USM Youth Ensembles: Meet the Conductors
Rebecca DeWan is the choral director at Noble High School in North Berwick, Maine, where she has four choirs and is the music director for the fall musical. She is also the choir director at First Parish Congregational Church in Yarmouth, Maine. She previously taught grade 5-12 vocal music in Houlton, Maine where she taught general music, directed school choirs, directed and produced the annual musical, and directed two show choirs. During her tenure in Houlton, she also developed a new junior high musical program. Ms. DeWan graduated from the University of Southern Maine School of Music where she earned a B.M. in Music Education. During her undergraduate studies, she studied conducting with Dr. Robert Russell, conducting both the University Chorale and the USM Chamber Singers. She has conducted honors festivals in Maine and New Hampshire. She served as the treasurer for the Northern Maine Music Educators Association, and currently volunteers with the Maine Music Educators Association.
Portland Young People’s String Consort
Deborah Dabczynski, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, has been a member of the Portland Symphony cello section since the fall of 1974. She also plays with various other performing groups including Portland Opera, Portland Ballet orchestra and the White Mountain Musical Arts Bach Festival. She has often conducted orchestras for the Maine ASTA State String Festival and District Orchestra Festivals. She has held teaching positions in SAD #17 and Old Orchard Beach where she was involved in the string instrument programs. She is a former host and program developer for the Portland Symphony Kinderkonzerts, a position she held for ten years. Debby has a full schedule of private students whom she teaches in her home studio in Harrison. As a contrast to her involvement in music and music education, she also works part time cutting exclusive wooden jigsaw puzzles at Elms Puzzles, also in Harrison.
Nicolás Alberto Dosman
Southern Maine Children’s Choir
Dr. Nicolás Alberto Dosman is an Assistant Professor of Music, Choral Conducting at the University of Southern Maine (USM), School of Music. Prior to his arrival at USM, he was the Director of Choral Activities at Colby College and an Applied Music Associate (voice) where he conducted the Colby Chorale, Chamber Choir, and Colby-Kennebec Choral Society. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Molloy College. Under his leadership the Colby College Chamber Choir performed at Carnegie Hall where the Colby Chamber Choir’s performance was described as “an inspired performance, with an enthusiastic audience.” In 2013 he was one of three American choral conductors that was invited to and attended the Musica e Arte Sacra conductor’s invitational in Rome, Italy. In addition to his academic responsibilities, Dr. Dosman is the Maine ACDA youth and student activities chair. Before his arrival in the great state of Maine, he was a conducting fellow with the Continuo Arts Foundation (Westfield, NJ) and was also the director of Casita Sings Children’s Chorus (Bronx, NY). He founded the Miami Choral Festival in 2008 and was also the chairman of the Miami-Dade/Monroe County region of the Florida Vocal Association. He studied choral conducting with Dr. Dino Anagnost at Columbia University and Drs. André Thomas and Kevin Fenton at Florida State University (FSU). Prior to his graduate studies at FSU, he attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he received his B.M. in music education with a vocal emphasis. Dr. Dosman’s research interests include: male-participation in choral ensembles, music teacher preparation, urban school districts and music education, and social justice in urban schools.
Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra
Robert Lehmann is Professor of Music and Director of Strings and Orchestral Activities at the USM School of Music. In addition to his duties at USM, he is Music Director of the Portland Chamber Orchestra, the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra and the White Mountain Bach Festival in New Hampshire and conductor of the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra. He holds degrees in Violin Performance from the University of the Pacific, the Eastman School and Boston University and has been a fellow at the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Festival and at the Conductors Institute at Bard College. Dr. Lehmann has concertized as violinist and conductor in his native Mexico, throughout the US, Puerto Rico and in Europe and Ukraine. He has been a frequent guest conductor with the Portland Symphony and has conducted All State and Festival Orchestras from Maine to California and Hawaii. Prior to his appointment at USM, he was Music Director of the Mozart Society Orchestra at Harvard, and on the conducting staff of the Greater Boston and the Empire State Youth Orchestras. He is first violinist of the Meliora Quartet and concertmaster of the PORTOpera and Choral Art Society. He is in demand as a performer, conductor, teacher and adjudicator and is listed in Who’s Who in American Music. His new CD, Chamber Music for String by Manuel M. Ponce has just been issued by Centaur Records. He recently conducted the world premiere of Portland Ballet’s newly commissioned The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Dr. Lehmann resides in Scarborough with his wife Kim, a violist with the PSO, and his two sons, Eric and Alex.
Portland Youth Junior Orchestra
Ferdinand Liva, violinist and conductor, comes from a musically prominent family in northeastern Pennsylvania. He began studying the violin at age seven with his father, a noted conductor and teacher, and continued his education at the Peabody Conservatory, earning a Bachelor of Music degree under Berl Senofsky. He then studied at Temple University in Philadelphia with Luis Biava, where he graduated with a Master’s degree, as well as a Professional Studies Certificate. In 1991, he became one of the founding members of the DaPonte String Quartet which works and performs in Maine. They have performed on many of the great chamber music series, including Rockefeller University, Music Mountain, Buffalo Chamber Music Society, and Carnegie Hall to critical acclaim. Mr. Liva spent four years as Assistant Professor of violin and chamber music at Wilkes University, and conductor of the University Orchestra. He currently teaches a private studio of students, conducts the Sea Coast Youth Orchestra and the Sea Coast Community Orchestra, has conducted the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra and University Orchestra, and teaches violin and chamber music as an adjunct faculty member at the University.
After completing his Bachelor of Music Education degree at New Mexico State University (NMSU), Trae Blanco completed four years as Director of Bands at Las Cruces High School. Currently, Mr. Blanco continues his studies pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in instrumental conducting at the Herberger Institute at Arizona State University where his principal teachers include Professor Gary W. Hill and Dr. Wayne Bailey. Prior to attending ASU, Mr. Blanco completed a Master of Music degree in Wind Conducting with Professor Stephen W. Pratt at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
During his tenure as Director of Bands at Las Cruces High School, Mr. Blanco’s program became a well- recognized program in the state as well as the across the entire southwest region. Under his direction, every ensemble within the program, including two concert bands, the Showcase Marching Band, two jazz bands, the Avant Guard Winterguard, and the Las Cruces Percussion Group, received Superior ratings at festivals within the state of New Mexico. In addition to these honors, his ensembles also earned two Gold ratings at the Heritage Festivals in San Diego, California and Anaheim, California. Two of the bands under his direction were also selected as All-State honor ensembles by the New Mexico Music Educators Association: the Jazz Band I was selected in 2010 as the New Mexico All State Honor Jazz Band and the Symphonic Winds selected in 2011 as the Honor Concert Band.
In January of 2011, Mr. Blanco collaborated with composer/guitarist James (Jim) Bonney's composition Chaos Theory for Wind Ensemble and Electric Guitar. These efforts culminated in a live, recorded performance of the piece at Popejoy Auditorium at the University of New Mexico featuring the composer, Jim Bonney, as soloist. Mr Blanco rejoins Jim Bonney leading the consortium for his second guitar concerto, DARKlightNESS, which premiered in November of 2015 with the composer as soloist, the ASU Wind Orchestra, Trae Blanco conducting. Mr. Blanco's research focuses on a history of BCM International; Jim Bonney, Steven Bryant, Jonathan Newman, and Eric Whitacre.
Mr. Blanco is the recipient of the New Mexico Music Educators New and Emerging Teacher Award for 2010. He is currently a member of the New Mexico Music Educators Association, College Band Directors Association, as well as the Percussive Arts Society. He has continued conducting studies with workshops across the country and in July 2015, Mr. Blanco was a guest conductor with the United States Army "Pershing's Own" Concert Band in Washington, D.C. In both 2015 and 2016 Mr. Blanco was a finalist in the American Prize in Wind Conducting. Currently Mr. Blanco resides in Tempe, AZ with his wife, Kelsey Blanco, lyric soprano.
2015 Conductor Emeritus, Peter Martin