Staff & Conductor Bios

YOL Conductors

Dr. Laurie Williams Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra 

A Ph.D graduate of Texas Tech University, Dr. Williams has been with the Youth Orchestras of Lubbock for over 20 years. She has previously worked as the Interim Assistant Professor of Music Education for the University of Missouri-Kansas City and conductor of the OMNI Ensemble, an all campus string orchestra. She is an active researcher, having presented her work at music conferences throughout the United States, including the NAfME Society for Music Teacher Education and the American String Teachers Association conferences. Dr. Williams has been an active conductor and artistic advisor with the youth symphony orchestras in Lubbock since 1997. She has served as a conductor for all three YOL orchestras during her twenty years with the program and is currently conducting the Symphony Orchestra. Beyond her regular duties, Dr. Williams maintains an active conducting and teaching schedule, serving frequently as a clinician and judge for instrumental groups in Texas, Kansas and Missouri. She has been a member of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra viola section since 1994. Previous teaching positions have been held throughout Texas since 1991, including serving as Interim Instructor for String Music Education at Texas Tech University and orchestra director positions in Amarillo, San Antonio and Lubbock public schools. Additionally, Dr. Williams is trumpet player and has held previous band positions in both Ralls and Lubbock, TX. Elementary and choral music positions have been held in Lubbock, as well.
 Membership affiliations include the National Association for Music Education, Conductor’s Guild, College Music Society, American String Teacher’s Association, American Viola Society, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas MEAs, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, Golden Key and Phi Kappa Phi. She is a Red Raider through and through, having earned all her degrees from Texas Tech University. Dr. Williams holds a PhD. in Fine Arts as well as Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Music Education. She is married to Todd Williams and has four boys: Justin Anderson and Connor, Sawyer and Carson Williams.

Dr. Ross Thomas Ipsen, Interim Conductor Philharmonia

An insightful and engaging conductor and educator, Wisconsin-born Dr. Ross Thomas Ipsen was
recently appointed as Interim Conductor for the Youth Orchestras of Lubbock Philharmonia.
Ross also spends much of his time teaching violin and performing as both conductor and
violinist in the Lubbock area, Wisconsin, and California.

Ross comes to the Philharmonia from his successful time at Texas Tech University as the
Associate Conductor with the University Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the
University String Orchestra. Previous appointments as Assistant Conductor include with the
Sonoma County Philharmonic, San Francisco Conservatory of Music New Music Ensemble, and
the Lawrence University Symphony Orchestra. In recent engagements, Ross has conducted at
the UW Madison Summer Music Camp and the Texas Tech University Band and Orchestras
Camp. Ross’s international career began as a selected masterclass participant to conduct the
Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile in Santiago, Chile. He has also been a guest conductor with the San
Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, San Francisco School of the Arts Orchestra, and Youth
Orchestra Program at St. Norbert College.

Ross holds a Doctoral of Musical Arts from Texas Tech University in Orchestral Conducting
studying with David E. Becker. His Masters Degree is from the San Francisco Conservatory of
Music studying conducting with Michael Morgan, Alasdair Neale, and Donato Cabrera. He
graduated from the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, WI, with a
Bachelors Degree (Honors) in Violin Performance and Instrumental Music Education.


Kathleen Smith, conductor for the Prelude Strings Orchestra

Kathleen Smith, conductor for the Prelude Strings Orchestra, received her Bachelor of Arts
degree in violin from Murray State University where she studied with Christopher Thompson
and Eric Williams. Kathleen is a private violin teacher and a certified Suzuki Teacher of Violin
with the STELR Program. She is currently the Director of the STELR Program in Lubbock, TX.
She has served as Coordinator and Violin Instructor for the String Program in the Jasper School
District in Jasper, Indiana, and at the String Preparatory Division at Indiana State University in
Terre Haute, Indiana. She was the Co-Conductor/Co- Music Director of the Charleston Youth
Orchestra in Charleston, Illinois. Mrs. Smith is a freelance violinist in Texas, as well as
performing frequently in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee. She
has performed with the Evansville (IN), Terre Haute (IN), Owensboro (KY), Danville (IL),
Windsor (Canada), Flint (MI), Saginaw (MI), Symphonies. Kathleen is married to Christopher
M. Smith, Professor of Horn in the School of Music at Texas Tech University. They are parents
of three daughters. Mia, a student at Texas Tech studying Elementary Education, Natalie, a
senior violinist at Interlochen Arts Academy High School, and Audrey, a student at Roscoe
Wilson and a cellist of the Prelude Strings Orchestra.

Jeremy Isley Youth Orchestra Percussion Specialist

Jeremy Isley has worked in numerous school districts as a music educator. He is an innovator in instrument design, having started his own company in 2006, Isley Percussion, which has provided services for percussionists all over the United States. He also has experience with drum circles and providing community music events in churches, schools, community groups, and professional performance venues.



YOL Administrative Staff:


Amber lrl-Beck, Youth Orchestras of Lubbock Program Director

Amber lrl-Beck oversees program logistics and coordination of events, communication, and implementation of policies set by the board of directors as communicated to her via the seated boardmembers and committees annually. She has a background in music, having playing from my middle school years, being awarded silver at State during high school, and studying and performing well into college. With a fundamental understanding of how a practice is conducted and what goes into making it successful, Amber frequently collaborates with musicians or community members from various backgrounds and genres. With two BA degrees and three minors, Amber has a unique combination of academic training and multi-disciplined skills required by the multi-faceted position. Additionally, she has specialized work experience in collaborating with/directing organizations who solicit funding via grants, as she has training and experience in writing grants (minor in Technical Writing from Texas Tech University). She has work experience in media/publishing, education, multi-media production, IT, website design/maintenance, international relations, business management, advertising and marketing. Amber is in process of pursuing her graduate degree.

In her work for YOL, Amber frequently works with organizations that conduct fundraising events and actively participates in the planning and execution of these events.  The position requires project management, volunteer management, public relations, marketing & coordination, fundraising, data management, technical/internet maintenance, financial tracking, statistical/user analysis, and knowledge of how to execute communications for large groups.