Music Director Steve N. Lewis, Jr. has enjoyed a diverse musical career as both a conductor and French hornist. Steve is the Music Director of the Medical Arts Symphony of Kansas City and the Midwest Chamber Ensemble. Under his direction the Midwest Chamber Ensemble won Third Place in the American Prize and was invited to perform at the International Clarinet Association's "ClarinetFest." Lewis has collaborated with such guest artists as pianists Charl Louw, Mary Rose Norell, and Keith Kirchoff, French hornist Brett Hodge, soprano Sarah Tannehill Anderson and countertenor Jay Carter. He has conducted the Missouri Symphony, the Wilson Symphony (NC), Classical Revolution-Kansas City, OvreArts (PA), the Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. Steve made his opera debut in 2011 conducting the Kansas City Metro Opera’s productions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers and Lehar’s The Merry Widow.
As a French hornist Steve has performed at the Stamford International Music Festival (UK) and the Brevard Music Center (NC), as well as concerts with the Black House Collective (MO), Midwest Chamber Ensemble, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Orchestras, the Mahlerfest Orchestra (CO) and the Missouri Symphony.
As an educator Steve has lead performances with the Emporia State University Chamber Orchestra and University of Central Missouri Orchestra and taught at the Salvation Army's A-OK Conservatory of Music where he conducted Brass Band, Men's Chorus, and taught music theory. From 2012-2013 Lewis served as conducting fellow of the Kansas City Youth Symphony where he led many rehearsals and coached the brass section. He also has a growing private studio of horn students.
Steve attended high school at the North Carolina School of the Arts where he studied French horn with David Jolley. Steve holds degrees from East Carolina University (BM, Theory/Composition) where he studied French horn with Mary Burroughs and the University of Missouri- Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance (MM, Orchestral Conducting) where he studied conducting with Robert Olson and French horn with Ellen Campbell and Martin Hackleman. In 2016 and again in 2018 he was awarded the EAMA/Florence Gould Foundation Michael Iovenko Fellowship to study conducting in Paris as part of the European American Musical Alliance at the historic Schola Cantorum. While there Lewis received special mention in both solfege and counterpoint. Steve has attended the South Carolina Conductors Institute and the International Conductors Institute workshops in Round Rock Texas and New York. His many arrangements for French horn and other ensembles are published by Cimarron Music.
Visit his website at www.stevelewisconductor.com.
Sara McClure serves as the Music Director at Prairie Baptist Church in Prairie Village, KS, where she has conducted the Chancel Choir, Handbell Choir, and children's music, and led worship since 2012. Sara is the Assistant Conductor of the Midwest Chamber Ensemble, and alongside conducting duties, she leads Pre-Concert Conversations prior to most performances. She also directs the annual ChoralFest at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, where singers from various churches and choirs gather for a week of rehearsals to sing a major work with the Midwest Chamber Ensemble. Sara has worked with such renowned conductors as Daniel Bara, Joseph Flummerfelt, William Weinert, Anton Armstrong, Simon Carrington, and Robert Bode.
Originally from the Philadelphia, PA, suburbs, Sara previously taught music history and directed the West Campus Choir at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, PA. She also served as the Conducting Intern and soprano section leader for Cantus Novus, an auditioned chamber choir based in Yardley, PA. She earned her Master of Music in Choral Conducting from East Carolina University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music and History from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. As a member of the East Carolina University Chamber Singers, Sara wrote the liner notes for their CD Eternal Light released by Gothic Records in 2012.
In 2017 Sara completed a Master of Music in Musicology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, focusing on the choral works of Francis Poulenc. She is currently a Ph.D. student in Musicology at the University of Kansas as a recipient of a campus-wide Chancellor's Fellowship. Sara is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the American Musicological Society, the College Music Society, and the American Brahms Society.
Jessica Koebbe is Instructor of Piano at MidAmerica Nazarene University where she teaches private lessons in addition to teaching and coordinating the keyboard skills program. She is active as a soloist and collaborative pianist, performing frequently with the Midwest Chamber Ensemble and fellow MNU faculty members. As a chamber musician, she has performed with internationally recognized instrumentalists including those from the Fort Worth, Kansas City, Omaha, Topeka, and Santa Fe Symphonies as well as with singers from the Fort Worth, Nashville, and Cincinnati opera companies.
A proponent of new music, Dr. Koebbe has premiered and recorded works by several US and Taiwanese composers. She is also an advocate of strengthening relationships between the community and classical musicians and as such, Dr. Koebbe has held many board and committee positions with musical organizations across the country including the Fort Worth Music Teachers Association, Sigma Alpha Iota's Fort Worth and Kansas City Alumnae chapters, and she currently serves as a committee member of the Midwest Chamber Ensemble. In addition, she is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music through Music Teachers National Association, an active teacher of prize-winning pre-collegiate students, and a frequent adjudicator.
In addition to her current position, Dr. Koebbe has held faculty and graduate teaching positions at Texas Wesleyan University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She also served on the faculty of the Texas Christian University Music Preparatory Division from 2002-2010. Dr. Koebbe holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Kansas (summa cum laude), a Master of Music degree from Texas Christian University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.