Paragon Ragtime Orchestra – Rick Benjamin, Director
The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra is the world’s only year-round, professional ensemble re-creating “America’s Original Music” – the syncopated sounds of early musical theater, silent cinema, and vintage dance. The PRO came into being as the result of Rick Benjamin’s 1985 discovery of thousands of turn-of-the-century orchestra scores once belonging to Victrola recording star Arthur Pryor. In 1988 the Orchestra made its formal debut at Alice Tully Hall – the first concert ever presented at Lincoln Center by such an ensemble. Since then PRO has appeared at hundreds of leading arts venues, including the Ravinia Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, Chautauqua, the Brucknerhaus (Austria), the New York 92nd Street Y, and the American Dance Festival. In 1999 PRO’s music inspired master choreographer Paul Taylor’s new dance Oh You Kid! which was premiered at The Kennedy Center jointly by the Paul Taylor Dance Company and the Orchestra. In June, 2003 the PRO presented the premier of Rick Benjamin’s new reconstruction of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha at San Francisco’s Stern Grove Festival. In 2005 and again in 2006, Paragon had the honor of being presented in Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall as guests of the Minnesota Orchestra.
In addition to its worldwide concert hall, university, and festival appearances, the PRO has acquired a considerable following both here and abroad through its radio programs on the New York Times’ WQXR, National Public Radio, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and the Voice of America networks. Since 1989 the Walt Disney Company has relied on the Orchestra’s recordings for the outdoor theme music heard at Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland, Disney World, and Disneyland Paris; the PRO strengthened its international following during its extended engagement as a U.S. Ambassador of Goodwill at the 1992 World’s Universal Exposition in Seville, Spain. Over the years the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra has been heard on the soundtracks of several motion pictures and television programs. The Orchestra’s audio and video recordings have been widely praised, and considered instrumental in rekindling interest in America’s rich traditions of theater, cinema, and dance orchestra music.
Julie Ann Giroux was born in Fairhaven, Massachusetts on December 12, 1961. She graduated from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge LA in 1984. She started playing piano at 3 years of age and began composing at the age of 8 and has been composing ever since. Her first published work for concert band, published by Southern Music Company was composed at the age of 13.
Julie began composing commercially in 1984. She was hired by Oscar winning composer Bill Conti as an orchestrator, her first project with Conti being “North & South” the mini-series. With over 100 film, television and video game credits, Giroux collaborated with dozens of film composers, producers, and celebrities including Samuel Goldwyn, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Celene Dion, Paula Abdul, Michael Jackson, Paul Newman, Harry Connick Jr. and many others. Projects she has worked on have been nominated for Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Golden Globe awards. She has won individual Emmy Awards in the field of “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Direction”. When She won her first Emmy Award, she was the first woman and the youngest person to ever win that award.
Giroux has also published a large category of classical works with emphasis on original compositions for Wind Band which are published by Musica Propria and distributed internationally. She is greatly sought after as a composer and recently completing her 5th Symphony “Sun, Rain & Wind” which premiers in June, 2018. Her music has been recorded and reviewed internationally receiving rave reviews and has been performed at major music festivals the world over.
Giroux has been a true force in a male dominated field and has accrued many previously male only awards. She is a member of ASCAP, The Film Musicians Fund, Kappa Kappa PSI, Tau Beta Sigma and a member of the American Bandmasters Association. She is a recipient of the Distinguished Service to Music Medal Award, The Emmy Awards and was the first female composer inducted into the American Bandmasters Association in 2009.
Scott Rush is the Director of Fine and Performing Arts in Dorchester School District Two in South Carolina and is the former Director of Bands at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, SC. He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and the University of South Carolina. He currently serves as conductor of the Charleston Wind Symphony, a semi-professional ensemble in Charleston, South Carolina.
Under his direction, the Wando Symphonic Band performed at the 2007 Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic and were recipients of the 2007 Sudler Flag of Honor administered by the John Philip Sousa Foundation. His marching bands were two-time BOA Grand National finalist and won the South Carolina State 5A marching band championships nine consecutive years.
Mr. Rush is active as a conductor, clinician and adjudicator throughout the United States and Canada. He is lead writer for the Habits series and has authored or co-authored ten highly touted books: Habits of A Successful Band Director, Habits of A Successful Musician, Habits of a Successful Middle School Musician, The Evolution of A Successful Band Director, Habits of A Successful Middle School Band Director, Habits of A Successful String Musician, Habits of a Successful Middle Level String Musician, Quality of Life Habits of A Successful Band Director, Habits of a Successful Choir Director, and Habits of a Significant Band Director for GIA Publications. Mr. Rush has served as President of the South Carolina Band Directors Association and is a former member of the Board of Directors for the National Band Association. In 2010, Mr. Rush was elected into the prestigious American Bandmasters Association and in 2011 was awarded the Bandworld “Legion of Honor.” In 2015, he was elected into the South Carolina Band Directors Association Hall of Fame and in 2016 was awarded the Edwin Franko Goldman Award by the ASBDA for contributions to music education. He and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Thomas and Caroline.
Anthony T. Leach, professor of music/music education is director and founder of Essence of Joy. He served as conductor of the Penn State University Choir from 1994 – 2015 and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in choral music education. Currently, Leach teaches a graduate music education seminar and coordinates the African American Music Festival at Penn State. Leach holds a Ph.D. in music education and master’s degree in conducting from Penn State, and a bachelor’s degree in music education from Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA. During the 2009 – 2010 academic year, Leach served as Penn State University Laureate.
Leach taught music in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York City for fourteen years. His choirs have performed at festivals throughout the United States and Canada as well as tours of England, Scotland, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Spain, France, Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, St. Thomas/U.S. Virgin Islands, and South Africa. He has appeared as guest conductor for choral festivals and workshops in Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, North Carolina, New York, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Massachusetts. He has also served as guest conductor for festivals in France, Japan, Venezuela, and the Czech Republic. In 2004, Leach was co-conductor of the World Youth Choir sponsored by the International Federation of Choral Musicians (IFCM) in South Korea and Japan.
In addition to his responsibilities at Penn State, Leach serves as conductor of the Essence of Joy Alumni Singers and Essence 2 Ltd. He is also director of music at Monumental AME, Steelton, PA. He also serves as chair for Lifelong Music for the Eastern Division of the American Choral Directors Association. Dr. Leach retired in spring 2018.
Dr. Rebecca MacLeod is Associate Professor of Music Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she directs the string education program and conducts the UNCG Sinfonia. Prior to joining the UNCG faculty, she was the assistant artistic director and conductor of the Tallahassee Symphony Youth Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra in Tallahassee, Florida. A native of Pennsylvania, she taught elementary, middle, and high school orchestra in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania and was orchestra director and chair of music activities in Beaver, Pennsylvania.
Dr. MacLeod is published in the Journal of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Music Education, Bulletin for the Council of Research in Music Education, Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, Journal of Music Teacher Education, String Research Journal, Psychology of Music, The Strad, The American String Teachers Journal, and various state music education journals. She currently serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Research in Music Education. She has served on the American String Teachers Association National Board and is past president of the North Carolina ASTA chapter. Her research on working with underserved populations, vibrato technique, music teacher education, and music perception has been presented at the International Conference of Music Perception and Cognition, Music Educators National Conference, National Association for Music Education National Conference, American String Teachers National Conference, Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, Society for Music Teacher Education, and several music educators state conferences.
Dr. MacLeod received her undergraduate degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and her MME and PhD from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. She is a frequent guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States.
Christopher Selby is the National Board Certified Orchestra Director at the School of the Arts High School in Charleston, SC. He is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music and holds master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of South Carolina. He has taught orchestra for over 20 years and served 11 years as the Richland School District’s Orchestra Coordinator. Ensembles under his direction have consistently received superior ratings and placed 1st in the 2012 ASTA National Orchestra Festival. Selby is the recipient of the 2009 SC ASTA Orchestra of the Year Award and is a past president of the SC Music Association. He is current chair of ASTA Committee on School Orchestras and Strings, and chair-elect for NAfME National Council for Orchestral Education.
Christopher Selby is an active clinician, speaker, adjudicator, and conductor throughout the U.S. He is a co-author of Habits of a Successful String Musician (GIA) and the 2010 SC Performance Standards for Instrumental Music.
Chris Judah-Lauder lives in Dallas, Texas and is “retired” after teaching 40 years of General Music, K-8th grade, Orff, Recorder and Drum Ensembles at Clay Middle School, South Bend, Indiana; St. Lawrence School, Indianapolis, Indiana and Good Shepherd Episcopal School, Dallas, Texas. She had the distinct pleasure of teaching fifth through eighth grade for 31 years at Good Shepherd Episcopal School in Dallas, where she directed four middle school ensembles: Orff, Recorder, D.R.U.M., and a Praise Band. These ensembles have been featured at international and national conferences including the opening session at the 1995 American Orff-Schulwerk Professional Development Conference, P.A.S.I.C. and many TMEA State Conferences. Chris’ select groups were chosen to present at TMEA on the grounds of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas.
Chris is the National Conference Chair for the 2017 Conference in Fort Worth Texas from Nov 8-11, 2017. She is a Past-President of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, has served as National Conference Chair for the 2009 AOSA Professional Development Conference in Milwaukee, Local Conference Char in Dallas, TX 1995, Regional AOSA Representative and Past President of the North Texas Orff Chapter. She is presently serving on the AOSA 50th Anniversary Committee. Chris received her Bachelor of Music Education and MS degrees from Indiana University in South Bend, Indiana. She completed her Orff Levels Certification Courses at Hamline University and her Masters with Richard Gill at St. Paul University. Chris is an active clinician for in-service staff developments, Orff Level II, III and Master Courses, Orff Chapters, and State and National Conference in the US and Canada. Chris is currently serving as a consultant for several Title One schools in Texas, working directly in the classroom with the music teachers.
Chris has presented at ten AOSA National Conferences and teaches Orff Levels at Trinity University in San Antonio and at NDSU, North Dakato. She has taught at VanderCook School of Music in Chicago, Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, the University of North Texas, Central Florida, Montreat College, James Madison University and Southern Methodist University. Follow this link to see her scheduled “Workshops”. Chris has eighteen publications and is published with Warner Brothers, Sweet Pipes, The Lorenz Corporation, and Beatin’ Path Publications. She is a contributing author for Spotlight on Music, McGraw Macmillan Publishing Company.
Aimee Curtis Pfitzner has been a teacher of Orff-Schulwerk for twenty-one years, receiving her Master level Orff certification from the University of Memphis. She holds a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from the University of Maine, Orono. Aimee presents workshops for local, state and national conferences and contributes regularly to her blog, ofortunaorff.blogspot.com. She taught music in public schools in Maine for four years and has spent the past twenty years teaching at Cannon School in Concord, NC. When not singing, acting, teaching or presenting, Aimee can be found looking for sea glass in Maine, kayaking, running trails, sewing, painting shoes, doodling, and creating jewelry.
I’m a little off-beat; funky, creative, crafty, with eclectic music tastes. I am known to my students as being silly, crazy, and a bit goofy. I’m a proud Maineiac, born and raised in Maine, but am proud to be able to say “y’all” like a true Southerner, having lived in North Carolina for the past 20 years. I love to travel but would rather be an explorer than a tourist and come away being changed by the experience. I have an amazing hubby and a cutie-patootie 10 year old girlie. I’m passionate about teaching music, creativity, my faith, and adoption (our wee one was born in China). I hope you find some things to add excitement, engagement, and creativity to your classrooms!
Jennifer Bailey has twenty-one years experience teaching young children. She has been with Farmington Public Schools for the past seventeen years. Jennifer holds a B.M. in performance from Michigan State University, teacher certification from the University of Houston, and a M.M. Ed. from Temple University. She is an early childhood and elementary general music instructor for the Gordon Institute for Music Learning and is level one certified in Orff-Schulwerk. She is the author of Sing-To-Kids Songbooks and co-author of the Jump Right In Elementary Music Series. Jennifer is a frequent presenter at clinics for regional and state music education and technology conferences. Jennifer lives in Farmington with her son and two pugs. She enjoys gardening, walking, biking, swimming, yoga, and being active in her church.