LEADERSHIP & STAFF
Meet WSCO's Leaders, Conductors, and Staff.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
President: Jason Howell
Vice President, Internal: Brian Dunbar
Vice President, External: Open
Treasurer: Mariane Hermanson
Secretary: Mindi Katzman
Members at Large: Joy Anderson, Rob Duisberg, Roberta Newland, Lauren Ryan
Founder, Conductor Emeritus
Toni, the founder of the orchestras and retired conductor, has had two careers in music. After graduating from Central Washington University with her bachelor's in music education, she taught instrumental music, (mostly orchestra) for about 10 years. During that time she returned to Central for a master's degree in music performance. Later she earned a Ph.D. in Systematic Musicology from the University of Washington, then worked as a freelance editor for 18 years. Toni recently retired from her second music teaching career, having taught instrumental music to fourth- and fifth-grade beginners for Seattle Public Schools for ten years.
In the fall of 2002, Toni co-founded the Symphonette with the late Kathleen Hunt. She knows that Kathleen would be proud that the organization has now grown to three orchestras with over 200 members! Toni continues in WSCO as the instructor for the Adult Beginning Band Class, and as the Music Resource Consultant.
Interim Symphony Orchestra Conductor
Passionate about performing music from different cultures, Asieh Mahyar serves as the interim Director of Orchestral Studies at Pacific Lutheran University. A Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in Orchestral Conducting at Michigan State University, Ms. Mahyar received her MM in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and her BM in Choral Conducting from Komitas State Conservatory of Yerevan, Armenia.
Coming from Iran and one of the very few female conductors from her country, Ms. Mahyar has broad experience working with ensembles at different labels and countries. At Michigan State University, she was the Assistant Conductor for the MSU Symphony Orchestra, MSU Concert Orchestra, Musique 21 contemporary music ensemble, and the MSU Opera. Previously, Ms. Mahyar served as Teaching Assistant at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she worked with UMass Symphony Orchestra and All university Orchestra. She has served as Assistant Conductor of Tchaikovsky Music College of Yerevan, Armenia, and worked with youth orchestras as a clinician at PLU Invitational High School Orchestra Festival, Mercer Island High School Orchestra Festival, WA, Warner Middle School Orchestra, MI, Stadium High School Orchestra, WA, Bellevue High School Orchestra, WA, and Curtis Senior High School Orchestra, WA. Ms. Mahyar’s broad conducting experience includes working with professional and community orchestras such as the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, MI, Marquette Symphony Orchestra, MI, Jackson Symphony, MI, Orchestras at Eastern Music Festival, NC, and National Music Festival Orchestra, MD. Ms. Mahyar is equally working with instrumental and vocal ensembles. She has directed MSU Practicum Choir, MI, Komitas State Conservatory Choir, Yerevan, Sorayesh Choir, Iran, and led full opera productions.
Ms. Mahyar has been selected to participate in prestigious conducting workshops and conferences including Cabrillo Music Festival with Christian Macelaru and Octavio Más-Arocas, National Music Festival with Richard Rosenberg, Eastern Music Festival with Gerard Schwarz, Conducting Institute with Miguel Hart-Bedoya, Conductors Retreat at Medomak with Kenneth Kiesler, and Choral Conducting Workshop with Antanina Kalechyts.
Wind Symphony Conductor
Anton received his B.A. in Music from Texas A&M University where he was also a member of the nationally famous Fightin' Texas Aggie Band and studied Flute with Penny Zent, Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra's principal flutist. Anton also received his B.M. in Music Education from the University of Washington Seattle where he studied Flute and Flute-Pedagogy with Donna Shin and is a former member of the UW Wind Ensemble under the directions of Tim Salzman and Steve Morrison. Anton worked as a woodwind coach in the greater Seattle area including the Northshore School District and Seattle Public Schools. Anton remains an active member of the Seattle Flute Society, National Flute Association (NFA) and the Collegiate National Association for Music Education and has served as an adjudicator for area high school marching band competitions. Anton is proud to be the founding conductor of WSCO's Wind Symphony and has been affiliated with WSCO since 2010.
Concert Orchestra Conductor
Bryan Kolk is a music educator, conductor, and bassist from Michigan. He received a Bachelors of Music Education and Masters in Double Bass performance from the University of Michigan. He studied conducting at the Pierre Monteux School in Maine, the University of Michigan Wind Conducting Symposium, and the Sherborne Summer School in England. He has directed orchestra programs at Caledonia High School (MI) as well as Troy High School (MI), and currently serves as the Orchestra Director and Fine Arts Department Head at Garfield High School in Seattle’s Central District. He also works for the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras where he directs the Debut Symphony Orchestra, their intermediate ensemble.
Bryan has previously served as Assistant Conductor of the Dearborn Youth Symphony, Everett Youth Symphony, and Bainbridge Island Youth Symphony. During the summers, Bryan conducts the Masterworks Orchestra at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in West Michigan and has been a part of the administration of SYSO’s Marrowstone Music Festival since 2011. In his free time, he loves to go hiking in the Cascades and Olympics with his partner and their energetic dog Pepper.
Debut Orchestra Conductor
Inspired by her Norwegian roots, Rachel has built a career around her love of music, performance, teaching, and Scandinavian tradition. She earned her BA in Music and Norwegian from St. Olaf College in 2007, followed by a master’s degree in Violin Performance and K-12 Teaching Certificate from Central Washington University in 2011. Rachel completed additional studies in classical violin at the Music Conservatory of the University of Stavanger, Norway, also using the opportunity to polish her Norwegian language skills. Although violin is her main jam, Rachel is an avid Hardanger Fiddler (the national folk instrument of Norway), an aspiring violist, an enthusiastic conductor, and a novice improv actor!
Rachel’s love of playing music includes her dedication to teaching. She absolutely loves coaching summer camps such as the Seattle Rock Orchestra Summer Intensive, Icicle Creek Summer Symphony, and Pipestone Music Camp. Always inspired to wear many different hats, she also conducts the West Seattle Community Orchestras’ Debut Symphony. The group is a fun, full orchestra that consists of players of all ages (youngest age 8 and oldest 80!) who have 1-3 years of experience playing their instruments.
One of Rachel’s other passions is making videos for Pizzicato Peeps with her friend and colleague, Begin Scarseth. These tutorial videos are meant to make learning fun and accessible to all levels and ages. Check them out here!
In her time not creating music, Rachel coordinates gigs as the booking manager for Oahu Strings. Apart from freelancing in Seattle, traveling is one of Rachel's favorite activities. She hopes to continue to play all types of music for audiences around the world.
Justin Murray is an active music educator, clinician, and conductor. New to the Seattle area, Justin is excited to bring his enthusiasm for the performing arts to WSCO as the Orchestra Manager. In addition to his duties with WSCO he also works on the Business Development team at Classic King FM and is the Assistant Marching Band Director at Tahoma Senior High School in Maple Valley, WA. Prior to moving to Seattle, Justin taught middle and high school band in the Midwest, most recently in Spring Lake Park, MN, just outside of Minneapolis. Ensembles under his direction have earned "superior" ratings at state contests and his students have earned auditioned positions in regional and state honor bands.
Originally from the Atlanta area, Justin earned the Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Master of Music in Wind Band Conducting Degrees from Georgia State University, studying flute with Sarah Kruser Ambrose and conducting with Robert J. Ambrose and Chester B. Phillips, with additional pedagogical mentorship from David W. Vandewalker. During his time as a student he performed with Symphonic Wind Ensemble and University Symphony Orchestra, co-directed large ensembles, coached chamber groups, and taught woodwinds and marching band. He has also been a participant in conducting symposia throughout the country, learning from notable conductors and professors at Columbus State University, University of California - Los Angeles, University of Illinois, University of Missouri -Kansas City, and University of Minnesota. Justin has also maintained a small private flute studio of students ranging from beginners to adults. He currently lives in West Seattle with his husband Dillon and their two dogs Jake and Scout.