The BPO Team
Paul John Stanbery, Music Director and Conductor
(See Maestro Stanbery’s bio below)
Randall Gray, Director of Operations
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
Donzel Burkhart – Concertmaster and Associate Conductor 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
Cynthia Drake Burkhart 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
Music Director Paul John Stanbery Biography:
Paul John Stanbery’s down-to-Earth style make him popular with musicians and audiences alike. Coupled with continued creative programming and sustained quality work, these traits have brought the rewards of full houses, strong financial symphonic growth and critical acclaim whenever he appears.
Mr. Stanbery is acclaimed as both a conductor and composer, and led members of the Butler Philharmonic Chorus in Carnegie Hall, in a special performance of his own “Music for Mass” on June 17, 2018. The sold out performance resulted in a sustained standing ovation.
On the podium, the Butler Philharmonic’s music director also serves as music director of the Ohio Mozart Festival, and he has been associate conductor of the Lima Symphony in Ohio. Mr. Stanbery directed the Great Miami Youth Symphony Orchestra (now the Butler Philharmonic Youth Orchestra) for over twenty years.
His guest conducting appearances have included performances with the Western Piedmont Symphony, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the Shreveport (La.) Symphony Orchestra and the University of Cincinnati. He is a regular guest with the Miami University Symphony Orchestra.
A native of Toledo, Ohio, Mr. Stanbery studied at Bowling Green State University and the University of Cincinnati. His mentors and teachers included conducting studies with Emil Raab, Ivan Trusler, Robert Porco, and John Leman. He studied composition with Wallace DePue and H. Owen Reed.
Mr. Stanbery was also the founding conductor of the Blue Ash-Montgomery Symphony and the Clermont Philharmonic orchestras.
In November 2005, Mr. Stanbery won the prestigious Post-Corbett Award
(Performing Artist Division-pictured below). Given every other year, the Post-Corbett Award was the region’s highest artistic honor, recognizing outstanding achievement in many fields of the visual and performing arts. Mr. Stanbery was the first conductor so honored not to be associated with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
As associate conductor for the Cincinnati May Festival, Mr. Stanbery collaborated with such noted conductors as Robert Shaw, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, James Conlon, Robert Porco, Eric Kunzel, Ivan Fischer, Kenneth Jean, and Keith Lockhart for performances in Carnegie Hall, Cincinnati’s Music Hall and the Riverbend Music Center. Mr. Stanbery served as chorus master for Telarc recordings of the Cincinnati Pops (The Hunt for Red October) and Cincinnati Symphony (Manuel de Falla’s La Vida Breve).
Mr. Stanbery worked for 19 years as music director of All Saints Parish and School in Cincinnati, and he has been an educator for more than 30 years, including work in several Toledo area schools. In 2002, Mr. Stanbery was appointed music minister at Hamilton’s “Historic Presbyterian Church”, then held the same position at St. Peter in Chains Church in Hamilton from 2008 to 2013.
He presently is minister of music at Zion Lutheran Church in Hamilton.
Maestro Stanbery as Organist!
The BPO Chorus was founded by Paul in 1997, and performed in Carnegie Hall with John Rutter on May 30, 2005 in a command performance of the Brahms “Ein Deutches Requiem”.
Mr. Stanbery is also the founder and artistic director of Hamilton’s “Ohio Mozart Festival”. Now in its 17th year, the Mozart festival remains the only event of its kind in the Midwest, having presented over 200 performances of Mozart’s works.
As a composer, Mr. Stanbery’s Symphony No. 2, “Foundations”, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in music for 2012. The composer led the premiere with the then-Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra in October 2012 to a wildly enthusiastic audience. Repeat performances have been planned by several orchestras.
Other new music from Mr. Stanbery include:
• I, Maximilian, written to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Maximilian Kolbe at the Auschwitz concentration camp; written at the request of St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Hamilton and premiered there Oct. 29, 2016, by the composer leading the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra. (Photo, right, from the premiere)
• Music for Mass, performed Easter Sunday 2013 at St. Peter in Chains Church, Hamilton.
• “Elegy and Cortege” from Symphony No. 2, performed at the 2013 Memorial Day concert by the Blue Ash-Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, Michael Chertok, conducting.
• “Coplandia” for strings. Premiered in the fall of 2013 by strings of Hamilton and Fairfield high schools, James Ledbetter and Sherry Randall, directors
• “Nunc Dimitis”, written for the choir of Trinity Church in Hamilton, Mary Alice Mawer, director, on a request by Connie Baesel
• Robert McCloskey, The Life For Me, music for the film score
• “Lux Aeterna”, commissioned by Paul and Marion Thoms.
[ Visit Paul John Stanbery’s composition page. ]
Mr. Stanbery also remains dedicated to music by other living composers. He initiated the Butler Philharmonic’s American Masters Concerts, which bring distinguished, living composers to the community for a week, culminating in a concert featuring their works. This series continues to draw national attention from Symphony magazine, the official publication of the League of American Orchestras. Chester Lane called the BPO “one of America’s high-octane smaller budget orchestras”.
To date, the BPO has presented numerous world premieres and has featured collaborations with several Pulitzer Prize-winning composers. The roster reads like a who’s who in American composition and include H. Owen Reed, Robert Ward, Thomas Benjamin, James Niblock, Charles Lloyd, Ronnie Kole, Wallace Depue, Philip Koplow, Ellen Taafe Zwilich, and Michael Daugherty. Mr. Stanbery also conducted the North American Premiere of works by noted Dutch composer Louis Andriessen in the summer of 2003, including “M is for Man, Music and Mozart”. These concerts took place at the University of Cincinnati with the composer present.
Mr. Stanbery believes strongly in the importance of reaching young people with classical music and has become well known throughout Ohio for his work in that regard. His work with the BPO Youth Orchestra has brought high praise, and he helped form an enormously successful new series for children as a cooperative venture between the Butler Philharmonic and the Lane Public Library System entitled Mini-Maestros.
Mr. Stanbery composed original music specifically for several such presentations. His work with the Lima Symphony also included educational concerts in schools, as well as the presentation of the “KidStuff” programs in tandem with the Lima Public Libraries. Under his watch, the BPO has established four separate scholarship opportunities for young musicians and singers.
Paul lives on a five acre “ranch” just west of Hamilton with his wife, the artist Patricia Jackson Stanbery. All six of their kids (Aaron, Angela, Adam, Katie, Pete, and Benjamin) have grown up and moved out!
Pat and Paul have 10 grandchildren — Isaac, Joshua, Albert, Leah, Merle, Claire, William, Finley, Henry, and Oren — who fill their lives with joy!