Music and the other arts are the most potent demonstration that, in the heart, we are all one community.

~ Jan Swafford

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Neil Casey
violin, conductor

Neil Casey - violin, conductor

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.

Manda Cawthon

Manda Cawthon, oboe

Manda is an oboist and music educator.  She studied oboe with Kelly Odell and then earned her Bachelor of Music from the University of Georgia.  While attending the University of Georgia, she was chosen to travel to Porto Alegra, Brazil, to perform with the Orquestra Sinfonica de Porto Alegre.  After college, she went on to teach elementary music in Georgia and North Carolina.  She has also directed elementary and high school choirs.

An Augusta native, Manda returned to Augusta in 2005.  She has performed throughout Georgia and South Carolina and enjoys playing in many different settings.  She is a preschool music teacher and volunteers her time to teach literacy through music to Kindergarteners.  She also directs a children’s choir at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church.

Manda and her husband, Matt, live in Augusta with their four children.  She enjoys adventure racing, singing and dancing with her many young students and, of course, making reeds.

Kathryn Cheney

Kathryn Cheney - trumpet

Kathryn performs regularly with the Augusta Choral Society, other regional collaborative orchestras, and with the Crescent Brass Quintet. She teaches at Augusta State University and in her private studio. Kathryn lives in Appling, GA, where she works on the music staff of Kiokee Baptist Church. Kathryn received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, and a Master’s at Ithaca College. She is a native of Conyers, GA.

Dan Chien

Dan Chien is an amateur landscape photographer residing in New York’s Northern Catskills region. His stitched-image panoramas are shot digitally and post-processed in Photoshop. His work has been shown in the Roxbury Arts Group’s Walt Meade Gallery. More can be found at his website.

Dan works as an engineering technician at Audiosears Corporation in Stamford, NY, specializing in mechanical design and documentation. He is a versatile musician, traveling throughout the Catskills as a music director, sound-designer, vocalist and instrumentalist.

Barbara Cook

Barbara Cook, oboe

Barbara is a member of the Azalea Trio (, in addition to serving as oboe instructor for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program and working as a free-lance oboist and private oboe teacher.

Barbara has served on the faculty of Agnes Scott College as an Artist Affiliate. She also worked for over twenty-five years as a Senior Learning Designer for Delta Air Lines, Inc. Barbara has performed with orchestras throughout California, Oregon, Colorado, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Opera Orchestra and Atlanta Ballet Orchestra.

Trained as a violinist from the age of 9, Barbara Goorevitch Cook started playing the oboe when she was 12. Six years later, heeding the advice of famed violin professor Stanley Plummer at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Barbara began devoting her full attention to the oboe, winning prizes in the Atwater Kent and Frank Sinatra Musical Performance Awards solo competitions.

She earned a B.A in Music Performance from UCLA, then continued her studies with Laila Storch of Seattle’s Soni Ventorum Quintet and Louis Rosenblatt of the Philadelphia Orchestra. She spends her free hours making reeds, jogging, playing tennis, hiking, and traveling.

Carol Cook
piano, accompanist

Carol Cook, piano, accompanist

Carol Cook has appeared in recitals with singers from the Metropolitan Opera as well as with numerous other performing artists. She has performed with the Stuttgart Opera and Ballet companies in Germany, The German-American Chorus of Stuttgart, the Young Artist’s Opera Theater, UNC-Greensboro Opera Theatre, Greensboro Opera Company, Saint Petersburg (FL) Opera, the Burlington Boys’ Choir, The Schools of Music and Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the Department of Music at Wake Forest University, and the North State Sinfonia. Her New York credits include performances with the Asian-American Dance Theatre and the New York Academy of Ballet. She has worked at Wake Forest University, Salem College, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts She currently accompanies the Opera Theatre of Georgia Regents University, and performs with Trio d’Esprit.

An enthusiastic educator, Carol is past-president of the Winston-Salem Piano Teachers’ Association, and has been an active member of the Piano Teachers’ Guild and the American Federation of Music Clubs. Many of her students have won awards in piano performance and theory.

In addition to her work as an accompanist, she is president of Noteworthy Engraving, and has collaborated with composers such as Libby Larsen, Hillary Tann, Calvin Hampton, and Margaret Vardell Sandresky. Her company regularly works under contract with Boosey & Hawkes and Oxford University Press.

Carol holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; an Master of Music from the College-Conservatory of the Music, University of Cincinnati; and Diplomas for advanced study from the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Stuttgart, Germany, as well as The American Institute for Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria.

Richard Cook
conductor, tenor

Richard Cook, conductor, tenor

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.

Ken Courtney
harpsichord, organ

Ken Courtney - harpsichord

Ken has served as Director of Music/Organist at First Presbyterian Church, Aiken, SC since 1988, where he directs an active Music Ministry that includes the Midday Music Concert Series. In addition to his position at First Presbyterian Church, he is an adjunct faculty member at the University of South Carolina Aiken, where he teaches Organ, World Music, and Introduction to Music, in the Visual and Performing Arts Department.

He is a member of PAM (Presbyterian Association of Musicians), a PAM Certified Church Musician, past President of the PAM Executive Board, and has been the Conference Director of the 2010 Montreat Worship and Music Conference. Ken has served as a member of a Presbytery Worship Committee, led Presbytery workshops on The Presbyterian Hymnal, Organ Music for Advent, and played concerts in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina. He is a member of the American Guild of Organists, Augusta Chapter.

Ken received his Bachelor of Music degree, Cum Laude, in Organ Performance from the University of Memphis, and his Master of Music degree in Organ Performance from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He has also studied choral conducting and group vocal techniques at Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey.

Christine Crookall

Christine Crookall is currently a Professor of Music in the Music Department at Augusta University, Georgia. Christine teaches applied cello lessons, music history, humanities, ear training, sightsinging, and string methods. From 1999 to 2001 Christine Crookall served as Director for the University of Texas String Project, a nationally respected teacher-training program for graduate and undergraduate students at The University of Texas in Austin.

Christine Crookall earned her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Cello Performance at The University of Texas at Austin where she studied cello and pedagogy with internationally acclaimed pedagogue Professor Phyllis Young. A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Dr. Crookall started playing cello with Audrey Nodwell at the Vancouver Academy of Music. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of British Columbia with former Emerson Quartet cellist Eric Wilson.

Christine has given workshops and masterclasses at public schools, universities and summer conferences located in Western Canada, Texas, Georgia and Europe. She has also performed in solo and chamber music recitals in Canada, the United States and Europe. Dr. Crookall was a member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra from 1999 to 2001, and is currently a member of the Symphony Orchestra Augusta and Trio Augusta.

Christine lives in Evans, GA with her husband Ryan Kho and their son Aidan.

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