William Pemberton, Chair
William Pemberton co-founded the River Raisin Ragtime Revue in 2002 and has served as the ensemble’s executive director since that time. He also serves as the orchestra’s tuba player, and since the retirement of R4’s musical director emeritus, William Hayes, has led the musical direction of R4. Mr. Pemberton is a scholar and collector of ragtime music and artifacts and maintains an extensive collection of vintage orchestrations, piano sheet music and original source materials. Mr. Pemberton has overseen the recreation of music for The Henry Ford Museum’s Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition 100th anniversary celebration and developed programming for schools, community audiences and prestigious cultural venues. Mr. Pemberton has served as President of the Tecumseh Area Historical Society (TAHS), where he oversaw that organization’s growth in membership, endowment and community arts and humanities programming. He was responsible for the development of numerous exhibitions and outreach programs that greatly enhanced TAHS’s visibility and reputation among the community. In 2001, he served as project director for the traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition, Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future. Under Mr. Pemberton’s leadership, TAHS was awarded an Institutional Achievement Award from the Michigan Museums Association.
William Hayes, Vice chair
William R. Hayes has a history as a public school music educator in general music, band, and strings. A prolific composer, Mr. Hayes has always arranged available scores to fit the ensembles he has led. He has taught for the Department of Defense Dependent Schools on the Kindley Air Force Base in Bermuda; public schools in Nebraska and Michigan, a Pennsylvania community college, a private church school boarding academy, and university music education courses. He has taught music and jazz appreciation at the university level; presented a series of lectures on music history from the Renaissance through the Classical Era to high school humanities classes.
Mr. Hayes conducted the Cadillac Symphony Orchestra for seventeen years, creating original scores and adapting others to fit the ensemble. He has conducted two high school musicals and two adult music theater productions.
His composition, “Exodus, Suite Exodus” was premiered by the Chicago Chamber Orchestra and was repeated at Southern Illinois University where he earned his B. M. E. with Applied Tuba and Double Bass. He scored a medley of Gershwin tunes for the Metropolitan Opera Soprano, Anita Johnson, to sing with the Reno Philharmonic.
Mr. Hayes spent the last ten years of a 37-year career music educator in Ypsilanti teaching strings classes in elementary, middle, and high school. While doing so, he co-founded the Ypsilanti Youth Orchestra (YYO), now in its sixteenth season, for students in middle and high school. The orchestra has seen a dozen of its veterans enroll as music majors in several colleges and universities. The YYO exists to offer a full orchestra experience to children who otherwise have no access to a full orchestra in which they can perform arrangements of the great composers. Starting with seventeen students in 1999, the YYO seated 85 students this fall, with a handful of post high school alumni and even a few senior citizens as mentors. This program is free to all students and offers six levels of pre-orchestra string students and two levels of pre-orchestra wind and percussion students. Mr. Hayes keeps the library and the inventory of instruments in his home and fits the students from 1/16th to full size violins, violas, and cellos as they come to borrow an instrument at no charge.
In its third year, the Executive Director of the River Raisin Ragtime Revue (R4) invited Mr. Hayes to conduct that ensemble. During the five years that he did, he created new scores from early publications that often had missing parts, no score, or piano score with no parts, creating a library of eighty titles. To insure he was worthy of the honor of leading these professional musicians in the ragtime genre, Hayes composed his “Grampa’s Rag” which is on the second R4 CD. Two other original scores followed. The last one, “Elephant Rag” appears on the fourth R4 CD. He currently is music director emeritus of R4 and plans to continue leading the YYO for at least another five years.
Michael Grant, Secretary
Michael Grant brings to R4 over 28 years of experience in music performance/management, sales, marketing, supervision and community service. Mr. Grant was executive director of the Michigan Chamber Brass (MCB) for 10 years where he managed all aspects of operations, marketing, advertising, grant writing, board and community development and fund raising. He was also responsible for developing and coordinating the MCB’s youth outreach concerts and programs. Mr. Grant’s community and volunteer affiliations include the Ypsilanti Youth Symphony, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Department, the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce, the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority, the Washtenaw United Way, Huron Services for Youth and Chapelle Elementary School. Mr. Grant holds a Bachelor of Music degree from West Virginia University and a Master of Music degree from Bowling Green State University (Ohio).
Dan Velikan, Treasurer
George Thompson, member of IBEW Local 252, is an electrician with an undergraduate degree in music from Youngstown State University and a graduate degree in music from Kent State University. Mr. Thompson has served as treasurer on the board of the Michigan Chamber Brass before joining the board of R4. Mr. Thompson has performed as trombonist with R4 since the ensemble’s inception.
Andre Dowell currently serves as Chief Programming Officer for the Sphinx Organization, the leading national arts organization that transforms lives through the power of diversity in the arts. In his role, he draws from a diverse background as a performer, educator, and administrator. Originally from Trenton, TN, Andre received both his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Percussion Performance from the University of Michigan.
As Chief Programming Officer, Andre handles operational oversight of the programming department and oversees over 30 orchestral partnership which results in dozens of performances every year around the country that otherwise would never occur. He also oversees and manages the Sphinx Virtuosi, one of the nation’s most dynamic classical touring chamber ensembles, and the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, the unique all Black and Latino orchestra comprised of top professional from around the country.
As an avid musician, he has appeared on several recordings which includes performing as soloist on both the premiere and recording of Michael Daugherty’s Timpani Concerto – Raise the Roof for Timpani and Symphony Band with the University of Michigan Symphony Band and was one of the featured performers in “Michigan on Broadway: A Tribute to Arthur Miller”. In addition to being a member of River Raisin Ragtime Revue, he is also co-founder and member of Identity Cubed, a dynamic percussion group whose focus is to expose new and exciting works that transcend the standard percussion ensemble. Andre’s teaching background as included drumline instructor for Chelsea High School, Novi High School, Redline Percussion, and other schools as well as guest clinician and speaker at Interlochen Arts Academy, University of TN @ Martin, Lindenwood University, University of Toledo, and University of Denver to name a few. Andre also serves on the board of Directors for River Raisin Ragtime Revue and Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra.
John Remmers is an educator who taught mathematics and computer science at Eastern Michigan University for thirty-six years prior to his retirement in 2004. Since then, he has devoted himself intensively to another of his lifelong interests, piano performance, specializing in classic ragtime. He appears regularly at the annual Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, the Ragtime Street Fair in Greenfield Village, and the Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival in California. In addition, he has performed at several other ragtime festivals, including the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, California, and the Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival in Columbia, Missouri. He been a semifinalist at the Old Time Piano Playing Contest in Peoria, Illinois, and has recorded a CD, “Hand Played Rags”.
Stephanee Strasburg is Director of Foundation and Government Partnerships for the Sphinx Organization where she is responsible for all foundation and government partnerships and grants.
Ms. Strasburg is passionate about issues of social justice and their connection to arts and education. Her previous work in non-profit development included grant writing, capacity-building, and grants management for Migrant Health Promotion, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing health education and advocacy for migrant farmworkers. Ms. Strasburg graduated Summa Cum Laude from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Psychology.
Juliana Patselas, Student Representative
Juliana Patselas studies at Washtenaw Community College through the Washtenaw Technical Middle College high school program. She will graduate in May 2016 with an Associate’s in General Studies in Math and Science and a Certificate in Web Design and Development. She studies classical piano with Professor Christopher Harding at the University of Michigan, and placed third in the MMTA 2015 Concerto Competition in Grand Rapids last spring. Aside from her studies, Juliana is passionate about improving youth access to the arts in her community. She is the founder and director of Middle College Music Club, the first student orchestra at her school, an Arts Administration intern for the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, and an intern/harpsichordist for the local student baroque orchestra, The Brandenburg Project. She enjoys helping R4 with social media campaigns, grant applications, and ticket sales.