About

Conductors


brian @ civicsymphony.org

Brian Runnels has served as Music Director and Conductor of the Houston Civic Symphony since 2006. He first conducted the Houston Civic Symphony in 1979 when he served as Apprentice Conductor with the orchestra under Robert Linder. Since that time, he has conducted orchestras, musical theatre, oratorio, and opera in Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, and Kentucky. After earning a degree in music education at Houston Baptist University he went on to earn a masters degree in church music and choral conducting at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in orchestra conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He has had additional conducting training at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and in the United States with Max Rudolf and Herbert Blomstedt.

He is currently Director of Orchestras at George Bush High School in the Fort Bend Independent School District. Prior to that he was Professor of Music at Houston Baptist University after serving several years as Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. He has held teaching positions at Bemidji State University in Minnesota and Murray State University in Kentucky. In addition to conducting the orchestras, he served both institutions as department chair in music. While serving as Interim Director of Orchestras at UMKC he conducted the premiere performances of Duse and D’Annunzio, an opera by faculty composer Gerald Kemner. He has held conducting positions with the Houston Youth Symphony and the Kansas City Civic Symphony. He remains active in church music, and is part-time minister of music at First Baptist Church in Rosenberg, TX.

In the fall of 2007 he was named Music Director of the acclaimed Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Houston. Since its founding in 1952, G&S of Houston has established a reputation as an internationally recognized amateur G&S opera company. In September 2010, he debuted as conductor with Houston’s Opera in the Heights, conducting critically acclaimed performances of The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach.

In addition to his conducting and teaching activities, he has been a presenter at numerous conferences including the National Association of Schools of Music Annual Meeting, the National Convention for Technology Institute in Music Education, Texas Music Educators Association, Kentucky Music Educators Association, Minnesota Music Educators Association, Music Educators National Conference, Southeastern Music Education Symposium, and the Annual Conference for Academic Chairpersons sponsored by Kansas State University. His work has been published in several journals including the Journal of Music Teacher Education, National Issues in Higher Education, and Southeastern Journal of Music Education.

He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of several organizations including the Kentucky Music Educators Association, Murray Civic Music Association, Minnesota Society of Music Education, Minnesota Alliance for Arts in Education, and the Kansas City Civic Orchestra.

He served as Secretary on the Board of Directors of the Texas Association of Deans of Liberal Arts and Sciences and President of the Kentucky Association of College Music Departments as well as several elected offices in the Minnesota Council of University and College Musicians. For Region 8 of the National Association of Schools of Music he served as Vice-Chair and as Secretary.


michael @ civicsymphony.org

Michael Alan Isadore came to Houston after graduating with Masters Degrees in conducting and clarinet performance from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Conservatory of Music. Since moving to Houston, Isadore has built an important career teaching and conducting while maintaining his recognized performance ability on the clarinet. As a conductor, Isadore was appointed the Associate Conductor of the Houston Civic Symphony starting with the 2007 season, was guest conductor of the Brazosport Symphony Orchestra in 2003, The Civic Symphony of Houston in 2004 and the Houston Sinfonietta on two occasions in 2004 and 2005. Recently, Isadore joined the staff of the Houston Youth Symphony as one of their conductors. Isadore has been director of the Dulles High School Orchestra since 1999. Under his leadership, the Dulles Orchestra was chosen to play at the Midwest Convention in Chicago in December 2004 and was chosen as the Runner up for TMEA Honor Orchestra in 2005.

Isadore has appeared at many conducting workshops, most recently the Rose City International Conducting Workshop and has studied with Kenneth Keisler, Dan Lewis, Harold Farberman, Christopher Zimmerman, David Hoose, Kenneth Woods, Stephen Heyde, Michael Haithcock, and Gary Hill. Prior to moving to Houston, Isadore served as Assistant Director/Conductor of the new music ensemble, Musica Nova at UMKC.

Through his work with Musica Nova and subsequent association with Minnesota composer Libby Larsen, Ms. Larsen agreed to compose a trio for Isadore, which was funded by a consortium of chamber ensembles, flutists and clarinetists. The Flute and Clarinet Duos Commissioning Consortium, has continued their efforts to expand the literature for Flute, Clarinet and Piano with completed projects by composers Derek Bermel and Valerie Coleman. FCDC was founded by Isadore along with Leone Buyse and Michael Webster of Rice University, both members of the acclaimed Webster Trio. Isadore continues to serve on the board. Isadore and his wife Jennifer premiered the Valerie Coleman composition, “Portraits of Langston”, at the National Flute Association’s Convention in Albuquerque, NM in 2007.

As an accomplished clarinetist, Isadore has appeared as a soloist with many of the Houston area orchestras. In February of 2003, Michael was the featured soloist with the Fort Bend Symphony playing Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2 and in 2005 was soloist with Houston Sinfonietta and in 2006 with the Houston Civic Symphony. He has also soloed alongside his father, David Isadore with The Valley Symphony Orchestra in Edinburgh, Texas. He performs regularly as auxiliary/third clarinet with The Symphony of Southeast Texas in Beaumont, and has performed six summers with the Texas Music Festival at the University of Houston. Isadore continues studies on clarinet with Thomas LeGrand, Assistant Principal Clarinet of the Houston Symphony. Isadore received his undergraduate degree in music education from Baylor University, and while attending Masters Studies at UMKC, met his wife Jennifer who is the Principal Flutist with the Symphony of Southeast Texas. They reside in Sugar Land with three cats, a retired greyhound, a bunny and a hedgehog named fluffy.

Board of Directors


Alvin Thomas
President

Houston Civic Symphony Experience:
President, 2007 – Present ; Vice President, 2006-07; Treasurer, 2004-06; Assistant Treasurer, 2003-04

Musical Background:
I began playing violin at age 11, and viola at age 12. I had a viola scholarship at the University of Oklahoma, and played in the University Orchestra my freshman and sophomore years, leaving the orchestra when it became clear that it was impossible to play in the orchestra and be a varsity swimmer at the same time.


Image

Duncan Monserud
Vice President

Duncan is in his second stint as a violinist with HCS, first joining in 2011. He has previously played with Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra, Washington-Idaho Symphony and Durham Symphony. Duncan hold’s a B.A. in Music from the University of Northern Iowa and a M.M. in Musical Composition from University of Idaho. He is a co-op owner of Electric Violin Shop, where he has worked since 2008 and oversees eCommerce & Marketing.


Alicia Ciccone
Treasurer

A talented violinist, Alicia Ciccone served as Civic’s Concertmaster from 2012-2015. She then left to pursue her M.B.A. at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, returning to the Houston area in 2017 as a Consultant with Bain & Company. Although her current busy schedule precludes performing with HCS, we’re thrilled that she lends her business acumen to the position of Treasurer.

 


Dan Witschey
Secretary

Dan Witshey is an attorney with the Bracewell law firm, where during his more than 40 year career he has focused on providing thoughtful, practical advice to companies, their boards of directors and committees. Houston Civic Symphony benefits from his deep organizational knowledge and impeccable record keeping in the position of Secretary, and from his musicianship as Principal Bassist.

 


Susanna Campbell
Director

Susanna Campbell became principal harpist with the Houston Civic Symphony in 2006 and joined the Board of Directors in 2016. She holds a Master’s Degree in Harp Performance from Stephen F. Austin State University and is a passionate and experienced music educator and performer. Recent concert highlights include the world premiere of Gary Schocker’s Heaven’s Above for the American Harp Society’s National Conference in Atlanta, GA and the debut concert of AURORA – a harp, flute, and cello ensemble embracing classical repertoire while championing contemporary music by emerging composers. In addition to performing, Susanna maintains a private harp and piano studio and is adjunct faculty at Lone Star College.


Alicia Harris
Director

Alicia Harris played the flute in grade school and at age 17 earned a flute performance scholarship at the University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA. Although Alicia changed her major to astro/geophysics she continued with flute studies.
Alicia has played flute and piccolo with several symphony orchestras in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania and the New England states. Alicia was a co-founder of Doctor’s Orchestra of Houston, renamed Texas Medical Center Orchestra and served the rolls of principal flutist, President and fund raiser among many other duties. Alicia has played with the Houston Civic Symphony and The Houston Flute Choir since the mid 1990’s and in 2000 won the Houston Civic Symphony member competition to perform a flute and clarinet duet with her father, George A. Harris. In 2014 her flute career was in jeopardy after a reckless driver smashed her car. Among other injuries she suffered a crushed left hand. Recovery was difficult but Alicia was determined to re-learn to play the flute.
After a 25-plus year career as a Medical Radiological Physicist, a self-employed travelling consultant since 2005 Alicia semi-retired to devote more time to flute performance and recordings. In 2017 Alicia was asked to join the Baytown Symphony Orchestra. In early 2018 Alicia auditioned for the Houston Tuesday Musical club and recently was featured in a recital.
In April 2018 Alicia won first place in the Denise Jennings Flute Solo Competition in Houston, Texas. As the winner she was featured in the Denise Jennings Honors Recital.
When not working or playing the flute Alicia enjoys entertaining friends and family with culinary delights, gardening, scuba diving, racing sailboats, fishing, hiking, opera, ballet and relaxing with her rescued twin cats Alice and Amanda.



Brian Runnels

Music Director & Conductor
brian @ civicsymphony.org

Dr. Brian Runnels first conducted the Houston Civic Symphony in 1979 when he served as Apprentice Conductor with the orchestra under Robert Linder. Since that time, he has conducted orchestras, musical theatre, oratorio, and opera in Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, and Kentucky. He returned to Houston in 2005 to serve as Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Houston Baptist University. After earning a degree in music education at that institution he went on to earn a masters degree in church music and choral conducting at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in orchestra conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He has had additional conducting training at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and in the United States with Max Rudolf and Herbert Blomstedt. He has held teaching positions at Bemidji State University in Minnesota and Murray State University in Kentucky.



Michael Isadore

Associate Conductor
michael @ civicsymphony.org

Michael Alan Isadore came to Houston after graduating with Masters Degrees in conducting and clarinet performance from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Conservatory of Music. Since moving to Houston, Isadore has built an important career teaching and conducting while maintaining his recognized performance ability on the clarinet. As a conductor, Isadore was appointed the Associate Conductor of the Houston Civic Symphony starting with the 2007 season, was guest conductor of the Brazosport Symphony Orchestra in 2003, The Civic Symphony of Houston in 2004 and the Houston Sinfonietta on two occasions in 2004 and 2005. Recently, Isadore joined the staff of the Houston Youth Symphony as one of their conductors. Isadore has been director of the Dulles High School Orchestra since 1999. Under his leadership, the Dulles Orchestra was chosen to play at the Midwest Convention in Chicago in December 2004 and was chosen as the Runner up for TMEA Honor Orchestra in 2005.


Musicians


Violin I
Chris Bojarczuk, Concertmaster
Dixie Addington
Peter Lee
Jessie Jingxia Yu
Matthew Chan
Fei Xie
Henry Wang
Brett Busby
Karmelo Navalta
Monica Hanna
Laura Tompkins
Ann Gore
Joe Munisteri
Barbra Munisteri
Erin Stout
Eugene Fong

Violin II
Duncan Monserud, Principal
Jose Camacho
Martin Kastenbaum
Dea Larson
Matthew Benbenek
Haley Poradun
Dionni Stone
Hsiao-Lan Wang
Roxy Cheatham
Beth Dean
Patricia Gumela
Calvin Dotsey
Shruti Dharmaraj
Anne Ahrens
Dileonte Jones
Adrian Capola
Kimberly Gumela

Viola
John Snyder, Principal
Isabelle Thirouin
Oscar Wehmanen
Thomas Strauch
Natalie Kurz
Rebecca Cardone
Laura Turchi
Darian Jones
Frances Witherspoon
David Coldiron
Diane Ellis
Cheryl Pfennig

Cello
Francisco Diaz, Principal
Doris MacLeay, Assistant Principal
Monica Lundeen
Susan Wegner
Melissa Meyer
Bill Dean
Jes Hagale
Samuel Garcia
Cony Ruiz
Diana Ploch

String Bass
Dan Witschey, Principal
Laura Bolsen
Brian Sayre
Arnold Garza
Max Green
Liam Mustachia
Dennis Baraw

Flute
Jennifer Isadore, Principal

Piccolo/Flute
Alicia Harris
Lilia Agard

Oboe
Bruce Leon, Principal
Arlene Howell

Clarinet
Joe Dombrowski, Principal
Jeff Taylor

Bassoon
Derek MacLeay, Principal
Jason Stephens

Horn
Brendon Byrd Parmelee
Colin Jenkins
Richard Wheatley
Kathy Hannah

Trumpet
Neil McDaniel, Principal
Eric Ward
Henry Espinoza

Trombone
Mark Andrews, Principal
Ken Henderson
Russ Ramsey

Tuba
Chris Phillips

Timpani
John Rice

Percussion
Andrea Cope
Roger French

Harp
Drew Cryer, Principal

How to Join

The Houston Civic Symphony holds auditions for orchestra musicians in August each year. All members of Houston Civic Symphony are volunteers. As a general rule, auditioning string players who meet the standards of the orchestra will be invited to join. Invitations to join other sections will depend on vacancies. All qualified players in all sections are invited to audition, as substitute players are often invited to perform with the orchestra on a concert by concert basis. In addition, the Symphony is eager to involve qualifying musicians in its Chamber Music program.

The orchestra typically performs five concerts each season. Rehearsals are held on the campus of Houston Baptist University campus on Monday evenings from 7:30 – 10:00 p.m.

Audition Form

Click the button below to indicate your interest and to receive information on how to audition for the Houston Civic Symphony.
Audition excerpts may be obtained at this link.

Audition Form

FAQs