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Music Staff

The Florida Youth Orchestra music staff consists of the finest musicians in South Florida. Top artists from the former Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, New World Symphony, University of Miami and Symphony of the Americas offer world class educational and artistic experiences.

Thomas M. Sleeper
Music Director

Conductor of Principal Orchestra

FYO Music Director, Thomas M. Sleeper, is also Director of the renowned University of Miami Symphony Orchestra and Guest Conductor worldwide. He earned his Bachelor's in Music Education at the University of Texas, and his Master's in Conducting at Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He was appointed to his first position as Associate Conductor of the Dallas Civic Symphony and the SMU Chamber Orchestra and Opera Theater at age 22. He later became Interim Music Director of the Dallas Civic Symphony until joining the faculty at Stetson University as Conductor of the university orchestra. In 1992 he received an appointment as Foreign Guest Conductor and Artistic Advisor for the China-Wuhan Symphony.

Mr. Sleeper has guest conducted major orchestras in the U.S. and abroad, appearing with the Rousse, Bulgaria, State Philharmonic; Savannah Symphony Orchestra; Dallas Symphony Orchestra; and Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China. He has conducted a series of highly successful concerts and radio/television broadcasts with the Philharmonic Orchestra of China, and led that orchestra in a historic tour to Shanghai, the first time the orchestra had performed there since the revolution of 1949. An active composer, his compositions have been performed throughout the United States as well as in Europe and Asia, and have been recorded on six labels.

Steven Burnes, Resident Conductor, Associate Conductor, Principal Orchestra Steven Burnes
Resident Conductor

Associate Conductor, Principal Orchestra

A native of Australia, Steve Burnes holds a Master's Degree from the University of Surrey, with performance studies completed at the Royal College of Music in London. He taught in the Government Schools for the New South Wales Dept. of Education, and has vast performing experience at the Sydney Opera House, St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the "Con Brio" Chamber Ensemble, among others.

Dr. David William Brubeck
Conductor of Symphony Orchestra

Director, Top Brass

An active bass trombonist, conductor and educator, Dr. Brubeck serves as Professor of Music at Miami Dade College, Kendall, where he coordinates the chamber music program and teaches applied trombone and music theory.  He performs regularly with the Miami City Ballet Orchestra, Brass Miami, Duo Brubeck, The Brubeck-Neal Due and as a soloist.  Among many music luminaries, he has performed with Steve Wonder, The Bolshoi Ballet, Ray Charles and as solo artist for the International Trombone Festival.  His compositions, entitled “Stereograms”, have been performed and recorded throughout the globe.  Dr. Brubeck has also published numerous compositions and arrangements, scholarly articles, a basic theory text and a method text for trombone.

Dr. Laura Joella, Associate Conductor, Symphony Orchestra Dr. Laura Joella
Associate Conductor

Symphony Orchestra

Laura Joella, a second generation conductor, holds the position of Director of Orchestral Studies at Florida Atlantic University. The Sun-Sentinel has praised her as having a “superbly idiomatic touch” and for “drawing tremendously energized rhythmic kick and verve” from the orchestra.

She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting degrees from Michigan State University, and has conducted at the Conductor’s Institute at Spoleto, Mason Orchestral Society, the Michigan Youth Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic and many others, as well as serving as the Music Director of New England Music Camp’s Concert Orchestra in Maine.

Brian Mirsky, Conductor of Repertory Strings Brian Mirsky

Conductor of Repertory Strings

Brian Mirsky received graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins and Princeton Universities and has been on the faculty of the University of Georgia, New Mexico State University and Florida International University. He held the position of Orchestra Director at the Dreyfoos School for the Arts and at Pine Crest School, and has performed with the Palm Beach Opera and other distinguished ensembles. In addition to performing as a violinist, Mr. Mirsky is an active piano accompanist, serving as accompanist at the Dreyfoos School and Florida Atlantic University.

Teresa Esparza

Co-Conductor of Chamber Strings and Silver Strings

Teresa Esparza, an accomplished cellist, received her Bachelor's in music from the State University of New York, where she studied with Bernard Greenhouse. She taught school in New York and Miami, and has been a member of the Miami City Ballet Orchestra. Currently Ms. Esparza is a member of the Symphony of the Americas.

Dr. Rufus Jones, Jr., Co-Conductor, Chamber Strings Dr. Rufus Jones, Jr.

Co-Conductor, Chamber Strings

Dr. Rufus Jones began his formal training as an orchestral conductor at the University of Texas in Austin, where he graduated with a B.A. in Music. He then received a Master of Music degree at the State University of New York, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Orchestral Conducting at Texas Tech University. He has conducted youth, university and professional orchestras in this country and beyond, and was accepted into prestigious conducting programs such as Tanglewood Music Festival. Prior to moving to South Florida, Dr. Jones taught at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he served as Director of the chamber music program, wind ensemble and symphony orchestra. Currently, he is Director of Orchestral and Choral Studies at Westglades Middle School in Parkland, and has joined the Florida Youth Orchestra for what will surely be the first of many years on its music staff.

Stephanie Firdman

Assistant Conductor, Repertory Strings

Stephanie Firdman earned a Bachelor's in Music on Viola Performance at Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Heidi Castleman, and continued on to receive her Master's in Music at the prestigious Juilliard School in Manhattan. She performed in the Mexico City Philharmonic, Nashville Symphony and the New Artists String Quartet before joining the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra.

Dr. Rufus Jones, Jr., Co-Conductor, Chamber Strings Geremy Miller

Conductor, Alpha Strings

Geremy Miller is a graduate of the State University of New York, where he studied with Oscar Shumsky and Joseph Fuchs, of the Juilliard School. He was a member of the Violin I section of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, resulting in numerous stage and operatic performances with world class artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zuckerman and Ida Hendel. As a professional studio violinist, he worked with numerous recording artists, including Jackie Gleason, John Denver, Barry Gibb, Julio Iglesias, Gloria Estefan and Jennifer Lopez, among many others. Mr. Miller has worked with the Florida Youth Orchestra for the past five years.

Sarah Weinstein, Conductor, Flute Choir Sarah Weinstein

Conductor, Flute Choir

Ms. Weinstein is a graduate of Princeton University, where she studied Music Performance. She has toured Europe, performing in iconic concert halls, and continues to perform locally and beyond. Ms. Weinstein currently teaches music at Weston Christian Academy, sits on the advisory council of Keiser University and is an interviewer for applicants to Princeton University. We’re proud to say that, as a high school student, she was a member of Florida Youth Orchestra!

  • Roberta Arrigo, Miami STEPS Coordinator
  • August Berger, String Bass
  • Eric Berken, Strings
  • Ruby Berland, Violin
  • Cornelia Brubeck, Cello
  • Matt Calderin, Percussion
  • Shirley Crow, Repertory & Manager
  • Richard Hancock, Winds
  • Dawn Janosik, STEPS Director
  • Calvin Jenkins, Brass & Winds
  • Lei Fei Jenkins,  Harp
  • Michael Klotz, Viola
  • Andrea Lindgren, Asst. Symphony Manager
  • Eddie Mejia, Percussion
  • Geremy Miller, Strings
  • Marco Navarrete, Winds
  • Chauncey Patterson, Viola
  • Jennifer Rudzinski, Strings, Winds, Brass
  • Maria Seto, Manager, Aurora Strings and Flute Choir
  • Deena Shapiro, Violin & Viola
  • Erika Venable, Violin
  • Harvey Walfish, Operations
  • Missy Walfish, Symphony Manager, Outreach Director
  Proudly Sponsoring The 2016-2017 Season
www.ArtsCalendar.com sponsors Florida music education Broward County sponsors music education in Florida JM Family Enterprises Inc sponsors orchestra music lesson in Florida League of American Orchestras sponsor music schools in Florida Florida Cultural Alliance sponsors music classes for children
National Endownment for the Arts sponsors music education in Broward Nova Southeastern University sponsors classical music education in Florida Dade Cultural Alliance sponsors orchestra lessons for children in Forida Chameleon John sponsors kids' music school in Florida Travel Ticker sponsors orchestra school for children
  Division of Cultural Affairs sponsors classical orchestra education in Florida Funding Arts Broward sponsors classical music lessons in Florida Miami-Dade County sponsors orchestra schools in Florida  
Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture
This program is supported by Funding Arts Broward, supporting innovative local visual and performing arts in Broward County.
With the support of the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor and the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners.

A copy of the official registration (#SC-01177) and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll-free within the State (800) HELP-FLA or http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Consumer-Services. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation by the state.

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