MEET THE CONDUCTORS
MUSIC DIRECTOR & YOUTH ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR
STRING ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR
JUNIOR STRING ORCHETSRA CONDUCTOR
Samuel Ontiveros Branch is an Associate Director of Orchestras at Martin High School in Arlington, TX. Since 2006 he has also served as director of the String Orchestra at the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra. Prior to his position at Martin he served as the Head Orchestra Director at Gunn Junior High School in Arlington, TX for 13 years. Mr. Branch is a graduate of Texas Christian University, from which he earned a Bachelor of Music Education Cum Laude with Departmental Honors. With violin as his primary instrument, he studied conducting under the direction of Dr. Germán Gutiérrez and violin under the direction of Dr. Curt Thompson. Mr. Branch began his teaching career in 2001, and his groups consistently receive Sweepstakes ratings at UIL music contests and superior ratings at spring festivals. Three times at different festivals his groups have earned Best in Class and Grand Champion awards. Since arriving at Martin High School, the Martin Symphony Orchestra has twice been named the TMEA Honor Full Orchestra, the highest honor bestowed on any music education program in Texas. The Martin Symphony has also performed at the Midwest Clinic and Conference in Chicago, Illinois, the American Strings Teacher Association conference in Orlando, Florida, and as part of the Vox Anima music series in London, England. Mr. Branch is an active member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, and Mu Phi Epsilon. He is also on staff at The University of Texas at Arlington Summer Strings Camp and the Sam Houston State University Orchestra Summer 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 golf, road biking, and spending time with his family.
Nick Nixon has been active as a teacher/conductor and adjudicator of orchestras and bands for over forty-five years. Prior to his retirement from Texas public schools, 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 as a mentor, clinician and adjudicator of school orchestras throughout Texas. Mr. Nixon is a co-founder and initial conductor of the Amarillo Area Youth Orchestra, and has served as conductor of the Austin Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. Orchestras and bands under Mr. Nixon’s direction have been named to the final round of the Texas Music Educators Association Honor Competition on four different occasions. Mr. Nixon holds the Bachelor of Music Education and 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 the Texas Music Adjudicators Association, Nick is also a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, and the Mu Omicron honorary orchestra society.
Amanda Musser graduated from Texas Christian University 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 Orchestra won numerous awards, including an invitation to perform in Washington DC in 1997, and its selection as the Texas Music Educators Association Honor Orchestra of the state in 1995. Throughout her teaching career, Mrs. Musser worked with more than 30 student teachers from area universities, many from TCU. Many of her former students are orchestra directors in the DFW area and all over the state. In May 2019, Mrs. Musser completed her 10th and final year at TCU as Adjunct Professor of Music Education and Supervisor of Student Teachers. She now spends her time mentoring orchestra teachers for both FWISD and Arlington ISD.
In 2010, she joined the artistic staff of the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra as conductor of the Junior String Orchestra. She is a member of TMEA, TODA, TMAA, a charter member of Mu Omicron and is a frequent judge and clinician throughout Texas and the South.
Finally, in February 2018, Texas Orchestra Directors Association named Mrs. Musser as their 2018 Orchestra Director of the Year, a great honor from her peers! Mrs. Musser resides in Arlington, married to retired band director Steve Musser, and is mother of two grown sons and grandmother to Wesley, Libbey, Hunter, William and Davis. Of all her many jobs in “retirement”, this is her favorite!
Germán Augusto Gutiérrez has served as Music Director of the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra (FWYO) since 2000. He has served as Director of Orchestras and Professor of Orchestral Studies at Texas Christian University (TCU) as well as Director of TCU’s Latin American Music Center and biennial Latin American Music Festival since 1996. Dr. Gutiérrez is a frequent guest conductor of professional orchestras in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Recent invitations include the Qingdao Cosmopolitan Music Festival in China, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Shanghai Conservatory Symphony, the Alcalá de Henares Symphony Orchestra, in Spain; the Lebanon National Philharmonic and the Orquesta Filarmónica of Bogotá, Colombia. Maestro Gutiérrez has also appeared with the Argentina, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Perú and Cuba National Symphonies. Other orchestras include the Hu Bei State Symphony of China, the Free State Symphony Orchestra of South Africa. Shanghai Symphony (China), Xalapa and San Luis Potosí in Mexico, the Auckland Philharmonic (New Zealand), Sinfónica del Teatro Municipal de Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre Symphony Orchestra (Brazil), among others. Under his baton the TCU Symphony and the FWYO have achieved exceptional levels of recognition in Fort Worth and abroad, including second place in the nationwide Youth Orchestra division of The American Prize in 2021. 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 fifty contemporary works. In 2017, Maestro Gutiérrez led the FWYO 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.