Michael Alexander is the Director of Orchestral Activities at Kennesaw State University and serves as the Music Director of the Georgia Symphony Orchestra. Active as a guest conductor, he has conducted in Europe, Australia and at various places in the United States, including performances with the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra, the Maikop Symphony Orchestra and the Novgorod String Orchestra in Russia, the Bacau Philharmonic in Romania and the Catania Music Festival in Italy. In the summer of 2004 and 2009 he served as Music Director for the Madison Savoyards Opera Company. He has also appeared as a guest conductor four times with the Summer Music Clinic Orchestra at the University of Wisconsin and with the 2003-2006 Maud-Powell Music Festival Orchestra in LaSalle, IL. In March 2010 he conducted the 11-12 Georgia All-State Orchestra and in the summer of 2011 was a guest conductor at the Highlands Music Festival.
In the summer of 2003 Dr. Alexander completed his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in orchestral conducting. Prior to his current appointments, he has served on the faculties at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and Ripon College. He has conducted several District Honor Orchestras and under his direction the KSU Orchestra has performed at the 2009 Georgia Music Educators Association Annual In-Service, hosted and performed at the 2010 College Orchestra Directors Association National Conference, and performed a completed a three concert tour of Beijing and Xian, China in January of 2011. Dr. Alexander has also presented workshops and sessions for the Ohio State University String Teacher Workshop and at the Georgia Music Educators Association Annual In-Service.
Grant Harville (Symphony) is Associate Conductor and Creative Director of the Georgia Symphony. He comes to the Atlanta area from Wisconsin, where he was Orchestra Director at Ripon College and a doctoral candidate in orchestral conducting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Some of his recent activity includes guest conducting appearances with the Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City and the Oistrach Symphony (Chicago, IL), serving as Music Director of the Madison Savoyards production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, conducting two performances (including the premiere) of David Dies’s opera Hills Like White Elephants, and conducting at the Midwest Graduate Music Consortium Convention. In 2008, he was accorded the Richard C. and Agatha Church Memorial Conducting Award. He has received supplemental training at the Omaha Symphony Conductors Workshop, the DePaul University Conductors Workshop, and the Conductors Institute of South Carolina.
As a tubist, Harville has a number of competition victories to his credit, including the University of Michigan Concerto Competition (performing a concerto of his own composition), First Prize in the Leonard Falcone International Solo Tuba competition, and First Prize in the Potomac International Tuba/Euphonium Festival Quartet Competition as member of the University of Michigan Tuba/Euphonium Quartet. He served as Instructor of Tuba and Euphonium and director of the tuba/euphonium ensemble at Luther College (Decorah, IA) from 2006 to 2010. Also an avid composer, Harville has written works which have been performed by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, the United States Armed Forces Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble, and the First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor Sanctuary Choir, in addition to other soloists and chamber ensembles. His Sonata for tuba and piano was a finalist for the Harvey G. Phillips Award for Excellence in Composition. Harville’s vocal credits include solo tenor performances with the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble, the Birmingham First Chamber Choir, the GSO Chorus and several of the choirs at the University of Michigan. He has additionally served as tenor soloist and section leader at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church (Atlanta), First Baptist Church (Ann Arbor, MI), Christ Presbyterian Church (Madison, Wisconsin).
Christopher Thibdeau (Philharmonia/Chamber Music) has a diverse background as both a cellist and a conductor. Recently appointed as the conductor of the Georgia Youth Symphony Philharmonia Orchestra, Christopher has previously served as the associate conductor of the Brighton Symphony Orchestra, the assistant conductor of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra, the cover conductor of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra and the cover conductor of the Firelands Symphony Orchestra. His cello teachers include Alan Harris, Pamela Devenport, Benjamin Karp, Tanya Carey, Rick Mooney, and Judith Smith. Christopher has alsoperformed in masterclasses for esteemed cellists including Steven Doane, Richard Aaron, and Stephen Thomas.
Besides his duties with the Georgia Youth Symphony Philharmonia Orchestra, Christopher is also on faculty as a cello teacher with the Atlanta Music Project, the Georgia Center for the Arts, and Carrere Music. He is also a section cellist with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra. As an educator, Christopher has presented workshops and educational concerts in New York, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, California and other areas across the US. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Cello Performance from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Alan Harris and a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with Carl Topilow.
Mr. Charles Laux, Jr. (Camerata) holds degrees in music education from Ohio University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate in music education at The Ohio State University, and an Essential Elements clinician, consultant, and contributor for the Hal Leonard Corporation. Most recently Mr. Laux has been appointed to Assistant Professor of String Music Education at Kennesaw State University where his duties will include teaching courses in string pedagogy, conducing the KSU Philharmonic and serving as director of the new KSU String Project.
Mr. Laux has 16 years of public school teaching experience, directing orchestras in the Hilliard City Schools (Ohio), the Orange County (Florida) Public Schools and the Clark County School District, centered in Las Vegas. Under his direction, the Winter Park High School Philharmonic Orchestra was chosen to perform at the 60th annual Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. He has also taught courses at The Ohio State University, the College of Southern Nevada, Valencia Community College, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Mr. Laux presented educational sessions for the Midwest Clinic, the American String Teachers Association, the Technology Institute for Music Education, the Association for Technology in Music Instruction, and various state music educator conferences. His performing experience includes performances with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, the Nevada Chamber Symphony, and various freelance opportunities. Mr. Laux continues to teach private violin and viola lessons and is in high demand as an orchestra clinician, conductor, and adjudicator.
Whitney Tinley (Sinfonia) is the director of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Sinfonia ensemble and Orchestra Director at Shiloh Middle School in Gwinnett County. She also serves as the coordinator for Georgia’s 11th and 12th grade All-State Orchestra as well as for Gwinnett County’s 6th grade Honors Orchestra. She has worked as the bass coach for the Gwinnett County Youth Honors Orchestra and has served as a conductor and bass instructor and ENCORE and ASTA orchestra camps. She maintains an active string bass studio and a career as a freelance bassist. She is a member of the Saint Cecilia Saints, the orchestra for the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. Whitney graduated from DePauw University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education, and has her Masters in Music Education from the University of Georgia.
A native of Conyers, Georgia, Sam Skelton (Jazz) has been active on the Atlanta music scene for well over two decades. Mr. Skelton graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University and the private studio of Tony Carere with a degree in Jazz Studies. During his course of study at GSU, Sam was a Montgomery Music Scholar and a two-time fellowship recipient to the Aspen Music Festival. He continued his saxophone studies with Kenneth Radnofsky at Boston University in 1991.As a woodwind doubler, Skelton is well versed in any genre of music. His grasp of saxophone, clarinet and flute has enabled him to remain very busy in live performance as well as in the studio.
Sam has performed and/or soloed with The London Symphony Orchestra, The Atlanta Symphony, The Atlanta Pops, The Peachtree Pops, The Atlanta Ballet Orchestra and The Georgia Symphony Orchestra as well as numerous local high school and civic ensembles. World Premiers include James Oliverio’s Children of A Common Mother, Lee Johnson’s Ora Pro Mi: Concerto for Winds Soloist (clarinet, flute and soprano saxophone) and Seaside Symphony (clarinet and soprano saxophone soloist). Sam also played the premier recording of Ora Pro Mi and Seaside Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra.
As a sideman on over 175 compact discs, Sam remains very active in the studio and can be heard on recordings by such artists as: Elton John, December Radio, Babbie Mason, Howard Tate, Matchbox 20, Train, Edwin McCain, The Gap Band and The Ohio Players. Television and radio jingles include The Georgia Lottery, Glen Beck, The Weather Channel, The Travel Channel, Ford, The Cartoon Network, CNN, Nature’s Own, Popeye’s, Papa John’s and Turner South. Television appearances include In the Heat of the Night, Savannah and Sinbad’s Summer Jam II on HBO.
Sam is currently Director of Jazz Studies and Lecturer in Saxophone at Kennesaw State University. He is also Artistic Director of GSO Jazz and GYSO Jazz. Sam served as Professor of Saxophone at Georgia State University from 1991 to 2004 and was Jazz Ensemble Director at Georgia Tech from 2002-2004 and Artist-in-Residence at The University Of Georgia Jazz Department. He served as Visiting Professor of Saxophone at Furman University 2001-02. Professional associations include: Georgia Music Educators Association, Georgia Association of Jazz Educators, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (voting member) and the American Federation of Musicians. Sam is a Conn-Selmer Artist. He resides in Buford, Ga with his wife, flutist Jeanne Carere and their 4 children.
John Lawless (Percussion Ensemble) became Director of Percussion Studies at Kennesaw State University in 2004. Principal Timpanist of the Atlanta Opera since 1979, Mr. Lawless was appointed as Principal Timpanist with the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Orchestra in 1986. Since 1978, Mr. Lawless has performed and recorded as an extra with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra while maintaining a thriving freelance career as studio and pit percussionist.A founding member of the Atlanta Percussion Trio, Mr. Lawless performs more than 600 school concerts a year for audiences totaling 300,000 annually. In 2004 the Atlanta Percussion Trio performed as concerto soloists with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in “The Glory and the Grandeur” by Russell Peck.
A graduate of Georgia State University, Mr. Lawless’s teachers include Tom Float, Jack Bell, Cloyd Duff, Paul Yancich, Bill Wilder, and Mark Yancich. Mr. Lawless’s previous faculty appointments include those at Georgia State University, Clark Atlanta University, and West Georgia State University.
Alison Mann (Chorus) teaches coursework in Choral Methods, Foundations of Music Education, Choral Conducting, and Vocal Pedagogy for Ensemble Singing at Kennesaw State University. Mann also supervises student teachers and serves as Conductor of the KSU Women’s Ensemble.A native of Florida, Mann taught in the Orlando public schools as director of choral activities at William R. Boone High School and was also the assistant conductor of the Orlando Chorale. While in Orlando, choirs and soloists under her direction received top honors at the district and state levels.
Mann received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from Florida State University, and her doctoral degree in music education from the University of Oregon. While in Oregon, Mann served as the Oregon state ACDA Multicultural Repertoire and Standards Chair. Her professional affiliations include the American Choral Directors Association, Music Educators National Conference, Georgia Music Educators Association, National Collegiate Choral Organization and the International Society for Music Education. Her research has been presented at the state, regional, and international levels. Dr. Mann is an active conductor, clinician, adjudicator and researcher.