The BPO Team
Paul John Stanbery, Music Director Emeritus, Composer, Composer-in-Residence, Chorus Conductor
Maestro Paul John Stanbery has a long and productive history with the Butler Philharmonic (formerly the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra, or HFSO). During his 25-year tenure as Music Director and Principle Conductor he has helped transform this group from a simple community orchestra, performing only once or twice a year, to the multi-faceted organization it is today; including not only the orchestra (now performing several times a year and sounding like the professional organization it has become), but also a chorus and a youth orchestra.
When Paul was hired in 1994, his only proviso was that the organization be willing to grow. They agreed, and he took off from there.
In 1997, Paul founded the Butler Philharmonic Chorus (then called the Hamilton Fairfield Symphony Chorale). Working with these dedicated singers, trusting in their ability to do well with good direction and practice, the chorus was invited to participate in a command performance in Carnegie Hall on May 30, 2005. With John Rutter at the podium, and other chorus members from around the US, they were part of a 200-member chorus that performed the Brahms “Ein Deutches Requiem”. The BP Chorus returned to Carnegie Hall in June of 2018 in a performance of Paul’s composition, “Music for Mass”. They have been invited back in 2021 when they will again join musicians from around the country to perform a specially commissioned piece Paul is writing based on the Ellis Island experience for immigrants in 1900.
1997 is also when Paul became conductor of the Youth Orchestra, which was under the auspices of the Fitton Center. The Youth Orchestra was transferred to the Butler Phil (then the HFSO) in 2005.
All of this is indicative of Paul’s dedication to the Butler Phil – both orchestras and the chorus – and his belief in the importance of music as a vital part of life. And Paul has had a life dedicated to every aspect of music – performance, composing, teaching, conducting, and leading an orchestra and chorus of local, small-town talent, to world class status.
Paul’s greatest joy in music is, “The people with whom I am privileged to work . . . That gives me the most joy, simply seeing the expressions of upliftedness and a spirituality on their faces after a hard-fought performance. That’s an extremely uncommon thing in this ego-driven industry.”
During Paul’s tenure, the Guild started – a sister support group that promotes music thru scholarships, funded by snack sales at BP concerts, and social fund-raising events such as the Party of Note and more (for details on the Guild, visit: https://butlerphil.org/about/guild/).
As Paul steps down from his role as Music Director and Principle Conductor, a move toward partial retirement, he will serve as Composer-In-Residence/BP Chorus Conductor. In recognition of Paul’s numerous accomplishments with the Butler Phil organizations, the Board of Directors has conferred the lifetime time title of Music Director Emeritus.
When asked about his views on his partial retirement from the BP, Paul said, “I simply look forward to what will be, and take pride in what we have become. No one could have possibly predicted the success we’ve enjoyed, but it takes dedication to the cause and a tirelessness and work ethic.”
For further information on Paul and his compositions, visit Paul John Stanbery’s composition page. (https://www.scoreexchange.com/profiles/paulstanbery)
Randall Gray, General Manager
Randall Gray grew up in Goshen, Ohio and is a graduate of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, majoring in Music Education.
He has worked as an Information Technology leader for the last 20 years including 14 years managing engineers in the healthcare industry and financial industry. Mr Gray made sure all projects under his purview came in under budget while providing solutions that were secure and exceeded the customer’s requirements .
He has brought a spirit of collaboration between cross functional teams to meet common goals. Through the years, Randall has been in various musical groups in leadership roles as well as administrative roles.
Randall lives in Lebanon, Ohio with his wife Dawn and their daughter Lydia, in a house on a pond that provides fishing opportunities and a serene setting. Randall plays the alto sax in his church orchestra, while Dawn sings alto in the church choir. Dawn works with senior adults as an apartment manager and activity coordinator. Lydia is a senior at the Warren County Career Center in the Digital Design program.
Randall enjoys time with family, and a week long vacation in Michigan in the summer.
Donzel Burkhart, Associate Conductor and Concertmaster
As a youngster, Donzel was introduced to the violin through his school music program. He immediately fell in love with the instrument. Classes, lessons, and playing in orchestras followed. During high school he performed in MENC Virginia All State Orchestras, and was asked to perform with the orchestra of the Virginia Tech University, where his parents were both professors.
Donzel received his undergraduate degree in Music Education, from the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music, as a string specialist. He was offered an orchestra director/string teaching position in the Elyria City Schools. Wanting to expand his knowledge, he was accepted into the performance program at Bowling Green State University, where he studied with Dr. Paul Makara. He received his Master of Music Degree in Violin Performance.
After graduation, he was offered a position as a string specialist/orchestra director in the Middletown City Schools, where he served for 25 years. Most recently, he was called out of retirement for a 2 year interim position, to conduct the Hamilton High School Orchestras. This culminated a 32 year career in education. In addition to teaching, Donzel conducted countless musical theatre productions, including shows with Elyria Summer Theatre, Middletown Summer Youth Theatre, and Middletown Lyric Theatre.
Mr. Burkhart has proudly served as the Butler Philharmonic/HFSO Concertmaster, since joining the Hamilton Symphony community in 1994. During this time, he has performed in numerous quartets and ensembles, including the Middletown Symphony, Lima Symphony, Clermont Symphony, and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. He has also been honored to conduct a few BPO Summer Concerts, bringing an upbeat “Pops Orchestra” experience to audiences around the county.
Although retired, Donzel remains quite busy, providing live sound reinforcement for professional musicians and orchestras through his company, DB Sound Advice. He is also continuing his teaching career in the position he has held for over thirty years, as Middletown High School Auditorium Stage Manager for the Middletown City Schools. In this position he is able to train the next generation in all aspects of theatre production, from sound and lighting, to set construction and design.
Donzel is the proud father of two sons, and grandfather of four grandchildren. He and his wife, Cynthia, enjoy life in the country, on their small acreage in rural Butler County, where most of what is grown is donated to the local wildlife population.
Dr. Lucy Ginther, Butler Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Assistant Conductor
Violist and conductor Lucy Ginther enjoys a performing career filled with variety. She has been a guest artist nationally and internationally, from chamber music in Santa Fe and the Cottonwood Festival (Kansas), to the Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City, DF and has worked with youth orchestras in Hong Kong and Macao.
Regionally, Dr. Ginther has been a frequent guest artist, notably with the College-Conservatory of Music Faculty Artist Series and Miami University Guest Artist Recital Series. As a member of the American Strings, she recorded with well-known pianist Earl Wilde and as principal violist of Orchestra de Mineria in Mexico City, recorded with EMI.
Dr. Ginther has held six principal viola posts, including the Oklahoma Symphony, Orchestra de Mineria, DF, and the Ohio Chamber Orchestra (Cleveland). Some most enjoyable moments in her career have been in the Broadway pit and on the jazz stage, most recently performing weeks-long runs of Phantom of the Opera and Lion King, and sharing the stage with the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus and the inimitable Carmen Bradford.
Dr. Ginther’s viola teachers are Jeffrey K. Irvine, Masao Kawasaki and Robert Vernon and conducting mentors are Harvey Felder and Diane Wittry. She received her Masters of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from the College-Conservatory Music. Dr. Ginther currently serves as director of orchestras and violin instructor at Ohio Wesleyan University and is honored and delighted to take the podium as director of the Butler Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
Cynthia Drake-Burkhart, Personnel Manager and Librarian
As a young violinist, there was always a love for symphonic performance and a deep admiration for talented musicians. Beginning violin, viola, and orchestral studies at The Cleveland Music School Settlement and The Cleveland Institute of Music, her only teachers were the disciplined members of The Cleveland Orchestra. She continued summer music studies at the Meadowmount School, in upstate New York. As a teenager, she performed in many youth orchestras, ensembles, and all the area semi -professional orchestras across the state. She was also a founding member of the performing children’s chorus, The Singing Angels.
Her lifelong plans included violin performance, until a bicycle accident changed the direction of her life. She was then awarded several scholarships to study string education at Ashland University and Wittenberg University. After graduating from Wittenberg, she taught strings and orchestra in area school systems, and conducted youth orchestras in northern Ohio. She supported the area symphonies, where she performed, by serving on their boards. After marrying her husband Donzel, a move to southwestern Ohio, and the birth of her two sons, Phillip and Victor, she continued to perform with the area symphonies, including Springfield, Middletown and Hamilton.
While still living in northern Ohio, Cynthia was saturated in the rich musical community in Cleveland, and The Cleveland Orchestra. Since her teachers were members, she had access to many musical opportunities, including learning about librarianship. She volunteered as a music librarian at The Cleveland Music School Settlement, Cleveland Institute of Music and Flora Mather College at Case Western Reserve. She served as a student librarian at the area schools and colleges where she attended. She was even able to assist as a volunteer at The Cleveland Orchestra. After the move to southwestern Ohio, she was asked to become the orchestral librarian for The Middletown Symphony, a post she held for 12 years. It was there that she was able to renovate that neglected orchestral library. She had plans to complete two master degree programs, which were placed on hold, while she home schooled her two sons, and later caring for three parents, until the end of their lives.
Cynthia was appointed Personnel Manager for The Middletown Symphony, and served for six seasons. While in this position with The Middletown Symphony, she was asked to serve as the newly appointed Personnel Manager for The Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony. This is a position where she continues to proudly serve The Butler Philharmonic Orchestra, as she has done for the past fifteen seasons.
On a personal note, Cynthia happily spends her days with the love of her life, Donzel , and acting out stories with her four adored grandchildren; William-7 years, and the 4 year old triplets, Drake, Emmett and Josephine.
Richard Elliott, Stage Manager