Plano West Directors
Ryan Ross is the Director of Orchestras at Plano West Senior High School in Plano, Texas and the Principal Guest Conductor for the Allen Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been privileged to lead three TMEA Honor Orchestras, including the 2018 full orchestra and 2016 string orchestra at Plano West, and the 2014 full orchestra at Jasper High School (the only non-varsity orchestra to ever earn that distinction). At Plano West and Jasper, his orchestras were the recipient of several additional awards, including being named National Winners of the Mark of Excellence National Orchestra Honors in 2014-2016, and winning the 2013, 2015, and 2016 American Prize for Orchestral Performance. Previously, Mr. Ross taught at Lewisville HS (Lewisville ISD) and Williams MS (Rockwall ISD). In addition, he served for five years as Music Director of the Tyler Youth Orchestra and four seasons as Artistic Director and Conductor for the Dallas Festival of Modern Music and its resident professional chamber ensemble, Ars Nova Dallas.
Originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, Mr. Ross earned his bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting from Texas Tech University. His principal conducting teachers are Gary Lewis and Donald Schleicher.
Mr. Ross has studied conducting in master classes and festivals throughout North America and Europe, including the 2011 Cabrillo Festival. Among the noted pedagogues he has worked with are Marin Alsop, Gustav Meier, Larry Rachleff, and Larry Livingston. He holds membership in ASTA, TMEA, TODA, and TMAA, and he has presented clinics on multiple occasions at the annual conventions of TODA and TMEA.
Amy Gross is currently the Associate Director of Orchestras at Plano West Senior High School in Plano, Texas. She is in her eleventh year of teaching in Plano ISD. Amy grew up in Plano, Texas and attended Jasper High School and graduated in the charter class of Plano West Senior high under the direction of Jo Wallace-Abbie.
A 2006 graduate of Sam Houston State University with a B.M. in Music Education, Amy studied violin with Mr. Andrew Wilson and conducting with Dr. Carol Smith and Dr. Allen Hightower. She has been a private violin and viola teacher in the Dallas area and also free-lances on violin.
Mrs. Gross holds a membership in the Texas Orchestra Director’s Association and Texas Music Educators Association. She currently resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband and two young children, Hailey and Ethan.
High School Directors
Joshua Thompson is currently the Orchestra Director at Shepton High School in Plano, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. In the eleven years he has been the director at Shepton, the orchestra has grown from 79 students in 2 performing groups to 161 students in 4 performing orchestras. In 2011, the Foundation of Music Education named the Shepton Chamber Orchestra one of three National Winners in the Mark of Excellence – National Orchestra Honors Competition, despite Shepton High School being a campus of only 9th and 10th graders. Shepton Orchestra’s membership includes perennial All-State Orchestra members and alumni students at the finest institutions of higher learning in the United States.
Previous to his appointment at Shepton High School, Joshua previously taught at Haggard Middle School in Plano, and South Cobb High School, in Austell, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. In the three years that he was the Orchestra Director at South Cobb, Joshua resurrected a program that had been reduced to 15 students, and its numbers grew to 55 students in that short time span.
Joshua holds a Master of Music degree in Music Performance in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Kentucky (Lexington) and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Kentucky, he gained conducting experience with all of the university bands, the Symphony Orchestra, and various chamber ensembles. His final appearance as a conductor in Lexington was a widely acclaimed orchestra concert featuring works of Beethoven, Mozart, and Stravinsky. Furthermore, he was a valuable staff member of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, teaching sectionals, coaching chamber ensembles, and conducting the brass choir.
As an undergraduate conductor, Joshua became co-director of the Dana Brass Ensemble, founded a studio orchestra devoted to the performance of film music, and guest conducted both university concert bands and the Youngstown Youth Symphony Orchestra. His final conducting appearance at Youngstown State was a highly successful, full production of Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat. Joshua has most recently guest conducted the music of Igor Stravinsky featuring faculty members from Alabama State University to much acclaim.
As a trumpeter, Joshua was chosen to perform as part of a solo clinic at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Richmond, Virginia, where he performed the Sonata for Trumpet and Piano by Peter Maxwell Davies with pianist Rebecca Wilt. He was a semi-finalist at the National Trumpet Competition’s Masters Division in 1998, and was chosen as an alternate for the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida after completing graduate school. As an undergraduate, he won the Dana School of Music Concerto Competition and was the winner of the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs Solo Competition in 1996.
Originally from Steubenville, Ohio, Joshua first took up trumpet studies with his grandfather, a successful high school band director. He is an active freelance trumpeter in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, and is in high demand as a performer, adjudicator, and clinician.
Matthew Moreno is the Director of Orchestras at Jasper High School in Plano, TX. Prior to Jasper, he was director at Frankford Middle School (Plano ISD) for three years and Killian Middle School in Lewisville for two years. His groups have enjoyed the success of consistent UIL Sweepstakes awards, first division ratings and “best in class” awards at festivals.
Mr. Moreno is a graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, where he received his Bachelors Degree in Music Education with an emphasis in Instrumental Studies. Over the past nine years, Mr. Moreno has served as one of the music directors at the Texas State Strings Camp. Most recently, he has become conductor for the Philharmonic Orchestra of Dallas Asian American Youth Orchestra. He has also taught with the Collin County Youth Orchestra, UT-Arlington Strings Camp, and now serves as the Plano ISD Strings Camp Director.
As a double bassist, he has performed with various Texas orchestras, musicals, jazz groups, and often on cello with string quartets. He is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association and the Texas Orchestra Directors Association. Outside of teaching and performing, he is an active composer and arranger for orchestral music, having been published with FJH Music and Grand Mesa Music. JW Pepper Music selected his works as “Editor’s Choice” and have been performed at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago as well as UIL Contest.
Mr. Moreno currently lives in Coppell, TX with his wife Liz and their two cats, Peter and Tink.
Brad Davis is the Associate Director of Orchestras for Jasper High School and Clark High School in Plano. This is his fifth year teaching for Plano ISD. Prior to this, Mr. Davis taught in San Angelo, TX for 6 years and in Georgetown, TX for 3 years.
Born and raised in San Angelo, TX, Mr. Davis obtained his bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University, where he studied under the direction of Dr. David Shea, Paul Sharpe, and Gary Lewis.
Mr. Davis and his wife Sabra live in Plano with their two golden retrievers. He is very excited about the opportunity to work with such fine programs at both the Jasper and Clark orchestras.
Rachel Boone began studying violin privately at the age of nine. During her preparatory years, she participated in numerous youth orchestras including the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra (GDYO), the New Conservatory of Dallas, and the Richardson ISD orchestra program. She frequently served as concertmaster and in principal roles in these orchestras. Her early music education included studies at Conservatory Music in the Mountains and performing as a violinist with the GDYO on a concert tour through China. As a student at J.J. Pearce High School, she participated in the TMEA All-State Orchestra, and other local and regional honor orchestras. Ms. Boone studied under Ron Neal with the Dallas Chamber Orchestra and Adrian DeCosta with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
After graduating high school, Ms. Boone continued to follow her passion for music at Texas Christian University as a Chancellor’s Scholar where she earned a Bachelors Degree in Music. She performed in the TCU Symphony, often in a principal role, under the direction of German Gutiérrez. While attending TCU, she continued her violin studies with Adrian DeCosta.
Ms. Boone has taught private violin lessons since 2006 and began her professional career as a music teacher in 2013 at Meridian Preparatory in Fort Worth, Texas. She recently joined Plano ISD as the Assistant Orchestra Director for Shepton High School and Renner Middle School. She is a member of the Texas Music Educator’s Association, the First Baptist Dallas Orchestra, serves as a freelance musician with various chamber groups and continues to teach private violin lessons. In her free time she enjoys playing her ukulele, sketching and spending time with friends, family and her dog, Nellie.
Middle School Directors
Mary Havenstrite received her Bachelor of Music Education from Loyola University in New Orleans and a Master’s in Violin Performance from the University of North Texas. Under Ms. Havenstrite’s direction, the Robinson Middle School Chamber Orchestra performed at TMEA as the Middle School Honor String Orchestra of Texas in 2009 and the Middle School Honor Full Orchestra in 2014 and 2016. In 2011, Ms. Havenstrite was one of 5 honorees to receive the Excellence in Teaching Award for the Plano Independent School District.
Prior to her position at Robinson, Mrs. Havenstrite taught at Centennial and Frisco High Schools in Frisco, TX and at Jasper High School and Renner Middle School in Plano. In addition to her public school experience, Mrs. Havenstrite conducted the GDYO’s “DSE” Dallas String Ensemble from 2003-2006 and DAAYO in 2000.
Ms. Havenstrite is an active performer in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex where she is the Principal 2nd violin of the Richardson and Lewisville Lake Symphonies and has been a regular performer with Fort Worth Symphony and the Dallas Opera. She has studied violin with Phil Lewis, and Emanuel Borok.
Ms. Havenstrite is an active member of ASTA, TMEA and TODA and frequently serves as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator in the North Texas area. She currently resides in Plano, TX with her husband David and 3 talented daughters, Katy, Julia, and Molly Nell.
Barbara Gordy Fox is the orchestra director at Rice Middle School, and she has been an orchestra director since 1981 when she started teaching 5th grade through 9th grade in Ponca City, OK, her home town. “Ponca City had a wonderful orchestra program starting after WWII. It was a very solid foundation in music education and supporting the arts. My sisters and I were very fortunate to have such a great program to learn in.”
Mrs. Fox grew up with 3 sisters, music and horses! She receieved her Bachelor of Music degree in violin from Oklahoma City University and her Master of Music Education from Kansas University. After 17 years in Ponca City, she and violinist husband Jeff Fox moved to Edmond, OK to teach orchestra for 5 years before coming to Plano in 2003. Mr. Fox teaches orchestra at Vines High School.
Instead of horses, now they now have big dogs, Diva the doberman and Maestoso the standard poodle.
Cody Harris currently serves as the Director of Orchestras at Renner Middle School in Plano ISD. He joined the PISD orchestra staff in 2012, serving one year as the Assistant Orchestra Director at Renner before being named head director. The Renner Orchestras have consistently received top ratings at festivals and contests. The Renner Chamber Orchestra has carried on the legacy of consistent Sweepstakes Awards at UIL concert and sightreading contest. Mr. Harris taught previously in Ponca City, OK, for three years. He served as the director of fifth grade orchestras, eighth grade orchestra and assistant to Dan P. Larson and the Ponca City Sr. High School orchestra program.
Originally from Ponca City, Oklahoma, Mr. Harris began playing viola at age 10 and trombone at age 12. He attended Oklahoma State University and graduated in 2009 with a Bachelors Degree in Music Education. While at OSU, he studied viola with Dr. Laura Talbott Clark.
Mr. Harris continues to be an active performer by serving as a member of the Flower Mound Community Orchestra and performs with a quartet for weddings and various events around the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex.
Mr. Harris is an active member of TMEA and TODA. He currently resides in Dallas with his black lab, Lucas.
Geoffrey Golden is the Director of Orchestras at Frankford Middle School in Plano ISD. Prior to coming to Frankford, Mr. Golden has taught orchestra at the elementary, middle and high school levels, where his orchestras have regularly earned Sweepstakes at UIL Concert and Sightreading Contest. He has also served as Assistant Conductor for the New Life Symphony Orchestra and the DBU Grand Chorus and Orchestra. Through festivals and collegiate studies, Mr. Golden has studied with conductors Gary Lewis, Jeffrey Grogan, and Stephen Holcomb. He has also studied with pianist Meng-Chieh Liu of Curtis, cellist Peter Steffens of the DSO, and cellist Eugene Osadchy at UNT. He holds memberships in TMEA, TODA, and ASTA, and has been published in Southwestern Musician, the official publication of TMEA. Mr. Golden holds a Bachelors of Music Education from Dallas Baptist University. When he is not performing or teaching, Mr. Golden enjoys running, building computers and volunteer work. He also loves to travel and is an active member of Park Cities Presbyterian Church. He is blessed to be married to Dr. Lisa Golden and is the proud owner of a new puppy.
Emily De La Torre is currently the Associate Orchestra Director at Rice Middle School. She was born and raised in Plano, TX and is a proud graduate of Plano ISD.
Mrs. De La Torre received her Bachelors of Arts in Music Education (B.M.E.), graduating summa cum laude from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. While there, she studied under the direction of Linda Keefer, Amanda Musser, Dr. Blaise Ferrandino, Helen Blackburn, and Dr. Curt Thompson.
Mrs. De La Torre earned a Masters of Music in Music and Human Learning (M.M.) from The University of Texas at Austin in 2011, with Dr. Robert Duke and Dr. Laurie Scott. Her studies included string pedagogy, special education, motivation and human development.
Prior to working at Rice, she was Head Orchestra Director in Belton ISD. While at Belton, enrollment in the orchestra program more than doubled, and her groups received Sweepstakes awards at UIL.
Emily De La Torre is an active member in both the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) and Texas Music Educator’s Association (TMEA).
Liza Nations is the Assistant Orchestra Director at Robinson Middle School and Hendrick Middle School. She has been teaching in Plano as an orchestra director since 2012 and as a private bass teacher since 2008. Also, being a graduate of Plano East Senior High, she is a product of the wonderful orchestra programs in Plano.
Mrs. Nations graduated from Southern Methodist University with a bachelors in Music Education. While at SMU, she studied double bass with DSO member Tom Lederer and performed in the SMU Meadows Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paul Phillips.
Mrs. Nations holds a membership with TMEA. She currently lives in Allen,TX with her husband Jared.
Eric Tannenbaum is currently the Assistant Orchestra Director at Frankford Middle School. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he graduated from University School in Hunting Valley prior to attending Oberlin College and Conservatory where he earned a BA in Psychology and a BA in cello performance. Eric also holds a Masters Degree in Cello Performance and a second Masters in Music Education from Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts.
An enthusiastic fan of collaborative music since his days in the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, Eric studied conducting under Joanne Erwin and Jack DeLaney, and also served as an ensemble coach for local youth orchestras while at Oberlin and SMU. While at SMU he directed the Mustang Strings in 2015 and in 2016. Eric also performs in various ensembles throughout the Dallas area and is the cellist in the European Ensemble Strings.
Mr. Tannenbaum studied historically-informed Baroque performance during several sessions of the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin, learning viola da gamba and baroque cello under Catharina Meints both there and during winter terms. A former cello student of Andrés Diaz at SMU Meadows, Eric maintains a small private lesson studio and holds memberships in the TODA, ASTA, and TMEA, who generously awarded him a scholarship during his student teaching semester. When he wants to relax, Mr. Tannenbaum can be found watching Netflix with his two cats, Pepper and Perry.