Academy Instructors:

The Academy instructors are music educators and performers with years of experience who are committed to teaching the art of music to our academy students with skill and enthusiasm.


DR. GABRIELA HRISTOVA, Academy Director; Conductor SATB Choir and Women’s Ensemble (Senior Academy)

Link to Dr. Hristova's University of Michigan- Flint Department of Music web site.


GARTH STARR, Conductor (Junior Academy)

Garth is the Vocal Music teacher at Hahn Intermediate School in Davison where he teaches fifth and sixth grade vocal music and instructs the school’s Spotlight Choir.  Previously he had taught general music in Flushing Community Schools, and prior to that he was the choral director at Lapeer East High School where he also served as District Manager for MSVMA District 3. Garth is the Music Director at Davison Assembly of God where he directs the choir and serves as pianist.  He is currently serving on the board for the Michigan chapter of ACDA as an area representative.

After receiving a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Michigan-Flint Garth earned a Master of Education from Marygrove College, and a Master in Choral Conducting from Michigan State University.

He is preparing for his sixth season directing the Lapeer County Concert Choir. They currently perform in and outside Lapeer and Genesee County.

Garth is a graduate of the Summer Vocal Academy of Music and was privileged to work every summer as a college intern for the Academy under the supervision of Carolyn Mawby while he studied at the University of Michigan-Flint.  After graduation he was able to begin working as Secretary and Instructor for the Academy.  Garth has worked at the Academy for 16 years in various capacities, most recently he has had the honor to serve as conductor for the Junior Academy Choirs.


Dr. JOSHUA MAY, Vocal Techniques, and Men’s Ensemble (Senior Academy)

Dr. May is a lecturer of voice in the Music Department. As an educator, Mr. May has participated in choral workshops, vocal pedagogy research, foreign language and music development education series, and opera outreach programs. This summer, he was selected as a national finalist for the 2014 National Association of Teachers of Singing Intern Program. As a lyric tenor, he has performed and premiered operatic works throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. Mr. May is an avid recitalist and oratorio singer, performing recently as a soloist in Mozart's Requiem, Handel's Messiah, and Dubois's Seven Last Words of Christ. Mr. May is also an operatic artist in high demand, performing such recent roles as Tamino in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Male Chorus in Britten's Rape of Lucretia, Count Almaviva in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Prince Paul in Offenbach's La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein, and Ferrando in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. D.M.A. Voice Performance University of Connecticut, M.M. Vocal Performance New England Conservatory of Music, M.M. Vocal Pedagogy New England Conservatory of Music, Music-in-Education Certification New England Conservatory of Music, B.A. French Grand Valley State University, B.M. Voice Performance University of Florida.


JASON DEBANDT, Music Investigation, Theory and Composition (Junior and Senior Academy)

Jason Debandt is a music teacher for Clarenceville District Public Schools, where he teaches Middle School choral music, High School choral music, and Theater Arts.  Previously he was the choral director at Madison High School and taught elementary music at Summit & Crescent Academies.  Choirs under Jason's direction have performed at various Universities and MSVMA events.  Jason is also on staff as a baritone at Christ Church Cranbrook under the direction of John Repulski.  

Jason earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the Rochester College, his teaching certification through Madonna University, and is finishing a Master of Music Education degree from Oakland University.


ELIZABETH SEVICK, Visual Arts  (Junior Academy)

Elizabeth Sevick is an alumna of the University of Michigan Flint with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Arts and is currently attending Kendal College of Art and Design for her Masters of Fine Arts degree. She teaches private lessons for art, guitar, and clarinet, and currently substitute teaches through Swartz Creek Community Schools.  This year will be her ninth year teaching with the Academy.


DR. ADESOLA AKYNLEYE, Dance and Movement (Junior and Senior Academy)

Dr. Akinleye teaches dance in USA and UK. She is a Lecturer of Dance at the University of Michigan- Flint. She holds a Ph.D. degree from Canterbury Christ Church University, UK, and a Master’s degree from Middlesex University, UK. Adesola has a range of experiences working with dance from site-specific dances in local communities to working as an artist-in-residence in schools and museums. Adesola also choreographs for performances, her most recent work Light Steps was a collaboration with Shelby Newport from the Theatre and Dance department at UM-Flint. Light Steps was performed in Flint USA, and Margate UK. 



BEN SCHLATTER, Percussion Ensemble (Junior Academy)

Ben is a percussionist and teacher. He graduated from The University Of Michigan-Flint in 2009.  He has been teaching percussion class for the Summer Academy of Music since 2011, he also has taught band at Kearsley Middle School, Mott Middle College, private lessons at Grand Blanc Music, and music production at the Boys and Girls Club of Flint.  Ben also maintains a busy performing schedule playing drum set, vibraphone, piano, and steel drums with bands throughout the state. 


BRUCE HORN, Percussion Ensemble (Senior Academy)

earned his Bachelors in Music Education, majoring in percussion, at the University of Michigan-Flint in December 2012.  Bruce has been teaching music in large ensembles as well as individual lessons, for 18 years.  Bruce has played percussion for 26 years professionally, nationally and worldwide.  Performances include national tours with notable National bands, playing drum set for Andy Narrell at the Detroit Jazz Festival, and performing at the Paris Conservatoir, Paris, France with The Steelheads Percussion Ensemble.  Bruce now teaches music at Madison Academy High School and performs in professional acts locally.  


FRANK E. PITTS, Musical Theater and Academy Accompanist

(Junior and Senior Academy)

Frank is a member of the music faculty of U of M Flint, where he teaches piano keyboard classes and is the accompanist for the choral ensembles at the university.  Mr. Pitts also serves as music director for the fall musical production in the theatre department.  In addition, he is an accomplished vocal soloist and has performed with regional orchestras in the US and Canada.  This is the third year Mr. Pitts has served as accompanist for the Vocal Arts Academy.