Yorgos (Georgios) Kouritas, Instrumental Studies and Coordinator of the Applied Music Program
“Yorgos Kouritas…led a well-shaped and sprightly performance of the Ravel "Mother Goose" Suite.” - Washington Post
“Next on tap was the most somber piece of the evening, Samuel Barber’s well-known “Adagio for Strings.” Performed, of course, by the string section (contrasting with the previous piece which didn’t use them), it was ably and sensitively conducted by Yorgos Kouritas who brought out the essential tragedy of this piece without waxing maudlin as is sometimes the case in other performances. In many respects, this was the evening’s toughest assignment. The “Adagio” is a wonderfully moving piece that’s been used at funerals and in films to the point where it risks becoming a cliché. But under Mr. Kouritas’ baton, it became a somber elegy for Everyman, with every delicate nuance performed by the orchestra with sensitivity and, paradoxically, great passion when required, particularly in the soaring high notes that occur just prior to the “Adagio’s” fade-away conclusion.” - Washington Times
Prize winner for the prestigious American Prize in Conducting in 2012, Yorgos Kouritas is quickly gaining recognition as a dynamic and energetic conductor. In December 2012, Mr. Kouritas was a participant in the Virginia Symphony Conducting Workshop. Chosen among dozens of applicants, he worked with internationally known conductors JoAnn Falletta and Jorge Mester. At the end of the workshop, he was selected by the faculty as the Outstanding Participant in the Workshop. That selection made him eligible to be a finalist for the 2013 Thelma A. Robinson Scholarship/Award in Conducting.
Mr. Kouritas has been selected among hundreds of applicants to be a finalist in major international conducting competitions such as the Dorati in Budapest, Hungary (2015 and 2018), and also the European Union Conducting in Bulgaria (2020). In the latter competition, he was chosen to participate from a pool of over 300 applicants and was able to advance till the semifinal round.
Dr. Kouritas serves as the conductor of the Saddleback College Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. He also teaches violin, viola, and chamber music among his other duties. In May 2014 he finished a very successful tenure (three years) serving as the Assistant Conductor of the Boise Philharmonic and as the Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. In March 2012, he made his debut with the Boise Philharmonic and it was enthusiastically received. While he was the Assistant Conductor of the Symphony Orchestras at Eastman School of Music, he also held the position of Music Director and Conductor of the New Horizons Orchestra and Associate Conductor with the Brighton Symphony. He previously had the position of Cincinnati Symphony Conducting Assistant during the year 2006-07. During this time, he assisted Paavo Jarvi and all the guest conductors of the symphony. He also worked with James Conlon for the duration of the May festival of the Cincinnati Symphony. At the same time, he worked with Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra conducting them in rehearsals and concerts. Before joining CSO, he held the position of Assistant and Cover Conductor for the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, which included a production of Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte.
In the summer of 2010, he was chosen by Lorin Maazel to work with him as a conducting fellow for five weeks at the Castleton festival and he received great reviews by the Washington Times and the Washington Post. He has been selected twice by Kurt Masur as an active participant for the annual master class with the Manhattan School of Music Symphony (April 2009 and November 2010) and was chosen by the Maestro to conduct at the final concert. In May and June 2009, he did an internship with the New York Philharmonic’s Education Department and during his time there he also worked for the Development Department.
Mr. Kouritas has conducted various orchestras in different contexts including Baltimore Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Virginia Symphony, Manhattan School of Music Symphony, Castleton Festival Orchestra, Lucca Festival Orchestra, Ithaca College Symphony, Fingerlakes Symphony, Ossia Ensemble, Rochester Composer’s Sinfonietta, Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra, and others. In Europe, he has had many guest conducting opportunities, including the City of Thessaloniki Symphony Orchestra in Greece, the Pleven and Plovdiv Philharmonics as well as the Pazardzhik Symphony Ochestra in Bulgaria, the Bacau Philharmonic in Romania, and the MAV Symphony Orchestra in Hungary. He has also served as a Cover Conductor for the Pacific Symphony.
Born in Greece, he had violin lessons from an early age, and went to study in Birmingham Conservatoire (England) with Rimma Sushanskaya - an internationally known violin soloist and one of legendary David Oistrakh's students. He received his Master's in Violin Performance with Sherry Kloss - winner of international violin competitions and Jascha Heifetz's Assistant from 1980 till his death. He has also studied the violin with Piotr Milewski, Lynn Blakeslee, and James Buswell. At the age of 13, he became the youngest member of the Edinburgh International Youth Orchestra. Has performed many violin recitals and has also served as concertmaster and member of many orchestras in the US and Europe.
He received his Master’s in conducting at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he studied with Mark Gibson. He then went to Eastman School of Music for his Doctorate in Conducting and studied with Neal Varon. During his time in Cincinnati, he was the Director of the highly-praised production of Stravinsky’s Firebird (1945 version) collaborating with the school ballet.
He has participated in master classes with some of the most well-known conductors and teachers including Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, JoAnn Falletta, Gerard Schwarz, Carl St. Clair, Alexander Mickelthwate, Gustav Meier, Jorge Mester, Markand Thakar, Alexis Hauser, Larry Livingston, Victor Yampolsky, Joseph Flummerfelt, and Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School. Mr. Kouritas most recently taught a violin masterclass at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
He was nominated for Saddleback College Professor of the Year 2019 -2020
László Mező, Cello Instructor
Born in Budapest, Hungary, László Mező gained national recognition as one of the top musicians of his generation when he won First Prize in the "Kertész Ottó Memorial Competition" at the young age of 18. Since then, he has won numerous other competitions including the Fourth Prize in the "Antonio Janigro Junior International Competition" in 1998, Second Prize in the "International Dávid Popper Competition for Young Cellists" in 2000, the Special Prize in the "International Dávid Popper Cello Competition" in 2004, and First Prize in the "Ima Hogg International Competition" in 2008.
Doug Basye, Bass Instructor
Doug Basye joined the Pacific Symphony in 1994 as Assistant Principal. He also plays in the San Diego Symphony. Previously he played in San Diego Opera, Grant Park Symphony in Chicago and the Pittsburgh Symphony on their west coast tour. Basye has also taught in Pacific Symphony's Class Act program as a presenter.
Doug completed his Bachelor of Science degree at Indiana University where he studied bass performance and violin building and repair. The program included building a violin in the second year. He joined the Pacific Symphony in 1994 after completing his Masters degree at Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied with Jeff Turner, Principal Bass of the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Cynthia Bueker Ellis, Flute Instructor
Flutist Cynthia Bueker Ellis is a member of the Pacific Symphony, playing solo piccolo since 1979. Her performance credits also include Los Angeles Music Center Opera, Pasadena Chamber Orchestra and the Cabrillo Music Festival in Santa Cruz, California. She has also served as the principal flutist for touring ballet companies on their Orange County stops including the Royal Ballet of London, American Ballet Theater, Stuttgart Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet. In January of 1995, she was appointed Principal Flutist with the Opera Pacific Orchestra, a position she held until the company's closing in 2009. She has recorded with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra as well as on...
Jessica Pearlman, Oboe Instructor
Jessica Pearlman currently holds the position of principal oboe of Orange County’s Pacific Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Pearlman moved to Southern California after completing her Master of Music degree in 2009 at The Juilliard School as a student of Elaine Douvas, Nathan Hughes and Pedro Diaz, all of the Metropolitan Opera. While in New York, she performed and toured with some of the city's most esteemed ensembles, including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the New York City Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera. She was a member of the Verbier (Switzerland) Festival Orchestra from 2007-2009, participating in two international tours led by Charles Dutoit and Ludovic Morlot and working in the summer under such conductors as Valery Gergiev and Kurt Masur. As a soloist Ms. Pearlman was featured with the San Jose...
David Chang, Clarinet Instructor
David began playing the clarinet in Korea at age 8. At age 13 he moved to the United States and attended Idyllwild Arts where he studied with Yehuda Gilad. He then went to USC to study with Mitchell Lurie and attended the Curtis Institute of Music where he received his B.M. Later, he received his M.M. at Temple University. In addition to playing with Pacific Symphony since 2009, David has played with Pittsburgh Symphony, National Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra, with whom he had the opportunity to tour Asia and Europe. In 2012, David was invited by the Seoul Philharmonic to perform as a principal clarinet under Myung-Whun Chung. His summer residencies have included Vail Bravo Festival, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Edinburgh International Festival, Grafenegg Music Festival, and BBC Proms with the Philadelphia Orchestra. As a chamber musician he toured Japan with principals of Vienna Philharmonic. He also enjoys playing chamber music with his brother and friends.
Aside from playing professionally, David also enjoys teaching and currently gives private music lessons. His students have been accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, USC, and other prestigious music schools. One of his students won the Albert M. Greenfield competition and earned the honor of performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Stephanie Stetson, Horn Instructor
Stephanie Stetson received her Bachelor's Degree in Horn Performance from the University of Southern California. While there she had the privilege of studying with Jim Decker and Vincent DeRosa. She has been a free-lance musician in Los Angeles ever since. Stephanie regularly performs with the Pacific Symphony, LA Opera Orchestra, Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony and the Long Beach Municipal Band. She has performed in numerous Broadway shows at the Schubert, Ahmanson and Pantages Theatres such as: Wicked, Lion King, The Producers, Phantom of the Opera etc… She also has extensive studio recording experience in TV, radio, audio recordings and motion picture soundtracks.
Tim Hall, Trumpet Instructor
Born and raised in Southern California, Tim is a free-lance musician who is both a regular in major local ensembles and a seasoned touring musician.
Equally adept in classical and jazz genres, he can often be heard with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Opera, the Pacific Symphony, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the California Philharmonic, the Long Beach Opera, the Pasadena Symphony, the Long Beach Municipal Band, and the Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters Orchestra.
The past year alone has found Tim on stage or in the pit for the Pacific...
Michael Hoffman, Trombone Instructor
Michael Hoffman is an Associate Professor of Music at Cal State Fullerton and Irvine Valley College. He is an educator for Pacific Symphony’s nationally recognized Class Act Program, clinician and adjudicator for multiple organizations, band director for Pacific Symphony/Freedman Foundation Education Outreach Program and a member of several performing education outreach ensembles. His ensemble activity includes: principal trombone, Pacific Symphony (1997 to present); acting principal trombone, San Diego Symphony (1998-2006); on call, Los Angeles Philharmonic (1997-Present), on call, principal trombone with Los Angeles Music Center Opera and Los...
John Noreyko, Tuba Instructor
When you think of jazz, the tuba doesn’t usually come to mind. However, for the last 30 years, it’s been on John Noreyko’s mind. During this time, John has honed his skills, not only as a jazz artist, but also as a studio musician. Mr. Noreyko has performed and/or recorded with Sigur Ros, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Fiona Apple and Dwight Yoakum, to name a few. For the last 26 years, he has played in the house jazz band at Disneyland. He is also a founding member of the Side Street Strutters Jazz Band, a 7-piece group that enjoys performing concerts and symphony Pops engagements throughout the world. Last year, he was a Jazz adjudicator for the 2012 International Tuba Euphonium Association’s Roger Bobo Awards.
More about John Noreyko
Mindy Ball, Harp Instructor.
Mindy Ball began playing the harp at 12, studying with Marjorie Call-Salzedo and receiving her degree in harp performance from Chapman University with honors. She also trained with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute Orchestra under distinguished American conductor Leonard Bernstein. Currently celebrating her 36
Ball performs regularly for major and international touring ballet companies and has recorded for film and television including PBS specials...
Paul Johnson, Percussion Instructor
Paul Johnson received his musical training at Interlochen Arts Academy and Arizona State University. He studied with Jerry McKenzie of the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Norman Fickett of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Mark Sunkett, Ralph Humphries of the Frank Zappa Band, and the illustrious Jeff Hamilton.
Paul’s early professional career included international tours with The Four Freshmen, The Ink Spots, The Four Lads, The Pied Pipers, Donald O’Connor, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Dinah Shore, and The Lettermen. He has performed with the touring Broadway shows, ”Annie” and “Godspell”. He has backed...
Randy Pile, Guitar Instructor
Randy Pile, trained in the Old World tradition of sophisticated elegance, tempered in the New World exploration of flamboyant virtuosity, and distilled through flawless technique, has been placed within a handful of the world's finest performers.
As a touring artist for the California Arts Council, Randy is one of the most sought after performers of his generation, both at home and abroad.
As recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician he has won acclaim for his "rich tone", "powerful technique", "graceful interpretations" and "sensitive musicianship".