Meet Our Team
Vocal Ensemble Director
Dr. Derrick L. Thompson
Derrick L. Thompson is a native of Madison Heights, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music with an emphasis in vocal music education from Lynchburg College (2008), a Master of Arts degree in music from Morgan State University (2010), a Master of Music in choral conducting from Messiah University (2021), and a Master of Education in Music and Music Education (2018) and a Doctor of Education in the College Teaching of Music and Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University (2019).
He is an active recitalist, chamber musician, and operatic performer. Dr. Thompson made his professional vocal debut in 2007 with the Opera on the James (Lynchburg, Virginia) as the Duke in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. His most recent performances include bass soloist in Faure’s Requiem, Rutter’s Mass of the Children, and Handel's Messiah; Ben in Menotti's The Telephone, Prince Torado in Dunbar's Dream Lovers, bass soloist for Beethoven's Mass in C Major, King Balthazzar and the Page in Amahl and the Night Visitors and more. Dr. Thompson made his Maryland debut in November 2008 as the baritone soloist for the world premiere of the oratorio, The Chartered Course, celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the City of Annapolis.
Dr. Thompson spent his 2010-2011 season as the artistic director and conductor of the Tianjin Concert Hall's Mulan Children's Choir (Tianjin, China) and made his debut as a soloist with the International Festival Chorus (Beijing, China) and Peking Sinfonietta in Handel's Messiah. In April, he returned to the stage in his debut role as Jesus/Bass Soloist in Bach's St. Johannes-Passion. While in China, Dr. Thompson taught private voice lessons, having two students place first and second in the Hong Kong Young Artist Competition.
In May 2014, Dr. Thompson recorded his first CD titled ‘Spirituals,’ including selections by composers such as Harry T. Burleigh, Moses Hogan, and Jacqueline Hairston.
Dr. Thompson’s conducting career continues to grow as he serves as a guest conductor and clinician for numerous district, county, and all-state choral performances. His most recent engagements include being the guest conductor for Louisa All-County Elementary Chorus, Campbell All-County Elementary Chorus, and Richmond All-City Middle School Chorus. He remains an active researcher in the field of choral and vocal music. His research interest involves developing the young singing voice, communication in the choral rehearsal, and teaching methodologies for the choral and applied voice setting. His most recent writings can be found in ChorTeach: Practical Teaching Ideas for Today’s Music Educator.
Dr. Thompson taught in the Virginia school system for eight years, teaching elementary general music and conducting middle and high school choirs. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Lynchburg College and Teachers College, Columbia University, and as the Music Program Director and Director of Choral Activities at Delaware State University. Dr. Thompson currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Wind Ensemble Director
Brian Kaufman currently serves as an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) where he directs the wind ensemble, teaches tuba and conducting, and coordinates the music education program. Collectively, his work has led to performances and presentations on 5 continents at institutions including the United Nations, the Ford Foundation, Oxford University, and Yale University. Kaufman is committed to exploring new and innovative formats for music performance, approaches to music learning, and ways that music can contribute to our society and world. His experience includes work in K-12 public schools, in community music programs, and with professional ensembles. He is passionate about working with young people and is excited to join the International Performing Arts Summit team!
Piano Summit Director
Dr. Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider is a performing pianist, active collaborator, educating artist, and composer. He resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with his wife, Alissa, his two daughters, Clara and Madeleine, and his son, Michael.
Championing the music of Franz Liszt, Michael is quickly becoming known for his portrayal of Franz Liszt in his monodrama “Liszt and the Last Years”, which combines an original script based off of factual events with performances of works completed with a PowerPoint backdrop. This has been featured at the annual conventions of the Music Teachers Association of California and the Texas Music Teachers Association as well as performed at the University of Texas at Austin for numerous donor groups. Other lecture/presentations Michael has given include “Gottschalk: Life and Works”, “The Common Mistakes of Practicing”, and “Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue” – a children’s book by Anna Harwell Celenza read by Michael while providing soundtrack from the piano.
As a collaborator, he has performed recitals with violinists Frank Almond (concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony), Jun Iwasaki (concertmaster of the Oregon Symphony), cellist Boris Andrianov (3rd prize winner of Tchaikovsky Competition) and many others. He is a regular performer with Mélange Musical, a chamber series in the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex. In July 2010, with only a few days notice, he performed with several stars in the trombone world, including full recitals with Jorgen van Rijen (international recording artist), Ian Bousfield (principal trombonist of the Vienna Philharmonic), and Jacques Mauger (trombonist of the Paris Opera and teacher at the Paris Conservatoire). In 2014, Michael finished recording a CD entitled "Multiple Personae: The Family of Clarients" for clarinet and piano by Virko Baley with clarinetist Dr. Timothy Bonenfant on the TNC Classical Label.
Michael is the creator and artistic director of the San Angelo Piano Festival, a classical music festival in West Texas with an emphasis on the piano repertoire. Annual events include guest artist recitals, impromptu musicales, a composition contest, and a young artist program that includes a competition, master classes and a showcase recital. Michael is also a co-creator of the Austin Piano Festival, established in 2013.
Michael holds degrees from the University of North Texas, where he studied with Dr. Pamela Mia Paul, and the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Mr. Paul Schenly. After two years as adjunct Professor of Piano at Youngstown State University in Ohio, he returned to Texas to study with Anton Nel at the University of Texas at Austin where he received his Doctorate of Music in May 2011. In the fall of 2010, Michael guest taught in place of artist-in-residence Dr. Michelle Schumann at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. He has also been adjunct faculty at the University of Texas at Austin and Concordia University-Austin.
Director of Community Outreach
Mr. Tom Hiravi is a ten-year public school band director currently teaching at the 5-8 level in the Danville Area School District in Danville, Pennsylvania. Throughout his career, Hiravi's concert and jazz ensembles have consistently been rated as Superior in state-level music performance assessments and he has regularly had the highest number of students qualify for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 8 and Region 4 honors ensembles. As an educator, Hiravi believes that all children can succeed in learning music through a collaborative and joy-centered approach to attaining high levels of performance. Hiravi is active as a guest conductor and clinician of band pedagogy in Pennsylvania and Virginia with engagements through the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association and the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, including the VBODA District IX Middle School All-County Honors Band and clinics such as "Time is of the Essence: Efficient Fundamentals for Band." His education includes a Masters of Education in Education Leadership from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His primary conducting teacher is Dr. Jack Stamp, Professor Emeritus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and was trained in jazz band pedagogy by Mr. C. Bryan Kidd, Chief Arranger and Composer, US Navy Band (ret.). Hiravi currently sits on the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Adocacy Council and is the Professional Development Co-Chair for PMEA District 8. His efforts in advancing music advocacy and pedagogy in schools are detailed in his featured interview on the Take Note podcast produced by the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association.
Allison Cotner works in non-profit project development and is excited to come alongside her brother, James Kent, in this endeavor to bring the highest caliber of international musical teaching and performance to the beautiful pastoral setting of her home in Pennsylvania.
Allison has worked for the past six years to support Casa Materna Atitlán, a non-profit birthing center serving low-resource, indigenous mothers and babies in rural Guatemala. Prior to this, Allison worked for a decade in management consulting before taking a hiatus to raise her three sons. She sees the International Performing Arts Summit as an important way to foster music and culture in the community by bringing world-class artists and music educators together with students.
When she is not operating the taxi service for her kids, Allison enjoys running with her husband, Russ, growing massive amounts of basil in her garden, and travelling around the world to see her famous brother.
James Justin Kent
James Justin Kent is currently Second & Bass Trombonist with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm, Sweden. James has been Principal Trombone faculty at Eastern Music Festival faculty since 2018 and faculty at the Norddeustsche Orchesterakademie since 2020. He has given masterclasses, performed recitals and concerts, and taught aspiring young trombone students all over the world.
James' first position of note was as Principal Trombone with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Metha. He then spent a season as Principal Trombone with the Sarasota Orchestra before winning a position in a newly founded orchestra in Qatar, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. He spent over four years in Qatar playing Co- Principal Trombone where he worked with several renowned conductors including Lorin Maazel, Dmitri Kitajenko, Gerd Albrecht, Marc Minkowski, and James Gaffigan. While in Qatar, he held a teaching position at the Qatar Music Academy. In 2012, he became the Second Trombonist with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. The following year, he moved to Austria and became Solo-Trombonist with the Bruckner Orchester Linz, a position held for over 6 years before winning his current position in the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
As a sought after clinician, he has given masterclasses at Eastman School of Music, Conservatori de Música de Barcelona (Spain), Artave ESCOLA PROFISSIONAL ARTÍSTIC (Porto, Portugal), Mannes School of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Kärntner Landeskonservatorium (Klagenfurt Austria), and many others. He has also performed with numerous orchestras across the world, including Munich Philharmonic, Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Gürzenich Köln, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Niederbayerische Philharmonie, Kärntner Sinfonieorchester, and Hong Kong Philharmonic.
In his free time, Mr. Kent is an avid swimmer, homemade pizza maker and lumberjack. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his beautiful wife, Andrea, and adores being a papa to their three children Ryder, Bruckner, and Annie Lou.