MEET THE CONDUCTORS
String Orchestra Conductor, Samuel Branch, is an Associate Director of Orchestras at Martin High School and the Strings Director at Little Elementary in the Arlington ISD. He served as the Head Director at Gunn Junior High School in Arlington for 13 years. Mr. Branch is also a graduate of TCU with Departmental Honors, where he earned a Bachelor of Music Education Degree cum lade. He studied conducting with Dr. Germán Gutiérrez and violin with Dr. Curt Thompson. As a member of the TCU Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Branch performed in two tours to Mexico in 1998 and 2000. In 2002, Mr. Branch attended the Pergine Spettacolo Aperto music festival in Pergine, Italy and served as Assistant Producer of the opera program and its performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. Mr. Branch is a member of Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association and Mu Phi Epsilon, and has been invited to clinic and judge at various regions around the state. He is also on staff at The University of Texas at Arlington Summer Stings Camp and the Sam Houston State University Junior High/ High School Orchestra Camp. Fluent in Spanish, Mr. Branch was born in Mexico City, Mexico and immigrated to the United States at the age of five and began studying violin at the age of 10. When not conducting or teaching, Mr. Branch enjoys golfing, road biking and spending time with his family.
Philharmonic Condutor, Nick Nixon, a Texas native, has been active as a teacher/conductor and adjudicator of orchestras, concert bands, and jazz bands for approximately forty years. Recently retired from full-time teaching, Mr. Nixon was most recently the orchestra coordinator for Fort Worth ISD. In addition to his work with the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra, Nick stays busy both as a local pianist, and as a clinician and adjudicator of school orchestras throughout Texas. Mr. Nixon was a co-founder of the Amarillo Area Youth Orchestra, and has served as conductor of the Austin Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. Orchestras, as well as bands under Mr. Nixon’s direction have been named to the final round of Texas Music Educators Association Honor Competition on four different occasions. Mr. Nixon holds the Bachelor of Music Education and the Master of Arts degrees from West Texas A & M, with additional graduate work from the University of North Texas, and University of Texas at San Antonio, and was a conducting student of Anshel Brusilow. A Past President of Texas Music Adjudicators Association, Nick is also a member of Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, and Mu Omicron honorary orchestra society.
Junior String Orchestra Conductor, Amanda Musser, graduated from TCU in 1975 and began a teaching career in Arlington, Texas that spanned 34 years until her retirement in 2009. During that time the Bailey Junior High School Orchestra won numerous awards, including an invitation to perform in Washington DC in 1997, and selection as the Texas Music Educators Association Honor Orchestra of the state in 1995. Throughout her career, Mrs. Musser worked with more than 30 student teachers from area universities. Many of her former students and student teachers are orchestra teachers today. She was thrilled to return to TCU in 2009 as Adjunct Professor of Music Education, String Techniques instructor, and Supervisor of student teachers. Staying busy in “retirement”, Mrs. Musser is a frequent judge and clinician, working with orchestras throughout Texas and the South. In 2014 she began working for Arlington ISD again mentoring first-year teachers. She is a member of TMEA, TODA, TMAA and a charter member of Mu Omicron. Mrs. Musser resides in Arlington, married to Steve Musser, and is the mother of two grown sons, Patrick and Kyle Haubold. Of all her jobs, though, her favorite is being grandmother to Wesley, Libbey, Hunter and Will.
FWYO Music Director Germán Gutiérrez: Since 2000, Dr. Germán Gutiérrez has served as Music Director of the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra (FWYO). He has served as Director of Orchestras and Professor of Orchestral Studies at Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University (TCU) as well as Director of TCU’s Latin American Music Center and biennial Latin American Music Festival since 1996. Under his baton, the TCU Symphony and the FWYO have achieved exceptional levels of recognition in Fort Worth and abroad. Both groups have traveled on numerous international tours, obtaining enthusiastic reviews, including repeat invitations as the featured orchestra to engagements such as the Ibero-American Music Festival in Puerto Rico, and the Texas Music Educators Association Convention in San Antonio. With the TCU Symphony, Maestro Gutiérrez has also conducted the world premieres of more than twelve contemporary works. In 2004, Maestro Gutiérrez led the Youth Orchestra on a tour of Europe that included performances at Salzburg’s Mozarteum, Eisenstadt’s Esterházy Palace in Austria, and a concert in Prague. Maestro Gutiérrez holds Músico Bachiller and Maestro en Música degrees from the Tolima Conservatory in Colombia. He also received a master’s degree from Illinois State University and a doctoral degree from the University of Northern Colorado. For his involvement and dedication to TCU, Maestro Gutiérrez received the Dean's Teaching Award, the Dean's Award for Research and Creative Activity, and the 2003 Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity, the highest award that the university bestows.