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 SteeleExecutive 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 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 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.
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. LevinskySaxophone
Margaret Banton has performed as a freelance and military musician and clinician in the Atlanta area for over 30 years, where she first served as saxophonist and vocalist with the Army Ground Forces Band, Ft. McPherson, Georgia. In 2013, Margaret retired from the Air National Guard Band of the South, Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, where she performed as saxophonist and vocalist, and served as the band’s senior enlisted leader. Equally versatile in classical, jazz, and R&B genres, Margaret performs with several large and small ensembles in and around the Atlanta metro area, to include performing as saxophonist with the Atlanta Wind Symphony, principal saxophonist and jazz band leader with the Tara Winds, and saxophonist and vocalist with the Carollton Jazz Orchestra. She also performs with several tribute bands (Bob Seger and Neil Diamond) that tour throughout the U.S.
Margaret performed with the Minnesota Vikings Band for five years and was a recipient of a McDonalds All-American Jazz Ensemble scholarship. She pursued jazz studies at the University of Minnesota, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Business/Industry from St. Catherine University and a Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management from Central Michigan University. Outside of music, Margaret has a full-time career as a Senior Human Capital Management Advisor with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). She is an avid swimmer and jazz and R&B music fanatic, and resides in Marietta, Georgia.