Emily Muller Callender - Lead Instructor, Symphony Strings;

Emily Muller Callender started violin and piano in her preschool years, and has continued playing since. She grew up in the Pendleton schools, studying violin first with Shirlene McMichael, later with Lee Friese, Dr. Lisa Robertson, and Dr. Phillip Baldwin. She began accompanying the PHS and BMCC choirs while in high school, and went on to study voice as well. Muller Callender graduated from Pendleton High School and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Music from Eastern Oregon University, a Master of Arts in Music Performance with emphases in voice, piano, and violin/viola from Eastern Washington University, and a Masters of Education in curriculum development and Instruction from Montana State University. 

Callender returned to the Pendleton area in 2007 to teach orchestra and strings in the schools, and now teaches high school choir as well. Prior to her return she lived in Spokane, WA, and Livingston, MT, where she played with the Bridger String Quartet, freelanced with multiple symphonic ensembles, and played with several bluegrass bands. She made her operatic debut with the Spokane Symphony Opera, and continues an avid performing and accompanying career. Her bluegrass band, Blue Pass, performed on 'A Prairie Home Companion' with Garrison Keillor.  She continues to develop a private studio as well as her full time instructional responsibilities with the school district. She also continues as the principal Viola in the Oregon East Symphony, in which she has played since age 11. Contributing to the continuing development of young musicians in the community remains a priority for her as a musician and educator. 

Melinda Tovey - Teacher, Symphony Strings; Conductor, Preludes

Melinda Tovey started playing violin in the Forest Grove, Oregon Suzuki Strings Program at age four. She continued with private lessons through high school, played as Concert Master for the Forest Grove High School Orchestra and played with the Portland Youth Philharmonic for seven years. She attended Ricks College and played in their Symphony and Chamber Group. She semi-retired for 25 years to raise a family while teaching private lessons in her own studio for the last 20 years in Roseburg, Oregon. Melinda recently moved to Hermiston where here husband teaches marketing and coaches wrestling at Hermiston High School. She returned to college three years ago to finish her music degree in the spring of 2015 at Walla Walla University.

Bruce Walker - Conductor, A Sharp Players

St. Louis, Missouri native, Bruce Walker, currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington. He is also Music Director for the Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra, and as Cover Conductor for the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Walker has previously served as Director of Orchestral Activities for the Sunnyside School District in Sunnyside, Washington, Conductor for the Kittitas Valley Youth Orchestra, Co-conductor of the Ellensburg Campus-Community Orchestra, Director of the Central Washington University Music Preparatory Strings Program, and cello/conducting intern for the Marrowstone Music Festival. 

Mr. Walker holds baccalaureate degrees in Music Education and Cello Performance from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a master degrees in Performance studying Orchestral Conducting and Cello Performance from Central Washington University. His primary teachers have been Kangho Lee and John Michel (cello) and Dr. Jeffery Meyer, Michael Jinbo, Dr. Nikolas Caoile, Kenneth Woods, and Lawrence Golan (conducting). When not on the podium, he can be found enjoying time outside around his BBQ pit and smoker and having people sample his new creations.

Peg Willis - Teacher, Symphony Strings

Peg Willis, mother of three Suzuki students and long-time Registered Suzuki Teacher, has taught in Pendleton Public Schools in the past and has returned this year to our Symphony Strings program. She began teaching guitar in 1962 and in the years since then has also taught mountain dulcimer, tin whistle, and stand-up bass in the traditional method. Several of her private students (from seven northeast Oregon and southeast Washington counties) have moved on to professional music. While best known for teaching traditional American, French Canadian, and Irish fiddle styles, she has also started a number of fine classical musicians.

Peg operated a Summer Strings program in Pendleton for 10 years employing seven teachers and offering classes in several Suzuki levels, Irish fiddling, old-time fiddling, note reading, music theory, and folk & square dancing. While Peg’s strength is in teaching beginners, she has also produced several advanced groups who have performed around the area and in such far-flung places as Alaska, Colorado, Washington D.C., and Ireland.

Loree Tucker-McKenna - Teacher, Symphony Strings

Loree Tucker-McKenna has been teaching cello in Pendleton for over 40 years. She began studies on the cello at the age of 7 in Walla Walla at Whitman College and graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University with a degree in Cello Performance. She has, at various times over the past 40 years, been principal chair for the Oregon East Symphony, the Walla Walla Symphony and played with the Mid-Columbia Symphony and the Grand Ronde Symphony. She was cellist for the Aeolian String Quartet for many years and has had extensive training in chamber music. Loree was a founding member of the Oregon East Symphony, A# Players and Preludes. She has also played for many musicals over the years, beginning in high school. Loree regularly is on the staff of the OES Music Camp and is director/teacher for an annual Cello Workshop in June.

Emma Knight - Teacher, Symphony Strings; Conducting Assistant, Preludes

Emma Knight, formerly Anderton, has been playing violin since she was 9 years old. She started with the elementary strings program in 4th and 5th grade and continued playing with the school orchestras in middle school and high school. In middle school, she started taking violin lessons and eventually studied under Lisa Robertson. Emma was concert master of the Pendleton High School orchestra, president of the orchestra club, and won the Arion Music Award her senior year. In high school, she helped teach the elementary strings students and taught private lessons. When she went to college, she continued to study violin privately and joined the university orchestras at the schools she attended. Emma currently enjoys playing and teaching with the Oregon East Symphony.