Staff Biographies

Don Owens
Leader

Don Owens, Coordinator Emeritus of the Jazz Studies and Pedagogy Program, Director Emeritus, Contemporary Music Ensemble, and the National High School Music Institute at Northwestern University, began his tenure at Northwestern University in 1979. He retired in 2005. 

Owens received the Bachelor of Music Education degree from North Texas State University, where he also studied Composition and Jazz. His Master of Musical Arts degree is from the University of Illinois, where he majored in Composition.

Mr. Owens is the composer/arranger of over 100 works, including those for band, jazz band, orchestra, choir, and chamber music. His music is available from the composer via Phramus Music Publications. Owens is the author of several articles dealing with contemporary music.He is an international clincian and guest conductor, having directed over a dozen all-state ensembles, plus several residencies across the U. S. and abroad.

In March of 2015, Mr. Owens conducted the combined forces from Downers Grove North and South High School Wind Ensembles and guest artists in Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue at Carnegie Hall.

Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Beth Steele
Executive Director / Conductor

The Executive Director of Music at the Summit is Ms. Beth Steele, who is an experienced musician and conductor. Beth created Music at the Summit and is the driving force behind it's continued growth and improvement. She received her Bachelor of Music (Trumpet) degree and Master of Music (Wind Conducting) degree from Northwestern University in 1988 and 1989 respectively. Ms. Steele has performed on trumpet in many ensembles including: the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; New Sousa Band; Virginia Symphony; and the British Imperial Military Band.

Beth served as a career US Army musician, where her duties included: Associate Director, US Army Band “Pershing’s Own”, Washington, DC; Conductor, Continental Army Band, Hampton, VA; Commandant, Army School of Music, Virginia Beach, VA; Conductor, US Army Field Band and Soldier’s Chorus, Washington, DC; and most recently as the Commander of the US Army Europe Band & Chorus in Heidelberg, Germany.

While in Europe, Beth developed enduring partnerships with European musicians and was awarded the German government’s highest peacetime award: The Silver Cross of Honor, the first for an American Director of Music. She also led the Band & Chorus in historic performances in Moscow’s Red Square, for Her Majesty the Queen in London, and in first-ever combined concerts with the National Serbian Defense orchestra.

Michael Kocour
Piano

Michael Kocour is a jazz pianist, a Hammond B3 organist and composer. He also serves as Director of Jazz Studies in the School of Music at Arizona State University.

An active performer for more than three decades, Kocour has appeared at venues around the world and has been a guest on Marian McPartland's internationally syndicated NPR program "Piano Jazz." Among the many artists and ensembles with whom he has appeared with are Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Lovano, Eddie Harris, James Moody, Eddie Daniels, Randy Brecker, Benny Golson, Ira Sullivan, Carl Fontana, Dewey Redman, Lew Tabackin, and the Chicago Symphony. 

His recorded work as a studio musician includes soundtracks to two major motion pictures, and numerous television commercials. Kocour has also released five critically acclaimed CDs as a leader.

Alfred Music has published Kocour’s original compositions and arrangements for piano. His arrangements for jazz ensembles are available at ejazzlines.com.

“Michael Kocour, a brilliant pianist and composer. He plays with remarkable creativity and a technique to die for. Sparkling ideas fly from his fingers making harmonic sophistication the order of the day.” - Marian McPartland, November, 2007

Mark Wood
Trumpet

Mark Wood hails from Gainesville, Florida where he received an undergraduate degree in Music Education from the University of Florida. He studied trumpet with Dr. Joyce Davis. He began graduate studies at the University of Kentucky where he studied trumpet performance with Vince DiMartino and concluded at Northern Illinois where he studied performance with Ron Modell and served as a Teaching Assistant, playing lead trumpet in the top jazz band and directing the second band. 
In 1995, he joined US Army Field Band in Washington, D.C., where he shared solo cornet responsibilities and was a founding member of the Embassy Brass, which became the official brass quintet for the US Army Field Band. Embassy Brass performed hundreds of recitals at colleges and universities throughout the US, often providing clinics and chamber ensemble coaching. 
In 2000, he transferred to the US Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Ceremonial Band. His duties there included performing in the Brass Band, the Herald Trumpets, the Brass Quintet and he began substituting in the US Army Blues, the official Jazz Ensemble of The Army Band. He was later selected as split-lead trumpet in the Army Blues, a position he held until his recent retirement in May 2021 after 26 years of active service in the US Army. 
He has been an active freelance performer with the Harrisburg Symphony Pops, Richmond Symphony Pops, National Symphony Pops and Baltimore Symphony Pops. These playing opportunities and many others allowed him to share the stage with jazz legends like Doc Severinson, Slide Hampton, Peter Erskine, Jon Faddis, Wycliffe Gordon, Sean Jones, Terrell Stafford, Conrad Herwig, Manhattan Transfer and countless others. 

Michael Brothers
Percussion

Mr. Michael Brothers is Director of Jazz and Percussion Studies and Instructor of Percussion at Southeastern Louisiana University. He teaches Applied Percussion to undergraduate and graduate percussion majors, and courses in Percussion Methods, Percussion Pedagogy, Jazz History, and Jazz Pedagogy. He is Director of the University Jazz Ensemble, the University Percussion Ensemble and the Spirit of the Southland Drumline.

A native of Oakland, California, his nearly forty-year career as a drummer and percussionist spans a wide range of musical experience including performances with big bands, symphony orchestras, recording sessions and Broadway, including over 6,600 performances of the record-breaking Music Box Company tour of the Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera, the longest continually running Broadway tour in history.

Prior to his tenure at Phantom, he was the drummer or percussionist on several first national tours including City of Angels, Bye Bye Birdie (with Tommy Tune and Ann Reinking), Starlight Express, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber in Concert (with Sarah Brightman), Les Misérables and Me and My Girl.

His extensive credits include performances with some of the world’s legendary entertainers including Victor Borge, Peter Cetera, Dee Daniels, Christine Ebersole, Mitzi Gaynor, Marvin Hamlisch, Rupert Holmes, Robert Klein, Rachel Bay Jones, Gladys Knight, Liberace, Steve Lippia, The Marvalettes, Maureen McGovern, Anthony Newley, Patti Page, Chita Rivera, Dinah Shore, John Lloyd Young, and Mary Wells.

His first album Reunion with the Michael Brothers Quartet was released to critical acclaim and airplay on over 270 stations throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, France and The Netherlands including the syndicated radio programs Jazz After Hours and Jazz Happening Now on Public Radio International and Jazz with Greg Bridges on Jazz Network/WFMT Radio Network. Reunion reached #26 on the CMJ New Music Report Jazz Top 40 and #49 on the JazzWeek Top 50 and received 59th GRAMMY Awards® First Ballot consideration in several categories including Jazz Instrumental Album; Engineered Album, Non-Classical; Record Of The Year and Album Of The Year.

His second album Three Times Two with pianist Andy Nevala and bassists Jeff Carswell and Chris Kozak also received critical acclaim and airplay on over 400 stations throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the syndicated radio programs Jazz After Hours on Public Radio International and the WFMT Jazz Satellite Network. Three Times Two was the #1 Jazz CD on WZBT 91.1 FM Gettysburg, PA, spent 7 consecutive weeks in the top ten on KDNK 88.1 FM Carbondale, CO and received 61st GRAMMY Awards® First Ballot consideration in several categories including Jazz Instrumental Album; Improvised Jazz Solo; Instrumental Composition; Engineered Album, Non-Classical; Record Of The Year and Album Of The Year.

Other album credits include guitarist Phill Fest Café Fonfon, released in April 2021 and currently in the JazzWeek Top 60 for over 10 consecutive weeks; Kansas City jazz pianist Michael Pagán Is Waiting for You; Production Coordinator for Matt Lemmler’s New Orleans Jazz Revival Band UBUNTU and Executive Producer for Paul Yonemura Reunion Trios and Kindred Spirits.

Michael is the founder and CEO of Girod Records®, a New Orleans based record label, a Voting Member of The Recording Academy (GRAMMY® Awards) and Vic Firth artist. He is also an active member of AFM Local 802 (New York, NY), CBDNA, JEN, LAJE, LMEA, NAfME, PAS and holds degrees in Percussion Performance from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL (MM) and Loyola University New Orleans (BM). 

Gail B. Levinsky Saxophone 

Gail B. Levinsky is a saxophonist and educator based in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. Serving on the faculty of Susquehanna University since 2000, Dr. Levinsky teaches applied studies in saxophone, chamber music, and woodwind methods. In addition, she directs the Susquehanna University Jazz Ensemble.

As a solo performer, Dr. Levinsky has presented recitals nationally and internationally featuring new works by Marilyn Shrude, Douglas McConnell, Mathew Quayle, Andrea Clearfield, Frank Ferko, and many others. Most recently she has premiered new works by Erin Graham and Stephanie Berg.

​In addition to her performance schedule Dr. Levinsky regularly presents clinics at state music education symposiums, including the MENC Eastern Region Conference, PMEA, NJMEA DMEA, and the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic. Her publications are varied and consist of an updated edition of Rosemary Lang’s “Beginning Altissimo Method” (Ensemble Publications); Music for Saxophone & Organ (Lyceum Publications), and the saxophone chapters “Teaching Woodwinds: A Guide for Students and Teachers” (Mountain Peak Music), and a saxophone choir arrangement of Tomás Victoria’s “O Vos Omnes”. 

​Dr. Levinsky completed her graduate degrees (DM, Artist Diploma, MM) from Northwestern University, and her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Butler University.

Nick Keelan
Trombone

After a 43 year career as a music educator, Nick Keelan retired from the faculty at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and now holds the rank of Lawrence Professor Emeritus. At various times while at Lawrence he taught trombone, euphonium, and tuba; courses in the Brass-Percussion Department, Jazz and Improvisational Music Department, and Music Education Department; directed the three Lawrence jazz ensembles and two Lawrence concert bands; coordinated and coached numerous student chamber ensembles; and performed with the Lawrence Faculty Jazz Group and the Lawrence Brass. While at Lawrence he received awards for excellence in teaching and for excellence in advising students. He served as the chair of the Winds-Brass-Percussion Department, Jazz Studies Department, and for 20 years was chair of Instrumental Music Education. An important area of his research, writing, and teaching is jazz improvisation for the hesitant novice.
 
As a jazz performer Keelan was an original member of the Dallas Jazz Orchestra, co-founder and leader of the Big Band Reunion in Northeast Wisconsin, and performed with rehearsal bands in Denver. Among the noted jazz artists with whom he has performed are Wayne Bergeron, Artie Shaw Orchestra, Bobby McFerrin, Bob Crosby, Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, John Harmon, Louis Bellson, Carl Fontana, Frank Rosolino, Slide Hampton, JJ Johnson, Bill Watrous, Wycliffe Gordon, Clark Terry, Joe Lovano, Gunther Schuller, and Donny McCaslin. He has numerous recordings with the Dallas Jazz Orchestra, Big Band Reunion, Warner Brothers studio, and the Lawrence Faculty Jazz Group. During his years at Lawrence, he worked with his dear friend and colleague, Fred Sturm (1951-2014), jazz composer, conductor, performer, and pedagogue who inspired so many students, teachers, and colleagues.
 
Prior to joining the Lawrence faculty, Keelan taught instrumental music for ten years in the elementary and secondary schools of Texas and Colorado. His degrees are from Henderson State University in Arkansas and the University of Northern Colorado. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, he is a 1968 graduate of Little Rock Central High School. Currently he is a member of and has been a soloist with the Colorado Brass Band and performs with the Summit Concert Band and Rocky Mountain Brass.

Hans Sturm
Double Bassist 

Double bassist Hans Sturm has performed as soloist, chamber, orchestral, jazz and improvisational musician throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and the United States. Sturm received his doctorate from Northwestern University and, prior to his appointment to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was Professor of Double Bass and Jazz Studies and Coordinator of the String Department at Ball State University for seventeen years, now Professor Emeritus.

Sturm has appeared with a variety of artists across the spectrum of jazz music including Eddie Daniels, Phil Woods, Randy Brecker, Dick Hyman, Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, Eddie Higgins, David Baker, Stanley Jordan, Peter Erskine, Joe LaBarbera, Alan Dawson, Bela Fleck, Howard Levy and many others. A frequent performer of chamber music, Sturm has toured with 'Fireflight' (soprano, Japanese koto and bass koto, double bass, and percussion) and 'Trinkle Brass Works Trio' (trumpet, marimba and double bass) for more than twenty years. He has worked in the electronic medium with composers such as Cleveland Scott and Joan Wildman. As an orchestral bassist, he has served as principal bassist of numerous regional orchestras including the Lincoln Symphony, Muncie Symphony, Quad Cities Symphony, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Madison Symphony, Dubuque Symphony, Dorian Opera, Rockford Symphony, Racine Symphony and toured Europe as a member of the American Sinfonietta Chamber Orchestra.

Highlights of Sturm's festival appearances include the Beijing International Chamber Music Festival; the Faneza International Chamber Music Festival in various cities in Emilia Romagna, Italy; the Scottish Bass Trust's International Convention and the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh Scotland; the College Music Society International Conference in Kyoto, Japan; Encontro de instrumentistas in Joao Pessoa and Belo Horizonte, Brazil; the Biennial International Symposium on Arts and Technology in New London, Connecticut; a State Department tour of Morocco; BASS2008 Paris Conservatoire, BASS2010 at the Universitat der Kunst in Berlin, BASS2012 in the Royal Opera House, Copenhagen, and BASS2018 at the Boccherini Conservatory in Lucca, Italy; International Society of Bassists Conventions in eight states; and jazz festivals and clubs throughout the U.S. including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Atlanta.

He has served as Jury Chair for the American String Teacher's Association Double Bass Solo Competition and the International Society of Bassists Jazz Competition, as well as judge for the International Society of Bassists Solo, 14-18, and Composition Competitions as well as various competitions in France, Italy, Brazil, and China.

Sturm has contributed performances and compositions to more than forty recordings with artists including the Pro Arte String Quartet, soprano Mimmi Fulmer, vocalist Jackie Allen, synthesist/composer Joan Wildman, guitarists Scott Fields, Rolf Sturm, Dave Baney, Jeff Parker, and Jack Grassel, trumpeters Bob Levy and David Young, and pianists Jane Reynolds, and Marilyn Crispell. He has recorded for Blue Note (EMI), Avant Bass, Centaur, A440, Innova, Red Mark, Music and Arts, CRI, Big Chicago, and Cadence labels among others.

Inspired by his work with international artist-teacher François Rabbath, Sturm developed, designed, and produced two state-of-the-art DVD projects, The Art of the Bow (2005) and The Art of the Left Hand (2010). Both DVDs employ the same advanced technology found in films such as Avatar and Lord of the Rings to create a pedagogical method, incorporating 3D biomechanics animations with user-selectable camera angles, live performances, interviews, and lecture demonstrations. They have been described in Strings Magazine as "revolutionary… the most profound teaching tool I've seen." The Strad called the DVDs "fascinating… whether you are a keen amateur or a serious professional, no bass player's education is complete without having experienced Rabbath's demonstrations."

Hans Sturm is a Past President and currently President-Elect of the International Society of Bassists and has served on the organization's board of directors for over twelve years. He served for six years as New Music Editor for the ISB's journal 'Bass World'. He served on the summer chamber music and jazz faculty of the National High School Music Institute at Northwestern University for ten years. His major teachers have included jazz virtuoso Richard Davis, classical soloist Jeff Bradetich, Pittsburgh Symphony Principal Bass Emeritus Anthony Bianco, Philadelphia Orchestra bassist Ferdinand Maresh, and international soloist and pedagogue François Rabbath. He currently lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with his wife, Blue Note recording artist Jackie Allen, and holds the positions of Hixson Lied Professor Professor of Double Bass & Jazz Studies and Coordinator of the String and Jazz Areas at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and Executive & Artistic Director of the Meadowlark Music Festival.