Music

Faculty

Michael Robinson – Camp Director

This is Michael L. Robinson’s 11th year as the Director of Bands at Mars Hill University.  His duties include director of the Mountain Lion Marching Band, director of the wind symphony, instrumental conducting and various music education courses.  He also serves as the music education coordinator and supervises student teachers.  Mike was presented the prestigious Al G. Wright Award from Women Band Directors International in 2015 and was selected to receive the Robert S. Gibbs Outstanding Teacher Award from Mars Hill University in 2016.   He was the director of the Asheville Community Band from 1996-2016 and a church music director for 31 years.  Mike is a member of the National Association for Music Education, North Carolina Music Educators Association, American School Band Directors Association, College Band Directors National Association, National Band Association, Phi beta Mu, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.  He is an active clinician and adjudicator throughout the southeast.

He retired from the Asheville City School System in 2007 with 30 years of public school teaching experience.  During his 25-year tenure at Asheville High School his band received 25 consecutive Superior ratings at the North Carolina State Concert Festival, now known as MPA, in the grade six level of music.   In 1985 and 1999 the Asheville High School Wind Symphony performed for the North Carolina Band Directors Association at the state NCMEA conference.

Mr. Robinson was the president of the North Carolina Band Directors Association from 1988-1990, received the Award of Excellence from the North Carolina Band Directors Association in 1985 and 2006, and was presented the citation of excellence from the National Band Association in 1988.  He was given the Outstanding Band Alumni Award from Mars Hill College in 1988.  In 2000 he received the Band World Legion of Honor and the Sudler Order of Merit, administered by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation, and was featured in the Band World Magazine.  At the 2006 North Carolina Music Educators Association Convention he was inducted into the North Carolina Band Directors Hall of Fame.

Mandy James – Dean of Women

Mandy James is a graduate from Mars Hill University where she received her Bachelor of Music Education with a concentration in Percussion. While at Mars Hill University she performed for all 4 years in the Mars Hill Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Low Brass Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, and College Choir. Here, she was fortunate to study percussion pedagogy under Professor Dr. Brian Tinkle, and conducting and band techniques under Professor Dr. Alton Corley and Professor Mike Robinson. After college, Mrs. James taught for 3 years in Caldwell County at Gamewell Middle School. While at Gamewell, Mrs. James was named Rookie Teacher of the Year for the 2010-2011 school year. She is currently the band director at William Ellis Middle School in Advance, North Carolina. Mrs. James is an active member of the Northwest District Bandmasters Association. She is also a member of the North Carolina Music Educators Association, Percussive Arts Society, and Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers. Mrs. James has worked at the Mars Hill Summer Music Camp since 2010.

Misty Theisen – Flute and Drum Major Instructor

Misty Theisen received degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi in music education (B.ME.) and flute performance (M.M.) where she studied with Sharon Lebsack. While teaching across the southeastern United States and at Worth Abbey in West Sussex, England, she studied with internationally recognized soloists Sir James Galway, Paul Edmund Davies, and Wissam Boustany. Theisen has performed regularly with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, Meridian Symphony Orchestra, and the Sinfonia Gulf Coast. As a soloist with a large ensemble, she has performed Cimarosa’s Concerto in G, Doppler’s Fantasie Pastorale Hongroise, and Chaminade’s Concertino. Theisen won the state level of the Music Teacher’s National Association Young Artist Woodwind Competition in 2004 and proceeded to take honorable mention at the regional MTNA competition in Louisville, Kentucky. She co-founded the flute and saxophone duo, Duo Fujin, in which Dr. Marc Ballard and she have been promoting traditional and contemporary concert music by performing throughout the United States. Mrs. Theisen has worked at the Mars Hill Summer Music Camp since 2012.

Cara Jenkins – Mars Hill Oboe Professor

A native of northern California, Cara Mia Jenkins made her eastern descent to make her home in North Carolina in 2005 where she was appointed oboist in the Asheville Symphony Orchestra and the Asheville Lyric Opera. She has distinguished herself as a unique performer and passionate educator here in the Carolinas. Ms. Jenkins is currently on the adjunct faculty of both Mars Hill University and University of North Carolina, Asheville while maintaining her own private studio of students from all over Western North Carolina. Posts prior to those in the Asheville area include principle oboist for the Camerada Chamber Winds and the Reno Opera Orchestra. Ms. Jenkins promotes music education with youth throughout the region as a featured clinician for the North Carolina Music Educators Association as well as through the education initiatives of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra. She holds a bachelor of music education from the University of Nevada and a masters of oboe performance from the University of North Texas with postgraduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Rosalind Buda – Mars Hill Bassoon Professor

Bassoonist Rosalind Buda, based in Asheville, NC, is an active chamber musician, orchestral musician, and teacher. She performs with and works as Project Manager for the acclaimed chamber music company Pan Harmonia and has performed innovative and exciting solo and ensemble programs with them throughout the region.

As an orchestral musician, Rosalind freelances throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, performing with the Asheville Symphony,Johnson City Symphony, Western Carolina University Musical Theater, and Gardner-Webb UniversityOrchestra. She holds the position of second bassoon with the Brevard Philharmonic and substitute positions with the Hendersonville Symphony and Spartanburg Philharmonic. Previously, Rosalind has performed with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony (IA), the Rome Festival Orchestra in Rome, Italy, the Lowell House Opera (Cambridge, MA), The Neponset Valley Philharmonic (Boston, MA), and the Lausitzer Opernsommer opera orchestra in Cottbus, Germany.

Rosalind is a graduate of the New England Conservatory where she earned her Master’s Degree while studying with Boston Symphony Orchestra Principal, Richard Svoboda. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Iowa where she studied with Benjamin Coelho.

Rosalind is adjunct professor of bassoon at Brevard College and Mars Hill University, has been a guest teacher at Eastern Tennessee State University, and maintains a private bassoon studio.

Outside of classical bassoon performance, Rosalind pursues her interest in traditional and modern Scottish/Celtic/world music and various forms of Celtic dance. She plays traditional reed instruments including highland bagpipes, Scottish smallpipes and Breton bombard. She plays with the band Brizeus, Jamie Laval Band, and the Medieval music ensemble Istanpitta.

Emily Talley – Clarinet Instructor

Emily Talley is currently the Director of Bands at Asheville High School where she has taught for the past ten years. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Education degree from Western Carolina University in 2004, as well as her Master’s of Music in Clarinet Performance in 2013. Emily has performed with many groups in our area including the Asheville Community Band, Hendersonville Symphony, Brevard Philharmonic, Spartanburg Philharmonic, HART Theater, and the Asheville Community Theater. Emily teaches private clarinet lessons on the side where her students have continuously received top honors in the WNC All-District Band and the NC All-State Band. The Asheville High School Clarinet Choir has also received top honors under her direction. In 2015, they performed at the Vandoren Clarinet Choir Festival at the University of South Alabama, and at the MENC National Convention in Nashville, TN. In 2015, Emily received a Distinguished Educator’s Award from Yale University, and attended the Yale Distinguished Educator’s Symposium. Her band’s at Asheville High School have continuously received superior ratings at Music Performance Adjudication Festival, and have performed in Washington, DC, the Bahamas, Disney World, and Waikiki, Hawaii. This July Emily will be moving to Rochester, NY to further her career in music education while her husband attends the Eastman School of Music to pursue his doctorate in Instrumental Conducting.

Dr. Alan Theisen – Mars Hill Saxophone and Theory Professor

Dr. Alan Theisen (b. 4 October 1981) is professor of music at Mars Hill University where he is the coordinator of music theory and composition. He previously taught at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University (Bloomington) after receiving his Ph.D. in music theory and composition from Florida State University and degrees (BM – Music History & MM Music Theory) from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Theisen’s compositions have been performed throughout the United States and Europe. His music, frequently commissioned by chamber and large ensembles, has been described by composer Dimitri Terzakis as being “the product of a unique talent.” Commissioning organizations include the Argot Trio, Tromboteam!, Samford University, Trio Bel Canto, the Mana Quartet, Duo Fujin, members of the US Army Field Band, and the Asheville Community Band. Theisen’s works combine an expressive melodic sensibility, a diverse harmonic language, and elaborate formal designs.

Theisen also specializes in the analysis & pedagogy of post-1900/contemporary classical music and has presented research on these topics at multiple national and regional music conferences. Theisen is Past President of the South Central Society for Music Theory, serves on the executive board of Music Theory Southeast as a Member-At-Large, and was recently appointed to the editorial board of the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy (online division). He remains active as a saxophonist (classical recitals, wind ensembles, jazz bands, musical theater productions) and performed in two World Saxophone Congresses (2000 & 2003).

Dr. Theisen has worked at the Mars Hill Summer Music Camp since 2012.

Marc Ballard – Saxophone and Jazz Improvisation Instructor

Marc Ballard is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He holds the Bachelor of Music degree from Henderson State University, and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi where he studied with Lawrence Gwozdz. His performances include appearances with Bernadette Peters, Bob Dorough, The Sinfonia Gulf Coast, The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, The Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra, The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the Young at Heart Big Band, and the Texarkana Jazz Orchestra. He performs and records regularly with several bands in the New Orleans area, including Eudora Evans and Deep Soul, and Refried Confuzion. He co-founded the flute and saxophone duo, Duo Fujin, in which Mrs. Misty Theisen and they have been promoting traditional and contemporary concert music by performing throughout the United States. Mrs. Theisen has worked at the Mars Hill Summer Music Camp since 2012.

​Brian Garland – Mars Hill Trumpet

​Brian Garland is an active trumpet performer, educator, and clinician living in Western North Carolina. As a performer Brian currently performs regularly with the Asheville Symphony and his chamber group Bryson Brass. Brian is also an avid supporter and performer of new music and often commissions new works for trumpet. Most recently he performed a brass quartet written by Michael Jefry Stevens for the Streamside Concert Series.

As a performer Brian has placed his focus on orchestral and chamber music, but has performed in a wide variety of settings. In 2011 Brian participated in a revival of Roger and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! conducted by Hollywood Bowl Conductor John Mauceri. The ensemble used the original set designs, costumes, and choreography during a two week run that culminated with a two day recording session so that the historical revival could be well documented for future generations. In 2014 Brian performed at Boston’s Symphony Hall at WCRB Classical Cartoon Festival with his chamber group Accent Brass Quintet.

Since his early years of college he has maintained a small private studio. His students have achieved such honors as earning the Mars Hill Summer Camp Jazz Award, as well as earning chairs in all-district and all-county. He also teaches clinics at local schools where the schools go on to win superiors and first place at both marching and concert band competitions.

In May 2015 Brian completed his Masters Degree in Trumpet Performance from The Boston Conservatory where he studied with Steve Emery. Additionally in May 2011 he graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he earned his Bachelors of Music in Trumpet Performance, where he studied with Judith Saxton.

Kevin Young – Dean of Men

Kevin Young is a graduate of Mars Hill University where he received his Bachelors degree in Music Education and Trumpet Performance. He has performed with Johnson City Orchestra, Blue Ridge Orchestra, Asheville Jazz Orchestra, and many other various types of trumpet playing throughout Western North Carolina. Kevin is currently 1 of 2 Band Directors at Asheville Middle School, where he teaches grades 6-8. The band program at AMS has over 250 students and is in hopes of reaching 300 by next year. He has worked at the Mars Hill Summer Music Camp since 2010.

Anthony Ammons – Mars Hill Adjunct French Horn Professor

Anthony Ammons is a graduate of Mars Hill University where he received his Bachelors degree in Music Education and French Horn Performance. He currently teaches middle school band at Valley Springs Middle School and Charles T. Koontz Intermediate School. He is also the adjunct French Horn Professor at Mars Hill University.

He performs with many bands in the area including the Asheville Community Band and Blue Ridge Orchestra. He has worked at the Mars Hill Summer Music Camp since 2010.

Dr. Jim Sparrow – Mars Hill Trombone, Euphonium, and Tuba Professor

James Sparrow is Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator for Instrumental Music at Mars Hill College. He teaches music education, trombone, euphonium, and brass chamber ensembles. He is principle trombone with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra and the Asheville Lyric Opera, and performs with the Asheville Jazz Orchestra, the Palmetto Posaunen, and “The Eighth Position”.

He has been a certified music educator since 1984 when he became Assistant Director of Bands at Hardaway High School in Columbus, Ga. In addition to public school band and orchestra, he has also taught trombone and music education at Columbus State University and Cameron University, and taught music education methods courses at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Dr. Sparrow earned the DMA at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, with other graduate work at Columbus State University and the University of Northern Colorado. He earned the Master of Arts in Trombone Performance from the University of Denver and the Bachelor of Music in Music Education at Columbus State University. He has performed and conducted in the U.S., the Bahamas, Japan, and Russia. He presented a research paper at the International Trombone Festival in Boulder, has performed at the Eastern Trombone Workshop in Washington, D.C., the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, at national conventions for MENC, IAJE, and at state conventions in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Colorado. He is the founding director of the Low Brass Retreat at Mars Hill College, an educational weekend dedicated to the development of low brass students of all ages.

His extensive commercial performance career includes professional work with Clay Aiken, Pat Boone, Debbie Boone, Dave Brubeck, Diahann Carroll, The Mills Brothers, The Temptations, Mel Torme, Dionne Warwick, and many others. He has spent considerable time working in recording studios, including the last seven CDs with the Cincinnati Wind Symphony, Eugene Corporon, conductor. He has worked at the Mars Hill Summer Music Camp since 2010.

Dr. Brian Tinkel – Mars Hill Director of Percussion Studies

Percussionist Brian Tinkel enjoys a career that draws on his background both in teaching and in performance as chamber musician, soloist and orchestral player. Currently, he is the Director of Percussion Studies at Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, North Carolina. Dr. Tinkel performs with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, Asheville Lyrics Opera, Asheville Symphony Chorus, and the Johnson City Orchestra. He was Principal Timpanist with the Enid Symphony and has performed with the Oklahoma Philharmonic. He is co-founder of the Brio Chamber Series, a chamber music series in Western North Carolina, and is a member of Mosaic Flute and Percussion Duo with his wife, Cynthia Roop. Dr. Tinkel has received both a B.M. and M.M. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he studied with Thom Hannum, Eduardo Leandro, and Dr. Peter Tanner. In addition, while studying with Dr. Lance Drege, he earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma.

While being involved in the drum corps activity for two decades, Dr. Tinkel’s performance opportunities led him to being a member of the Boston Crusaders and Star of Indiana. He went on to perform with Star of Indiana’s Brass Theater production where he toured with The Canadian Brass and Nexus. Since devoting his time to teaching, Brian has been on faculty with the Crossmen, Glassmen, and has coordinated percussion activities for Magic of Orlando and the Madison Scouts. In addition he has served as Percussion Caption Director and Arranger for Carolina Crown Drum & Bugle Corps and served as a percussion consultant for The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps in 2008 and 2009. Dr. Tinkel served as Percussion Caption Head for The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps from 2010 to 2013. In 2011, Tinkel led The Cavaliers Percussion Program to the Fred Sanford Award for Best Percussion Performance. In 2014, Dr. Tinkel began a position as percussion consultant with The Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps.

Dr. Tinkel has been a featured clinician and adjudicator at numerous events across the United States and at the 25th National Cultural Festival and International Exchange in Okayama, Japan. Additionally, he arranges for percussion ensembles across the country.

Dr. Tinkel is an artist and clinician for Avedis Zildjian Co., Pearl-Adams Corporation, REMO Inc., Innovative Percussion, and StickTape.com. Brian resides near Asheville, North Carolina with his wife Cynthia, his two children Lydia and Asher, and cat Oscar.

Justin Mabry – Mars Hill Percussion Professor

Justin Mabry is currently an Adjunct Professor of Percussion at Mars Hill University. Justin received his Masters of Music Degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro under the direction of Dr. Kristopher Keeton and his Bachelor of Music Degree from Mars Hill College under the direction of Dr. Brian Tinkel. In addition to his teaching responsibilities at MHU, Justin enjoys a career as a freelance percussionist.

As a performer, Justin is one of the founding members of 10-Can Percussion, a NC based chamber percussion ensemble. He has performed with the Brevard Philharmonic, Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, Winston-Salem Symphony, Johnson City Symphony Orchestra, Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre, and the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro, NC. During his studies at Mars Hill College and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, he participated in the marching band, percussion ensembles, marimba & steel pan band, jazz band, wind ensemble (2013 host of the CBDNA National Conference, UNCG), and university symphony orchestra.

Having a love for the marching arts, Justin participated in Drum Corps International as a member of the Teal Sound Drum and Bugle Corps in 2004, receiving the High Percussion award, and Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps in 2005 and 2006. He also participated in Winter Guard International as a member of Odyssey Percussion Theater in 2008. Most recently, he was the percussion arranger for Carolina Gold Drum & Bugle Corps (2010-2014) and was previously the percussion arranger for Coastal Surge Drum & Bugle Corps (2013). During his time as percussion caption head (2009-2013), Carolina Gold became the 2012 DCA A-Class World Champions, and the percussion program received the 2010, 2011 & 2012 High Percussion award. Justin has also been the ensemble director and battery arranger for Wake Forest Independent indoor percussion ensemble (2011-2014).

In addition to teaching and performing, Justin is a featured percussion arranger for Standing O Marching. He has been a featured clinician at numerous college and high school workshops and is an arranger and adjudicator for several percussion ensembles and band circuits across the country.

Justin is an Alumni of Phi Mu Alpha, a member of Percussive Arts Society, and an artist/clinician for Innovative Percussion Inc., Remo Inc., and Pearl-Adams Corporation. Justin currently resides near Asheville, North Carolina with his wife Andrea and dog Zoey.

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Mr. Michael Robinson
Director of Bands
Office: 201 Moore Auditorium
Phone: (828) 689-1210
Email: mrobinson@mhu.edu

Mars Hill Summer Music Camp
Attn: Michael Robinson
100 Athletic Street
​Box 6693
Mars Hill, NC 28754