This fall the Youth Honors Orchestra program was delighted to welcome a new addition to the leadership team. Dr. Richard Brunson, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Orchestras at Goshen College, joined Tori Petrak as co-conductor of YHO. Dr. Brunson and Ms. Petrak will share in the leadership of YHO as the program is steadily growing and rebuilding after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Richard Brunson leads a YHO rehearsal.

Richard Brunson, DMA, Goshen College Associate Professor of Music, was raised in Salt Lake City, UT. He holds a bachelors degree in music education and a masters degree in orchestral conducting from Brigham Young University. After teaching at Alta High School in Salt Lake City for several years, he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, studying with Maestro Taras Krysa. Dr. Brunson has taught music at Salt Lake Community College, and for the University of Wisconsin Colleges campus in Marshfield, Wisconsin. He is married to oboist Mika Brunson. They have three children and two dogs.

YHO welcomes Dr. Brunson’s expertise and we look forward to building even greater connections between the YHO and Goshen College orchestral programs.

Tori Petrak works with the YHO intern ensemble.

Tori Petrak has conducted YHO since 2020. She serves as Director of Orchestras for Concord Community Schools, Music Director for the Maple City Community Orchestra, and Assistant Conductor for the Elkhart County Symphony Orchestra. While completing her master’s degree under Dr. Jungho Kim, she worked with the Kent State University Orchestra, Opera Production and Scenes, and New Music Ensemble. In addition to her graduate studies, she taught Orchestra in the Shaker Heights school district, was on the music faculty at Camp Encore/ CODA in Sweden, Maine, and worked as an ensemble manager and assistant at Interlochen Arts Camp. Victoria has studied with conductors Marin Alsop and James Ross (NOI), Dr. Octavio Mas-Arocas, John Farrer and Howard Williams (RTÉ NSO), Kevin Noe (MSU), and participated in the National Music Festival in Annapolis, Maryland.

Ms. Petrak played an integral in the launch of the Youth Honors Orchestra internship program and continues to find energy and excitement in building leadership opportunities for students. As a high school orchestra teacher she sees the value of cultivating peer mentorship and coaching skills in her students, and sees this as an exciting and important way to meet a need in the community.