Soprano Shelby VanNordstrand has appeared as a soloist with a wide range of ensembles and companies; including Lorin Maazel's Castleton Festival, Opera Omaha, SongFest, New York Lyric Opera Theatre, Omaha Symphony, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and the Simon Estes Young Artist Program. Past operatic engagements include Gianetta (L’elisir d’amore), Madame Herz (The Impresario), Mrs. Nordstrom (A Little Night Music), Gretel and Dew Fairy (Hansel & Gretel), Paquette and Cunegonde (Candide). She has appeared on many chamber music series recitals and enjoys performing song repertoire and chamber music at home and abroad (Indonesia, Japan, China, and Lithuania).
VanNordstrand received a Bachelor of Music degree in music education from Iowa State University, and a Master of Music in vocal performance from Michigan State University. VanNordstrand is currently Associate Professor of Voice and Vocal Area Coordinator at University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her students have been named winners of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Student Auditions at the state, regional, and national levels and winners of the National Opera Association's Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition. As a clinician, she has presented at the National Collegiate Music Society Conference, the National Opera Association Conference, the Central Regional National Association of Teachers of Singing Conference, and other state and regional conferences.
Hannah Hickman is a saxophonist and music educator based in Kansas City, Missouri. She has been a prizewinner in competitions from the local to international level, including the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition, the Pan-American Classical Saxophone Competition in Mexico City, and the University of Minnesota Concerto Competition. She has been invited to perform and present in conferences, symposiums, and masterclasses across the country. As a licensed K-12 educator, Hickman enjoys teaching students of all ages in elementary music classes, private saxophone lessons, and woodwind sectionals. In 2020, she founded KeySpark, an online educational platform designed to provide accessible resources and collaborative learning opportunities for young saxophonists everywhere.
Hickman holds a master's degree in saxophone performance from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in music education and performance from the University of Minnesota. Currently, she is an Artist’s Certificate student at the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory, where she studies with Zach Shemon. Her previous teachers are Timothy McAllister, Preston Duncan, and Eugene Rousseau.
Caleb Hans Polashek leads a varied career in central Texas and beyond as an orchestral, chamber, solo performer and composer. Caleb joined the violin section of the Austin Symphony Orchestra in 2012 and earned tenure with the ensemble soon after. He performs with the Artisan String Quartet and regularly appears with the ensemble, most recently in Georgetown, San Antonio, and the annual Mason Chamber Music Festival. Credited by Music Dir. Eric McIntyre as offering "a rare combination of technical wizardry and interpretive adventurousness", Caleb has played the concertos of Brahms, Barber, Khachaturian, and Tchaikovsky as well as other works with orchestra and other large ensembles. Recent performances include the violin solo in Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante at the 2019 Mozart Festival Texas.
In 2006 Caleb joined the talented studio of renown performer and pedagogue Brian Lewis at the UT Austin, which became the Butler School of Music during his undergrad years. Notable performances included Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen with the University Orchestra and the solos in Strauss's Ein Heldenleben and Til Eulenspiegel as concertmaster of the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra. He earned both Bachelor's and Master's degrees while attending BSOM, in 2010 and 2012 respectively. In addition to solo and orchestral studies Caleb also worked with the Miro Quartet on chamber music and was a member of a jazz combo, further honing his musical insights and skills in different genres.
Caleb has shared the stage with a variety of alternative groups and performers including Christopher Cross at ACL and Weezer during the SXSW festival. He is featured on acoustic and electric violin on a variety of recordings, recently including the new Conspirare album titled "The Hope of Loving".
A native of Ames, Iowa, Caleb started violin at the age of four and a half with teachers utilizing the Suzuki Method. Their guidance with his practice and persistence resulted in admission to the Iowa All-State Orchestra all four years of high school. He was the concertmaster for a special summer session of the orchestra that performed at the Iowa Capitol, and he looks forward to performing in celebration of the long-running organization.
Dr. Michelle Colton is a versatile percussionist who has performed throughout North America, Asia, Europe, and Central America. She often plays with the Canadian Opera Company, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and is the co-founder of Oregano Percussion. She has performed with NEXUS, Keiko Abe, and Dame Evelyn Glennie. Her debut solo album, Unpredictable Nature includes three original works and two pieces by members of TorQ Percussion Quartet.
She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the University of Toronto and her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Iowa under the direction of Dan Moore. Her first percussion instructor was Tom Mackey, principal percussionist of Orchestra Iowa. Dr. Colton was born and raised in Marion, Iowa and participated in the Iowa All-State Band and Orchestra from 1999-2001. Her father (Steve Colton) and grandfather (Luman Colton) were both band directors and past presidents of IBA. As a music educator, she has directed the University of Toronto Steel Pan and Percussion Ensembles, as well as the Iowa Ambassadors of Music percussion section for the European tours in 2012 and 2014.
She currently directs the University of Toronto Percussion Preparatory Department and is also a Steel Pan Instructor at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Toronto District School Board. Dr. Colton is the president of the Ontario Percussive Arts Society. She has presented her research about movement and gesture in marimba performance at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. She is an artist/endorser of Adams/Pearl Musical Instruments, Dream Cymbals and Gongs, and The Steelpan Store.
Gabriel Medd picked up a trumpet for the first time while wandering around his dad’s band room in Clinton, Iowa at the age of 3. Now 28, the Iowa City native has played at the Umbria Jazz Festival, Governor’s Ball, Lollapalooza, The Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Iridium, Chicago Jazz Showcase, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola and Brooklyn Bowl. He has embraced opportunities to blend his ideas and sounds with those of other incredible musicians and regularly performs with High and Mighty Brass Band, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Michael Blume, Sandra Bernhard and recently collaborated with Lake Street Dive on their Spotify Singles release as an arranger and soloist. In 2011, Gabriel received the award for “Best Undergraduate Jazz Soloist” in Downbeat Magazine’s 2011 Student Music Awards and was also included in Wynton Marsalis’ list of “The Next Generation of Jazz Greats” that appeared in JET magazine.
Gabriel graduated with his bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School in 2014 and his Master’s Degree at Juilliard in 2016. In November of 2014, he was selected as a semi-finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition. Gabriel now lives in New York City and tours around the world with a busy performance schedule, recently traveling to Australia, Italy, Russia, Spain, France, Belgium, and England in his continued musical journey.
Joel Waggoner is a writer, actor, composer, music director, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, comedian, and one-time game show winner. He was part of the Broadway casts of School of Rock and Be More Chill, where he went on to play Mr. Heere/Mr. Reyes/Scary Stockboy. He has appeared Off-Broadway in Southern Comfort at the Public Theater and will play Ralph in the original cast of the new Ahrens & Flaherty musical Knoxville in its upcoming premiere at Asolo Rep. With co-creator Julia Mattison, Joel wrote and performed a selection of original comedic Christmas carols on the popular Instagram handle @adventcarolndar. Joel and Julia’s Advent Carolndar was featured on NPR Weekend Edition and Jimmy Kimmel Live! with Ben Platt.
Joel’s work as a music director and/or vocal arranger includes Broadway Bounty Hunter (Off-Broadway at Greenwich House Theatre/Barrington Stage Company) and many productions at Pace University where he served as the Director of Music. Joel has many popular stand alone songs such as “Empathy” and “Nice Guy”, and his musical theater composition credits include Presto Change-o (book/lyrics by Eric Price) and the upcoming The Supadupa Kid (both at Barrington Stage), plus incidental music for the forthcoming play Hester Street. He created the one-man show The Joel Waggoner Experience (Joe’s Pub), sang and played violin on many albums, released the single “Unlikely Warrior, and appeared in the music video for the song “Get Into It…Queen,” which he co-wrote.
Joel received his MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU and was a Dramatists Guild Fellow. His work has been heard on concert stages all over New York, he is a founding member of the Musical Theatre Factory, and he was the winner of the Season 3 premiere of ABC’s The $100,000 Pyramid.
Joel was a 4-year All-Stater. 3 years in the Orchestra (32nd Chair 2nd Violin, 2nd Chair 2nd Violin, One Year Choir - Baritone, 6th Chair First Violin).
@joelwaggoner @adventcarolndar @joelcappella on Instagram.
Megan Ihnen is a “new music force of nature.” Her performances thrive on elaborate sound worlds and fully-developed dramatic interpretations. She has been described as "an expert at engaging and educating audiences in a way that sparks curiosity and radiates a welcome attitude toward new music performance" by Elizabeth Kennedy Bayer, Oh My Ears founder and artistic director.
Passionate about performing contemporary chamber music and opera, Megan has worked with individuals and ensembles around the globe including: International Contemporary Ensemble, Fifth House Ensemble, Great Noise Ensemble, Rhymes With Opera, and Synchromy.
She is deeply committed to the belief that new music should be accessible in cities and towns of all sizes. She has recently traveled to and performed on SPLICE Festival, Oh My Ears, ÆPEX Contemporary Performance, Detroit New Music “Strange Beautiful Music Marathon”, Omaha Under the Radar Festival, Works and Process at the Guggenheim Series, and New Music Gathering.
Learn more about Megan at meganihnen.com.
Antoine L. Smith is an Emmy Award Winner who graduated from West High School in Sioux City, IA. He was last seen on Broadway in the 2018 Tony Award Nominated Best Revival Of a Musical Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel as Timony/u.s. Billy Bigelow. Other Broadway credits include; The 2016 Grammy, and Tony Award Winning Best Revival of a Musical, The Color Purple); The 2017 Tony Award Nominated Best Revival of a Musical Miss Saigon/Shultz/u.s. John, and the 2010 Tony Award Winning Best New Musical Memphis. Other Notable Credits include; OKLAHOMA/Curly, Les Miserables/ Javert, RENT/ Tom Collins/ Big River/ Jim, Ragtime/ Booker T. Washington, just to name a few. @antoinelsmith32
Fran Kick is an author, educational consultant, and professional speaker who knows What Makes Kids KICK! He is the creator and presenter of KICK IT IN® a series of self-motivational personal leadership presentations and materials. Since taking an educational leave of absence from teaching instrumental music at Centerville High School (Ohio), he has developed a part-time speaking adventure into a full-time mission.
Every year Fran presents programs across the U.S. and Canada to thousands of college/university, high school, junior high/middle school students, plus the many people who work with them. Since 1998, Fran has served as the leadership coordinator with the Music for All Summer Symposium . He also works with Drum Corps International every summer to help music students, their directors, and parents “Kick Start” their season with DCI!
Outside the music education world, he works with schools, associations, conventions and corporate organizations who are actively engaged in teaching and reaching today's kids. Fran speaks at many state, regional and national conferences about What Makes Kids KICK and how they can KICK IT IN & TAKE THE LEAD. He has his B.A. in Music Education and a M.A. in Educational Psychology.
75th Annual All State Music Festival