CHARLES “CHIP” STALEY
Charles Staley directs the Wind Symphony at the Merit School of Music in Chicago, is the Founder and President of ARTSpeaks (a non-profit arts advocacy organization), supervises student teachers at
Roosevelt University, and teaches graduate coursework at the VanderCook College of Music. He began his career at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, Illinois. He then moved to Waubonsie Valley High School in 1985 and Neuqua Valley
High School in 1997, where he was the first Fine Arts Department Chair at both schools. Under his leadership, Neuqua Valley High School was twice recognized by the GRAMMY® Foundation as a National GRAMMY® Signature School and was
awarded the 2009 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Award. Staley’s bands and orchestras have performed at the Midwest Clinic, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, and at venues in
People’s Republic of China, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. He has been awarded the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra's Music Inspiration Award, the John Paynter Lifetime Achievement
the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Flag of Honor, the Illinois Music Educators Association Mary Hoffman Excellence in Teaching Award, and the American School Band Directors Association Distinguished Band Director Award.
Christine Meisenhelter is a Los Angeles and New Jersey based bassist, vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter who is passionate about achieving the best performance possible. Christine has completed a degree
in Popular Music Performance and Music Recording from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. Christine is known for her work performing with Conan Gray, Wiz the MC, Ana Barbara, Steven Van Zandt, Irving
Burgie, and opening for Panic! at the Disco at venues that include The Forum, Terminal Five, The Fonda, Lollapalooza, and Austin City Limits. Currently, Christine is planning the release of her pop/rock EP and writing new material for
her solo project, Mistine.
DAVID LEACH (ANN ARBOR PIONEER HIGH SCHOOL – ANN ARBOR, MI)
David Leach has been Director of Bands at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School since 2002. In 2014 and 2016, the Pioneer Symphony was selected as a New Music National Winner. Mr. Leach is currently serving on
executive board of MSBOA’s District XII, and he is a member of the National Association for Music Education, the National Band Association, and The American School Band Director’s Association. He has been included five times in Who’s
Who Among America’s Teachers. The University of Michigan honored him in 2000 with the Pendleton Memorial Award for outstanding achievement in music education. He has been nominated for Disney’s American Teacher Award and honored by
United States Marine Corps for sending his students to the Marine bands. He was the 2006 and 2010 MSBOA District XII Band Teacher of the Year and, in 2014 and 2017, was a GRAMMY Foundation Music Educator of the Year quarterfinalist.
2016, the ASBDA presented Pioneer High School Bands with the Award of Excellence. Mr. Leach is currently a coach for the Michigan Youth Symphony Orchestra and has directed at the Southampton Summer Music Camp since 2013. In 2019, Mr.
Leach was named Fellow for the H. Robert Reynolds Conducting Institute at the Midwest Clinic. In 2006 and 2011, the Pioneer Music Department was named a National GRAMMY Signature School. Currently, Mr. Leach is a member of the GRAMMY
Museum’s Music Educator Award screening panel.
DAVID R. SEARS
David R. Sears is Vice President of Education of GRAMMY In The Schools at the GRAMMY Museum. Having been the company for over 25 years, he spearheaded the development and implementation GRAMMY In The
Schools national education initiatives. His professional background includes being a public high school music educator, professional musician, music director, composer, arranger, conductor, producer and more. He has performed or
with scores of outstanding practitioners in entertainment such as the Foo Fighters, Temptations, Oscar Peterson, Danny Kaye, the Dave Matthews Band, Yolanda Adams and more. His students have also become successful music professionals
including GRAMMY winners in the performance, producing, arranging and audio engineering fields. David is a lifetime voting member of the Recording Academy..
Esteban is a 19-year-old pianist and composer from New York who attends the Juilliard School on a full-tuition Thomas Dubois Hormel Memorial Scholarship, studying with Ted Rosenthal. He also studies
privately with Fred Hersch. He recently graduated from the MSM Precollege on a Nana’s Way Scholarship, studying classical piano with Phillip Kawin and jazz with Jeremy Manasia. At age 13, Esteban was the First Prize Winner in the
Montreux Jazz Piano Solo Competition in 2016, making him the youngest ever to receive this prestigious award. At 14, he was the youngest First Prize recipient at the 2017 Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition. With over 40 compositions
his name, Esteban has garnered three ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Awards and has won fifteen Downbeat Student Music Awards. He was selected as a pianist for the Grammy Band in 2017 and 2018, as a 2019 YoungArts Finalist, and
a member of the 2019 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. He also won the 2019 MSM Precollege Philharmonic Concerto Competition. Esteban was commissioned for a big band arrangement by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for the Thelonious
Monk 100th Birthday Celebration in 2018. Esteban has played to sold-out audiences in venues such as The Blue Note, The Montreux Jazz Club, The New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.
Starting at the age of nine, Lily Soto was a member of The School of Rock House Band for over 8 years. She has had the honor to record background vocals on Moon Taxi’s “Let the Record Play” album, and
perform with Pat Monahan of Train during “Train’s Sail Across the Sun Cruise.” With School of Rock, she has performed on national tours and won Gemba’s “Battle of the Bands” at Summerfest. Lily currently attends New York University at
Steinhardt for Vocal performance where she’s played Alex in IN PIECES: A New Musical by Joey Contreras, performed in The Good Trouble Mixtape directed by Nik Walker, and will be playing Amandine in Tisch New Theatre’s production of
Amelie in April of 2022. Lily was selected for GRAMMY Camp’s vocalist track in 2019 and is honored to be participating as an alumni for GRAMMY In the Schools Live.
MUSIC DIRECTOR-ALUMNI BAND
Jason Goldman has gained prominence as a saxophonist, composer, producer, and songwriter in the fields of popular music and jazz. He was selected by multi-GRAMMY winning producer/songwriter David Foster
the featured saxophone soloist for Michael Bublé. Goldman has toured extensively with Bublé and has arrangements on three of Bublé’s multi-platinum selling records, solidifying himself as a top tier, in-demand writer and musician.
Dr. Jeffery Redding currently serves as the Director of Choral Activities at University of Central Florida in Orlando. His choirs have earned first place awards at competitions nationally and
and Redding is consistently invited to conduct and adjudicate on the world’s finest stages for choral festivals, competitions, and masterworks. One of four conductors for Walt Disney World’s Candlelight Processional, he is also the
and Artistic & Executive Director of the Orlando Choral Society and Worship Arts Director at Tuskawilla First United Methodist Church. Notably, Redding was a recipient of the GRAMMY Music Educator Award in 2019.
Jordan Reifkind is a 20-year-old guitarist, producer, and songwriter based in Los Angeles. Inspired by his father to pick up the guitar at a very early age, Jordan began lessons in classical and rock
guitar, eventually developing a passion for jazz in middle school as he continued to study jazz at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. In high school, Jordan toured throughout the country and through both Japan and Canada,
participating in the Grammy Jazz Session, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, the Berklee Global Jazz Institute Workshop at the Newport Jazz Festival, and the Thelonious Monk Institute Peer-to-Peer All-Star High School Sextet.
Currently, Jordan is studying guitar and music production at the University of Southern California as a senior, where he has performed in the Honors Jazz Combo and was selected to lead a band representing USC in the Keep an Eye
competition in Amsterdam. Outside of school, Jordan produces for a few indie/pop artists, and has recently performed/recorded with artists such as Bebe Rexha and Cody Simpson.
Julie Mutnansky is a Los Angeles based Program and Events Manager with over ten years’ experience producing Industry events and educational programming for the GRAMMY Museum and other Entertainment
Industry Non-Profits. She manages and implements all of the GRAMMY Museum’s national education initiatives including GRAMMY Camp, GRAMMY Career Day, GRAMMY Signature Schools, GRAMMY Museum Summer Session, and GRAMMY Museum Career
Pathways Program. Julie has coordinated and supervised large and small teams to execute a variety of music education programs that teach students the best way to build a career in music Producing, marketing, and managing events is
passion. Julie is also an LA Soundboard Member for Notes For Notes, Volunteer Guide for Musician’s On Call, and a MusiCares LA Young Ambassador.
Veronica Leahy is a Boston-based saxophonist/multi-woodwindist, pianist, composer, and music director across a range of genres. She is currently a dual degree student at Harvard College and Berklee
of Music. As a saxophonist, Veronica has performed at venues such as Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Scullers Jazz Club, the Ravinia Music Festival, and the Monterey Jazz Festival, and has performed alongside
such as NEA Jazz Master Terri Lyne Carrington, Wynton Marsalis, Danilo Perez, Christian Sands, and Jon Batiste. She is an active member of Berklee’s Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice and served as the lead alto player in Berklee’s
premiere big band. At Harvard, Veronica has most recently composed Hasty Pudding’s 173rd production Ship Happens! and plays multi-woodwinds in the pit orchestra. In 2021, she served as music assistant and rehearsal pianist for MacBeth
in Stride at the American Repertory Theater and as the music director for the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players production of Pirates of Penzance. She is the founder, artistic director, and producer of Harvard’s
Festival (CompFest), bringing together student and world-renowned composers alike to share and discuss their original work. She has studied with saxophonists such as George Garzone, Debra Richtmeyer, Ted Nash, Will Campbell, and
Laura is a vocal coach, songwriter, and vocalist, who coaches singers ranging from amateurs to major-label artists and other professional vocalists. She has served on the faculties of Belmont University,
Lipscomb University, and Middle Tennessee State University, and was one of the founding directors of Girls Up Loud, an empowering singing program for middle and high school-aged girls based in Nashville. Laura's own vocal experience
encompasses international touring as a background vocalist, including international television appearances, studio singing, musical theater roles, and Voice Over.
Leslie Drayton is a music professional, whose career highlights including being a founding member of the group Earth Wind and Fire, working as the musical director and conductor for Marvin Gaye, and
college professor and mentor for young musicians, among many other things.
Nathan Adam is a leading educator and author in audio and music production, with more than 20 years of experience in audio and video production, editing, instruction and content creation. He has post
hundreds of TV episodes, authored two books on production and mixing, and presented at TEDx Nashville on the future of Virtual Reality. As an educator, he has worked with the GRAMMY Foundation, Belmont University and the University of
Southern California’s Pop Music program to teach audio engineering for over 60 GRAMMY Camps.
When Rich Saunders was a child, his family would spend afternoons singing together, creating close harmonies. Fast forward a couple of decades and, though much has happened in the interim (a part as
one-third of the Universal-signed group, Thirdstory; a stint singing backing vocals for Chance the Rapper; a spot in the trans-Atlantic, more experimental duo, Refs), it’s still those magical vocal moments that are at the crux. With
Thirdstory, Rich has ticked a lot of impressive boxes. Recording their debut LP “Cold Heart” with producer Malay–the man behind the desk for Frank Ocean’s seminal “Channel Orange” and parts of Lorde’s “Melodrama”–the band embarked on
several cross-country tours of the USA, including a notable run with Chance that also featured a performance on Saturday Night Live. During that time, Refs (a collaboration with Berlin-based producer Zach Lipkins) had also been
away. Inspired by the likes of The Postal Service, it “scratched a different itch,” Rich explains. “It brought me back to my obsession with Björk and Thom Yorke and these alternative artists I loved in high school.” Their debut
“Stories” came out a few months later, in the summer of 2019 (because clearly, productivity is not a skill the singer is lacking). Now, Rich is set to make his own mark.
RON MCCURDY (UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA)
Dr. Ronald C. McCurdy is professor of music and Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Thornton School at the University of Southern California where he served as chairman of the Jazz
Department (2002-2008). He has served as a consultant to the Grammy Foundation and the Walt Disney All-American College Band. McCurdy is the co-author of The Artist Entrepreneur: Finding Success in a New Arts Economy (Rowman &
Litterfield Publication 2019). Dr. McCurdy is a performing artist for the Yamaha International Corporation. https://www.beyondcategoryproductions.com/
RYAN GRIFFIN (STIVERS SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS – DAYTON, OH)
Ryan Griffin is a graduate of Wright State University where he studied clarinet with Dr. Randall Paul. His first degree was in music education and he continued at Wright State University to earn a
degree in clarinet performance. Ryan has been teaching music in the Dayton, Ohio area for the past 18 years. His current position is Band Magnet Director at Stivers School for the Arts where he teaches the 7-12 grade band program.
enjoys regularly performing with the Sinclair Wind Symphony, the Springboro Wind Symphony, and the Burning River Winds.
THEODORE THORPE III (ALEXANDRIA CITY HIGH SCHOOL – ALEXANDRIA, VA)
Theodore Thorpe III is one of the leading voices and contributors to the music field in the Washington Metropolitan area and throughout the country. He presently serves in his fifth season as an Artistic
Director for Washington Performing Arts, his sixteenth season as music director and staff musician at the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA, and his twelfth season as Director of Choral Activities at Alexandria
City High School. Noted by the Alexandria Times as “Inspiring students to soar!”, Mr. Thorpe was recognized for his leadership and the choral programs’ excellence throughout the years. Over the last twelve years, the choral program
consistently received ratings of Gold at every local and national music festival in which they’ve performed. The choir has performed for the President of the United States and First Family in “Christmas in Washington” and “Kennedy
Center Honors.” The choir has performed for the Alexandria branch of the NAACP, opened for the cast of the television show “Glee,” and performed for the opening ceremony of the African American Museum of History and Culture in 2016.
2017, the choir was also selected to perform for the Virginia Music Educator Association Conference in Hot Springs, VA. Recently, the Alexandria City High School Choir was one of twelve choirs selected nationally to perform at the
“Music For All” National Choral Festival.
Varun Das is a drummer, composer, and educator based in New Jersey/ New York. He received his online Specialist in Drums Certificate from Berklee College of Music (2013) and is currently an undergraduate
student at Manhattan School of Music (2018-2022); at Manhattan School of Music, he has had the privilege to work under the direction of, and in some cases on the bandstand, with Paquito D’Rivera, Elio Villafranca, Miguel Zenon, Jim
McNeely, and Harvie S. Outside of MSM, Varun has played avidly in New York City, New Jersey, and the tri-state area as a bandleader and a sideman. Additionally, Varun is one of the highest in demand for Indian music events in the USA;
he has performed with Dr. KJ Yesudas, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Chinmayi Sripada, Jeffrey Iqbal, Shankar Tucker, Aima Baig, and many others. As of August 2021, he became a core member of world-renowned fusion band Red Baraat. In 2019, he
was recognized as a National YoungArts Foundation jazz finalist (in jazz percussion) and was recognized by Downbeat Magazine as “Best/ Outstanding Soloist” in the years 2019, 2020, and 2021 in the college category of the annual
music awards. He also recently had the honor of being the drummer for the 2021 Jazz in Aspen Snowmass Big Band run by multiple GRAMMY winning bassist Christian McBride. As a composer, he released his first EP entitled “Solitude” in
March of 2021.