Music Staff

Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra’s team of talented music instructors is led by Matthew Salvaggio, BYSO Music Director, who also conducts the Youth Symphony. The BYSO music staff includes eight ensemble conductors as well as numerous professional local musicians who provide intensive, instrument-specific coaching for BYSO students during weekly rehearsal times.

Matthew Salvaggio

Music Director

Conductor Matthew Salvaggio is a dynamic artist dedicated to exploring and promoting new music, reimagining diverse orchestral performance experiences, and creating equitable access to music education.

He founded Cleveland Repertory Orchestra in 2021 to explore thebreadth of the orchestral repertoire, with an emphasis on new music and music by historically excluded voices. Additionally, the 2023/24 season marks his first season as Music Director and Conductor of the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra, where he conducts the top-tier Youth Orchestra and manages a team of eight conductors responsible for leading the other BYSO ensembles.

Committed to increasing access to music education, in 2022 Matt announced an initiative to expand the Erie Junior Philharmonic’s Prelude program for beginning students to include opportunities for beginning woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. In 2019, he established the Tom Baker Young Artists Competition with the Euclid Symphony Orchestra. The annual competition, which has attracted students from throughout the Midwest, awards the winner a concerto performance opportunity with the ESO and a cash prize.

An advocate for new music, Matt has commissioned works for band and orchestra with his ensembles, and his artistic collaborations include members of the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Erie Philharmonic, and more.

Upon the conclusion of the 2022/23 season, Matt completed several successful Music Directorships, including six seasons with the Euclid Symphony Orchestra, six seasons with the University Heights Symphonic Band, and two seasons with the Erie Junior Philharmonic. He has previously served on the faculty at Mercyhurst University, Hiram College, and Lakeland Community College.  

Learn more at

Joseph Kempisty

Philharmonia Conductor

Joseph Kempisty holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from The Ohio State University and a Master of Educational Leadership degree from the University of Washington. Around the Northwest, Mr. Kempisty has performed as principal violist or principal double bassist for several area ensembles, including the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lake Union Civic Orchestra, and the Northwest Mahler Festival Orchestra.

As a clinician and guest conductor, Mr. Kempisty has worked with middle and high school musicians in regional large group festivals, small ensemble festivals, and honor orchestras. He has taught elementary, middle, and high school orchestras in the Midwest as well as in the Bellevue School District, where he was also a school administrator for fourteen years.

Mr. Kempisty joined BYSO in 1999 as the founding conductor of Sinfonia and became the conductor of Philharmonia when it was established in 2012. Contact Mr. Kempisty at

Barney Blough

Sinfonia Conductor

Barney Blough brings a wealth of experience from a wide-ranging background. Mr. Blough is currently Music Director of Evergreen City Ballet, Conductor of the Sinfonia Orchestra with the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra, and a teacher in the Bellevue School District, directing the award-winning Newport High School Orchestra. As Music Director of Evergreen City Ballet he has conducted well over 50 performances of standard ballet repertoire such as Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Giselle. He is in his 15th year as a conductor with the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra, where he has conducted over 50 concerts of diverse repertoire with Premiere and Sinfonia. As an educator Mr. Blough has been teaching for over 20 years in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue. His orchestras have won numerous awards at the Northwest Orchestra Festival, WWU-ASTA Orchestra Festival, World Strides, and Ictus Music Competition.

Mr. Blough studied conducting with Larry Gookin and Nikolas Caoile at Central Washington University; Vilem Sokol, Director Emeritus of the Seattle Youth Symphony; and Stewart Kershaw, Principal Conductor of the Pacific Northwest Ballet; and Gunther Schuller, Pulitzer Prize winning composer, President of New England Conservatory, and Artistic Director of the Tanglewood Music Center. While studying with Mr. Schuller at the Festival at Sandpoint, he was invited to perform as an Active Conductor with the Spokane Symphony. Other guest conducting appearances include Harmonia, Emerald City Philharmonic, and the Garfield High School Orchestra. Mr. Blough was formerly Music Director of the Seattle Chamber Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Rainier Symphony, and Assistant Conductor of the Lake Union Civic Orchestra. ​

Mr. Blough received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from Central Washington University, a Teaching Certificate from Seattle Pacific University, a Professional Certificate from Pacific Lutheran University, and a Masters in Music from Central Washington University.

Mr. Blough joined BYSO in 2008 as the conductor of Premiere Orchestra and became Sinfonia conductor in 2012. Contact Mr. Blough at

David Drassal

Premiere Orchestra Conductor

David Drassal holds a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Central Washington University. Since moving to the Seattle area in 2007, Mr. Drassal has performed as a freelance violinist with several area orchestras and chamber groups, including the Federal Way Symphony and Sammamish Symphony, and is an active member of a local string quartet. Mr. Drassal also works as a clinician and adjudicator for orchestra and solo festivals across the state. 

Mr. Drassal currently teaches orchestra at Tyee Middle School in the Bellevue School District. Having also played trumpet, he is a good fit for BYSO’s Premiere Orchestra, where young wind players get their first orchestral experience. 

Mr. Drassal joined BYSO in 2007 as a violin coach, became Cadet String Orchestra conductor in 2010, and became Premiere Orchestra conductor in 2013. Contact Mr. Drassal at

Mollie Ewing

Debut String Orchestra Conductor

Mollie Ewing holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree and a Master of Educational Leadership degree from the University of Portland. She taught orchestra in the Issaquah School District from 2001 to 2010 and is currently teaching orchestra at Risdon Middle School in the Renton School District.

Mrs. Ewing is a freelance adjudicator and clinician for school districts around the region and has been a guest conductor for both the Elementary and Junior High Honor Orchestras in the Lake Washington School District and for the Olympic Music Educators Association. Previously, she performed and toured the United States with many Northwest indie bands as an electric violinist. She continues to perform on both violin and viola with various local string quartets. 

Mrs. Ewing joined BYSO as a coach in 2001 and became Debut String Orchestra conductor in 2012. Contact Mrs. Ewing at

Andrew Kam

Cadet String Orchestra Conductor

Andrew Kam received his BM in Music Education from the University of Miami and an MM in Violin Performance from the University of Oregon. Mr. Kam currently serves as the Orchestra Director at Bellevue High School and conductor for the Cadet String Orchestra with Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Kam regularly adjudicates for both small and large ensemble festivals and has served as guest conductor for honors orchestras in the Puget Sound region.

As a professional violinist, Mr. Kam is a violinist with Symphony Tacoma. He is one of the recording violinists heard on Kesha’s 2018 Grammy nominated single “Praying,” and has performed on other movie and popular music productions. Each year, Mr. Kam and his wife Angie (violin) tour with Trans Siberian Orchestra during the band’s stops in Seattle and Portland.

Mr. Kam is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii. He enjoys rock climbing, skiing, cooking, and traveling. Mr. Kam also loves hiking with his dog Burt.

Mr. Kam joined BYSO as a violin coach in 2012 and became Cadet String Orchestra conductor in 2015. Contact Mr. Kam at

Dr. Sandra Saathoff

Flute Orchestra Director

Dr. Sandra Saathoff is a freelance flutist, clinician, and principal flute of the Seattle Philharmonic. She helped launch a nonprofit organization, Silver Flight Ensembles and Foundation, dedicated to helping student flutists, and currently conducts the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra’s flute ensemble. A published author and music arranger, Dr. Saathoff has also performed and taught throughout the United States and Europe. Sandra has served as Assistant Program Chair, Secretary, Convention Manager, and on the Long-Range Strategic Planning Committee for the National Flute Association; as well as President, VP, and Newsletter Editor for the Seattle Flute Society. 

She enjoys teaching flutists of all ages and has served as adjunct flute faculty at Cornish College of the Arts and Seattle Pacific University; taught middle-school band and orchestra, and coached at the Midsummer Musical Retreat for adult musicians. She enjoys planning large scale flute events and masterclasses, such as the Northwest Flute and Piccolo Forum.  Additionally, Baroque traverso, Native American flute, low flutes, and Irish flute round out her favorite musical pastimes. Mrs. Saathoff is recently earned her DMA at the University of Nebraska with Dr. John Bailey.

Dr. Saathoff joined BYSO in 2004 as Flute Ensemble Director and the conductor of Flute Orchestra. Contact Mrs. Saathoff at

Dr. Merrie Siegel Parmley

Flute Choir Conductor

Dr. Merrie Siegel Parmley holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music and Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from Rice University. At age 19, she was awarded the First Prize in the New York Flute Club’s Young Artist Competition and made her debut at CAMI Recital Hall. Her playing has been hailed as “magnificent, jovial and radiant, with purity of tone and great technical command of the instrument.” 

She has performed with the Houston Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Spokane Symphony, and Mozart Society of Philadelphia, among others. She has held the position of Principal Flute with the Boise Philharmonic and with Sinfónica de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Filarmónica del Bajío, and Orquesta Sinfónica de Aguascalientes, in Mexico.

Dr. Merrie enjoys teaching and collaborating with flutists of all ages and abilities in her private studio and performing throughout the Puget Sound area with her adult flute ensemble, Tutti Flutti. Her CDs, Flute Music of the Americas, Vol. I and Vol. II are available on and on most streaming services.

During the summers, she performs with former students and colleagues throughout Mexico and serves as Artistic Advisor and Flutist with Cruzando Fronteras, an international consortium of Mexican and German musicians.

Dr. Merrie joined BYSO in 2010 as the conductor of Flute Choir. Contact Dr. Merrie at

Denali Williams

Percussion Ensemble Conductor

Denali Williams is an in-demand performing and teaching percussionist in a wide-variety of musical styles. Mr. Williams serves as a percussion coach/consultant to several area school districts including Bellevue, Seattle, and Snoqualmie Valley. In addition to these duties he frequently adjudicates band/solo & ensemble festivals throughout the region. Mr. Williams maintains teaching studios in Seattle and Tacoma for both remote and in-person lessons.

As an orchestral percussionist Mr. Williams is a member of Symphony Tacoma, Lake Washington Symphony, and Federal Way Symphony and is a regular “extra” performer for many other orchestral & theatre groups including the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra and Auburn Symphony.

Denali Williams joined as BYSO’s Percussion Ensemble Conductor in Fall 2020. Contact Mr. Williams at

Our Coaches

Bassoon: Steven Morgan, Shannon M. Nelson Cello: Erika Fiebig, Janice Lee, Shiang-Yin Lee Clarinet: Mary Kantor, Jenny Ziefel Double Bass: Eric (Moe) Weisner, Ramon Salumbides Flute: Dr. Nayoung Ham; Horn: Paulette Altman Oboe: Yuh-Pey Lin Trombone: Elizabeth McDaniel Trumpet: Michael Lundquist Tuba: Seth Tompkins Viola: Annie Center, Camber M. Charlot, Mariya Ksondzyl, Greg Savage* Violin: Lin Chen, Caroline Faflak*, Manchung Ho*, Rafael Howell-Flores, Ashley Horn, Pamela Liu, Anna Silarski Premiere Winds: Hannah Ogden*

*Assistant Conductor


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