Third Coast Trombone Retreat

August 14-22, 2017 - Montague, MI

 2017 guest artists

Toby Oft - (August 19-22)

Principal Trombone, Boston Symphony

Toby Oft is the 12th Principal Trombone of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was appointed in 2008 by then Music Director, James Levine. Currently in his 9th season in the BSO, he has held Principal Trombone positions with San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Sarasota Orchestra.

As an “exemplary soloist” with a tone described as “ringing and golden” by the Boston Globe, Toby Oft has performed both as a soloist and chamber musician in Jordan Hall as part of the Boston Symphony’s Chamber Player series. International concerto performance highlights include acclaimed performances of works such as the T-Bone Concerto by Johan de Meij and the David, Concertino for Trombone with a diverse variety of ensembles on several continents.

Mr. Oft’s domestic solo performances range from Schuller’s modern virtuosic work, Eine Kleine Posaunenmusik with “Pershing’s Own” U.S. Army Band in Washington D.C., to the rarely performed Leopold Mozart Serenade in D for trumpet, alto trombone, and orchestra, with the Boston Classical Orchestra.

With a deep commitment to education, Mr. Oft has presented masterclasses and recitals around the world.  At home in Boston, he is on faculty at the New England Conservatory and Boston University. During the Summer, Toby Oft coaches the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center and is a frequent guest teacher and performer at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

In addition to prominent military band and teaching positions, Mr. Oft’s students have won tenured positions in top orchestras such as Detroit, Jacksonville, Toronto, and Puerto Rico. Recent students have also been accepted to distinguished festivals such as Verbier Festival and the Tanglewood Music Center.

As an Edwards Instruments performing artist, Mr. Oft helped design the new T350-HB tenor trombone model and has his own exclusive line of tenor and alto trombone mouthpieces with the Griego Mouthpiece company.

In spring 2014 Toby Oft released his debut album, titled “First Look”. As part of the lineage of the great Joannes Rochut, former Principal Trombone of the BSO, he is currently recording all the Rochut Etudes in HD video for students worldwide.  For links to these videos, and more please visit

Denson Paul Pollard - (August 14-17)

Bass Trombone, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

Denson Paul Pollard began as bass/tenor trombonist/bass trumpet player with the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in September, 2007.  Pollard was the bass trombonist of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra for 2014-2015 and the Hong Kong Philharmonic from 2001-2007.  Pollard has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  His teachers have included Dr. Jim Roberts, Dr. David Gier, George Krem, Charles Vernon and Joseph Alessi.  

Pollard was awarded the Master of Musical Arts degree and the Doctorate of Musical Arts in performance and pedagogy from the University of Iowa, where he served as a teaching assistant in the areas of musicology, jazz and applied trombone.  Pollard holds a Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama.  Dr. Pollard is a member of the brass faculty at Mannes School of Music, Bard College and the Juilliard School and is a faculty member of the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporro, Japan.

Pollard is a passionate champion of the bass trombone as a solo instrument.  He has performed concertos and played solo recitals in various places around the world.Pollard has recorded three solo CDs entitled "Up From Below,” “Point in Time” and “Listening.” He can also be heard on three MET Opera Brass recordings and a recent collaboration CD with James Markey, bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, entitled “The Bass Trombonist’s Guide to Orchestral Excerpts.  All of Pollard's recordings are available at and .  Dr. Pollard is a Buffet Group artist and performs exclusively on Courtois trombones.  More information about Denson Paul Pollard can be found at

2017 Guest Faculty

David Binder - (August 14-20)

Second Trombone, Detroit Symphony Orchestra

David Binder joined the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as Second Trombone in the autumn of 2015. Previously he was the Co-Principal Trombone of the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki, Finland for three seasons. He has also performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and as guest Principal Trombone with the Tapiola Sinfonietta in concerts and on recordings.

As a soloist, he has performed recitals in Finland, Switzerland, and the US; and has won competitions at the American Trombone Workshop, International Trombone Festival, and Walgreens National Concerto Competition.

During his time in Europe, David travelled extensively to study with prominent trombonists on the continent, particularly with Ian Bousfield in Bern and Jamie Williams in Berlin. A Chicago native, he completed his Bachelor’s of Music with Brass Department Honors from Northwestern University, studying with Michael Mulcahy, Peter Ellefson, Timothy Higgins, and Randall Hawes. While at Northwestern, he was also a Regular Member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and studied additionally with Jay Friedman.

David is quickly becoming sought after for his teaching and pedagogy. He has presented master classes at Northwestern University and Michigan State University, and has taught for multiple summers at the Third Coast Trombone Retreat in western Michigan. In Detroit he is heavily involved in the DSO Civic Youth Ensembles program, leading rehearsals and sectionals for low brass students. David travelled in 2017 to Jacmel, Haiti to teach at the first ever Haitian National Orchestral Institute, organized in conjuncture with BLUME Haiti and members of the Utah Symphony.

Outside of the orchestra, David nurtures a keen interest in bluegrass and folk music, playing several instruments of the idiom including banjo and resonator guitar. He also enjoys playing racquetball and softball, and loves the Chicago Cubs.



John Sebastian Vera, Co-Creator

Principal Trombone, Pittsburgh Opera and River City Brass

John Sebastian Vera, a native of Texas, became the Principal trombonist of the Pittsburgh Opera in 2010 and also joined the River City Brass as Principal Trombone in 2015. A dedicated chamber musician, he also was a founding member of the critically acclaimed Guidonian Hand Trombone Quartet in which he played from 2008-2014.

In addition to the Pittsburgh Opera, Mr. Vera has played with the symphonies of Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Buffalo, Kennedy Center Opera House, New York City Opera, Vermont, Charleston, Albany, Akron, Huntsville, American Ballet Theatre, and Orquesta Sinaloa de las Artes in Mexico amongst others. 

He began his studies with Jon Bohls in Texas and continued his education at Southern Methodist University where he studied with John Kitzman of the Dallas Symphony. He then spent a year studying with Ed Zadrozny as a graduate assistant at the University of Akron, and finished his graduate work in New York City at the Mannes College of Music studying with David Finlayson and James Markey of the New York Philharmonic.    

In 2009, John was honored to be asked to play alongside the New York Philharmonic trombone section as well as members of the Metropolitan Opera to record two pieces for James Markey’s solo release, “On Base”.

In 2011, he spent the summer in Haiti volunteer teaching and performing in the Orchestre Philharmonique Sainte Trinite as well as the Ecole de Musique Dessaix Baptiste which became one of the more profound experiences of his life.  

With the quartet, John performed over 100 concerts and gave master classes all over the country. Heralded by the New York Times for their "expertly played performances" they have been recipients of numerous national grants which have enabled them to commission countless composers to create new and innovative works for four trombones.  In 2014 was the premiere of River of Fundament, a movie by film artist Matthew Barney, in which John recorded for and acted in along with the quartet. 

Mr. Vera can also be heard on euphonium on the PBS documentary Abraham and Mary Lincoln, A House Divided.

John is an Artist for Edwards Instruments and resides in New York City and Pittsburgh.  He is on the faculty at Youngstown State University and Slippery Rock University.  His favorite musicians include Sigur Ros, Radiohead, the Books, and Efterklang. When he can get away from the trombone he most enjoys basketball, traveling and psychology.  Follow John on twitter @SebastianVera.


Nicholas Schwartz, Co-Creator

Principal Bass Trombone, New York City Ballet


Nick Schwartz has a diverse career performing across North America, Europe, and Asia.  Beginning his trombone studies at the Interlochen Arts Academy, he went on to study at The Juilliard School with then New York Philharmonic bass trombonist Don Harwood.  From there, he moved to San Francisco where he began freelancing throughout the Bay Area. In addition to playing in his regular job with the New York City Ballet, he has performed with The Metropolitan Opera, The Pittsburgh Symphony, the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, The Atlanta Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet, The Minnesota Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Lukes, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, The Jacksonville Symphony, The Malaysia Philharmonic, Arizona MusicFest, Festival Maribor (Slovenia), and the Festival Lyrique-en-Mer in France.  He has recorded with Joe Alessi, principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic, the American Brass Quintet, Orchestra of St. Lukes, has recorded multiple video game soundtracks at Skywalker Ranch in Northern California, and has been a part of multiple movie soundtrack recordings in New York.  He has been a member of the New York City Ballet Orchestra since January 2010.

collaborative piano

Daniela Candillari


Daniela Candillari is a sought-after conductor, pianist and composer having worked with preeminent artists around the world. A native of Slovenia, she served the Slovenian National Opera as Assistant Conductor, Chorus Master, and Principal Coach for over twenty productions. She has served as Assistant Conductor for the European Opera Centre in partnership with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Sarasota Opera.

As a collaborative pianist, she performed at Carnegie Hall with Julian Wachner and Novus NY and has worked with artists including Bryn Terfel, Dame Felicity Lott, Håkan Hagegård, Carol Vaness, Martina Arroyo, Dominic Argento, and William Bolcom.

Ms. Candillari is the founder and Artistic Director of Gravity Shift, a New York based chamber orchestra, and has recorded for NPR, Austrian Radio Broadcast Television, Slovenian National Radio and TV, and Serbian National TV. Highlights in the current season include serving as music director for Extraordinary Measures, a play by Eve Ensler, covering Julian Wachner on his new opera, Rev. 23, during the Prototype Festival, and joining the music staff at The Chautauqua Opera as Assistant Conductor to Steven Osgood. Future engagements include her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut leading performances of Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers, conducting Michael Gordon's Acquanetta at the 2018 PROTOTYPE Festival, with Bang on a Can All-Stars as the orchestra, and leading the Manhattan School of Music Philharmonia in a concert including Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3.

performance psychology

William Mann

William Mann joined the Georgia State School of Music as the Assistant Professor of Trombone and the Brass Area Coordinator in August 2013.  He teaches the trombone studio, brass chamber music, brass techniques, and oversees the brass area.  Prior to his appointment at GSU, Dr. Mann served on the faculties at Morehead State University, the University of Missouri, Prairie View A&M University, and the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor.

Dr. Mann is regularly sought after as a lecturer, clinician, and performer throughout the United States and Brazil, including the Midwest Trombone Euphonium Conference, the Big 12 Trombone Conference, the Bay View Music Festival, and the Festival Nacional de Musica in Goiania, Brazil.  In the summer of 2012, he placed second overall in the solo competition at the International Women’s Brass Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan, competing against other brass musicians from around the world.

Dr. Mann’s orchestral experiences, includes performing with groups including the Atlanta, Chattanooga, Lexington Philharmonic, Ohio Valley, West Virginia, Quad-City, Missouri, Tuscaloosa, Meridian, Victoria, and Waco Symphonies.  He has also performed with the Austin Lyric Opera, as well as the Bay View, Victoria Bach, Texas Music, and Hot Springs Music Festivals.  He also performs regularly with the Atlanta based Bent Frequency New Music Ensemble.

Dr. Mann received his Masters of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Trombone Performance from the University of Texas at Austin in addition to a Bachelor of Music Education from Baylor University.  His primary teachers include David Gier, David Jackson, Donald Knaub, Allen Barnhill, John Marcellus, and Nathaniel Brickens.  


Steve Gellersen

Retreat Administrator

A native Texan, Steve Gellersen is currently living in Seattle, WA as a free-lance bass trombonist. He has performed throughout the country with ensembles such as the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland Pops Orchestra, Blossom Festival Orchestra, Palm Beach Opera, and Steel City 5.

Mr. Gellersen’s primary teachers include Massimo La Rosa, Rick Stout, Dan Satterwhite, Murray Crewe, Ron Wilkins, and Tom Riccobono. Steve began studying trombone in San Antonio with Ron Wilkins, focusing on jazz. He then finished high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy before beginning college in Pittsburgh, PA at Duqesne University and continued on to complete his BM at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Steve then received a MM from the Lynn Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton, FL where he was a founding member of the $5 Pitcher Low Brass and Drums quintet, merging the low brass sound with popular music. He can be heard performing with them on YouTube. Steve continued his graduate studies back at the Cleveland Institute, and most recently at Carnegie Mellon University.

When away from the trombone Steve enjoys basketball and fantasy football, and considers himself an accomplished home-brewer.

Taylor Fong

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Taylor Fong is a freelance bass trombone player living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From
2015-2016, Taylor was the bass trombonist with the North State Symphony in Chico, California.
Other orchestral engagements include performing with the Sacramento Philharmonic, Opera, and Ballet, the Sacramento Choral Society, Townsend Opera, and the Modesto Symphony. In
Pittsburgh, Taylor has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass and the River City Brass Band.

Having been interested in music from an early age, Taylor began playing alto saxophone at age
nine, which he continued to play throughout high school. At age twelve, Taylor found his love for the brass family when he taught himself the euphonium, which he played into college. Learning the trombone at his teacher's suggestion, Taylor received a Bachelor’s of Music Degree from Sacramento State University under the guidance of Joel Elias of the Sacramento Philharmonic.

Currently, Taylor is pursuing a Master’s of Music Degree from Carnegie Mellon University with
Jeff Dee of the Pittsburgh Symphony, and also had the pleasure of working with the great
Murray Crewe.

An avid traveler, Taylor studied abroad at the Hochschule für Musik in Trossingen, Germany
under the guidance of trombone legend and former principal trombone of the Munich
Philharmonic, Abbie Conant. He has also attended the Aspen Music Festival, Music at Menlo, and the Third Coast Trombone Retreat.