Lyn Acosta, a native of Spartanburg, has been a member of the Lawson Academy faculty since 2003. An honors graduate of the College of Charleston, Mrs. Acosta received the Mary Stuart Allen award for violin performance and received a BA in violin performance. She performed throughout the Charleston area including a 2002 performance in Piccolo Spoleto and a 2003 performance for members of the British Parliament. Mrs. Acosta began her Suzuki pedagogical training at the Colorado Suzuki institute in 2001 and has taught numerous children using the Suzuki method since that time. She currently heads a large Suzuki studio in the Lawson Academy and leads weekly group classes and private lessons. Her Suzuki studio performs regularly throughout the Spartanburg community and the students have received numerous awards and recognitions.
Sureka Amerasinghe has fifteen years of teaching experience in her country, Sri Lanka. She has taught individual instrumental lessons, and has directed high school choirs and orchestras in leading schools in her country. Some of her former students are currently pursuing musical careers in teaching, performing, conducting and composition, in various parts of the world.
In 2010, Sureka was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and studied at Mannes, the New School of Music, New York. Her topic of research was "Using the American musical experience in conflict resolution." This gave her the opportunity to interact with leading musicians and artists in the New York music scene. During this time she was led to do further formal studies in flute performance in America. She is currently a graduate assistant majoring in Flute performance at Converse College. In the past, a few of her students from Sri Lanka pursued undergraduate music degrees at Converse College.
Sureka is a flautist, pianist, violinist, and a recorder player. She has won awards in all four instruments at London examinations since the age of four. She was the winner of the Centenary travel grant scholarship for music teachers, awarded by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London. This gave her the opportunity to study with at the Royal Academy of Music, London in 1999. During this time she received her Licentiate in Piano teaching and later her Licentiate in Flute performance from the Associated Board of the Royals Schools of Music, London.
Sureka has had a diverse range of performing experiences in all of her instruments. She has performed advanced repertoire on piano as a soloist and a collaborator. As a flautist she has given recitals in New York and San Francisco. She has also been a soloist with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka. Sureka also plays jazz and fusion music on flute which resulted in her being invited to perform at the "World Flute Festival" in India in 2011. She was also a violinist in the Lanka Philharmonic Orchestra. In the recent past, she was selected to sing in the chorus for four operas in a French-Indo-Sri Lankan production staged in India. One of these tri-national performances was graced by Pundit Ravi Shankar. She has also performed, on invitation in England, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and India.
Wendi Arms received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in vocal performance from Converse College. She is the Music Librarian at Converse College. She joined the faculty of the Lawson Academy as a voice teacher in 1994, and also serves as Praise Team Leader at First Presbyterian Church in Greer.
Holly J. Barnes has been an active piano faculty member here at the Lawson Academy since 1996. She holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida, both in piano performance. She has taught piano privately in Florida, Texas, and South Carolina over the past twenty two years as well as having taught college students at the University of South Carolina Upstate for nine years. She is a certified teacher through the National Guild of Piano Teachers, Chairman for the National Piano Guild Center here in Spartanburg, and a teacher member of the National Federation of Junior Music clubs. It is through these organizations her students participate annually as well as in regular recitals and performances at local nursing homes. Some of her student’s recent achievements include Paderewski medalists, National Piano Guild High School Diplomas, National Piano Guild scholarship winners, Lawson Academy scholarship winners, and CYS Concerto Competition winner. Among some of Holly’s accomplishments include winning first place in the Chopin competition of Sarasota, Florida, the University of Central Florida Concerto Competition, and a Streep Steinway Competition winner. Currently Holly is regularly teaching students of all ages, including pre-school, grade school, pre-college, and adults. She is interested in continuing to teach students of all ages, helping them to begin and further their personal interests and/or college plans in music study. Her personal goal is to always teach in a manner that is positive, and provide a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for every student.
A native of Spartanburg, Anna Grace Bennett is a graduate of both the Lawson Academy and Converse College with a Bachelor of Music degree in harp performance and a minor in Studio Art. She studied piano for many years with both Angela Miller and Beverly Barrs before beginning study of the harp at the age of fourteen with Joyce Fankhauser. She also loves to sing in local musical theater and opera productions, and is glad to be a part of the exciting new ensemble Celtic Harmony (with fellow Lawson Academy faculty members Donna Gallagher, soprano, and Erin Byrnes, violinist). In her free time, she enjoys working as a page at the public library, reading, writing, watching movies, and spending time with her dog, Kiefer.
Luke Browder is a second-year graduate student at Converse studying vocal performance with Valerie MacPhail. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Furman University where he studied with Gail Schoonmaker. While at Furman, Luke traveled and performed in Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary with the Furman Singers and joined the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra as a chorus member on their 2006 Christmas Tour. In the fall of 2008 he studied music at the Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy and performed on recitals throughout Tuscany.
After graduation, Luke continued singing with the Greenvlle Chorale and Camber Ensemble. In addition to his choral experience, Luke has performed with the Spartanburg Repertory Company, Converse Opera Theatre, Furman Opera Theatre, Greenville Opera, and Greenville Light Opera Works in roles such as "Father" in Hansel and Gretel, “Guglielmo” in Così fan tutte, “Pooh-Bah” in The Mikado, “Barone Douphol” in La Traviata, “Giuseppe Palmieri” in The Gondoliers, and “The Usher” in Trial by Jury. Upcoming performances include “Frank” in Die Fledermaus with Spartanburg Repertory and "Mr. Lindquist" in A Little Night Music with The Warehouse Theatre. Luke is an adjunct Voice Professor at Clemson University and the Director of Music at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville where he directs both the adult and children’s choirs. He lives in Greenville with his dog, Spirit.
In one way or another, Suzanne Brown has been involved with the Lawson Academy Faculty since January of 1996: private voice teacher, voice class instructor, satellite director and voice teacher, Kindermusik teacher, Pre-School Music Camp founder and director, Palmetto Youth Choristers founder and director, Junior Music Club Festival Coordinator and Assistant to the Director (Mrs. Morgan).
Suzanne is an alumna of The Lawson Academy (then called Converse Pre-College) where she studied viola and voice. She went on to sing and play and major in voice performance at Furman University, including a semester of study at the Vienna Conservatory in Austria. She continued studies at the Masters level in Education, Music Education and German Language at Converse, Furman and a Goethe Institute in Germany.
Away from Converse Suzanne directed children’s choirs at her church, Fernwood Baptist, for 18 years, and she continues to lead in worship there as a Sanctuary Choir member and soloist. She taught Lower School general music at the Spartanburg Day School and Kindergarten Music at Pine Street Elementary School, paid for by a grant from the SC Arts Commission. Suzanne enjoys attending choral and vocal seminars and continues her own voice study with Dr. Susan Lyle.
Suzanne has sung many leading roles in opera and musical theatre with The Spartanburg Repertory Company and The Spartanburg Little Theater. She is a frequent performer throughout the community and the Upstate, including presenting faculty recitals at Converse and Wofford Colleges, and has also soloed in Italy, Germany, Austria, England and Scotland.
Suzanne is married to Reed, and they are the parents of twins, Bethelyn and Nathan Brown.
Miranda Burdette currently teaches General Music at the Advent Children's Center and is also the Director of the Lawson Academy Band Satellite Program. She is a graduate of Converse College, and has been a Private Instructor for the past 9 years. She began teaching lessons in high school where she found her love for teaching. She has taught flute students of all ages, from young children to adults. Her students continue to achieve high placements in contests and ensembles such as Region and All-state Band. They also participate and receive high ratings at festivals such as Solo and Ensemble. She received a Bachelor of Music Education, with an emphasis in instrumental music, from The Petrie School of Music. She studied flute with Dr. Chris Vaneman. While at Converse, she participated in many activities including Converse Wind Ensemble, Converse Symphony Orchestra, Flute Ensemble, and other various activities. She has held various music positions at several schools around the upstate area. Her biggest passion in life is teaching and watching her students grow into incredible musicians.
Maurice Burgess currently serves as a voice instructor, Dorman Satellite program supervisor, and voice chair of the Converse College: Lawson Academy of the Arts having recently completed Master’s work there majoring in voice performance at the Petrie School of Music. He has been a judge for SCMEA Choral Division Solo & Ensemble. His current and former voice students include voice performance and music education majors, collegiate and state competition winners, NATS regional finalists, SC ACDA State Honor Choir members, Southern Division ACDA Honor Choir members, SCMEA All-State Choir members, and collegiate and Lawson Academy scholarship winners.
Maurice is also in his 3rd year as an associate choral director at Dorman High School. He conducts the Dorman Freshman Campus Men’s Chorus and Dorman Singers. He also assists with Concert Chorus, and Chamber Singers. Choirs under his direction and co-direction have consistently earned superior ratings at SCMEA State Choral Festival including sight-reading and have also performed at the SCMEA state conference. Private students and choirs under his direction have participated in SCMEA Solo & Ensemble earning consistent superior ratings.
Maurice is a graduate of Western Carolina University where he received the Bachelor of Science degree in music education with a double concentration in both vocal and instrumental music. While at WCU, Maurice was very active as a trumpet player in the Wind Ensemble, Trumpet Ensemble, and Li’l Smoky Brass Quintet having played at the International Trumpet Guild Conference with the Western Carolina University trumpet ensemble in 1998. He was also drum major of the Pride of the Mountains for 3 years including conducting the band in exhibition at the 1998 Bands of America Grand Nationals. He has served as trumpet teacher and clinician, drum major clinician and adjudicator, and has also been on staff for several marching band programs.
While there as a vocalist, Maurice participated in the Opera Workshop, Concert Choir, University Choir, Early Music Ensemble, and Chamber Singers. Other vocal experience during this time frame includes performances with Asheville Lyric Opera including work in their Educational Outreach Program.
Further vocal experience includes roles with Converse Opera Theatre and Spartanburg Repertory Company. Maurice was also a member of the American Institute of Musical Studies Concert Studio in Graz, Austria in 2005. He has recently appeared as tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit and Franz Joseph Haydn’s Stabat Mater.
His primary vocal study is with Dr. Beverly Hay. His work focusing on voice teaching and pedagogy includes work with current NATS President, Dr. Scott McCoy of Westminster Choir College and Dr. Valerie Macphail of Converse College. He has also participated in workshops with Paul Kiesgen, Costanza Cuccaro, Robert Harrison, and Dale Moore of Indiana University and Stephen Robertson of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Private conducting studies are currently with Dr. John Dickson formerly of Texas Tech University.
His professional affiliations include MENC: The National Association for Music Education, American Choral Directors Association, South Carolina Music Educators Association, Texas Choral Directors Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, and the International Federation for Choral Music. He resides in Spartanburg, SC.
Patricia Crisan is originally from Cluj-Napoca, Romania; she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Converse College Petrie School of Music. In addition to being on the Lawson Academy of the Arts piano faculty, Ms. Crisan is also on the School of Music’s faculty, where she holds a position as adjunct piano instructor. She is also active as vocal coach/accompanist in individual voice and instrumental lessons, thus having the opportunity to use her multilingual skills—she is fluent in five languages. Her past positions as an accompanist have been with the Converse College Chorale, Converse Chamber Singers and Lawson Academy’s Palmetto Children’s Choristers. She is also involved with the Hispanic community in Spartanburg as the music director of the Hispanic Ministry at Jesus Our Risen Savior Catholic Church. In 2004, Patricia was accepted as apprentice coach/accompanist in the Operafestival di Roma program where she performed in vocal recitals as well as Puccini’s Suor Angelica in a production with cast and piano in Rome’s Church of Saint Paul Within the Walls. Her recent performances have been as guest artist with the Converse College Wind Ensemble and The of University of South Carolina University Singers and as collaborative pianist at the NATS State and Regional Auditions held at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, Limestone College, Anderson University, Coker College, North Greenville University and the Southeast Region Metropolitan Opera Auditions held in Atlanta’s prestigious Spivey Hall.
Mezzo-Soprano Laura Denney, a recent graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana
University, came to singing by way of the piano. Throughout her collegiate career, Laura continuously
excelled, both vocally and academically. While pursuing her master’s degree at Indiana University, Laura
made a number of appearances on the MAC Stage, performing the role of the Maestra delle Novizie in
Puccini’s Suor Angelica, as well as participating in the chorus of multiple other productions including Die
Fledermaus, the world premiere of Bernard Rands’ Vincent, La Bohème, and Candide. Additionally,
Laura performed scenes from The Consul, Werther, Manon Lescaut, and Così fan tutte through the IU
Opera Workshop, led by Carol Vaness. In the summer of 2011, Laura performed the role of Charlotte in
Massenet’s Werther with fellow IU colleagues as part of a student-led, student-initiated performance
endeavor. Laura was also one of the original members of IU’s Roundabout Opera for Kids (ROK), an
opera outreach program led by Kimberly Carballo, in which she performed the role of the Mother/
Grandmother in Barab’s Little Red Riding Hood and the Witch/Jack’s Mother in Into the Woods. As an
undergraduate at the Petrie School of Music at Converse College, Laura regularly took leading roles in
the Converse Opera Theatre productions. These include roles from The Mikado, Little Red Riding Hood
and Many Moons, all to rave reviews. She also participated in a number of Opera Scenes programs at
Converse including scenes from Le Nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte, Dialogues des Carmellites and Hänsel
und Gretel. Internationally, Laura performed the role of the Second Spirit in Operafestival di Roma’s July
2008 production of Die Zauberflöte under the baton of Francesco Carotenuto and the direction of Richard
Most recently, Ms. Denney has taken a position as a voice teacher with the Lawson Academy of
Music at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She is also the Alto Section Leader and
Soloist at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church.
Julia Eldred is both an accomplished piano instructor and performer. She has been a piano faculty member of the Lawson Academy of the Arts since 1996 and works with a diverse array of students from beginning musicians to college bound performance majors; both young and old. Mrs. Eldred has also developed a unique music curriculum which she has used to teach preschool music at the Advent Children’s Center in Spartanburg, SC for over 10 years.
Julia is a member of the National Federation of Music Clubs, the South Carolina Federation of Music Clubs, the National Music Teachers Association and the South Carolina Music Teachers Association. She is a SCFMC Northern District Auditions Chairperson and the District II Audition Chairperson for SCMTA. Julia also currently serves on the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Lawson Academy.
Mrs. Eldred holds Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees in piano pedagogy from Converse College, Spartanburg, SC. She regularly adjudicates and performs throughout the Carolinas and Georgia. Julia currently performs as a member of the Lawson Piano Duo and the chamber group Musical Elegance, is an active teacher, accompanist, and church musician.
Joy Finch began teaching piano lessons while she was in high school, and still enjoys it today. After spending several years of her musical career touring during the 1980’s, she returned to Spartanburg and has enjoyed being a musical director with the Shoestring Players and Spartanburg Little Theatre for more than twenty years. Some of her favorite shows include Sweeney Todd, Always… Patsy, Working, My Way: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra, Beehive: the 60’s Musical, Smokey Joe’s Café, Pippin (the Lithuania Tour), Threads of Hope, and Full Monty (as Jeannette Burmeister). Joy also enjoys composing musical theatre in partnership with Dr. Raymond Lee. Their works include a musical theatre adaptation of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas, and an adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” performed at USC-Spartanburg in 1997. Her “day gig” is at Greenville Technical College where she is a Department Head in the Corporate and Career Development Division managing and teaching Environmental, Health and Safety career training. She has an MS in Environmental Management from the University of Maryland University College and a BA in Music and Humanities from Converse College.
Taylor Fitch has been dancing competitively for 19 years, bringing home awards such as Nexstar’s “Broadway Bound Dancer” and Footloose Competition’s “Most Entertaining.” She performed with the Miss South Carolina and the Miss North Carolina Dancers and was a featured dancer in Philadelphia’s Ikea Thanksgiving Parade. After finishing her year as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2009, Taylor Fitch began her freshman year at Wofford College as a double major in biology and English, pre-med. Focused on her goal to live life to the absolute fullest, Taylor proceeds to push and challenge herself to embark on new journeys anytime an opportunity presents itself. She has become increasingly involved in activities at Wofford and in the surrounding community, trying her hand at some new endeavors. She has joined the Spartanburg Little Theatre in the production of “Suessical The Musical” and as the choreographer of “My Way.” She also danced alongside local celebrity, Ricky Richardson, in the Spartanburg “Dancing with the Stars”, benefitting the Cancer Association. Taylor remains very much involved with dance instruction as a member of the Wofford Dance Team and made her first appearance with the Southern Conference Champions dancing alongside her team on ESPN. She also continues to volunteer on the behalf of her national platform with special needs children and youth. Based on these service hours, Taylor participated in the Duke of Edinburgh Young Americans’ Challenge that dared her to face everything from becoming an amateur racquetball player to camping in the rain. She received the Silver Award from Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, himself and was recently awarded the gold. Unable to pass up a new adventure, Taylor traveled with a medical team to Uganda in the summer of 2011 and is currently planning her second trip. She desires to complete her dual degrees in May 2013 and then ultimately obtain her medical degree in pediatric oncology, allowing her to continue to travel and attend to the medical needs in other countries. Despite the pressing requirements of her academic life, Taylor desires to follow God’s plan for her life and to stay true to her first love – dance!
Kathleen Foster, cellist, recieved her B.S. in music from Indiana University in 1969 where she studied with Janos Starker and Fritz Magg. She recieved her MM from Bowling Green State University working with Peter Howard. More recently she spent four years studying with master teacher and performer, George Neikrug. She lived in Maine for almost 20 years where she was on the faculty as cello teacher at Bates and Bowdoin Colleges. She also taught at the Merriconeag Waldorf School. As a free lance musician, she was principal cellist of the Maine State Ballet Orchestra, the Maine Chamber Ensemble and PORT opera company. She has been a member of the Portland Symphony since 1990.
In 2007 Kathleen relocated to Rutherfordton, NC. She now teaches for the Lawson Academy at Converse College. She is a member of the Lawson Trio and performs regularly on the Lawson Series at Converse College. She is a member of the Asheville Symphony and the Spartanburg Philharmonic.
Kathleen maintains her position in the Portland Symphony and commutes to play at least 4 classical concerts a season.
Kathleen is a dedicated teacher for students of all ages and at all levels. She has studied both the Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais.
She incorporates this knowledge in her teaching where she helps the student find ease in playing. She has hosted several Feldenkrais workshops since moving to NC to help her students gain greater insight into good body use and awareness.
Erin Galloway is a 2008 graduate of Furman University. She hails from Youngsville, Pennsylvania, where she studied piano for 11 years with accomplished pianist Joan Eighmey. In high school she enjoyed performing on all kinds of instruments with all kinds of ensembles: piano in the jazz band, pit percussion in concert and marching band, violin in the orchestra, and even singing soprano in the choir. At Furman, she studied piano with Dr. Ruby Morgan and violin with Deirdre Hutton before earning a bachelor’s degree in music education, with concentrations in both piano and violin.
Erin enjoys performing in various settings, including accompanying for the youth choir at Central United Methodist Church. She is very happy to have the opportunity to work one-on-one with her students in the Lawson Academy since she loves getting to know each of her students on a personal basis and watching them blossom into great musicians.
Eranga Goonetilleke is a native of Sri Lanka who is a professional singer and teacher. She has over 6 years of teaching experience and holds a Masters of Music in Opera and Musical Theater/Broadway from the Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and a Bachelors of Music in Vocal performance at Converse College, SC. She is also an Associate of the Trinity College of Music, London and is a qualified Piano teacher through the Royal School of music London.
She has been performing in numerous Broadway shows, Operas, Jazz concerts and piano recitals since the age of 8 and have continued to do so in many prestigious concert halls and auditoriums in the USA, UK and Asia. Some of her opera performance highlights are Countess/Rosina, Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart), Dido, Dido and Aeneas (Purcell), Musetta, La Bohéme (Puccini), Violetta, La Traviata (Verdi), Fiordeligi, Cosi fan Tutte (Mozart), Carmen, Carmen Jones (Bizet), La Bergère, L'Enfant et les Sortilège (Ravel), La Périchole, La Périchole (J. Offenbach). Broadway roles include Christine, Phantom of the Opera (A.Webber) and Maria, West Side Story (L. Bernstein), Laurie, Oklahoma (Richard Rodgers), Sarah, Ragtime (Stephen Flaherty). I have been in Master classes with world renounced teachers and coaches including Marlena Mallas, Richard Best and Ron Browning among others.
Apart from professionally performing, she is currently enjoying teaching voice, piano and music theory and travels within the US and Asia, conducting master classes. She teaches a variety of vocal techniques including classical, Broadway, jazz and pop.
Some of HER many accolades include Winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition [NATS] award, Classical and Musical Theatre categories with honors for the state of South Carolina, for three consecutive years, Mary Emily Platt Jackson Music Scholarship awarded by the Petrie School of Music, Yamaha Trophy for having won examination prizes for 3 consecutive years, Trinity College of Music, London, Winner of the Performance Certificate Examination Award and a recipient of the Certificate for Special Achievements, Trinity College of Music, London, All Island Challenge Trophy and three Gold Medals, All Island Solo Singing Competition at the Festival of Music, Dance, Speech and Drama conducted by the Institute of Music, Speech, and Speaking Skills, Sri Lanka.
Penny Holt has been teaching piano at the Lawson Academy for ten years. She has had many years of teaching experience before that in various South Carolina communities where she and her husband lived. She studied piano with Professor John Erickson as a student at Converse College and graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance. At the University of South Carolina, she studied piano with Professor John Adams, an internationally-known pianist, and received her Master of Music degree in Piano Performance. During those years and since, she has performed in various locations in the Southeast. In addition to her teaching, she has also done accompanying for both vocalists and instrumentalists.
Penny and her husband Arthur have two grown children, Hillary and John. Penny is actively involved in her church, especially in the music program as a member of the choir and a substitute accompanist. Her other interests include running, hiking, reading, photography and travel.
Brenda Leonard teaches cello for the Lawson Academy of the Arts and at North Greenville University. She is an active performer in the Upstate and a member of the Greenville Symphony and the Spartanburg Philharmonic, where she is principal cello. She performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician, with a particular interest in twentieth century music for unaccompanied cello. Dr. Leonard received her DMA in cello performance from the University of South Carolina where she studied with Robert Jesselson. Her BA and MM are from Northern Illinois University, where she studied with Raya Garbousova and Marc Johnson, and received coaching from the Vermeer Quartet. She has taught at Clemson University, Anderson University, Converse College and Frankfurt International School and maintains an active private studio.
Matthew B. McDaniel currently serves as the Elementary Band Coordinator for Spartanburg County School District 7 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Raised in Conyers, Georgia, Matt graduated from Georgia State University in 1997 and student taught in Cobb County. While earning his degree he was fortunate to have taught at some of the finest high schools and independent percussion programs in the Atlanta area. In 2004, he graduated with a Master of Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi and received National Board Certification in 2011. Matt considers himself blessed with having studied with many of the finest music education and percussion professors, including Dr. Thomas Goolsby, Dr. Thomas Wubbenhorst, Mr. Jack Bell, Mr. John Lawless, Dr. Thomas Fraschillo, Dr. John Wooton, Dr. Jennifer Shank, and Dr. Charles Elliott.
As a percussionist, Matt was a member of the 1993 Spirit of Georgia and 1994 Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps, and a player instructor of the 1995 Atlanta Rhythm Machine - the WGI Independent World Class Indoor Drum Line Champion. He was honored to be selected as a featured marimba soloist for the Evenlyn Glennie master class during the 1994 Percussive Arts Society International Clinic in Atlanta. In 1998, Matt was one of the 164 marimbists in the Marimba Festival Orchestra in West Point, conducted by Frederick Fennell.
Since 1999, his teaching experiences have included all levels of band instruction. Beginning his career at Dorman High school and all three middle schools of Spartanburg School District 6, Mr. McDaniel currently teaches at Spartanburg High School, McCracken Middle School, as well as Boyd and Pine Street Elementary Schools. He is a member of many professional music associations: the National Association for Music Educators, the South Carolina Music Educators Association, the South Carolina Band Directors Association, and the Percussive Arts Society. Matt and his wonderful wife Adena perform as the co-Principal Percussionists for the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra; and they have two wonderful sons, Killian Thomas and Finnigan Jack.
Born in Milazzo (Province of Messina), Italy, Annalisa Monticelli began studying the piano at the age of five with Professor Olga Brogno. She was later accepted into the Luis Gianneo Music Conservatoire in Mar del Plata, where she studied with Marta Scafoglio and Eugenia Rozental. She took part in numerous recitals and concerts in her hometown and province (Balcarce, Tandil, Buenos Aires) both as a soloist and a pianist in duo with cello, violin, trumpet.
In 1997 she attained her diploma in “Formazione Basica” in piano at the Conservatoire in Argentina. In 1998 she took part in the VIII campus of Chamber Music with the Spanish Conductor Jordi Mora, and participated as a soloist and pianist in the only ensemble of young musicians to be selected for the “Primer Festival Nacional Astor Piazzolla” in the city of Mar del Plata. In the same year she moved to Italy to continue her studies at the “Arcangelo Corelli” Music Conservatoire in Messina with maestro Nicolò Di Marco, attaining her diploma in piano with the highest possible marks.
She has won chamber music prizes at the National Music Competition “TuttArte” in Paternò (CT), the International Music Competition “G. Campochiaro di Pedara” (CT) and the National Music Competition “Benedetto Albanese” in Caccamo (PA). In 2008 she worked on productions of The Barber of Seville and Don Giovanni. In June 2009, she was the accompanist for a vocal masterclass with Soprano Rebecca Turner performing in the Concert Hall of Dublin.
In 2009, she completed her Masters in Music Education and the II Level Diploma in Piano Performance at the Conservatoire in Messina. In October 2011, as a student of Dr. Douglas Weeks and a winner of the Young Artist Competition, she performed the "Allegro" from Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Converse Symphony Orchestra. She completed a Masters in Piano Performance in May 2012.
As a member of the choral ensemble “Cantica Nova” in Milazzo and the female vocal trio “Encanto,” she has performed in various venues in Italy and abroad. During her time in Spartanburg, she has performed as a solo pianist and accompanist, taught in the Lawson Academy Program, and coached for the Converse Opera.
Paula Morgan is currently the director of the Lawson Academy of the Arts at Converse College. The Lawson Academy is primarily a music and dance community arts program serving over 1,000 families a year from the greater Spartanburg community. It also provides many Converse music majors and dance minors with the opportunity to gain invaluable teaching experience by becoming a vibrant part of this thriving program.
Mrs. Morgan began her teaching career in this very program while attending Converse as a Bachelor of Music student with a major in piano performance. She married, settled in Spartanburg and also completed a Master’s degree in piano performance in 1975, having studied with Dr. George Lucktenberg for both degrees.
Mrs. Morgan, originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, came to Converse at the recommendation of her pre-college piano teacher, Jane Smisor Bastien who knew of the outstanding reputation of the School of Music and Liberal Arts College. After graduating, Mrs. Morgan continued to teach in the pre-college program, building a large piano studio and gaining a fine reputation. In 1991, Mrs. Morgan left the pre-college to open her own studio in the community only to return in 1993 to direct the program.
She continues to teach and perform, her most current venture as a duo pianist collaborating with Dr. Douglas Weeks, the chair of the Department of Performance and Babcock Professor of Piano at Converse College.
Janae O’Shields is the director of the Fine Arts Day Camp at the Lawson Academy at Converse. She has worked with the camp since 2005, serving as a teacher and assistant director before beginning her directorship in 2008. Originally from Easley, SC, Janae has always pursued an interest in the arts, participating in music, writing, theater, and visual art throughout her own pre-college years. She came to Converse in 2003 and graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and music, and in 2009 with a Master of Arts degree in teaching. When FADC is not in session, Janae teaches Spanish at Jonesville Elementary-Middle School and works in the sheet music department at Case Brothers Piano & Organ.
Leigha Pace, a lyric soprano, music educator, and church music director holds a Masters of Music in vocal performance degree and a Master's degree in education. Both of her Master's fegrees were awarded by Converse College. She was awarded a Bachelors of Music degree from Winthrop University. She is currently director of choral and drama activities at Gettys D. Broome High School where she also serves as a coordinator of music for the Spartanburg School District Three school music programs. Miss Pace also serves as youth music associate at First Presbyterian Church in her hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Prior to the appointment, Ms. Pace was employed as an applied voice instructor at both Seminole Community College and Valencia Community College in Florida. She also served as director of Children’s and Youth Music Ministries as well as assistant chancel choir director and Soprano Soloist for a congregation of over 5000 members at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Florida.
Ms. Pace has toured the eastern region of the United States and Europe as an active vocalist and soloist, as well as having been the pianist for Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Hotels and the Rivership Romance Dinner Cruise in Orlando.
In the spring of 2004, Ms. Pace won First Place in the Graduate Ladies Division of National Association of Teachers of Singing for the state of South Carolina. She is also 2004 Young Artist Vocal Category Award Winner sponsored by the Petrie School of Music.
Ms. Pace performed the title role from Puccini’s great opera Suor Angelica in July 2004 as a part of the critically acclaimed OperaFestival di Roma. The OperaFestival di Roma, under the direction of Francesco Carotenuto and the late Louisa Panou, is considered one of the finest summer opera festivals in Europe, and has won major awards from national opera associations. Ms. Pace also performed Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi in Spring 2004. She has performed the Bach B Minor Mass with the Bach Chor of Oppenau, Germany; and this past summer returned to sing the Dvorak B Flat Major Mass with the Kammerchor Oberkirche as a part of their Jubileum Fest. In April 2008 Ms. Pace was the featured Soprano soloist for the Brahms Requiem presented by the Spartanburg Philharmonic and the Spartanburg Festival Chorus. In May 2008, Ms. Pace formed a Ladies Soprano Trio: A Blonde, A Brunette, and a Redhead, a trio featuring beloved arias and musical theatre favorites.
Ms. Pace serves as a regional choral and vocal adjudicator. Her professional memberships include The National Association of Teachers of Singing, the American Choral Directors Association, The South Carolina Educators Association, Music Educators National Conference, The South Carolina Music Educators Association and the Spartanburg Philharmonic Music Club.
Jennifer Peters graduated from Converse College with a degree in violin performance in 2005. While at Converse she began teaching violin at the Lawson academy as a student teacher through the PAT program and became a full faculty member after graduation. Jennifer now teaches a full studio of violin, viola and ensemble students.
Jennifer enjoys performing with a variety of groups in the Spartanburg and Greenville area including the group “Celtic Harmony”, several wedding ensembles, praise bands at her church, and ensembles with her students. Yet her real interest lies in helping her violin and viola students find their passion for music through private lessons.
Soprano Shannon Schoville is a Masters candidate at Converse College’s Petrie School of Music. A graduate of the Bachelor of Music Performance program at Indiana University-Fort Wayne, she has had the privilege of singing under the batons of Maestros Edvard Tchivzhel, Francesco Carotenuto, Andrew Constantine, and David Cooke, as well as working with acclaimed vocal instructors and directors including Dr. Sam Savage, Dr. Beverly Hay, Dr. Robert Alan Saunders, and Richard Harrell. Ms. Schoville has appeared as a soloist on numerous occasions throughout the United States, as well as in Rome, Italy. She has been seen most recently as "Laetitia" in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief at Indiana University and as "the Queen" in The True Story of Cinderella and "Cousin Hebe" in H.M.S. Pinafore with the Spartanburg, SC Repertory Company, for whom she also serves as the Chair of the marketing and development committee. She has spent this past summer serving as the arts administration intern with Asheville Lyric Opera in Asheville, NC. When not performing, Ms. Schoville enjoys hiking, horseback riding, cooking, spending time with her dogs and driving American muscle cars.
Dr. Catherine Froneberger Siarris holds a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Converse College, a Master of Music in opera from Hartt School of Music, West Hartford, Connecticut and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Voice Performance from University of South Carolina. She has served on the faculty of the Lawson Academy since 1999.
In 2012, Dr. Siarris attended The CCM (Contemporary Commercial Music) Institute at Shenandoah University and is a Level Three graduate of Somatic Voicework ®-The LoVetri Method.
Dr. Siarris has taught hundreds of singers from the young beginner to the young professional as well as the mature choir singer. Her students participate in voice competitions and recitals, are top singers in their high school choruses and leaders in their church choirs. They earn leading roles in opera and musicals; have earned numerous scholarship awards, and many continue to be college voice majors and music educators.
Serving on the faculties of Limestone College and Spartanburg Community College, she maintains membership in National Association of Teachers of Singing and National Federation of Music Clubs. An active performer of opera, music theatre, and solo recitals, her performance career includes numerous operatic leading roles such as Micaela in Carmen, Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Sonia in Merry Widow, Pamina in Die Zauberflӧte, Madame Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmélites, and most recently Lady Thiang in The King and I. Dr. Siarris currently sings with SC-based soprano trio, “The Blonde, the Brunette, and the Redhead.” She is the mother of three boys and a member of Bethel United Methodist Church.
Teaching Mission: Good common sense vocal health and singing is my goal for students. Your body is your instrument; therefore, care should be taken of that instrument. Developing students will learn good, strong techniques for the voice that will keep them singing for their lifetime. In addition to vocal production, students will be instructed in music, music interpretation, foreign language pronunciations and translations, audition techniques, stage presence and other aspects of song presentation.
Suzy Smith teaches Suzuki and traditional piano at Lawson Academy. She has a Bachelor of Arts in music and a Master of Arts in early childhood education, both from Converse College. Her additional professional development includes attending Suzuki method teacher Training in both Washington, DC and New Orleans, LA, as well as Yahama Adult Student Teacher Training in Greensboro, NC. She has 24 years of piano teaching experience and has worked with students of all ages and levels, including special needs students.
Carol Starnes received a Bachelor of Music from Salem College and a Masters from Converse in piano performance with concentration in theory and composition. She is the winner of the Padewreski Medal from the National Guild of Piano Teachers, The Albert Schweitzer Award for Artistic Excellence and has been designated a teacher of outstanding excellence by the South Carolina Music Teachers Association. She is in demand as a judge for piano and composition contests throughout the southeast and has been teaching at the Lawson Academy since 1969. She has taught at the Spartanburg Day School, Limestone College, and privately at her home. Her students have been winners in the NFMC Festival, The South Carolina Music Teachers Association Auditions on a state and national level and have been consistent scholarship winners here at the Lawson Academy. She has had two state winners and one national winner in the MTA composition contest.
Carol composed the music for the first original production of the South Carolina Childrens Theater and has composed for choirs, orchestral choirs, and of course, for piano.
Her philosophy of piano study is :"If it was easy, everybody would be doing it." Thus, she strives to help students develop their talents.
Director of Ministries at Grace United Methodist Church in Union, SC, Carolyn Turner has been a piano teacher for thirty years. She has experience teaching young children, and youth and adults to perform and play the piano for their own enjoyment or to prepare for a career in music. She has served as SCFMC Junior Festival Chairman and State Junior Counselor. She strongly encourages the love of music in others and enjoys showing people how music can enrich lives.
Her previous studies include:
Dr. Vola Jacobs, Augusta, GA, graduate of Curtis Institute of Music and soloist with the Philadelphia Philharmonic.
Mrs. Louise Thompson, Augusta, GA, graduate of Juilliard
Mrs. Jackson, North Augusta, SC, Sorbonne, France
Dr. George Luktenberg, Converse, private lessons
Alison Turner Watson began her musical involvement at Converse College as a high school flute student in the Lawson Academy. She continued studies at Converse College to earn a B.M. in Flute Performance, after which she returned to complete studies in Music Therapy. She completed her music therapy internship at the Charlie Norwood VA Hospital in Augusta, GA. Mrs. Watson has offered music therapy services for a wide variety of populations across the lifespan, from children to geriatrics. Her work in a collaborative project with Converse College and the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System Foundation at New Day Clubhouse was recently published in a research journal, The Arts in Psychotherapy. In addition to her work with children at the Lawson Academy, Mrs. Watson provides music therapy services via private practice and serves older adults at White Oak Estates of Spartanburg.
Mr. Wenger taught in the public schools for 44 years before his retirement in June 2010, after 6 years at Dawkins Middle School. He taught one year in Carlisle, PA, 19 years at Tennessee High School in Bristol, TN., and was the band director of Dorman High School and the District Six Band Coordinator for 18 years. Under his leadership, both Tennessee High School and Dorman High School were highly successful in state and national competitions. The concert bands had years of consecutive superior ratings. On several occasions, Mr. Wenger received the Citation of Excellence Award from the National Band Association. His latest award was presented on March 12, 2011 when he was inducted into the International School Bandmaster Fraternity Hall of Fame. He is currently the director of the Lawson Band at Converse College, and teaches some 40 private brass lessons each week.
In 1996 Mr. Wenger was chosen teacher of the year at Dorman High School and Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year. In 1997 he was chosen as an Honored Teacher by The Huntington Learning Center in recognition of dedication to the teaching profession and contributions that went beyond the call of duty. Through the years he has served as both a clinician and adjudicator of bands in South Carolina, Virginia, Arizona, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. He is a member of Phi Beta Mu, an honorary band directors association, the South Carolina Teachers Association, South Carolina Band Director’s Association, and the MENC.
Mr. Wenger was named the director of the Spartanburg Community Band in July of 2004 and retired in July 2011.
Roots music veteran BUDDY WOODWARD is an award winning singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, band leader, side man, studio musician and teacher, with over 25 years experience as a touring and recording professional, with several albums to his credit, and Top 10 hits on Bluegrass and Americana radio.
He was a founding member of seminal 90's alt.country whiz kids THE GHOST ROCKETS, and NYC honky-tonkers BUDDY WOODWARD & THE NITRO EXPRESS, was a featured performer in the long-running Alphabet City Opry, as well as having played with Steve Earle, Rosie Flores, Jim Lauderdale, Eric Brace & Peter Cooper, John Starling, The Coal Porters, Laura Cantrell, Smalltown Parade, and The Chelsea Mountain Jamboree, among many others.
In 2002 Buddy co-founded THE DIXIE BEE-LINERS, known throughout the United States and beyond for their original material and onstage chemistry. Combining bluegrass and old-time mountain music with folk-rock, blues and power pop influences, the award-winning ensemble created a sound "...steeped in tradition, but with tones and rhythms that are very 21st century" (No Depression), and toured nationally and internationally to great acclaim.
Buddy teaches Banjo (three-finger and claw hammer), Guitar (acoustic and electric), Mandolin, Mountain Dulcimer, Electric bass, Autoharp, and Songwriting, beginners to intermediate. As a member of THE DIXIE BEE-LINERS, Buddy has over a decade of experience hosting and participating in dozens of instrument, vocal, songwriting and music business workshops at major music festivals and trade shows across the country.
Oboist Kelly McElrath Vaneman is Associate Professor of oboe and musicology and chair of the Department of Musicology and Composition at the Carroll McDaniel Petrie School of Music of Converse College. She holds DMA, MMA and MM degrees from the Yale University School of Music, where she was teaching assistant to Ronald Roseman. A native Texan, she received her BMus summa cum laude from Baylor University, where she studied with Doris DeLoach. In addition, she studied modern and Baroque oboe with Paul Dombrecht at the Koninklijk Konservatorium Brussel under a grant from the Belgian American Educational Foundation.
Dr. Vaneman is, above all, committed to chamber music and the expansion of its repertoire. As oboist of the oboe/flute/piano trio Ensemble Radieuse she has performed on three continents, premiered countless new works and arrangements, and recorded the CD Inbox. Ensemble Radieuse were prize-winners in the 2006 National Flute Society Chamber Music Competition and have been invited to perform at the conferences of the College Music Society (National), the International Double Reed Society, the Southeastern Composers Forum, and the South Carolina chapter of the Music Teachers National Association. They have also been featured performers on Nashville Public Radio’s Live in Studio C. In addition to her work with Ensemble Radieuse, Dr. Vaneman has pursued her love of chamber music as an Artist-Fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and the Bach Aria Festival, as oboist of the chamber ensembles BYNA and Conversant, and was founder and director of Chamber Music in the Chapel in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
As a soloist, Dr. Vaneman has been active in the new music scene and has over thirty premieres to her credit. She has appeared as a soloist with orchestras in Guatemala, Texas, and South Carolina and has played as a member of the Central Texas, Waco, Asheville, Spartanburg and New Haven Symphony Orchestras, the National Orchestral Institute, the American Wind Symphonyand the Reigate Festival Orchestra of Surrey, England.
A musician of wide-ranging interests, Dr. Vaneman has performed Baroque music on period instruments and directs and performs with the Converse Early Music Ensemble. She has also performed and recorded as a member of the New York-based rock bands Rome 56 and the Ashley Wilkes Band. She is a past president of the Rho chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda and a member of Alpha Chi and has written for The Double Reed, the journal of the International Double Reed Society. She spends her summers in residence at the Performing Arts Institute of Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pennsylvania, where she performs with the PAI Symphony and teaches oboe and chamber music.
A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Brennan Szafron is the first full-time organist and choirmaster of the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Spartanburg, SC, a position he has held since August 2003. At this church, he is responsible for playing the organ for all services, directing two adult and three children’s choirs, and directing and arranging music for the instrumental and hand chime ensembles. He took a group of adults to New York City where, on August 20, 2006, they were the choir-in-residence at Grace Church, Broadway. Also, since 2009 he has been an adjunct instructor in organ performance and college organist at Converse College.
Dr. Szafron’s earliest training as an organist began in Ottawa, Ontario in 1990, when he took his first year of lessons with Danielle Dubé at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. He finished high school in Regina where between 1991 and 1994 his teachers were Verleen Baerg, Gordon Wallis, and Harold Gallagher. While in Regina, he took on his first professional positions which were as organists of St. Peter’s Anglican Church and Christ Lutheran Church. He has had continued church employment since then.
Before coming to Spartanburg, Brennan Szafron was the assistant organist and choirmaster of Christ Episcopal Church, Grosse Pointe, MI, with whom he toured France and Switzerland in the summer of 2003. He was also a student at the University of Michigan, where he received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance, studying with Robert Glasgow. Other degrees include a Master of Music degree from Yale University, where his teachers were Thomas Murray and Martin Jean, and a Bachelor of Music degree, with distinction, from the University of Alberta, where his teachers were Jacobus Kloppers and Marnie Giesbrecht. At the age of 21, he became a Fellow of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.
Brennan Szafron is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. While at the University of Alberta, he received several Beryl Barns memorial scholarships and at Yale, he received the Edwin Stanley Seder memorial scholarship. He was the third prize winner of the 1997 Royal Canadian College of Organists National Competition and the 1998 recipient of the RCCO John Goss Memorial Scholarship for advanced organ study outside of Canada. In 2008, he received the third prize in the first ever RCCO National Improvisation competition and competed in the Marcello Galanti International Organ Competition in Mondaino, Italy.
In November 2004, Dr. Szafron played the Barber Toccata Festiva and Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 with the Greater Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and in July 2005, gave a recital at First Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC. On September 11, 2005, he gave a recital at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. He has also performed on the 1998 Organ a la Carte series at Jack Singer Concert Hall, Calgary, AB, performed a 2000 recital in Regina, SK in commemoration of the death of J.S. Bach, and performed at St. James Cathedral in Toronto, ON just before the 2001 RCCO National Convention. He was a featured recitalist in the L’organo series for the 2006 Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC (and again in 2012 with the duo “The Philharmonic Flutes”), and a recitalist at North Greenville University on October 2, 2006. Other recitals have been on the Pro Organo series of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Ottawa Centre, the Cliffs Community chapel at Glassy Mountain, South Carolina, St. Thomas Church, New York City, Holy Family Catholic Church, Hilton Head Island, First Presbyterian Church, Gastonia, NC, Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Tryon, NC, Princeton University Chapel and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Columbia, SC. In 2011-12 he gave recitals at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Charlotte, NC, First United Methodist Church, Easley, SC, Episcopal Church of the Advent, Spartanburg, Trinity Episcopal Church, Abbeville, SC, Trinity Lutheran Church, Greenville, SC and at Twichell Auditorium, Converse College in a faculty recital with multiple instrumentalists. He began the 2012-13 academic year by reprising the Barber Toccata Festiva with the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra (formerly the Greater Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra).
Brennan Szafron is represented by Concert Artist Cooperative of Sebastopol, CA.
Pianist Erica Pauly has performed extensively throughout the Carolinas and Georgia as soloist, chamber musician, orchestral pianist and collaborative pianist. Mrs. Pauly has worked professionally with many renowned conductors, performed with the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra, the Brevard Music Center Orchestra, orchestras in Spartanburg and Greenville, and has earned a fine reputation as collaborative pianist, working on numerous concerts with area vocalists and instrumentalists and in many venues including the Spartanburg Repertory Company, ACDA conventions, master classes for John Wustman and NATS, and chamber concerts for the Lawson Series at Converse College.
Mrs. Pauly has been teaching piano since 1993, is a member of MTNA, NFMC, AGO, and is an acclaimed adjudicator. She has had many students over the years to win state MTNA accolades, NFMC Best Performers, Lawson Academy Scholarships, and other local competitions. Mrs. Pauly enjoys helping her students achieve basic musicianship skills as well as technical and artistic mastery, while enjoying their unique creativity and imagination in the process.
Mrs. Pauly holds a Master of Music degree in piano pedagogy and a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Converse College, having studied with such notable professors as Douglas Weeks and Sylvia Rabinof. Mrs. Pauly enjoys working as freelance performer; Piano Faculty at the Lawson Academy and adjunct instructor at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC; Piano Faculty at the Creative Arts Academy in Simpsonville, SC; and Director of Music/Choirmaster/Organist at Grace United Methodist Church in Union, SC.
Ms. Hicks is an adjunct in class piano at the Petrie School of Music and an instructor of traditional and Suzuki piano, Suzuki violin, and theory at the Lawson Academy of the Arts.
Anne Denbow, soprano, received formal training at The Ohio State University, and New England Conservatory of Music where she earned both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees cum laude, and upon graduation, continued her vocal, dance and dramatic training in New York City.
Anne’s varied performing career has included roles in musical theater, operetta and opera productions in regional and dinner theaters nationwide, guest appearances as soloist with chamber ensembles and regional symphony orchestras, art song recitals, and a two-year contract as a performer around the world with Cunard Lines, Ltd. Anne has most recently been heard as soloist in Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri and Bach’s St. John Passion with the Spartanburg Festival Chorus and Converse Symphony Orchestra. As a professional chorister with the Carolina Chamber Chorale, Anne performed at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival for several seasons and recorded works by Twentieth Century composers on the Albany Records label. As the vocal production specialist, she co-authored a choral textbook series for grades K-12 entitled "Experiencing Choral Music," published by McGraw Hill/Glencoe Corporation.
Awards received include the Rowe Fellowship for Graduate Study, First Place in the National Association of Teachers of Singing New England Regional Auditions and Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Great Lakes Regional Auditions. Anne is an active member of NATS, an inactive member of AEA (Actor’s Equity Association), an honorary member of Pi Kappa Lambda, and a past member of ACDA (American Choral Director’s Association).
Anne has previously held full-time vocal/choral faculty positions at both Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, and Ashland University in Ohio, and has served as a Lecturer in Voice at Converse College when needed. Currently, she holds the position of Director of Liturgical Arts at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Spartanburg, teaches voice and related subjects at USC Upstate and The Lawson Academy, and maintains an active private voice studio.
An active performer, Karen Hill is currently the Principal Clarinetist of the Spartanburg Philharmonic, Principal Second Clarinetist of the Asheville Symphony and a member of the Arbor Wind Trio. She has appeared as a soloist with the Spartanburg Philharmonic, Brevard Chamber Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic, Music Academy of the West Festival Orchestra, and the Converse Symphony Orchestra. In the past she also served as Principal Clarinetist with the Hendersonville Symphony, the Brevard Chamber Orchestra, and the French Broad River Woodwind Quintet. A freelance musician in the area for over 20 years, she also has performed with the Asheville Lyric Opera Company, Augusta Symphony Orchestra, Augusta Opera Company, Charleston Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Greenville Symphony, North Carolina Symphony and the South Carolina Philharmonic.
Karen has been on the faculty at Converse College since 2000 and prior to that time taught at Brevard College, Mars Hill College, Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, Union, and the School for Gifted Students in the Arts. A high school graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, Mrs. Hill holds degrees in clarinet performance from Northwestern University and the University of Michigan, where she was a full-tuition Fellow. She is a former student of the world-renowned clarinetist Robert Marcellus.
A summer music enthusiast throughout high school and college, Karen spent her summers at music festivals such as the Banff Center, Brevard Music Center, Interlochen , Music Academy of the West, and the School of Orchestral Studies, a summer affiliate of the Philadelphia Orchestra. She has also performed at Piccolo Spoleto, the Cullowhee Music Festival, and at Wild Acres as a Woodwind Quintet Artist in Residence.
Currently, Karen spends her summers on the faculty of the MasterWorks Festival as the Director of Chamber Music. She also serves on the Board of Directors of its parent organization, the Christian Performing Artists' Fellowship. She lives in Gaffney, SC, with her husband Chip, also a clarinetist, and their three boys.
Frank Watson, Instructor of Bassoon, has had a long and varied career as a professional musician. He has been a member of the Greenville Symphony for over 40 years, and a member of the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra for nearly 20 years. A talented multi-woodwind specialist, Mr. Watson has played with such notable and varied musical artists as Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Robert Goulet, Bob Hope, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo, Glenn Campbell, The Manhattans, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, as well as the touring companies of West Side Story and Chicago.
Mr. Watson retired from a 34-year public school teaching career with 32 years spent teaching Band in Spartanburg School District Six. Mr. Watson has served as an Adjunct Instructor at Furman University, Limestone College and Presbyterian College in addition to Converse. Frank has studied with several respected woodwind artists including Dr. Robert Chesebro (Furman University); Dr. Donald Munsell, Dr. William T. Gower and Dr. Joe Barry Mullins (University of Southern Mississippi); Mr. William Polisi (NBC Symphony); Mr. Carl Vendetti (Charlotte Symphony). Frank holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Furman University (Major in Woodwind Performance) and a Master of Music degree from the University of Southern Mississippi (Major in Bassoon Performance). An avid golfer, Mr. Watson was the 2002 Spartanburg County Senior Amateur Champion, and enjoys playing golf as often as possible.