Symphony Conductor and Music Director - Helen Martell

Helen Martell, Symphony Conductor and Music Director, joined the Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia in 2001 and became the Music Director and Symphony Orchestra Conductor in 2007.  After graduating from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in Saxophone Performance and Music Education, she performed in a professional saxophone quartet while establishing herself as a middle school and high school string orchestra director.  As a saxophonist, she has performed with the Virginia Symphony and the Virginia Wind Symphony.  As a dedicated lifelong learner, she graduated from Old Dominion University in 2018 with a master’s degree in music education with an emphasis in conducting.  Over the years, Mrs. Martell has been honored to guest conduct the Virginia Symphony on many occasions. She has conducted the Virginia Symphony Brass (2017), the annual CommUNITY event, Young Peoples Concerts (2019-2020) and the first Peanut Butter and Jam Series Concert at Sandler Center in 2019. She also enjoyed conducting her teaching colleagues in Symphonicity, Virginia Beach’s Community Orchestra, for the Lollipop Concert in January 2017.The Virginia Chapter of the American String Teachers Association named her its 2010 Orchestra Director of the Year.  Named as a Fellow in the Juilliard Conducting Workshop in 2013, she studied directly with JoAnn Falletta, Eugene Corporon and Virginia Allen. Mrs. Martell’s conducting teachers include Donald Schleicher (Michigan), Lawrence Christianson (West Virginia), Harold Farberman (Bard), Paul Kim (Old Dominion) and JoAnn Falletta (Virginia Symphony).  As a passionate and dedicated educator, she has the privilege of teaching string orchestra at The Academy of International Studies and Young Scholars at Rosemont for the Norfolk Public Schools.


Concert Orchestra Conductor – Steven Brindle

Steven studied at Christopher Newport University, earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education with Latin honors.  During his graduate studies, he served as assistant conductor to the University Orchestra and OperaCNU. Since then, he has attended conducting workshops at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University, studying with famed conductors Mark Gibson, Gustav Meier, and Markand Thakar.   He has conducted Capitol Opera Richmond in performances including Gilbert & Sullivan’s classic H.M.S. Pinafore, Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor, The Stoned Guest, by P.D.Q. Bach, and Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land.

As a proponent of new music, Steven regularly commissions works and collaborates with composers.   In 2010 Steven conducted the world premier of David and Glass, an original opera in three acts by contemporary composer Chris Lamb.  Since then, he has conducted and performed in the premier of over 10 new works.Steven currently serves as the Music Director for the Hampton Roads Philharmonic and as the Orchestra Director for Soundscapes, an El Sistema-inspired program in Newport News that teaches transformational life-skills to socio-economically disadvantaged youth through music performance.

Steven lives in Norfolk.  He is a member of the Collegiate Music Educator’s National Conference, Omicron Delta Kappa, Pi Kappa Lambda, Alpha Chi, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

String Orchestra and Junior String Orchestra Conductor - Christina Morton

Mrs. Morton is a prominent Suzuki violin teacher in Hampton Roads and has performed in the Virginia Symphony violin section for the past thirty years (recently retired). She holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science in Education from Old Dominion University.

Mrs. Morton has taught for Norfolk Public Schools (directing string orchestra and the harp program), conducted local All-City programs, and served at Suzuki workshops as a clinician. She is currently president of the Suzuki Teachers’ Association of Hampton Roads (STAHR) and a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, teaching violin and cello from her home studio as well as on the faculty of the Academy of Music Suzuki Program. She is also the coordinator for the Park View Elementary School Violin Program,  in Portsmouth, an outreach of the Academy of Music.

She joined the Bay Youth organization in 1994 as conductor of the String Orchestra and has since then formulated the Junior String Orchestra program to compliment the offerings for young string players.

String Orchestra and Junior String Orchestra Assistant Conductor- Brad Shedd

Brad Shedd is pastor of Generations Christian Fellowship, a new church plant in Chesapeake, after serving 16 years as an Associate Pastor at Harvest Assembly.  In addition, he has a large studio of private students, teaching violin, viola, cello, and piano.

He has a huge heart for young musicians, beginning with his own experience playing in the Springfield (MO) Youth Symphony, serving as concertmaster and a concerto competition winner. He received his Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance and Music Education at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati, graduating summa cum laude. While there, he traveled with CCM’s Symphony Orchestra to London and Paris.

He has also completed his Master of Divinity from Regent University’s School of Divinity, again graduating with highest honors. Prior to pastoring, Mr. Shedd taught strings for six years in the public schools—two years in Cincinnati, and four years in Chesapeake, including two years as director of the Great Bridge High School Orchestra program.

Mr. Shedd has many private students participating in the Bay Youth orchestras, including six of his eight children.

Concert Band Conductor – Michael Oare

Michael Oare (b. 1960) earned undergraduate degrees in Music Composition and Music Education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. A veteran music educator, Mr. Oare remains active as a composer, arranger, performer, conductor and adjudicator. As a published composer, he has written numerous arrangements and compositions, with a special interest in music for the young band. One of his works, To Dream in Brushstrokes, is included in the acclaimed Teaching Music Through Performance series by GIA publications. His compositions can be found in the catalogues of several major publishing companies, with all his most recent works being published by Hal Leonard.

Since 1991, he has served as the Director of Bands at Great Bridge Middle School in Chesapeake, Virginia. His Great Bridge Middle School Bands have consistently received superior ratings in the annual Virginia Concert Band Performance Assessment and have performed for the Virginia Music Educators Association Conference on three occasions. He maintains State and National professional memberships, is a member of ASCAP and the international bandmasters fraternity Phi Beta Mu. He is a recipient of the National Band Association’s Citation of Excellence, is a multiple year honoree in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and is a member of The Virginia Wind Symphony.

Mr. Oare resides in Chesapeake, Virginia and, in his spare time, enjoys off-shore fishing along the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina.

Wind Symphony Conductor – Dennis Zeisler

Dennis J. Zeisler has been on the faculty of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia for almost four decades, serving as Director of Bands, Professor of Clarinet and Saxophone, and Chairman of the Music Department. Under his direction, the Old Dominion University Wind Ensemble has developed into a premiere-performing ensemble. They have recorded for TRN Music Publishers and Frank Erickson Publications and have been featured in concerts at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. While serving as former Chair for fifteen years, he led the steady growth of the Old Dominion University Music Department at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Professor Zeisler has a B.M., B.M.E., and M.M. from the University of Michigan, where he was solo clarinetist of the Symphony Band, under the direction of Dr. William D. Revelli. He was solo clarinetist of the Detroit Concert Band, under the direction of Dr. Leonard Smith, and clarinet soloist with the United States Military Academy Band at West Point. Mr. Zeisler had his New York debut in Carnegie Recital Hall in May 1974 and has performed at three International Clarinet Society Conferences. For 31 years, he was on the faculty of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan where he was principal clarinet of the faculty orchestra, conductor of faculty and staff ensembles, and on the international conducting staff. In 1998, Professor Zeisler was awarded membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. In 1999, he received the Orpheus Award from Phi Mu Alpha for, “significant and lasting contributions to the cause of Music in America,” and the Virginia Music Educator of the Year Award from the Virginia Music Educators Association. In 2004 he received the National Band Association Mentor Award, and in 2009 was awarded a University Professorship at Old Dominion University for excellence in teaching. He is founder and conductor of the Virginia Wind Symphony, a professional wind group comprised of primarily music educators from throughout the area of southeastern Virginia. The Virginia Wind Symphony has recorded six commercial compact discs and been featured in concert at two American Bandmasters Association Conventions (2004, 2011) and three Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinics (2004, 2012, 2017). Zeisler is Past-President of the Southern Division of CBDNA, former Virginia State Chair of the National Band Association and the International Clarinet Society. He is Past-President of NASM Region VII and is currently chair of the NBA Merrill-Jones Composition Contest, and on the Board of Directors of the John Phillip Sousa Foundation and the Midwest Clinic. Zeisler is the 77th President of the American Bandmasters Association. He and his wife Carol live in Norfolk, Virginia and have four grown children, Nathaniel, Jennifer, Sarah and Jeffrey. Prof. Zeisler retired from Old Dominion University after teaching for 42 years, 39 at ODU. He has the designation of Professor of Music Emeritus and University Professor Emeritus.