Ben Brooks received his Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance at the University of Oregon in 1969, after serving as the concertmaster of their symphony orchestra for three years.  He was then awarded a Prospective Teacher Fellowship to attend the University of Washington.  Later, he attended the Armed Forces School of Music, playing the clarinet in the 384th Army Band.  In 1976, he received his Masters of Music in Music Education and Conducting from the University of Oregon. Mr. Brooks retired in 2011 after 39 years of teaching high school band, jazz band, string orchestra, and symphony orchestra, and was also an adjunct professor in the Music Department at Portland State University for many years.   Ben’s groups consistently were recognized as among the finest in the state, and accumulated 47 top-five finishes and 7 state championships.  In addition to teaching high school, Ben was a long-time conductor of the Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra and also conducted the Chehalem Symphony Orchestra.  Ben was honored by the National Federation of State High School Associations with the Outstanding Oregon Music Educator award in 2006 and  Outstanding Music Educator in the Pacific Northwest States in 2007.  He was featured on the cover of SB&O (Student Band & Orchestra) national magazine in 2009 and awarded the prestigious John McManus Distinguished Teacher Award by the Oregon Music Educator’s Association later that year.  Reynolds High School, where he taught for 34 years, dedicated their new auditorium in his honor and named it the “Ben Brooks Auditorium.”  Ben is a member of the prestigious Northwest Bandmasters Association and continues to be a frequent clinician, adjudicator, and conductor throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Tomás Cotik: Hailed by Michael Tilson Thomas as "an excellent violinist," Tomas Cotik was a first-prize winner at the National Broadcast Music Competition in his native Argentina in 1997, and the winner of the Government of Canada Award for 2003-2005. An avid recording artist, Dr. Cotik is currently involved in more than a fourteen CD recordings for Naxos and Centaur Records, which have received over a hundred reviews and the highest praise from some of the best-known publications such as Fanfare, American Record Guide, Downbeat, and MusicWeb International. These recordings include Schubert’s complete works for violin and piano (nominated as recording of the year by Musicweb International), an album with Cotik’s own arrangements of music by Piazzolla (described by the critics as “among the very best”), a solo CD that includes a world premiere recording of original works by Franz Schubert and an upcoming release of Mozart’s 16 sonatas on a 5 CD set. He has worked extensively with producers such as Blanton Alspaugh and Judith Sherman and also produced four recordings himself. A former rotating concertmaster with the New World Symphony and a leader with various other orchestras in the United States and abroad, Cotik has performed with internationally prominent conductors such as Michael Tilson Thomas, Valery Gergiev, Roberto Abbado, Yakov Kreizberg, Marin Alsop, Stephan Deneve, Roger Norrington, and Robert Spano in notable venues such as Carnegie Hall. Tomas Cotik has performed hundreds of recitals and chamber music concerts across the globe.  Since 2011, he is a member the Cotik/Lin duo. He was also a member of the acclaimed Amernet, Delray, and Harrington string quartets. Tomas Cotik earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Miami. He holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Freiburg University of Music in Germany and an Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School in Toronto. He has worked closely with artists such as Joseph Kalichstein, Franklin Cohen and members of the Cleveland, Miami, Pro Arte, Vogler, Vermeer, Tokyo and Endellion string quartets. Committed to passing on his passion for music, Dr. Tomas Cotik was appointed Assistant Professor of Violin at Portland State University in 2016. He previously taught at West Texas A&M University, Florida International University, and at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. For more info please visit

Tim Gilson has been a mainstay in the Northwest for many years. In 1985 he joined the Mel Brown Quintet with which he recorded the award winning 'Gordon Bleu' CD. During this time Tim had the opportunity to play with many nationally acclaimed artists including Mose Allison, Ritchie Cole, Bud Shank, Herb Ellis, Julian Priester, John Handy, Ernestine Anderson and many others. In 1988 Tim won 2nd place in an international bass competition in Los Angeles and shortly thereafter substituted for John Clayton with 'Slide Hampton and the New Jazz Masters' in a concert in Sacramento. He toured Japan in 1993 with the Mel Brown Quintet with special guest artist Chuck Findley on trumpet; then in 1994 he moved to Madison Wisconsin where he served as Principal Bassist with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and substituted on a regular basis with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Since returning to Portland in 2002 Tim plays regularly with the Oregon Symphony backing guest artist such as Dee Daniels, Byron Stripling and Herbie Hancock. Tim has also accompanied several guest artists including Wycliff Gordon, Antonio Hart, Matt Wilson, Ingrid Jensen and Wynton Marsalis during their tours of the Pacific Northwest.

Karen Hilley is a professional violinist and teacher. Currently she teaches in the Reynolds School District at Walt Morey and Reynolds Middle School. She performs regularly with the Portland Chamber Orchestra, Siletz Bay Festival and Oregon Coast Music Festival. She worked full time for the Oregon Symphony for two years and as an extra for 13 years. She has performed extensively with the Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet, Spokane Symphony, Emerald String Quartet, and Sinfonia Concertante. 

Conductor Wesley Schulz made his Seattle Symphony Orchestra debut in a sold-out performance with singer/songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov in February 2015. As the 2014-2015 Conducting Fellow Schulz served as cover conductor for Maestro Ludovic Morlot, led seven world premieres at the Merriman Family Young Composers Workshop and assisted with recordings for the symphony’s Grammy-winning label, Seattle Symphony Media. Schulz is a frequent guest of the Austin Symphony Orchestra leading performances in their Pops, Family and Education series; the latter reaching nearly 20,000 Texas students. In addition to serving as Music Director and Conductor of Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra Schulz is Director of Orchestras at University of Puget Sound and Music Director of Seattle Festival Orchestra. Upcoming and recent conducting engagements include the Venice Symphony Orchestra, Round Rock Symphony, Auburn Symphony, Port Angeles Symphony, Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra and the Juneau Symphony.

Dr. Mark Stanek is the Orchestra Director at Corban University in Salem, Oregon where he also teaches courses in music history, conducting, and ear training. He is an active adjudicator and clinician throughout the state. Prior to coming to Oregon, he lived in Indiana where he taught at Indiana University East, Anderson University, and Taylor University. He was the Music Director of the East Central Indiana Chamber Orchestra, the Kokomo Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Master’s Youth Orchestra in Indianapolis. He was also Interim Music Director of the Taylor University and Anderson University Symphonies. In addition, Dr. Stanek guest conducted and adjudicated orchestras throughout the state of Indiana. His conducting teachers include Leonard Atherton at Ball State University, Kenneth Kiesler at the Conductor’s Retreat in Maine, and Dr. Joseph Principe at the SSMA in Siena, Italy. He also studied privately with Claude Monteux and Kirk Trevor, for whom Dr. Stanek was the cover conductor for the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. 

Sara Watts holds a master's degree from Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Raphael Bronstein and Ariana Bronne. After graduation she remained at the Conservatory teaching in the Preparatory and Extension Divisions. While in New York City, she played in various orchestras and chamber groups, as well as doing commercial recordings. She has participated in summer festivals both here and abroad. After moving to Portland she has continued to perform and to teach.


Festival Director

Grant Linsell is the Director of Instrumental Activities at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, OR. He has held similar appointments at Willamette University in Salem, OR, Minot State University in Minot, ND, and Lansing Eastern High School in Lansing, MI. A sought-after conductor and clinician, Dr. Linsell works with many ensembles – from middle school to professional – across the United States and Canada. He also researches, writes, and presents internationally on music and music education. A native of Detroit, MI, Dr. Linsell attended the University of Michigan and received his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Clarinet Performance. He holds a Master’s degree in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Oregon (where he studied with Bob Ponto) and a Doctorate in Wind Ensemble Conducting from Arizona State University (where he studied with Gary W. Hill). 

Site Manager

Kelly Gernhart is the Performing Arts Administrative Assistant at Mt Hood Community College.