The Members

Connie FrigoConnie Frigo, Director, saxophone

ROC founder and director Dr. Connie Frigo credits the saxophone for taking her around the world to perform, teach, and learn, including during her year as a Fulbright Scholar to the Netherlands. The core of her imagination lies in interdisciplinary work as she strives to create musical experiences and conversations that allow boundaries between people and fields to disappear. She believes deeply that process itself is artistic; and that when perceived as such, the quality and authenticity of the final product increases. Highlights of Connie’s career include six years with the premiere U.S. Navy Band, Washington, D.C., performing for the President of the United States; eight years touring nationally with the New Century Saxophone Quartet; and saxophone teaching positions at the Universities of Tennessee and Maryland before accepting a teaching position at the University of Georgia in 2011. When she’s not steeped in music, she loves stand-up paddle boarding, coffee, and generating questions that demand thinking across disciplines. Read more…

Xin GaoXin Gao, saxophone

In his hometown, Chengdu, China, Xin started his musical training on clarinet, later switching to saxophone at age of thirteen. In 2003, American saxophonist James Houlik performed and taught a masterclass in China where Xin met him for the first time. This meeting left a deep impression of possibility on Xin, and in 2004, he enrolled at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh as a freshman music major in the the saxophone studio of James Houlik. He has remained in the U.S. since then to pursue graduate school. He will earn his doctorate in music performance in 2015. Xin has an accomplished competition record of first prizes and being named a finalist countless times at national and international solo competitions. While competitions have helped him reach a deeper sense of what he is capable of on the saxophone, his proudest moment of his career was in the summer of 2011 when he was invited to perform as a soloist with the Sichuan Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in Chengdu, China for a sold-out audience of 1000 people. In 2013, he performed his first recital tour in China.

Tom GibsonTom Gibson, trombone

Dr. Tom Gibson is referred to as such because he spent 14 years in college. With a trombone. After serving six years with the United States Navy Band, Washington, DC, Tom moved to Atlanta to become the Brass Department Coordinator at Georgia State University. When his freelance career as a performer quickly blossomed, he decided to give up his full-time teaching position in order to perform as much as possible. He now teaches adjunctly at Mercer University and Kennesaw State University. He is presently on the board of a number of non-profit musical organizations, including Atlanta Pops Orchestra, Kennesaw State University Alumni and Friends Brass Band, Il Brass Magnifico, and Jazz Orchestra Atlanta. As a performer, Tom has enjoyed a rich and varied musical existence and backs down from no musical challenge. Some of the artists and ensembles with which he has performed and/or collaborated include: Atlanta Symphony, National Symphony, Washington Chamber Orchestra, Atlanta Chamber Winds, Atlanta Pops, Bumpin’ the Mango, The Joe Gransden Big Band, Zac Brown Band, Spoon, Kid Rock, Barry Manilow, Wayne Newton, Sara McLaughlin, James Taylor, John Patitucci, The Boston Brass, Piedmont Trombone Society, Steve Gadd, Johnny Mathis, Dave Brubeck, Fred Wesley, Wycliffe Gordon, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Artie Shaw Band, Gladys Knight.

Greg HankinsGreg Hankins, piano

Greg Hankins grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and now calls Athens, Georgia his home. He has enjoyed a demanding young career as a freelance collaborative pianist performing with various configurations of voices and instruments from opera singers, saxophonists, cellists, and trombonists to duets with piano and saw and most things in between. He has performed with members of the Atlanta Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Knoxville Symphony, Sotte Voce Quartet, Canadian Brass, Georgia Brass Band, and faculty of the University of Georgia. He also plays jazz regularly and can be seen performing often in downtown Athens, GA. Since 2012, Greg has had the privilege of spending his summers serving on the faculty of the New York State Summer School of the Arts School of Choral Studies.

Brian PerezBrian Perez, tenor saxophone

Dr. Brian Perez is originally from northern Minnesota, but now calls the eastern shore of Maryland his home. He teaches woodwinds, jazz and music history at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The roots of Brian’s music lie in the art of jazz improvisation, but his explorations go far beyond the confines of one genre of music. He lists Charlie Parker, Stravinsky, and Pearl Jam as some of the artists that have influenced his pursuit of sound. Brian has performed with big name acts in large venues across the continent and abroad, but his passion for performances remains with smaller groups of players where a personal connection can be explored and developed. Brian also has a passion for running ultra marathons and competitive latte art, both which fuel his ability to collaborate and conspire with musicians into the wee hours.

Paul StevensPaul Stevens, drums

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Paul finished a degree in music performance from the University of Georgia in 2012 and has since maintained the busy schedule of a freelance musician and recording artist, playing anything from drum kit to musical saw. Although he has a solid grounding in classical music, he remains versatile, moving fluidly between jazz, electronic, rock, and experimental contemporary styles. Paul also occupies his time as a music educator, teaching percussion at several public schools around Atlanta in addition to giving private piano, drum and acoustic guitar lessons to people of all ages. When he’s not playing music, he’s listening to it, and when he’s not listening to it, he’s most likely asleep.

David ZerkelDavid Zerkel, tuba

David Zerkel plays the tuba, because, well, someone has to do it. He grew up in Frederick, Maryland and switched from the trumpet to the tuba at age twelve when the family orthodontist rendered trumpet playing improbable, if not impossible. David started his playing career in the United States Army Band in Washington, DC and now teaches at the University of Georgia. He maintains a very active performance schedule as both an ensemble player and a soloist. His students have gone on to do some pretty stellar things (by tuba player standards) and, as a result, he has gained a favorable reputation as a Jedi master for young tubists. When not playing or teaching, David loves spending time with his family, eating, and keeping abreast of current issues.

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