Zach Banks - Conductor, OES Youth Orchestra; Conductor, Raising the Bar; Coach, OES Youth Chamber Collective; Teacher, Symphony Strings

Zach Banks was hired a Strings Instructor in the 2018-2019 season with his duties including conducting the OES Youth Orchestra, teaching in other existing education activities, and developing new programming. He graduated from Portland State University in 2018 where he received a Masters Degree in cello performance. Zach has served as acting principal cellist in the Oregon East Symphony and been a section cellist with Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra, ARCO PDX, Portland State University Symphony, Northwest Indiana Youth Symphony, United States Youth Ensemble on their 2007 European tour. As a music educator he has been a music theory instructor with the Portland Youth Philharmonic and Metropolitan Youth Symphony, and an instructor at the OES Summer Strings Music Camp. Outside the realm of classical music Zach has shared the stage with pop music performers Nick Jaina, Stelth Ulvang (of The Lumineers), and Father John Misty. He is currently the Music Director of Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra.

Emily Muller-Cary - Lead Instructor, Symphony Strings

Emily Muller Muller-Cary 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 Pendleton High School and Blue Mountain Community College choirs while in high school, and went on to study voice as well. Muller-Cary 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. 

Muller-Cary 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.

Viet Block - Teacher, Symphony Strings; Assistant Coach, Raising the Bar; Assistant, OES Youth Orchestra

Violinist Viet Block enjoys sharing the gift of music with people from all walks of life, especially those who cannot easily get to the concert hall. She has performed for senior communities throughout Oregon and has volunteered over 100 hours at the Portland V.A. Hospital, where her main duties involved providing music in the main lobby and patient rooms. In the concert hall, Viet has had the honor of sharing the stage with notable soloists such as Anne Akiko Myers, Alexander Markov, Orli Shaham, and others, throughout her career as a symphony player. She has been a 1st violinist in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra since 2012, and is currently the assistant concertmaster of the Oregon East Symphony. Viet has also played in the Newport Symphony Orchestra, Astoria Festival Orchestra, Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Portland Choir and Orchestra, Portland Civic Orchestra, Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra, and Stumptow Stages production of A Christmas Carol: The Musical.

Beyond the standard repertoire, Block can be heard on numerous albums and recording projects, including Stelth Ulvang’s (The Lumineers) solo album And as Always; The Infinite Cosmos, Joe Kye’s album Migrants, and Cody ChesnuTT’s live studio session of his song “Chips Down (In No Landfill)” for NPR Music. An advocate of new music, she has performed works for Cascadia Composers (a chapter of the National Association of Composers, USA) and as part of the premiere a piece for chamber ensemble by Raven Chacon. In addition to performing, Viet finds fulfillment in teaching, and is delighted to engage with many students through her private studio and the Oregon East Symphony’s string education programs.

Block’s own studies began at the age of six, as a pupil of Ruth Petrasso. Under her tutelage, she made her solo debut in 2010 as a winner of the Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra Youth Solo Competition. Other commendable teachers include Carol Sindell, protégé to the great violinists of the 20th century (Jascha Heifetz, Josef Gingold, Ivan Galamian); Dr. Tomas Cotik, critically acclaimed soloist and Naxos recording artist; Adam LaMotte; and cellist Hamilton Cheifetz, mentor and chamber music coach. Viet earned a Master’s degree in performance from Portland State University’s College of the Arts, School of Music in 2018, were she was a recipient of the David E. Wedge Music Scholarship. During her undergraduate career at PSU, she was awarded the Cowles Instrumental Scholarship.

Heidi Haug - Teacher, Symphony Strings

Heidi Haug started her musical studies with her mother at the age of three on the violin, and at the age of four she started learning the piano at a small music studio. In elementary school she joined the elementary strings program that inspired her to join the school orchestra in middle school. She was then introduced to the Sun Valley Symphony School of Music where she started studying at their piano and violin institute. Within the program she participated in IMEA festivals and adjudications. In high school she auditioned into the advanced chamber orchestra, and started studying voice with RL Rowsey at the Sun Valley Symphony School of Music. Haug was accepted into the Sun Valley Summer Symphony Institute in 2017 and 2018, she went to Idaho Allstate in 2018, and made it to Idaho's state competition in 2018. Haug worked at a local music studio alongside her mother throughout high school where she taught both violin and piano.