Choir & Voice
Amy R. Porter, a Louisiana native, has appeared in many standard operatic roles, including Königin der Nacht (Die Zauberflöte), Violetta (La Traviata), Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor), Mimi (La Bohème), Marguerite (Faust), Contessa (Le Nozze di Figaro), and Alice (Falstaff). She has performed more contemporary operatic works, including Poulenc’s one woman monodrama La Voix Humaine (Femme), Dinos Constantinides’s psychological one-act opera Rosanna (Angelina), and a partially-televised production of David Amram’s Twelfth Night (Olivia), as well as early music productions, including Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (Dido) and the New York City premiere of Hildegard von Bingen’s medieval morality play Ordo Virtutum (Victory). An ardent solo performer of pre-classical repertoire, she was a founding member of the Baton Rouge Early Vocal Ensemble (BREVE). Ms. Porter has performed recitals, concerts, and oratorio repertoire throughout the United States.
In addition to singing and teaching, Ms. Porter enjoys playing the role of operatic stage director, directing productions for LSU Opera and LSU Summer Opera Camp. She has also worked as a conductor, having served as chorus master for Opera Louisiane in Baton Rouge as well as in numerous church music director positions. She teaches applied voice at Gonzaga University and serves as lecturer faculty of Whitworth University, where she teaches applied voice, lyric diction, and song literature.
Office: St. Gregory Choral Hall, Rm. 103
Darnelle Scarbrough Preston graduated from San Francisco State University, Magna Cum Laude, with her B.M. in Music Education, and received her M.M. in Vocal Performance from Boston University. Ms. Preston has appeared with the Utah, Carmel, Washington D.C. Masterworks, Handel & Haydn Society, Muncie, Nashville, and Billings symphonies. Her solo appearances throughout the Northeast have included performances of Bach’s “b minor Mass” and “St. John Passion”, Handel’s “Messiah”, Haydn’s “Creation” and Poulenc’s “Gloria”. In opera, her performances have included the Countess in “Le Nozze di Figaro”, the Cake Box Lady in Argento’s “Postcard from Morocco”, Mimi in “La Boheme”, and Lady Billows in Britten’s “Albert Herring”. Her musical theatre roles have included Madame Thenardier (Les Miserable), Ruth (Pirates of Penzance), Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd), Jack’s Mother (Into the Woods), Mrs. Sowerberry (Oliver), and Mrs. Fairfax (Jane Eyre). She has performed throughout southern France and recorded with the Robert Shaw Choeur d’Atlanta. Locally, Ms. Preston has performed with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, Allegro: Baroque and Beyond, Zephyr, Spokane Opera, Connoisseur Concert’s Northwest Bach Festival and Mozart in Manito, Spokane Choral Artists, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theater, and Spokane Valley Summer Theatre. She is currently a member of the Vocal Faculty at Gonzaga University, and teaches Applied Voice, Lyric Diction, and Class Voice.
John, a native of the northwest, began his trombone and musical career in the sixth grade, then a year later began taking private lessons with Michael Oft. Once in high school, John joined the Metropolitan Youth Symphony and subsequently joined the Portland Youth Philharmonic. After graduating high school in 2011, he began his undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon, studying with Henry Henniger, where he graduated in 2015. John would then start his professional work as an orchestral trombonist, subbing with multiple orchestras in Oregon, including: Oregon Symphony, Eugene Symphony, Portland Opera, Astoria Music Festival, Newport Symphony, Mozart Players, and Salem Chamber Orchestra.
After his time as an undergraduate, John decided to further his studies as a Master’s student at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, studying with Allen Barnhill. Within his first year, he performed with the Shepherd Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and won his first professional job with the Portland Opera as their principal trombonist. In his second year, John went on to win the Shepherd School of Music concerto competition in the winds/brass/percussion/harp division with the Nino Rota trombone concerto. He will perform the Rota sometime during the 2018-2019 school year.
At the end of Portland Opera’s 2018 season John won the Spokane Symphony one year principal trombone audition. He will start with the symphony in September 2018 and will begin teaching low brass at Gonzaga University.
Office: Music Hall, Room 110
Phone: (509) 313-6733
Christopher Cook graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music,. He was a longtime member of the Spokane Falls Brass Band, and plays trumpet in the Spokane Symphony. Additionally he teaches music at Gonzaga University.
Phone: (509) 313-6733
Office: Music Mansion
Phone: (509) 313-6733
An active member of Spokane’s music scene, Kenny Sager performs all over the area. He has a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from Eastern Washington University and did 1 year at University of Montana as a graduate assistant teaching drum set and jazz ensembles. Kenny also teaches at EWU and Mead High School coaching their drum line in the fall as well as teaching at Music Plus year round.
Office: Music Hall, Room 105
Phone: (509) 313-6733
Jennifer Brummett received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Juilliard School and a Master of Music degree at Southern Methodist University. She has been Principal Horn of the Spokane Symphony from 2002-14 and a member of the Solstice Quintet 2004-2009. Prior to joining the Spokane Symphony, Jennifer played Assistant Horn in the Fort Worth Symphony 1996-2002 and subbed in the Dallas Symphony, including recordings of Prokofiev's Scythian Suite, Shostakovich's 7th Symphony and Mahler Symphonies 2, 3, and 6.
Jennifer has performed at the Tanglewood Institute, the Chautauqua Festival, the Waterloo Festival, the Spoleto USA Festival, the Music in the Mountains Festival (Durango,CO), and as Principal Horn of the Utah Festival Opera. She performed with the Solstice Quintet at the Orcas Center in June of 2007. Jennifer is on faculty at Gonzaga University and Whitworth University. As a soloist, she has performed the Schumann Konzertstück with the Florida West Coast Symphony, the Mozart Concerto No. 2 with the Spokane Symphony, the Saint-Saens Morceau de Concert with the Spokane Falls Concert Band, the Britten Serenade with the Texas Chamber Orchestra, and many others. Ms. Brummett also played Principal Horn on Frank Sinatra’s Diamond Jubilee International Tour.
A native of Chicago, cellist Kevin Hekmatpanah has presented hundreds of solo and chamber performances throughout the country. He has made over one hundred and twenty solo concerto appearances with various ensembles. Mr. Hekmatpanah has released a compact disc recording containing cello sonatas by Franck, Debussy, and Chopin. Deeply committed to teaching, Mr. Hekmatpanah is a Professor of Music at Gonzaga University, where he has taught since 1994. He recently received an Exemplary Faculty Award for his Academic Citizenship. He is currently a member of the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. He has previously served on the faculty of Middle Tennessee State University and has taught cello at the Governor’s School for the Arts. He has served on competition juries, and he has presented master classes and clinics throughout the country. In addition to being the first cellist to earn a DMA from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, he also holds a MM from Indiana University and a BM from the University of Southern California. His teachers have included such nationally renowned pedagogues as Stephen Kates, Fritz Magg, and Gabor Rejto, and he has received coaching from such internationally celebrated artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, and Janos Starker.
As a conductor Kevin Hekmatpanah begins his twenty-fourth year as Music Director of the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra. In this capacity he has performed a large portion of the standard repertoire for orchestra, as well as premieres of new music. He has also organized and presided over the Young Artists’ Concerto/Aria Competition, which gives the opportunity for young musicians to present a concerto with the ensemble.
Jason Bell is the Associate Concertmaster of the Spokane Symphony and has played with the group since 2002. Mr. Bell is originally from LaCrosse, Wisconsin and started playing the instrument at the age of 4. He has studied violin with Dorothy Delay, Kurt Sassmannshaus, Piotr Milewski, Doris Preucil, and Margaret Baldridge.
As a student, Mr. Bell attended summer festivals in Aspen, Colorado and Brevard, North Carolina. He studied violin formally at the University of Montana, Missoula and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Mr. Bell has taught and performed violin from coast to coast. He has been an adjudicator for the Simon-Fiset competition in Seattle, a frequent adjudicator for the MTNA competition for both regional and divisional rounds, and an adjudicator for WSMTA festivals held around the state of Washington. He has also been on the faculty at the Brevard Music Festival, playing Principal Second Violin in the BMC Orchestra. He is honored to play with the Seattle Symphony as a substitute violinist.
Nick Carper graduated from Columbus State and Butler Universities. Nick has performed throughout the U.S. in various capacities, as principal, chamber musician, and soloist. He is currently an instructor at Gonzaga University.
Office: Music Annex, Room 105
Phone: (509) 313-6733
Amanda received her master's degree in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and her bachelor's degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Amanda teaches violin at Gonzaga University and plays second violin with the Spokane String Quartet.
Phone: (509) 313-6733
Kim Plewniak holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. Kim instructs at Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, and Whitman College and maintains a private studio.
Earecka Tregenza earned a Master of Music from Rice University, Shepherd School of Music and a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music. She attended the Royal Conservatory of Music, Glenn Gould School. Earecka is an instructor at Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University and Whitworth University.
Office: Music Hall, Room 108
Phone: (509) 313-5910
He made a career of working with modern dancers after graduation, first with the Martha Graham Company in New York, and then on the dance faculty of Florida State University. He has premiered a number of composers’ works written especially for dance, revived a great deal of 20th century music used for modern dance and was invited to showcase the piano works of Robert Muczynski at the Music Teacher National Convention in Miami in 1990.
As a composer himself, he has written many works for dance and solo piano. Since his return to Spokane, he has been active as a soloist and accompanist including work for several productions of the Spokane Opera and as part of a duo-piano team with Kendall Feeney.
He served as a member of the piano faculty in the Music department of Eastern Washington University in the spring of 2001 and has been a member of the piano faculty at Gonzaga University since the Fall of 2001. Some of his students have been prize winners in state and local competitions and a number have gone on to have careers in music.
He performs regularly as the principal keyboard player for the Spokane Symphony, as a chamber musician and as part of two-piano duos. He was selected by Gunther Schuller to play Beethoven's own arrangement of the Grosse Fuga for 4 hands with Christopher O'Reilly in 2010, and recently accompanied Thomas Hampson for the 10th Anniversary Gala of the Fox Theater in Spokane. He accompanied Zuill Bailey in Michael Daugherty's Grammy Award winning new piece, Tales of Hemingway, in December, 2017 and also in the two Haydn cello concertos in the Spokane Bach Festival March 2018.
He has presented many workshops and sessions for WSMTA at state conferences and districts conferences and is a frequent adjudicator and competition judge in Washington, Idaho and Montana.
Deborah Sinn’s diverse career has taken her around the world. She has given concerts and masterclasses on four continents and has taught students from more than 14 different countries. She lived in Hamburg Germany for five years where she played concerts and musicals and operated two music studios for coaching and private instruction.
Her performing career includes giving concerts and masterclasses in four major cities with her piano/cello duo by invitation of the government of Mainland China. In addition to a lifetime of playing classical music, she has played for productions of Little Shop of Horrors, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Wizard of Oz, and Mikado.
She holds a doctorate from Indiana University, where she studied with Menahem Pressler (Beaux Arts Trio). Before moving to Germany, she served on the music faculty of Angelo State University in Texas and taught one semester at Universität Lüneburg (Germany) as an exchange professor.
Dr. Sinn is the author of Playing Beyond the Notes: A Pianist's Guide to Musical Interpretation, published by Oxford University Press in 2013 (10th+ printing), widely used in university music programs and independent studios across the US, Canada, and Europe.
Riley Gray is a sought-after jazz pianist in the Spokane area and has played with the Bob Curnow Big Band and Son Dulce Live Salsa among other ensembles.
He has been featured on Spokane, WA based KPBX radio program Piano Bench.
Office: Music Hall, Room 103
Mellad graduated from Gonzaga University with a BA in Music Composition in 2002. Since then, he has worked as an adjunct guitar instructor at Gonzaga University and private guitar instructor at St. George's School and Colville High School. Mellad is a patient, yet highly skilled, instructor who is well versed in a variety of musical genres, including Classical, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Commercial, Country, Celtic and Broadway. As an international guitar performer, songwriter and record producer, Mellad is a dynamic instructor who brings a wealth of real-world expertise to the classroom.
For the past several years, Mellad has been fortunate to write and arrange songs for several independent vocal artists. Most recently, Mellad has been writing and performing with Country artist Nicole Lewis and is currently working on her upcoming Nashville-based full-length album. When not on tour or teaching, Mellad enjoys playing guitar for local Jazz ensembles and the live theatre circuit. Mellad has worked as a guitarist at Spokane Civic Theatre for the past 4 seasons and Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre for the past 5 seasons.
Dr. Peter J. Hamlin is an Assistant Professor of Music at Gonzaga University. In addition to overseeing the music education degree program, he teaches coursework in ear training and world music. He is also the faculty advisor to the Collegiate Chapter of the National Association for Music Education.
Dr. Hamlin received his Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Miami in Florida. He was awarded a Master of Music degree in Clarinet Performance from the University of Connecticut. While there he was the Graduate Assistant Director of the marching band, men’s and women’s varsity basketball pep bands, and the UConn concert band. Dr. Hamlin received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the University of Miami.
Joshua received his undergraduate degree in Vocal Music Education from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa where he studied conducting with Weston Noble and composition with John Morrison and Neil Flory. He earned master's and doctoral degrees in composition at the University of Texas at Austin where he studied with Dan Welcher, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Russell Pinkston, Donald Grantham, and the late opera composer Daniel Catán. A native of Minnesota, he is an avid cyclist, enjoys vegetarian cooking, and a good cup of tea.