Artistic Leadership

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Exceptional educators and music professionals

The GYSO artistic and administrative staff is composed of knowledgeable and experienced musicians and educators. Our staff teaches in prominent musical institutions in and around Atlanta and has performed across the U.S. and abroad.  Their educational backgrounds include leading conservatories and universities and collectively posses a wealth of musical knowledge.

This varied and encompassing background of unique perspectives allow GYSO directors to create rewarding musical environments and build foundations of success that last a lifetime. Guided by a dedication to youth education, the musical experience and education of GYSO students is unmatched.

Artistic Staff


Timothy Verville

Symphony Director



Dr. Eric Hawk

Philharmonia Director



David Metrio

Camerata Director



Whitney Tinley

Sinfonia Director



John Lawless

Percussion Ensemble Director



Sam Skelton

Jazz Ensemble Director


Bryan headshot

Bryan Black

GSO Youth Chorus Director


Administrative Staff


Zac Evans

Education and Outreach Coordinator



Susan Stensland

GSO Executive Director



Brittany Thayer

GSO Librarian and Ticketing Manager


GYSO/KSU Interns

Aldo Cardenas
Savannah English
Josh Inglis
Nicholas Felder
Joe Donahue
Taylor Hall

An award winner in the American Prize for Orchestral Performance, Conductor Timothy Verville’s enriching and dynamic performances in the U.S. and abroad create rewarding musical experiences. His visionary orchestral leadership is hailed as altering the landscape of classical music. From engaging traditional performances to injecting new and exciting ideas into the concert hall, he has connected with a greater portion of the community by reinvigorating traditional audiences and attracting new listeners to concerts. Lauded by reviewers as “innovative” and “a dazzling musical experience,” Verville’s performances have included a unique and distinctive approach to musical programing, collaborations with visual artists, silent films, actors, dancers, interactive computer visualizations, and more.

This year marks his inaugural season as the Robert W. Hagan Family Foundation Music Director and Conductor of the Georgia Symphony Orchestra. He is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Chamber Orchestra and Arizona Pro Arte. Previously he has served as Music Director of the North Valley Chamber Orchestra, Fine Arts Orchestra, Scottsdale Baroque Orchestra, Arizona Pro Arte, and at Idyllwild Arts. He was also Associate Conductor of the Boston Chamber Orchestra and Conductor of the Pollard Theatre. Recent international guest conducting includes the Kyushu International Festival, Kyushu Symphony Orchestra, Kyushu Philharmonic Orchestra, Chikushi Jogakuen Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Fukuoka University Orchestra. U.S. appearances include the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Signature Symphony, and Richmond Symphony Orchestra.

Committed to sharing great new music, Verville routinely commissions and conducts regional, national, and world premieres. Additionally, he instituted an annual international “Call For Scores” project that in 2015 received over 920 applicants from forty countries. He has also worked with the Tucson Symphony’s Young Composer Project which is praised by Yo-Yo Ma as an “extraordinary program.”

Verville studied conducting at the renowned Pierre Monteux School and has been privileged to be mentored by esteemed conductors James DePreist, Stephen Lord, Michael Jinbo, Bruce Hangen, and Timothy Russell. He earned degrees in music from the University of Oklahoma, Arizona State University, and the Boston Conservatory.

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Dr. Steven Eric Hawk is a conductor, composer, and violist. He holds a doctorate of music degree from the University of Georgia in orchestral conducting, with a minor area in composition. Having a passion for 19th century composer Hans Rott, his dissertation on Rott’s Symphony No. 1 was recently selected for publication. He received his Master of Music degree in instrumental conducting from Colorado State University and a Bachelors degree in composition from the University of Central Florida.

Currently, he serves as the music director of the Alpharetta Symphony Orchestra, the Georgia Youth Symphony Philharmonia, and the Fulton Science Academy Private School orchestras in Alpharetta.
Dr. Hawk’s teaching experience encompasses a wide variety of ages and levels. He has been an instructor at many music institutions, including the Amadeus Piano Academy in Fort Collins, Colorado, the Metropolitan Area Youth Symphony in Leesburg, Florida, the Community Music School at UGA, and PianoAlpharetta. He has served as a music faculty member at Agnes Scott College and the Atlanta Music Project.

In addition to his teaching and conducting duties, Dr. Hawk is an active arranger and composer. He wrote and premiered his first symphony at UGA in 2014 and continues to write/arrange for numerous ensembles. He is currently working on original and arranged educational string music for publication.


David Metrio is currently the Director of Orchestras at Lanier High School in Sugar Hill, GA as well as the conductor for the Georgia Youth Symphony Camerata Orchestra. Mr. Metrio received a Bachelors of Music Education degree from Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Kennesaw, GA. He has studied double bass under Dr. James Barket (Kennesaw State), Mr. Joseph Mcfadden (Atlanta Symphony), and Mr. Michael Kurth (Atlanta Symphony). Mr. Metrio has also performed with several orchestras in the Atlanta area such as the Georgia Symphony, the Kennesaw State University Orchestra, the Gwinnett Symphony, and the Emory Symphony.

Mr. Metrio is an active bass clinician in the Atlanta area. He has done bass clinics at various middle schools and high schools in the Gwinnett, Cobb, and Fulton County School Districts as well as the Atlanta Public School District. Metrio has served on staff at the Upbeat! Summer orchestra camp as well as the Georgia ASTA summer orchestra camp. Mr. Metrio also maintains a small private bass studio. While in undergrad, Metrio served as president of the KSU chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Mr. Metrio was also a lead teacher for the KSU strings project. Metrio served as head intern and librarian for the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra and assistant librarian for the Georgia Symphony.

Mr. Metrio’s professional affiliations include the National Association For Music Education, the American String Teachers Association, and the Georgia Music Educators Association.

In his free time, Mr. Metrio enjoys traveling and considers himself an avid foodie. He resides in Suwanee, GA with his beloved Shit-Zu, Mozart.

Whitney Tinley is the director of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Sinfonia ensemble and Orchestra Director at Shiloh Middle School in Gwinnett County. She also serves as the coordinator for Georgia’s 11th and 12th grade All-State Orchestra as well as for Gwinnett County’s 6th grade Honors Orchestra. She has worked as the bass coach for the Gwinnett County Youth Honors Orchestra and has served as a conductor and bass instructor and ENCORE and ASTA orchestra camps.

She maintains an active string bass studio and a career as a freelance bassist. She is a member of the Saint Cecilia Saints, the orchestra for the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. Whitney graduated from DePauw University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education, and has her Masters in Music Education from the University of Georgia.

John Lawless became Director of Percussion Studies at Kennesaw State University in 2004. Principal Timpanist of the Atlanta Opera since 1979, Mr. Lawless was appointed as Principal Timpanist with the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Orchestra in 1986.

Since 1978, Mr. Lawless has performed and recorded as an extra with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra while maintaining a thriving freelance career as studio and pit percussionist.A founding member of the Atlanta Percussion Trio, Mr. Lawless performs more than 600 school concerts a year for audiences totaling 300,000 annually. In 2004 the Atlanta Percussion Trio performed as concerto soloists with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in “The Glory and the Grandeur” by Russell Peck.

A graduate of Georgia State University, Mr. Lawless’s teachers include Tom Float, Jack Bell, Cloyd Duff, Paul Yancich, Bill Wilder, and Mark Yancich. Mr. Lawless’s previous faculty appointments include those at Georgia State University, Clark Atlanta University, and West Georgia State University.

Sam Skelton is the Director of the GSO Jazz! Repertoire Orchestra, GSO Jazz! Ensemble and the youth jazz ensemble of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra (GYSO) Program – all dedicated to bringing new age and traditional big band charts alive with every performance.

A native of Conyers, Georgia, Skelton has been active on the Atlanta music scene for well over two decades. Skelton graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University and the private studio of Tony Carere with a degree in jazz studies. During his course of study at GSU, Skelton was a Montgomery Music Scholar and a two-time fellowship recipient to the Aspen Music Festival. He continued his saxophone studies with Kenneth Radnofsky at Boston University in 1991.

As a woodwind doubler, Skelton is well versed in any genre of music. His grasp of saxophone, clarinet and flute has enabled him to remain very busy in live performance as well as in the studio.

Skelton has performed and/or soloed with The London Symphony Orchestra, The Atlanta Symphony, The Atlanta Pops, The Peachtree Pops, The Atlanta Ballet Orchestra and the Georgia Symphony Orchestra as well as numerous local high school and civic ensembles. World Premiers include James Oliverio’s Children of A Common Mother, Lee Johnson’s Ora Pro Mi: Concerto for Winds Soloist (clarinet, flute and soprano saxophone) and Seaside Symphony (clarinet and soprano saxophone soloist). Skelton also played the premier recording of Ora Pro Mi and Seaside Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra.

As a sideman on over 175 compact discs, Skelton remains very active in the studio and can be heard on recordings by such artists as: Elton John, December Radio, Babbie Mason, Howard Tate, Matchbox 20, Train, Edwin McCain, The Gap Band and The Ohio Players. Television and radio jingles include The Georgia Lottery, Glen Beck, The Weather Channel, The Travel Channel, Ford, The Cartoon Network, CNN, Nature’s Own, Popeye’s, Papa John’s and Turner South. Television appearances include In the Heat of the Night, Savannah and Sinbad’s Summer Jam II on HBO.

Skelton is currently Director of Jazz Studies and Lecturer in Saxophone at Kennesaw State University. He is also Artistic Director of GSO Jazz! and GYSO Jazz!. Skelton served as Professor of Saxophone at Georgia State University from 1991 to 2004 and was Jazz Ensemble Director at Georgia Tech from 2002-2004 and Artist-in-Residence at The University of Georgia Jazz Department. He served as Visiting Professor of Saxophone at Furman University 2001-02. Professional associations include: Georgia Music Educators Association, Georgia Association of Jazz Educators, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (voting member) and the American Federation of Musicians. Skelton is a Conn-Selmer Artist. He resides in Buford, GA.

For his contributions to the city’s cultural life he was named a “Lexus Leader in the Arts” by Atlanta Public Broadcasting in 2003.

Bryan Black has worked as a conductor, educator, church musician and arts advocate since moving to Atlanta in 1994. He first trained as an organist and pianist at the undergraduate level (BM, Samford University), then followed a passion for choral music and conducting at the graduate level (MM, Florida State). While at FSU he was deeply influenced by Rodney Eichenberger – the internationally regarded pedagogue and conductor. Bryan also holds the “Certificate of German” granted by the Goethe-Institute in Berlin. As a church musician, Black has served the 4,200 member First United Methodist Church of Marietta as Director of Music since 2003. Previous church appointments have included work with the 1996 “Celebrate Faith and Arts” Olympic event and an invitational choir festival tour to Kristiansand, Norway.

Black was invited by Michael Alexander to form the GSO Chorus in 2007. Over seven seasons it has performed masterworks such as Orff’s Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Poulenc’s Gloria, Bach’s Magnificat, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast and Vaughan William’s Sea Symphony. The chorus now numbers some 90 voices and draws talented professional and amateur singers from across the area. In 2012, the Chamber Chorus made its first international tour to Spain under his direction.

For ten years Black conducted The DeKalb Choral Guild, a community chorus based in Tucker. Over this time the choir tripled in size, made tours of Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic, appeared three times at the Piccolo Spoleto festival in Charleston, performed for the Georgia ACDA state convention and released its first professional recording. In the late ‘90s, Black sang with the ASO Chorus and Chamber Chorus – including Mr. Shaw’s final performance of Bach’s B-minor Mass in Carnegie Hall. During this time he also taught on the faculty of Georgia State University and was a visiting conductor at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. For his contributions to the city’s cultural life he was named a “Lexus Leader in the Arts” by Atlanta Public Broadcasting in 2003.

After a successful musical project with the Atlanta Goethe-Institute (Hugo Distler’s Totentanz), Bryan was awarded a cultural ambassadorship in 2004 which allowed him to attend an intensive course offered in Weimar, Germany. He currently serves as president of the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA) in Georgia and assisted John Rutter as organizer for a conductor’s honor chorus during the 2013 ACDA National Conference.

Zac Evans is a composer, saxophonist, and educator based out of Atlanta, GA. As a composer, Zac has had the opportunity to write for a diverse range of ensembles ranging from jazz big bands, to live hip-hop, to contemporary percussion, and smaller jazz combos. He has developed personal style that strikes a balance between being contemporary and challenging while also remaining accessible and engaging, pulling from a wide variety of influences including jazz, rock, hip-hop, minimalism, world music, and contemporary classical music.

As an instrumentalist, Zac is a versatile performer and has played internationally with a variety of ensembles. He leads the hip-hop/jazz outfit “Monkier” which received the "Critic's Pick - Best Jazz Act 2016" in Creative Loafing Atlanta. While based in Austin, TX from 2014-2016, Zac performed with various regional groups including Brazilian Space Program, The Urban Achievers Brass Band, and Memphis Train Revue. In 2013, he had the opportunity to travel to Morocco and performed at the International Festival of Theater at the University of Casablanca. He has also performed with a wide variety of musical acts around Georgia.

An avid educator, Zac stays active teaching woodwinds and composition privately around the Atlanta area, working with students from 5-60+ years old.  As of the 2016-2017 season, he will serve as the Education and Community Outreach coordinator for the Georgia Symphony Orchestra.

Zac graduated Magna Cum Laude from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Saxophone Performance, studying in the private studio of Sam Skelton. He is a 2014 recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Arts award and attended the University of Texas at Austin, receiving his Master’s degree in Jazz Composition in 2016 under the tutelage of Dr. John Mills. While studying at UT Austin, Zac received the 2015 award for Outstanding Graduate Student.

Susan H. Stensland, Executive Director for the Georgia Symphony Orchestra is a Georgia native. Prior to accepting her position with the GSO, Ms. Stensland was employed for 15 years as lead accountant and office manager for Hammond Accounting Services, and as a freelance artist and designer. She has been an active volunteer in a variety of capacities, including fundraising, volunteer coordination, events designing, coaching, and arts coordinating for a variety of non-profit organizations including Boy Scouts of America, Cobb County Community Emergency Response Team, and Odyssey of the Mind. She joined the staff of the organization in 2006 and began serving as Executive Director of the Georgia Symphony Orchestra in January, 2013.

Susan Stensland holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Arts Education from Georgia State University and certificates in Nonprofit Organizational Management, and in Management and Supervision from Nonprofit University. Ms. Stensland was a member of the 2013-2014 CEO Peerspectives cohort and the 2015-16 class of Arts Leaders of Metropolitan Atlanta. She currently is a member of the Audience Building Roundtable initiative of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.

Brittany Thayer is the Georgia Symphony Orchestra’s Librarian and Ticketing Manager. She also teaches violin and viola, and performs in the metro Atlanta area.

Ms. Thayer earned her Master of Music in Music Performance at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee under Dr. Bernard Zinck, where she was awarded a full graduate assistantship as a co-manager and concertmaster/principle second violin of the University Community Orchestra. She focused on performing as a member of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. She regularly taught lessons and performed as a freelance musician in the metro Milwaukee area.

During her studies at Kennesaw State University, where she earned in her Bachelor of Music in Music Performance, Ms. Thayer studied under Helen Kim. She was also actively involved as a member of the Kennesaw State University Symphony Orchestra as well as performing in chamber groups and Kennesaw State University Opera Theater. She has performed all over the metro Atlanta area as a freelance musician.

A fan of the use of classical instruments in contemporary settings, Ms. Thayer has performed with the rock band Kansas in their Collegiate Symphony Tour. She was also a member of the first symphony to perform Peter Gabriel’s New Blood outside of Gabriel’s own touring orchestra.

Ms. Thayer, a believer in modern classical music, premiered Julie Mitchell’s Psalm 139 in April 2015. On April 24th of the same year, Ms. Thayer premiered Jen Mitchell’s Under the Killing Moon, composed for violin, bass trombone, and marimba, which was commissioned by and composed for herself and her peers. In January 2014, Ms. Thayer, along with the Kennesaw State University Orchestra, recorded Chen Yi’s Chinese Rap performed by and written for Helen Kim.

Ms. Thayer began her violin studies at the age of 11 under Marla Feeney and Ying Zhou. She has performed in violin master classes under Kenn Wagner, and in chamber master classes under David Becker and Dr. Leonid Yanovsky and Dr. Carol Payne.