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SmelserLincB&WSmelserLincB&WLinc Smelser

Rockford Symphony Youth Orchestra Conductor

A native of Arizona, Linc Smelser began his piano studies at age 8 with John Akin and cello studies at the age of 10 with Marguerite Rork.  He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Cello Performance from the University of Arizona where he studied with Dr. Gordon Epperson and received his Master’s Degree and Performer’s Certificate in Cello Performance and Pedagogy at Northern Illinois University having studied with renowned cellist and pedagogue Raya Garbousova.  Advanced study included work with cellists Marc Johnson, Ron Leonard, Gabor and Peter Rejto, Heinrich Schiff, the Vermeer Quartet, and pianists Richard Faith and Jerome Lowenthal.

In 2003, Mr. Smelser was appointed conductor/music director of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra in DeKalb, IL. In 2009 he was awarded Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Arts Council.  He has guest conducted the Rockford Area Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Northern Illinois University Philharmonic, the Harper Symphony Orchestra and the Skokie Valley Community Orchestra. He is also conductor of the NIU Sinfonia and Youth Symphonette, two youth symphonies that attract students from the entire Northern Illinois area.

Mr. Smelser recently appeared as a soloist with Camerata Chicago, performing the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto.  He has also appeared as a soloist with Kishwaukee Symphony, the Illinois Valley Symphony and the Rockford Symphony and has twice appeared in recital on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts Series in Chicago, which is broadcast live on over 44 stations across the United States.  He has won several awards including first prize of the National Society of Arts and Letters Chapter Competition, top prize of the National Federation of Music Clubs Regional Competition and first prize of the International Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Competition.

Mr. Smelser has been a member of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra Cello section since 1992 and has been an active substitute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1997.  He is also Principal Cellist of Camerata Chicago, a chamber orchestra based in Chicago.  He continues to perform in the group The Three Celli, a chamber ensemble with two other cellists, Stephen Balderston and Brant Taylor, throughout the Northern Illinois Area.

Mr. Smelseris currently in his ninth year as professor of cello at the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music.  He is also a faculty member of the Northern Illinois University Music Department and has been teaching private cello lessons through the NIU Community School of the Arts since 1988.  Mr. Smelser is also on the faculty of the Chicago Suzuki Institute and the Intermountain Suzuki Strings Institute in Utah.  He is also pianist/accompanist for the Northern Illinois University Suzuki program.


Vicki-Hastings-RSYO-colorVicki Hastings

Brass Choir Coach

Vicki Hastings received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from California State University, Chico, in trumpet performance. She completed three years of doctoral studies at Indiana University School of Music while teaching as an Associate Instructor of Trumpet, and performed as principal trumpet of the Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra, and as lead trumpet of David Baker’s Jazz Ensemble.  Her performance experience also includes positions in the Sacramento Symphony Orchestra, the Columbus Philharmonic, the California Brass Choir, and the Embassy Brass Quintet. She currently performs with the Rockford Wind Ensemble, the Rockford Jazz Ensemble, and is a freelance trumpet player throughout the Stateline area.  Ms. Hastings is also Director of Bands at Rockford Christian Schools.


Young Yi

Sterling String Quartet Coach

Originally from Korea, Young-Shin Yi holds a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music in violin performance and music education from the Eastman School of Music.  Young studied the violin with Kwang-Ho Lee and Charles Castleman, and music education with Richard Grunow, Louis Bergonzi and Christopher Azzara.  Ms. Yi previously served as a faculty member of the David Hochstein Memorial Music School and at the Community Education Division of Eastman School of Music.  She was also a tenured orchestra director of the Webster Central School District and the Pittsford School District prior to her move to Rockford in 2008.  Ms. Yi currently teaches at the Beloit College and the Rock Valley Community College.  She also coaches the Sterling String Quartet of Rockford Symphony Youth Orchestra and has a private studio.  In addition to being a music lover and a teacher, Ms. Yi enjoys being a mother of three very active children and is thankful for her supportive husband, Andy.


DarleenCarl-BeckwithclarinetDarleen Carl-Beck

Woodwind Quartet Coach

Darleen Carl-Beck serves as principal clarinet for the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the RSO since 1990. She is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where she studied with Stan Hasty and Northwestern University studying with Russ Dagon and Judith Booth Fischer.

In addition to her work with the RSO, Ms. Carl-Beck is an experienced soloist and a chamber ensemble player. She also performs with RSO Woodwind Quintet in the Symphony Saturdays program, and has conducted school outreach programs for the RSO in programs such as Symphony Goes to School and the Rockford Arts Revival. Additionally she has performed as a soloist with the orchestra and as a featured guest musician in the RSO’s Brahms-Schumann Festival in 2009. Ms. Carl-Beck also maintains an active teaching studio. She is an avid bicyclist, skier, and runs a busy household with her husband and three children.


Margo_Headshot_SmallMargo Stedman

Education and Community Engagement Director

Ms. Stedman has worked with the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park in the Orlando, FL area as Program and Communication Manager and with Anima-Young Singers of Greater Chicago in Glen Ellyn, IL as Marketing Director, as well as a consultant to small performing arts ensembles and festivals around the country. She has served on the board of Central Florida’s strings education program A Gift for Music and on the Community Advisory Board of WMFE 90.7FM, Orlando’s NPR station. She holds degrees in Vocal Performance and Communications from Rollins College and an M.A. in Arts Management from American University in Washington, DC. Ms. Stedman moved to Rockford in 2012 from her hometown of Orlando with her husband, Kyle, who works as a professor in the English Department at Rockford University.