Jessica Morel currently serves as the Assistant Conductor of the Winston-Salem Symphony, a position she has held since September 2016. In this role she leads the Discovery Concerts for Kids, the Mary Starling Educational Concerts, selected Plugged-In-Pops Concerts, and covers for Music Director, Robert Moody. She is also the Music Director of the Winston-Salem Symphony Youth Orchestras Program. This season Morel will make her debut as a guest conductor with the Charlotte Symphony, the Amarillo Symphony, and as a cover conductor for the Portland Symphony (Maine). She has also served as a cover conductor for the Memphis Symphony, and has appeared in front of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Abilene Philharmonic, and the North Czech Philharmonic.
Prior to coming to Winston-Salem, Morel served as the Director of Orchestras and Visiting Professor at the University of Evansville (IN) from 2015-2016. She also worked with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra where she conducted the Lollipops Concerts for Children. In June 2015, Morel was selected to be the Assistant Conductor of the Hot Springs Music Festival in Arkansas, assisting and working with Music Director, Peter Bay. Additionally, she has studied and conducted at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music with Marin Alsop, the Eastern Music Festival with Gerard Schwarz, the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy with Arthur Arnold, and the Atlantic Music Festival with David Amado. In 2014, Morel was honored as a winner of the International Conductors’ Workshop and Competition held in Atlanta.
While earning her doctorate at the University of North Texas, Morel’s conducting positions included Assistant Conductor with the Lewisville Lake Symphony, Opera Conductor at Texas Woman’s University, Apprentice Conductor with the Plano Symphony, and Graduate Assistant Conductor for the UNT Symphony Orchestra. An enthusiastic supporter of new music, Morel conducted UNT’s NOVA Contemporary Music Ensemble for two years, and created the UNT Pierrot Ensemble Project, a concert that inspired student composers to write works for Pierrot Ensemble. In addition to conducting, Morel served as a Teaching Fellow for the UNT Music Theory Department for two years.
Originally from Los Angeles, Morel holds her Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, where she studied flute with Kathryn Lukas, and her Master’s degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she studied orchestral conducting with Taras Krysa. She is currently completing her dissertation and Doctorate at the University of North Texas, where she studied orchestral conducting with David Itkin and Clay Couturiaux.
Margaret Rehder has been the Youth Philharmonic Music Director since 1999. Since 1984 she has led the orchestra programs at Reynolds High School and Wiley Middle School, and she has played with the Winston-Salem Symphony since 1979. She holds degrees in violin performance from Meredith College (B.M.) and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (M.M.).
Premiere Strings Interim Conductor
Ryane Dunnagan is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She received both her Undergraduate and Masters degrees from the North Carolina School of the Arts in cello performance. Under the instruction of Robert Marsh and Marcy Rosen, founder of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, Ms. Dunnagan has participated in various masterclasses with such artists as Joel Krosnick and the Julliard String Quartet.
After completing her Masters degree in 2003, Ms. Dunnagan taught public school at the middle and high school level. In addition to teaching, she also performed with various orchestras in North Carolina and Virginia, such as the Salisbury, Roanoke and Asheville Symphony Orchestras. During that time, she was under the instruction of Alan Black, principal cellist of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.
In 2006, Ms. Dunnagan began her Doctorate degree in cello performance at the University of Georgia under the instruction of Dr. David Starkweather. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, she was the Master Teacher of the UGA String Project, a national organization dedicated to promoting music and fostering music education in the public school system. While in Georgia, Ms. Dunnagan performed with various orchestras and most notably performed with the legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck for a documentary produced by Clint Eastwood.
Ms. Dunnagan completed her doctorate in 2011 and returned to North Carolina in 2012. She resumed her post in the public schools until 2016. Dr. Dunnagan is in demand as a clinician and frequently guest conducts in schools, county events, and youth orchestras. Dr. Dunnagan maintains a large private studio and is also an active member of the American String Teachers Association. She is currently a lead teacher for the Winston-Salem Symphony’s P.L.A.Y. program, an elementary strings program in the public schools.