When Shirley moved to Wilmington in 2003, her first call was to Joanne Riesz -- then the Wilmington Symphony's Orchestra Manager -- to request an audition. Performing as a violinist in the Orchestra since then has been a perfect fit for her. In fact, just four years after joining the Wilmington Symphony she succeeded Joanne as the new Orchestra Manager/Music Librarian and still fills those shoes today.
Prior to her time in the Wilmington Symphony, Shirley worked for the Air Force providing pilots with weather briefings. She has a degree in Atmospheric Science (she and her husband are both meteorologists and met while working at a private forecasting company outside of Boston in 2000).
She also loves cars and tarantulas! She drives a 2001 Impreza 2.5RS and performs the maintenance herself. Shirley and her husband once owned two dozen tarantulas.
When asked who influenced her to become a musician, she says "As far back as I can remember, I wanted to play the violin. My 6th grade and also high school orchestra teacher, Mark Cornell, was a talented violinist with the Albany Symphony. I will forever be grateful to him for the personalized instruction he provided me. When my skills had outgrown my student instrument, he loaned me one of his personal instruments until my parents were able to purchase a more suitable violin for me. At the age of 38, Mark Cornell was killed by a drunk driver on his way home from a high school pit orchestra rehearsal. Over a decade later, I still think of him from time to time, wishing he could see me continue to grow as a musician."
In addition to playing violin in the Wilmington Symphony, Shirley also plays at weddings and receptions and in pit orchestras with local theater companies, including the 2010 re-opening of Thalian Hall.
Sarah started learning about music as a child from her mother, who played the piano. She was first introduced to the flute at age 10, and performed with her church choir and school ensembles. Sarah also competed in the New York State School Music Association’s annual competition.
Sarah earned a BA in Music Performance from Western Connecticut State University. She is a certified Kindermusik Educator, and has been an instructor at Friends School of Wilmington for the past nine years. She teaches private lessons in flute, piano, violin, and guitar.
She has been a member of the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra for the last five years. When asked why she enjoys playing in the WSO, she says, “Having the opportunity to perform with outstanding musicians, such as Linda Lavin, Edwin McCain, and the band Sister Hazel have been a highlight in my career. Getting to play under Dr. Errante’s direction is a real joy. His deep understanding of music and calm demeanor make performing with the symphony exciting.”
Sarah is also a member of the newly formed Wilmington Symphonic Winds, and performs locally with theater groups. Earlier this spring, Sarah performed at the Cameron Art Museum for the Literary Theatre “Twelfth Night” production. The Enter/Exeunt Shakespeare reading series featured local professional actors and musicians.
When not playing music, Sarah loves outdoor activities, exercise, and spending time with her boyfriend, Jason and her dog, Belle.
In addition to serving as principal oboist with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, Rebecka Rose has served as the principal oboist of the Rappahannock POPS Orchestra, VA and has performed with the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra, VA and the Long Bay Symphony, SC. She has performed in the northern Virginia/DC area and throughout eastern North Carolina. She maintains a private teaching studio of woodwind students, teaching oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and oboe reed making. Her students have been accepted to the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra, North Carolina School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, and various all-state bands.
Ms. Rose is the Director of Music at Sneads Ferry Presbyterian and teaches at Carteret Community College in Morehead City, NC.
During her summers, Ms. Rose teaches at the Rappahannock Summer Music Camp in Spotsylvania, VA where she teaches oboe workshops, double reed chamber music, oboe reed making, music theory, and performs in the faculty woodwind quintet.
Ms. Rose’s principle teachers include Wayne Fritchie, Joseph Robinson, Susan Findley, and Jan Eberle.
Ms. Rose holds a Master of Arts in Music Education from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Oboe Performance from Pensacola Christian College.
Mike Pope grew up in Cleveland County, which is in the NC foothills. Going to elementary and high school, he never had a school music teacher, and touched a cello for the first time as a freshmen chemistry major at Appalachian State. After two years he transferred to the University of Alabama where he studied cello with Margaret Christy.
After graduating, he and his wife joined the Peace Corp and spent two years in Uganda where he taught English, started the school's first basketball team, and directed the choir. Upon his return to the US, he accepted a position teaching orchestra with the Raleigh Public Schools. Five years later, he returned to Appalachian for his master's degree. He spent the next 7 years teaching blind students at the Governor Morehead School in Raleigh.
His family moved to Wilmington in 1982 where he taught orchestra until his retirement in 1998. Since then he has continued playing cello, teaching privately, and even spent a year and a half operating cameras for Carolina in the Morning at WECT-TV.
In addition to his time in the WSO, Mike also plays for weddings and other special occasions in a string quartet and performs with the Tallis Chamber Orchestra. He plays violin occasionally, as well as guitar and piano, but most of his practice time goes to the cello.
Mary Jo is an active performer throughout the region and Assistant Professor of Flute and Theory at UNCW. She plays regularly with the UNCW Faculty Woodwind Quintet and other faculty chamber groups. As a winner of the 2006 National Flute Association Performers Competition, Dr. White played in a concert of Newly Published Music at the National Flute Convention in Pittsburgh.
When asked why she enjoys playing with the Wilmington Symphony, White says, “Because we do challenging classical repertoire, the conductor is excellent, and I enjoy collaborating with talented musicians in our community.” Her most memorable experience with the orchestra is performing the Nielsen Flute Concerto with the orchestra a few years back.
In addition to her busy schedule as a professional flutist, Mary Jo enjoys include playing piano and guitar, cooking, and beach walking. And, she loves her little sheltie.
Maria grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and attended the Cleveland Orchestra concerts as a young child. She says of the experience, “They always gave me goosebumps. I think my goosebumps were for two reasons: one, the orchestra played beautifully; and two, I could imagine myself up on an orchestra stage.”
During the day, Maria is a librarian at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, where she also plays music with some of the music faculty.
When asked was attracts her to performing in the Wilmington Symphony she says, “I have been performing in regional or community symphony orchestras for a decade, and I can't imagine stopping now! I always look for orchestras around my community. Also, the WSO plays wonderful repertoire!”
In addition to the cello, she also plays violin, viola, euphonium, and sings. At one time, she worked as a member of a string quartet on a cruise ship with colleagues she met during her masters music program. She is the only person in her family to play an instrument or sing beyond high school. When not playing music, she enjoys tennis and reading. She ran her first half marathon (Battleship Half in Wilmington) in November of 2014.
Lisa grew up in Maryland and moved to North Carolina for college. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from UNC-Greensboro, and has been teaching school orchestra at Holly Shelter Middle School for about five years.
When asked what attracts her to performing in the Wilmington Symphony she says, “I missed performing in a professional ensemble when I first moved to Wilmington. The symphony allows me to continue practicing the violin and perform challenging repertoire with other professionals.”
She was influenced to become a musician by her public and private school music teachers. About her own teaching, she says, “The life lessons students receive through music education are so important. I try to pass on a passion for music to my students every day.”
In 2014 Ms. Gattuso was chosen by WWAY as their Teacher of the Week. See the video and article here: http://www.wwaytv3.com/2014/01/14/teacher-of-the-week-lisa-gattuso
In addition to her time in the Wilmington Symphony, Lisa performs with the Tallis Chamber Orchestra as well as weddings and events throughout Wilmington.
Kim has been playing horn since the beginning of 8th grade. Kim attended East Carolina University with a double major in Music and Business Administration. Her first performance with The University of North Carolina-Wilmington/Community Orchestra (now the WSO) was on April 21, 1982, when she was a sophomore in high school. Kim says, “it’s nice to glance down the personnel list and see so many players that are still current members of the WSO”. When asked about her most memorable WSO experiences, she said, “A memorable highlight was the opportunity to play with Ray Charles on several occasions while on tour in our area.”
Kim lives in Southport with husband Dean, son Dalton and their dogs -Tucker and Earl. She has worked at The State Port Pilot in many different positions during her 22 years and currently serves as Systems and Media Director. In her spare time she enjoys attending her son’s school sporting events, and doing freelance graphic design work.
In addition to being principal horn in the WSO, she plays horn in various chamber groups, brass quintets and churches in the Wilmington area. If you ask her who her biggest fan is she says, “definitely my Mom who rarely ever misses any of my performances.”
Jim is a physician by trade, a career he came to after pursuing a number of other careers and selling his bassoon at age 49 to return to medical school. He finished his residency at age 56. When he moved to Wilmington about 10 years ago, he attended a Wilmington Symphony concert. Although he hadn’t played in 15 years, it made him think about playing music again. He describes his first rehearsal about one year later, “It was not easy trying to play at age 60 after not playing for 15 years. At my first rehearsal with the symphony, I felt overwhelmed and lost a good portion of time. Steve and the other players were all so friendly and supportive that I knew I wanted to continue.” Nine years later, he is still playing with the symphony.
His mother was not a musician, but came from a family of banjo players and thought he should play a musical instrument. After he became a Doctor in Internal Medicine, his wife Nancy encouraged him to buy a used student instrument and start playing again.
While growing up and in college Jim performed with multiple groups and studied predominately with Ferdinand Del Negro of the Philadelphia Orchestra and studied with members of the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Opera, Sacramento Symphony, and University of California Berkley. He performed with symphonies, small chamber groups, and pit orchestras while working day jobs and raising a family.
When not playing the bassoon, he is learning how to play a “Wind Controller” which is a wind synthesizer. He also enjoys bicycling, swimming and triathlons. He and his wife are involved in El Salvador, assisting in medical and health projects, as well as free clinics and schools here in the U.S.
Jane Radack started playing violin at age 9, due to the influence of her mother, who she says "tirelessly cheered, listened, drove, volunteered, fund raised and convinced my dad it was all worth it!" Although she did not study music in college, she has always known that orchestral ensembles are an essential to the quality of life.
When asked about what attracts her to performing with the Wilmington Symphony, she says, "I love being part of the whole. When we were looking at places to start civilian life, having an orchestra I might be able to be part of was one of the criteria. Steve's musical choices inspire me to work hard and by the end of each rehearsal cycle, I am usually in love with yet another new piece of classical music."
Outside of playing with the symphony, Jane plays violin occasionally with local rock band Lunar Tide. She also keeps very busy with her family, volunteer work with Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, and playing tennis. She lives in Wilmington with her husband Matthew, their children Maggie, Lily, and Chet, and their dog Bubba.
Dr. Jennifer Muehrcke has performed oboe professional in ensembles throughout the United States, including the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Bowdoin International Festival Orchestra, and Ohio Light Opera. Her primary instruments include oboe, English horn and voice as a Mezzo Soprano. She also performs and instructs flute, clarinet, saxophone and bassoon. Dr. Muehrcke is currently an Instructor of Music at Cape Fear Community College where she teaches Music Theory, Music Appreciation, Applied Voice, and conducts the CFCC Chorus. She also founded Wind Song Studios where she teaches voice and woodwinds.
She has earned three degrees in music, a Bachelor of Music from Kent State University, a Master of Music from Louisiana State University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Washington. Throughout her career, Dr. Muehrcke has performed in a variety of ensembles that have toured internationally.
Dr. Muehrcke loves traveling, languages, hiking, camping, runing, exercising, reading, bird watching and Apple computers. She is an active member at Port City Community Church.
Ms. Daniel is a new member of the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra. Diana graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC in 2012. After graduation, she married a Marine jet pilot and moved to Texas then to Mississippi, where she performed with the Meridian Symphony for a year. Last year, she and her husband relocated to the Morehead City area.
She played music throughout middle school and high school. Her public music teachers and private lesson instructors made a profound impact on her to become a music. She continues to be encouraged and inspired musically by her college professors, conductors and colleagues.
When asked what attracts to performing in the Wilmington Symphony, Diana replies, "...the opportunity to perform great music, continue to learn and be inspired by other professional musicians in the area."
In addition to playing in the Wilmington Symphony, Diana also plays for various weddings and events with Crystal Coast Musicians throughout eastern North Carolina.
Deborah is a native Wilmingtonian. She studied music at East Carolina University and returned to Wilmington to accept a job teaching band in the New Hanover County School District, where she taught for 36 years, spending most of that time at Trask Middle School.
When asked about any funny anecdotes during a performance, she remembers an experience playing for The Nutcracker when the electronic celeste came unplugged. “As they danced, the music stopped. They gracefully folded up, went backstage and waited for Dr. Errante to plug it back in. We started over and they came back out. The dancers handled themselves beautifully and the show continued.”
Deborah has an identical twin sister who is deaf and teaches at the NC School for the Deaf in Wilson, NC. Deborah says of having a twin, “We still look alike and people get us mixed up. I am able to sign and enjoy learning new signs. I have always enjoyed being a twin.”
She has also played with the Cape Fear Chorale, the Tallis Chamber Orchestra, the Wilmington Symphonic Winds, and local church choirs and orchestras when needed. When she is not playing her flute, Deborah enjoys restoring furniture, remodeling her home, sewing, and exercising. She also sings in the choir at her church.
David comes from a musical family. When asked about what influenced him to become a musician he gives the credit to his parents, both of whom are retired teachers. His father was a music and technology teacher and his mother was a piano teacher and band director. His first instrument was the piano, and then he learned trombone, which he picked up after watching his dad play in the community band.
When asked about his most memorable experience playing in the Wilmington Symphony, he says, “I especially enjoyed our most recent concert with Noel Paul Stookey. It brought back a lot of great memories from my childhood when my parents would play or sing Peter, Paul and Mary songs to me”. He adds of his commitment to playing in the orchestra, “I really enjoy getting to reconnect with musicians from my past and making new friends in music.”
When not playing music, David works for Sears Home Services as a Sales Project Consultant concentrating in products such as kitchen remodeling, window replacement, and other home products. His favorite hobby is watching sporting events, especially the ECU Pirates, since that is where he attended college. He also plays golf and volleyball.
His favorite quote about trombone players is from Wagner, who said, "Never look at the trombones, it only encourages them."
Dr. Coleman Burgess has been a life-long resident of North Carolina. He’s been in dental practice here since 1986, with a busy practice on 16th Street in Wilmington. He is also a volunteer dentist at the Tileston Outreach Dental Clinic, and St. Mary’s Dental and Medical Clinic.
A man of many talents, he enjoys, music, boating, skiing, and camping. Dr. Burgess loves North Carolina and is an active member of the community. He is a member of the Rotary Club and serves on the classification committee. Currently he is the principal clarinetist for the Wilmington Symphony, where he has also served on the board of directors as well as the player’s committee. Combining his musical interests with his faith, he is a choir member at St. James Episcopal Church where he also serves on the music committee.
Dr. Burgess loves his dog Chip. Twice a week he brings her into the office to give both her and the patients some companionship.
Christine comes from a musical family. Her mother, Kathy Meyer, is the principal cellist of the Wilmington Symphony, and was influential in Christine's musical training, saying, "Only practice on the days that you eat." She and her twin brother began playing piano in a Yamaha keyboard class when they were three years old. Christine and her siblings all played in the high school orchestra, and she now holds a Masters in Music and a Masters in Science for Speech-Language Pathology.
When asked what attracts her to playing with the Wilmington Symphony, she says, "The orchestra is like a second family to me; looking around I see members that have been in the orchestra since it first started, members that I’ve grown up watching play in concerts, but I also see new faces joining the orchestra from the youth orchestra and new soon-to-be-friends from the community and university."
In addition to playing in the Wilmington Symphony, Christine also performs locally with chamber ensembles for weddings, cocktail hours, and church services. She also sings in the choir at First Baptist Church, and still plays the piano!
A virtuosic harp performer and music educator, Christina Brier creates enlightening and inspiring musical experiences. Principal harpist of the Wilmington Symphony, Christina Brier performs widely throughout the Midwest and East Coast.
Her orchestral concerto appearances include the Tallis Chamber Orchestra, Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra, and Maranatha Symphony. As a solo harpist, Christina has performed programs at Hatch Hall (NY), Burkhart Hall (WI), and the Euterpe Music Club (WI).
Ms. Brier frequently appears as a chamber musician with Manhattan harpist Kathryn Sloat in venues across the United States. Their harp duo Lilac 94 specializes in premiering innovative new works for harp duo. Lilac 94's recent performances include Constellation Chicago, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Bedford Concert Hall (WI), the Village Chapel of Bald Head Island (NC), Hatch Hall (NY), and ARTISANworks (NY).
As an orchestral musician, Ms. Brier performs with the Wilmington Symphony and Tallis Chamber Orchestra in North Carolina. Her New York ensemble experience includes the Eastman Philharmonia, Sound Exchange Orchestra, Orchard Park Symphony, Genesee Valley Symphony, and Cornell Symphony. In Wisconsin she performed with the Maranatha Symphony and the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra. She also served as principal harp at the Pierre Monteux summer festival in Hancock, Maine.
As noted by Star News, Christina "loves to do outreach for her instrument." She currently operates a private teaching studio in Wilmington, North Carolina and serves as president of the Coastal Carolina Chapter of the American Harp Society.
Christina holds a Master's degree in Harp Performance from the Eastman School of Music where she studied with Kathleen Bride. At Eastman, she earned a certification in Community Music Teaching and was awarded the Willow Hall Press Award for Harp.
Brittany received her Music Education degree from UNC-Greensboro in 2009, but began as a performance major. She currently teaches high school, where she is the director of band and choral programs. This is a fitting role, as she was inspired to become a musician by her own high school band director, who taught her about the expressiveness of music.
When asked about her most memorable experience with the Wilmington Symphony, she recalls the performance with Edwin McCain, saying “The fusion of the classical and rock genres is one of my favorite things to hear and play.”
When not teaching or performing, you can find Brittany in the kitchen. She loves to cook and finds Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking the best cookbook ever written.
Brent is originally from Centereach, Long Island, New York, and has been in Wilmington for the past 4 years, currently in his senior year at UNCW for his BA in Piano. He teaches Violin and Piano at his sister Meredith's studio, Port City Music in the Ogden area. In addition to the viola, he also plays the violin, piano and pipe organ. He plays Viola in the Tallis Chamber Orchestra, and he's a member of the choir at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
When he's not at school, performing, or teaching, he's busy tuning and working on pianos, as well as collecting them. He currently has an inventory of 10 pianos for sale, with another 7 in storage for personal use. About his compulsion for collecting pianos, Brent says "It's a sickness, and I can't help it, nor do I need curing!"
When asked about a memorable experience of playing in the symphony, he recalls, "On one of the recent Christmas concerts, I was playing the keyboard on a Baroque piece that was about 20 minutes long. I had left my music on the keyboard from that morning's dress rehearsal. You might be able to guess where this is going. When I sat down at the keyboard, there was no music in front of me. I could have sworn I left it there! So about 5 minutes prior to the start of the concert, I told Dr. Errante. We ran all over backstage, asking stage crew, looking under tables, under chairs, and then... I found it... in my Viola case! Clearly, I'd made the right choice and took it with me that morning. Yeah, too bad I didn't remember I'd done that!"
So, if you get a chance to see this young, talented musician perform, be sure you don't pass it up! You will be delighted.
Anne grew up in a home that was full of music. Her mother was a pianist and a special education teacher, so Anne played piano from the moment she could reach the keys. She first fell in love with the violin at her sister’s first big violin concert. She asked for three years to switch to violin and her mother finally relented, despite concern about too much competition between the two siblings. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
When asked about memorable concert experiences, Anne says, “We played downtown for the 4th of July fireworks and debuted the ‘Battleship North Carolina March’ by Steven Errante. There was so much energy and excitement that it was definitely a great experience! Also, our recent Symphony Pops concert was quite memorable because I was able to share the stage with my daughters who are both in the Girls Choir of Wilmington.” Anne’s daughters, Maddie (15) and Camden (12), also play the violin in the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Anne loves arranging music and recently started arranging string orchestra versions of pop songs including songs by The Beatles, Katy Perry, and Pink, which keeps her students inspired and excited to play.
In addition to the violin, Anne also plays the piano, viola, and mandolin. When she’s not playing with the symphony, she performs in the Tallis Chamber Orchestra, and loves to cook, bake, read swim and spend time with her family.
When Alexei Mejouev began playing in the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra as a junior in high school, he became the youngest member ever to join. He also plays in the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra, The Accidentals (UNCW based chamber ensemble), his own string quartet, and sings in The Voyagers (advanced choral ensemble at Hoggard High School). Outside of the classical music genre, Alexei plays with a nationally touring Dave Matthews Tribute Band, including a performance at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach and the Downtown Sundown concert series in Wilmington. In addition to his performing schedule, Alexei teaches at a local violin camp in the summer called Fiddlers By the Sea.
Not surprisingly, Alexei comes from a musical family. His mother graduated from a music school in Russia and sang with a choir all over Europe, including a performance for the Pope. The family immigrated to the U.S. when Alexei was only 15 months old, and they speak only Russian at home.
When asked what inspired him to become a musician, Alexei says, “I am so thankful for my music teachers I’ve had here in Wilmington, my first teacher, Nancy McAllister and now Beverly Andrews along with others that have helped me get where I am. The inspire me to keep doing what I’m doing. As in famous role models definitely Gil Shaham, my favorite violinist and one day I hope to at least play with half of his ability. Shaham is also a cool dude which is a plus in my book.”
He is the winner of the 35th and 39th annual Richard R. Deas Student Concerto Competition, and will be performing the Barber Violin Concert with the Wilmington Symphony in February.
Alex was born and raised in Wilmington, NC and has been playing drums since the age of 4. He was formally introduced to music when he joined the band at Williston Middle School, and remained in musical ensembles throughout his high school and college studies. His mother is a retired teacher from Laney High School, and his father is a retired fireman from the City of Wilmington.
In addition to his love and talent for music, he is notably known for making bow ties. Alex says, "It’s very bizarre how I started sewing. In a nutshell, I was in summer school in college and was one class short of receiving financial aid. So I added sewing to my curriculum, completely bombed the course but am now an avid sewer. Weird, I know."
Alex also relates a funny story about playing in the Wilmington Symphony: "True Story: I had the bright idea of getting my eyes dilated on a Saturday once before. Just so happens that Saturday was a Saturday we had a concert….(you see where this is going?). At any rate, the inevitable happens. It’s 8 o’clock, and I am now on stage with dilated eyes and can barely see the title of my music let alone the music itself. So what do I do? What any musician would probably do…rely heavily on your stand-partner & your remembrance of the music (including, what musicians call improvisation…ya know, a missed rest here, come in late there…no biggie). For helping me get through that challenging time, I have no one to blame but myself and no one to thank but [fellow WSO percussionist] Will Fassbender. Eternally grateful, yours truly…..signed: Alex Tomlin."
In addition to playing orchestra concerts, many of the WSO musicians also provide music for special occasions such as weddings, receptions, anniversaries and birthdays. Many also offer offer private music instruction for both school-age and adult students — please contact each player individually with contact information provided on their biography page.
Mary Jo White
Typical groupings of instruments include string trios and quartets (violin, viola, cello), brass groups (trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba), and woodwind ensembles (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon). Musicians also serve as soloists at special occasions such as:
• HOLIDAY GATHERINGS
• CORPORATE EVENTS
• SOCIAL EVENTS
• DINNER PARTIES
• MEMORIAL SERVICES
• BABY SHOWERS
• and more!