Humboldt County Office of Education: Biographies | All County Music Festival

Biographies | All County Music Festival

Below are short biographies for the conductors, chairpersons, and other people involved in tonight’s event. Click on a name or the arrow to the right of each name to read them.

Dan Aldag, Jazz Ensemble

Dr. Aldag has taught at Cal Poly Humboldt since 1994. He leads the Jazz Orchestra and the Jazz Combos and teaches trombone and courses in jazz and popular music. In 2013, he received HSU’s Excellence In Teaching Award.  

He regularly performs on trombone with the North Coast Brass Ensemble and has written a number of arrangements for the group. He has played behind Dizzy Gillespie, Louie Bellson, Joe Williams, Bob Hope, the Temptations, Diane Schuur, Bobby Caldwell, and the Manhattan Transfer.

Dan’s compositions and arrangements for jazz band, brass quintet, and trombone have been published by Ensemble Publications and Really Good Music, performed throughout the United States and Europe, and recorded on the Seabreeze Vista label.

A strong advocate for jazz education, he frequently works with middle school and high school jazz bands. With drummer Matt Wilson, he co-presented a clinic at the 2019 Jazz Educators Network national conference in Reno, Nevada.

A founding board member of the Redwood Jazz Alliance, Dan has helped bring more than 75 renowned jazz artists to Humboldt County to perform and to present workshops for HSU students and members of the community.

Dana Christen, Accompanist

Dana Christen is a retired music teacher after 38 years teaching music at Scotia Union School district. She holds her B.A. in Music from Humboldt State University and Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Oregon. She studied piano with Ella Roberta, Charles Fulkerson, Deborah Berman, Greg Mason and Deborah Clasquin.

She has performed with many local musicians and accompanied many area choirs. She is the organist for St. Francis Episcopal Church in Fortuna. She enjoys playing chamber music. She teaches private piano lessons and is enjoying being home, quilting, and genealogy in her retirement with her husband Art.

Dr. Alexander Kahn, Senior Orchestra

Alexander Kahn is Associate Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Activities at Sonoma State University and Founder and Music Director of the UC Berkeley Chamber Orchestra. 

In addition to his educational activities, Alexander has worked with professional and festival orchestras across the United States and throughout Europe. Currently he serves as Assistant Conductor for the Santa Rosa Symphony, as well as Music Director of the Vintner’s Chamber Orchestra, a professional chamber orchestra that performs at wineries throughout Sonoma and Napa counties. Recent guest conducting engagements have included work with the Mill Valley Philharmonic, Festival Opera of Walnut Creek, Cazadero Performing Arts Camp, and middle school and high school honor orchestras throughout California.

Alexander earned a PhD in Music History from UC Berkeley and remains active as a scholar. His book on mindfulness and music, Caring for the Whole Musician, is scheduled for release by Routledge Press in 2022.

Alexander’s primary conducting studies were at UC Berkeley with David Milnes and at the Peabody Institute with Marin Alsop, Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar.

Jonathan Souza, Senior Choir

California native Jonathan Souza received his undergraduate training at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California completing his BA in Music Education and Vocal Performance.  His graduate studies were completed at San Jose State University where he received a MA in Music, Choral Conducting under the mentorship of Dr. Charlene Archibeque.

Now in his 9th year at GHS, Mr. Souza brings a wealth of experience to the GHS music department. Mr. Souza’s advanced choral ensemble regularly receives superior ratings, travels extensively internationally most recently completed a performance and service learning tour to Quebec.The Chamber Singers perform for various civic/community events all across the southern SF Bay Area including singing the National Anthem at professional sporting events including the San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics and San Jose Sharks. In addition, the Gilroy High School Chamber Singers, under the direction of Mr. Souza, were selected by audition to perform at the California All-State Music Educators Conference (CASMEC) in February of 2020.

Prior to teaching in Gilroy Mr. Souza spent two years living and teaching music in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where he directed all levels of general and vocal music at the American School of Puerto Vallarta.  Mr. Souza has been recognized for his teaching excellence including the North Coast CMEA 2007 Outstanding Music Educator of the Year, the Fortuna Union High School District Principal’s Award in 2008 for his outstanding service to his students, the 2010 Wells Fargo Stagecoach Teaching Excellence Award and was recognized by the Gilroy Unified School District for his excellence in teaching. 

Currently, Mr. Souza is the Director of Choirs at Gilroy High School and the choral music teacher at Solorsano Middle School for Gilroy Unified School District.  Mr. Souza lives in Gilroy and enjoys spending his free time traveling with his wife and two children.

Corey Tamondong, Senior Band

Corey Tamondong is the director of music at Brookings-Harbor High School in Brookings, Oregon. Corey has a Master’s in Music Education from the American Band College of Central Washington University. He received both a BA in Music Education and a Single-Subject Teaching Credential in Music at Cal Poly Humboldt.

His primary instruments are the bass trombone and bassoon. In his credential year, Corey Tamondong student-taught under the tutelage of Daniel Sedgwick at Del Norte High School in Crescent City, California. There he worked with marching, concert, and jazz bands, steel drum ensemble, and beginning, treble, and chamber choirs. In this position, he also created and taught a jazz choir as a solo teaching project.

After receiving his credential, Corey Tamondong accepted the position of music teacher at Brookings-Harbor High School where he taught an online survey of music class (theory, history, composition, and ethnomusicology) during COVID distance learning, concert, treble, and jazz/ chamber choirs, string orchestra, and beginning, concert, marching and jazz bands.

Living on the Southern Oregon coast, Corey Tamondong currently performs with a community orchestra and wind ensemble- The Wild Rivers Symphony- where he plays bass trombone, bassoon, and double bass. His hobbies include fishing, gardening, mushroom hunting, hiking, and anything that involves being in, on, or around the river.

Award Recipients

Charles Young, 2020 Music Educator of the Year

Mr. Young teaches at Eureka Senior High School, where he has taught a gamut of classes including Vocal Jazz, Instrumental Jazz, Guitar, String Orchestra, Concert Choir, SSAA Choir, Symphonic Bands and AP Music Theory. Charles is Co-Department Chair of Visual and Performing Arts. In addition, he was the artistic director/conductor of the barbershop group the Humboldt Harmonaires 2018-2020.

Mr. Young earned his national teaching credential in 1994, at CSU Stanislaus studying under Dr. Deborah Kavasch, Dr. Ginger Colla, and Dr. David Goedecke. Charles graduated with a degree in music from Chico State University in 1989, singing under Dr. Sharon Paul and playing euphonium for Mr. Daniel Heistand.

Mr. Young credits both of these incredible instructors as his inspiration for pursuing music education. Mr. Heistand took an interest in his musical life, directing him to find his way to the classroom and imbuing him with how to run a focused and sound rehearsal. “Dr. Paul’s unbelievable range of musicianship from style to style; her ability to inspire a musician to their best in the daily classroom and through her conducting is foundational in my teaching.”

“None of this is possible without the support of my family. To them, I am most grateful.”

Ronite Gluck, 2021 Music Educator of the Year

Ronite Gluck has taught at Freshwater School since 1995. In that time, she has built the instrumental music program from a 4-hour a week position with one band to a 4-day a week program with beginning, intermediate and concert bands, steel drum bands, jazz band, and a world music program for the Freshwater Charter Middle School. Favorite projects have included student created and performed musical soundtracks for cartoons, and three CD recordings with the Freshwater Jazz Band.

Ronite received her Music Teaching Credential, Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music Performance and Music Education and Masters of Arts in Education from Cal Poly Humboldt.  She also holds a B.A. in Community Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to her teaching schedule at Freshwater School, Ronite teaches horn at Cal Poly Humboldt.

Ronite has been twice awarded Music Teacher of the Year by the North Coast Section of the California Music Educators Association (2006, 2021), and in 2010 was awarded the Wells Fargo Stagecoach Legacy Award for Excellence in Teaching. She has enjoyed mentoring 12 teaching credential candidates since 1998 and has served the North Coast section of CMEA as chair of the Solo and Ensemble Festival and the Jazz Festival for many years.

An active performer, she is the principal horn of the Eureka Symphony Orchestra and a founding member of the Northcoast Brass Ensemble, a brass quintet of local music educators. Ronite is grateful to share the music with her husband Dan and their two sons, Ben and Sam.

Katri Pitts, 2021 State CMEA Peripole General Music Educator of the Year

Katri Pitts earned her B.A. in music education and vocal performance from Cal Poly Humboldt in 2003, earned her teaching credential in music in 2004, and completed her level one Orff certification at the Vandercook College of Music in 2014.  She has been the music teacher for the Cutten-Ridgewood School District for nearly seventeen years, teaching TK-6th grade general music, band, strings, and choir.

Katri received the Music Educator of the Year Award for the North Coast Section of the CMEA in 2014 and the CMEA Peripole General Music Educator Award in 2021.  Katri taught musical theater and singing games classes through the Humboldt Music Academy from 2001 until the pandemic shut down in 2020 and has been teaching musical theater classes for Humboldt Light Opera’s KidCo program for twenty years. 

She is a board member of Humboldt Light Opera Company, frequently appears in HLOC productions, and has served as chorus director for a number of HLOC shows.  She is a member of the Eureka Symphony Chorus, the Humboldt Light Opera Company women’s chorus, and the Pitts Family Quartet, which has appeared at the Fortuna Concert Series.   Katri loves to rehearse and perform with her husband, Larry, and her two daughters, Aurora and Trillium, and is grateful for their constant support and inspiration. 

Chris Cox, 2022 Music Educator of the Year

Chris Cox is currently teaching music for Eureka City Schools where he is the Director of the Jazz Ensemble at Eureka High School, and teaches general music and beginning band at 4 elementary schools. He earned his Bachelor Arts in Music Education from California State University Fresno in 1990 and his Masters of Music Performance on Trumpet from Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York in 1993.

In addition to his teaching schedule for ECS, he is the trumpet instructor at Cal Poly Humboldt. Mr. Cox has kept active as a trumpet player, playing with the Eureka Symphony, the Northcoast Brass Ensemble, and various other music ensembles around Humboldt County. Mr. Cox loves to spend time with his wife, Elizabeth and their two children, Marcus and Garrett.