Chris began his membership in the Valley Winds as the "Music Education Intern" in the fall of 2015, and immediately fell in love with making music with its wonderful members. He joined the group the following season as a trombonist and served as the Personnel Manager and Librarian.
He enjoys an active teaching and performing schedule, and spends his summers as a White-Water Rafting guide on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. Chris is currently serving as music director at Greenfield High School in Greenfield, MA, and is the conductor and music director and the Youth Wind Ensemble of Springfield at the Community Music School.
Ryan Caster holds a BA in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Ryan joined the Valley Winds' Trumpet Section in its inaugural season and has served as the group's Vice President since 2016. He currently serves as the Clerk for the Western District of the Massachusetts Music Educators Association and works as the Director of Bands at Belchertown High School in Belchertown, Massachusetts.
Dave Morris is currently the Director of Bands grades 5 through 12 at Hatfield Elementary School and Smith Academy. Prior to his appointment in Hatfield he taught in Brockton, Massachusetts as a middle and elementary school band director. While in Brockton, Dave also taught the All City Jazz Band, an ensemble made up of middle school students from all over the city.
Both of his degrees are from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he received a B.M. in Music Education/Saxophone Performance and an M.M. in Wind Conducting. While enrolled at the university, Dave was an active performer in both large and chamber ensembles and a member of the Minuteman Marching Band. As a senior, he was selected as intern to the Wind Studies department with Dr. James Miller, whose instruction and guidance deepened his interest in the art of conducting. He has studied saxophone with Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, Lynn Klock, Paul Lieberman, James Merenda and Paul Alberta and has studied conducting with Dr. Matthew Westgate.
He currently resides in South Hadley, Massachusetts with his wife Rachel and daughter Evelynn.
Claire-anne Williams has been playing in the The Valley Winds flute section for 4 years, since its inception. She received her Bachelor of Music Education from Indiana University, Bloomington, in 1988.
She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts and is the band director/music teacher at JFK Middle School in Northampton. She is also a member of The Hampshire Flute Trio and performs around the New England area. Claire-anne also has a private woodwind studio in her home in Florence, Mass.
Christine Mortensen plays and teaches French Horn in the Pioneer Valley and surrounding regions. She holds degrees in Music from Oberlin Conservatory and UMass Amherst and is on the faculty of both Northampton Community Music Center and Berkshire Music School. She performs as a member of The Valley Winds, The Valley Winds Woodwind Quintet, Juno Chamber Orchestra and Berkshire Brass Quintet. She lives in Goshen (MA) with her husband and quirky cat.
Virginia Bailey is the Director of Instrumental Music at Auburn High School. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from UMass Amherst in Music Education with concentrations in piano, horn, and voice and her Master of Music degree from UConn Storrs in Music Education.
An active freelance musician, she is in demand as an accompanist for several regional theater, school, and choral groups as well as area churches. She continues her horn performance with the Brookfield Brass Quintet, Bay State Winds, Valley Winds and local pit orchestras. Equally at home in both Instrumental and Vocal Music, she is also a member of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, Novi Cantori in Longmeadow, MA, and Auriel Camerata in Schenectady, NY (professional chamber choirs). She also performed on the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack. With the TFC she has performed with such prestigious conductors as Andris Nelsons, James Burton, John Oliver, and Keith Lockhart at venues including Symphony Hall in Boston, Tanglewood in Lenox, MA, and Carnegie Hall in New York. In her free time, you can find her composing electronic music for film and video games and programming synthesizers for musical theater.
New England-based composer and conductor Timothy Burns has been actively composing music since he was 9. His works are frequently performed throughout northern New England in the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, Casco Bay Wind Symphony (which he also conducts), and University of Southern Maine Wind Ensemble.
In 2015, Tim founded the 207 Wind Orchestra, a group dedicated to playing the highest quality literature written for winds, where he serves as music director. As a performer, Tim is an active horn player, and percussionist. Tim holds degrees in music education (BA) and composition (MM) from the University of Southern Maine. His primary teachers have been Dr. Daniel Sonenberg and Dr. Peter Martin.
Tim currently lives in Northfield, Massachusetts where he teaches at Pioneer Valley Regional School and enjoys playing Skyrim and watching Survivor with his cat Percy.
Julia Maloof is K-5 general music teacher at Milton Bradley Elementary School in Springfield, MA and teaches private lessons to students in the Pioneer Valley. She recently earned her degree in music education and saxophone from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a former student of Brian Messier's and a graduate from Belchertown High School.
As a performer, Julia has been a student of Jonathan Hulting-Cohen and Felipe Salles from UMass, and also received lessons from Joe D'Aleo (United States Coast Guard Band) and Philipp Stäudlin (Boston Conservatory). Under the tutelage of Jonathan Hulting Cohen, she has worked as a student education coordinator and an arranger for the saxophone ensemble at the New England Saxophone Festival and Competition hosted at UMass.
Ashley Paradis graduated from Belchertown High School in 2011 and went on to pursue a bachelor's degree in music education from the University of New Hampshire (2015) and a Master's in Conducting (2017).
Ashley is a member of the Executive Board for the Valley Winds. She plays clarinet and contrabass clarinet in the group, having finished her first season this previous year. Currently, Ashley is the Band Director at Pittsfield High School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Belchertown Massachusetts native, Aaron Lakota has a vested interest the local arts culture in New England, and hopes to promote music and the arts through performance, education, and community involvement. He encourages the community to show their appreciation for the arts by helping to support those artists that remain part of their local community. Aaron performs throughout New England as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player with the Holyoke Civic Symphony and the Farmington Valley Symphony. Aaron has performed with many chamber music groups, appearing with the Mohawk Trail chamber series, “Tuesdays in Bezanson” at the University of Massachusetts, and Valley Winds' "Orchestra in The Orchard" summer chamber series. He is principal oboist of Pioneer Valley Symphony, Valley Winds and assistant principal oboist with Juno chamber orchestra.
Aaron holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in oboe performance from the University of Massachusetts. His main mentors are Fredric T. Cohen and Tamara Field. He acts as a professional reed maker when he is not performing or teaching. A.Lakota Reeds supplies reeds to hundreds of oboists throughout North America.