Enhancing Violins for Youth

Beth Joy Fowler recently visited long time friend Dr. Peter Zaret of Peter Zaret and Sons Violins in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Zaret has perfected many techniques to improve the sound of string instruments and is well known in the musical world. Mrs. Fowler took several of her students’ violins to Dr. Zaret and he used his techniques to enhance the sound. Mrs. Fowler commented about one of the violins Dr. Zaret enhanced, “The violin sounds incredible. He said it was much better than his Stradivarius.”

Mrs. Fowler is pictured with Dr. Zaret (R) and a fellow violin maker.

Beth Joy Fowler is the director of Allegro Strings and Dorian Fiddles. These youth ensembles meet weekly from September – May to rehearse a repertoire of art and traditional music and play throughout the year at many community events. Students of stringed instruments with two years of formal training may submit an application.

Barnhardt Reception at SPCC

A reception was held at South Piedmont Community College on Tuesday, May 2 to honor the life of Lorene Barnhardt, wife of Caleb Barnhardt. A classroom was dedicated in Mrs. Barnhardt’s memory. The program included reflections on Mrs. Barnhardt’s life shared by members of SPCC and the Barnhardt family. Caleb Barnhardt is the past chair for the Board of Directors at Union Symphony.

National Music Festival

Union Symphony Orchestra Artistic Director Richard Rosenberg and his wife Caitlin share about the National Music Festival. See video.


New on the Rosenberg Farm

Richard and Caitlin Rosenberg welcome the birth of a female kid on their farm, Helena. Richard reports that Helena and her mother, Hermia, are doing well, and expect to have nine goats by next Wednesday. Rosenberg also notes, “We are enjoying the milk, cheese and soap!”

Congrats to Richard and Caitlin!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


StephenGaynierOutstStudentCharlConcerts16Congratulations, Stephen Gaynier!

Congratulations to Stephen Gaynier, Union Symphony Youth Orchestra member, who has been named Charlotte Concerts Outstanding Student of the Year! Charlotte Concerts honored Stephen on Friday, April 15 at the Halton Theater.













BigRingLogo500Big Ring

Big Ring is a forward thinking creative agency located in Historic Downtown Monroe. They are known for their generosity in giving back to the community while providing world class creative services like website design & development, video production, motion graphics, print design & branding, photography, IT services and more. Big Ring has 16 employees and are now coming up on their 5 year anniversary.


Welcome, Jennifer!

Jennifer Earp is the current technical writing intern for the Union Symphony. She is helping output press releases for spring concerts as well as creating the symphony’s first annual report. A junior at Wingate University, Jennifer is majoring in English with minors in Professional and Technical Writing and Music. She enjoys playing the alto saxophone in the Wingate University Wind Ensemble and Bulldog Pep Band. A native of Traphill, NC, Jennifer is the daughter of Michael and Sandy Earp. Jennifer is excited and thankful for this opportunity to work in a musical environment while gaining experience in professional writing.



Eryn JohnsonUnion Symphony Welcomes Eryn Johnson, Administrative Assistant

Union Symphony would like to give a warm welcome to USSI Administrative Assistant, Eryn Johnson. Eryn is a 26 year old student attending the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, majoring in Business Administration with a minor in Information Technology. She has been working in the administrative field since the age of 18. Originally from Sedona, Arizona, Eryn is the daughter of Lynn and Gary Johnson. Eryn currently resides in Wingate, North Carolina.

Eryn assumes this position following the tenure of Jessica Cope. Union Symphony would like to thank Jess for her nearly three years of service to this organization. Best wishes to Jess as she completes her advanced degree at UNC Charlotte.


Union Symphony Visits Monroe Rotary Club

Union Symphony Youth Orchestra members Steven, Joseph, Isaac, and Isaiah Gaynier performed music for the Monroe Rotary Club on February 9th, 2016. They received a warm and enthusiastic standing ovation.

Barnhardt Receives Hixson Award

Barnhardt3GenerationsThe Kiwanis Club of Monroe honored Caleb Barnhardt, USSI Chair, at a recent event with the Hixson Award, the highest honor attained through Kiwanis International Foundation for an individual member. Barnhardt has been a member of the Kiwanis Club for more than 8 years. He initiated a Kiwanis Club endowed scholarship fund to support college scholarships in Union County, he chartered the Circle K Club at Wingate University during his term as President, he is an active board member, and the Aktion Club committee chair. Photo shows three generations of the Barnhardt family at award ceremony. Caleb’s son, Stuart, and his two grandsons, Ryan and Thomas.





James O’Dell

Jim O'Dell Photo

Central United Methodist Church of Monroe presents its annual Community Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 6th at 5:00 PM. A community chorus will be accompanied by the Union Symphony Brass, Percussion, and Central’s hand bell choir, all under the direction of James O’Dell. The concert will begin with the children from Allegro Strings, under the direction of Beth Joy Fowler.

James A. O’Dell is the Director of Music/Organist at Central United Methodist Church, Monroe – a position he has held for over eight and a half years. Currently in his 33rd consecutive year as a Music Minister/Organist, he has held full-time positions in Indianapolis, IN, Victoria, TX, and Lancaster, PA.

Mr. O’Dell’s primary music instructors have included Emily Vanderpool (Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY), Robert Hobstetter (Nazareth College of Rochester, NY), Craig Hella-Johnson (University of Texas at Austin) and Barbara Harbach (University at Buffalo) where he received the Master of Music degree in Organ Performance.

As a member of the American Guild of Organists, he has held the chapter positions of Treasurer, Newsletter Editor, and Sub-dean. His active participation in this organization has included numerous public organ recitals, choral and organ workshops.


Kenneth Brown

Kenneth Brown Bio Photo

First Presbyterian Church of Monroe presents its Advent Music Service with The Chancel Choir, under the direction of Kenneth Brown, and members of the Union Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, December 16, 2015.

Kenneth Brown, Music Director at First Presbyterian Church, began his lifelong love of music and music performance during his youth spent in New York and Michigan. Brown attended Central Michigan University (CMU) where he studied under organ professor, Steve Egler, and received his degree in organ performance and church music. Brown received his master’s degree in organ performance, music theory and music history at the University of Michigan where Dr. Robert Glasgow provided a strong professional influence. Brown has served as the music director and organist at First Presbyterian Church for nearly three years. Among his artistic duties, he directs both The Chancel Choir and the Hand Bell Choir. Brown also performs on piano, and for the past three years, cello, under cello instructor Jill Fung. Brown is a member of Phi Eta Sigma (National Freshman Honor Society) and a member of American Guild of Organists and Organ Historical Society. Currently, Kenneth Brown is engaged in the project of building a pipe organ in his residence in Belmont, North Carolina. When not involved in musical pursuits, Brown enjoys woodworking and biking.

At Home With Richard and Caitlin

Meet Mojo and Orko



The photo on the left is of Caitlin and her horse, Mojo. The photo on the right is of Richard and Caitlin’s Pyrenees, Orko.

Check out the video of Richard and Caitlin’s dogs playing on their farm. Orko is a Great Pyrenees and Luna is a German Shepherd.



At Home With Richard and Caitlin

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Meet Caitlin Rosenberg

When Caitlin Rosenberg is not performing, she is oftentimes spending her efforts at her and Richard’s farm in Galena, Maryland on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. She is raising over one hundred endangered heritage poultry, including turkeys, chickens, guinea fowl, ducks and geese.  The farm also has three basset hounds and a German Shepherd, two house cats and two barn cats, and three (soon to be four) horses. All of them rescues.

Caitlin is also a volunteer with the Arabian Horse Rescue Mission, and is also a member of the Humane Society of Kent County where she is working to convert it to a completely No-Kill facility.


Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson

Union Symphony would like to express our gratitude to Mike Wilson for his generous and supportive services. He has been a tremendous help and value to the Symphony.

Mike Wilson is a free lance systems administrator who likes to help non-profits with their computer issues, so they can focus on achieving the mission of their organization. He currently holds certifications from Cisco in network administration and is also working on a Master’s degree in Information Technology. He lives in Monroe with his wife Kristy and their six children, Madison, Xander, Jackson, Thaddeus, Elaina, and Levi.







 Barnhardt and Brown

Caleb Barnhardt & Rhett BrownCaleb Barnhardt, Union Symphony Chair, and Rhett Brown, Wingate University President, socialize at a Kiwanis Club meeting where Dr. Brown was a speaker. Union Symphony is pleased to call The Batte Center at Wingate University our artistic home.





Pops on the Plaza

Mercedes Diaz-Garcia Mercedes Diaz Garcia will conduct for the Pops on the Plaza concert on May 17 in Downtown Monroe. Diaz Garcia is currently Music Manager and Conductor for the Firm Foundation Leadership Coalition, a position to implement a music festival in Connecticut called “The sound of Trumpet” featuring music by composers from Latin America and Spain. In 2014, she received a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from the College-Conservatory of Music in Ohio and in 2007, a postgraduate in Orchestral Conducting from the Conservatory of Music in Barcelona, Spain.

 Myelita Melton, WDAV

Myelita Melton will be our emcee for the Pops on the Plaza concert on May 17 in Downtown Monroe. Besides her announcing work at WDAV, Myelita travels the country teaching people how to speak Spanish. She is also Associate Producer for WDAV’s bi-lingual Concierto program and is its chief translator. To read more about Myelita, visit

Honoring Lorene and Caleb Barnhardt: Unveiling the Barnhardt Lab

Caleb & Lorene Barnhardt On March 25, 2015, the Barnhardt Lab was unveiled honoring Union Symphony Board  Member Caleb Barnhardt and wife Lorene Barnhardt and their generous continuing support of education. A reception for them was given shortly after the ceremony. Friends and family were in attendance.

Caleb Barnhardt & FamilyThe plaque was presented to Caleb and Lorene Barnhardt on December 9th, 2014, naming the new biology lab at South Piedmont Community College after them.


(Photographed top left to right) Lorene Barnhardt, Caleb Barnhardt, Dr. Stan Sidor.

(Photographed bottom) Caleb and Lorene Barnhardt and family


Honoring Pat Kahle

Pat Kahle, President of the Union County Pat KahleChamber of Commerce, will be our emcee for the 2015 Up Close & Personal Valentines Gala. In addition to leading our Chamber, Pat is an active volunteer and has a long history of community service to many Union County non profit organizations. She calls the Union Symphony, “Union County’s brightest gem”. We’re looking forward to a fun evening with Pat at the podium.

Pat Kahle has served as President of the Union County Chamber of Commerce since joining the Chamber staff in September, 2013. While relatively new to this position, she is not new to the Chamber having served in several volunteer leadership roles over her eight year term, including Chair of the Board of Directors in 2010.

Pat has over 25 years experience in the financial services industry, her last assignment as Senior Vice President and Director of Retail Operations for Park Sterling Bank.  Pat’s career includes ten years of experience as an entrepreneur in the retail business with multiple locations in the Charlotte metro area.

Pat and her husband Dick made Union County their home in 1986. From the very beginning, she fell in love with the community and became an active volunteer. She currently serves as a member of the Monroe-Union County Economic Development Board, South Piedmont Community College Foundation Board, Monroe Tourism Development Authority, Union County Education Foundation Board, Community Health Services Board, Union County Board of Directors of the United Way of the Central Carolinas, and as Co-Chair of the Alex Kahle Memorial Scholarship Foundation Board. Pat’s dedication to community service, and volunteer leadership was recognized when she was named 2011 Union County Woman of the Year.


Honoring Caleb and Lorene Barnhardt

Caleb & Lorene Barnhardt

On December 9th, Union Symphony Board Member Caleb Barnhardt, and his wife Lorene Barnhardt were presented with a plaque naming one of the labs at South Piedmont Community College in honor of their continuous support of education within the community. (Photographed above Left to Right) Chairman Jarvis T. Woodburn, Caleb and Lorene Barnhardt, Charles Norwood, and Dr. Stan Sidor.






Congratulations, Cynthia Coto!

Cindy Coto, County Manager, Union CountyCongratulations to Union Symphony Board Member, Cynthia Coto, for her recognition by The Mecklenburg Times as one of the 50 most influential women of the greater Charlotte region. She has been the County Manager for Union County since November, 15 2010.

Prior to relocating to North Carolina, Ms. Coto was a resident of Central Florida from 1970 to 2010 and spent 36 years in local government service.  Prior to being Union County’s Manager, Ms. Coto was the County Manager in Seminole County, FL for 3 ½ years and Volusia County, FL for 5 years.

Ms. Coto earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Central Florida in liberal studies with an emphasis in business administration, elementary education, social science and humanities.   She has been a member of ICMA (International City/County Management Association) for 30 years and is a credentialed manager.  Ms. Coto is a member of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, a Board Member of the United Way of Union County, and a member of the Monroe Rotary.

She and her husband Michael have two sons and one grandson.




Be Sociable, Share!