Jaymes Kirksey has become a national presence as a violinist, pianist and conductor. Entering his first season with Solana Youth Chamber Orchestra, Kirksey brings with him versatility, precision, and an exciting stage presence. As a conductor and educator, Jaymes has created high quality musical interpretations ranging from Baroque to modern symphonic repertoire.
Kirksey made his conducting debut in 2014 with Young Musicians Choral Orchestra (YMCO), filling in for famed Los Angeles conductor and Hollywood musician Anthony Parnther leading rehearsals in arias by Verdi, Donizetti, Mozart and Aaron Copeland’s Lincoln Portrait with narration by famed actor Delroy Lindo. For five years now, he has served as Music Director for the Bay Area’s acclaimed Young Musician Choral Orchestra and frequent guest artist/conductor for Golden Gate Symphony.
Some of his performances have included Brahms’ Symphony. No 4 with Golden Gate Symphony, Richard Strauss’ Finale Trio from der Rosenkavalier with Frederica von Stade as guest soloist, Prince Igor by Borodin, Star Wars overture by John Williams and a specially commissioned work by famed jazz and R&B singer/songwriter and composer Patrice Rushen entitled Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory. Jaymes is excited to bring his creativity and musicianship to members of the Solana Youth Chamber Orchestra and the Solano community.
Rafael Francisco Toro-Quiñones is a native of Puerto Rico. In addition to leading the North Bay Philharmonic Symphony he is the Commander of the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band, located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, and Commander of the USAF Heartland of America Band, a geographically separated unit located at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
Major Toro-Quiñones entered the Air Force in 1997 as an enlisted member and bassist with the USAF Band of Mid-America. After winning a band officer audition, he received his commission through the Air Force Officer Training School.
Toro-Quiñones has worked as a freelance bassist and conductor in Puerto Rico, the United States and Europe, performed with the San Juan Pops and recorded with the famous Puerto Rican music group Haciendo Punto en Otro Son.
1996 Bachelor of Music in Performance and Philosophy, cum laude, DePauw University
2009 Master of Music in Wind Ensemble Conducting with academic honors, New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, MA
In 2018 he received the Young Artist Conservatory of Music Recognition for Outstanding Contribution, 2018.
Melinda Packer is a multi-instrumentalist, playing viola, clarinet, and serving as vocal percussionist for East Bay based a cappella group 'Highwire'.
For the Vacaville Unified School District, she teaches beginning strings to fifth and sixth graders at five elementary schools and is the Orchestra Director and Pep Band Director at Vacaville High School.
Melinda co-directs Young Artists Conservatory of Music’s award winning contemporary pop a cappella group 'Fuse’. She also directs Solano Junior Strings,
As a freelance violist, Melinda has played with the Solano Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Napa Valley, the Benicia Ballet, and Missouri Street Theater company. As an advocate for music education, Melinda is the Director of the Solano Symphony's Young Artists Competition and is the Executive Producer of the Women’s A cappella Association's WeSing 2019 vocal festival.
Melinda regularly attends a cappella festivals where she often teaches vocal percussion workshops and directs masterclasses. In the past two years she has attended the National A Cappella Convention, New England Voices, SoJam, and BOSS.