GYSO Leadership

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Nathaniel F. Parker A talented and dynamic musician, Nathaniel F. Parker has conducted professional orchestras in the United States, Peru, Russia, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Equally at home working with professionals and training future generations of musicians, Dr. Parker serves as Director of Orchestral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he is Music Director and Conductor of the Marywood University Orchestra and teaches courses in conducting, instrumental methods, musicology, and analytical techniques. His recent guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra (MI), the Connecticut Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 9 String Fest. Also an active scholar, Dr. Parker’s writings have been published by the Conductors Guild and the College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA). He has presented research at the College Orchestra Directors Association’s national and international conferences and currently serves as editor of the Journal of the Conductors Guild. In March 2015 received a Citation of Excellence in Teaching from the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. Prior to his appointment at Marywood Dr. Parker held the positions of Assistant Conductor and Production Manager of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra (Michigan), Music Director and Conductor of the Jackson Youth Symphony Orchestra, Director of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra Community Music School, and Graduate Conducting Intern at Michigan State University. Other previous positions include Music Director and Conductor of the Mason Orchestral Society’s Community Orchestra and Youth Symphony (Michigan), Assistant Director of Music at Xaverian High School (New York), Conductor of the New Music Festival of Sandusky Orchestra (Ohio), and Graduate Assistant Conductor and Teaching Assistant at Bowling Green State University (Ohio). Parker earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting from Michigan State University, where his primary instructors were Leon Gregorian and Raphael Jiménez. He earned a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from Bowling Green State University, where he studied with Emily Freeman Brown; his other conducting mentors include Stephen Osmond, Gary W. Hill, and Timothy Russell. In addition to his training in academia, Dr. Parker participated in numerous conducting master classes and workshops, conducting orchestras under the tutelage of nationally and internationally renowned conductors and conducting pedagogues including Christoph Eschenbach, George Hurst, Arthur Fagen, Markand Thakar, Mark Gibson, David Itkin, Jorge Mester, and Paul Vermel. Parker began his collegiate education at Arizona State University, where he studied bassoon with Jeffrey G. Lyman and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in Bassoon Performance. Nathaniel resides in Scranton with his wife, Melody, their son, Jacob, and their dog, Sammy.

S. Erik Hawk, Philharmonia Conductor






S. Eric Hawk (Philharmonia) , ABD, is nearing completion of his Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Georgia in Athens. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the past three and a half years, Mr. Hawk has served as the Assistant Conductor of UGA’s premiere symphony orchestra, working with Professor Mark Cedel to expand the growth and artistry of the ensemble. Always open to exploration of new repertoire, he conducted the Georgia premiere of his own scholarly edition of Hans Rott’s Symphony No.1 in E major this past fall semester. Additionally, he collaborated with Dr. Skip Taylor, nurturing the development and maturity of UGA’s second orchestra for non-majors, the University Philharmonia.

Last spring, Mr. Hawk was hired as the interim Conductor and Artistic Director of the Agnes Scott College Community Orchestra in Decatur. The ensemble was comprised of young high school students through retired community members. Not having performed a complete symphony in years, the ASC community orchestra triumphed with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor. His conducting career began under maestro Wes Kenney at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where he received his Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting. As the Assistant Conductor of the CSU Symphony, Mr. Hawk led the orchestra in their 2009 opera performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. More recently, he was a participant at the Conductor’s Guild annual Conductors Workshop at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Beyond the podium, Mr. Hawk has a lifelong passion for writing music. He recently completed a music composition minor as a pupil of Dr. Leonard Ball. This past April, Mr. Hawk premiered his first symphony as a part of his final degree recital at UGA. He earned a Bachelor of Music in Composition at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, studying under both Dr. Stella Sung and Christopher Marshall. In 2012, Mr. Hawk served as the primary composition instructor of the youth composer’s summer camp, Music Notes, in Athens. This upcoming summer the composition program will be a new addition to UGA’s Community Music School Summer Camps.

Being a violist, Mr. Hawk has solid experience working with the technical aspects of the string sections. He studied viola, taking lessons and performing in all major ensemble types throughout his undergraduate and master’s degrees. He continues to play chamber music with his colleagues in his spare time. Mr. Hawk has always valued the importance of music to today’s youth. He has been involved with his first youth orchestra, the Metropolitan Area Youth Symphony in central Florida for the past thirteen years. He started as a section violist in high school, became the late Jonathan May’s assistant throughout college, and now serves as the resident guest artist. For the past three years, he has worked with the MAYS director, Michael Miller, conducting and coaching the summer camp orchestras and chamber music ensembles. “I strongly believe good conductors teach the ensemble in front of them, and the music on our stands is what teaches us. Passion, patience, responsibility, and empathy have to be supported by the basic tenets of professionalism in a great educator.” – S. Eric Hawk

Charles Laux Conductor of GYSO Camerata






Dr. Charles Laux (Camerata) is Assistant Professor of String Music Education at Kennesaw State University where his duties include teaching courses in string techniques, string pedagogy, technology integration, supervising student teachers, conducting the KSU Philharmonic. Dr. Laux serves as director of the KSU Summer Music Intensive, a music camp for high school students, and the KSU String Project, a university-community partnership that offers group string lessons to elementary students. In addition to his teaching responsibilities at KSU he serves as an Essential Elements clinician, consultant, and contributor for the Hal Leonard Corporation.


Dr. Laux holds degrees in music education from Ohio University, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.  He has 15 years of public school teaching experience, directing award-winning 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 music courses as an adjunct instructor at the College of Southern Nevada, Valencia College (Orlando).


As an endorsed clinician for D’Addario Orchestral Strings, Dr. Laux has presented educational sessions for national conferences such as the Midwest Clinic, American String Teachers Association, Technology Institute for Music Education, Association for Technology in Music Instruction, and music education conferences in over a dozen states. His performing experience includes several seasons with the Las Vegas Philharmonic and the Nevada Chamber Symphony, in addition to a variety freelance appearances on violin and viola. Dr. Laux enjoys giving back to the string teaching profession through contributions on his blog at He remains in frequent demand across the nation 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.

Zac Evans (Coordinator and Outreach) 

Zac Evans is a composer, saxophonist, and educator based out of Atlanta, GA. As a composer, Zac has had the opportunity to write for a diverse range of ensembles ranging from jazz big bands, to live hip-hop, to contemporary percussion, and smaller jazz combos. He has developed personal style that strikes a balance between being contemporary and challenging while also remaining accessible and engaging, pulling from a wide variety of influences including jazz, rock, hip-hop, minimalism, world music, and contemporary classical music.

As an instrumentalist, Zac is a versatile performer and has played internationally with a variety of ensembles. He leads the hip-hop/jazz outfit “Monkier” and is releasing the group’s sophomore LP in May, 2016. While based in Austin, TX from 2014-2016, Zac performed with various regional groups including Brazilian Space Program, The Urban Achievers Brass Band, and Memphis Train Revue. In 2013, he had the opportunity to travel to Morocco and performed at the International Festival of Theater at the University of Casablanca. He has also performed with a wide variety of musical acts around Georgia.


An avid educator, Zac stays active teaching saxophone, clarinet, flute, and composition privately around the Atlanta area, working with students from 8-60+ years old. As of the 2016-2017 season, he will serve as the Education and Community Outreach coordinator for the Georgia Symphony Orchestra.


Zac graduated Magna Cum Laude from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Saxophone Performance, studying in the private studio of Sam Skelton. He is a 2014 recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Arts award and attended the University of Texas at Austin, receiving his Master’s degree in Jazz Composition in 2016 under the tutelage of Dr. John Mills. While studying at UT Austin, Zac received the 2015 award for Outstanding Graduate Student.

Sam Skelton (Jazz)

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)

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.

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