Music has been a driving force in the life of Colorado-raised performer and teacher Amanda Fitch ever since she first picked up a violin at nine years old. Over two decades later, having accumulated many accolades and adventures, her connection with the instrument only continues to deepen.
A versatile and professional-minded musician, Amanda’s dedication to her craft has taken her around the country—from her high school orchestra playing the opening of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, to years later performing at Benaroyal Hall in Washington as a part of the Northwest Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Anthony Spain). Over the past decade, no stranger to touring life, she has performed in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii—most states in the U.S.—even traveling as far as Mexico, Canada, and Costa Rica.
In her home base of Seattle, Amanda has graced several musical projects (Bootleg Sunshine and Alex Rasmussen, among others) spanning many different genres (jazz, folk, country, swing). One of her bands, A Cedar Suede, was featured several times on the world-renowned independent radio station KEXP, and the band’s debut album release show sold out the Triple Door, one of the city’s premiere music venues.
Having studied at Metro State University with Bradley Watson—then continuing her studies with Julie Lyonn Lieberman, a pioneer of creative strings—Amanda’s knowledge of her instrument is extensive; and, as she operates her private teaching studio for the 12th year, she continues to share this knowledge with her students while constantly finding new reasons to fall in love with the magic that is music.
Jazz Band Coach
Born and raised in Seattle, Gary “Jubil” Hammon is one of a number of musicians from the area that have enjoyed a long and successful career in the performing arts. Gary began his study of the saxophone while a junior at Garfield High School. With diligent practice, he advanced rapidly on the instrument, and soon began playing in bands around the thriving Seattle music scene. With some encouragement from Jim Wilke, he applied for further musical study at the renowned New England Conservatory of Music. Awarded a scholarship, he began attending in 1969, the first year black students were accepted. While there he benefited greatly while studying with Kenny Dorham, Mary Lou Williams, Carmen McRae and others. He also helped inaugurate the jazz studies program at the Conservatory in 1972, as part of Gunther Schuller’s ensemble. Impressing the likes of Isaac Stern and Arthur Fiedler, the program has been a success ever since.
Gary went on to establish himself on the jazz scene in Boston and New York, frequently filling in for Harold Vick before leading his own bands, becoming a regular at Wally’s in Boston and Manny’s Car Wash in New York. This led to working and touring with blues greats Albert King and Albert Collins, a long stint with Big Jim Patton’s band, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and further jazz work with Barbara Donald and Grant Green.
Gary Hammon returned to Seattle in 2004 after a long career as a sideman and an educator. After being in so many great bands led by others, he was eager to pursue his own musical directions. Gary teamed up with saxophone great Hadley Caliman to make a two tenors album, “Fangs,” and they performed regularly throughout the Seattle area for some years. When Hadley Caliman got called to play with Bobby Huthcherson one weekend, Gary called trumpeter Erik Esvelt to fill in at the last minute. The two musicians quickly recognized their shared enthusiasm for an old-school, lyrical approach to playing the music. A long term collaboration sprung from there, and the two horn players were soon rehearsing together, working to blend their sound and learning each others’ music. Gigs in 2011 culminated in recording their album, “Slightly in the Tradition,” that summer.
Still active as an educator, Hammon has been teaching saxophone and sharing his love of music for over four decades. As well as having tutored dozens of award-winning musicians, Gary has also worked closely with Ballard High School’s program in recent years, helping them become one of the region’s top programs and regular attendees of the prestigious Essentially Ellington competition held annually in New York City.
Recognition of Mr. Hammon’s legacy of connecting the jazz tradition with the current generation was recently showcased at the 2018 Earshot Jazz Festival. Leading the band “Last of the Tribe,” at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, he was joined by Booker T. Washington, Nathan Breedlove and prominent young saxophonist James Brandon Lewis in an adventurous foray that showcased Hammon’s artistry on his instrument in a very free setting.
Read more about Hammon at: http://www.garyhammonmusic.com/bio
Jazz 1 and 2 Instructor
Trevor Parrish is a veteran music educator and performer specializing in trumpet, trombone, piano and jazz and has been training since he was 10 years old. This is his second year teaching Jazz at Ballard High School, and this year he is teaching Jazz 1 as well as Jazz 2. He has been teaching in some capacity since 2002, for high school music programs, via private lessons and independent organizations throughout the West Coast. With a Bachelor of Music degree in classical and jazz trumpet performance from the University of Nevada, Reno and a Master of Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts he also attended School for Improvisational Music in Brooklyn
In addition to teaching at Ballard High School, he has taught at his alma mater, Robert McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada, Glacier Peak High School and Everett High School, and he also taught various drum and bugle corps.
During his own training, which he self directed starting at age 10, he performed in jazz big bands, jazz combos, university orchestras, symphony orchestras, brass ensembles and drum and bugle corps.
He used to be part of Seattle Sounders “Sound Wave” band, and also plays professionally in a number of groups:
45th St. Brass, a funk/soul/brass group in Seattle.
Special Forces, a jazz septet
Atomic Ape, a Los Angeles-based quintet that performs an experimental mix of all types of musical genres and tours regularly and has recorded on the Web of Mimicry label.
45th Street Brass, a for-hire brass section, busking ensemble and New Orleans-style brass band.
Nucleus, an experimental trio in development
Read more at http://trevorparrish.com
Williams is a performing & teaching percussionist and is Ballard Performing Arts’ Drumline instructor. .His work involves many musical settings including orchestras, chamber groups, rhythm-sections (jazz, rock, pop, etc.), and various world music ensembles.
As an orchestral percussionist, Williams currently is a member of Symphony Tacoma, Lake Washington Symphony, and Federal Way Symphony. He performs as an "extra" percussionist for the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, Bellingham Festival of Music Orchestra, and Auburn Symphony.
As a drumset artist and auxiliary percussionist he has performed and recorded in dozens of groups ranging from funk big bands to rock, jazz, blues, and country music rhythm-sections. Williams has toured throughout the world with bands/artists including Lee Oskar & Friends, Thomas Mapfumo, and Cracker Factory.
Williams maintains teaching studios in Seattle and Tacoma for both remote and in-person lessons. In addition to private teaching and BHS coaching duties he directs the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra Percussion Ensemble and serves as a school outreach coach for Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra. It has been his honor to serve as an adjudicator for several solo & ensemble festivals over the past twenty years throughout the state of Washington.
Playwright, teaching writing to Theatre Arts classes
Rachel Atkins is the scriptwriter for the award-winning educational theatre company Living Voices. They have twelve different multimedia shows in ongoing national touring repertory, all focusing on issues of history and social justice, and seen by over 3 million audience members throughout the US and Canada. Her play Black Like Us (Original Works Publishing) received the Theatre Puget Sound Gregory Award for Outstanding New Play, two Seattle Times Footlight Awards, including Top World Premiere, and was an American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award nominee. Other plays include Treadwell Gold (Perseverance Theatre, Alaska), Baalzebub (published by Theatrefolk) & Frankenstein’s Mary Shelley (both at Seattle Public Theater). Literary adaptations for Book-It Repertory Theatre include Jane Austen’s Emma (also produced by Harvard Radcliffe Summer Theater & Vintage Theatre, Colorado), Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and a variety of non-traditional texts and children’s literature. Her short plays & plays for young actors have received multiple productions nationally and worldwide.
A 3-time TPS Gregory Award nominee, her other work has been produced extensively throughout the Seattle area. Rachel holds her Masters in Educational Theatre from New York University. A member of the ArtsWA Teaching Artist roster and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s Arts Partner roster, she works as a master teaching artist for Arts Impact, Seattle Public Schools Ethnic Studies, and ACT’s Young Playwrights Program. Rachel received a 2019 GAP award for This Is Not (Y)Our History, a new play with music about race relations and conflicts within the women’s suffrage movement which centers on the marginalized voices of African-American suffragists silenced by history and draws parallels to today.
Musical Rehearsal Accompanist
Lisa Holmberg has enjoyed making music with Ballard High School’s music and drama departments for 15+ years, and was thrilled to accompany their production of Songs for A New World at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her professional performance background includes acting, singing and playing piano; favorite roles include Adelaide (Guys and Dolls) and Madame Arcati (High Spirits). Her extensive music directing and/or accompanying credits with theaters, churches and schools in the Greater Seattle area include The Fantasticks, Quilters, Something’s Afoot, and Man of La Mancha, among others. Lisa’s onstage experience helps her connect with performers, and accompany them with sensitivity; she appreciates the opportunity to work alongside some of the region’s finest music and drama educators/directors, who she believes are right here at Ballard High School.
Wigmaster, Photographer, Scenic Artist (Projections),
Videographer and Editor
Ballard alumna, Gustavo Gutierrez, is a workplace manager at a local tech company and a Seattle-based performer. Amongst his many passions, “Tavo’s” work with the Ballard Playmakers continues to be near and dear to his heart. Having participated in the Performing Arts Program at Ballard High School (Choir and Drama) Gustavo acknowledges the importance of providing students with high-caliber programs that nurture their artistic endeavours. The partnership began by providing photography for the program’s theatrical productions, which led to wig design, video production, scenery projections, and student coaching. Gustavo’s goal is to foster the artistic skills of students so that it enhances their experience in the program. He looks forward to continuing to support the Ballard Performing Arts and ensure students receive a positive, fun and professional experience.
Eia Waltzer has been directing, choreographing, and teaching dance professionally around the Seattle and Los Angeles areas for the past 14 years. During that time she has worked with a wide range of ages, from elementary school children to college students to professionals. Though mainly a choreographer now, you may have also seen her onstage at various theatres, such as Village Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and the Stepping Stone Players, among others. Her latest adventure has been starting her own children’s theatre company, Off Book Productions, that aims to bring high quality theatre opportunities to the Northeast Seattle area. Eia received her Masters in Teaching, and is now teaching theatre and music in the public schools full time.
Serena Chin is an active accompanist, vocal coach and chamber musician in the Seattle area. She has as a great love for the human voice and has accompanied choirs from numerous organizations, including the American Boychoir, Children’s Chorus of Washington (DC) and the Interlochen Arts Camp as well as state, regional and national honor choirs for ACDA, OAKE and NAfME. She has been the accompanist for the Ballard High School Choirs since 2013, and currently serves as accompanist for the University of Washington, Northwest Girlchoir, and Mirinesse Women’s Choir. Serena received her Bachelor of Music in piano from Wheaton College and Master of Music in coaching and accompanying from Westminster Choir College.
Tenor/ Bass Coach
Evan Norberg is quickly becoming one of the Pacific Northwest’s top conductors. Quoted as “unstoppable” and having “a clear and precise style”, Evan is steadily building his reputation as a clinician, private instructor, and conductor. He holds a voice studio based out of Seattle.
Evan has extensive knowledge in both classical and jazz styles, having been part of top notch ensembles in both community and school groups; Edmonds Community College’s Soundsation, Seattle Children’s Choir, Central Washington University’s Chamber Choir, Vocal Jazz 1, just to name a few. In the professional arena, Evan has performed as a guest bass/baritone soloist for many local community and school groups for major works, such as René Clausen’s Memorial, Handel’s Messiah, Faure’s Requiem, Mozart’s Vespers and more.
Through inspiration and guidance by the great arrangers of the Pacific Northwest such as Vijay Singh, Kirk Marcy, Kelly Kunz and many more, Evan has begun arranging his own jazz standards and compositions with a steady stream of charts for his own ensembles. More notably, his arrangement of “Love You Madly” was premiered at the National American Choral Directors Association Conference in Chicago in 2011.
Evan holds degrees from Edmonds Community College, and Central Washington University, which includes a Masters from CWU in both Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance. Evan is excited to be a part of the Seattle Choir scene as a singing member of Choral Arts, local jazz group Last Call, director of choirs, jazz studies and voice at Shoreline Community College, and conductor to his own group, the newly formed Wellspring Ensemble. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Evan formed Envision Studios, LLC, a company dedicated to the support of teachers developing virtual content for classes, rehearsals, and virtual performance.