Staff

"I improved my musical talent through the dedication and consideration of the staff."
-- Camper reflection

Our teaching staff includes both established professionals and graduate students from some of the most highly regarded music schools in the nation. All are experienced, caring teachers, passionate about making FMC a month of intense musical growth for all our campers.

Our counselors are often musicians as well. Many are former campers who return to help share the FMC experience with the next generation.

 Directors

Peg Champney
is the founding director of FMC. A life-long friend and for many years an educator in an alternative Friends school, Peg started FMC in 1980 with her friend Jean Putnam. She is a highly honored presence at music camp, where she has influenced many generations of young people with her kindness, strength, and love of music. She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.




Nicholas Hutchinson
is a co-director and a piano teacher at FMC. He has taught piano for over twenty years to students of all ages.  He maintains a private studio in Chicago and has taught at various institutions including the Chelsea Center for the Arts and the Steppingstone School for the Potentially Gifted. 

In addition to his work with piano students, Dr. Hutchinson works extensively with classically trained singers.  He is director of education for the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, an organization dedicated to the study and performance of art song and vocal chamber music.  He is a lecturer in the voice department at DePaul University, and in 2014 he was the program administrator for SongFest, an intensive summer training program for singers and collaborative pianists, held at the Colburn School in Los Angeles.

Dr. Hutchinson has performed throughout the United States as both collaborator and soloist.  He is a prizewinner of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the Kosciuzko Foundation National Chopin Competition, and was a finalist in the Oberlin International Piano Competition.  He holds degrees in piano performance and collaborative piano from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.  His former teachers include Martin Katz, Louis Nagel, Arthur Greene, and Yong Hi Moon.


Pam Wilkinson
 is a co-director and woodwind teacher at FMC. She was a dorm counselor for two years before beginning to teach woodwinds. This is her second year as co-director. Pam was also a happy camper at FMC for two years. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to be part of the FMC community to contribute to making camp an experience current campers can enjoy as much as she did.




Band and Brass

Jesse Metzler has attended FMC for 13 summers, both as camper and staff. He directs the band and the street band, as well as most brass lessons. For the past six years, Jesse has been active in Boston’s music scene. Jesse completed college at Montclair State University in 2010, matriculating with a B.M. in Trombone Performance.

Playing, arranging, and composing New Orleans-style brass band music has been one of Jesse's passions for the past several years. His experiences in Boston's brass bands (including the Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band, Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band, and Something Shameless) led him to found FMC's Street Band, arguably one of the most enthusiastic ensembles at camp. He loves the eclectic mix of instruments that come together to build a groove in this ensemble.

Jesse studied conducting with Dr. Shelley Axelson at Montclair State University in New Jersey, and brings this experience to bear as the director of the FMC Concert Band, which he has led for the past four summers. He has also directed a brass choir at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School in Massachusetts, and helps lead the Trifecta Brass Trio in Cambridge.

With his partner, he now strives to bring their two young daughters up in the most musical household possible.


Chorus and Musical Theater

Francis Yun, harpsichord, is a recent recipient of the Doctor of Musical Arts in Harpsichord Performance from the University of Michigan, where he studied with Joseph Gascho and Penelope Crawford. Dr. Yun has been a soloist with the Birmingham-Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra and the Yellow Springs Chamber Orchestra, performing Bach's Brandenberg Concerto No. 5. An avid champion of new music for the harpsichord, Dr. Yun has also appeared as a soloist with the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, premiering a piece by composer Edward Ryan called The Golden Invention. Most recently, he has performed with the esteemed baroque orchestra Apollo's Fire in their collaboration with Opera Columbus in a staging of Lully's Armide. He has performed in numerous venues on both harpsichord and piano including Columbia University for their Rabi-Warner concert series, Columbia College in Chicago, and the Kasser Theater and Leshowitz Recital Hall in New Jersey. He has also been a featured performer at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, MI, the Power Center, also in Ann Arbor, and the Detroit Museum of Art. An educator at heart, Dr. Yun has been on the faculty at Brevard Music Center and the New Jersey Youth Symphony. He has also been on the faculty at Montclair State University where he was a professor of Music Theory and a staff accompanist. Dr. Yun also taught piano for the Preparatory Center for the Arts at Montclair State University.



Corrie Van Ausdal is a writer, director and performer based in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Corrie began acting as a young child and remembers the musicals during her years as an FMC camper with great fondness. She has worked on the stage, on camera, as a voiceover artist and performance artist.  Corrie is well known for her portrayal of Apollonia in The Show Formerly Known As Purple Rain and for her solo performances of Sorry, Wrong Number and Braces, which she also wrote. In addition to Friends Music Camp, Corrie has directed plays and readings for The Living Room, The Fishtank (Kansas City), and the Yellow Springs Kids Playhouse, and taught acting for The Coterie Theatre. This fall she will debut an original serial podcast drama called Zombie High School.

Corrie spends her free time with her family, blogging about small town life (www.highinthemiddle.com), and playing lots of volleyball. Corrie greatly enjoys working with the campers at FMC and looks forward to their creative energy each year.  She has been on staff since 2010.


Our voice teacher Lori Hicks directs the two-week musical theater production.


Guitar

Joseph Bishop teaches guitar lessons, guitar group classes, and music theory.


Orchestra and Strings

From an early age, Russian-born violinist Dr. Maria Bessmeltseva has performed in the concert halls of Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Italy, and the United States of America. Dr. Bessmeltseva's solo career has taken her from the celebrated stages of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Carnegie Hall in New York City to the Glinka Philharmonic Chamber Hall and St. Petersburg State Capella in St. Petersburg, Russia. She has appeared as a soloist with the Symphony of the Mountains in Tennessee, the Southern Great Lakes Symphony in Michigan, the Firelands Symphony in Ohio, and the Hot Springs Music Festival Orchestra in Arkansas. In addition to her live performances, Dr. Bessmeltseva has also appeared on local TV and radio stations in Bloomfield Hills, MI, Rutland, VT, and South Hadley, MA.

Dr. Bessmeltseva earned her degrees from Oberlin College, Bowling Green State University and University of Michigan. 

While not performing, Dr. Bessmeltseva teaches at various summer music festivals, including PhoenixPhest Chamber Music Festival in Ann Arbor, MI, Summer String Camp at BGSU in Bowling Green, OH, and Friends Music Camp in Barnesville, OH. She has also served as a judge at the Ohio Music Teachers Association State Buckeye Audition and the Ohio Music Teachers National Association Competition. 

Dr. Bessmeltseva has been teaching at Heidelberg University since 2016.


A passionate teacher, Miranda Henne currently teaches cello in Boston, MA and coaches chamber music for the Northeast Massachusetts Youth Orchestras and the Lexington Chamber Music Center. Her cello students have ranged from ages 8-80. While residing in Dallas, TX, she maintained a studio of 28 cello students per week and taught music appreciation courses as a Graduate Assistant at Southern Methodist University.  Her cello students advanced to All Region Orchestra, and 20 students won top honors at the 2014 Plano I.S.D. Solo Contest.  In 2015 and 2016, Miranda was a Resident Artist at the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Dorchester, MA. 

As a performer, Miranda soloed with the Gettysburg Chamber Orchestra and was twice featured at the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival.  In 2015 her quartet performed at the Arts and Letters Club on the “Music Wednesdays” Recital Series in Toronto. She has also shared the improv, rock and folk stage with the likes of Mike Mills from R.E.M., Abigail Washburn, Mike Block, Rushad Eggleston, fiddler Bruce Molsky and the piri and Saengwhang player Gamin.  In 2012, Ms. Henne collaborated with Shen Wei, choreographer of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Ceremony, to create and premiere The New You, featuring her musical improvisation. From 2012-2014, she performed regularly with a rock band in Dallas, TX.  As a graduate student at Southern Methodist University, Miranda was on the champion intramural co-ed soccer team and, since middle school, has run at least four times per week with few exceptions.


Piano

Nicholas Hutchinson, listed above as one of our directors, teaches piano as well. 


Xavier Suarez
is organist at at Olivet Lutheran Church in Sylvania, Ohio, pianist for the Bowling Green Middle/High School in Ohio, where he works with students from 6th through 12th grade in sectionals and individual singing, and faculty at Friends Music Camp since 2010. He won first prize at the 2010 First Eastern Michigan Chamber Music Competition as a member of the SIX Trio and continues to collaborate extensively with numerous competition prizewinners as well as recitalists. A sought-after collaborator, he works with talented instrumentalists and singers alike throughout the states of New York, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Puerto Rico. He holds a MM in Collaborative Piano from the University of Michigan under Martin Katz and a MM in Piano Performance from Eastern Michigan University under Dr. Garik Pedersen. He was the Music Director and Accompanist Artist in Residence for the Pensacola Opera (Pensacola, FL) in their 2016 season. He collaborated at the 2013 Manhattan Summer Voice Festival, held a teaching position at Adrian College (Adrian, MI) and currently maintains a private studio in the Bowling Green area as a piano teacher and voice coach.

Voice

Lori Hicks teaches voice and directs the two-week musical.

One of our dorm counselors, Alissa Plenzler, also teaches voice.


Woodwinds
Martha Hyde
has taught at Friends Music Camp for over twenty of the more than thirty years that the camp has existed. She has wide experience teaching all ages, having run band programs in New York City public schools as well as teaching one to one and in small classes in both public and private school settings. She is a co-founder of the New River Ensemble with Brendan Cooney and Lisa Liske-Doorandish. The group performs chamber concerts, live scores with silent film, and does interactive workshops.

As a performer Martha has played in venues ranging from Alice Tully Hall to CBGB's to the cathedral of St. John the Devine as well as tours on four continents. She can regularly be seen in the orchestra pits on Broadway and has performed with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Glenn Close, Whoopi Goldberg and Antonio Banderas. She is a member of the Gotham Wind Symphony which has released three CD's and she is also on numerous cast recordings.


Pam Wilkinson, listed above as a director, also teaches woodwind lessons.


Dorm Counselors

Jocelyn Wilkinson is excited to be returning to FMC for her fifth summer as a girl's dorm counselor after a year off. Jocelyn recently finished her Master's in Museum Studies at the University of Kansas. She wants to pursue a career in exhibit design and development where she hopes to create transparency in museums by challenging standard practices that prevent people from knowing how museums produce content. Jocelyn is tickled pink by the opportunity to make art in a community after two years with no outlet. Jocelyn was a camper from 2004-2008 and previously a counselor from 2012-2015.


A newcomer to Friends Music Camp, soprano Alissa Plenzler is excited to be on staff as both girl’s counselor and voice teacher.  Hailing from South Bend, Indiana, she received her Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from the University of Dayton and will become a Master of Music student with the same concentration at Bowling Green State University this fall.  She has been an Emerging Artist for a six-week study in Arezzo with the Oberlin in Italy program, and last summer, traveled to Kamuela, Hawaii for the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival singing the role of Papagena in Mozart’s The Magic Flute as well as Naiade and Spring in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen.  Other notable roles are Gretel in Hansel and Gretel and Carmen Ghia in Schikele’s The Stoned Guest.

Alissa also teaches voice lessons at FMC.


Michael Mikulka is a composer and horn player currently based in Austin, Texas, where he completed his Doctorate in Composition at the University of Texas. Michael has been named a winner or finalist of 32 composition contests and calls for scores, and his music has been performed by members of the Dallas, Seattle, Vancouver, and New Jersey Symphony Orchestras, as well as by performance faculty at colleges around the country.
Michael is the creator and operator of newbandmusic.org and newchambermusic.org, which promote the self-published music of emerging composers for free. He was also the creator and conductor of the Vine Orchestra, which premiered over 50 six-second compositions.


Rory Papania is overjoyed to be spending his fourth summer at FMC  after two years as a camper. In addition to his duties as a dorm counselor, Rory also leads the guitar/sing class as well as a beginning acting class. He holds a Bachelor of Specialized Studies with a concentration in Global Politics and Human Rights from Ohio University, where he spent much of his time as a member of the Singing Men of Ohio. He released three albums from 2011-2013 as a member of the bands Wheels and self-recorded and released his own solo album, Golden, in 2016 under the moniker Gaptooth Grin. You might find him playing guitar, bass, drums, or singing at your local dive by himself or as a member of various musical projects. Or you might not find him at all due to his propensity for traveling and his tendency to get lost in the woods.


First Aid Personnel

Rachel Finch is the camp nurse.


Staff Support

Erin Diffenderfer, staff childcare, has been attending FMC since 1999 with the exception of a two year hiatus between being a camper and counselor. She graduated in 2010 from Loyola University of Chicago where she majored in elementary and special education and minored in flute performance. During the year she teaches second grade at Cambridge Friends School. She absolutely loves getting to know and care for the staff children and campers alike. She has been inspired by the FMC staff since she was ten years old and is thrilled to be part of such a talented, committed, and creative group.