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



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



Timothy Verville

GSO Music Director & Conductor


Administrative Staff


Zac Evans

Education Coordinator



Susan Stensland

GSO Executive Director


GYSO/KSU Interns

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

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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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.

The award winning Timothy Verville continues to engage audiences with dynamic performances, innovation, and a focus on community building. His unique and distinctive approach to musical programing reinvigorates established concertgoers while simultaneously attracting new listeners to the concert hall.

Verville is the Robert W. Hagan Family Foundation Music Director and Conductor of the Georgia Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared internationally at the Kyushu International Festival, and with the Kyushu Symphony Orchestra, Kyushu Philharmonic Orchestra, Chikushi Jogakuen Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Fukuoka University Orchestra. U.S. guest conducting includes the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Signature Symphony, Symphonicity, and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra.

With the Georgia Symphony Orchestra, Verville has energized audiences while expanding concert offerings. He created a celebrated multi-year American Music Initiative which includes performances by the organization’s orchestra, jazz ensemble, chorus, and youth orchestras. He also designs the Sensory Friendly concerts which have been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Previously Verville served as Associate Conductor and then Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Chamber Orchestra. He was Music Director of the North Valley Chamber Orchestra, Scottsdale Baroque Orchestra, Artistic Director of Arizona Pro Arte, and was conductor of the Pollard Theatre.

With the Boston Chamber Orchestra, Verville began as an instrumentalist with the ensemble before being asked to take up the baton. He conducted music by Vaughan Williams for a CD release and performed as an instrumentalist on several other recording projects. Verville also directed the orchestra on two successful tours in Japan.

In Phoenix, his work with Arizona Pro Arte created original, innovative, and unique collaborative performances. His leadership helped build the organization to include a summer orchestral series, a chamber music program, a dance ensemble, establish a composer in residence, and create a “Call for Scores” competition that at its height received over 920 applicants from forty countries.

Committed to sharing great new music with audiences, Verville routinely commissions and conducts regional, national, and world premieres. He has also worked with the Tucson Symphony’s Young Composers Project, which is praised by Yo-Yo Ma as an “extraordinary program.”

Verville studied conducting at the renowned Pierre Monteux School and was 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.

Verville currently resides in Georgia with his wife and two children.

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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.