Musicians – Conductor
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violin, viola, conductor, composer
Dr. Jonathan Aceto holds performance degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Arizona State University and has studied with Eric Rosenblith, Catherine Tait, Ronald Copes and Dr. Marla Mutschler. He has received training the chamber music from members of the Juilliard and Fine Arts String Quartets and at summer festivals, including Kneisel Hall, Yellowbarn and Meadowmount.
Jonathan has extensive experience in higher education, teaching at Augusta State University, the University of South Carolina at Aiken, Mercer University and Georgia Southern University. He has taught at several summer institutes, including the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Augusta State University Conservatory Orchestra Camp and the Maine A.S.T.A. Summer Conference. Currently, he teaches at East Georgia State College and is the Director of the Statesboro String Program.
Jonathan’s experience extends to orchestral playing, having performed in numerous professional orchestras including the Phoenix and Hilton Head Symphonies and the Heidelberg Festival Orchestra. He has been concertmaster of the North Arkansas and Macon Symphonies and the Augusta Opera Company and is equally at home leading the second violin section, having been principal second of the Augusta Symphony for eight years. Jonathan enjoys playing opera and had the rare experience of performing Wagner’s Ring Cycle twice as a long-time member of the Arizona Opera Orchestra. He has also performed in the orchestra for the Festival dei due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, and its American counterpart, the Spoleto Festival in Charleston.
Another source of pride for Jonathan is playing chamber music. He has been a member of the Magellan String Quartet, which has performed over much of Eastern America, from Valdosta, GA. to Saranac, N.Y., and abroad, including Vienna, Prague, Bavaria and Xalapa, Mexico. Jonathan is also a founding member of the chamber orchestra Lyra Vivace and the piano trio Trio d’Esprit.
Richard D Brasco
Richard is an educator and conductor, specializing in (but not limited to) wind ensembles. Richard teaches at Augusta State University, where he conducts the ASU Conservatory Wind Symphony and high school division of the ASU Summer Band Camp. His active retirement, following thirty-five years of work in Georgia and South Carolina as a music educator and conductor, also includes directing professional CSRA wind players as the Conductor of Savannah River Winds. Under his direction, the Savannah River Winds has received many honors, including the John Philip Sousa Foundation Sudler Silver Scroll Award and a recording contract with the C.L. Barnhouse Publishing Company.
Richard is frequently engaged as clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor all over the globe, including opportunities in London, England; Edinburgh, Scotland and Alaska, and throughout the USA, including the SouthEast tour of the United States Army Field Band, the University of Georgia Winter Music Festival, and numerous national conventions and symposiums. He has trained concert, jazz, and marching bands to perform high level music on a high level (consistent Superior ratings), including national tours to perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, the Lord Mayor’s Parade in London, and the Easter Festival in Maastricht, Netherlands.
Richard was nationally featured with the “Educators Who Make A Difference” article in Band and Orchestra. His other honors include four National Band Association Citations of Excellence, three ASBDA/Stanbury Awards, the ASBDA Career Achievement Award, the Teacher of the Year Award, three Star Teacher Awards, and the WJBF “Golden Apple Award.”
A native of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, Richard has a Bachelor of Science degree from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. He lives in North Augusta, South Carolina, with his wife Barbara. Their son, Craig, lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife Erika, daughter Natalie, and son Nicklaus. Their daughter Mia, lives in Aiken, South Carolina, with her husband C. Allen Miller and their daughter Penelope.
An active violinist, Neil often serves as Concertmaster with the Augusta Opera and Augusta Choral Society. He is a member of the Excelsior Trio, which placed third in the nation at the MTNA Collegiate Chamber Music Competition. Neil was Concertmaster and soloist for the premiere performance of the Lyra Vivace Chamber Orchestra in 2010. He served as Associate Concertmaster of the Augusta Symphony for many years and performed as guest concertmaster for the South Carolina Philharmonic and Savannah Sinfonietta.
Neil is Assistant Director of orchestras at the University of South Carolina, as well as the conductor of the Armstrong Atlantic Youth Orchestra in Savannah, Georgia. At USC, he teaches conducting, violin, chamber music, conducts Opera at USC and the USC Campus Orchestra. His numerous conducting opportunities range from a post as Assistant Conductor of the Augusta Symphony, across the USA as guest conductor for orchestras such as the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Richmond Symphony (in his native state of Virginia), and to international acclaim as guest conductor Karelian Philharmonic Orchestra (Petrazovodsk, Russia). He was the founding conductor of the Greater Augusta Youth Orchestras and Resident Conductor of the Shenandoah Performing Arts Camp.
Neil earned both his B.A. in music education and violin performance, and his M.M. in orchestral conducting from the University of South Carolina.
Richard is the Director of Music at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Augusta, GA, serves as Resident Conductor of the Augusta Opera, and is Music Director of the NOVUS Chamber Orchestra in Winston-Salem, NC.
Richard has served as Resident Conductor of the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra in Winston-Salem, and for 17 seasons as Artistic Director of the North State Chorale. He has also served as assistant conductor for both Piedmont Opera Theatre and the Greensboro Opera Company. Richard’s many conducting opportunities have taken him to Romania (Baccau Philharmonic), to Missouri (St. Louis Symphony Chorus), to the NY City based Gregg Smith Singers, as well as throughout North Carolina on the podiums for various professional, college and youth orchestras. Richard has taught on the faculties of Elon University, High Point University, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
A native North Carolinian, Richard earned a BA from Pfeiffer University, an MM in opera from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, a DMA in orchestral conducting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the Diploma in orchestral conducting from the University of Catania, Sicily.
In addition to his conducting activities, Dr. Cook has appeared as a tenor soloist in opera and oratorio performances in the United States and Europe, most recently performing with Carolina Baroque. He resides in Augusta with his wife, Carol, and their son, John.
pianist and conductor
Hartwig was born and raised in Germany, earned his Ph.D. at the University of Tübingen, Germany with a dissertation about piano music by Johann Sebastian Bach. He moved to Seattle 1992 and has made it his home ever since.
A pillar of his professional life here is church music, currently being organist/pianist at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church. Hartwig has a strong background as opera conductor and coach, having worked in this capacity in Germany, Italy, Brazil, and being involved in many opera projects and activities in the Seattle area.
Coming from the European classical background, he has ventured into the American music, especially the Spiritual Songs of the Afro-Americans. He is also the director of the Jubilee Singers, a chorus devoted to the tradition of acapella singing of the Spirituals.
As a pianist, Hartwig made his first steps into the limelight as a prizewinner of the Steinway Competition in Hamburg, Germany. He enjoys exploring the repertoire of the usual as well as the unusual kind as a solo pianist, vocal accompanist, and chamber musician.
double bass, conductor
Barry serves on the faculty at Augusta State University as Instructor of Double Bass and String Methods, and teaches strings/ directs orchestras in the Richmond County (Georgia) public schools, He often leads and performs in double bass sections for area professional organizations, including the Augusta Choral Society, the Lyra Vivace Chamber Orchestra, and the Symphony Orchestra Augusta, in which he served as principal from 1981-1988.
He holds degrees in Music Education with an emphasis on string pedagogy, having earned both the Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Music from the University of Miami, and a Bachelor of Music from Augusta College.
Jeanie has served as Director of Music at Thomson First United Methodist Church since August 2010, after having served as Organist and Director of the Canterbury Choir since 2006 and participating in the music program at TFUMC since 1975. She studied Music Performance and Music Education at the University of Texas and graduated from Augusta State University with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and Music Education.
Jeanie has appeared as a soloist with the Augusta Opera and the Augusta Symphony and served as music teacher at Briarwood Academy for over 20 years. While at Briarwood, Jeanie produced 10 Broadway musicals and also directed musicals at the Washington Little Theatre in Washington, GA. During her teaching career, she was a two-time recipient of the State of Georgia Star Teacher award. In Praise of Music ensembles are often engaged to perform under Jeanie’s direction, as well as in recital performance at Thomson First United Methodist.
Ryan teaches Mathematics at Augusta Preparatory Day School and Violin at the Augusta State University Conservatory Program, where he also serves as Conductor of the Greater Augusta Youth Orchestras. He has recently performed as Guest Conductor for orchestras including the SC Allstate Orchestra, the SC Region Orchestra, the Suzuki Festival, the MENC Georgia District 10 Honors Orchestra, and the Augusta State Orchestra String Jamboree. He served as Concertmaster of the Augusta Symphony for 19 years and first violinist with the Magellan String Quartet during its residency at Georgia Southern University.
Following his retirement from those positions, Ryan received his Master of Arts in Teaching from Augusta State University, with teaching certifications in both Music and Mathematics. In addition to his Concertmaster work in Augusta, GA for the Augusta Symphony, Augusta Opera and Augusta Choral Society, Ryan served as Guest Concertmaster of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, and held the position of Principal Second Violin with Symphony Nova Scotia for many years. He has worked under many world-class conductors, including Charles Dutoit, Pierre Boulez, Simon Streatfield, Leon Fleisher and Klaus Tennestedt.
For many summers, he performed as Principal Violinist with the New Hampshire Music Festival, taught on the violin faculty of the University of Georgia, Georgia Southern University, and USC Columbia School of Music. Ryan’s chamber performances have also taken him worldwide across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia, including performances in Carnegie Hall with Boston Musica Viva, and with Walter Trampler, Malcolm Lowe, Gary Hoffman, Charles Wadsworth and Colin Carr.
His performances have been broadcasts on the CBC Radio Canada, WQXR, and NPR. Ryan received a BM from the New England Conservatory of Music on full scholarship, and studied violin with notables such as Dorothy Delay, Paul Kantor, Tibor Vaghy and Thomas Wang. He lives in Augusta with his wife, cellist Christine Crookall, and their young son.
keyboards, composer, conductor
Larry began playing the piano as a child growing up in New York. He quickly progressed as a young pianist, winning numerous young artist competitions and awards, studying with William Hargrove and Herbert Rogers of the Juilliard School. Larry completed a bachelor’s degree in piano performance at Indiana University, studying with Alberto Reyes and John Keeton, and later finishing a Master’s degree in Music in New York.
While in New York, Larry was the artistic director and conductor of the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra, performing throughout the New York area to considerable acclaim. Larry developed a strong reputation while in New York as a vocal coach, accompanist, chamber music performer, teacher, and conductor.
Later, he pursued a career in medicine, bringing him to Augusta, where he is now working as an endocrinologist. He has appeared with the Augusta Symphony numerous times since his return to Augusta, performing as a pianist with the orchestra, as a soloist with the chamber orchestra, in concert with the chamber players, as soloist on the Appleby series concerts and Westobou festival, and is a regular performer in the area. His compositions have been performed by the Augusta Choral Society and St John Choir.
Mark is music director of the Augusta Youth Chorale, Assistant Professor of Music at Erskine College, and directs the music ministry at Christ Church Presbyterian in Evans, GA. He is also the Assistant Conductor of the University of South Carolina University Chorus.
Mark headed the Choral and Vocal Department at Brevard College, served for ten years as Director of Music on the staff of First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, and was Director of Music in Memphis Tennessee at the Second Presbyterian Church. He has guest conducted student and adult choral organizations throughout the Southeastern United States, and over to Europe (Odessa Philharmonic and Chorus in the Ukraine). Mark has also enjoyed opportunities as a tenor soloist with the Brevard Chamber Orchestra, the Hendersonville Symphony and the Asheville Bach Festival.
Mark was born into a parsonage family in northern Minnesota, and grew up in the midwest. He earned a DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of South Carolina Columbia, a M.Mus. degree from the Eastman School of Music, and Bachelor of Music degree from Houghton College. He lives with his wife, Fran, and their four children in Evans, Georgia.
Rob is Founder/Music Director of the Columbia County Orchestra Association (CCOA) in Evans, Georgia. He is also the conductor of the Columbia County Civic Orchestra (CCCO) and Columbia County Youth Orchestra (CCYO).
Rob has been active professionally in church music, conducting, and music teaching since 1974. He has studied conducting under Robert Burton, Donald Portnoy, and Florin Totan. Rob’s first private music instruction was through his father, Clarence Nordan, Jr.
His other private trumpet instructors have included: Mike Brescia, Homer Phillips (Navy Band), Doug Phillips (Navy Band), Emerson Head (University of Maryland), Chuck Gallagher (University of Maryland), and Willie Hammett (Valdosta State University). He received his Bachelor of Music in 1978, and his Master of Music in 1982.
When not conducting, Rob enjoys the company of his beautiful and musically talented wife, Elizabeth, and spending time with their extended family. He has resided in the Augusta, Georgia, area since 1996.
viola, violin, conductor, vocalist
Since 1994, Stan Pylant has performed as a violist with the Augusta Symphony (Symphony Orchestra Augusta), and with the Lyra Vivace Chamber Orchestra since 2000. He frequently supports the CSRA professional music culture by performing with local accompanying orchestras for professional and community productions, including the Augusta Opera and the Augusta Choral Society.
Stan is a minister at First Baptist Church of Augusta, GA, where he was called to serve in 1993. Before moving to Augusta, Stan served as church minister in Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma; everywhere Stan has served, the regional professional orchestras have been grateful for his availability to perform on both viola and violin.
Stan is also a gifted vocalist (tenor), and travels throughout the USA and internationally to perform with and lead several distinguished choruses, including the CenturyMen and Sons of Jubal.
Stan received a Bachelor of Music degree from University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a Master of Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a Doctorate in Worship Studies from the Institute of Worship Studies in Jacksonville, Florida. He is also a licensed multi-instrument private pilot!
guitar, keyboards, conductor
Michael currently serves as choral music director at both the upper- and middle-divisions of Augusta Preparatory Day School, where he has been musical director for the following productions: Footloose, Fiddler on the Roof, Batboy, Chorus Line, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Grease. In addition, he has coached many state winners in vocal solo, trio, and quartet competitions, as well as in piano.
Aside from his work at Augusta Prep, Michael is also director of the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, a nonprofit, after-school arts program for economically challenged youth in Augusta.
As a performer in his own right, Michael plays keys and guitar and provides back-up vocals for two area bands, “My Instant Lunch” and “Eleventhe Hour.” “My Instant Lunch,” has received numerous accolades, including: Augusta Magazine’s Best Rock Band of 2010. They also won the Band-Aide Competition in 2010, and were named Best New Band of 2009 by Lokal Loudness. “My Instant Lunch” had the unique honor of performing a joint program with the Augusta Ballet, and most recently, performed for an Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field.
As an accompanist and solo pianist, Michael accompanied Nicole Sponberg, former lead singer for SELAH, opened for “The Charlie Daniels Band,” and regularly plays for the Augusta Comedy Troupe, “Schoedinger’s Cat.”
Michael holds a bachelor of music degree from Ohio University and is currently enrolled in a master’s program at Augusta State University in choral conducting.
keyboards, conductor, composer
Paul’s primary area of musical endeavor is church music. After singing in professional choirs at Emmanuel Church in Boston and St. Thomas Chapel in New York, he held the positions of Organist and Choirmaster at the First Alliance Church in New York and the First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, where currently he is Music Director and Organist.
His experience includes virtually all aspects of church music: choral and orchestral conducting, organ and piano performance, and composing and arranging a sizeable body of works for choir, organ, and various instrumental ensembles. Paul is also active in concert music. In addition to organizing and directing chamber choir/orchestra performances in Boston, New York, and Augusta, he has participated as director and performer in various instrumental and choral ensembles, including directing a Christmas performance of the Augusta Symphony.
Another interest of Paul’s is theater music. He has directed, performed, and arranged music for community and school theatrical productions in Boston and Augusta. Finally, Paul has a vital interest in folk music. He maintains an affectionate interest in American jazz and bluegrass music, Middle-Eastern dance music, and traditional Celtic music of the U.K., writing arrangements and performing on several traditional folk instruments.
Paul has published works in several genres. His Three Carols for Trumpets and Organ is published by GIA Publications. His work for choir and solo flute, The Word Became Flesh, is published by Augsburg Fortress Publications. His Greek and Jew for unaccompanied flute is published by Flute World, Inc. Many other of his works are published privately through Paul’s website, Fresh Music All-Star Bands.
Paul was born in Richmond, Virginia and began private piano instruction at the age of 7. He continued musical studies in theory and ear training during high school years at the Cleveland Institute of Music, private study in organ and cello in Boston, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in composition and conducting at Boston University and the Manhattan School of Music, respectively, and additional conducting study at the Juilliard School. He won composition and arranging contests at both Boston and Harvard Universities during the same year. Paul studied composition with Nicholas Flagello and Vittorio Giannini. His conducting teachers included Hugh Ross and Jean Morel.
Karl Schab founded and directed the Athens String Ensemble from 1996-2000 and was appointed the first Music Director of the Athens Youth Symphony in November, 2000. He has been a member of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra since 1984 and travels to Colorado during the summers, where he works as Principal Violist of the Crested Butte Music Festival. Karl also travels to perform with various orchestras in the South East, including the Augusta Opera, Augusta Choral Society, Lyra Vivace Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Augusta, Charleston and Savannah Symphonies.
Following his undergraduate studies at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and completion as Master’s degree in viola performance from Indiana University, Karl took positions with the Venezuelan National Symphony and the Pro-Arte Quartet of Caracas, touring extensively in Latin America and performing the entire cycle of Beethoven string quartets.
Settling in the Atlanta area in 1980, he continued his chamber music work with the Atlanta Virtuosi and became Principal violist of the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra and Chattanooga Symphony. Karl studied viola and violin with Abraham Skernick, Richard Young, and Dorothy Mauney.
Karl and his wife, Debra, a violinist, share their home in Athens, GA with eight cats and countless students. His hobbies include building and restoring harpsichords and golfing.
violin, viola, conductor
Laurin Smith’s distinguished music background includes two higher education degrees in both violin and viola, studies with Itzhak Perlman, Masao Kawasaki, Dorothy Delay, and Andrew Galos, and experiences performing as a violinist, violist and conductor in Europe, Asia, and across the U.S.A. (including orchestra director and chamber music coach along with the Colorado String Quartet at Soundfest in Falmouth, MA)
Laurin makes his home in northern Georgia, is the music director and conductor of the North Georgia Chamber Symphony, and works as adjunct professor of violin, viola, and string division director at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville, GA.
Additionally, Laurin regularly travels to perform with several southeastern professional music ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestra Augusta, Augusta Choral Society, Lyra Vivace Chamber Orchestra, and the Augusta Opera. He also serves the southeastern professional music culture by performing with and leading various regional chamber music and educational organizations, including work as both performer and teacher at the Laurel Ridge Music Camp.
violin, composer, conductor
Laura is the director of the Orchestra and string program at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School in Augusta. She is the founder and director of the Carolina String Academy in Aiken and the conductor of the Aiken Youth Orchestras. She is an adjunct professor at Augusta State University and the University of South Carolina, Aiken, and teaches violin and viola privately at the Carolina Academy of Music and for the ASU Conservatory Program. She also served for several years as conductor of the Greater Augusta Youth Orchestras.
She has extensive experience as a chamber musician, including eleven years with the Augusta Symphony String Quartet, three years with the Magellan String Quartet as artist-in-residence at Georgia Southern University, and four years with the Southern Arts Piano Trio. Laura’s students, colleagues and audiences benefit from her expertise and versatility as a music arranger.
She has participated in music festivals in New York, California, Michigan, North Carolina, and Maine, and has performed throughout the United States and Europe, most recently in Weill Recital Hall in New York as a member of the ARCO Chamber Orchestra. She was awarded a 2001 research grant to attend the International Colourstrings Symposium in Helsinki, Finland.
Laura has been a member of Symphony Orchestra Augusta since 1987, serving one year as concertmaster, ten years as principal second violin, and currently as assistant concertmaster. Laura’s students have won numerous awards and competitions. She also directs the ASU Summer String Camp, as well as the ASU Honors String Jamboree, and coaches chamber music for the ASU Chamber Music Camp. She received a Bachelor of Music from North Carolina School of the Arts, a Master of Music from the University of Southern California, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Georgia.