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Meet Our Faculty


The distinguished Chinese-American violinist William Pu has served in two of the best orchestras in the United States, the Houston Symphony as Assistant Concertmaster and the Atlanta Symphony as Associate Concertmaster for the past 25 years. Born in Shanghai, Mr. Pu graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music before came to the United States. Having studied with renowned teachers like Fredell Lack, Camilla Wicks, David Cerone and Emanuel Borok. Mr. Pu was the National Winner of 1990 Music Teachers National Association Competition (MTNA) and has received many awards in national and international competitions.


At age of 23, Mr. Pu won the national audition and was appointed by Christoph Eschenbach to become the youngest ever to serve as the Assistant Concertmaster of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. In 2002, Mr. Pu again won the national audition to become the Associate Concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. During his tenure years with at the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Pu has lead both orchestras on numerous concerts, tours and recordings, featured as a soloist in many occasions and collaborated with distinguished artists such as Robert Spano, Christoph Eschenbach, Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, and Itzhak Perlman, just to name a few.


Mr. Pu was invited as a guest concertmaster with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. In addition to his busy performing schedule, Mr. Pu actively performed chamber music with his colleagues and friends in Houston, Atlanta, Hong Kong and China. Mr. Pu was invited to be the featured soloist with the Wroclaw Philharmonic in Poland, Ohio Chamber Orchestra, Texas Music Festival Orchestra, Moore School of Music Orchestra at University of Houston, Grand Folks Symphony Orchestra, Georgia State University School of Music Orchestra, DeKalb Symphony Orchestra, Woodland Symphony Orchestra and Galveston Symphony Orchestra.


In 2005 and 2010, Mr. Pu was invited to perform in the orchestra made from the top one hundred Chinese musicians around the world in Beijing and Shanghai. Teaching has long been Mr. Pu's passion. In 1989, Mr. Pu received Dorothy Starling Foundation scholarship to become teaching assistant to Fredell Lack at University of Houston. For many years in the summer, Mr. Pu was invited to teach at the Texas Music Festival, the Asian Youth Orchestra in Hong Kong, the Harpa International Music Academy in Reykjavik, Iceland and the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra (NTSO) International Youth Orchestra Camp. His students are now in many professional orchestras and top music schools in U.S. and abroad.

William Pu - Founder/Executive Director/2017 AYO Soloist

Michael Palmer has long been considered one of this country’s finest conductors. In addition to appearances in the United States, he has also appeared in Europe as a guest conductor in Austria and Poland, where his performances have brought him critical acclaim. Mr. Palmer began his career at age 21, when he came to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as assistant conductor at the invitation of Robert Shaw. He was soon made associate conductor, and also founded and was music director of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. While in Atlanta, Michael Palmer was honored as one of five of the first conductors in the United States chosen by the National Endowment for the Arts to be Exxon Arts Endowment Conductor, and he was soon in demand with orchestras throughout the country. While continuing in his post in Atlanta, he was appointed guest conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra for a three-year period. He also worked extensively with the National Symphony Orchestra during this period, and he was, subsequently, named co-principal guest conductor of the Denver Symphony Orchestra.


After 10 years in Atlanta as associate conductor, Mr. Palmer accepted the appointment as music director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Throughout his 13-year tenure, he

developed the Orchestra to a high artistic level. Following his tenure in Wichita, Michael Palmer became music director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. In New Haven, he was recognized widely for his artistic accomplishments and for building the Orchestra to one of the finest of its kind in the nation.


In 1993, Michael Palmer became artistic director of the Bellingham Festival of Music. Under his artistic leadership, the Festival has become internationally recognized for its artistry. Festival concerts are heard across the nation on NPR and feature some of the finest orchestral musicians and major guest artists from the United States and abroad. He is also the artistic director of the Quartz Mountain Music Festival’s orchestral institute.


Michael Palmer has served as guest conductor for many orchestras throughout the United States, including the Rochester Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony and many others. In 1991, Mr. Palmer founded the American Sinfonietta, which toured Europe for 10 seasons under his leadership, playing to critical acclaim in the major concert halls of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.


His recordings include an all-Mendelssohn disc for Summit Records and the Five Beethoven Piano Concerti with pianist Garrick Ohlsson on the Natural Soundfields label. Mr. Palmer may also be heard with the Rochester Philharmonic on the New World label.

Mr. Palmer joined the Georgia State University School of Music faculty as director of orchestras in August 2004, after serving in the same capacity at Wichita State University. In 2006, he was appointed as the Charles Thomas Wurm Distinguished Professor of Orchestral Studies.

Michael Palmer - Artist Director/Conductor

AYO Sectional Instructors​

Jung-Ching Lin - First Violin

Jun-Ching Lin joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Concertmaster in 1988 after a year as Concertmaster of the Augusta Symphony. He has been the Concertmaster of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra and a guest Concertmaster with the Florida, Fort Worth, Kalamazoo, and Phoenix Symphonies.


Recent solo performances have included Prokofiev First Concerto with the Kalamazoo Philharmonia, Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the complete Brandenburg Concerti with the ATL Symphony Musicians. In addition, he has performed works by Bach, Barber, Beethoven, Dvořák, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Vivaldi with the Atlanta Symphony.


Lin is very active in education, hosting educational residencies at Trinity School in Atlanta and in Kalamazoo, MI. He has been the first violin coach of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra for over 25 years and has taught at Emory University, Georgia Tech University, Meadowmount, Encore School for Strings, and Franklin Pond Chamber Music.


Lin is the first violinist of the Franklin Pond String Quartet and a founding member of the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta. He has played chamber music on the violin and viola with Alan Gilbert, the Merling Trio, Robert Spano, and Yo Yo Ma. He has also played with members of the Cleveland, Miami and Tokyo String Quartets and principals of the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Lin has participated in festivals in Highlands-Cashiers, La Jolla, San Diego, and Steamboat Springs among others.


Jun-Ching Lin was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and grew up in Boston. While in Boston he studied with Sara Scriven, Roman Totenberg, and Robert Koff. He was one of the first Presidential Scholars in the Arts.   He is a graduate of the Curtis and Cleveland Institutes of Music where he was a student of Ivan Galamian, Jascha Brodsky, and David Cerone. He met his wife, Helen Porter, during the first summer of Encore and they are the proud parents of Emma and Nicholas.

Noriko Clift - Second Violin

A native of Tokyo, Japan, Ms. Clift has a Bachelor’s degree from the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music and a Master’s degree from Indiana University Jacob School of Music where she was an Assistant Instructor to her Professor Henryk Kowalski. Upon graduating from Indiana University she became a visiting violin instructor at University of Pacific in California.



Ms. Clift was a semi-finalist in the International Paganini Competition in Genoa Italy. Ms. Clift was Associate Concertmaster in the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. She also served as an Associate Concertmaster in the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra when former Concertmaster of Boston Symphony Joseph Silverstein invited her to join. In 1990, she joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. While a member of the ASO, she has maintained a successful teaching studio in Roswell, Georgia, with students who participate in GMEA All State Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra and Emory Youth Symphony Orchestras.

Lachlan McBane - Viola

Lachlan McBane joined the viola section of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 1998 and has served as Acting Assistant Principal during several ASO seasons. He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University and The Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Robert Vernon, Principal Violist of the Cleveland Orchestra. His other teachers included Peter Slowik, Nathan Gordon, and Bernard Linden. Before coming to Atlanta, Mr. McBane was Principal Violist of the Nashville Symphony, and he has also been a member of the San Diego, New Jersey and Toledo Symphonies.


Mr. McBane is active in chamber music around Atlanta, and is a faculty member of Franklin Pond Chamber Music, where he directs the Fall Into Spring student chamber music program from October-May. A member of the American String Teachers' Association (ASTA), he has twice been an adjudicator for ASTA's National Solo Competition. He has also served on the faculty of the ASO's Talent Development Program, and is the founder and music director of Bravo Homeschool Strings, which offers string orchestra programs for Atlanta-area homeschooled students (BravoHomeschoolStrings.com).

A frequent conductor of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concerts, Jere Flint led the ASO's popular Family Concerts and its Symphony Street concerts for youngsters. He also regularly conducts on the Classic Chastain pops series at Chastain Park. As Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra (holder of the Zeist Foundation Chair) he directs weekly ASYO rehearsals and three major concerts a year, as well as other special concerts throughout the season. When not on the podium, he was a member of the ASO's cello section, where he has performed for more than three decades.


Mr. Flint attended Wittenberg University in Ohio for his bachelor of music degree and was assistant director of the noted choir there. While still a student, he arranged and conducted two Christmas recordings by the choir for Columbia Records. He received his master of arts degree in music in 1967 from the University of Washington in Seattle, while also serving as manager of the University Festival Opera Company and music director for the School of Drama. He later studied conducting under Otto-Werner Mueller.


Former Music Director of the Atlanta-Emory Orchestra, Mr. Flint has also conducted at the Brevard Music Center, the Sewanee Summer Music Center, and the Southeastern Music Center in Columbus, Georgia.

Jere Flint - Cello
Karl Fenner - Bass

Bassist Karl Fenner joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in January 2016. A native of Houston, TX, he received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Max Dimoff, and his Master of Music Degree from Rice University, with teachers Tim Pitts and Paul Ellison. Other teachers include, Albert Laszlo, Ken Harper, Dennis Whittaker, Sandor Ostlund, and Robert Stiles. Further training has included summers as a fellowship student at the Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festivals, in addition to the National Repertory Orchestra, Music Academy of the West, Spoleto USA and the Festival-Institute at Round Top.

Mr. Fenner joined the Colorado Symphony in 2008, serving as both section and principal bass. Prior to moving to Colorado, Mr. Fenner was a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, FL. He has also spent time in the Canton Symphony in Canton, OH, and as a substitute musician with both the San Antonio and Houston Symphonies. As a recitalist, Karl performed at the International Society of Bassists convention in 2013.

As a teacher, Mr. Fenner served as the interim bass teacher at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and has given masterclasses at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado. He currently teaches at the Rocky Ridge Music Center in Estes Park, CO during the summer.

Canadian flutist Todd Skitch joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) in September 2013. He is also a member of the Atlanta Chamber Players and is the Artist-in-Residence at Kennesaw State University.

Mr. Skitch started his orchestral career with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in 1997 after completing degrees at the University of Toronto and McGill University in Montreal, where his principal teachers were Timothy Hutchins and Nora Shulman.

Mr. Skitch’s distinguished career as a teacher and symphony musician includes many credits: an original member of the IRIS Orchestra with Michael Stern; Bellingham Festival of Music; Memphis Chamber Music Society; Tanglewood Music Center; Blossom Music Festival at Kent University, where

he received the Maurice Sharp Award for outstanding flute applicant; Spoleto Festival USA; and the National Repertory Orchestra.

While in Memphis, Mr. Skitch served as the Chair of the Board of Directors and the Orchestra Manager for the Memphis Youth Symphony. He also specialized in preparing young flutists for All-State competitions and college auditions.

Mr. Skitch has been heard on CBC Radio-Canada, WKNO-Memphis, and as a soloist with the Memphis Symphony and IRIS Orchestra. In 2003 Todd joined the Canadian group Ensemble Noir on a historic, three-nation African tour to Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.

Todd Skitch - Flute

Samuel Nemec joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) as second oboe in 2012.


Born in South Korea and raised in Midland Park, NJ, Mr. Nemec began playing oboe at the age of 11. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Elaine Douvas, Nathan Hughes, and Pedro Diaz. Subsequently, Mr. Nemec received a diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music as a student of Richard Woodhams.

Mr. Nemec has spent summers with the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, CO, and at the Aspen Music Festival, where he was a fellowship recipient for two summers.

Samuel Nemec - Oboe

Alcides Rodriguez joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 2005 as clarinet and bass clarinet.


A versatile musician, Mr. Rodriguez can be heard in chamber, orchestral and concerto performances on clarinet and bass clarinet. He is a member of the Atlanta Chamber Players.


A dedicated educator, he is on the faculty of the Atlanta Symphony's Talent Development Program and maintains a private studio at home. He is an Artist and Clinician for the Buffet Group and Vandoren, and plays Buffet clarinets and Vandoren reeds exclusively.


A native of Venezuela, Mr. Rodriguez obtained his musical training through the System of Youth Orchestras of Venezuela before moving to the United States. He obtained a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Baylor University. His main teachers were Russell Dagon, Richard Shanley and J. Lawrie Bloom.


Mr. Rodriguez has participated in various summer music festivals, including the New Hampshire Music Festival, the National Repertory Orchestra and the National Orchestral Institute. Internationally, he has performed at the San Miguel de Allende Chamber Music Festival (México), the Pacific Music Festival (Japan) and the Campos do Jordão International Winter Festival (Brazil).


An avid advocate of Venezuelan music, Mr. Rodriguez also plays maracas and cuatro. He has been featured as a maracas soloist, performing the Concerto for Maracas and Orchestra by Ricardo Lorenz. He has also played maracas in the percussion section of the Atlanta Symphony. His album The Venezuelan Clarinet (2010) is a tribute to the music of his native country, and a showcase of Mr. Rodriguez' versatility.


Throughout his career, Mr. Rodriguez has earned prizes in clarinet competitions such as the Young Texas Artist Music Competition, the Kingsville Competition and the Orchestral Excerpts Competition of the International Clarinet Association. While in Venezuela he often performed as a soloist with various youth orchestras, playing some of the most important works in the clarinet repertoire. In 1997, he gave the first performance in Venezuela of Carl Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto.

Alcides Rodriguez - Clarinet

Andrew Brady joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in January 2016 as Principal Bassoon. Mr. Brady was formerly Principal Bassoonist with the Louisiana Philharmonic, a position he held since 2013.


Mr. Brady is from Johnson City, TN, where he began his musical studies on saxophone but was drawn to switch to bassoon at age 14, after seeing the quirky instrument at a band clinic. Four years later he performed on NPR’s From the Top; and in 2010 he received the Grand Prize in the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts Competition, adjudicated by members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In January 2011, Mr. Brady performed Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto with the Seattle Symphony under invitation from then Music Director Gerard Schwarz. While in Seattle, he gave free public concerts as well as interactive demonstrations in area schools.


An active soloist, Mr. Brady has performed concertos by Mozart, Weber, and Zwilich with the Southeast Symphony, the Los Angeles Doctor’s Symphony, and The Colburn Orchestra, respectively. Enthusiastically involved in music education, he has worked as a teaching artist with the Harmony Project’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles program, where he assisted underserved teens in learning to play bassoon.

Mr. Brady has appeared with the Los Angeles Opera Company orchestra, and recently with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra of New York in Carnegie Hall and abroad on European tours. He has attended many music festivals including Sunflower Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and the Tanglewood Music Center. Mr. Brady received his Bachelor of Music degree from The Colburn School Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Richard Beene. Other teachers include Anthony Parnther, Rick Ranti and Suzanne Nelsen.

Andrew Brady - Bassoon

An active orchestral and chamber musician, Anna Dodd currently serves as Second Horn for the Atlanta Opera Orchestra and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. She has performed with numerous orchestras in the Southeast, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and Brevard Music Center Orchestra. In recent years, Ms. Dodd was honored to perform as a guest artist at the National Brass Symposium, and also appeared as a guest performer with the Borromeo String Quartet in New York, where Albany's Times Union newspaper described her solo playing as "particularly elegant and pleasing."

Ms. Dodd is currently a full-time Lecturer in Horn at Columbus State University's Schwob School of

Music, and is the founder of the Atlanta Horn Clinic. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School and a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory. Her former teachers include Jason Snider (Boston Symphony Orchestra), Jennifer Montone (Philadelphia Orchestra), Jerome Ashby (New York Philharmonic), Julie Landsman (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), and Richard Deane (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra).

Anna Dodd - French Horn

Stuart Stephenson joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) as Principal Trumpet at the beginning of the 2013-14 season.

A Fairfax Station, VA, native, Mr. Stephenson began playing trumpet at age ten and also plays the piano. He holds a bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School and a master’s degree from Northwestern University. Mr. Stephenson’s notable teachers include Barbara Butler, Charlie Geyer, Chris Martin, Tom Rolfs, Tom Cupples, Adel Sanchez, Raymond Mase, and Mark Gould.


Mr. Stephenson has performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, and Tanglewood Music Center, and maintains a private trumpet studio in Atlanta.

Stuart Stephenson - Trumpet

Nathan Zgonc joined the trombone section of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 2011.


Mr. Zgonc has received numerous awards, including special prizewinner at the Budapest International Trombone Competition and first place at the Zellmer, Frank Smith Memorial, and Robert Marsteller solo competitions.

In 2009 Mr. Zgonc spent the summer as the Principal Trombone of the Seattle Symphony for Wagner's Ring Cycle. He has also performed with the San Francisco, Cincinnati, National, and Houston symphony orchestras, as well as the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra. Mr. Zgonc previously held positions with the Vancouver Symphony, Utah Symphony and Opera, Sarasota Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Oregon Symphony, and United States Navy Band.


Originally from Fairview, OR, Mr. Zgonc studied at Indiana University, San Francisco Conservatory, and Manhattan School of Music. His teachers include David Finlayson, Mark Lawrence, and Keith Brown. He is featured on recordings with Vancouver Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, U.S. Navy Band, and Seattle Symphony.

In September 2010 Mr. Zgonc gave the world premiere of Aura by Tony DiLorenzo in honor of his mother, Lorely Zgonc — the late concertmaster of the Portland Opera and Ballet.

Nathan Zgnoc - Trombone
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