Meet the Staff


p_staff_dtham.jpgDeanna Tham

Music Director and Conductor, Symphony Orchestra
(Staff member since 2016)

Deanna Tham is the newly appointed Music Director of the Louisville Youth Orchestra. She was previously the Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. She has additionally conducted the Boise Philharmonic and Ballet Idaho, and Opera Idaho. Hailing from Saratoga, California, Tham has conducted and guest conducted all over the United States. She most recently worked with renowned conductors Marin Alsop and James Ross at the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival. Tham has served as the cover conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, where she also received a Professional Studies Certificate from the Cleveland Institute of Music in Orchestral Conducting studying with Maestro Carl Topilow. While there, she produced, programmed, and directed a revolutionary cross-sensual concert experience with the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute combining taste and sound. She has had her work with the National Music Festival and Maestro Richard Rosenberg featured on National Public Radio as well as American Public Media working with some of the top professional musicians and teachers from around the world.

Previously, Tham was the Music Director of the American Chamber Orchestra. Her work with the company includes a groundbreaking semi-staged version of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni, staged in English. During her time with the company, she worked with many talented musicians, including those who sing with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Tham has additionally served as the assistant conductor of the Carnegie Mellon All-University Orchestra. While at Carnegie Mellon, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in horn performance studying with Dennis Abelson, Zachary Smith, Bob Lauver, and Steven Kostyniak. Tham received her Master of Music degree in conducting with honors from Northwestern University studying with Dr. Mallory Thompson. There, she additionally worked with Dr. Robert Harris, Victor Yampolsky, and Dr. Robert Hasty, making her equally at home in wind, orchestral, and vocal settings. While at Northwestern, Tham was integral in the production of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble's recent CD, rising, released in December of 2011 on the Summit label under the direction of Dr. Mallory Thompson. 

Tham has been a conducting fellow at the C.W. Post Chamber Music Festival and she has attended workshops at the Atlantic Music Festival, Waterville Valley Music Center, the Medomak Conductor’s Retreat, and the Conductor’s Institute at Bard. She has worked with esteemed artists and conductors such as David Amado, Kenneth Kiesler, Apo Hsu, David Rudge, Lawrence Golan, and Giora Schmidt

When off the podium, Tham is an avid rock climber and can be found exploring the landscape in her spare time.


p_clerner161003.jpgChristopher Lerner

Conductor, Concert Orchestra
(Staff member since 2000)

Chris Lerner received his bachelor of music degree in violin performance from the University of Louisville, where he was proud to have studied under Peter McHugh. He has been a registered Suzuki violin teacher since 2001. Chris has benefited from working with fellow conductors Deanna Tham, Jason Seber, and Robert Franz at the Louisville Youth Orchestra.

Over the past fifteen years, Mr. Lerner has filled many roles for the Louisville Youth Orchestra: Director of the Presto! Strings Program, Director of Sonatina Strings Program, Conductor of the Serenade Orchestra, and the Conductor of Concert Orchestra. Mr. Lerner was also excited to be a part of the fiftieth anniversary of the Louisville Youth Orchestra. Currently, Mr. Lerner is in his thirteenth year as the Director of Strings for the middle and upper school string programs at Louisville Collegiate School. In addition to teaching daily string classes, Mr. Lerner enjoys teaching music theory and composition as independent studies. He also leads the middle and upper school rock bands.  In 2013, Mr. Lerner received Louisville Collegiate School's Katherine McCracken Davis Distinguished Teaching Chair.  In his spare time, Mr. Lerner enjoys teaching a studio of fifteen violin students aged five through seventeen years old.

Mr. Lerner currently lives in Louisville with his wife Erin Fry Lerner, his two sons Bobby(6), Stash(4), and daughter Hazel (14 months).  

p_staff_egambrell.jpgElise Kotheimer Gambrell 

Conductor, Serenade Orchestra
(Staff member since 2007)

Elise Kotheimer Gambrell received her Bachelor of Music degree in violin and her Masters of Arts in Teaching Music from the University of Louisville. She participated as a member of the Louisville Youth Orchestra for five years, where she served as concert mistress of the Repertory Orchestra and assistant concert mistress of the Symphony Orchestra. Mrs. Gambrell won the McDowell Music Teacher’s Competition in 2001, and the McCauley Chamber Music Competition in 1999. She has studied under the guidance of accomplished teachers including Peter McHugh, Patrick Rafferty, Cheri Kelley and Hiroko Driver.

Mrs. Gambrell became a certified Suzuki teacher in 2001 and has taught privately for thirteen years.  In November 2011, Ms. Gambrell served as the conductor for the Jefferson County All-County Concertino Orchestra.

Mrs. Gambrell served as the director of the New Albany High School and Hazelwood Middle School Orchestras for seven years.  Under her direction, the orchestras received gold ratings at the Indiana State School Music Association Organizational Festival every year. Mrs. Gambrell has held many positions with the Louisville Youth Orchestra; she was the Co-Production Manager for two years, the Presto! Strings Instructor for three years, and the Serenade Orchestra Conductor for four years.  Mrs. Gambrell is a member of the Concentus String Quartet and performs regularly in the Louisville and Lexington area.

p_staff_rdixon.jpgRobert Dixon

Instructor, Presto! Strings
(Staff member since 2014)

Robert Dixon earned his bachelors of music education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Mr. Dixon grew up in Louisville and attended the Youth Performing Arts School where he performed in Carnegie Hall as well as at the Midwest Clinic.  In his senior year, Mr. Dixon also was one of the winners of the YPAS Concerto Competition, performing the Dragonetti Double Bass concerto with the YPAS Philharmonia.

While in North Carolina, Mr. Dixon worked extensively on elementary string education with Dr. Rebecca Macleod and Mrs. Marta Richardson.  His student teaching was comprised of teaching classes ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade strings at Peeler Open Elementary in Greensboro North Carolina.

Mr. Dixon was a member of the Louisville Youth Orchestra for nine years.  He currently teaches orchestra at Western Middle, The School for the Arts where the program has grown from nine students to fifty in three years.  An avid supporter of elementary string education, Mr. Dixon is looking forward to working with the LYO Presto! Strings class this year.


Mark Tate

Coach, Percussion Ensemble
(Staff Member since 2004)

Mark L. Tate received a Bachelor of Music degree in percussion performance from the University of Kentucky as a student of David Davenport. He was the first percussionist to receive a performance degree from this university.

Mark received a Master of Music in Performance and Pedagogy from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. His major teacher was Richard O’Donnell, Principal Percussionist of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. While in St. Louis, he also studied with John Kasica and Tom Stubbs of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He performed frequently with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, joining them in 2 east coast tours that included performances in Carnegie Hall. He was also a percussionist with the Might Mississippi Concert Band, Gateway Festival Orchestra, Springfield (IL) Symphony, and staff percussionist at the Westport Playhouse. While in St. Louis he taught drums and percussion at Clayton Academy of Music, Drum Headquarters and was a teaching assistant at Washington University.

Mark began performing as a percussionist with the Louisville Orchestra in 1983. He has also performed as percussionist with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also a percussionist with Louisville Chorus, the Louisville Choral Arts Society and the Derby City Brass Band. Mark also serves as percussionist with Musical Theatre of Louisville and the Broadway Series at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Mark is a frequent free-lancer with various churches and chamber groups in the Louisville area and is also the drummer for the Dixie Jazz Cats and the Memphis Red Hots, a western swing band.

Mark is the percussion instructor at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, IN, and Georgetown College in Georgetown. He serves as percussion coordinator for the marching bands at both New Washington High School in New Washington, IN and du Pont Manual in Louisville. Mark also teaches concert percussion at Eastern High School in Louisville and both marching and concert percussion at Oldham County High School, in Buckner, KY, Henry County High School in New Castle, KY and Atherton High School in Louisville. In addition he coaches percussion ensemble at Crosby Middle School and the “Junkyard Hawks” at Hite Elementary, both in Louisville. He maintains a full service studio in his home, specializing in concert percussion instruction for students in the area band programs. He services, as the percussion coach/percussion ensemble director for the Louisville Youth Orchestra. And is also the founder of the Louisville Institute of Drumming and creator of the percussion group Stick-Click.


Sheri Davino

Coach, Horizons Flutes
(Staff member since 2017)

Sheri Davino received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Flute Performance from the Boston University College of Fine Arts. She has studied with
prominent flutists such as Marianne Gedigian, Nina Barwell, and Alan
Weiss in Boston, as well as Carol Wincenc and Keith Underwood in New
York City.  

Originally from New York, Sheri has traveled the United States and Canada with the Gateway Playhouse and Nebraska Theatre Caravan. In addition, she performed with the Long Island Sound Symphony, Hunter Symphony, Stony Brook Wind Ensemble, Brisher Music, Merrick Center for Performing Arts, CM Performing Arts Center in the World Premiere of “Deirdre, a new musical”, and on Off-Broadway in “O Pioneers!” She also had the privilege of performing the radio-broadcast premiere of "Conversations" by Grammy-nominated Apostolos Paraskevas.

Since relocating to Louisville, Sheri has been actively freelancing with such groups as the Chamber Winds Louisville, Orchestra Enigmatic, Cathedral Players, Louisville Wedding Music, various churches and smaller chamber groups around the city.

For over 25 years Sheri has taught private lessons to all ages and levels.  Currently she teachers at her home studio, at the Louisville Academy of Music, and for various schools in and around the Louisville area.

p_jrecktenwald.jpgJames Recktenwald

Coach, Horizons Brass
(Staff member since 2011)

James Recktenwald, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, graduated from The Youth Performing Arts School and The University of Louisville where he holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in performance.  He studied trumpet with Leon Rapier and Jerome Amend.  Mr. Recktenwald completed a Master of Music Degree and a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in trumpet performance at The University of Texas at Austin, studying with Raymond Crisara. 

James Recktenwald worked as Instructor of Trumpet at Memphis State University and then as a freelance trumpeter and teacher in Philadelphia.  While in Philly, he also studied with several prominent trumpeters including Phil Smith, David Bilger, Frank Kaderabek and Seymour Rosenfeld.

Currently, James holds the Assistant Principal Trumpet position with the Louisville Orchestra and performs in the Louisville Orchestra Brass Quintet.  He is the founder and manager of Kentucky Brass, a versatile brass and percussion ensemble, and Symphonic Arts Entertainment, a professional contracting/booking agency that provides a variety of professional ensembles for the Louisville area.



Melody Welsh-Buchholz

Executive Director
(Staff member since 1985)

Melody Welsh-Buchholz brings a rare combination of talents to the position of Executive Director of the Louisville Youth Orchestra. She is both a professional musician and an accomplished arts administrator. Ms. Welsh-Buchholz holds a Bachelor of Music Education (1977) and a Master of Music (1981 - emphasis in multiple woodwinds). She has had a successful teaching career at St. Francis School and Anchorage School in Louisville and at Clarksville Middle and High School in Clarksville, IN. From 1978 to 1980 Ms. Welsh-Buchholz served as the local KMEA (Kentucky Music Educator's Association) chairperson for the annual Solo/Ensemble and Band/Orchestra Festival. Ms. Welsh-Buchholz currently teaches privately and performs professionally with the Broadway Series and the Louisville Orchestra along with her duties at the Louisville Youth Orchestra. Ms. Welsh-Buchholz has served five terms as a board member for the Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras and is the immediate past Chair of the Youth Orchestra Division and ex-officio member of the League of American Orchestras Board.

Ms. Welsh-Buchholz has been on the staff of the LYO since 1985. From 1985-1987 she served as the Wind/Brass Coach and Librarian. From 1987-1990 she served as the Operations Manager. From 1990 to the present she has held the position of Executive Director. During her tenure as Executive Director the Louisville Youth Orchestra's budget has tripled, patron donations have risen by 200%, the orchestra's membership has doubled and the number of ensembles offered within the organization has grown from three to eleven.

p_staff_emccord1.jpgEmily McCord

Business Manager
(Staff member since 2016)

Mrs. McCord is an experienced teacher and performer. She has led a thriving band program for the last twelve years, and performs regularly with community ensembles including the Brass Band of Louisville and the Louisville Civic Orchestra.

Mrs. McCord earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Western Kentucky University, and a Master’s in Secondary Education from Indiana Wesleyan University. She has studied with Dr. Marshall Scott and Dr. Michael Tunnell. Mrs.McCord enjoys working with trumpet students of all ages and ability levels.

Angela Dixon

Co-Production Manager/Librarian - St. Matthews location
(Staff member since 2016)

Angela Dixon received her bachelor of music education and two levels of Kodaly training through Morhead State University. She has taught general music, band, and choir to students throughout the state from preschool through undergraduates. She sings with a local choir, Voces Novae, and plays clarinet and bass clarinet throughout the community. Currently, she is an arts and humanities teacher at Coral Ridge Elementary in Louisville, Kentucky. 


Amy Noon

Co-Production Manager/Librarian - YPAS location
(Staff member since 2011)

Amy A.E. Noon holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Instrumental Music Education from The University of the Cumberlands and a Master’s in Secondary Education from The University of Southern Indiana. While at Cumberland, she studied flute with David Threlkeld and served as principle flutist for the wind ensemble, and various chamber ensembles. Mrs. Noon was named Cumberland College instrumentalist of the year in 1995. Upon graduation she traveled to Honduras, Central America and taught at El Buen Pastor (The Good Shepherd) Bilingual Episcopal School. While in Central America, she studied Spanish as a second language in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, which led her to teach at Escuela Internacional Sampedrana, the American Bilingual School in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. During her four year stint in Honduras, she began an Orff instrumental program for the 600 student primary school, directed many all school performances utilizing Orff Instruments, formed and directed a primary school choir and mastered Spanish as a second language.

After returning to the United States in 2001, Mrs. Noon has been actively teaching in public schools in Florida and Kentucky, instructing instrumental music including band and full orchestra as well as many smaller ensembles. Currently, Mrs. Noon is the director of orchestras at Conway Middle School in Louisville, KY. She is an active member of both the Jefferson County Teachers Association and Kentucky Music Educators Association. She maintains a private flute studio and teaches Zumba dance classes to keep fit. Mrs. Noon enjoys working with young people and thrives on the success of her students. As one great philosopher believed “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”