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.
Brass Choir and Brass Quintet Coach
Vicki Hastings received her BA and MA from California State University, Chico, in trumpet performance and completed three years toward her DMA in trumpet performance at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music while teaching as an Associate Instructor of Trumpet. Her principal teachers include Richard Winslow and William Adam. Her professional performance experience includes positions in the Sacramento Symphony Orchestra, the Columbus Philharmonic, the California Brass Choir, the Embassy Brass Quintet, the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra, and the Moonlight Jazz Orchestra. She was the Rockford Christian Schools Director of Bands and Music Department Chair for 10 years and retired in 2016 as Director of Fine Arts. She has been the Brass Choir Coach for the Rockford Symphony Youth Orchestra since 2009, and has held positions with the Rockford Wind Ensemble and the Rockford Concert Band since 2003. She maintains an active private trumpet studio and is a freelance trumpet player throughout the Northern Illinois area.
Woodwind Quintet Coach
Kathryn Swope, horn, is a professional horn player who maintains a busy and varied musical career as a throughout the Midwest. As an orchestral musician, Kate performs regularly with the Rockford Symphony, Illinois Symphony, and Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestras. She also performs with the Fox Valley Symphony, Millikin-Decatur Symphony, Midwest Philharmonic, Illinois Valley Symphony, and many other chamber and choral groups throughout the area. In addition to playing the horn, Kate is the Orchestra Librarian for the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and the Rockford Symphony Youth Orchestra, and is also the Music Director at First Congregational United Church of Christ, in DeKalb where she directs the choir and instrumental music ensembles. Kate holds degrees in Horn Performance and Instrumental Conducting from the University of Louisville as well as Northern Illinois University. Kate maintains a private studio of dedicated horn students in DeKalb, Illinois, where she lives with her husband, an accomplished trumpeter, and their two small children.
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.