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Our Conductors

Jeff Edmons, Music Director

Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Wind Orchestra

Jeff Edmons is now in his 22nd year with SDYS. Under his direction, the Youth Symphony has experienced tremendous growth, both in enrollment and in its level of musical achievement. Performing the most difficult works in the classical repertoire, SDYS achieves the highest standard attainable by a youth orchestra. SDYS’ exemplary standards of skill and musicianship have afforded it the opportunity to participate in the most prestigious international festivals and perform with eminent guest artists and musicians from around the world. Under Mr. Edmons’ direction, the Youth Symphony boasts a strong international presence and sets a benchmark for excellence in the United States.

San Diego Magazine named Jeff Edmons as one of “50 People to Watch in 1997.” Mr. Edmons has been featured in articles and journals honoring his work and has been the subject of documentaries on CNN, Fox Television, National Public Radio, and more. Mr. Edmons has led youth, collegiate, and professional orchestras in critically acclaimed performances throughout the United States as well as in Mexico, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Switzerland. He is frequently invited to judge and guest conduct local and regional orchestras and bands. He has received numerous local and national invitations and awards for his achievements in music education.

He studied violin performance with Michael Davis, former Concertmaster of the Scottish National Orchestra, string pedagogy with renowned pedagogue Dr. Robert Gillespie, and wind, brass, and percussion pedagogy and wind ensemble conducting with Craig Kirchoff, Principal Guest Conductor of the Tokyo Wind Orchestra and past President and Chair of the National College Band Director’s Association. Mr. Edmons has dedicated himself to promoting youth music and youth education.

Juan Cristóbal Palacios, Conductor

Sinfonia, Concert Orchestra, Wind Symphony

Juan Cristóbal Palacios is a native of Caracas, Venezuela. He received his bachelor’s degree in music theory, master’s degree in composition from Boston University, and master’s degree in orchestra conducting from Yale University. In Venezuela he founded, and became the first President and Music Director of the Fundación Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de Chacao, part of the “El Sistema” national music program. He was a music professor of music history and theory at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and became the conductor of their Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Palacios has guest-conducted youth and professional orchestras in Venezuela, South America, and the U.S. As President of the Fundación Cultural Chacao he was in charge of designing the entire cultural agenda for Chacao County. He was able to produce a whole range of art manifestations from educational to recreational, from traditional art exhibits or ballet recitals, to urban street art and contemporary dance. In the year 2000 Mr. Palacios was the recipient of the “José María y Bote” Orden en su Primera Clase, the highest cultural award in Chacao County, for his ability to impart knowledge, inspire enthusiasm, and intellectual curiosity among young people. Since 2006, he has been Principal of JCP Cultural Advisory, a group of professionals that help organizations create, improve, develop, and implement cultural programs.

Jessica Swift, Conductor

Concert Winds

Originally from Colorado, Jessica Swift holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Master of Music degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a dual concentration in conducting and French horn performance. While at UCLA, Ms. Swift served as a Teaching Assistant and Graduate Conductor with the UCLA Bands.

Ms. Swift is grateful for the opportunity to interact with musicians of all ages and ability levels and enjoys a variety of professional engagements as an educator, conductor, performer, clinician, and composer. Highlights include performances at Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, national and regional educational conferences. Recently, Ms. Swift was selected as one of six national conducting audition finalists with the United States Air Force Bands.

Currently, Ms. Swift is the Director of Music and the Department Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts program at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, California. Previously, Ms. Swift has served as Director and Conductor for the Santa Monica College Emeritus Concert Band and has held tenure with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, where she provided instrumental instruction at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Sharing the gift of music with students of diverse backgrounds remains the central passion of her career.

Ulli Reiner, Conductor

Symphonic Strings

A Grammy Education 2016 semifinalist and 2017 finalist, Ulli Reiner has conducted Symphonic Strings since 2011. She is an adjunct faculty member of Palomar College, concertmaster of the Palomar Symphony Orchestra and Poway Symphony Orchestra, and founding Artistic Director, conductor, and concertmaster of the Poway Symphonette. She has been an orchestra director for the Poway Unified School District since 1983. Additionally, Ms. Reiner cofounded the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of San Diego and is the Artistic Director of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra’s Suzuki/Fiddling School. She is a past conductor and co-founder of the San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra’s Intermediate String Orchestra and Chamber String ensembles. She has been invited to guest conduct at the Mark O’Connor Summer American Music Camp in August of 2016 and 2017 in New York City. Ms. Reiner also guest conducted the California Music Educators Association Honor Orchestra in Spring 2017 at the University of San Diego.

An alumna of SDYS and graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music, Ms. Reiner received a Bachelor of Music Education degree with emphasis in violin and viola performance. Ms. Reiner furthered her graduate studies at San Diego State University as first violinist of the Graduate String Quartet in residence, the University of Southern California, and the University of San Diego in performance, education and Suzuki violin studies. She has toured extensively as a performer and conductor with numerous orchestras, including having participated in the SDYS 70th anniversary tour to China in 2015.

Anthony Do-Hoon Kim, Conductor

Overture Strings, Debut Strings Classes

Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Anthony Do-Hoon Kim is a versatile musician who has performed throughout North America as a pianist, violinist, and conductor. He served as Music Director of the Michigan Pops Orchestra and was Founder and Artistic Director of the Dead Composers Society at UC Santa Barbara. He also served on the conducting staff with the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, University of Michigan Orchestras, UCSB Symphony Orchestra, South Coast Reading Orchestra, San Diego All-City Honor Orchestra, and Santa Barbara Youth Symphony. He has pursued conducting studies at the Pierre Monteux School and the Conductors Institute at Bard College Conservatory of Music. Additionally, he has performed in master classes for artists including Leon Fleisher, Gustav Meier, and the Juilliard String Quartet. As a featured performer, Mr. Kim has given live radio performances and led numerous world premieres of works by living composers. He is a recipient of multiple career grants from the Léni Fé Bland Foundation and has won first prize awards in piano from the Music Teachers National Association and Saddleback Symphony Young Artist competitions. Mr. Kim was awarded a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Michigan, where he studied under Kenneth Kiesler. He also holds both a Bachelor and Master of Music in Piano Performance from UC Santa Barbara, where he was a student of Charles Asche, and is an alumnus of SDYS.

Chris Lea, Conductor

Overture Winds

Born into a musical family, Chris Lea began his musical training in third grade and has studied piano, saxophones, flute, voice, percussion, jazz, classical, composing/arranging, and education. He completed his teaching credential, Bachelor of Music, and Master of Music in flute performance, all from SDSU. Since 2000 he has taught instrumental music for the San Diego Unified School District, and for the last six years he has taught band, orchestra, and jazz at Clark Middle School in City Heights. Chris and his two siblings, Thomas and Elizabeth, are all alumni of SDYS.

Through the years, Chris has performed hundreds of events with a number of local San Diego bands. He has also performed with many national acts and several musical legends, including actor/Columbia Records recording artist Terrence Howard, American soul diva Nikka Costa, British soul artist James Morrison, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, George Clinton, Diana Ross, and Tom Jones. His television appearances include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The David Letterman Show, The View, The Today Show, and Ellen. Although he has performed extensively in popular music circles, Chris remains passionate and dedicated to the artistry of flute performance and educating young musicians in the San Diego community.

San Diego Youth Symphony