photo: Cliff Volpe

Brian McWhorter is Music Director for Orchestra Next. “A minicelebrity for the mayhem of the creative process,” (The New York Times) Brian McWhorter is one of the most sought-after artist-musicians of his generation.  His career has taken him all over the world with genre-bending projects such as Beta Collide, Meridian Arts Ensemble and Pink Baby Monster. He has appeared as principal trumpet and soloist with numerous orchestras and has conducted a variety of ensembles from Third Angle Ensemble to the All-Star Brass, and was the conductor for the opening ceremonies of the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships.  As Notman of the The Eugene Weekly recently wrote: “ambitious music projects are like catnip for Brian McWhorter” – Orchestra Next just happens to be the most ambitious project of his career so far. Brian McWhorter is associate professor of music at the University of Oregon where he teaches applied music, directs the popular Performing Arts Camp for the Summer Academy of Inspired Learning (SAIL), and teaches a course called Meditation for Performers which is designed for all performers, from musicians to dancers – actors to athletes.  He has served on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, the Banff Centre Brass Residency, Chosen Vale Trumpet Seminar, Princeton University, Louisiana State University and is a guest instructor for Stanford University’s Amsterdam Trans-Idiomatic Arts Practicum.  His work as a teacher and artist was recently featured in a documentary about the creative process called I Live for Art [bluedot productions].

Meet the principals

  • Molly Barth

  • Flute

Grammy-Award winning flutist Molly Alicia Barth is the Associate Professor of Flute at the University of Oregon. A contemporary music specialist, Molly was a founding member of the new music sextet eighth blackbird, and is a co-founder of Duo Damiana and of the Beta Collide New Music Project. Visit

  • Melissa Peña

  • Oboe

Melissa Peña is the new Professor of Oboe at the University of Oregon. From 2002-2011, she held the position of Associate Principal Oboe/English Horn with the New Mexico Symphony in Albuquerque. Making a left turn, Melissa and her husband, trombonist Carson Keeble, moved to Eugene in the Fall of 2012 hauling 25 pounds of Hatch Green Chiles.

  • Louis DeMartino

  • Clarinet

Originally from Staten Island, NY, Louis DeMartino just recently moved to Portland, Oregon. Louis is currently a freelancer in the Portland area, where he performs with the Northwest New Music Ensemble and the Third Angle Ensemble. Louis is also the Assistant Principal and Eb clarinetist of the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, CO and the bass clarinetist of the Artosphere Music Festival in Fayetteville, AK.

  • Steve Vacchi

  • Bassoon

Professor of bassoon at the University of Oregon since 2000, Steve Vacchi performs regularly with the Oregon Ballet Theatre, Eugene Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Oregon Bach Festival, Oregon Wind Quintet, Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble, Music on the Hill (RI), and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (CA). Originally from coastal Rhode Island, he has performed in 23 countries and released 20 commercial recordings. He recently served as a faculty sabbatical replacement at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and he’s always up to go wine tasting.

  • Sarah Viens

  • Trumpet, Administration

Sarah Viens is Principal Trumpet of the Eugene Symphony, Orchestra Next, and a member of the Sunriver Music Festival. She is Instructor of Trumpet at Willamette University, and currently teaches privately in SE Portland. Sarah has performed with the Oregon Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Astoria Music Festival, Chintimini Music Festival and the Oregon Bach Festival. Sarah Viens holds trumpet performance degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music, B.M., and Temple University, M.M., and is a Doctoral Candidate in Trumpet Performance at the University of Oregon, with a supporting area in Arts Administration.

  • Lydia Van Dreel

  • French Horn

Associate professor of horn at the University of Oregon, Lydia Van Dreel maintains an active and diverse performing as an orchestra and chamber musician, and as a soloist. Van Dreel’s playing was recently featured in the 2012 Chrysler Super Bowl ad “Its Halftime, America”, with Clint Eastwood, who occasionally mistakes chairs for people. Before joining the UO faculty, Lydia held a ten-year tenure as co-principal horn of Florida’s Sarasota Orchestra.

  • Carson Keeble

  • Trombone

Carson Keeble has held membership in the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with the Santa Fe Opera since 2007. As an educator, Carson has held teaching positions at University of Colorado at Denver, Tulane University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Oklahoma State University. Carson currently resides in Eugene with his wife, Melissa Pena, and enjoys kitchen chemistry (brewing fizzy drinks and canning projects), trying to catch up with various television series on AMC, and exploring the countryside.

  • Anne Ridlington

  • Cello

Anne Ridlington, a Corvallis native, has a Bachelor’s of cello performance from Indiana University School of Music. She is currently the principal cellist of the Eugene Symphony and Assistant Principal of the Corvallis-OSU Symphony, in addition to having a private cello studio. She lives in Corvallis with her husband Chris, one-year-old daughter Geneva, and two very large cats.

  • Tyler Abbott

  • Bass

Tyler Abbott teaches double bass, jazz bass, and music theory at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance, is a member of the Eugene Symphony Orchestra, and regularly performs throughout the Northwest and nation as an orchestral bassist, jazz bassist, soloist, and chamber musician. Tyler also has a passion for old houses, carpentry, running, politics, economics, vintage stringed instruments, his family, and American folk music.

  • Hung-Yun Chu

  • Piano/Celeste

Hung-Yun teaches at Lane Community College and accompanies for the University of Oregon Choral Department and the Oregon Bach Festival Conducting Masterclass. She holds a Doctoral degree from the University of Oregon and a Master’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory. In 2002 she was selected to participate in the International Rachmaninoff Piano Competition.

  • Laura Zaerr

  • Harp

Laura Zaerr teaches both pedal harp and folk harp at the University of Oregon, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in music performance and composition. Laura is new mother, and spends all her time playing with her little boy. In her spare time she enjoys white-water kayaking.

  • Pius Cheung

  • Timpani/Percussion

Pius Cheung is an Assistant Professor of Percussion at the University of Oregon. He was born in Hong Kong and moved to Vancouver, Canada with his family at age 12. In his spare time he enjoys running and practicing chinese calligraphy.

  • Lisa McWhorter

  • Concertmaster

Lisa McWhorter is currently Assistant Concertmaster of the Eugene Symphony. Lisa enjoys spending time with her two wonderful children, and, if there’s time, enjoys hiking with her dog and looking forward to practicing yoga and getting some extra sleep some day. She is happy living in Eugene after spending time in various parts of the U.S.

  • Matthew Fuller

  • Principal 2nd Violin

Matthew Fuller is currently Principal Second Violin of the Eugene Symphony Orchestra, and is also a member of the Eugene Opera Orchestra, the Oregon Mozart Players, and the Oregon Bach Festival. In addition to playing the violin, Matthew has logged many hours in virtual space and has become an accomplished zombie hunter who tends to prefer sniper rifles to small arms and close combat. Matthew currently lives in Eugene with his wife, pianist Crystal Zimmerman, and their two cats, Frankie and Mini.

  • Holland Phillips

  • Viola

Violinist and violist Dr. Holland Phillips currently serves as principal violist of the Eugene Symphony. She recently completed the Doctorate of Musical Arts in violin performance and musicology from the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance, with her dissertation, ’Tidens Fylde’: Temporality and Tradition in the Violin Works of Carl Nielsen.” Holland lives in Eugene with her husband, dog, and two cats.