2022 Conference Headliners

Chris Gleason

Band Headliner

Chris Gleason is an instrumental music educator at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. He is the 2017 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, 2017 semi-finalist for the GRAMMY Music Educator Award and the first Wisconsin teacher to be named a finalist for National Teacher of the Year in 50 years. He was recently selected as one of the forty-five 2021 Teaching Excellence award winners by the NEA Foundation as well as a Top 50 Finalist for the 2021 Global Teacher Prize sponsored by the Varkey Foundation and UNESCO. Mr. Gleason was selected from 8,000 nominations from 121 countries around the world. He was recently honored with the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award from his alma mater, UW-Eau Claire where he earned his BME degree in 1997. Gleason earned his Masters Degree from UW-LaCrosse in 2002 and has taught in the East Troy and the LaCrosse School Districts. 


In 2009 Mr. Gleason created the ComMission Possible Project which to date has commissioned eleven new works for band by renowned composers such as Samuel R. Hazo, Michael Sweeney, Brian Balmages, John Mackey, Alex Shapiro, Pierre LaPlante, Andrew Boysen Jr, and Michael Markowski.


He has been guest conductor of numerous camps and festivals across the country, including the Music For All National Band Camp. He has presented workshops at the VanderCook College of Music, NAfME National In-Service Conference, Midwest Clinic. 


He is the past-chair of the Wisconsin Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance (CMP) Committee and the Wisconsin State Middle Level Honors Project. In 2017-2018 he served as an Engagement Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction delivering presentations at universities, school districts and conferences across Wisconsin. 

In 2019, School Band and Orchestra Magazine named Gleason one of the nation’s “50 Directors Who Make a Difference. Mr. Gleason is the recent recipient of the UW-La Crosse Distinguished Alumni Award (2017), Michael G. George Distinguished Service Award (2016) and has been featured in books: Think Like Socrates: Using Questions to Invite Wonder and Empathy Into the Classroom (Shanna Peeples, 2018) and Rehearsing the Middle School Band (Stephen Meyer, 2018). As a 2018-19 NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellow, Mr. Gleason recently traveled to South Africa to study the culture and education system. Mr. Gleason is the founder and organizer of the Beyond The Notes Music Festival Inc. in Wisconsin Dells that has to date inspired more than 35,000 young musicians and 70 future music educators. 


Ken Berg

Choral Headliner

For 28 years Ken served as the Director of Choirs and Fine Arts Chairman at John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham. The choirs at John Carroll consistently received highest ratings in district, state and national festivals under his leadership. 


After retiring from teaching high school in 2005, Ken served for six years as the full-time Music Minister and Composer in Residence at Mountain Brook Baptist Church, also in Birmingham. As of the summer of 2011, after serving as the part-time Music Director for 33 years, Ken now serves as the first full-time Music Director and Resident Composer for the Birmingham Boys Choir. (ken@birminghamboyschoir.org) Under his leadership the Choir has toured extensively throughout the United States as well as internationally in Costa Rica, Europe, Japan, and Canada. Additionally, the Choristers of the BBC have sung for OAKE, MENC and ACDA State, Division and National conventions. 


Ken and his wife, Susan are the proud parents of two sons, Michael and David; both fine musicians in their own right, as well as BBC Alumni! 


Ken has served as a State and Southern Division officer with the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and has also served on the Training Courses Committee of the Royal School of Church Music in America. Additionally, he teaches Choral Arranging as an adjunct at his Alma Mater, Samford University. 


Ken often serves as clinician and adjudicator throughout the U.S. His music is published with Bella Voce Press, LLC (www.bellavocepress.com), Alfred Music, Carl Fischer, Chorister’s Guild, Colla Voce, Fred Bock, Hal Leonard, Hinshaw Music, Kjos Music, MorningStar Music, Pavane Music, Santa Barbara Music Publishers and Walton Music.

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Paul Weller

General Music Headliner

Paul Weller has been teaching elemental movement and music for almost 20 years to grades K-5. He earned a B.A. from St. Olaf College, M.A. in Education from Saint Mary’s University and Orff Schulwerk Levels training at University of St. Thomas. He has taught workshops locally, nationally, has presented numerous times at the AOSA national conference, and is an Orff Level I and II teacher trainer. Paul has a unique teaching style that blends the best of Orff Schulwerk process and Kodaly sequential literacy training.

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Robert Gillespie

Orchestra Headliner

Robert Gillespie, Ohio State University Professor Emeritus, was responsible for string education and string pedagogy at OSU for 37 years. Under Dr. Gillespie’s leadership, Ohio State University received the 2015 Institutional String Education Award as the premier string education university in the country.


Dr. Gillespie is a past national President of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA). He is a frequent guest conductor of All-State, region, and festival orchestras, having appeared in 49 states, Canada, Asia, and throughout Europe. He is co-author of the Hal Leonard string method book series, Essential Elements for Strings, the leading string instrument teaching series in the country with sales of over eleven million copies. Also, he is co-author of the college text Strategies for Teaching Strings: Building A Successful School Orchestra Program, the String Clinics to Go DVD series, the Teaching Music Through Performance in Orchestra texts for GIA publications, and the new method series, Rockin’ Strings for Hal Leonard. In summers, well over 1,500 teachers have attended the annual summer OSU String Teacher Workshop, the largest string/orchestra teacher-training workshop in the country.


In Columbus, he conducts the Columbus Symphony Chamber Strings Youth Orchestra. In 2020, Dr. Gillespie received the Paul Rolland Lifetime Achievement Award from the American String Teachers Association for significant contribution to the field of string teacher education and string pedagogy.