The Detroit MYS Conductors
Detroit Metropolitan Youth Symphony hires amazing Conductors to mentor, teach and direct students in grades 2-13, in our four orchestras. Our Conductors are highly qualified musicians chosen for their expertise in working with young people.
CONDUCTOR, SYMPHONY Orchestra
Doug Bianchi is currently in his 22nd year as Director of Bands at Wayne State University where he conducts the Wind Symphony, Concert Band, and Chamber Winds, as well as teaches both undergraduate and graduate conducting courses. In addition, he is serving his seventh year as Music Director of the International Symphony Orchestra (Port Huron/Sarnia). With degrees from both Wayne State University and Oakland University, Doug continued advanced studies in conducting at the Conductors Institute, and in Europe, and is in demand as a guest conductor and clinician, working regularly with high school bands and orchestras. He is a MSBOA adjudicator and has performed at the Michigan Music Educators and College Band Director National Association conferences several times.
His extensive conducting experience includes orchestral, choral, ballet, opera, and musical theatre, and his portfolio includes numerous premier performances and commissions and published articles. Doug has guest conducted in England, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Taiwan and, this summer he guested conducted in the National and Ballet Orchestra of Romania and toured Italy with the Wayne State University Camerata. He has had the privilege of having several of his compositions performed nationally. In the spring of 2018 his "Three Shakespearean Sonnets" for Soprano and Orchestra was premiered as part of the International Symphony Orchestra's 60th anniversary celebrations. Previous to his current position at Wayne State, he taught for 19 years in the public schools, 15 of them as a high school band and choir director at L'Anse Creuse High School North in Mount Clemens, Michigan. He was conductor of the Warren Concert Band for 25 years and was the first conductor for Detroit MYS Concert Orchestra in 1982.
CONDUCTOR, CONCERT ORCHESTRA
Paul Shawver, the 2012 and 2015 District IV MSBOA Orchestra Teacher of the Year, graduated cum laude from Wayne State University in 2002 with bachelor's degrees in both Instrumental Music Education and Double Bass Performance. He completed his Master of Humanities degree in 2008 from Central Michigan University. He currently serves as the Vice President for Orchestral Activities for District 4 of the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA).
Mr. Shawver is currently in his seventeenth year as the Director of Orchestras for both Groves High School and Berkshire Middle School in the Birmingham Public Schools. Under Mr. Shawver's direction, the Groves High School orchestra program has grown by 200%, a second orchestra was created for the first time in Groves history, a parent booster group was established, and the extremely popular Groves Electric Mayhem (an all-electric rock orchestra) was created. Groves Orchestras have been very successful at MSBOA competitions under the direction of Mr. Shawver, and the Groves Orchestras have competed/performed in Washington D.C., Boston, New York, Chicago, Toronto, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Florence and Rome.
When Mr. Shawver is not on the podium, he is an avid basketball player and fan, he enjoys all things automotive, and, when the rare opportunity presents itself, he enjoys a bit of gaming on his PS4. Most of all, Mr. Shawver enjoys spending quality time with his beautiful wife, Laura, and his four children, Paul, Lincoln, Owen, and Alice.
CONDUCTOR, STRING Orchestra
Geoffrey Benes has served as a conductor for the Detroit Metropolitan Youth Symphony since 2009, conducting the Concert Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra and is now lending his considerable talents as Conductor of the String Orchestra.
He began his teaching career in Troy in 1988 and was the conductor of the Athens High School Orchestras 1992-2015. He currently serves as an elementary strings teacher in Troy. While at Athens, his orchestras consistently received top ratings at Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association festivals, and the Athens orchestras earned numerous first place finishes at national music competitions in Chicago, Toronto, Gatlinburg, Virginia Beach, Boston and New York City. In 2003, the Athens Orchestras were selected to represent Michigan in the National Festival of the States in Washington, D.C., and in March 2011 and March 2015, both orchestras were selected to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Mr. Benes has served as Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) District XVI String Committee Representative 1998-2003, and was named MSBOA District XVI Orchestra Teacher of the Year in 2003. He has served as a clinician for various orchestra events across Metro Detroit.
Mr. Benes has begun performing more often as a member of the viola section of the Macomb Symphony Orchestra and as the violist in the VSO String Quartet. When he’s not practicing for orchestra or quartet, he enjoys reading, being outdoors playing golf or walking, and spending time with his wife and 2 adult children. This past summer, he attended the Violin Craftsmanship Institute at the University of New Hampshire learning the art of violin building.
CONDUCTOR, Junior StrinG Orchestra
Natalie Frakes is a Detroit-based violinist and music educator who believes deeply in using music as a vehicle for social change and making quality string education more accessible to underserved youth. She graduated cum laude from Wayne State University's music program where she studied with Dr. Laura Roelofs. She enjoys performing an eclectic mix of genres and has had the privilege of performing with some of Detroit's best jazz musicians and other current artists (Evanescence, Lindsey Stirling, Kygo, Disturbed, Eminem, and more). Natalie is also a core member of electro-pop violin band NUCLASSICA.
Natalie is a passionate educator and was Director of Orchestras for Oxford Community Schools and is currently Director of Orchestras for Renaissance High School and works with both DMYS and MSU Community Music School. She has been a teaching artist with the Sphinx Organization, the Detroit Symphony's Civic Youth Ensembles, and El Sistema programs including BSO's OrchKids, Costa Rica's SiNEM, and the Archipelago Project.
Aside from teaching and performing, Natalie loves to travel, play tennis, and ride her moped.