Brian McCowin, Conductor of Gem City Concert Band
Brian McCowin has served as a music teacher in the Corry Area School District since 2003. While at Corry he has taught elementary and middle school band, chorus, and general music, guitar, theatre, served as Assistant Band Director with the marching band, and conducted the pit orchestra for several musicals.
Originally from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, Brian holds degrees from Duquesne University (Master of Music in Music Education, 2008) and from Slippery Rock University (Bachelor of Science in Music Education cum laude, 2003). While at Slippery Rock University he was a member of several ensembles, of particular note is the Jazz Ensemble and can be heard on their first CD release “Jazz at the Rock.” He also twice participated in the Student Conductor Competition/Concert conducting both the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and University Concert Band during concerts.
Brian studied trombone with Robert D. Hamrick, formerly with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Patrick Myers, late of Slippery Rock University and the Pittsburgh Ballet and Opera Orchestras. Prior to moving to Erie he played trombone with the Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestra, Beaver County Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and the Abbey Brass. Recently he has played with the 40’s Plus Swing Band, Triumphant Gospel Swing Band, and the Corry Summer Band all based in Corry, Pennsylvania. He has also played with the Erie Playhouse, the Our Lady of Peace Playhouse, and for several local high school musicals. Currently he plays trombone with the Gem City Brass Quintet.
Jim Caspar, Conductor of Gem City Jazz Ensemble
Jim Caspar graduated from Penn State University in 1991 with a degree in Music Education. While at Penn State, Jim performed with the Penn State Marching Blue Band, the Penn State Wind Ensemble, and Centre Dimensions, the university’s top jazz ensemble. Additionally, Jim was Principle Trumpet with the Penn State Symphony Orchestra and was a member of the Music Educators’ National Conference and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the country’s premier professional music fraternity. While at Penn State, Jim also performed with the Altoona Symphony Orchestra and the State College Opera Society’s Orchestra.
Jim has played trumpet professionally with a number of bands and ensembles, from studio recordings with the Fred Waring Orchestra to a European tour with a performance and live CD recording at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1996 with the Buzz Jones Big Band.
Jim has been a music educator for 19 years and has served as the Director of Instrumental Music for Wattsburg Area School District since 1991. In addition to concert bands, small ensembles and teaching lessons for grades 5 through 12, Jim is the director of the Seneca High School Marching Band and orchestra director for the high school musicals.
From 2005-2010, Jim has also conducted various groups with the Greater Erie Youth Symphony Organization (GEYSO), and held the position of GEYSO Music Director from 2008-2010.