, among others. He has published articles in the Grove Dictionary for Music and Musicians and the International Trombone Association Journal. Dr. McIlwain has also performed as a guest artist at the International Trombone Festival, the American Trombone Workshop, and Trombonapalooza.
In addition to the Suggs Endowed Professorship and Lucas Award, Dr. McIlwain has also been awarded the Junior Faculty Creative Achievement Award and the College of Arts and Letters’ Junior Faculty of the Year Award at The University of Southern Mississippi.
Dr. Ben McIlwain is a Performing Artist for S.E. Shires Trombones.
Kristine Potter is an artist based in Nashville, Tennessee, whose work explores masculine archetypes, the American landscape, and cultural tendencies... read more
Kristine Potter is an artist based in Nashville, Tennessee, whose work explores masculine archetypes, the American landscape, and cultural tendencies toward mythologizing the past. Her previous work has focused on young male military cadets (“The Gray Line”) and the relentless danger of the American west (“Manifest”). Both of these series reframe the mythology of indomitable men and explore the bleed between human violence and natural threat. In her current body of work, “Dark Waters,” Potter uses film, image, and sound to depict threatening waters and the people around them. This work investigates a feedback loop between nature and myth: how a threatening landscape primes a culture for violence, and a violent culture projects threat onto a landscape. Potter was awarded a MFA in photography from Yale University in 2005. She is a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow and the current awardee of the Grand Prix Image Vevey. Her first monograph, Manifest, was published by TBW Books in 2018.
Sarah K. Crocker
Franklin, TN native Dr. Sarah K. Crocker is a professional harpist and musicologist lecturing and performing solo, chamber, and orchestral... read more
Franklin, TN native Dr. Sarah K. Crocker is a professional harpist and musicologist lecturing and performing solo, chamber, and orchestral music throughout the United States and beyond. Dr. Crocker is Adjunct Professor of Harp and Music at Middle Tennessee State University, where she serves on the faculty of the MTSU Honors College, and Adjunct Professor of Harp at Lipscomb University. Crocker joined the faculty of the Kentucky Institute of International Studies (KIIS) in 2016 to teach ethnomusicology courses on music and dance in Latin America in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Additionally, Dr. Crocker is the founder and co-owner of Hillnote Music and Director of the Hillnote Harp & Piano Academy, a company providing noteworthy music services to Middle Tennessee, including private harp and piano lessons and customized music for events. Sarah serves as the President of the Nashville Chapter of the American Harp Society (2014-present). Prior to her position at MTSU, Dr. Crocker was an Instructor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology courses and the Instructor of Secondary Harp at the University of Alabama.
Dr. Crocker made her debut as a soloist performing Debussy’s Danses sacrée et profrane with the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, where she has been principal harp since 2006. Crocker also currently serves as principal harp of the Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra (TN) and the Shoals Symphony Orchestra (AL), and was the principal harp of the Meridian Symphony Orchestra (MS) from 2005-2013. She also regularly performs as substitute principal harp with the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra (AL), Orchestra Kentucky, and the Nashville Wind Ensemble, and has performed as principal harp with many other orchestras across the Southeast, including the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Albany Symphony Orchestra (GA), and Montgomery Symphony Orchestra (AL). Having a passion for chamber music, Sarah is a founding member of the Delta Duo (flute and harp) and the Druid City Ensemble (soprano, flute, and harp) chamber groups, who have performed and led master classes at universities and festivals across the United States, most notably at the 2016 National Flute Festival in San Diego and the Second Saturday Concert Series in Chicago.
Dr. Crocker holds a B.M., M.M., and D.M.A. in Harp Performance with Musicology cognate from the University of Alabama, where she studied with Judith Sullivan-Hicks. She completed summer harp studies with Judy Loman (Toronto), Katie Buckley (Brevard Music Festival), and Mary Brigid Roman (FSU). She has performed in master classes for famed jazz harpist Deborah Henson-Conant and Maxim Rubstov, principal flute of the Russian National Orchestra.
Rebekah Hampton Barger
Rebekah Hampton Barger discovered aerial dance in 2006 while working as a company member & choreographer with Perpetual Motion... read more
Dance - Guest Faculty
Rebekah Hampton Barger discovered aerial dance in 2006 while working as a company member & choreographer with Perpetual Motion Dance in Oklahoma City, OK, where she was also a guest performer & faculty instructor with the Oklahoma City Ballet. Upon arriving in Nashville in 2010, she founded FALL, Nashville's first aerial performance collective & only aerial & contemporary dance company. Rebekah has 10 years experience teaching aerial fabric, & 25 years experience teaching dance in all styles & levels. Her training includes instruction from renowned aerialists Fred Deb, Elsie & Serenity Smith, Molly Graves, Thérèse Keegan, Kim Kieffer, & more.
In addition to directing FALL, Rebekah is the ballet program director at Ann Carroll School of Dance, a guest instructor for New Dialect’s Contemporary Cross-Training Series & the Governor's School, an alumni of the Periscope Artist Entrepreneur Program & recently completed a 5 year artist residency with abrasiveMedia.
Dance and Fine Art Photographer.
Martin O’Connor is a native Nashvillian whose photography began as a special interest then evolved into... read more
Fine Art Photographer
Dance and Fine Art Photographer.
Martin O’Connor is a native Nashvillian whose photography began as a special interest then evolved into a full-time profession. Many of his photos grace the pages of state dance organization’s brochures, and the publicity materials of Nashville Ballet, Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville, Franklin School of Performing Arts, University School of Nashville, Vanderbilt University Dance, Middle Tennessee State University dance and theatre, Governor’s School of the Arts, and Tennessee Dance Theatre. Additional organizations displaying his work include Baptist Hospital, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Tennessee Oncology, and The Renaissance Center. Martin has been a fervent advocate of the art of dance for many years.
In 2008, he received the Dance Advocate Award from the Tennessee Association of Dance. When presenting this award, they noted that “… his stunning images illustrate both his passion for the art form and the beauty of the art. His eye for detail and compassionate spirit make him a popular photographer for dancers to work with.” Beginning in 2012, Martin was invited to work with the Dance Division of the Governor’s School of the Arts. He is delighted to return to MTSU this summer to photograph a new group of talented young artists. Each photo opportunity that presents itself allows him to continue his search to capture the peak of motion and the essence of line and form. www.martinoconnorphoto.com
Andrea Dawson joined the MTSU Music Faculty in 2007 and the faculty of the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts... read more
Andrea Dawson joined the MTSU Music Faculty in 2007 and the faculty of the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts in 2008. Dawson is a member of the Stones River Chamber Players and Music City Baroque (formerly Belle Meade Baroque), and has been a featured chamber musician on WPLN, Nashville Public Radio. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in the United States, China, France, Mexico, CuraÃ§ao and Brazil. Before moving to Tennessee, she was Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Texas Pan American and Associate Concertmaster of the Valley Symphony Orchestra in south Texas.
Dawson received her Masters in Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Eastman School of Music, where she was awarded the coveted PerformerÂ¹s Certificate. She also received a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology, with a minor in French, and a Bachelor of Music in violin performance from Oberlin College. Her principal teachers include Lynn Blakeslee, Camilla Wicks, Taras Gabora, Kathleen Winkler, and Robert Koff.
Adjunct Professor, Southern Adventist College and Cadek Conservatory Concertmaster, Huntsville Symphony
Violinist Mark Reneau’s career encompasses solo, recital and concerto appearances,... read more
Adjunct Professor, Southern Adventist College and Cadek Conservatory Concertmaster, Huntsville Symphony
Violinist Mark Reneau’s career encompasses solo, recital and concerto appearances, as well as orchestral, opera, chamber music and baroque performance. Concertmaster since 1998, Mr. Reneau has performed with the HSO since 1977. He plays frequently in the violin section of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, performing with such conductors as Stefan Sanderling, Carlos Kalmar and Leonard Slatkin. Since 2000, he has performed regularly in the violin section of Orchestra Nashville. In 2003 and 2004, he toured with Amy Grant and Vince Gill. Since 2005, he has been Associate Concertmaster of the Bellingham Festival of Music in Washington state. Several of his performances with the Bellingham Festival have been broadcast on National Public Radio’s Performance Today.
Prior to his appointment in Huntsville, he served as associate concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera from 1983 to 1998. In 2006, he was concertmaster of the first Vakhtang Jordania International Conducting Competition held in the United States. Mr. Reneau has made several recordings with Orchestra Nashville, including the first stereo recording of Virgil Thomson’s cello concerto and a critically acclaimed Naxos disc of works by Aaron Copland. He has also made studio recordings with diverse artists such as Trey Anastasio, James Brickman and Rebecca Lynn Howard. Mr. Reneau is gifted and dedicated teacher, serving over twenty years on the faculty of Southern Adventist University. Since 2000, he has taught at the Tennessee’s Governor’s School for the Arts.
From 1978-2005, he was on the faculty of Cadek Conservatory of Music. His students are regularly accepted to music conservatories and major festivals, and are performing with distinguished ensembles such as the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Mr. Reneau’s sons are also accomplished musicians. Charles is bass trombonist with the Oregon Symphony, and has performed with the orchestras of Honolulu, Huntsville, Atlanta, Alabama, the Metropolitan Opera and the Israel Philharmonic. Douglas is a graduate trumpet student at the Indiana University. Winner of several national competitions, he toured Europe in 2005 performing the Arutunian Trumpet Concerto. In the summer of 2008, Douglas with the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado. Mr. Reneau’s hobbies include the study of old stringed instruments and bows, cooking, and the study of theology and social history..
DMA, James Madison University Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music
Violist Ayn Balija, enjoys a varied career... read more
DMA, James Madison University Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music
Violist Ayn Balija, enjoys a varied career as both a teacher and performer. As the Lecturer of Viola at the University of Virginia, Ms. Balija is a member of the Rivanna String Quartet, co-directs the Chamber Music Seminar, and serves as principal violist of the Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra. In the 2009-10 Season she was asked to perform, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with guest violinist Max Rabinowitz.
She frequently collaborates with the composition faculty on new works and volunteers for the UVA Baroque Orchestra. Dedicated to teaching, Ms. Balija seeks to develop a well-rounded musician. Students who go on in music are accepted into some of the top music schools around the nation. She was invited to present a paper at the 2014 American String Teachers National Convention entitled “Roles, Rules, and Running” highlighting the development of non-major talent and future roles they will take in society.
Immersing herself in the Charlottesville, VA and Columbus, OH communities, Ayn provides private lessons as a Boyd Tinsley Tutor in the Charlottesville Public Schools, performs outreach concerts, and maintains a private viola studio. Outside of the University, Ms. Balija performs with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, OH, gives masterclasses and recitals around the region, and collaborates regularly with her colleagues. She is often asked to substitute for the Richmond Symphony and has gone on tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
During summers, she has attended numerous festivals including the Aspen Music Festival and School, Banff Center, Credo, and the Colorado College Summer Music Festival. She participated as an orchestral musician, chamber coach, mentor, and quartet fellow. Starting the summer of 2006, Ms. Balija was awarded the Aspen Mentor Fellowship to aid in the instruction of aspiring orchestral musicians. This summer she will return to Yachats Summer Music Festival in Yachats, OR and be on faculty at the Tennessee Governors School of the Arts. Ms. Balija has degrees from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music. Her principal mentors are Jeffrey Irvine and Peter Slowik. She is currently finishing her doctoral studies at James Madison University with Amadi Azikiwe.
Christine Renée Kralik
Christine Renée Kralik, DMA, MM, BM
Dr. Christine Renée Kralik is the Cello Professor at the University of Mississippi where... read more
Christine Renée Kralik, DMA, MM, BM
Dr. Christine Renée Kralik is the Cello Professor at the University of Mississippi where she teaches applied Low Strings and is the Music Appreciation class coordinator. Previously she was the adjunct cello instructor at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Dr. Kralik is a thriving young professional cellist who received her Doctorate of Musical Arts with an emphasis in cello performance from Texas Tech University in May of 2018. She holds a Masters in Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Utah, where she was also named as the Outstanding Senior. She studied cello performance with Jeffrey Lastrapes at Texas Tech University, Cleveland Orchestra cellist Richard Weiss at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Utah Symphony cellist Pegsoon Whang at the University of Utah.
Dr. Kralik is the principal cellist of the North Mississippi Symphony and the Lubbock Chamber Orchestra in West Texas. She was previously a member of the Lubbock, Amarillo, and Midland-Odessa Symphonies. Along with her active orchestral career, she has performed in numerous recitals all over the country, collaborating with other musicians for numerous events and performances. Dr. Kralik recently recorded her own album of Romantic era cello sonatas, to be released later in 2021. She recorded the Grieg cello sonata in A minor, Mendelssohn cello sonata no.2, Sibelius Malinconia op.20, and Mendelssohn’s Lied Ohne Worte.
Along with holding a busy performance schedule, Dr. Kralik finds great joy in teaching. She enjoys working with the cello and bass students of the University of Mississippi, as well as cello students in the surrounding area and from all over the world. In the summer of 2018, Dr. Kralik joined as faculty for the Tennessee’s Governor’s School for the Arts, where she works closely with students in cello master-classes and sectionals. Dr. Kralik enjoys performing in the exciting faculty chamber music series throughout the duration of the Governor’s School, performing works as various as the spectacular Brahms piano quartets, Shostakovich piano trio no.2, to Bartok string quartets, and Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht. Dr. Kralik performs on a German Wilhelm Hammig cello dated 1907 and an unnamed French cello bow thought to be from the Pierre Simon School circa 1880.
Master’s degree from Duquesne University Bachelor’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University
Double bassist, Taylor Brown, joined... read more
Double Bass Faculty
Master’s degree from Duquesne University Bachelor’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University
Double bassist, Taylor Brown, joined the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera as principal in 2012. Prior to his appointment, Taylor performed regularly with the symphony orchestras of Youngstown, OH, Canton, OH, and West Virginia. In addition to his work with the CSO, Taylor has performed as a substitute musician with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Huntsville Symphony, toured internationally with Barry Manilow, and has performed with Earth, Wind, and Fire.
He maintains a private teaching studio in the Chattanooga area comprised of students of all ages and is a faculty member of Tennessee’s Governor’s School for the Arts. Taylor has earned a Bachelor’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University and a Master’s degree from Duquesne University. His primary teachers were Jeffery Turner and Micah Howard of the Pittsburgh Symphony and John Hood of the Philadelphia Orchestra. As an advocate for the arts, Taylor has served as a musician’s representative on the board of directors of the CSO and is a founding board member of Chattanooga Young Artistic Network (CYAN). When not performing, Taylor enjoys riding bikes on the roads and trails of the Chattanooga area.
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Dr. Brian Mueller is currently Lecturer in Percussion at Middle Tennessee State University.
He holds a... read more
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Dr. Brian Mueller is currently Lecturer in Percussion at Middle Tennessee State University.
He holds a Doctor of Music degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (2016). His prior academic background includes a Bachelor of Music degree from Wichita State University (2007) and a Master of Music degree from The University of North Texas (2009). Brian has worked as a freelance drummer, percussionist, and instructor for many years, and is also a published composer. He has traveled and performed nationally and internationally, including as a guest soloist and clinician at the Paris Conservatory in December of 2014, and has performed twice at PASIC. He has been an active steel pan performer with the Bloomington based steel pan group, Steel Panache, and currently plays marimba with the newly formed B-Line Jazz Percussion Trio. Brian performs regularly with the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra and is also an active clinician, presenting workshops and performances nationally. He proudly endorses Innovative Percussion.
Trent Blanton is an Associate Professor of Theatre in Westminster College of the
Trent Blanton is an Associate Professor of Theatre in Westminster College of the Arts of Rider University. A proud active member of Actor’s Equity and the Society of Directors and Choreographers, Trent’s professional acting credits include: Young Frankenstein, La Cage Aux Folles (Forestburgh Playhouse, where he is also an Associate Artist and Resident Director). The Gun Show, The Goldilocks Zone and Slippery as Sin (Passage Theatre Company), A Christmas Carol (Actors Theatre of Louisville), 1776 (Ford’s Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera); Fiddler on the Roof (Starlight Musicals of Kansas City & The MUNY of St. Louis); A Christmas Carol, Romeo & Juliet (Alliance Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew (Georgia Shakespeare); and Masada (York Theatre NYC). Trent played virtually every major city in North America in the Broadway National Tour of Les Miserables and appeared in the Chinese premiere with Colm Wilkinson at the Shanghai Grand Theatre.
Professional directing credits include A Murder is Announced, Oliver! To Kill a Mockingbird, Crazy for You, Steel Magnolias, Baskerville, The Mystery of Irma Vep (Forestburgh Playhouse); National One Minute Play Festival at Passage Theatre; Company (Florida Atlantic Festival Rep); Eurydice and The Jacques Brel Project (Florida Atlantic University); Romeo and Juliet and The Winter’s Tale (co-direction) and Urinetown (McCarter Theatre Education Programs); and Verdi’s opera, Falstaff (Westminster Opera Theatre). Rider productions include Anatomy of Gray, Striking 12, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Laramie Project, Our Town, The Crucible, Metamorphoses, The Praying Mantis, The Penelopiad, She Kills Monsters, Once on This Island, Theory of Relativity, Sophocles: These Seven Sicknesses and Bright Star. For his direction of Rider’s productions of The Crucible and Metamorphoses, Trent received an award for excellence in Directing from the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. His productions of Theory of Relativity, These Seven Sicknesses and Bright Star were recommended for inclusion in the regional ACTF festival for the past two seasons. Trent currently serves as the Director for the Rider Pre-College Musical Theatre Institute where he directed the cabaret series and the productions of Chicago, Madagascar, Legally Blonde and Xanadu. Upcoming productions include The Woman in Black for Forestburgh Playhouse and We Will Rock You, a musical based on the music of Queen for the summer Pre-College Musical Theatre Program.
While Trent was on the Les Miserables tour he taught master classes nationally at Brigham Young University, University of Cincinnati College/Conservatory of Music, The Choate School, Young Playwrights of Washington, DC and University of Texas at El Paso. He continues to be a guest faculty member at the Springer Theatre Academy in Acting and Musical Theatre. He has served as an instructor for the Georgia Shakespeare Festival while touring the southeast with the company. He also served on the faculty of Georgia College where he taught Voice and Movement and Styles in Acting. He has conducted numerous master classes in Auditioning as well as the Michael Chekhov Technique for the Southeastern Theatre Conference. This past year he had the honor of being a guest teacher in Musical Theatre and the Michael Chekhov Technique for the National Association of Teachers of Singers Conference at Rutgers and The College of New Jersey. He has conducted workshops for the NJ Thespians as well as coordinates their College Auditions. This year, he organized the first Out-of-Region screening audition for the Southeastern Theatre Conference Professional Screening Auditions. He has also previously served as the chair of the Acting Committee for the organization as well. Trent serves as a production respondent for the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival and yearly as a respondent to Shakepearience on the Rider University campus.
Trent holds an MFA in Acting from Florida Atlantic University where he was the recipient of the Joshua Logan Fellowship and a certificate in the practical study of the Michael Chekhov Technique with the Michael Chekhov Association. Trent is also a member of the National Alliance of Teachers of Acting. For Rider, Trent teaches acting in both the Acting (Chekhov and Shakespeare) and Musical Theatre (Scene Study, Song as Text and Audition Prep) programs at Rider University. He has classes in Devised Theatre, Acting for the Graduate Singer (for Westminster Choir College) and Movement for the Actor. He is currently developing the new BFA program in Acting for the department as well as assisting in redesigning the current Bachelor of Arts programs. He serves as advisor for the students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts degree in Musical Theatre as well. Trent is married to fellow professor Rebecca Simon and has a perfect Labrador Retriever named Tony.
REBECCA SIMON is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and
REBECCA SIMON is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance. She serves as the resident Voice and Speech coach for the Rider University productions. Previously, she directed the cabaret The Human Heart and will direct the upcoming production of Heathers, The Musical this spring.
Rebecca had the honor of serving as the vocal coach for the McCarter Theatre Company’s production of The White Snake directed by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman. This past November, she also did voice and dialect work for the current production of A Christmas Carol. For Bristol Riverside Theatre, she did dialects for their productions of Witness for the Prosecution and Julia Cho’s The Language Archive. She has coached Princeton Day School’s productions of Girls Like That and Macbeth, as well as productions for Robbinsville High School.
Rebecca is a resident teaching artist for the McCarter Theatre Company. Every year she directs Shakespeare productions with the fifth graders of Princeton Area Schools.
Rebecca is a proud member of Actors Equity. Acting credits include the Broadway National Tours of Fiddler on the Roof with Theodore Bikel and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber starring Michael Bolton. She also toured with The Trans-Siberian Orchestra as a vocalist. New York credits include Masada at the York Theatre, Boulevard X at Raw Space, the premiere of Piper’s Song at the Gene Frankel Theatre and Alcestis and Salome, both with the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.
Recently, she appeared in The Addams Family as Morticia at The Forestburgh Playhouse. Other Forestburgh credits include, Young Frankenstein, A Murder is Announced and La Cage Aux Folles. Other regional credits include Sweet Charity (Aurora Theatre) Les Miserables (Actors Playhouse) and Evita, Twelfth Night, Company and Noises Off (Florida Atlantic Festival Repertory).
Directing credits include Shout! The Mod Musical at The Forestburgh Playhouse and Arcadia University. She holds an M.F.A in Acting from Florida Atlantic University where she held the Joshua Logan Assistantship and a certification in Colaianni Speech Technique. Rebecca teaches Acting, Speech for the Actor and Voice for the Actor in both the acting and musical theatre programs at Rider. Rebecca maintains a vibrant acting and vocal training practice in Pennington, NJ.