At home on the concert stage and in the classroom, pianist J. Bradley Baker enjoys a versatile career as a performing artist, vocal coach, and educator.
Baker’s solo performances have been heard in concert halls throughout the United States and Canada, as well as on the Navona Records label. Recorded performances have been broadcast on public radio stations throughout the United States and United Kingdom. Baker serves as executive director and music director and coach for Music On Site, Inc., an opera company based in Central Kansas. He has also held the role of head coach for Wichita Grand Opera and faculty of WGO’s Opera Academy of the Midwest. Other professional opera companies Baker has served on the staff of include Lawrence Opera Theatre (Kan.), Natchez Opera (Miss.) and Opera Birmingham (Ala.). Artists with whom Baker has worked include Samuel Ramey, Michael Sylvester, Hugo Vera and William Powers. He has been coached in collaborative masterclasses of Margo Garrett and Warren Jones.
Equally at home in instrumental collaboration, Baker has served as the director of chamber music at the Hot Springs Music Festival and is currently the orchestral keyboardist of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra (Ala.). Baker has presented chamber performances at the North American Viola Institute, the International Double Reed Society Conference and numerous universities throughout the United States. Chamber music coaches include Cleveland Quartet founding violinist Peter Salaff; pianists Elizabeth DeMio, Virginia Weckstrom, Yi-Fang Huang and Anita Pontremoli; and violists Jeffrey Irvine, Robert Vernon and Heidi Castleman.
In addition to performing, Dr. Baker is a passionate arts educator. He serves as the instructor of piano at Hesston College, where he leads a vibrant studio of piano majors and non-majors. Dr. Baker also holds the positions of collaborative pianist and vocal coach and director of the Music Preparatory School at Tabor College. Previously, Baker has held teaching appointments at The University of Alabama, The University of Texas at Tyler, Stillman College and Judson College, teaching courses including music theory, class piano and accompanying, as well as serving as departmental collaborative pianist and vocal coach. Baker regularly presents master classes and is in demand as an adjudicator of state and regional competitions. He is the Kansas State Collaborative Music Chair and UPDATE editor for the Kansas Music Teachers Association (KMTA), an active member of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), a full member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and an active member and staff pianist for the National Opera Association (NOA).
Baker has earned degrees from North Dakota State University, Cleveland Institute of Music and The University of Alabama. His primary teachers include Sandra Siler, Robert Groves, Daniel Shapiro and Noel Engebretson, in addition to coachings with Robert Roux and Paul Schenly.
Kay Buskirk teaches at Hesston College, Friends University and Bethel College. In addition to her teaching, she maintains a private viola studio and coaches the Wichita Youth Symphony Orchestras’ viola sections. Buskirk founded and directs the Northeast Area Strings Academy of Wichita, an award winning organization for African American string students now in its 20th year. She also directs Camp Da Capo an adult chamber music camp for wind and string amateurs through Chamber Music at The Barn. A 30-year member of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra’s viola section, she was the first recipient of their Daniel J. Sevart Award for Community Service (2007). Kay holds three degrees from Wichita State University: B.M., B.M.E. and M.M.
Joel Linscheid serves as director of jazz studies and instructor of music at Bethel College (North Newton, Kan.). He is a Bethel College graduate, with a B.A. in Music with K-12 Education licensure. After graduating from Bethel, he completed his M.M. in jazz performance and pedagogy at the University of Colorado-Boulder. While at CU, Joel served as a graduate instructor, faculty lecturer and president of the Coalition for Creative Music, which organized free on-campus concert series of jazz and improvised music. From February 2012 to February 2013 he toured full time with The Glenn Miller Orchestra. Joel teaches saxophone, clarinet and jazz improvisation lessons and directs all jazz groups at Bethel College.
Nick Schroeder is a professional musician and educator currently finishing his D.M.A. in Jazz Studies from the University of Illinois. His most recent position of Split Lead trumpet/jazz trumpet/vocal group with the Glenn Miller Orchestra is one of many achievements as a versatile freelance trumpet player originally from Central Illinois. After earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas, he crafted his style aboard the fun ships of Carnival Cruise Lines until returning to his home state of Illinois to pursue post-graduate study of jazz music. Nick has studied under Tito Carrillo, Ronald Romm, Jay Saunders, Mike Steinel, Thomas Wirtel and Vern Sielert throughout his studies. During his four years in graduate school, Nick led jazz bands and combos for Normal Community West High School and Champaign Centennial High School as well as serving as adjunct faculty for the Fine Arts and Humanities department at Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill. Nick is coordinator of Jazz Studies at Hutchinson Community College in central Kansas. He has performed with The Temptations, indie-rock band Spoon, The Rat Pack, The Guy Lombardo Orchestra, the Champaign/Urbana Symphony, Marvin Hamlisch, Fred Wesley and the Les Elgart Orchestra. Nick is featured on the Brian Krock tune “Yes It’s True” on the University of Illinois Concert Jazz Band’s most recent [double] CD Free Play, released in 2010 and prominently appears on the newest Glenn Miller Orchestra album, In the Mood released in July 2013.
Kristin Shaffer received her B.M. and M.M. in flute performance at Wichita (Kan.) State University, where she was a student of Dr. Frances Shelly. Kristin has performed in master classes with Julius Baker and James Galway. She has been principal flutist with the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra since 1996 and was principal flutist with the Hutchinson Symphony from 1998-2006. Kristin was a soloist with NMKSO in 2008 on Latin American Suite for Flute and Harpsichord by Daniel Luzko, and in 2010 on Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 by J.S. Bach. She most recently performed Poem for Flute and Orchestra by Charles Griffes with the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra in 2011. Kristin lives in Wichita with her husband, Doug, and her two sons.
Cindy Thompson is the oboe instructor at Hesston College and the applied woodwinds instructor at Newman University (Wichita). For six years she was the oboe professor at Washburn University (Topeka), and has also taught oboe at Bethel College (North Newton). She is a graduate of Wichita (Kan.) State University and the University of Akron (Ohio) and has been a member of the Wichita Symphony for more than 30 years. As a member of the Lieurance Woodwind Quintet in 2004-2005, she performed for the Kansas Music Educators Association Convention, the International Double Reed Society Convention and on the quintet’s annual recital with the Vivace Woodwind Quintet from Panama. She has performed with various other groups including the Oklahoma City Symphony, Opera Kansas, Wichita Grand Opera, Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony, Wichita Chamber Chorale, the Robert Page Singers and with Dr. John Leavitt at Carnegie Hall. She is featured soloist on many of Dr. Leavitt’s recordings and has premiered many of his works for choir and oboe or English horn. She was the oboist and orchestral contractor for CDs with Master Arts Chorale and the Mid-Kansas Symphonic Ensemble. In 2009 she premiered a trio by Daniel Racer for English horn, viola and double bass at the Knob Music Festival in Wichita; in 2013 the trio performed at the University of Northern Colorado. Her primary teachers are Peggy Michel, Linda Strommen and James Ryon. She has attended workshops with John Mack, Elaine Douvas, Richard Woodhams and Thomas Stacy. She maintains an active private teaching studio. Former students have been accepted to the oboe studios at Michigan State, UMKC Conservatory, Florida State and Wichita State. She freelances in the Wichita area and is also proprietor of A440 Double Reeds.