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State Solo & Ensemble MPA

High School students performing traditional music and earning a Superior or Excellent rating at their district Solo & Ensemble MPA are eligible for State Solo & Ensemble MPA. See the FOA Handbook for details and additional requirements. 

March 23, 2024
Strawberry Crest High School
Dover, Florida

State Concert MPA

High School Orchestras in classification D, C, B, or A that earn an overall Superior at their District Concert MPA are eligible to perform at the State Concert MPA. Space is limited, and orchestras will be accepted on a first-registered basis for each available time block. See the FOA Handbook for details and other requirements. 

April 15-17
Howard W. Blake High School
Tampa, Florida

Concert Program

Meet Your Adjudicators

Eugene Dowdy Photo

Eugene (Gene) Dowdy stepped up to the podium as Conductor and Artistic Director of Symphony of the Hills, Kerrville, Texas, beginning with the 2015-2016 season, following two years as associate conductor and associate concertmaster under Jay Dunnahoo. Dowdy served for 23 years as director of orchestral studies and instrumental conducting at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and, upon his retirement in 2019, was named Professor Emeritus. Dowdy was the assistant conductor of the Mid-Texas Symphony from 2009-2013 under David Mairs, and also guest conducted the Camerata de Coahuila, the state orchestra of Coahuila, Mexico.

During his time at UTSA, Dowdy led the orchestral program in diverse venues and genres, including collaborations and appearances with the Brubeck family of Jazz musicians, internationally-acclaimed Baroque violinist Rachel Podger, the progressive rock band KANSAS, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan, and in world premieres of numerous orchestral and operatic works. The UTSA Orchestra, under Dowdy’s direction, performed as the featured university orchestra at the 2017 TMEA Convention, and has performed by invitation and on tour in Texas, Mexico, and Italy.

Gene grew up as the youngest of four children in a musical family and began violin studies with Achille DiRusso in Corpus Christi, Texas. His parents both completed college degrees as they raised children. Dowdy received the doctoral degree in orchestral conducting with James Dixon at the University of Iowa, a master’s degree in music education from UTSA with Donald Hodges, and the bachelor’s degree from UT Austin, where he was awarded a Performance Certificate in Violin, studying with Vince Frittelli, and taught in the University of Texas String Project under Phyllis Young. He taught award-winning public school orchestras for nine years in San Antonio’s NEISD, conducted orchestras for nine summers at the Interlochen Arts Camp, and continues to serves as honorary Resident Conductor of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio. Dowdy is past president of both the Texas Orchestra Directors Association and the Texas Chapter of the American String Teachers Association, and a former executive director of the National String Project Consortium.

Dowdy is an active guest conductor, having appeared with orchestras and festivals around the United States (Texas, Florida, Alaska, Wyoming, Georgia, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, California, and Iowa), and in Mexico, Austria, France, and Italy. He is a member of numerous professional and honorary societies including the American Federation of Musicians (Local 23), Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Sigma Alpha Iota (Friend of the Arts), and Mu Omicron. Gene and his wife Stacy have two daughters; Jessica Lopez, a piano-playing pastry chef, and Rachel Dowdy, an orchestra director and cellist in the Symphony of the Hills. His late father, Warren, and his sister Margo both played in the Symphony of the Hills under Dr. Jay Dunnahoo.


Creston Herron Photo

Creston Herron is the newly appointed Director of Orchestral Activities for the University of Kansas and serves on the faculty of the Interlochen Arts Camp. Mr. Herron previously served as the Director of Fine Arts for the Klein Independent School District, Conductor of the Shepherd School of Music Campanile Orchestra at Rice University, Director of Orchestras at Klein High School, and the Director of Orchestras for the Yes Prep Public Schools. Mr. Herron’s recent engagements as a guest conductor include work with Regional and All-State ensembles in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and throughout Texas. He has also served on the summer faculty of the AFA Summer Music Festival, Stephen F. Austin University Summer Music Camp, and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Summer Music Clinic. As a dedicated pedagogue, Mr. Herron enjoys working with current and future educators and young performers. He has presented masterclasses and guest lectures at The Midwest Clinic, Rice University, Shepherd School of Music, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, University of Houston, Moores School of Music, Sam Houston State University, Texas Tech University, The American String Teachers Association, The League of American Orchestras, and the NAMM Believe in Music Webinar Series.

He also gives professional development workshops to educators locally and nationally and is involved in judging UIL competitions and solo and ensemble contests. Mr. Herron has enjoyed national recognition both as an educator and musician, with orchestras earning multiple national titles under his direction, including being named national winner of The American Prize, Grand Champions of the ASTA National Orchestra Festival, Texas Music Educators Association State Honor Orchestra, Grand Champions of the New York Orchestra Cup and invited group at the 75th Midwest Clinic held in Chicago, Illinois.

Individually he has gained recognition for his work in music education as the Teacher of the Year at Klein High School, awarded the Marjorie Keller Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award by the state board of the Texas Chapter of ASTA, and the Spec’s Charitable Award for Excellence in Music Education awarded by the Houston Symphony. Alongside his work as an educator, Mr. Herron continues to hone his performing skills as a violinist, having collaborated with artists such as Renee Fleming, Mark O’Connor, and Rachel Barton-Pine. He has performed with Da Camera of Houston, CCM Spoleto Festival in Italy, Galveston Symphony, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Pasadena Philharmonic, Eutiner Festspiele Opera in Eutin, Germany and the Houston Latin Philharmonic.

Creston Herron is a graduate of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, where he received his B.M. in music performance, Rice University, Shepherd School of Music in Houston, TX, where he received his M.M. on scholarship as a Provost Fellow and a Brown Scholar, and recently received an M.Ed in school leadership from Sam Houston State University. Creston Herron resides in Kansas City with his wife, orchestra director Dawn Herron and their three children.


Robert Gardner Photo

Robert Gardner is a bassist, conductor, and composer with experience in a wide variety of musical genres. He has served on the music education faculty of the Penn State School of Music since 2003. He specializes in stringed instrument playing and teaching, orchestral conducting, and eclectic styles for string ensembles. Gardner has written chapters and articles in various publications, including UPDATE: Applications of Research in Music Education and American String Teacher, and has given presentations at conferences and workshops throughout the country.

His research has focused on the supply and demand of American public school music teachers and the status of string programs in K-12 schools. Several of his pieces and arrangements for string orchestra are available through Alfred Publishers. Robert received his bachelor’s degree in music education from the Ohio State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in music education from the Eastman School of Music.

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, he served as orchestra director and instructor for public school districts in Ohio and New York. Gardner was also music director for two youth orchestras at the Hochstein School of Music and has been guest conductor for many honors ensembles. He has designed and directed programs for adult learners and eclectic styles for string ensembles. Robert has served as chairperson of the Alternative Styles Task Force for the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) and as president of the Pennsylvania-Delaware chapter of ASTA.


BettyAnne Gotlieb Photo

BettyAnne Gottlieb is Associate Professor and Interim Division Head of Music Education at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Dr. Gottlieb teaches courses focused on string pedagogy, teacher preparation, and technology integration. Her research interests include democratic learning environments, healthy musicianship, and the nature and meaning of music for beginning instrumentalists. She has over 20 years of teaching experience in the public schools and university-affiliated music programs, and she serves regularly as a guest clinician and adjudicator for regional, district and state string festivals.

In 2014, Dr. Gottlieb co-founded the Cincinnati New Horizons Orchestra (NHO) – a program that provides beginning and intermediate string instruction for adults in a group setting. In addition to working with these inspiring musicians, Dr. Gottlieb is an active orchestral musician and Suzuki teacher, and she has held leadership positions in the American String Teachers Association, the Ohio Music Education Association, and the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

Prior to her appointment at CCM, Dr. Gottlieb taught at the University of Arkansas and in the public schools and preparatory programs in Ohio and Michigan. Dr. Gottlieb holds degrees in music education from Case Western Reserve University, VanderCook College of Music, and Michigan State University.


Elizabeth A. Reed received her Ph.D. in Music Education at the University of South Carolina. While there, she was the Assistant Director of the UofSC String Project and taught Music Appreciation. Since 2018, Dr. Reed has been the Executive Director of the National String Project Consortium. This non-profit organization focuses on children across the United States having access to string music education and providing emerging string music education majors the opportunity to practice teaching. Dr. Reed has taught beginning to advanced levels of orchestra (4th- 12th) to students in Fairfax County Public Schools and Lexington-Richland School District Five.

As a conductor, Dr. Reed has guest conducted for the South Carolina Junior All-State Orchestra, Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince William County District Honor Orchestras in Virginia, MMEA Eastern District in Massachusetts, and the GMEA Middle School Honors Orchestra in Georgia. She also conducted with the Prince William Youth Orchestras for two years.

As a cellist, she has performed and soloed with the Pan American Symphony Orchestra, Fairfax Symphony, Friends and Family Chamber Orchestra of Fairfax County, Signature String Quartet, The Quartet Program, Il Grazioso Piano Trio at the Orford Center of the Arts in Quebec, South Carolina Governor’s School of the Arts Resident String Quartet, Eastman Bartok String Quartet Seminar, and on broadcasts for SCETV, South Carolina Public Radio, and WVIA in Pennsylvania.

As a researcher and clinician, Dr. Reed focuses on professional music teacher identity, culturally responsive teaching, the String Projects, and pitch perception. Her dissertation, Examining Professional Music Teacher Identity: A Mixed Methods Approach with Stringed Instrument Teachers, was published in 2018. Dr. Reed has other publications in the American String Teacher and Teaching Music Through Performance in Orchestra, Volume 4. In addition, she has presented clinics and research poster sessions at ASTA, ISME, NAFME, SMTE, TMEA, and VMEA.


Entry Forms

Forms and Invoice are generated in MPA Online. 

Mail the signed entry forms along with the invoice and payment to the FOA Executive Director at the address on the State MPA Invoice generated in MPA Online.

Do not send any forms to the Executive Director "signature required." Any US mail sent to the FOA office as "signature required" will be returned and will not be marked as received.