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VIP Faculty. Elevating your experience!

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Dr. James Barger

Keller Central HS (June 17 - 21)

James Barger is an active performer of solo and chamber music throughout the United States and is in demand as a classical and jazz saxophonist and educator.

He joined the West Texas A&M University faculty as Assistant Professor of Saxophone in 2016 where he teaches applied lessons in classical saxophone and jazz improvisation, conducts the WTAMU Jazz Band II and Saxophone Ensemble, leads weekly studio classes, and serves as the faculty sponsor for the WTAMU Pep Band, affectionately known as “The Band in The Box”.

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Dr. Nathan Mertens

McKinney HS (June 17 - 21)

US-based saxophonist, Nathan Mertens (he/him) currently serves as the Assistant Professor of Saxophone at the University of Colorado Boulder. As an active soloist and chamber musician, he has performed recitals in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Croatia, Bolivia, the United Kingdom, and throughout the United States. He has performed as a soloist with orchestras including the Busan Philharmonic Orchestra, Hastings Symphony Orchestra, The University of Texas Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Arkansas Saxophone Ensemble. Mertens’ orchestral experience includes performances with the San Antonio Symphony and the Omaha Symphony.

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Dr. Matthew Kennedy

YSI Commission Composer

The music of composer Matthew Kennedy (b. 1987) contains disarming simplicity, often seeking out dark places with an uninhibited wonder and spirit of exploration. His work has been performed on five continents and received critical acclaim including honors and commissions from ASCAP, BMI, Opera on Tap, Boston Musica Viva, Hartford Opera Theater, bassist Robert Black, Dynamic Music Festival at NYU, as well as residencies at Marble House Project (VT), Atlantic Center for the Arts (FL), Hambidge Center (GA), Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology (MI), The Horned Dorset Artist Colony (NY), Soaring Gardens Artist's Retreat (PA), and the Mayapple Center for the Arts and Humanities (CT). Recent activities include performances and lectures at New Music on the Bayou, Bowling Green New Music Festival, Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival, New Music Gathering at Boston Conservatory, Duke University, University of Virginia, Kent State University, Constantinides New Music Ensemble (LSU), Florida Flute Association, Northwestern University New Music Conference, Fresh Inc. Festival, Tampa Homegrown Concert Series, and the North American Saxophone Alliance International  Conference.


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Dr. Derek Granger

North Houston (June 10 - 14)

Saxophonist and educator Dr. Derek Granger is committed to the advancement of the saxophone through innovative performance and pedagogy. Granger has appeared as a soloist with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Hartt Wind Ensemble, among others. He has garnered awards at MTNA regional and national competitions, The American Prize, Indianapolis Matinee Musicale Collegiate Competition, Hartt Chamber Music Competition, and Cyprus International Music Competition. In chamber music settings, Dr. Granger has performed recitals across North America as a member of Presidio and Catalina Quartets, toured China with Artifact Dance Company, and can be heard on Arizona University Recordings “Tribute to Adolphe Sax, Volume XIV.” As an educator, he has held teaching positions at, among others, Tarleton State University (Visiting Assistant Professor of Saxophone), Indiana University (Associate Instructor of Saxophone), Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (Summer Saxophone Faculty), and Flowing Wells High School (Director of Choirs). Dr. Granger’s current research focus is on identifying best practices for adapting pedagogical practices of voice to saxophone performance. Dr. Granger holds degrees from The Hartt School (DMA), Indiana University (MM), and the University of Arizona (BM). His primary teachers include Carrie Koffman, Otis Murphy, Kelland Thomas, and Timothy McAllister.

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