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Youth Inspired Music

 

The Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra program serves more than 200 of the very best young musicians in the greater Asheville area. The program consists of two string orchestras, two symphony orchestras, and one percussion ensemble. Students participate in masterclasses, retreats, workshops, tours and social events. They also receive high quality music instruction from the region’s most respected professional conductors and musicians, and have the opportunity to perform throughout the community. Most importantly, students involved in ASYO gain a strong sense of discipline, increased confidence, and a deep appreciation for music and the arts.

2023-2024 Season Calendar

ASYO Participation Contract 2023-2024

ASYO F.A.Q.

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ASYO Events

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ASYO News

ASHEVILLE SYMPHONY YOUTH ORCHESTRA EUROPEAN TOUR

We are excited  to announce that the ASYO will be going on their first EVER European Tour in June 2024. During the trip, students will visit Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague with performances in two cities. Students will be immersed in the culture of each city and experience the rich music history of each place. This opportunity will be the first for many of our young musicians. A chance to travel internationally, perform in historic cities, and experience a whole new world. 

Want to make a direct donation to support the 2024 European Tour? The funds we secure will offset the total amount each child has to pay to attend the tour. With your help, we can make the trip financially obtainable for the members. 

Donate to Friends of the ASYO! Please write “tour” in the “Personal note to be included with donation” field so we know how to apply your gift!

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of the ASYO

Ready to join the ASYO?

ASYO Application

Interested in joining the ASYO? Follow the instructions below. Questions? Contact ASYO General Manager Cynthia Roop at cmroop@ashevillesymphony.org.

1) Scroll down on this page  to read about the ensembles and determine which best matches your age and playing level.
2) Fill out the Audition Application and Registration Form:

AUDITION APPLICATION AND REGISTRATION FORM

3) If you are interested in a scholarship or financial aid, fill out the Scholarship Application Form on the page below:

TUITION AND SCHOLARSHIPS

4) If you’d like to submit an optional teacher recommendation, you may send the link below to your teacher.

If your private teacher or band/string teacher would like to provide a recommendation, they are welcome to do so using this confidential form. This is not a requirement for auditions but an opportunity for your teachers to provide us with feedback and information about their students. Forms are due one day prior to the audition. 

TEACHER RECOMMENDATION FORM

Audition Dates

ASYO Auditions are held in the fall and winter each season. If you would like to audition, please complete the application and registration instructions on this page.

ASYO 24-25 Spring Auditions

Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion: Thursday, May 30 or Friday, May 31 | 5:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Strings: Saturday, June 1 | 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 pm
Strings: Sunday, June 2 | 1:00-5:00 p.m.

All returning members are required to audition for placement in groups. All new members are required to audition for placement in groups. All auditions will be in person.

LOCATION
Asheville High School
419 McDowell St, Asheville, NC 28803

Asheville Youth Symphony Orchestra Ensembles

Please review the ensemble and audition information, below, to determine which orchestra’s audition requirements best match your playing level and age range. Please note: regardless of which orchestra’s audition material you prepare, the audition committee who hears your audition will place you in the orchestra best suited to your abilities and the needs of the ensemble. Orchestra placement can be competitive based on the number of other individuals auditioning and therefore final decisions of placement will be made by the audition committee.

Overture Strings

Designed to introduce string students to the fundamentals of ensemble playing. Students must have 1 year of experience. All students are beginning note readers and can demonstrate a good foundation in playing technique. The emphasis in rehearsal will be establishing good posture, technique, sound production, rehearsal discipline, rhythmic and note reading skills as well as understanding harmony in ensemble music.

Rehearses Mondays 5:00-6:00 pm

Audition Requirements: Teacher recommendation and/or recommendation from audition committee.

Divertimento Strings (8 – 14 years)

AUDITION INFORMATION

Designed for students who have had limited orchestral experience and are excited to begin growing their orchestral skills. All students should have basic note-reading skills, including the ability to identify pitch names and count/play various rhythms in simple meters using subdivisions up to 16th notes. Students should be comfortable playing in first position in the keys of G and D and showing contrast with basic articulations such as detache, legato, and staccato. This ensemble builds solid, fundamental rhythmic and orchestral skills including improved sight-reading abilities, expanding first position and starting third position.

Rehearses Mondays 5:00-6:30pm

Sinfonia Strings (10-17 years)

AUDITION INFORMATION

Composed of students who have progressed to the intermediate level of performance on their instrument. Students will solidify and further develop the first and third positions (through keys of 3 sharps/3 flats) through the performance of repertoire. Having mastered the basic skills level, the focus is on developing proper tone quality, mastering intermediate bow techniques, and refining ensemble skills. All students should be fluent in note-reading skills, including the ability to identify pitch names and count/play various rhythms in simple meters. Fluency in compound meter and syncopation will be developed in this group. Designed for string students fluent in first position and developing shifting skills. Members will refine dynamics, expand articulation skills including hooked bowing, spiccato, and marcato. This ensemble focuses on cross-listening between sections, blend and balance, expressing various styles of music, and pursuing detailed, mature music-making with the guidance of a conductor. 

Rehearses Monday 5:00-6:30 pm

Concert Orchestra (11 – 18 years)

AUDITION INFORMATION

A full orchestra ensemble consisting of middle and high school students performing at an advanced-intermediate level and with the maturity to participate in a full orchestra. All students joining Concert Orchestra will demonstrate solid technique including consistent intonation, a developed tone, rhythmic fluency including compound meters, and an awareness of ensemble skills (listening, balancing, and the ability to follow a conductor). String students will be fluent in first and third positions (through keys of 3 sharps/3 flats). They will demonstrate developing vibrato and a mastery of a variety of articulations (including hooked bowings, spiccato, and marcato). Wind students will demonstrate the ability to play in keys of up to 3 flats/2 sharps and clear staccato articulation. Repertoire includes many standard masterworks from different musical style periods expertly arranged for educational ensembles, as well as many original compositions and popular music straight from the movies. Basic technique and artistic vocabulary is reinforced during sectional rehearsals with professional coaches who are among the finest performers and teachers in the area. Concert Orchestra provides an opportunity to continue developing the ensemble skills needed to advance to Youth Philharmonic literature.

Rehearses Mondays 5:00-6:30pm

Youth Philharmonic (13-19 years)

AUDITION INFORMATION

A full orchestra comprised of outstanding players with advanced technical skills who show strong musicality and musicianship and who are capable of the discipline necessary to perform at the highest level.  All students joining Youth Philharmonic will demonstrate consistent intonation in all keys, a mature tone, rhythmic fluency, and mature ensemble skills. String students will be fluent in upper positions (beyond third) on all strings, will demonstrate vibrato, and will display a mastery of a wide variety of articulations and advanced bow control. Violists will have basic treble clef reading skills and cellists will have basic tenor clef reading skills. Wind students will demonstrate the ability to clearly perform a wide variety of articulations and to maintain a developed tone in all registers. This ensemble is dedicated to performing full symphonic repertoire in a variety of styles. In addition to the full orchestra rehearsals, the students work in sectionals with professional coaches who are among the finest performers and teachers in the area. Weekly rehearsals during the school year are carried out under professional standards.

Rehearses Mondays 6:45-8:45 pm

Percussion Ensemble (12-19 years)

AUDITION INFORMATION

The Asheville Symphony Youth Percussion Ensemble consists of large ensemble and smaller chamber groups. These ensembles perform a variety of literature thus providing the students with a comprehensive learning and performing experience.

While participation in the Concert Orchestra and Youth Philharmonic are separate and distinct, the percussion ensemble is the “laboratory” in which skills are learned and “applied.” Members of the percussion section are evaluated and selected for participation in the Youth Orchestra, Philharmonia, and the Percussion Ensemble as determined by the Director of Percussion.

Rehearses Monday in conjunction with the Concert Orchestra and Youth Philharmonic, 5:00pm-8:45pm. 

Honors Chamber Ensembles

The ASYO will hold separate auditions for our Honors Chamber Ensembles in October. We will offer Woodwind, Brass, and String Chamber experiences. Requirements will be as follows: Students must be a full time member of one of the performing ensembles of the ASYO. Students will meet weekly or bi-weekly based upon coach availability and overall calendar schedule for the season. Students will be required to play 2 scales from the auditions requirements above and a technical and lyrical section of a solo piece approximately 2-3 minutes in length. 

ASYO Staff

Cynthia M. Roop, General Manager
Click here to read about Cynthia.
Cynthia M. Roop, General Manager
Click here to read about Cynthia.

Cynthia Roop has an extensive career in music education, performance, and arts management. Her music education career spans twenty-six years and includes successful teaching positions from kindergarten through college where she taught and managed K-4 general music, conducted several middle and high school bands, and instructed music education classes and applied flute studies at Mars Hill University. Cynthia graduated with honors, earning a Bachelor of Music Education (B.M.E.) from Murray State University, a Masters of Education (M.Ed) from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a Masters of Music (M.M) in flute performance from the University of Oklahoma. Cynthia holds a teaching licensure in Music K-12 in North Carolina, Orff Level 1 and 2 certifications, and is a member of NCMEA and NAfME. In 2017, Ms. Roop was recognized as Teacher of the Year for Weaverville Elementary and District Teacher of the Year for the North Buncombe District.

Cynthia has performed flute as a chamber musician, soloist, and orchestral player. She began her studies with internationally known soloist and teacher, Jim Walker. Other teachers include Mr. Paul Thompson, Mr. Christopher Krueger, Dr. Valerie Watts, and Christina Jennings. In 2003, Ms. Roop was invited to attend the International Summer Music Festival in Leipzig, Germany where she participated in an intense course of study with Carol Wincenc and the other members of the Juilliard Faculty. Ms. Roop has presented at music education conferences, various flute day events, and the National Flute Convention.

Ms. Roop’s arts management experience began as assistant tour manager for the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps/Youth Education in the Arts from 1995-1999. She worked in Public Radio as the Assistant for Morning Classics at WKMS while attending Murray State University, and founded the Brio Chamber Series in 2004 when she arrived in Western, NC. Cynthia has facilitated numerous committees within the Buncombe County Schools district and currently serves on the Buncombe County Schools Arts Advisory Board.

Cynthia has maintained a private music studio and created summer music and arts camps for children. She has secured numerous grants for her students and worked to raise money for other institutions that impact the lives of children. She and her team participated in the Trail Blaze Challenge where they hiked 28 miles in one day to raise money for Make-A-Wish Foundation. Furthermore, Cynthia and her team raised money for Food Connection running a 76-mile relay race from Asheville, NC to Greenville, SC. She is driven by her advocacy for music education and her passion to positively impact her community. Cynthia resides in Weaverville with her husband Brian and two children, Lydia and Asher.

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Alexandra Dee, Music Director and Concert & Youth Philharmonic Conductor
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Alexandra Dee, Music Director and Concert & Youth Philharmonic Conductor
Click here to read more about Alexandra.

Alexandra Dee is the newly appointed Director of Orchestral Activities in the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University. Her previous positions include Director of Orchestral Studies and assistant professor of violin and viola at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. Outside of academia, she was music director and conductor of Chicago’s South Loop Symphony Orchestra and a cover conductor for the Joffrey Ballet, with whom she debuted in 2017, leading an opening week of performances with the Chicago Philharmonic on one day’s notice. In summer 2017 she was invited to conduct at the Peninsula Music Festival (Door County, Wisconsin) as an Emerging Conductor. Also at home in the opera pit, Dee has had multiple engagements with Manitoba Underground Opera (Winnipeg), Northwestern University Opera Theater, and the IUP Music Department’s Main Stage Productions.

Dee completed her doctoral studies in orchestral conducting at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, where she studied with Victor Yampolsky. She is also an alumna of the Florida State University College of Music, where she completed both a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting and a Bachelor of Music Education degree. While at FSU, Dee studied conducting with Alexander Jiménez, choral conducting with André Thomas, and violin with Corinne Stillwell. Her conducting positions at FSU included founding music director and conductor of the Campus Orchestra, a string orchestra geared toward non-music majors from across the university community.

In addition to her formal studies, Dee has attended conducting workshops and festivals at such institutions as the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestral Musicians, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Royal Northern College of Music, and the Orkney Conductors’ Course, where she conducted the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. A consistent advocate for contemporary music, Dee has performed and premiered numerous works by living composers. In particular, she is a vigorous champion of the works of her husband, composer Roger Zare.

Amanda Tant, Sinfonia Strings Conductor
Click here to read more about Amanda.
Amanda Tant, Sinfonia Strings Conductor
Click here to read more about Amanda.

Amanda Tant is the orchestra director at Hendersonville Middle and Hendersonville High Schools. Ms. Tant’s students receive consistent excellent and superior ratings at state and local competitions. Students also regularly audition for and participate in Junior and Senior Western Regional Orchestra and NC All State Orchestra.

Her high school ensembles have performed at the North Carolina Music Education Association Conference, Festival Disney and the Worldstrides Nashville Heritage Festival. Ms. Tant also serves as the musical director in the long-standing Hendersonville High School Senior Play, coaching vocals and conducting the pit orchestra of a full-length Broadway musical every spring.

Outside of her school ensembles, Ms. Tant is very excited to return to Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestras as the Chamber Orchestra conductor this season. She currently conducts the WNC Music Academy Sonata String Orchestra. From 2016-2019, she conducted the inaugural Prelude Orchestra of the Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestras. She has also had the pleasure of serving as a festival clinician for Buncombe All-County Middle School and Berrian All-County Orchestras.

Ms. Tant holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Appalachian State University. Before she began teaching in Hendersonville, Ms. Tant completed a year of graduate courses in Viola Performance, studying with Eric Koontz, DMA and performing in an endowed graduate chamber ensemble, the Hayes Quartet.

She performs on viola with the Café String Quartet, Brevard Philharmonic, and Hendersonville Symphony. She is currently on the board of the HSO serving on the Education Committee.

Ms. Tant is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow alumna and an active member of the National Association for Music Education serving as the Auditions Chairperson for Western Regional Orchestra. She is also a member of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) and a 2018 recipient of the Foundation for the Advancement of String Education’s George Bornoff Memorial Scholarship. Ms. Tant is especially honored to be recognized as Hendersonville High School’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year.

She resides in Asheville with her husband, Nathaniel Habel. They have one dog, Khyber, and three cats: Zeke, Blue, and Tempest.

Ashlee Booth, Divertimento Strings Conductor
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Ashlee Booth, Divertimento Strings Conductor
Click here to read more about Ashlee.

Ashlee Booth enjoys a career that combines her love for performance and string pedagogy. Currently based in Asheville, NC, Ashlee frequently performs as a chamber/orchestral musician in the greater WNC region. Ashlee also performs with her cello/percussion duo Two-Way Street, who’s recent album has received critical attention in the New York Times, Pitchfork, and The Wire.

Ashlee is currently an Orchestra Teacher in Buncombe County Schools where she strives to give her students a culturally responsible education. Her orchestra students are not only taught the fundamentals of musicality, but a wide range of musical styles, perspectives, and with an emphasis on relating music to the world around them.

Ashlee received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from Florida State University where she studied with Greg Sauer. In 2018 Ashlee completed her MM and her work as the Graduate Teaching Assistant for Dr. Wesley Baldwin at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

 

Brian Tinkel, Percussion Director
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Brian Tinkel, Percussion Director
Click here to read more about Brian.

Percussionist Brian Tinkel enjoys a career that draws on his background both in teaching and in performance as chamber musician, soloist and orchestral player. Currently, he is Associate Professor of Music at Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, North Carolina. As Director of Percussion Studies, he oversees all aspects of percussion education. He advises all percussion majors and manages two additional adjunct percussion faculty. He directs University Percussion Ensembles and co-directs the Mountain Lion Marching Band. During his tenure, Dr. Tinkel started additional percussion ensembles to include Marimba Band, West African Ensemble, and Brazilian Percussion Ensemble.

Dr. Tinkel performs with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, Asheville Lyrics Opera, Asheville Symphony Chorus, Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater, Asheville Community Theater, Brevard Philharmonic, and the Johnson City Orchestra. He is currently on faculty with the Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra serving as Director of Percussion. He was Principal Timpanist with the Enid Symphony and has performed with the Oklahoma Philharmonic. He is co-founder of the Brio Chamber Series, a chamber music series in Western North Carolina, and is a member of Mosaic Flute and Percussion Duo with his wife, Cynthia Roop. Dr. Tinkel earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Oklahoma. His dissertation, “Rebonds: A Pedagogical Analysis” is published by UMI. He received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His past teachers include Thom Hannum, Eduardo Leandro, Dr. Peter Tanner, and Dr. Lance Drege.

While being involved in the drum corps activity for two decades, Dr. Tinkel’s performance opportunities led him to being a member of the Boston Crusaders and Star of Indiana. He went on to perform with Star of Indiana’s Brass Theater production where he toured extensively with The Canadian Brass and Nexus. Since devoting his time to teaching, Brian has been on faculty with the Crossmen, Glassmen, and has coordinated percussion activities for Magic of Orlando and the Madison Scouts. In addition he has served as Percussion Caption Director and Arranger for Carolina Crown Drum & Bugle Corps and served as a percussion consultant for The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps in 2008 and 2009. Dr. Tinkel served as Percussion Caption Head for The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps from 2010 to 2013. In 2011, Tinkel led The Cavaliers Percussion Program to the Fred Sanford Award for Best Percussion Performance. In 2014, Dr. Tinkel began a position as percussion consultant with The Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps.

Dr. Tinkel has been a featured clinician and adjudicator at numerous events across the United States and at the 25th National Cultural Festival and International Exchange in Okayama, Japan. Additionally, he arranges for percussion ensembles across the country.

Dr. Tinkel is an artist and clinician for Avedis Zildjian Co., Pearl-Adams Corporation, REMO Inc., Innovative Percussion, and StickTape.com. Brian resides near Asheville, North Carolina with his wife Cynthia, and his two children Lydia and Asher.

Jason Posnock, Advisor
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Jason Posnock, Advisor
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Violinist Jason Posnock enjoys a versatile musical career both in the United States and internationally. He has performed regularly in such prominent American ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and has accompanied them on tours to Europe, South America, the Far East and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Mr. Posnock is also an active chamber musician and recitalist, having appeared in venues throughout the United States, England, Puerto Rico, and India. Concertmaster of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra since 2007, Mr. Posnock has previously held the positions of Concertmaster of the Clarksburg (WV) Symphony Orchestra and Concertmaster of the McKeesport (PA) Symphony Orchestra. He has often been invited to perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony, as well as serve as Guest Concertmaster of ensembles such as the Bangor, Roanoke, Erie, Westmoreland, and Altoona Symphony Orchestras.

In addition to his performance schedule, Mr. Posnock has devoted much of his time to teaching and working with young musicians, serving on the faculty of the Brevard Music Center, as Artist Lecturer in Violin at Carnegie Mellon University, conductor of the Intrada Strings preparatory orchestra, and maintaining a busy teaching studio. Presently, Mr. Posnock resides with his family in Brevard, NC, serves on the faculty of Brevard College, and is the Director of Artistic Planning & Educational Programs at the Brevard Music Center.

Dilshad Posnock, Woodwind Coach
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Dilshad Posnock, Woodwind Coach
Click here to read more about Dilshad.

Originally from Mumbai, India, flutist Dilshad Posnock has appeared in concerts and festivals across the United States, England, Puerto Rico and India, and has been featured on BBC TV and BBC World Service Radio.

Ms. Posnock’s performance experience is wide and varied. She has been featured as a concerto and recital soloist, as well as a chamber musician, collaborating with musicians from the New York Chamber Ensemble, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, as well as her hometown ensemble – the Bombay Chamber Orchestra. She has also participated in such international music festivals as the Brevard Music Center, the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, the Cape May Music Festival, Musica Viva, and was a founding member of the Sangat Music Festival in Mumbai, India.

Ms. Posnock completed her undergraduate studies with Honors at the Royal College of Music, London, and her Master’s Degree at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where she studied with renowned flutist and pedagogue Jeanne Baxtresser, former Principal Flute of the New York Philharmonic. While in Pittsburgh, she performed regularly with ensembles including the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Pittsburgh Ballet, and Pittsburgh Opera, and was Director of the Artist Diploma Program at the Carnegie Mellon School of Music.

Ms. Posnock has a deep passion for teaching. She has served as Artist Lecturer in Flute at CMU, is currently Artist Faculty at the Brevard Music Center and Brevard College, and woodwind coach for the Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra. She lives in Brevard, NC with her husband Jason, and two children. She is a member of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, and travels back to India to perform as Principal Flute with the South Asian Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Jason Slaughter, Brass Coach
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Dr. Jason Slaughter, Brass Coach
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Dr. Slaughter has a background in both classical and jazz music, and has had the privilege of performing with many of the greats in the jazz, hip hop, and funk worlds, including George Clinton, Joe Lovano, Lenny Pickett, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, The Village People, Wayne Bergeron, Joe LaBarbera, Dave Loeb, Bobby Shew, and Gerald Wilson. He also performed extensively in musicals and lounge shows in Las Vegas, was a member of the Wayne Newton Orchestra, and has performed in several famous venues in New York, including the Lincoln Center and Blue Note jazz club. Dr. Slaughter studied composition with several Pulitzer Prize winners, and his compositions have been performed throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, and South Korea.

He currently teaches at Mars Hill University, where he directs the Jazz Ensemble, teaches Music History and Music Theory, and offers private lessons in jazz. He taught previously at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, as well as spending a year as an elementary music teacher at P.S. 158 in New York City.

His current regular performing duties include playing bass trombone and tuba for the Asheville Jazz Orchestra, Greenville Jazz Collective, and Ol’ 74 Jazz Band, as well as playing tuba for the MHU Faculty Brass Quintet.

Rodney Workman, Site Coordinator
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Rodney Workman, Site Coordinator
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Rodney K. Workman is the Director of Bands at Asheville High School where he conducts the Wind Symphony and Marching Band and also assists the high school Symphonic Band, high school jazz bands, and the middle school bands in Asheville City Schools. He received degrees in Music Performance and Music Education from Appalachian State University. His concert bands regularly perform at the NC Bandmasters MPA events where they have received Superior Ratings in Grades II through Grade VI/ Masterworks. His bands have performed at local and regional concert band festivals including the Dixie Classic Festival, the Charleston Music Festival, the US Army Band President’s Cup in Washington DC, and the Grand National Adjudicator’s Invitational at Atlanta Symphony Hall.

In addition to his school work has also served as a conductor at UNCG Summer Music Camp, Cannon Music Camp, and most recently was selected to be on the staff of the “All American Band” which will be representing the United States in Normandy in the summer of 2023 for the D-Day Commemoration. He is a regular guest clinician for All County and All District Bands having conducted more than 50 clinics in recent years in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Alabama as well as the Symphonic Band at the University of South Carolina Band Clinic.

Mr. Workman is also a Past President of the North Carolina Bandmasters, and the current state chair for the National Band Association in North Carolina.

Amber Svetik, Overture Strings Conductor
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Amber Svetik, Overture Strings Conductor
Click here to read more about Amber.

Amber Svetik recently graduated from the University of North Carolina Greensboro

with her Master’s Degree in Music Education. In Greensboro, NC, Amber’s assistantship assignment included teaching and co-coordinating the Lillian Rauch Beginning Strings Program, a partnership between UNCG and the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra that provided string instruction to fourth and fifth grade social economic students. Amber was also a lead instructor for Winston-Salem Symphony’s El Sistema inspired PLAY music program. Prior to studying at UNCG, Amber resided in Florida. Growing up in the Sarasota-Bradenton area, Amber studied violin with Sarasota Orchestra musicians and performed in the Sarasota Youth Orchestras. In 2014, Amber began studying Music Education at the Florida State University, a Gaston Dufresne Scholarship recipient. She studied string pedagogy under Dr. Kasia Bugaj and violin under Dr. Benjamin Sung. In 2018 Amber was presented with the undergraduate Presser Scholar Award and graduated as a Garnet and Gold scholar. Following graduation, Amber returned to the Sarasota-Bradenton area to teach orchestra and perform. Amber served as the Orchestra Director at Electa Arcotte Lee Magnet Middle School in Bradenton, FL, from 2018-2021. During this time, she also conducted ensembles for the Sarasota Youth Orchestras and Summer Camps, a program Amber is an alumna of. Growing up with restricted access to string instruction, Amber was inspired to begin her own program, Violin Project Sarasota, that piloted during the 2019-2020 academic school year. Amber performed as a section violinist with the Venice Symphony, various regional orchestras, and local theaters. Currently, Amber has accepted a position as Box Office Supervisor with the Brevard Music Center. She is looking forward to building upon her career and interacting with the community here in Brevard, NC.

 

Cheryl Lewis, Operations Manager
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Cheryl Lewis, Operations Manager
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Cheryl Lewis is a retired public school music educator from Black Mountain, NC.  She earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Mars Hill University, National Board Certification in teaching, and completed Orff-Schulwerk Certification at Appalachian State University.  Mrs. Lewis holds a NC K-12 teaching certificate, having taught elementary music and band in Columbus, McDowell and Buncombe Counties. She was selected as Teacher of the Year at West Marion Elementary in 1999 and at Fairview Elementary in 2009.  She is a member of NAFME and NCMEA and served as a district representative on the NCMEA Elementary Board.  Mrs. Lewis enjoys performing, playing flute in the Asheville Community Band and piano at Swannanoa First Baptist Church. 

Judah Barak, Percussion Coach
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Judah Barak, Percussion Coach
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Judah Barak is a student of Mars Hill University studying under Dr. Brian Tinkel in order to fulfill his Bachelor’s degree in music performance. Judah has experience in orchestral music as he attended the Brevard Music Festival in 2019 where he studied under David Fishlock, Gwendolyn Dease, and timpanist, John Ross. He participated in the ASYO from 2016-2020 while attending Asheville High School. In addition, he occasionally acts as a substitute in the ASO Percussion section. 

Within the field of the marching arts, Judah has participated in both Drum Corp International and Winter Guard International. He spent the summers of 2021 and 2022 playing marching snare drum with Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corp. He spent the winter of 2022 with George Mason University Indoor Drumline on marching snare drum.

Judah has had the privilege of teaching young people at Asheville High School and Enka High School. He leads the marching percussion section of the Mars Hill Lion Marching Band. And was recently appointed as a section leader for the 2023 George Mason University Indoor Drumline Snare Drums.

Franklin Keel, Strings Coach
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Franklin Keel, Strings Coach
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Franklin Keel began studying violin when he was three years old before he discovered the cello at the age of six.  He earned scholarships to the Eastman School of Music, the Brevard Music Center (where he was a finalist in the Jan & Beattie Wood Concerto Competition), and the Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival.  He has appeared as a soloist with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra, the Brevard Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Blue Ridge Orchestra.  He has shared the concert stage with Emmanuel Ax, Warren Haynes, Bright Eyes, Ben Sollee, Free Planet Radio, Stephanie’s Id, the Get Right Band, the Jon Stickley Trio, and Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band.  He has recorded with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Ben Lovette, Matt Townsend, Jane Kramer,  the Secret B-Sides, and Holiday Childress, as well as full-length albums for Ben Phantom, Free Planet Radio, and Sirius.B.  He is now Associate Principal Cello with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, and he performs in many locally and regionally acclaimed projects such as the Opal String Quartet, the Get Right Band, Ben Phantom, Upland Drive, and Sirius.B.  As an avid chamber musician, he has collaborated regularly with Pan Harmonia, Amici Music, and the musicians of the Asheville Symphony.  Also a passionate educator, Mr. Keel taught orchestra and chorus for Henderson County Public Schools, and he now teaches string orchestra at Asheville Middle and High Schools.  He has served as a conductor for the Hendersonville Symphony Youth Orchestra program as well as interim conductor for the Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra.  Alongside his colleagues in the Opal String Quartet, he continues to give clinics and classes to young string players across Western North Carolina.