An Oshkosh WI native, Andrew is currently teaching in an active violin studio in the Fox Valley while also directing Rock Infused Orchestra and actively performing with "Symphony on the Rocks" and "Arlington String Quartet". Andrew taught Orchestra at all levels for Menasha School District. Andrew has played violin for the Oshkosh Symphony, Fond du Lac Chamber Orchestra, the Lawrence University Orchestra (Appleton WI) and the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra. Andrew also played in Barritz, France with jazz violinist Randy Sabien and Brisbain, Australia in the International Workshops Orchestra. Andrew has held positions as Orchestra Stage Manager and Librarian for the Oshkosh Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Oshkosh Symphony and the UW-Oshkosh Symphony. Andrew has studied violin with Klara Fenyo Bahcall (Oshkosh WI), Ferenc Fenyo (Budapest, Hungary), Stephan Tran Ngoc (Paris, France) and Anton Miller (New York). Andrew has appeared on and under stages in musical theater productions throughout Northeast Wisconsin. You may see Andrew judging music festivals for the Wisconsin State Music Assoc. or performing with a number of different groups offering music from classical to jazz and rock 'n roll.
Originally from Alberta Canada, Phil Smyth has distinguished himself in the music scene in Wisconsin as a versatile guitarist, violinist, and educator. His performance credits include; 3 summers as guitarist with the Milwaukee based show, KIDS from Wisconsin, Concertmaster of the UWSP symphony orchestra, 2011 UWSP concerto competition winner, member of award winning Wisconsin based country bands Tuscan Road, Grand Union, and currently Raised Reckless, and guitar player and fiddler in the popular world beat Canadian fiddle band Barrage. With Barrage, Phil has played in venues all over the world and worked with thousands of middle school and high school students along the way during their educational events. Phil currently resides in Appleton with his wife Jenny and daughters Hannah and Elaina. He is the orchestra director for the Neenah School District during the week and Raised Reckless' resident auxiliary instrumentalist on the weekend.
Betsy Jacobson-Holtz earned her Bachelor’s Degree in 1992 from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, in Instrumental Music Education and her Master’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in 2000. She has been teaching private violin, viola, and cello lessons for over 20 years. Mrs. Holtz developed her love for music at a young age, beginning Suzuki violin studies at the tender age of four as a Suzuki violinist and studied with master teachers including Sarah Hirsch, Mark Bjork, and Cindy Marvin. She has performed with Rob Gonzalez and the Moody Blues. She has performed worldwide including Germany, Austria, Canada, Hungary, Mexico, Norway, and Finland. From 1992 to 2009, Mrs. Holtz was thrilled to exercise her passion for music education as an orchestra director for the School District of La Crosse, Wisconsin. She began this tenure teaching elementary and high school orchestra, but spent the final twelve years teaching at the middle school level. In Pennsylvania from 2009-2013, Mrs. Holtz remained active as a musician. She performed with local ensembles such as the East Stroudsburg University Concert Chorale, The Singing Boys of Pennsylvania, and Anthracite Philharmonic. She was a violinist and teacher with Penn Strings and other ensembles as well as an adjudicator for music festivals. Although new to the Fox Valley, Mrs. Holtz is happy to be back in Wisconsin and happier yet to be working with middle school orchestras again. She can be found at Shattuck and Horace Mann Middle Schools, riding her bike, or going out for ice cream with her family.
Cellist Michael Dewhirst holds degrees in music education and cello performance from Ithaca College. He has performed internationally, notably with Orquestra do Norte, a Portuguese touring orchestra. Locally, he serves as Principal Cello in both the Civic Symphony of Green Bay and UWGB Festival Orchestra. He also performs with the Manitowoc and Fox Valley Symphonies. He was a co-founder of the Chicago Miniaturist Ensemble and is a founding member of the miniaturist group a very small consortium, based at UWGB, and the cello/soprano duo "I/You", with Soprano Courtney Sherman. A versatile musician, Dewhirst performs on electric cello weekly with the praise band at Celebration Church, seasonally with Vic Ferrari "Symphony on The Rocks" (a symphonic rock band), and as an itinerant jazz bassist with Gypsy Trip. An active proponent of new music, Dewhirst has performed and premiered works in New York, and across the Midwest, including Ball State University, University of Chicago and St. Paul, MN. In addition to maintaining a busy private studio, Dewhirst serves as Adjunct Instructor of Cello, and String Techniques at UWGB and as a clinician and low string specialist with UWGB Summer Music Camps, the Green Bay Youth Symphonies, and most recently, Rock Infused Orchestra.
Holly Rognstad is the program director for the Oshkosh Suzuki Music Program. Miss Holly has been teaching violin for the program for ten years. She is a former "Suzuki kid" who studied the Suzuki repertoire with former Oshkosh Suzuki Music Program director Everett Goodwin. Miss Holly continued her musical development with Yulia Smead of the Lawrence Academy of Music in Appleton. In the 2000s she completed and registered seven units (through Suzuki Volume 7) of violin teacher training at the American Suzuki Institute at UW Stevens Point, studying with such trainers as Nancy Lokken, Ed Kreitman, Edmund Sprunger, and Alice Joy Lewis. She joined the Oshkosh Suzuki Music Program faculty in the fall of 2006, and thus begins her tenth year with the program in 2016-17. Miss Holly has played full time with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra. She is currently a substitute violinist for the Fox Valley Symphony and Oshkosh Symphony orchestras.
Julie Handwerker is our Viola coach in all three RIO orchestras. After living the life of an engineer for several years she returned to her true passion, music and she's jumped in both feet first by performing in several local symphonies and maintaining a full teaching studio. This is Julie's 4th year with RIO and it is one of the highlights of her summer. Her goal is to help the students have a lot of fun while reaching levels of viola magic they never knew they were capable of!
Kristine Hutchinson, general and instrumental music teacher for Lakeview Elementary and general music teacher for grades 1, 2 and 3 at Coolidge, is beginning her 13th year of teaching music. A 2004 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a Bachelor's Degree in instrumental and general music education and 2009 graduate of Concordia University with a Master's Degree in Educational Administration with a principal's license, Miss Hutchinson has a passion for teaching and learning.
Dr. Steven Schani "the party" received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College - Conservatory of Music and his Doctorat of Musical Arts Degree from University of Kansas City Conservatory of Music. His major instruments are Viola and Violin.
Schani is the life of the party both on and off stage. His electrifying personality lights up the room. His off the wall techniques and practices prove to keep things interesting and keep some of us guessing and others asking "why".
Schani-man can be seen performing with the Green Bay Civic Symphony, LaCross, Fox Valley, Manitowoc and Waupaca Symphonies. In addition to this he performs with Vic Ferrari and Symphony on the Rocks as well as solo engagements across the Mid-West and sometimes in outer galaxies!
Come and learn how to balance your instrument on your head!
Amy Johnson graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Therapy. Amy has worked in long-term care facilities since 2003 upon completing my internship. Haveing played piano since third grade, Amy enjoys using this talent in several different ways. She can be seen behind the keys at two different churches, playing for weddings and funerals, accompany students for Solo/Ensemble, engage the Elders she work for, and of course, rockin' it with RIO!