DR. MARK A.
Dr. Mark Laycock is a Professor of Music at Wichita State University, where he holds the Ann Walenta Faculty of Distinction Endowed Professorship. He has been recognized with the WSU Excellence in Creative Activity Award and the College of Fine Arts Excellence in Teaching Award. He serves as Director of Orchestras and Coordinator of Strings. WSU Symphony Orchestra appearances under his direction include international tours to Spain and Canada, a concert at Carnegie Hall, and multiple invited performances at Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshops. Dr. Laycock is a member of the Board of Directors of the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic; he serves as Chair of Orchestra Activities. He is Conductor of the Wichita Youth Symphony and Director of the Wichita Youth Orchestras Program.
His work as guest conductor, clinician, or adjudicator spans 34 states. Recent and upcoming appearances include the Bangkok International String Festival, the all-state orchestras of Florida, Nevada, Washington, and Wyoming, educational sessions at the Conn-Selmer Institute and The Ohio State University String Teacher Workshop, and adjudication in Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, and Oregon. Dr. Laycock served the National Orchestra Festival as adjudicator, clinician, and, in 2018 and 2019, chair of the event. His appearances with professional ensembles include the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Wichita Grand Opera, and Opera Kansas, as well as orchestras in Slovakia and Canada. Dr. Laycock has presented clinic sessions for numerous state education conventions, as well as the American String Teachers Association National Conference, the Northwest and Northeast Division Conventions of the National Association for Music Education, and the Midwest Clinic. A frequent visitor to Australia, he gave professional development sessions for instrumental music educators in Brisbane, was a conductor for the Queensland State Honours Ensemble Program, was a Chief Adjudicator for the Victorian School Music Festival in Melbourne, served as a Keynote Presenter for the Australian Strings Association 2018 National Conference in Perth, and was a Keynote Speaker for the 2021 Australian National Band and Orchestra Conference. Dr. Laycock is a four-time invited music education panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, evaluating grant applications from institutions throughout the country. He is a chapter author for the fourth volume of Teaching Music through Performance in Orchestra and a frequent contributor to the American String Teacher journal.
Dr. Laycock served as Director of Orchestras and Instrumental Music at Chapman University in Orange, California, where he led invited performances for the California Music Educators Association and at Disneyland. He was also Principal Conductor of the Irvine (CA) Classical Players, leading the youth orchestra on concert tours to Italy (2006) and France (2008). Previously, Dr. Laycock was Director of Orchestral Activities at Iowa State University and Music Director of the Central Iowa Symphony. Under his leadership, the ISU Symphony Orchestra performed at the North Central Division Convention of the Music Educators National Association and collaborated with such artists as bass-baritone Simon Estes and pianist-composer Marvin Hamlisch. He began his career as an instructor of strings and orchestra at the middle and high school levels in the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada. He earned a Doctor of Arts degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Northern Colorado. Dr. Laycock holds a Master of Music degree in instrumental conducting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music history and literature from the University of Southern California.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & CLINICIAN
Dr. Clifton Evans currently serves as Director of Orchestras, Associate Professor of Music, Graduate Advisor, and String Area Coordinator at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Evans has enjoyed a conducting career that has taken him to Hong Kong, England, China, Austria, the Czech Republic and throughout the United States. Highly sought after as a clinician and lecturer, Dr. Evans has conducted numerous Region Orchestras and Bands and given multiple lectures on conducting and rehearsal technique.
In addition to his duties as a professor at UTA, Dr. Evans maintains an active schedule at summer festivals, conventions, and workshops. For six years, he conducted the Fargason concerts for the Texas Music Teachers Association, which featured concerto competition winners selected from across the state of Texas. He also conducted the prestigious American Festival for the Arts Conservatory Orchestra in Houston numerous times and has been invited back for the 2022 season. In the summers of 2010, 2013, 2017, and 2020, he presented conducting workshops and other lectures at the state convention for the Texas Orchestra Directors Association in San Antonio. Each summer at UTA, he serves as Executive Director and a faculty member of the Texas Conducting Workshop, a program he founded together with the string faculty, and Summer Strings, a camp that hosts roughly 400 students from throughout the DFW Metroplex.
Dr. Evans’ previous positions include Artistic Director of the Arlington Youth Symphony, Director of Orchestras and Chamber Music for the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Music Director for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Houston, Conductor for the Houston Youth Symphony, and Music Director and Conductor of the Houston Civic Symphony. He currently maintains professional memberships in TMEA, TODA, Conductors Guild, and Mu Omicron. He is an honorary member of the Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi chapters at UTA and also served as the faculty advisor to the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia chapter for 5 years. He resides in Arlington with his wife, Christy, and their children.
Dr. Martha Walvoord is an active performer and educator. Described by American Record Guide as “an enthusiastic and expressive player”, performances have taken Walvoord to Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Spain, England, Costa Rica, and across the US. Her performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Quingdao Symphony Orchestra was described by the Qingdao Evening News as “very elegant, expressing well the music-king's style.” Currently, Walvoord is principal second violin with the Dallas Chamber Symphony and performs regularly with the American Baroque Opera Company. Walvoord’s album, American Perspectives, is featured on Centaur records, and her latest album, The Diaries of Adam and Eve, a collaboration with bassist Dr. Jack Unzicker, was recently released by Albany Records. In 2015, Walvoord was awarded a Faculty Development Leave to study baroque violin. Walvoord is currently Past-President of TexASTA, the Texas chapter of the American String Teachers Association, and serves on the editorial board of the American String Teacher Journal.
At UT Arlington, Walvoord is Professor of Violin and Interim Chair of the Music Department at UT Arlington. In 2019, Walvoord received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her former students hold teaching and orchestral positions across the US.
Walvoord performs on a violin by Francois Pique and a bow by Jules Fetique.
Dr. Timothy Angel is a dedicated performing artist and teacher. Originally from Washington State, he resides in the Arlington, TX and will be an adjunct violin professor at the University of Texas at Arlington beginning Fall 2018.
Most recently, Dr. Angel was invited to act as a guest concertmaster for the Amarillo Symphony and won the Principal Second violin chair in the Lubbock Symphony. In the past, Angel has also won section violin positions with the Las Colinas Symphony and the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra. He has also won numerous competitions including the Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra National Young Artist competition in January 2015, where he performed the Glazunov Violin Concerto in a minor with the symphony the following May. Angel’s other solo engagements include works by Sarasate, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Jean Sibelius.
In the spring of 2018, Angel completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts in violin performance at Texas Tech University. There he held a prestigious position in the Graduate String Quartet, was awarded concertmaster in the University Symphony Orchestra, and was a Graduate Teaching Assistant for his instructor, Dr. John Gilbert. Additionally, during his time in Lubbock, Dr. Angel also directed the Ramirez Suzuki Violin Program at Ramirez Elementary School and worked with the Suzuki Talent Education of the Lubbock Region program.
Each summer, he continues his studies by attending training institutes and music festivals around the country including the Brevard Music Center, Meadowmount School of Music, Suzuki Teacher Development Training, Bravo Strings institute, and the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific.
Dr. Angel has won additional awards including the American Suzuki Institute’s John and Catherine Kendall Memorial Scholarship for 2016, the CodaBow International Scholarship for 2017, and the Most Outstanding Graduate Student at University of Texas at Arlington for the 2014-2015 school year.
Elizabeth Elsner is currently concertmaster of the Abilene Philharmonic and is an Adjunct Professor of Violin at The University of Texas at Arlington. Since her move to the Dallas area, she has performed with the Fort Worth Symphony, the Dallas Opera, the East Texas Symphony, the Arkansas Symphony, and other various area orchestras. Previously, Elizabeth held the position of concertmaster of the Midland/Odessa Symphony, and was a member of the Permian Basin String Quartet. She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Cleveland Institute of Music studying violin with Linda Cerone, Stephen Majeske and Stephen Rose, and chamber music with Peter Salaff and the Cavani Quartet. She has been a member of the National Repertory Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival, Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and assistant concertmaster of the Peoria Symphony.
Catherine Forbes is Viola Professor and Director of Chamber Music at The University of Texas at Arlington. She is Founding Director of the UTA Viola Recital Lecture Series, now in its 29th season.
Renowned as a gifted teacher, her students have been prizewinners in local and national competitions, perform regularly with symphony orchestras and continue to pursue education at major conservatories in the United States and abroad.
Previous Artist Faculty appointments include the Heifetz International Music Institute, the Phillips Academy in Andover MA, and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico. As a recent guest of Vietnam Connection Music Festival, she presented chamber concerts and master classes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and performed as guest Principal Viola of the Hanoi Symphony.
Catherine was Assistant Principal violist of the Boston Philharmonic and the Santa Fe Chamber Orchestra. She has performed as artist in residence for the Andover Chamber Players in Massachusetts for four seasons. She toured New England with Musica Nova, premiering newly commissioned chamber music pieces to the acclaim of the Boston Globe. She was a featured performing artist at the XXVII International Viola Congress in Canada.
She held office as National Secretary of the American Viola Society for a four-year tenure, and was awarded the National Founder’s Award for excellence in performance, teaching and service. She is recipient of the University of Texas at Arlington College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Teaching Award. Most recently she was awarded the Phyllis Young Outstanding Studio Teacher Award for 2019 presented by the Texas American String Teachers Association.
Catherine completed her graduate studies at the New England Conservatory where she served as teaching assistant to Heidi Castleman.
She performs on a viola made by Vincenzo Panormo, c. 1790 and a bow made by Guillaume Maline in 1850.
Craig Leffer joined the UTA faculty as a lecturer in cello in 2016. Currently he performs with the Dallas Opera Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, and serves as principal cellist of the Abilene Philharmonic. An advocate of community service, he performs with Texas Winds Musical Outreach and as an artist-in-residence at Baylor University Medical Center.
A New York native, Leffer holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Cleveland Institute of Music. Festival appearances include Bravo Vail, Kent-Blossom, Ohio Light Opera, New York String Orchestra Seminar, and Utah Festival Opera.
As a principal cellist, Leffer has played with the Midland-Odessa and Syracuse symphonies, and with the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. He has also performed as a member of the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and the National Repertory Orchestra. Leffer was formerly a faculty member at Midland College and the University of Texas at the Permian Basin.
Leffer plays on a modern Italian cello by Paolo de Barbieri from Genoa dated 1952.
Dr. Jack Unzicker is the Principal Double Bassist of the Dallas Chamber Symphony and the Plano Symphony Orchestra. He regularly performs with the Dallas Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and the Dallas Opera. Dr. Unzicker is also an ardent and sought after chamber musician with recent performances with Amici di Corde San Marco, Caminos Del Inka, Chamber Music Festival Saugatuck, Dallas Chamber Orchestra, Gyros String Quintet, Orqesta Divertimento (Costa Rica), and Santa Fe Pro Musica.
Dr. Unzicker is the Associate Professor of Double Bass at the University of Texas at Arlington. Previously, he served on the faculties of Texas Tech University, Tarleton State University, Texas Woman’s University, Hong Kong Youth Music Camp, and as a guest artist at universities and conservatories. He has performed and lectured at the International Society of Bassists, American String Teachers Association, and Texas Music Educators Association Conventions. Dr. Unzicker is featured in articles on playing and teaching the double bass in The Strad and Strings Magazine.
Dr. Unzicker received his DMA and MM from the University of North Texas and BMus from Western Washington University.
Tyler Shepherd has performed, recorded and toured across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States. Formerly Principal Double Bass of the Welsh National Opera, he has also appeared as Principal with many orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester, BBC Scottish Symphony and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Tyler has also performed with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Nashville and San Antonio. Prior to his appointment with WNO, Tyler served two seasons as Principal Bass of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. Tyler studied at Boston University, Boston Conservatory and Walnut Hill School for the Arts. His primary teachers were Edwin Barker, Dennis Roy and Steve Zeserman. During his time in Boston, he was a member of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra for three seasons, and a Tanglewood Music Center fellow for two summers, where he was awarded the Maurice Schwartz Prize.
As a teacher he has been on faculty of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama since 2012, and has taught at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Royal Scottish Conservatoire, Trinity-Laban Conservatoire of Music and Drama, as well as Texas Christian University and James Madison University. He has also been a tutor the Britten-Pears Festival Orchestra in Snape, England.
Recent chamber engagements include the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival, Fishguard Chamber Music Festival of Wales, and the Penarth Chamber Music Festival, alongside the Gould Trio and David Adams. He has appeared as a concerto soloist with the Chattanooga Symphony and the City of Cardiff Symphony Orchestra.
Tyler has worked with artists such as Tan Dun, Jaap van Zweden, Bernard Haitink, Leonidas Kavakos, Donald Runnicles, Vadim Repin, Renée Fleming, Herbert Blomstedt, Valery Gergiev, Fabio Luisi, Midori, Ben Heppner, Carlo Rizzi, Lothar Koenigs, Rinaldo Alessandrini, and Tomáš Hanus.