Instructor Bios


Angela Anderson is the Twin Lakes WRAPS (Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy) Coordinator for the Morris County Conservation District. Previous to her role with the Conservation District, Angela was the Special Activities and Outreach Coordinator for the David Traylor Zoo of Emporia.


Darol Anger is exceptional among modern fiddlers for his versatility and depth.  He has helped drive the evolution of the contemporary string band through his involvement with numerous path-breaking ensembles such as his Republic Of Strings, the Turtle Island String Quartet, the David Grisman Quintet, Montreux, the Duo and other ensembles.  He has recorded and produced scores of important recordings, is a MacDowell and UCross Fellow, and has received numerous composers’ residencies and grants. He is a featured soloist on dozens of recordings and motion picture soundtracks.  Today, Darol can be heard on NPR’s “Car Talk” theme every week, along with Earl Scruggs, David Grisman and Tony Rice.


Dr. Gary Brattin is the Athletic Band Director and Low Brass Instructor at Emporia State University. He received the Doctor of Musical Arts in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Washington, serving as Graduate Assistant Director of Athletic Bands and Conducted several UW concert bands, including the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Campus Band and Summer Band. His Bachelor of Music in Tuba Performance and dual-emphasis Master of Music in Tuba Performance and Instrumental Conducting are both from the University of Northern Colorado. On the tuba, Brattin performed frequently with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and held Principal Tuba positions with the Boulder Philharmonic, Taiwan Symphony, Taipei Symphony, and Taipei Sinfonietta & Philharmonic Orchestras. He has won three concerto competitions and has been a featured soloist with professional and collegiate orchestras and wind ensembles on numerous occasions. Active internationally as a music adjudicator, clinician, tubist, show designer and guest conductor, Dr. Brattin has made music in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and throughout the United States.


Beth Byrd is a professional mime, clown, physical theater artist and teacher. Beth is Artistic Director at Byrd Productions Physical Theater. Beth is a serious artist in a funny way. Throughout her training she has tried to be flexible, not just in body but with her talent as well.


Richard Crowson has been performing his brand of “bluegrassical” music in the Wichita area for over 25 years. He sings, plays banjo, dobro and guitar. He began his live-long love of bluegrass music in his home state of Tennessee.  He is a member of the jamgrass group “Pop and the Boys” as well as “The Home Rangers,” a cowboy music band.  His group “The Crowsons” has recorded several cds over the years, including one Grammy-nominated project in 1992 called “Music of the Wild West,” where they worked with Marty Stuart and Crystal Gail. They also were featured on the cd “Home on the Range: Songs of the Kansas Pioneers” in the early 90s along with several other Kansas folk musicians. Their work has appeared on the History Channel, the Fox Network and the Nashville Network.  Richard’s original songs vary from gospel to historical themes to humor and children’s music. He has taught and played for various arts organizations in the Wichita area.


Dr. Tracy Freeze, specializes in contemporary and avant-garde marimba and multi-percussion repertoire.  Freeze is currently Principal Timpanist with the Wichita Grand Opera Orchestra.  Freeze is one of the founding members of the contemporary groups SchlagBlasse and the New Day Ensemble and is the artistic director of the 100th Monkey Ensemble in Eugene, Oregon. Dr. Freeze is an active clinician, giving master-classes, clinics and recitals in Mexico and the United States. He holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education from the University of Nevada at Reno, two Master Degrees from the University of Oregon in the areas of Percussion Performance and Instrumental Conducting, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Oregon under the tutelage of Charles Dowd and Robert Ponto. Dr. Freeze is currently the Professor of Percussion Studies at Emporia State University. Learn more.


Four-time Grammy winner Eugene Friesen is active internationally as a cellist, composer and teacher. He has been featured in concerts all over the world with the Paul Winter Consort, and in his popular CelloMan performances for children and families. Friesen’s composition for Consort, choir, orchestra and narrators, “Grasslands” was performed at Symphony in the Flint Hills in 2006. A pioneer in the teaching of improvisation to classically trained musicians, Eugene has led workshops throughout North America and around the world. His book, Improvisation for Classically Trained Musicians (Berklee Press) was published in June 2012. He is an artist-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and on the faculty of the Berklee College of Music in Boston. This is Eugene Friesen’s fourth year at Joyful Noise.  More information on Eugene can be found online at:


Wayne Gottstine is an American rock, country, and bluegrass musician, singer and songwriter. His fusion of rock, punk, jazz and bluegrass styles make his sound unique, whether on the guitar (his main instrument) or the mandolin. Wayne is one of the founding members of the seminal band Scroat Belly. He currently plays with Split Lip Rayfield, a hard-edged, punk influenced bluegrass trio. He tours North America with Split Lip Rayfield, playing festivals like Stagecoach, Telluride, and Wakarusa. He collaborates with many other musicians, namely banjo player deluxe Danny Barnes (formerly of the Bad Livers). Wayne and Danny are currently touring the U.S. as the Split Livers, an experimental collaboration.  Wayne also writes music for television and has had his songs featured in films and documentaries. He has played on more than ten records and his songs receive airplay worldwide. For more information, please go to or


John Harrison is Concertmaster of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra (WSO) and Chicago Chamber Orchestra.  John has recorded for Koch International Classics and New World Records.  As First Violinist of the Montclaire String Quartet, his touring and performance schedule included internationally televised and recorded concerts. He has also performed as First Violin of the Amernet String Quartet, first-prize winner of the Banff International String Quartet Competition.  As a violin soloist, John has performed with orchestras in major cities internationally. His former leadership positions include Concertmaster of The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and The Vermont Symphony Orchestra. He was also a regular substitute member of The Boston Symphony Orchestra and The Boston Pops Orchestra.  John holds degrees in music and Media Technology from Eastman School of Music and Cleveland Institute of Music, Case Western Reserve University, University of Rochester, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


Kristen Hase is the Resource Program Manager for Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Chase County, the only National Park dedicated to Tallgrass Prairie.


Jim Hoy is professor of English and Director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University. Jim is a Lyon and Chase County Landowner, as well as a member of the Symphony in the Flint Hills board.


Randy Kidd, a holistic veterinarian and herbalist, has written books on Herbal Cat and Dog Care, along with numerous articles on holistic veterinary practices. Dr. Kidd and his wife Sue are longtime Symphony in the Flint Hills volunteers.


Sue Kidd is Coordinator for Kansas Character Education Initiative. Sue and her husband Randy are longtime Symphony in the Flint Hills volunteers.


​Nicholas ​Kirkendoll has been making music for the past 13 years not only as his passion but for ministry. Having been ordained at age 12, he started recording music at 14 years of age, which led to several musical projects, including currently working on his second album. Nick’s style of music is uplifting rap with a good beat and message which he implements into his current job as public relations manager at Onesimus House, assisting men from all walks of life through transitional periods.


Carol Krueger is the Director of Choral Activities at Emporia State University. Carol has conducted festivals and honor choirs at the collegiate, high school and middle school levels.


Peggy Lyon is a Flint Hills Watercolor Artist. A middle/high school art teacher in Chase County, Peggy has been an artistic force in Kansas for almost 30 years.


Robin Macy sings from her heart with original compositions inspired by the Kansas heartland. Robin, with guitar-slinger husband Kentucky White, play roots music that harkens to an earlier time, influenced by their ongoing work at historic Bartlett Arboretum, the century-old bountiful patch of nature now listed on the National Registry. For over thirty years, Robin has traveled up and down highway I-35 performing bluegrass music with various groups – some more famous than others. Perhaps best known as founding member of the Dixie Chicks, Robin now pays homage to the Good Earth. Her three recordings beginning with the 2008 Songs from the Garden are anthems which celebrate the Agrarian life, featuring vintage instruments, other-era duets and lessons learned from loving and living on the land. Most recently, Robin and Kentucky have birthed a new recording of western-swing melodies, featuring old-fashion triad singing, powered by a crackerjack string band. Their self-titled Cherokee Maidens & Sycamore Swing is due out this autumn. Robin will be assisting her husband, Kenny White, throughout the day instructing Mandolin for American Folk and Bluegrass Band.


Susan Mayo is an instructor of cello at Emporia State University. She is also a faculty member at Friends University, and has taught at Bethel College, Wichita State University, Northern Arizona University and in the Wichita Public Schools. She is a member of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Quartetto da Camera, ZHM, Music Theatre of Wichita Orchestra, is principal cellist with the Newton Mid-Kansas Orchestra and performs extensively in the region. She has participated in a variety of summer festivals including, Spoleto, Ameropa, Flagstaff Summer Music Festival, and the Oregon Coast Music Festival.  Mayo studied at the University of the Pacific, the Peabody Conservatory, Wichita State University and has recently received her DMA at the University of Kansas. An active clinician in string and chamber music, she has coached in many regional events as well as the Ameropa Festival in Prague.


Dr. Dawn McConkie teaches applied clarinet and saxophone, directs the Emporia State University Chamber Winds, Student Woodwind Quintet, clarinet choir, and saxophone ensembles, and is a member of the Mid-America Woodwind Quintet, Kanza Tronada, and award-winning MiamiClarinet. She holds Master’s and Doctoral Degrees from the University of Miami.  She has performed with various professional groups, including the Florida Philharmonic, Miami City Ballet, Florida Grand Opera and the Boca Pops Orchestra. She has held previous teaching positions at the University of Miami as lecturer of clarinet and principal clarinet with the Miami-based Jubilate Orchestra.


Michael Murrell is a math instructor at Emporia State University. He recieved his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Friends University in Wichita, KS in 2010, then continued his education at Emporia State University, earning a Master of Science in Mathematics in 2012.  While earning his Master’s Degree, Michael studied under Dr. Dawn McConkie on clarinet. Michael was also involved in numerous ensembles, including the clarinet choir, clarinet quartet, saxophone ensemble, saxophone quartet, flute choir, jazz band, marching band, wind ensemble, and pit orchestra. Currently he participates in the clarinet choir, flute choir, and saxophone quartet.


Brian Obermeyer is Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Flint Hills Initiative. Brian also oversees stewardship activities on 13,000 acres of Conservancy–owned land, including the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.


Stephanie Patterson is a professor of bassoon at Wichita State University. Stephanie is a bassoonist with a passion for collaboration, outreach and contemporary music. As a member of the Enid Trio, she performs across the country, reaching out to young musicians to share a love of music.


Emy Phelps does not remember a time when she has not sung. As a member of Brian Ransom’s Ceramic Ensemble from 1980–1987, she toured internationally while conducting research on indigenous music in Peru. Originally from Ashland, Oregon, Emy has performed all around the Pacific Northwest since the late 1980s. Presently, Emy continues her work as a recording artist, core songwriter of “The Furies,” and performs in a duo with fiddler Darol Anger. Her newest recording, “Look Up, Look Down,” features her original songs with a stellar band including Darol Anger and members of the “The Furies.” Past venues include the Northwest String Summit, Wintergrass, Delfest, the Peter Britt Festival, New Music America Festival Philadelphia, North By Northwest, Moab Folk Festival, Oregon Country Fair, John Hartford Memorial Festival, and Northwest Folk Life Festival in Seattle. She has been compared to Lyle Lovett, Gillian Welch, and Emmylou Harris for her American Roots eclectic style of song writing and vocal performance.


Penelope Ann Speedie has appeared in such diverse roles as: Mimi (La Boheme), Susanna (La Nozze di Figaro), Elise (Yeoman of the Guard), Phoebe (Romantic Comedy), Nora (Riders to the Sea), Johanna (Sweeney Todd), and Kate (Kiss Me Kate). A native of Canada, she holds music degrees from the University of Toronto and the Ohio State University. Her talents encompass singing, acting, directing and costuming in opera, oratorio, musical theater and drama. Groups she has worked and performed with include Theater London, the Stratford Festival, the Shaw Festival, the Gaslight Dinner Theater, the Columbus Opera, Courtney Opera, CBC Radio and Television, British Opera Federation, Columbus Light Opera and Emporia Summer Theater. She has served as president for the National Opera association, representing the organization at the International Voice Congress and National NATS conventions. At present she teaches voice and directs opera and musical theater at Emporia State University.


Dr. James Starr is a retired faculty member, Professor Emeritus, from Emporia State University. For 34 years he was a member of the faculty, specializing in violin and viola, and taught applied music, various music history classes, worked with the orchestra as upper strings coach and conductor, performed as violin and viola soloist and in chamber ensembles – including many years as a member of the Great Plains Trio (faculty trio in residence), and performed many years as an orchestral musician with Emporia States University, The Topeka Symphony, the Utah Symphony and other orchestras. He is past president of the Kansas Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. He retired from Emporia State University in 2009. He currently continues to perform as Concertmaster of the Emporia Symphony and Principal Violist in the Topeka Symphony and teaches string private students in the Emporia Community.


Dr. Jeremy Starr is Director of Orchestras and head of string studies at Emporia State University, as well as director of the Topeka Symphony Youth Orchestra.   As a violinist he currently performs alongside Dr. Martín Cuéllar (piano) and Susan Mayo (cello) in the Great Plains Trio. He has also twice won university-sponsored concerto competitions and led numerous university and festival orchestras as concertmaster. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Brigham Young University, where he studied violin with Vesna and Igor Gruppman and Masters and Doctorate Degrees from the University of Iowa.  He is active as a guest conductor and clinician and has performed with the Orchestra at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Wichita Symphony, and Dubuque Symphony. Dr. Starr was the founding music director for Joyful Noise.


Elizabeth Gaile Stephens is Assistant Professor of Music Education at Emporia State University. Stephens has taught elementary music and has training and experience in the Orff-Schulwerk (Levels I & II) as well as the Dalcroze method and the Kodaly method.  An active scholar in music education, she has presented research and clinical sessions at the local, state, and national levels as well as publishing in journals related to music education. Stephens received her PhD in Music Education at the University of Miami, and her masters at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree at Shorter University in Rome, Georgia.


Emilia Vaca is in her second year teaching K-5 general music and 4th and 5th grade strings at William Allen White Elementary School in Emporia. An Emporia native, Emilia is also an Emporia State University alumnus, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in music education and was chosen as the 2012 Secondary Education Student of the Year. At ESU, Emilia was involved in various vocal and orchestral ensembles, played a season on the tennis team, and was NAfME chapter president for two years. Outside of school, Emilia is currently a cellist for the Emporia Symphony Orchestra, a member of ESU’s Camerata Women’s Choir, and is a pianist and cantor for Sacred Heart Church.


Laura Vollen received her Bachelor of Music in Education/Instrumental at Wichita State University in 1996 and is a Licensed Kindermusik Educator.


Raised on a steady diet of Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley and Tony Rice, this Kentucky native fell asleep many childhood nights with an ear next to the family hi-fi. As a result, Kenny White cinched the Kentucky State Banjo Championship at age 14. At the University of Louisville Music School, Ken studied with the late, great jazz guitar icon Jimmy Raney while continuing to record, perform and tour with bluegrass luminaries such as Vassar Clements and New Tradition. He has written arrangements for and performed with the Louisville Mandolin Orchestra and the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble. After stumbling into the Kansas prairie 16 years ago, he has been a featured performer with many regional groups such as Big Twang, Nouveau Quintet and the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Over the years, his multi-instrumental prowess can be heard on countless recordings. Most recently, his original compositions, co-written with his wife, Robin Macy, are inspired by the bountiful patch of earth they call home: Bartlett Arboretum in beautiful Belle Plaine, Kansas.


Dr. Gary D. Ziek is the Director of Bands and Professor of Trumpet at Emporia State University.  Dr. Ziek enjoys performing and conducting a wide variety of music, from classical to jazz, and is active as both an arranger and composer. His compositions and arrangements have been performed throughout the United States, and in Europe and Asia. Dr. Ziek has performed and conducted in twenty five states, as well as in France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Canada. He was a member of the Continental Army Band at Fort Monroe, Virginia, taught in the Greater Latrobe (Pennsylvania) School District and was Associate Director of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Marching Band.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education and Master of Arts in Trumpet Performance from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Wind Conducting from Michigan State University.


Comments are closed.