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


Dr. Nathaniel F. Parker

Symphony Director



David Metrio

Camerata Director



Whitney Tinley

Sinfonia Director



John Lawless

Percussion Ensemble Director



Sam Skelton

Jazz Ensemble Director


Bryan headshot

Bryan Black

GYSO Chorus Director



Timothy Verville

GSO Music Director & Conductor


Administrative Staff


Melody Richardson

Education Director



Susan Stensland

GSO Executive Director


GYSO/KSU Interns

Savannah English
Taylor Hall
Nicholas Felder
Christopher Bowers
Josh Inglis

A talented and versatile musician, Nathaniel F. Parker has conducted orchestras in the United States, Peru, Russia, Poland, England, and the Czech Republic. Equally at home working with professionals and training future generations of musicians, Dr. Parker is Director of Orchestral Studies at the Kennesaw State University School of Music—serving as Music Director and Conductor of the Kennesaw State University Symphony Orchestra and Conductor of the Kennesaw State University Opera Program—and Associate Conductor of the Georgia Symphony Orchestra. His recent guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra (Michigan), the Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA) All-State Orchestra, the Fulton County High School Honor Orchestra (Georgia), and the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) District 9 High School Honor Orchestra.

Dr. Parker is the recipient of numerous honors, awards, and scholarships. He was named a finalist for a Conducting Fellowship with the New World Symphony, a semi-finalist for a Conducting Fellowship at Tanglewood, and a Candidate for the Respighi Prize in Conducting; he also received a Citation of Excellence in Teaching from the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. An active scholar, Dr. Parker’s writings have been published by the Conductors Guild and the College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA). He has presented research at the College Orchestra Directors Association’s national and international conferences and is Editor of the Journal of the Conductors Guild.

Dr. Parker has served as Music Director and Conductor of the Concert Orchestra and faculty at New England Music Camp (Maine), and Interim Music Director and Conductor of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra’s (GYSO) Symphony and Camerata orchestras. Before relocating to Georgia, he was Director of Orchestral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at Marywood University (Pennsylvania) where he was Music Director and Conductor of the Marywood University Orchestra and taught courses in conducting, instrumental methods, musicology, and analytical techniques. Other previous positions include Associate Conductor and Production Manager of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra (Michigan), Music Director and Conductor of the Jackson Youth Symphony Orchestra, Director of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra Community Music School, Graduate Conducting Intern at Michigan State University, Music Director and Conductor of the Mason Orchestral Society’s Community Orchestra and Youth Symphony (Michigan), Assistant Director of Music at Xaverian High School (New York), Conductor of the New Music Festival of Sandusky Orchestra (Ohio), and Graduate Assistant Conductor and Teaching Assistant at Bowling Green State University (Ohio).

Parker earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting from Michigan State University, where his primary instructors were Leon Gregorian and Raphael Jiménez. During his time at MSU he regularly appeared with all the university orchestras and focused his doctoral research on Leonard Bernstein, specifically the composer’s Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety.” He earned a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Bowling Green State University, where he studied with Emily Freeman Brown. His other conducting mentors include Stephen Osmond, Gary W. Hill, and Timothy Russell. In addition to his training in academia, Dr. Parker participated in numerous conducting master classes and workshops, conducting orchestras under the tutelage of nationally and internationally renowned conductors and conducting pedagogues including Christoph Eschenbach, George Hurst, Arthur Fagen, Markand Thakar, Mark Gibson, David Itkin, and Paul Vermel. Parker began his collegiate education at Arizona State University, where he studied bassoon with Jeffrey G. Lyman and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in Bassoon Performance.

Nat resides in Kennesaw with his wife, Melody, their son, Jacob, and their dog, Sammy.

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David Metrio is currently the Director of Orchestras at Lanier High School in Buford, GA as well as the conductor for the Georgia Youth Symphony Camerata Orchestra.

He is currently working on a masters degree in Music Education from the Florida State University, and has an undergraduate degree in Music Education from   Kennesaw State University.

While at KSU, Metrio served as the president of the KSU chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Mr. Metrio 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 presented 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.

Mr. Metrio’s professional affiliations include the National Association For Music Education, the American String Teachers Association, and the Georgia Music Educators Association. Mr. Metrio currently serves as the GMEA District 13 Treasurer, and as the Membership Ambassador for the Georgia chapter of ASTA.

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

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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Melody Richardson’s goal as Education Director for the Georgia Symphony Orchestra is to organize and develop solid infrastructure for the GYSO ensembles and educational outreach programs. She believes strongly in providing a challenging and meaningful musical experience that sparks curiosity, improves musicianship, and fosters a lifelong love of the arts.

Melody began her musical-life as a cellist but became most passionate about early education and classical voice. Melody studied at both Kennesaw & Georgia State Universities’ Schools of Music to earn her Bachelor of Music in Music Education. Her vocal pedagogy includes coaching in the private studio of Dr. Oral Moses, singing with the KSU Chamber Singers and performing with the KSU Opera Theater. In 2008, Melody had the privilege of studying Opera History abroad with the GSO’s Concert Master, Dr. Edward Eanes. Melody also holds specialized certifications in the Orff and Weikart methodologies, which focus on the inherent correlation of music, movement and culture.

As an educator, Melody is certified and has taught a total of 6 years in both Cobb County, GA & Greenville County, SC. During her time teaching in public schools, Melody built multiple music programs from the ground up. Through this experience, she learned that it takes incredible educators to balance delivering curriculum with raising funds, program management, rehearsals, and performances. Because of this, she is now determined to support music educators across the state of GA.

To challenge herself, Melody maintains an active membership with the GMEA and has enjoyed performing with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra Chorus since her inaugural experience in 2007.

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.