School of Music

SoMMA Faculty & Staff

The University of Southern Maine hires approximately 1 staff member for every 8 participants each year. Staff members are certified music teachers, School of Music faculty, or USM music education alumni.

The University of Southern Maine makes such inquiries as may be necessary to arrive at an appropriate employment decision. All hires are subject to reference checks, criminal history checks, and related matters to comply with legal requirements and public responsibility.


Trae Blanco
SoMMA Concert Band Conductor
USM Assistant Professor of Music, Concert Band and Wind Ensemble Director
Casco Bay Wind Symphony Conductor

Trae BlancoAfter 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.


Christopher Oberholtzer
Jazz Band Leader
USM Associate Professor of Music/Director of Jazz Studies

Dr. Chris OberholtzerChris Oberholtzer –

Dr. Christopher Oberholtzer, Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern Maine, completed his Doctor of Arts degree in Trombone Performance/Pedagogy with a Secondary Emphasis in Jazz Pedagogy at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley. Chris earned his Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies with a Cognate Field of Trombone Performance from Indiana University, Bloomington, and his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from the University of Southern Maine, Gorham.

As a professor and director of jazz studies at USM, Chris leads a thriving program which is recognized as being one of the leading college jazz programs in New England. In addition to his USM teaching responsibilities, Chris also enjoys actively serving throughout the country as a guest artist, director and/or clinician for numerous high school and college jazz ensembles, including All-State and Honors Festivals in Colorado, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Other major appearances include those at universities such as the University of Northern Colorado, Brevard College (North Carolina), Ball State University, Eastern Washington University and Utah State University. Chris’ performance credits also include international festivals such as the (Newport) JVC Jazz Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Chris maintains a busy schedule as a professional freelance trombonist. He has performed, toured and recorded throughout the country and abroad with many groups in varying classical, jazz and commercial genres. His playing experience includes touring with the Artie Shaw Orchestra, the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, Ringling Brothers Circus, Toni Tenille the Capitol Jazz Orchestra and Holland America cruise lines. Other performing credits include working with artists and/or bands such as the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, the Benny Goodman Orchestra, Tony Bennett, Claudio Roditi, Wayne Bergeron, the New York Voices, Conrad Herwig, Brian Lynch, Byron Stripling, Phil Wilson, Wycliff Gordon, Ronie Cuber, Frank Wess, Bob Mintzer, Herb Pomeroy, Richie Cole, Dick Johnson, Aaron Neville, Roberta Flack and the Temptations.

Serving as Musical Director of the Portland Jazz Orchestra, Chris is quite busy with the details of leading a regionally active big band. The Portland Jazz Orchestra is a contemporary big band staffed by jazz professionals, many of whom are also music educators, from the northern New England area. Playing music from the classic libraries of the Count Basie Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the Woody Herman Orchestra, the PJO also enjoys performing more contemporary big band literature from prominent writers such as Gordon Goodwin, Ton Kubis and Maria Schneider. In addition, the PJO focuses on performing original compositions and arrangements written by its own band members. Many of these compositions are published and are highly regarded on a national level.

As a clinician for the United Musical Instrument/Selmer Corporation, Chris performs on Bach trombones.


Neil Boyer
Oboe Coach
USM Artist Faculty in Oboe

Neil BoyerNeil Boyer is instructor of oboe at the University of Southern Maine and former Principal Oboe in the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Boyer received his Bachelor of Music degree at the Mannes College of Music and then continued his education at the State University of New York at Stony Brook where he was awarded the Master of Music degree. His principal oboe teachers have been Mark Lifschey, Lois Wann, and Ronald Roseman.

Mr. Boyer has served on the faculties of Dartmouth College, Bowdoin College, Bates College, and the University of Vermont, and is the former director of the Green Mountain Summer Music School in Poultney, Vermont. His students are serving in orchestras, as soloists, and as faculty throughout the country.

Mr. Boyer has an extensive performance background. As a soloist he has presented oboe recitals throughout New England and has appeared as soloist with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Dartmouth Symphony and the Hanover Chamber Orchestra.




Sean Diette
Sax Coach/Instrument Repair

Sean Diette

Sean Diette is currently the instrumental music teacher for grades 5-12 in Washburn, Maine.  Originally a native of Newport, Vermont, he has lived in Maine since 1999.  He and his wife currently live in the town of Woodland, in Aroostook County.  Sean graduated from the University of Southern Maine School of Music in 2004 wih bachelor's degrees in Music Education and in Saxophone Performance.  Sean is also the assistant cross-country running coach and the head track and field coach at Washburn High School.





Jara Goodrich
Harp Instructor
USM Artist Faculty in Harp

Jara GoodrichJara Goodrich is principal harpist with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Bangor Symphony Orchestra, Portland Opera Repertory Theatre, Portland Ballet, and Maine Music Society. Jara began her study of the harp at age nine at the Salzedo School in Camden, Maine, studying with Carlos Salzedo until his death. She continued her studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music under Alice Chalifoux, then principal harpist with the Cleveland Orchestra. Jara has performed with the North Carolina Symphony, Cleveland Playhouse, Goldovsky Opera Theatre, Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, CBS Sunday Morning, Morning Pro Musica, and Bay Chamber Concerts. She has performed under numerous conductors including James Levine, Hugh Wolf, and Robert Shaw. Jara's current performance venues include solo, chamber music, orchestral, recitals, weddings, receptions, and parties.

 Jara is on the faculties of the University of Southern Maine, Bates College, Portland Conservatory, ASTA Summer String Conference, Camp Encore-Coda, and coaches members of the USM/Fleet Youth Ensembles. She has students from age eight adult, from Presque Isle to Kennebunkport. She conducts the Maine Harp Ensembles, and often combines teaching with performing in her travels.


Heather Hastings
Horn Coach / Dorm Counselor

Heather HastingsHeather attended Plymouth State University where she received her Bachelor of Science in Music Education on trumpet. After teaching in New Hampshire, she returned to Maine to the University of Southern Maine where she attained a Masters in Music Performance on horn under the direction of John Boden.

Heather currently lives in Sanford where she teaches elementary classroom music, is Assistant Director and Brass Coach of the Sanford Marching Band, teaches Marching Cymbal Line for Sanford ("Impact") Winter Percussion, and also gives private lessons in her spare time.

A regular musician with the Casco Bay Wind Symphony, Heather has also performed with the Medomack Conductor's Retreat Orchestra, the SNHU Wind Symphony and SNHU Orchestra, the Never's 2nd Regiment Band, the Back Cove Contemporary Music Festival, and the AMC Mountains and Music Festival Orchestra.

Heather attended SoMMA in 2004 and 2005, and is incredibly happy to be part of the camp that helped her gain confidence and musicianship as a young musician.

Matthew Lagarde
Trumpet Coach / Dorm Counselor

Matthew Lagarde

Matthew Lagarde received his Bachelors of Music Education from the University of Southern Maine, and received his Masters in Trumpet Performance from Boston University.  His main teachers included Betty Rines, Trent Austin, and Terry Everson.  

Matthew just finished his 6th year as the high school and middle school Band Director, and middle school Chorus Director in Somersworth New Hampshire. The music program has grown to now include multiple jazz ensembles in the middle and high school, select choir in the middle school, and a young and flourishing High School Marching band.  Outside of school, Matthew has taught in some summer programs.  He spent a number of summers with the drum and bugle corps Boston Crusaders and 7th Regiment. He was assistant to Terry Everson at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and has been the trumpet instructor at the Southern Maine Music Academy for a number of years.

Along with university ensembles at University of Southern Maine, and Boston University, Matthew has performed with groups such as the Portland Jazz Orchestra, Maine State Music Theatre, the New England Brass Band, the Ogunquit Playhouse, and the Tanglewood Music Center.  He is currently performing as a freelance trumpet player, mostly around Portland, Maine.  You can also see him perform frequently with the enormous and unique band, The Fogcutters.


Emma Shapiro
Bassoon Coach



Nicole Rawding
Flute Coach / Dorm Counselor

Nicole RawdingNicole J. Rawding, a musician based out of Portland, Maine is a collaborative artist, a private teacher and an avid performer.  She attended the University of Southern Maine's School of Music, where she studied Music Education, Flute Performance and Vocal Education.

Nicole has participated in numerous master classes with world-renowned flutists such as: Emmanuel Pahud, Alexa Still, Ransom Wilson, Robert Dick and the late Louis Moyse.  She has performed Cecile Chaminade's Concertino for flute and orchestra with the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, plays in the Casco Bay Concert Band and maintains a private flute studio.  She teaches at the Southern Maine Music Academy (SoMMA) summer camp and has played with the Maine Music Society and the Bangor Symphony.

A versatile musician, Nicole moonlights as a progressive rock flutist. She has played and recorded with local bands The Baltic Sea, Phantom Buffalo, and Sunrunner.

As a Mezzo-Soprano, Nicole is still getting her feet wet.  She has played the role of Prince Orlofsky in USM's production of Die Fledermaus and appeared as the alto soloist in Mozart's Requiem - performed with the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra and Northshore Philharmonic.  In the summer of 2011, Nicole sang the national anthem at Portland's Hadlock field for the Seadogs.

Other roles include "the Baker's Wife" in Into the Woods at Schoolhouse Center for the Arts and the sultry "Lilly McBain" in Biddeford City Theater's production of Swingtime Canteen!.  Nicole has sang with the Casco Bay Concert Band in their 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Current musical endeavors set Nicole on the acoustic scene, dabbling in songwriting and collaborating with local musicians.  And, as always, finding friends who will play Jethro Tull and the Moody Blues tunes with her.


Maria Wagner
Head Counselor / Clarinet Coach

Maria WagnerMaria Wagner has a varied career as a performer and private instructor in Portland, Maine. As a classically trained clarinetist, she has performed with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, the PORTopera Orchestra, the Portland Ballet Orchestra, the Portland Chamber Music Festival Orchestra, Maine Pro Musica, and more. In addition to orchestral performance, Maria specializes in the performance of new solo and chamber music and is passionate about interpreting brand new works. She has premiered pieces for the clarinet and bass clarinet in Portland and New York City. 

Maria holds a Masters of Music in Performance from the University of Southern Maine, where she studied clarinet, bass clarinet, and e-flat clarinet and pedagogy with Dr. Thomas Parchman. She also completed her undergraduate study at USM and was a recipient of the Bay Chamber Competition's Summer Music Woodwind Solo Prize. Other influential teachers include New York clarinetist Jo-Ann Sternberg, oboist and chamber music coach Neil Boyer, and renowned conductor Dr. Peter Martin. 

Alongside her career as a classical musician, Maria studies classical and folk music from the Middle East including the art of taqsim (improvisation) and the Middle Eastern maqamat (melodic modes) with master Armenian oudist and clarinetist Malcolm Barsamian and Middle Eastern percussionist Eric LaPerna. She has performed with Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble, and is a founding member of Zapion in which she plays clarinet and the Arabic nay flute

​Maria maintains a vibrant private teaching studio in the greater Portland, ME area. Many of her students are members of the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble and are regularly accepted into Maine's district and All-State festivals, as well as go on to major in music. FMI: 


Jobey Wilson
Low Brass Coach
USM Artist Faculty in Tuba and Euphonium

Jobey WilsonMr. Jobey Wilson, tubist, has entertained audiences all over the world with his charismatically unique style. Raised on a golf course in Broken Arrow, OK, this championship golfer retired his clubs at the age of 17 and flew to Chicago to join the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps. After completing his BM at the University of Oklahoma under Ted L. Cox, the proud "Sooner" moved northeast to refine his skills under the legendary Chester Schmitz of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 2001, Jobey earned his Master’s degree from New England Conservatory and has since served as principal tubist of the Lexington Symphony, Atlantic Symphony and the New Bedford Symphony. He has also performed with the Boston Pops, Boston Ballet, Boston Philharmonic, Portland Symphony, Vermont Symphony, Albany Symphony (NY), Rhode Island Philharmonic, New World Symphony (FL), and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Wilson has performed under such world-class conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Michael Tilson Thomas, Keith Lockhart, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, James Conlon, Roberto Abbado, Michael Stern and Gunther Schuller.

In addition to his position as Artist Faculty in the USM School of Music, Wilson is also Adjunct Professor of Music/Low Brass at Boston College and the Low Brass and Chamber Music Coach for the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras. After spending six summers teaching for Boston University's famed Tanglewood Institute, Jobey started his own Summer Brass Institute; now in residence at Boston College. Wilson currently pursues his Doctorate at Boston University under Mike Roylance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He studied with the late Abe Torchinsky of the Philadelphia Orchestra during two summers at the Aspen Music Festival and also worked with Alan Baer, Ron Bishop, Warren Deck, Matthew Good, Christopher Olka, J. Samuel Pilafian, Daniel Perantoni, John Rojak and Norman Bolter.


Will Wohler
Percussion Coach / Dorm Counselor

Will WohlerWill Wohler has been involved in music since he was young, giving him a variety of musical opportunities. After high school, Will studied percussion with Nancy Smith of the PSO at the University of Southern Maine; where he earned his Bachelors of Music degree in Music Education.  

Having since taught in the public schools, he playsin various ensembles around the southern Maine area as a freelance percussionist, as well as in his home state of Connecticut.  As an active member of the Casco Bay Concert Band percussion section,he also holds the position of Associate Conductor and conducts throughout the concert season.

Will believes strongly in music and it's impact on students as they grow and develop into adults, and advocates for school music programs. Will also is an avid music teacher and strives to give students the best musical experience possible.

This is Mr. Wohler’s third summer with SoMMA as the percussion coach and dorm counselor.


Tina Fleur Davis
Camp Accompanist

Tina DavisTina Davis is a graduate student of Dr. Laura Kargul. Previous teachers include Gerald Wheeler and Dr. Patricia Stowell. Tina has performed in master classes with numerous pianists, including Marian Hahn, Jane Coop, and Lora Tchekoratova. She is a past winner of the Ocy Downs piano competition, 2nd place winner of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra High School Concerto Competition, and has been a summer participant in the Bay Chamber Next Generation program in Rockport, Maine as well as the Kneisel Hall Maine Young Musician's Program in Blue Hill.






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