Varina is the Executive Director of American Youth Symphony. Previously she served as Executive Director of Inside Out Community Arts for over four years, Development Executive at The Help Group, and development executive, producer and writer in the entertainment industry, including Senior Vice President at Weed Road Pictures, staff writer on the SyFy television series “Eureka”, and Associate Producer on the film Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Varina received a B.S. in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and a M.Ed. (Arts in Education) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Varina served five years on the Board of Directors of Elemental Strings.
Joni Swenson is in her thirteenth year as the Director of Orchestras at Santa Monica High School and is proud to be a part of the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District. A graduate of UCLA, she taught in the Sacramento City Unified School District and in the San Jose Unified School District prior to her position at Samohi. Joni has served as guest conductor for many honor orchestras throughout California and has presented sessions at both the CMEA State and Bay Section Conferences, as well as at the Southern California School Band and Orchestra (SCSBOA) Fall Conference. In addition, she has served as the Orchestra Representative in both CMEA Capitol and Bay Sections and currently serves as the Vice-President of the California Orchestra Directors Association (CODA). In 2001, Joni was selected by San Francisco radio station KDFC Classical 102.1 as Music Educator of the Year. In 2004 she received the CMEA Le Blanc Outstanding Orchestra Music Educator Award and in 2010, she was selected as a finalist for the Los Angeles Music Center's Bravo Award.
As Creative Director, Victor Zaud is the founder of the strategic design and technology firm, Zaudhaus, where he helped conceive, shape, design, and build some of the most notable technology products and brands for such companies including Arena Solutions, Dell, J2 Communications, Microsoft and PureStorage as well as Sugarfish, Follow Your Heart, The Republic of Tea, and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Prior to Zaudhaus, Zaud was the Director of Product Design at NetObjects, a leading Web-Authoring Software company, where he was responsible for the development of NetObjects Fusion. Prior to NetObjects, Zaud was a principal designer and business consultant for The Understanding Business (TUB). He started his career in Apple's Creative Services department on projects including the introduction and definition of Desktop Publishing and Hypercard.
Anne-Christine Wille was born in Berlin, Germany and moved with her family to Santa Monica in 2005. She is married to Andreas and is mother of Aaron and Adrian. She has been an amateur cellist since she was 8 years and has played in several orchestras and quartette in Germany. She holds a M.A. in Journalism from Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany and a certification in HR Management from LMU in Los Angeles. She was on the developmental team of a German Immersion Charter School in Los Angeles from 2007 - 2009 which developed the criteria to meet the school's state, county and IB accreditation. Today, she is an HR consultant for non-profit organizations and a substitute teacher.
Tim Tortora is currently CEO of Andrews, Sumitt & Allen Management, a financial management company specializing in Outsource CFO services for the entertainment industry. Prior to founding ASA, Tim was CFO of Benji Returns Distribution a film production and distribution company that independently produced and distributed Benji Off the Leash in 900 theatres domestically generating more than $4.2MM in box office revenue. Prior to that, Tim was in charge of worldwide production for ASA Management's production services partner Milk & Honey Pictures, headquartered in Los Angeles and Prague with offices and affiliates in Mexico, Italy, Canada, South Africa, England, Spain, Russia and Italy. Recently Tim was Executive In Charge Of Production for Oprah Winfrey's film production arm - Harpo Films. As head of production, he was in charge of all aspects of production from deal execution through delivery with an emphasis on financial/logistical execution and hi-definition delivery on such films as Tuesdays With Morrie (Jack Lemmon, Hank Azaria), Amy & Isabelle (Elisabeth Shue), The Wedding (Halle Berry) & Before Women Had Wings (Ellen Barkin). Prior to running production at Harpo, Tim was a production accountant for such projects as "Home Improvement," "Ellen," "The Fan" and "Metro." Tim started his career as a recording engineer at a post-production facility producing feature and record projects.
Kevin McKeown, B.A. -' Music Education, M.M. -' Conducting, University of California, Los Angeles. K-12 Teaching Credential -' California State University, Los Angeles.
Kevin McKeown is Director of Bands at Santa Monica High School, where over 300 students participate in one of five concert bands, two jazz bands, piano, winter guard, and the Samohi "Viking" Marching Band. The ensembles at Samohi have consistently received high ratings at adjudicated festivals and have been recognized at the state and national level. Under his direction, the ensembles have performed at Chicago Symphony Center, Green Music Center (Sonoma State University), Eli and Edythe Broad Stage, Carnegie Hall, and at the 2016 California All-State Music Education Conference (CASMEC), the only high school wind ensemble in the state to receive this recognition and invitation. The Samohi "Viking" Marching Band have been an SCSBOA Marching Band Championship Finalist every year since his tenure and have received tournament 1st place and sweepstakes awards under his direction.
Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Kevin McKeown grew up in Santa Monica and later attended UCLA (B.A '98, M.M. '00). He was a four year Drum Major of the "Sold Gold Sound" UCLA Marching Band, and a Graduate Associate Conductor of the UCLA Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band. He also has done doctoral level work at UCLA and holds a teaching credential certificate from Cal State Los Angeles. Prior to joining the faculty of Santa Monica High School, Mr. McKeown taught music at the elementary level for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School district, at John Adams Middle School, and the Santa Monica Alternative School House (SMASH). Former teaching/music positions include Cal State Northridge, Cal State Los Angeles, and Long Beach City College.
Kevin McKeown is currently the conductor of Wind Ensembles at the University of California, Irvine and Santa Monica College. He is a member of the National Association for Music Education, California Band Directors Association (CBDA), Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA), World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE), and the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA). He is a promoter of new music for the wind band, having commissioned and collaborated on numerous projects featuring local composers, and is an active adjudicator, clinician, and guest conductor throughout California. During his free time he enjoys playing golf, and is thankful for the support of his wife and son, Connor.
Angela Woo is Director of Instrumental Music and Chair of the Department of Visual and
Performing Arts at John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica, California where over
400 students are enrolled in one of four concert bands or four string orchestras. The
John Adams ensembles have consistently earned the highest possible ratings at
performance festivals, and in 2011, the John Adams Middle School Wind Ensemble was
selected to perform at the California All-State Music Education Convention as the only
middle school concert band in the state to be so honored.
An alumna of the University of California, Los Angeles, Ms. Woo holds the degrees
Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and Piano Performance, the Master of Education,
and the Master of Fine Arts in Conducting. She also holds the Master of Arts in
Educational Administration from California State University, Northridge. Prior to her
appointment to John Adams in 1995, Ms. Woo was Director of Music at Corona del Mar
High School and served as Director of Bands at Santa Monica College.
Ms. Woo first earned international acclaim as a conductor in Mexico City, where she
was the first woman conductor to present premiere performances of the music of Karel
Husa and Vincent Persichetti as well as being associate conductor for the music of
George Crumb and William Schuman at the XIV New Music Forum, directed by Manuel
Enriquez, Mexico's leading composer at the time.
Ms. Woo enjoys an active schedule as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator with
numerous honor groups, conducting symposia, and music festivals throughout the
country. Her guest conducting invitations have included the 2004 Kentucky All-State
High School Concert Band, the 2007 Oregon All-State Middle School Band, and most
recently, Ms. Woo conducted the 2014 California All-State Jr. High Concert Band. In
2005, Ms. Woo was honored with the special invitation to be the inaugural conductor of
the University of Colorado's first Middle School Honor Band. In addition, she served as
a conducting clinician with the Florida International University Conducting Symposium
from 2003 -' 2007. She has been invited by local universities as well as those around the
country to lead professional development workshops for music educators at both the
middle school and high school levels.
In 2005, Ms. Woo was recognized by the Santa Monica Rotary Club as the Santa MonicaMalibu District Teacher of the Year. She was honored at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic as a 2012 Legion of Honor Laureate by the John Philip Sousa National Foundation.
Buzz Gravelle—composer, multi-instrumentalist, business owner, and music educator—has been involved with new music for plucked strings for over twenty years. As a recitalist he is known for creative programming and has extended the repertoire of the classical guitar and classical mandolin through his own compositions, transcriptions, and the premiering of new works written for him. Buzz was a founding member of the Modern Arts Guitar Quartet (1991-1995), an ensemble of guitarists/composers that explored the leading edges of new music for classical guitar—prepared guitar, serialism, minimalism, aleatoric, and electro-acoustic music. He has performed throughout the western United States, in addition to Canada, Mexico, Italy, Austria, and Germany. Buzz holds both M.F.A. and D.M.A. degrees in Music from UCLA. Buzz serves on the music faculty of California Polytechnic University at Pomona. Buzz, along with his wife Jessi Spike Gravelle, are the founders of the Santa Monica Academy of Music, founded in 1997. Buzz is also it’s Director and Outreach Program Coordinator.