Rappahannock Summer Music Camp

Join us for our 13th Season!

2016 RSMC Faculty and Professional Staff

Amy Shirk, Director (Spotsylvania)

B.S. Music Education from Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, piano and saxophone. Before moving to Virginia, Amy taught piano and organ at the Mohawk Valley School of Music in Utica, NY. With 20 years teaching experience, she now runs a very active private studio in Spotsylvania, teaching piano, organ, and saxophone. Amy was the Instrumental Music Director for eight years at Holy Cross Academy, Stafford, where she directed the band, strings, piano, and recorder programs. She currently directs FAYM - Fredericksburg Area Young Musicians - band, orchestra, and music classes for homeschooled students in the greater Fredericksburg area.

As an accompanist, Amy has accompanied numerous All-County, District, and All-State choral festivals and competitions in Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia. As a pianist and saxophonist, Amy has performed with the Rappahannock Pops Orchestra, Fredericksburg Jazz Ensemble, the Mid-Atlantic Wind Symphony, the Spotswood Community Orchestra, and played saxophone and keyboards for Alias, a local dance and wedding horn band.

Amy has served as Organist and Choir Director at numerous churches throughout Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia. Some of the positions include the Mountaintop Presbyterian Church in Mountaintop, PA, Griffis Air Force Base in Rome, NY, and Trinity Lutheran Church in Utica, NY. She currently serves as Organist at the Fredericksburg Presbyterian Church.

At the Encore Music Camp of PA, Amy taught piano classes and accompanied several choirs, soloists, and theater groups. She has served as an adjudicator for piano festivals and competitions in both New York state and Virginia. Amy performs regularly as both a soloist and accompanist in the Fredericksburg area. 

Erika Batalla, (Spotsylvania), Clarinet, Concert Band, Conducting

Erika Batalla has a degree in Music Education and Clarinet Performance from Shenandoah Conservatory. She studied clarinet with Professor Garrick Zoeter and conducting with Dr. Emily Threinen and Dr. Damon Talley.

As a clarinetist in her college years, she has performed in masterclasses with 8th Black Bird, The United States Air Force Clarinet Quartet, Jean Francois Bescond, and Senior Chief Musician James Logan from the United States Navy Band. She is a member of the Con Fuoco clarinet quartet, which won the Virginia MTNA Chamber Music Competition in 2010 and 1st Alternate in the Southern Divisional MTNA Chamber Music Competition in 2011. The Con Fuoco clarinet quartet performed in the Virginia’s Music Education Association Convention in Norfolk, VA in 2011.

Presently she runs a clarinet studio here in the Fredericksburg area. Her students place in top chairs in county and district bands, actively participates in competitions, and are All-State participants. As a performer she has experience playing in wind, chamber, orchestral, and pit ensembles and is a huge advocate of live music.

Erika Batalla just completed her third year at Fredericksburg Academy as the Band Director for both Middle and Upper School. Her goal as an educator is to provide her students with all the necessary tools and knowledge in music, to perform diverse repertoire, and to leave with a strong foundation and understanding of music through performance.

As a conductor Erika Batalla has worked with distinguished conductors such as Mallory Thompson, Michael Haithcock, Steve Davis, Robert Reynolds, and Kevin Sedatole. This summer she has been given one of the four spots available to attend a week intensive conducting symposium at Temple University. She will be studying with University of North Texas' Director of Winds Studies, Eugene Migliaro Corporon. Here she will attend clinics, work with bands, chamber players, and conduct a concert with Temple University's most talented players. Erika Batalla has also been accepted to the United States Army Band Conductors Workshop where she will attend clinics, masterclasses, and conduct a March with The United States Army Band.

This year Erika has been appointed as Assistant Conductor for the Mid Atlantic Wind Symphony. She programs wind band classics, modern pieces, and revive works for the wind band medium. She looks forward to teaching the Conducting class and being one of the Band Directors this summer at RSMC.

Caitlin Beare (Manassas), Clarinet

A native of Manassas, Virginia, clarinetist Caitlin Beare has won prizes for solo and chamber music performances from the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition, the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition, Shenandoah Conservatory’s Student Soloists Competition, and the Lillian Fuchs Chamber Music Competition. She was a 2014 Kaplan Fellow at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, Maine, and looks forward to performing this summer at the Talis Festival and Academy in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. 

Caitlin recently completed her Master of Music degree at Manhattan School of Music, where she studied clarinet with Anthony McGill, chamber music with David Krakauer, Sylvia Rosenberg, and James Austin Smith, and electronic music with Todd Reynolds. She received her Bachelor of Music degree summa cum laude from Shenandoah Conservatory in 2013, where she studied with Garrick Zoeter. This fall she will begin studies at Bard Conservatory. 

Ben Brosche (Spotsylvania), Jazz Piano

Ben Brosche has been playing piano since age three, composing various original pieces of music, and performing nationally and internationally. Recently Ben had performed with the Mid Atlantic Big Band under the direction of Ted Nash at Dizzy's club Coca Cola in New York City. He has been sponsored by the Yamaha Music Education Systems Corporate division to perform his original compositions in New Jersey, Washington DC, California (Biola), Arizona, Canada, and at the NAMM show in Anaheim, California. Ben has also been playing the alto saxophone for 6 years.

Currently, he is a free-lance musician playing multiple solo jazz piano gigs in Pittsburgh area and throughout Virginia. Ben currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA and getting his M.M. In Electronic performance with a concentration in Jazz Studies. Ben studies at Duquesne University with Mike Tomaro, Jeff Bush, and Ron Bickel. Ben, graduated from JMU 15’ with a BM in Jazz performance , he has performed with the top Jazz ensemble there and performed with: John Hollenbeck (famous jazz Composer/Arranger/Drummer), Theo Bleckman (acclaimed Jazz/contemporary vocalist), Bobby Mcferrin (vocalist), in different shows also has played with the Grand Floridian Society Jazz Orchestra in Walt Disney World. Also was the pianist in a workshop masterclass done by Branford Marsalis (Saxophonist).  Previously, Ben studied under Nackie Steinbach at Yamaha Music School before college then took classical lessons from Paulo Steinberg and Jazz lessons with Bob Hallahan and now.  Ben, is a young but experienced player that is taking the music scene by storm producing in his studio, performing various solo and group gigs, composing and arranging. Ben is excited to be at RSMC this year and is excited to share his passion of music with the camp! 

Damien Bollino (Fredericksburg), French Horn, Music Theory, Ear Training

Damien earmed a Bachelor of Music in performance at West Virginia University, where he received a full tuition scholarship and studied with Dr. Virginia Thompson. He also studied with William (Bill) Caballero at Duquesne University. There he earned a Master of Music in performance/pedagogy and was awarded a John Hunter endowment and assistantship. He taught two years of musianship/theory at Duquesne and is an active clinician and adjudicator. He participated in the Duquesne Wind Symphony -- including a performance at Carnegie Hall -- as well as the Symphony Orchestra, Contemporary Ensemble and Chamber Ensemble. At WVU he performed with the Horn Choir, the Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Winds Ensemble and Jazz Band.

Mr. Bollino also played with the International Horn Society Collegiate Horn Choir, Potomac Concert Band, Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, Seneca Chamber Winds and Arion Band. He has performed with the Mary Washington Orchestra, the Spotswood Community Orchestra. He participated in  the Friday Morning Music Club Orchestra and the Fairfax Symphony. On various occasions he has taken part in performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Mr. Bollino is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Wind Symphony, St. George's Chamber Ensemble, Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra and the Rappahannock Pops Orchestra. He is principal horn with the Washington Sinfonietta and performs regularly with the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Bollino auditioned with performers from around the nation and was selected to play principal horn with the American Musical Ambassadors European Concert Tour. During six weeks with the tour, he took part in concerts in London, Paris, Milan, Venice, Belgium and other parts of Europe.

"A favorite quote to sum up my philosophy," says Mr. Bollino, is: 'In a moment of crisis, you will not rise to the challenge. Rather, you will default to your level of preparation.' I'm not sure who said it, but I love it." As a teacher, he adds: "I focus on simplicity and drill the fundamentals, because if you learn to master the instrument and everything it can do, making music with it is easy!"

Scott Cuellar (Minnesota), Piano, Music Theory, Accompanist

In reviewing pianist Scott Cuellar’s debut recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, David LaMarche of the New York Concert Review described Mr. Cuellar’s performance as “virtuosic in scope and expression, like a great man of the theater,” and praised his “ability to illuminate both the external structure and the emotional core of the work he plays.” He has been described by Cleveland Classical as possessing “nerves of steel, a formidable technique, and an architect’s understanding of structure,” and the Lima News lauded his “poignant sensitivity to the expressive demands of the music that far surpasses his years.” Mr. Cuellar was the 1st place winner of the 2013 Virginia Waring International Piano Competition (solo division), where he also took 2nd place in the concerto division, and was the winner of the Krenek Prize for the best performance of a sonata by Ernst Krenek. He was the winner of the Oberlin Concerto Competition, and was a prizewinner in the Jefferson Symphony International Young Artists Competition, the Crescendo Music Awards, and many others. He has appeared as a soloist with the Oberlin Orchestra, the Lima Symphony Orchestra, the Waring Festival Orchestra, both the Minneapolis and St.
Paul Civic Symphonies, and several others. He has given solo recitals at major venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, the Newport Music Festival, the Shenyang Conservatory of Music in the People’s Republic of China and
as a guest recitalist at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. He has performed in solo and collaborative settings at major
venues including the Kennedy Center, Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall and the Greene Space of WQXR New York.

Mr. Cuellar has attended the Banff Center in Alberta, Canada, and was one of ten pianists invited to study under Jerome Lowenthal at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. He has performed in masterclasses with some of the world’s foremost pianists and pedagogues, including Stephen Hough, Angela Hewitt, Jeffrey Kahane, and enjoys continuing private study with Orli Shaham.

Mr. Cuellar holds a Master of Music from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Julian Martin, and holds a Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Alvin Chow. During his time at Oberlin, he won three of the largest prizes offered to pianists: the Oberlin Concerto Competition, the Arthur Dann Competition, and the John Elvin Prize for Juniors. Mr. Cuellar is now a doctoral student at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, where he studies with Jon Kimura Parker.

Buddy Deshler (Baltimore, MD), Trumpet

Trumpet soloist Buddy Deshler is an ambassador for the transformative powers of the arts, champion of living composers, and agent for change in the instrumental music field. His bourgeoning career has taken him around the country, as well as internationally, and has allowed him to share the stage with ensembles such as the King’s Brass, The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass, and his own Vice City Brass and Marquee Brass.


In addition, Buddy has performed with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Occasional Symphony, Washington Chamber Orchestra, Concert Artists of Baltimore, American Festival Pops Orchestra, and more. He has also been in residency at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, Rafael Mendez Brass Institute, Le Domaine Forget in Quebec and the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada.


His musical endeavors have given him guidance and association with artists like Jose Sibaja, Chris Castellanos, Demondrae Thurman, Jens Lindemann, Maniacal 4 Trombone Quartet, Martin Hackleman, Sam Pilafian, Larry Williams, Mary Bowden, Shawn Hagen, Andrew Hitz, Lance LaDuke, Rex Richardson, Matt Niess, Kevin Gebo, Phil Snedecor among many others. 


 “I can't remember ever meeting someone so young who was already so accomplished: a wonderful trumpeter, an inspired musician, a man who makes big things happen in the business, and one of the nicest, most genuine people you could ever hope to meet."- Rex Richardson


As a performing artist for Jupiter’s XO Brass and Denis Wick of London, Mr. Deshler tours nationally, conducting lectures and clinics everywhere from middle school through college students. His educational programs and masterclasses focus on sound pedagogical approaches to practice and the business acumen necessary for a modern career in music. His clinic “The Entrepreneurial Student” instills the idea that one can develop and execute the skills necessary to jump start a career in music while still being a "student".

Additionally, Mr. Deshler uses his platform as a performing artist to showcase the talents of emerging composers. In 2015, he mounted the inaugural “Well That’s a First!” The recital featured commissions by five young composers, who were the direct recipients of all proceeds. Mr. Deshler has commissioned over a dozen works for solo trumpet, and various chamber ensembles.


As an educator, Mr. Deshler serves as the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of “The Fredericksburg Brass Institute”, a weeklong summer music festival offering a rich immersion in master classes and seminars, large and small ensembles, instrument exhibits, participant recitals and free concerts featuring renowned guest artists.


Mr. Deshler presently resides in Baltimore, MD as an active freelance musician and educator. He holds a B.M. in Instrumental Performance and an Artist Diploma from the Frost School of Music, University of Miami and is a M.M. candidate at the Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University. His primary teachers have included Dennis Edelbrock, Phil Snedecor, Craig Morris, and Josef Burgstaller.


This summer, Buddy will be performing clinics and soloing in Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania as well as teaching at FredBrass at the Northampton Community Music Center in Northampton Massachusetts. Mr. Deshler will also be traveling to the United Kingdom to play with the Foden’s Brass Band as well as touring with his Miami based chamber ensemble, The Vice City Brass.


For more information about Buddy Deshler, visit his website at www.buddydeshler.com and find him social media!

​Photo Credit: Matt Wan​

Amber French (Fredericksburg), Chorus, Voice

Amber French earned a bachelor's degree in English Education, with a minor in Music (Voice Proficiency) from Bob Jones University in South Carolina. She then went on to earn a master of arts degree in Fine Arts (Speech and Music) from BJU, which culminated in her graduate project - a one-person show titled "Jenny Lind: Swedish Nightingale" where she acted and sang as the artist Jenny Lind. During her college years she enjoyed participating in many fine arts events including playing a nun and musician in Cyrano de Bergerac, playing percussion in the Symphonic Wind Band, and singing in the University Chorale.

After college Amber began teaching English at Caroline High School here in Virginia. During her seven years there she became the Choral and Theatre Arts Director. Amber enjoyed the many adventures she and her students went on together...singing at District Festival, traveling to NYC, being silly on stage in the classroom, competing at District One-Act Play Festival, and singing together around the piano.

Outside of school Amber participated in the Acts of Faith Theatre Festivals (2012-2014) in Richmond, performing in "Mark Twain's Civil War", "Gettysburg 1963" and “Nothing to Fear” (original plays by Ray Carver). She also performed in Fredericksburg Christian Community Theater’s 2012 summer production of “Oklahoma.” Amber  performed and directed at The Riverside Center Dinner  Theater for several years as well, beginning as a nun in "The Sound of Music" and participating in various ways at the theater - working as a costume mistress backstage, directing "Charlotte's Web", and performing in "Les Miserables." Most recently she was seen as Mary Hatch in the Riverside’s holiday production of “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.”

Amber is currently directing, performing, and teaching through other venues. She is active in Fredericksburg’s fine arts community participating in events such as CYT Fredericksburg (Christian Youth Theater), The Rude Mechanicals (performance group), Rappahannock Summer Music Camp, and FAYM Chorus Camp (Fredericksburg Area Young Musicians).

This will be Amber's fifth summer participating in the Rappahanock Summer Music Camp and she is looking forward to it!

Brittany Frompovich (Fredericksburg), Double Bass

Brittany Frompovich is a multi-instrumentalist (double bass, electric bass, cello and guitar), clinician, performer, and music educator.  Her DIY approach to her music career has taken her across the country to performances and clinics in seventeen states over the last four years.  The venues have ranged from intimate house concert events all the way to appearances at NAMM shows, giving a clinic at the Musician's Institute in Los Angeles and teaching at Gerald Veasley's Bass BootCamp in Philadelphia.  She is an endorsing artist with Spector Basses, LightWave, NSDesign, Kalium Strings, and Warwick amps.  She graduated Bloomsburg University with a dual major in Bass and Audio Recording.  One of her strengths is her versatility as a a working musician; moving with ease from working in the pit of a musical to getting onstage with a rock band, conducting an orchestra, performing solo at a house concert, leading group classes, or giving a clinic. 

Ms. Frompovich is a exceptional and gifted teacher; her students wholeheartedly recommending her to potential students without reservation. She uses her versatile background and experience to help her students explore and tap into their potential.  She works with them to create individualized paths of study to help them identify and attain their goals.  Brittany successfully teaches both recreational music makers and serious students who are pursuing their own careers in music. To quote her students; 

"Professional, competent, friendly, civically minded, generous, astute, genuine, authentic, supportive, and good humored. No Bull, she’s the real deal. No side job here; as teacher and musician, music is her life!  She is a true and much needed representative of & for the arts & music professions. Those who know her & benefit from her teaching and friendship are lucky indeed."

“Brittany's drive to develop aspiring musicians extends far beyond straight musical instruction, and explores areas such as instrument repair, stage craft, best practices for gigging and more. Brittany is one of a kind, and anyone working with her ought to consider him or herself very fortunate, indeed!”

Veronica Jackson (Alexandria), Orchestra

Violinist Veronica Jackson, known for her energetic teaching style, is a sought-after guest conductor and clinician nationwide. During her more than two decades of teaching orchestra at the elementary, middle and high school levels, she has increased music student enrollment, and produced ensembles that receive superior and excellent ratings in local, regional and national assessments. In addition to serving as Orchestra Director at Francis Hammond Middle School in Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia, she is the director of the McLean Youth Orchestra Repertory Ensemble, director of the Arlington Concert Orchestra for adults, and director for the Sinfonia Orchestra at Shenandoah Performing Arts Camp, Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia.


After graduating from W.G. Enloe High School, Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1985, Ms. Jackson studied violin at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, with Dr. Marla Meutschler (Paul Rolland protégé) and Dr. Earl Sanders at North Carolina Central University(NCCU). After graduating summa cum laude from NCCU, she began teaching orchestra in elementary, middle, and high schools in Raleigh. Ms. Jackson moved to Richmond, Virginia, in 1994 and began teaching in Henrico County, where she worked for 17 years at several schools and coordinated the Strings Discovery Program designed to introduce stringed instruments to rising sixth-graders.


As a conductor and educator, Ms. Jackson has accumulated a healthy track record of success, having most recently had her high school orchestras performed at the Virginia Music Educators’ State Convention in Norfolk, Virginia. The orchestras under the direction of Ms. Jackson have received superior ratings in national competitions in Chicago, New York, Toronto, and Boston. Locally, Ms. Jackson’s middle and high school orchestras consistently receive superior and excellent ratings in district orchestra assessments; her students having received numerous individual awards and recognition for their performances.

Ms. Jackson has served three years as conductor for Richmond Symphony’s Youth Concert Orchestra, an intermediate full orchestra. She has also served as guest clinician and conductor for the Pitt County All County Fifth Grade Orchestra and Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools in North Carolina for five years. Ms. Jackson has adjudicated several orchestra festivals in North Carolina and throughout Virginia, and has served as director of the Rappahannock Youth Symphony Orchestra in Fredericksburg, Virginia, for five years. In August 2012, Ms. Jackson accepted her current position at Francis C. Hammond Middle School and through her passion for the students and her craft, the strings program has doubled since the beginning of her tenure there.


Ms. Jackson has also participated in several conducting workshops, including with notable musicians Dr. William Jones of Iowa State University, Dr. Anthony Maiello of George Mason University, and Dr. Marvin Rabin. She has participated as conductor for the Virginia’s Central Regional Orchestra Event, North Central Regional Orchestra Event, Southeastern Regional Orchestra Event, District XII Regional Orchestra Event, James Madison University’s Spring String Thing, Chesterfield County Schools All-County Orchestra, Richmond City Schools All-City Orchestra for three years, Newport News City Schools All-City Orchestra, Hanover County Schools High School All-County, Fauquier County Schools, Norfolk City Schools, and Spotsylvania County Schools All County Orchestra.


One of Ms. Jackson’s greatest accomplishments was her being selected to participate in the Music Educators’ Conducting Workshop at The Juilliard School in New York City; a week long program for 30 music educators from around the country selected by resume and video audition. She was also a 2010 finalist for the R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence. Other affiliations include, membership and past president of the Virginia Chapter of the American String Teachers’ Association, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Music Educators’ National Conference.

Stephen Kelsey (Prince William), Bass, Guitar

Stephen Kelsey recently received a Bachelors degree in Music Education from West Virginia University where he studied double bass with Dr. Andrew Kohn. During his time at WVU, he actively performed throughout West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. A native of Dumfries, VA, Mr. Kelsey has taught private bass and guitar lessons in Northern Virginia as well as in Morgantown, WV. He has been a substitute teacher for Prince William County Schools and is currently looking to teach music in Northern Virginia. 

Aaron Noë (Spotsylvania), Trumpet, Symphonic Band, Jazz Improv

M.M., Music Education from Virginia Commonwealth University , B.S., Music Education from Greensboro College (NC). 
Aaron Noe conducted high school bands in Virginia since 1999 and currently serves as Director of Bands at Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg, VA (Spotsylvania County).  Under his direction, ensembles have been recognized with top honors at district, state, and national festivals and have been invited to perform at various civic and public occasions.  
In the spring of 2010, Aaron Noe founded the Mid-Atlantic Wind Symphony. This wind ensemble is comprised of music professionals from throughout the Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia region.  The goal of the ensemble is to bring professional level wind band performances to the Fredericksburg area and to promote the American Wind Band tradition through the music performance of classic and contemporary wind band composers.
Aaron Noe is also recognized as a performing artist on trumpet. The Aaron Noe jazz ensembles have performed at clubs and events throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and have backed some of the top performing artists in the business including James Moody and Eric Marienthal. Aaron Noe is also heard regularly in church events performing his own arrangements of Traditional and Contemporary Christian music.
Aaron Noe has taught music at all levels through college, including the University of South Carolina (Jazz T.A., 1997-8) and the University of Mary Washington (Private Trumpet & Class Brass, 2007-10).

Rebekah Noë (Spotsylvania), Cello

Rebekah Caulk, a native of northern Virginia, attended Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL, and completed her degree at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia in 2005.

Rebekah has had a passion for music since early in life, beginning piano lessons at age three and cello at age eight. In middle school she attended Benjamin Franklin Intermediate School in Fairfax, Virginia, where she fell in love with orchestra, and excelled under director Anne Rupert. 

In high school Rebekah performed with the Belmont University orchestra and studied the cello under instructors Julia Tanner, Assistant Principal Cellist with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, and in college with Marion Fadrowski, principal cellist in the Northwest Indiana Symphony, and Dr. James Wilson, Artistic Director of the Richmond-based Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia.


Since college Rebekah has had opportunities to work abroad, including performing with Christian artist Godfrey Birtill in London, and in 2006 was invited to Sarajevo, Bosnia to participate and perform on a contemporary Christian CD project. 

Rebekah has over twelve years of experience as a professional musician and teacher, having taught cello and piano privately since 2002. She also currently serves as the Executive Director of the Rappahannock Youth Symphony, a non-profit organization that provides young dedicated musicians the opportunity to develop advanced ensemble and performance skills that will enable them to grow to their fullest potential as musicians and performers.  

John Oplinger, (King George), Viola
M.S. Ed. Troy State University, B.A. Mary Washington College
A native of Pennsylvania, John Oplinger has taught elementary, middle, and high school strings for 17 years in Virginia and Maryland.   He has taught in Saint Mary’s County, Maryland since 2005 at both the elementary and secondary levels.  His high school orchestras consistently earn excellent and superior ratings at District and State Orchestra Assessment festivals, and at national festivals in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida.   The Chamber Orchestra has been invited to perform at the Maryland Music Educators State Conference, and recently served as the demonstration orchestra for two clinics presented by composer, arranger and conductor Sandra Dackow.   His students regularly earn top honors in District and State Solo and Ensemble Assessments, and successfully audition into All-County, Regional, and All-State Honors Orchestras.    

Sara Speer (Stafford), Euphonium

Sara Speer graduated from the Honors College in 2013 and holds a degree in Music Education from George Mason University. There, she studied euphonium with Roger Behrend, formerly of the United States Navy Band, and Andrew Hitz, previously of the Boston Brass. In high school, Sara successfully auditioned into the All-Virginia Honor Band for two years on euphonium, twice performed with the United States Navy Band, and has since guest-conducted the Band of America’s Few – a band of Marine musicians. Sara has taught at the Rappahannock Summer Music Camp since 2009 and was selected to be an Instrumental Teaching Scholar, a program which allows selected collegiate music education majors to work with elementary students through the Potomac Arts Academy, for the 2012-2013 school year. She has stayed involved in the band community by working VBODA-sponsored events and by serving on the instructional staff of several high school marching bands. Sara has also worked with other groups, including the Riverbend Brass Ensemble, classes in the music program at the Salvation Army in Fredericksburg, and the Fredericksburg Area Young Musicians. Sara previously performed with the Fairfax Wind Symphony and currently does so with the Mid-Atlantic Wind Symphony. Additionally, she is an initiated member of Kappa Kappa Psi – a national honorary service fraternity for college band members. 

Kiefer Strickland (King George), Bassoon

Kiefer Strickland is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Arizona State University, where he is currently the teaching assistant for ASU’s bassoon studio. He holds two Master of Music degrees from ASU, one in Bassoon Performance and the other in Bassoon Pedagogy, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Shenandoah Conservatory. His teachers include Dr. Albie Micklich and Dr. Ryan Romine. Kiefer has performed in masterclasses with The Imani Winds, Nicolasa Kuster, Frank Morelli, Bruce Hammel, Christopher Weait, and many other notable bassoonists. He has performed as the principal bassoon in many ensembles at Arizona State, including the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Orchestra, and Lyric Opera Theatre Orchestras. 

In January 2014, Kiefer took first place in the Conservatory's Concerto Competition where he performed the Weber Bassoon Concerto with the Symphony Orchestra. In March 2014, Kiefer had the pleasure of playing alongside Shenandoah’s Symphony Orchestra in many concerts all across Spain. Kiefer is a brother of Kappa Kappa Psi, National Honorary Band Fraternity, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity.

Katie Valadez (Pheonix, Arizona), Flute

Katie Valadez is an active musician and flute instructor currently residing in the Phoenix metropolitan area.  In addition to keeping a private studio, she is on faculty at Rosie's House: A Music Academy for Children where she teaches group flute classes to underserved youth.  As an orchestral musician, she has performed locally with the Phoenix Symphony.  Prior to Phoenix, she maintained an extensive private studio and was band assistant for the homeschool music program in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is a positive and encouraging teacher who works to expose her students to the greater classical world by keeping them informed of concerts and events as well as by organizing her own.  She performed regularly with the Rappahannock Pops and the Piedmont Symphony. With orchestral playing her specialty, she was noted by the music director of the Fairfax Symphony as having a "great sound, flexible timbre and color to fit in with [her] colleagues." Katie won first place at the Flute Society of Washington's Wallace Mann Orchestral Audition Competition in 2009 and in 2007 she attended the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, NC. She holds a Master of Music in Orchestral Flute Performance from McGill University in Montreal and a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance (Magna cum Laude) from Arizona State University. Her principal teachers include Timothy Hutchins (Principal of Montreal Symphony), Dr. Elizabeth Buck (former principal of Phoenix Symphony), and Brian Gordon (piccolo of Phoenix Symphony). To learn more, visit her website at http://www.kavaladez.com.

John-Rine Zabanal (Spotsylvania), Violin, Orchestra

John-Rine Zabanal is the Director of Orchestras at Riverbend High and Ni River Middle Schools in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, where he has consistently received Superior Ratings at the Virginia Band and Orchestra Director's Association District Orchestra Assessment.  He holds a Bachelor of Music Education with an emphasis on string pedagogy from the Ohio State University and a Master of Music Education specializing in instrumental music from the Florida State University.

Mr. Zabanal started his violin studies at age four, since then, he has performed regularly in various orchestras in Ohio and Virginia.  He is currently the principal second violinist of the Rappahannock Pops Orchestra in Fredericksburg and a regularly performing member of the Fredericksburg String Quartet.  In 2006, he had the privilege of playing in an orchestra with the rock band STYX in Cleveland, Ohio.  He also traveled and performed throughout Austria with the Classical Musical Festival in 2009.

Mr. Zabanal has assisted with the Columbus Symphony Chamber Strings Youth Orchestra, the Ohio State University Morning String Student Workshop, as well as various orchestra programs throughout Ohio.  In Virginia he has assisted with the Forte Youth Orchestra, the Virginia Cello Ensemble, and lead clinics at various schools in the Fredericksburg region.  He also had the distinct honor of conducting All-County ensembles in Stafford, Hanover, and Richmond. As a strong advocate of music education, Mr. Zabanal holds memberships with the National Association for Music Education, the American String Teacher Association, Virginia Music Educators Association, Virginia Orchestra and Band Directors Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity.

When not making music or teaching students, Zabanal enjoys photography, traveling, fiddlin' with technology, playing frisbee, and being surrounded by wonderful people.