Birch Creek Music Academy Faculty

Birch Creek prides itself on its nationally-recognized faculty of performers and educators.

Roll over the faculty photo to reveal the name. Click the square to read the full bio at the top of the section.

 

Dan Moore
Percussion & Steel Band Program Director | Faculty Artist

Iowa City, IA

Dan Moore is in his 23rd year as a Birch Creek faculty member and has served as Director of the Percussion & Steel Band Program since 2016. Dr. Moore is Professor of Percussion and Director of the award-winning percussion program at The University of Iowa where he recently received the Iowa Regents Award for Faculty Excellence. Moore is an internationally known musician, composer, and educator. He is a Yamaha international performing artist, a signature mallet artist for Innovative Percussion, and a performing artist for Sabian Cymbals, Gon Bops Percussion, and Grover Pro Percussion. His music is published by Row-Loff Productions, Innovative Percussion, Alfred Publishing, and Cricket City Music and Media. At Birch Creek, Moore leads the faculty ensemble and teaches marimba/vibes performance, improvisation, leadership, snare drum technique, ensemble performance, and musicianship.

Web site: www.dan-moore.com

Ricardo Castañeda
Symphony Program Director | Oboe & Chamber Music Retreat Program Director

Oak Park, IL

2021 marks Ricardo Castañeda’s 24th year at Birch Creek and his 21st year as Symphony Session Program Director. Castañeda received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music performance from Northwestern University. He is a winner of the Northwestern University Concerto Competition and a recipient of the Wade Fetzer award for excellence in performance. He has appeared as a soloist in Latin America, Europe, the United States and more recently Japan. Castañeda is currently Principal Oboist with The Chicago Sinfonietta, and solo English Horn with The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also a member of the Chicago Ensemble and Barossa Woodwind Quintet. An active freelance musician, Castañeda enjoys performing all genres of music. He has played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera Orchestra, Grant Park Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Opera Theater and has been principal oboist for orchestras for The Bolshoi Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and Joffrey Ballet as well as numerous Broadway in Chicago shows. Castañeda is on the faculty at University of Illinois at Chicago and Northeastern Illinois University. Ricardo is integral to the development and oversight of Symphony session programming.

Website: Chicago Sinfonietta – Ricardo Castañeda

Jeff Campbell
Program Director & Academy Jazz Orchestra Director | Bass

Rochester, NY

2021 is Jeff Campbell’s 33rd year at Birch Creek and his 25th as Jazz Program Director. Campbell is Professor of Jazz Studies & Contemporary Media and department chair at Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY. Jeff has carved out an impressive career as a bass player fluent in both the jazz and classical idioms. As a jazz bassist, he has performed with Marian McPartland, Gene Bertoncini, Rich Perry, Trio East, Harold Jones, and the Eastman Jazz Quartet featuring Harold Danko. In high demand across the globe, Jeff has performed at such prestigious European musical events as the Nice, Montreux, North Sea, Riga, and Parnu jazz festivals and has also appeared in the former Soviet Union and the Baltic Republics. Additionally, Jeff is a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra bass section. He has numerous CDs to his credit.

Website: Jeff Campbell

David Bixler
Alto Saxophone

New York, NY

Alto axophonist, composer and educator David Bixler is a multi-faceted artist, having received critical acclaim for both his playing and his writing. Bixler has recently embarked on an artistic reemergence with the release of three new recordings: In the Face of Chaos (2019) with Bixler, Boccato, Cowherd, and Sturm; Blended Lineage (2020) with the Bixtet; and Inside the Grief (2020) with trio incognito. In All About Jazz, Dan Bilawsky writes “In the Face of Chaos marks a re-emergence, if not a complete artistic rebirth, for David Bixler. It serves as a true inspiration, drawing beauty from pain, and peace from personal struggle . . . In the face of chaos, with Bixler’s knowing horn leading the way, wisdom and wonder win out.”

Bixler is the host of LINER NOTES with David Bixler, a podcast centered on conversations with jazz musicians. He also serves as Director of Jazz Studies at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. As both a Selmer and Vandoren Artist, he is active as a clinician and performer throughout the world. 2021 is Bixler’s 22nd year at Birch Creek.

Website: www.davidbixler.com

Larry Brown Jr.
Guitar

Chicago, IL

Larry Brown Jr. is a guitarist who holds degrees from Southern Illinois University in Jazz Performance and from Northern Illinois University, with a Master’s in Jazz Studies. A Kennedy Center Jazz Ahead Alumni, Brown has toured nationally and internationally as a composer/arranger as well as a band leader. He has released two records of original compositions (There Can Only Be One –  2011; The Music & The Moment –  2015). He is a contributing writer to the book Teaching Music through Performance in Jazz – Volume 2. 2021 is Brown’s 12th year with the Birch Creek faculty.

Scott Burns
Alto Saxophone

Chicago, IL

Scott Burns is currently a faculty member at DePaul University and Loyola University Chicago, where his collective duties include jazz ensemble director, a jazz improvisation instructor, applied saxophone instructor, jazz combo coach, and jazz history lecturer. A native of Dayton, OH, Burns holds degrees in jazz studies from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (BM) and DePaul University (MM). As a leader of his own groups or as an in-demand sideman with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and many other projects, he is frequently heard performing in greater Chicago’s leading jazz venues. Scott has performed alongside several international jazz artists, including McCoy Tyner, Ahmad Jamal, Clark Terry, Ira Sullivan, David Hazeltine, Tom Harrell, Eric Alexander, and Harry Connick Jr. His latest recording, Passages (Origin Records), features his original compositions and received critical acclaim across the nation. Burns has been with Birch Creek for nine years.

Website: scottburnsjazz.com

Bob Chmel
Drums

Las Vegas, NV

Bob Chmel graduated from Kent State University with a BS in education and a MA in performance. Chmel was awarded Alumni of the Year by Kent State in 2003. He has performed with numerous artists and ensembles throughout the years, including the bands of Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Bob Anderson, Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Doc Severinson, Carl Fontana, and Buddy Childress, to name a few. Bob has worked and played with the best jazz combos and bands in Chicago for 20 years and world-renowned musicians in Las Vegas for 25 years. This is Chmel’s 30th year at Birch Creek.

Jennifer Clippert
Flute

Chicago, IL

Jennifer Clippert is Associate Professor of Flute at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Clippert is a member of the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, Present Music (Milwaukee) and a founding member of Quintet Attacca, one of only two wind quintets to receive the Fischoff National Competition Grand Prize. An enthusiastic supporter of contemporary music, she can frequently be heard playing throughout the greater Chicago and Milwaukee areas. Clippert received both her Master of Music and Doctor of Music degrees at Northwestern University with Walfrid Kujala.

Phillip Crews
Student Band Director

Chicago, IL

Phillip Crews received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the VanderCook College of Music, Chicago, IL. He directed the band programs at Thornton High School and is starting his 18th year as band director at Rich Central High School. Crews was recognized in 2009 for excellence in teaching by the Illinois State Board of Education receiving the “Those Who Excel” award and was honored with the Mary Hoffman Award of Excellence in recognition of teaching excellence in music education at the 2018 Illinois Music Education Conference. He was inducted into Phi Beta Mu, the International Bandmasters Fraternity in 2017. Crews was a Birch Creek student in 1989 and is joining us for an 8th season as a faculty member.

Tanya Darby
Trumpet

Boston, MA

Tanya Darby is an educator, bandleader, musician, and clinician. Darby is the Chair of the Brass Department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and has previously held faculty positions at the University of North Texas, Temple University and The New School University of New York City. As an educator, Darby regularly teaches master classes and has been a clinician and adjudicator at numerous festivals, both domestic and abroad. She received her master’s degree in jazz performance from Rutgers University in 2012, and a bachelor’s degree in jazz performance from the Manhattan School of Music. She is a current and veteran member of such groups as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Roy Hargrove Big Band. 2021 marks Darby’s 8th year at Birch Creek.

Jodie DeSalvo
Piano

Naples, FL

Jodie DeSalvo is a frequent soloist with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. She has toured extensively as a piano soloist appearing with the orchestras of Chicago, Geneva, Lucerne, San Francisco, Hartford and Chautauqua. DeSalvo also has a recital/lecture series at the Artis-Naples and has numerous CDs to her credit. In recent years, she has added the comedy of Victor Borge to her repertoire, with interpretations of his skits, including Phonetic Punctuation and Inflationary Language, as well as writing her own original material. 2021 will mark her 25th year as a Birch Creek faculty member.

Anthony Di Sanza
Percussion Faculty Artist

Madison, WI

The summer of 2021 will mark Anthony Di Sanza’s seventh year with Birch Creek. Di Sanza is a Professor of Percussion at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and has performed, presented master classes, and held residencies in North America, Europe and Asia. He has appeared as a visiting artist at over 45 colleges, universities and conservatories, and has performed as soloist and chamber musician in some of the world’s most important concert halls. Di Sanza can be heard on over 15 internationally distributed recordings with various artists, including; Sole Nero-Piano and Percussion Duo, Mark Hetzler Chamber Ensemble, Linda Maxey with Galaxy Percussion and Keiko Abe and the Michigan Chamber Players. In a review of his 2011 solo recording, On the nature of…, All Music Guide writes; “Di Sanza dazzles not only in the assurance and polish of his playing but in his tremendous vitality and spontaneity.” Di Sanza is an endorser of Encore Mallets, Black Swamp Percussion, Sabian Cymbals, and Remo Drumheads, as well as an educational endorser of Pro-Mark Drumsticks. At Birch Creek, he is a faculty performing artist, teaches a variety of world percussion styles, and directs small and large ensembles.

Katie Ernst
Jazz I Advanced Combo (Ambassadors) Director / Vocalist

Chicago, IL

Bassist and vocalist Katie Ernst is an active bandleader and musician in Chicago’s jazz/improvised music community. She travels throughout the US as a guest artist/clinician for young musicians, directs the jazz ensemble at Wheaton College, and teaches at Birch Creek Music Academy for the Jazz I summer program. Ernst holds a BM in Jazz Studies from the Eastman School of Music. 2021 is Katie’s 10th year with the Birch Creek faculty.

 

Robert Everson
Percussion

Oak Park, IL

Robert Everson is the timpanist with several orchestras in the Chicago area, including the Chicago Philharmonic, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, and the Joffrey Ballet Orchestra. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Percussion Performance from DePaul University, and is the percussion instructor at Concordia University Chicago in River Forest, Illinois. 2021 is Everson’s 21st year as a Birch Creek faculty member.

www.cuchicago.edu/faculty/college-of-theology-arts–humanities/music/robert-everson/

 

Shannon Finney
Flute/Piccolo

Kansas City, MO

Shannon Finney is Associate Principal Flute with the Kansas City Symphony. She is also a member of the Kansas City-based chamber music ensemble, Summerfest. Finney has been with Birch Creek for 17 years.

Website: www.kcsymphony.org/ContentCtl/ViewAct/Musician/46

Benjamin Firer
Symphony Guest Conductor

Franklin, WI

An award-winning conductor, Firer is active throughout the Chicago area. He holds conducting positions at Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras and Lewis University. Benjamin received his Doctorate in Orchestral Conducting from Northwestern University and a Master’s Degree from Yale University. As an orchestral musician he has recorded for the Naxos and Albany labels. Firer has made appearances with the symphony orchestras of of Champaign-Urbana, Dubuque, DuPage, Miami, Fargo-Morehead, Orchestra de la Francophonie, Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra, Northwestern University Opera Theatre, Alice Millar Brass Ensemble, and New Music New Haven.

Recognized for his musical entrepreneurship, he was granted the SUNY Thayer Fellowship in the Arts and the Emma Peters Hooper Endowed Award. Firer was selected as an Emerging Conductor with the Peninsula Music Festival and as the conducting fellow for the Atlantic Music Festival. He has garnered awards including The American Prize in Conducting, The Woolsey Concerto Competition, Yale Chamber Music Competition, Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship, and the Long Island University Conductors Award.

Jeremiah Frederick
French Horn

Chicago, IL

Jeremiah Frederick holds the positions of Associate Principal Horn of the South Bend Symphony and Second Horn of the Lake Forest Symphony and plays regularly with the IRIS Orchestra in Memphis. In addition, Frederick has played with many Chicago-area ensembles including the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Chicago Philharmonic, the Grant Park, Elgin, and Rockford Symphonies, the Joffrey Ballet and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Elizandro Garcia-Montoya
Clarinet

Chicago, IL

Elizandro Garcia-Montoya is principal clarinet of the Elmhurst Symphony and Fifth House Ensemble. He performs regularly with the Chicago Philharmonic and Chicago Sinfonietta; and during the summers at the New Hampshire Music Festival and Fresh Inc Festival specializing in new music. Garcia-Montoya has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, Sarasota Opera, Jacksonville Symphony, and was Principal Clarinet of the State of Mexico Orchestra and Mineria Symphony Orchestra in Mexico City.

Tom Garling
Trombone

Chicago, IL

Tom Garling’s writing and playing can be heard on albums by Maynard, Buddy Rich, Tito Puente, Dianne Schuur, Michael Feinstein, Frank Mantooth, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, and the Chicago Yestet, to name a few. He has been in high demand for the past 30 years as a performer, composer, arranger, recording artist, producer, teacher, director, clinician, and professional musician at any capacity. Garling attended the Berklee School of Music and received his Master’s degree from the University of Miami, majoring in Jazz Composition and Arranging with an emphasis in studio jazz writing. He teaches both privately and in numerous institutions around the Chicago area (Elmhurst College, Roosevelt University and Northern Illinois University) in the fields of jazz composition and arranging, jazz trombone, jazz theory and jazz improvisation. Garling performs with numerous jazz groups including the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and the Chicago Yestet. 2019 is his 20th year at Birch Creek.

Website: www.tomgarling.com

John Gaudette
Bassoon

Chicago, IL

John Gaudette studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, PA. He played in the Dallas Symphony, CBC Radio Orchestra, and was assistant principal in the Vancouver Symphony. Gaudette freelances in the Chicago area with the Chicago Symphony and Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Music of the Baroque, and Fulcrum Point. He currently teaches at Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. John has been a Birch Creek faculty member for 15 years.

Amanda Grimm
Viola

Chicago, IL

Amanda Grimm enjoys a versatile career as a freelance artist in the greater Chicago area. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and Carnegie Mellon University, she has performed as a soloist, recitalist, and concertmaster in both the United States and abroad. Grimm is an active orchestral musician and is Principal Viola of both the Elgin Symphony and Orchestra Iowa and is Assistant Principal of the Illinois Philharmonic. A passionate chamber musician, she is also a member of the KAIA String Quartet, a Chicago-based ensemble that advocates for the music of Latin America.

Rick Haydon
Guitar

Edwardsville, IL

Rick Haydon is Professor Emeritus of Music at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. He currently teaches private applied jazz guitar and directs the jazz guitar ensemble. In his 30 plus year career at SIUE, Haydon played a key role in the development and evolution of the jazz program, as well as the university’s recording studio. He has served on the summer faculty of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Director Academy. Haydon has numerous performance CDs to his credit with his most recent 2020-21 project as co-producer of John Pizzarelli’s Better Days Ahead. Haydon has a twenty-plus year connection with Birch Creek. Website: www.rickhaydon.com

Clarence Hines
Trombone

Jacksonville, FL

Clarence Hines is the Director of the School of Music and Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of North Florida where he teaches jazz trombone and arranging. He has performed with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Bobby Caldwell, Maceo Parker, David Sanborn, and many others. His recent works were premiered at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, World Association of Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) Conference, and the Tanglewood Music Festival. He is an artist/clinician for Conn-Selmer and plays C.G. Conn Trombones. 2021 is his 14th year at Birch Creek.

Website: www.clarencehines.com

EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks
Violin

Providence, RI

Armed with a performance degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a doctorate from SUNY Stony Brook, EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks serves on the faculty at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and as principal second violinist with the New Bedford Symphony. This is Holmes-Hicks 17th year on the Birch Creek faculty.

Steve Horne
Trombone

Glenview, IL

Steve Horne‘s career spans three decades and includes working with some of the world’s most renowned entertainers. He grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and went on to study with John Marcellus at Catholic University of America, and continued his studies at North Texas State University. He spent 15 years in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he was the lead trombonist for Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Julio Iglesias, Natalie Cole, Burt Bacharach, Smothers Brothers, Lido de Paris, televised telethons, HBO specials, Las Vegas Symphony, Opera, and many more. Horne continues to work as a freelance musician performing at venues in and around Chicago. He maintains a private teaching studio at his home in Glenview, Illinois, as well as at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois and Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois. Horne has been a faculty member for 20 years at Birch Creek.

Website: www.acmebone.com

Clay Jenkins
Trumpet

Rochester, NY

Clay Jenkins’ career as a jazz artist has covered a wide range of musical experiences and responsibilities, bringing him to the forefront of the jazz performing and teaching arenas. His experience as a performer began at an early age playing with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Harry James, Buddy Rich, and finally, the Count Basie Orchestra. Since moving to Rochester, NY, to become Professor of Jazz Trumpet at the Eastman School of Music in 2000, Jenkins has maintained a busy performing, recording, and teaching schedule. He continues to perform and record with the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, of which he is a charter member. He has also been a member of the Joe La Barbera Quintet for 25 years. Jenkins has released eight solo recordings. In 2018, Jenkins initiated “The Snooky Young Endowed Scholarship” at the Eastman School of Music in honor of the great trumpet artist Eugene “Snooky” Young. This scholarship is specifically intended to benefit students of under-represented minorities. 2021 is Clay’s 16th year at Birch Creek.  Website: www.clayjenkins.net/

Vicki Peterson Jenks
Percussion Faculty Artist

Wild Rose, WI

This season, Vicki Peterson Jenks celebrates a milestone of 25 years at Birch Creek. Jenks, a native North Dakotan, received her musical training at Minot State University, UW-Stevens Point, and Baylor University. In 1976, she founded the percussion program at UT-El Paso. For 25 years, she nurtured Jenks Music Studio, the largest percussion studio in Wisconsin. In 2008, she was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society’s Hall of Fame. Jenks greatest teaching passion is guiding the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) Percussion Ensemble for 40 years. Under her direction, past WYSO Percussion Ensembles have received national recognition from PAS, MENC, the National Band Association, WMEA, and the prestigious Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic. Jenks and her husband, John, co-founded the HEROES Musicalessm held in their Wild Rose home each spring. Recently, the national Red Cross named the Musicalessm a “best practice”, raising thousands of dollars for both Disaster Relief, Service to the Armed Forces, and COVID Antibody Testing. In addition, she is a Wild Rose Kiwanian, serves as church pianist for Holden Lutheran Parish, and gigs regularly as keyboard-vocalist in local nursing homes and retirement centers. Jenks was named Waushara County (Wisconsin), “Citizen of the Year” in 2011. That year, the American Red Cross bestowed their highest volunteer award—the Clara Barton Honor Award—to Jenks. Vicki Peterson Jenks is a Yamaha artist.

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Russ Johnson
Trumpet

Milwaukee, WI

Russ Johnson is an active performer, educator and clinician. Johnson is the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. He has been involved in over 80 recordings and appeared in the 2018 DownBeat critics poll as a rising star in the trumpet category. He has worked alongside many of the legendary figures in jazz, recorded and/or performed with numerous prominent international jazz artists and performed in more than 40 countries.

Kay Kim
Piano

Chicago, IL

As an active chamber musician, pianist Kay Kim enjoys concertizing domestically and internationally each season. She has performed in recitals with members of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Pittsburg Orchestra and Paris Opera Orchestra, the recipients of Stradivari Society award, as well as with the faculties of the Juilliard School, Northwestern University and Indiana University among others. She has been one of the conductor/soloist rehearsal pianists at Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2005 where she is privileged to work with the conductors and the soloists in an intimate setting.

Kim has presented recitals in venues such as Kennedy Center’s Conservatory Project, Carnegie Weill Hall, Bennett Gordon Hall Series at Ravinia Festival, Dame Myra Hess Concert Series at Chicago Cultural Center and participated in Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center and Grant Park Music Festival. As a former member of a musical ambassador group Trio Chicago and Friends, she traveled to over 20 countries presenting a comprehensive array of American music from 2006-2013.

Kim currently teaches accompanying at Northeastern Illinois University where she also serves as a full-time staff pianist. She holds a doctoral degree in piano performance from Northwestern University.

Katherine Kohler
Clarinet

Nashville, TN

Katherine Kohler joined the Nashville Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2018 as Assistant Principal and E-flat Clarinet. From 2016-2018 Katherine was the second clarinetist of the Phoenix Symphony, and previous to that she spent three years with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Orchestra, and since 2011, the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra.

During the summer of 2015, Katherine participated in the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, performing under Alan Gilbert as a clarinetist on Mozart’s Gran Partita and E-flat clarinetist on Messiaen’s Des Canyons Aux Étoiles, the latter of which was released in 2016 on the Koch Label. As a chamber musician, Katherine has also performed with the Gateway Chamber Orchestra, Downtown Chamber Series, Chamber Music Milwaukee, and with the Roma Trio.

She started her orchestral training in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Encore Chamber Orchestra. At the age of seven, Katherine began her clarinet studies with David Boyd, followed by studies with Todd Levy from 2005-13. She graduated from the Peck School of the Arts, University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee. Katherine is a Selmer Artist, performing on Selmer Signature Clarinets.

Matthew Lee
Trumpet

Elmhurst, IL

Matt Lee performs with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Chicago Brass Quintet. Lee also performs with the Millar Brass Ensemble, Tower Brass, and substitutes with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera of Chicago. This is his 27th year at Birch Creek.

Betty Lewis
Violin

Wilmette, IL

Betty Lewis received her B.M. from Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt University as a student of Elaine Skorodin. She is an active violinist and violist in the Chicago area performing with groups as diverse as Broadway in Chicago and as an extra with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Lewis teaches violin, viola and piano and conducts the high school orchestra at Francis W. Parker School in Chicago. She is also the violin teacher at the Chicago School of Violin Making. In the summer, Lewis is a member of the Peninsula Music Festival, also in Door County, Wisconsin. 2021 is Lewis’ 27th year at Birch Creek.

Marcia Henry Liebenow
Concertmaster

Peoria, IL

Marcia Henry Liebenow is Concertmaster of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra and teaches violin, viola and chamber music at Bradley University. She leads a multi-faceted career as a teacher, recitalist, chamber musician, and soloist across the U.S. and abroad. She is a member of the Concordia String Trio and Peoria Lunaire, a new music ensemble. In the summer, in addition to Birch Creek, Marcia is a faculty artist at the Red Lodge Music Festival in Montana, and has performed and taught at festivals in Italy, Alaska, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Vermont. She has three CDs on the Centaur label – the Grieg Violin Sonatas with internationally acclaimed pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi, and two Concordia String Trio CDs — American Vistas and Viennese String Trios. Her work has been recognized with the Outstanding Studio Teacher Award from Illinois ASTA, and she was named a Distinguished Alumni of Ohio University School of Music. Marcia earned degrees in Violin Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music and Ohio University. 2021 marks her 23rd year at Birch Creek.

Website: www.marciahenry.com

Dennis Mackrel
Drums

Woodstock, NY

Dennis Mackrel is a noted jazz drummer and highly respected composer/arranger and conductor whose work has been recorded and performed by the Count Basie Orchestra, the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band, the WDR Radio Big Band from Germany, the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw from Holland, the Klüvers Big Band from Denmark, and the McCoy Tyner Big Band, whose Grammy winning CDs included Mackrel’s arrangements. He has won numerous awards including Who’s Who in Music, a National Endowment for the Arts grant for composition, and Outstanding Alumni from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Mackrel is also an experienced jazz educator who conducts master classes, seminars and workshops throughout Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States and is currently an assistant chair and professor of jazz studies at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College in Flushing, NY. Dennis has been on the Birch Creek faculty for 12 years.  Website: dennismackrelmusic.com

Emily Mantell
Cello

Orland Park, IL

Emily Lewis Mantell is a busy freelance cellist in and around Chicago. She is a member of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chicago Sinfonietta. She teaches adjunctly at local colleges and from her home studio in Orland Park, IL. Mantell has been a Birch Creek faculty member for 26 years, and she is delighted that her daughter Sonia, a Birch Creek alumna and now a cellist in the Minnesota Orchestra, will be soloing at Birch Creek this summer.

Scott McConnell
Percussion Faculty Artist

Chicago, IL

Scott McConnell will be celebrating his seventh year working with Birch Creek during the 2021 season. McConnell is an active Steelpan/percussion performer and educator in the Chicagoland area. He works with steelpan programs at the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and William Hatch Elementary School. McConnell is a co-founder of Pastiche Steel Ensemble as well as the percussionist for The Four Star Brass Band, a New Orleans-style brass band. He holds a Bachelors, Masters, and Performers’ Certificates in Percussion, Steelpan, and Recording Arts from Northern Illinois University.

Wesley Morgan
Percussion Faculty Performer | Bass

Brookfield, IL

Wesley Morgan is a bassist, audio engineer, and educator in the Chicago area. An instructor at Lewis University on topics related to music technology and jazz history, he also performs with a variety of groups covering a range of musical styles, with a particular emphasis on jazz and popular music. He has recently commenced an archival project in which he is recording a large swath of modern jazz and improvisational musicians, primarily from the Chicago area, while fulfilling the roles of bassist and production engineer on the recordings. [The goal of the project is to document current approaches to improvised music while giving a nod to the notable contributions to jazz history made in Chicago nearly a century ago.] Morgan has performed with Birch Creek since 2015, making 2021 his sixth season.

Website: www.wesleymorganmusic.com

Audrey Morrison
Trombone

Chicago, IL

Audrey Morrison is the Director of Jazz Studies at the Music Institute of Chicago. She performs and teaches with the Ravinia Jazz Mentors, and plays with the jazz sextet, SHE, Ars Viva, and the Lake Forest Symphony. She teaches at Columbia College and North Park University. Morrison is a clinician for Conn-Selmer.

Website: Audrey Morrison

Peter Naughton
Percussion Faculty Artist

Iowa City, IA

Peter Naughton is a percussionist, composer, and educator. As a versatile performer, he specializes in jazz keyboard improvisation, Latin Percussion, marimba literature, and contemporary solo and chamber music. Naughton currently lives in Iowa City, IA where he regularly gigs with the Pandelirium Quartet. He is Professor of Percussion at Monmouth College and has been teaching and performing at Birch Creek for six years.

Brian Nozny
Composer in Residence

Lake Charles, LA

Brian Nozny is in demand as a performer, composer, and educator throughout the United States. His compositions are regularly programmed around the world and have been featured on multiple international recordings. As a performer, Nozny has worked in a diverse number of settings; currently, he performs in the BRN Duo with his wife, flutist Rachel Nozny, as a member of the percussion group JP3, and regularly freelances throughout the Southeast United States. He is Assistant Professor of Percussion at McNeese State University. In 2021, Nozny will be celebrating his sixth season at Birch Creek.

Dan O'Connell
French Horn

Chicago, IL

Dan O’Connell is the horn instructor at North Central College and maintains a private studio. As a performer, he has played with most of the Chicago area’s great orchestras and ensembles. O’Connell received a BM from The New England Conservatory and an MM from DePaul University. 2021 is Dan’s seventh year on the Birch Creek Symphony faculty.

Vannia Phillips
Viola

Chicago, IL

Vannia Philips has been a member of the Chicago Sinfonietta since 1998. She has performed with the Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Ars Viva, Lake Forest Symphony, Fulcrum Point, New Black Repertory Ensemble, Joffrey Ballet, and Elgin Symphony. She is in her third season as violist with the Evanston Chamber Opera company. Passionate about teaching, Phillips has taken Suzuki training with Edward Kreitman, Nancy Jackson, and Tom Wermuth at the Western Springs School for Talent Education, Michelle George at the Music Institute of Chicago, and Ann Montzka Smelser. She currently teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago and Music for Youth of Arlington Heights.

Emily Roane
Percussion Faculty Artist

Philadelphia, PA

Emily Roane is a Philadelphia-based percussion and steel pan performer. Roane holds a Bachelor’s of Music degree from the University of Iowa and a Master’s of Music degree from the University of Minnesota. She currently teaches steel band at Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy and performs with the Philadelphia Pan Stars Steel Orchestra and the Plenty Pepper Band. 2021 marks Roane’s fifth year at Birch Creek.

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Marty Robinson
Advanced Combo (Ambassadors) Director | Trumpet

Appleton, WI

Marty Robinson is Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Trumpet at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He leads his own jazz quintet and is also active as a jazz pianist, arranger, clinician, and trumpeter in symphony orchestras, brass quintets, and Broadway shows. A commissioned composer across genres, Robinson’s recent works have been performed by the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, the Boston Pops Orchestra, trumpeter Byron Stripling, saxophonist Joshua Redman, drummer Herlin Riley, and university wind ensembles and choirs. In 2016, Robinson was the Director of the Wisconsin State Honors Jazz Ensemble. He is the Director of the Jazz II Session Advanced Combo known as the Ambassadors. This is Robinson’s 21st year at Birch Creek.

Charles Schuchat
Tuba

Chicago, IL

Charles Schuchat is a performer with the Elgin Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, Tower Brass and Joffrey Ballet. He is  a tuba instructor and head of the brass department at the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University. This will be Schuchat’s ninth year on the faculty at Birch Creek.

Charles "Chip" Staley
Adult Band Camp Co-Director

Recently retired after 35 years of teaching. A National Board Certified Teacher with degrees from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Illinois, Staley continues to be a tireless advocate for music education. Staley founded ARTSpeaks, a grassroots organization dedicated to cementing the role of music as an essential component of a comprehensive education www.artspeaks.net. Staley also founded the Music and Memory Program for Metropolitan Family Services in DuPage. Staley is the recipient of the ASBDA Distinguished Band Director Award, the ILMEA Mary Hoffman Excellence in Teaching Award, the CYSO Music Inspiration Award, the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Flag of Honor and the John Paynter Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tom Stark
Trombone, Low Brass

Schaumburg, IL

Tom Stark performs with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and Northwest Indiana Symphony. Stark is also trombone instructor at Concordia University, Elmhurst University and Harper College. This is his 17th year at Birch Creek.

Alan Steiner
String Bass

Buffalo Grove, IL

Alan Steiner is a former member of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, L’Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec and the Canadian Opera Company. He was a soloist in the world premiere of Likht un Shotn with the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra. He maintains a private studio. Steiner has been with Birch Creek for 20 years.

Jim Stombres
Jazz I Studio Band Director | Adult Band Camp Co-Director

St Charles, IL

2021 is Jim Stombres’ 32nd season with Birch Creek. Stombres retired in 2015 after more than 30 years as director of bands in three suburban Chicago high schools, finishing his career at St. Charles North High School in St. Charles, Illinois. He holds a diploma in sacred music from the Moody Bible Institute, a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Illinois State University, and a Master of Music Education degree from Northwestern University. He is active in the Illinois Music Educators Association and the Illinois Chapter of the International Association of Jazz Educators. Under Stombres’ direction, the Naperville North Wind Ensemble performed at the Bands of America National Concert Band Festival and received the DownBeat Student Music Award for Outstanding Wind Ensemble. Stombres is also a co-director of Birch Creek’s Adult Band Camp.

Doug Stone
Tenor Saxophone

Baton Rouge, LA

Doug Stone’s career has involved work as a touring musician, primarily with jazz trumpet legend Maynard Ferguson and his band, the Big Bop Nouveau, as well as with the “world-jazz” group Panoramic, and with a number of ensembles from Chicago, IL. Stone is a published arranger and composer and has a double master’s degree in jazz performance and music education from the Eastman School of Music. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Louisiana State University.

Brad Stirtz
Percussion Faculty Artist | Vibraphone

Naperville, IL

Brad Stirtz will be celebrating an amazing 42nd year with Birch Creek for the summer 2021 session. A native of Minden, Nebraska, Stirtz earned his Master of Music degree in percussion performance at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. As a jazz/percussion educator, he has served on the faculties of the American Conservatory, Roosevelt University and North Illinois University, and is currently on the faculty at North Central College. He recently received a second Master’s degree in Theology from Concordia University Chicago and now serves as Director of Music at Peace Lutheran Church in Lombard, Illinois. At Birch Creek, Stirtz is a faculty ensemble performer, directs small ensembles, and teaches improvisation, music theory, and world music.

Website: Brad Stirtz

Michael Stryker
Piano

Chicago, IL

Michael Stryker is Clinical Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Stryker’s doctoral studies at the Eastman School of Music were completed fall of 2009 with the degree awarded spring of 2010. Past degrees include a B.S. in Biology from Purdue University in 1985 and both the B.M. and M.M. in Jazz Performance from DePaul University in 1996. Previous teaching positions include Western Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, DePaul University, and the University of California at Berkeley.

Website: Michael Stryker

Steve Sveum
Jazz II Lab Band Director | Adult Band Camp Co-Director

Sun Prairie, WI

Steve Sveum is the retired Director of Bands at Sun Prairie High School in Sun Prairie, WI, where jazz ensembles under his direction were selected twelve times as finalists in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Essentially Ellington” national jazz competition, placing third three times. Sveum has been a faculty member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Band Director Academy and has worked as a clinician at festivals around the United States. He was also a 2014 recipient of the DownBeat Jazz Education Achievement award. This is Sveum’s 19th season at Birch Creek. He is also a co-director of Birch Creek’s Adult Band Camp.

Joey Tartell
Trumpet

Bloomington, IN

Joey Tartell is Professor of Music at Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. He has played with Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. He is currently performing with Tromba Mundi, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. This is Tartell’s 22nd year at Birch Creek.

Website: joeytartell.com/

Liam Teague
Steel Band Director / Faculty Artist | Steelpan

DeKalb, IL

This year marks Liam Teague’s 26th season with Birch Creek and his fifth as Steel Band Director. Teague is Professor of Music and Head of Steelpan studies at Northern Illinois University (NIU), where he also directs the renowned NIU Steelband. He is also the recipient of an NIU Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professor Award. Teague’s commitment to demonstrating the great musical possibilities of the steelpan has taken him throughout the world, and he has received many awards from his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago, including the Humming Bird National Award (Silver) and the Ansa McAl Caribbean Award for Excellence. He has also performed with many diverse ensembles which include: National Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan National Symphony, Czech National Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Panama National Symphony and Chicago Sinfonietta. He has appeared in concert with Grammy-Award winning musicians Paquito D’Rivera, Dave Samuels, Zakir Hussain and Dame Evelyn Glennie.

Website: liamteague.com

Mardra Thomas
Vocalist

DeKalb, IL

Vocalist/Actress Mardra Thomas has been performing more that twenty years with the Birch Creek Jazz Orchestra. For years she has painted a musical and historical picture of the life of Billie Holiday. Mardra was nominated for Best Leading Actress in a Musical by Chicago’s Black Theatre Alliance’s Award for her portrayal of Billie in Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill. Mardra can be seen on the theater stage, concert halls, jazz festivals and premier clubs. Mardra’s latest recording Matters Of the Heart is with her husband pianist Reggie Thomas. Website:www.mrtjazz.com

Reggie Thomas
Piano

DeKalb, IL

Pianist/Organist Reggie Thomas is Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, and has taught at Michigan State University and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Reggie performs with an illustrious number of talented musicians and fronts his Chicago based group, Trio Nexus with George Fludas and Dennis Carroll. Reggie is Ensemble Coach for NYO Jazz Orchestra, the national youth jazz orchestra of Carnegie Hall and is host of their NYOJazz Instagram Show “Reggie Interviews”. He has held “The Count’s Seat” as member of The Count Basie Orchestra and rhythm section accompanist for the Herbie Hancock International Jazz Competitions.  For years he was a consultant/clinician for Jazz at Lincoln Center for their Essentially Ellington Program and Band Director’s Academy. Reggie has a number of recordings and has been performing at Birch Creek for over thirty years. Website:www.mrtjazz.com

 

Kamen Vatchev
Violin

Valparaiso, IN

Kamen Vatchev is a native of Bulgaria. He did his undergraduate studies at the Music Academy of Bulgaria, during which time he won First Prize and Special Diploma from the Bulgarian National Competition for Chamber Music and performed for four seasons with the first violin section of Sofia Philharmonic. After relocating to the United States, he attended Northwestern University and graduated with a Master’s in Music Performance. He has performed with the Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Ballet and the Woodstock Mozart Festival. Currently Vachev is a member of the Northwest Indiana Symphony and Assistant Principal Second Violin with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. He was appointed Concertmaster of Whiting Festival Orchestra in 2003 and South Shore Orchestra, Valparaiso, Indiana, in 2010.

Vatchev is also a very active teacher. He has taught violin for more than thirty years at Valparaiso University, Hinsdale Center for the Arts, Birch Creek Music Festival and currently teaches at Merrillville and Portage High Schools and First Conservatory of La Grange, Illinois. In addition, he has a large private studio. Many of his students have won competitions and awards. Some of his students have graduated from or are studying music at such prestigious schools as Interlochen Arts Academy and De Paul, Northwestern, Indiana, Boston, Valparaiso, Illinois and Butler Universities.

Rodrigo Villanueva
Percussion Faculty Artist

Janesville, WI

Rodrigo Villanueva-Conroy is a Professor of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University (NIU). He teaches jazz drumset, jazz arranging, and directs the NIU Jazz Ensemble. Villanueva has presented master classes at many higher learning institutions and performed concerts at jazz venues and festivals across the United States, as well as in Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and South Korea. He has played and recorded with many leading jazz and classical artists including Jangeun Bae, Craig Butterfield, Frank Caruso, Eddie Gomez, Fareed Haque, Stefan Karlsson, Alex Mercado, Hiro Morozumi, Jon Nelson, Ed Saindon, Rodolfo Sanchez, Ben Sidran, Anders Svanoe, Liam Teague, and Takayoshi Yoshioka. Villanueva performs frequently with the Eddie Gomez Trio, the Alex Mercado Trio, the NIU jazz faculty group, Nucleus, and the Anders Svanoe Trio, as well as his own jazz trio. He has been featured at the Jazz Education Network, the Percussive Arts Society International Conference, and the Midwest Clinic. He was recently awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholar for research and teaching in Brazil, 2020-2023. 2021 is Villanueva’s 11th year at Birch Creek.

Website: www.rodrigovillanueva.com

Gil Wukitsch
Student Band Director | Trombone

St Charles, IL

Gil Wukitsch has been teaching at St. Charles East High School since 1997, where he teaches Jazz Band, Wind Symphony and AP Music Theory. Along with his teaching duties, Gil serves as the Lead Teacher for Fine Arts, overseeing the Drama, Music and Visual Arts departments. Wukitsch has a degree in music education from DePaul University, as well as a Masters in Educational Leadership from Aurora University. While at DePaul, he was a member of the nationally recognized Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, and Symphony Orchestra, and studied trumpet with Ross Beacraft and Bob Lark. Gil began attending Birch Creek as a student in 1989 and since then has been a member of the Academy Big Band as both a teaching assistant and faculty member, as well as serving as the Lab Band and Studio Band Director.

Jim Westhoff
Bassoon

Associate Faculty, Ann Arbor, MI

Mr. Westhoff holds degrees in music performance and theory/composition from the Peabody Conservatory and Wichita State University. He has held positions with the Annapolis, Wichita, and Kenosha Symphonies, as well as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Westhoff currently plays with the Jackson and Adrian Symphonies. As an educator, he teaches bassoon at Concordia University and the Plymouth-Canton, Saline, Chelsea, and Tecumseh school districts in southeast Michigan.

Website: www.jimwesthoff.com

Todd Williams
Tenor Saxophone

McCordsville, IN

Dr. Todd Williams hails from among the finest woodwind artists in today’s music scene. As such he is sought as a saxophonist, clarinetist, flautist and clinician. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Music Education at Indiana Wesleyan University where he serves as director of the IWU Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo, and many other duties. Williams has appeared as a guest lecturer and conductor for the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, and he has recently earned his doctoral degree in music education at the Jacob School of Music, Indiana University.

Originally known for his saxophone and clarinet work with the Wynton Marsalis Quintet, Septet and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Williams has been honored with such positions as Assistant Professor at Queens College in New York City and Music Director of Times Square Church where he has penned a wide variety of contemporary gospel choral works. His flagship composition, “We Proclaim Him,” has been a featured international favorite since 2003. The same may be heard, among other originals, on the TSC Music label.

Williams has performed at most every prestigious venue in the U.S. and abroad from multiple performances at the White House to Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl. Williams is a four-time recipient of ASCAP’s Plus Award for Composers. His latest jazz recording, Lift Up Your Heads, is now available on Amazon. 2021 marks Todd’s fifth year at Birch Creek.

Website: toddmaxmusic.com

Elizabeth York
Violin

Saint Paul, MN

Violinist Elizabeth York is Associate Concertmaster and Personnel Manager of South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, and performs on baroque violin with Lyra Baroque Orchestra. She teaches at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University and St. Cloud State University. York holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in violin and viola performance from Stony Brook University in New York. 2021 is her eighth year at Birch Creek.

Dan Moore
Percussion & Steel Band Program Director | Faculty Artist
Ricardo Castañeda
Symphony Program Director | Oboe & Chamber Music Retreat Program Director
Jeff Campbell
Program Director & Academy Jazz Orchestra Director | Bass
David Bixler
Alto Saxophone
Larry Brown Jr.
Guitar
Scott Burns
Alto Saxophone
Bob Chmel
Drums
Jennifer Clippert
Flute
Phillip Crews
Student Band Director
Tanya Darby
Trumpet
Jodie DeSalvo
Piano
Anthony Di Sanza
Percussion Faculty Artist
Katie Ernst
Jazz I Advanced Combo (Ambassadors) Director / Vocalist
Robert Everson
Percussion
Shannon Finney
Flute/Piccolo
Benjamin Firer
Symphony Guest Conductor
Jeremiah Frederick
French Horn
Elizandro Garcia-Montoya
Clarinet
Tom Garling
Trombone
John Gaudette
Bassoon
Amanda Grimm
Viola
Rick Haydon
Guitar
Clarence Hines
Trombone
EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks
Violin
Steve Horne
Trombone
Clay Jenkins
Trumpet
Vicki Peterson Jenks
Percussion Faculty Artist
Russ Johnson
Trumpet
Kay Kim
Piano
Katherine Kohler
Clarinet
Matthew Lee
Trumpet
Betty Lewis
Violin
Marcia Henry Liebenow
Concertmaster
Dennis Mackrel
Drums
Emily Mantell
Cello
Scott McConnell
Percussion Faculty Artist
Wesley Morgan
Percussion Faculty Performer | Bass
Audrey Morrison
Trombone
Peter Naughton
Percussion Faculty Artist
Brian Nozny
Composer in Residence
Dan O'Connell
French Horn
Vannia Phillips
Viola
Emily Roane
Percussion Faculty Artist
Marty Robinson
Advanced Combo (Ambassadors) Director | Trumpet
Charles Schuchat
Tuba
Charles "Chip" Staley
Adult Band Camp Co-Director
Tom Stark
Trombone, Low Brass
Alan Steiner
String Bass
Jim Stombres
Jazz I Studio Band Director | Adult Band Camp Co-Director
Doug Stone
Tenor Saxophone
Brad Stirtz
Percussion Faculty Artist | Vibraphone
Michael Stryker
Piano
Steve Sveum
Jazz II Lab Band Director | Adult Band Camp Co-Director
Joey Tartell
Trumpet
Liam Teague
Steel Band Director / Faculty Artist | Steelpan
Mardra Thomas
Vocalist
Reggie Thomas
Piano
Kamen Vatchev
Violin
Rodrigo Villanueva
Percussion Faculty Artist
Gil Wukitsch
Student Band Director | Trombone
Jim Westhoff
Bassoon
Todd Williams
Tenor Saxophone
Elizabeth York
Violin