Rappahannock Summer Music Camp

See you in 2016 - Our 12th Season!

2015 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 since age 14. 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. Professional affiliations include VFMC, MTNA, NAfME, and the Rappahannock Music Society. Amy is also the author of several early level methods for rhythm and music literacy.

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. 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 the harrisonburg area/ Fredericksburg. Ben, graduated from JMU 15’ with a BM in Jazz performance , he has performed with the top Jazz ensemble all 4 years at JMU. He had the opportunity to play along side: 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). He also is apart of  Jazz combos that plays in the local Harrisonburg area and in the Shannondoah Valley. Ben will now be continuing his studies to pursue a Master degree at Duquense University in Music technology with a concentration in Electronic Performance and also in Jazz performance. Also Ben hosted on Fridays the "Ben at Ten" show on JMU's own radio station WXJM Ben studied under Nackie Steinbach at Yamaha Music School before college then took classical lessons from Paulo Steinberg and Jazz lessons with Bob Hallahan. Ben truly believes in being as well rounded of a musician as possible. To become successful in the the music industry today a musician must be able to adapt to any situation and play any genre. 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!"

Rebekah Caulk (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.  

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.

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 well-respected bassist, multi-instrumentalist (guitar, drums, percussion, cello, electric and double bass), vocalist, songwriter, community builder, clinician, writer, and music educator who has performed regularly in the Mid-Atlantic region for 20 years. 

She is actively exploring cutting edge bass concepts, such as solo bass performance and looping.  Her journey in the exploration of such concepts has literally taken her coast to coast to perform and give clinics.  In the past two years alone, she has performed or given clinics at the Musician's Institute in Los Angeles, Bass BreakLive, NAMM, Bass Up!, the LoDo Bass Bash, Gerald Veasley's Bass Boot Camp, Adam Nitti's Music Dojo, the RVA "Girls Rock!" Camp, the Bass Coalition's Summer Bass Workshop at Shenandoah University, the Alpha Music Bass Forum, the Virginia Bass Forum, house concerts, festivals, and many other events

As a free lance bassist, she performs in a wide range of settings; pit work for theater and choral productions, double bass in classical ensembles, electric and double bass in jazz ensembles, Celtic groups (traditional and fusion), funk, rock, and acoustic groups.  Her free lance work regularly sees her traveling all over Mid-Altantic region; Richmond, DC, Central Virginia, Virginia Beach, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Northern Virginia.  She continues her own ongoing growth by taking lessons with bassist Anthony Wellington (bassist for the Victor Wooten band).  

Ms. Frompovich graduated Cum Laude from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in applied double-bass and audio recording.  During a necessary break from playing double bass due to an injury, she discovered and fell in love with the electric bass.  It was the perfect medium to reconcile her backgrounds as a working guitarist and as a classically trained double bassist.  She rapidly moved from fretted four string to playing fretless (successfully defretting the instrument herself) and then to fretted 6 string bass.  After a period of healing, she was gradually able to return to performing on the double bass as well.

Brittany has a gift for community building.  She combined that talent with her love for bass, leading her to create the Virginia Bass Forum.  The Forum is an organization that hosts events to build bass community and assist bass players in the NoVa/DC/MD areas in improving their craft. Through the Forum, she has had the privilege of hosting major artists such as Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani band, solo artist), Bryan Beller (Dethklok, Steve Vai band, solo artist), Adam Nitti (solo artist), Michael Dimin (solo artist, author), Kevin Walker (Kayne West, Wilson Picket band), Steve Lawson (solo artist), Trip Wamsley (solo artist), and Dr. Donovan Stokes (solo artist, bass instructor at Shenandoah University Conservatory).  She hosts, promotes and organizes every Forum event and teaches at least two Bass Forum clinics per year. Ms. Frompovich is also the founder of "Kids Jamming For Kids," a yearly benefit concert raising donations for Guitars Not Guns and the Fredericksburg Food Bank.

Doug Gately (Fredericksburg), Saxophone

Doug is the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Mary Washington. In addition to directing various ensembles, he is the principle instructor of applied studies in flute, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, and jazz piano. As a multi-instrumentalist, specializing in woodwinds, Doug works within various jazz and classical settings; presenting master class clinics, solo appearances, chamber, orchestral, and jazz concert performances. He has toured and performed throughout the United States, Canada, South America, and Europe. Credits include performances with Doc Severinsen, Arturo Sandoval, Dizzy Gillespie, Henry Mancini, Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Nancy Wilson, Manhattan Transfer, the Temptations, Mathew Morrison (Glee), Seth McFarlane, Michael Feinstein, and the National Symphony Orchestra. Doug was also a former member of the U.S Air Force's Premier Jazz Ensemble, the Airmen of Note and an Artist/Clinician for Buffet Clarinets. Doug is also an active jazz pianist, composer and arranger. He is currently an Artist/Clinician for Jupiter Instruments and Azumi Flutes. His latest album, E & S. is available on Itunes, Amazon MP3, CD Baby and douggately.com On the web: visit douggately.com for more information.

Jim George (Chesapeake), Orchestra, Viola

Jim George began playing the viola at the age of thirteen in Lynchburg, VA. While qualifying for the Regional Orchestra every year he was eligible, he served as principal violist for his high school, the Lynchburg City Combined School Orchestra, and was asked to perform with the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra his junior and senior year. He furthered his studies on viola and ensemble playing at James Madison University where he held the principal viola position in JMU's Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and Opera/Theatre Orchestra. He has also performed with the Roanoke Symphony, the Oratorio Society of Virginia, the University and Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra, and played principal for the Rappahannock Pops Orchestra while also having extensive chamber group performing experience both as a recording artist and live.

As a conductor, Mr. George was a high school Orchestra Director for seven years that included James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg, VA, and Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, VA.  While at James Monroe, he built the program up to earning a "Superior" rating at District Assessment and helped earn the first Blue Ribbon Award in its history. He also created several classes, including a Chamber Ensembles Class and a Beginning Orchestra Class, while also re-writing the Division String Curriculum. Under his baton, he was the music director for the James Monroe High School productions of Into the WoodsOnce Upon a MattressGuys and Dolls, and Sweeney Todd and directed The Sound of Music during his time at Great Bridge. At Great Bridge, Mr. George was also able to obtain a “Superior” rating at District Assessment with his Chamber Orchestra performing difficult music and they performed one piece without a conductor. He has also guest directed several ensembles around the state of Virginia. 

Recently Mr. George earned his Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from James Madison University under the tutelage of Dr. Robert D. McCashin, the Director of Orchestras at JMU. At the university, Mr. George conducted the James Madison University Chamber Orchestra and the James Madison University Symphony Orchestra while also assisting with teaching the Instrumental Conducting class and co-coaching the Camerata Strings, a director-less string chamber ensemble. Mr. George also took Choral Conducting Lessons at JMU from Dr. Jo-Anne Van der Vat-Chromy, Director of Choral Activities. For the past twenty-one years, Mr. George has also worked at JMU’s Spring String Thing, a string music camp, as counselor, clinician, and Head Boys Dorm Counselor. 

Currently, Mr. George is working full time in Residence Life at James Madison University and was accepted into the College Student Personnel Administration (Student Affairs) Certificate Program at the university where, after obtaining his certification, he would like to combine both of the worlds that he loves: music and student affairs. 

Christine Hartigan (Spotsylvania), Cello, Orchestra

Christine Hartigan has been involved in the music scene in the greater Fredericksburg area for more than 20 years. Ms. Hartigan is the founder of Forte Music Studios, a private afterschool music school and The Virginia Cello Ensembles, a community cello orchestra for all levels of cello players.

In addition to being the RSMC staff cellist for the last 10 seasons and active cellist with the Rappahannock Pops Orchestra, Ms. Hartigan has also played cello for various ensembles throughout Virginia including the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra, the St. George’s Chamber Orchestra, the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra, the Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra and the Spotswood Community Orchestra.

Alongside her teaching and performance experience, Mrs. Hartigan shares her passion for music by offering her time on a regular basis as a specialty clinician as part of her educational outreach program. This program provides support to school orchestra directors and their programs throughout the state. She has also taught 4-8th grade strings at Fredericksburg Christian Schools, has worked with the Rappahannock Youth Symphony, served on numerous boards and committees, performed with the Chamber Chorale of Fredericksburg of which she also one of the founding members.


Mrs. Hartigan teaches cello and beginning violin/viola at Forte Music Studios.

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).

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 two Masters Degrees, one in Bassoon Performance and the other in Bassoon Pedagogy, at Arizona State University, where he studies with Dr. Albie Micklich. Kiefer holds an undergraduate degree in Bassoon Performance from Shenandoah Conservatory, where he studied both bassoon and contrabassoon with 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 Pit 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 the 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. Starting in Fall 2015, Kiefer will be the teaching assistant for ASU’s bassoon studio.

Rana Strickland (Spotsylvania), Piano

Rana Strickland has a B.A. from UMW with a double major in Music and Elementary Education. She teaches private piano (25 + years); chorus and music theory at FAYM during the school year; and FAYM Chorus Camp in the summer.  She was the principal pianist/organist for Marlow Heights Baptist Church in Front Royal for 4 years of high school, and currently leads worship for Covenant Community Church in Fredericksburg. 

Mrs. Strickland has taught vocal classes for CYT Fredericksburg since 2007, and plays keyboard in the CYT orchestra for many of their main stage shows. She has worked with RSMC for the past 8 years administratively and teaching class piano, theory,  and assisting with chorus/vocal classes.

Ben Titus (Milwaukee, WI), Clarinet, Bass Guitar

Ben holds a BM in Music Education (PreK-12 Instrumental) from Longwood University and an MM in Music Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. While he majored in clarinet and performs primarily on bass and guitar outside of the concert band world, Ben is a multi-instrumentalist, performing with numerous ensembles on a number of different instruments. Past credits include the Mid-Atlantic Wind Symphony (principal clarinet, bass clarinet), Aaron Noë All-Stars (electric and upright bass), Christian Youth Theater (electric and upright bass), Fredericksburg Academy Players (bass, drumset, guitar, auxiliary percussion), and the Rappahannock Pops Orchestra (clarinet, bass clarinet, timpani/aux. percussion). 


As an educator, Ben has a wide variety of experience. His busy career so far has included conducting concert bands, jazz ensembles, orchestras, and chamber groups during his tenure at Fredericksburg Academy in Virginia (2007-2013), Fredericksburg Area Young Musicians in Virginia (2011-2013), RSMC, Whitefish Bay Middle School in Wisconsin (2014), and The West Bend School District in Wisconsin (2014-2015). Ben is also an in demand clinician, presenting clinics and performances for Gerald Veasley’s Bass Bootcamp, The Virginia Bass Forum, and various schools and lesson programs throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and southeast Wisconsin. Ben maintains a small but thriving private studio of guitar, bass, clarinet, and theory students in Milwaukee and via Skype.


Since 2005, Ben has developed a reputation as a first-call jazz, blues, fusion, and rock bassist. He has shared the stage with the late great tenor saxophonist James Moody, Grammy Award-Winning alto saxophonist Eric Marienthal, John DeSalme (tenor sax, US Army Blues), and Duffy Jackson (drums). He has also opened for Jimmie's Chicken Shack, Edwin McCain Band, and Chase Rice. Ben has been an integral member of bands playing events ranging from inaugural balls to state fairs to Wisconsin’s Summerfest Music Festival. 

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.

Zach Ware (Fredericksburg), Percussion

Zach Ware has been a percussionist for 16 years. He has a degree in Music Education from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he studied with Peter Martin, Brian Jones, Billy Martin and John D’Earth. Zach has experience with a variety of musical styles; he has played with classical ensembles like the Rappahannock Pop Orchestra and the Mid-Atlantic Wind Symphony to more contemporary groups like the Fredericksburg Big Band, the Riverside Dinner Theater pit orchestra and his experimental jazz duo, blue jay. Zach loves all aspects of music and really loves teaching as well as learning. He teaches all levels and styles of percussion as well as music theory.

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.