for information about our current conductor Wm. Shane Williams, click here
leon burke iii (2011 - 2013)
Leon Burke III is a native St. Louisan, where he attended Mc Bride High School and John Burroughs School. He holds music degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Kansas. Burke studied as a Fulbright Fellow in Paraguay.
Burke has served as Conductor/Music Director of the Lawrence Chamber Players, the Hutchinson Symphony, and the McPherson Symphony. He has been on the faculties of Baker University, Sterling College, Hutchinson Community College, and Webster University.
Burke is an active member of Unitarian Universalists Musicians Network (UUMN). He served as a member of the UUA New Hymn Resource Task Force, which was appointed in the Fall of 2003 to create a new congregational hymn resource.
edward dolbashian (1993 - 2010)
Edward Dolbashian was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Alton Symphony Orchestra in 1993. He is also Music Director of the Missouri University Philharmonic in Columbia, Missouri, a post he has held since 1984, and Music Director of the Compton Heights Concert Band, to which he was appointed in September 1998. He was also appointed Music Director of the Clayton Symphony in Fall 2001.
Mr. Dolbashian began his musical training as a student at New York’s famed High School of the Performing Arts. Upon graduation, he entered the Hartt College of Music, in Hartford Connecticut, where he earned his degrees in oboe performance.
Mr. Dolbashian’s conducting career began when he accepted the directorship of the Holyoke Symphony Orchestra in Holyoke, Massachusetts. His orchestral conducting studies took him to the prestigious Pierre Monteaux School of Orchestra Conducting in Maine, studying under Charles Bruck; and to Yale University, where he served as student conducting assistant to Otto Werner-Mueller en route to earning a Master of Musical Arts degree in Orchestral Conducting. Further studies took place at the Tanglewood Institute, with Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Andre Previn, and Gustav Meier, and the Boris Goldovsky Opera Conducting Seminar.
Before coming to Missouri, Mr. Dolbashian was a member of the Hartford Symphony for 11 years and was principal oboe of the Hartford Chamber Orchestra, the Goldovsky Opera Company, and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. He made his solo oboe debut in Town Hall, NY, NY, 1969.
In addition to his duties as Music Director of the Alton Symphony, University Philharmonic, and the Compton Heights Concert Band, Mr. Dolbashian also maintains an active guest conducting schedule. Most recently he appeared as guest conductor of the 1998 International Festival of Music Orchestra in Belem, Brazil, and as guest conductor of the Londrina Symphony in Londrina, Brazil.
dr. james richards (1991 - 1993)
James Richards serves as chair of the Department of Music and conductor of the University Orchestra. He holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music and degrees in orchestral conducting and music theory, as well as a Performer's Certificate in Violin, from the University of Texas at Austin. He studied orchestral and opera conducting with Walter Ducloux, Paul Vermel, and Gustav Meier, and was selected to participate in the Conductor's Program of the Aspen Music Festival.
Dr. Richards is conductor and music director of the Saint Louis Chamber Orchestra and artist-in-residence at Maryville University. He also serves as the conductor and music director of the Gateway Festival Orchestra of St. Louis. Prior to this appointment, he served as Conductor of the Kirkwood Symphony for nineteen seasons and as associate conductor of the Kammergild Chamber Orchestra. He has appeared frequently as a guest conductor and clinician for band and orchestra festivals throughout the United States, including guest appearances with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra Discovery Series.
Dr. Richards has served the American String Teachers Association with the National School Orchestra Association at the state and national levels in a variety of capacities and currently is President-elect of the Missouri Chapter of the ASTA with NSOA. He as served as a reviewer of new string literature for the American String Teacher journal. He was recently invited to present at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago and has served as national chair of the ASTA with NSOA Merle J. Isaac Composition Competition since 2001.
As a violinist, Dr. Richards has performed with a variety of ensembles including the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the Kammergild Chamber Orchestra, the Fox Theatre Orchestra, the St. Louis MUNY Orchestra, and the Landolfi String Quartet. In 1999, Dr. Richards received a University of Missouri Research Board Grant to study Baroque violin performance and to participate in the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute. In 2000, Dr. Richards was the recipient of the St. Louis Suburban Music Educator's Association's Merit Award "in recognition of significant contributions for the advancement of music education." In 2002, Dr. Richards was received the Artist/Teacher of the Year Award from the Missouri chapter of ASTA with NSOA.