2014 - Join us for our 10th season!

Staff Bios

2014 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.


Veronica Allison (Stafford), Theory, Composition

Veronica Allison has been teaching piano and composition as well as serving as accompanist for school choirs and special events in the area for the last 24 years. A graduate of both Westminster Choir College (Bachelor of Music in Music Education) and George Mason University (Master of Music in Performance, Choral Conducting) she has used her education to develop a 3 year old through High School graded music program that includes vocal and bell choirs as well as drama at New Life in Christ Church in Fredericksburg. As the Assistant Music Director, she serves as the accompanist and warmup conductor for the Adult Choir as well as Music Director for the church's musical performances. Currently she is teaching a theory class to high school students and adults. She has composed music for her congregation and choral groups and is looking to continue her composing and her education in the future.


Erika Batalla (Fredericksburg), Clarinet


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


Throughout her years at Shenandoah Conservatory 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.


Currently Erika Batalla teaches at Fredericksburg Academy as the Band Director for both Middle and Upper School. She also teaches clarinet privately and plays regularly in wind and chamber ensembles. 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.


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!"


Gary Carper (Spotsylvania), Tuba, Euphonium, Tenor and Bass Trombone

In a professional music career spanning more than 38 years, Gary has performed in 39 states and Europe. While majoring in Music Education for three years at Shenandoah Conservatory, he studied Tuba with Fred J. Marzan. After transferring to The University of North Texas, he was the first Tuba player in history to be awarded a Bachelor of Music/Performance Degree in Jazz Studies, where he studied Tuba with Don Little and Dr. Dave Kuehn and Jazz Improvisation with Rich Matteson and Dan Haerle.


Career highlights include being a founding member of The Dallas Brass (6 years), an artist in residence at Southern Methodist University and a clinician for Yamaha Band Instrument Corporation. Gary has been a finalist in national and international Jazz Improvisation competitions and an Adjunct Instructor of Music at Virginia Commonwealth University. Other featured ensembles include Guy Lombardo’s Royal Canadians, The Dallas Cowboy’s Band (6 seasons), The Collection Jazz Orchestra and The Swing of Things Big Band directed by Don ‘Jake’ Jacoby.


Gary has appeared with and/or the opening act for Bob Hope, Spyro Gyra, Cleo Laine, Loretta Lynn, Dr. John, Bill Monroe, Judy Collins, James Moody, Charlie Pride, Steve Allen, Lou Marini, The Light Crust Doughboys and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band to name a few.


Current performance ensembles include The Piedmont Symphony Orchestra, The Aaron Noe Jazz Band, The Mid-Atlantic Wind Symphony, The Rappahannock Pops Orchestra, The Alte Kumpel Polka Band, The Fredericksburg Big Band, The Sheiks of Dixie and The Gangplank Ragtime Band; plus numerous other ensembles from Washington D.C. to Baltimore and Richmond, Virginia. Gary has been a faculty member of The Rappahannock Summer Music Camp since 2007 and is currently the Adjunct Instructor of Low Brass at The University of Mary Washington where he performs with The UMW Faculty Brass Quintet and The UMW Faculty Jazz Sextet while also teaching Low Brass at his home studio in Fredericksburg, Virginia.



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 several orchestras, including the Oberlin Orchestra, the Lima Symphony Orchestra, the Waring Festival Orchestra, both the Minneapolis and St. Paul Civic Symphonies, and several others. He has been heard in venues nationwide including Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, the Newport Music Festival, Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall, as a guest recitalist at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, and at 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 wth some of the world’s foremost pianists and pedagogues, including Stephen Hough, Angela Hewitt, Jeffrey Kahane, Robert McDonald, Nelita True, and many others. Mr. Cuellar hold 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 (Spotsylvania), Trumpet

Originally from Virginia, performer and educator Buddy Deshler thrives both as solo trumpeter and chamber muscian. He has been in residency as soloist at the Banff Center in Alberta Canada, and has competed in the National Trumpet Competition, undergraduate division. As a chamber musician, he has worked in brass quintets, jazz combos, brass bands, and brass choirs in Virginia and Florida. Buddy has had the privilege of collaborating with artists and ensembles including Rodney Mack, Jens Lindemann, Martin Hackleman, Pat Sheridan, Kurt Dupuis, Ryan Anthony, Jose Sibaja, Sam Pilafian, and the Synergy Brass Quintet.

Buddy’s musical highlights range from performing the National Anthem for the NBA/MLB and working with the world’s largest Beatles tribute band festival to performing for Busch Gardens Williamsburg and on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack.

As an educator, Buddy has been director of the after school band program at Graham Road Elementary in Falls Church, Virginia, and enjoys working with public schools throughout Spotsylvania and Fairfax counties giving masterclasses, private lessons, and marching band coachings.

Buddy presently resides in Miami, Florida where he attends the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, studying instrumental performance under the tutelage of trumpeters Craig Morris and Brian Lynch. Additional mentors include Dennis Edelbrock and Phil Snedecor. His upcoming musical endeavors include performing a solo recital in Miami, competing at the National Trumpet Competition, and touring summer festivals with his Miami-based “AP Brass Quintet”.

www.buddydeshler.com


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.


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).


Paul Rawlins (Fredericksburg), Trombone


Paul is a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and graduated from the University of Miami in 1968 with a major in Music Theory/Composition. His major professors were Clifton Williams and Alfred Reed. He backed Frank Sinatra, Ann-Margret and a myriad of headliners when Miami Beach was the "Las Vegas of the East," and appeared in Las Vegas and the state fair circuit with The Impact of Brass. He toured with his group 'Shadberry Street' for six years, playing resorts across the U. S., Acapulco and Europe.

Paul retired from the USAF Band, Washington, D.C. in 1993 after a career as Bass Trombonist and Arranger for the Air Force's Premier Jazz Ensemble, The Airmen of Note, and the USAF Ceremonial Brass. He taught brass instruments and guitar privately while still on active duty. After retirement Paul toured with U2, Pia Zadora, Bud Forrest and In the Mood, Hanson, Michael Crawford and performed with his duo, Driftwood, on board the cruise ship Norway. When life "on the road" no longer was viable, Paul came home to Fredericksburg where he is actively teaching and performing with several organizations.


Ben Titus (Milwaukee), 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. During his graduate coursework, he focused on the psychology and physiology of music, culminating in a research study of the Alexander Technique and it’s effect on perceived tone quality in beginning and intermediate wind musicians. As a result of this project, Ben has an even greater understanding of how to teach proper body position and breathing practice, two music essentials that result in a much improved sound on any wind instrument.


From 2007-2013, Ben was Director of Bands and Instrumental Music and Technical Theater Director at Fredericksburg Academy, an independent school in Fredericksburg, VA. Under his supervision, the programs tripled in size and quality alike. In 2009, the Concert Band competed for the first time at Music in the Parks in Williamsburg, VA, and received 1st Place in its class (Single-A Division). Since then, the ensembles remained top notch under his guidance. A Rock Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble were added, with the former performing anything from Blink 182 to the Eagles, in addition to writing and performing original music, something uncommon in other local band and instrumental music programs. 


On the technical theater side, Ben designed lighting and ran sound for basically anything that happened at or was related to Fredericksburg Academy, including live concerts indoors and outdoors, on and off campus, and full musical theater productions. He also created the Sound and Light Internship Program, where FA students with an interest in technical theater were trained in all aspects of live sound reinforcement and lighting techniques by Ben as well as other local professionals.


In January 2011 thru May 2013, Ben ran the jazz program for the Fredericksburg Area Young Musicians, a homeschool music program for Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania counties. In addition to teaching the Jazz Ensemble, Ben also ran the lab jazz program, which gives beginning-level musicians a chance to try jazz at a much earlier age than is typical in a standard music program.


Since becoming a free-lance bassist in 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 currently performs with the band Blue Light Scene (www.bluelightscene.com), one of the Mid-West region's best cover and original rock and dance bands, in addition to freelance jazz, blues, and rock work. In November of 2013, Ben released his first solo album, 'Looking For My Direction', which showcased original compositions and arrangements over the space of ten years, taking the listener on a track by track journey through Ben's compositional growth and shift from guitar to solo bass focus. The album can be heard at http://bentitus.bandcamp.com/


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, trombone), Aaron Noe 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). 


Ben is also an in-demand clinician. He has presented on subjects including jazz theory, live sound, and basic musicianship as it applies to getting and keeping a gig. These clinics have been hosted by the Virginia Bass Forum, Gerald Veasely’s Bass BootCamp, and Fredericksburg Academy. 

Since relocating to Milwaukee, WI, Ben has focused on being a full time performer and private instructor, founding Ben Titus Music Services, which provides music lessons, consultations, and clinics to students in the greater Milwaukee metro area. 


www.bentitusmusic.com


Megan Von Dreau (Denton, TX), Percussion


Megan G. Von Dreau is currently the 5th and 6th grade music teacher for Eubanks Intermediate School.  She is the 2008-2009 K-6 District Teacher of the Year for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, TX.  She is also a percussionist with the Lone Star Wind Orchestra, Drum Sergeant of the Metroplex United Pipe Band, and a free-lance performer, adjudicator, and instructor in the Dallas area.  Megan received degrees from the University of Colorado (B.M.) and the University of Oklahoma (M.M.).  Her major instructors have been Dr. Richard Gipson, Dr. Doug Walter, Leigh Howard Stevens, Steve Yates and Ralph Hardimon.
 
She has maintained a busy career instructing students at elementary through university levels including experience at the University of Oklahoma, Encore Music Camp of Pennsylvania, Rappahannock Summer Music Camp (VA), Western Chamber Music Institute (CO), Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, University of North Texas Summer Drumline Camp, and several high school programs throughout Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma.

Megan has performed in the United States, Europe, and Japan with such ensembles as the Lone Star Wind Orchestra, Boulder Philharmonic, Arapahoe Philharmonic, University of Colorado Wind Ensemble, Colorado Honor Band, Texas Wind Symphony, Metropolitan Winds, and the University of Oklahoma's Percussion Ensemble, Steel Drum Band, and Symphony Orchestra.  She has won two concerto competitions and performed Sarmientos' "Concerto para Marimba y Orquesta" in 2000 with the Springfield, MO Symphony Orchestra.  She can be heard on the Lone Star Wind Orchestra release "American Tapestry" on the Naxos Label.

Megan has achieved a multitude of honors and awards including graduating cum laude from the University of Colorado, Best in Section with the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps in 1993, and the Ronald J. Dyer Award for outstanding percussionist at the University of Oklahoma.  In addition, Megan is a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda Honorary Music Society, the National Honor Society, and the Texas Music Educators Association.

Megan resides in Texas with her husband Ron and their two amazing daughters Ella and Lilly. 


Ron Von Dreau (Denton, TX), Tuba


Mr. Von Dreau began playing the tuba in the spring of fourth grade at the age of 10 in the Williamsport (PA) public school system. Immediately, the following summer he began private lessons with George Sheriff, a local musician and educator. By seventh grade Mr. Von Dreau had successfully auditioned for a local community band and through a successful audition he became a member of the famed Repasz Band. A few years later he was asked to play in the Scottish Rite Imperial Teteque Band of Williamsport. During High School he accomplished several honors at state and national levels, including national finalist in the Yamaha sponsored MTNA Brass Soloist Competition. In addition to this, he won the Williamsport Symphony Young Artist Concerto Competition and was for three consecutive summers awarded positions in the Empire Brass Seminar at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute.


Mr. Von Dreau currently holds a Bachelors degree in Music Performance from Eastman School of Music and a Masters Degree in Performance from University of Colorado, Boulder. While attending CU Ron was a member of the University’s Wind Ensemble which was honored with a performance at the 1995 WASBE Convention in Hamamatsu, Japan. Principle instructors include: Patrick Sheridan, J. Samuel Pilafian, Michael Allen, Cherry Beauregard, Donald Hary, and Donald Stanley.


In the past, Mr. Von Dreau has held positions in Centennial Orchestra, Boulder Philharmonic, and several Brass Quintets throughout the US. Most notably, Mr. Von Dreau is a Founding Member of the Newcastle Brass Quintet, which was a featured artist on the University of North Texas Wind Symphony’s recording entitled Convergence. Since relocating to Texas, Mr. Von Dreau is a sought after clinician, judge and instructor of low brass. He has maintained a private lesson studio in several school districts including: Lewisville ISD, Duncanville ISD, Denton ISD and Argyle ISD. In 2002-2011, he was Adjunct Instructor of Tuba and Euphonium at Oklahoma City University’s Wanda L. Bass School of Music and also held the same position with Southern Nazarene University from 2003-2006. Ron has spent summers instructing programs that include Western State University Chamber Music Institute in Colorado, Rappahannock Summer Music Camp in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Encore Music Camp of Pennsylvania and OCU’s Summer Brass Camp.


In 2011, Mr. Von Dreau became the Assistant Director of Bands at Tidwell Middle School, where he is the school’s brass specialist and conducts the Symphonic Band.  The Band has received numerous awards and consistently receives top ratings at festivals and contests throughout the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. 


Mr. Von Dreau spends his free time at home with his wife Megan and their two daughters Ella and Lilly.


William Wassum (Spotsylvania), Violin


William Wassum is a native of Huntington, West Virginia, where he received his BA in music education and his MA in violin performance from Marshall University.  Having been taught in the traditions of Carl Flesch, Szymon Goldberg, and Ivan Galamian, his major teachers were Alfred P. Lanegger, Patricia Green, Lucie Furlie, and Dr. Reed Smith.

 

William is Director of Orchestras at Thornburg Middle School in Spotsylvania, Virginia where he helped found the orchestra program 14 years ago. During his 38 years as a music educator, he has directed award-winning ensembles from the elementary through high school levels in Texas, West Virginia, South Carolina, and Virginia.  In Virginia, he has had the honor of guest conducting several orchestras including, the Hanover All-County Orchestra, the Chesterfield All-County Orchestra, the Central Virginia Junior Regional Orchestra, and the Maryland Tri-County Honors Orchestra.

 

He is a member of the American String Teachers Association, the Suzuki Association of the Americas, the Suzuki Association of the Greater Washington Area, the Early Music Association, the National Music Teachers Association, The Virginia String Teachers Association, the Virginia Music Teachers Association, the Music Educators National Conference, and the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association, as well as the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 123 Richmond, VA and Local 161-710 Washington DC.

 

He was previously President for the state of West Virginia String Teachers Association and chairs the North Central Virginia Regional Orchestra Audition Prep Day in Virginia.

 

Mr. Wassum has performed in master classes with Benny Kim, Alcestis Perry, and Gerald Fischbach.  He has attended master classes with Charles Castleman, Robert Lipsett, Yitzhak Schotten (viola),William Preucil, Sr.(viola), Brian Lewis, Helen Kwalwasser, Katie McLin, Mimi Zweig, Midori, Dorothy DeLay, Sergiu Schwartz, Jerrie Lucktenburg, Paul Rolland, Lara St. John, and the Turtle Island String Quartet; and has studied advanced violin technique with Sally O’Reilly, Katie Lansdale, and Peter Sacco.

 

He has studied string class pedagogy at summer workshops with Paul Rolland, Dr. Marvin Rabin, George Bornoff, Jackie Dillon, Jim Kjelland, Bob Culver, Dr. Robert Gillespie, Kathleen Goodrich, and Dean Angeles.  Mr. Wassum is a registered Suzuki teacher and has had short term training with Kay Collier Slone, Geri Tata Arnold, Ronda Cole, and Stevie Sandven.

 

William has taken master classes in conducting with Elizabeth Green, Michael McArtor, and Dr. Marvin Rabin.

 

William has 35 years of professional experience performing in symphony orchestras, chamber music groups, opera orchestras, and for numerous musicals and oratorios.  Mr. Wassum has performed with Gary Karr, Sarah Brightman, Aaron Rosand, Anner Bylsma, Andres Cardenes, Sergiu Schwartz, William Warfield, Marcus Thompson, Zuill Bailey, Claude Frank, Leon Bates, Sandi Patty, Jimmy and Donna Dean, Rita Coolidge, Ray Stevens, Shirley Jones, Faith Prince, and many others.  Previous orchestral positions include:  Marshall University Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Huntington Chamber Orchestra, Brazos Symphony, Brazos Valley Symphony, ASTA National String Orchestra, Huntington Pops Orchestra, West Virginia Symphony, Ohio Valley Symphony, Lilliput Orchestra, West Virginia Opera Theater, East Carolina Suzuki Institute Orchestra, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp Festival Orchestra, Blue Lake Faculty International String Orchestra, Greater Spartanburg Philharmonic, Charlotte Philharmonic, Petersburg Symphony, Washington Symphony, Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra, and the Spotswood Community Orchestra.

 

Mr. Wassum toured France in the summer of 2000 as a member of the American String Quartet and the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp Faculty Chamber Orchestra, which performed in the Festival de Paris and at many historic churches throughout the south of France.  Some other performance venues have been: the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the National D-day Memorial, JFK Stadium, and the Greenbrier Resort.  In February 2006, he had the honor of performing with the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Musical Group Orchestra at the Pentagon as a Valentine’s Day tribute to our troops around the world, performs with them at their annual Veteran’s Day and Congressional Flag Day concerts at the National Basilica in Washington, D. C.  Mr. Wassum believes that continuing to perform makes for a more dynamic teacher and continues to perform with the Lynchburg Symphony and the Rappahannock Pops Orchestra.

 

He has performed under the baton of many conductors including Anshel Brusilow, former concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski, Donald Portnoy, Franz Krager, Paul W. Whear, William Scott, and Richard Hayman, chief arranger and assistant conductor of the Boston Pops under Arthur Fiedler.

 

William Wassum has been an orchestra conductor, violin and viola instructor, and chamber music coach for the Sam Houston State University String Camp, and the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. 

 

As a private violin and viola instructor Mr. Wassum taught for the Marshall University Preparatory Department and the Converse College Pre-College Department.  This past fall he was appointed as adjunct professor of string class pedagogy at the University of Mary Washington.  Mr. Wassum continues to teach private violin and viola in the Fredericksburg community through the Wassum String Academy at New Life in Christ Church.

 

Mr. Wassum has presented sessions at the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 ASTA National Conferences.  At the 2010 Conference in Santa Clara, California he presented his first national conference session entitled, “The Secret of the Universe Bow Stroke, or How I Learned to Love the Crooked Bow Stroke”.  At the 2011 National Conference in Kansas City, MO, William presented a highly successful session entitled, “Vibrato Strategies with Bouncy Balls, Race Cars, Coat Hangers, Chinese Finger Traps, and More”.  He will be presenting again at the 2014 ASTA National Conference a session entitled, “Monkey Legs and Curly Fries:  100 Code Words and Motivational Games and Strategies for the Classroom”.

 

William Wassum resides in Spotsylvania, Virginia with his God given wife.